Based on the headline, you might be immediately questioning what I’m going to be discussing in this column. You are probably thinking, “I know from experience that sales and marketing are complicated; I’m always trying to figure them out.” You aren’t alone, and I’m not saying sales and marketing are easy; I’m saying they can be simple, once you have a system that works for your company.
I constantly see my clients getting in their own way when it comes to sales and marketing. So many business owners in our industry overcomplicate both aspects while minimizing the importance of the crucial synergistic relationship of the two.
The profitability of our businesses can be summarized in three steps.
1. Getting the initial call (marketing). Obviously, in order to make money, we need calls. We know that at certain times of the year, we get more calls than others and need to plan our marketing accordingly. See, it’s simple! If only it was as easy as it sounds. My clients and coaching club members are always discussing how to gain new clients and make their marketing work as efficiently as possible.
What it comes down to is threefold: you need a system, you need to creatively stand out from your competition, and you need support. You need a system because otherwise you are throwing money into the wind. You should track every single thing you’re doing through software, customized phone numbers and making sure your CSRs are asking where each lead came from. If it’s a referral, make sure to get the name of the referring customer and reward him or her. It’s also important to have a marketing calendar so you’re never scrambling to put a promotion together.
Also, you need to be doing something differently than your competition. Does your Yellow Pages ad/Facebook ad/newspaper ad look just like those of your local competitors? If so, it’s time to be more creative. Give your customers a reason to call you instead of someone else.
You need a support system. Discussing sales and marketing with people in the same industry from different markets who are working toward the same goals is a game-changer. Very few individuals are an endless source of new, cutting-edge sales and marketing ideas. That’s why there is power in having a group of individuals you can turn to and share what’s working, what’s not and what’s new.
At my company, we like to mix new promotions and ideas in with what we know works. This allows for a level of consistency, but leaves room for experimentation. I then get to share the new, successful concepts with my coaching club clients to use in their markets.
2. Maximizing every single call (sales). How many times have you heard technicians complain about “not having enough calls,” or maybe you have said, “If only we had more calls, the company would be doing great”? Have you looked at your average ticket lately? Do you have a goal for what your average ticket should be? There’s a good chance the real problem exists with how much is (or isn’t) being sold, not your actual call count.
Believe it or not, increasing your average ticket also can be simple! The combination of consistent sales training, systemization and accountability can dramatically increase your average ticket. Here’s the key: Your techs and salespeople need to understand the why behind it. Many techs don’t see themselves as “salespeople” because of a negative connotation with the word, but once they understand they are helping to give clients what they want and improving their lives in the process, increased sales are a byproduct of that mental shift.
In order to maximize every call, your sales training needs to be consistent and specific. This also can be much easier than it sounds, but everyone needs to be held accountable for attending all training meetings. Never cancel a meeting and stress the importance of making sure every client has a great experience with your company.
Make sure everyone is on the same page about your company’s systems, from how to address a client to techniques for writing an options sheet. Since there are so many things to cover, and not everyone has time to develop this training, I developed online training programs to simplify the process.
Tying it together
And here’s how we tie together sales and marketing:
3. Following up the calls/relationship building (sales and marketing). Once you have acquired a client and your effectively trained team members have made a great impression on your client, the final piece is always retention, right? Again, this can be simplified with a combination of systemization, staying in touch and keeping your company brand in front of them. The goal is for your clients to never even consider calling your competition, but they have to be consistently reminded of why that’s the case.
Companies that have high client-retention rates have scripts for CSRs to use for follow-up calls to ensure satisfaction, send monthly or quarterly newsletters and also are doing positive things for their communities. This reinforces to your clients they are doing business with a company they feel good about.
At my company in Colorado, we ran a social media campaign that supported breast cancer awareness, which got good local media coverage and had our clients interacting on our Facebook page. This creates a priceless sense of community and lets your clients know you care about them, as well as the area where you are doing business. You can even have some fun with these sorts of promotions and, once again, get creative with them!
Another simple way to improve your client retention rate is to offer maintenance agreements. Many companies do this already but, from my experience, techs/salespeople are not offering them as much as they should be. This is another area where sales training is crucial to help your technicians understand why they are so important and to help them develop a specific process for offering the agreements.
I love this quote by Italian inventor and artist Bruno Munari: “Progress means simplifying, not complicating.” In order to take your company to the next level, start looking at the ways you are complicating your sales and marketing efforts. Then, concentrate on the three steps I mentioned that really make an impact on your bottom line.