Whether or not you are going to win over a new buyer is already well-decided before you have your first encounter. Most of the factors that influence their decision-making have already done their work. Your only hope to change or maintain the buyer’s trajectory is to capitalize on whatever positive influences you have instilled along the way. Buyers pass through eight stages of understanding before they contact you about a project, then another four stages are left before you have a customer for life (see the graphic). Whether any of the first eight stages has a positive influence is determined by how good your marketing is. Think of the stages as a scorecard: each item is rated by the buyer on a scale of zero to ten, with ten being highly positive. If they pass through a stage without being influenced, that reduces the likelihood that you will close any deal later on. The first four stages come during the buyer’s initial discovery, which may occur long before they have a specific need. Buyer Initiates their Search 1. The buyer has heard of you from other buyers. 2. They know what it is you do. 3. They know how to […]
Recently I blogged about how to engage in Marketing from a Dead Stop in which I cited five essentially free steps: 1. Contact List, 2. Phone Call, 3. Follow-up Email, 4. Email Marketing or Invitation, 5. Count the Results. Doesn’t cost a thing, fits into almost everyone’s skillsets, and it’s more than you were doing. Step five shows us that statistically, almost any effort pays off. So why not put a little more effort in and see what happens? Say your website looks like a hyperlink list from the turn of the century and your business cards are so old they might come back in style. I am going to assume that you have a budget of $1,000 – use your credit card if you have to. This is an investment! Get a fresh logo for $50-400 at one of these sites: http://www.designcrowd.com.au/ https://99designs.com/ https://www.fiverr.com/ Or, check with the local design college and offer to pay for the best student submission. You need high-resolution artwork in multiple formats. Design a new business card. I use Moo.com, but there are many others. https://www.moo.com/us/ Use your new logo and business card design and hire someone to build you a simple website based […]
A new client left me speechless, which is rare. “I never needed marketing before, why do I need it now?” Indeed. How do so many companies survive for years without marketing, outreach, and business development? What about the marketplace has changed? The answer isn’t all that complicated. You need marketing more today because so many more people have access to inexpensive advertising. Consider how many direct competitors you could identify ten years ago compared to how many you see now. I bet your customers can count even more. Regardless of your reputation, you have to work harder to stand out from the crowd. Good companies that don’t talk about themselves or are easy to discover can’t differentiate themselves from posers. So here I am with a client that has never done this before. He is worried about looking desperate, needy, or cheap. What does he need to do to gain momentum from a dead stop? We came up with five simple steps, none of which cost anything but time. 1. Review your contact list and select 10, 50, or 100 folks that have done business with you in the past, but not recently. Let’s assume that these are satisfied customers. […]
This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of SCN I am sitting down with an owner and he tells me that his business is finally growing again, but his managers are demanding more resources. “We’re all max’ed out. We need more people!” When the fearless owner pointed out that the firm successfully operated with the same staff size at 50% higher revenue only two years ago, the response is, “Well that won’t work now. We can account for every hour and there is nothing left.” Consider another story. A successful Design-Build integrator finds itself competing with bare-bones contractors for the same business. Even when the customer acknowledges that the Design-Build company if offering more value, they go with the lower service and lower price offer. Two stories – one problem: Over-delivering. The firm that runs at capacity regardless of revenue is using every resource to deliver the best outcome it can, instead of the outcome that was sold. The sales team that is trying to leverage value-adds has unintentionally made them worthless by making them free. If you do both? Well…that’s truly unfortunate. The solution is surprisingly simple. Several years ago I was helping an integrator reduce its […]
Tom discusses why you’ll make better choices for your business if you think like your customer instead of for your customer.
My wife and I recently visited Cape Town, South Africa. It was a wonderful, once in a lifetime trip. As we often do on holiday, we sought out the local street markets. Cape Town is beautiful and friendly, but like any large city it has a seedier side. You take care where you go and keep your valuables tucked away. We wandered up to a square of souvenir sellers with the hopes of finding something to take back for gifts. We are pretty seasoned travelers, but found ourselves immediately uncomfortable. The vendors were aggressive, the pathways too small, and the merchandise in a majority of the booths was nearly identical.
We live and work in a service economy, but too much of our sales training is based on peddling transactions: When a customer has a need, we source the solution, assess our cost, add profit, and offer a price. In order to differentiate, we include “value-added” services, which may be as rudimentary as being pleasant up to the extreme customer service models that so few can afford. The fundamental problem with this simplistic view of how we make money is that our customers are far more complicated than that. Customer complexity is actually a good thing, if you learn how to assess and respond to it.
The reason your sales and business development outreach isn’t working is attributable to a increasing lack of customer compliance. They are supposed to take your call, listen to your pitch, and by golly – just give you a shot at the order. Everyone gets the same consideration. Everyone gets a chance. These are the rules. Of course if customers followed the rules, you would always win because you have better people, products, and a nifty catchphrase.
It’s not enough to expect better for and of yourself, you should anticipate more from your customers. I call this Getting Ahead of Customer Expectations. Indeed, you should be highly invested in anticipating what they will do next, what their expectations are, and how you are going to fulfill them. The fundamental mistake most small businesses make is believing that the product and business model they have provided is adequate for customers needs, and that customer demand can be altered through marketing and advertising. It’s rather arrogant when you think about it. As small business owners, we are all inherently flawed and to presume that the customer should adapt to how we want to do things is insane. Yet, customers make accommodations all the time for poor business models thereby reinforcing these false assumptions. Getting ahead of customer expectations is the process of thinking like a customer, for the customer. This is nothing new, but small businesses are the least equipped to embark on an unbiased exploration of consumer perspective. Nonetheless, our success depends upon understanding how buyers think, which means unlearning that what we want to do for customers is somehow more important compared to what they expect or […]