How to Help Your Prospects Buy

how to help your prospects buyIn my previous article, How to get the most from a print ad, I pointed out the importance of not inundating your sales force with unqualified leads.  When you run a campaign, focus on driving profitable revenue, not just a long list of names for your database.  It’s ROI, not just the response rate that counts.

But what about inundating your sales force with qualified leads?  Is it possible to generate too many responses?

Too many responses?  What a great problem to have!  But if you haven’t effectively planned to fulfill those responses, you’ll lose sales and can even damage your credibility in the process.

For example, in his Emergence Marketing blog, Gabe D’Annunzio points out how Verizon Wireless left him disappointed and frustrated when it came to delivering on their slogan, “We never stop working for you.”  He received an offer in the mail and tried to respond — NINE TIMES — and never got through.  His comment:  “This is clearly not my idea of a company that never stops working for me. This is a company that simply stopped working.”

Did Verizon just underestimate the response they’d generate with their offer?  Did they have other problems that were beyond their control?  Or did they fail to plan effectively?  Doesn’t matter.  A great offer without a solid fulfillment plan is wasting money and damages a brand.

3 Tips to Help Your Prospects Buy

Before you launch your next campaign, keep the following tips in mind:

1.  Own the fulfillment process. Someone needs to lead the operation and make sure your campaign is successful at every level.  Get with every employee/department that’s affected by the campaign at least four weeks prior to launch.  Communicate the goals, high/low/average projections, campaign details and fulfillment procedures; make sure everyone is staffed, trained and ready to fulfill.  Don’t forget about IT, shipping, inventory control, or your AR/accounting departments, depending on the offer and fulfillment procedures.

2.  Provide multiple ways for your prospects to respond. Create a unique landing page on your site with a form or further information; let people send you emails; provide an 800 number and staff it appropriately.  Besides making it easier for the prospect to respond in a convenient way, you’ll spread responses over multiple channels, minimizing the impact on any one “touch point.”

3.  Have a backup plan. Know what you’ll do if your campaign response goes through the roof.  Here’s the message Gabe heard:  “Due to the overwhelming demand we are unable to take your call so please hang up and try again later.”

After hearing that message once, I wouldn’t have bothered.  If Verizon is working for me, then why don’t they have an overflow procedure in their call center?  Or a web page that I can visit to sign up?

At the very least, they could have used a message that better conveyed their brand.  “We’ve experienced an overwhelming response to this offer and we’re working hard to answer your calls as quickly as possible.  Unfortunately our call queue is full, but please try back in an hour or two.  We apologize for the inconvenience and look forward to speaking with you soon.”

In this situation, a little vulnerability goes a long way. An alternate contact channel would have been even better.

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