Giving Away Green and More

In bad economic times, sellers need to pay attention to what’s important.

Their knives are dull from slashing costs. But you can’t cut your way to profits. Now is the time to hug your best customers and nurture relationships with prospects.

However, in-person meetings with sellers keep dwindling.

How can sellers make an impact with a less available audience?

How do you create value even when you’re not in front of your client?

One of the best ways is free sampling. Give something away for nothing. It feels counter-intuitive at a time of cost-cutting. And I don’t mean rebates or discounts, either. I mean free. Here’s why.

One of my clients, Perry OP, an office products and furniture dealer in Temple, Texas, “walks the talk” when it comes to their core values of service, integrity and community. Earlier this year, they gave away a $25,000 Office Makeover that garnered local radio and TV attention.

At the same time—much more quietly–they delivered a check to a battered women’s shelter. The shelter was selected by Perry employees, who volunteered to contribute through payroll deductions. This they did behind the scenes, without fanfare. They just showed up with a check and blessed the shelter.

Perry’s current initiative is free “green”. Their “Bright Ideas for Going Green This Spring” campaign unashamedly occupies half the real estate on their homepage. Perry’s genuine customer focus demonstrates to prospects and customers alike that they are less interested in selling you something than developing a relationship with you. Their customer and lead nurturing program is sure to build trust between the Perry team and prospects/customers. Their “free samples” are real, fun and unique, for example:

• Bringing emphasis and awareness on Green “days” to calendar (St. Patrick’s Day, Earth Day, first day of Spring)
• Win a free HP tote bag by taking a green quiz
• Offering “green” product alternatives
• A Blogpost : “5 Easy Ways to Add Some Green to Your Office”

What did it cost Perry to give all this away? My guess is HP will donate the branded tote bags and everything else is just time invested in electronic info in various forms.

How big a deal is this? Very. It’s easy for days to become weeks, then months, between contacts. According to a recent CSO Insights study, 80% of sellers fail to follow up after the initial contact.

Since relationships are what differentiate sellers, out-of-sight easily translates to a decrease in buyer loyalty. Therefore, nurturing relationships electronically is a great way to stay in touch between visits.

What can you do to provide free sampling to your clients?

Here’s my top 5 list:

1. Blog (500-800 words) on something of interest to your audience, yet not self-promoting.

2. Publish an electronic newsletter. For about $15 per month, Constant Contact or iContact offer a user-friendly way to develop and track email marketing efforts with your audience.

3. Offer a free one-hour “strategy session” with a prospect. This is a great way for them to “free sample” you—the idea behind Selling by Doing, not Selling by Telling.

4. Send them out a timely email with topical information. Industry trends, regulation news, competitor updates, your new offerings that will help them (note: careful not to self-promote)

5. Client Spotlight – you’re reading an example of a “client spotlight” that features something unique from one of my clients. Why not show some love to your clients by sharing the things they care about that others can potentially learn from?

We’re really just scratching the surface of ways sellers can create value for buyers.