During the Downturn, Hunt Smarter

April 9, 2009 by  Filed under: Sales 

This summer, the drought will drag on further in the Serengeti. As Sher Kahn stares into the bare plains, mini tornadoes of dust move across at a distance. He needs to be at his best, his best ever and he has a plan.

He has revisited in his mind-map all the popular watering holes in his territory. He knows where the visitors are coming from. He knows what his approach will be. And he knows the competition. On his rounds, he had noticed the missing claw in a tree-mark that was next to his. Never recovered from that foolish battle last summer, the old hat.

Sher Kahn had dug his claws extra deep into that tree just to send the message.

Then, instinctively he senses the air and sets out for the watering hole in the east. From a distance he sees the thirsty hordes of deer eagerly making their way to the same spot. He scans for signs that will make one of them his suitable target, and moves closer. The wild quail and monkeys squeal his presence. Undistracted, he merges into the spiny tall grass and awaits his opportunity…..

What follows is where most of us perk up and finish watching the unedited version on Discovery Channel!

But that is not that end we are after! There may however be a few insights for business from Sher Kahn’s story. Some insights that may help in driving business in our drought season.

Today, high performing sales teams do most of the things Sher Kahn did. They have studied the competition, researched their market and for most part have understood where customers are coming from. What will it be then that will make the Sher Kahns of your business deliver during this season while others struggle?

Lets start with dissecting Sher Kahn’s hunting process. Knowledge of the watering holes in the territory and the weaknesses of competition is having the Insight. As a marketing group (or with your marketing hat on!), you could make a significant difference in this step. There may be a number of traditional systems you have for gaining insight. But this is a downturn, things are changing. Budgets are smallers, customers are behaving differently. You need new ideas, like Insight for Search from Google, which may come handy in some situations.

You need to mark your territory repeatedly to make your presence felt and drive Awareness. Productive hunter-Sales reps plan meticulously (7 habits and all), and ensure that they are touching maximum prospects that the telesales or marketing team keep feeding them. But with more competition targeting the same quarry, all additional channels to reach the customer have to be exhausted. A simple channel – Email – is still not being used effectively in many organizations. Creating a systematic program for Email marketing to support the sales team can substantially increase visibility to your customer base. A passing glance at your newsletter may prompt a customer to call you or mention you in a conversation (if your service has been impressive – works the other way as well!). The key point here is maximizing Awareness and increasing your chances for a Reference. And to create a lasting impression, you need to dig deeper through repeated messaging, without however intruding or ticking the customer off. Here is where Permission Marketing can help substantially.

Insight + Awareness + Reference = Subscription

Permission Marketing creates a situation that encourages customers to engage. In Sher Kahn’s story, though not perfect analogy, the situation is hinged around a basic need of the deer visiting a waterhole. As a marketer, your goal is to make customers come to you – not only to buy, but to quench their thirst for something of genuine value. And for this, you need to look within.

What existing assets does your organisation have that you can attract customers with? Or how can you create such an asset? A survey, a report, a whitepaper. Something of value, something that will satisfy a unarticulated need. Offering this in exchange for permission to engage is the Subscription step that helps establishing this new channel. And as customer needs are changing faster, now is the time to empty the experience coffers and offer something different that may be relevant for the hour.

Instinct and Targeting are the next two ingredients. A high performance sales team will be flush with Instinct. Targeting however, has to evolve from your subscription and customer data. Deep analytics and reviewing customer behaviour through various lenses will give you the direction for your effort. Email and the web platform offer substantial opportunities to target owing to the dynamic nature of the medium.

Subscription + Targeting + Instinct = Opportunity —— Acquisition

Email marketing can help traditional Sales driven teams to become far more productive in closing opportunities. Leadership needs to establish systems to help these key steps to a faster Acquisition.

More Serengeti Soup with Web 2.0 spices to follow.

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