Beyond the Sales Process

12 Proven Strategies for a Customer-Driven World

 Beyond the Sales Process

Authors: Dave Stein, Steve Andersen
Pub Date: April 2016
Print Edition: $27.95
Print ISBN: 9780814437155
Page Count: 288
Format: Hardback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814437162

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Introduction: What If?

“Adventure may hurt but monotony will kill you.” – Author Unknown

What if? That is the question you need to ask and answer, multiple times every single day. The solution to every problem begins with this question.

The best marketers don’t ask either/or questions. They don’t seek answers to questions such as: Transactions or relationships? High touch or high tech? Purpose or profit? Size or speed?

There is no doubt that we all must make difficult choices in executing brand strategy. But it’s no longer about giving up something that is important to you and your customers. In many cases, asking “what if” helps you find new ways to approach an ill-defined obstacle course.


What if I asked you to run through a trail of mud with me?

That’s exactly what my co-worker Laurel Geisbush asked me to do in 2013 when I arrived at Microsoft. But this wasn’t your average mud run. This was an obstacle endurance course created by two Harvard Business School students, Guy Livingstone and Will Dean.

Its name? Tough Mudder.

Tough Mudder is a great analogy for the world we occupy as marketers. The demanding physical course features several decision-making scenarios requiring you to work creatively and collaboratively in order to be successful. To the unacquainted, the obstacle course can be a mare’s nest of irrational decision-making whether there is one leader everyone follows or if everyone attempts the course on his or her own. That’s the point. What the organizers want you to do is make decisions — many of them uncomfortable — quickly and spontaneously. In Tough Mudder, groups that think obstacles through “on the fly” benefit from using a “what if” rather than an “either or” decision-making process, although several of the obstacles require a straight linear thought trajectory.

The Biggest Obstacle: Consumers In Control

Shaping business around real customer behavior is the biggest obstacle facing us as marketers. It’s our version of Tough Mudder. Unfortunately, companies are still built and structured to solve linear twentieth century marketing issues. The marketing skills that used to work splendidly are incompatible with today’s world.

Phillipa Reed, Director at Think Big Social in London defined the current situation brilliantly, when she wrote about where brands stand in a thought leadership piece for LinkedIn, “There is an increasing trend away from consumers simply being influenced by brands, to the point where brands are now increasingly being controlled and influenced by their consumers.”

The primary driver of this distinct trend is the influence that social networks, smartphones, apps, online forums and blogs have all had on the way we live our lives.

The continuing takeover by digital media has ushered in the re-imagination of the roles once controlled by brand strategists, media buyers, advertising agencies, brands and marketing departments. While customers were once subject to the whim of brand messages, they now can act as media creators, publishers, producers and critics.

In other words, brands have less control than ever before and must be willing to adapt to this newfound reality.

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