I’m sure you get calls every day from people you don’t know about things you don’t need. As you begin developing your own market development plans, have you included everyone on your team that will be impacted by your decisions? Your business development results are only as good as the team supporting your efforts. So how do you involve your whole team?
In the past, I ran marketing for a large specialty retailer. I used to get in trouble with my boss all the time because I made sure the cashiers and customer service people were trained on the weekly ads and special events. My boss would say he had sales people to sell and the cashiers and customer service people had other jobs to do. I knew, without a doubt, several customers a day would come in and be introduced to my business by team members who normally didn’t interact with customers but, for whatever reason, they had to deal with customer questions.
How does this relate to a technology business, you’re asking? In the last several weeks, I’ve had conversations with a number of individuals who wanted to find out more about a technology company’s service offerings. When they called into the company’s office, all they got was a run-around. The person who picked up the call didn’t really understand what the company does or to whom to direct the caller. Now, I know this would never happen in your business but just as a test, have a friend call in to your business. See how your consultants and customer service people provide potential clients with the initial guidance to get them to the right people. Do your people make them feel glad they called or as a problem to be dealt with?
I know what you’re thinking; customers are always calling in so I can’t get my projects done, or worse, interrupting my social media agenda. Don’t they understand it’s not my job to answer the phones and spend time talking to you, my potential clients?
It’s funny, but I thought customers are part of why we are in business. I know it’s popular to use voice mail because it’s less costly to have potential clients leave messages. But most clients want to feel like more than just a number. If you’re going to have people answer the phone, you might want to invest the time to bring them up to speed on what’s going on in the business and who is still with the company. I’ve heard of several examples of potential clients calling in to discuss a project with an account manager. The person answering the phone didn’t know the account manager was no longer with the firm and they didn’t make sure the right individual got the message. In one case, it cost the company a several hundred thousand dollar deal. I know you still have to win the business but the client was not looking for several bids on the project because of the confidential nature of the project. The fact they knew the account executive meant they were willing to pay more for working with the account manager’s team.
All of this leads me to the following point; if your business isn’t customer driven, you are probably being driven out of the market by well-intended associates who get paid the same if they produce revenue or not. This decreases the over-all value of your business. What if one of those calls that gets shuffled around and dropped is from someone interested in buying your business? Do you think they’ll still be interested if they have to call back several times?
Here’s a question to consider if you’re still wondering why your phone isn’t ringing as much as it used to in the good old days. Try my call in test. You might be surprised to find that in these challenging economic times some of your employees have forgotten who they work for and why.