Timing is Everything, but Great Timing is What You Really Need
Wouldn’t it be great if the appliance salesman could predict exactly when your washing
machine would fail? They could direct their marketing to you at just the right time.
What if you knew exactly when someone would need a new car or a home and you could
be right in front of them, ready to help them with their purchase? It would make
traditional selling obsolete, and you would be more effective while spending less
time and money!
Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work like that. The theory, however, is great,
so we need to explore some alternatives to using the “Amazing Karnak” routine and
find a different way of doing “magnificent prognostication.”
The Problem: When and Who?
Let’s start with the problem. You simply cannot accurately predict when someone
is going to need what you have. There are some general theories that marketers use
to target different segments, but they are based more on percentage and assumption.
For instance, if a person lives in a certain neighborhood, owns a house valued in
a certain range, and has a certain income level, we could assume that they have
children. We can also assume that they would be interested in services of a lawn care
company. They might have pets. Perhaps they may be thinking about installing a pool.
Now, you can go with those assumptions and start directing your marketing to that
segment and you might get lucky. Better still, if you know someone has been in their
house for 15 years, maybe you should make them aware of your roofing company. They
probably need some things fixed around the house, so a good handyman would send
them information about his services. You can see where this is going?
The more information you can get about your potential customer, the more likely
it is that you can actually predict when your services will be needed. This is the
problem with very general, direct marketing campaigns. You simply don’t have enough
information to get much better than a 1 or 2 percent reply rate, regardless of how
great of a marketing piece you create. To put it simply, if they don’t NEED a washing
machine, they are not going to buy a washing machine.
The foolproof solution to predicting the wants and needs of potential customers
simply will not work (at least until the Vulcan Mind Meld is perfected). You will need to figure out how to perfect your timing in another way. This leads
to yet another problem. There is no way to predict who the potential customers
are, because you don’t know when they will need what you have. Sure, there are the
seasonal sales that occur in a cycle, such as heating system services in fall, snow
removal service in winter, junk removal service in spring, and lawn maintenance
in summer and fall, but most purchases are not like that.
The Solution: There’s No Defense for a Good Offense
The only logical way to get someone to think of you when the time is right is to
make sure they think of you whenever it’s appropriate. They need to be constantly
aware that you exist! This is not something that should be related directly to sales,
but rather should be an indirect, non-sales approach. Think about it: The last thing
anyone needs is to be “sold to” even more than they are already. With privacy being
such an important issue today, you run the risk of losing a potential customer by
giving the impression that their privacy is not important to you. By constantly
selling, you will definitely give that impression and probably be asked to stop,
then another customer is gone forever.
There is a distinct difference between making sure a customer remembers you, constantly
aware that you exist, and making a royal pain of yourself by being “in their face”
selling all the time. You want your potential customers to believe that it will
be an enjoyable and rewarding experience dealing with you, not an endless nightmare
where they feel like they are being stalked. You are probably conjuring up images
of the used car salesman with his shiny, white shoes, plaid pants, and polyester
jacket, following you around the car lot like a puppy and annoying the heck out
of you. Doesn’t really make you want to buy a car, does it?
Top of mind awareness has nothing to do with selling. It has everything to do with
making sales. How; The beauty of this technique is that you don’t have to sell.
Rather, you concentrate on building your relationship with the potential customer.
One of the most difficult things that a “hard sell” salesperson must do is to get
their potential “target” out of defense mode. They have already dug themselves into
a hole, and they must climb out before beginning to build a trusting relationship.
The best advice don’t put yourself in that hole.
Positive reinforcement of a relationship will help to build trust so that they stop
thinking of you as someone who is selling and move you to another, friendlier part
of their brain. In this world where you are hit with advertising thousands of times
per day, the defenses are always up. Being a good sales person has nothing to do
with “wearing down” a person’s defenses anymore. Nowadays it’s more about having
people voluntarily drop their defenses and think of you as a trusted colleague who
is there to help.
So how do you go about doing that? Top of mind awareness is not as difficult as
you might think. Send an occasional card or letter to make sure they don’t forget
about you. Gather your customer data and make a birthday calling list. Then make
a brief call to wish them a happy birthday, even if you leave a message on their
answering machine. You can even send them a birthday card or appropriate holiday
cards, just to let them know you were thinking about them, and you know what? That
simple action will make them think of you.
If your company has things happening on a monthly or quarterly basis, send your
clients an email newsletter to let them know what’s going on. This is especially
important for professional acquaintances. You aren’t going to get referrals unless
the source trusts you. You aren’t going to gain trust unless you develop a relationship
with that source. Remember when you get a referral; the person who made the referral
is also putting their reputation on the line. They feel a responsibility to
their recommendation being a good one.
These are just a few things that will help keep you on the minds of your
While there is no magic formula to predict when a purchasing decision will be made,
with these techniques, you can be sure to be on their minds when the time is right.
Follow Your Customer Inc.
Previous lessons in this series include:
- 7 Techniques to Building a “Die Hard” Customer Base
- Why People Buy? Learn the Secret to Getting in Their Heads
Timing is Everything