the thrill of the chase

The Thrill Of The (Sales) Chase: But Don’t Forget Existing Customers

Gee Ranasinha Business, Customer Service, Marketing, Sales, small business

Every business needs customers. Well, duh… It’s also true that every business owner, sales manager, and marketer loves finding new customers. The initial contact, the first meeting. The sales pitch, the demonstration, and submission of proposal. Then follows the negotiation, the close, the transaction and, finally, the payment. It’s a complex dance, often with many intricate steps. Any one of those steps can go awry at any time. potentially resulting in sales failure. I think that’s part of the fascination. Business owners and sales managers are often Type A personalities. They relish the thrill of the chase. The sport, the competition against sales professionals from other businesses who are just as hungry for the sale. The importance of understanding the prospect – what makes them tick. The desire to win. The inherent risk and ultimate cost of failure. Looking at it this way you could be forgiven for thinking it’s all quite primeval. Supposing you’ve navigated successfully around the potential pitfalls to failure and – congratulations – closed the deal. What happens next? Sure, the customer takes delivery. Maybe there’s an onboarding phase – installation, training, support, and so on. But I’m thinking farther forward. I’m thinking about the time …

shotgun shells

Russian Roulette

Gee Ranasinha Marketing

Ever heard of “The Shotgun Approach” ? As you may know, a shotgun doesn’t usually use a bullet as its ammunition. Rather it uses a shell that contains hundreds of small pellets, or “shot”. Since the shot sprays out when fired, the user doesn’t have to aim too precisely. The idea is that, when fired, enough of the pellets will find their target. Most don’t, but it doesn’t matter since at least some do. In marketing communications The Shotgun Approach can be translated as coming up with as many reasons to buy, as many product/services features and benefits, as many compelling arguments as possible in order that something that you say will resonate within your target market’s psyche and move them into the buying phase. In effect you’re blasting them with everything that you’ve got, in the hope that something sticks. However – clay pigeon shooting aside – The Shotgun Approach doesn’t work. Perhaps it used to, though I’m not even sure about that. We’ve all been subject to the sort of marketing messaging that I’m talking about. Overly-wordy email blasts, confusing advertising, hopelessly-jumbled slide presentations. The end result is an impersonal, confusing mish-mash of corporate rhetoric and buzzwords that …

Who’s Damaging Your Brand?

Gee Ranasinha Communications, Marketing

A special thank-you to Gary George, the first (but hopefully not the last) guest blogger for Business Value Matters. Gary is one of the smartest technologists I know, a consultant for premedia business process analysis company Tunicca, a new father – and a good friend. It’s a strange thing writing a guest blog, a proud feeling to be asked, but this one comes from an idea I had and thought this was the best place for the content, I never imagined that I would actually be asked to write it myself, so I won’t even try an mimic the writing style, you get me as I am when I write on my own blog. I’m keeping this short as it’s based on the frustration of driving nearly every time I get behind the wheel of my car, a frustration or experience I don’t have when I have driven in different countries, although I am sure this happens there. This frustration got me thinking about the companies the drivers and their vehicles represented, have you worked it out yet? Everyday on the streets of the UK we see companies advertising their brand on their company vehicles, these vehicles and their drivers …

Now What Do You Do?

Now What Do You Do?

Gee Ranasinha Business, Communications, Customer Service, Marketing

Congratulations, you’ve made the sale. Your customer is happy with their purchase and has paid in full. The product or service that they have bought from you meets or (hopefully) exceeds their expectations. Maybe they’re even happy to recommend you. Well done. So, what do you do now? Most organizations understand that, in today’s business environment, regular customer communication is vital for ongoing visibility, helping them remember you rather than your competition. However, many companies, while aware that they should keep in touch with their customers after that initial transaction, don’t know how or what to say to them. They end up sticking the customer name into the company’s standard database, to be blasted with promotional info no different to what a prospective customer receives. Then they wonder why their existing customers are no longer buying from them. Customers that have bought from you don’t need to drink the KoolAid. They don’t need sales pitches, aggressive advertising or discounted offers. Just as you’ve become a known quantity to them, they should be one to you. Structure your “existing customer” communication differently from your “prospective customer” messaging. Communicate to your existing customers with information and messaging that adds value to them, …

brand 'me'

Is Your Brand Helping Sales, Or Hurting Them?

Gee Ranasinha Marketing

Developing and communicating a corporate brand helps you deliver your business value message, confirms your marketplace credibility, helps build customer loyalty and reduces entry barriers during the sales cycle for qualified prospects. But is your brand helping the sales process, or hindering it? Imagine that you received a phonecall from a salesperson at Apple, who wanted to know whether you would be interested in their value offering. What mental image would you have? As an Apple salesperson they could be selling computers, watches, music players, TV set-top boxes, phones, tablets, software, support contracts, or even speakers. Because Apple is such a successful company with a broad range of products and services, they could be trying to sell you any (or all) of these things. And therein lies the issue: Brand marketing can often hinder a salesperson’s ability to effectively communicate the company’s business value offering. The very essence of most brand marketing programs is to instil a strong and evocative image into the target market’s mind. However, this also forces prospects to make conclusions about why a salesperson is calling them. If your company is known for one thing – and ONLY one thing – then this isn’t a problem …

external business influences out of control

External Influences

Gee Ranasinha Marketing

Every industry has their unique set of external influences that govern the validity of your business value. Make you that you know the factors that influence your business – and keep an eye on where they’re heading.

Incorporating video into emails

Email Becomes “Me-Mail”

Gee Ranasinha Marketing

Integrating video into your sales and marketing messaging, collateral and customer engagement activities is taking on ever-greater importance. Video captivates audience attention far better than text and/or images alone, and also helps differentiate your company.

customer feedback isn't true

Don’t Listen To Your Customers

Gee Ranasinha Business, Marketing

If you keep giving your customers what they want, they’ll keep buying whatever it is you’re selling. Wrong. To find out what new product / service your company should be offering in the future, your first point of call should be getting feedback and opinion your existing customers. After all, they’re the ones that bought from you in the first place, right? Wrong. The fact is, most customers don’t know what they want. Or rather, they don’t know what they want until it’s too late – for you to offer it to them, that is. Ask a customer what their pain-point is today and they’ll give you their answer. However if you ask them again tomorrow there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the same response. Or a similar response. Or any response. If you’re a small business owner or product manager solely reliant on customer feedback for product development, this puts you in a real bind. By the time you can offer the new, improved version of ‘your thing’, your customers will have moved on. They will want something else. So what’s going on? Why can’t customers just tell the truth and stick to their guns? Why can’t they just …

corporate gilded cage

The Danger Of The Gilded Cage

Gee Ranasinha Business, Communications, Marketing

The higher up that you progress on the corporate ladder, the more insulated you become from your business – and, by association, your customers. Sometimes keeping close to the coalface is better than getting a key to the executive washroom. Let me explain. Every executive believes promotion gets them closer to their goals. But maybe – just maybe – those goals aren’t the ones you imagined Most C-Suite executives may have a passing understanding of what happens at ground level. But after a while, all those meetings, corporate lunches and golf club meetings take their toll. After a short time, the peers you had when you were cutting your teeth on the corporate merry-go-round see you as “one of them” rather than “one of us”. You’re no longer to be trusted with certain gossip, information, or insight. And that’s exactly when the rot sets in. Now you’re in the executive club, you’re playing a different game. By the time you make it to the upper echelons, you’re almost encased in a corporate-created bubble. You’re in a cage – even if it’s a gilded one. How do you know if you’re in a gilded cage? Your calls and letters are screened. …

value of creativity

What Value Do You Put On Creativity?

Gee Ranasinha Presentations

Most people think of creativity as being something to do with art, literature or music. But without creativity, business today wouldn’t exist. You can call it innovation, ingenuity, talent or even vision. Regardless, one of the most prized traits in business is an individual’s creativity. Think of any successful business entrepreneur and you’d be hard pushed to find one without personal characteristics that, collectively, would be interpreted as creativity. Creativity means coming up with a new idea, or a new approach to an old idea. It’s having the guts to think different. Many individuals that we associate with being creative were not seen as such: Einstein was four years old before he could speak and seven before he could read. Walt Disney was fired from his job at a newspaper because he had “no good ideas.” Louis Pasteur was rated ‘mediocre’ in chemistry when he attended the Royal College. Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard, Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed, Michael Dell dropped out of University of Texas, and Larry Ellison dropped out of University of Chicago. So if creativity is held in such high regard today, then why do the world’s education systems place such low importance on …

Business Innovation “Ora ilLegale” clock design

The Second Mouse Gets The Cheese

Gee Ranasinha Marketing

I saw this fantastic idea and piece of design on the Yanko Design website recently. It’s a clock that you simply tilt on order to change to – or from – Daylight Savings time. No need to fiddle with a tiny wheel at the back, or buy one of those ugly-looking clocks that automatically adjust their time from a radio signal. A wonderful example of User Experience. Clearly someone took the time to think about the problem, and proposed a solution that’s both elegant and novel. It’s a great application of adding a new twist to everyday object. Or should that be ’tilt’ instead of ‘twist’… Innovation in business can be seen as the ultimate goal, or the road to failure. There’s a saying in business: “The early bird may catch the worm, but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese.” The concept of taking someone else’s idea and refining it further is the mainstay of business. There’s often little profit in being first. Why? Because being first means creating a market for something that currently doesn’t have one. It requires the audience already be aware, and educated to the problem the innovation is designed to address. A problem …

"Mother and Son" Microsoft Commercial

Hidden Message

Gee Ranasinha Advertising, Marketing

The advertising battle between Microsoft and Apple moved up a gear recently, with Redmond’s latest campaign to encourage consumers to buy Windows. In the ads, that you can see here, various ‘real people’ are filmed documentary-style going through the process of buying a PC. The subjects are shown weighing up the pros and cons of Windows-driven hardware against Macs. In the end the subject walks away with a Windows machine, and explains their purchasing decision to the camera based upon the price of the machine when compared to a Mac. Doesn’t this seem a little weird? Microsoft is a software company. OK, they make hardware in the form of computer peripherals and the XBOX, but they don’t make computers. Third-party hardware manufacturers buy and install their software and resell the result. Apple is a software company that, in order to sell their software, have chosen to also manufacture the supporting hardware in order to better control the user experience. So, from a business value communication standpoint, we have a software company basing their campaign on how cheap the third-party host hardware is. There is no messaging about Windows versus the Mac OS X operating system. It’s just a straight features …

Asus Eee PC

Judging A (Note)Book By Its Cover

Gee Ranasinha Communications, Marketing, Sales

Netbooks are small devices primarily designed for wireless communication and access to the internet. The computers are small, offer a modest range of features and are attractively-priced – costing in the region of $250. And they’ve been selling in droves. Sales of Netbooks such as the EeePC (pictured) and the Acer Aspire One have been one of the few PC sales successes during the global economic downturn – especially in Europe and Asia. But are these machines selling because just because they’re cheap? I’m not so sure. Netbooks are the embodiment of the realization that the vast majority of computer users don’t actually need anything more. As more and more of the software that we use moves away from the desktop and is offered as so-called ‘cloud’ services over the internet, why bother spending any more? With a fast wireless internet connection, one can use Google Docs, Photoshop Express, Flickr, YouTube, and 1001 other services, available for free or very cheaply, over the web. Many consumers find that a Netbook is more than sufficient for their needs. So, are conventional computers destined to become niche products only required for processor-intensive applications such as video-editing and 3D rendering? I very much …