Who are Your Customers and What do They Want?

 

These are the quintessential Marketing questions.  We have talked about us and what we want (as a Business) through our Vision, Mission, and Values (VMV).  What we want to do now is to connect the VMV to our customers.  To be able to do so, we need to closely define who these people are.  That is what we are going to talk about here.

This is not a passing exercise and one that needs to be considered with some importance.  What is most important to consider is what makes you special to your customer base.  This means that we look at what the Value that they place on the business relationship with you actually is.  To do this, we need to explore the customer and the problems that you are solving for them.

The important part here is the alignment between what you view as your Mission Statement and the Customer view of their Problem Statement.  If it is not your Mission to solve their Problem, then in the long term they will no longer be Customers.  This is why your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) is so important to your Marketing.  The goal is to articulate the range of problems that you solve.  The biggest single problem is that most business owners want to embrace a large set of problems that they can solve.  By being broad, they reason that they will get more customers.  The truth is that they are likely to attract more prospects that are not great customers for them.

Suppose you move to a new town and need to get your car fixed.  Let us add that this car is an older Volkswagen.  You do a search for Volkswagen Auto Repair, you might be surprised.  In my local search, I found VW dealers and local shops that specialize in VW repairs.  I also found several websites that recommend VW repair shops.  This happens in all businesses.  By having a very broad message, there are times when this works (for example Grocery Stores).  But most businesses, actually specialize.  If you do not tell people what you are particularly good at, then they will likely select someone who specializes in fixing their Problem.

Because that is what customers do, they fix their problem.  The look for solutions to what they want.  They do not look for what you want to sell.

Have a great weekend!

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Leadership Training, Sales Training, Strategic Planning


Change Your Business - Change Your Life!
 

 

Do You have Effective Sales and Marketing?

Last time, I talked about companies that may not have enough capital to succeed.  The second common way that businesses fail is around poor Sales and Marketing.  I want to differentiate the two functions.  The job of Marketing is to get people or businesses to express interest in your business.  This is the creation of Leads or Prospects.  The job of Sales is to take those Leads/Prospects and convert them into Customers.

A metric to think about in this mode is the "Cost of Customer Acquisition" (COCA).  The way to figure this out is to divide the spend on Sales and Marketing by the number of new clients.  If you spend, $10,000 on Sales and Marketing and have 100 Customers, then your COCA is $100.  This number is important because it defines how much value each customer costs you incrementally.  If you are selling a haircut for $20, then $100 COCA is a bad number.  If you are selling Luxury Yachts, $100 is an awesome Cost of Customer Acquisition.  A good COCA is very dependent on the business.

One thing to note is that various Networking and Referral Marketing systems are relatively low cost from an out-of-pocket standpoint.  However, time needs to be considered.  For example, I am a member of BNI.  BNI recommends that you spend about 3.5 hours a week on meetings with other group members.  If you have an hourly rate of $50/hour, then this costs $175/week or $700/month or $8,400/year.  Without pocket expenses, this is really $10,000 per year.  There is nothing wrong with spending $10,000 on Sales and Marketing if you get your money back.

So, when we are talking about having an efficient and effective Sales and Marketing process in your company, calculate your COCA.  You can break this down and see what your cost for different Marketing Channels is.  You can look at your Sales Conversion Rate for your Marketing Channels.  With that information, you can begin to understand if you are being effective.
 

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Leadership Training, Sales Training, Strategic Planning

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

 

Is Selling Immoral?

When I talk to many Small Business Owners and Business Executives they turn their nose up at Sales and Selling.  They know they have to Sell and they believe in their Products and Services.  So, why the bad taste for Sales?

I think there are two basic challenges:  Marketing and Manipulation.  Let me address the second one first.  Everybody can picture an old fashioned Used Car Salesman in their mind.  When they do, they don't want to be associated with this person.  This is the personification of Sales and the Salesperson in many.  But modern selling is all about matching needs with Products and Services.  There are plenty of potential customers out there.  If you are talking to a Prospect, they are in the market for the kind of goods that you offer.  There are only two questions left at this point:  Does your offer meet or exceed their needs? AND Does the Value and Trust you represent meet their Price?  If you do, then Closing a Sale is like falling off a log.  If you don't then you probably don't have a Sale.  Again, it is that second question that is most key - Value and Trust.  Have you been able to present your Value in a way that builds Trust?  If not, then you may have a Sales Process or Brand issue.  Those are both things that can be developed and improved over time.

So why is Marketing a problem?  Well, some modern Marketing techniques (E-mail and Telemarketing in particular) can be intrusive.  People confuse this type of Marketing with Selling.  The goal of these techniques is to produce a Prospect, not to turn a Prospect into a Customer.  People don't like these techniques used indiscriminately.  The thing is that this is not Sales it is Marketing.  These techniques work so they will continue.  These techniques have attracted the Criminal Element and thus you have Scammers and Hackers trying to obtain your information for nefarious purposes.  So, don't blame Sales for a Marketing Challenge.

Modern Selling is not Immoral.  It presents you as a choice and provides information about your offer. If you are just down to Price versus Value, then we are talking about a Negotiation.  That is another topic for another day.

Have a great day!

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Leadership Training, Sales Training, Strategic Planning

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

 

Have a Sales Process!

I was recently visiting with a friend of mine. She was telling me that she was working on a couple of clients who were the kind of clients she was hoping to land. Problem is that they were taking longer to make a decision than she thought they should. There was that desire not to pressure for a close but on the other hand the desire to get the business.

What I recommended to her was that she ask her clients how they were going to make their decision. Many times clients haven't really thought it through and go with a gut reaction. By asking them how they are going to make the decision, it will cause them to actually think it through. There are a couple of advantages to this for you. First, you might be able to influence how the decision is made giving you a bit of competitive advantage. Second, there is the possibility of being seen as a trusted adviser. This will also help the decision lean towards you. This is all about helping your customer select one vendor or another. When I was in Telecom, we did formal RFPs that asked for proposals. We would get as many as a dozen replies. We would sift through the responses to get to narrow the field to 3 vendors. We would then set up presentations for each of the vendors. After all the presentations, we made a group decision. This gave us a timeline and a process that we could give to vendors and they would know what was happening. We would update them each step along the way.

So, if you don't have a Sales Process and your prospect doesn't have a selection process then education is a great way to start. What you do is help them define the decision criteria that are important to them in selecting a vendor. You can use external market surveys (like Gartner Magic Quadrants) or similar tools as guidelines. This means you should be very well prepared to answer a question that the prospect may have and you get to demonstrate your knowledge of them along the way.

By the way, this will help you develop your own Sales Process and improve your product offerings. Think about it. If you are thinking about how your prospects make decisions on how to buy your products, doesn't it make sense to adjust your products and services to fit the decisions? I often talk about Outside-In thinking and this is exactly what I mean. Put yourself in the role of your prospects and customers and think about what they value. You may find it is different than what you value in the transaction. Outside-In thinking is the best way I know of to build an effective Marketing and Sales process. Know what the value you bring to your customers and tell them that is what you do!


Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

Visit the FocalPoint Norcal Forum - We have many tools for helping your Business!

 

Overcoming Fear in Sales with Preparation

Two weeks ago I posted about how many Business Owners did not want to be associated with Sales. I hope I convinced you that today there is an ethical way of Selling. One of the other objections to selling is that people fear rejection. For many Small Business Owners, they take a lost sale as a rejection of them as a person. This means that they are less likely to want to sell going forward. This is not a great way to succeed, so we need to change that. Remember that customers don't buy for a myriad of reasons. A competitor might have a better solution for that prospect (or be a personal friend of the prospect). The prospect may not be ready to buy or be unable to buy. You have to remember the sale is not about you, it is about the prospect. Some will and some won't.

But to help alleviate the fear, even more, there are some proactive steps that a people can take to improve their chances at closing deals. By taking these steps, they will be in greater control of the sales process. This reduces stress and fear as a by-product of the work.

The first preparation is to create a list of objections. Now we need to put price objection to the side for the moment. Everybody gets price objections and we have ways of working on that. If you are down to negotiating price, then all we are talking about is whether the deal is good business for you or not. You want to create a list of 3 to 5 objections, that you hear on a regular basis. Then create 1 or more responses to each of these objections. You want the responses to be natural for you and be complete for the prospect. Remember, objections are a good thing. A silent prospect is unlikely to buy. If they are talking about your product, you have a chance to overcome them and close the business.

The second preparation is to research the prospect and his or her company. The starting point is the company website. There is information about what they care about on the site. On top of that, you can find even more information on the blog, presentations, and social media pages of the company. Now these latter items are sometimes created by 3rd parties, so have lesser value than the website. But don't stop there. Look into the social media presence of the prospect. You will find out things about what the person is like and what they like. All of this information should allow you to tailor your presentation to the prospect. That customization will show effort and will be rewarded with trust.

The goal here is to help you take control of your sales processes. When you do that, you will relieve your stress and your fear. In turn, you are more likely to close sales. And that is the name of the game.

Have a great day!


Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

Visit the FocalPoint Norcal Forum - We have many tools for helping your Business!

 

Why do Small Business Owners Hate Sales?

Well, they like the results of Sales. I run into so many people who tell me indignantly, "I don't SELL!" Then they go off and describe their Sales Process. Some of these processes are very inefficient and I often think as they are telling me that it would simply work better if they would admit to the fact that they are selling. Because Small Businesses need to be very efficient in our Sales and Marketing. It is the thing that makes these Businesses work or not.

The funny thing is that so many Small Business Owners tell me how much they like serving their customers. They deliver quality and value and talk about how much satisfaction that they get from delivering their products and services. You can get them to smile and talk about what they do endlessly. Of course, if they don't tell that to their prospects then they won't have customers. And this is the heart of Selling.

There is the stigma of manipulation from the movies. If you watch Glengarry Glen Ross or Tin Men, you would think the whole idea is to get people to buy things that they don't need or want. But if these Business Owners are smart they will be convincing those that need the products and services to buy them from them. If these businesses deliver quality and value, then it is just the right thing to do. They will help the right people get the things that they need.

However, there is a caveat here. Everybody has customers that buy from them that they shouldn't. There is pretty much nothing you can do about that. It goes with the territory. Nothing wrong with it, just one of those things that happen. But if you are willing to turn people away that should not buy, then that goes with truly modern selling. As a member of a BNI group, I often give referrals to those that have professions close to mine. My view is that if the prospect is best served then that is best for all of us. I won't have a customer who is unhappy and the right people will be providing their quality of service. The prospect will have a greater appreciation for a business that I turn away. 
The good news is that if you are clear about what you do and your core customers then you won't have to turn people away often. You can hone your message and be clear about what is great about your Business. Then you can provide a clear presentation, have answers to objections, and ask people to buy from you. That is Modern Selling is the right way to do business. Honest, Ethical, Moral are the watchwords of the Sales Person.
Next week we will talk about why this is so important. Oh wait, make that 2 weeks! I won't post on Labor Day as it is a Holiday. Have a great week!


Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

Visit the FocalPoint Norcal Forum - We have many tools for helping your Business!