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Permission Marketingand Permission Sellinginthe Internet Age


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Permission Marketingand Permission Sellinginthe Internet Age

  1. 1. Permission Marketing and Permission Selling in the Internet Age Websites and Social Media by Keith Shetterly, Copyright 2009, All Rights Reserved Page 1 of 5 A discussion of permission marketing and selling relative to the Internet must first begin with an introduction to the concept of “Permission Marketing”: Seth Godin is a true marketing visionary, well- renowned for decades now, and his 1999 book “Permission Marketing” is still a wonder. And today’s Social Media Marketing, or “inbound marketing” for the Internet, is the most modern incarnation of permission marketing and growing daily. Nowadays, instead of marketers interrupting consumers’ TV viewing and radio listening with commercials irrelevant to the content being experienced, Social Media provides a marketing audience that wants to hear what you have to say. You just have to be invited into their experience in order to say it, rather than jamming your message between pages of news or magazine copy or between songs and TV programs in the hopes they pay attention. That invitation is the new “trick” of Internet marketing, and as Mr. Godin points out “permission marketing” is really a return to how local businesses began in local markets—with individual attention to individuals!—so nowadays we must incorporate all the automation and personalization tools that we can bring to bear in order to gain the individual’s permission to be marketed and sold to. And that’s Social Media and Permission Marketing—what a great and empowering time to be a consumer! “Permission Selling”, like permission marketing, is not a new concept, at least in actions. Its counterpart, “Interruption Selling”, is clearest-seen in such things as vacuum cleaner salesmen knocking on doors, loud barkers hawking their wares to pedestrians on city streets, and the like—in other words, salespeople interrupting and selling to people who are all doing something completely different than looking for a product and are not asking to be sold to at all. “Permission Selling” is, instead, when salespeople can sell to people seeking their product. For example, shoppers visiting a retail mall, vehicle showroom, or new home model are, by their own actions, permitting you to sell to them. They made the point of giving that permission by entering your sales area and personally providing themselves to be sold to, and the shoppers certainly know that! And then good salespeople will make use of that permission and try to close as many visitors as possible on a purchase of your product. And “Permission Selling” is found in many other places: People visiting your trade-show booth are offering permission; someone calling you using a business card you presented them at a charity golf tournament last Sunday is offering permission; and, as various sales coaches have taught over the years and still do, permission for selling can also be gained from shoppers by making oneself attractive to the shopper as a sales “partner” or even friend. And by “attractive” these coaches mean everything from how you dress to how you present your product—focusing on these points is intended to ease your sales style and increase your closing ratio by attracting businesses to offer permission sales instead of you only pursuing and interrupting them. Selling to a friend . . . hmmm, doesn’t that sound like the Internet, and especially Social Media? Yes! And Permission Selling now straddles the modern blur of sales and marketing presented by the Internet, which by its own interactive nature easily provides for several strong steps past Permission Marketing into the sales process and thus to Permission Sales. To understand that point by contrast, we know that
  2. 2. Permission Marketing and Permission Selling in the Internet Age Websites and Social Media by Keith Shetterly, Copyright 2009, All Rights Reserved Page 2 of 5 billboards, magazines, TV, radio, newspapers, and direct mail are “outbound” marketing and can’t invite a shopper to instantly adjust their presentation of, and information on, product and inventory along the shopper’s personal lines of interest. And this traditional media also can’t further react to the shoppers’ own adjustments and invite shoppers to email, call, or visit, or to ask for the shoppers’ contact information for salespeople to reach them directly. Or for the shopper to be offered a live chat with a salesperson--and shoppers certainly can’t even take the first steps for any needed negotiation process for purchase price and financing. Or allow an instant purchase, depending on the vertical market. The Internet can, and does, provide for all that and more! So, within important—but comprehensible—limits, the very visit by a shopper to a website begins permission for them to be marketed to and sold to. And a shopper agreeing for you to participate in their social media (and, make no mistake, it is their Social Media, whether you run a Social Media group they are in or someone else does) is giving even more permission. Internet marketer and salesperson beware, however, as that permission on the world-wide-web is as tenuous and fragile as it is valuable, and really more so: Mishandle it, and, at the very least, you will lose the connection and any further chances for impressions and sales to the individuals involved; at the worst, your will lose sales to competitors—and also be quickly manhandled into negative blogs and social media posts that will block your marketing and sales efforts to far more people than you will ever know. And, thanks to the Internet, like it or not we really have just a single mouse-click’s distance in position from “least to worst” for any business today. 24x7 and all over the world. Web Sites and Permission Internet shoppers have already “entered your door” when they reach your website, and so the permission from the shoppers to be marketed and sold to is already inherent in that step. That’s great! However, it is very important to understand that such permission for sales is not the same as the sales permission granted when the transition is from the shopper’s physical car door, across a real parking lot, and into your brick- and-mortar business: Your “online facility’s” door now directly and instantly reaches into the far-more personal space of their work and home, and they shop at their convenience, not yours. Internet shoppers will bounce from a bad site to a competitor’s in an instant; they will shop price and delivery (and financing, where appropriate) in just a few minutes; they will react badly and vocally to an Internet site that denies them the rich Internet shopping experience they now expect; and they will quickly relate, to anyone who will read, every detail of any bad marketing and/or sales experience by blogging and Social Media status posts. And then continue to shop! In fact, such shopper and consumer personal blogs and posts have quickly eclipsed (replaced, really) the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for reporting bad experiences with businesses. Peer-to-peer reviews have lost some of their importance for buying decisions, but modern studies still show clearly that shoppers will
  3. 3. Permission Marketing and Permission Selling in the Internet Age Websites and Social Media by Keith Shetterly, Copyright 2009, All Rights Reserved Page 3 of 5 more-strongly consider an experience, bad or good, that is personally reported on the Internet—especially those reported via Social media!—than in any other media. As well, no formally-established third-party arbitration exists between shoppers businesses on the Internet (as there is, still, with the BBB), which has already led to defamation lawsuits and also to the brand-new field of “Reputation Management” for businesses to pursue. There’s no real limit in sight on the number of negative or positive comments about businesses on the Internet, and don’t expect any effective limit any time soon. As the radio used to say just before stopping the music for those interrupting commercials, “The hits just keep on comin’!” Social Media and Permission As noted above, Social Media is the latest clear incarnation of Mr. Godin’s Permission Marketing. For Social Media to be successful for you, however, any interaction with a Social Media audience of any size must be far more individual and personal—and relevant—to their lives than a common web site: “Coca-Cola is Great!” invitations likely won’t get much response on Social Media. However, friend/fan invitations from a brand that include information relevant to each individual’s personal interest can and do. For example, an invitation containing an article about sailing sent to boat owners, with a coupon for a free liter of Coca-Cola for their next hot summer sailing afternoon, would certainly be far more personally interesting to that audience. And promises (kept!!) of future regular, relevant, and interesting posts from you—not too often, mind you—of more such articles can be more likely to cement the acceptance of the invitation. And to make them view you as more of a friend than just a marketer or a salesperson, which wider reaction is exactly what you want in order to interact on Social Media for sales. With Permission Sales, we are back to the individual handshake from the store owner days, as far as what people expect in Social Media—so don’t disappoint them, or your marketing and sales Social Media experience will be very lonely and unprofitable. And you can even lose money, perhaps lots of it, if your mistakes go viral and cost you even more sales. Google “United Breaks Guitars” for an example of what can happen. It’s easiest to see the truth of how to best gain permission for marketing and sales in how Social Media has co-opted our natural human social rules to the Internet, especially clear in the context of a party: Obviously, at an actual party you wouldn’t barge into a group conversation of strangers and say “Hi, I’m Steve, and I sell Coca-Cola!”; however, if you joined, say, their sailing discussion and offered good insights and interesting information, and THEN offered a coupon for free Coca-Cola with your sales card . . . well, that’s very different, isn’t it? You might even get invited on the next thirsty summer sailing trip! And so you see how Social Media’s processes for such marketing and sales are much more human than anything else the Internet has to offer. And they are a whole other universe from what corporate “interruption marketing” has been to classic media for decades.
  4. 4. Permission Marketing and Permission Selling in the Internet Age Websites and Social Media by Keith Shetterly, Copyright 2009, All Rights Reserved Page 4 of 5 Permission Marketing and Selling—Get on Board! Sales have always depended on relationships with the community and also individuals. Even the ramrod of Microsoft, where selling strategy was for years “only we have it, and you will buy it at our price because you need it!”, had its come-uppance with the US Department of Justice, courtesy of all the personal computer OEMs who saw an opening to be true consumers rather than just extorted buyers who weren’t being allowed to shop the price for something they needed. The lack of relationship with their own customers (the OEMs) was a lesson that eventually blended into and gave voice to a parallel dissatisfying consumer experience—and thus caused (and causes, still today, really) lingering reputation issues for Microsoft. Reputation and trust gained are not absolute things, but exist on a sliding scale of current experience; reputation and trust lost, however, today are too often easily distilled by unhappy consumers as discrete points of No Return. And all with shocking speed and effect. You only have to imagine Microsoft’s DOJ debacle in today’s world of blogs and Social Media, or to look to the current and very-real situation of the discordant Mr. Tiger Woods, and you will see how a relationship—good or bad—with your consumers is now more public than ever. And so Permission Selling folds back into Permission Marketing on the Internet, blending both efforts on your websites and in your Social Media. You are asking to do business with your shoppers while you market to them, and there is no going back to the old division of marketing and sales, nor to the old practice of just interrupting folks to sell to them. Marketing and sales are now more about Permission Marketing and Permission Sales than ever before, and that tide is really only beginning to rise. So, don’t drown: To survive and thrive and sell, get on the Permission Marketing and Sales Boat. Now. After all, instead of reading this article, didn’t you want to talk to me about sailing, anyway? Who is Keith Shetterly? Keith Shetterly has been the Internet Sales/BDC Director for DeMontrond Dealership Group in Houston, Texas since 2007. He oversees the Internet sales team for sixteen makes and four pre- owned lots spread across three locations in the Houston area, as well as operates and trains the Business Development Center (BDC) for DeMontrond. His efforts on Internet sales in processes, templates, and approach have more than tripled Internet sales across DeMontrond, and he is currently involved in completing a much-overdue sales- and SEO-driven modernization and revamp of and bringing the Social Media efforts for DeMontrond smartly online. Keith is also the sales trainer for DeMontrond for all sales calls, and he operates—and monitors the use of— the Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) software across all the DeMontrond dealerships. Keith has a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering, and he came to the automotive business first in 2003 after retiring from a long and great career in sales and technology & web development with companies like IBM, Compaq, and lastly Microsoft. Keith has very successfully sold cars on the floor and on the Internet in the intervening years, rapidly rising to run a dealership-based Business Development Center (BDC) for Saturn before coming to DeMontrond as Internet Sales/BDC Director. Keith’s talents are most
  5. 5. Permission Marketing and Permission Selling in the Internet Age Websites and Social Media by Keith Shetterly, Copyright 2009, All Rights Reserved Page 5 of 5 valuable in understanding very well how to capture the Internet shopper as a sale, and he can be reached at