Thursday, October 18, 2007

Give & Take...

I’m out of town this week. So, here’s a Sasso Marketing Tip Re:mix…

A client was tempted to fight an aggressive competitor with huge price discounts.

"What if they lower THEIR prices?" I asked. "Are you ready for a price war?”


“You won't build loyalty,” I said. “Customers could lose sight of value and buy on price alone. It may even cast doubt about the quality of your services. And what if the competitor can sell below your cost? They could put you out of business!"

"And you suggest I do nothing?" he responded.

"No. I suggest you use giving as your marketing advantage'" I said.

"So don't discount my services -- just give them away?" he looked in my eyes to see if I was kidding. "Are you nuts?"

"Not giving away your services," I clarified. "I'm saying align yourself with a non-profit that’s important to your customers. We’d advertise that customers are helping support the “Kids and Puppies Charity” -- or whatever. Then we'd work with the non-profit to get the word out using all our channels -- and theirs."

More and more consumers are being swayed by cause-centered marketing.
Given the choice of two brands with similar price and quality, 76% of consumers would buy the one that supports a worthy cause, according to a study by Cone Communications and Roper Starch Worldwide. The study also found 76% would switch brand loyalty for a cause -- and 54% would pay more to support a cause they believe in.

The key is finding a non-profit that fits.

It needs to be relevant to your business and meaningful to your target market. Most importantly, the non-profit needs to be willing to work with you.

For example, a bookstore supporting a literacy program is obvious. But the literary program needs to be willing to lend their name and work with you.

Can’t find a cause to work with? Consider starting your own.

One of my clients started a scholarship fund in their field. Another became the sole sponsor of a non-profit event in return for exclusive sponsorship plugs.

How can giving give you upper hand? What do your customers care about? What group will work with you?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Washed Up Sales...

Beth and I recently bought a new washing machine.

Let me confess: I have to be one of the worst customers to sell. I can’t resist studying a salesperson’s technique. I love testing her product knowledge. And I like to challenge her selling skills.

I generally find appliance salespeople undertrained. This one didn’t disappoint me. But in defense of the store, I assume most appliance shoppers have an urgent need. When your refrigerator is broke and your frozens are melting, you don’t need to be sold. You just need prompt delivery. In my case, Beth was already tired of the Laundromat and our repair estimate was almost as much as a new washer.

“Can I help you,” the saleswoman asked.

“Yeah, my wife and I have some questions on these washers.” I said.

“How do I know how much it holds?” Beth asked.

“Doesn’t it say under the lid?” the saleswoman asked. First she lifted the lid and read, then she skimmed the manual reading a few sentences aloud to us. “Uh, it doesn’t say.”

We asked a few more questions which she answered fairly well.

Then there was a long silence.

I was surprised that the saleswoman wasn’t taking the lead. She was just waiting to take the order. By letting us ask all the questions she was putting us in control of the sale.

A better approach might have been for her to start asking questions so she could help us decide on a washer. How many loads do you do a week? Do you like the suds saver feature? Is this a replacement or our first? Would we want a matching dryer?

Instead she just stood there looking at us.

“How soon can we get it delivered?” I asked.

“Twenty-four to Forty-eight hours.”

“Sold,” I said.

Beth gave me a blank stare.

“Seriously,” I said to Beth. “It has all the features you want. It’s only a little more than I wanted to spend. You won’t have to spend another day at the Laundromat. And the store is closing in ten minutes. Let’s be done.”

The saleswoman wrote up our order and we were on our way. Did she earn the sale? No. But she didn’t lose it either. She could have pressured us out of buying something.

Does your sales technique rely on the customer to ask all the questions? How can you speed up the closing process without over pressuring the prospect by using questions?

The kicker of the washing machine sale? When it was delivered we found the drain hose was on the wrong side. The delivery guy, who offered to sell me a new water valve, didn’t have an extension for the hose. That might have been a good question for the saleswoman to ask!