When I follow my book around the world, “Life’s A Sales Call: How To Succeed In the World’s Oldest Profession”, and am asked to deliver a keynote speech, I share my Five Part Code of Sales. The first item covered is ALWAYS the name of this article: A sale is a relationship and not a transaction. In fact, given a choice, I’ll always choose a relationship OVER a sale, since business relationships tend to move around nowadays—from company to company—and you never know where your Friends will end up. Even more important to understand: there’s huge equity in Client relationships!
The primary asset of any business is its customer base. Only recently, firms are waking up to the power of customer relationships, thanks to the enormous capacity of computers. Last month, FACEBOOK streaked past 1 billion users, worldwide. One billion users! That’s approximately equal to one-sixth of the world’s current population. Though the (now) publicly-traded company stock’s value does not necessarily reflect the value of that enormous database, I’d like to have Mark Zuckerberg’s earning power. Tomorrow morning, he may wake-up and decide, “Maybe I should just charge all users a dollar a month”. Nice cash flow, eh?
Even though many customers in the database are infrequent users, 1 billion individuals serve as a strong base for building deeper relationships. The intensity, reach, and breadth of our business relationships determine the true value of this most valuable asset. Even though few business owners would argue the premise, most do not formally put “relationship marketing” at the top of their strategic agendas.
The One-to-One Future is Still Here
Do you need further convincing? One of the best reads of the last decade is “The One-to-One Future: Building Relationships One Customer at a Time,” by authors Don Peppers and Martha Rodgers. Guess what? The message still resonates today, louder and stronger than ever! Among the most tantalizing morsels dished up by the duo:
· The goal of business competition will soon be customer share, not market share.
· Instead of selling one product to as many customers as possible, we’ll be selling a single Client as many products as wanted/needed.
· Mass marketing has been replaced by niche marketing.
· We’ll want to continue to find ways to engage our customers in dialog. Instead of “reaching our target audience” we’ll think of ways to “converse with our customers.”
· The Pareto Principle will still apply: 80% of your business will come from 20% of your customers. You will find out which customers are most valuable to you.
· Finally, instead of measuring success by the number of sales transactions, we’ll gauge success by the increase or decrease in our customer’s expected lifetime value to our firm (LTV or lifetime value—learn what your customers are worth, over the length of their relationship with you).
If the objective is to increase the magnitude of our relationship with each individual customer, while becoming one-to-one marketers, we need a way to put our new insights to work.
Direct Response Marketing Still Works
What is direct response marketing (DRM)? In essence, it’s being able to identify and market to individual customers. DRM is providing the right product to the right person at the right time. The 5 Keys for Effective DRM:
1. Start with clearly defined objectives: Before you can map out a successful direct response marketing route, you must determine a destination. Who are you trying to reach? Are you targeting consumers or businesses? What is your primary goal and expected results?
2. Build a manageable database of information: What drives your customer’s action? To find out, look at their purchases, inquiries, demographics, performance, and history. Determine what those elements tell you about their purchasing behavior and preferences. Then, and only then, can you make relevant compelling offers.
3. Check and clean your list before sending out your mailing: Hello? Direct Mail STILL works. According to the United States Post Office (USPS), over 33% of all mailed pieces are undeliverable due to address deficiencies. That results in wasted time, paper, and postage, with lost opportunities for revenue. While you’re at it, purge your email lists as well.
4. Personalize your offer for maximum impact: Today’s direct mail recipients are more discriminating about what gets opened and what gets tossed. Develop strong customer relationships by personalizing information for one-to-one marketing, including the use of the recipient’s name in the opening of the offer.
5. Understand Customer Lifetime Value (LTV): What is the potential worth of a customer and how much is he or she willing to spend on your products in a lifetime? Once this value is known, you’ll realize the investment you’ve made in Direct Response Marketing is a solid one.
Even in these fast-moving, hard-charging times, a lost relationship is typically lost for a long time. Treat your customers as if each one were a fine jewel, because there are very few things more precious to your business.
About Our Guest: Jack is the CEO and founder of NextStep Solutions (NSS), sales specialists headquartered in Houston, TX. NextStep Solutions, www.nextstep-solutions.com, is known, worldwide, for increasing client sales, through a customerized approach to strategy, training, coaching, and consulting services. NextStep Solutions—founded in 1995—inspires sales greatness, focusing on building relationships and enhancing communications skills, delivering quantifiable results. For the past five years, Jack was a radio personality, hosting a daily, live business talk show, “Where Wall Street Meets Main Street”, heard during morning drive-time, across the State of Texas, on the BizRadio Network—and on the internet around the world. After graduating from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana in 1978, Jack began a decade-long career with IBM. He quickly established a stellar reputation as the best “new account” sales professional in the company, leading the nation in new accounts opened—53 systems in 52 weeks—BEFORE the advent of the PC. The most amazing part: he did it in his SECOND year on quota. Upon being awarded the highest IBM sales award—The Eagle—his professional speaking career was inadvertently launched, when he traveled across the country, sharing his sales techniques with other IBM professionals. Jack wrote the book on sales. In fact, he’s the author of the best selling book, “Life’s A Sales Call: How To Succeed In The World’s Oldest Profession”, on sale everywhere and at www.amazon.com. He now travels the world, speaking before thousands of people, delivering presentations with extremely high content in an en-tertaining and inspirational fashion, in areas of Sales, Marketing, Service and Leadership. Jack is very involved in the local community. He founded and capitalized The Barnabas Society, www.thebarnabassociety.org, a 501(c) 3 corporation, that raises and distributes money and resources to people in their greatest times of need, with all the funds donated anonymously, to the benefactors. Nicknamed “NIKE” (Just Do It!), he will electrify your group with his high-energy approach to sales—and life. If the best teacher is one whose life is the text, Jack has been there, done that, and bought, sold AND designed the T-shirt.