Hockenberry Management Consulting - Confetti Clear

Kicking Off Our 20th Year in Business

Dear Friends,

As we kick off our 20th year at Hockenberry Management Consulting, I feel a great sense of gratitude. For the past 19 years, we have had the privilege of working with some of the most wonderful people in some of the best companies in the region.

To our clients…

We sincerely thank you for allowing us to play a part in your efforts to make improvements in your business and achieve growth. We’ve enjoyed working together and look forward to continuing this journey with you.

To our clients and colleagues who have recommended us…

Thank you for trusting us enough to refer your friends and acquaintances. It has been our pleasure to serve them and welcome them into our community of successful clients.

To friends we have not met yet…

Heather and I look forward to meeting you and working together to make improvements to grow your business.

While it’s fun to celebrate this important milestone, which lasts for only one day, I’m reminded that it’s what we do with the other 364 days that make it possible.

Wishing you much success with your 364.

Sincerely,

Jeff Hockenberry


Hockenberry Management Consulting - Consultative Sales - Buyer Perspective

Consultative Sales from the Buyer’s Perspective

Have you ever considered what it’s like to go through the consultative sales process from the buyer’s perspective?

If so, wouldn’t that make it more of a buying process rather than a sales process?

What then would be the role of a salesperson if the buyer is in control and making all the decisions at every point in the process?

Before answering these questions, let’s clarify several points.

What is Consultative Sales and How Important is it?

First, a consultative sales approach may be appropriate for organizations (B2B) as well as individuals (B2C), but for now we will focus on organizational sales.

Second, we are referring to a consultative sale versus a transactional sale.

  • In transactional sales, the buyer is focused on the product or service and its price and features. Of course, availability is a factor as well. For example, the retail sales process often involves a transactional process where the buyer chooses the product they want, takes it to the register, and a cashier rings up their order and accepts payment. Note that there are exceptions to this rule when retail sales transcends mere transactions.
  • In consultative sales, the buyer is focused on value, and not necessarily your product or service itself, nor its features and price. Value considers gains to be realized by your product or service, and how this benefits the company as well as the individual buyer, then compares this to the costs associated with receiving it.

Third, effective consultative salespeople should follow a process. Being personable, good looking, and intelligent won’t necessarily guarantee success in sales. The process followed should closely mirror the process a buyer goes through when making a buying decision.

Fourth, every business is involved in sales even if they don’t realize it or have a dedicated sales force. In order to operate, all companies have plans and activities that enable them to perform in several major functional areas. For the sake of discussion, here are some basic definitions.

  • Marketing: you and your products and services becoming known to your prospects.
  • Sales: helping prospects become customers by deciding to buy your product or service.
  • Delivery: delivering what was promised to customers during marketing and sales.
  • Support: supporting the marketing, sales, and delivery of products or services to customers.

As you can see, sales is one of the four major functional areas in business, whether we do it well or not. As with all four major areas of the business, the better we plan and perform the sales function, the better the outcomes will be.

Hockenberry Management Consulting - Consultative Sales - Conversation

The Buyer’s Perspective and Consultative Sales Response

Some of today’s sales training includes a series of steps to take and certain tactics to use in order to convince a prospect to buy something they may or may not want. There is certainly merit to following a process, and skill definitely helps the conversation flow smoothly. However, if your product or service has the potential to add value for the prospect or their company, there is no need to convince them to buy something.

So, if most qualified buyers are sincerely interested in adding value to their organizations and benefitting personally in the process, what is their perspective and how should consultative sales mesh with this viewpoint?

The Buyer’s Perspective: The process begins with an introduction. The potential buyer gets an opportunity to meet you as the salesperson. They are getting their first impression of you, assessing your appearance, demeanor, confidence level, professionalism, communication style, personality, etc. Within a matter of seconds, they have decided whether they like you enough to continue with a conversation or not. If so, the conversation continues. If not, they may be too kind to end the meeting abruptly, but their enthusiasm level will certainly fall sharply if their first impression of you is not favorable.

    • Consultative Sales Response: Although this may be the first time you, as the salesperson, ever met this prospect and thus have not yet introduced your company or its products and services, the sales process and your prospective buyer’s decision-making process has already begun. The truth is they’re not going to buy whatever you’re selling until they first buy you. It begins with the introduction, and you must make a good first impression.

The Buyer’s Perspective: Assuming the potential buyer’s first impression of you is favorable, the process continues with the prospect forming an opinion of you and the company you represent. Consciously or not, they will judge your communication style, your sincerity, your openness and honesty, your trustworthiness, your representation of the company and its products and services, whether you waste too much time with small talk, whether you ask good questions, whether you listen, whether you care about them, etc. Prospects are people, and people tend to do business with other people they like and trust.

    • Consultative Sales Response: Developing a good rapport with your prospect after the introduction will determine whether they trust you enough to answer any additional questions. You must gain your prospect’s interest and earn their trust in order to continue asking questions as the meeting moves forward. Otherwise, you won’t have an opportunity to learn enough about their situation in order to know if your product or service will add value for them.

The Buyer’s Perspective: If the introduction went well and the prospect thinks favorably of you and has learned to trust you, then they will likely be expecting questions from you about their company and its situation. If they believe you genuinely care, they will likely be anticipating questions about how the organizational situation affects them personally. By answering such questions, the prospect will feel understood, gaining more confidence that you will be able to recommend appropriate next steps in their company’s best interest and for themselves.

    • Consultative Sales Response: Learning about the situation within your prospect’s company and their needs, as well as your prospect’s personal wants, will require their trust in you. It will also require that you ask good questions to uncover these things and listen carefully and empathetically to the answers. Learn to ask good questions and listen well, so that you can discover the real situation, gain an understanding of the company’s true needs, and appreciate the impact these things have on your buyer individually and personally.

The Buyer’s Perspective: By this time in the process, the prospect expects to receive your recommendations, and is looking forward to the potential value those recommendations represent for them and their company. They will want to know and understand the benefits of doing business with you and even the consequences of not doing so. They are more interested in the value that you can deliver and less so your products and services, their features, and prices. In fact, if the process has gone well up to this point, your prospect is looking forward to not only hearing your recommendations but to doing business with you. Even if obstacles exist in the mind of the buyer, assuming your recommendations will actually add value, they are hoping you will help them get past such barriers. Buyers don’t expect to be sold with hard closes, rather they are anticipating making final decisions and giving their commitment to working with you and your company as a natural part of the conversation with you.

    • Consultative Sales Response: Whether your process includes a formal proposal or not, you must enter such a conversation with solid recommendations already in mind, addressing the needs of your prospect’s company, being able to demonstrate the value proposed, preferably while simultaneously satisfying what they may personally want to accomplish as well. Anticipate obstacles and understand you are in the process of becoming a valued team member expected to help overcome such barriers to moving forward. Once the buyer makes their final decision to work with you, help create a smooth transition to project implementation (i.e. delivery of products or services that will provide the value that you promised).

The Buyer’s Perspective: Once the prospect commits to doing business with you, they expect you and your company to deliver what has been promised, whether that promise is formalized in writing or verbally stated. Since you are the person they have learned to like and trust, they expect you to continue looking out for their best interest, serving as their advocate throughout delivery of your company’s products and services. If the project goes well and the outcome is what was expected, they will look forward to the possibility of continuing to work with you as opportunities arise. They may also be interested in telling their friends about you and your company.

    • Consultative Sales Response: Don’t sell and run, disappearing after signatures are affixed to the contract. The consultative sales process does not end when the prospect agrees to your recommendation, commits to doing business with you, and becomes a customer. To the contrary, this is just the beginning of a new professional relationship that will hopefully be enjoyable and rewarding, while resulting in repeat business and referrals to other potential buyers who you can assist through their buying process, given their own unique situation.

Hockenberry Management Consulting - Consultative Sales - Handshake

The Consultative Salesperson’s Role

To summarize, assuming that your product or service has the potential to add real value to prospective customers, and the buying process is not merely a simple transaction, the salesperson’s role in the consultative sales process is to assist the prospective buyer in their decision making process.

Since the buyer is in control of their own thoughts and decisions and has no intention of being manipulated, the salesperson may guide the conversation at times, but not for the purpose of convincing the prospect to do something not in their best interest.

Rather, the consultative salesperson’s role is to help the buyer make a wise buying decision that will meet needs within their organization by adding real value, while benefitting them individually and personally in the process.

For more information or help on this and other topics, contact our team.


Marketing Made Simple(r)

Can you think of a time in your life when you went from being completely unaware of a product or service’s existence to absolutely having to have it and wondering how you ever lived without it? Likely, this transition from not even knowing it existed to being a purchasing customer and raving fan, was in part, the result of good marketing.

A Practical View of Marketing

There are numerous perspectives on what marketing is and what it is not. Technically, a textbook answer exists, but we prefer to frame this concept considering what we have learned about growing businesses for many years.

At its core, marketing is about building awareness, creating interest and need, and influencing a potential customer to act.

Marketing is often confused with advertising, branding, and sales. Although these are all very closely related topics, there are some key differences to keep in mind. Advertising is more focused on mass exposure through paid channels, often about a specific sale or talking point. Branding is more focused on how the company represents itself and the impression people have when they think about that company. Sales is more focused on the actual process of selling products/services, either through transaction or consultation. While marketing may include advertising and branding activities, it generally deals with the overall effort to make people aware of your products/services, create interest and build trust, and ultimately lead them to a purchase through your organization’s sales process.

You can market a business, a product or service, and even yourself. In most businesses (especially small to mid-sized), all three can be equally important because customers will decide whether to buy from your company based on your business and its people, your products and services, and you!

Why Marketing is Important

Let’s take a 20,000-foot view over the basic structure of any organization for a moment. There are four major functional areas within every business. Marketing is the first of these functions, along with sales, delivery, and support. If we think of this as an order of operations issue, you have to market before you can sell, and you have to sell before you can deliver your products and services, and you have to deliver (including production) before there would be any need for support. In the opposite way of thinking, you can’t sell your product/service if people don’t know about it (through marketing), there is no point in producing the product or delivering the service if it hasn’t been sold (through sales), and there is no point in supporting something that doesn’t exist (delivery).

No marketing means no sales, which means no production/delivery, which means no revenue, which means no business. The success of a business draws a straight line back to its ability to market well.

Pause for a moment and think of a large, popular brand with a variety of products (maybe shoes, clothes, appliances, vehicles, insurance, etc.) and quickly think of all the places you have seen or heard of that brand in the past month. Maybe you saw a commercial on TV or heard them mentioned on the radio… maybe there was sponsored content that popped up on your Facebook feed… maybe you saw an ad for that brand on a website that had nothing to do with that product… maybe a friend or relative mentioned it in a conversation… maybe you got a flyer in the mail…

There are seemingly endless ways to be marketed to. In essence, these brands are simply trying to grab your attention to make you aware of them, help you realize how much you actually want/need them, and remind you of this until you finally become a customer.

As small or mid-sized business owners, the same is true! Our goal at the highest level is to make the right people aware of who we are and what we do at the right time and in the right way. Our goal is to help them see and understand that our product/service is essential to them – to their success, survival, happiness, etc. The better job we can do with this, the more likely they will come to a buying decision.

Understanding Different Types of Marketing

There are three major areas of marketing to consider and they all have different purposes and characteristics, so let’s discuss each.

  1. Branding is the first area of marketing. This is the part of marketing that refers to your image and includes your logo, colors, fonts, and overall visual style. Traditionally, the definition of branding could be this simple, but let’s expand our thinking to the bigger picture. We tend to think of this from a larger perspective, which includes how your team answers the phone, how customers feel when they interact with you and other people in your business, how clean your fleet of vehicles is, the uniforms you wear, even the personal hygiene of your employees, etc. All these things reflect who your business is, what your business does, and what your business stands for… which makes up your brand.
  2. Targeting is the second area of marketing. This is the part of marketing that includes identifying the people who are most likely to buy your products/services and then delivering a message to move them through your sales funnel as quickly as possible. Like the other two areas, this one should be very strategic and very purposeful. In today’s world, some of the most effective and trackable targeting campaigns are done on a digital platform (i.e. Google Ads, social media ads, geofencing, retargeting, etc.).
  3. Nurturing is the third area of marketing. This is the part of marketing that a lot of companies (unfortunately) forget about or put at the bottom of their list of priorities. The idea of nurturing is primarily focused on your existing customers. Do not forget about this group of people! They have already determined that your product/service is worth having and that your company was the best way to get it. These people likely already know and trust you and are by far the people most likely to buy your product/service again or recommend it to someone else. Take care of these people by staying in touch, making sure their needs are met, and being present. This assures them that they made the right choice in working with or buying from you and makes them even more likely to buy again or recommend you to a friend.

Common Marketing Mistakes

Earlier, I mentioned the importance of reaching the right people. Who are the “right” people? Well, they are the ones most likely to purchase your products/services, and therefore should become your target audience for certain marketing efforts.

Unfortunately, businesses waste a lot of money doing what I call “guess-marketing”. This is when business owners with expertise in areas other than marketing simply throw money toward advertising options and hope something sticks.

They often don’t know if it’s capturing the people who are most likely to buy the product/service and so they are likely missing the mark and wasting dollars.

If you’re reading this saying “that’s me,” please know that you are not alone. Business owners are rarely marketing experts and therefore lack the knowledge and understanding needed to market strategically. There is simply too much to know and understand. Some common mistakes business owners make include:

  • Falling into the trap of buying whatever is being sold to them. So, if the radio company comes knocking, suggesting radio ads, that is what the business owner will do. If the billboard company comes to sell a billboard, they will buy a billboard.
  • Having a higher comfort level with a certain type of marketing because of previous experience with that channel and only sticking to those marketing outlets. What is most familiar is not necessarily the most effective.
  • Trusting only the suggestions of others to build a plan. Unfortunately, just because a certain type of marketing activity comes recommended by a friend or colleague, doesn’t mean they understand your business, market, and goals (and the best way to accomplish them) well enough to make an appropriate recommendation.

We want to be able to make sure marketing dollars are going toward something that will get the proper return for the business. Make sure your marketing decisions are rooted in strategy and purpose, so you don’t waste your time and money on guess-marketing.

The Need for a Good Marketing Plan

A good plan is useful for any major functional area of the business, including marketing. A plan makes people aware of specific goals for their area of the business operation and how that ties into the overall business strategy for growth, along with details about who is going to do what and when.

As with other good plans, the marketing plan should be customized for your company, taking into consideration many factors, especially your company’s business growth objectives and sales goals. Ideally, your marketing plan will be created in light of the strategic plan and sales plan for your business, which together answer questions related to a wide variety of topics including products, services, markets, opportunities, prospects, customers, buying habits, competition, trends, product development, goals, resource levels, etc. Without a good plan, the marketing effort will likely be a series of guess-marketing activities, i.e., throwing stuff up against the wall and hoping something will stick.

A good marketing plan is important because it:

  • Helps you build healthy awareness about your organization
  • Creates opportunities for and increases sales
  • Avoids confusion among customers and prospects about who you are and what you do
  • Gets you on the right path to ensure you are making wise investments in your business

If you put together having the right reasons to connect with the right audience with the right message through the right channels at the right time, you will be one step closer to having a marketing strategy that works and helps to grow your business.

For more information or help on this and other topics, contact our team.


Now is the Time…

A message from Jeff during the COVID-19 pandemic, April 2020…

Dear Clients & Colleagues,

Now is the time to focus on innovative business strategy and proactive marketing.

It has been a strange several week period for businesses and nonprofits alike, and much has been said about the importance of leadership during these challenging times. It is true that effective leadership is essential, given the need for re-evaluating situations and circumstances, making necessary adjustments, and then making things happen. Of course, leadership can only go so far without other people, processes and plans in place, not to mention customers who want to buy your products and services.

Many factors contribute to business performance and growth, but two areas of particular importance right now include strategic planning and proactive marketing, along with increasingly creative sales initiatives. If we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves merely reacting to overwhelming circumstances which appear to be beyond our control. And often times during a crisis, right when we must be most effective as leaders, it becomes most difficult to think strategically about growing a business. Further, when so much around us seems uncertain and sales are down, any attempts to proactively market the company and its products and services are often put on hold.

Actually, it is during such times that it’s most important to devise a solid business strategy and marketing plan, keeping in mind the need for both short- and long-term objectives. It might not be as easy as it would have been otherwise, but it is necessary. We can’t be like the proverbial ostrich and bury our heads in the sand until the scary thing goes away and it’s safe to come back out and continue operating as usual. It may not be “as usual” again for a long time, and maybe never will be.

Be encouraged though. Now is the time to take action by thinking strategically about how to improve key areas of performance, market more intentionally than ever, grow your business as much as possible under the circumstances, and become better positioned for future growth when the situation returns to “normal”, whatever that may look like and whenever that may be. Regardless of what it is and when it occurs, you and your company will be ready.

We’re here to help. Remember, initial phone consultations are always complimentary.

I look forward to talking with you soon.

Sincerely,

Jeff


Hockenberry Management Consulting will help Transform Customer Satisfaction into Loyalty

Transforming Customer Satisfaction into Loyalty

We are all customers, buying products and services from a variety of organizations. As a customer, have you ever received service that you were not pleased with? What did you do?

Studies show that unsatisfied customers are very likely to tell others about their negative experience but are less likely to complain or tell the service provider about their poor experience and dissatisfaction. In fact, a significant number of people will simply stop doing business with a company without notification or explanation.

Is there a difference between satisfied and loyal customers? Does it matter? In his book, “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless: Customer Loyalty is Priceless”; Gitomer says, “Satisfaction is no longer the acceptable measurement of customer service success. The standard and measure of success in this millennium are loyal customers.”

We Love Our Customers by Hockenberry Management Consulting

4 Competitive Advantages of Customer Loyalty

    1. Loyal customers always return to purchase your product or service, creating a long-term stream of income.
    2. Loyal customers boast about your product or service to others they know, creating the most effective (and least expensive) form of advertising for your organization… word-of-mouth advertising.
    3. Loyal customers are willing to pay more for your product or service because they trust you to be fair.
    4. Loyal customers are more forgiving when your organization makes a mistake because of the solid relationship they have with you.

So, how do you get loyal customers?

3 important components to develop a loyal customer base

    1. Establish trust with every customer at every point of connection. People buy from people they trust and they welcome suggestions and guidance from people they trust.
    2. Create an emotional tie with your customer at every point of connection. Most buying decisions are based on an emotion, rather than a need. In order to do this, service providers must also be able to identify and manage their own emotions effectively.
    3. Utilize empathy to strengthen customer relationships. Empathy involves putting yourself in another person’s shoes, trying to understand their perspective.

How is your organization doing in the area of customer loyalty? How do you know? One simple way to measure loyalty is to ask customers what Reichheld refers to as the “ultimate question” in his book, “The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth”.

The question is this: “How likely is it that you would recommend this organization and our products or services to a friend or colleague?”

From the answer to this question, Reichheld identifies three categories of customers: promoters, passives, and detractors.

  • Promoters are loyal, enthusiastic customers who repeatedly buy from you and tell their friends and colleagues about your product or service.
  • Passives are satisfied but unenthusiastic and may or may not buy from you again.
  • Detractors are unhappy customers who are likely providing the kind of word-of-mouth advertising that your organization doesn’t need or want.

So, how do you get loyal customers?

How about your customers? Are they promoters, passives, or detractors? Are they loyal or just satisfied? What difference is it making to your bottom line?

Making a strategic decision to create a loyal customer base is one of the most important commitments you can make to the success of your organization.

For more information or help on this and other topics, contact our team.


Success in Sales

What are the key components to success in professional sales? Is it just a matter of hard work, knowing the right people, and never accepting “no” for an answer? Or, is it more about proven processes, becoming known and trusted in your market, and personal commitment?

If you knew the answer to this question, what difference would it make in your business?

We all know that hard work is important, yet we also know that working hard on the wrong stuff makes you nothing more than tired at the end of the day. And while it matters who you know, it matters more who knows you.

We also know that persistence can pay off, especially for longer-term, consultative sales. Otherwise, customers will be influenced to say “yes” to a question for which the true answer is “no” and the chance of creating a loyal customer through that transaction is slim to none.

Hockenberry Management Consultants Talent Management Strategy

3 key components to success in professional sales

First, a professional sale is an on-going process – it has a beginning, followed by several critical steps, and it never ends.

The process begins with the introduction. First impressions count. An old, but certainly not outdated thought is “if they don’t buy you, they won’t be interested in anything else you are selling.” A good introduction allows you to gain favorable attention by establishing rapport.

Genuine interest, demonstrated through a healthy dialog begins to build trust, forming the basis for a new relationship. Trust is essential to the discovery process, i.e., helping the prospect recognize and understand their wants and needs.

Once given permission to do so, it’s time to present the benefits of doing business with you, which is followed by the customer truly saying “yes” and making a commitment to buy your product or service. The sale has occurred, but this is not the end of the process… it is only the beginning of an ongoing professional relationship.

Second, success in sales depends on your ability to identify prospects. Consider a dual approach to this factor – becoming known by people and getting to know people. Effective market communication allows people to learn who you are and what you do. This can be accomplished through advertising, networking, trade shows, etc. Likewise, prospecting may include a combination of activities, such as referrals, strategic alliances, centers of influence, etc.

Whatever methods you use, it is important to have a process for beginning and growing relationships with people who will eventually do business with you because your products or services help them, or their organization, in one of three ways – to gain a benefit, avoid a loss, or solve a problem.

Hockenberry Talent Strategy

Finally,and possibly the most important key to success is you! We should regularly ask ourselves the question “is my attitude and behavior consistent with what it takes to produce the results I need and want?” If the answer is “no”, then change so your answer can be “yes”.

You can’t get different results by doing what you always did or by thinking the way you always thought. Sometimes, we really can be our own worst enemy. If this describes you, consider taking steps that will help you make the necessary changes, so you can get the improved results you want and deserve.

For more information or help on this and other topics, contact our team.

Hockenberry Management Consulting Talks About Skilling Up

Why Is Time Management So Challenging?

Have you ever found yourself at the end of a busy day wishing there were just a few more hours left so you could get more stuff done?

 

Or maybe you’ve experienced that sinking feeling at the end of the day on Friday, staring at a list of unfinished to-do items, wondering how the week flew by so quickly. Rest assured, you are not alone.

Strategy based upon finding from Hockenberry Management Consulting

Time Management

 

Bookstore shelves and online resources are filled with information meant to help us manage our time better through various techniques, such as organizing our desks, filing paperwork properly, planning meetings with agendas, delegating to others, avoiding interruptions in our day, handling phone calls and emails quickly, using Post-It notes more effectively, etc. Do these techniques help? The honest answer is probably “somewhat… but not enough.”

These techniques aim to help us manage time, but in reality, we cannot manage time at all. The concept of “time management” is actually a misnomer. After all, can any of us change the fact that there are 60 minutes in every hour, and 24 hours in every day, and 7 days in every week?

If we cannot manage time, how can we possibly regain a sense of control in the midst of our busy lives and hectic schedules? As you may have guessed, the solution is to better manage ourselves.

Let’s consider this alternative view by asking three questions.

1. What is your purpose?
2. What are your values?
3. What is your vision?

If we cannot manage time, then we must think about how we can manage ourselves. We can change what we do in any given hour, day, or week. We can decide whether to continue spending (to use up, exhaust, or consume) our time, or whether to begin investing (to make use of for future benefits or advantages) our time.

How To Manage Your Time Better by Hockenberry Management Consulting

What is your purpose?

 

Do you know your purpose in life? If you knew you had only one year to live, what would you do differently? Why? What is important to you? How would you want to be remembered by your family, friends, and colleagues? Now, imagine that you were guaranteed many more years to live. How would the future be different from your current situation? Everyone has a purpose in life. This purpose, as you perceive it, establishes the foundation from which you think and behave. This perception of your purpose shapes your attitudes and helps to determine your goals. When you have a clear purpose in life, decisions about how you use time become easier to make. Certain things become more important than others. You begin investing time more often, rather than just spending it.

What are your values?

What principles do you use to make decisions in life? Your values are the morals, ethics, and standards that are important to you. They shape your perception of what is right and true, and generally do not change over time. What gives your life meaning? What do you believe? What do you value? Clarifying your values will help you make better decisions and help to reduce stress in your life. Choices about spending and investing time also become easier to make when you have clearly understood values.

What is your vision?

Where will you be and what will you be doing in 1 year… 5 years… 10 years? What will you need to do differently in order to get there? How will you need to change in order to get there? The vision you have for your future also affects the way you think, make decisions and choose to take action (or not) which determines how you use time now.

Clarifying your life’s purpose, affirming your values, and crystallizing your vision will have a significant impact on how you use the minutes that remain in this hour, the hours that remain in this day, the days that remain in this week… not to mention the weeks that remain in this year, and the years that remain in this lifetime.

For more information or help on this and other topics, contact our team.