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What the Kleiner Perkins Internet Trends Report Means for Sales Organizations

intenet trends for sales organizations

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As many of us return from an extended holiday weekend in the US, I thought that I’d give you something juicy to think about -- and I am not talking about steaks and burgers! Venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins recently published their Internet Trends 2013 presentation on Slideshare.

Not surprisingly, the report finds continued robust online growth. Below are a few key findings:

  • There are now 2.4 billion Internet users around the world, and the total continues to grow.
  • Mobile usage is expanding rapidly, while the mobile advertising opportunity remains largely untapped.
  • The report reviews the shifting online landscape, which has become more social and content rich, with expanded use of photos, video, and audio.
  • Looking ahead, the report finds early signs of growth for wearable computing devices, like glasses, connected wrist bands and watches - and the emergence of connected cars, drones, and other new platforms.
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The Report brings to life, quite vividly, changing behaviors and preferences in the way we interact with each other and consume information. We believe that your sales people will be more successful if they align their selling activities and approaches to your customers’ behaviors and preferences. You need to make it ridiculously easy for your customers to do business with you.  In the ecommerce world they call this “removing friction”. It is the reason that Amazon.com patented its “One-Click” ordering concept. Instead of manually inputting billing and shipping information for a purchase, a user can use one-click buying to use a predefined address and credit card number to purchase one or more items. Amazon makes it real easy to buy. Business-to-business sales and sophisticated business-to-consumer sales are different from ecommerce sales, but reducing friction and making it easier for customers is highly desirable.

Given the trends, here are some ideas to help sales organizations and people involved in business-to-business or sophisticated business-to-consumer sales get better aligned with their buyers:

1. Review your ideal customer profile and get clear about how your customers and prospects prefer to consume information, communicate, and transact business.

Are they behind a desk for most of the day, in meetings, on the road? Are there times of the day, week, month or quarter when they are more accessible? Do they prefer to use a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone? Once you know this, you can better align your activity to their preferences.

2. Optimize your website, blog, marketing campaigns, collateral, and selling activities for mobile.

Have you ever tried to navigate a website or fill out a detailed web form on your iPhone? How about trying to read a PDF of a whitepaper? Activities that are easy to complete from the comfort of your desk and PC are much more difficult on a smart phone. If you can’t or won’t do it, neither will your customers.

3. Encourage your sales people to build personal relationships, credibility, and trust.

The more online, mobile and connected we become, the less likely we are to open spam email and answer unfamiliar telephone calls. My office phone is becoming a glorified intercom system where I can buzz co-workers in a moment of need or participate in a conference call. Email is OK to communicate with working groups, capture important communication strings, and quickly connect with people who I know in a relatively unobtrusive manner.  Otherwise, I don’t answer my work phone unless I recognize the number on caller-id, and I rarely open spam email.

However, I answer my mobile phone and return text messages quite promptly. I only give that number to people who I know well or with whom I’m doing business. In essence, I’ve entrusted them with my mobile phone number, and if they abuse that trust they can forget about ever doing business with me. I think my behavior is pretty typical. You have to get to know people at a personal level and build trust for them to respond to you.

4. Encourage your sales organization  to embrace social media as a starting point for building personal relationships.

People have no issue with connecting to people on LinkedIn who they don’t really know. But, rarely do I see people thoughtfully try to convert that connection into a personal relationship. There’s really no excuse for this since there is so much information available online to make a reasonable assumption about what might be important to your customer and how you can help them. Add to it that many of us check LinkedIn on smart phones and tablets, and this gap represents a tremendous opportunity. The simple act of “liking” someone’s LinkedIn update, commenting on their blog post, or re-tweeting their tweets gives you an opportunity for them to get to know you. Show interest in them, and over time, you will build familiarity and potentially a relationship. Ignore them or spam them, and your connection will add little value to you or anyone.

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