Wednesday, August 13, 2003
Are you struggling to create and keep profitable customers? Columns for Sales and Marketing Management who wants to build business relationships.
Networking is so powerful for building business relationships, I highly recommend it. However, in this global economy it is difficult to reach out to oversea contacts. With the Internet this become easier than every (and very cost effective.)
I'm currently a member of both Ryze and Ecademy. (These sites are strictly for networking, but you may find the same in your trade group or private topical website like Applying Strategic Relations.) It's important for you to understand how these on-line communities work, how you can benefit from them, and what is expected of you as a member.
- On-line networking isn't selling, it's matchmaking. You are not involved in a networking group to sell your product to those individuals in the group, but to build relationships that extend your customer base. It is more valuable to you that group members refer you to their customers, than to buy directly.
- Give a full description of what you have to offer. People what to help your business be more successful, so in turn you can help them be successful. But how are people going to know what you offer if you don't describe it fully. At least cover who, what, when, where, and why in your profile.
- Fully describe your most ideal prospect or project. Again, people are looking for ways to advance your business because you will become obligated to help them and it helps them extend the value they provide to their own clients. Share with people what makes a good customer for you, this way if someone refers someone to you they are likely to be a match.
- Invite other peoples feedback by sharing your opinion. If you have something to say on a current event, changes in your industry, or a lesson learned that you feel would be valuable to the group-- share it. Involve yourself in open discussions, get to know people, and spend a bit of time sharing experiences. Not only is this therapeutic, it helps build credibility.
- Ask questions that encourage sharing of ideas. You don't always have to be the center of attention, if you have questions, ask them and invite people to share their opinions. This is a safe way to get customer feedback or market opinions that can shape how you position your business. Practice being a great listener.
- Consider what you say may be shared with the public. It is important to remember that some things shouldn't be shared in any community (just like walking out your front door, there are something things you don't say in public.) Be careful not to say anything that you wouldn't want documented, this includes details regulated or of limited export. You can be legally liable for what you say.
- Don't expect to close deals in the networking forum. A networking forum isn't to close deals, it is a tool for discovery. On the other hand, no one else really cares about your sales pitches, so forums aren't a place to sell. Meet people in the forums, then take them offline for any sales pitches or specifics about any deals or arrangements.
- Don't enter into any agreement on-line without due diligence. Not everyone you will be talking with on-line is who they say they are. Not everyone you interact with has your best interests in mind. While this should have to be said, check everything out before committing to anything.
- Beware your competition may be watching you. In the same thought as the previous statement, remember, you don't know who is reading what you write. Focus on publicly available information, and discussions of experiences, stay away from current or future strategy, your competition may be watching. Some services will protect your identity, it all depends on your purpose for networking.
In US professionals using Ecademy to reach UK market, I provide more strategies to getting the most out of on-line networking resources. Just like networking face-to-face, if you just stand there, you are missing out on some great opportunities to develop new and profitable relationships.
/ applying-strategy | relationship-realms /
Justin Hitt teaches executives how to create strong business relationships that can increase profits while improving customer loyalty. To learn more about business relationships visit Inside Strategic Relations or call +1 (877) 207-3798
The Need to Build Relationships in Today's Market. by Al Fox and Mike Cuccia, August 12, 2003 [MarketingProfs.com]
You'll see over the next few months that "experts" will reduce business relationships into a few steps, or even cliché, as they have done with customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP). It doesn't have to be that way, and there is no quick fix.
You have always needed business relationships, they have always existed, and methods have always been available to make them more effective. Often we wear the mask of technology when it is people who ultimately determine the fate of our organizations.
In this abstract, I pull some of the key points outlined in Al Fox and Mike Cuccia's article featured on Marketing Profs, plus add commentary.
- Clearly define the market segments that are best fit for your offer. Not everyone interested in your product will buy. Look for prospects that are ready to buy, stop going after people who have to be converted. Know enough about your customers to pick out those ready to make a decision. The more you know the easier the next step becomes.
- Within each buying segment further differentiate the types of buyers. Notice the desires of subgroup inside your market segments, know what each of these groups wants to accomplish. You'll notice each subgroup of buyers will have different buying criteria, requirements, and maybe even means of acquiring your product. Treat each of these groups as unique.
- Target your message to each subsegment according to their own desires. You should have marketing materials that speaks to technical folks, materials for the c-level decision maker, and even those materials for the information gatherer. Focus on each groups desires, and write directly to their needs. This isn't as expensive as it sounds.
- Segment your audience by role of the decision maker, speak in their language to their needs. Engineers will expect engineering details, while executive want information about the impact on the bottom line. This may mean bringing a technical person with you on a sales call, perhaps even providing a multi-part brochure or presentation that addresses each role separately.
- Leverage inexpensive mediums to build a connection between you in the prospective buyer. Use print brochures, web sites, even single page flyer. It is very expensive to call on everyone interested in your product, develop an educational package that works to qualify a specific prospect as a ready buyer at the lowest cost to your company.
- Provide an educational experience with prospective buyers so they know all the benefits of ownership. Every customer interaction point is an opportunity to educate or sell. There is nothing wrong with a small sales pitch at the end of an educational interaction, but without education, how will your prospects know if buying from you is in their benefit. This is more than building a relationship, it's developing trust and making sure you are a good match for the client.
Justin Hitt, with over 10 years of experience in business to business executive relationships and strategic business intelligence; has reduced costs and improve customer loyalty for professional services and numerous other technology companies. Call +1 (877) 207-3798 or visit his website at https://iunctura.com/
Last update: 04/18/2004; 3:06:22 AM.