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.