When it comes to operating a successful business, nothing’s more important than communicating effectively with your customers. Here are five tips on improving your efforts at customer communications and reaping the benefits of a stronger relationship:
If improving communications with your employees was on your 2018 list of resolutions, there are many ways to leverage digital technology to achieve this goal. Businesses that still rely on a “suggestion box” in the break room or some similarly out-of-date mechanism should consider adopting current technology to make employees feel more involved and part of the team...
A CEO or business owner wears many hats, from “chief inspiration officer” to overseeing complex operations and development of new growth strategies. Not least among his or her primary responsibilities, however, is ensuring that the team responsible for selling the company’s products or services is motivated, efficient, productive and forward-thinking.
For most successful organizations, this means doing more than expecting a sales manager to “handle” sales and turning their own attention elsewhere.
Here are four ways to provide the kind of leadership that gets the best sales results...
Just how well do your sales and marketing teams interact? Can you point to tangible achievements as a result of close sales/marketing collaboration? Or is the situation more akin to military platoons advancing with little or no contact with one another?
In fact, many businesses are still chasing the elusive goal of optimum sales and marketing alignment. Even in an era of advanced marketing automation, “marketing technology and processes have yet to turn the sales and marketing boxing ring into a night of candlelit dinners,” observes B2B marketing expert Laura Ramos.
Here are tips on getting sales and marketing on the same page, thus benefiting both your business and your customers:
As a business owner, you know that social media offers an unprecedented opportunity for businesses to engage with their current customer base, connect with potential new customers and greatly enhance brand awareness. Whether you’re looking for more business or to expand your team, you need to engage. At the same time, those without much experience in social media may encounter a landscape crowded with potential minefields that can—if you’re not careful—inflict significant damage on your brand.
Here are six social media mistakes your business should avoid:
Maybe you have a wealth of experience and one (or multiple) businesses, but you just haven’t used LinkedIn before. It happens. Then 2018 rolled around, and you took the bold decision, that if you’re doing any B2B marketing or networking, you need to be on LinkedIn.
Not many professionals say, “don’t see the need to waste time on LinkedIn.” But I do know a number of business owners and CEOs that feel they missed the boat the first time around, and now don’t know if or how to start.
First off, there is no ‘if’. If you own a company, then whether you want sales or new recruits (and the correct answer is – yes, I need both) then you need to be on LinkedIn. So, here is what you need to know.
Some business owners are born negotiators. They know how to persuade, cajole, seduce and otherwise convince vendors to accept the deal they want.
But plenty of other CEOs and business leaders don’t have negotiating built into their DNA. The outcome of every negotiating session is a question mark, which adds an element of stress to an already difficult situation. What’s the best price I can hope to obtain for a supplier’s goods or services? If I need the vendor’s offering badly enough, am I always destined to pay through the nose?
Find out more and get your top ten tips for negotitaion...
Nowhere is the celebrated “buyer’s journey” more relevant than with B2B companies and their customers. With the vast array of digital resources at their command, these customers embark on the journey by conducting extensive research, comparing companies and exploring social media—sometimes well before they make direct contact with the business they’re most interested in.
As a result, B2B companies need to “up” their marketing game, in order to be ready when the buyer’s journey leads to them.
Here are tips for key elements and action steps for a marketing plan that keeps your business “top of mind” for current and prospective customers:
Focus on your core audience. Some businesses try—and generally, fail—to be all things to all customers. An effective marketing plan should focus on a clearly defined customer segment, so as to avoid diluting the appeal and effectiveness of a company’s key products or services.
Tailor content to meet that audience’s needs. The type of content you offer to customers (website, blog posts, articles, white papers, etc.) is a crucial element of any marketing plan. This, in turn, means thoroughly understanding what drives your customers—their needs, desires, pain points, etc.
“You need to know how your buyers like to buy and what they respond to,” notes Forbes contributor AJ Agrawal. “This will put you in the best possible position to sway them to making a purchase.”
Creating a comprehensive buyer’s persona to help with both marketing and sales leads is one highly effective way to ensure you’re hitting the right note in your content efforts.
Refresh the content and design of your website. Remember, the buyer’s journey almost always includes a visit to your B2B website. It’s in your company’s best interests to ensure that a consistent and appealing marketing message is built into virtually every page on that site. Don’t let old material or an unchanging homepage discourage potential interest.
As always, your site must also be user-friendly and informative (meaning, little or no fluff!), with a focus on how your products or services benefit the customer, as opposed to making your company look good.
Commit to a strong social media presence. Buyers will usually check out your company’s presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other industry-specific social networking sites. If you’re not already doing so, 2018 is the right time to commit to an in-depth social media marketing strategy. This can include:
- Using social media to gather data on customer preferences
- Becoming an industry thought leader through high-quality, customer-focused content
- Engaging in two-way communications with customers and prospects
- Monitoring online discussions of your industry
Your B2B marketing plan should specify the kinds of social media initiatives and activities planned for the new year and, ideally, assign this key responsibility to an individual or team with experience in this area.
Write a plan that’s clear and accessible throughout the company. While assembling the B2B marketing plan, keep in mind that shifting industry conditions may require a re-examination of basic ideas and strategies throughout the coming year. Consider assigning a knowledgeable team member with the responsibility to review the plan on a regular basis—identifying those elements and marketing goals that still make sense to pursue and refining other strategies that may have been rendered irrelevant by new market conditions.
The “marketing environment is always dynamic,” notes marketing technology expert Anita Brearton. “Create your strategy and plans in a way so you can adjust quickly to changing marketing conditions and customer requirements.”
Want to learn more about marketing and planning for your business? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!
As a business owner, you wear multiple hats. Because no one is equally good at everything, some of your hats are a little too big or a little too small – but you wear them anyway. Only people who have run a business can possibly identify with the pressure to be a Jack of all trades in this way.
To the business owner, a peer advisory board is a room full of people who know what it is to wear the hats. They’re the people who know what it takes to steer a business toward success, because they’ve done it – or are in the process of doing it – themselves.
By taking advantage of group knowledge and experience, you’ll be able to...
DISC Communication Styles
People have unique ways to communicate with each other. When you understand people are uniquely different based on their communication styles then you can better relate to your customers, peers and in your personal relationships. The key is to understand yourself first. We measure communication styles with the DISC assessment.
- How we express our internal emotions through our external behavior
- How we prefer to interact (temperament) with the environment and the people around us
DISC represents four different communication styles
D-Dominance - How we solve problems
I-Influence - How we relate to people
S-Steadiness - Our pace and energy level
C-Compliance - How we respond to rules and procedures
Once you understand yourself, you can use the following guide to help you communicate more effectively and efficiently with different people:
Communicating with the High D
- Don’t ramble on or waste their time.
- Stay on task.
- Be clear, specific and to the point.
- Don’t try to build personal relationships or chitchat.
- Come prepared with all objectives and requirements in a well-organized manner.
- Be prepared and organized.
- Present the facts logically; plan your presentation efficiently.
- Provide alternatives and choices so they can make their own decisions.
- If you disagree, focus on the facts, not the High D’s personality.
Communicating with the High I
- Talk and ask about their ideas and goals.
- Plan interaction supporting their goals and ideas.
- Allow time for relating and socializing.
- Don’t drive to facts, figures and alternatives.
- Help them get organized and put details in writing.
- Don’t leave decisions in the air.
- Provide ideas for implementing action.
- Provide testimonials from people they see as important or prominent.
- Offer incentives for their willingness to take risks.
Communicating with the High S
- Don’t rush headlong into business or the agenda.
- Show sincere interest in them as people.
- Draw out their personal goals and objections.
- Don’t force them to make a quick response.
- Present your case logically, non-threateningly and in writing.
- Break the ice with some personal comments.
- Ask specific questions. (How?)
- Don’t interrupt as they speak. Listen carefully.
- Look for hurt feelings if the situation impacts them personally.
Communicating with the High C
- Approach them in a straightforward, direct way.
- Recognize they may be uncomfortable speaking too large groups.
- Ask them if they see the issue the same way as you do.
- Provide them with information and the time they need to make a decision.
- Don’t be informal, casual, or personal.
- Build credibility by looking at each side of the issue.
- Don’t force a quick decision.
- Be clear about expectations and deadlines.
- If you disagree, prove it with data and facts or testimonials from reliable sources.
If you are interested in completing our DiSC assessment or running a company training session in this area, then give us a call or drop us an email.
Being a boss means you’re not going to be liked all of the time — that just comes with the territory. Eventually, you’re going to have to make a few decisions that not everyone is going to like to move your business forward. While it’s not easy to move forward with tough, potentially divisive decisions, committing to your vision in the face of adversity is a sign of excellent leadership.
Success in sales remains an elusive goal for many companies, partly because the sales process can’t be configured or engineered in a way that guarantees closing a deal with every prospect. Too many variables are involved.
However, building a success-oriented sales culture within the organization can tilt the odds in your favor. The key is paying special attention to sales management in a way that’s positive, instills confidence and rewards sales activity, not just results.
Here are action steps you can take to boost the success rate of your sales team:
Honor the role of salesperson. If you come from a sales background, you know first-hand what a difficult job it can be. Failure and rejection come with the territory and it takes a strong individual to bounce back from these challenges and start fresh all over again.
For this reason, it’s good to “promote how honorable it is to be a sales rep for your company,” notes small business expert Megan Totka. “Put the importance of their position on a pedestal, and highlight how pivotal it is to the success of your business.”
Automate repetitive tasks. Salespeople thrive on high energy and welcome the unpredictable nature of their jobs. That’s why they often find repetitive sales-related tasks so draining and demoralizing. It’s up to you to free them up to do what they do best—sales. Wherever possible, employ technology to handle routine customer relationship management tasks (such as sending customized messages to prospects), thus giving your team more latitude to focus on other key responsibilities.
Enforce a consistent sales process. Yes, we all know about rock-star salespeople who “act on a gut feeling” or otherwise go it alone. That’s not the path to a success-oriented culture. Instead, every business should establish a consistent sales process, says sales expert Alana Nicol, with “specific steps that everyone takes so each person knows clearly what it takes to identify, qualify and close an opportunity.”
Train for the results you want. Businesses do the best they can to hire talented salespeople who can get results out of the gate. But for the best results, sales training is the most effective strategy. Such training can emphasize a variety of techniques and attitudes, including how to:
- Stop talking to the prospect and ask questions instead
- Position yourself less as an expert and more as a problem-solver
- Hone your company’s unique selling proposition
- Focus on sales activity as much as on results
For sales veterans and rookies alike, it’s helpful for the manager and/or CEO to occasionally sit in on phone calls and/or face-to-face meetings with prospects, and offer constructive feedback afterward. Most salespeople welcome such feedback, as long it’s framed in a positive way.
Offer opportunities for learning. Training is one thing, continuous learning something else entirely. As part of honoring your sales team, give them every opportunity to participate in webinars, attend sales conferences and engage in other learning activities that help them hone their skills and network on behalf of the company. When they can collaborate and share new ideas, they’ll come away re-energized and excited about incorporating new strategies into the sales process.
Avoid micromanagement. Perhaps the best way to instill self-confidence in your team is by not micromanaging them. Delegating responsibilities and leaving them alone to do their job is another way of saying you trust in their judgment and abilities, and that you expect them to give their very best with every prospect. Sometimes they’ll succeed and sometimes they’ll fail. It’s up to you to avoid casting blame, but emphasize instead the value of learning from experience and doing better the next time.
By honoring their efforts and giving them the tools and responsibility to succeed, you can build a culture of sales enthusiasm and energy unlike anything you’ve seen before.
Want to learn more about building a successful sales culture? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!
So, your boss has come to you (well, actually they sent an email), with this crazy idea that you need to set up Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and SMART goals. Is this a passing trend and do you need to act upon it? After a quick internet search, you get the general idea, but the thought of sitting down and writing these out seems a little bit like too much hassle.
Don’t worry, we’re here for you
1 – What’s the big idea.
Actually, it’s a good one. Up until now, either your work has not been measured at all, it has been measured in a subjective manner or your measurement only comes in a negative way (i.e. you get reprimanded/complained-to if something is not done).
Good news, KPI’s are going to help. Oh, and in addition, do you ever get your boss coming to you and complaining in a subjective manner (it’s not what I had in mind… I ‘like’ it this way…) and does that conversation occasionally last a long time, when frankly you could be getting on with more work or doing something else far more productive (even if that involves Facebook)? Well KPIs help with this too.
So, KPI’s are a way of putting at a high level, what you think the top 4 or 5 achievements should be for yourself over the next (normally) quarter. By writing this out – each KPI as one sentence - you are indicating what is important, and your boss can then either agree or not, but once agreed to, both of you should be in agreement as to what is happening in the next quarter/time period.
2 – So, how do you work out what your KPIs should be?
These shouldn’t be plucked from thin air. In fact, you probably have access to a number of documents that can help you. See if you can get your hands on:
- Your job description
- The previous job reviews your boss has given you
- Vision, objectives or goals of your company or department
- Sales goals
- Important emails that your boss sent out about strategy or big projects
A typical KPI could be along the lines of:
- Delivering market-leading consulting services
- Ensuring we have the best team in the industry
- Addressing flaws in our delivery across North American operations
- Making sure we send out invoices and collect payments in a timely manner
3 – Now make them SMART
Next up we need to rationalize your KPIs. I am sure the KPI’s you came up with are awesome at the high level, but now we need to make these ‘real’. How are we going to measure success?
Each KPI needs one or a number of SMART goals.
What is a SMART goal?
SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time based. It is true that not all are in universal agreement, but if the letters stand for something else, it is generally with the same definition.
- Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
- Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
- Attainable/Assignable – is it really possible, and who’s doing this.
- Relevant/Realistic – is it relevant for the business and what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
- Time-based – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.
Let’s take an example. From our KPI above, “Making sure we send out invoices and collect payments in a timely manner” we need to set at least two SMART goals – one for invoices and one for the collection of payments. Let’s take the first one – invoicing in a timely manner
- Specific – Invoices
- Measurable – send out within 24-hours of order being fulfilled, in 98% of the cases over an average week.
- Attainable/Assignable – Brenda’s doing this, and as right now 70% of invoices are already sent out within 24-hours, so this does seem possible
- Relevant/Realistic – this is relevant for the business, as debtors pay invoices quicker if they receive the invoice closer to the order fulfillment, so if we achieve this realistic goal, we are making a sizable difference to the business
- Time-based – we’ll achieve this measurable goal by the end of this quarter
In summary, if your goal can be measured and you can define a timeline to hitting a desirable measure, then you’re getting the hang of this.
4 – Get them approved
Now you have SMART goals that represent your KPIs. You should show them to your manager, who needs to agree on them. They will be looking for three things:
- are the priorities of your job role addressed by the KPIs
- are they meaningful to the organization (will you be making a difference)
- are they SMART (now you’re an expert in this, it should be a breeze)
5 – Get on and do the work
Once you have agreed your KPIs and SMART goals with your manager, the easy stuff happens. You get on and do your job for the quarter.
You can expect that your manager (if they are any good) will be coming to you during the quarter to see how you’re doing. When they do, then reiterate your SMART goals, reaffirm if they are still achievable (according to the metrics and timeline), and if there is any doubt, speak to your manager about what they can do to help you hit the goal.
These can now be objective discussions. If you are halfway through the time period, and you are half way to your desired goal, then (all things being linear) you’re in a good place.
6 – What happens at the quarter end?
Firstly, you report back to your manager with the results for each SMART goal. If the goal was realistic, you are good at your job, and nothing unforeseen occurred, then the goal should be met and your manager should be very happy (as should you be). If the goal was not met, then you can expect to discuss this to work out where improvements can be made.
At this time, you’ll be also submitting your next goals. Some may be repeated, and some may be new – that all depends on your job role and responsibilities.
What we love about KPI’s and SMART goals is that they are simple, they are relevant for all organizations, are applicable for all level of workers, and they really do work to keep team members happier.
It’s a challenge every business faces at some point in its lifecycle—the need to raise prices in order to maintain operations and secure revenue to finance future growth. But the marketplace is littered with companies that attempted to achieve this goal but lost much of their valued customer base. One wrong step along the price-increase process and customers can feel mistreated, alienated and turned off enough to no longer purchase the company’s goods or services, even if they’ve been rewarded in the past with quality care and products.
The key to raising prices is designing the right strategy, coupled with a sense of timing and an all-out communications effort to persuade a loyal customer base that the price hike is both appropriate and promising of better things to come. Here are tactics to consider when you’re ready to raise prices:
Leave no ambiguity about the services you provide. Hopefully, you’ve laid the groundwork to clearly differentiate between what your business provides and how it stacks up compared to what’s offered by the competition. But it never hurts to further expand upon how your specific solutions effectively address problems that your customers can’t find elsewhere.
A good time for a price hike is when you can upgrade your product’s differentiating factor into an even more streamlined solution for the problems your customers face.
Incorporate price hikes in your strategic plans. Some companies mistakenly wait for what seems to customers an arbitrary time to suddenly announce a price increase in their goods and services. Instead, consider incorporating a comprehensive pricing strategy as part of your long-range business objectives, thus anticipating the influence of market forces, competitive gains in the marketplace, and other factors.
Being in a position where you can anticipate the next scheduled price hike enables you to prepare your customer base for that eventuality.
Investigate tiered pricing opportunities. Different customers may be willing to pay different prices for your business offerings. Multiple price points often make sense for retail and service businesses but can be applied to any business that offers a tiered pricing system with varying levels of service (or product upgrades) at different prices. This approach also gets customers more comfortable with price increases, making it possible to introduce across-the-board price hikes at a later date.
Communicate intentions in a positive light. Any increase in costs to customers will incur some level of push-back. For this reason, it’s critically important to communicate ahead of time your intention to take this step. Moreover, framing your message in a positive light—rather than blaming inflation or your own manufacturing/distribution expenses—can smooth the path toward eventual acceptance.
Emphasize your ongoing commitment to the highest product quality and most efficient customer service, as well as any investments your business has made in expanding personnel or acquiring state-of-the-art technology. Price increases go down better if the customer feels your business is spending money to improve its quality for them.
Test a price increase. It’s natural to expect objections from customers, but that’s not always the case with a rise in prices. “Your best customers might even wonder why you haven’t done it sooner,” notes Small Business BC, which adds that if you do have concerns about your existing client basis, “you could always introduce the changed pricing on new clients only.” This helps you gauge the effect of higher prices for your products in the marketplace.
Finally, help cushion the impact of a proposed rise in prices by offering one-time consultation services or other form of specialized assistance to your customers. This demonstrates how important they are to you, as well as your willingness to go above and beyond on their behalf.
Want to learn more about strategic planning and price increases? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!
Need a job description template to simplify the process of developing a job description? This job description template provides a guide for you to use to develop your own job descriptions for your organization.
It's a 1-2-3 step process.
If you're recruiting, then add sections 4 & 5.
Here's a useful job description template to give you a starting point when writing your own job descriptions. There are some great templates online to get you started – because let’s face it, a lot of positions are transferable between different companies and industries. I suggest checking out Workable, Monster or Proven.
1 - Title of Job
2 - Position Description:
Write a one-paragraph description of what the position does within your organization. Think of this as their role.
For example, an Accountant at a small/medium sized company:
The Accountant will handle prepare, compute, manage, research and analyze all accounting data, in order to provide quantitative information on performance, financial position, solvency, liquidity and cash flows of our business to the business owner.
3 - Major Areas of Responsibility
Use bullet points to list the major areas covered by this position.
For example, an Accountant at a small/medium sized company might list responsibilities that include, but are not a comprehensive list, such as these:
The major areas the Accountant manages includes:
- Manage all accounting operations based on accounting principles
- Prepare budget and financial forecasts
- Publish financial statements in time
- Conduct month-end and year-end close process
- Collect, analyze and summarize account information
- Compute taxes and prepare tax returns, balance sheet, profit/loss statement etc
- Develop periodic reports for management
- Audit financial transactions and document accounting control procedures
- Keep information confidential and secure them with random database backups
- Keep up with financial policies, regulation and legislation
What you have above, is the three simple steps for a great job description.
If you are in a recruitment mode, then you can add to your job description to give details to potential recruits:
4 - Required Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities
In this section of the job description, list each essential responsibility that the job holder must be able to perform satisfactorily to do the job successfully. Note that these requirements are representative, but not all-inclusive, of the knowledge, skill, and ability required to perform this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
- Broad knowledge and experience in:
- Above average skills in:
- Excellent skills in:
- Demonstrated ability to:
- Demonstrated ability to:
- Demonstrated ability to:
- General knowledge of:
- Experience in:
Education and Experience
- Degree or equivalent experience:
- Years of experience:
- Specialized training in:
- Active affiliations:
- Other requirements (certifications and so forth):
5 - Physical Location
Lastly, be clear about where the team member needs to be, and how much of the time they are required in the office or on the road/travelling.
Job descriptions are further covered in Nick's best selling book - Exactly Where You Want To Be: A Business Owner’s Guide to Passion, Profit and Happiness. Pick up your copy of the book on Amazon.
Sooner or later every business loses a valued customer. Needs change, problems occur, personalities differ. But nowhere is it written that a lost customer must stay lost. In fact, the mark of a successful business is its ability to determine why customers stray and to take action that, over time, effectively brings at least some of them back into the fold.
Here are six tips to keep in mind when you decide to focus your energies on regaining customers lost to your business in the past:
1. Reach out to former customers. Some businesses just write off lost customers, as though they’ve disappeared or gone into hiding. On the contrary, those customers are still out there. It’s up to you to reach out and re-establish a connection. If possible, approach them via a more personalized route than email. A phone call or even a written letter may prove to be the “pleasant surprise” needed to get these customers to respond to your inquiries.
2. Determine the reason for defection. Customers don’t stop purchasing a company’s products or services for no reason. While their departure may have nothing to do with the quality of your offering, nonetheless, it’s entirely possible that they left because of some related element of dissatisfaction. Your business can only improve if you clearly understand why this happened.
Business author Geoffrey James recommends asking two key questions of former clients: (1) Why have you decided to leave our business? (2) What can we do to bring you back as a happy customer?
It’s a “no-lose proposition,” James contends. Ideally, “customers will be so impressed with your curiosity and concern they’ll reconsider their decision to leave.” At the very least, “you’ll learn what’s driving customers away so that you can make corrections.”
3. Apologize sincerely and take responsibility. If the cause for defection relates to the quality of your product or shortcomings in customer service, it’s time to issue a sincere apology. But don’t stop there.
“Saying ‘I’m sorry you’re unhappy’ isn’t enough,” writes business owner Vladimir Gendelman. Even if your company isn’t technically at fault, “make it clear that you can understand why they would be upset, and that you’ve taken steps to make their next purchase more satisfactory.”
4. Reassess your business operations. It’s not easy taking criticism, justified or not, but learning what drove a customer away means looking objectively at the way your company conducts business. Sometimes you can achieve this goal on your own, but for many CEOs and business owners, getting clear-headed advice and guidance from outside sources can make all the difference in the world. (Joining TAB and attending Business Owner Advisory Board Meetings guarantees you’ll receive honest, insightful feedback on your customer service and all other business operations.)
5. Begin the process of re-establishing relationships. Lost customers aren’t “found” overnight. It may take awhile to win back the trust of a customer who feels they’ve been short-changed in the past.
One viable strategy is to ask permission to resume contact and regularly share key industry information with a former customer. Learn more about their particular needs and challenges, and begin sending on articles, white papers, blog posts, etc. that can help provide solutions to those challenges. In this way, your business takes on a new identity as a “trusted partner” in helping customers grow.
6. Land a one-off project and prove your worth (again). A former customer may be understandably reluctant about hiring you on a full-time business resource. Instead, bid competitively on a single project—or offer to provide a different product or service altogether—and do everything in your power to “wow” the former customer. If things go well, you can move forward incrementally and demonstrate with certainty that you’re fully committed to satisfying the newly-found customer in every way possible.
Acquiring new customers if far more costly than retaining the ones you have. The ROI of reclaiming a lost customer, therefore, is well worth the time and effort involved.
Think your business could benefit from a TAB Board? Apply for membership today!
These days, it’s virtually impossible to lump all customers together and try to market to them the same way. Thanks to ecommerce and other consumer-empowering changes in the marketplace, the audiences you aim to serve have moved from one large, undifferentiated mass to many subsets with individual tastes and preferences, needs and challenges.
If you’re not careful, your team can waste valuable time and resources chasing after unqualified prospects who don’t really want or need your products. That’s what happens when a business relies upon a one-size-fits-all approach to customer acquisition.
So how can you adjust your sales and marketing efforts to identify qualified prospects and best serve your company’s various niche markets? One key strategy involves building “buyer personas.”
You already have broad-based demographic information about your customer base. But creating buyer personas “takes that a step further to include psychographic information based on actual current client and target prospect research to focus on why your target customer makes a purchase decision.”
Here are tips to help construct buyer personas that fit your business and industry:
Organize your search for relevant data. A thorough profile of your customer emerges from numerous sources. Start by asking your current customers why they buy your products or services (as opposed to those of your competitors). What specific problems do your offerings solve? How do these products improve their own businesses and/or lives? Also, reach out to former customers and ask for candid assessments of what you did right (and wrong) when they were buying from you.
Look at trends and solicit online information. Most sales leads follow a certain pattern or trend; the key is analyzing the data to see what those patterns indicate. Have your sales team look closely at which customer appeals are most effective, and with which group of customers. Compile information relating to customer age, gender, location, job title, education level, etc. Make sure the team understands why customers make the decision to purchase your products—and, conversely, why other prospects choose not to buy.
Focus on solving problems. One or more buyer personas will emerge from all this data. You’ll have a fairly sophisticated profile of what your customers are like. The key from there is looking beyond who these people are and concentrating instead on what it is they require from you and your business. What problems do they face that you may not have considered before? Are there ways to upgrade your products to better solve these problems?
Create an ideal customer experience. By understanding a buyer persona, you can alter your messaging and the content you share on your website and social media. This will inform every stage of the marketing process, including product packaging and advertising, and customer follow-up after a purchase is made. You know the people you’re selling to, so you can reframe your message in ways that genuinely resonate with them.
Often, crafting a buyer persona will narrow the scope of your sales leads—since you’re not trying to attract everyone with one generic message across the board. There’s always a concern when your team is reaching out to fewer prospects. But by leveraging buyer personas and other pertinent data, the result will likely be a higher percentage of qualified leads, ready to move through the sales funnel, with less time and money spent on the qualification process.
Want more advice on improved marketing strategies for your business? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!
Do you receive a lot of inquiries from potential customers that turn out to be unqualified? While sales is a numbers game, you need to make sure you remain focused on your core competencies. If you are spending too much time on prospects that aren’t qualified, then your marketing process isn’t doing its job. Make sure your website and other marketing materials are very clear about who you work with.
Every business person knows about target markets, and you have likely defined your target market based on demographic targets such as gender, age, location, etc. Buyer personas take that a step further to include psychographic information based on actual current client and target prospect research to focus on why your target customer makes a purchase decision.
Pro Business Tip: Start developing your buyer personas by asking these 9 Questions You Need to Ask When Developing Buyer Personas. Do not rely only on your own answers to these questions, but include your sales team, current clients, past clients, and people who have not become clients. Also, consider implementing a survey for leads who ultimately decided to purchase from a competitor or substitute.
By now, you may be wondering what buyer personas have to do with prequalifying prospects. It boils down to the cliché example of the buyer who wants a hole, not a drill. If you take the time to develop your buyer persona, you will have a deeper understanding not just of who your ideal customer is, but what they need.
Once you have developed your buyer personas and understand who they are, you can begin to craft your marketing messaging and communications around your ideal customer. By targeting your message, you will find that your marketing is generating a lower number of leads, but a higher percentage of those leads will be qualified to move into the sales funnel, thus saving time and money in the qualification process.
To learn more about buyer personas and to help streamline your marketing pipeline, be sure to contact us today!