Your marketing and sales team says the best way to increase sales is to buy new database marketing software. Or launch new distribution strategies. Or have sales people make more cold calls. Or add telemarketing. Whats the right answer?
Your customers feel neglected or dont do as much business with you as they used to. Your customer service manager recommends a retention program. What should the program include? What channels should you use? Do you have the right software?
If youre in senior management, chances are these scenarios are painfully familiar. Decisions like these are crucial to your companys success.
The fact is, all marketing, sales and customer service efforts come down to three basic goals finding customers, keeping customers and growing customers. The advances in business industry have been incredible, but weve lost our focus. To get the greatest value from our efforts, we need to simplify our thinking and go back to the basics.
If you market products and services to businesses, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is your companys best and highest use in the marketplace? Are your products or services optimally bundled into a compelling offer?
- Can you quickly identify the real pain that you resolve for customers and explain how your product or service alleviates that pain?
- Who are your very best customers? Even the most sophisticated companies still define their best customers by such elementary criteria as SIC code, sales volume and number of employees. Targeted marketing requires a deep understanding of customers and their needs, to be gained only if youre exceptionally close to customers. Have you asked your best customers why they like you, why they buy from you and whether theyd refer you? Referrals are the only true measure of customer satisfaction.
The crucial intersection
If you can answer these three questions, you can identify the crucial intersection that should drive all your sales and marketing efforts. Its the point where your firms best offer is of most value to a narrow slice of the market because it resolves the greatest pain.
The more precisely you can define this intersection, the better you can pinpoint prospects. This should be the rallying point for all your companys marketing, sales and customer service activities.
Using sales funnels to guide your efforts
Defining your target prospect is the first step. Using a series of scoring tools that strictly adhere to your target prospect profile, you can create three sales funnels that will organize and implement your plan for finding, keeping and growing customers.
All marketing, sales and customer service activities must be designed, justified and measured by their value to each funnel acquisition, retention and development.
The acquisition funnel systematizes the activities needed to turn suspects into prospects, prospects into qualified prospects and qualified prospects into customers. Your goal of finding customers becomes the end and your marketing the means to that end.
The retention sales funnel fulfills your goal of keeping customers, by progressively moving one-time buyers or ex-customers to the desired status of customers who make multiple or sustained purchases. These are the customers with the highest long-term value.
The development funnel is used to grow customers. Here the goal is to move stable customers through activities that convert them into up-sold/cross-sold customers, then to the status of advocate or champion.
The results of these activities are obvious: a larger number of customers with the highest value to your company. The graduates of this three-funnel process are to be coveted and honored with no costs spared.
This system simplifies all your marketing, sales and customer service activities. By returning to the basics offer, need and target market you define your best prospects. This drives the creation, execution and measurement of all sales and marketing activities through the acquisition, retention and development funnels and provides a method to the madness.
On one hand, its remarkably simple. On the other hand, your work has obviously just begun. Implementing and managing your business through this process requires discipline and passion. But when you have simple goals and clear ways to get there, the results are worth it. Andy Birol is president of PACER Associates Inc. (