There are ways that you can absolutely guarantee that your strategic marketing and related communications will be ignored by your key prospects.
During a recent brand review, I came across a prospective customer who had been contacted by our client and had formed quite a strong opinion about our client’s communications. Here’s an abridged version of what the prospect had to say that illustrates what NOT to do when marketing to prospective customers.
“This company has no clue how to communicate with people who are thinking about their products and services. After just one email contact, I was deluged with multiple phone calls, emailings and invitations to trial product offerings! I had to write an email and call the company directly to get them to STOP their solicitations!”
This is obviously an extreme example, but it shows what is going on in the market. Since the economy has been down, there is a heavy fervor for “building a sales growth program.”
Let me first say there is nothing wrong with that objective. In fact, it’s absolutely necessary, but how you go about it is crucial.
Whether you are making sales calls for your company or managing a marketing program, consider these tips for prospecting for new customers:• Be a good listener.
Knowing what your prospective customer thinks is far more valuable than the customer knowing what you think. Listen to his/her concerns and don’t expect that you will be invited to solve all of them during your first visit.
Do not offer advice unless you are asked for it! This is a tough concept for many marketers to grasp, I realize, but it will pay off if you can exert some patience. Establishing that you are both interested in the customer’s challenges and willing to work collaboratively will build more trust more quickly than spouting off some quick solutions.• Be an informed provider.
Save your prospect time by learning about his/her company before your meeting. This will demonstrate your genuine interest in the business and set you apart from the majority of marketers who don’t take the time to come up to speed on the company’s history, challenges and related matters. • Be accessible.
This sounds like a no brainer, but I can tell you that I often follow-up with individuals who request my attention on their new product or service who do not follow-through with information I request.• Be a giver.
A quick rule of thumb is to “give to” prospects three times before asking for anything from them. You can bring them pertinent information they can use in their every day business. You can offer prospect leads they could follow-up with who might make good customers for the business. And you can investigate what they are working on and offer resources you are aware of that might help them. After you have done these things and built some trust, you might have earned their appreciation and they might be inclined to return the favor.• Be professional.
This tip seems obvious, but it is often ignored in the marketplace. If someone hints they don’t have time to talk right then, immediately offer to contact them at a more convenient time. Examples of putting the prospect in charge sends the right signals of how you would behave if they become a customer.
Prospective customers have many choices today. They don’t have to do anything they don’t want to, and that includes buying from you! So don’t give them a reason to NOT do business with you; give them a reason TO do business today!
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