Posts filed under New Business

Companies to Customers: "Don't Bother Us By Calling!"

Frustrated Customer dreamstime_s_116041961.jpg

Have you noticed how difficult it is to find a customer service phone number these days? They give you email, Chat, and links. But your questions are complex and difficult to resolve. Your questions require a phone call to cut through the information maze.

Let’s get down to everyday reality for a few seconds. The problem gets worse when you decide to buy.

It’s as if the business world were conspiring together to keep you from spending your money.

You search the manufacturer’s website for the contact information. But you search in vain for that sales phone number. In many instances, you will never find the contact address or phone number because it isn’t there. If it exists on the website, it is often hidden under layers of clicks.

I think that many companies today make it quite clear they DO NOT WANT TO TALK TO YOU.

Companies apply the same losing approach to existing customers. This kills present and future sales to save money.

The company actually increases it's sales costs when their product finally does sell. Such behavior reduces sales. Frustrated customers call the service or warranty departments rather than sales.

That’s a no-go because you do not have the product serial number allowing you access to a live person.

If you're a customer, the problem continues. The service group wants you to pay a service fee for product support first before they will talk with you.

This bad behavior weakens brands and causes the loss of many customers.

Why are companies so inept at customer service? Don’t they get it? Will they stay in business or prosper for long in a society that demands service above all? In your view, do companies understand that the prospect and customer are the bosses?  

Posted on July 3, 2018 and filed under Branding, New Business.

Selling by Intrusion

We hear a lot these about the negative effects of "intrusion advertising." Disruption represents the strength of traditional media and by comparison, the largest weakness of social media as an acquisition tool. They both have their place. But marketers should ponder this idea when developing their marketing strategies.
Posted on July 29, 2013 and filed under Branding, General, New Business.

Clients Shoot Themselves in the Foot

Have you ever interviewed a prospective client only to find that they think they know what their problem is but they really don't?

Agreeing to the principle that understanding the problem is the first step to solving it does not work -- unless we realize that it applies to every problem.

Here's a good example of what I mean.

A leading competitor and founder of the idea that a lot of people want cash now for their settlements was no longer number one in the market. J.G. Wentworth was taking over the market from my prospective client. They brought me in saying that their direct mail was no longer generating sufficient leads to keep up with their younger competitor companies and wondered how I might help.

We went through my questions and theirs trying to nail down what needed to be done to compete with their direct mail program.

They showed me their direct mail packages, list selection criteria, results over the last few years and readily answered my questions. They also listed their foremost competitors.

I went back to the office and contemplated what we should do to reverse the tide.

Their in house direct mail was weak and the results reflected it. They believed this was their biggest problem and that correcting it would get them back on course.

Unfortunately, the client failed to look at the big picture of what was happening. Their competitors were taking their business away with multi channel strategies such as DRTV, direct mail, digital and every known medium was explored and used heavily.

So I returned proposing a full solution including testing other channels -- especially DRTV -- as well as bringing additional talent to bear on their direct mail program.

They decided instead to hire a freelance copywriter to work with their in-house copywriter to improve the creative product. Never mind that the freelancer was not even a direct response specialist.

But I mentioned that this did not scratch the surface of what needed to be done to increase their growth and slow down their competitors as needed to recapture their lost market share.

This prospective client responded by saying that no, they knew what the problem was and countermanded my recommendation for testing DRTV. They had tried it several years ago and they could not make the numbers work.

This event happened three years ago and J.G. Wentworth's DRTV program has grown unabated.

I never was able to help my prospective client compete with J.G. Wentworth. Why? They had the money, the infrastructure and everything else except an open mind.

They failed to look at the big picture and made the false assumption that J.G. Wentworth did not know what they were doing.

The take away here is to never make the assumption that you have the problem nailed down without an objective and knowledgeable outside voice chiming in. Spend money and thought on what the problem is and season it with a heavy dose of objectivity and humility.

Posted on November 23, 2011 and filed under Consulting, Direct Marketing Strategy, New Business.

Bad Idea -- Hiring "Heavy Hitters" for Agency Sales

The heavy hitter's primary toolMy network friend and I were discussing the status of advertising agency hiring in the US these days and how things have changed for both the good and the bad. We think this problem applies to any B-to-B sales involving high level corporate services.

Prompted by these discussions, he sent an email with a new B-to-B sales job. Here's what he wrote.

Ted,

 Thought you would get a kick out this completely vacuous ad…no industry experience needed, no street credibility needed, just leave your successful job (which you can prove by submitting your w2’s), and join our company.  The world has gone mad!

Here's the advertisement for reference.

"Looking for an aggressive hunter who is ambitious, knows how to overcome obstacles and is driven to succeed. Must have an outstanding track record of selling products or services to sophisticated clients.

Our client is a well known 87B global firm and is more interested in your knowing how to build a business than your particular industry experience since extensive training is provided. 

Experience from any industry that requires a high degree of face-to-face presentations and relationship management is preferred. 

Must be an exceptional salesperson with a minimum of 12 year’s business experience (no maximum) and have consistently been a top earner in your industry.  

MUST have a college degree.  

No travel – outstanding benefits!"

There are several ways to interpret this advertisement and the motivations behind it. But I suspect that the hiring manager or the HR person who wrote this is looking for "Heavy Hitters" and all that it implies. 

Furthermore, I see an effort to attract discontented producers whose territories were cut or who were somehow wounded by their companies.


It's attraction with the negative.

Personally, if I were looking for a sales position, I would shy away from companies driven by prima donna sales people concepts. I am more interested in companies that are looking for sales leaders who know how to build and manage smooth running new business machines. When properly designed, these machines will survive the ups and downs presented by today's highly volatile business environments.

The "Heavy Hitter" mentality revolves around stars instead of the company. And accounts that are brought in this way can quickly fall in and out of love.

A client relationship must go well beyond a single individual to the many individuals available within the supplier company. It is actually a melding of purpose and vision between two partner organizations. Anything less will not produce a steady stream of profits for either the supplier or the client.

In what ways do you, the reader, see as misguided concepts about how successful new business programs work for B-to-B service companies? Any advice?

Posted on August 11, 2010 and filed under Lead Generation, New Business, Database Marketing.

The one sales killer question -- "What is Your Budget?"

 

If there is one sales issue that stumps most individuals responsible for new business, it is the prospect who presents an ill defined problem and has little or no budget. But how does the salesperson expose the lack of budget before expending the energy and expense of preparing a complex proposal?

In a recent newsletter issue published by raintoday.com, contributing editor Jill Konrath wrote an interesting article entitled The One Question that Can Kill Any Sales Conversation that addresses this very point.

She relates a story of a salesperson who piqued her interest to the point that she agreed to proceed with the project only to have the salesperson kill the sale with the budget question.

 "...I also need to get my blog social-media friendly. I don't have anyone working on that right now. It's a small project, but a necessary one. Interested?

Of course, she was. She asked, 'What's your budget for this?'

That's exactly what traditional sales training tells you to ask. To find out if you're dealing with a qualified buyer, you're supposed make sure they have money in their budget for your service.

It was the wrong question to ask!"

Why is qualifying the prospect for budget so important?

As with any resource, sales people have limited time and money to do their jobs. And one way to guarantee missed sales goals is to waste those limited resources on unqualified prospects who have neither the money nor the authority to sign off on the proposed project.

The prospect, on the other hand, has no idea what the solution costs and wants to know this to see if is is even feasible.

For most high level sales executives, prospect budgets must be determined before preparing a proposal that takes many hours and often significant expense to prepare.

In many cases, the available budget -- or at least a gross range budget range -- will make the problem unsolvable based on the sales person's experience. Why waste the prospect's time or the salesperson's time when no sale is possible?

The client wants the specifications for the solution to his broad (and usually poorly defined) problem without investing in the skills and time to prepare it. And the service provider needs confirmation of the prospect's ability and willingness to pay before investing in the development of the proposal.

As a consultant, I have no problem discussing HOW I would approach the project and allocate time/costs for each step. But I cannot lay out the specifications for solving the problem without charging for my time.

To a greater or lesser degree, some companies will let you know what it costs to solve a well defined problem. But if the prospect has an itch with no idea how to solve it, then he must pay for help in defining both the problem and again for developing potential solutions. Implementation costs are then possible once the specifications are developed.

So the question remains. How can the prospect and the service provider come to terms on this issue? How can sales people qualify the prospect without spending too much time educating them when they will never buy?

More to the point, do you agree with Jill Konrath's article when she says the budget question before the solution is presented kills the sale?

Posted on July 2, 2010 and filed under Consulting, New Business.