Dallas Business Consultant Elijah ClarkDallas Business Consultant Elijah Clark

The Follow-Up

Providing the customer with a price isn’t the final step – obviously. You still need the potential customer to make the purchase. Because many businesses don’t like to think outside of an immediate sale, they often fail to implement follow-up procedures that pay off after an estimate. They give up after a few emails or calls. Remember: Persistence is key. If you understand your customers’ journey, you know that this is all a part of the decision-making process. Now, you just need to give potential customers the information they need to make the final leap.

To help with your follow-up, create a process for your typical sales cycle armed with information on average close rates and the time it takes to complete a deal. With a customer relationship management program (CRM), you can define these stages and easily keep track of progress. Map out what information you will send at each part in the process. Consider creating an email series that checks in on the customer every few weeks and reiterates how your business can help. Send the proposal with an invitation for an in-person meeting, visit, or phone call the following week to continue the momentum of the conversations. Tweak the messaging of your emails to determine what resonates with prospects. You’ve gotten this far. Don’t fail at the follow-up.

Building Trust. Trust takes time. When you are sending marketing material to a potential customer, there just isn’t always time to create a trusting relationship. But there are things you can do to prove you are credible, which is a step in the right direction. Credibility starts with a good reputation and a good design which inspires confidence in the viewer. When designing, follow modern design standards and practices to create a clean, easy-to-read campaign. In addition, marketing content full of misspellings and poor grammar can be a red flag for customers. It says little for your business’s ability to pay attention to detail and reduces your credibility as a professional organization. Finally, you need compelling testimonials or case studies that showcase the results you can deliver, the type of working relationships you have, and how you solved problems for previous customers.

 

Smartwaiver Zapier Integration

I have recently started using a waiver system called smartwaiver for customers to sign. I do like the system, but it had a flaw of not integrating with Zapier, a tool used for linking online platforms.

Because of the issue, I have created a Zap that helps links smartwaiver with other tools. If you are interested, visit the link below and get started. You will need your unique API from smartwaiver to use the Zap:

https://zapier.com/developer/invite/68625/a1c8991fd298dfcaffb6c47ca986b41c/

Pricing and Expectations

Framing Your Price. You need confidence to make a sale – and you need that same confidence in the product or service that you are selling. Most business strategies are designed so that customers are given the bare-bones option first, and then the business reveals what it can do for its Super Special, Super-Charged Retainer or its “Everything you ever dreamed of” package. By giving your lowest price first and then the higher price, you are cautiously approaching the customer with the idea that they should spend more for a complete service, but not convincing them which package is right for them or their business.

Consider this: which of the following statements is most impactful? You’ll save $1,000 if you buy marketing automation software. Or; You’ll lose 100 customers if you don’t buy marketing automation software. People feel much stronger about the thought of losing something. When you set up your business strategy, emphasize the possible loses if the customer does not take action now. In addition, set up your marketing so that the right package is presented first. Then, if necessary, outline what a stripped-down version of this would cost. Also, emphasize how much more difficult, time consuming, or unattainable achieving the customer’s goals will be if they choose the cheaper version. You’re not really changing anything about what you do. You’re just reframing the conversation.

Outline The Process. Every customer’s goals and challenges are unique, but that doesn’t mean you need to start from scratch when building a sales strategy. If you have a keen understanding of what you do, how to sell it, and how to package it, you should be able to create or customize an existing sales strategy to fit the needs of, and attract, any type of customer. However, this relies on your business having a repeatable and defined selling process. When questioning your customers, you should know:

  • The goals, plans, and challenges of the customer
  • Current customer metrics and key company information
  • The cost to the customer of not doing anything to meet their goals

When building a sales strategy to target your desired customer, the strategy should include:

  • Campaign goals
  • Scope of services and benefits
  • Reporting
  • Success Metrics
  • Timeline
  • Budget

With this framework in place and a defined process for gathering information, it will be much easier to put together a winning sales and marketing strategy.

Set Expectations. Once you have confirmed that the customer is a good fit for your business and the customer has requested more information and an estimate, you need to detail what the purchasing or contract phase looks like. The price estimate or sales collateral is the next step in the commitment process on the part of the customer. It should confirm everything you have already spoken about and solidify the deal.

There is no magic trick to selling. There shouldn’t be some big reveal. There is no tool for convincing and impressing. The price estimate or contract proposal is a confirmation, in writing, of what your business can do, how it will do it, when it will be completed, and why the customer specifically needs your product or services. It should be the final step prior to a contract being signed, and your business and the customer should both be confident that the deal will close – and soon.

Be a Partner

Emotional Connection. Customers want to do business with businesses they like. It’s that simple. While we shouldn’t have to emphasize this fact, we sometimes forget that emotions often drive our purchasing decisions, not logic. When sending marketing material to customers, you have to first develop rapport with those customers, or else your marketing will simply become another “to review” item on customers’ lists. Start with a call or a coffee meeting. Find commonalities. Listen to the customer’s challenges. Show them appreciation and gain their trust. Then, send the marketing material with a personal note and a reminder of some shared moment.

Be a Partner. The customer doesn’t always know best – even if they think they do. If you truly want to be a partner (not simply an order taker), you need to understand if what the customer wants will get them the results they need. These are obviously two very different things. As a partner, you need to challenge the customer by letting them know when there are better products or more efficient and effective ways to be productive. This is also how your business can stand out in competitive situations.

In marketing, if the potential customer wants SEO and social media services, and you simply send marketing outlining why you are the best agency for providing SEO and social media, your marketing material will be similar to every other business’s marketing – except for that one agency that considers why the customer believes they need SEO and social media and what actually makes sense for the customer’s goal, budget, and timeline. You can stand out by taking this different approach through questioning your customers’ actual needs and goals which would allow you to offer them the optimal product or service solution for their needs.

Attracting the right customer

Many businesses that I have consulted for boasted about their low prices but hated the fact that customers would only purchase products on discount. Those businesses failed to sell products at a profitable margin and often could not afford other expenses including employees, marketing, and general operating costs. It’s great when your customers love your low prices, but if your customers are the only ones winning, then that is not good for your business.

Most customers – the ones you want – will view your product or service as an investment. They likely will not see your prices as an issue considering they desire other conveniences of your business, which may include your location, quality, reputation, etc. That’s a very different mindset from that of customers who simply want to buy a product at the lowest cost possible. However, it is your responsibility to market your overall value as the focus of your business and not just your prices.

Qualifying The Customer. I’ve seen it often; an employee talks with a potential customer and the customer seems (or acts) interested. After that meeting, the employee is confident about what the customer wants and offers the customer pretty much everything that the company sells, backtracking from pricing individual services to a grand total number.

The problem? The potential customer has never purchased from the business and has no plans to make a purchase until the end of the year. In addition, his budget is way below what the employee proposed. Immediately, the customer disregards the business as an option, both now and when his budget increases by 50% the following year.

Sometimes, a customer will never be the right fit. And sometimes it just isn’t the right time. Don’t ruin your chances by not understanding your customers’ current and future needs – including their financial constraints. In addition to understanding your customers’ objectives and the current state of your marketing outreach, you should also define the following:

  • What are the customer’s goals?
  • What does success for the overall company look like?
  • What is the timeframe for achieving those goals?
  • Are there separate long-term and short-term goals?
  • What specific metrics will define success?
  • What challenge is the customer currently facing?
  • What value does the customer see in the services you provide?

Educating = Satisfying

Not all customers will understand the details of your product or the necessities of your service offering. It’s important that you help educate your customers on your product and changes in the market relevant to your business. While you may not want to move away from your original contract, your competitors will try and attract your customers by introducing new tools, methods, and trends. To prevent your customers from moving to a competitor, you should setup and attend regular weekly or monthly meetings with your customers and go over what it is that you are doing for them and why. When asking your customers what they think about the quality of your product or service, don’t be surprised if they ask about new technologies or trends and why you aren’t using those methods. If you aren’t aware of new changes or innovations, you should inform the customer that you will look into the technologies and present your findings to them.

Quality Relationships

A periodic marketing and customer audit are required if you want to enhance the quality of services and products that your business offers to its customers. Delivering top quality services to customers is considered the most effective way to ensure that your business stands out from its competitors. The main ingredients that are involved in a quality relationship between your customer and your business are trust and commitment.

Trust. Trust refers to confidence and security in relationships and should be treated as the biggest investment in building long term relationships. As a result of understanding and addressing your customers’ needs, any doubts of whether or not your business respects them, and is sincere, are relieved and demonstrates that you are a reliable partner. A lack of trust, on the other hand, weakens the relationship, and as a result, the likelihood of uncertainty and disloyalty increases.

Commitment. Commitment is yet another milestone that should be achieved to create a long-term relationship. Commitment can only be attained when there is trust and the two parties share similar values. In a committed relationship, both your business and the customer wants the relationship to last considering the time and energy needed to switch to another business or market toward new customers.

Other attributes that promote a high-quality relationship include the following:

Courtesy. Many times, your customers may not be satisfied with your business or with the product or service that you offer. It is essential that you provide your customers with quality customer service during these times. Delivering positive and courteous responses act as a catalyst in driving customer satisfaction.

Availability. Most customers prefer human responses compared to automated emails or messages. Hence, it is important for your business to be available to customers with queries and needs. Being available also promotes emotional bonding between customers and your business which is beneficial for establishing and building a profitable business.

Responsiveness. Your business should always have prompt, responsive, and experienced employees serving your customers. If a potential customer calls and asks about some critical product feature and your employee fails to properly explain it or is non-responsive, the customer would likely contact a different business who will provide them with the answers to their questions.

Current. Always remain current with, and ahead of, your industry and changes in your market. Strategies, services, and products often advance or deteriorate with time due to competition and the higher cost of innovation. Consequently, your business should remain current and relevant to your customers and potential customers.

Market growth potential

Know Your Potential

Knowing your market growth potential can enhance the implied value of your business if you are prepared. Market growth examines where the market for a business is going and whether it is moving in a different direction from where it has been. It also defines how the business can use its strengths to take advantage of this growth.

Knowing your market growth potential means to understand a setback or increase in product demand and have your next move prepared. For example, if a new technology is coming to the market, you need to make certain that you are ready and equipped to implement the technology into your business to satisfy those hard-to-please customers.

Customer Loyalty and Satisfaction

Most businesses believe that a satisfied customer is also a loyal customer. That is not always the case, as your customer can be satisfied and not loyal to your business. Satisfaction is an emotion while loyalty is related to a future action taken by the customer.

Building satisfied and loyal customers require:

  • Keeping customers engaged in the salesprocess
  • Educating customers on why they should choose you over your competition
  • Knowing the unique needs of your customers and satisfying those needs

Not every customer is destined to be a life-long customer— but if you follow the tactics above, both you and your customer will be set up for a happy and productive relationship.

Understanding your customer loyalty level.

  • Satisfied but disloyal customers: A customer can be fully satisfied but may not be loyal due to following reasons:
    • Experimental Customer. These types of customers like to experiment and enjoy the option of diverging in other available businesses in the market.
    • Price Shopper. These customers are happy with your product or service but will only use your service until they are comfortable in duplicating your results at a lower price.
    • Business Growth. These customers may feel that your methods or product and services are outdated, and will go to a different business that markets having and using the latest trends and technology to grow with the customer’s goals.
  • Unsatisfied but loyal customers: The other situation is when the customer is loyal but is unsatisfied. The reasons for this are:
    • Lack of available options: This situation can arise if your business does not offer products or services offered by competitors or when your business offers an inferior service.
    • Emotionally connected: There are some customers who are afraid to change their supplier because of an emotional business attachment or bonding. The customer may feel that it would be best to try and fix an unsatisfied situation rather than start new.

For your business to be successful, it is important for you to gain customer loyalty. While satisfaction may not guarantee loyalty, it is a prerequisite.

Customer Satisfaction

According to a study of 362 marketing agencies, 95% of the agencies believed they placed a priority on the needs of their customers. Additionally, 80% believed they delivered a superior customer experience. While businesses may believe they place a priority on customer services, the same study found that only 8% of customers agreed that these businesses prioritized customer service.[1]

The relationship between businesses and customers are often one-sided. Where businesses may only see customers as numbers, customers want to be seen as individuals. Creating genuine customer experiences are about providing a unique value, surpassing expectations, engaging customers, and remaining honest.

Successful businesses find ways to satisfy and build customer relationships, as they should. Customers are spending their money to partner and invest with your business. They are your brand ambassadors who will promote your business to their friends and family. You should make it a priority to satisfy their needs and concerns. You can help your business get ahead if you can master the art of customer relationships and build loyal followers.

 

[1] “Tuning In to the Voice of Your Customer,” Harvard Management Update, Vol. 10, No. 10, October 2005.

Brand Evangelists

A happy customer is likely to tell their friends and family of the service they received. Creating brand evangelists doesn’t necessarily involve rewarding the customer with free products or services. The best method for building loyalty and creating brand evangelists is by letting the customer know that they are appreciated as a customer and that you enjoy referrals.

Satisfied customers are also likely to spread the word through social media about the service they received from your company without being asked. If they are happy, they will likely tell everyone why they are. Customer satisfaction goes a long way when creating brand evangelists. You can identify a brand evangelist by joining and staying current with social networks and watching for your business name to be mentioned on those networks. Another great opportunity for building evangelists is to get involved with customers online by incorporating widgets into your company website. These widgets can be used to allow for site visitors to communicate their thoughts and share them on their favorite social networking websites with the click of a button.

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