Five (or six) More Reasons Your Sales May be Slipping

In our last post “Five Reasons Your Sales May Be Slipping” we discussed the fact that the purchase decision-making process has changed forever.  If the response we received is any indication, it seems like many companies are feeling a little left behind. If you missed the last post you can access it here.

 1.    You know who your A and B customers are but do not monitor the strength of your relationship with them.

Just knowing which customers generate the most sales for your organization is not enough in today’s world.  Every customer is precious. And understanding what their current relationship is with you involves much more than just sales volume.

Why this is important. Most marketing efforts stop at the sale, yet real profit potential is found in deepening relationships to gain customer loyalty and advocacy. Converting prospects to customers can be expensive. If your relationship with them is based strictly on dollar volume you are likely missing opportunities to make stronger connections that will last longer and yield better ROI over the life of each customer relationship. Try categorizing your customers based on metrics that you can trend over time such as average profit per order, number of orders, size of average order (in units and revenue), scope of the relationship and cross-sell potential. Trending these measures over time will help to proactively define appropriate tactics to deepen the relationship as the relationship begins to change—better or worse. Categorizing customers will define strategies such as “Grow”, “Sustain”, “Cultivate”, and “Re-Engage” will facilitate development of targeted tactics for each group. For instance, if the trend is downward your efforts should focus on “Re-Engage” tactics designed to determine if there is an issue with your company and reinforce the advantages of continuing to do business.

2.    You just revised your website design but did not change the navigation or content

Most websites were originally set up like a digital brochure.  We used our websites to tell our story. Consumers have moved on. They have little patience with organizations that are more concerned about telling their own story versus providing information that is useful to them. Our story is secondary to THEIR interests. Effective websites in today’s world must be all about THEM.

Why this is important. If you have given your website a “fresh look” without considering why prospects would come to your website in the first place you will likely lose potential customer interest very quickly.  Review the navigation of your website to ensure topics that address your prospects interests are easily found. Then review the content to ensure you are addressing all the decision points they will be checking off to determine if your company and its products or services are a good match for their needs. Think through the decision process your customer is going through. What questions are they asking? What information should they know when making their decision? If your website does not feature information that is designed with the user’s interest in mind they will quickly move on to one of your competitors who does. Think about what your website can provide that will cultivate their trust in our company as a useful resource first and create preference second. Re-structuring your website to feature content that is relevant to buyers will help to qualify prospects for more meaningful discussions when the prospect is ready to buy.

 3.    Your traditional to digital marketing allocations are heavily weighted toward traditional marketing.

Traditional marketing requires that the buyer not only receives your message but is motivated to take action or learn more. Traditional marketing techniques such as advertising, brochures, catalogs and trade shows, still have a role—just not as important a role.

 

Why this is important. Decision-makers today are increasingly using the internet to proactively learn about ALL resources available to fulfill their needs. Success in today’s marketplace requires a strong internet presence for topics important to decision makers.  If your budget is heavily weighted toward traditional marketing there is a very good chance that you are wasting a significant portion of your budget and missing opportunities to expand your market. More importantly, you may be losing customers who are likely comparing your company to that of a competitor.

4.    You are still relying on cold calling to generate leads.

The web has arguably replaced cold calling. If your website and sales department does not reflect this shift in the way buyers get information about your company, its products and services, you are likely rapidly losing ground to your competitor.

Why this is important. New marketing techniques have significantly diminished the effectiveness of cold calling. If your website provides information that is useful, they will likely readily providevolunteer their contact information. Continued interaction then cultivates a stronger relationship while your web analytics tracks their interests. The role of sales then becomes understanding the specific interests of each prospect and following up with a targeted phone call when the time is right. Similarly,  engaging in “remarketing” activities pro-actively provides the prospect with information that is compatible with their demonstrated interest. This tactic will continue to deepen the “casual” relationship, predisposing the prospect to choose your company over competitors, assuring a more productive sales call. Remember, if you are not doing this, competitors probably are.

5. When you think of social media the only thing that comes to mind is FaceBook.

 If you are a manufacturer social media  can provide very specific opportunities for companies to directly interact with like-minded people. Options like LinkedIn and Google + afford organizations like yours an opportunity to directly interact with people that have an interest in your products or services.  The trick is to leverage these options to provide relevant information and gain the endorsement of group members.

Why this is important. 84% of B2B marketers use professional networks in some form. I recently did a very topline review of the viability of LinkedIn for a B2B client. I found 73 unique LinkedIn groups representing 5 industry categories the client sold to. In total, these groups represented over 950,000 members in those groups.  That spells opportunity. Again, your competitors are likely using these channels to engage prospects (your current customers and potential customers) and establishing relationships with them. Becoming involved in these professional networks and providing relevant exchanges can uniquely position your company as an authority assuring you maintain the customers you have and are top-of-mind with customers you’d like to have.

 6.    BONUS. You do not have an action plan in place to address your website data.

It is surprising how many companies either do not have website analytics set up for their site or simply do not review the data available on a regular basis. Just having data on your website means nothing if you do not have someone in place to assess what it means and how to use it to improve your companies’ sales and marketing effort.

Why This is Important. Website analytics provides data that can be a wealth of information that becomes a roadmap for marketing and sales.  Every report can potentially provide valuable steerage to improve not only your website content but your overall marketing and sales effort.

SUMMARY.

The way in which decision-makers arrive at a purchase has changed forever. To successfully compete it is critically important to take a hard look at ensuring your internet footprint is structured in a way that mirrors how prospects interact on the web. Remember, if you have not addressed this prerequisite, your strongest competitors likely have. Equally important, to assure success today, companies cannot take old loyalties for granted. To maintain market share and grow it is critical to monitor customer relationships on multiple metrics beyond simply sales volume, and pro-actively identify and address issues and opportunities.

Pete Sitter is the founder and principal of PSM (Pete Sitter Marketing). His 30 years’ experience in B2B and B2C marketing is divided between work with consulting/advertising firms and executive positions with industry category leaders. PSM, is a concierge marketing firm that limits its client base to no more than six clients that are of interest. Marketing Strategy, Creative Services and Marketing Management is the primary focus  of the firm.

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