One question tells whether your market development strategy will work

Ed Marsh | Feb 19, 2015

You're sitting in an airport trying to manage the usual assortment of crisis.  You finally made it through the security line, inhaled a fast food sandwich and now plan to use your 17 minutes prior to boarding to dispense with as much as possible so that in the next hotel room, tonight, you've got less to do at 11:30pm.

You urgently need to speak to your production manager to address pressing personnel and supplier defect issues.  Here's the question...

What number do you dial?

Do you call her cell?  Her direct dial?  Do you call your PA to have her paged or tracked down on the floor?

Or do you call the published toll free number, press something for English, and then allow yourself to be channelized by menus which restrict your options?

This isn't a diatribe on the absurdity of "Your call is very important to us."  Rather it's an exploration of mindset.  Here's why it's critical.

Selling & servicing efficiently

Companies have wrung all the waste and inefficiency out of their customer service processes.  You have built systems which enable you to service the largest number of customers and prospects with the smallest number of personnel.  You keep your costs down to deliver more value to your stakeholders and keep prices lower for your customers.  Right?  Isn't that the rationale?

What you've done is build a system that addresses your selfish interests, and then hypocritically justified it as a well-intentioned effort to provide "efficient self service options" for busy customers.  You know better; your customers know better; but the charade is baked into our culture and everyone goes along with it.

And unless you're United "assisting" someone who's already bought a non-refundable ticket, or UPS "helping" a shipper whose package you already hold hostage, then you've got competitive exposure.

Your prospect has the same 17 minutes and pressures as you

Intellectually we all understand that everyone's busy.  But when you rely on inside information to navigate your company's communication systems, you demonstrate to everyone who observes that the regular system is simply not efficient enough for your requirements..."that's for customers, not for us.  We're too busy!"

The subtle AND CRITICAL impact on market development strategy

Here's why that one, simple question is such a reliable indicator of whether you will outperform or simply trend with the market at large.

That attitude will pervade every aspect of your customer interactions - including your digital marketing and sales.

In a world where 93% of B2B purchases start with search; where buyers are 70% of the way through their journey before they want to talk to a rep; and where 74% finally select the vendor that first provided value, the difference between out-performance and mediocrity is one of nuance.

An attitude that permeates all channels

Your website and digital resources are the biggest driver of results - for better or worse.  The vast majority of websites are structured just like phone menus - to deliver what the company thinks is important, as efficiently as possible to reduce the burden on internal staff.  It's entirely predictable.  After all if you're willing to treat people to phone menus you won't endure, you won't hesitate to deliver information according to your priorities.

But it's a lot easier to click off a web page and look at the other 21,000 search results Google served in .31 seconds than it is to hang up when you must speak to someone.

So that's what people do.  You lose them because the implicit message in how you provide information on the internet is an extension of the embedded philosophy of the company which is manifest by your dialing behaviors.


Helping buyers buy

The alternative takes work.  You need to climb out from behind your moat, understand customers deeply (not according to some bullet point or vapid mission statement) and entirely orient your digital marketing and sales around what they need - not what you can readily provide to channel them according to your preference as you do now.

Most companies will be unable to manage this - even those who confidently believe they are effective digital marketers.  It's a nuanced difference...but the key to stark differences in outcomes.

Live as your customer and prospect

Leaders in the Army & Marines engender respect as much for their willingness to bear more misery than their subordinates as for their tactical and strategic acumen.  And those who grab chow while it's hot, catch more sleep and run fewer patrols earn the contempt they deserve.

It's time for you to eat after your prospects, as Simon Sinek might say.  It's time for you to endure your auto attendant and make it right.  But with 93% of your sales hanging in the balance, it's critical to ensure that your prospects digital experience satisfies them...not you, your developer, your agency or any other irrelevant party.  If your market development strategy isn't really customer centric, you'll consign yourself to mediocrity.

Want to understand how the process should work for your industrial prospects?  Download our free eBook that outlines how digital marketing, done right, will help you grow your business.

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P.S. - talking about absurdity.  Did you see that Coke discontinued voice mail for most of its staff?  Before you conclude that it was to encourage more live communication, it's explained in most reports as a way to drive communication toward email which is 'more efficient.'  Don't go there!