Marketing – is a lot about persistence

Customer Delight, Marketing, persistence, service quality

I had written in September about my trip to Jaipur and how the staff at the Radisson hotel over there were so persistence that I comment on TripAdvisor if I found their service good. Not only did they delight my family and me with their service, they also ensured that I recognised their work, so that more people would come to stay in their hotel.

Today I just came back after a two night stay at another leading American Five Star Chain hotel in Gurugram. There’s a reason I am not naming the hotel here. The whole staff was very pleasant and the restaurant staff was extremely helpful and we had an excellent stay. However no one persisted with pushing me to rate them on Trip Advisor. So even though they gave me excellent service, I will not talk about them.

Most human beings are inherently lazy and will not go out of their way to do something, leave alone leave a comment on TripAdvisor. But if you are in the hotel industry and if you have raving fans, then your rooms will always be full. Its an uphill task to always keep delighting your customers, but terrific companies do it.

This is all marketing and I notice when people do something exceptionally well to delight their customer. In most hotels in India, the service levels are very high and we expect even average hotel to deliver high levels of service. In most western countries the service levels in the hotels are just about average, so I don’t actually expect high quality service. But when you come across exceptional service in any part of the world, you want to laud it.

Delivering exceptional service consistently requires a lot of work, but being persistent, that the service also gets applauded is a marketing task and I think the Radisson in Jaipur and especially a few of their staff with whom we dealt with did achieve that.

When you give exceptional service, get the customer to give you a testimonial in some form. A good testimonial is a thousand times more powerful than whatever you talk about yourself.

Till next time then….keep delighting your customers and be persistent in taking testimonials.

Carpe Diem!!!

Sometimes losing a sale is good, in B2B

B2B, Customer Delight, Customers, losing, Sales

As a business leader, there are a lot of times when you have to take a decision on pricing which results in losing a deal.

I have had to take many such decisions and the sales persons involved in the deal get really upset since they misses their target because of that decision.

See, its very easy to discount to win a deal, but if after winning the deal you’re not able to execute because it’s way out of budget then you get a terrible name. In B2B, if you fail to deliver or deliver badly, then you can be sure that you will not get business from that company again and if the manager involved in the decision , goes to some other company, she will ensure that you do not get business from there also.

I have had a couple of instances where we lost the order, then the vendor who was awarded, did not deliver and after one year of struggling, the customer called us back and gave the order without any negotiation.

And since we did a good job there, they gave us multiple more cases.

The advantage of B2B is that once you do a good job, then generally, the managers want to keep working with you. The inertia and the political situation in the organizations mean that a manager doesn’t want to try a new vendor if she can.

So even if you have to lose a deal, its okay because you will get many opportunities to win. But if you do a bad job, because you don’t have the money in the deal, then you will lose the client forever.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

If you know how to sell apples …. can you also sell oranges

Customer Delight, Sales

I pride myself on the idea of being able to sell different things. I have sold things from industrial automation items to computers, to embedded devices which get into cars, all the way into selling different kinds of services.

The fundamental principle behind my confidence was the fact that if I know how to sell, then I can sell anything. Which brings us to the topic – when I am looking for someone for a specific role, to hire from outside, then why do I forget this principle. When I am looking for people to join our company from outside then I always ask for specific domain knowledge in selling. So my HR had this question, why do I discriminate.

When I am doing an internal transfer of resources, I don’t mind experimenting and letting people move from selling apples to selling oranges. That’s because, I know the capabilities of the person since they have worked in my team and I know that they will be able to adapt and learn about the new environment. Here there’s only one variable which I am addressing – the ability of the person to learn things about oranges and identifying people to sell oranges. I have had people whom I have moved from HR into Marketing because they had the drive to learn new things and explore.

When I am taking someone from outside, the person is completely unknown to me. Therefore I prefer to know, that in the domain that I want, that person has sold things. There are other variables about the new person which I don’t know. Like will the person be able to adjust to our culture, is she really in a position to deliver whatever she has written in the resume etc. Managing so many variables, including trying to give them new domain expertise is extremely time consuming. So to ensure that people become productive in the least amount of time, I would like to get people with domain expertise, when I am recruiting someone.

Coming back to where we started, if you know the psychology of selling, you can sell any product. You may take time to learn how the new product has to be positioned , what are the pain points that need to be identified etc. But once you know those, you can easily move from selling apples to selling oranges. The key aspect is knowing the psychology of helping a customer identify the problem, helping them solve the problem and delighting them.

There are other dynamics like selling cycles that you need to adapt to, but I have known people who were selling bicycle tyres to retailers get into successfully sell computers to corporates and some one selling sugar, get into selling computers.

So good sales people can sell what you give them to sell – apples or oranges.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

How to solve the Challenges of identifying a Single Target Market

Customer Delight, Marketing, niche, single target market

Whenever I talk to my team or other business folks, one major resistance that I get from all of them is on this issue of selecting a niche or single target market.

Everyone thinks that their product or service can solve so many different problems for so many people so why limit. It basically comes out to be about whether you want to be a small fish in a large pond or a big fish in a small pond.

And it takes so much of my energy to convince them, that all I am asking them is to prioritize the market entry into different markets. Once you enter one niche, you have to dominate it, take the learnings from that and then move ahead.

People still find it difficult. So I share with them this process, which is inspired by Dean Jackson and his concepts of the Eight Profit Activators.

Step 1 : Isolate all the geographical markets you have the bandwidth to operate in. These could be national , international etc. You can put this in the columns from from B to whatever in one row of your spreadsheet

Step 2: Isolate all the use cases for each of these geographical locations that your product or service can do. You can put this in column A of your spreadsheet.

The moment they start filling (not ticking, which is a copy and paste process) this two by two matrix with their ability to serve the market and get delighted customers, they start backing off.

They may still end up with about 5 or 6 niches , in which they think they can certainly delight customers. Then I ask them to look at which would give the highest probability of profit from the same effort. Since they also realize that time is limited for everyone, after this step most automatically identify a Single Target Market.

Hope the above helps you in identifying your niche and helps you dominate the market.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!