Part 2 of 2
I won’t wait. I’ll tell you right off that marketing’s greatest ally is your patience. More extraordinary marketing has bit the dust due to impatience on the part of the business owner than for any other reason.
You watch as the powerful stone cutter raises his hammer to hit the huge stone. He hits it hard, again and again. On the third blow, the stone splits in two and the magnificent statue inside is revealed. Think that means it took three blows of the hammer to do the big job?
You know it didn’t. It took 500 and maybe 5,000 blows. That final blow wasn’t crucial all by itself, but only as one of many blows that combined to achieve the stonecutter’s goal. To a clueless neophyte observing, it took only three blows. But you, the stone cutter and me know the real truth.
The real truth is that marketing is a whole lot like stone cutting. Your dynamite website might not do the job. Your aggressive mailings might fall short as well. But your website and e-mailings, combined with your telemarketing, trade show booth, advertising, publicity and patience get the job done very nicely.
Which blow of the stone cutter gets the credit for the masterpiece? Which marketing weapon gets the credit for moving the prospect from off the fence and onto your customer list? It’s the stone cutter’s patience that gets credit for what he has hewn from the rock. It’s your patience that wins the laurels for the profits generated by your marketing.
It takes a unique person to stay the course while blow after blow fails to hit home. It takes remarkable talent to remain with the marketing program when instant results are not produced. Yet, for many members of a time-conscious public, instant gratification is not quite swift enough. This is a characteristic of many people, the guerrilla marketer not included.
Great stone cutters know that there is no rock they cannot split. They have more patience than any rock. Great marketing people know there is no challenge they cannot surmount. They have more patience than their competition.
Their behavior is demonstrated in both their restraint from making changes in their marketing programs and their willingness to continue executing a marketing strategy despite the absence of quick financial strokes.
The stone cutter picks a spot on the rock and hammers at it over and over. You pick a niche and aim for it, marketing over and over. Eventually, the rock splits. Eventually, the niche is occupied and dominated, the marketing goals attained. It didn’t take genius as much as it took steadfastness.
Your life will be filled with frustration and anxiety if you expect your marketing, brilliant or otherwise, to produce superb results instantly. But if you give your program the time to penetrate minds and motivate behavior, to persuade and create desire, you will discover that marketing does indeed work and that patience is the age-old secret of success.
Marketing and stone cutting are different from most human activities. No stone cutter expects results in a hurry. But, all stone cutters are positive that they can do the job they set out to do if they concentrate upon the results down the road, rather than the hard rock surface facing them. Many small businesses are run by people who gaze intently at the rock surface. So short a gaze results in prematurely abandoned marketing campaigns.
Guerrillas do not even acknowledge the surface. It’s insignificant compared with what they will hew with their patience. This farsighted approach illuminates the way to their goal. They see that the way is not so much a route as an attitude. This is the attitude of the stone cutter. This is the mindset of the guerrilla. Both have what appears to the innocent as an impossible task. Both know that there is no way they will fail.
Success comes to those who market if they begin with a plan they continue breathing life into and if they have the patience to move beyond the need for instant results.
Part 1 of 2
You work like crazy trying to attract attention and business, operating from a marketing calendar, committing to your strategy and doing everything right, resulting in an influx of customers -- but you lose them. They never come back.
You did your marketing so well and marketed so wisely that you're almost in a state of shock at how your customers ignore you. You treated them well while you were making your business transactions. You gave them a fair price, knew that the quality you put into your offering matched the quality they got out of it. You assured them that service is your middle name. You smiled and used their name when you said goodbye, thanking them for the sale.
And then, after all that caring attention on your part, they completely ignored you, never set foot in your business again. Do you want to know why they ignored you, why it was so easy for them to put you out of their minds?
It's because you ignored them. It's because you made the sale and then made the grave, but all-too-common error of thinking that your marketing job was over. That was a terrible error. But at least you've got a lot of company making the same terrible error. Nearly 70 percent of business lost in America is lost due to apathy after the sale. Apathy is the deadliest enemy of marketing. A "love 'em and leave 'em" attitude is usually fatal to profitability.
The opposite of apathy is follow-up. Guerrillas don't have a "love 'em and love 'em" attitude; marketing to prospects like crazy till the sale is made, then continuing to market like crazy to them after the sale. Apathy never sets in. Customers never feel ignored.
Guerrillas do all in their power to intensify the relationship with caring follow-up and loving attention. They know that once they have established a relationship, their product or service is no longer thought of as a commodity. Businesses that offer commodities often lose customers due to competitors offering lower prices.
Businesses that form warm relationships transcend being thought of as a commodity and maintain their customer relationships with service and constant contact. No wonder they don't lose business so readily. People want relationships, want the businesses they patronize to stay in contact, want to feel cared for and not ignored.
All guerrillas know that their customer relationships are their most precious assets. They know that if customers purchased from them one time and had an enjoyable purchase experience, they are very likely to buy from them again. And again and again. They will also provide many referrals over time.
To nourish these kind of lasting relationships, guerrillas send thank-you notes after the sale -- within 48 hours. They contact customers within a month of the sale to make certain they are satisfied and have no questions. They get in touch with customers once again three months after the sale, this time suggesting new items that may tie-in with the original purchase. And three months after that, they make another contact.
This kind of guerrilla follow-up not only prevents dreaded apathy from setting in, but also increases business anywhere from 20% to 300%. That's because customers, in their hearts, silently hope for recognition, acknowledgment, information, advance opportunities to purchase, and new calls to action.
Instead of the kind of apathy that loses customers forever, constant attention and follow-up results in healthy back-end sales. This means repeat sales, ancillary sales and referral sales. And this means big profits to you -- because it costs six times more to sell something to a new prospect than to sell that same thing to an existing customer.
These days, all the true marketing experts ask you to calculate the lifetime value of a customer. If you don't understand the damaging effects of apathy after the sale, that lifetime value is pretty small, probably a few hundred dollars, if that. If you do all in your power to prevent apathy from ever setting it, the lifetime value of each customer may be measured in hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe even more.
You'll profit from the initial sale, from the repeat sales, from the referral sales and from the long, mutually beneficial relationship. It happens only when you defeat the most deadly enemy of marketing. And now you know how to do it.
Check back next week for Part 2 of 2, Marketing's Greatest Ally.
IT'S NOT A NUMBERS GAME. IT'S A GAME OF NUMBERS
Put price in a different perspective. You probably can recall those hair-pulling situations where you've established the savings or additional coverages you could help someone realize, but yet, they don't act on it. It's normally because they don't see the number as being significant enough. So put it in terms they can understand. "Paul, you're right, we're only talking about $400 a month savings here. But I bet that would make the monthly payment on one of your delivery vans."
Or, "The $200 cost reduction might not seem like a lot, but let's look at it a different way. You said you're profit margin is about 10%. You'd need to do another $2000 in sales per month just to make the $200 I'm basically offering you, for free."
STATE THE PRICE WITH CONFIDENCE
A sales rep called me the other day. I asked the price of what he had (before he was ready to give it). He hemmed and hawed, then said, "Well, it's normally ..." Which begged the question from me, "Ok, how much lower are you going to give it to me for?" Saying, "We normally charge ...", or, "The list price is ...)" implies you don't usually get that price, or you're very open to begin negotiating. Instead, confidently and smoothly state the price.
If the question comes too soon, reply with, "I want to give you the best price for the protection you need. Let me ask you a couple more questions to do that..."
HELP THEM UNDERSTAND WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT
When your prospect compares you to his current agent/company, laundry-listing all of the competitor’s benefits, particularly ones you don't offer, ask him, “Which of those are most important to you? How many of the others do you really need and use?” Chances are, only a few are truly meaningful ... probably ones you can also offer. Focus on the real value he wants, the value you can deliver.
LEARN EXACTLY HOW TO WIN THE BUSINESS
A technique that theoretically is solid, but often sounds cheesy and amateurish is, “What's it going to take to get your business?” Better attempts to learn their decision-making criteria are questions like, “How, specifically, will you make your decision?” Or, “What decision-making criteria will you use, and which areas will be most important to you?”
HANDLING THE LITERATURE REQUEST
Don’t be afraid to find out if it’s a stall, or a sign of interest: "So I assume you want the material because you’re definitely interested in purchasing your insurance from us?"
"If you like what you see in the literature, what would be the next step?"
A QUICK PICK-ME-UP
Ever feel down after a call? Put things in perspective. Ask yourself,
"What humor can I see in this situation?"
"Does this experience really affect who I am?"
"What can I learn from it?"
COMPLIMENT THE COMPETITION
When discussing the competition, don’t be afraid to pay them a compliment. The prospect will appreciate you for it, plus he’ll view you as possessing the same characteristics you’re commending the competition for. For example,
Prospect: "So, what do you think about Geezer Services?"
Sales Rep: "Well, I know they have a good accounting department."
"TELL ME WHAT YOU HAVE" Here's another way to avoid "pitching." Think about how you react when, out of the blue, when a prospect says, "Tell me about your products." I've concluded that the more skilled a salesperson becomes, the more he or she is confused by that question, not knowing exactly how to respond. The reasoning is that sales superstars only make a presentation when they know what the listener is interested in. Making a blind pitch is "spraying and praying," meaning that you're "pitching" out descriptions of products/services, and hoping that something will be of interest to the listener.
Best Strategy: Turn around their question with a value statement to justify your own questioning. "I'll be happy to tell you how we might be able to help you. So I can focus on what you'd likely be most interested in, please explain how ..." Or, "We have quite a few options here, and so I can talk about just the ones you'd likely get the most value from, let’s start by talking about your ..."
DON'T APOLOGIZE FOR TAKING THEIR TIME
Don't apologize for taking someone’s time at the beginning of a meeting or call. It diminishes your importance. For example, consider the caller who says, "I know you're busy, and I'm sorry for interrupting . . . I'll take just a few seconds, and here’s why I'm calling."
Stop. Think about what you're really offering. You have something of value that will help make this person’s life better. You need to present that feeling with conviction. If you're not sold on your importance, they certainly won't be.
GET REFERRALS FROM WITHIN THEIR COMPANY
If you have a customer within a company that has multiple locations, or many departments at one location, you probably haven't even scratched the surface of potential business. The hard part is beyond you, getting the company as a customer. Now that you're in the door, part of the family, ferret out other opportunities.
Ask your customer, "Who else within your company could also take advantage of something similar to what we're doing together?" Prompt them a bit: "How about other departments? Other locations?” Even if they come up empty, ask them, "If I can find other buyers on my own, it wouldn't be a problem if I mention your name as a reference, would
WORDS TO AVOID
Be aware of words and phrases that tend to trigger negative or adversarial emotions. For example, try to avoid "policy," "procedure," "you have to," "you must," and "requirement." When told that they "have" to do something, or that a "policy must be followed," an instinctive defense mechanism is triggered, causing the listener to think of reasons to the contrary not the optimal environment for a sale.
UPDATE THEIR DECISION-MAKING ORG CHART
Knowing who else in an organization will influence the purchase helps you to formulate and implement your optimum sales approach. You can simply ask for this information. "Tell me, is there anyone else who will be involved in the final purchase decision?” When you get this information, it is helpful to draw up, and update your own organizational chart of the prospect's company after each call. In each person’s box, fill in little tidbits of info about them. Then, by referring to the chart before each call, you are able to put yourself in the prospect’s environment, and comprehend who else needs to be sold, and what needs to take place before you can win the deal.
reprinted from Complete Markets
We are working together with Microsoft to help educate the Insurance Industry about important issues surrounding end-of-life Microsoft products, online security and cyber-crime. The insurance industry is very Microsoft-centric. While end-users may be using iPads and other devices, most servers, server applications, desktops and laptops are powered by Microsoft.
In addition, we think that many of your clients would pay attention, if you, as their trusted insurance advisor, extended valuable information to them - information that affects their livelihood.
Please forward this on to your IT folks, and onward to your clients. We want to make sure individuals and small businesses are alerted to the risks. In the months ahead, we will be offering you more important content related to online and cyber security, that you could re-distribute to your clients, bringing them more value.
This notice is about Microsoft ending support for Windows Server 2003. This could impact small businesses significantly, leaving them exposed to elevated risk to cybersecurity dangers, and they may no longer be able to satisfy compliance requirements. An official Microsoft announcement is below, with links to the Department of Homeland Security's alert. There are also resources that businesses can use.
Thanks in advance for helping to raise cyber security awareness!
An important message from Microsoft:
Windows Server 2003 extended support ends on July 14, 2015. Start planning now with help from Microsoft.
As a part of normal product lifecycles and to accommodate the shift towards modern technology and mobility, Microsoft will completely end support for Windows Server 2003 on July 14, 2015. Security patches and updates will no longer be available after this period. This Alert from the Department of Homeland Security indicates the seriousness of this event, and Microsoft encourages all businesses to carefully evaluate a migration plan.
Research from IDC confirms that businesses should thoughtfully consider using this moment as a starting point for the shift toward modern technology. "We think customers should take advantage of this deadline and see it as an opportunity not only to move forward to a newer version of Windows but also to modernize and prepare for the next generation of computers. Hybrid and public clouds are important components of next-generation IT."
Taking extra good care of valued employees is many a manager's top concern. Finding and keeping good employees is considered as important, or slightly more important than improving customer service, increasing sales and cutting operating costs, according to a recent survey of 248 top executives conducted by Newstrack Executive Service of Alexandria, Va. But there are many stumbling blocks that hinder managers from attaining that goal:
•Companies face tough competition to become "an employer of choice."
•Employees no longer feel they must be loyal to their employers forever.
•Workers feel overextended from handling heavy workloads and new productivity goals.
What Can We do?
Managers can deliver simple messages to win employees' support, boost their job satisfaction and encourage them to stay. Here are some ideas, adapted from various publications I've read:
•Let employees know when you agree with them.
•Write down their ideas while they're with you.
•Recognize important events in their lives. Inquire with empathy about their personal problems.
•Invite senior managers to acknowledge employees' good work and express appreciation.
•Greet them by name and with a smile.
•Hand-write thank you notes for jobs well done. Be specific about what you liked.
•Express sincere concern when they call in sick. Encourage them to take off the necessary time to recuperate.
•Show constructive concern about performance problems. Notice improvements.
•Support their causes. Buy their fundraising candy bars, pledge their marathons.
•Celebrate awards with the entire staff. Provide a pizza party or coffee and doughnuts.
•Don't allow their projects to become last-minute rush jobs because of your disorganization, procrastination or indecision.
•Think of your employees as working with you, not for you or under you.
•Invite individual employees to join you for coffee.
•Allow employees to take "well days" once or twice a year to enjoy a beautiful day or do something special with family or friends.
•Mention their accomplishments during meetings, in the staff newspaper, on bulletin boards, in memos to senior managers.
•When work gets rough, help them remember the successes they've had in the last six months.
•Celebrate small and intermediate successes - reaching a milestone, preventing a problem, surviving a difficult period.
Use social gatherings after work, a success chart or T-shirts with an office joke printed on them.
•Make and keep commitments to them.
•Deal directly and informally with them. Don't hide behind memos, reports and pretentious meetings.
When creating procedures, words and pictures alone will not suffice. It is important that more be included in procedures besides, "attach this, mail this, etc." Procedures should include more than just step-by-step workflow. Incorporated in each procedure should be the following:
To illustrate what I mean I will use the example of an exposure checklist that is incorporated into a new business procedure. The staff should be taught not only the step-by-step procedures, but also how to address the four items mentioned above.
Perceptible Customer Service The only time that a client perceives that they are receiving service from their agent is when they are engaged in some type of communication, whether that be face-to-face, mail, phone, or e-mail. While all other agents merely quote apples for apples, you will take the time to do a full review of your customer's needs. Using an exposure checklist will show that you are not only selling the client a policy, but also that you really care about their exposure to financial loss.
Protection from Errors and Omissions Losses
The number one cause of Errors and Omissions losses is failure to provide coverage. Incorporating the use of an E & O checklist will all but eliminate that exposure. It is important that this checklist be used to show that you recommended coverages and that they are accepted or rejected by the client and then the client should sign and date the checklist indicating that they have been advised of your recommendations.
Passive and Active Suggested Sales
By incorporating the use of an exposure checklist into your new business procedure, the salesperson or CSR will be required to talk about various exposures to loss that the prospect has not even considered. This in turn could lead to additional sales. This checklist should also be used at renewal time to reinforce any recommendations previously made, which have not been accepted by the client.
Productivity and increased efficiency will result from the consistency of each employee doing the same thing all the time. It will also allow anyone in the agency that is contacted by the insured, to properly address prior discussions and recommendations. If the agency is currently imaging documents (and if you're not it's costing your agency hours of productivity) anyone in the agency can access the exposure checklist at any time.
By incorporating these four processes into your workflow procedures you will accomplish more than just pushing paper.