Archive for February, 2008

Keeping the Romance Alive

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of buzz around the marketing blog-o-sphere about the importance of quality customer service. Many of these discuss how the customer service department is gaining rank and the sales department is losing it. This could hold true when you consider that it’s widely believed that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers - you have to keep your core clients satisfied.

The way I see it is that everyone in your company should be focused on providing excellent customer service - before, during and after the sales cycle. A helpful, customer-focused approach should start with the sales staff and continues every time you touch a prospect or customer throughout the product (or service) life-cycle.

Additionally, while it’s much easier for us all to relate to B2C service horror stories (who doesn’t hate sitting on hold while your computer displays the “blue screen of death?!”), it’s just as important for B2B companies to focus on great customer support. Building your reputation and harvesting relationships in your target industries will ensure more business is headed your way. This is even more important for companies like software as a service (SaaS) providers, who often operate on a subscription basis and will want customers to renew. Companies should be prepared to offer resources such as online user guides and easy-access email or phone support just as you’d expect from your own service providers.

Check out these musings on the importance of keeping your customers happy from around the web:

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Friday, February 15th, 2008

I’ve often discussed the benefits of using Drip Marketing, or Drip Irrigation, to nurture prospects along the sales cycle. New marketing automation technology has made it so easy to stay in constant contact with leads who aren’t quite sales ready yet.

I came across a brief interview with Jim Cecil, marketing consultant and founder of the Nurture Institute in last month’s B2B Magazine. Cecil emphasizes the importance of irrigating, not irritating, your customers. He also talks about the challenges small-to-medium sized businesses face when using a CRM to nurture leads. Tying in the sales team, Cecil does not discount the importance of building personal relationships as you move toward closing the deal.

What can we take away from this?

  • CRM’s and tools built for larger sales organizations don’t always meet the needs of a small or growing business, who can benefit from other marketing automation tools.
  • You must always follow the best practices of permission-based email marketing. Overwhelming your prospects with information that is not targeted to them creates negative feelings toward your company.
  • Teach your sales team to be patient, but not lazy. Drip Marketing is a great tool to keep you top-of-mind, but it can’t take the place of traditional sales calls. Conversely, the sales team has to let your marketing tools plant the seed before they go in guns blazing.