How the iPhone Changed Selling
Over the past five years, we've moved from the "Internet era" to the "iPhone era," a transformation that's changed the way people use computers and therefore changed the way that companies buy and sell. Here's what you need to know:
1. Attention spans are shorter.
Long ago, the Internet turned email into the default communications method for businesses. While this increased the speed of correspondence, it also increased the volume and therefore reduces the amount of time people could spend thinking about each communication.
The smart phone, especially when combined with texting and tweeting, has further increased that speed and volume. As a result, people are now unwilling to spend more than a few seconds considering any one communication.
What this means to you: When contacting or conversing with customers, keep every interchange down to one to two sentences. You've got a limited window to engage the customer, so make every word count.
2. Fact retention is lower.
Before the Internet, people used "brain memory" to retain facts that might prove useful in a business situation. As the Internet grew, however, everyone became more dependent upon the Web as a fact repository.
Because the smart phone makes the Internet more accessible in more locations, and can display facts more conveniently than even with a laptop, people now use their own memory less frequently and are unable to retain facts as well.
What this means to you: Where you once could expect customers to remember three facts (e.g. "We help you save money in the following three ways:..."), today, assume a customer can mentally retain only one fact, two at most.
3. Information is a liability.
Back in the Internet era, most folks thought that information was an asset that could and should be shared with customers. The Internet was great because it provided additional ways to distribute that vital information.
Even before the smart phone, though, information had ceased to be a sales asset. Today, customers are so inundated with information that they deeply resent any demand that they absorb even more of it.
What this means to you: Replace all lists of features, functions and benefits with a single item of interest that's of importance to that individual customer. Provide detailed information only in response to a specific customer request.
4. Customers crave simplification.
In the Internet era, a certain amount of complexity was assumed and tolerated. For example, people were willing to spend hours and even days learning an application like Excel or Word.
In the smart phone era, customers assume everything should be as intuitive as a tap-and-go app. They expect even the most complex concepts and decisions reduced something that's easily grasped and easily acted upon.
What this means to you: Simplify, simplify, simplify. Even if (especially if!) your product does something complicated, make it simple to grasp, simple to buy, simple to get, simple to support, and simple to upgrade. Then make it even simpler.
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Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed more than a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.