We’ve all met a vendor who misses the point in a sales meeting. Certainly, they have something to offer, but it’s easy to tell when they know nothing about you and your business. By taking an extra step and connecting meaningfully with your goals, they’d be way more effective.
When training your sales team or making a new marketing push, there has to be an overriding question: are you putting prospects and customer first? If the strategies don’t directly address what matters most to them, you may lose customers. The marketing and sales world is more competitive than ever, but often what makes or breaks a B2B sales pitch is actually the H2H (Human to Human!) element. Never underestimate how much it matters for customers to really feel heard.
Throughout your sales and marketing funnel, consider how you could be putting prospects and customers first. Prioritizing customers will have a more positive impact than anything else.
Scenarios Where You Should Be Putting Prospects and Customers First
Lead generation isn’t too early in the process to add a human element. You can learn a lot from the sources of your new leads. When you discover that one content offer, for instance, is drawing people to join your mailing list over another, you’ve learned something personal about your potential customers. When they visit your product or service page, then abandon their carts in the payment process, you learn something. If you’re focused on the customer, start reaching out in the lead generation step, human to human, asking what motivated your leads to pursue your business or abandon the conversation.
Many people aggressively go for the phone call or in-person sales pitch at this point. While there isn’t necessarily a problem with this, don’t expect it to solve the same problems as an email asking for feedback. And be specific. If you want feedback on how your website could be more effective, ask for it; if you want a chance at a 10-minute conversation, ask for it. But respect for your customers’ time means you should do what you say you will, rather than sneaking in a pitch under the guise of asking for feedback.
As you create newsletters, deals and information that goes out to your customers and prospects, consider what it looks like to them. Does it feel “spammy?” Certainly, there’s a place for thoughtful, useful content in newsletters; it’s one way to put your prospects and customers first. However, using your CRM and your understanding of lead behavior to offer to hear them out might actually be even more effective. Sometimes you’ll spend precious phone time with someone who won’t make a purchase, but you never know how much of an impression your pleasant conversation made on them. When they’re ready to choose a vendor, they may be at your doorstep, asking you for help. Nurture your leads the way you’d want to be treated as a customer, even as you key an eye on marketing and sales trends.
When Conversion Rates Are Low
It’s easy to blame something or someone else when conversions are low: “The competition is upping their marketing budget,” or, “People are doing our service in-house.” But the most effective way to move forward during a low-conversion season is to assume that your own choices move the needle. If you start saying, “I need to make more calls asking about the needs of my key customers,” or, “I need to send fewer, more in-depth email campaigns,” your results will change.
With the right leads, you may even find that being clear and honest is the best strategy. It could actually help to get in touch with a message like, “We noticed that you’ve stopped purchasing from us; can you give us any feedback on how to regain your business or why you’ve moved on?” Successful companies are the ones see trends and pivot based on the available information.
When Prospects Are Reaching Out
One of the most important times to be customer-centric is when your prospects reach out to you. It’s a gift on a silver platter. Assume that a prospect who reaches out is already interested, so ask about their needs and hear their concerns. And if you can learn about your future primary contact, use that information to show that you care! Remember a birthday or a fact about their family, and you’ll be surprised how quickly a warm relationship grows. Going the extra mile only takes an extra minute or two on the phone, but it makes a difference.
Regularly with Loyal Customers
Reaching out when it isn’t crunch time for a sale can be one of the best ways to cement loyalty. If you sell your product on features and price alone but don’t show any interest in your contacts as people, they’ll bounce when someone else offers them more. However, if you build a personal relationship with your loyal customers, checking in when you don’t need anything from them, they’ll be more resilient. In this case, resiliency means they’ll stick with you for the value of a personal customer support relationship instead of a lowest-price or best-features reason. You want to be able to give them those things too, but building loyalty puts customers in a place where they have to be really convinced to leave.
Get Creative to Put Your Customers and Prospects First
While you don’t have to be gimmicky, you certainly can find your own special way to show customer appreciation. Everything from handwritten notes to freebies can remind customers that you put personal relationships first. In training your salespeople, make sure there’s time for them to think about how to make presentations engaging and full of customer-centric questions. You’re still there to market and sell, but with so many competing voices in your industry, your personal touch can actually make sales!
This doesn’t undercut the need for data. The numbers matter, but in a different way. Marketing analytics and website metrics allow you to narrow down exactly who could use a personal message from you, and when that message would be most effective. So you can still use insights from marketing software, it just comes down to putting prospects and customers first by using that info to foster better, more personal relationships with the people.
Want more information on how to marry modern marketing and sales with a return to a personal approach to B2B sales leadership? Get weekly updates with my newsletter.