Are you walking the walk or just talking the talk? A flashy marketing campaign is doomed to fail if your transparency and genuineness don’t come through to your clients in their interactions with you. Make no mistake: Customers have well-honed radar and will disconnect if they sense even a whiff of disingenuousness.
So, how can you continue to gain new clients and create long-term relationships with them?
James Atkins and Jason Langford-Brown, both longstanding Mindshop members and successful business advisors, delivered four key insights on this topic during the global Mindshop Advisor Workshop this November.
1. Market for Engagement
“Experience is the new product, and time is the new price" was an idea that resonated throughout the workshops.
For professional service firms, providing a fantastic experience for customers across all touch points, from the sales process, onboarding and delivery through to billing, is essential to generating referrals, which remains still the strongest way to generate leads. This is based on the key idea that marketing is no longer the sole responsibility of a few people and clients’ willingness to pay for ease of engagement.
This whole-of-business approach to marketing requires thinking, acting and communicating from the inside out, starting with the organization’s “why.” Ask yourself some fundamental questions about your purpose, motivation and beliefs. This will frame how you go about engaging with clients: your process, specific actions and your firm’s “what.”
2. Be More Authentic
Balancing what you say versus what others say about you is the key to authentic engagement. An advisory brand is an articulation of who the organization is, what they believe and what they do. So, if it does not reflect the expectations and experience of your customers, you’re at risk of lacking authenticity. Do you know what clients are saying about you and what your reputation is? If not, you need to find out. Start by asking both customers you have won recently and those you lost.
The sweet spot of authenticity is the intersection of your brand, reputation and fit with customer needs.
To be authentic you need to be trusted, and to be trusted you need to be transparent.
Think of your marketing as a pyramid: The base is your website, holding up campaigns and sales engagement techniques. All these building blocks need to be authentic, aligning with your “why” at each stage of the sales cycle and beyond. Here’s a practical tip: Why not try harnessing the power of video (the shorter the better) and using unscripted language to tell stories of how your customers have experienced success using your services?
3. Engage Through Influence
B2B selling is complex, and the likelihood of a purchase drops sharply when the number of decision makers involved increases. Today’s empowered customers are often well into making their purchase decision by the time they engage a supplier. Therefore, engaging through influencing decision makers can be a powerful tool.
Advisors can implement the seven principles of persuasion to assist in the B2B sales process:
- Reciprocation: Prospects will have a feeling of obligation if you provide something of value first
- Social Proof: We tend to be more trusting of things that are popular and have been endorsed as quality by others we trust
- Commitment and Consistency: Asking your prospect to start with small agreements makes it harder for them to say no in the long run
- Liking: We’re more likely to submit to requests made by people we like and who like us in return
- Authority: We’re more likely to agree with those who have perceived authority
- Scarcity: We’re drawn to things that are hard to get and in short supply
- Unity: People need to feel they belong to something greater than themselves
These principles are not about “trickery” and need to be applied in an authentic way. How can you weave them into your advisory offering, marketing and sales?
4. Meet the Marketing Fundamentals
The quality of your service model and ability to deliver a high-value outcome for clients are obviously keys in client retention of clients. If you’re not offering services that provide ongoing benefits, rather than one-off, project-based activities, you will constantly be searching for new clients.
Your offering must meet the following three marketing fundamentals:
- Be digestible
- Solve a problem
- Link to a clear competitive advantage
Your advisory model needs to tell a great story about how you will work with clients to achieve their goals.
Here are three advisory services that will resonate with clients in 2019 and improve your likelihood of retention:
a. Online Coaching and Training: Deliver the triple play of benefits: leverage (more clients, more often), improved customer experience (just-in-time support) and cost reduction (less reliance on heavy travel schedules to maintain face-to-face contact).
b. Initial Business Reviews: Help clients focus attention on where they are now and where they want to be in the future. Use tools such as a Growth and Profit Diagnostic, Now Where How and financial dashboards.
c. Half-Day Strategic Plan Resets: Time-poor clients want a simple, strategic plan review to get them back on track. Use tools like One Page Plan, Now Where How, Sustainable Competitive Advantage, Mindmap and Pareto to achieve a clear plan in a short period of time.
Good luck with implementing some of these ideas! The achievement of authenticity through your marketing, sales and advisory offering will set you apart from those who are just “talking the talk” and help you win new clients and keep them.