I attended a presentation by the Marketing Leadership Council of the Corporate Executive Board (did you get all that?) a few weeks ago. It was very interesting and focused on how your client pitch should be more than just pitching features and benefits – you should be teaching your customers.
The MLC cross referenced the findings from their Marketing and Sales surveys to discover some interesting drivers for customer loyalty. They found that, in aggregate, there are three main marketing practices that drive loyalty – 1) you must be able to learn from your customers; 2) you must be able to teach your customers; and 3) you should amplify the voice of your advocates within the client organization.
Basically, you need to move away from telling clients the features and/or benefits of your product or service. You also need to focus on a client issue and then show them how they can solve it. Lead them to the water. They focused on a case study from Volvo trucks. Previously, Volvo truck sales people were touting their larger windshield and more comfortable cab – their features. They tried moving to benefits by telling their clients that more people preferred their trucks over competitors, therefore the client would have happier truck drivers. However, they found to be most effective when they tought their client. They changed their pitch to teach clients about the costs associated with driver turnover – they led them to the solution that Volvo increases driver satisfaction and therefore would lower turnover costs.
Today, clients can find out about your features and benefits online. In order to maximize the small amount of time that you have with them, you need to focus on your unique qualities and your true differentiators. The MLC drove this point home by comparing the sales engagement to speed dating. Now people in the dating world can find out almost anything about you prior to meeting. So, you need to capitalize on the rare face-to-face moments by focusing on information they can’t find online.
This teaching can also be used to help amplify your advocates within the client organization. Are you are arming your supporters with the information necessary to sell your ideas up their management chain? The more successful you make your advocates within their own organization, the more loyal they will be to your company. Giving your clients the information to be smart within the company – the tools to possibly advance their career – will keep them coming back for more.
Are you teaching?