This appeared in print as part of the story “Best Laid Plans” In 2007, the City of Columbia’s visioning document suggested that council...
Today’s selling environment is not like last year’s selling environment, nor is it like next year’s. Consumer habits, trends and
preferences often change overnight, which leaves salespeople very little time to discover what resonates with customers.
In my case, I turn to social media to figure out what sales language I should be using. Social media has made possible a two-way communication with customers that wasn’t available to us in the past. If you’re using social media the wrong way (just blasting sales message after sales message), you’re missing out on a great opportunity to discover what your customers find engaging.
To begin this process of asking customers what works and what doesn’t, I asked my Facebook friends how they innovate their sales language.
An example of this in motion is the Small Business and Technology Development Center in Columbia. Collin Bunch, business development specialist, says the center has innovated its sales language when talking about its services. Words such as startup and small business used in the past gave prospects the misguided idea that the SBTDC was a place for very new and very small businesses to get started. In fact, the suite of services offered is far broader. People who have been helped by its programs talk about getting Fortune 500-level services locally, so this direction is becoming a part of the new sales language that Bunch and his colleagues use. The business development specialists now talk more about new ways to help businesses grow and how the center can offer transformative business consulting. These phrases paint bigger pictures that make sense to owners of established and medium-size businesses, too.
In the self-storage business, we’ve moved away from talking about how people can leave their things with us to talking about how people can stay more organized and keep their homes and offices free of clutter. This shift in language has helped people picture their living spaces as peaceful and fulfilling rather than their belongings stacked in a storage unit. This is powerful stuff. It’s not a big shift, but it’s a significant one. Who knows what sort of visuals we’ll be attempting to convey next year? It will depend on the two-way conversations we have with customers this year and what we can learn from them.
How do you innovate your sales language? Use your social media and other means to open up communication with customers. Find a visual way to express what they find important. Then start talking about those visuals.