Customers, Employees and Influencers as High Performing Sales and Marketing Channels1

Beedon Headshot

The Pipeline Guest Post – Dick Beedon

Although brand advocacy has always been important, it is critical today. The path to purchase has changed forever. Because there is so much data available, and because communication is so easy, today’s buyer almost always seeks advice from a trusted friend or consumer source before making a purchase. Brands are now starting to realize that what others say and write about them defines who they are.

Smart brands know they must build strategies and systems to generate, track and manage brand advocacy. They know they must encourage and enable the people that know and trust them – their customers, employees and 3rd party influencers – to advocate on behalf of the brand.

And it works. By encouraging and empowering these customers, employees and influencers, they will drive peer-to-peer referrals, forward content, share information about new products and promotions, and write testimonials. And they can do it at scale and more efficiently than traditional channels.

The Benefits of New Channels are Compelling (examples)

  1. They Build Brand Awareness – when a customer shares something about the brand with a friend, there is no better way of building the brand.
  2. They Generate Leads – those friends that respond and go to the brand for more information become the best leads a brand can get. There are few people on earth who will argue that leads generated from referrals are the best leads. 
  3. They Drive New Customer Acquisition – Leads from referrals close faster, they buy more and they stay longer. 

Other reasons customers, employees and influencers make good sales and marketing channels;

1.  Identify Brand Advocates and Build a Rich “Social” Data Set

Brand Advocates are identified when they register for or engage with your programs. By using technology systems, brands know who “opts-in” and advocates, how often they do it, what their sharing preferences are and how big their network is. We learn who they know and how influential they are. Brands are able to now get a deeper 360 view of their customer’s network value.

2. You’ll Know when Potential Customers are “In-Market”
Social channels provide insights and information not previously available. At the most basic level, social channels extend a brand’s sales force (with zero overhead) and they solve one of the biggest challenges brand’s face: knowing when a potential buyer is in-market. Only your current customers know when the people they know are ready to buy.
3. The cost of acquisition is lower.
This channel is always on and continually active – making referrals, amplifying products and promotions, and posting positive information about your brand. Brand advocates do this for a brand because they trust the brand and they want do it. Therefore, the time and cost invested into this channel is significantly less than other channels.
4. New customers that are referred by someone in your Social Channel are Valuable.
Research has consistently shown that consumers who convert as a result of a referral from a friend, are more loyal to a brand, spend more and stay longer.

Who are your Potential Channels and how Well can they Perform?

Customers, partners and employees are the fastest growing sales and marketing channel today. By utilizing the latest in social marketing software and technology, business leaders can mobilize these social relationships to generate new customers, and they can track and manage social behavior that is critical to the success of their company.

Customers recommend your products because they have first-hand, positive experience with them.

Today’s truly successful companies understand the importance of leveraging their customers into sales and marketing channels that drive corporate productivity. Creating and cultivating a large group of advocates can: pay huge dividends in the growth of your brand, increase subscribers, and boost profits. The financial investment to create this channel is minimal when you compare it to the long-term payoff for the brand.

About Richard Beedon

Richard Beedon is a founder and CEO of Amplifinity.  Beedon has led the acquisition of both Entyre Doc Prep (by Wolters Kluwer) and University Netcasting, who merged with Student Advantage (now collegesports.com) and was acquired by CBS. Dick’s thought leadership and early adaption of SaaS based technologies that allow brands to manage advocacy marketing has been instrumental in the success and growth of Amplifinity.

Share

Mastering the Cross-Sell2

CC Jun 13

The Pipeline Guest Post – Diana Doherty

“Would you like to add batteries to your purchase?” Nearly everyone has encountered this type of cross-sell. It’s an easy way to increase the sale of anything that requires battery power. The basics of cross-selling, like offering necessary components to an item, are no secret. Take your sales up a notch with master cross-selling techniques.

Important Distinction
Cross-selling and up-selling both result in a larger total purchase in one sale, but they involve different techniques. In an up-sell, you will talk your customer into buying a better, generally more expensive, version of the item they intended to purchase. When you cross-sell, you give customers the opportunity to choose complementary items or services to their purchase. A common example is the extended warranty offered on a product at the time the product is purchased.

Just about every sale is an opportunity for cross-selling. Some methods of creating additional sales are effective in just about any situation (as in the battery example). However, other ways of getting those related sales will differ depending on whether your customer is buying online or at a brick-and-mortar location. With online shopping, you can use all the data about a person’s shopping experience to offer them items they will probably want, even if those other items are unrelated to the original purchase.

Making the Cross
The many ways of offering additional items to your customers can be overwhelming. You may even be concerned too many offers will chase away a sale. Customers appreciate recommendations. Take advantage of the times and places it makes sense to let them know about accessories or other items to help them get more out of a purchase.

  • Tailor Recommendations: If a customer is buying a brand new guitar, it would make more sense to offer guitar picks than a violin bow. Whether online or off, make sure the items you’re cross-selling make sense based on what your customer is purchasing or has purchased in the past.
  • Encourage Customer Reviews and Expert Opinions: One of my favorite ways of finding a new book to read is to check out all the little staff recommendation postcards bookstores post. Whether you collect thousands of reviews per product, like Amazon.com®, or you post a single expert opinion, trustworthy opinions can help you cross-sell by convincing the customer they need an item.
  • Get Timing Right: Spontaneous purchases are most likely to happen if you present an item to the customer at the time of purchase. This is most obvious online with recommended items displayed before finalizing a purchase, and offline with register displays including commonly forgotten items like those batteries.
  • Implement a Post-Purchase Cross-Sell: Use the confirmation email online or the receipt in a brick-and-mortar to offer items accessories and other tailored offers. This is also a good time to offer a small discount or a coupon to the customer on those recommended items, further increasing the likelihood of a future purchase.
  • Offer Budget Bundles: Another popular way to cross-sell is to offer a group of items together. Cable and cellular companies have practically built entire business models from this method. When bundling, all items should have value to the customer, or they’ll likely pass it up.
  • Be Price Considerate: Cross-sells are most effective when they cost half-price or less than the original purchase. Again, this falls naturally in line with accessories to a product, like a screen protector, case, and stylus recommended during the purchase of a tablet. The price of these items is so much less than the tablet that the value of the items becomes more significant than the additional cost.
  • Listen to the Customer: Whether you are personally listening to a customer speak or tracking their online past purchases, really listening to what your customer needs will tell you everything you need to know to offer them cross-sells that make sense and meet their needs.

Customers will appreciate recommendations given with genuine attention to their needs. You’re more likely to close the cross-sell when you offer useful additional items instead of a “top sellers” list of unrelated items or things that are too expensive compared to the original purchase. Track your success with each of these methods and adjust them as needed to master cross-selling to your customers.

About Diana Doherty

Diana Doherty is a freelance writer specializing in SEO content, and is a contributor to ChamberofCommerce.com. She loves all things tech, photography, craft, military family life, and business. She earned her BA in English Writing Arts from SUNY Oswego.

A Passion For Life0

A PASSION FOR LIFE 2

For many, summer is a time to take it back a notch, relax, and enjoy a slower pace.  For others it is a time to bear down and focus on things they want accomplish, they spend time preparing their next adventure and conquests.

If you’re not ready to left the summer drift by, and see it as an opportunity to reignite your passion and take things to the next level, we have good news for you.

On July 24, Legacy Mastery, is presenting a fantastic event in Toronto: A PASSION FOR LIFE, is a full day event pack with today’s EXCEPTIONAL LEADERS who will transform your BUSINESS, PROFESSIONAL & PERSONAL PERFORMANCE.

I know it sounds like a big statement, but the day lives up to it, here is the roster:

  • Tony Robbins – Peak Peformance – Entrepreneur, Author & Peak Performance Strategist World Authority on Leadership Psychology
  • Robert Greene – Keys to Mastery – Best Selling Author , The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, and Mastery
  • Chip Heath – Creativity & Branding – Best Selling Author of Switch, Made to Stick and Decisive Loretta LaRoche – Work Life Balance – Acclaimed Stress Expert, Author, Humorist and Motivational Speaker
  • Joe Plumeri – Success Strategies – Chairman and CEO of Willis Group Holdings (2000-2012) CEO, Citibank North America (1999–2000); Chairman and CEO, Travelers Primerica Financial Services (1995-1999); President and Managing Partner, Shearson Lehman Brothers (1990-1993)
  • Desiree Rogers – Customer Relations – CEO, Johnson Publishing Company, LLC; White House Special Assistant to President Obama; 2009-2010, White House Social Secretary, 2009-2010

A great bill no matter what you have your eye set on, you’re bound to get the inspiration and practical steps you need to succeed.

And As you would expect, as a reader of The Pipeline, you can register now, use the code RENBOR, and receive $100.00 courtesy of Renbor Sales Solutions and the good folks at Legacy Mastery.

These events tend to fill up fast, act now to get your seat, and your $100  discount by using the code RENBOR.

Enjoy and profit!

Tibor Shanto

It Doesn’t End With the Sale: Managing Customer Relationships1

May13

The Pipeline Guest Post – Megan Totka

Customers are the lifeblood of any business, and attracting new customers while strengthening your relationships with existing ones is a constant challenge. The best way to do so, however, is a matter that often leaves your sales and marketing staff at odds. Your sales force is focused primarily on closing the deal and landing new customers, while your marketing department wants to nurture customer relationships before and after the sale. No matter what your role at your company, however, it’s to your benefit to continue to nurture customer relationships long after they’ve paid their invoices.

Why Long-Term Customer Relationships Matter

We’ve all heard the adage that it’s cheaper to retain a customer than it is to acquire a new one. After all, you’ve already done the wooing. They already love your brand. If you maintain the relationship, they’ll come back to buy other products or services from you, increasing their customer lifetime value.

A customer with whom you already have a relationship is more likely to refer more business to you. They’re happy to tell others about how much they enjoy your brand when communicating through social media, review sites like Yelp, and face to face with friends. A single customer can help attract business from friends and family if they’re happy. And the best way to keep your customers happy is by paying attention to their needs and staying connected.

Managing Your Customer Relationships

Customer relationship management tools like Insightly and Salesforce make it easy to create profiles for each of your customers. You can track critical data like purchases, each customer’s birthday, and communication preferences. Companies use this data to better engage with customers. If you have your customer’s birthday, you can send her a email with a special birthday offer. If you know she has looked repeatedly at a certain item on your website, you can offer her a discount for it. Building a profile is a great first step; if you are in regular contact with a client, take notes each time you speak with them.

Social media is another fantastic tool for staying on top of customer relationships. Since Hootsuite lets you set up custom streams based on your preferences, it’s a snap to set up a stream containing the social media content generated by all your customers. From there, it’s up to you how far you drill down. You could create streams for different types of customers, such as those buying women’s clothes in one stream, children’s clothing in another, and men’s clothes in the last stream. You could set up a search for a keyword that relates to your industry to see who’s talking about it, and connect with them. The possibilities are endless, but what matters is using the info you gather to enhance your customer relationships.

Once you’ve set up customer profiles, it’s simply a matter of paying careful attention to what’s being said, especially if it relates to your product or brand. If a customer’s unhappy with your company, they might not bother to tell you, but reach out on their social network instead. If you’re monitoring your customer Tweets using your new setup, it’s much easier to discover customer concerns—and address them—before the situation escalates.

From a more positive angle, if you notice a customer tweeting about her search for product or service you provide (that they may not realize you offer), your sales team has a fantastic opportunity to respond and develop that interest into a lead.

Email is another great way to stay on connected to your customer. Don’t bombard your customers with emails, but do make your emails frequent and relevant enough to remind them of why they chose to give you their business. Sending one newsletter and one promotional email at specific times each week or month is a good start, but with a little creativity and careful data management, you can create targeted email campaigns for special occasions or broken out by demographic. Using the data gleaned through your customer relationship management software, you can deliver even more sophisticated and targeted messages, such as discounts for a customer’s birthday for example. The better targeted the offers, the better your connection with your customers.

The aim is to keep growing the connection. With intelligent application of the information you gather, you can build real and lasting relationships with your customers that won’t end with the sale.

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Using Social Media to “Prep” Customers for a Sale0

CC April 13

The Pipeline Guest Post – Megan Totka

Social media websites are a great sales and marketing tool, there’s no denying it. I would venture to say that most companies have a presence on at least one social media site, and if they don’t, they should! Many companies are developing marketing campaigns that are design for both online and traditional marketing.  For the online marketing aspect, they are normally specifically designed for use on social media sites. Ideally, these campaigns will lead to increased sales for the company.

But how exactly should you use social media to entice your customers to make a purchase? There are quite a few ways to go about it –

Use Photos and Video – social media sites are very photo-centric. There are so many sites out there that encourage users to take photographs of nearly everything they do. Some examples would include Instagram, Pinterest, and Flickr. By taking and posting attractive photos of your products or services, you are more likely to catch people’s attention than by just describing with words. Like it or not, we have become a much more visually-driven society since the advent of social media.

Promote Specific Events – Company events can draw a good deal of attention from customers. These events don’t even have to be sales-related. One of the main goals in sales is just to keep the name of your company or product on your current or potential customers’ minds, right? For example, take TOMS A Day Without Shoes campaign. Is going barefoot for a day going to encourage people to buy shoes? Probably not. But, it does give TOMS a ton of publicity and perhaps people who have not looked at their company before will take notice.

Feature Satisfied Customers – the great thing about social media is that your customers have the ability to give instant feedback. If you like what they have to say, give them a shout-out on your page. You may even get lucky and they may become a brand advocate.  This can be really helpful for other customers who have not yet bought from you. When they see positive feedback, it might give them reason to buy. For example, if someone writes a great review of a product, that might be able to sway someone who was on the fence before into giving the product a try.

Build Anticipation – this is particularly important if you are planning to introduce a new product or service. You know when you watch television, sometimes you see commercials for stores or restaurants that don’t have locations near you? Then when one opens nearby, you often feel compelled to check it out. For me, this happened with Kohl’s. They advertised the store in my area for several months before one finally opened. The same goes for the social media world. Prep your customers for new and exciting products or services before they launch. This way, the hype will already be there when you do release the new product.

Social media can be a great way to get customers involved in your business and to close sales. Use it early and use it often!

(Photo Source)

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Sales Focus: Online Channels vs. Traditional Tactics0

CofC Mar 13

The Pipeline Guest Post – Megan Totka

The Internet has opened up a whole new world of marketing and advertising tactics. And although this isn’t breaking news, people are coming up with new ways to utilize the web every day when it comes to sales. But are we letting more traditional sales practices fall by the wayside in lieu of solely committing to digital tactics?

In my experience, the companies with the best strategies are making the most of both types of marketing. Finding a winning combination of traditional marketing and Internet marketing can take some trial and error, but it’s worth it for your company in the long run. Consider these perks of focusing on online advertising and sales:

•    Less Expensive
While running a business website isn’t necessarily cheap, there are many ways that you can advertise online for very little cost. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram offer great outlets for marketing and a variety of tools to help you build your network and share your message.

•    Bigger Reach
It typically costs less to reach more people with online marketing. Using social media accounts and websites can generate thousands of views—even hundreds of thousands for successful companies—each month.  It’s difficult to reach that many people with traditional marketing tactics and a small business budget.

•    More Outlets
There are so many ways to advertise online. Some of the most obvious include social media networks. The biggies include Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but there are hundreds of other social media sites that you might consider using based on your type of business and your audience, among other factors. Community-style message boards, blogs, and websites may also be ideal channels to add to your digital strategy.

Although digital tactics can undoubtedly be effective, traditional advertising and sales still carries a number of benefits, too, including:

•    Tangible Nature
Some people like advertising materials that they can see in person or touch. Some examples might include business cards, postcards, or business swag (think branded water bottles, key chains, or pens).

•    Increased Permanency
Marketing campaigns such as billboards or magazine ads can be placed for a longer period of time without needing changes. Online, it’s more necessary to keep content new and changing constantly to not only serve your audience, but also search engines.

•    Appeal to a Larger Audience
Don’t confuse this with having a larger reach. While online advertising may have the ability to reach a higher number of targeted people, traditional marketing techniques reach multiple generations and income levels and typically aren’t as segmented as digital alternatives.

Your best bet as a business owner or salesperson is to find a balance between the two types of marketing. It’s important to gauge your audience to see which kind of marketing best suits your clientele. If you can find the right combination, you’ll be able to reach a huge audience and give everyone something that they want—not to mention using a variety of marketing techniques will help you increase sales and expose your company to new customers.

(Photo Source)

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Does Your Small Business Blog Make Your Company Money?1

Google adsense

Guest Post – Megan Totka

When thinking about writing a blog for a business, most people are not thinking about the blog itself bringing in revenue. The objective is usually to draw people in to the website with a good story, where they will then click around and perhaps make a purchase.

But why shouldn’t the blog itself try to make money and connections? The answer is of course, that it should! There are several ways to get a blog to make money.

Blog sponsorships – consider having blog sponsors who purchase space on your blog. This is an advertisement for a person or company that is permanent on your site. Most ads that you would find on a blog would be constantly changing based on the reader’s browsing history. Having a sponsorship allows the ad-buyer to guarantee a spot on your blog. Typically these are paid for up front, for a particular time period. You may want to consider sponsorships from companies that are in a related field. This way, your sponsor actually has some hope of people clicking on their ad.

Google AdSense or other ad companies – as I referenced above, most ads are ever-changing, based on the user who is browsing the blog. Google Ads target-markets to specific users by using their browsing history. For example, if someone who is reading your blog was also searching for colleges to attend, then they will likely see ads for colleges. This is good for you, the blog/business owner, because they are more likely to click on that ad, and thus make you money. The more readers that you have and the more your web pages help you customers, the more effective Google Ads will be. There are other similar ad companies, as well. If you want to put this type of ad on your blog, it’s good to research all of the companies that offer the service first.

Affiliate marketing – affiliate marketing is where you endorse or advertise a certain company, product, or service in exchange for a percent of the profit from the sales made from this particular company/product/service. There are many affiliate marketing opportunities. One that is popular is Amazon’s affiliate program.

A blog is a great way to give customers an insight into your company. Drawing new readers and keeping current readers interested is the most important factor in getting your company blog to make money. The more people who read your content, the more that can potentially click on your ad. Having strong content that people want to read and share is the cornerstone of a good blog.

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

The Super Bowl: How Advertising is Changing0

Football

Guest Post – Megan Totka

It’s that time of year – the time that many people enjoy even more than the holiday season. NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl have rolled back around, and they bring with them one of the greatest advertising displays of the year. The Super Bowl has always been known for being one of the most expensive advertising opportunities. Many people who care nothing about football, tune in to the game just to watch the commercials.

But how has online advertising impacted the more traditional world of television advertising? The answer is, quite a few different ways.

  • TV commercials point viewers to social media or company websites – instead of just broadcasting an ad and hoping that consumers notice and buy their product; companies are taking it several steps further. Many ads are interactive, and they include a call to action for viewers. Most ads direct people to the company’s website, Facebook, or Twitter. Or, they include ways to tag the company, such as a specific Twitter hashtag to use to identify that the viewer is responding to the ad that they saw.
  • Video sites enable people to share their favorites, instantly – this is probably one of the biggest changes, and actually could work against some companies. Instead of having to watch TV to see a favorite advertisement again, all the viewer has to do is log on to YouTube to watch it over and over. This is a double-edged sword, because while viewers will watch an ad over and over, they may not tune into the television shows that will contain future new ads and products.
  • More interaction between viewers and companies – Doritos has asked fans to film their own Super Bowl ads. The fan-made ads are then posted on the social media pages of Doritos. The fans who made the ads then are encouraged to get their friends and family to vote for their ad. The winner will be broadcasted during the game. This is a level of interaction between company and consumer that is really unprecedented in the world of traditional TV advertising. This is great for companies because consumers want to be talked to, not at.  Also, it’s generally common knowledge that the more you can get someone involved, the more likely they are to be loyal to your brand.

I’m interested to watch the Super Bowl this year, and not because I am invested in any of the teams that could potentially be playing. I am excited to see what the companies who pay a huge premium for ad space are getting for their money, and how they are going to continue to be creative in ways to draw in new customers and interact with them. While most small businesses don’t have the capital to advertise on such a large scale, there are other affordable marketing products they can take advantage of.  And perhaps there are still some ideas to be drawn from the advertising event of the year.

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips. ChamberofCommerce.com has over 7,500 listed Chambers.

Old Fashioned Sales Tactics that Your Small Business Can Utilize117

Guest Post – Megan Totka
Most businesses, whether they are small, large, brand new or established, are turning to more high tech sales tactics to gain and retain customers. This of course is an important part of marketing and sales. High tech sales tactics have become important over the past couple of years because so many people have moved such basic parts of their consumer life online. Due to this shift, more traditional sales practices have been rendered moot. Many industries that offer advertising in print, such as newspapers and magazines, are no longer as successful as they once were.

Customers not only turn to the web to research products that they are interested in, they are increasingly more likely to make the purchase there as well. Companies are using this as a reason to focus all of their sales tactics and marketing dollars to the Internet. While this may seem like a good idea, the entire population is not yet Internet-savvy, and even those who are heavy internet users can still appreciate what might be considered old-fashioned marketing. It’s all about keeping the customer happy anyway, right?

Probably the most dynamic and important traditional marketing strategy is person to person marketing. Personal presence is a great sales tactic for so many companies. Even companies that are internet-based can benefit. If your company does not have a storefront, there’s still tons of opportunities to get out into your community – or any community, really, if you are based online – and show people what you have to offer. Some great places to consider getting out and talking to people would include community events like markets or festivals, job fairs, business expos or trade shows, college career days, and more. If a potential customer sees you while you are out and about, chances are good that they will remember the name of the company associated with the friendly face they chatted with. Since we are human and the need for interaction is one of our core qualities, meeting someone face to face is nearly always going to be more memorable than a phone call or e-mail.

Holding your own events as a company can be a great idea also. You can hold events at your storefront, if you have one. Or, consider partnering with a similar business or businesses at a local fair, festival, or special event to promote each other. For example, a new, online kids clothing boutique could partner with a photography studio and offer a special for a free photo shoot with purchase, or a coupon for a discount on clothing with every photography session purchased. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. Make sure that all representatives from all companies involved are friendly and knowledgeable about products and services offered by the other companies that are present.

Print marketing is another choice when it comes to old fashioned marketing techniques. Yes, I know earlier in the article I mentioned that print marketing is on the way out. And for the most part, it feels like it is. However, there are still some instances in which print marketing can be very valuable. Print is still one of the more common ways that companies offer coupons and discounts to their customers. Print marketing companies such as Val-Pak still mail coupons to their customers. Bed Bath and Beyond is another that sends paper coupons. Small businesses can also utilize smaller publications. Think local magazines, community newsletters, and even ad books for local sports teams. Print advertising is often inexpensive. It doesn’t have to be fancy, either. Simply a company logo, clear contact information and an offer (coupon, discount, etc) make for the most effective print ads.

There are certainly many times and places to use Internet marketing.  It’s even okay to use it as your primary marketing strategy. You can even hire a company to do your internet advertising for you if that’s what you want.  Just don’t forget that more traditional marketing strategies are still relevant.

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She writes on business news and small business tips for Chamber’s business directory. ChamberofCommerce.com is the largest Chamber of Commerce online.

Beware The Mixed Message – Sales eXchange – 13819

There is definitely an advantage to all the ways one can communicate with potential buyers, not only can you tailor the message, but you can tailor the delivery, helping the audience consume it in a way that best matches their preferred communication mode.  In addition to the traditional oral, visual and tactile, the web and what has been labelled as social media, a seller and their organization can not only tailor the message, but the delivery to ensure maximum impact.  As with most good things there are limits, and if you are not careful, usually in the form of making unfounded assumptions, you do run the risk of things turning to bite you and achieving unintended results.

One assumption many make, shared equally by sales people and their companies, is that while individuals do have favourite modes of communications, it does not mean they ignore others.  Sales people may have deducted that Buyer A prefers and responds to e-mail communication, they may also react and respond to phone discussions as the process moves forward.  They may prefer phone for direct contact, but interact with the company or brand through Facebook as an example.  This leads to the simple conclusion that both the sales person and marketing have to ensure that the buyer is getting a consistent message, any break in that consistency could negatively affect the sale.

The above is easy to manage if you are selling one product or a single line of products, but many companies these days interact with the same buyer across different products services, and messages, and need to take that into account when they are looking for consistency in the buyer’s eyes.  Consistency on one product is easy, inconsistency across a range of products and interactions is not that easy, and when mismanaged can be fatal.

For example, one of the large wireless carriers here in Canada is part of a larger media company, or conglomerate, they own TV outlets and magazines.  About two years ago, they like many others announced that they would no longer be sending monthly statements in the mail, and that these would only be available via e-mail or on line.  My carrier put their best green face on, saying that the move was done to be more environmentally friendly, reducing paper waste, carbon foot print and all that stuff.  There was however an asterisk, that for two bucks a month they would be willing to forward the statement by mail, no talk of whether the $2 would go to some worthy cause, or to the top and bottom lines; interesting but no big deal.

But about six months ago, the magazine division of the same conglomerate, started sending me unsolicited copies of magazines, I had little or no interest in.  The first was a sports magazine that was a companion to their TV sport network.  Nice glossy presentation, containing nothing of interest to me; and given the chemical content of the glossy pages, I couldn’t even use it to wrap fish.  What got me thinking was the fact that here were 80 some odd double sided pages, plus the two page pitch letter that went with it, an assumptive order page, and the 9X12 inch envelop.  Close to 85 pages of wasted paper, given that my average wireless statement being about 4 pages, that is the equivalent of 20 months worth of statements that I am not getting in order to benefit the planet, (not their coffers).

But wait, a couple of months on, I get another title, this time about a 90 page magazine, same letter and order page.  Another 25 months worth of statements I now have to pay for; each time I get a statement, it serves as another reminder of the hypocrisy and the company’s disingenuous approach to both the environment and their customers.  I am sure that there is another on the way soon.

My carrier is not alone, they are following the trend of many in the market today.  It may be easy to pretend that buyers consumer or B2B, do not pick up on this, but they do.  In this case it will have an impact on my view when it comes to renewing my wireless agreement.  But for others who fail to stay consistent in message and action, it could cost a lot more.  While as a rep you may not be able to stop the big things, you can the little ones.  It is up to you to play an active role in the messages delivered to your buyer, regardless of where in the conglomerate that message originates, because what counts is the destination, and that is your responsibility , no one else’s.

Next Steps

  • Get involved in what is sent to your buyers, actively manage the relationship
  • Work with buyers to understand their preferred mode of communication
  • Companies – coordinate your messaging

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

wordpress stat