Typically, a “helpful advisor” offers:
• Ways to save money and time through more efficient ordering and cost-effective combining of job processes;
• Creative strategies to expand customer influence, awareness and interest using products and services that you offer;
• New/little-known products/services that can achieve more impactful and dynamic end results;
• Free consultation to discuss potential needs and the best ways to meet them.
Finesse is the ticket to having the chance to discuss any or all of these ideas with your customer. How do you best approach them to get their buy-in? Here are a few ways:
Ask their permission and show sincerity. Most people are busy, distracted and overwhelmed. So, anything interpreted as an intrusion into their valuable time will be viewed negatively. When making the approach, first ask permission with a query to the effect of, “Are you on deadline? Do you have a minute?” If they’re open to talking, be prepared to get right to it. If the timing is bad, ask if you can reach out at another time – and if possible, a date/time to do so. Be sure to let them know that you want to respect their schedule and will keep time short.
Most often, once a customer is engaged, he or she will be open to it and give permission to a longer discussion. But stick to your committed time unless the customer authorizes you to continue.
Hit ‘em with knowledge. Instead of going in cold, review the account, historical ordering patterns, the industry involved and any other pertinent customer details – then formulate some timely and relevant ideas to benefit them. While you should be prepared, DON’T inundate them with ideas to the point where they go deer in the headlights or dominate the conversation. Make it a comfortable two-way street, shifting strategy depending on the customer.
Hopefully, you can present a couple ideas, then do the “consultative selling” protocol that asks if this could be on the right track. If so, ask where their interests lie, then offer to provide more information around them.
Help them connect the dots. Depending on the scope of your products and services, educate customers on how they can leverage what they’re already doing to expand their presence. For example, if an athletic program customer already is doing bumper stickers, window labels and parking permits, they may want to consider broadening the array to include such offerings as repositionable “spirit sheets” that they can sell to fans and participants. Perhaps they’re open to beefing up/modernizing their branding and overall look to gain more attention and appear more professional.
Set a long-term tone. Again, as part of consultative selling best practices, don’t appear too eager for the immediate sale unless there’s a legitimate reason (e.g., an upcoming event where time is short). Give the customer a chance to absorb and process the information. Ask when and how the customer wants you to follow-up to discuss one or more specific topics. Also, ask if it’s okay to contact the customer when there’s improvement, expansion and/or a “special deal” to gauge both overall level of interest and where specific hot buttons reside. This can be a great way to determine how much the customer is motivated solely by price versus value.
Listen both to what is said (and not said), take notes, and be sensitive to cues that may come in handy as you continue to build the customer relationship.
Pay particular attention to “how” the customer wants to be contacted routinely (email, text, phone), and what the customer is open to periodically (e.g., face-to-face meetings). Also, be very sensitive to desired frequency of routine contact. Most customers start deleting emails that appear too often in their inboxes. And this can lead to resentment and irritation. Finally, check periodically to match up a customer’s stated willingness with actual response if it’s an email program where you can track when items are opened, etc. If nothing is getting opened, that’s a definite cue to either stop reaching out or recontact the customer to determine why – then restrategize accordingly.
Enhancing label product and service volume can be a many-splendored thing if you reach out appropriately to customers, and stay tuned-in to their feedback
Mark Lusky is a marketing communications professional who has worked with Lightning Labels, an all-digital custom label printer in Denver, CO, USA, since 2008. Find Lightning Labels on Facebook for special offers and label printing news.