Monday Mornings with Madison

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February 2014

Sales 2014 – Part 2

There are four basic elements that impact whether a sale will close. First, a salesperson must connect with the prospective client and be able to step into his/her ‘shoes.’ Second, the salesperson must determine the prospect’s needs… the factors that will motivate or drive him/her to listen with the intent of purchasing. Third, the salesperson needs to understand how much weight the prospective client assigns to the product or service being sold or its benefits or time frame. Lastly, the salesperson needs to gain the potential client’s trust, projecting credibility while removing doubts.

It is the second factor which is often most important in driving the sale. The salesperson must identify the potential client’s needs and determine what is driving his/her underlying desire to purchase. In the sales process, a salesperson may discover that a potential customer has a long list of needs, but there is usually one factor that will get the person to buy. That is the customer’s ‘hot button.’ The hot button is the trigger that provokes action. It is often an emotional, rather than a practical, need. So how does a salesperson identify a potential customer’s hot button? Continue reading

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Sales 2014 – Part One

It used to be that most people – even well-educated professionals — knew very little about technical subjects outside their own area of expertise. There was no easy way to get more information about specialized subjects quickly. Finance. Insurance. Taxes. Legal issues. Investments. Property. People relied on salespeople and trusted advisors (CPA, financial advisor, attorney, Realtor) for information and guidance on specific matters. Thanks to the Information Age, that has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. Thanks to the Internet, mobile devices, tablets and laptops, abundant information is easily accessible about most any business, industry, product, or service at a moment’s notice. Potential customers can gather a great deal of information (at least the basics) about most anything… and thanks to Amazon, can order scholarly books on practically any topic within seconds. They can also shop around, find options and compare prices. Thanks to social media, they can also read reviews by others who have tried a product or service. Indeed, potential customers today have information. In fact, they have tons of it.
What people don’t have today is the ability to digest and analyze all that information quickly and easily, and figure out what is true and what is either false or misleading. They also may not be able to easily discern what information is most important or how to apply the information to their own situation. They may not be able to readily identify emerging market trends or discover true best practices. In going from an information desert to information overload, customers need guidance from experts in order to distill data and pinpoint creative applications for a given individual in a given situation. Enter today’s super savvy salesperson. Continue reading

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Customer Service: Sweating the Small Stuff

Many businesses tend to spend much of their time and money acquiring new customers. In that process, they often overlook their best source of growth, which is not in attracting new customers but rather in retaining and growing their existing customer base. When businesses are searching for ways to improve their bottom line they would do well to focus their energy on customer retention. It costs a lot less to keep a customer or get a new customer by word-of-mouth than it is to win a new customer. Case in point. A business whose model is based on monthly recurring sales (such as the cell phone, cable or insurance industries) found that historically their customers stayed an average of two-and-a-half years. Meanwhile, the customer acquisition cost for that business to just breakeven was nearly two years. If that business were to retain all of its customers by just one additional month on average, it would achieve an additional 3% of annual growth. If it retained its customer base for four additional months, it would create double-digit growth…. without adding a single customer. Clearly, keeping a customer even a little longer would be much better for that business than landing a new customer. That is true for most businesses.

If customer retention is the key to a better bottom line, what does it take to keep customers happy? Loyal? Some think that delivering a good product or service on time at a good price should suffice. Think again. Competition being what it is, delivering a good product or service on time at a good price is just the beginning. It takes more than that to keep a customer long-term. On the other hand, where companies go wrong is in thinking that it takes grand gestures and big efforts to retain customers. Actually, research shows that often it’s the littlest things that have the biggest impact. The key is to focus on the little things. Continue reading

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Measure Marketing Effectiveness

At many companies, marketing is seen as a creative, costly — but often vague — process. Unlike sales, which is viewed as the revenue-generating golden child, or operations, which is seen as the rubber-meets-the-road product or service producer, marketing is perceived to neither make money nor make anything tangible. In fact, the perception has historically been quite the opposite. Like IT, marketing efforts have been (and often still are) viewed as ‘grudgingly necessary expenses’. Owners, Controllers and CFOs from big companies and small are heard to wonder “Why do we need a Social Media Manager anyway?” or dubiously ask “How does blogging generate business?” or sputter incredulously “Do we really need to spend that much to (fill in the blank: print one newsletter… exhibit at a trade show… sponsor one event… air one commercial during the Super Bowl)?!!!”
It is not surprising then that the most common discussion boards among CMOs and Marketing Directors are about how to get leadership to see the value of marketing. Value starts with measurement. Companies need – more than ever – to continually measure the effectiveness of marketing strategies. But what should be measured? Here are some questions to ask first and then five key measures to watch.
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