Category Archives: Email Marketing

Channel hopping: Direct Mail vs Email

Mick was the managing director of a successful company selling plumbing products, more than 10,000 different products lines – something he was very proud of.  He had recently added two new salespeople to his ranks, Derrick and Eric.  Both came with very good recommendations but looking through their sales figures for the first 3 months, Mike was worried.  Both were well below their targets and needed to show improvement if he was to keep them on.

Derrick - communicating a pitch

Mick decided to meet with them separately to get their feedback and thought that asking a few of their customers about them would help too.  He met with Derrick, an imposing character and a salesman with decades of experience, ‘an old hand you can trust’ said his previous employer.   Mmm, on his salary he should be thought Mick.  ‘So Derrick, how have you found your first 3 months with the business?’.  ‘A mixed bag’ said Derrick, ‘I have some accounts that I have really enjoyed working on and don’t forget that I have bought in 5 new accounts in my time here’, Derrick pointed out.It was true that Derrick had bought in some new accounts, some of which could be big.  Mick decided to give some of them a call.  ‘Derrick is a man with presence’ said one.  ‘He knows how to tell a story’ said another, ‘He made me feel emotional about plumbing products!’.  Mick was impressed.  He often felt emotional about plumbing products but rarely met anyone else who shared his enthusiasm.

‘I haven’t enjoyed working with existing accounts so much’ said Derrick.  ‘Some have complained that I don’t understand their account like my predecessor.  Some have said that they don’t hear from me often enough and I’m not giving them the same kind of offers they are used to.  There is only so much time in the day though Mick’.

Mick called a few of his existing customers. ‘He turned up in the middle of the day when a phone call would have done’ explained one.  ‘He’s a bit slow with the offers and can be a bit in your face’ said another.  Mick was concerned and needed to think.  Existing accounts were the company’s bread and butter.

Next he met with Eric.  Eric was a younger, less experienced, salesman on a lower salary but ‘thinks on his feet’ said his previous employer.  ‘Tell me about your first 3 months’ said Mick.  ‘I have enjoyed most of it, especially getting to grips with your database.  You have so much information on customers buying behaviour.  Millions of rows!  I have been able to carry out some analysis and I’m working on a model to predict buyer behaviour and anticipate the kind of offers that they should be interested in.  You need to use that information to tailor communications and make offers at the right time.’

Eric produced a report, which has been updated just before the meeting.  It showed how he had increased customer value on some existing accounts and on specific product lines.  He planned to put a low cost programme in place to make timely and relevant offers to customers based on their past buying behaviour and to find ways to generate customer feedback.

Mick was slightly taken aback.  ‘OK but I employed you to get new business not just to develop existing accounts’ Mick pointed out.  ‘To be honest Mick, new business is not my forte.  I don’t much enjoy cold calling or turning up to meet people who might not even be interested in our products’ Eric replied.  ‘Targeting’ said Mick. ‘Get yourself in front of the right people’.  ‘But I haven’t been given any good leads and those I have spoken to didn’t even remember my first phone call.  There are plenty of other sales people calling them every day.’

Eric - hard at work on his databases

Mick could see Eric’s point.  Eric was of slight build, not naturally charismatic and not the kind of person you would notice in a crowd.  The world had millions of Erics but maybe this one was a bit different.  He seemed to be a good listener.  He certainly had an eye for detail and was an adaptable, quick witted type.  Mick had a plan – teamwork.  Derrick would be responsible for new business.  Getting quality leads, making appointments and signing up new accounts.  He would also help to get the first order by conducting follow-up meetings and would carry out courtesy visits to high value customers to keep them happy.  Eric would be office based.  He would be responsible for account development.  Finding cost effective ways to cross-sell and up-sell as well as analysing sales trends by individual account as well as at sector level.

Three months later Mick reviewed the sales figures.  Derrick had bought in 8 new accounts and some were starting to generate a large spend.  He also had a good book of prospective customers and had high quality, engaging sales literature to give to prospects.  Eric meanwhile had put a contact strategy in place, based on his knowledge of the company database, that was not only increasing the average frequency and value of spend but seemed to be improving customer retention.  He was conducting regular customer surveys and using information from social networking sites, used by customers, to tailor his communications to them.

Mick felt happy and relieved – to think he had been considering letting these guys go.  He could now clearly see how they each had a role to play.  ‘Deploy your salespeople where their strengths lie’ he thought.   Obvious when you think about it.