I was on a zoom call a couple of weeks ago with a very good salesperson. She had emailed me to say that she had been experiencing a rash of cancellations in the past few weeks. After a strong 2022, a “rash” of cancellations seemed out of place. What was going wrong? This was the topic of our zoom call.
I asked her to give me one example so that we could do a forensic analysis of the process. This particular business was a garage door company. Although they had agreed to a long-term schedule, they wanted to cancel after 3 weeks. My first question was, “How long do people think about buying a garage door before they do?” (Unless their current door malfunctions and their car is stuck in the garage.) The answer is several months. Why, then, would it make sense to expect phone lines to light up in three weeks? It doesn’t but our clients don’t understand that. In their heart of hearts, they expect to air a commercial today and have the teeming masses show up tomorrow shouting our call letters.
Which brings me to the point of this newsletter. How well do we manage expectations UP FRONT with our clients? Do we quantify what they should expect? Example: “I want more traffic in my store.” “Ok, how much more? How much traffic do you have now? How long did it take you to achieve your current level of traffic? How quickly do you expect the additional traffic to happen?”
We need to quantify their expectations. And, if those expectations are entirely out of whack (that’s an Oklahoma term for “ridiculous”) we need to tell them. We know how advertising works. We know the process to educate potential customers. And, we know how long it takes. We need to explain the recipe for effective advertising:
- Enough repetition per week to reach a 3 frequency.
- Consistent enough (at least 52 weeks).
- A relevant message.
Results will build over time. Depending on the product and the product’s gestation period, results will come sooner or later. Usually, advertising has ramped up to generating great results between 6 and 9 months into the campaign. This doesn’t mean your clients won’t see results before that, it simply means that peak momentum will not have been reached yet. Think “train” starting down the tracks and gathering speed till it is running at full capacity.
The key to happy clients is to educate them on what their advertising can and will do if done properly. This education must be done at the time you are selling them, not later when they want to cancel. At that point, it sounds like an excuse. If done up front, you sound like a marketing genius as you accurately predict the trajectory of their campaign. And, if after preparing them for delayed gratification, their ad happens to hit a 2%’er who is buying today and comes in immediately, you look like a hero.
I’m always happy to work through a forensic analysis with you to determine a strategy to save business and hopefully to resell these clients. My thanks to the salesperson who reached out to me and provided the inspiration for this newsletter. I hope other readers will benefit from her experience. We get better by analyzing our wins and our losses. That’s how we improve!