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Martin Wales

Customer Catcher™


[July 2, 2001]

Use Your Marketing To Keep People Away

What? Who is this mad man? Why would the Customer Catcher say, "Keep people away with your marketing?" Much of your time and effort in selling and marketing is spent trying to attract people to buy your technology. We want throngs of prospects calling with piqued curiosity to book sales presentations. However, let's look at it from another angle today.

You have to establish a balance between lead generation numbers and your sales volume. Your sales effectiveness is directly related to your marketing ability to qualify and disqualify prospects. Attract quality prospects that are more likely to buy and preferably spend more per transaction and you'll experience lucrative results with net margins and your bottom line profits.

Think about how often you hear about the concern to increase lead generation numbers. This is tied to the response rates for your various marketing campaigns. Advertisers sell you on the "thousands" of people who will see your ads. Trade shows lure you with the "thousands" that will be attending their exhibitions. Do you measure your sales or marketing based on the number of new contacts generated? Focusing too acutely on this parameter without recognizing the cost of selling to the masses can lead to trouble.

10 Reasons To Keep People Away
A "contact" is not the same as a "lead." The difference is the qualification of the person's desire to buy. You want to invest your efforts wisely with prospects that have a greater chance of becoming long-term customers sooner. Why? Here are ten reasons, including some obvious ones, to keep people away:

  1. You save enormous amounts of time. You spend less time explaining your product and company to unqualified people. In the past, as a salesman, there was nothing more frustrating than individuals who just wanted to know "what's out there," students working on term papers, competitors calling looking for innovations and weaknesses, or, worst of all, professional purchasers just looking for a third quote. In addition, you can save the non-qualified prospect time and energy, which is both a professional, ethical, and polite business practice.

  2. You increase the productivity of your sales staff and generate higher closing ratios. The Internet is an amazing tool to increase the ease of mass marketing. It is also a fantastic automation tool for qualifying the masses that used to need to be addressed in person, with live bodies. Using free electronic newsletters, or e-zines, allows you to sell with drip marketing. Offering audits, surveys, and questionnaires lets prospects determine their needs and when it is the right time to contact you.

  3. It requires fewer resources to handle sales and marketing when you can screen out "tire kickers." You reach an optimum situation with the most appropriate number of sales staff dealing with a proportionally distributed workload. There have been studies that estimate the cost of a live sales call to be $250 or more, when taking all costs into consideration. Whatever the specific cost, it is not only expensive to speak to non-qualified prospects, but wasteful. So…

  4. You will save loads of money. Stop sending out high-cost marketing communications pieces to everyone who calls. Quality brochures, videos, and CD presentations should be reserved for contacts that have been questioned and clearly identified as leads. Sales people are especially prone to this problem. When we respond to inquiries, the natural tendency is to send a lot of information as soon as a caller requests it. This is confusing the generation of activity with effectiveness and profitability.

  5. Holding off a prospect with a qualification process can actually make them hungrier and more curious to hear more about your company and your products. This is the beginning of the consultative selling process. While seeing if the prospect is qualified, you do start selling them. However, rather than having just a one-way information dumping session, you slowly educate them as they respond to your questions.

  6. You present yourself as a professional and experienced company through the questions you ask and the process you present. This in itself is a demonstration to a prospect that you have done it before and have a well-established consultative process from which they will benefit.

  7. A patiently applied qualification process helps you to start training your customers to do what YOU want them to do. Instead of jumping through their hoops, you gain more control and more respect, which allows you to charge more based on the value you bring. Done properly, the prospect recognizes that value because you don't deal with "just anyone" -- you're a specialist.

  8. Small commitments lead to larger commitments. If a contact invests time answering qualifying questions, it indicates that they are serious and willing to work with you. By asking them to give you certain information, it begins a foundation of trust and openness for you to build a relationship. Once you have trust in a relationship, you also have competitive advantage.

  9. By excluding opportunities that are outside your core focus via qualification, it increases your reputation within a vertical. It pays to become the recognized expert within a specific industry or a community of businesses. For example, you might have a general solution, like a customer relationship management application, but you specialize in the financial services industry.

  10. When disqualifying others, a perception of specialty is created that encourages your customers and others to refer you. Your company's message should be brief and properly targeted so that it is clear what you do. For example, you might say, "We specialize in ASP database solutions in the pharmaceutical industry." The decision makers and your clients at one pharmaceutical firm will speak about your solution when meeting with their colleagues at industry conferences. Just think, how comfortable do you feel when you hear someone say, "That's all they do," when referring you to a service?

Use your marketing process as part of your plans to achieve best practices for saving money, time, and effort. Establish additional objectives outside of hitting lead generation numbers and specific sales targets. You can address disqualification simultaneously with a little forethought. This means you don't have to add a lot more work to be using the same resources more effectively.

The goal is to decrease your workload while increasing sales revenues. This month's column has been about the reasons why to disqualify. Next month, I'll discuss more concrete and tactical suggestions on successfully keeping people away with your marketing.

Martin Wales, the Customer Catcher, is a business development specialist helping companies win and keep more business with a focus on CRM. He is a technology-marketing specialist, speaker, and facilitator focused on maximum results with minimum risk using a company's existing resources. Contact him at martin@customercatcher.com.

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