Thursday, October 30, 2008

Customer Communication is King -- Sales and Marketing Team Work

It is critical at whatever stage the economy is in, good times or bad times, for your customer messaging to ring true with your target market. If the potential customers you are talking to do not understand what you are trying to convey, then your company is in big trouble. And that is spelled with a capital T. If your salespeople send more than a few percent of their time trying to explain what it is you as a company are trying to convey, you are then not in an optimum sales situation.

I have just a brief example of shaping the message to the target audience. When my son was very young his favorite fast food was a cheeseburger from McDonalds with ketchup and pickles only. He would go with me and tell me he wanted a cheeseburger, but please only ketchup and pickles on it. When I ordered it the way he wanted it ordered the McDonalds clerk would repeat it back multiple times, and with a high degree of certitude my son’s cheeseburger would have either mustard or onions or both on it. This would cause me to trek to the counter to exchange the cheeseburger for one that would meet my son’s standards.

This disconnect in communications got old very fast. McDonalds would always be gracious enough to make another to my son’s specifications, but the hassle quotient was off of the scales.

I started thinking about the issue at night once and determined for a product that contained only a bun, hamburger, cheese, onion, mustard, ketchup and pickle there had to be a better way to communicate my son’s requirements and make the process easier to digest.

I determined that I would order my son’s cheeseburger by what he did not want on it. “One cheeseburger with no onion and no mustard, please.” The clerk would repeat back, “Cheeseburger, no onion and no mustard.” Bingo, the rate of successful ordering for my son’s cheeseburger shot through the roof.
But there was still one small problem. When my son heard me order in the new fashion he would say to me, “But I want pickles and ketchup only on my cheeseburger.” With my son it was very easy to communicate to him that because of the finite number of ingredients only ketchup and pickle on a cheeseburger was exactly the same as no onions and no mustard on a cheeseburger.

My Son was happy, I was happy, the clerk was happy and somewhere Ronald McDonald and the shareholders of McDonalds were happy because the cost of preparing my son’s food had been reduced.

I use the above only as an example of customer communications and how critical it is. Lack of clear communications could be why you lost an account, why your close rate is not as good as your competition, or why you often leave your customers with a dazed and confused look on their face. Talk to your key salespeople and find out if messaging might be getting in the way of representing and selling your company. If it is, then fix it.

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