How to Convert Prospects to Customers…
This is the big issue. Sales managers constantly ask me, “How can I find more great sales people?” While sales people continue to tell me, “Our company needs some marketing to attract new prospects.” Then I hear from marketing (speaking of their sales team), “They don’t use our stuff.”
Everyone’s pointing the finger – because technology sales, for the reseller, is getting harder every year, and no one has a solution.
Yesterday I addressed this issue on a Nationwide webinar sponsored and hosted by Cisco Systems, w/ Brian Avery. I covered three important points.
1. Marketing Has to Change!
It’s a new concept, but I believe sales people have to become marketing people. Reseller businesses don’t have full time people working in marketing who are able to attract a constant stream of new customers. Most of the marketing people are doing all they can to keep up with event planning, marcom, and marketing administration such as keeping up with business cards. Demand generation is clearly a different set of skills and one you won’t find in most technology reseller businesses.
I see a lot of resellers (VARS) spending time and money on branding exercises. This is a total waste of time in my opinion. It won’t lead to one single sale for you. Instead, you need a direct marketing system that reaches out to the masses and attracts qualified buyers. Direct marketing and branding are totally different animals. Direct marketing reaches out systematically, using email, landing pages, auto responders, webinars, and marketing events. When done right, it’s measurable in it’s effectiveness, and can be tested and refined.
It’s the art of getting the right message to the right person, at the right time. And it results in a next step that is also measurable and well defined. In our session I explored the need to focus on a specific group, with a well crafted message designed for that group, and the right combination of media to reach that group.
I showed, in just a few minutes, how the average sales rep can apply a set of easy access online tools to build their own list building campaigns to attract buyers. Which can then be moved into a systematic sales approach.
2. Making the Conversion
The next step is making the conversion from FREE to FEE. It would be nice if I could take a cold list from Hart Hanks, call them, get them on the phone, and convince them to take a meeting that would then lead to a sale. If you’re on that course, you’re destined to fail. It won’t work. There are thousands of people just like you doing the same thing. You might have a good message and you might be a skilled professional, but standing out in the masses of millions of other sales reps with the same skill just won’t cut it.
I proposed several ways to get your message out there. I talked some about the proper use of social media – which in most cases is not really working for you – but it can. I talked about deliberate content, designed to reinforce your message and drive the prospect along a specific path – toward an event. You can make that event call one-on-one, but that leads to long hours and lots of windshield time. The alternative is to set up lunch & learns using a process I laid out in some detail in my Special Report on Converting Prospects to Customers (Get it right here).
A Lunch & Learn meeting set up the right way can attract buyers – not IT. You’re probably inviting the managers, but in most cases it’s the IT, or what one channel manager recently called, The Hot Dog Eaters, that are attending. If that’s the case, I understand. But it’s not because executives wont attend. It’s your message. The wrong marketing approach will lead to the wrong audience every time. Get your message right and you’ll have decision makers in your next event.
3 . You Need Justification To Make a Full Conversion
Justification requires more than an unsolicited proposal. In fact, the conversion begins at the event. If your event doesn’t have a conversion process built into it – you’re wasting your time and money. Marketing events aren’t really marketing events when you refuse to move your guests toward some next step.
Now, I understand you don’t want to sound like a used car salesman here – however, the right message can move people to buy. We see this all the time when a motivational speaker gets on stage. More often than not, people are out buying their books and high dollar coaching programs right after the speaker speaks. There’s nothing “Used-Car-Salesman-Like” about this. It’s the natural result of a motivational message that shows people a true need – which is exactly what your event message should sound like. Do this and you’ll have the first step to conversion done.
The next step is using some type of offering in your event that gives you access to the key influencers. For years I thought IT people were influencers. In some ways they are, but more often than not, they’re blockers or neutral. The real influencers sit in the departments that use technology to make money for the company. If you want to see the power of influence, show a loan officer how he can process twice as many loans with a new application, and he’ll be influencing in ways you never imagined.
© 2014, David Stelzl