Focus on Your Customer, Not Your Calendar

It is very common for marketing and sales departments to create a schedule that outlines which products or services they will “push” at certain times. Every product has a sales quota, and, as the logic goes, each deserves its rightful time in front of the customer.

There is a problem with this near-universal strategy: you can push as hard as you want, but if your customers aren’t interested, they’re not buying.

I see this problem frequently in my consulting business. A client tells me that they are frustrated with their marketing efforts or their sales force, because their scheduled promotions, which focus on certain products at certain times, are not working. My response? “I’ll bet your customers are even more frustrated, listening to you push products at them for which they have no interest.”

It’s not about the calendar. It’s about the customer.

Customer attention is one of the scarcest resources you have. It is dangerous to waste this precious resource on communications that have no interest to a customer. When you talk about a product or service with a customer, you better have reason to believe that the customer is interested in that product or service. Otherwise, the customer may ignore you, and be less likely to listen to your future communications.

Products and services don’t need to be pushed at a certain time in order to meet sales quotas. They need to be offered to individual customers at appropriate times, based on the needs and interests of those customers. These needs and interests are uncovered during an interactive, personalized marketing/sales process.

Here are a few tips to move your product–centered promotion process to a process that is based on creating customer interest that leads to sales:

  • Look at your promotional communications not as a way to push certain products, but as a way to initiate interactive customer conversations. The products you promote should be those that are most likely to generate customer interest, and lead to further sales interactions.
  • Instead of training your salespeople to push certain products, train them to uncover the unique needs and interests of individual customers and then lead customers to the products and services that will most interest them.
  • Never compensate salespeople based on how much of a certain product they sell during a certain time period. Incent them to find the right solutions for individual customers.

If certain products are not meeting their sales quotas, it’s not because your marketing and sales departments are not “pushing” them hard enough. It may be that your sales force is not connecting customer needs with the product, or it could be that the product is not worthy of customer interest. In any case, pushing harder is not the answer.

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