If you said “yes” to any of the above questions keep reading…
Many times, I find companies only look at improving their sales and marketing programs when business is booming and cash-flow is strong. It is ironic, then, that although these organizations have cash to spend and aspirations for improvement, they become distracted and pulled in too many directions to really focus on what matters. Now, if you’re thinking this article is going to be some sales pitch on why you should hire an ad agency or marketing firm to update all of your marketing materials when you could be facing cash flow problems, you are dead wrong! Marketing is important, and we will discuss this. However, what I want you to consider is a whole new way to revolutionize your sales strategy, how you package the unique wisdom of your firm and how you position yourself in the marketplace to blow away your competition. I am going to help you walk the bridge between sales and marketing and see how they link together.
Following are a few fundamental changes you can make to your process that in my experience, will set-up your firm to thrive in any economic climate. Unfortunately, many firms wait to learn this in a recessive market. But moving forward, my goal is to help you position your firm in a way that stands out even more in a down market. So let’s get into the details.
- Change your Sales Qualification Process – Most people think their wisdom is packaged in the glitz and glamour of their marketing materials. But beyond that, how you collect client input and manage each and every conversation is a form of packaging. You can differentiate yourselves in the market if you stand out in every way. And that all starts with the first conversation you have with a lead. If you haven’t already used or explored the Sandler Sales System, I would encourage you to do so as a first step. I believe its atypical approach to sales and business relationship management can change your business and sales process forever. If used effectively, you will get more “qualified decisions” instead of the typical “think it overs” that are a waste of your time, money and motivation.
- Setup a “Monkey’s Paw” & Charge for ALL Proposals – The “Monkey’s Paw” concept was introduced to me through the Sandler system mentioned above. Never mind the name—just know that this concept allows you to setup a structure that gets you paid for all proposal development and consulting you do beyond your initial call or meeting with a prospect. Most people deliver these proposals for free. With the monkey’s paw, you offer it as a credit back against any proposal that is presented if they engage you in the full service, regardless of what options they pick. If they don’t work with you, at least you got paid for your work—each and every time. You don’t give favors to clients and treat them different than prospects. Everyone is treated equally.
- Create Unique Value by Creating a Packaged Client Experience (Your “Discovery” Process) – If you want to stand out in a market, then for crying out loud, don’t do what everyone else is doing! Look at how you’ve done things in the past and how you do them now. Look at what you do better than other firms, and use those things as focal points in how you build your process. In addition, focus on identifying ways you could remove internal or client-side frustrations based upon history or surveys (companies that have been around for decades sometimes do this poorly—or not at all—and it really hurts them). Once you have collected the data, then create a graphic overview that breaks down clearly identified stages of how each client works with you from the initial meeting through to product/service fulfillment. This will help your sales force speak in a unified voice, and will ensure people can see you have a unique approach based upon experience and a proven track record. I am confident that all products or services can fit into this system. For instance, a graphic overview can be created and positioned in retail environments as well, even if it is used as a point-of-sale display vs. a face-to-face sales presentation. I don’t care how good the quality of all of your stuff is—if you don’t position yourselves to have a clearly unique approach, you will not reach your potential.
Is your firm positioned uniquely enough that you actually stand out more and have a better closing rate, even in a down economy? If so, then you probably already have a lot of these ideas in place. But there is always room for improvement. As an example, my firm operated for several years with none of these systems in place and then implemented a first and second version of this approach, with the second improving upon the initial attempt. Now, we are looking to launch version “3.0” in 2010 based upon 2008/2009 client feedback. This is what will happen if a company is truly committed to ensuring their future distinction and success. Your clients will be your greatest teachers if you continually commit resources to this process and continue to cultivate an improvement strategy. The benefits for our firm have included ROI improvement through workflow efficiency, a consistent improvement of closing rates and an increase in the amount we have been able to charge for services and discovery consulting ( our “monkey’s paw”). Implementation of these processes has made our client experiences stronger, and our new 2010 enhancements will further improve efficiency and customer experiences.
You probably don’t have the issues my firm had about 7-8 years ago, and I wouldn’t assume you waste company time and resources with free proposals. I also doubt you can see areas for improvement in your marketing programs to increase sales closing and lead generation effectiveness (you’re probably getting an abundance of leads that are being closed at an even better rate than last year). In addition, there is clearly a lot more that could be said about a number of sales and marketing topics, and I plan to further explore them over time. In the meantime, I welcome any questions you may have about how the aforementioned processes could be applied to your specific business model.
I help my coaching clients focus on matters like these so they can see their business become more efficient, profitable and scalable, if desired. I also help them achieve better balance professionally and personally so they can see their business truly work to support their life purpose and vision. If you want to find out more about how this could be leveraged in your world, or if you want to discuss a business problem you are facing, feel free to contact me or call me personally at 717-615-2274. You are also welcome to share this article or other resources found on my blog (visionandpassion.wordpress.com) with those you care about. Feel free to contact me if you or an associate would like to join my blog or receive this article as a PDF.