How to persistently educate your customer

OPEN Forum has published this short piece featuring one entrepreneur’s ideas about how best to succeed in selling your services/products. Read on, or click here to view the article on the OPEN Forum site.

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As I talk to more and more entrepreneurs, I hear a lot of ideas for what it takes to not only survive but to grow in a down economy.  But I think Michael Schweizer, President and CEO of Org-Matters Solutions, put it most succinctly.  His strategy for success boils down to one word:  persistence.

In 2007, his company released its first product, the OrganizeMY™ Electronic Filing Cabinet For Dummies®, software designed for saving and organizing electronic documents.  Lacking the budget for the marketing required to reach the consumer market directly, Michael instead launched the product through partnerships with banks, insurance companies, and utilities – companies moving toward electronic statements.  “For these companies, paperless billing is a huge cost savings, as well as an environmental plus.  We’re selling the product to them as a value-add, a reward to their customers for going paperless.”

While partnering is not unique, it requires a sales mentality that, as Michael said, many entrepreneurs shy away from.   “Too many entrepreneurs make one or two calls and then think the customer will come back when they’re ready.  You have to keep telling yourself that you’re not a pest; you are just one of the many pieces of information in all the noise they hear every day.  You have to create a process for getting through that noise and be committed to that process.”

Michael refers to this process as “persistently educating the customer”:

  • Know what’s relevant.  By linking the cost savings for the companies with the benefits for their customers (e.g., organized files), Michael created a message that resonated with partners.
  • Communicate something of interest.  “Every time I contact a prospect, I offer a piece of information that’s relevant to them, like a product update or some market information that could help their customers.”
  • Be persistent.  “I communicate with them on a monthly basis.  You have to keep the conversation going.  You need to demonstrate to them your commitment to the deal before they’ll even consider it.”
  • Make the calls yourself.   “For a starting company, the number one sales person is the guy at the top.  You’d make a mistake to hire someone else.  Nothing comes close to an entrepreneur’s passion for their product.”

Michael’s process seems to be working for Org-Matters Solutions.  With more than 90,000 current users, the company is projecting to add 300,000 users over next 12 months and is also negotiating deals in India and the U.K., as well as for private-label editions.

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What do you think? It is just down to education, as Michael’s said? What have you found works best for you? Leave your comments here!

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