Editor’s note: David Meerman Scott’s book, The New Rules of Sales and Service, was recently republished in a newly revised paperback edition. In it, Scott discusses the changes happening in the sales and services industry and how professionals and stay in tune with buyers. Here are Scott’s four biggest takeaways from the book.
1) Buyers are in charge.
We’re fed up with unwanted phone calls interrupting us at home and at work. We hate wading through hundreds of unsolicited emails. We’ve had it with intrusive social media messages. We’re tired of poor service from companies that don’t treat us with respect or that send us into a phone mail maze that wastes minutes of our time and never connects us with a living person.
At the same time, all of us — you, me, and all our existing and potential customers — turn to the web to solve problems.
Today buyers are in charge. The idea of mystery in the sales process is over. We research someone online before agreeing to a first date — is he a creep? We fire up LinkedIn an hour before an initial business meeting — does she have anyone I know in her network? We watch an on-demand movie trailer before deciding which film to see that night at the theater. We check out restaurant reviews and browse menus before booking a reservation.
There’s a huge disconnect that I address in The New Rules of Sales and Service.
2) Instant communication has transformed sales and services.
In the days before real-time online communication …
- It was very difficult for buyers to find independent information about the products and services that interested them.
- There was no easy way for unhappy customers to voice disapproval of a company in public.
- Both buyers and existing customers couldn’t communicate instantly with the companies they did business with or patronized.
- Customers had little say in the products and services they wanted to buy.
All of this used to be true because communications wasn’t instant. There was no way to easily research products or companies or to complain about poor service.
None of this needs to be true in your business any longer. The world has changed, and your business needs to adapt.
3) Even in a world where everyone investing in inbound is creating content, serving it up at the right time makes it stand out.
While many people are indeed creating content, there isn’t that much that is great because most content is written about products. That egotistical approach doesn’t work well.
The basic idea is to understand buyers needs first, then create content especially for them. When delivered at the right time and in the right context content makes the sale.
4) Social media will only be effective if you build it into your daily routine and take it seriously.
To make the new rules of sales and service part of your world, you must change your mindset. You need to understand your buyers, rather than just talking about your products and services. You’ll need to be aware of what’s going on in the real-time news and on social networks. You’ll need to create content and publish it on the web, and sometimes you’ll need to do it urgently to be successful. On social networks, two-way communication is required, not just the typical broadcast approach that most people are used to. These habits and techniques do not come naturally to entrepreneurs, salespeople, or customer service representatives steeped in more traditional ways.
But making a change is tough. I’ve spoken to many people about this.
I’ve found that finding the time to participate in social media is much like exercise; you need to make it an important part of your life. If it is important to you, you don’t even think about it anymore. It just is.
You have a choice. You can choose to exercise regularly in order to stay fit. The most effective way is when exercise becomes part of your routine. Some people like fitness clubs. Others enjoy running outdoors or dancing or kickboxing. But in all cases, success comes from making it an important part of your daily life.
And you also have a choice when it comes to how you communicate. You can interrupt people with product messages. Or you can create the content that people want to consume and are eager to share.