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Increasing Customer Preference


So how do you increase customer preference? Let's start by understanding the Buyer Journey.


The Buyer Journey


Let's say you're looking to buy a lawnmower. When it's time to make a relatively significant purchase, people either fall into two categories - the people that research everything before they buy it (me), or the people who just pick a store, walk in, and buy that lawnmower without knowing anything about it like a complete psychopath.


Just kidding. Psychopaths probably have a store preference.


All kidding aside, you generally have to be aware of a particular lawnmower in order to buy it. If you're aware of it, and you see that it's got something that makes it easier to push, you might be kind of interested in learning more about it.


If it turns out that three lawnmowers that each have great reviews online all assure you that they're easy to use, makes your cutting time shorter, the grass thick and lush, and are convenient to power - now you've got some evaluating to do... Your decision may be obvious and a "no brainer", or it may be a difficult one where they're all really close to being the right one for you. What does it come down to?

  • Price?

  • Reliability?

  • Operability?

  • The company that makes it?

  • Or, does your significant other just want you to hurry up and pick one?

The margin between the "winner" and the "losers" could be very small.


It's the same with RFPs. Proposals are often won and lost by very thin margins - and it all depends on what's important to that customer.


When was the last time you bought something that wasn't the cheapest thing on the shelf? Why did you buy that item? Probably because you could see the value in whatever it could do over the others.


So you've purchased your lawnmower, and you're a very happy customer. You put on your New Balance and mow with pride. You invite your neighbors over to barbecue. You write that online review with 5 stars, and when your trimmer breaks, by golly, you're going to buy the one that goes with your new mower. Hashtag: Loyalty.

 

Now that you have moved through the Buyer Journey as a buyer, you know that it first takes a little bit of empathy to understand what they're going through.


As a seller, you have key points in this buyer's journey to connect with your customer. Increasing buyer preference for your solution is really just:

  1. Increasing awareness

  2. Building trust

  3. And making it easy for the buyer to say "yes"


Increasing Awareness... To Your Target Audience


The best way to increase awareness is not to get a loudspeaker and mount it to your car, blaring your message to anyone and everyone within earshot. Well, maybe that works for ice cream trucks.


If you don't have an ice cream truck, the best way to increase awareness is for your organization to determine who they want their clients to be - and make a strategic client list. Marketing activities and lead generation should be focused on reaching these strategic clients. Every organization has their "secret sauce" for how they do this, so I won't go into that here. The point is, increasing awareness is targeted and proactive, not unfocused and reactive.


Building Trust with Your Customers


Sellers in the corporate world build trust with their customers just the way mom-and-pop corner stores build trust with their patrons - by showing up for their customers, keeping their word, providing a quality experience, being transparent and honest, and having that little extra "something". Maybe they remember your name or your coffee order, or are just always happy to see you.

How you build a working relationship is unique to you and your business, but generally, these same principles apply.


When your customer says to you that they're thinking about issuing an RFP, this is a major moment to build trust with them!


Instead of saying:

"Great! Let us know when you release it!"


Say:

"Great! If you've never released an RFP before, I have an RFP toolkit you can use to help make that process easier for you - if you're interested."


An RFP toolkit is an excellent strategic selling tool because it allows you to influence the RFP before it's released. Toolkits can include a sample RFP questionnaire, sample score sheets with recommended scoring methodology, and tips for navigating the process from an operational standpoint.


This method relieves the customer of the burden of planning, saving them time and money drafting their own from scratch, and gives you the competitive edge because already know what will be in the RFP. The customer might even just copy it, word for word.


This method also allows you to be prepared for the response, and navigating the response process will be a breeze.


Specifically Building Trust in Your Proposal

The content in your proposal also needs to match the expectations you've set with your customer before the RFP. It needs to be:

  • Compliant with their needs and requirements

  • Concise, but as thorough as necessary to explain in adequate detail

  • Clear with the information they need right up front, and truthful

  • Compelling with a narrative focused on the value you bring to that specific client

  • Competitive, not only on par with others, but how you bring more to the table


Making it Easy for the Customer to Say "Yes"


This is a matter of making sure you focus your efforts on the parts of the proposal that score highest (literally and figuratively) with your customer. It goes back to knowing the customer's specific needs and the strategy for how you are best suited to solve them.


If you can tick all the boxes, literally, on the score sheet, you can edge out your competition - just like when you selected that lawnmower.


In my next post, find out if you're guilty of doing the "spray and pray".



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