We sent a survey out to our Zig Ziglar Newsletter list asking our readers what challenges they are facing right now in the current economy. A large number of people have asked the same basic question:
“How do I sell ___________ in this economy?”
I polled our team of experts on some ideas. I am hopeful a few of these nuggets will help you!
1. Copy the Banking Model:
Within the banking industry, the key driver to limit customer attrition is 3.5 services per customer. Therefore, if you can have a checking account, savings account, IRA and home equity line of credit, the desire of the customer to quickly change banks through a “loss leader” or high CD yield is dramatically reduced due to the overwhelming existing relationship with the bank.
For those of us not in the banking industry, we can still have this same approach. Do not lead with product but be a proactive problem solver looking to really impact the customer in a number of areas. By constantly striving to provide multiple value chains, you will prevent customer attrition.
2. Look at the Big Picture:
The biggest pitfall during a down economy is to focus solely on keeping the current customer base intact. Keep in mind that each of your competitors feels the same issue and this is the most important time to aggressively look for new clients. During these times, identify and run three concurrent marketing/sales strategies to look for unhappy customers.
Email advertising, dinner speaker programs, and cold calling are three touches to potential prospects that can offer some assistance. However, these are not the only options you have. As competitive landscapes increase, consider getting out of the box and putting together a unique, low-cost event.
A local art dealer in a major city will feel the same slowing and will be willing to work with you as would a local catering company. Network with both and put on an upscale social networking event, using the catering company for heavy hors d’ouvres and the art gallery for ambiance. This will be something that your customers will remember and set you apart from the competition. The more creative the concept, the better the customer memory.
3. The Benefit of a Community:
During a slow economic time, look to your faithful for growth strategies. For your most satisfied customers, simply ask for referrals.
“Tom, it has been a pleasure to work with you over the years. One of my business strategies for this year is to focus on referrals from my top customers. Would you be willing to facilitate an introduction to some of your colleagues that could benefit from the level of service that I have provided you over the last four years?”
This is a simple strategy to quickly grow from your existing list. If you don’t ask for the referral, it is unlikely you will receive it.
Additionally, dig into your database and ask them for areas of unmet needs in their lives. By providing your clients with the level of service they desire, you will cement them as lifelong customers and loyal referral sources.
4. Encourage Through Constant Contact:
Send little postcards, recipes, “I Like …” notes, a joke, a golf tip or other appropriate content, an email, etc. Nothing obnoxious, just little reminders weekly that you are there for them.
5. Offer to Help in Areas That Are Not Tied to Your Business:
Ask about all the challenges they have and then see if there is someone in your network that can help. Basically, help connect the dots.
6. Be Available:
Half the battle is showing up every day. Make sure the customers know how to reach you and that they can reach you when they need to. Then make sure your cell phone is on, and check your email often. Move to a Blackberry or other smart phone if you haven’t already done so. Be available!
7. Announce and/or Promote a “Growing Into Business Sale”:
“This week our agency is announcing that we are not participating in the rumors that our economy is a problem. We are focusing on sales, service and support of our clients and meeting their needs in the days ahead.”
8. “We Believe Campaign”:
This is what our company believes:
a. The economy is neither good nor bad. We believe our services are great, our clients are better, and our solutions are exceptional.
b. Our clients still need protection. We believe that our protection, premiums, and products are still the best on the market.
c. We deliver. We believe that no matter what the economists are saying, our policyholders still need attention and we believe we are the best at providing that attention.
9. “We’re Serious About Your Campaign”:
In the past few months, the newscasters have told us in very grave ways about these serious financial times we are experiencing here in California. We can top that. We’ve been taking our clients seriously for the past eight years! We don’t wait for a serious economic situation to cause us to take you, our policyholder, seriously. We’ll give you the same attention we have for the past 96 months (8 years x 12 months).
10. Sell Your Support Team:
Come to the realization that you really are not only selling, but you must sell those that sell for you and you must motivate them to be loyal to you, which is not easy today. This is why it is so imperative you give more service than people expect, especially to your support team.
11. Creative Marketing:
Send a tea bag in the mail and ask for a half hour to have a cup of tea and talk about their offering. Make the time you spend with your customer about them!