The scale of the task will depend on the changes to be made. In cases where the strategic aim can be achieved by making relatively minor adjustments to existing processes, the task may well be relatively minor. On the other hand, if your plans involve a major ‘pivot’ in the way you do business a, the scale of the task is considerable.
However, the fundamental objective is the same - to win the customers you need as efficiently as possible.
But, what do we mean by ‘efficiently’ here? The current generation of commentators talk a lot about the ‘sales funnel’ and the importance of dividing focus between ‘marketing’ and ‘sales’ activities. We are exhorted to produce ‘content’ and invest in email marketing and referral programmes etc. etc.
Of course, none of this i new. Even if it is dressed up as ‘lean’ and ‘agile’ it all sounds depressingly familiar! Remember that traditional marketing and sales activities are staggeringly inefficient. Most ‘campaigns’ were considered a success if they achieved a hit rate of 1% - 3%!
So, why do we continue with this outdated thinking? If lean and agile methods are to prove their worth, they need to achieve an exponential improvement in customer acquisition efficiency.
Ours is based on a series of linked modules. How the modules are structured and combined over time is determined by the nature of the demand that exists for the product; the specific characteristics of the customer persona it's designed to help; and the journey they are undertaking.
Taken as a whole, these modules are combined to create a trusted relationship between customer and supplier.
Trust and credibility underpin every purchasing decision that is made. Of course, the levels involved vary hugely for different products and markets but it is difficult to challenge the validity of the basic assumption.
Unfortunately, they are in desperately short supply! When considered in the context of a never ending procession of ‘mis-selling’ scandals and corporate malpractice, it is hard not to agree with the view that there is no reason why any buyer should believe a word we tell them.
Building trust and credibility is vital and it takes time. Exactly how they are built and how long it takes clearly depends on the product and the characteristics of the target persona(s). So, there are no universal rules that can be applied but it's possible to identify two key ‘dimensions’-
A ‘positive dimension’ through which trust and credibility can be established through pre-sales service, trialling, high value content, word of mouth and opinion former endorsement etc.
A ‘negative dimension’ - the activities and behaviours that undermine or destroy trust and credibility. Examples include criminal or unethical behaviour, mis-selling, poor service etc. But even seemingly minor issues can have a negative impact. The excessive use of pop-up bots on websites and the use of paid referral schemes are good examples here.
Although they take time to build, they can be destroyed in an instant!
Almost as important as trust and credibility is the need to establish recognition and relevance in the mind of the potential customer. Part of the requirement is to ensure they know who you are - that’s the easy bit! But, of much greater importance is ensuring that the potential customer recognises that you have something of value to offer that they need.
This is not as daft as it sounds! In the case of somebody who is searching for a new pair of trainers, it is reasonable to assume that they know what they are looking for but, for many products, this level of awareness doesn’t apply. Somebody selling debt management services is faced with this problem. Potential customers may not accept they are in a mess; they may not be aware that help is available; and it is highly likely that they are doing their utmost to avoid facing up to it. In cases like this, establishing recognition and relevance is crucial - but far from easy!
At some point in the process, an introduction needs to happen so that both parties become aware of each other’s existence. In some cases, this step happens right at the start of the process and the relationship that develops is used to establish trust, credibility and relevance. In others it may be necessary to build a strong reputation in the market before the introduction takes place.
But, wherever it's placed in the process, specific methods of making the introduction between buyer and seller need to be developed.
This answers the question, “what can you do for me?” It involves converting ‘recognition and relevance into an active intention to buy. The potential customer needs to have confidence that you understand their specific requirements and have the ability to meet their needs. The focus moves from communicating in general terms to talking about an individual customer’s specific needs.
Whereas the relative position of modules 1-3 in the overall process will be flexible, achieving active interest and desire will follow on from them.
The final module is about closing the sale. Providing the previous modules have been thought through, this part of the process should not be much more than a formality. It's about making sure that it's easier for the customer to say ‘yes’ than ‘no!’
So, how do you go about the process of putting all this together? Obviously, the customer acquisition process for a consulting service is very different to what is need to sell chocolate bars. But the overall approach is similar -
And, remember, get in touch and monitor the Priszm site. We are here to help!
Traditional linear marketing and sales approaches are much too inefficient to be taken seriously.
The approach is designed around your personas, rather than attempting to force fit people into an inflexible structure.
The approach is modular and consists of -