Local relationships clinch deals – knowledge, credibility and b2b sales

In the battle to win new customers building relationships locally is key to success, argues Simon Lawrence in the latest of his posts on b2b marketing.

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3rd April 2009 at 9:49 am

It’s an all too familiar situation. A sales rep turns up unannounced at your office and before you establish who he or she is and more importantly why they are there, the scripted sales pitch begins.

As they are rapidly rushed out of the office by a harassed member of staff, the question everyone is asking is how on earth does turning up uninvited increase sales or enhance a company’s reputation? The fact is it doesn’t.

Businesses would do well to take heed of research which shows that local relationships are what really clinch deals. As a result they should be developing communication and marketing strategies to make the most of opportunities on their own doorstep.

Increasingly in the current climate, businesses are finding themselves fighting harder for a purchaser’s attention so it’s essential that you know your target prospects and give them a valid reason to choose your services over a competitor.

As an owner of a small business myself, I find it hard to believe that many of the big businesses in my locality are failing to realise the potential local relationships can have in securing a deal.

Take office supplies specialist Staples, for instance. We’re less than a five minute drive from a store, yet we’ve never received a single piece of marketing communication from them. We have therefore tended to opt for a supplier who demonstrates an understanding of our business and who has taken the time to get to know us.

You might be reading this wondering ‘how do I find out all this useful information?’. First option particularly for lesser known businesses is to buy the data required from an outsourced supplier or gather it through various collection methods.

A wealth of information can be collected using this approach including the size of a business, location, purchase decision maker(s) and transactional habits. This information can then be used to build a well managed database which will form the heart of any successful marketing and communication activity allowing you to begin to establish a credible relationship with a prospect.

But in the business-to-business sector understanding your customers is difficult. It isn’t always easy to know when and how to make contact or even who to approach.

I take the view that understanding individual business owners and directors will give a much valued insight in to their purchase behaviour which is ultimately reflected in business decisions.

Developing a good understanding starts with a deep analysis of existing customers, as this data holds most of the answers that you need to clearly define who you are selling to (and not) – and to understand what they buy – and which are worth most to you.

There’s a vast opportunity in taking a structured approach to selling to the small business sector and companies who adopt the latest data and insight techniques and make the most of local relationships are the ones that will win the battle for customers.

Simon Lawrence

Simon is the founder and CEO of Information Arts one of the UK's leading business-to-business marketing consultancies set up in 2000. Simon has over 17 years experience within the industry and is widely regarded as a leading expert in businesses marketing to other businesses. http://www.information-arts.com/

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