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Getting Customers Stuck On YOU

Voice mail, email, snail-mail, direct mail, in person calls – there’s never been more possible ways to reach and grow customers. Then why all the sad faces? You know – unreturned calls, emails, direct mailers flushed down the circular file. Are your methods not working like they used to? Buyers are too busy to win over using old approaches! Effective sales and marketing requires getting customers stuck on you like white on rice. Want to increase your stickiness? Here’s how:

STICK OUT IN SALES

Being a “robo-salesperson” or having a “robo-sales force” (using the same methods as everyone else) is death. Let’s face it, robotics work in building cars, not in sales! When’s the last time you’ve seen a group of prospects moving uniformly down your “potential new customer assembly line” waiting to be worked on by your automated selling approach? Ridiculous, of course. You need the courage to stick out as you develop relationships – moving a prospect into a customer, eventually to a repeat client. Here’s some ways to stick out:

• Stop Selling Lime-Green Jackets to People Looking for Tan Blazers – There’s something I have to confess. I’m colorblind. Several years ago (before I had the guts to stick out) I went in alone to a men’s clothing store looking for a tan blazer and navy blue pants. The sales rep enthusiastically said, “I have just the thing for you.” After I put on his recommended jacket and pants combination my wife Rose walks in, looks me over and says, “That’s interesting, Michael.” I didn’t know what she meant by “interesting” until she told me I was wearing a lime-green jacket with navy pants! The sales rep in his zeal to make a sale did not ask me where I would be wearing the jacket (in this case for a business event), or anything about my tastes (I’m just not a lime-green jacket kind of guy). Sticking out in sales today requires you to dialogue before you monologue – asking questions before selling product (in this case the slow-turn lime green jacket). Do you or your sales team have a good list of questions you ask before you prescribe your solution? Do these questions need to be revised to fit today’s more educated customer?

• Become a Resource – We all love people who put our interests first and help us achieve our goals. Start asking these 3 questions:

1. What are your goals?
2. What are the areas you are looking to improve on (your challenges)?
3. How else can I serve you – even outside the scope of my products?

Identify specific ways you can help with these questions. Your tenacious efforts to help the customer with their agenda will develop the super-glue for a profitable relationship with you.

• Ask, “Am I nuts, or do these ideas make sense?” – Give your prospects permission before you present to tell you what ideas they like or don’t like. Listen, take notes, and report back how you’ve used these insights.

• Use “The Brass” for More Than Just Fixtures – Customers love to feel special – to be worthy of interactions with “top players” in your organization. Get senior leadership involved to grow relationships and sales (ask leaders to write a thank you letter, attend or speak at a meeting, make a phone call, sales call, or service call to see how things are going).

STICK TOGETHER WITH MARKETING

To repackage a familiar saying, “Customers of a feather stick together.” The goal is not to sell everyone it is to find the right someone’s! Work to become the recognized expert – the undisputed champion – in the market niche(s) with the best sales and profits for you. Here’s how:

• Look for Love in All the Right Places – Identify your best, most profitable prospect. Locate where they “hang out” (i.e. associations, meetings etc.). Read and get involved in their world (note: for more information on this topic read article “Looking for Love in All the Right Places” at www.leadershipbuilders.com).

• Speak Up – Look for opportunities to speak at industry functions. Try to “stack the room” with your best customers. Get an industry influencer to introduce you to maximize your credibility. Not comfortable speaking? Join a Toastmasters group to build confidence.

• Create “Stars” in the Press – Identify a customer who has gone out on the edge to use your product in a new or exciting way. Contact trade publications and media outlets who might like to report on this innovation. Give them the contact information for your customer. Goal – get positive press to build customer loyalty and sales within a specific industry.

STICK WITH IT – EFFECTIVE EFFORT

Having the courage to stick out in sales and the marketing focus to stick together with the right customers is good, but they are still not enough. Getting time in your targeted customer’s day still requires sweat equity and “organized determination.” Here’s two ways to get the most out of your work:

1 Think Donatos – Respect the Process – Winners prepare and deliver for customers consistently. Do the following:

• Before an appointment – Develop an agenda, call objectives, and customer-specific questions that will allow you to dig deeper into needs you think might exist from your pre-call research.

• At the end of an appointment – Get agreement on the next actions, time frames, and people responsible.

• After the appointment – Have one (and only one) follow up system to ensure delivery on your agreed steps. Remember, trust is built through flaw-less follow up.

2 Get Your Team Involved – Get your inside staff to stay in contact with smaller accounts. Stay in touch to win business.

YOUR STICKINESS ASSIGNMENT

Step back from your current grind. Grade yourself from “A to F” on the following:

1. Is your marketing focused on the most profitable group of customers?

2. How customer-oriented are the questions your sales reps ask before they start selling? Does your sales team get honest feedback and serve as a resource to the customer?

3. Beyond your “salepeople” how involved are senior leaders and inside staff with customers?

If you’re not an “A” today you’re in a potentially vulnerable competitive position. Identify the training, market focus, and new responsibilities you need your people to take to get more customers stuck on you tomorrow!

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Concrete FACTS, a publication of the Concrete Foundations Association, is THE voice for residential concrete industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the cast-in-place concrete industry. Subscriptions to Concrete FACTS is available to anyone involved or interested in the residential concrete industry as a service to your industry. Please contact CFA Headquarters to find out more about your free subscription or Email Us