As buyers become more sophisticated, so do marketers. The methods we use to enable our sales teams are evolving. Sales representatives now have to demonstrate value at every phase of the buyer’s journey. This is often done on the fly, based on needs discovered while mid-conversation with prospects.
Enabling your sales team may seem a bit daunting, but we’re here to tell you that you are capable of keeping up with this ever-changing system. In fact, it’s likely you’ve been doing this your whole life, and you don’t even know it. Think back to your first lemonade stand (and if you didn’t have a childhood lemonade stand, just play along).
Identify Your Target Audience
You and your best friend want to open a lemonade stand. First, some brainstorming is in order. Who are you really capable of convincing to purchase this lemonade? It’s a hot one, so joggers are going to be parched. Grandparents often have time and money to spare. Parents of teenagers are nostalgic. You suspect that when they see your lemonade stand, they will run, not walk, to pay you a visit and reminisce about the good ol’ days .
The same need to understand your audience holds true in marketing. Say you’re marketing a knowledge-management system. Who would truly benefit from your product? A human resources administrator looking to onboard new hires quickly and efficiently? A regional sales manager who wants to reduce the time spent answering the same question again and again? Identify your audience, and don’t waste your time and resources on leads that may be a dead end.
Help Customers Find You
You set up your lemonade stand, but you’re too smart to expect customers to arrive at your doorstep with no guidance. You scope out the neighborhood and identify three joggers, a mother and her teenage son walking a dog, and an elderly couple on a power walk. All tired, all hot, and all thirsty.
So, how do you get your potential customers to arrive at the conclusion that they need lemonade? You place signs advertising your stand where you know your potential customers will see them. They see your sign, and they are ready to talk to sales.
Of course, just creating brand awareness isn’t enough. Do you remember when your mother told you to clean your room as a child? Even though you had planned on cleaning your room, maybe you didn’t on the principle that you had just been told to do so.
Well, the same rule applies to marketing.
A potential customer is more likely to turn into a paying customer when they believe the solution is their idea. So, how do you direct them to the conclusion that they need your product? Plant content where they can find it. Use blog posts, infographics, whitepapers, and so on to inform your audience of solutions to their problem, and that solution will lead them to you.
Know the Market
Tragedy has struck. Across the street, Suzy is setting up her own lemonade stand. Competition. How do you convince your potential customers that they don’t need just any lemonade… they need your lemonade?
You whip up a banner that reads, “Most Refreshing Lemonade in the Neighborhood.” You approach the joggers to inform them of the low-calorie nature of your lemonade, squeezed from organic lemons from the farmer’s market. You offer the mother and her teenage son a 10 cent discount because he is wearing the jersey of your favorite NFL team. You hand out fliers singing the praises of your unique lemonade.
In marketing, keep your enemies close and your friends closer. Know your competition, and know why your product is more efficient and accessible. Be aware of the unique needs of each potential customer, and tailor your pitch to be attractive to them.
Focus on the Customer Experience
Success. All of your potential customers are now real, paying customers. But the work doesn’t stop there. With each cup of lemonade, you include a list of tips for maximum lemonade enjoyment: add 2 spoonfuls of sugar, pair with cookies, etc. Your attention to your customers is so thorough through the entire buyer journey that you feel confident you have gained customers for life (or at least for as long as you are selling lemonade).
Ever walked into a store and been completely ignored by the sales representative? Did that representative appear annoyed when you asked questions about the suit you were considering? Were they rude? Chances are, you didn’t go back to that store. Ensure that your customer has a positive experience during every stage of their buyer experience. Be available to answer questions. Be creative in helping them solve their problems. Reach out to follow up, and continue to provide support even after you have secured them as a customer.
Of course, selling lemonade is a lot simpler than marketing your business. However, the same principles of attracting customers and building a successful sales experience apply. Companies who succeed in this will deliver the right content and tools to their representatives so that they can respond quickly and efficiently to the prospect’s needs and the evolving market.