Growing your business is easy. All you have to do is get a bunch of customers who want to pay money for what you’re selling.
Not convinced? Okay, there’s more to it.
Opportunities are hard to find. Don’t go it alone.
For a start, people aren’t going to just trip over themselves for whatever you’re selling. You have to go and find them, and you need information to help you focus on who to find because not everyone is going to want to buy what you’re selling. Customers, it turns out, are fickle beasts. You’ll find a few fairly easily, but most will need convincing. And then there are the ones who don’t know about you or your business. How do you find those, so you can explain how much better their life would be if only they would give you a barrow-load of cash?
When you have customers you can ask them to refer you to other potential clients. It usually helps to remind them of what they like about your product or service, why they keep using it and what problem it solves for them. The measure of how likely they are to recommend your company to someone else is called your net promoter score, if you want the buzz-wordy way of talking about it. If you ask your clients to tell you all this information, you can use it in testimonials to let total strangers know you’re the right company to solve their particular problem.
If you don’t have a good-sized sample for surveying your own customers, you’ll need to turn to less direct methods. Intelligence about what’s going on in the verticals you sell to is just about the most important information you can gather.
Social listening is paying attention to what’s going on with your target customers, based on their activities on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. It can be a very effective tool to start understanding why your customers come and/or go. And while you can set Google Alerts to let you know what’s moving and shaking in your space, you don’t have to do it all yourself.
“Securing a new client or sale is reliant on engaging the right decision makers at the right time, but knowing when to strike takes time, data and analysis,” says Natalie Hogg, Editor of DailyVista UK, a digest of changes and opportunities in the agency, adtech, media and sponsorship space, can provide really useful data to help you build your business.
“Proactive and informed selling will get you more sales, quicker but you don’t have to waste all of your time getting there. We deliver the scoop on where media pounds are going and when decision makers are most receptive so that our readers can set the tone for how they prospect.”
– Natalie Hogg. Editor & Lead New Business Analyst, DailyVista UK
Information about which chief marketing officers are on the move or which brand is in the market for a new agency can be powerful in the right hands.
Rest assured, the data that can help you unearth precious leads is out there, and you can get your hands on it fairly easily. But you have to know how to convert it from crude oil to petrol (or diesel if that’s your thing) in order to get anywhere.
If You’re Not Using Data You Won’t Win. Unless You Use Cat Videos.
Winning clients and customers is always an emotional decision, even when it’s B2B. Forbes.com have a brilliant infographic about how emotion influences B2B buying. It shows that 71 percent of business buyers who see a personal value in a product will buy it—but only 31 percent of customers think B2B brands provide that personal value.
The emotion that drives those decisions is trust, which is a four-stage process where the relationship can be described as:
Moving your prospective client through this process, getting them to trust you, is how you win business. And for that, you need data.
While you probably don’t think about it, you’ve seen how brands use data to help you get into being predisposed to trust them your whole life. Take this advert from 1987, for example:
Even before you get to the tagline in the advert you know the data. Eight out of ten. Yes, the nice cat ladies telling you about their pets was like a Sunday afternoon visit to your gran’s house (minus the cherry bakewells), but then you get hit with the data and the next thing you know your shopping trolley is full of cans of Whiskas and Mr. Kipling…and you don’t even own a cat.
Data is the social proof that gives you the confidence you need to feel comfortable making a purchase decision.
In the recent Audiense report on How to Use Social Data to Win New Business and Retain Clients, Truffle Social’s head of strategy, Kat Scoble, says, “If you aren’t using even limited amounts of social data to inform your pitch or campaign, you’re running behind on a massive scale.” And she’s right, it’s not that the early bird gets the worm, it’s that the early bird knows where the best worms are.
Last year, Price Waterhouse Cooper reported that “business information would be inherently more trustworthy if users could participate in the generation of that information.” How does this look to your customers? User generated information can be found on sites like Amazon and TrustPilot—you might even rely on data from someone like Mark Kermode for film reviews before you decide to shell out £8 to see Gods of Egypt (the review you should watch, the film you should not).
All of this is a long-winded way of saying when it comes to pitching your services or product, data can be the difference between a “yes” and everything that’s not a “yes.”
Answer the Pitch Question with Data. You’ll Seem 82%* More Credible.
To hear MEC’s Kathryn Saxon tell it, you can’t pitch effectively without data, because it helps inform your strategy to meet the client’s brief. “If you’re not using social insights,” she says, “you’re already out of the game.” And that’s before you even fire up PowerPoint.
The pitch question, by the way, is always, “We have this problem. What solutions can you offer, and why should I believe yours is the best option?”
You can get data to support your answer from all kinds of places: From Google Analytics about web traffic to warehouse inventory numbers, from hours logged against tasks to how much you just spent on stock photos. By using a tool like Winmo you can get data about your prospects, which helps you to answer their question in specific ways, and do that while demonstrating your ability to find their pain points without being explicitly told what they are.
If you know your target client’s vertical you can find broad market data by Googling it. Look at industry associations, academic or government research and white papers. This will give you a general idea of some of the issues the industry experiences, and with some educated guesses, you can move to using your data predictively to create strategies, plans and contingencies for your clients. Specific data will most likely come from discovery conversations with the client, and can help focus on the client’s specific needs compared to its vertical as a whole.
In selling the solution, testimonials, previous positive results from similar problems, and calculations of probable return on investment tell the client that you can trust be trusted to be good shepherds of their brand and your finances. After all, eight out of ten clients prefer you.
* Margin of error +/-82%.