The learning and culture change never stop (courtesy kris krug on Flickr CC)

The learning never stops (courtesy kris krug on Flickr CC)

I am trying to get more comfortable with the how-to of business sales, so I subscribe to Anthony Iannarino’s Sales Blog newsletter. I met him years ago at a conference when he was just starting his blog, and I appreciate his approach to salesmanship, which is less about pushing people to buy in order to make your sales numbers, and more about showing customers how your product or service will help them solve a problem.

After all, if you aren’t actually selling things, you won’t be in business for very long.

Getting over my own reluctance to learn how to be a better salesperson is an ongoing project, but it starts with my attitude and commitment.

A quote in one of Anthony’s newsletters caught my attention:

“We spend too little time actually exploring and building an understanding of what our client is doing and why they are struggling. We are too focused on selling our solution, when more often than not, there are real changes the client must make to produce the results they need. We are negligent in not trying to understand the root cause of their issues, and that is often what is really necessary for producing the result they need.”

“Look at a deal you are working on now and tell me how much work you have done to understand their competitive strategy and measured it against what is going on in the world right now. I am not suggesting you do a full SWOT analysis on every client, but real discovery means getting a fuller picture of where they are now and whether or not they are keeping pace or lagging the constant, accelerating, disruptive change that is the new normal.”

“​What about the company’s culture? What impact is this going to have on the ability to produce the results the client needs?”

I’m in the business of social media marketing training, but over the years we’ve learned that it is not enough to just teach our tourism or hospitality clients about digital destination marketing through our workshops, online course, or webinars.

No matter how much time you invest in creating and delivering quality training materials, your customer still has to commit to absorbing them.

They have to be invested in, and fully committed to, their own learning – plus develop an online communications/publishing mindset – before they can really use digital tools effectively to tell their story and connect with visitors and guests.

That can mean a LOT of change for many people, and for their staff, their Board of Directors, and their tourism partners in the community as well.

Can our training actually change marketing behavior, and thereby lead to communications success in today’s world? We think so, but frankly, I’m not sure we’re explaining that well enough to prospective customers. Or, in other words, our sales pitch needs some work.

We recently finished a successful event speaking at a conference for travel consultants (the preferred term for today’s travel agents.) Many were ready to get right down to hiring us to teach them, which was a little surprising compared to the tourism industry, where there’s a long time between getting to know us and being ready to hire us.

We wondered why, then realized….in addition to a more flexible budget structure, many of these consultants have a sense of urgency.

If they don’t learn how to “fish where the fish are” – online and on social media – their businesses will fail. They know that, so they commit to their own learning a lot faster.

That’s our theory, at least.

Now we are thinking about ways to get other prospective customers to feel that sense of urgency (as the world of online communications rockets forward) and to commit to learning for the sake of their own success.

Does your product or service require a culture change or a certain kind of commitment in order to really make a difference? Let me know in the comments.

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