A Bait Shop Lesson in B2B CRM: “Crickets Self-Serve”

One day, when my friend Jeff stopped at this old icehouse that also ran one of our favorite bait and tackle shops, he noticed the sign had been changed to “The Happy Store.” The familiar, friendly face behind the counter was gone, he said, and the new one didn’t give him the warm welcome he was used to. In fact, after handing the clerk his cricket tube – as was the custom when getting that kind of bait – the response he got was a dismissive wave of the hand from behind a magazine, as well as a muttered “Crickets self-serve.”

B2B CRM supports B2B MarketingClearly this chap didn’t know what he was doing. No sensible bait shop owner would ever have customers handle this task – for many good reasons. But Jeff wasn’t about to leave empty handed, so over to the cricket box he went.

As he did, the rude treatment got him thinking: Why not get a very generous quantity? I mean, after all, he was doing the work himself, and he wasn’t ever coming back. When he was done, he left the cricket box door slightly ajar – just for good measure – then spent the next five minutes collecting a few other items before finally approaching the counter.

The clerk began to ring him up, and as he turned to Jeff with that same blank expression, it was all he could do to stifle a laugh when he saw that one of the escaped crickets had already found its way atop the unsuspecting clerk’s hair.

Well, whatever you’re doing in the B2B marketplace, please be sure the customer and prospect engagement experience is well thought out, lest it be you or a client who ends up with “crickets in your hair.” By that, I mean lackluster results or bad outcomes originating from CRM strategies that lacked sufficient customer input, resulting in lack of interest, lost repeat business and/or a damaged reputation.

What can be done?

When our agency is engaged on channel marketing projects, we like to perform primary research (phone surveys, face-to-face interviews) with a select group of our client’s B2B target audience. We use carefully crafted scripts, including questions that qualify key assumptions about the products or services being sold. We do this ourselves to keep an open ear for those “Ah-ha!” moments or reveals that most call centers can miss. Those qualified answers and insights are critical, as they become the parameters by which we can accurately shape the marketing program’s content and method of distribution, taking into consideration both the marketing and sales sides of the equation in order to support as closely as possible a closed-loop, fully-integrated CRM plan.

We find this not only helps us fill the pipeline by improving the end-user’s brand and buying experience (which means more sales and happier clients), it also supports a healthy prospect relationship no matter what buying stage they may be in.

And in B2B sales, that is certainly far better than just the chirping of crickets.

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