Building Business Relationships

Are you struggling to create and keep profitable customers? Columns for Sales and Marketing Management who wants to build business relationships.
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Provide value in every communication effort

When answering a customers request for more information, don't just send sales materials full of pitches. I see so many materials full of details about the provider, but very little about the desires I want.

In every customer interaction focus on educating prospects about the benefits they will receive.   You will improve your response when you spend 80% of your time educating your prospect about the solution and 20% selling them on the idea that you can provide it. Prospects don't care about what you have to sell, they want to know how you can help them produce certain results.

This selling doesn't mean a hard pitch, often just confirm a prospects interest with a few targeted questions and they become ready to buy. Remember, you want customers who will be around for the long-term, so you're not selling them on a product as much as interviewing them to receive the benefits you provide.

Blend your selling message inside your valuable information using questions that confirm your value to the reader. Don't just tell them how great you are, but demonstrate to them that you can actually solve their problems, then confirm that value.

"A rotating head so that you get a closer cut that produces less waste. How much could you save if your cut-and-trim produced less waste?"

Vs.

"Widget X has a rotating head that produces less waste in your cut-and-trim applications."

The first statement provides product details framed in the customers desire. You're not talking about your product as much as the solution or desired results. The question addresses a fact that reducing waste saves a specific amount confirmed by the prospects answer.

"Software engineers don't have time to correct every error in a system because of the labor required to hand check each line of code. Would you benefit from an automated system that can reduce bugs by half?"

Vs.

"Our automated code checking system can reduce software errors by half, saving engineers the labor required in hand checking each line of code."

Again, the first statement talks about the desired result from the prospects point-of-view. In the second statement it's all about the provider. While both statements are true, the first involves the prospect.

The question confirms the readers interest in the proceeding statement.  Most often if they answer the question they accept the statement. By asking a question, you require the reader to think about what you are offering and what it means to the reader. (Btw, this whole dialog works for services too.)

As for adding value, these sales messages are layered inside of industry facts and strategies for solving a specific problem the reader experiences. These statements can also help qualify your prospect.

If you have properly positioned your organization you'll understand that you are not right for everyone in your market place. You might be the premium provider, or serve a specific niche. Don't let prospects purchase from you if they won't be properly served (and profitable over their lifetime with you.)

This method works for both written and spoken communications channels.

Rewrite your marketing materials to focus on the customer and add educational value to every customer interaction-- remember, this demonstrated value helps customers feel comfortable with what you have to provide and makes it easier to convert them to a sale. Where can you test this strategy in your business?

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/

11:52:52 PM    Join Newsletter

Hybrid marketing methods to improve response

Marketing is a great way to reach out to prospects and invite them to become customers, after all, how will these individuals learn about your company otherwise. Too often sales and marketing folks get stuck in a single method of communications, often only reaching part of your possible customer base.

Individuals have different modes of learning, so seeing your message in multiple ways helps them better remember what you offer.

This means some people want to receive your mailers, others want information from your website, and others want to speak with a sales person. These communications preference depend on the state a prospect is in your sales funnel or purchase process. Do you offer your customers multiple communications channels to receive your message?

This doesn't mean you need different materials for each channel. It just means you need to be more resourceful with the marketing and sales literature you have. Here are some examples of utilizing hybrid marketing methods to improve results:

  1. A postcard lead generation campaign tested against a similar sized space advertisement, each sending the respondent to a web landing page or toll-free number. Use the same copy on both the response channels, test for best conversion.
  2. A web landing page that allows a prospect to request more information, the additional information is mailed to the prospect instead of downloaded or provided by email.
  3. In the footer of an invoice offer customers a special report of topical interest if they send an email message to a coded address. You'll capture their email address and provide them the special report by email.
  4. A sales person answers a request for an information package. The package sent contains an audio cassette sharing the benefits of your offering, a letter containing various charts and figures visually demonstrating specific benefits, and if followed up by a phone call to answer any questions the prospect may have.
  5. After a speaking event you offer "For more on this topic visit" and provide special materials on your website, the landing page has more details and a promotion for another upcoming event. This combines your face-to-face interaction with a follow on mechanism that doesn't cost any additional effort.
  6. After respondents request more information that's delivered by email, you follow on with another email thanking them for requesting the information, then if still no response, you use a postcard or letter to remind them they requested the information (and offer the product for sale.)

Tips for hybrid marketing that builds relationships:

  1. Always test everything with only one variable. This means if you are testing delivery medium, then all copy between the two tests are exactly the same, and the advertisement goes to the same list at the same time. When matches on lists isn't possible, then both lists have the same demographics.
  2. Include two response channels representing two senses.  Use web landing page and toll-free phone number, or reply mail and fax back response. Make it easy for respondents to tell you which way they prefer to contact you. However, use the same follow on materials for both channels to reduce costs.
  3. Link follow on sales interactions together across mediums.  Try to link sales contacts together, no delivery medium is going to delivery 100% of the time. Follow up email messages with mailed letters, and letters with phone calls.  Each message or reference should mention the one before.
  4. Offer at least two ways to purchase your product or service.  Make it very easy for customers to purchase what you offer, this means provide at least two means of buying. Let customers order from your website, by phone, or even complete a fax back form. Not all customers want to order the same way.
  5. Test copy across mediums however possible.  Use direct mail copy as the script for a television commercial. When you test copy across mediums you'll get a better idea for what works to reach your most ideal customers. If something works in print, try it on your website, even use space advertisements as postcard campaigns.
  6. Give what your customers wants, the way they want it.  Always ask about customer preferences and track them in your customer relationship management system. You can differentiate yourself from the competition by providing any delivery preference a customer desires-- don't be afraid to charge for options.
  7. Seek to qualify the prospect before using more expensive interactions.  Before your sales people are personally calling on prospects, be sure to use less expensive mediums like print to qualify them. A website is a great tool to qualify prospects because of their flexibility. Concentrate expensive contacts to those most likely to purchase.

Justin Hitt helps executive build stronger relationships that can increase profits and create loyal customers. For more information visit Inside Strategic Relations or call +1 (877) 207-3798

11:28:41 PM    Join Newsletter

Last update: 04/08/2004; 2:35:00 PM.

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