Some of you may recognise this image, it’s from the 2010 film The King’s Speech, starring Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. The particular scene is the rehearsal for the Coronation where Lionel provokes George VI into shouting “I have a voice” to which Lionel calmly replies, “Yes you do.”
In the last few days, we have seen two major organisations make public announcements of a change of mind in response to an outcry from their customers or the general public. The Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company announced that it would not make any charge to the NHS for use of the ExCel Centre as the London Nightingale Hospital and Liverpool FC reversed its decision to furlough some non-playing staff and apologised to fans.
Those of us old enough to remember the early 1990s may remember the campaign for Dolphin-friendly tuna, which has resulted in a 99% reduction in Dolphin deaths in tuna nets. Consumers actively sought out tuna labelled as “Dolphin-Friendly”.
As a junior marketing executive working in snack foods in the late 1980s I also remember the drive to remove artificial colours, flavourings and preservatives from our products in response to the consumer demand, driven by the book “E is for Additives” by Maurice Hanssen.
We don’t have to be royalty, a Government minister, an ‘influencer’, or business leader to have a voice. As consumers we all have a voice and brands, businesses and even governments will listen.
All we need to do is to speak up and let other people add their voices.
You’ve identified a potential new customer, you’ve battled through out of office messages, voicemail and gatekeepers to speak to the decision maker, you’ve won some time for a face to face meeting in his or her jam-packed diary and you’ve had a great meeting where they agree that you look like the type of supplier they could do business with – yippee!. And then the prospect says “but it’s not the right time”!
Where does that leave you – a qualified prospect with a genuine interest, but not buying right now. Sometimes they will tell you when you should contact them again – 3 months, 6 months, next year, but even if you diligently make a note of this and call them on the precise date they suggested, most times you’ll find that’s not the right time either. That’s probably not because they were intentionally deceiving you, it’s more likely that they didn’t really know when it would be the right time!
The reality in most business to business (B2B) conversations about a future need is that it’s the prospect’s business that decides when the time is right. The risk is that as the potential new supplier, you don’t find out until just too late. How many times have you heard a good prospect say something like “I wish I had been talking to you last month!” because they have realised they have made the wrong decision?
Typically, what raises your product or service from a “that makes sense” proposition to a “we need that now” is something that changes in the prospect’s business. You probably don’t know what it is going to be and certainly don’t know when it’s going to happen, but that change in their world will create a window of opportunity to you to have a conversation that could secure the sale.
The best chance of realising the opportunity is to be in their mind when that window opens. That doesn’t mean pestering them every week with a thinly disguised sales call – that will almost certainly disqualify you from the process! A carefully timed regular contact that isn’t a hard sell, but demonstrates an interest in their business, and their challenges plus what makes you a good choice for them can keep you on their ‘buying radar’.
In my experience, this is a perfect role for a marketing drip or multi-touch campaign. We call our campaigns ‘Sales Generators’ because they are designed to engage, qualify and warm-up prospects ready for the sales team to jump into action “when the time is right”.
You can find out more about the Sales Generator at our website, or give us a call on 0121 222 5743.