Revenue must flow into your pumping business. Without revenue, you can have terrific expertise and many ways to deliver that expertise to buyers and still have trouble paying your bills and building your wealth. Your business needs buyers for that expertise and extremely effective marketing.
BUYERS AND MARKETING
Success with buyers and extremely effective marketing require that you change your mindset from “we offer inputs” to “we offer high-value results and outcomes.” If all you sell is inputs, you’re a commodity business. No differentiation, lots of competition, and no reason for a buyer to pay more than what the lowest priced competitor is charging.
The opposite is to attract business by thinking about, talking about, and providing the highly valuable outcomes that your customers dearly want and need. When you market and sell outcomes you stand out and create the opportunity for higher revenues.
This is hard because everywhere you look the focus is on inputs: MPT case studies and technical articles; MPT advertisers; large industry trade shows.
It’s time to turn your mindset—and your behavior—to the outcomes of the vast array of inputs. Start by understanding the various profiles of buyers and the outcomes they need and want.
KNOW THE OUTCOMES YOUR BUYERS VALUE
- CEOs/executives/owners are priority buyers because they are responsible for both operations and the financial condition of their companies/organizations—The CEO of a corporation, a hospital, or a municipal entity succeeds when he or she is known as the leader who generates results. If results include safety, reliability, and no-risk service, you will need to articulate how your work ensures these outcomes. Cost is also a factor but will be less of a factor when user experience and safety are guaranteed. These buyers think about stakeholders and stockholders, regulators and their personal reputation. Learn to talk in terms of Return on Investment, quantitatively and qualitatively. How can you demonstrate that their customer satisfaction rating will be 99.999 percent due to their investment in your work? These buyers also care about their own status. The higher their status, the higher the status of the organization they lead. A CEO with a negative reputation will cause people also to view the organization negatively.
- System or department managers who are primarily responsible for no downtime, precision, reliability, and serving their customers well—This group of buyers is also charged with ensuring no disruption to pumping. They will be judged on reliability, efficiency and customer satisfaction. Show them how your work contributes to these outcomes. When you are marketing to this group of buyers, remember also to address the benefits to their career. There isn’t a professional alive who doesn’t wonder “What’s in it for me?” even as they try to make the best decisions for their company or organization. Some personal outcomes include: corporate and industry awards for exceptional customer service; recognition for introducing profitable innovations; enhanced reputation for the individual and the firm.
- Small business owners in various industries; homeowners—When your customer is a small business owner or a homeowner, their thinking is very personal. To be successful with these customers, you have to address a range of personal priorities. If you only talk about inputs—this product or that service—you force them to assess you in terms of price compared to others. When you talk about larger benefits, such as efficiency, convenience, access to you in emergencies, lower stress, more leisure time, and other personal benefits, you stand out from your competition. A small business owner wants to increase revenue, profits, and valuation of the firm. A homeowner values reliability and convenience above all. Show them how your work leads to these outcomes.
- Municipalities/local water systems—These customers have a unique reality. They are invisible roles and are subject to scrutiny from the public, including residents, media, other government entities, and public interest groups. This is where proactive services and the outcomes they generate are very powerful. Let other providers talk about the mechanics and engineering. You talk about keeping the public happy with clean, safe water and desirable water pressure. No unfortunate media coverage, no lawsuits, no irate demonstrations by dissatisfied residents. Cost will definitely be a priority of these buyers, but helping them calculate the value of these outcomes will tilt the decision in your favor. Obviously, you must be able to deliver on your promises.
COMMUNICATING VALUE THROUGH MARKETING
When you are completely clear about the outcomes you generate for your various buyers, you need to market: Share your value with people who can buy it!
- All your marketing materials must emphasize the outcomes, not inputs. For example, Case Studies are powerful when focused on outcomes: a. Include savings and reduced opportunity costs.
b. What related impacts from a malfunctioning pump were mitigated?
c. What preventive measures did you put in place to ensure continuous pumping?
d. Include a testimonial from the customers about their peace of mind, access, and convenience.
- Meet your ideal buyers where they spend their time: local broad-based business events; trade shows for the buyer’s industry; and publications they read that are focused on what success looks like in their industry.
- Talk to your buyers frequently to create more familiarity with the value your work generates for them. Build relationships.
- Offer and emphasize very valuable convenience and access, not technology.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat.
BE INNOVATIVE AND CONTRARIAN
Innovation is a mindset that is second nature to the most successful pumping business owners. More than anything, innovation is about changes, upgrades, and new value that can be implemented quickly for many customers and where the outcomes are quantifiable.
Often innovations are about process and ways you do business rather than about the technology. My emphasis on articulating outcomes and creating all your marketing and sales efforts around outcomes is innovative in an industry that is so heavily focused on inputs.
Other innovations include focusing on preventive and proactive interventions rather than on reactive and contingent actions. Examples of proactive and preventive innovations include audits with recommendations for preventive actions; annual inspections that you take responsibility for scheduling; packages that help the buyer make one buying decision instead of several; priority scheduling; true emergency response options.
Being contrarian means that you look for exceptional ways to service your customers no matter what other people do and no matter how many “best practices” are circulated. If something is a best practice that means everyone does it and you win zero differentiation with it. Does everyone charge by the hour? Have you realized that charging by the hour incentivizes you to take longer when your buyers would benefit the most from a quality job done with great speed? Why not offer value-based pricing, which is focused on providing the value the customer expects, as fast as possible?
Pumping business owners have to avoid the temptation to execute in their comfort zone—their expertise. It’s the owner’s responsibility to cultivate relationships with buyers who can buy the value that your expertise generates. Be innovative and sometimes contrarian, to stand out as a company that provides high-value results to its customers. ◆
About The Author:
Susan Trivers, The Revenue Driver, works with businesses to maximize revenue per customer, maximize revenue per employee, accelerate top-line revenue growth, improve sales cycle speed and volumes, and build wealth for owners. For more information, visit www.susantrivers.com.
MODERN PUMPING TODAY, April 2016
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