Research carried out by The Marketing Practice shows that IT companies are overlooking, and in some cases wasting, sales opportunities with the very companies they are closest to – their existing customers.
The 110 UK IT decision-makers we interviewed said that “information from existing suppliers” was their preferred way of finding out about new IT products and services. They rated this information source as highly as they rated their own networks (and above analysts and consultants).
But at the same time, nearly half of all those surveyed said, “Current suppliers are quite poor in their account marketing and management” and a similar percentage agreed that, “IT suppliers do not really understand how to communicate information about their products and services to me”, highlighting a huge missed opportunity.
So, your existing customers don’t just highly rate you as a source of information, they expect you to market to them. But as these verbatim quotes from the research show, there are a number of considerations in getting it right…
1. A joined up approach to sales and marketing communications (that finishes what it starts)… “Too often we are contacted several times by different people in different divisions of the same supplier who don’t seem to talk to each other and there is usually no follow up process. There are no solutions, only proposals.” Senior IT Manager in a Financial Services Organisation
2. And end to the “one hit wonder” marketing communications campaigning approach (by promoting once, and moving on, you’re mising a number of opportunities)… “Sometimes you get an Account Manager who starts to wine and dine you as they think they may get new orders out of you. When they realize there are no more orders the communication stops again.” Head of Application Development in a Media Company.
And…“If [a supplier] phones me today, it might not be relevant to me at the moment but if they phone me in three months time, I might be interested in that topic.” Head of IT in a Financial Services Organisation
3. A clear account plan that’s shared with the customer (with a marketing plan that sits alongside it)… “They have to approach us at the right time with the right solutions; existing suppliers have a better opportunity of interacting with us compared to new ones.” Head of Engineering and Infrastructure in a Finance Company.
And… “Existing suppliers are in a very privileged position in that, if they are communicating with their customers as well as they should be, they will know what solutions customers are looking for at any time. What good marketing looks like from existing suppliers is a call, e-mail or letter offering a solution just when you are looking for it.” Head of IT in a Government Department
Whilst it’s understandable to focus on lead generation in the current climate, don’t let it blindside your strategy. Paradoxically, it’s the very campaigns that take the long view and look to build relationships that uncover the sales opportunities that others don’t even make the shortlist for.