Stop Selling and Help Your Customers Buy

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Every so often, I come across articles that I find are valuable enough that I want my contacts to read and understand it.

The below article by Steven is one of those.

It reflects the critical importance in a shift of mindset for today’s marketing and sales.

It’s also one of the reasons why our bi-weekly newsletters are more oriented towards education rather than self-promotion.

You see, people are sold to 24/7 these days.

The only way to break through the clutter is to help your prospects.

Enjoy the article, and stop and think about your entire sales and
marketing process.

Stop Selling and Help Your Customers Buy

By Steven Van Yoder

In the good old days, businesses could plan their marketing campaigns based on a fairly consistent economy and consumers’ willingness to
spend. For decades, companies could conduct initial marketing planning and research, followed by money, time and resources, and
good results were often predictable.

No more.

The recession has profoundly altered consumer behavior. Now, as home
values plummet, stock portfolios shrink and company profits erode,
prospects are less likely to purchase items they perceive they can’t
afford and thrift is back in vogue.

“Some suggest the recession has endured so long and spread pain so
broadly that it has seeped into the culture, downgrading expectations
… and eroding the impulse to buy,” reads a recent New York Times article Reluctance to Spend May Be Legacy of Recession. “The Great
Depression imbued American life with an enduring spirit of thrift.
The current recession has perhaps proven wrenching enough to alter
consumer tastes, putting value in vogue.”

Before the downturn, many businesses and consumers had come to assume
that “affluence” was the norm and spent freely. As consumers and
businesses fear for the future, they are hardwired to say “no.” This
new consumer psychology is driving prospects to impulsively slash
spending and lend greater skepticism to your marketing claims.

Focus on making a difference, not getting a sale

Thriving in these uncertain times requires a new mindset. Your
prospects still have the same challenges, and your company can still
deliver value. But the recent shift in consumer psychology requires new approaches for generating awareness and building a case for your
products and services.

The Beryl Companies, a provider of outsourced customer service to the
healthcare industry, implements a strategy based on educational marketing over self-promotion. The company recently created The Beryl
Institute, a research and education arm for developing white papers,
webinars, and benchmarking statistics that are disseminated free to
healthcare providers nationwide.

“The richness of the information we have at our fingertips provides
great insight into the behaviors, needs, and demographics of healthcare consumers across the U.S.,” says Paul Spiegelman, founder
and CEO of Beryl. “The Beryl Institute provides value to our target
market and positions our firm as a thought leader by disseminating
this valuable data.”

The Beryl’s white paper, Understanding the Importance of Accountability for Hospital Marketing Investments, for example, helps
hospital executives measure the return on investment of their
marketing expenditures. Beryl’s educational seminars and webinars
about the value of customer relationship management are offered to
directors and executives at client and prospect companies.

Beryl’s educational efforts have helped a relatively small, privately
held company develop a national reputation. “Our thought leadership
initiatives give customers comparative data and case studies that
improve their businesses,” says Spiegelman. “Thought leadership
positions us as a partner who puts our customer’s needs first, rather
than a vendor eager to sell more products and services. We’ve
earned a reputation as a company that actively shapes our industry.”

Position Your Company as a Trusted Advisor

Today, prospects avoid, filter, and run around your well-crafted
marketing tactics. They use the Internet to find companies on their own and verify products and services before committing their scarce
purchasing dollars.

Yet, consumers want to do business with brands they trust. When your
marketplace views your business as an advisor, rather than a self-serving salesperson, you’ll experience lower sales resistance by putting prospects needs first, helping them make sound, informed
decisions rather than pushing for the sale at all costs.

“The Internet and global competition have completely changed the face
of selling since the 1990s,” says Mahan Khalsa, author of Let’s Get
Real or Let’s Not Play: The Demise of Dysfunctional Selling and the
Advent of Helping Clients Succeed. “Companies are no longer relying
on a salesperson to get them information, because it’s now readily
available from a number of other sources. If you aren’t directly helping the person in front of you by providing intelligence and
insight that they can’t get anywhere else, having a good relationship
isn’t going to get you sales anymore.”

The secret to reaching today’s buyers is delivering valuable, honest
advice at each stage of the buying cycle. Giving away valuable
information through thought leadership marketing is a cost-effective
way of positioning your business as a trusted resource, breaking
through consumer marketing roadblocks with educational information
they seek when it’s increasingly difficult getting your foot in the
door.

Now’s The Time To Reevaluate and Focus

Whatever your opinion of the current economic crisis, on this we can
probably agree: the rules of marketing and selling have changed. It’s
time to reconsider how to build and maintain a successful business in
an age of uncertainty.

If you’ve been fairly broad and unfocused in your marketing efforts,
it’s time to stop. It pays to cultivate a reputation within specific
target markets or industries. This approach is more cost-effective and ensures that your marketing is aimed at consumers seeking maximum
value from products and services customized to their particular
needs.

If you’re a b2b seller, you need to focus on industries where you have the potential to dominate the market. Trusted, industry-focused
brands are especially valued and have a better shot at earning buyer
trust and launching new products successfully.

Most importantly, trusted brands can quickly establish a reputation
as a leading provider of products and services to a particular industry. Marketing is easier, and company principles can easily use
public speaking, webinars, teleseminars, white papers and other
thought leadership tactics to develop customized information to an
industry-specific needs.

Before taking action, talk to members of your marketplace, including
prospects, clients and non-competing vendors, and explore how to tweak your existing offerings, or develop entirely new products and
services tailored to unmet needs.

When you mold your business to very specific audiences, it gives your
marketing a sharp, natural focus while ensuring that all your efforts
pull in a strategic, pre-determined direction. Target marketing will
help you allocate your marketing efforts and resources for ensure
maximum return and establish your brand in the most lucrative markets.

Marketers ignore the new economic realities at their peril. The
recession has ushered in a wholesale reappraisal of consumer brand
loyalty. According to a recent article in The Economist, “The winners
will be those that adapt intelligently to the new reality. The losers
will be those who think they can win simply by telling consumers to
“Want It!”

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