Sales, Meet Marketing and Customer Service. Now Hug.

sometimes, a hug is all what we needIn the middle of a very difficult web development project with a new vendor, I am quickly realizing that most of what was promised to me by the sales representative was never communicated to the marketing team. As a result, there is now an ongoing back-and-forth argument as to what was promised, what is being delivered, and what the finished result will be.

Have you been there? Did you ever hire that vendor for another project after your experience? If you’re like most buyers, you probably ran away and never looked back.

So how do you make sure that your customers aren’t going through this same pain when hiring your company? Here are some ways to make sure your sales and marketing teams are speaking the same language, so you don’t end up watching the backs of your customers as they run away from your company.

  1. Take a good look at your structure.
    1. Step outside of your organization for a minute and look at the structure. Are the people who sell products and services involved in implementing them, or dealing with customer service issues? Once the sale is done, is it passed off to “someone else” to manage the job?
    2. How closely do your sales and marketing teams work? Do they know each other? Are they able to ask questions, provide feedback, and offer their insight?
    3. If you see a trend of separation between sales, marketing, and customer service, now would be a great time to start planning a big meeting between those groups. You may be amazed at the insight, critiques, and new ideas that will come out of that meeting to propel your business forward.
  2. Get everyone involved.
    1. In any new customer meeting, specifically in a B2B or high-ticket environment, it is crucial to offer prospective and ideas from all sides. If you are selling a complex product or service, especially one that will be used by the client to generate business, you must have all parties involved at those initial stages. They will answer questions, help you sell, and determine customer needs from the onset. They will also reduce or eliminate the problems that come up later from lack of information.
  3. Be your own customer.
    1. This idea is presented in thousands of business guides, courses, and books, yet is often overlooked. Do you want to know how your customers are being treated? Don’t just ask them; experience it for yourself.
    2. Call into your company from a different phone number, go through the painful automated process, reach a sales representative, and start asking the type of questions that keep your customers up at night. Then continue through the entire process, from proposal to execution, and make notes along the way.
    3. Forget everything you know about your profit margins, the internal structure of your company, and the cost of operations for a minute, and just focus on the customer experience. Enlightening, isn’t it?
  4. Reward based on your customer’s success and referral business (for B2B companies).
    1. Now that you have discovered what is broken, it’s time to start repairing. Work on a new structure that involves all teams and start developing a better approach to conducting business.
    2. Develop an incentive system that rewards overall performance and success. For instance, if a customer has such a great experience with sales, marketing, and customer service that they refer 3 new clients to you, then all of those representatives should be rewarded, not just the new sales rep. who answers the phone to close those 3 referral clients.
    3. Once everyone knows they are accountable for overall performance and referrals, I guarantee it will change the “sales promises, customer service delivers” attitude.

4 Ways to Know if Social Media is a Good Fit for You.

If there is one question I hear from business owners and marketers almost on a daily basis, it is: HOW is social media actually going to drive sales for me?

The answer: Well, it actually may not. It all depends on the situation, how you use social media channels, your goals, and the internet usage habits of your audience.

Sometimes it’s not about direct sales at all, sometimes it’s about building brand awareness for future, and long-term positioning and revenue. Sometimes it’s about learning how to better suit the needs of your market. Sometimes, it’s just may not be the right fit. And yes, I am a Social Media marketing consultant telling you that social media is not always the best tool for all businesses.

“Ok,” you ask, “now what does all that really mean for me?” puzzle pieces

Here are four ways to know if a Social Media campaign would be a good fit for your marketing program:

1) Does your target market use social media regularly?

While it certainly SEEMS like everyone and their parents are on Facebook, the reality is that some markets, and some demographics, are relatively limited on social media. How to tell? Try conducting a brief survey of your clients via email or in person. Ask them if they are using social media, which networks they are spending their time on, and how they are using it. If the clients you currently have are a reflection of the market you are trying to reach, this should provide good information.

2) Do you have something different, unique, useful, or valuable to offer?

While it is important to pepper your messages with a few anecdotes on your daily life, just to keep things personal, if all you have to offer are retweets of other’s messages or quotes of the day, you’re never going to gain traction and followers. What is it about your product/service/company that makes you unique? What value can you offer prospective clients beyond the traditional discount or free item? If you can’t answer this question, it is time to go back to the drawing board on that marketing plan.

3) Are you able to promote your products or services openly in public spaces?

This can be a tough one for some companies, especially those limited by government, privacy, or corporate guidelines. If these limitations apply to you, try developing messages that are more creative and fall within guidelines. For instance, wealth management companies cannot provide advice on which stocks to purchase in advertisements, but they can offer feedback on the current market situation, and they can help prospects find creative ways to minimize debts and investment costs.

4) Would you benefit from branding or promotional marketing?

Before you answer this, be sure you are ok with spending time and resources on a marketing program that may not lead to immediate sales. Some Social Media campaigns can make your phone ring or push your website traffic to sky-high limits.  Others will keep you top of mind with a prospective customer base for years to come. Which will work best for you? The short-term strategy may provide you an immediate boost, but the long-term one will give you dividends that multiply on their own for years to come.

If you are still unsure, or are ready to get started right now, give us a call. We’re waiting to help you create the online brand you’ve been dreaming of for months or years.

Feel the Burn: Part 2

So at this point you’ve read ‘Feel the Burn’ Part 1, and now you’re looking for the meatier sections? Here are a few more reasons why your marketing consultant should behave like a great fitness coach (the ‘Biggest Loser’ kind, not the creepy Richard Simmons type <shudder>. )

Customized Programs

At your first consultation with a trainer, they will typically ask you a number of questions regarding your activity level, lifestyle, and eating habits. They will check your height/weight, and ask about your goals. Then they will develop a custom program based on your needs. For instance, the training schedules for someone looking to lose 100 pounds, someone training for a marathon, and someone trying to tone up for a big event will be vastly different. And generally so will their schedules and budgets.

A successful marketing consultant will provide you a customized program in much the same way. There is no solution that fits in a box, between the pages of a book, or in a video. A corporate B2C company and a private B2B service provider will need vastly different campaigns, even though they may be using many of the same tools and techniques. Just as one organization is never identical to another, successful marketing programs cannot be built on the same cookie-cutter templates. If you want to see real results, do yourself a favor and hire the marketing company that refuses to provide you a custom proposal until they’ve met with you, learned about your business, and completely analyzed your objectives. The extra time and energy will be well worth it in the long run.

Goal Setting

Let’s face it, sometimes even the most successful entrepreneur or athlete needs someone waiting in the wings to monitor his progress. It’s the reason why programs such as Weight Watchers are so effective: when you have to answer to someone about your progress, you are far more likely to skip that extra slice of pie, and make time for the early morning Spinning class.

Your marketing consultant should work with you to outline goals, and schedule times to monitor progress and results. And it is not enough to simply monitor results, you should know why each project was successful or unsuccessful, and what you can do to improve results for the next campaign.

Stay tuned for the last segment of ‘Feel the Burn’ – simply subscribe to this blog via the RSS feed on our website at https://www.grapevinemktg.com/blog to receive automatic updates.

Feel the Burn

Sure, you can run your organization’s social media campaigns without any help.  And you can exercise on your own without any training or support as well.  But here are 6 reasons it may be a good idea for you to enlist the help of a trainer or consultant to push your efforts to that next level.

personal trainer

Equipment

Over the years most of us have purchased our own weights, cardio machines, and training videos. They get used a few times, then stored away to collect dust in some dark corner of the basement. Every few months we may take them out and try again or purchase the next exercise craze item.

Meanwhile, a personal trainer will have an array of equipment at their disposal for you to use, and rather than purchasing and storing it all on your own, it comes free with your membership.

It is the same way with the tools you may need to start a marketing or web design program.  The consultant or agency you work with will already have many of the necessary design, implementation, and tracking tools needed to setup your campaign, and therefore you will not need to purchase or maintain them, or learn how to use them.

Which brings us to the next topic:

Training

There are countless webinars, workshops, and tutorials on social media marketing to help you build an online campaign, just as there are thousands of books, magazines, blogs and videos to show you the correct way to strength train or learn a new sport. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great way to try out new techniques, and work out on your own.

However, just as with online marketing, the tutorials will only take you so far. Once you reach that plateau (or sometimes if you need a hand at the very beginning) a trained professional can teach you how to reach that next level.

A few things to look for in a Marketing Consultants’ background: education in business/marketing, case studies and examples of results generated by previous campaigns, a strong online profile on multiple social media sites, and excellent testimonials & recommendations.

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