Our Three C's of Marketing for 2014: Consistent, Consultative, Comfortable

by admin 20. February 2014 11:11

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By PHIL KRONE


"What a bunch of liars. Everyone here says they are busy and having a great year. If that was the truth, why are they here?" --Overheard at a networking group

Does anything about that statement surprise you? It surprised me because it borders on being ridiculous. Here's why.
An axiom of success in business-to-business selling is to market consistently. For professional services firms especially, networking in the name of prospecting is something that needs to be done regularly and with a pattern, even when you are up to your ears in work. No matter how busy I am I make time to go to networking meetings, write and distribute this column each month, and perform other marketing activities. 

If I sound a bit fanatical, it's because consistency in marketing is critical to my business—it helps keep me busy. Any business must always be marketing itself, even if with a low-level hum in the background. How? Over the years we've developed our own "3 Cs of Marketing" to keep our clients (and us) on track. They are consistency, consultative, and comfortable.

The first "C" to think about while the year is still young isconsistency. 

We counsel our clients that if they really are too busy to market, they should outsource some of their lead generation activities (possibly to us) so that they avoid the highs and lows, the feasts and famines, that come when "work" crowds out marketing. 

The rule of thumb for many businesses is that getting the work and doing the work each take up about 50 percent of a business owner's time. Some companies over-market when they are slow and under-market when they are busy. If the economy is having minor ups and downs, they are experiencing higher up periods and lower down periods. Our advice: Be consistent and continue your networking and other marketing activities throughout the cycle. 

For example, from time to time we hear from folks who have read this column for years but haven't needed our services. They just like the column and the value it delivers. The owner of a Michigan manufacturing company, for instance, contacted us for the first time when he saw our column about ADHD and salespeople. He had been receiving the column for five years. 

The second "C" is consultative. If you are a regular reader of this column you know that we preach and teach consultative selling skills to help business developers learn how to create value for their prospects within the sales process. This is in contrast to transactional sellers who learn needs, identify solutions, and facilitate a transaction but fail to add much value to the equation. In fact, we teach that a seller can create value within the sales process in 17 different ways. (Call or e-mail us to schedule a marketing discovery session. We'll be able to suggest a couple of ways to create value that you might not be using.)

For instance, a global professional services firm asked us to use our consultative selling course, FOCIS®, to train 50 of their people in eight US cities. To determine the value of our service over three years they tracked the results using professional research techniques—a test group with FOCIS® training and a control group without. Total billing and generation of new work with new clients were noticeably higher for the trained individuals and were statistically significant.

Why was there so much improvement? The customized skill building in consultative selling and development of a sales process tailored to their specialties we provided helped this firm's clients better understand the value the firm delivered, which is worth much more than the fees the firm charges.

Our clients have always told us that FOCIS® training clearly impacts their business developers in positive ways, often not only with better hard numbers but also in a better attitude. They simply become more comfortable with their sales responsibilities, especially if they aren't professional salespeople. 

Which brings us to the third "C": comfort. We meet a lot of business developers with significant technical expertise in professions such as engineering, law, architecture, or technology-related subjects. They think of themselves first as professionals in their field and second as salespeople. Yet they are often responsible for bringing in new business or expanding current business. Many of these folks are not at all comfortable with business development activities, especially selling, and would much rather apply their technical expertise after a rainmaker brings in business. 

In our experience, however, these folks can become great business developers once their consultative selling skills are improved and a custom sales process is developed that they can follow. One important reason is that, as professionals, they respect process. They are much more comfortable with our selling "process" than they are with "selling." They equate selling with transactional sales techniques, such as those used in retail and automobile sales.

Once they realize that FOCIS®, creates a proven process for increasing business they relax and build their skills enthusiastically. In a recent session, one of our clients exclaimed: "This [FOCIS®selling] is liberating!" She had realized that her perception of selling was in fact a misperception that was holding her back. She also realized that some of the things she already did could be adjusted to apply. By using the sales process we were developing with her, she could increase the amount of business she did significantly. 

In fact, after our FOCIS® Selling training we check back in with those who were uncomfortable with selling and learn that they are now much more comfortable. This is also true of our FOCIS® Negotiating course. After the program the participants become much more comfortable with complex, multi-session negotiations.

If you or your team think you might need help with any of the three Cs, just give us a call. We'll be happy to discuss your specific situation and offer our opinion. Our services cover all three Cs. We can ensure that your marketing is consistent, your selling process isconsultative, and your comfort level with business development increases. 

We can be reached at 847-446-0008 and pkrone@productivestrategies.com.

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