The big talk in the technology world the past few weeks has been all about the “new iPad.” As expected, Apple’s revolutionary mobile device is once again the must-have item du jour. Personally, I’ve used the iPad for personal entertainment and business functionality since the original launched in early 2010. When asked why I find the tablet to be such an extraordinary device – especially when compared to a conventional laptop – my answer is this: I prefer the user interface and engagement that an application (or “app”) environment provides over the traditional browser-based environment.
Apps provide a environment that can be personalized and customized by individual users to enhance functionality and increase productivity. And yes, all of the buzz you constantly hear is indeed true – for most things in life, there “is an app for that!” How crazy is it to think that just a few short years ago, before the introduction of the smartphone or iPhone or iPad, that there was no such thing as an app. Now, many people I know cannot get through their daily routines without relying upon an app. It has become the way that people communicate with one another, the way they organize their personal, business, and social activities, the way they get from point A to point B, and the way they entertain themselves.
And it’s certainly no different in today’s business world. Almost every facet has been touched, and ostensibly improved, by technology. Everything from creating proposals to delivering multimedia presentations; producing advertising insertion quotes to scheduling live orders; building a prospecting pipeline to forecasting sales revenue; documenting services to tallying billable hours. You name it, there is an app for that.
So my question this week is: How will technology impact you in the near future? Is your job as an advertising sales professional in jeopardy of being replaced by a next generation iPad app?
My answer for you is, being as forthright and honest as I can possible be, is….maybe.
It all depends on what YOU bring to the table – what value you add to the buyer-seller relationship beyond the transactional aspects of doing business. If there is one thing I try to stress each and every time I write a column for The Sales Cycle, it is this: Sales are all about the relationship. It’s about building trust and making smart recommendations that fulfill needs.
From a customer’s perspective, interactions with salespeople can be characterized as dealing with a clerk – someone who shows up, gets the order, and then disappears. Or, it can be characterized as dealing with a trusted business advisor – someone who understands the client’s needs and goals and provides insight and help in satisfying them.
How would your customers characterize your relationship? At which end of the spectrum would they place your interactions with them? Unfortunately, for too many salespeople, it’s near the “clerk” end. These salespeople (and hopefully, you’re not one of them) show up on schedule, get an order, and add little additional value beyond occasionally taking the buyer to lunch or bringing donuts for the staff.
Unless you change what you represent to your customers and clients – and bring something to the relationships that they truly appreciate and value – your newspaper may soon be exploring replacing you with an app (quite possibly at your customers’ requests) – and you run the risk of becoming a relic.
So, how do YOU add value to the relationship? By contributing anything that helps your customers grow their businesses – drive new customers through their doors, build brand awareness, and increase revenues. You can also change your manner of interaction with your customers to make it easier for them to do business with you or provide market analyses or industry trend information which can help your customers make better advertising decisions. Whatever you do, make sure you find a way to add value to your customer relationships and extend your interactions beyond the transactional aspects of the sale.
Have a terrific week,
If there are specific topics you’d like to see discussed in a future issue of The Sales Cycle, please contact me at 612-278-0223 or firstname.lastname@example.org