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Most content companies have been there. You have a prospective client in the market for great content marketing. You carefully craft a pitch. You knock the presentation out of the park. Well, it turns out, you didn’t do as great of a job as you thought you did and that prospective client turns you down, only to turn around and sign a contract with one of your competitors. What gives? Let’s look at some reasons those potential clients choose your competitors and how you can learn from those situations.
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There are many reasons why a prospective content marketing (or any industry, really) client could choose a competitor, so we’re going to look at some of the most pressing reasons. They can happen to just about anyone, but if you are aware of them, you may be able to get ahead of them in the future.
If your staff is constantly changing and the prospective client talks to someone new almost every time, it can throw up a red flag telling that client that working with your company could get confusing, and things could get lost with different people.
If any bumps in the road come up and you take too long to address them, or if you deny them, ignore them, have attitude about them, or drag your feet getting to them (even if you don’t intend to), that can signal to a prospective client that any real issues that arise with the actual project will be addressed in the same way.
Even if you’ve got the “cool company” ideal realized within your office, having a relaxed or overly informal attitude can easily come across as unprofessional. A professional relationship can mean a lot to a client, and it’s a quick turn-off for people who receive emoticon-filled emails.
If this client is in your Rolodex already, they might not appreciate being constantly hit up to purchase more products or services, especially if those products or services are outside of their clear line of interest. Getting the most out of your clients is one thing, but you don’t want to cross the line.
If your price point is way too high, this can easily push a prospective client to what they consider to be a more reasonable competitor. However, there’s an opposite side of the coin. If your prices are far lower than competitors, the client may take the “you get what you pay for” mentality to heart and go with a higher priced competitor in hopes of attaining higher quality.
If the prospective client doesn’t think you can offer them something unique, they’re going to move on to someone who can give them something they think no one else can. If your content seems basic or inauthentic, they’ll notice. It’s just that simple.
If you don’t always answer the phone and forget to respond to emails or take too long to respond, that prospective customer is going to look for someone who they can easily reach during business hours.
Now that you know some of the things that turn a prospective client off, we can look at the ways to fix those issues. It’s important to note that even if you don’t immediately think any of these issues applies to you, it’s worth looking into different aspects of your team and looking over communication to find out if there are pain points you aren’t aware of or have been inadvertently turning a blind eye to.
Whittle down the list of points of contact for the client. The sales person can lead them through the pitch, at which point they can be introduced to a client or account manager. That manager should ideally be the only person they directly communicate with (unless the request to speak with someone such as the CEO, which should obviously be granted).
Having one point of contact not only clears up confusion for that prospective client, because now they only have one email address to send to no matter what the communication is in relation to, but it makes it easier on your staff. That one point of contact is the liaison between the client and the creative time, the finance team, and whoever else needs to be involved. One person has the information so all of your team members know who to go to for that information.
It’s likely that by now, your business has faced most common hiccups that occur with potential and new clients. Create streamlined processes to resolve these issues, and set a general timeline to resolve all basic issues. For example, a client inquiry about a problem should be responded to and investigated within 18 to 24 hours.
Additionally, you can get your team together so everyone understands how to tackle any problems that arise. Even if something doesn’t seem like a big deal to your staff, the potential client may take their business elsewhere because of it.
Communication between colleagues can be as informal as you like it to be, using all the emoticons and gifs you can find. However, you should consider a standard of formal communication for emails and calls to clients, whether they’re potential or have been around for a while. Nix the casual shorthand and use respectful, professional language. This base-level change is so small but can mean so much to a prospective client. They want to know you are taking them seriously, and how you communicate reflects that.
Don’t bombard your clients with things they don’t want or need. It’s perfectly acceptable to make them aware of all the services you provide up front, and to check in every now and then to offer those services in a way that could truly benefit them. However, a barrage of emails and calls will just make you look pushy. They want to work with a company that has their best interest at heart. Show them you care enough to know what their needs are without going overboard.
Finding the right price for your services is tricky. No one can blame you for trying to either push the limit or for trying to undercut your competitors. However, because both of those can send potential clients running for your competitors, it’s smart to get the lay of your industry land.
Do some research to find out what exactly your competitors are offering, figure out where you differ, and formulate a reasonable price for your products. If you’re a little lower, you can draw in people that way. If you’re a little higher, you can explain why you’re worth the little bit of extra money.
While you’re doing that research on what your competitors offer, look at the actual products they’re offering, too. How do your products differ? How are they better? How can you market your company in a way that stands out from the crowd? Tap into your creative side. Sometimes all it takes is a mission statement that’s more intriguing and an “About” story that is more compelling. Do your best to avoid anything remotely templated (without looking too crazy).
Clients always want to be different. Show them you can offer that and be prepared to explain how you do it. Words are powerful things. This is the perfect time to use them to your advantage. Don’t be afraid to hire someone else to do this if you don’t feel like creativity is your strong suit. This is a time when getting the best words to use is crucial.
It seems so simple, but it can be so easy to let communication slip through the cracks. One email is missed and poof, there that prospective client goes. Luckily, this is a pretty easy fix. All it takes is understanding the tricks your email client provides. Gmail offers plenty of features to help you avoid missing anything important. Other mail options, such as Helpscout, make it easy for you, too. Research what your email client has to offer, make sure everyone applicable has the same settings, and you’re headed in the right direction.
Another huge component to this is your actual staff. Set deadlines for client communication and, at least at first, police it. You don’t want to micromanage, especially if that’s not your style, but you need to ensure this becomes a habit. Sometimes habits take time to form. Once everyone understands the rules, you’ll have timely email communication on a consistent basis. If you’ve got a phone, it’s important that if it isn’t answered, your voicemail system is set up.
These issues may seem impossible to you, but you may be surprised what you find if you take a closer look at your business operations. You want to be working at maximum efficiency to bring on new clients and grow your business. Take some time to look under the hood and you may find some great ways to improve.