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Blog - Working in the Market of One - Part 1

Working in the Market of One - Part 1

Posted by Graham Elder - Associate Learning and Development Consultant 01/02/18

One of the themes which underpins our work is that it is not just about getting results …. it is also about how those results are achieved. Developing the most effective behaviours is key.

In this first of three blogs, our facilitator Graham Elder looks at the behaviours which lead to successful relationship building in a sales and marketing context. Look out for the second and third in the series in the next few weeks.

Working in the Market of One

I watched an interesting Facebook video recently, in which an average user was taken on a comical nightmare journey, learning how they fitted in to the Facebook business model. The basic premise was that Facebook makes a lot of money, and the product they sell is us, our data, everything they know even down to the words used in posts, so that advertisers can target us with offerings precisely aligned to our wants and needs. They are typically paid just $12 for each user’s data, but it can be worth a great deal more to those who want to sell to us.

I found the video interesting not just because it was entertaining and revealing, but also because of the way it contains parallels with elements of my current work. Whether you’re in the private sector or the public, and whether you’re selling social change or software, there’s a sense that coming up with a bright sales pitch is no longer enough. Sophistication is no longer about how clever the message is, it’s about who you’re selling it to. Mass market campaigns, seeking to sell through ubiquity and familiarity are being replaced with micro approaches based on individual triggers in order to get results.

In the private sector, salespeople are looking at using data to create prospect specific offerings. If you want your customer to read about how you can help them, you don’t create a document called “Social Media Effectiveness”, you create one called “The Tesco Social Media Effectiveness Report”. It feels personalised and valuable, and they’ll probably open it. There’s something to be said about making materials attractive in this way, but a much more significant impact can be created by gaining insights into what the reader cares about, what they value, and make that the basis of the relationship. This is where Facebook comes in, as well as Twitter, Instagram and others. What does following someone tell you about them, and how can that impact on your approach? People tend to share good news, and that can tell you what’s significant in their life as well as in their business. You might even have opportunities to engage with them virtually, and ask questions to find out more, even begin a client relationship in that format. Then you can show how your product or service connects with them on a very specific level.

What are you seeking to find out? Primarily pain and gain. You need to know what the pain is for your specific prospect in their current situation. More than on an organisational level, you need to understand how the present state affects them as a person. What would be the negative effects for them specifically if they fail to take on your specific proposed solution? What would be the problems for them if their organisation failed to adopt any solution and carried on as it is? Secondly you need to understand gain. What will be the specific benefits to them if their business takes on your solution? If you can establish these in your contacts with them, either on social media or otherwise, through research or conversations with others, you can prepare an individual value proposition that you know is going to resonate with them immediately when they hear it. You want them to understand what your offer will do for them, and influence what’s in their mind when they put their hand up to vote in the boardroom when the decision is being made as to who gets the contract.

Recent research by Aberdeen Group identified that 75% of customers prefer a personalised approach. It feels like a better use of time, reading something designed by someone to solve your specific problem, but being micro marketed also makes the approach more influential and persuasive. It’s one thing to approach someone in the knowledge they’ve just shared a big contract win online, and having prepared your case for how you can support them. It’s something else though to consider what kind of person they are, and how you might even shape your language to create a stronger connection.

So, in today’s market place, if you want to succeed, the message is don’t sell to companies or demographics, or age groups or job types, sell to people. This is why Facebook is selling your data, and whether or not that’s a nightmare for you, it’s the way forward.


Craig Rosenberg: “Account Based Marketing: 11 Tactics to Drive Your ABM Process” 

You may be interested in how we help organisations build effective relationships across all disciplines and sectors Creating the Culture


Graham Elder - Associate Learning and Development Consultant
Graham Elder - Associate Learning and Development Consultant

Graham has been a professional facilitator, learning designer and coach for more than 25 years. He has worked nationally and internationally, with clients as diverse as Fujitsu, HP Enterprise, the John Lewis Partnership, UK Ministry of Defence, National Health Service and the Government of Ghana as well as law firms, media organisations, rail engineering and social services.

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