Establishing integrity.

Author:Kern, Merilee

THE RETAIL INDUSTRY crisis has been well reported, particularly with respect to dwindling foot traffic to brick-and-mortar stores. However, even as consumers turn to shopping online and via mobile devices in droves, it is shocking to learn that fully 97% of visitors to eCommerce and other sales-minded sites bail out without purchasing on their first visit. As concerning is that approximately 70% of those who do add items to their online shopping cart do not complete the purchase. Amid improved consumer confidence, clearly there is a severe disconnect between vendors and the marketplaces they hope to serve--a situation resulting in some serious economic opportunity loss. These disparities also are among the biggest misperceptions that both online and offline marketers hold.

Far too many companies are churning out traditional sales lingo laced with fluff and vague, or entirely overinflated, claims, spending paltry little time and energy establishing credibility with prospective customers--and the mission-critical nature of credibility cannot be overstated, as it establishes a company or brand's integrity, reliability, validity, soundness, and a host of other image-including indicators of an entity's moral and ethical code, and the standards by which it operates. At the most fundamental level, credibility translates into trust, and trust translates into sales.

"Today's consumer is quite savvy, but are often overloaded, overcommitted, overdue for a vacation, and, thus, easily annoyed," asserts Brian Greenberg, a multifaceted serial entrepreneur who has spearheaded and oversees a variety of successful businesses. "From telemarketer calls coming in at dinnertime or, worse, before the alarm sounds in the morning; an endless stream of SPAM e-mails jamming inboxes; and mailboxes overflowing with white mail that proceeds directly to the recycle trash bin, statistics show that consumers can be bombarded with thousands of messages every day. This overwhelming demand for consumer attention and dollars has created a market filled with cynics whose defenses are on full alert."

This heightened emotional state is working against commonplace sales tactics that are hyperfocused on getting to the close, rather than getting to know the consumer. Often, brand marketers fail to realize the sale begins and ends with authentic connection on both sides.

"Consumers need an advocate," Greenberg says. "Amid all of the marketplace 'noise,' there is an incredible...

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