Addressing Marketing Mindset is an important issue to any business owner concerned with growth, profitability, and market share.
While a different discipline than Brand Strategy, it is an integral part of the whole and equally pervasive to your business efforts.
Better marketing minds than ours have noted the shift in how consumers of all products and services make purchasing decisions. It may seem a tautology, but the fact remains that today less selling means more buying.
Shifting from the old marketing mindset to the new means addressing this in everything from your sales methods to your inventory of products and services offered.
What does it all mean?!
The Marketing Mindset of Inventory
If you aren’t going to be “selling” your products and services to your marketplace then you had best be offering them what will do the very best job of filling the needs and desires of end users. If not, buyers simply will not buy.
In many cases those end users are not aware of why an offering is in fact the best choice. Doesn’t this mean they need to be sold?
Be careful not to confuse educating a prospect with selling them. They can tell the difference, even when you can not. Today’s consumers are quite savvy. Conversion rates will tell you if you are.
Eliminate inventory that isn’t in the best interest of your marketplace in spite of how lucrative they might be.
Does this mean getting rid of all add-ons? In some limited cases yes, but not always. The best way to answer the question is to ask yourself: Knowing what you do about your industry, would YOU purchase the item? Buyers protection plans are a good example.
These have been a source of customer dissatisfaction more often than not, but consider what Best Buy has done with these.
Best Buy has crafted programs that offer real value to their clientele, offers them at a fair AND profitable price, and happily honors claims. This is a win/win/win situation.
This is the best criterion to decide if a product or service belongs in your arsenal: Is it a triple win? Does it offer:
- Value to the buyer
- Profitability to your business
- The ability for you to be happy with backing it
Applying Marketing Mindset to the Sales Process
While you may have formerly been looking for closers to populate your sales team, addressing today’s business climate means you are looking more for facilitators than traditional salespeople. The difference is pretty simple.
- A facilitator is all about need fulfillment.
- A salesperson is all about making a sale at any cost.
Creating an environment where your sales team, and entire staff has needs fulfillment as their primary goal can be tricky. Creating rewards for customer satisfaction as opposed to simple sales quota attainment is key to these efforts.
There are many times in any business that the best thing one can do is tell the prospect that you simply can not (or should not) help them. You will be surprised how often these prospects end up being consistent sources of referral business in the future.
There is one, and only one way to teach this to your staff. Your own example.
- Find ways to reward staff that put clients needs ahead of all else.
- Train your staff to implement this attitude in whatever role they have.
- Give them the authority to make such customer oriented calls within their purview.
Writing a Mission Statement that reflects this philosophy shows your staff how important this is to you, and therefore your business.
Flow Chart Your Business Processes
How about the service process? Follow-up process for both those that did not purchase and those that did? Have you flow charted your lead generation efforts?
There is not one part of your business efforts that won’t benefit if you flow chart them with an eye toward your Marketing Mindset.
Yes, this is very similar to how you approach developing and implementing your business’ Brand Strategy. It is more focused though, specifically with regard toward our concentration here on creating a buying vs selling environment for your prospects.
Ask yourself if any area of the process could be made to serve your market’s needs better.
In the early days of the internet, a home improvement product company took over the operations of a company selling high end awnings primarily to high end waterfront homes. The company implemented several changes throughout the operation that were geared toward greater need fulfillment for their clientele.
- Sourcing stainless steel hardware for installations preventing rust staining.
- Separation of sales and installation roles.
- Training salespeople on installations to identify what to walk away from.
- Flow charting fabric selection to avoid the paralysis of too many choices.
- Instituting automatic service calls after 90 days, and 12 months to insure customer satisfaction with product and installation.
These necessary changes created not only a far higher customer satisfaction rate, but increased productivity as well as referral activity. All only possible due to flowcharting all areas of the operation. Defining all activities as processes made the needed changes obvious.
Selling Less as Marketing Mindset
Creating a voice for your enterprise that isn’t simply promotion oriented is a first step. While prospects like feeling that they are getting value for their dollar, they don’t like dealing with a business that seems to be looking primarily for a fast buck.
This doesn’t mean abandoning promotions, but does mean they need to be approached with balance. Promotion isn’t always about price. It can be about offering additional services at an appropriate time FOR THE PROSPECT!
Of course, better pricing can be a feature of today’s promotions without violating all we have spoken of. As with most things in life, it is all about balance. If you have inventory you need to turn and eliminate from your offerings, seek a market that needs to utilize that product as a best solution to their unique situation.
Overuse of such promotions leads to what Seth Godin refers to as “A Race To The Bottom” resulting in an undervaluation of your products and services, not to mention you and your entire enterprise.
The real question is who do you want to identify your business as? You can and should create a marketing plan aimed less at selling, and more at facilitation of fulfilling the needs of your market.
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