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Sales Prospecting

Understand Your Customer Before You Sell To Them

The primary purpose of any business owner or marketing professional is to attract and retain profitable customers.

Charlie Stewart

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Here, Charlie Stewart, CEO of digital marketing agency Rogerwilco and co-author of Business-to-Business Marketing: A Step by Step Guide (Penguin) provides guidance on how businesses can map out their customers’ personas and improve their chances of selling to them.

As he explained in a previous article – Using The 6 Phases Of The B2B Buying Cycle To Improve Lead Generation – Stewart says creating quality content can speed up decision making. But the more you know about your customers and the factors that influence them, the better you’ll be able to tailor your content to their needs … and the faster you’ll be able to convince them to buy from you. 

Related: The 5 Emotions That Drive Customer Loyalty

Who is your customer, and who influences them?

Regardless of whether you’re selling to businesses or to end consumers, there’s a strong likelihood that a number of different people will be involved in the purchasing decision. Knowing who they are and understanding their needs and wants can provide significant competitive advantage – and insight.

The most effective way of identifying everyone who contributes to a purchasing decision is to map them out on a concentric circle that places the buyer in the centre and those who influence the buyer in the outer rings.

Identifying the heavyweights

David Ogilvy, often referred to as the grandfather of advertising, once said:

“Don’t count the people that you reach, reach the people who count.”

As an example, women tend to do their household’s weekly grocery shop and, while they may take the decision as to which brand of toothpaste goes into the shopping cart, influencers such as their kids or partners can persuade them where they shop.

South African retailer Pick n Pay recognised this and ran a series of promotions targeting children – its 2015 Stickeez promotion reportedly grew sales by 12%. Take a leaf out of their book and be sure to cast a wide net when mapping out who’s likely to influence your buying decision maker.

Giving away cheap plastic toys is unlikely to resonate with senior managers in the B2B world, but the opinions of other influencers may sway their decisions. The media, analysts, regulators and existing customers can all play as significant a role in convincing a business to choose one vendor over another as any of the C-suite executive team sitting in the boardroom. So understanding their needs and wants is as key as understanding the CEO’s. 

Related: Forget The Marketing Spiel. Speak To Your Customers In Their Language

Building the persona

customer-service techniques

Once you’ve identified your customer and their influencers, build up detailed descriptions for each of them.

To ensure consistency across your personas, you’d be well advised to use a template to plot out your insights. HubSpot, the marketing automation software company, has a useful free tool that’ll help put proper structure around the exercise.

You can use this to map out everything from demographic data to insights on your target’s hobbies, details of their job to information about their family.

Specific questions you need to answer include:

  • what are they trying to accomplish when buying your product or using your service
  • what drives their behaviour
  • where do they gather information
  • how do they think
  • how do they buy
  • where else / from who else can they buy
  • what might prevent them from buying

Finding the answers is actually easier than it might appear. For starters, your customer-facing employees and colleagues are likely to have a wealth of information on your audience.

You should also be able to glean insights from your website and social media analytics accounts – this will be particularly useful in helping you understand the content they engage with as part of their buying journey.

But the most effective way to build your personas will be to speak to real customers. If you have the budget, commission a research company to hold focus groups or one-on-one interviews with your target audience. If that’s not possible, you can gather a lot of information by simply sending questionnaires to your existing customer base – although you’ll probably want to incentivise these to improve response.

Related: Demanding Customers Are The Ones Who Motivate Innovation

Once you’ve crafted your personas properly you’ll be able to refine your marketing activities, making sure that your messages resonate with each customer grouping within your target audience and, most importantly, increase the chance that they will buy from you versus from your competitor.

For more information about Rogerwilco visit www.rogerwilco.co.za or follow @rogerwilco_SA.

Charlie Stewart is the CEO of the award-winning digital marketing agency, Rogerwilco. It specialises in SEO, B2B marketing and Drupal web development and represents many international brands and organisations as well as local blue-chips. Along with Mark Eardley he co-authored Business-to-Business Marketing: A Step by Step Guide, published by Penguin in early 2016.

Sales Prospecting

3 Steps To Healthier Client Relationships

Do you have clients that constantly push the boundaries, who have unrealistic expectations and inconsistent feedback? What if you could have a client base of only people who value your work? Firing the wrong clients can help you get there.

Dominique Sandwith

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It’s not easy to admit that a client is actually doing your business more harm than good. When it gets to the point that you are spending all of your time and energy trying to please one client, then it’s time to look at what they are contributing to your success.

In the early days of your business, it’s understandable to hold on to difficult clients as every penny counts. However, as time goes on, firing a disproportionately time-consuming and challenging client could free you up to go looking for new and better business.

Here are three steps to take to healthier client relationships:

1. Get perspective

Step back from everyday tasks to make some notes about the client relationship in question. Ask yourself what you value in your client versus what drains your energy and puts you in a bad mood.

Understand what the deal-breakers are and whether the client in question has crossed the line. It’s possible that you just need to have a frank conversation with the client, but often these kinds of client relationships are too far gone.

Related: 1 Simple Rule To Avoid Bad Client Relationships

2. Fire the wrong client

There’s no one-size-fits-all for this process – you have to do this in your own way, but be clear on the reasons. If the client has been as unhappy as you are, they will most likely understand that this relationship is not a good fit.

However, there are times when a client has no idea that they are being unreasonable or thinks that this relationship is productive. That’s when it’s difficult to explain why you are deciding not to take their money.

Make it factual and don’t bring in your feelings. If you have examples of situations or email threads as proof show them that this is not how you believe a successful relationship should be. Be clear on your values and what you envision for your business.

Be polite and professional throughout the conversation and focus on the relationship fit, rather than pointing out their personal flaws. Explain the next steps and how the handover process will take place. You want to make sure that the end of the relationship is as amicable as possible.

3. Find the right clients

Firing a difficult client is likely to affect your bottom line in the short term but it will give you the motivation, and headspace, to go looking for the right clients.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure you know what you want in a client – make a list of things you won’t stand for again with future clients, and one that describes your dream client.
  • Use your time and resources wisely, and aim high to secure clients that will be worth your while.
  • Identify potential clients and projects that are profitable, that will inspire you and that you enjoy working with.

Tip: make sure the Terms and Conditions on your website, and in your quotes, are well-defined. State your prices clearly, don’t leave room for interpretation. Don’t back down if a new client quibbles over a cost estimate. Take complaints of this nature as a warning sign and walk away.

Related: How Well Do You Really Know Your Customers?

Don’t ever think that you’ve wasted your time with the wrong client. Each client you work with helps you to refine your offering and progressively understand what you’re good at. Firing a client is never easy, but sometimes it’s a necessity for the successful and sustainable future of your business (and your sanity).

When you fire the wrong client, you can streamline your business to play to these strengths, and ensure you offer a world-class service or product.

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Sales Prospecting

7 Steps To Master The 80/20 Revenue Model

Imagine a world where 80% of your revenue came from 20% of your customers. Now what will it take to make it your reality?

Emma Donovan

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We are often so focused on new leads that we forget to master the art of upselling and cross-selling. To generate more income from existing customers you need to focus on quality over quantity, and be strategic in your approach. Here are seven steps to help you on your way.

Understand what you want to achieve

When you upsell, you encourage customers to buy a higher-end product or service than the one in question – such as an airplane seat with more leg room. Whereas cross-selling tempts customers to buy related products that satisfy additional, complementary needs. A simple example is when you check out of an online store and the shop tempts you to buy similar or complementary products that you suddenly just can’t live without!

Tip: Identify which one makes sense in your business, and what the additional or complementary offering will be.

Nurture relationships

Long-standing relationships and loyal clients are worth their weight in gold. Make sure they know they will remain a priority, even when you are busy with bigger or more profitable projects.

Constantly over-deliver and exceed expectations. Make yourself ‘irreplaceable’. 

Related: This Is What Bevan Ducasse Did When He Realised wiGroup’s Revenue Model Wasn’t Working

Provide solutions

Don’t presume you know what your customers want or need – do your homework and ask them. You need to understand their hopes, dreams, fears and challenges. Three simple ways to do this are to:

  • set up regular one-on-one calls
  • catch up over coffee
  • or email them a quick survey to complete.

Add real value

Ask yourself, ‘how can I help this client achieve their goals or overcome this challenge?’ You need to find ways to add real value to make the additional expense worthwhile. Also make sure your pricing is fair and competitive, without selling yourself short.

For example, one of the products we cross-sell at Yellow Door is video content. It’s a key part of a holistic marketing strategy and is a great way to bolster content for launches, social media and newsletters.

Paint a picture

To excel at upselling and cross-selling, you need to help customers visualise the value they will get from the higher-priced item. Whether it’s a 30-second video, an infographic, or a well worded email – take the time to explain not only what the product is, but how it will benefit them or their business.

Incentivise

Offering a reward or incentive can increase your upsell or cross-sell conversion rate. For example, offer free shipping or a discount if the client purchases two or more products or services.

Related: Bob Skinstad On Making An Impact With The 80/20 Principle

Create capacity

Ensure your team has the expertise and capacity to deliver the relevant service or product at the right standard. Alternatively, find a non-competing service provider to complement your offering and agree on a referral or commission structure. This way you can expand your offering without increasing your overheads.

The key to success is to understand what your customers value and then respond with products, services or features that meet those needs.

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Sales Prospecting

Empower Your Team To Make More Sales

The answer is not simple. However Leadify’s CEO, Grant Fleming shares several strategies that can help.

Grant Fleming

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Much like the business cliché that your company is only as strong as its people, in marketing, behind every successful marketing campaign there is an empowered team. But how do you help your team increase their sales?

The answer is not simple. However Leadify’s CEO, Grant Fleming shares several strategies that can help:

1. Become clever at dealing with data

It is essential that teams have the right platform at their disposal to reach the agreed-to goals. Teams also need to become more adept at dealing with data to learn about their customers. Teams should segment data, send marketing messages and receive instant feedback to learn from. They should also optimise their messages and dig into the demographics of their audience.

2. Curate your audience

The above enables teams to curate, and continuously engage with their audience. One of the biggest mistakes marketers make is focusing their communication to a base, instead of cultivating an audience through learning from insights and feedback. This doesn’t foster an incentive to learn anything from one week or one campaign to the next. Teams end up sending out an email/SMS blast one week after another, with the same results.

Related: What Really Drives Sales Growth And Repeat Business?

3. Market more smartly

Rather than marketing ‘harder’, teams should be marketing smarter. There are a few ways to do this. Given teams have the appropriate automated marketing tools at their disposal, they can automate certain repetitive activities so that they continue to learn while the system executes.

Teams are also best served by breaking down their goals into measurable insights and build logical marketing lists (data lists) rather than lumping everything into one list. Often, splitting data by its original source works well, but so does sectioning lists according to category.

Consider using “Remarketing” for the direct marketing space too. This is similar to AdWords marketing, where teams ‘slice and dice’ their data, and insights about engaged audiences are retargeted using the platform.

The other options is “Long Run” campaigns. Here a campaign is live over a longer period of time, essentially establishing a level of cadence for direct marketing efforts. 

4. Do lean marketing

To empower your team, adopt a lean marketing process. This sees teams marketing in small batches, sending e.g. 2000 SMSs, reviewing the results, then another 2000, and then tweaking the marketing message if needed.

By sending five different marketing messages, your marketing teams will be able to whittle down to the top two that returned the best results, and then scale them up.

This, rather than just sending a million SMSs (for example) to your entire database, is a lean marketing approach that can help your team incrementally improve their efforts for an optimal return.

Related: What You Need To Know About The Lean Start-up Model

5. Value testing and metrics

Both testing and metrics are critical to helping your marketing team become more successful, with A/B testing in particular critical for learning.

When you tweak campaigns, resist the urge to make larger changes; these make it difficult to measure results. Rather do small-batch testing, even if it is just from your newsletters. Try and bleed the marketing messages out over a logical timeframe – don’t just blast out to the entire list in one go.

Regarding metrics, concentrate not only on the number of messages sent, but clicks and click-through rates as well as conversions, even if the latter happens down the line. Understanding these metrics across demographics is equally important, as this allows you to curate audiences that you can personalise marketing to.

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