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Storming the Castle

I’m a big fan of the British TV Show Merlin.  It’s got magic, intrigue, likeable (and very dislikeable… Morgana) characters, and it shows that even though you may have to follow around and clean up after King Arthur, your purpose isn’t defined by that alone – you are destined for more.  But this really isn’t about destiny – although that’s pretty important.  It’s about Medieval seige warfare.

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Merlin & Morgana – Doesn’t she just look annoying?

Having been through Sandler Sales Training at Trustpointe here in Indianapolis, (they’re very good, by the way), I’ve ended up on their email list,  where they send me weekly updates about how sales lessons can be learned through the most innocuous things – birds, football, the President’s nuclear launch codes, and, in this case, The Princess Bride.  To be upfront, I’ve never actually seen this movie, although I’ve heard it’s one of cinema’s greatest masterpieces – right up there with Casablanca, Citizen Kane, and Dumb & Dumber.

However, even with my lack of cinematic experience, I still found this email from Trustpointe to be thought-provoking with regard to marketing.

Check it out:

 

The Princess Bride
By Matt Nettleton

One of my favorite movies is The Princess Bride. It’s funny and filled with great lines delivered with impeccable comedic timing. Billy Crystal throws out one of my favorite lines, “Have fun storming the castle,” as he waves goodbye to his friends he believes are heading off to a certain death. This is the line I think every sales manager should use to end sales meetings.

Over the past four years, we have seen a rapid change. Buyers are now buying very differently than they have previously. Studies show that in B2B sales, more than 95% of your prospects begin their buying process with an internet search. This is troubling since more than 60% of the buying process is complete before the prospect actually asks to speak to a salesperson. But sales teams and their managers resist adapting to this change.

In response to this new reality many sales teams, and the managers who lead them, have chosen to change only the tempo and force they use to reach out to prospects. In other words, buyers have decided that they can hide in their castle and get the outcomes they want. Unfortunately, many salespeople have decided that rather than learn new approaches to these buyers, it makes more sense to use battering rams and siege towers.

When the call from a prospect comes in, most salespeople are not ready to answer it. Many sales teams are taught how to storm the castle, but they have no idea what to do when they get invited in the main gate.

Today’s buyers already know how to get answers; they use Google. The same studies of buyer processes clearly show the reason buyers call salespeople is to find information they do not know how to ask for.

High performing salespeople approach prospects armed with focused questions. They help prospects discover unique insights about their current situation. They tailor their sales process to discover the customer’s specific reasons to change. Finally, rather than simply performing as requested by their prospects, they are assertive and push back when necessary to earn control of the sales process.

 

Granted, this is a sort of sales pitch for their sales training, but there are a couple of parts that stuck out to me.

Firstly: “more than 60% of the buying process is complete before the prospect actually asks to speak to a salesperson.”

What’s this mean? That your image, especially online, must remain updated, fresh, and consistent with your brand.  You have to actuvely control and project an image of your business that is cohesive with the ideals, culture, and experience of your business – and if you don’t, then someone else will – be it a disgruntled former employee, client or your competition.

zuko as merlin

Zuko, with his Merlin-magic mouse catching skills.

Second:  “Today’s buyers already know how to get answers; they use Google.”

And this? Well, contrary to popular belief, Google doesn’t use Merlin-esque magic to determine who pops up first when you type in “How to Catch a Live Mouse That Your Cat Brought In,” (although magic may have been helpful this weekend… thanks Zuko…).

There’s a specific reason why certain websites come up first, second, 10th, and so on.  But this sentence really underscores the usefulness and necessity of Search Engine Optimization, a.k.a. SEO.

SEO is the process of helping you rank higher in Google and other search engines for the keywords you want to rank in.  SEO, ideally, will help bring you new business, as Google will answer the question of “Who’s Indy’s best butcher?” with “Jim the Butcher Inc.”  Too often, I see companies spending effort, time and money optimizing their site to display for their own company’s name – which, frankly, is a waste of time.  The design of your site should help do that automatically.  But this really isn’t about web design, it’s about why SEO isn’t something you should ignore.

Just think about for a minute, if, when someone Googled “Indianapolis Cheeseburgers” that your website would pop up, ahead of all of your competition.  Can you imagine the power of that?  Google would answer your customers’ question with your business as its answer.

That is the value of SEO.  We can help you get there.

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