I was chastened to find that Tom Martin's The Invisible Sale: How to Build a Digitally Powered Marketing and Sales System to Better Prospect, Qualify and Close Leads is a really great book … informative, entertaining (even funny in places), and full of useful information … I swear, if this had “market” instead of “sale” in the title, I'd have been read/reviewed it by the end of 2013. Bad Brendan!
Now, don't get me wrong, this book is very much about selling , with lots of stuff that's way out of my “sweet spot” like taking about sales teams and sales calls and sales emails and sales “closes”, and similar stuff that “makes me throw up a little bit in my mouth”, but it also has a lot of “philosophical” material (which reminded me a bit of some of Gary Vaynerchuck's work), and about 1/3rd of the book which is in-depth on content creation. Structurally, the book is in four sections (well, three sections and a bit of a coda), “Selling the Premise”, “Capturing the Invisible Sale”, “Creating Your Content”, and about a dozen pages on “Closing the Deal” … across these are distributed seventeen chapters, each of which has a half-dozen or so specific subject headers.
So, what is this “Invisible Sale” thing (no, it's not like my poetry collections, which have nonexistent sales – which is, sadly, quite different), anyway? I'm sure Martin has a handy definition in there somewhere, but I wasn't able to dig up a nice compact statement about it to drop in here, instead, here's something from one of his promo web sites that I think comes pretty close:
He notes that, in a whole lot of settings, the traditional “sales funnel” of prospects => contacted => qualified => proposed => sold is no longer a working model, being replaced by what he calls the “sales radar” which has six segments, each referencing a different approach, with “sales contact” being at the center – the contact being pretty much at the point of sale, rather than four levels previous.Today's digital savvy buyers are sophisticated and silent. They’re doing recon work on your brand, product or company -- searching for product reviews and tapping into social networks for recommendations and first-hand experiences. These invisible buyers are slipping past your sales team, stepping out of the shadows only after they’ve decided that your company is in the running for their dollars.
One of the things I rather liked in the book was the “Power Points” sections that show up at the end of most of the chapters … these are more editorial than simply recapping the info from the chapter, putting it in a bit different frame. You can actually download these as Powerpoint slides (which he notes are “minimally formatted” so you can add your own organization's look-and-feel – clever!). This leads me to a somewhat early mention of the companion web site, which has a bit of stuff related to the content of the book, but really is more of a “sales page” for the author's speaking and training ventures. There are Amazon links to assorted "tools" mentioned (microphones, etc.), and links to videos he references, but those parts seem, unfortunately, like an afterthought, plus the “community” site one has to join to download the Power Points seems to have been abandoned but for those download links, as it has four segments for content, all of which (nearly 3 years down the road) say “coming soon” with links that head off to blank pages … disappointing. However, a lot of the material is available via his corporate site in the form of blog posts … too bad these two elements didn't get linked up.
Good thing that the book is otherwise chock-full of useful stuff. I probably have a dozen of my little bookmarks stuck in here, however, digging into them for this, I'm finding that most are for key points of info that I could use in projects, and not “choice quotes” … although, in context of this particular book, those nuggets might be as useful as anything. Now, again, I'm not a “sales guy” and am a marketing writer and not some MBA, so it's possible, or even likely, that stuff that I find somewhat revelatory might be “old hat” for another reader. So, with that caveat, I guess I'll walk us through some of these.
The first of the bookmarks is on a page in the long look at what camera store Adorama does in their digital marketing, with a goo.gl link to a video/post on “How To Embed Website Links in YouTube Videos”, and, while I've done a decent bit of video in various contexts over the years, this is not something I've even thought to do (well, outside the context of a project I worked on with the WireWax platform). The next deals with a “Behavioral Email Logic Diagram”, which, given that I've done precious little email marketing, is not surprisingly “new to me” … Martin says:
He describes a client program where they had 1,600 email prospects, and managed to filter that down into 249 “warm prospects”, and 12 “whose behaviors indicated they were ready to buy”. Speaking of email campaigns, the next bookmark I had is at the place where he talks about “proper URL naming” and Google Tags … which he shows how to set up and how to get detailed “click reports” from using these.Planning the BEL is the most important and most difficult step of these programs. To create a BEL, you first need to define the core message content of each email you plan to send. You don't have to develop finished creative executions – you just need to know the core content each email will include. Then you hypothesize what a prospect's behavioral pattern is telling you, based on how the person moves through the BEL.
Of course, the part of the book that I had the most resonance with was the content creation part … and this was where I had the most bits of paper marking pages. He starts out here with the idea of “Right Sized Content”:
Part of this is further framed into what he calls “Cornerstone Content” and “Cobblestones”, the former being “big pieces … such as white papers, major presentations, and eBooks”, with the latter being “easily distributable” bits of these. The chapters here deal with Video, Photography, Audio, Text, and live/recorded Webinars & Tutorials.The RSC concept is based on matching the quality of your content, in terms of production quality and cost, to the content need you are filling. Simply put, a Facebook video doesn't need to be shot or produced at the same quality level as a television commercial. The digital world has trained the buyer to accept – or, in some instances, desire – lower-quality content. In fact, overproduced content often can be just as ineffective as underproduced content.
In the Video discussion he goes into details on “Desktop Video Editing” … I have, regrettably, never moved beyond Windows Movie Maker (not horrible, but not what I'd hope to be working with), so I found his suggestions here of particular interest (even though he's an Apple “true believer”, and I'm not). He also lays out various levels of set-ups for doing podcasts and webinars, which may be very useful if I ever get around to creating programs using these. One interesting thing he talks about is using Dragon on his phone to write, with his getting in about 1,000 words on his 15-minute commute. I've actually passed along that suggestion to a couple of people who have a hard time sitting down to craft blog posts!
He goes down a bit of a rabbit hole in the photography section, with something called the “Gestalt Principle” which starts with a duck/rabbit graphic as an illustration of how people can see completely different things in a single image … and you will always default to seeing the image as you first saw it …
Obviously, the duck/rabbit dichotomy is not a particularly applicable case, but he then details how he did research on images of “escape” and how images got sorted to match that concept were vastly different between what one might think were fairly close coteries: married adults with or without children. What you select as images might totally miss one (or both) groups!The Gestalt Principle tells us that the deconstruction of a visual message occurs at the point of reception. The decoding of an image's meaning happens during the buyer's decoding process versus your encoding process – where you decide that the image you're using is a duck versus a rabbit.
I guess I can't do a review of this book without touching on the concept of propinquity that the author is quite enamored of.
In this he contrasts classic “Top-Of-Mind Awareness” (TOMA) with what he posits to be TOMP – top-of-mind preference. There's a whole system he builds on this with a “propinquity map” that defines a “home base” and various external points.marketing propinquity results from increased interactions between a prospective customer and a brand or company … Two types of marketing propinquity exist: physical and psychological. The first, physical, also has two dimensions: time and place. The latter is strictly a subjective measure to the prospective customer. It's harder to formally define, but I think it's more powerful.
Obviously, there is a lot of material in The Invisible Sale, which is interesting, and assortedly applicable, depending on how close you are to the sales function. I really wish I had gotten around to reading this when I first received it, as it's a very useful book … but there was that “sale” thing that spooked me. This, being a relatively recent release, is still in print, and so could well be sitting at an actual bookstore that carries business books, but the online guys have it at about 20% off of its (fairly steep) cover price. Oddly, copies don't seem to have filtered down into the “used” channels in any great quantity, and there are (as of this writing) no significant deals to be found there. Again, this is one of those “your mileage may vary” recommendations … the book is a fairly fun read, and a bit of a “firehose” of information, with some fascinating new-ish concepts being bandied about … but it is targeted to sales, and depending on how that works for you pretty much equates to what you'll get out of it