It is often easy to overlook that sales believed ‘lost’ may, in fact, still be potential opportunities…

For over 10 years, Insight Engineers, has been working with UK and International clients on market research approaches to better understand the customer journey by delivering concrete insights, consequences and recommendations to business ‘problems’ such as…

  • Why are sales lost? – how to optimise the conversion ratio and defend market share
  • What is the size of the potential sales opportunity? – identifying those still in-market who have not yet proceeded to purchase
  • Which sales processes could be improved? – where the customer journey is not flowing as intended through brand touch-points

Here are five golden nuggets, underpinned by our market research, insight and consultancy advice, we’d like to share: –

  1. A well-managed client database is a real asset

Whilst ideally suited to marketing campaigns, a database also enables an easy, low cost approach to reaching and researching existing customers and prospects, as well as the possibility to build a community panel and, with explicit permission, the write-back of key business intelligence data.

Engaging through research can be a signal of positive brand ambassadorship too – it provides an opportunity for existing customers and prospects to express their opinion, and importantly, flag any unresolved problems in the customer journey that otherwise might be overlooked – naturally, this assumes the organisation owns the issue, follows-through on the resolution and is seen to solve the problem.

In the absence of a client database, existing customers and prospects can also be reached using proprietary online panels.

  1. Understand why sales are lost

By understanding the ‘magic’ and ‘miserable’ moments in the customer journey continuum, and the profile and repertoire of those not proceeding to purchase, sales strategies and tactics can be developed to overcome barriers, and ensure needs are fully addressed to help optimise the conversion ratio and defend market share.

Additionally, we know that resolving a problem positively impacts on the overall ‘experience’ and in fact, if a problem is satisfactorily resolved, the overall experience is enhanced, brand loyalty/ retention is strengthened and if appropriately handled, a strong brand advocate created.

  1. Size the potential sales opportunity to identify those still in-market

In certain sectors, most sales believed ‘lost’ are still in-market and remain potential opportunities to convert. For example, in the automotive sector, at least half of those expressing an interest, e.g. requested a brochure, visited a dealer or took a test drive, are still in-market 2-3 months after the original expression of interest.

Research can identify the size of the opportunity, profile those most disposed to purchase, any barriers to overcome, the competitive set, the proximity to purchase, and the most motivating tactical offers and promotions to stimulate interest when the time is right.

  1. Most customers and prospects are pre-disposed to receive follow-up

There is a common myth, perpetuated by sales teams, that following-up a prospect will result in a lost sale – the reality is that 9/10 existing customers and prospects, opted-in to marketing preferences, are pre-disposed to being re-contacted.

Indeed, building a personal relationship by getting to know and treating everyone as an individual, has a significant halo effect on the overall ‘experience’, creating opportunities for regular dialogue with the intention of guiding a potential sale along the purchase funnel.

A relationship requires effort though, e.g. not everyone can be reached during the working day and indeed, needs evolve over time – therefore, it is important to attempt regular tailored follow-ups addressed via multiple channels (telephone; email; text; post) seeking to achieve relevant and memorable re-contact that spans the estimated purchase window.

  1. Sales processes themselves can often be improved

Sometimes the customer journey is not flowing as intended through brand touch-points and hence, there is no substitute for making contact to check that the intended sales process is delivered, as expected by the customer, and as promised by the brand.

Our research has uncovered valuable feedback on breakdowns in functionality or fulfilment including an online quotation app that doesn’t work for an individual’s situation, sales literature that never arrives, cars unavailable to test drive and offers/ deals that aren’t relevant, clear, precise or available.

Don’t forget, in order to close the feedback loop between customers/ prospects and the organisation, it is equally as important to understand how your network, retailers, stores, dealers, distributors and staff really feel about your organisation, products and services too.

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