Posts Tagged ‘conversation’

Breakdowns in Social Media Conversations

by Guy Ralfe on February 10, 2010

In general the growth of the internet in people’s lives has been closely segregated by demographics, primarily age and location. The old didn’t think they would ever learn how to use these new tools yet alone see the benefit in them and those living in the poorer nations just took longer to get access to the internet. But today you have to go quite far out the way to get away from a connection to the internet which in itself has become a much simpler task, coupled with the user interface becoming so intuitive that more and more of the older generations are now using the internet and its wonders too.

In a recent special article in the Economist, it quotes that if Facebook was a country it would be the third largest by population and this is just one of the social media networks out there. What this brought forth for me is that even though we are can now easily connected to many more people in our networks, our networks are generally age and geography independent as a result.

I have had two interesting situations in the last week that opened my eyes to potential breakdowns in the fast paced and fleeting electronic interactions of social media communications. I am a South African living in Boston, USA. I illustrate in real life what a long distance social media network relationship is like if we were to live them, as I come from a far away land where I call things by different names and I speak with a funny accent to the local American community.

The other day I was at the Home Depot store, where I made an inquiry to a store attendant about the ‘fall’ required in a particular DIY plumbing application. The store attendant looked at me blankly and did not understand me. He actually gave up on me until I picked up some parts and showed him what I was asking – “oh you mean the ‘pitch’ he replied”, YES!

The very next day we were interviewing and we asked the applicant if they had any experience performing data queries? The applicant looked at us blankly, and responded NO! Then my colleague gave some examples just to dig a little further, to which the applicant responded like running a catalog inquiry? YES.

If you have traveled internationally lately you will have noticed HSBC Bank’s advertising campaign “The World’s Local Bank” that seem to cover most airports today. This campaign illustrating these differences brilliantly as in the sample below.

In our online social conversations we need to be mindful of peoples backgrounds, particularly as the amount of time spent in these conversations today are briefer and shorter, many opportunities may be missed.

Leveraging Comfort

by Yakov Soloveychik on August 4, 2009

leverageassetsMany of us have been to a vacation time share presentation to get a free vacation, but with the clear intention of not purchasing it… and admittedly, have found ourselves on the edge of the purchasing decision! They did not close the deal, but did come close… very close… and for that, I have to give them credit – their sales process is very good. It is based on the centuries old four stage AIDA sales sequence:

1. Attention

2. Interest

3. Desire

4. Action

The concept of AIDA comes from the perception of a buyer going through stages of first becoming aware or Attentive to a proposed product or service, then, if it is relevant, it provokes Interest and willingness of the buyer to learn more about it. If the buyer perceives it to be valuable and unique or special, the state of Desire develops, and most likely leads the buyer to take Action to purchase or accept the offer.

In essence, the classical AIDA model is: Get ATTENTION – Create INTEREST – Make it DESIRABLEACT to Close the deal.

This looks logical and simple, but does not always work as intended. The main breakdown usually occurs in the transition from (stage 3) Desire to (stage 4) Action. What makes this transition difficult is the inception of the “decision making point” that may often change the dynamics of the selling process as the reality of the consequences of the buying decision overpowers the desire to acquire.

Successful sales people differ from those who do not close effectively in their ability to keep the energy and emotional levels of the desire stage high through the transition stage to close the deal often at or over the borderline of ethical norms by hiding or minimizing the impact of consequences or risks and thus deceiving their clients.

Let’s take an example from a familiar domain – you are trying to convince your child to complete the homework. You got their Attention – that is relatively easy (whatever methods you might be employing) – now your child is sitting in front of you and you are working on getting them interested to do the work. You proceed to talk about the benefits of education trying to build up the Desire (to get to a reputed ivy league school rather then working in the local fast food chain) … and then you go for the kill and at that very moment the whole structure collapses as your kid starts crying as they realize they have to give up TV or playing with the kids outside.

So, what just happened? … The transition from Interest/Desire stage to Action was not prepared – there was no COMFORT zone in the transition and all high emotional content achieved during first three stages simply collapsed.

This transitional issue became obvious to many in recent years and lead to the modification of the century old process of AIDA to what is now known as AIDCA. The “C” stands for the Comfort stage. This stage bridges the gap between the Decision making stage and the Action stage; the very gap that cause the breakdown we observed in the earlier AIDA process. Helping the customer reach this comfort zone is essential in the modern sales/negotiation process.

The old notion: “make me an offer I can’t refuse” is still very powerful in leveraging this comfort, but it is not always possible. “Make me an offer that I can comfortably accept” becomes more realistic. Both require one important piece of information – what is important, the “deal makers” and the “deal breakers”, the risks and the benefits perceived by the buyer, not the seller. Obtaining this information becomes critically important in order to create the comfort zone and close the deal and that requires a discussion rather than a monologue.

Sales presentation becomes Sales conversation.

The Vacation time share industry developed a great approach to the creation of the comfort zone. After showing you all the nice places you can go and most beautiful spots you can reach – they turn the table and start asking questions like:

  • how you spent your vacation time in the past?
  • what do you want to do in the future?
  • what are your key requirements in regards to price, activities, types of destinations etc?
  • All this with the purpose to find out and make you feel comfortable with what they have to offer and your decision to purchase.

    There are three distinct stages in the process:

    1. Development of Comfort zone:

    (i) Early in the Interest-Desire stages, start the interactive exchange with the purpose of identifying and developing the comfort zone structure for your client.

    (ii) Do not assume anything as no two customers are exactly the same.

    (iii) No previous experience is applicable (even with the same individual).

    (iv) Ask questions and be (not just look) sincere.

    2. Reaching the Comfort state:

    (i) When you are ready, get confirmation from the client about what you just learned of their interest and their comfort/discomfort with the decision to act.

    (ii) Talk openly about pros and cons and risks as you think they perceive it.

    (iii) Summarize and ask for confirmation or modifications to this understanding.

    3. Leveraging Comfort:

    (i) Using what you just learned in the process add something to your offering that makes your client decision making process easier and your offer more acceptable.

    (ii) Extend the warranty period, give additional guarantees, add refund benefits, etc – use whatever you discovered is important for this client to customize the offer, instead of providing them a generic prepackaged offer everybody gets.

    Now, let’s return to the example with your kid. After you told them about the choices of Harvard vs. McDonald and the importance of doing their homework, engage them in a discussion and ask questions of what they feel is important for them and where doing homework belongs in the level of importance. Ask questions of what would make them comfortable to complete homework before watching their favorite TV show. You may learn that taping their show and allowing them to watch it later may make the whole difference as that introduces the Comfort stage for them. You may then “leverage” this comfort further by offering to DVR the entire show every day and letting them to watch it any time they want after their homework is done.

    Here are a few questions that will help you in your thinking on the development of Comfort zone:

    (i) What do you like about the product/service/offering?

    (ii) How do you see the benefits, if you make the decision?

    (iii) Where do you see the risks and difficulties?

    (iv) What would make you feel good and enjoy your purchase a year from now?

    _____

    Yajov SoloveychikYakov Soloveychik is a business advisor, mentor and a personal coach to CEO’s and business owners. Yakov’s professional and entrepreneurial career includes VP,  COO, CEO positions and service on board of directors with a number of technology based companies in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley