If You Want The Sale, Be Bold

If You Want The Sale, Be Bold

How many books are there on making the sale? A lot and I’ve read a lot of them myself. Of course some are better than others. That goes without saying. But is there a sure-fire way to ensure the sale? I don’t think there’s a magic pill out there, but there are clear strategies that can work.

Robert Bloom built his career by developing successful sales and marketing solutions for some of the world’s biggest brands. As the CEO of Publicis Worldwide, he helped create and implement growth strategies for companies such as BMW, L’Oréal, Nestlé and TGI Friday’s. In addition to consulting for businesses of all sizes, he directed the launch of brands that went on to become household names—Southwest Airlines, T-Mobile USA and Theraflu. I read an online article Q&A with Bloom and found it to be very enlightening. Here’s some of what he said:

The online magazine asked him: How has customer loyalty to a particular brand changed?

He said, “If customer loyalty isn’t dead, at the very least it is declining. And it has been declining for some time. In the 1980s, four out of five car buyers were loyal to one brand. But in 2009, only one out of five customers stayed loyal to a brand.

“Customers have changed. Technology and the Internet have given buyers unlimited information, and knowledge is power. At one time, you had to go to the dealership and get the brochure. You were forced to rely on the dealer for information and were limited to what he offered you.

“The buyer is in charge of the process now, and there’s no benefit for him to be loyal. They’re looking for a better product or service at a more advantageous price.

“Buyers also have unlimited choice. That’s hugely powerful. If you don’t have what they want, they can go next door and get it. That shift in power is what killed (or is killing) the idea of loyalty.”

So, how do you compete? How do you close the sale? Bloom noted, “There is no way to revive loyalty. But that doesn’t mean we can’t create preference—and that is very different than loyalty. Preference says, ‘I prefer you over three competitors.’

“It takes work to create preference. Before the markets crashed in the last few years, sellers sold everything they put out there. As a result, they became complacent. Some sellers are still selling the same way they sold when they were in control. The sellers don’t know how much trouble they’re in. Their customer has radically changed, and the sellers will go out of business if they don’t change.”

I think he’s dead on. A lot in the mortgage technology space has been commoditized. The secret sauce is getting thinner and thinner each year. So, companies have to dare not to just keep up, but to innovate. Be different. Be special. Playing catch up or just responding to the market won’t work anymore. If you want the sale, you have to be bold.