It's no surprise that face-to-face and phone sales trump other channels of communication (i.e. - web, direct mail, social media, etc). One of the obvious reasons is the unique ability to "listen" to how the prospect is responding to your proposition. Specifically, face-to-face takes it a step further and allows you to observe the nonverbal cues your prospects are communicating as well.
The problem with face-to-face selling (and phone selling for that matter) is that they are not easily scalable. If you want to build an organization filled with face-to-face and phone reps, you're looking at a lot of human capital. There's no way around it. To scale, it's gonna bite into your margins. This is simply one of the necessary evils of some businesses, although I'd be hard-pressed to not find one that can benefit from marketing automation and leveragable forms of communication.
If you're on the "other side," have built a list of thousands of prospects, and have added mass communication to your marketing mix, how do you "listen?" How do you know their "hot buttons" and what drives them? On a mass level, sure, you could send them surveys and figure out collectively what they want. But mass methods deliver mass conversion rates (1% at best). Fortunately, there is a way to do it on an individual, one-to-one basis, giving us some of the advantages of face-to-face selling --- what I've coined as "Scaling Personal Attention."
One answer could be by tracking what they do.
In my CRM system, Infusionsoft, there are these little magical labels called "tags" that can be applied to a prospect's account, much like you see on blogs. For example, I might tag this blog post: "data collection, scaling marketing, how to survey prospects, infusionsoft tagging, etc." It's a way of organizing my posts and making it easy for users to find other related posts tagged with the same keywords.
In the same way, I can create little labels inside Infusionsoft and apply them to prospects when they perform certain actions (or inactions). But they aren't just labels or search tools. They are actionable. I can send follow-up e-mails, launch a series of e-mails (called follow-up sequences), queue a direct mail package, create a task for a phone rep to call, queue an sms text message, send an automated voicemail, and a whole host of other actions... all based on a particular tag or combination of tags). I believe in tagging so much that as of this writing, my account boasts over 900+ tags (and I have clients with as many as 5,000). You can never listen enough.
So what kind of things should you be tagging?
As a starter, you should be tagging every time they click an e-mail. Period. In my Infusionsoft 10 Commandments, this is hallowed commandment #2. Not only does this give you their general activity level (the more tags, the more activity), but over time, it develops a behavioral profile for each prospect.
If you sell financial services and you stumble onto a prospect's account that seems to have an overwhelming number of tags related to asset protection, asset allocation, and protecting what they've got, then it's pretty safe to assume this is what they're interested in. One of their hot buttons lies in this area. It would behoove you to have an [contentblock id=4 img=gcb.png] in place that "listens" for this response and acts on it.
This may be somewhat of an advanced technique but you could set up, say, 10 e-mails that cover just about every topic your product or service covers. Using the financial services example again, this may be e-mails about these subjects: family planning, asset protection, retirement planning, life insurance, investment management, tax planning, mortgages, etc. Every e-mail's purpose is only to encourage them to click to your website where they get the full details or content. (This is important. Only give them enough information in the e-mail to pique their curiosity). And of course, every link should apply a tag: "Interested in life insurance," "Interested in retirement planning" or "Clicked investment management e-mail 1A."
After the 10th step, you could then set up your [contentblock id=4 img=gcb.png] to follow rules like: "If they clicked the life insurance e-mail, put them on a longer life insurance sequence that pushes them down a path that leads to taking action with my product/service."
"What about the uber-interested user that clicks every e-mail?" you may ask. From my experience with historical open and clickthrough rates, "100% clickers" are rare but if you get some, take good care of them. You wouldn't want to launch 10 different sequences, bombarding them with multiple e-mails per day on each of your 10 subjects.
You'll want to set up what I've coined as "The Orbit" (which I'll be covering in my home study course). It essentially answers the problem: "When there are multiple paths to take my prospect/customers down, how do I organize them so they launch sequentially and not simultaneously?"
Put it this way: I have 40+ products at Hearandplay.com (my primary business) and it took me a while to figure out the details of "The Orbit."
Another helpful listening technique is what I call "tag surveying." It's where you send an e-mail that has multiple options in it for your recipients to select. For example, you could say something like:
]As you know, I help individuals with all types of financial needs and want to make sure I'm sending you information that will be most helpful to your situation. Please click on what most interests you below and you'll receive advice specifically catered to that topic (the last item clicked will be saved)...
Now, that's written pretty quickly by me but that's the jist of it. Then, you'll simply proceed to list in bullet formatting a few areas that may interest them. Be careful that you don't overwhelm them with too many choices as a "confused mind never buys." Figure out your most popular areas and list those. Don't worry about your obscure, really narrow services. You'll cover those in the backend, once they're a happy customer.
And of course, whatever they click on tags them and could even launch a follow-up sequence right then and there. And to be safe, you can make each click apply its tag and remove ALL other tags and actions. This makes sure they only follow one path at a time.
So there you have it. A couple ways to use technology to listen and respond accordingly. Marketing is about finding out what they want and simply giving it to them. Through the process described above, you can achieve this on an individual level. And if you want to pick up the phone or pay em' a visit, do so after they've accumulated a minimum threshold of tags (which equals "ACTIVITY.").
Until next time.
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