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Friday, August 30, 2013

Do You Have a Foot-In-The-Door Strategy?

There's an extremely powerful strategy to grow your business called the foot-in-the-door (FITD) strategy. FITD plays on psychology to get to the sale. This strategy works well because it gets past the prospect's natural resistance to being sold.

The process starts with getting a person to agree to a small request that doesn't take them outside their comfort zone. From there, you build up to larger requests and bigger yeses.

Savvy business owners, marketers, and salespeople have used FITD in one form or another for years, whether they have knowingly defined it that way or not. Some may refer to this strategy as a "loss leader." The difference is that a loss leader typically involves selling something, often at a very low price or below cost. Retail businesses have used loss leaders successfully for many years. FITD works best when the first offer is for something free.

Examples of FITD
If you've ever been to the mall food court around lunch or dinnertime, you'll often see savvy restaurant owners assign an employee to offer a small sample tasting of some of the food items on their menu. When passersby accept the sample and taste it, they've taken the first tiny step toward a possible yes.

One interesting side note with this example: Notice that the employees handing out the samples aren't going all around the mall or outside in the parking lot at various hours of the day. They pass out the samples to people walking through the food court at lunch or dinnertime. The marketing takeaway: offer your services to people who are most likely to need what you sell when they need it the most.

FITD has been used for many years by door-to-door salespeople in many industries, from the person offering to clean a dirty spot on the carpet to the days of the encyclopedia salesperson (remember those?) who would offer a free three book starter set.

Perhaps the most notorious example is from the timeshare industry. In exchange for 90 minutes of your time, the FITD offer is a free resort stay or perhaps Disney World tickets. Does it work? Billions of dollars in timeshares sold would seem to indicate a big yes. These techniques are meant to persuade and work extremely well. The danger comes from unscrupulous sellers who abuse the power.

FITD has been used in the pharmaceutical industry with enormous success. Pharmaceutical sales representatives leave samples of the drugs their companies sell with the appropriate doctors. The physicians in turn give their patients a free sample along with a prescription that will lead them to become a customer of the pharmaceutical industry.

Yes -- Plum Grove uses this strategy too. We offer promotional product samples, personalized free memo pads and even given our clients free smartphone mobile websites.

What kind of FITD should you offer?
Your best FITD strategy should probably be not to "sell" anything at all. Only 2% of prospects are ready to buy at any time and less than 1% will typically buy anything on the first contact. Put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer and ask yourself: What would I need (if I were a customer) to choose this company over the competition? What service or product can you use to let prospects 'test' you out that will put your best foot forward and help you make the best first impression?

Conclusion
The FITD strategy is an extremely powerful technique. If you're not currently using it or have used it in the past and forgotten about it, it's time to visit it again. Put together a plan to utilize FITD in your favor.

Selling successfully for the long term requires building trust with your prospects and even existing customers. The FITD strategy allows you to begin building that trust. But be careful. If it's done incorrectly or not done at all, then you may experience the door-in-the-face result which is what you want to avoid.

Until next time,

Peter "The Printer" Lineal
Founder/CEO
Plum Grove
2160 Stonington Avenue
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
Ph: 847.882.4020 Ext: 133
www.PlumGrovePrinters.com
www.MailMadeSimple.com
www.PlumGroveAdSpecialties.com

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

6 Ways to Ramp Up Your Referral Marketing

It's no secret that one of the best ways to grow a business is through strong referrals. Whether these referrals come to you through a system you have in place or because of the solid reputation your business has built over the years, each referral is a precious gift. You have one chance to turn this opportunity into a client who will in turn refer others to your business.

If you drop the ball in some way, not only will you lose this chance for new business, but you could also discourage others from referring business to you. Therefore, you must handle these warm leads with extreme care. Here are six key steps to consider as you guide a referral into becoming a real customer.

  1. Respond quickly. Nothing will stop a referral process faster than slow response and showing a lack of urgency in communication. Lead360 conducted a study of 25 million data points which showed that successful conversion rates are 391% higher when a lead is called back within a minute, 120% within two minutes, 98% within three minutes, 62% in under thirty minutes, and 36% in under an hour. Clearly calling back and following up with referrals quickly is the first and most important part of the process.


  2. Gather information and qualify. Once contact has been made, it's time to gather any necessary information to make sure there's a good fit between what the referral is looking for and what you can provide. Having relevant, open-ended questions to ask will help you find what you're looking for while at the same time establishing your expertise in helping solve client problems. This is the time to develop insight into the scope of the opportunity and key factors.


  3. Be the expert. Once you've established that the referral is a good fit for your business, it's time to do your homework. You must spend a little time to learn about the referral's business. The more you learn about what your prospect is looking to solve, the better you can prepare a solution. This in turn will position you as the expert who took the time to present a customized solution when your competitors offered a generic, cookie-cutter bid.


  4. Make your offer stand out. The best way to make your offer stand out is by adding value. People like to buy, but they don't like to be sold to. You can add value and help your offer stand apart by helping a referral evaluate your capability and see their problem clearer. Relevant, simple, and insightful information that helps your prospect will lead them to buy much more readily than if they feel they are being sold to.


  5. Create a powerful experience. Turning a referral into a client can be as simple as contacting them quickly with information they're seeking. However, the real secret to make them truly want to do business with you on a consistent basis is to create a "wow" experience. Your "wow" experience doesn't have to be complex. Building it can be as simple as:

    • Responding to inquiries within 30 minutes

    • Offering a small gift or thank you note for contacting you

    • Sending a small gift or thank you to the person who made the referral

    • Delivering a professionally prepared, customized solution with clear information

    • Following up after the sale to answer any questions

    • Being persistent without being a pest


  6. Use technology. As great as your memory may be, relying on the old pen-and-paper system is just asking for trouble. The way to truly systematize the referral process is by using a CRM system that can help you track your referrals. Determine if the software will help you give the prospects the experience you set in your action plan. But remember that technology can only go so far. Sure, it can help you manage the referrals, but converting those leads into customers takes the human touch that only you can provide.


Turning referrals into customers is not an act of magic or accomplished through luck. It's done by developing an action plan and by implementing the plan. Keep track, stay organized, and monitor the process. Referral marketing can be a gift that keeps on giving, but only if it's treated with the care and respect it deserves.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Educating Your Way to a Sale

Your target audience is being bombarded by sales and marketing messages every day. Some estimates state that a person is exposed to more than 3,500 messages on average every single day! No wonder we develop strategies to filter out the hype and all the noise so we can get our work done. Otherwise our days would be consumed with sales presentations and various pitches to buy something.

This constant barrage of marketing has taken a toll on salespeople, too. Traditional sales methods that once worked well have been losing traction and are not effective anymore. But you still need to sell -- and you need to get your message across to your prospects. How can you do that without alienating them at the same time? One way to do that is to educate and help your prospects instead of simply selling them.

Educating your audience with relevant and useful information that will help them make a more informed buying decision allows you to establish yourself and your company as an expert who provides value before ever asking for a sale.

Establishing trust in this manner brings respect. Trust and respect open the way for your prospects to listen. Listening gives you access to valuable time your prospects reserve for those they believe will not waste it with hype and useless pitches.

To decide what kind of information your prospects find useful, you need to put yourself in their shoes. Developing a buyer persona on your most ideal prospects lets you get insight into the information, ideas, and advice that could make a positive difference in their lives and actually help in their decision-making process.

Selling is not a bad thing. Short-term thinking while selling, however, is not sustainable selling. Long-term selling is about nurturing, gaining trust, and establishing rapport. Doing this will lead not only to a first sale but also to a relationship that will garner repeat sales and referrals.

Establishing a strategic sales funnel allows you to introduce your products and services as a solution to a prospect's problem at the appropriate time. Nurturing relationships will lead to sales more naturally and organically, instead of taking a straight, forced path with a low chance of making a quick close.

One great example of this can be seen by walking into any Apple retail store. From the moment you walk in, the Apple employees are trained to educate you about the products in the store. No pushy salespeople. They actually want you to touch and test all the products on display.

In the back of the store, the "Genius Bar" provides technical help and in-depth training to encourage users to use Apple products. This in turn leads to more sales. Over 50,000 people visit the "Genius Bar" every day, and the majority who have used the services state that they are more likely to buy another Apple product as a result.

Educating your prospects and your customers is a long-term business sales strategy. It requires some time and resources. But if it is done well, the results will far outweigh the costs.

Monday, August 5, 2013

All Your Clients are VIP Clients

Even if you've already heard these statistics before or intuitively know them to be true based on your own experience, it may still be a bit startling to see them here again:
  • It can cost up to 7 times more to acquire one new client than to keep a current one.

  • The likelihood of a prospect buying from you is between 5 and 20%. The likelihood of an existing customer buying from you again is between 60 and 70%.
Based on these numbers, it's clear that nurturing and cultivating your existing client relationships can go a long way toward improving the health of your company's bottom line. However, many companies devote most of their marketing budgets to new customer acquisition, rather than trying to keep existing customers coming back. New leads and customers are important, but your existing customers should also hold a very high place on your list of marketing priorities.

How can you keep customers coming back?

Sending simple thank you cards to show your appreciation is one idea. A monthly printed or email newsletter that informs, educates, and entertains is another. Picking up the phone and having a real conversation is perhaps the least expensive, yet most powerful way to retain existing clients. Promotional products are a nice thank you gift too.

There are many ways to show your appreciation, but timing is essential if you want to maximize the effect. The first 30 to 90 days after your new customer comes on board is the most important time to begin showing them your appreciation. If you haven't done so already, create a blueprint for your remarkable customer experience plan that must be followed throughout your organization. Place one or two key people in charge of overseeing this plan to make sure it is implemented and followed through with every new customer.

This plan should have tasks and due dates attached for each activity. For example, your plan might call for a thank you card to be sent the day after a new customer comes on board. Gifts, lunches, coffee, phone calls, newsletters, and personal visits can all be part of the plan, as well. Make your customers feel like VIPs. Listen to their needs and respond quickly. What's critical here is that you have a plan, that you have someone who is accountable for implementing the plan, and that you include due dates for each task in the plan.

Creating a remarkable customer experience can be as simple or as complex as you would like it to be. The more remarkable and unique you can make it, the more memorable the experience will be. The key is to have a plan and to always remember that it is much less expensive and profitable to keep an existing customer happy than it is to acquire a brand new customer.