Angus Lynch of CrazyEgg.com posted an article about buying modalities titled, “35% of Web Visitors Are ‘Spontaneous’ Buyers. Are You Alienating Them?”. He describes the four buying modalities:
  • Competitive (5-10% of web visitors) – buyer makes smart, quick decisions. These buyers are all about speed and quality to gain an advantage. They want to be the best… oftentimes, the first (advantage).
  • Methodical (45%) – buyers are very logic-oriented. They want to understand everything about buying a product or service including advantages and disadvantages of competitive options.
  • Humanistic (10-15%) – buyers believe in emotional/ altruistic purchases. They are looking for validation among consensuses.
  • Spontaneous (25-35%) – these buyers make purchase decisions based on feelings and gut. That is, they make quick decisions.

The four buying modalities help to understand the type of prospect you are engaged with, and what their preferred buying process looks like. Lynch’s article touches, specifically, on website visitors. The buying modalities will determine the layout, copy, and images to leverage on websites.
For example, to attract competitive buyers, it’s important to have copy reflecting the “best” aspects of choosing a product or service. Competitive buyers need to feel they are buying an advantage over anyone else. Testimonials must reflect the “best” or “largest” institutions.
Depending on the market you are selling to and attracting to your website, it’s likely the above website proportions of visitors is very different. Understand your ideal customer profile (ICP). Know who the personas are involved in the buying decision (consensus sales!). Make sure your website, sales collateral, conversations, and the like address the prospect’s buying modality.
I read an interesting article on LinkedIn the other day titled, “The New Normal in Sales: Customer Dysfunction” by Nick Toman, a sales effectiveness professional. The gist is buying processes are increasing at an alarming rate, and it is the dysfunctionat the customer that drives this and “poor” sales outcomes.
I thought about this for a while, and related it to my post, “We Appreciate Everyone Except Our Vendors, and It’s Killing Sales”. Toman’s article provides a perspective at the customer and the ailments killing sales.
A few take-aways from Toman’s article that I’ve noticed over the last year in modern B2B sales:
  • 2.5 years ago, the buyer group consisted of 5.4 stakeholders. Today, that number is 6.8 from 3.4 different functional areas. When you add heads into the buying process, there’s an expectation of a need to get consensus which, ironically, is the result of indecision due to more heads.
  • Customers citing high amounts of dysfunction are 60% less likely to make an ambitious purchase (vs. lower dysfunction companies). This leads to customers buying very simple, bare minimum purchases to assuage the consensus.
  • The average purchase decision takes 4.9 months while the average “no purchase” decision takes 4.7. There’s so much dysfunction that getting any type agreement (go or no-go) is virtually the same. No wonder prospects go radio silent before any feedback.

A few keys then arise from these thoughts. First, be prepared for the long haul and the difficulty of today’s sales. Second, nail the value prop as quick as possible with a very specific target group. Third, reduce the consensus. Get the sale. Expand later.

Remember, all it takes is one opponent (negative feedback) to derail a whole sale.
What are your thoughts? What have you noticed in today’s sales? How would you address the challenges?
As my journey through consulting, post-grad education, entrepreneurship, and startup leadership continues, I’ve gained a greater appreciation for my co-op experiences at a big corp more than 12 years ago.
Especially now as I’m recruiting, oftentimes, less experienced candidates than in my past, I’m realizing the value of spending more time at a big corporation.
At Georgia Tech, I was a co-op for four semesters at a major 3rd-party logistics provider in Atlanta. I remember falling asleep at my desk more than a few times that first semester. It wasn’t the most exciting as I was the spreadsheet analyst at first. Over the semesters, my projects became more complex, and I earned my stripes with my own special projects.
It was some of the best experiences I’ve ever had, and laid the foundation for things to come. Here are some lessons now looking back at what I’ve learned.
  • Politics – Implementing changes at a big company is like steering a massive ship – it takes time, and a lot of effort. There’s a lot of personalities involved. There will be proponents and champions as well as blockers and gatekeepers. Knowing how to speak with executives while tactfully navigating the cluster of people is imperative. Politics and risks are huge facts of life that cannot be glossed over.
  • Structure – Big companies come with big structures. As much as you may jump and grimace at “structure”, structure gives us balance and the ability to prioritize. As a co-op, I learned the value of structure through workflows, time management, and simply, how to build an analysis.
  • Professionalism – I’m hiring in a startup. Yeah, you can wear a t-shirt, if you want. We’ll throw a stress ball around and crack jokes, but you can bet we will be professional with each other and with everyone we encounter externally. Too often candidates think professionalism is just “thank you” and “yes, sir”. Professionalism is about communication – both explicit and implicit. It can be silent communication through your body language. Professionalism is how you receive feedback, speak on the phone, and write an email. Too often candidates rely on what they think is good to him/ herself but fail to recognize what’s good for others.
  • Connections – Humans are social creatures, so relationships are vital to us. In the business world, relationships enable sales, recruiting, etc. I didn’t do a great job of connecting and forming good relationships with the full-timers. I did, however, form very good relationships with my fellow co-ops that later led to all sorts of opportunities. This is where I strive to better everyday in daily interfaces.
  • Reality – This sounds simple, but it’s not. Reading the best practices in books and learning about case studies is one thing, but reality sets in in the real world that toss much of what we hope and dream for out the window. That’s not to say things can’t be better, but there are details that make businesses so much more complex. Striving for better is always the goal, but failing to realize the holistic picture of yesterday, today, and tomorrow’s business can lead to disaster.
I was talking to a Producer and Director recently who is starting out his business. He’s got his business set up, and is seeking investors for a film. He’s got the script. He’s ready to go. Except, the investors want him to slow down. The investors wanted to “de-risk” the investment. New to being an entrepreneur, the Producer shared the nuances he wasn’t quite prepared for.
  • Expected ReturnsSaaStr states that a 10% return on the totalventure capital (VC) fund is good while aiming to earn its total VC fund in profits is the goal. Understand what the goals of the investor(s) are, and have the model to illustrate goals can be met with even conservative achievement.
  • Legal Collateral– The Producer was shocked to learn how much he had to spend to validate the authenticity and originality of the script. Investors are looking at legal terms and insurance to not only cover risks of copyright infringement, but also the leveragability for greater valuation.
  • Long-Term Strategy – Are you a one-hit wonder? Do you have the creativity to be adaptable? Are you thinking big? Focusing on the now is good, but investors are looking for big returns. Long-term value creation enables bigger returns.
  • Traction– One of the “shticks” about Atlanta investment is how stingy investors can be. In the Valley, ideas can be funded pre-revenue. In Atlanta, the companies that garner investment are largely post-revenue. For the Producer, he had to collect and display written interest from film festivals. On “Shark Tank”, entrepreneurs can show letters of intent or purchase orders (POs).
  • Business Plan – The Producer lamented the pain of creating a business plan. Having never done one before and without a business degree, he sought help from others. However, many could not show him “good” plans. Business plans can be rare outside of startups seeking investment. However, they can be immensely helpful in thinking about the business holistically, not just about this “great app idea”. The business plan forces the entrepreneur to think of the risks and the opportunities – sometimes, it can show the opportunity isn’t as big as he might think.

I share these, too, because I’ve heard a lot of ideas from wantrepreneurs. Then, there are others who start out, and then fold up shop only months later. They weren’t prepared. Most investors are savvy as they should be with their money. So, it’s no surprise what some common de-risk factors included, and how important wantrepreneurs and new entrepreneurs should consider when starting out.

I recently received a question from an entrepreneur about how to start blogging. He saw me posting last week at a conference, and shared how he’s always wanted to write. However, he wasn’t sure how. One of the questions he asked was about blogging at a “personal” level or at the “company” level. I’m interpreting this as if he should blog on the company website about company interests, or on a personal blog about personal things (company interests, too).
As always, I’d say, “it depends.” Though, he added that his goal was for his company to succeed – “whatever leads that way would be great”.
Knowing he’s new to blogging and has a direct motive to help the company, he should write on his company’s blog about his company’s interests for a couple reasons. First, it’s clear he wants to grow the company’s presence and brand first. Given he’s the CEO, his personal brand will be tied to the company at this stage anyways.
Second, starting out blogging is simple. The difficulty is being consistent. It’s important for him to start very focused with his company’s blog with a dedicated cadence and focus. A personal blog (like this one) is great to develop personal branding and attract followers to the grander purpose.  Again, being the founder and CEO, his company will be tied to his personal brand anyways.
Even if his personal brand was very strong today, he’s starting out a blog. If he was a thought leader, he would still be starting this from the ground up. In this way, I still suggest writing for the company, and share his posts with his network.
I recently finished Elbert Hubbard’s A Message to Garcia. It’s a quick 30-minute read.
The book praises the result of a man named Rowan who was tasked by President McKinley to deliver a message to… well, a man named Garcia. This story occurs during the U.S.-Spain war in the late 1800s. Obviously, there was no cell phone, no email, or other rapid way to reach Garcia. In fact, Garcia was, at the time, buried in the forests of Cuba.
Rowan was tasked to deliver this message with no other instruction or details as to Garcia’s whereabouts or how to communicate with him. It was a simple need. Rowan had anything but a simple task. However, he dutifully took McKinley’s message, and delivered to Garcia.
This mini-book has been printed millions of times over, and has been used in business, in the military, everywhere. It’s message is clear – with no other instruction, does a mission get accomplished. There were no other details, and Rowan set out to accomplish said mission. There were no ifs, ands, or buts. There was no more information other than Garcia’s name and a rough interest as to who he was. That was it.
Who on your team is Rowan? Are you the type to look for answers and study and review before even tryingto accomplish some task? Who is someone you can count on to just get the job done? Who can deliver the message to Garcia?
Being a blogger (of many blogs), it makes sense many new and want-to-be bloggers reach out to me for advice. I’ve even recently launched another blog for another passion project. I’ve also helped at least a dozen start up sites. With each iteration, I’ve found my go-to recommendations on what to use.
If you’re looking to start a website or a blog, these are my recommendations.
  • Buying a domain – GoDaddyor Namecheap.Both are very simple. Go Daddy can offer as low as $2.99 for the first year of owning the domain with a 2-year commitment. The second and following years go up to $14.99. You can find domains on Namecheap for $10.69 annual (first, second, so forth).
  • Website builder/ content management system (CMS) – WordPress. This blog (as of 03/09/17) is built with Blogger. It was real quick to get up and running several years ago when I started. However, Blogger lacks the power of flexibility and a strong theme ecosystem to customize like WordPress. The themes make your site stand out, and many can be incredibly easy to implement “WOW” elements.
  • Hosting – Siteground.This is a new recommendation. I launched 100 Strangers, 100 Days with Digital Ocean. It was easy, but also had several hiccups. Plus, it’s expensive. I checked out Siteground, and found this to be WICKED easier. A few clicks, and you’re up. Simple, fast, and a fraction of the cost of other hosting services.
  • WordPress Template – Enfold. This theme is very simple and hugely powerful. It’s drag-and-drop capabilities are superior to what I’ve found on other sites. Meanwhile, you can customize the heck out of your site with very simple UI. The team has done a great job of still playing nice with plug-ins for even greater flexibility. Also, they back up their work with great support. Just select a demo template from their packaged theme, and go from there. Simple.
  • Emailer/ marketing – Mailchimp.It’s an Atlanta-based company bootstrapped from the start. Real quick to use this to capture emails, and notify your readers of updates.

With the above, you can launch a site and have a simple landing page up in a couple hours. It could happen faster, but you’ll likely noodle over color schemes, pictures, and the like. Know that with this set-up, you can take your time or be quick.

Drop me a note if you have questions.
As a sales guy and an entrepreneur and loving what I do, it’s hard to contain my excitement when talking to others about what I’m up to. Couple that with the day-to-day role of selling and serving customers, it can be quite a lot of listening and talking and finding opportunities to… well, sell. But damn, that’s tiring, and I must be cognizant to not do this all the time.
Alex Baldwin is famously quoted among sales professionals for his role in Glengarry Glen Ross as a sales motivator – “A-B-C. A-always, B-be, C-closing. Always be closing! Always be closing!!”
I’ve got a few conferences and events coming up. I’m both looking forward to them and weary of them. These are sales conferences. As much as I’m there to learn and to, yes, sell, I’ll also run across many who will only want to meet if they, too, can sell. That’s fair.
But at some point, I’ll start wondering if we’re networking and connecting as individuals, or if we’re only connecting to sell to one another. Should I care? Should you care? Should we think about the authenticity of why we’re talking to one another? Yes.
I remember walking into a restaurant last year and ran into a colleague whose company sells a product for sales teams. We smiled and walked up to greet each other. We reached out for the customary handshake. All cordial until he leaned in, and asked how I was prospecting. Then, went straight into telling me how my team can do a better job selling with his product. Geez. I was there to meet friends, happened to see him, and now, I’m being pitched???
Don’t always be closing or pitching. Know your audience. Know that timing is everything. If you’re going to sell, don’t slyly make this seem like a friendly reach out before trying to sink your sales talons in me.