Are you providing support materials to your new clients?
I don’t mean Sales support materials, I mean doing-business-with-us-after-you-buy support materials.
Smart salespeople in the world of traditional Media (Radio, TV, Print) will sometimes warn their clients (especially clients who are first-time advertisers) that as soon as their ads begin to run, they should expect to get calls from every other media seller in town. This is because most media sellers get their leads by listening and watching for companies who are buying advertising from competing media properties and then try to steal away the business (usually with such advanced and imaginative techniques as offering a lower price.)
The simple step of preparing the new advertiser to not only expect those calls, but also arming them with appropriate responses, has saved many accounts from going over to a competitor. The advertiser wasn’t caught off-guard and was mentally prepared with a response that reinforced their commitment to the current advertising campaign and the decision they made to invest their dollars with the original media company. While this is (mostly) an act of self-preservation masked as looking out for the client, it is still a valid approach — Media just needs to formalize the strategy and take it further.
Why not also provide solid insights into the fact advertising takes time. New advertisers can’t expect an audience of people who have never heard of them before to rush the store with wallets out. And how about being honest with regard to the fact and that sometimes an advertiser might be better off investing a smaller marketing budget elsewhere if they are unable to invest the capital required to influence a media-based audience (which gets harder and harder to do every day)?
It’s possible that some (or even all) of this advice is being provided verbally at different points during sales conversations with the prospect, but there is no “doing business with us” manual that is being given to the client after they sign the contract. I know of many cases where the media salesperson has ceased to visit, advise, or call the client at all (until it’s time to sign the renewal, of course!)
Providing a printed and bound manual (a PDF copy is second best) of what to expect now that a client is working with your company and has an active advertising campaign (and how to get the best results from both) would stand out among all the lip service and excuses that usually come after.
The Media industry isn’t the only one which could benefit from this approach.
Why not be the first to create your company’s “So Now What?” Manual? Give this manual to the client immediately upon signing the contract to do business with you (or send it to them less than 24-hours after the agreement takes place).
Your “So Now What?” Manual should include the following:
- Signed service standards
A personally signed commitment to deliver a superior level of service. (Did I mentioned signed?)
- Contact information
The best way to get hold of you (and how to escalate the issue to your boss if you’re not available) when something goes wrong. Note: that’s When, not If, because things will go wrong. Including your personal mobile and home phone numbers.
- Response process
Outline your process for responding and reacting to problems: Calls returned within X-amount of time. Solutions provided within X-amount of time. Your customer won’t care what happened or how it happened until they know how soon it will be fixed. However, once you’ve resolved the urgent issues will you need to have a solution ready for preventing this situation from happening again.
- Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Include a FAQ section. You get the same 10 questions over and over again. Anticipate future clients will ask the same ones and provide those answers in advance.
- More answers
Answers to questions they should ask. Include answers for the questions clients ought to be asking you — how long a product lasts, maintenance and care tips, resale value, productivity advice, training information, complementary services and products, etc.
- Support materials
Include operation checklists, setup procedures, a place to enter serial numbers and model numbers, the number for your customer care representatives, contact information for other customers using the same product/service to encourage peer-to-peer support (with their permission, of course), links to an online library of ongoing support materials and a growing knowledge database.
The list above is just a short list to get you started.
You know your specific product or service better than anyone else. Do your clients the service of sharing your insights and knowledge openly and freely and before they have to ask. A “So Now What” Manual like the one recommended above will go a long way toward establishing you as a solid resource and helpful consulting expert, rather than the typical order-taking salesperson who only sniffs around when there is the scent of an order in the air.