"All the storytelling we do requires frequency. You’ll try something new, issue a statement, explore a new market… and when it doesn’t work right away, the instinct is to walk away and try something else. But frequency teaches us that there is a very real dip--a gap between when we get bored and people (our clients, prospects, and employees) get the message."
- Seth Godin, This Is Marketing
As business owners and sales professionals, we tend to give up too soon.
I’ve seen this happen over and over again in the office technology industry. In hopes of gleaning more revenue from a current client base full of low hanging fruit, we launch new initiatives like document management, managed print services, or managed IT services. We select partners and hire specialists...
To light the fire, we have an open house and maybe send out a press release. We call our website company and ask them to add a “page about IT”. (I have this conversation on a weekly basis…) Basically, we do the bare minimum and then get back to doing our core business.
Then, we look up a year later and wonder why our results are so disappointing.
Cross selling is critically important to success in a mature market where profit margins are disappearing. Why? Because these new initiatives are the source of future profits.
If we don’t get good at cross-selling our client base into profitable services we will be in trouble because there is no pricing power in the hardware business. We can't pretend that hardware is going to someday become more profitable. “The incremental revenue in managed services as likely more profitable than the hardware and related service revenue making the profit impact even much more dramatic.”
Getting the message out about your offering requires FREQUENCY.
(I've always thought that the key to marketing was on the back of a shampoo bottle: rinse and repeat.)
Seth Godin sums it up: “People don’t remember what they read, what they hear, or even what they see. If they’re lucky, people remember what they do, but they’re not very good at that either. We remember what we rehearse.”
We have to tell the story over and over again. Every single interaction with our clients and prospects needs to reinforce the message.
Why is frequency important?
“The market has been trained to associate frequency with trust. If you quit in the middle of building that frequency, it’s no wonder you never get the chance to earn the trust.” - Seth Godin
Don’t Give Up Too Soon!
If you’re frustrated with the growth of your new initiative, don’t give up too soon. Stay the course. You may be on the edge of your breakthrough. In our mature industry, it’s critical that these initiatives succeed. Stay the course. Put your leadership and vision behind the direction.
Deliver a Consistent Message with Frequency
This month I’ve been creating a new cross-selling sales and marketing playbook to help our clients get the managed service message out with consistency and frequency.
You only get so many chances to interact with your clients. Every single interaction should include messages about your new services:
- Service: Every interaction with the client
- Marketing: Every interaction with your brand, website, and social media
- Sales: From the beginning to the end of the sales process
Focus On Building Trust
Your clients know and trust you as a hardware provider. Not only do they not know about your new offerings, when they find out, they may not trust your abilities in these areas.
Next to lack of frequency in telling the story, low trust may be the biggest reason new initiatives like managed services programs don’t succeed.
How Do You Build Trust?
Look Like an Expert
First, you need to look like you know what you’re doing. Don’t just add a page to your website about managed IT. That makes it look like a bolt on or an afterthought. Go through your website and integrate the managed services message into everything. Start with your messaging. (Our team here at Convergo uses the Story Brand model).
Then, integrate the message through your entire website. For your IT section, clearly explain your value proposition with multiple pages, blog articles, and special offers that make you look like a true expert.
The second way to build trust is with case studies. I cannot stress this enough. When you get your first clients for a new initiative, do a case study. Write it up. Do a video. Get reference quotes.
Share these on your website, on social, in the sales process, and with your current customers. This is critical to build trust. (For more ideas on case studies, read Why You Need Case Studies.)
Dress the Part
Your sales and service people are on the front lines, interacting with prospects and clients. They need to look credible. This begins on their LinkedIn profiles.
How can a sales rep credibly talk about workflow automation or managed IT services when nothing on their LinkedIn profile talks about it?
Start by taking a look at your LinkedIn profile. Then, look at the rest of your team. Upgrade the content to make you look like the credible professionals that a buyer could trust. (Check out this recent podcast on Growth Driven Design For Your LinkedIn Profile.)
Don’t give up! Success in your new initiative may be critical for your company to survive in a declining market. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes consistency.
Let me encourage you to stay the course. If you need a shot of encouragement, give me a call!