Saturday, August 28, 2004

Micro Marketing and Sales Process

Wave Mail Micro Marketing works because it is based on common sense. It is not widely used today because the technology and variable data printing is only now going mainstream. It's not hard, but it requires a continuing focus. Any sales person understands that continuing focus is the hardest thing to do.

One under appreciated property of print, is that it makes focusing much easier. Consider the efficiency of making a shopping list. By writing it down, you don't have to spend mental energy remembering. Less energy on remembering, means more energy to focus on "what to do next."
The enemy of focus is not "not enough time." The real problem are the distractions that make it hard to remember what to do next. Since a salesperson lives in a rushed world of doing the next thing, you need help to remember what that next thing is.

First, look at the process from 30,000 feet. Try to forget about the trees and look at the forest. It's only common sense.

What has to get done:
1. Find Suspects.
2. Move Suspects into the Prospect bin.
3. Move Prospects into the Customer bin.
4. Move Customers into the Client bin.
5. Nourish a Book of Business based on a Community of Clients.

Here's what I mean:
1. Suspects could be anyone that you can reach and who need a better, faster, cheaper, less risky way to communicate in print. It could be new businesses within 2 miles of your plant. It could be a specific industry like pharms or publishing or non profits or designers. You get to choose.

2. A prospect is someone who has asked for an estimate. Think of all the estimates that never turn into jobs. Then consider that these are people who know your company enough to call you at the print event. Then consider how much marketing and cold calling is needed to get the opportunity to ask you to estimate. Prospects are the raw material that you can turn into revenue.

3. A customer is someone who has given you a job. Now you have a database of people who have experienced your company. They have trusted your firm to help them with a high risk (to them) transaction. Hopefully the transactions was mutually valuable. Obviously, no amount of blah, blah or marketing is going to repair the damage down by a bad experience. But, if you are still in business, most of the jobs you've done have probably been ok.

4. A client is someone who has given you a couple of jobs over some defined time period.
This is self explanatory.

5. A book of business is a community of clients for whom you are the trusted go-to person when they need to make a printing decision.
More about this later.

What you should do:
1. Divide your present customer list into prospects, customers and clients.
2. Figure out the most efficient ways to move everyone from a lower bin to a higher bin.
3. Look at the indicators EVERY day to figure out what is giving you the highest ROT. (Return on Time is an idea I first heard at a Dr. Joe Webb presentation). Be ready to change tactics on a dime. If a tactic isn't working try another one. But don't change the strategy - do something every day to move them from a lower bin to a higher one.

What are the hard parts?
1. You have to sell stuff that people want to buy.
If you are selling the ability to communicate better, faster, cheaper with a minimum risk, every person or entrepreneur or business needs that. Whether you can make them understand and be ready to buy what you are selling is another big question.

2. Who has the time?
Sending and answering emails and phone calls, getting the specs right, going to useless meetings (either internal or external) and then chasing jobs that are in the plant does not leave alot of time left. That's why this is not about investing more time. It's about investing LESS time in activities that have low ROT.

3. How can I get real time information?
If you have an active customer facing web site, it's pretty easy. If not, there are lots of workarounds.

4. Why should I bother?
Situations change so unexpectedly that even a client from your book of business can disappear. People get fired or move to a new job. Companies can get bought and your contact network loses the power to buy. So, you have to keep the pipeline filled.

No doubt, it's all easier said then done. But then so is everything. A few really blessed professionals do it naturally. The rest of us have to practice and need a little help. The good news is that it's not that hard to do, if you know what you are supposed to be doing.

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