Selling The Right Thing

Happy Customer
Creative Commons License photo credit: Ash-rly

A couple of weeks back, I received an email from a website owner asking for one of my OpenLine sessions (which are currently booked about two weeks out).

In essence, the question was “Why aren’t our clients registering for our services?”

The situation required more discussion (in detail, anyhow) than I could cover in 15 minutes, but it also screamed for a blog post – because some of the things their site needs to attend to are core things that all of us need to think about.

It’s a great looking site, but the conversation with their real customers’ core thought process just isn’t there.

The reason for that might not be obvious, especially since the site looks nice and invites you to dive right in to do a search.

Problem is, there’s more than one customer population, and the second isn’t getting much attention on their website.

The site is a service directory, so by nature that means there are going to be at least TWO populations of customers: people wanting to list something in the directory and people wanting to find that something. Maybe more.

Because you might have other ideas, take a look at RentMyChurch.com and comment here if you feel I’ve missed something.

Customer #2?

The churches listed there.

If I’m renting my building to “strangers”, I’ve got a lot of questions.

Most rentals tend to be to church member families or friends of the family and this helps break down a lot of obvious barriers. Even so, many church boards require a vote at a council meeting before a rental is approved.

Now we’re talking about starting to commit to rentals to just about anyone who clicks a link.

At the very least, there’s needs to be a section that addresses all the what-if’s, questions, concerns and risk factors for a church who wants to start renting their facility in this manner. Something that describes the process step by step.

So what else is missing?

Let me put my church lady hat on…

I’d like to see a serious guarantee for the church listing their property/facility. A guarantee needs to make me feel like I’ve got as little as possible (or nothing) to risk and everything to gain, but in this case, the risk reversal just isn’t there. The current guarantee might be reworded this way: “If we don’t do anything for you in an entire year, we’ll do that again for nothing!”  Sounds different when you look at it that way.

Sales objections aren’t addressed. Try to hit them in advance, before you ever hear them from the prospect.

How does RentMyChurch get prospects in my local area to look at the site?

What are common signs I should look for to know I’ve got a good renter? Likewise, what warning signs should I look for?

Do you have sample rental agreements for churches who are just starting to dip their toe in this water.

If I’m a little church in a town of 5000 people, do I pay the same as the Lakewood, North Point or Willow Creek? (all are huge churches)

What about insurance and bonding?

Do you have sample check lists for check-in/check-out?

What paperwork should we need to create a successful rental?

What works and doesn’t work when creating my church’s “bio”?

What about photos? Can you refer me to a good building photographer in my area? (that is a gift, btw)

How do I know what dates are available?

Testimonials – there isn’t a single one from a renter or a church.

Where are the social aspects of a service? The 3 R’s: rankings, referrals and reviews

That’s just a start, but I think you get the idea. These aren’t things to be addressed AFTER the sale, these are things to show up front that show you DESERVE the sale.

Make a case

As we talked about with the compelling discussion the other day, make a case such that this is a no-brainer. What makes it clear that I’d be nuts not to list my facility on this site?

As for everyone else – what makes it clear that you are the only choice for what you sell or do?

There’s needs to be a section that addresses all the what-if’s, questions, concerns and risk factors for a church who wants to start renting their facility in this manner.

Election lessons for small business owners

Plenty has been written about the Obama campaign’s use of technology and social media (much less a zillion other things).

I suggest you read all of it, as there are important examples to use in your small business.

For example, this Mashable.com summary of notable social media and technology events during the 2008 Presidential election campaign.

Think back to the coverage in this blog of the candidates’ email and mobile marketing processes. That’s just a small piece of the picture.

The fundamental piece of all of these social marketing tools, technologies, video sources and collaborative sites is message to market match.

Message to market match means speaking to the prospect or customer using the language THEY use when discussing the topic THEY are interested in. Or the need they have. Or the want they have.

Look at the message on MySpace for the Obama campaign and you don’t find just one profile. You find one for *each state*. You don’t find a MySpace-like message in MySpace lingo on LinkedIn (where the audience is all business people) any more than you would talk to a 45 year old customer in the same way you’d talk to your teenage kid.

Are you using the right language and the right lingo for the person you are trying to engage? Or are you trying to use the same message for everyone. It’s easier, but it sure doesn’t sell like a message that’s fine tuned to the audience.

MTV Total Request Live and the Lawrence Welk Show are music shows…with wildly different audiences. If you tried to talk with the MTV crowd about the Lennon Sisters, they’ll look at you like you’re from Mars. Likewise, if you talk about Korn to a Welk viewer, they’re likely to think you mean a crop from Iowa, not a metal band from Bakersfield.

The error in your conversation’s lingo doesn’t have to be that extreme.

Last week I was chatting with the owner of a shop that restores, customizes, sells and locates custom cars after a speaking engagement. She noted that their shop has experts in brakes, electrical and other common car problems, yet no one comes to her shop for these common repairs.

“Why would they?”, I asked. I suggested that no one knows they do that kind of work on normal cars.

Their marketing speaks to the car enthusiast, The name of the shop effectively says “We build and restore custom classic cars”. It doesn’t even begin to send the message “regular shop work is done here on regular cars”.

All the cars parked out front and in the showroom are customs, restore jobs and most are 30 or 40 years old. All the communications you see speak to the motorhead, not the guy with the ’99 Suburban that needs brakes.

If you want to attract the guy who needs brakes for a regular vehicle, you have to speak their language – not say “we do high end custom work”.

The owner I was speaking with grasped the idea quickly once I explained why the message wasn’t even being heard by the average Joe. We discussed several things she needed to do in order to get this other message out to the right group of people.

That’s the key. Quoting Robert Collier (again), “Enter the conversation already going on in the prospect’s mind.”

In the right language.