A business ideal has arrived.
The new reality in marketing and business today is that when business owners, managers and sales people first talk to new and prospective clients, many are pre-qualified. Indeed, self qualified.
These often first time prospective purchasers are well informed, confident, discerning, often articulate and assertive. Moreover, they are ready to buy and have the capacity to conclude a deal, typically, now.
Significantly, in the current communications and relationship era the power base has shifted to consumers, clients and customers. The key leverage is the readily inexpensive access to multiple channels and sources of information.
In many respects, business leaders, marketers, public relations consultants and advertising agents, in particular, have witnessed an ebbing of their previous seemingly impregnable power structures.
Images, status, market positions and bases for market competitiveness and appeal are now determined to some considerable degree by spheres of influence, over which businesses have little or no influence or control.
A weakening in market presence, market share and market positioning can be and often is a consequence of a lack of control over or consideration by many businesses of the media channels which are readily accessible to and by prospective clients.
Insufficient attention and resources are being allocated to the aspects of website profiles, interactivity, currency and relevance. Similarly the customer, purchaser or client ordering experiences begin from the initial contact with an email address, website, telephone system and the ingress points of a parking area.
Unkempt and poorly maintained parking areas of premises are physically conspicuous to all. What is not truly appreciated by some is the poor house keeping which is evident on websites, message bank messages, on mobile and landline telephone systems and the remarkably unfriendly, obstructionist automated telephone systems.
Technophile consultants who strive to increase the efficiency of clients communication processes too often overlook the effectiveness of encouraging and facilitating easy and prompt access to individual branches, departments and people by prospective, existing and past clients. Remedial action is often required to ensure the channels of communication are open and welcoming.
It is a daunting realisation to some that prospective clients and customers have formed reasoned opinions, images and perceptions about an entity, it's products and services, long before actually speaking to a team member.
Beware the words, “I've heard about you, your business and the products.” That raises the question:-
“Who said what about whom and when?”
In some instances, the entity and its people are on the back foot before the relationship is established, the negotiating begins and the sale approaches closing.
There are five phases through which the consumers, customers and clients progress towards the successful completion of a sale, being:-
• Apathy and ignorance
Sales driven and oriented organisations typically skip or give tertiary consideration to the initial three phases. That is one major contributing reason for wide fluctuations in demand, varying response rates to advertising initiatives and a decided lack of customer loyalty.
Contemporary and astute marketers now recognise that a passive approach to overcoming consumers apathy and ignorance, stimulating interest and providing current relevant and easily accessible information is dangerous and exposes the entity to heightened risk and possibly uncompetitive standings.
Total control over all channels of communications about aspects of the entity, its policies, people, products and services is not possible. However, engagement is.
More than ever before in the annals of business and corporate history it is imperative that pre-emptive initiatives be taken to set the agenda and to formulate the purchase criteria which will or should be applied by prospective clients and customers to conclude a favourable, mutually rewarding decision.
Let me share with you a recent experience that is a very apt case study.
A legal practitioner, a partner of an aggressive second tier firm of solicitors and lawyers, expressed disappointment and, to some degree, bewilderment, that his group was not enjoying more briefs, revenue, profits, market share and dominance.
A strong schedule of television advertising had developed an acceptable, if not desirable, presence in the marketplace.
Unaided awareness, recognition and prompted recall are simply not enough. This experienced and qualified lawyer did not appreciate that.
Many corporate and individual clients are sensitive to the professional fee charge rates of legal practitioners. The typical 6 minute metre countdown is scorned at by many.
In this particular practice, the professional fee rate is charge at intervals of 100 units per hour. That's right, the metre ticks over every 36 seconds.
Little wonder then, the pathway to the door of this practice is not well worn.
Upon receipt of information about the charge rating system, the interest of prospective clients quickly wanes and regression towards a state of apparent apathy and indifference (if not ignorance) is achieved.
DIY HOME BUYERS
An increasing number of new home builders are now sensitive to and are capturing the imaginations and custom of a new evolving market segment, the Do-It-Yourself Home Designer.
These people enjoy the challenge and satisfaction of completing their own initial and rudimentary house designs.
To match that demand a select few new home builders have updated their interactive websites to enable people to modify online standard house designs or to develop their own plan from certain modules of a home layout.
It's creative, responsive and above all, it is providing a competitive advantage.
By the time the homebuilding company sales representative speaks to the prospective buyer for the first time, he, she or they are pre-qualified, have determined a cost estimate and a budget and, in many instances, have received approval for finance. Welcome to Marketing 2009
Goodwill and good relations can and should be established with initial telephone contact made by a prospective client and customer.
Inefficient, outdated telephone systems are nominated by consumers to be the single most annoying, recurring and frustrating experience they encounter.
Obsolete messages and outdated tape and disk, on-hold telephone answering services reflect poorly on the relevance and imagination of the company.
International operator Online Onhold is able to customise messages and change them daily, if required, to provide weather patterns, stock market reports, local news and industry specified briefings. That alone can positively pre-qualify a prospective client or customer.
So, get to it. Start developing strategies and tactics which enable prospective customers to become pre-qualified.
Contact: Mark Horwood
Tel: 1 300 854 022