Sometimes we need a hit of reality to see what’s really important. You don’t get repetitive customers and referrals without strong relationships.
The classic model for marketing and business development is broken. It’s too simplistic. The classic approach focuses on 3 steps:
- Awareness. Promoting your business so you are knowable.
- Purchase. Selling to your customers.
- Repeat. Having them buy again.
Logic says if your customers know you they’ll buy, but that’s not reality. If that were the case than every visitor to your website would convert into a customer. But no one has that level of conversion.
The challenge is your customers won’t buy until they like you and trust you. Knowing you exist is just the first step; customers need and want a relationship before they’ll buy.
It starts with an experience
Search engine optimization, promotions and lead generation all work to build brand awareness. But that’s just the first step.
In the pre-Internet days, brand awareness led to a conversation. Before your customers could make their purchase, they had to speak with a human being first – a sales person. The sales person asked questions, and discussed options. They explained the features and benefits, and helped the customer to make an informed decision. They facilitated the purchase.
The sales person’s role was crucial. They were responsible for creating a meaningful customer experience. One where the customer could learn more about the company, and form a relationship with it based on like and trust.
The challenge today is customers don’t need to speak with a sales person before they make their purchases. They can learn about your products, compare them to the competition and make an informed decision without any human intervention. They have the power of Google, social networks and your website to get all the information they need.
But times aren’t all that different from the pre-Internet days. Even though the ways we get information has changed, customers still need to go through a relationship building process. Regardless of how your customers find you, they have to like you and trust you before they’ll buy.
Jerks don’t sell twice
Being able to promote your business to a large group doesn’t mean you will drive sales. The biggest problem with the classic marketing model is it’s assumptive and shallow. It’s not friendly, engaging or interesting. It’s just jerky.
A true sales person does not follow the ABC’s of sales: Always Be Closing. They know you can’t close without a relationship. Top sales people are successful, because they build relationships with their customers and facilitate the buying process.
Even without sales people engaging your customers upfront, the same relationship building process needs to be applied to your marketing. Each of your customer touch points is an opportunity to develop the relationship. One where your customers get to experience what it’s like to work with you, and establish trust and rapport.