Solving Problems Is How You Sell

Lexi Tucker
Posted on July 5, 2018

Sam Mallikarjunan of HubSpot provided a wakeup call for operators who may have forgotten the importance of fitting their services to people’s needs.

Sam Mallikarjunan of HubSpot provided a wakeup call for operators who may have forgotten the importance of fitting their services to people’s needs.

MIAMI, Fla. — Come to any industry trade show and you’ll likely hear the term “disruption” a few hundred times. It’s an inescapable phenomenon that happens to all companies at one point. It keeps innovation alive, but it’s also what kills businesses that refuse to change along with the times and people’s needs and desires.

Sam Mallikarjunan, a marketing fellow at HubSpot and a Summit speaker, explained during his session, “How To Survive The Future,” how operators can stay relevant.

Sobering Statistics For Businesses

The average lifespan of a Fortune 500 company used to be 75 years, Mallikarjunan says. It has since declined to an average of 15 years. By 2020, that duration will have shrunk to about five years. The rate at which innovators pop up is staggering, as this industry knows.

“Unless you’re fundamentally doing something not worth doing, if you’re not trying to put yourself out of business, someone else is. You can’t just buy your industry’s Uber — you have to be your industry’s Uber,” he said.

Price Isn’t The Only Factor

For Mallikarjunan, price wasn’t really the reason why he uses Uber. “My company pays for my transportation no matter the cost, so it’s not just because it’s cheap. It’s not price; it’s ease and convenience,” he said.

Uber integrates with his Google calendar and tells him when he needs to order a ride to make it to his next meeting on time. It also integrates with his company’s expense account. “Even if I’m in another country, I don’t have to know where I am or where I’m going; translation issues become nonexistent.”

When companies are looking to disrupt, they want a product/market fit. Start-ups are testing if they are creating value. During his presentation, Mallikarjunan showed this quote on the screen: “When what you are doing isn’t working, you tend to do more of the same with greater intensity.” That’s not innovation; that’s the stubbornness that got this industry into the hole it’s in.

He gave the example of a self-checkout line at a grocery store. “It turns out the 16-year-old kid who does it as a part-time job does it better than you and creates a better experience — it’s not going to save retail,” he said.

Discovering Problems, Providing Solutions

People will only use your service if you fit their unique needs as consumers.

Mallikarjunan thinks the Apple Store epitomizes this concept. “The employees at the Apple Store aren’t going to push you to buy something. They will help you discover your needs and match you with the best product.”

Mallikarjunan took questions from operators looking to get a new point of view on winning over clients.

Mallikarjunan took questions from operators looking to get a new point of view on winning over clients.

He also told the story of how Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, got a letter from investors when he first added the ability for customers to review products. Instead of completely dashing the concept when it was met with fear, he said, “We don’t make money when we sell things; we make money when we help customers make purchase decisions.”

“Your job is to answer questions,” Mallikarjunan said. “Answers help us make decisions. If you know I’m terrible at golf, don’t try to sell me golf clubs. You’ll only be successful selling something to me if it’s something I truly need.”

When you do help a client make a decision, how are you measuring the word of mouth business that comes with a satisfied customer? The best way to do this is with surveys, also known as a net promoter score, that ask, “On a scale of zero to 10, how likely are you to recommend this company to others?

“I give every company that sends me one of these surveys a zero out of 10 to see if they actually follow-up,” he said.

Do One Thing At A Time And Do It Well

While the world seems to be going a mile a minute, you can’t let others distract you on your path to running a successful company. Do one thing at a time, and do it well.

As a marketer and salesperson for your company, your job is to help people make decisions. Provide potential clients with the tools they need to help them see why your company is the best fit for them.

Mallikarjunan told a final story about how he decided on what engagement ring to buy for his fianceé. “I went to a website and downloaded this ebook called ‘The Guy’s Guide to Jewelry’ which helped me make a decision, and got me to buy,” he said. 

“We’re in a time when doing the right thing for the customer is also the best economic choice for your business. If you help educate people, which in turn helps them make an educated decision, they may not become a client immediately, but they may sometime down the road.”   

Related Topics: customer service, innovative marketing, LCT Events, LCT Summit, Lyft, Sales & Marketing, social media marketing, technology, TNCs, Uber, web marketing

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
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