3 Ways to Master Internal and External Corporate Authenticity

Being authentic in business can get you a lot further than being fake.

Customers know that you’re lying. Or, if not lying, at least exaggerating, and they hate that. They crave authenticity.

People have so many choices about where to spend their money, allocate their attention and trust with their data, and in order to earn these things, companies need to master authenticity.

In fact, according to the Jack Morton Experience Brand Index, over 52% of consumers believe that companies fail to live up to their promises and a third equate overpromising and underdelivering with brands. These perceptions have dollar and cents consequences: almost half (47%) of consumers surveyed said that when brands lose their trust, they will no longer buy from them.

When you say something that isn’t true, are less than transparent about your product’s efficacy or safety, when you greenwash to appear more eco-conscious than you are, neglect to disclose your sponsors or when you fail to take responsibility for a problem or mishap that you caused, you are being inauthentic. And if this happens, customers, the online community and the media will make sure that you suffer for it.

Keys to Being Authentic

  • Be honest. Honesty within your company should be valued, and you should make sure that employees know that they should be honest with customers too, both directly and through your marketing communications. Nobody likes to feel like they were lied to or taken advantage of, although this doesn’t mean that you tell everyone everything. It’s OK to keep some things confidential, but when you need to do this, say that you are not able to disclose this information and why. Being honest with customers makes you trustworthy and can translate into a higher lifetime customer value, increased revenue, a better reputation and more referrals and positive reviews.
  • Express empathy. Remember the Apple commercial that depicted Microsoft as a faceless corporate dystopian nightmare? This is how many customers view corporations in general. They see them as self-interested, uncaring monoliths that are only interested in profits, not people. When customers have this kinds of negative feeling toward businesses, they don’t want to contribute to their success. Like honesty, empathy should be part of your company culture. In particular, customer service reps should show empathy when dealing with customer problems. Research on customer rage shows that when something goes wrong, the top things that customers want are: to be treated with dignity, to be told that the problem won’t be repeated, a resolution to the problem, to be talked to in everyday language rather than with a scripted response and for the company to put itself in the customer’s shoes. Authentic empathy goes a long way to build customer trust and long-lasting relationships.
  • Take responsibility. Everyone makes mistakes. When your company makes a mistake, whether large or small, it is important to admit it, explain why it happened, make amends and take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again. If you have a goal such as sustainable practices and you have not yet achieved it, that’s OK. Tell customers where you are at in your quest to achieve it and what your next steps are in the process.

Act on these values both externally, with vendors, customers and the community in which you are based, but also internally. Treat your employees with the same care and transparency that you treat your customers. Aside from just doing the right thing, happy employees are more loyal and productive and having a workplace like this makes it easier to attract high quality employees in the future as you grow.

Example of Authentic Marketing

This ad for Mastercard showcases its specialized cards for visually impaired cardholders in a very visual medium: video. Take a look at how the company demonstrates its empathy and willingness to “walk the walk” in regard to its visually impaired customers by narrating the video.

Pro Creative can help you with authentic marketing and internal communications.

10 Color Palettes That Communicate Ideas

We know that colors communicate certain emotions (for example, red can signal danger/anger/arousal) and that they can even provoke physiological changes in the body, for example by increasing heart rate. While individual colors provoke emotions or moods, color palettes take this communication to a whole new level by adding additional complexity and nuance. See how these combinations of colors are able to set a mood before a single word is added.

We’re edgy

edgy color scheme

This pairing of laid back shades of teal with the more muscular shades of red creates a tension that tells prospects that your company is beyond the norm.

We’re Traditional with a Twist

The traditional deep green, grey and cream say “old school” while the pink gives you the idea that the company is forward thinking and a bit creative.

We’re Natural/Sustainable

If your company sells eco-friendly, natural or sustainable products, this earth and sky palette lets prospects know. The palette also works if you are trying to communicate honest, transparent business practices.

We’re Go-Getters

The orange and red indicate that you are energetic and vigorous, while the cobalt and navy balance that with professionalism and trust.

We’re Here!

The juxtaposition of bright yellow with black naturally captures attention. Toning the black down to charcoal grey and adding the paper bag brown makes it a little more calming. As a marketing company, our aim is to capture attention, hence our logo colors.

We’re Creative and Openminded

Soft pink, a sweet and passive color is paired with its more aggressive cousins, fushia and red for a range of emotions that are calmed down by the rich blue for a dynamic palette.

We’re Happy

The combination of a range of bright colors tells potential customers that you are all about happiness. This is a great palette for companies that are lighthearted and customer-focused.

We’re Affordable and Fun

These happy citrus hues are emblematic of discount companies that are a bit irreverent (think Southwest Airlines). If you have unexpected elements to your product or service and don’t charge a lot, this is the palette for you.

We’re Moody and Creative

Purple tones are associated with spirituality and creativity, while the red gives this palette a more moody vibe. The light grey somewhat modifies the red, but it is still a somewhat unsettled color scheme.

Thank you to Shutterstock for the images.

4 Ways to Close More Inbound Sales Calls

Inbound sales rep

If you have a B2C business in which you generate inbound sales calls, you know that a big chunk of your sales revenue depends on the effectiveness of your phone sales staff. That’s why coaching them to say the right thing can make a huge difference in your bottom line sales. Here are some tips based on research done by Tethr, a conversational analytics company based in Austin, Texas.

1. Quickly identify likely buyers

On average, about a third of incoming calls to a company’s sales team are not sales calls at all. Oftentimes, they are people looking for answers to customer service questions who have somehow ended up in the wrong queue. High performing sales agents are able to quickly identify these individuals and transfer them to the right department so they can concentrate on others who are more likely to buy something. Highly effective agents see their time as a precious resource and take steps to maximize it. Average-performing agents, on the other hand, take the time to try to resolve the customer’s issue, lowering their sales productivity.

2. Advise, don’t fish

Typically, about 40% of callers will be “shoppers,” people who may want to buy something but are not yet convinced. This group is where the real difference can be made in improving your closing ratio. Most sales training programs tell salespeople to fish for customer motivations by asking questions like “Why are you shopping for [product or service] today?” or “How much are you paying now for your [product or service]?” However, this research has shown that asking these types of questions actually has a negative effect on sales.

These potential customers are likely to have done some initial research online before calling and just have not yet made a firm decision, so they are actually further along in the buying process than the fishing questions assume. Rather than probing, effective sales people start off with a very general open-ended question like, “How can I help you today?”, listen to the response and then make a recommendation. This closes the decision loop and begins the closing process.

It is important to note that this is not the time to provide options, which increases indecision. Start with a recommendation, and then if it does not meet the prospect’s requirements, make another suggestion until one sticks.

3. Proactively address objections

Conventional wisdom tells salespeople to let the customer talk more and to listen. However, silence on the part of the sales rep is the biggest indicator that a sale is not going to close. Effective reps counter misunderstandings and objections as they come up in conversation, even if they have to interrupt the prospect to do so. By firmly but politely addressing these objections immediately, they are able to eliminate obstacles and doubt to bring the conversation closer to a sale.

4. Remove risk for a soft landing

If a customer is still hesitant at the end of the phone call, the biggest mistake a sales rep can make is to let them get off the phone to think it over or discuss it with a spouse. These customers are unlikely to call back and buy. Instead, at the end, high performing sales agents will remove the risk to make it easier for the prospect to say “yes.” This may be by reminding the prospect of a cancellation period, warranty or guarantee or by creating urgency around an expiring promo or price.

The research found that inbound sales reps who followed all four of these recommendations had a 70% closing ratio, compared to 5% who used none of these strategies. These tips can be used in any inbound sales call, whether it is to a busy call center or an outside sales rep, so incorporate this into your inbound sales training – you have everything to gain.

If you are interested in increasing your sales, contact Pro Creative for a free consultation. For free inbound sales rep training, you can visit Hubspot.