With the advent of globalization and general informatization, a new pain appeared in the sphere of economics and sales - people stopped buying and consuming goods as they did before. Business struggle and access to any data makes consumers selective, “post-materialism” enters the scene, dragging a completely new model of socio-economic behavior. Especially people under the age of 30 are exposed to this effect, because they were born in the era of the formation of technologies, which we are so used to. Don Tapscott called this generation a “Net Generation” in his book “Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation Is Changing Your World” (2008).
Based on this, I am absolutely and categorically convinced that the work of any commercial business should be aimed at understanding the client, and sales should be based on three pillars that help not only to increase profits, but also to optimize all processes within the company, because any business exists at the expense of its customers (an obvious conclusion, which, unfortunately, is not always taken into account). These three pillars are: “sell to yourself,” “sell yourself,” and “understand the customer.” Working in the sales and analytics field, I can say that many techniques are outdated, and those that are still able to show results are rapidly moving in the same direction. They are replaced by sales through understanding, and this concept runs through all the processes in the organization with a red thread and, applying it, you need to be prepared for changes not only in the sales department, but the results will justify any of your expectations, do not hesitate.
CUSTOMER- AND PRODUCT-FOCUSEDNESS
I'll start, perhaps, with a short story about myself. Hello, my name is Pavel, and I am a project manager with more than 7-year long experience. I will not tell you the ways to optimize sales process in IT-companies, I want to show how applying different practices in sales, you can change the face of the company as well as the client’s opinion about your business.
When forming a sales development strategy in a company, we are faced with such things like customer- and product-oriented strategy. In fact, here we determine how we will act on demand and how we will build marketing campaigns, developing a brand. Using a product-oriented strategy, be prepared to work with objections. At a subconscious level, we all perceive “straight forward” selling process with caution, and because of the informatization of society, it is difficult to hide both the obvious disadvantages of your product and the non-obvious ones, giving consumers more reasons for doubt. With a customer-oriented approach in the company’s strategy, you can achieve the most transparent sales and gain the trust of the client, forcing to come back to you again and again.
The best sale goes unnoticed for the customer
Let us pass from theory to practice. How can you understand the client and make him loyal to your company so that he will not notice anything? First of all, you need to analyze the needs and pains of your target audience, understand how the client thinks when purchasing your product / service, and outline his path for himself. In other words, you need to put yourself in the place of an ordinary consumer and go through all the “through rough ways to the stars”.
TARGET AUDIENCE AND CUSTOMER PORTRAIT
Here we are faced with the concept of “Target audience” (TA) or “Customer Portrait”. “Google” a little and you will find out that TA is “a specific group of people that all marketing communications of the brand are directed to.” Seems to be not difficult, but what to pay attention to and how to describe the customer portrait both at the first stages of establishing a business, and for an existing one? In books on marketing most often you can find the following structure of characteristics and a recommendation to describe the target audience in as much detail as possible, moving from point to point:
This structure is quite functional and, based on it, you can most accurately determine the needs of your client, however, based on personal experience and the opinions of experts in the field of marketing. I advise you to prioritize when describing the customer portrait and pay attention only to those characteristics that are important in the formation of the marketing strategy in each case. For example, it is impractical to include a settlement in the description for an online store operating around the world. The target audience of any business consists of several subgroups, united by common features, which most often buy products manufactured in the organization. Among these subgroups, it is important to highlight the “core” and at least 2-3 TA groups, this will help to focus on important customers, among which your product is most in demand.
Ideally, if you already have a well-developed database of customers who have already bought something in your company, have regular customers, and you can track sales trends and identify the general characteristics of your consumer (analyze available information or conduct a survey / any convenient marketing research). If you have a new business or even just the idea of creating a startup, you will have to connect creativity and imagination, create a TA hypothesis and test it in practice.
CLIENT JOURNEY MAP
Now that we understand who our customer is, we move on to a detailed description of how he makes the decision to purchase your product. To do this, there is an old, time-tested method that confirms its effectiveness over and over again - creating a “Client Journey Map”.
Using a map, the main fears and expectations of customers are manifested. This is the main difference between CJM and the sales funnel, in which the company draws the linear movement of the customer to the product without workarounds.
To make a map, you need to monitor the behavior of the client at all points of intersection with the company. For a good analysis, you need to collect enough information about the buyer and the product itself, and then correctly fix it on the map.
By default, the client journey map is divided into 3 “sections”, which describes various aspects in the study of the consumer - common ground, emotions and a description of our actions at each stage.
The steps are the following: Research, way, in store, after purchase - if we are talking about the description of the client, and pre-service period, service period, after-service period, if we are talking about the description of our actions in order to lead the customer to purchase.
Now let's move from theory to practice. For example, I’ll tell you a real case from personal experience that helped my clients reach a new level in the organization of business processes in the company and achieve the highest levels. It is important to note here that my work has always been one way or another connected with IT, however, no matter what role I play in the process of sales, analysis and development, I try to find the maximum amount of data for analytics and making suggestions for improving the site structure or an application that we are going to develop together with team. Analytics is always comprehensive and covers not only the development process and what is associated with it.
So, we received a call-off for the development of a web, and subsequently a mobile application for a completely new startup, which is at the stage of the emergence of an idea and the formation of a company’s strategy. A real dream, isn't it?
The startup’s idea is to create a platform for connecting companies organizing concerts and shows with performers, comedians, musicians and other artists. The website should have 2 sections for the two types of users described above, there is no design, the structure of the site is described in its infancy, in general, there is a scope for creativity, but first, analytics. We start with a description of the product that our customer provides. Specifically, in this case, it is a service for organizing concert programs on the territory of different owners in certain cities of the United States. This is enough for the first stage.
Next, we turn to the specifics, namely, the description of the product criteria that your customers can pay attention to. Here they are:
At this stage, you don’t need to spray and cling to facts that have little effect on the customer’s motivation to buy your product, but to describe those ones that affect the minds of customers with the greatest force. The ideal number of criteria is 5-10 for the general range of products or services of the organization.
So, we have a description of the product provided by the company, already at this stage you can decide to adhere to the concept of a product-oriented strategy and begin to plan marketing and sales based on the advantages of the product. This strategy is not bad, but not so effective in modern realities and, in any case, the next stage of analytics - analysis of the target audience, is inevitable.
Describing a client’s portrait is useful for companies with a product-oriented strategy (in this case, it is necessary to describe cases, scripts and conflict resolution tactics) and for organizations seeking to be customer-oriented (it is important to know the needs and pains of clients in order to understand leverage and build brand trust). In this case, TA is clearly divided into 2 parts - concert organizing companies and artists who perform on their territory. Without going into details, we can immediately say that TA is strictly limited to several cities in the USA for all groups; do not pay attention to demographic characteristics; when describing the “Artist” TA, the most attention should be paid to psychological characteristics, in particular hobbies, idols, etc., it should also be divided into several subgroups, where the core will be “musicians”, since the direction is quite extensive and most popular on the service ( according to forecasts and preliminary analysis of the client himself), and the groups are divided into - “comedians”, “artists” and “speakers”; for the TA related to the organizing companies, the most important characteristic is a social one - you need to take into account the size of the company, the territory of the concert studio, income level, the popularity of the place, reviews and so on. Usually, the description of the target audience of the company is more detailed and is a document with a list of all the characteristics that are important to us, but, unfortunately, I cannot disclose all the details. I am sure that based on the logic described above, you can easily outline your client portrait.
After that, we proceed to compile the Client Journey Map. In our case, there are 2 of them - one for the organizing company, the second one for the artists. I really like this case, because it simultaneously works in both B2B and B2C sectors.
Having provided all this information and suggestions, drawn up together with the specialists in design, development and analytics based on the data above, we created a platform that brought the company more than 5000 unique users in the first two months after its launch.
Concrete actions to overcome barriers should become the result of work with the analytical data collected above. But it is important to remember that no one and nothing gives ready-made solutions, although it clearly shows the sources of problems.
If after optimizing the processes within the company, the client’s journey or target audience (and this also happens) has changed, create a new map. Keep track of the customer’s interaction with the company and avoid barriers.
Constantly return to the client and check what else prevents him from reaching the goal and making a purchase. By gradually getting to know the customer better, you can find the best ways to interact with him. And most importantly, remember - the path to the heart of the client lies through understanding and trusting relationships.