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- How to Sell to Market Research Buyers, Part 2
- How to Sell to Market Research Buyers, Part 1
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- Your Sales Forecast Doesn’t Have to be a Guessing Game!
- Lead generation is a 3-step process.
- Measuring Sales… it’s Not just about Revenue
- 7 Selling Behaviors Seller-Doers Must Employ to be Successful.
- Can you really be “all things to all people?”
- 12 Marketing & Sales Activities you Gotta STOP this Year!
- How to maximize the impact of your marketing investment.
- Revenue Growth? Try the ‘5% Challenge’… it’s Brilliant!
- Should you ever walk away from revenue?
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- 20 Marketing and Sales Concepts Business Leaders Need to Know, Part 2
- 20 Marketing and Sales Concepts Business Leaders Need to Know, Part 1
- 10 Guidelines for How to Be Successful at Sales
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- Marketing Measurement: 3 New Methods You Have to Try in 2016
- The One Thing You Must Include in Your 2016 Marketing & Sales Plan
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- Take Charge of Your Own Success… Stop Relying on Others!
- Getting first-time clients to take a chance on you.
- 9 Ways to Build your Business During the Summer Slowdown
- The Top 10 Ways to Build Awareness
- The 13 Most Common Website Mistakes
- The Most Important Part of Exhibiting
- Content marketing isn’t a one-time thing… it’s an all-the-time thing.
- THINKING! A framework for creating better business plans in 2015.
- Not happy with your marketing & sales? Then make just one change in 2015!
- For Beginners: Should I Tweet Daily? Yes… and here’s how.
- Got your Marketing Plan for 2015? No?! Now’s a good time to start…
- How to Connect with Booth Visitors – An Exhibitor’s Worksheet
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- 10 Ways to Get Clients to Sell FOR You (and they won’t cost a dime!)
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- 11 execution tips to help you exceed client expectations
- How to Turn First-time Clients into Repeat Clients
- 15 easy, low-cost marketing and sales tactics for 2014 – Part 2
- 15 easy, low-cost marketing and sales tactics for 2014 – Part 1
- 13 Lessons for Researchers Who Don’t Want (or Like) to Sell
- Social media marketing success in 30 minutes a day
- Get it right! You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
- It’s not that complicated! A common sense approach to the marketing & sales process.
- How MR firms are blowing it with new customers: Lessons learned while secret shopping
- Management or sales… you can’t serve two masters.
- Prove it! Nine ways to convince prospects to work with you for the first time.
- Five everyday ways to grow your business
- How that ‘one great client’ could doom your firm
- Six marketing and sales mistakes MR firms make every day
- Eight proven ways to build awareness – and why you should!
- Suspects, Prospects and Clients: Is your firm focused on the right target?
- A Checklist for Conducting Your Own Marketing & Sales Audit
- Learning to play the game: What football can teach us about marketing
- Differentiating your firm in a crowded marketplace
- 25 low- or no-cost ways to grow your business
- 15 Reasons E-mail Still Matters in Sales and Marketing
- Come prepared, dress the part and follow up: 10 dos for exhibiting at MR trade shows
- No rookies, no gum and no Frisbees: 10 don’ts for exhibiting at MR trade shows
- How to see yourself as clients see you
- Marketing 101: It takes Work to make it Work
- Use the 8 Ps of Marketing when Setting Strategy
- Integrate the 4 As of Marketing into Your Planning
- Size Does Matter: 4 Approaches to Growing Your Business
- The 12 Guiding Principles of Marketing (part 2)
- The 12 Guiding Principles of Marketing (part 1)
How MR firms are blowing it with new customers: Lessons learned while secret shopping
In the past year, we’ve helped several firms gather information on their clients, ex-clients and competitors. One of the components of the competitor analysis is a secret-shopping exercise.
Specifically, we were interested in the initial inquiry and bidding phase. Not only did our clients want to see what their competitors’ proposals looked like – and of course, their pricing – but they were equally interested in how these other MR firms responded to and communicated with prospective customers during the courtship phase.
Some valuable lessons bubbled to the surface. But here’s the thing: Not a single one will come as a surprise to you. They are all fundamental actions that you would think every firm does every day. What was surprising was how poorly many of these firms performed at a time when they had to make a good first impression.
The following are some key areas where we saw many MR firms really drop the ball.
How easy is it for prospective clients to find the place on your Web site where they can submit an RFP? Some sites have forms that can be filled out; some sites provide an e-mail address. You would be amazed at how many make it extremely difficult. If it’s not immediately findable on your site, fix it!
Responding to the submission
Everyone who submits an RFP online wants to know that it was received. So many firms don’t do this. If your site has a submission form, program it to immediately respond “Thanks for your submission. You will hear back from us shortly.” If you’re using e-mail, make sure you have a human process in place to do the same thing. Don’t leave your prospective clients wondering if it went through.
Order-taker or consultant?
Every project – no matter how small or simple – has its nuances. Take the time to talk (yes, in person!) to everyone who submits an RFP. Ask all the questions you think necessary to make sure you fully understand the project details and can bid it appropriately. Those kinds of calls also give you the chance to make a great first impression, build rapport and learn more about the prospective client.
The old adage “You only have one chance to make a first impression” is so true. That’s why it’s critical that you put your best and brightest employees on the phone to call back prospective clients. It’s a chance to showcase your team’s talent, to prove that you know what you’re talking about and to make sure you really do understand the project. No rookies, please.
There’s nothing worse for a prospective client than to engage in a call with one of your employees who’s – excuse the pun – phoning it in. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a script or form to fill out, as they ensure nothing is missed in the conversation, but there’s more to it than reading words on a page. Enthusiasm engages the prospective client, shows them you care and are genuinely interested in earning their business and gets them excited by the possibility of working with you. Monotone. Indifference. Turns. Clients. Off.
Honesty – always
One of the MR firms we shopped was a very small boutique agency. They responded promptly to the RFP and during the call said that they were just slammed with project work. They wanted us to know that they were very interested in bidding on the project but couldn’t get to the RFP for a couple of days. We loved that! Very few projects require an immediate response but the fact that they were totally upfront with us told us a little something about what kind of firm they would be to deal with. Shoot straight with everyone.
Check your tech
On several occasions we received no communication back from the MR firms after submitting the RFP. Ever. Is your technology working? Test it regularly. You don’t want to miss out on any opportunities.
Thanks, but no thanks
There certainly are RFPs you receive that you don’t want to bid on. That’s fine. But make sure to communicate that back to the prospective client: “Thanks so much for thinking of us with your recent RFP. We are, however, going to pass on this particular project. Please keep us in mind for your future research needs.”
So, here’s the question: If these things should be done and really aren’t that hard to do, why aren’t they getting done? I believe it comes down to a couple of things.
“Things that are easy to do are also easy not to do.” I believe those firms that performed poorly just assumed these kinds of things were getting done because they’re easy, common-sense things to do. But you know what say about assuming…
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Because these activities are easy to do, no one bothers to monitor and report on them. So no one is being held accountable to make sure they are done and done well.
Don’t blow it
You build a successful business on repeat clients but those repeat clients start as first-time clients. Getting them to submit an RFP the very first time is hard enough – don’t blow it by doing a lousy job during the RFP submission and proposal process.
Good luck and good marketing.
This article was originally published in Quirk’s: http://www.quirks.com/articles/2013/20130827-1.aspx