Most of us are looking to grow our business. And, at some point, just about everyone in sales and marketing has sought out sage advice to take their game to the next level.
The problem? As my good friend, Chris Jolly, AKA The Freight Coach, will tell you, those sales and marketing “gurus” have it flat-out wrong—the “selling recipe” they’re selling just doesn’t work. They suggest that if you simply push logical arguments in front of your audience, you’ll manipulate them into buying.
Unfortunately, we’re human—and as much as we’d like to think our buying decisions are sound, reasoned, and logical, study after study reveals they simply aren’t. (As one professor puts it, we are predictably irrational.)
Worse, there are lots of predatory sales and marketing courses out there led by people who’ve been in the industry for six months—and Chris will tell you they’ll keep you caught in an unending marketing loop that requires you to buy the next course, and the next course, and the next course to unlock the secret that will unleash your success. But the secret never comes. (Or is the secret that they’ve cracked the secret of selling themselves?)
It’s why I wanted to share a few science-based tips for driving sales and marketing performance across your organization. After all, our industry is intrinsically people-centric—it’s all about helping each other succeed and powering our economy, right?
So, what really works?
Giving away value, being authentic, and nurturing peer-to-peer relationships. Aligning with cognitive bias. And, science bears this out.
Harness the power of reciprocity
Ask the so-called gurus, and they’ll suggest you hit your differentiation hard. Show why you’re the logical choice and stack the deck to show your features are better.
What’s happening here, however, is that you’re asking your prospective customers to take your call, read your “8 Reasons Why ACME is Your Best Bet” article—to give you their valuable time—yet they’re getting nothing in return. Not immediately, anyway—which is critical for success.
What actually drives results is giving something away unexpectedly, as our brains are hard-wired to return the favor. (And, this can boost sales.) It’s called the reciprocity heuristic, and it’s incredibly powerful.
And, this probably isn’t all that surprising. Not only does it feel awfully good to be on the receiving end of an unexpected gift, but we also find ourselves compelled to give back, actively looking for ways to balance the scales again, so we don’t feel indebted.
This “gift” might take the shape of a value-added blog series or a podcast, like Chris’s Coffee w/#The Freight Coach. Perhaps it’s a no-strings-attached yet insightful consulting call that helps your target audience tackle a unique freight industry challenge. Maybe it’s some initial, actionable advice about starting up a freight brokerage or guidance on the tech solutions that enable greater supply chain visibility.
Heck, it might simply be an opportunity to laugh, a genuine demonstration of appreciation, or a simple compliment.
My advice? Don’t ask your prospective customers for their business right out of the gate. Put out value, and the business will come to you.
Speak peer-to-peer and foster affinity
It’s pretty simple, really. People choose to do business with people they like, brands they like—and they’ll even pay more to do it.
Well, you know what’s immediately unlikeable? Kicking things off by telling folks how amazing you are. (Narcissus, enter stage right.)
Of course, that’s what those “experts” would suggest you do.
And, based on the power of the anchoring effect bias, people will remember this first experience like an elephant—so make it count. How?
The evidence-based approach is to flatten the power dynamic and create a genuine and familiar sense of connection—it’s called affinity bias. After all, people like to do business with people “like them.” And, when you do, you’ll foster a sense of equality.
What’s more, when you leverage peer-to-peer language that matches your audience’s internal dialogue, speaking in their terms and meeting them where they’re at, you’ll trigger mirror neurons that instill connection and empathy.
Extra points: Adopt a growth mindset
We’re human. As a rule, we tend to take the path of least resistance, to seek comfort. Yet, failure and critical feedback are our paths to growth.
It’s why those of us with a growth mindset, those that recognize failure as simply part of the process and an opportunity to improve will routinely outperform our counterparts.
And, the good news is that while only about 5-15% of us currently have a growth mindset, it’s something we can all learn.
The amazing Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University, shares how in this TED Talk.
In short, if we see criticism as a gift, are unafraid to look at analytics, and believe in the power of “yet”, we free ourselves up to focus on solutions and don’t get bogged down in the problems. Your talent is only as fixed as you think it is—your success will follow if you keep showing up and putting in the effort.
Ultimately, by tapping into our prospective customers’ brain wiring—while rewiring our own—we can drive untapped growth.
So, go out there and do some good while also growing your business. It’s certainly working for Chris. And, drop me a line, I’d love to hear how things go!