Building Relationship Capital Cultivates Trust and Sales
Interview of: Mark Hordes
Tamara Halbritter, Marketing Watchdog Journal
Today, potential buyers cannot flip a switch and turn on a "service."
Instead, companies need to find a way to make prospects understand the value of services: the often complex and intangible solutions designed around people and talent.
Personal experience in working with clients demonstrates that selling services is more of a relationship experience than selling products. This means relationship skill building is central to services selling. One way to build this "relationship capital" is by hosting a webinar.
Mark Hordes,of Mark Hordes Management Consultants, LLC recently spoke with Bull Dog Marketing Journal about how to improve business-to-business relationships through webinars.
"Building relationship capital' means increasing your customer and prospects' trust,teaching them about your company's value and helping them understand how your services can provide answers to the challenges their organization faces.
Holding a webinar is one very effective way to build relationship capital,and encourage more services sales."
In the following interview, Mark Hordes explains what a webinar is, how it generates leads, and the tools it provides for building relationship capital.
Marketing Watchdog Journal (MWJ) : What is a webinar and how do you conduct one? Mark Hordes:
It is just like a seminar, only online. It is an electronic transfer of knowledge to a broad audience highlighting key content concepts with expert opinions. To use the seminar analogy: everyone is in the same room (on the telephone), looking at the same presentation (on their computers online).
Several attendees may be in one conference room and others are in their home or work offices. Various webinar technologies make this communication possible, and most webinar services have a function that lets people know when someone has a question. Instead of raising his/her hand, he asks his/her question by phone or by e-mail and the whole group is alerted.
Attendees hear the voices of the expert presenters, who guide them through the presentation on their computers. Another way to describe a webinar is as an inexpensive conference.
Instead of flying people in from all over the world, paying for their transportation and lodging (whether they are people within your company or partners, etc.) they can go into a conference room wherever they are, and dial up a 1-800 number.
They are networked with people using the telephone and a computer, and interact in a teleconference over the Web. The webinar technologies that make this possible. These applications allow you to see slides and hear the voiceover at the same time.
Some companies may already have webinar technology in place. Otherwise, it is easy to set up. People attend a webinar for education about a particular topic. They can begin a dialogue about the topic, take a survey that compares them to other attendees, and the hosts can tally the survey results.
It's the beginning of an interactive relationship built over time, that enables your sales team to have several reasons for following up with participants after the event.
So you see a webinar is very much like a seminar.
A company sponsors it, and a team or someone from the company or a consultant hosts it. The only down side is you don't get those wonderful bagged lunches. You have to bring your own.
MWJ: How can you sell services using Webinars?
MH: It's a way to get prospects into the business sales cycle by having them invest their time and interest in a particular theme. During this process, they ask questions-relative to what they see-that move them along to being qualified leads. It gives the sponsor the opportunity to portray your particular core competencies around a specific topic.
Webinar provides the following value to the attendees and the sponsoring company's sales force.
Value for the attendees: it provides best practices, proven technology and expert advice efficiently and cost effectively.
Value for the sales force: it provides an efficient and cost-effective tool to generate leads, build relationships and sell more services. However, the real "selling" begins after participants attend the webinar.
MWJ: What relationship-building tools do you use for follow up?
MH: After the webinar is complete,three steps can be used for follow up with webinar attendees (prospects):
1) an audit;
2) a follow-up letter; and
3) a consultative sales call.
Audit. The fancy words for questionnaire are an "assessment tool." An audit is one such tool. I use one during my webinars called, "The 10 Commandments for Selling Services." It entails 10 short questions with a choice of answers on a scale from 5 to 1: from:
-Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree. Participants fill out this audit/survey during the webinar and send it in electronically for analysis.
Follow up letter. Once you receive the online forms, send a follow up letter to those participants. This electronic letter from the webinar sponsor or host is one more way to get in touch with your prospects.
In this letter you can send them the results of the audit (survey), and let them know whom to contact about their questions. You can identify this same person who will get in touch with them to discuss their results,challenges, etc.
Consultative sales call. After the letter goes out saying who will contact the prospect about the webinar findings,contact them about how they scored according to everyone else with a the follow-up call.
You can go over the scores with the participants on the phone, discuss critical challenges they are facing and begin to interest them in your services.
This moves them further along the sales cycle and gives the participants feedback on their relative strengths and opportunities.
In addition, you can use a "Qualifying Checklist" to assess a prospect's current situation and the whether the key elements are present for a services sale.
This device lets you qualify out your leads, according to your company's criteria. You can fill this out during the first call or after it.
MWJ: What tips can your give for the consultative sales call?
MH: First, use open-ended questions when you speak with the webinar attendee.
Sales people who sell services really need to know this technique.
Remember FOUR I'S and you'll be fine when probing for answers:
Issues - What are the main issues your department is facing?
Importance - Is this a nice-to-do, or something important to your organization?
Impact - What is the impact of not addressing this critical problem?
Investigation - Together, let's investigate how my consulting firm can help.
Second, Get them to take some action. The most basic action is to tell them about the next webinar and get them to sign up for it on the phone. Or direct them to a site where they can sign up. If it is a repeat webinar or a new event, answer whatever questions they have about it.
Another worthwhile action is to request they bring you into their company for a presentation on "best practices" or further elaboration on research findings.
MWJ: How do you choose the subject matter for your webinar?
MH: It's not a bad idea to get a survey or assessment going with your current readership (mailing list or client base) to understand key business issues and challenges.
Send them a survey and ask the about the challenges they face.
Then determine a topical priority list based on what they want to learn more about.
MWJ: How do you see the future of selling services?
MH: Research today shows that services have an annual growth rate of 17 to 30 percent-more than double that of products with a significant acceleration planned in two years.
Additionally, services have average gross margins more than 50 percent higher than products with an average gross margin of 26 to 61 percent. (Source: The State of S-Business: An International Report of Progress, Performance, and Best Practices. Alexander, James. AFSM International,.)
However, when asked the question: "Are you satisfied that your organization's sales people are selling the right services in right way?" only 13 percent said "Yes,fully." That means most services companies are not completely satisfied with the way they are selling services. (Source: "The State of High-Tech Professional Services." James A. Alexander. AFSMI.)
A webinar gives them your sales force more options, a compelling way to build relationship capital, and ultimately sell more services.
Need Help Selling More Services in your Company?
I can help.
Several models are avaialble:
1. Custom tailored webinar of 60-90 minutes on "How to Sell Services"
2. "The 10 Commandments for Selling Professional Services" Speeches and Workshops
3. In-house Workshops 1-2 days for your product sales force on how to sell services
Contact: Mark Hordes
713 416 1781