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Smarta Marketing Ideas for Smarta Marketers

Category: Customer Service

Consulting – How To Write A Proposal

Dr Brian Monger

For any reasonable consulting job, the prospective client will likely expect a written proposal.

A written proposal accomplishes five tasks that are important for you in getting on con tract and beginning work as a consultant.

1.  The proposal is the basis for the agreement.  The proposal, then, is a sales document that ties together all the loose ends and closes the deal.

2.  The proposal documents what you are going to do.  The services you are going to perform in this consulting engagement should be clearly understood by both you and your client.  A proposal does exactly that; it spells out in black and white exactly what you are going to do, so there is a documented basis for understanding.

3.  The proposal documents the time frame of your performance.  Sometimes the client will want to know partial information before the full project is complete.

4.  The proposal documents what you are going to receive for your services.  You aren’t in business as a consultant just for fun, even though you may enjoy it immensely.  The proposal specifies the compensation that you are going to receive for the services you propose to provide.

5.  The proposal forms the basis for a contract.

How To Write A Good Proposal

There are four points to remember in writing a good proposal.

1.  Keep the structure clear and logical

2.  Use a professional but friendly style.  When you are submitting a proposal, just as in a face-to-face meeting, be professional but be friendly.

3.  Don’t spring surprises in your proposal.  After you return from your initial meeting, you will frequently get new ideas that are different from what you and your client originally visualised.  These ideas may be so good that you find it very tempting to include them in the proposal.  Resist this temptation, unless you can check with your client first.  He may need time to sell this idea to other employees, even superiors in his company.

4.  Check before you send.  If at all possible, you should double-check the main points of the proposal with your client.  Don’t assume that changes can be made after your client receives it.

The Structure For A Letter Proposal

Opening

Simply state that you are writing to submit your ideas for the project discussed earlier.

Background

Begin by restating the background of the consulting situation.  That is, restate your client’s assumptions and other general facts in the case.  This reassures the client that he has made an astute analysis of the situation.

Objectives

You should state the objectives of the engagement precisely.  Describe exactly what your client will learn or receive as a result of your work.

Methods

In this section you should describe alternative methodologies for accomplishing the objectives.  Discuss the advantages of each alternative, and then indicate which method you propose to use, and why.

Potential Problems

Any project has inherent in it, potential problems that could limit or detract from achievement.  Don’t omit or gloss over these potential problems; document them clearly, but also state how you will handle them if they occur.

The Finished Product

Your client will want to know what he can expect by way of a finished product.  Will you be furnishing a report?  A staff study? Photographs? And how many copies will you provide?

Cost and Payment Information

For most small contracts, it is not important to break down cost information unless the client requests it.  However, the timing of payment is important.  The client will want to know not only how much you want but when you want it.

 

Any additions? Comments? Examples?

Like these ideas?  Please comment

And visit our other blogs/articles http://smartamarkeketing.wordpress

And the MAANZ website (home of the worlds largest marketing/business glossary http://www.marketing.org.au

Also the MAANZ Slideshare site – http://www.slideshare.net/bmonger

Distributing Services

Dr. Brian Monger
Service Product Distribution

Some would have it that services are intangible.  That is technically right, but logically if a Service Product was completely intangible, how would we be able to transfer it?

All organisations – whether producing tangibles or intangibles – are concerned with place decisions.  That is how to make their offerings available and accessible to users.  Even where a service or other intangible is marketed there are physical problems.  All are associated, somewhere or other, with tangible elements requiring physical handling, storage and transportation

The subject of place decisions for services is confused as people grapple with the concept of a ‘distribution channel’ for items which are intangible, often inseparable from the person performing the service and perishable, in the sense that inventory cannot be carried.  The subject is further confused because the generalisations made about services (e.g. no inventory carried) do not always apply in specific situations.

Methods of distributing services

A distribution channel for services is the sequence of firms involved in moving a service from producer to consumer.  The usual generalisation made about service distribution is that direct sale is the most common method and that channels are short.

Direct sale certainly is common in some services markets (e.g. professional services); but many service channels contain one or more intermediaries.  It would be incorrect to suggest that direct sale is the only method of distribution in services markets.

Intermediaries are quite common.  Some of these intermediaries assume ownership risks; some perform roles that change ownership (e.g. purchasing); some perform roles that enable physical movement (e.g. transporting).

Like this short article on services and distribution (Place)?  Please comment.  And have a look at another article on Distribution in our sister blog http://smartamarketing.wordpress and checkout the smartamarketing posts on SlideShare.

What Should you Charge Clients?

Charging What You’re Worth for Professional Consulting Services

Two of the perennial problems that many consultants face are how to set their prices, and how to convey to potential clients the value in working with them, buying your service product.

Lack of clarity as to what you are worth to clients will undermine your confidence and often lead to trying to compensate by over delivering and over promoting.

Here are some simple ideas to help you get clear on the value you deliver, and to charge fees that are in line with that.

1. Not all clients (customers) are the same.  Your value to them will be different.  That is why it is important to think like an effective marketer and segment/target.  And segmentation needs to more than Demographics/Firmagraphics.

Value is specific (and perceptual) to each market/segment and situation.  You need to create a market segment profile for each target market.  The more detail, the better your understanding.  If it is only a few words, you do not understand your market well enough.

If you are struggling to make a useful segment profile (it takes a bit of knowledge and time) – seek help.  Also check out http://smartamarketing.wordpress.com for ideas about effective segmentation.  You will find other useful and free ideas in the many ideas there as well

2.  What value do you offer? An effective exercise is to list 30 results that your clients get in working with you. Your Product is both goods (tangibles) and services (intangibles). Be sure to list the tangible as well as the non-tangible. Dig deep. If you’re new to your business, then look at the results that are typical of your particular profession or industry, and ask yourself how you can help people create that.

If you are struggling to make a 30 list (it takes time) – seek help

3  Once you have made your basic list, look at it from a client’s perspective.  What benefits are there for them?  Clients/customers buy benefits (intangible services – supported by tangibles).  Put yourself in their shoes and ask “What’s in it for me” (WIIFM).

4. Determine a Price.  Determine not what you think you are worth – but what your prospective clients are prepared to pay.  What clients think may be wrong, but that is what you need to work with.  If you think they should see you as being worth more, then you need to work out how to persuade them of that fact.  While your costs are important in determining an asking Price, Clients don’t care about your costs except where it offers them some advantage.  Adopt a good marketing approach when looking at your cost decisions.  Ask “How can this benefit my clients in such a way as I can add it to my value offer”?

Create Price Lines – that is different asking prices for different segments and offerings.

Price different offerings (Products) differently

4. Don’t stop researching, thinking and planning about your offering. Be sure to ask your clients (frequently) what they value most about working with you or your competitors.  Don’t just assume that what you think is goog is good for your clients – find out.

5. Think strategically as well as tactically.  Tactics – short term plans and action to suit the particular situation are needed, but to get ahead consistently, you need to also think strategically about your business. Look for (and create) value offerings that will differentiate you from your competitors.  If your offering is undifferentiated, it is a commodity.  Commodities only compete on price – or luck.

Thinking strategically means looking at the whole Marketing Mix (eg. 4 P’s) not just Price.  It is also about establishing an effective Brand in your market place.

6. Do your prospective clients know about you and what you can offer them?  Now that you know what you should offer to clients, it’s important that they become aware of it too. How you can let them know is another (important) topic. This is also where knowing a lot about your target segment will pay dividends.  You will know what media they use; what key ideas they want to know about – and how you can effectively communicate with them (not just to them)

Check out the other articles on the SmartaMarketing blog (http://smartamarketing.wordpress.com and https://smartamarketing2.wordpress.com); visit MAANZ International (www.marketing.org.au) and look at the short courses on offer.  Or contact me for specific advice and projects you are looking at

It is how you can build your business/consultancy

Dr. Brian Monger

info@marketing.org.au

Learn to Paraphrase Your Customer’s Words

Sales and Customer Service – Paraphrase Your Customer’s Words

The customer is only sure that you have been listening when you paraphrase what the prospect has said and feed it back in your own words. This is where the rubber meets the road in effective listening. This is where you demonstrate in no uncertain terms to the prospect that your listening has been real and sincere. This is where you show the prospect that you were paying complete attention to what he or she was saying. Paraphrasing is how you prove it.

1. Question for clarification

When the prospect has finished explaining his or her situation to you, and you have paused, and then questioned for clarification, you paraphrase the prospects primary thoughts and concerns, and feed them back to him or her in your own words.

2. Use the right words

For example, you might say, “Let me make sure I understand exactly what you are saying. It sounds to me like you are concerned about two things more than anything else, and that in the past you have had a couple of experiences that have made you very careful in approaching a decision of this kind.”

3. Feed it back accurately

You then go on to feed back to the customer exactly what he or she has told you, pausing and questioning for clarification as you go, until the customer says words to the effect of, “Yes, that’s it! You’ve got it exactly.”

4. Earn the right to sell

Only when you and the customer completed a thorough “examination” and have mutually agreed on the “diagnosis” you are in a position to begin talking to the customer about your product (goods and services). In general terms, this means that you can not pull out your brochures and price lists and begin telling the customer how your product or service can solve his problems or achieve his goals until about seventy percent of the way through the sales conversation. Until then, you have not yet earned the right. Until then, you don’t even know enough to begin an intelligent presentation without embarrassing yourself.

5.  Be a good listener

The more and better you listen, the more and better people will like you, trust you and want to do business with you. The more they will want to get involved with you as a person and the more popular you will be with them. Excellent listeners are welcome everywhere, in every walk of life, and they eventually and ultimately arrive at the top of their fields.

Using the Phone More Effectively

These days everyone seems focused on the touch screen or keyboard of smartphone use – forgetting that the “cel” or “mobile” or “iThingie” is also useful for voice communication – even for social media

Indeed the telephone is still one of the most useful of communication media.  But it needs skills to use it well.  The following will give you some very useful basics.

Telephone Contact Essentials

Any telephone conversation is simply two-way communication.

Like any communication, there may be a good deal hanging on it.  Any problem will dilute the chances of success.  And the problems of ‘voice-only’ communication are considerable, and in some cases prohibitive.  Try describing to someone how to tie a necktie for example – without any gestures or demonstration.  It pays, therefore, to consider all the factors that can make vocal communication successful, and not underrate it as ,simply a telephone call.

Such factors are perhaps best reviewed in terms of how you use the telephone itself, your voice and manner, obtaining and using feedback, and planning.  The telephone distorts the voice, exaggerating the rate of speech and heightening the tone.  You must talk into the mouthpiece in a clear, normal voice (if you are a woman, it can help to pitch your voice lower.) It is surprising how many things can interfere with the simple process of talking directly into the mouthpiece: smoking; eating; trying to write; holding a file or book open at the correct page and holding the phone; sorting through the correct change in a call box; allowing others in the room to interrupt; or allowing a bad-quality line to disrupt communication (it is better to phone back).  This is all so obvious, yet so easy to get a little wrong, thus reducing the effectiveness of communication.

Voice and Manner

On the phone you have to rely on your voice and manner in making an impression.  None of the other factors of personality are perceptible.  Here are some suggestions to help you.

Speak at a slightly slower rate than usual.

Speaking too rapidly makes it easier to be misunderstood and also mistrusted, although speaking too slowly can make the listener impatient or irritated.

Smile.  Use a warm tone of voice.

Though a smile cannot be seen, it does change the tone of your voice.  Make sure you sound pleasant, efficient and perhaps most important, interested and enthusiastic about the conversation.  Enthusiasm is contagious.

Get the emphasis right.

Make sure that you emphasise the parts of the communication that are important to the listener, or for clarity.  You only have your voice to give the emphasis you want.

Ensure clarity.

Make sure you are heard, especially with names, numbers etc.  It is easy to confuse Ss and Fs for instance, or find 15 per cent taken to mean 50 per cent.

Be positive.

Have the courage of your convictions.  Do not say: ‘possible’, ‘maybe’, ‘I think’, or ‘that could be’ (watch this one, professionals are apt to be far too circumspect)

Be concise.

Ensure a continuous flow of information, but in short sentences, a logical sequence and one thing at a time.  Watch for and avoid the wordiness that creeps in when we need time to think, e.g. ‘at this moment in time’ (now), ,along the lines of’ (like).

Avoid jargon.

Whether jargon is of the organisation (e.g. abbreviated description of a department name), the specialisation (e.g. technical descriptions of tax regulations or legal procedures for instance), or general (e.g. phrases like ‘I’ll see to that immediately’ – in five minutes or five hours?  ‘Give me a moment’ -literally?).  At least check that the other person understands they may not risk losing face by admitting you are being too technical for them, and a puzzled look will not be visible.  Jargon can too easily become a prop to self-confidence.

Be descriptive.

Anything that conjures up images in the mind of the listener will stimulate additional response from someone restricted to the single stimulus of voice.

Use gestures.

Your style will come across differently depending on your position.  For example, there may even be certain kinds of call that you can make better standing up rather than sitting down, such as debt collecting or laying down the law perhaps. (Really!  Try it, it works.)

Get the right tone.

Be friendly without being flippant.  Be efficient, courteous, whatever is called for.

Be natural.

Be yourself.  Avoid adopting a separate, contrived, telephone ‘persona’.  Consider the impression you want to give: Mature?  Expert?  Authoritative?  In command of the detail?  Try and project just that.

Your intention is to prompt the other person into action.  You should speak naturally in a way that is absolutely clear.  Here are some useful additional rules.

Be courteous.  Courtesy makes good conversation easier .  “Please” and ‘Thank you’ are words that will be appreciated

Be effective.  Know what your objective is and focus on achieving it

Project the right image.  Decide on what image will be most effective with your listener.  Fun?  Formal?  There are many alternatives

Be personal. Use “you” and  ‘I’ – say what you will do.

Be appreciative of their time.

Service Product Distribution

All organisations – whether producing tangibles or intangibles – are concerned with place decisions.  That is how to make their offerings available and accessible to users.  Even where a service or other intangible is marketed there are physical problems.  All are associated, somewhere or other, with tangible elements requiring physical handling, storage and transportation

The subject of place decisions for services is confused as people grapple with the concept of a ‘distribution channel’ for items which are intangible, often inseparable from the person performing the service and perishable, in the sense that inventory cannot be carried.  The subject is further confused because the generalisations made about services (e.g. no inventory carried) do not always apply in specific situations.

Methods of distributing services

A distribution channel for services is the sequence of firms involved in moving a service from producer to consumer.  The usual generalisation made about service distribution is that direct sale is the most common method and that channels are short.

Direct sale certainly is common in some services markets (e.g. professional services); but many service channels contain one or more intermediaries.  It would be incorrect to suggest that direct sale is the only method of distribution in services markets.

Intermediaries are quite common.  Some of these intermediaries assume ownership risks; some perform roles that change ownership (e.g. purchasing); some perform roles that enable physical movement (e.g. transporting).

How Well do you Know your Customers?

How well do you really know your customers?

Doyou know the answers to these questions?

— What is really important to the customer?

— What is the customer’s connection with the product?

— What does the customer really want?

— How are customers motivated to buy?

— How do customers talk about the product?

To achieve successful differentiation in the marketplace, the complete picture must be captured.

The key is to understand the customer (their wants, needs, motivations, emotions and values) and evaluate the marketplace (looking for gaps, opportunities and unmet wants and needs) before embarking on the development of a new product concept or product extension.

Understanding the voice of the customer

Understanding your customer means understanding the your offer (product – both goods and services) through the consumer’s eyes — this means placing more emphasis on the consumer’s words than the opinions of management, R&D, engineering, marketing and all other “internal” folks.

Understanding is accomplished by:

  • focusing on root wants/needs/benefits of usage; and
  • understanding consumer language.

Understanding what your customer seeks as the important benefits

Understanding root benefits resides in the following questions:

  • What need(s) does the customer wish to fulfill with the product?
  • What problem is the customer attempting to solve through use?
  • What benefits does the customer wish to receive?

Customers Are Often a Challenge

Customers Are Often a Challenge

You can learn from that challenge.  The more you learn, the more you’ll enjoy your job.

Learning to calm upset people is not easy.  There is no single technique that works with every upset person.  But there are skills that can be learned, with a positive attitude and practice.

Why is it Important to Calm Upset Customers? 

In a survey of service quality, it was discovered that twenty five percent of customers had expressed a complaint in the previous twelve months.  The survey stated, “In light of this significant percentage, everyone in the organisation-from teller to president-must become increasingly aware that he or she is either serving the customer directly or is serving someone in the organisation who serves the customer.  All positions exist because of the customer.  ”

Calming upset customers is rarely pleasant, but it must be done.  If upset people continue expressing their anger and frustration without intervention, it can upset the whole office.

Upset Customers Don’t Come Back

A recent study showed that customers stop buying from a particular business for the following reasons:

1%       die (not much you can do about that)

3%       move away

5%       form other interests

9%       for competitive reasons

14%     due to product dissatisfaction

68%     because someone was rude, indifferent or discourteous to them.

It is clear that people want and expect good service.  When they are not treated well they don’t come back.

It can be expensive for your company if your customer decides not to come back.  One study found that the average cost of acquiring a new customer was $120.00 yet to keep a current customer happy costs only $21.00. It is six times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep a current one.  That money could be spent improving your work environment, giving you a raise, or keeping you employed.

Word of Mouth Spreads Quickly

If your organisation has a reputation for quick, courteous responses to complaints, people will be more apt to begin their conversation with you rationally.  When customers scream and yell it’s often because that’s what their friend had to do to get some action from your organisation.

One study found that, on average, one dissatisfied customer told 11 other people, who each told 5 others.  That’s 67 (1 + 11 + 55) people spreading bad word-of mouth about your organisation.  Most organisations are going to be hurt by that much bad advertising.

You Want Customers to Complain

Yes, you do.  Because if they don’t complain they’ll just take their business elsewhere, and tell their friends not to do business with you.  Think about what happens when you are treated poorly: do you usually complain? Most people don’t.  They just say “I’m never coming here again.”

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