In Sales & Marketing, Remember: It’s About the Customer, Not You!

Your prospect or customer wants to know: What can you do for me?

If you really want to breakthrough with prospects and customers, you’re going to have to be prepared to demonstrate what’s in it for them. That means asking the right questions, listening well, doing your research and skillfully crafting a story that shows how your products or services make the customer and his company winners.

The concept of strategically collecting and applying information for positive customer engagement is nothing new. Knowing about the concept is one thing. However, being able to successfully deploy it is something else.

Marketers should know and understand the key points about strategic and consultative selling.  (There are numerous articles and guides than can be read.) Further, marketers should provide sales teams with the necessary tools and materials to successfully engage in this type of selling (e.g., examples of how the products and services can help customers and prospects succeed in various usage applications, end-user research, etc).

Dynamic and Fun Example

This example takes the practice of strategic selling to a whole new level of proficiency. It provides a discussion springboard for what can be applied at your company.

In this story, the seller wants the customer to have an excellent experience. One member of the selling team takes extraordinary action to go beyond making that happen. His objective is to cater to the customer’s specific interests and tastes instead of simply fitting the seller’s standard offerings to the customers. He creates an amazing, unique experience. For that sales team member, it is customer first.

To begin, let’s introduce the main characters.

■ The seller is an industrious restaurant wine director.

■ The customer is Greg Popovich, coach of the NBA team San Antonio Spurs. Under his leadership, the Spurs have won five NBA championships. Popovich also serves as the head coach of the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team. In addition to his basketball coaching prowess, describing him as a wine enthusiast is an understatement. He is a true oenophile. Popovich, often referred to as simply Pop, has created a bit of legend and mystique around the dinners with wine that he hosts for his team, colleagues and friends. They are food and wine combination events designed with a business leadership and teamwork purpose.

When Greg Popovich scheduled one of his team dinners at a Sacramento, California restaurant for a group of 40, wine director Jeremy Threat went into action. Continue reading

Get-Started Action Tips to Evaluate How You Stack Up Versus Competition

The late New York City mayor Ed Koch created a personal, attention-getting mechanism for gaining input and feedback. He famously asked: How am I doing?

Business and marketing leaders have much to gain by utilizing a “How are we doing?” outside-in learning approach. One easy-to-implement way to get started is to conduct a regular program to compare your products and services versus other available options.

During my brand management days at Unilever, the marketing teams had scheduled “cuttings” during which they would compare their products to those of their competitors, review new products and/or generally explore options in the category. It was a cross-functional gathering including R&D and sometimes other colleagues. It fostered collaboration and led to productive and interesting conversations about the business, beyond the technical details.

It was also a fun part of the job, and vividly demonstrated why we all came to work each day: to provide great tasting products to consumers.

I remembered those product review sessions when reading about the keynote speech former Kroger and Harris Teeter executive Fred Morganthall gave during this month’s Private Label Manufacturers Association trade show. His advice has widespread relevance beyond the grocery business: Continue reading

Take Net Promoter to the Next Level. Ask For the Recommendation.

Think about this sales growth opportunity. Companies may calculate their Net Promoter Score, but how many actually ask the customer to take any action?

Rhino Shelf does. The North Carolina company sells DIY garage storage kits. I learned about them recently when assisting my brother install his system.

The product is excellent, and if you’re considering garage storage options and are handy with tools, it might be a good solution for you. (They also offer an installation option.)

This isn’t a product review, so let’s continue with the marketing commentary. Continue reading

Has Crowdsourcing Gone Too Far?

Have marketers thrown in the towel on making decisions?

Specifically, I’m wondering:

Where is the line between using informed judgment to make solid, on-strategy decisions, and just opening the proverbial office door to say “Hey customer, you decide.”

Credit: Binghamton Mets.

Credit: Binghamton Mets.

The prompt for my contemplation is a re-naming contest initiated by a minor league baseball team in upstate New York.

It’s part of a business and brand overhaul initiated by new owner John Hughes, who purchased the Double-A Binghamton Mets (affiliated with the New York Mets) in December 2015. The team had been owned by a local group for 24 years. Continue reading