There’s a reason people are glued to their cellphones — and it doesn’t have anything to do with web browsing, GPS or streaming capabilities. Fancy features are just icing on the mobile cake. We’re attached to these devices because they connect us to the people who matter. Whether the voice on the other end is my wife, babysitter, colleague or customer, the calls I make and receive are important to me.
Now, think about the people who call your desk at work: Unknown numbers, vendors and salespeople. For me, it’s usually people that mispronounce my name and think I work for a company called “Hot Stop.” Unplugging your desk phone is the new “Mark as Spam.” At least our executive team thinks so — this tweet from our VP of Content Joe Chernov sums it up perfectly:
The best time to call me is email.
— Joe Chernov (@jchernov) October 15, 2013
Humans have radically changed the way we shop and buy since days of Mad Men, but most companies haven’t followed suit. To win in business today, you need to think differently: Replace rambling voicemails with effective tweets; ditch impersonal phone calls for personalized content.
Your business plan should be driven by your brand, not peer pressure
Vacation policies, dress codes, stigmas against working remotely — these are all things that didn’t work for us at HubSpot. So we got rid of them. Rather than ditching a playbook that doesn’t mesh with modern buyers, many businesses are letting outdated conventions dictate their approach to sales and marketing. Cold calling may have worked 20 years ago, but as my mother always said: If they jumped off a bridge, would you? Following suit might make brands feel more comfortable in the short term, but it ruins their shot at connecting with customers in the long run.
The key to building customer relationships today is to create interactions and content that people actually want to consume.
The key to building customer relationships today is to create interactions and content that people actually want to consume. Check out Whole Foods’ Pinterest boards, Stitch Fix’s blog or Warby Parker’s visual content. These brands aren’t influenced by peer pressure when it comes to telling their story. Instead, they focus on creating value for their audience and delivering memorable interactions at every touchpoint. Now, that’s a playbook worth following.
Your customers have day jobs, too
Time is precious. We need to allocate and prioritize really, really well. But even with a cohesive to-do list, we often end wondering where the day went when 5:00 pm rolls around. We often lose time fending off spam.
People who matter know how to get in touch with us: Our family knows they should text, not call, when I’m on a deadline. Colleagues opt for email instead of instant messaging for non-urgent conversations. But some brands seem to think they’re the only ones with an agenda. When pitching a product or service, companies need to know when and where it works for the consumer — not for them. It doesn’t do anyone any good when we’re interrupted from an important task by someone with an unrecognizable caller ID.
The best selling today doesn’t feel like selling at all: It feels like an exchange; like a consultation.
The best selling today doesn’t feel like selling at all: It feels like an exchange; like a consultation. Check out how Spotifyinteracts with its users on Twitter — instead of picking up the phone to sell a premium subscription, they kept it in the customer’s court by responding with the right content, on the right platform, at the right time.
When in doubt, get social
We read about social media horror stories for brands every day (think: Chrysler dropping the f-bomb on Twitter), but the biggest mistake isn’t newsjacking-gone-wrong, it’s not engaging on social at all. Brands are only 140 characters away from their buyers today making it easier than ever to stay top-of-mind. While platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are great for reaching a mass audience, they’re also key in connecting with people one-on-one.
Old-school sales calls used to be a way of reaching an individual — but if you don’t know their pain points, needs or name, then what’s the point? Social media makes it easy for brands to get background on a prospect or customer and they should be using it to spark conversations with context. Not only does it make your audience feel valued, it actually works. Today,
78% of salespeople using social media outsell their peers.
78% of salespeople using social media outsell their peers. Check out Xbox’s back and forth with their audience on Facebook, or Hanes’ helpful Twitter responses that quickly turn followers into customers.
Rethinking business starts with how you interact with people
So what does this all boil down to? Rethinking the way companies interact with people, because that’s where innovation in business starts.
All too often we say, “I’m going to use this tool because everyone else is using it.” Not enough people actually think about the utility they’re getting from a particular tool, or whether the investment of time and money is worth it.
If you want to get people’s attention, you need use a human touch— not a megaphone. Any brand can buy emails or phone numbers to spam, but customers today can tune out irrelevant messages. Or, like many of our executives, to ditch certain communication channels entirely. Instead of getting hung up — pun intended — on what everyone else is doing, think about leveraging the channels that are most relevant to your audience. Your customers (and voicemail box) will thank you for it.