Joe and I have both used the four basic food groups as an analogy for multiple presentations. Although the healthiness of bread has changed over the years, most of our audience grew up in the age of the diet quadrants, and it’s an easy metaphor to tie into. In a post-food-pyramid, macrobiotic, raw food, juice cleanse, alkaline, paleo, keto world, we still know one thing about diets: If you eat just one thing, you’ll certainly stop being healthy.
It might come as a devastating disappointment, but I am not Tom Brady. I have eaten strawberries, and find them delicious. People pay me for my brain, not to entertain them by throwing a ball (no disrespect to Tom or his Thanos level of Super Bowl rings). According to scientists, brains run on sugar. And, it may come as another surprise, but in all seriousness, I drink Red Bull because of its glucose and B-vitamin content, not the caffeine factor. It throws my brain into hyperdrive drive when I need it. I also know that too much of it will ruin my heart, kidneys, and teeth, most likely making me morbidly obese in the process. I know I need to eat a balanced diet on the other days I’m not trying to solve the world’s problems. Clearly, man cannot survive on Red Bull alone.
The same can be said the for sales personnel relying on only one form of communication. You pick a relatively successful person, and they’ll likely tell you a secret about how only serious customers will talk to you on the phone. Another might tell you it’s all about email. Still another, most commonly today, would say texting is the only thing that matters. The truth is that they are all right. They are also all wrong. Some customers may only want to communicate with only one of those mediums. Unfortunately, we only know who those customers are by exclusively communicating with them that way. It’s a classic self-fulfilling prophecy. We don’t know if a customer prefers 10% text, 3% video, 7% chat, 22% email, 40% phone, and 18% face-to-face before we enter into communication with them. You can only find out after the fact. If you have all modes of communication available to you, why not use them all?
How many conversations have you been part of that start with “these leads suck?” If you were in my position, you’d hear it almost every other day. So when I use my sugar infused brain to find out why, a funny thing happens. When you crack open the CRM, you find that every phone call was performed between 8:57 and 9:22 AM, with no attempt to email, text, or send a raven, let alone try calling at a different time. All the emails ask the exact same thing with no phone calls. The customer opted out of text messages in the first ten minutes of follow-up, and the lead immediately gets marked as bad (even after they opted-in. That text blast may have been premature). Someone tried to survive on steaks for two months, then started complaining about their loose teeth because of scurvy.
Salespeople are not 18th-century pirates, nor are the leads all that bad. The fact of the matter is that too many salespeople are becoming reliant on just one form of communication. Whether it’s on “expert” advice, or just a good ole’ fashioned gut feeling, a good portion of sales personnel are fully financially satisfied just using one form of communication. Except, it’s costing business owners thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, in lost revenue. Any way you slice it, talking to a complete stranger is awkward. It gets even more awkward when trying to justify that a $70,000 Chevy pickup is somehow reasonable. It’s just as easy for the salespeople to hide behind chatting, emailing, and texting as it is for the customer. For the self-proclaimed “people person,” phone or in-person is the weapon of choice, and technology is for the weak-sticks. I’ve tried telepathy for years with no results. If you’re a brick and mortar business, unless you are investing in bleeding edge technology, or have an infinitely large family, you don’t get to choose your customers. For some reason, sometimes known only to them, they choose you. You need to be ready to communicate with them, no matter what method they choose. Even if that method changes two or three times, and is different in the future.
As with the multitude of fad diets, an exclusive contact diet, will be found to be bad for you. Like a quick burst of sugar, it might make you feel good in the short term, but as your customer base continues to evolve, your long term business will become brittle and weak. Instead, make sure your customer base gets a healthy portion of calls, emails, texts, videos, and chats. You will maximize your ability to communicate with all prospects while making sure your heart is healthy, your brain is sharp, and your calves are proportional to your biceps. Your employer, accountant, spouse, and future self with thank you.