The best business leads are already sold. They’ve pre-qualified themselves because they’ve bought into your company and closing is easy when you’re the right fit, at the right time, and they “get it.” However, if all you do is sell features or use your product’s price as the lowest common denominator, then you’ve set the wrong conditions for winning business; jostling back and forth in a never-ending price war or arms race with competitors rarely works. So, what’s the solution for companies who haven’t yet learned to adopt solution-based marketing strategies?
Drive Profits by Repeat Customers
Closing the first sale isn’t enough; keeping customers coming back is achieved by focusing on the customer’s evolving problems and not your product’s features or sticker price. Features are easily replicable by a competitor and differentiating your business on price is a “race to the bottom.” If you want to drive profits, your greatest opportunity is increasing the coveted metric CCLV (Customer Lifetime Value) and the primary driver of CCLV (Try Our Online CLV Calculator) is repeat business. Here are five solution-based marketing approaches that will generate better business opportunity leads and help you retain customers, long after the whiz of your widget or the pain of your price has long faded. Become that missing piece your customers are looking for.
Steer Clear of “Me-Too” Declarations
Your customers have heard it all before. Everyone claims to be the best. Everyone claims their product will get the job done. However, your customers need something more substantive than a generic, all-too-familiar declaration. They need to know why they should deal with your company. “Quality” is one of the most misleading offenders of “lies companies tell themselves.” (( Quality )) by its definition is an entirely subjective endeavor, defined entirely by the consumer ( someone other than you ). It’s relatively easy to scan the landscape of competing offers and insert your company in the “me-too” category. Sure, that kind of thinking will get you a seat at the table, but the problem is that the table is already crowded with hungry patrons and you’ll end up sharing a seat with an unpleasant guest who will, metaphorically, eat off your plate. That’s just rude.
The real problem is that you’re sitting with all of your competitors instead of the table with all of your customers and the reason that you get an invitation to their table? It’s because you share the same values and you can participate in a conversation that’s entirely relevant and interesting to them.
The most complicated markets are mostly governed by the social capital of real world relationships. Business relationships are governed by the same principles that personal relationships are based on: empathy, understanding, relevance, and trust.
Focus on your core competencies as they specifically relate to identified customer needs, problems, and expectations, and then justify your quality by your record of exceeding customer expectations. Use this as the basis for defining why your company is different. This is your value proposition and it must be fleshed-out in order to appeal to your business audience.
Avoid Buzzwords and Overused Jargon
Making outrageous claims that can’t be substantiated is not what your customers are looking for. They need something more definitive about the solutions your company brings. Speak to your existing customer base. How would these customers define your value? Why do they return again and again? What makes these brand evangelists so loyal? Once you have those answers, then you’ll have a better idea of how to market to future prospects. Language is important and industry jargon can do more to hurt your perception than it helps. When you speak the language that your customer speaks, you are able to relate to them in practical terms.
You will need the courage to take a hard look in the mirror and ask yourself, “how do our customers perceive our category?”, “What do they believe now?”, “What do we want them to believe?”, and “Why will they believe us?”
Evidence is plentiful if you can define what you want your customers to believe. Once you know what “they value” you can operationalize the process of documenting and promoting the things that are directly relevant, interesting, and valued by your customers.
Don’t be Afraid of Openness
Don’t hold back on offering your most coveted information and downloads for free. Use them across all your business marketing platforms. Showcase your skill-set on social media and don’t assume that showing too much will give your competitors ammunition. You aren’t marketing to them. Accept that your best efforts will be replicated and adapted by competitors. This is the nature of business and you should share in equal proportions as you are willing to steal. Now, I don’t mean that in an unethical way, but I encourage you to benchmark your own business by how relevant, engaging and competent your top competitors are to the same customers. If your business is in a fortunate leadership position, you will constantly be innovating and looking to solve the problems of tomorrow.
You are marketing your abilities to future customers, ones who are looking for companies just like yours. It’s common to think that showing too much is a bad thing. However, your customers won’t see it that way. They’ll come to see your company as an innovative solutions-provider.
Get to Know Your Market’s “Personas”
Defining your market’s unique customer personas is critical to generating business leads. This means fully understanding all the different decision makers you sell to. You need to know how they make decisions, what concerns and fears they have, how they go about bringing on new vendors and how they make a go/no-go decision on a purchase. Understanding these customer personas will allow you to tailor a marketing message at the right time to the right people. If you really understand your ideal buyer, then you understand their attitudes, concerns, and decision criteria. This isn’t an easy research process, it takes direct experience with your customers to observe and understand their processes and perceptions.
Become a Broker of Capabilities
Finally, be sure that the network you build is a valuable one. This means establishing contact with market influencers who have a direct outcome on not only winning business, but providing solutions for your clients – even those transactions where you earn nothing but the goodwill and the high-five of a great referral. Unfortunately, a number of companies assume that generating business leads through networking is nothing more than a numbers game. It isn’t. It’s about connecting with the right people and being able to connect people to the right solution.
The best companies are forward-looking. They take an entirely different approach to generating business leads. They know that winning business is done by engaging buyers at the right time and having a ready-made solution that appeals to their audience.
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Ready to peel away your existing perceptions and take a long-hard-look in the mirror and get a real-world perception of your organization’s unique capabilities and readiness? If so, take 15 minutes to participate in a thoughtful marketing assessment and get better insights about how you can compete more effectively and build a more profitable enterprise.
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