Stasis (n.) from Greek στάσις “a standing still” may refer to: A state of stability, in which all forces are equal and opposing, therefore they cancel each other out .
Stasis in your customer relationships is a myth.
Consider these situations in your life.
Personal relationships are either improving or declining. There is no stasis. It’s true with siblings, spouses, friends, bosses, and on and on.
Physical fitness – either you are putting the time in at the gym or outdoors and you are getting more fit, or your are not and you are growing less fit. It is hard to find an equilibrium.
It is also true for the seller and the customer. You are either getting closer to your buyers in an account or falling further away. There is no such thing as “everything is fine.”
The number one challenge on corporations’ minds today is customer intimacy. So what are you doing about it? The good new is that there are more choices and tools to leverage than ever before to help you go from stasis to proactive customer engagement. But, you have to be in it to win it.
Here are just a few examples of approaches to being more proactive on customer engagement:
CRM and Customer Service Platforms – Manage the customer relationship in 360 degrees
Social Media – Access more opinions publicly than ever before – but only if you tune in
Portals/Communities – Transform customer service into customer collaboration
Mobility – Interact with your customers where, when and how they choose
Web meetings / Video conferencing – Warm up typical conference calls with visual queues
Face to face meetings – The no-substitute preference for establishing rapport and consensus
The bottom line…as outlined in a recent Forbes article, “The Future Of Marketing: A Little Less Campaign And A Little More Action” Companies are shifting from “awareness and acquisition” towards the “customer experience and retention.” They are asking, ”How can we better serve and support the customers we have?” and they are taking concrete steps to get it done.
Don’t imagine “everything is fine” with that customer – Or it may be your competitor who teaches you that stasis is a myth.
This is a RT via @FastCompany. If you’re not following Fast Company, you should do it right away. It represents some of the best and brightest business thinking out there and has wonderful content. This article is no exception, and really gets you thinking about some fundamentals about your business… ://t.co/5lCsLebn9q
*Spoiler Alert* Here are the questions. You’ll need to read the article for the context:
What is our company’s purpose on this Earth?
What should we STOP doing?
If we didn’t have an existing business, how could we best build a new one?
I found this awesome blog post by Anthony Iannarino @iannarino: What Your Sales Manager Should Never Have to Manage. In his post, Anthony calls out many transactional and even strategic aspects of your sales career that should not have to be managed. You need to power these aspects of your career (activities, beliefs, commitments, accurate CRM info, etc.).
One day earlier this month, I got up for my morning routine and went to pack my breakfast – which, since my wife became a nutrition coach and got me on a solid path, usually consists of some whole grains and fresh fruit. I’d been craving a banana and had not had one in a while. I rounded the corner to my kitchen, filled up my coffee, reached into the fruit basket and without even looking broke off a banana from the bunch. The ensuing “snap” let me know what my eyes now confirmed – it was a [very] green banana and was not going to do me any good that day. “Maybe by the end of the week,” I said. The more familiar scenario in my house is that we find there are several brown spotted bananas which we quickly convert to banana bread and all is well. But as I completed my commute to work that day it got me thinking. Do we have any “green bananas” in our pipeline?
Looking at my firm’s business after the big push to the finish in 2011 had my team wondering about the top of our sales funnel, which we had not done in a while.
After spending so much time nurturing the mature opportunities through the more time-consuming stages of qualification, proposals, contracts, and closure, we turned our eyes to the top of the funnel, and were not happy with what we saw. We had just baked a big loaf of banana bread but the basket was lower than we liked, except for a some [very] green bananas.
How many times have you found yourself dealing with the mature deals in your pipeline like those ripe bananas and wondering, “Now what?” Or, looking at a bunch of green bananas and wondering how long it would be until you could eat?
Well, it’s all about managing your produce.
Block out time and buy some green bananas. Treat your demand generation and lead follow-up time as sacred. Book time during your week for this “appointment” of new sales activities and keep that meeting no matter what. Bring in the fresh stock!
Spend time balancing ripeness. Get face-to-face with your clients. Never Eat Alone. Use coffee in the morning and lunch in the afternoon as ways to strike up conversations in your network to keep the produce moving through the process. It may not pay off today, but your deals will mature when you need them down the line. Personally, I’m finding more people willing to grab a quick coffee or be treated to an eat-in lunch at their office these days than taking time for dinners or playing rounds of golf like the heyday. The point is, you need to spend one-on-one time to ripen your deals.
Rotate your stock. My firm uses salesforce.com for CRM (full disclosure, we also do consulting on the product and it is my personal favorite after using many over the years – contact me if you’s like to learn more) but whatever CRM system you use, be sure that it serves its core purpose – to allocate your precious resources across the portfolio of opportunities to maximize your business by helping your customers. To do this, you need to be sure about where you are in the buying/selling process. You need to know that you are taking the right action and applying the right resources. Use your CRM system to ensure you are not ignoring new opportunities while you’re focused exclusively on the “closing” end of the funnel. You need to spend time in each stage to get the most out of your produce.
Stick with this more balanced approach to your selling activities and you’ll create a more balanced sales funnel. You’ll have some nice green bananas, some delicious yellow ripe ones – and yes, hopefully, you’ll also be making lots of bread!
I could not resist looking through the red and white lens for this week’s post. There are a lot of analogies to be drawn here. I’ll skip the most obvious (we should all be thankful to our clients for the gift of business they give us…) and get to some of the other comparisons:
…He sees you when your sleepin’… You may think you’re getting away with it when you are dogging it at work in a sales role. You may even pull one over on your boss. But, your clients will notice. In a world where product differentiation provides only the slimmest advantage, responsiveness and even proactivity remain your key strategic differentiators. If you slow down, your clients will sense it. There is a great book on this concept called “Selling the Invisible,” by Harry Beckwith. Read it.
..He knows when you’re awake…If you are a solution-maker for your client, you will get their attention. If not, you’re toast. You need to work on these relationships in earnest. What have you done for your client that is truly different or better than anyone else? What has your firm done to stand out as leaders in your industry? What are you doing to show that you’re awake?
…He knows if you’ve been bad or good…It used to be that your customer would need to try your product/service and let you succeed or fail a few times before learning if you were bad or good. What’s changed? The internet and Social media are the new norm. You don’t go car shopping without knowing the VIN#, invoice price, and full specifications of the car your buying, and your client doesn’t buy from you without knowing your offerings as well or better than you know your own. They now also know what your other customers think about you– BEFORE they even contact you. Better be on your toes!
I hope your year is winding down to a successful end this week. The next 10 days are a good time to reflect on 2010 and prepare for an even better 2011.