A Customer-Centric Sales Approach: Revenue Throughput for your Creative Firm
My experience in relationship management began in my 20’s – as a professional fundraiser for both small and mid-sized nonprofits in the Greater Philadelphia Area. In May 2016, I launched an end-of-year “phone-a-thon” with a 40-50% response rate from renewing, lapsed, and new donors all eager to play a role in my organization’s Annual Fund before FY16 closed.
While hitting participation/engagement records, I discovered something remarkable: the personalized/donor-centric approach to fundraising (also transferrable to B2B/B2C sales) is incredibly effective! Donors from all different walks of life, giving levels, and backgrounds responded simply because they were engaged in a personalized, collaborative, and participatory fashion.
It wasn’t about the size of the gift, but rather the participation of the donor at all! Phrases such as “your support,” “we need your help,” and “your participation/engagement” are becoming increasingly common (indicated by the Association of Fundraising Professionals) in philanthropy.
According to Greater Giving Blog, 65 to 70% of surveyed donors responded that they would give again to a fundraising organization that practices the donor-centric approach. Sincerity, timeliness, and compelling storytelling are similarly expounded by Greater Giving, a relationship management approach that is as effective as it is applicable to your creative firm’s sales throughput (revenue conversion via volume and velocity) for 2021.
Here’s how a customer-centric sales approach can help you!
According to Marketing Metrics, the probability of selling to an existing happy customer is up to 14 times higher than the probability of selling to a new customer. Check-in with your clients, not just when they ask – but in a spontaneous fashion, as well. Client engagement (sporting events, happy hours, holiday calls) is as important as the size of the accounts themselves.
According to Help Crunch, there are three levels to customer service orientation (see chart below). Level 3 vendors go the extra mile for customers; endeavoring to work through challenges and build strategic, long-lasting partnerships.
Tip: offer FREE 30-minute web traffic consultations to your ten “10” longest-standing clients.
According to Sasquatch, conversions from a landing page are only 2-3%, on average. When visitors reach a referral page; however, a notable 14% of viewers take some form of action.
Maintain positive relationships with all clients; seeing projects through to completion and even more importantly, to client satisfaction. Smart Insights advocates maintaining a high “Net Promoter Score (NPS),” a metric that helps determine how likely current (and previous) clients would be to recommend your brand to their friend or colleague. Word of mouth is a driving factor for up to 50% of purchase decisions, according to McKinsey & Co.
Tip: offer cashback initiatives for your creative firm’s referral program to current clients; engage via quarterly e-blasts!
When selling to a business, keep in mind that relationship management principles (cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship) are still applicable and necessary!
Less than 5% of cold calls will lead to anything according to Entrepreneur, so stop calling, and start researching/engaging. Oftentimes, a simple lunch/coffee meeting with a decision-maker from a prospective account is an efficacious usage of marketing dollars. Decision-makers want both engagement (see B2B International graph below) and enthusiasm from their vendor and wouldn’t you?
Tip: plan a complimentary luncheon for thought leaders & prospects from a specific industry semi-annually (even prior to client conversion)! This is a sound method of “cultivation” – arguably the second most important tenet for sales, next to stewardship (“gratitude”).
Everyone likes to feel valued; your clients are no different. If your firm’s core values don’t align with your own; clients will eventually start to catch on. Studies suggest that large clients need to be communicated with, and thanked, up to 8-10 times each fiscal year!
Tip: simply saying “thanks for your partnership,” or “looking forward to working together!” can carry you a long way in any business relationship.
As you can see, industry research shows that a customer-centric approach to sales is both sustainable and beneficial for your bottom line. According to B2B International’s survey (above) of fifty “50” large B2B firms, only 40% scored “excellent” in the “Responsiveness” category. Timeliness in response/engagement is a pillar of B2B excellence that requires no talent; just accountability – worth enacting now!
Evaluate your sales plan for 2021 as a dynamic pyramid: how many customers are at the top (“pipeline accounts”), and is there a strategy and process for converting smaller accounts (at the bottom) to mid-sized creative projects (web design/marketing/advertising/business development)? Moreover, what are your processes for driving leads to conversions?
When in doubt – say thanks.