Selling Despite Distractions: Customer Retention and Repeat Sales

14 Dec
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Our article “Is Sales Funnel Still the Best Way to Describe the Path to Conversion?” challenged the use of the term sales funnel. This time our experts convey how their varied verticals and company sizes look differently at selling in a world full of distraction and establishing best practices after the sale.

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SocialAgenda Media: How do you model erratic customer behaviors and the impact of all the modern noise and distraction in your preferred model for the sales process?

Stephen Debruyn: Vice President of Marketing at Clarity Consultants:

Good question.  This is very difficult to model or display in a visualization.  I have tried, and it just doesn’t make visual sense.

Cindy Sterling: Director of Marketing and Sales at On Center Software:

We are a construction automation technology provider and I think that erratic customer behavior for us comes from clients being overrun with information and technology advancements that are new and uncertain for them.  Many of our clients have not yet automated manual processes so the noise and distractions result in us breaking down the information barriers of why they should automate at all.

Glen Caruso: Vice President of Sales at BLiNQ Media:

Develop brand advocates.  There is no brand equity without conversation.  12% of people believe ads.  96% of people will believe a friend’s recommendation about a product or service.  Social media is where people spend 1/3 of their time and consume media now.  Friends promoting brands they love to other friends is the best way to cut through the clutter.  Example:  When you are looking to hire someone, what do you do?  You post an online job description — and receive thousands of candidate submissions that you can’t possibly sift through.  So, you then ask a friend, “Hey. Do you know anyone good for this job I have at my company?”  It’s the same with advertising noise (many resumes — too many to sort through) vs. simply going to a trusted friend and asking for their opinion. It’s the paradox of choice.

Kristen Ortwerth-Jewell: Interactive Marketing Manager at Nexant:

Customer behavior has always been erratic, and marketing has always evolved and adapted to cut through/drown out the other marketers. Big data from our growing IT infrastructure is helping us do a better job of targeting our prospects when they’re most likely to be paying attention, and where they’ll be most able to engage with us. Mobile is a critical and necessary leap that any modern marketer needs to face. Our targets are answering work emails on smart devices while they’re sitting at their desks with Outlook open right in front of them. Many use their devices to surf social networks to avoid network monitoring/blocking at the workplace. If that’s where they go to BE distracted, then we as marketers have to be there with them. Making emails, landing pages, and websites mobile-friendly is the minimum.

Cezar Kolodziej: President and CEO at Iris Mobile:

The problem with erratic behavior is that you can’t track it. Currently, we are susceptible to last touch attribution syndrome. Until we can solve this major issue, there really is not a great solution to model the current customer touch points as they vary greatly, this is why we recommend using the funnel as a tool to track outcomes instead, and not just the conversation itself.

Scott Hirsch: VP Product & Content Marketing at Get Satisfaction:

Such a good question. My personal approach is to constantly keep my selling communication squarely in the context of the business problem my customer is trying to solve. This selling strategy is as old as the hills, but so many people forget. If you keep framing your solution as either making a pain point go away or making the customer a hero, you will always be more signal than noise.

Mike Yaffe, Vice President of Marketing at BeyondTrust:

For me it’s all about creating “brain space”, and that takes meaning something unique to a person. You have to have something as a company and as a person to hang your hat on. What is your “thing” they are going to remember that enables you to keep going back to that identity, that mental cue that sets you apart for them. You’ve got to choose an identity and hammer that identity home.

Barbara Pilliod: VP of Marketing & Communications at Transfinder:

I must admit, although we do the best we can, we’re not sure we know how to really contain this.

SocialAgenda Media: Today, satisfaction about the purchase is expected and retention and repeat sales are determined by the amount of sustained and personalized engagement customers experience after the sale. How does your company manage sustained, personalized engagement after the sale?

Mike Yaffe: It’s care, love, nurturing and feeding. It’s like any relationship, just like having a friend.Don’t ignore your customer or your friend for 11 months and then in the 12th month when the time for renewal, or a favor, comes around call asking for something. That’s not a relationship, it’s a transaction.

Barbara Pilliod: After-the-sale service is a hallmark of our company, as our buyers need this level of service to be successful.  We have an expanded client services and support team and a specialized Client Relations team responsible for personalized engagement and upselling of our products, which lead to stronger retention.

Scott Hirsch: I work for a company that was founded on the premise that customer engagement and customer satisfaction are the keys to business success. “Customer service is the new marketing” was our founding principle back in 2007. By offering an online customer community platform; we help our customers operationalize ongoing and productive customer engagement.  6 years later, the rest of the world is catching up to this idea.

Glen Caruso: First, we try to understand fully what deems “success” in the client’s eyes and develop a plan to achieve those KPIs.

Next, we deliver what we say we’ll deliver (ideally, over-deliver and delight them with performance, service and measurable results).

Then, we provide excellent customer service during the lifetime of the sale with exceptional account service.

We strive to become a trusted advisor with our clients… and offer them suggestions that will improve their experience (ancillary product offerings that are in line with and might enhance their KPIs).

The biggest thing for marketers is mid-campaign and post-campaign analytics derived from their media schedules with our company.  We tell the client not only the basic performance of their campaign, but give them a deep look into their most lucrative customers that we’ve isolated through the ad campaign… and provide actionable intelligence regarding how the marketer can reach MORE of them not just in our medium (social media), but also on other media and marketing platforms (like traditional media — TV, radio, newspaper, magazine) and digital (search, display) as well as packaging and point of sale.

The more insight we can give a marketer about their most responsive and lucrative customer — and how they can reach more of them — the more they trust us and use our services.

We step over onto their side of the desk and try to see things as they do… so that we can provide objective advice and offerings.  Sometime, we may advise them to use another provider because it may be in their best interest.  We don’t ever want short-term money.  Long-term money and relationships are best because they are the easiest to maintain and grow.  Short-term money where we take deals just because we can — and even when we know it won’t work — makes the client feel as if they’ve been shafted.  That hurts the relationship with our company now.  More importantly, it hurts my PERSONAL credibility.  I’ll be in this business a long time…and I don’t want to screw anyone.  I want to delight them and help them achieve their goals.

Stephen Debruyn: First of all, we survey customers after a consulting assignment has ended (as a recruitment consulting firm, we place consultants with specific expertise on short-term assignments, on average three months) to determine their degree of satisfaction with the service.  Then we remain in regular touch to inquire about upcoming needs for additional resources.  We invite them to engage via our social media channels.

Cindy Sterling: Being a commercial software company whose clients use our technology daily to run the core parts of their business we are continually interacting and educating our customers through on demand information, regular webinars, and good old-fashioned customer care.

Cezar Kolodziej: Customers want to voice their opinion. With today’s multiple touch points that include social media and mobile, to continue the conversation simply requires a platform and a mechanism to deliver sustained value. Our company leverages social behavior via mobile to keep the conversation open and fluid. We keep customers engaged by delivering personalized content to keep the conversation open long term. Most mobile marketers rely on pull mobile marketing. Iris Mobile relies on push mobile marketing like Rich Media Messaging to generate consistent long-term results once loyalty to a brand has been established.

Kristen Ortwerth-Jewell: We are an enterprise B2B organization with a multitude of offices worldwide, so we can afford the luxury of dedicated, customized care that many other B2B organizations cannot. Our account managers and consultants are still our most effective method for building a strong, sustainable relationship with our customers.

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