Tag Archives: relationship marketing

When Marketing, Remember This -Buying is an Emotional Experience

by George Torok

Power Marketing

Your customer is an emotional being. You need to be aware of the emotional states that affect the decision to buy from you.

Your marketing must address the emotional needs of your customers.

There are three types of emotions and you need to address each differently.

Relationship

The emotions that the customer might need to feel are: confidence, trust, inclusion, feeling special, comfort and safety.

You can address these emotional needs by building stronger relationships. A significant contributor to the relationship building is the customer service experience.

The key principle to building relationships is to make others feel good about themselves.

Retreat

The emotions that might cause your customer to retreat from you include fear, confusion, suspicion, frustration, and anger.

Your marketing must mitigate these emotions because these can lead to lost sales and worse – bad publicity. The bad publicity is even more prevalent with the online review sites like TripAdvisor.com and the social media sites like FaceBook and Twitter. Bad news travels faster and gets remembered longer than good news.

You can minimize most of these retreat emotions with the use of clear communication, consistent performance and demonstrating a keen interest in your customer’s satisfaction.

Building stronger relationships will also mitigate these emotions and the consequences.

Advance

The most common emotions that might move your customer to buy from you include: pride, greed, love, guilt, and especially, hope.

Your marketing needs to trigger or leverage the relevant emotions of your prospects. Depending on the market the appeal to these emotions might or might not need to be subtle.

For example, while signing the contract for my new car the sales person offered me a few extras which I quickly turned down. Then she offered tinted windows. I quickly refused but when she added that “it would make me look cool” I swiftly agreed to tinted windows.

This third type is the most important set of emotions to making the sale. Even if you build good relationships and mitigate the Retreat emotions you need to influence the emotions of Advance. These are the most important to persuading your prospect to buy from you.

Review the three types of emotions that can affect your prospects and identify the most likely emotions that relate to your best customers. Don’t worry about the emotions of your bad customers.

Now examine how your marketing addresses those emotional needs.

George TorokGeorge Torok is a Marketing Expert who helps contenders in a competitive market gain an unfair advantage over the competition while drawing on an embarrassingly small marketing budget. His bestselling book, Secrets of Power Marketing, published in seven countries. For a free copy of “50 Power Marketing Ideas” visit www.Torok.com
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The 2012 B2B Tele-Sales Trend Report

What’s in store for B2B tele-sales departments in 2012?

This Special Report provides you with an abbreviated ‘executive summary’ of 10 trends that are impacting the world of telephone sales.

Tele-Trend #1: Telephone Selling Growth Spurt -Again

B2B tele-sales is growing at a rate of 7.5% compared to field sales at only .5%. Clearly more companies are jumping on the telephone band wagon. Telephone selling applications are also growing in complexity and sophistication thanks in part to technology and the internet and thanks in part to a newer generation of buyer who is relatively comfortable with less face to face interaction. However, growth means more competition and more options. Smart telephone executives will emphasize the quality of the sales call to give themselves a distinct, competitive advantage.

Tele-Trend #2: The Decline of the Cold Call

Cold call to closed call ratios with drop like a stone which means it will take more dials and connects to achieve the same results. With so many companies turning to the phone your buyer has more options. Savvy companies will look for ways to become more effective with the smart use of the internet (see below) combined with a higher quality call. More emphasis will be placed on ‘smart dialing” (more skills, finesse and expertise) and less on ‘hard dialling’ (cranking out more phone calls).

 Tele-Trend #3: The Growth of Visual ‘Calls’

‘Visual prospecting’ is the intelligent use of e-mail to prospect because today’s buyer is linked to visual messages through their smart phones at work in meetings, commuting, at home, at leisure, on the weekends, 24-7. Smart, 1-to-1 e-prospecting customized to the individual prospect and integrated with a well planned voice follow up campaign will change the telephone prospecting landscape.

Tele-Trend #4: The Rise of the Hybrid Rep

 An interesting trend that seems to be emerging is that of the “hybrid sales rep.” The hybrid rep is a cross between a field sales rep and an inside sales rep, often working from a remote location. What this means is the scope and dimension of selling will change significantly. A pure ‘field selling’ model and a ‘pure telephone selling’ model will merge. It will require a different type of rep and a different approach to account management and account development.

 Tele-Trend #5: Finding (and Keeping) the Good Rep

Perhaps the single biggest challenge in the world of B2B tele-sales continues to be finding and keeping high quality sales reps.  Whether it is for a telephone selling position or for a ‘hybrid’ position there is no doubt that the quality of the rep is paramount. To distinguish themselves from their competitors and to implement more complex selling programs, companies need to re-think how they will attract better AND keep better quality reps. Radical shifting in compensation, training and coaching will be required.

Tele-Trend #6: Managing Less, Coaching More

Tele-sales managers absolutely MUST manage less and coach more. Sales reps typically don’t sell more than they could or should simply because they are not very effective at selling. They forget, ignore, dismiss or dilute their skills sets. Managers must be actively engaged on the floor beside their reps getting them better at the sales game. Nothing – absolutely, positively nothing- will provide you with a better return on investment than coaching . Period. But the single biggest challenge is that most sales managers don’t know how to effectively coach behavior … if only because they have never been taught.

Tele-Trend #7: Relationship Marketing and Selling Facelift

Relationship selling and marketing seems good in theory but in practice it seems to have flopped. The problem is implementation. Companies flog their customers and prospects with offers and promotional literature but seem to do little to engage the client at a personal level. This can be tough on the phone but enhancing a relationship and building value over the phone needs a radical facelift.

Tele-Trend #8: Re-Focus on Measurement

Forget about dials and connects. They’re like bikinis: they show a lot but not everything. Today’s telephone sales application must also measure e-mail contacts, e-mail responses and e-dialogues . The way B2B communicates has changed and so too must be the way we evaluate the effectiveness of a rep.

Tele-Trend #9: Social Media Integration

Look for tele-sales departments and companies continue to struggle to come to grips with social media as a ‘selling tool.’ Be careful in determining what is marketing and what is selling and who should be doing what

Tele-Trend #10: Leveraging the Moment

With live contacts on the decline, it is vital to seize the moment. Reps must make the most out of every contact they make or take. Whether it is cross selling, asking for a referral, or gathering market intelligence or whatever, companies need to teach their reps the skills and techniques to professionally and tastefully squeeze every ounce of potential from their contacts. This means skills development and training (not to mention coaching).

Summary

The B2B approach to telephone selling is constantly shifting and changing. Old style techniques, methods, strategies and ways of thinking are not working like they once did. To survive and thrive companies need to adapt and change. Pay heed to the trends and develop your program and your people accordingly.

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Avoid the Annoying Tendency of One-Up-Man-Ship

Let your customer or prospect bask in their glory.

A while ago I was purchasing a new car. The sales rep and I were on a test drive and chatting back and forth.  For whatever reason, I shared a football  ‘glory days story.’  Almost immediately, and without acknowledgement of my tale, the rep launched into his glory days story and, if it was true, it was much better than mine.  In about 30 seconds, he one upped me. Then he told a story of his uncle which was even better.  I guess you could call it a ‘two-up.’

And therein lies the problem.

At this stage there was a disconnect with me and the sales rep for a couple of reasons. Something changed. I didn’t feel quite so special.  First, it told me the rep wasn’t really interested in me or my story.  He wasn’t listening to my tale and thus, not listening to me.  He was simply waiting for his chance to speak.  It was … annoying. In effect, he was saying the story wasn’t important … and by default, I wasn’t important.

Second, he made the moment about him and not about me.  It was supposed to be my moment of basking in the sun.  That his story was a step up from mine was somewhat deflating; it diminished my yarn.  Of course, I recognize that to some degree the guy was trying to ‘empathize’ by providing a related story. He probably convinced himself that his story was rapport building. Quite the contrary.

But here’s the thing: I wasn’t interested in the rep’s story.  And it was clear that the sales rep was not interested in mine.  But the one difference between the two stories was this:  I was the customer; the person who wanted to buy a car.

SELLING LESSON: Let your prospects or customers tell their stories. Nod. Ask a question about the event. Say ‘wow.’  Acknowledge the story. Provide praise or wonder. Make the moment about them.  But don’t …whatever you do… don’t counter it with your tale no matter how enticing it may be .

The customer or the prospect ALWAYS gets the nod. Their story ALWAYS trumps your story.

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The Top 18 Traits of Lucky Tele-Sales Reps

Let’s face it, some telephone reps seem to be consistently luckier than others.   The stars always seem to be aligned for them and they forever seem to get more sales … and bigger sales, to boot.

But scratch the surface of these so-called lucky tele-reps and you’ll discover a number of common traits.  Coincidence?  Not likely.  Lucky reps are lucky because they consistently DO things that other reps do not. Put another way, lucky reps MAKE their own luck. They draw opportunities to themselves like magnets.

Here are 18 traits of lucky reps.  See how you compare.

#1. The number one trait of lucky reps is personal accountability. Lucky reps know that at the end of the day they are personally responsible for their success or lack thereof. They don’t blame or point fingers at their manager or prospect  list or their products and prices or customer  service department or their competitors.  They depend on no one. They are never, ever victims. When faced with a challenge they simply say, “So what am I going to do about it?”

#2. Lucky reps believe they are lucky.  Maybe because they take personal responsibility and are masters of their own fate, lucky reps have positive attitudes.  They seize the day. They are optimistic. They see the positives of their activities and thrive on small victories.  They genuinely believe they are lucky and good things will happen.  Because they feel fortunate they ARE fortunate

#3. Lucky reps fail.  In other words, lucky reps will take risks, try new things and look for angles. Sometimes they fail.  But to paraphrase basketball great Michael Jordan, they succeed because they fail.  As a result of the risk they took, they know what works and what doesn’t work.  And because of that, they’re always ahead of the pack.

#4. Lucky reps are clever little thieves.  They steal good ideas and tactics that help them in selling. They are open and willing to try a new technique or approach. They are flexible and adaptable. They change and adjust. Dust does not settle on lucky reps.  They don’t dismiss anything that might give them an edge

#5. Lucky reps absolutely avoid “dementors” and naysayers.  They don’t hang out with negative people who can drag their spirits down. They don’t huddle together and whine and complain. Lucky reps know negative talk saps energy and effort.  While others lament, they prospect and sell.

#6. Lucky reps typically arrive a little earlier for work. It’s a simple thing: they get started a little sooner and as a result, create more opportunities for themselves.  Not luck, just a little bit of elbow grease.  Harder work.

#7. Lucky reps almost always stay a little later at work. Not long. Just enough to clear up e-mails and clean off their desk. Seems small but the next day the rep can start with the important stuff: prospecting and selling. There’s no clutter; no distraction.

#8.Lucky reps are network builders.  They tend to develop “Luck Lists” of individuals from all walks of life (associates, former coaches, bosses, teachers, vendors, friends, customers etc.) who can help in them in their business and personal lives. Call them mentors or guides, these people can act as resources with their expertise, knowledge, experience, savvy and insights or they can act as centers of influence and refer business.

#9. Lucky reps are builders of relationships.  Lucky reps intuitively know that it is not enough to have a ‘lucky list.’  That network of individuals needs to be groomed and nurtured.  Consequently, they build equity with their list by staying in touch. Sometimes it’s a card or an e-mail or a phone call. Sometimes they send an article or link.  Whatever it might be, lucky reps communicate and build value on a regular and continuous basis.

#10. Lucky reps have a built-in compass.  The luckiest of reps have written goals for the year that guide them; give them focus, direction.  They break their goals down by quarter, by month, by week and by day.  Their work efforts emanate from these goals; dictates their priorities. They know where they stand at any given moment. They’re always gauging and monitoring and adjusting their course.

#11. Lucky reps talk less, question more and listen closely .  By effectively using questions, lucky reps get the client to open up, share more information, be more candid, identify their problems or concerns or opportunities.  And because they are better at understanding the needs of the client, they sell more.

#12. Lucky reps prospect daily.  Prospecting is like a good exercise program: it keeps them sales fit.  What looks like luck is simply an unrelenting adherence to business development so that their funnel is forever being filled.  What looks like luck is really just fundamentals in action.

#13. Lucky reps have a propensity for action.  Lucky telephone selling reps are doers.  They don’t procrastinate. They would rather do something –anything – than nothing.  And because they DO things instead of sitting around on their butts and waiting, things happen.  They take steps to initiate ‘luck.’

#14. Lucky reps are invariably process driven.  This means they look for processes and methods that making them a little more efficient and a little more effective.  They know that other successful reps have gone before them and develop steps that make selling faster and easier.

#15. A lucky rep is a good planner.  Maybe it stems from goal setting but ask a top rep what he or she has planned for the day and they’ll give you an itemized list of what and when.  They schedule their time for prospecting, relationship building, follow up and paperwork. When it comes to a phone call they have a game plan: objectives defined, opening statements prepared, questions to be asked etc.  When they hang up they have the next 3 or 4 steps already figured out in order to move the sale ahead.

#16. Lucky reps invest in themselves.  Lucky reps will buy books and magazines to help them sell. They do homework. They’ll buy thank you cards. They’ll purchase on-line products.  They’ll research a little more. They’ll occasionally send small gifts to their luck list.  They use their own time and money. They get some skin in the game. When they invest in themselves they push a little harder to get an ROI.  And to think, some call them lucky…

#17. Lucky reps say thanks.  When a lucky telephone rep gets a sale, a lead or referral they go out of their way to say thank you.  Often it’s with a personal card; something that shows they took the time and effort to show appreciation.  Put another way, lucky reps don’t take for granted the help they get and the good fortune they derive.

#18. Lucky reps don’t quit.  They’re politely persistent.  They don’t give up easily.  They take a few more shots than most. They’re not always successful but when they do land a big sale with their dogged persistence, we say their lucky.  But they know better.

So, based on these 18 traits how do you stack up?  Are you a luck magnet?  Chances are you have some of these traits but probably not all.  Work on them. Implement them. Practice them.  Make your own luck!

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The Top 10 B2B Tele-Sales Trends for 2011 (and what they mean to you)

Thanks in large measure to a dismal economy and slow recovery and thanks in part to a new generation of buyers, the world of selling is evolving, changing and morphing.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the world of B2B tele-sales.  The telephone is poised to take the lead role in the method that products are sold. Here are 10 observations or predictions:

1. The Demise of the Field Sales Rep

Face to face sales is declining. And it has been declining for the last 15 or 20 years. The reason? The need for face-to-face contact is not nearly as significant as it once was.  A new breed of buyer AND seller brought up on a bread and butter diet of cell phones, smart phones, text messaging, e-mail, social media and web surging has entered the marketplace. The net result is a generation of decision makers and buyers who are more interested in speed, information and instant accessibility rather than in ‘touchy feely’ one-on-one meetings.

2. The Rise of Tele-Sales

If face-to-face selling is declining then B2B tele-selling is doing just the opposite.  Tele-selling caters to the demands of this new generation and marketplace and the telephone will continue to rise in predominance as the prime selling medium. Tele-Selling has always provided 2-way interactive dialogue but it lacked the ‘tangibility’ that face-to-face selling provided.  That’s changing.  Supported by sophisticated web sites, tele-conferencing, web-conferencing, video conferencing, e-mail and the like, the telephone has been synergized.  Speed of access, 2-way communication, and reduced cost of contact have all contributed to the growth of tele-sales.

3. The Increase of Competition

More and more companies will jump on the tele-sales band wagon in an effort to take advantage of these changes in the marketplace. Businesses will either introduce brand new tele-sales initiatives or they will expand the activities of their current tele-sales programs. Either way, more companies will be targeting the same markets.  Your prospects and clients will have more choice.  This could mean bad news as more competitors take a shot at your share. But the good news is that most of these new ‘pretenders’ to the tele-sales throne will be woefully unprepared and their own worst enemies. This means that a strong tele-sales strategy supported by high quality, well trained and well compensated reps, and managed and  by elite tele-sales managers and executives will dominate the selling landscape.

4. The Maturation of Tele-Sales

Tele-selling applications will continue to shift and evolve from transactional to more complex selling situations.  Higher ticket products and services will be sold to multiple decision makers by TAMs (tele-account managers) seated at a desk, supported by the internet, e-mail and CRM systems that will help manage the process.  Sales pitches will give way to needs focused and questions based selling. Gone will be the ‘telemarketing’ mentality, replaced by the consultative tele-sales mentality.

5. The Growth of Personal Relationships

Tele-Account Managers will nurture and develop relationships with existing clients and prospects at both a business and a PERSONAL level.  Savvy tele-sales firms will actively develop written account plans designed specifically to develop and enhance not only the business side of selling personal side of selling as well.  Companies will seek strategies and tactics to create value, likeability and trust on a 1:1 basis that will work in harmony with business applications.

6. The Evolution and Integration of E-Mail

E-mail contact and communication will rise dramatically in the selling process. It will be equally as important as dialling and 2-way live discussion. A new set of skills and techniques must be developed, trained, coached and integrated into telephone contact. Tele-sales reps and account managers will need to be much more effective communicators with the written word. They will have to be persuasive marketer as much as sellers. Many firms will struggle with this concept as they cling stubbornly to the ‘the more you dial the luckier you get’ mentality.

7. The New Breed of Tele-Sales Rep

A whole new breed of tele-sales rep will enter the world of selling. This ‘uber’ rep will have a more formal education; they will be young, tech savvy, sophisticated and ambitious. Recruitment practices will change to identify individuals who can communicate by phone and by e-mail. Compensation and incentive programs will improve dramatically to attract better quality tele-sales reps.  Training will rise significantly in order to provide reps with skills and abilities to sell complex products and services. Career paths will re-emerge and turnover will significantly diminish.

8. The Coaching Solution

Call quality, call success, and revenue results will be directly related to the degree that proactive coaching is implemented on a continuous and ongoing basis. Tele-sales firms/programs and departments will recognize that active coaching and development of their tele-sales reps will be the key method of achieving the “next level” of tele-sales success. Coaching will be the means to differentiate their selling efforts from the multitude of competitors. The emphasis will be on grooming tele-sales reps who can sell smarter, better and faster.  Companies will discover that hands-on coaching is the ONLY activity that can significantly change, alter and improve selling behaviour.

9. Social Media is Still Maturing

In B2B tele-sales, social media will continue to develop but the jury is still out on the role it might ultimately place.  Certainly in simple, transactional situations social media, used wisely, may drive prospects to call an inside sales rep. Used wisely, it is a means to stay in touch with an existing client. However, it is difficult to see the role of social media in more complex selling situations. Whatever the case may be, social media will play a support role.

10. The Scarcity of Tele-Sales Managers and Executives

The single biggest challenge in the tele-sales marketplace over the short term is the scarcity of an experienced tele-sales managers and executives. Geared more towards managing the ‘numbers’ and transactional sales applications, there are precious few managers/executives capable of developing, implementing and coaching more sophisticated and complex telephone selling programs. If companies are to use the telephone to leverage the changes in the selling marketplace, they will require skilled tele-sales managers and executives to lead the charge.  In the absence of external resources, companies must internally develop their tele-sales management team. Associations can help. Consultants and other outside experts are a must.

Summary

Are you prepared to take advantage of these changes in the marketplace? Most companies are not. Analyze your tele-sales vision, your reps and managers, and your processes.  What needs to be done? Figure it out now and don’t get caught short. Do something!

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How to be the “Coca Cola” of Tele-Sales- 7 Ways to Brand Yourself

People – buyers, prospects, customers- remember brands. Brands create trust because they are perceived as reliable and valuable. A good brand makes for good sales.

So why don’t you become the most trusted brand of tele-sales rep in your industry? Here are 7 ways to do just that:

Strategy #1: Become a Business Resource

To be a strong brand, it is not enough to simply be a source of information (source of brochures, promotional literature, products, prices, offers, services etc.), you’ve got to be a “resource.”  A resource is someone who supplies prospects and clients with ‘extras’ that go beyond pitching a product or service. A resource provides unsolicited Special Reports and White Papers to add value. Resources scan industry magazines and rip out articles that they share with clients. They provide links to web sites that can help the client work better, smarter and faster. They send independent newsletters and data that their competitors would never think of doing.

Becoming a resource means you have to do more homework and become the industry expert; the product guru; or the ‘go-to’ guy when clients have a question.  Resources do more. Extra. They create value.

2.  Build Stronger Personal Relationships

All things being equal, people will buy from people they know, like and trust.  In fact, all things being relatively unequal, people will still buy from people they know, like and trust.  How well do you know your clients? How well do they know you? What have you done to create likability and trust?

You see, that’s the difference between a transaction and a relationship.  Customers can transact business with any company/sales rep that is relatively decent and competent.  But they would prefer to do business with people who not only add the value (See Strategy #1) but who are interesting, likeable and ‘worthy’ of the business.

Even in B2B situations, there is still an element of emotion in the buying process.

To brand yourself, you need to tap into this emotional stream. It is planned and purposeful. That means sending thank you cards every now then. It means remembering a birthday or that their son plays hockey or their daughter plays volleyball. It means sending a Memphis Dry Rub recipe to an avid BBQer; it means sending an article from Golf Digest on chipping; it means finding memorable quotes; it might mean sending a cartoon; it could mean gentle teasing about Notre Dame losing to Michigan.

Building a relationship could mean sending homemade cookies, chocolates, or candy.  Maybe donuts. Anything that solidifies the personal side of the selling equation.

3. Plan and Prepare More

Look, with the glut of competitors calling the same target markets, your call NEEDS to be well planned and prepared if you expect your clients to listen and perceive value. What this means is having a well- defined primary objective supported by secondary objectives.  Once you know your objectives, you can define your step-by-step approach to the call itself.  Think of the questions you should ask, the points you should make, and the objections you might encounter. Figure out how to leverage your relationship. Create a pre-text for calling. Craft your opening statement so it conveys a benefit to your customer or prospect. Rehearse if you need to.

Well planned call is a welcomed call. It wastes no one’s time. It’s clean, crisp and professional.

4. Get Better at E-mail Communications and Selling

Today’s top ‘brand’ of B2B tele-sales reps must communicate at two levels. FACT: you will not achieve superior sales results if you cannot effectively use the telephone to prospect or sell if you cannot effectively craft a superb e-mail. The telephone provides audio messages (via direct contact and voice mail) and e-mail provides visual messages. In today’s marketplace, the two go together like peas and carrots.  The trouble is most reps do not know how to compose an effective e-mail that is persuasive and interesting. They write ponderous copy with a dozen sentences. The e-mail is crammed with self-serving propaganda. The grammar is questionable at best.

Learn how to write a good e-mail that LOOKS good and the READS good.  And if you don’t know how to do that, drop me an e-mail and I’ll send you a report or two.

5. Practice Add On Selling

Over 70% of calls to clients and prospects end up in voice mail.  What this means is that you must make the absolute most of the 30% or so calls that reach a live decision maker. Add on selling (AOS) is a means to squeeze, leverage and extract every single ounce of potential from the calls that you make in a professional, value added manner.

In practical terms, that means cross selling or up selling in a manner that educates the client and makes them want to listen and learn. For you that means additional revenue, usually at a better margin and typically, that means a better, bigger commission. AOS means asking for referrals because a good referral closes at a rate of 75%. AOS means getting curious and asking questions that gather ‘market intelligence’ by ‘picking’ your clients brains to get their thoughts, feeling and suggestions.

6. Work Just a Little Bit Harder

Do you want to quickly get a good name for yourself internally or externally? Then simply work harder. The top brands – products or people- did not become the top brand by sitting on the sideline watching their competitors waltz by.  Top brands worked hard to achieve the #1 spot.  It doesn’t have to be 14 hour days. Translated, working hard means cranking out a few more calls in a day or arriving a little bit early – even fifteen minutes or staying late every now and then, and doing some work from home. It means searching for value added articles or recipes or thank you cards to send to clients to build personal relationships. It means learning your products inside and out. Break a sweat now and then.

7. Invest in Yourself

Invest a few bucks in yourself. Buy a book. Order some DVDs. Pay for a download. Sign up for a Send Out Cards program.  Attend a webinar or conference and do it on your own dime. Invest in yourself and you invest in your brand by making it better, sharper, more professional.  The moment YOU take some financial risk is the moment you’ll want a greater ROI. You’ll push yourself. You’ll work harder because of it (see above).  You’ll buy those thank you cards and use them. You’ll follow up a little more closely.

Summary

Are your ready to take advantage of the changing marketplace? Becoming your own brand and being the tops in your department, market or industry is not terribly difficult.  But it does take focus and discipline. Follow these seven steps and you’ll be the best ‘brand’ in the business.

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The Top 10 Ways to Stay In Touch With Your Clients Without Being a Pest

Do you ever get that vague and uneasy feeling that you’re being an annoying pest by calling your clients too often?

There is no question that in these tough economic times it’s important to stay front and center but incessant telephone calling is not the answer.  It is important to balance the nature of your contacts by doing two things.

First, mix your media. Use e-mail, direct mail, fax and dimensional mailers to get through the clutter that bombards your client’s desk. Use them to create a sense of value and worth with each and every day.

Second, mix your messages. Don’t always call or send business related materials.  While special offers, sales and other company literature can create value at a business level make sure you don’t forget the personal side of the equation.  Remember that people buy from people they know, like and trust.  Work on these components too. In effect, you want your client to welcome the contact, not avoid it.

Here are the top 10 ways you can do just that:

1. Send a Thank You Note

Every now and then take the time to send a thank you card to your clients and let them know you don’t take their business for granted. Give it character by using generic cards that are more personal rather than a thank you card plastered with your company logo. Hand write your message AND hand write the envelop. Use a real stamp. Your effort won’t go unnoticed!

2. E-mail a Newsletter or Link

You can unobtrusively ‘touch’ your clients with your company newsletter but make certain that the newsletter has more than just company propaganda and special offers. The idea is to create value that goes beyond a transactional relationship. If you don’t have a newsletter, scan the web and look for sites or links that might be of interest to the client either on a business or personal level.  (For example, if the client loves to cook, maybe you send a link to a cooking site).

3. Send/E-mail/Fax a VAA (value added article)

Scan industry magazines and tear out articles that might be pertinent to the client. Attach a Post-it Note that says something like, “Kev, I thought of you when I saw the article on distribution management. Enjoy!” Your client will be impressed that you took the time and effort. Or, if you know the client well, scan magazines that might be relevant to a hobby or passion. Show him that you listened, remembered and took the time to do something extra.

4. Fax a Contest

Laura Tribble is a tele-sales rep who faxes her clients Trivial Pursuit-like contests typically related to the holidays. For example, near the Fourth of July she faxes 20 or so questions focused on Independence Day.  Laura offers a little prize (like a couple of bags of chocolates or candies) to the top five winners. Doing business with Laura is fun and customers look forward to her next contest. The proof? She often gets a 40-50% response rate. Who do you think is remembered when it is time to order?

5. Arrange for an Office Treat

For your top clients, arrange a Pizza Lunch or something similar. Call your client, tell them you’d like to ‘buy them lunch’ (even though you might be a thousand miles away) to say thanks for their business. Arrange a date and time, determine their favorite pizza place, call in the order with your credit card.  Follow up shortly after the event and listen to them sing your praises. Or have a “Lunch and Learn” Session. Arrange for the pizza and then call in and use a speaker phone to provide tips and ‘how to’ information on your products or services.

6. Send a Dimensional Mailer

Some clients deserve a little something extra and memorable. Send them a book, or seasoning salt, or anything that has height, weight, scope and dimension. It might be related to work or to the season or specifically to the client. Don’t be extravagant. The point is to have clients open up a package like it was their birthday. They will be wowed by your thoughtfulness,  Yes, it can get a little pricey but your top clients WILL remember the gesture and the equity in you as a vendor will soar. (P.S., Resist the urge to send promotional products with your company logo. They’re ‘okay’ but they don’t leave much of an impression. Send something different that reflects you or your client).

7. Send a Postcard or a Greeting Card by Mail

Every now and then send a greeting card to your client. It might be holiday or sports related, or maybe an inspirational quote.  Cards are different because create curiosity: ‘Hey, who sent ME a card?’ They get opened and remembered. They even pin them up at their desks.  Check the internet for companies that allow you to send cards via the web that look and feel like they were hand written. They even include real stamps.

8. Make a Non-Sales Phone Call

Every now and then call your client and talk about anything but business. If you have something in common – e.g., the two of you are Florida Gator Fans or you both watch “Dancing with the Stars”- use it as a pre-text to call. Again, do NOT discuss business. Keep the call short. Have some fun or lament about a bad call, and then leave it at that. The idea is to show the client t that he relationship is more than the sum of their transactions. (P.S., Leave a fun voice mail message relating your common interest if you can’t reach the client. E-mails work too.)

9. E-mail a Greeting Card

You can also e-mail a greeting card that has ‘look’ and the feel of a handwritten card. There are a few internet based companies that makes the whole effort fast and easy by providing a huge on-line selection of cards that you can customize and send out as quickly as you can click. Check them out.

10.  Use a Combination of 4

It is important that you use at least four of these techniques in combination and never get dependent on a single tactic. Using four or more of these contacts ensures that your effort gets through all the “crap” that is vying for your client’s attention. In addition, stick with the program. One or two touches are simply not enough. Staying in touch, building value and creating a relationship is a journey, not a destination. For your top clients, never let more than 3-4 weeks go by without some sort of friendly touch over and above your regular business calls.  Your “B” clients should be touched about every 6-8 weeks over above business calls.

Summary

Staying in touch without being a pest requires time and effort but the rewards are considerable.  Your efforts will typically translate into more loyal customers and bigger sales. Take the time and effort to add this strategy to your regular calls.

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