Living in the age of digital communication, where message delivery has been streamlined to the point of being instantaneous, has removed the human element and physical interaction from most forms of business engagement.
Ordering is done online, invoicing happens automatically, payments are made via electronic transfers, while customer service and complaints filter through social media or online query channels. It has become more of a challenge to find an actual person to talk with.
Besides the various freeware messaging services, there is also the ease of email communication from your mobile. Due to the advancement of technology, even email had to undergo some radical changes. Today, spam filters are working non-stop to protect users from unwanted communication.
But how, if at all, does this affect the sale process? Unfortunately, no one can agree on which is the best form of communication for sales.
Before digitizing your salesforce, here are some points to consider:
Customers have wised up
Though it has taken a bit of time for people to adjust and adapt to the world of the future, it was inevitable that they would eventually come to terms with the many changes it brought along. Many have mastered the digital world with admirable grace. Others, not so much. With that, the presence of bots, spam, augmented reality and social media hoaxes, have instilled in people a natural caution.
Not only are they instinctively on guard, but they can also discern the difference between automated communication and personal interaction. Somehow, they just always know. The biggest mistake a marketer could ever make, is to think that their customer is stupid.
People Buy People
As the old saying goes, people don’t buy products, they buy people. I know it sounds like banging an old worn-out gong, but this annoying little adage has some truth. While some people that this is not entirely accurate, it should not be stripped of its human-centric importance.
True, people will often buy from people they do not really like, people they don’t get along with, or people they simply do not understand. But that does not mean to say the theory that people buy people is untrue. Included in this list of truisms are: “People buy the stories you tell,” or “People buy the solutions to their problems.”
If you make it your personal goal to know more about the product you are selling than anyone else, then people will buy from you whether they like you or not. Your comprehensive product knowledge alone sets you apart and they are buying from you because you did the homework, have superior knowledge and you were able to answer all their questions. Again, people buying people.
Even if you exude confidence, just enough to show that you are comfortable in your own skin and satisfied with your product, you can still take potential customers from cold to lukewarm in a flash. According to Liz Wendling, a renowned and nationally recognized business and sales consultant, emotional intelligence coach and author of 5 books, confidence is an admirable attribute when engaged with human-centric marketing or direct sales.
“It doesn’t matter how hard you work, it doesn’t matter how good your product is and it doesn’t matter how good you are as a salesperson,” she explains. “If you are transmitting low levels of confidence to your customers, you will not attract the type of quality and targeted customers your business needs to survive.”
As advanced as automated marketing might be, the type of confidence mentioned here bounces back and forth in different ways depending on the interaction between two parties. A program written by the best data specialists still would not be able to display this character trait.
Though it seems that influencer marketing has died a horrible death, it is important to note that it’s on-going demise was a result of exploitation by a small group of opportunists. The existence of the influencer is relative to this post, though.
Let’s think about this. At the height of social media expansion and its introduction to the business world, it became clear that it could be a useful marketing platform. While folks are at their most relaxed and social, a company could create brand awareness, meet potential customers and systematically lead them down a sales funnel.
However, the lack of human-centered marketing within this digital world, created an opportunity for people to humanise the marketing efforts of different organizations. Consumers still wanted human interaction, or, at the very least, they wanted an actual person to validate the product or service.
Bloggers and freelance writers, the real content creators of the technological age, saw an opportunity to use their personable writing styles or the self-generated portals, which stared directly into their personal lives, by showcasing or sharing products to their “audience.” Thus the birth of the influencer.
If anything, the formation of influencer marketing affirmed the need for human-centered marketing. Influencers offered the one thing that technology, in all its brilliance, simply couldn’t. It put a face and a personality to the sales process. The fact that some influencers created fake personas and took advantage of the industry, is an unfortunate consequence.
At present, the after-sales service reputation of a company contributes as much to the sale as the product’s usefulness or quality. Adequate complaint resolution processes and customer engagement has an incalculable worth to an organization. Humanising your customer service responses will improve your online brand management and customer retention. Nothing can provide more immediate comfort than that friendly voice saying, “Don’t worry, ma’am. I will sort this problem out for you at once.”
Will human-centered marketing give me better business results?
The above points clearly indicate that human interaction still has its place in modern-day marketing. In fact, it is probably more important today than it had been before technology had been introduced.
A study by Google suggests that 61% of mobile users call a business when they are ready to make a purchase. Extensive research done on the need for human-centered marketing resulted in the addition of click-to-call buttons on most social media platforms. Consumers still want to hear a voice or shake someone’s hand.
All things considered, you should find that perfect balance between digital and human in your sales approach. We humans are living in the digital age. One can no longer function at its highest level of performance without the other. In fact, the one needs the other.