All over the world, business owners and sales managers are raving about the “customer experience” their companies offer.
From their first purchase to word-of-mouth referrals sent your way over the years, happy customers are proof of a job well done. Positive customer experience also leads to testimonials, online reviews and before and after pictures, which are some of the most effective forms of third-party marketing.
Unfortunately, the customer experience bandwagon so many companies are riding right now misses a lucrative stop. While everyone is focused on the Customer Experience, the “Prospect Experience” has been neglected.
Because every business has 2-5 times as many prospects as customers, you won’t be able to increase your closing rate and raise your prices without an effective prospective experience strategy.
It only makes sense — before that person becomes a customer, they’re a prospect. Before that person makes a buying decision, they’re already evaluating questions like: what is their experience? How do you treat them? How did they find out about you in the first place? What are their perceptions of companies in your industry?
All of these questions affect whether or not a prospect eventually becomes a customer, but very few business owners and sales managers know how to answer them.
Just think about the restaurant industry. We’ve all heard this on occasion: “The food was really good, but the service was horrible.” Despite the negative word-of-mouth, many of us have chosen to go anyway.
Then when we’re on the receiving end of that poor customer service, what do we do? We never want to go back. We look at the bill and think, “Wow, that’s expensive!” even though the food was tasty.
Contrast that with a restaurant where the food and service were both high quality. Would you go there again if they didn’t advertise? If the location wasn’t in a prime spot? If they didn’t have fancy signage and landscaping? If prices were higher than at other restaurants?
Yes, you would — because none of those matter compared to the experience.
In the companies I work with, prospects are willing to pay $2,000 more (on average) on their products, systems or services than they’re willing to pay for a competitor’s identical offer. The materials and warranty are the same.
The only difference is the focus on prospect experience. My clients’ sales staff are trained to take the time to deliver a positive first impression before quoting a price. Showmanship mixed with salesmanship are an extraordinary combination.
Prospects are willing to pay more simply because of peace of mind. They’re more comfortable with the salesperson, trust them sooner and are less likely to negotiate down.
But a single prospect’s experience extends beyond an interaction with your staff. The experience your prospects have, from the day they see your ads to the moment they make a buying decision, allows your company to charge that premium. Customers would rather pay more for a better experience than save a few dollars with a company they found in the Yellow Pages -- one which drops a price without explaining what they get, then takes the order, leaving them in the dark about the quality of work they’ll receive.
In my experience, a company can realize an additional $950,000 to over $2 million in revenue through higher pricing and an increased closing rate after implementing and enforcing a comprehensive prospect experience strategy.
If you own a business or manage a sales team, take the following gut-check questions regarding your “Prospect Experience” very seriously.
- How does your market hear about you?
- Word-of-mouth, including testimonials and positive reviews.
- Media advertising that does more than offer “call to action” discounts.
- Outside events run by a team of trained lead professionals.
- Partnerships with Big Box stores that can share in your success.
- What first impression do your prospects have about you once they gain interest in your products and services?
- Who is answering your phone? Are they trained to take all types of calls?
IRE Session TH18
Title: The Prospect Experience: What Perception is Your Company Giving BEFORE they Become Customers
Speaker: Chuck Thokey, vice president of sales for BulletRoof
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 6, 7:45 a.m. – 9:15a.m.