Marketing Magic Comes Before Sales

If you are like most business owners when it comes to marketing, you’ll be unsure of what works and what doesn’t or at worst, you’ll have a long list of things that don’t work because you’ve wasted thousands over the years. Well here are a couple of key facts to help us feel confident about our marketing:

  1. Marketing is predictable: If I get a mailing list and write to the first 100 names and get 3 enquiries; I can be pretty sure that I will get in the order of 30 enquiries if I send the same letter to the next 1000 on the list! If I invite 20 past customers to an evening reception at my shop to launch my summer range of designer shoes and I get 5 acceptances; I’m going to get around 50 acceptances if I invite 200 past customers!
  2. Marketing doesn’t need to be expensive: Now I know it’s predictable, I can do small marketing campaigns and repeat and extend the ones that work.

So here are the tips:

  1. Commit to test at least one new campaign per week or month depending on your business. This needs to be small. Send 100 letters, make 30 phone calls, send 100 emails, and increase the prices on one product line….
  2. Measure the enquiries you generate.
  3. Do more of what works! And continue to test and measure.

Simple…

Why competition is good… I used to hear people say, competition is a good thing and think they were mad! But here’s a test for you: You are looking at a busy street and you want to open a new gourmet burger restaurant. There are two vacant premises. One is situated at the end of the street between a book store and a chemist and opposite a small supermarket. The other premises is at the other end of the street between a McDonalds and a Burger King and opposite a Kentucky Fried Chicken Restaurant. Which unit will you choose for your new venture? Lots of people opt for the one next door to the book shop on the basis that because there is no competition, they will ‘clear up’. Sadly what these people find is that they struggle because all the hungry people are at the other end of the street because the big chains have huge marketing budgets. The smart person opens their gourmet burger bar between McDonalds and Burger King but instead of competing directly, they differentiate their offer and say – look, these guys are great, but if you fancy paying a little more for a gourmet burger experience then give us a try! Let McDonalds and Burger King build your footfall for you – then all you have to do is offer something a little different.

Marketing advice to help you prosper in tough times: The lesson we have learned from past recessions is that we must continue to market. Those that do, will be the winners. They win during the recession and perhaps more importantly, they win even more after. With this in mind, below are the reasons people buy from the people they buy from. This gives us an important insight into how to gain and retain customers. In reverse order, the top five reasons were as follows:

  • Price: During tough economic times, contrary to what some might say, price is even less important. Customers do become much more value focussed though. If your customers are arguing the price either they can not afford you (so stop selling) or they do not see the value in what you are proposing.
  • Range or Selection: Having an enormous range is not the point here. Make sure you understand your customers well enough to offer them the choice they want.
  • Product / service quality: . The features of the product or service are important to your clients. They want to know how it will deliver the benefits highlighted in your marketing campaigns. Make sure you are good at what you do.
  • Customer Service: Specifically, this means doing what is required to make sure your product or service does what it says on the tin. Sometimes we fall short of this. When we do is the time to go the extra mile.
  • Confidence: Here we are – the biggest reason people buy from us is because they have confidence in us to meet their need better than our competitors. You need to maintain this confidence with regular contact so your customers remember that you care. Our own research has shown that 68% of customers who leave, do so because of perceived indifference. If you care about your customers; make sure you show it.

6 Sales & Marketing Problems Solved

The recession has thrown the sales and marketing strategies of entrepreneurs into disarray. Customers have become more hesitant to buy, sales teams are struggling to get deals over the line, and the marketing budget isn’t looking as healthy as it used to.

But don’t despair – we have asked our nuOrder, Business Advisor network can help solve 6 major problems that are confronting business owners.

Most of the advice won’t cost you anything to implement, and you will also be able to create more robust sales systems and processes that will last you long into the recovery.

Problem: Customers are crying out for discounts.

Solution: Don’t drop your prices – find another way to get them over the line.

There is a big problem with discounting – once your drop your prices, it is nearly impossible to raise them again.

Our network agrees. We discourage discounting with all our clients because that has a negative impact on the business as a whole. Particularly during the global financial crisis, people may respond well to those in the short term, but they cause long-term damage.

Companies must find other ways to persuade customers to buy, mainly through offering improved service. Offer customers better terms of trade (by giving them longer to pay), offer priority delivery or think about giving them a little gift with every purchase.

The key is to try and get more revenue out of each customer.

Problem:Two of our sales people are doing well, but the other eight are struggling.

Solution: Get the stars to teach the laggards.

While we all admit the sales environment can be cut-throat and sales people can be very protective of their intellectual property – that is, their sales methods, but good companies need to break down these barriers and force top sales people to share ideas.

A lot of sales models can be very competitive, and sales people can operate in their own silos. That’s counter-intuitive to a business that is genuine about doing the best by its customers.

We suggest getting all sales people together for a brainstorming session to create a sales process that everyone can do. Naturally, this should be led by your sales stars, who will hopefully pass on tips and advice to help other members of their group start climbing towards their level.

Problem: I don’t know what my sales process should look like.

Solution: Develop strategies to win, keep and grow accounts.

The business advisors from nuOrder believe that the sales cycle (from lead generation through to client management) generally stretches out when the economy slows as customers guard their cash, and it is during these times that a robust sales process becomes crucial.

We believe a sales process really needs to have three phases – a sales process for creating an opportunity; a sales process for managing opportunities; and a sales process for retaining and growing accounts won.

A down economy is a good time to review your sales process to improve its effectiveness.

Problem: We haven’t really had to sell for five years.

Solution: Make every employee part of the selling process.

One of our advisors was recently approached by an engineering firm that had a big problem – no-one in the organisation actually knew how to sell. They could work on tenders, they could manage projects, but the business just hadn’t needed to be sales focused in the past. Now they needed help.

nuOrder concentrated on getting the firm’s top management to understand the importance of putting sales at the centre of the firm’s strategy and to demonstrate that everyone in the firm had a role in selling, from the admin staff to the accountants to the project managers. It’s about getting everybody and the same page and getting everyone to understand how they engage customers.

Problem: Customers don’t seem to “get” what we do.

Solution: Develop a clear sales message.

Businesses must give a clear, concise message of what exactly their business does before they can even think of making a sale.

The basic solution is that you need to have a clear marketing message of intent. What do you do? How do people understand what you do? You need to sell the right way and to do that you need to ask what it is exactly that you do for people.

Being pro-active and talking to people is great, but if you’re not clear about what you do then they’re not going to understand.

Problem: Where do I start with sales and marketing planning?

Solution: Get your sales targets clear.

Companies cannot afford to be complacent in a downturn and must figure out a plan to survive, and part of that strategy involves setting clear sales targets.

Look at the numbers to decide what you have to do. If you need X amount of revenue, then look at what your average sale is, and out of that ask how many sales you need to make each year, how many prospects do you need to talk to for sales and ask how many people you need to contact.

A lot of business owners rely on websites and such, which is nice but they in themselves do not make you a sale. They keep your brand out there, but you have to pro-actively put yourself out in the market.

You need to look at details. Know what markets you need to be targeting. Who do you need to be in front of, and how often do you need to do that?