You're Not Touching Your Customers Enough

That’s right, you heard me.  Do you touch your customers on a consistent basis?  Are you touching them in the right ways?  When it comes to marketing communications (not sure what you were thinking about), we often focus on prospects and neglect our treasure trove of past and present clients.

Recently, I was conducting an interview with one of my client’s clients in order to write up a testimonial.  When I came to the all-important question of “How did you learn about this service and choose to buy it from [ABC Company]?” the answer not only warmed this marketing consultant’s heart, but also pointed out an important lesson for all of us:

“I had done a small project a few years ago with [ABC Company], and I’ve received their newsletter every month since then.  I always appreciated the educational approach and had seen info on [ABC service offering] over and over.   Finally, one day I just picked up the phone and said ‘Sign me up!’”

Notice that this process took years.  If we don’t regularly communicate with clients after the sale (which 80% of salespeople do not), we may miss the long-term payout.

Depending on your type of business, you may see some of your clients every week or month, or at least with some regular consistency over the course of the year.  These clients should have a good idea of what your company does, and you have likely established a meaningful relationship.  However, you also have clients who are less active:  ones who may have bought from you in the past, but are not currently buying or ones who may only think of you for one particular service instead of the variety you offer.

The old Bell Telephone advertisement reminder to “Reach Out and Touch Someone” still applies today.  You should reach out and touch your customers (and this applies equally well to strategic referral partners) often because you are accomplishing multiple objectives when you send that email, letter, or postcard, including:

  1. Providing valuable information that helps their business.  Carefully consider what you’re sending.  Your goal is education first, sales second.
  2. Letting them see through case studies or testimonials that other businesses just like theirs share similar challenges (no one likes feeling alone), and how you’ve helped to solve those.
  3. Reminding them of all your company’s offerings, not just the ones they already know.
  4. For active clients, you are showing them you really do value their business.
  5. For dormant clients, you are rekindling that warm fuzzy feeling from when you worked together in the past, and prompting them to think of you again.

Need some ideas to get started?   Beyond a basic e-newsletter (which still works!), here are some other noteworthy “reasons to send”:

  • Business building tips
  • Recommend a business book or article (can also be shared via LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)
  • “Did You Know?”  Share a quick tip about your services, or debunk a common myth.
  • Share company updates that affect the customer, such as a redesigned, easier-to-use Website, a new service offering, a contest, a new social media presence, etc.
  • “Thank you for your business”
  • “What can we do to improve our service to you?”
  • “What new service offerings would you like to see from us?”
  • Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
  • Invite to an event:  Customer appreciation lunch, Webinar, conference or trade show you are sponsoring, etc.

With all of these ideas, keep in mind the critical question the customer is asking him/herself:  “What’s in it for me?”  Always focus on what the customer would care about, not just what your company wants to broadcast.

If you’re still not convinced, one more example should do the trick:  Years ago, as an inside sales rep for a software company, I was handed a list of 3,000 “customers” to whom I was to introduce myself as their new account manager.  As I worked through the list, I found that only about 10% of those could truly be considered “active” customers.  The rest were people who might recognize the company name, having bought something from us at one point in time, but as one man told me “You’re the first person to contact me from [Company] in 10 years.  I wasn’t even sure y’all were still in business!”  Yikes.   Don’t let this become your company’s relationship with your clients!

By the way, the irony has not escaped me that you are probably reading these words and thinking “Hmmm. . . it seems like a while since I’ve heard from REV Demand. . .”  We (sheepishly) agree!  You can look forward to seeing these types of business development tips coming from us every month from now on.  Scout’s honor.

Let me know your thoughts on touching customers!

Tara

P.S.  Did you find this info valuable today?  Great!  Please share with a friend or colleague.

Four LinkedIn Strategies for New Business Development

by Richard Kirby, Executive Impact

When I joined LinkedIn (LI) in 2003, there were less than half a million subscribers. As of January 2013, they now boast over 200 million. LI has become, without question, THE online social network for business.

Are you and your business leveraging the phenomenal potential of LI? In this article, you will learn four key strategies that will gain you new customers and revenues you never knew were possible.

Strategy 1: Attract new prospects by increasing your online visibility. Similar to SEO for your company web site, a more “findable” LI profile will insure that more prospects find your offerings 24/7/365. With 90%+ of buyers researching online before making purchases, it is critical they find you in their LI search results.

So, what can you do to improve your “rank” in LI searches? First, broaden your network by inviting desirable contacts to connect and accepting such invitations when offered. Second, follow the recommendations LI offers when you log on and add information to complete your profile. Third, add to your profile keywords that prospects are likely to use when searching for your products and services (see my profile as an example).

Strategy 2: Encourage prospects to contact you by increasing your LI credibility. Once you have increased your visibility, it is critical that you create an attractive first impression. Major sources of credibility are endorsements and recommendations. Endorsements are likely to come organically from satisfied customers and positive business relationships. Recommendations, on the other hand, will require focused action.

Here is an action plan for increasing your credibility:  Start by making a list of your most satisfied customers and asking them to provide you a recommendation. Better yet, write a brief two- or three-sentence suggested recommendation, send it to them, and ask that they modify it or use it as provided. As you receive recommendations, elect to show them on your profile so visitors can view them.

Strategy 3: Establish and/or improve your LI company page. The previous strategies referred to your individual LI profile. If you are a solo entrepreneur or the principle in a very small company, this may be sufficient. If you are not, then you should create and fully populate a separate company page. You can find information to guide you through the creation of a company page by clicking on Help Center at the bottom of LI pages and entering “company page” in the search bar of the subsequent Help Center page.

Strategy 4: Identify prospective clients and reach out to engage them. You can find prospects on the Advanced People Search page utilizing keywords, company names, job titles, etc. With over 200 million users, you can find many people you desire to engage through these searches.

Don’t have the time or need some help to enact a more effective implementation of these or other business development strategies? Check with REV Demand to see how they may be able to assist you. Good luck and happy selling!

Since 2002, Richard Kirby, CMC, CPC, has been a full time career consultant (coach) to C-level and mid-level managers seeking improvements in their careers.  Richard’s expertise includes career assessments, goals definition, self-marketing strategies, business networking, strategic interviewing, and compensation negotiations. Richard is a member of the Georgia Career Development Association, the Society for Human Resource Management, and the Institute of Management Consultants.  You can learn more about Executive Impact at http://www.executive-impact.com.

“Mammas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be a Sales and Marketing Associate”

For the growing business, hiring anyone is a big step.  Mistakes in hiring are costly in terms of time and money, and therefore need to be avoided if possible.

One mistake we see many business owners and executives make is to hire a salesperson and expect that person to also handle marketing, or hire a marketing person and ask them to carry a quota.

First and foremost, business owners, please hear this:  Salespeople are not marketers, and marketers are not salespeople.   You do not want to hire one or the other to do both jobs.  Why?

[As you read below, please keep in mind that the author has served on both sides of the house, and has no compunction about picking on either side!]

1. Salespeople are typically not great writers (or graphic designers).   Marketers ensure that any communications, promotions, advertising, etc. is consistent with the company brand.  Salespeople just want to “get ‘er done,” whether or not it reflects the brand.  Never entrust a salesperson with articulating your hard-earned brand in his/her own words!

2. Marketers are typically not persistent types that don’t mind rejection.   Sales is all about keeping polite pressure on prospects or clients until they buy, die, or tell you to go away.

3. Salespeople are driven by immediate results.  Their minds are on the end of the month/quarter because that is how their job performance is evaluated and compensated.  Don’t expect them to think long-term about advancing the company’s brand and market position, as a marketer can and should.

4. Salespeople are not motivated to perform marketing functions.  If you want a commissioned salesperson to take on marketing tasks such as writing newsletter articles, Web design, social media management, etc., you will have to change the compensation structure to reflect this or it will not get done.  Again, a salesperson’s job performance is usually compensated based on the sales he/she makes, not on how pretty that new brochure looks.

5. Marketers are task-oriented, salespeople are people-oriented.   This is not to say that marketers don’t like people, and salespeople can’t accomplish tasks.  However, marketing is all about managing multiple tasks, tracking project timelines, and analyzing results.  Sales is about two things:  building relationships and closing deals with prospects.  That’s it.  (And, really, it’s all about the second thing.)

Can’t afford to hire both sales and marketing?  We have a solution for that.

Tara is focused on her clients and the need to get their messaging out in the best way possible. Her guidance and advice come from experience and expertise in effective communication to clients and prospects. Her advice to me over the years has been extremely helpful. Tara is a professional in every sense of the word! | David Shavzin

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