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How To Sell To Your 4 Most Difficult Customers – ThomasNet News

Not all customers are created equally. Some will come to you fully informed and ready to buy. Others — likely the majority — require a great deal of time nurturing and educating. The worst are those that absorb a great deal of time and effort from sales professionals, only to reveal that they are not the right kind of customer for your business.

Thankfully, industrial businesses can leverage their website to help streamline and potentially expedite the sales process, while simultaneously weeding out unqualified buyers.

What follows are four types of potential customers that typically require the greatest amount of effort from sales personnel to convert into paying customers, as well as tips for how to use your website to save your sales team time and energy.

1. The “Just Browsing” Customer

This type of customer is in the early stages of the buying cycle. They are aware of an existing or eventual need, but are still conducting initial research. This customer will potentially have lots of questions, but may not be forthcoming about their own needs, requirements and even budget (they may not even know these details yet). Those that do have this information will likely hesitate to escalate sales conversations, either because approval for the project is still pending or simply because it is too early in the decision-making process.

It is helpful for sales to be involved with customers at this stage. However, industrial businesses can benefit greatly by having a robust and detailed website, complete with deep-level technical information and specifications. Offer a full product catalog or technical portfolio where applicable. Industrial businesses should aim to answer as many possible questions about their products/services as possible on their website. The more data and details available, the less time a sales person will have to spend with this customer, educating them and getting them familiar with your company’s offerings and capabilities. Then, when this customer is ready to buy, they will engage the sales team fully informed and ready to buy.

For a more in-depth look at the industrial buying cycle, download our free guide, “How To Meet The Needs Of Your Buyers.”

2. The Skeptical Customer

Another name for this type of customer is The Hesitator. This company may have heard everything you have to say and knows all about your product/service, yet is still holding out. They seem to be afraid to commit. The truth is, that’s very likely the case. Perhaps they are wary of your product’s ability to perform as indicated, or doubt the quality of your customer service.

The solution, in many cases, is to address and assuage these fears with valuable content. Hesitators want to know that you will deliver on your promises and that they will see the results they expect.

There are a few ways to address their concerns. Frequently asked questions (FAQs) is an easy content marketing solution to address buyers’ questions and fears. You can add the FAQs on your products or services pages and watch that boost your SEO! It’s a win-win for your prospective buyers and your website ranking. Videos, including product demos, troubleshooting tips, news reels and similar material will also be beneficial.

Another way to feed more valuable content online is by showcasing testimonials from happy customers, customer lists, and case studies. Hesitators want to know who has worked with you in the past and how those companies fared as a result. Your case studies should always address the following:

  • The problems or pain points the customer was experiencing
  • How these problems impacted their business
  • The improvement they saw as a result of using your solution or product
  • How their business or work life changed after working with you 

Case studies work throughout the sales funnel because they build brand awareness, nurture prospects, and support your sales team. Check out our blog for more tips on how to create an customer case study that stands out from your competitors. 

3. The Unqualified Customer (a.k.a. the Non-Customer)

It’s not really fair to even call this type of company a “customer,” as they will never buy from you. Why? Because you don’t offer the products/services they are looking for. Or perhaps your product cannot be made to their specifications. Regardless of why, sales personnel will often get stuck entertaining and informing these companies, only to find that the time was spent in vain.

Much like the “Just Browsing” customer, the answer here is to include as much details about your product/service offerings on your website as possible, including product catalogs, specialties and capabilities, and downloadable CAD drawings where applicable. The sooner an unqualified customer realizes you aren’t the supplier they need, the less likely they will waste a sales person’s time. This way, your sales team can focus on those customers who truly need what you offer.

4. The OCC (Other Company’s Customer)

In some ways, these customers are the hardest to win, as they are (or nearly are) your competitor’s customers. Whether they are upfront about this or not, these customers are looking for comparative prices, capabilities and service add-ons. They may want this information to aide in negotiating better deals with an existing supplier or one that is trying to win their business. Alternatively, they may be eager to see if there are better suppliers out there.

Whatever the reason, all of the content and information mentioned above will come into play. The idea is to put more than your best foot forward — you want to be an open book. Why? For starters, your competitor has probably not been so forthcoming with these details. Another leg up is getting listed for free on Thomasnet.com, where more than a million in-market buyers are. The more readily available you make information about your company and its offerings, the more comfortable this customer will feel with you. Your company will come across as more honest and thorough. That perception can then be leveraged by your sales personnel to try to win this business away from your competitor.

Understanding Your Target Personas Helps Sell More Effectively

No one has the budget to target everyone — so many businesses say they target anyone who is interested in their products or services — but even that’s too general of a target. Establishing well-thought-out buyer personas will allow you to more effectively reach your target audience with what they want and what they need, increasing your chances of turning leads into customers.

Understanding your target personas will tell you which content marketing tools you should be using more and how — like social media, or video — and ultimately help you fuel lead generation and close a sale. Interested in learning how your content influences your customers through each stage of the buying journey? Download our eBook, “Content Marketing For Industrial Companies.”

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