Data-driven feedback supports credible claims for sales and marketing.
When is the last time you read a proposal from your top-three competitors back-to-back?
Imagine what a prospective client goes through trying to differentiate your company from your competitors. Especially when everyone is making similar claims like we:
- Strive to exceed expectations.
- Are committed to providing an outstanding experience.
- Deliver projects on time and on budget.
When a buyer reads several proposals from equally-qualified firms, how are they to know which firm really does these things? Where’s the proof?
Now, consider your own buying behavior. When shopping on Amazon, you can read three product descriptions, each of which extol the virtues of that product. Yet, you don’t trust the marketing descriptions. You head straight to the reviews. People trust the feedback of total strangers more than they trust what a company says about themselves.
Savvy companies share their feedback, and their feedback process, to overcome the trust gap. By doing so, they positively differentiate themselves from their competitors.
When you solicit client feedback on a regular basis, you have a trove of invaluable data and processes. Reference these in your marketing communications and proposals.
By telling the world you ask for client feedback on a regular basis you’re saying you’re the kind of company that cares about clients. You collect feedback, listen, and respond.
Client feedback enables you to tell prospects, “here’s how we know we’ll be a great fit for you.” You reiterate, “if we don’t get something right the first time, we have a process to fix it so we can get it right by project completion.”
Positioning the Process
Positioning your feedback process in proposals is key. It gives you the ability to back up the claims you make – with your process and the data it produces.
In a 109-page proposal prepared by one of our clients, they talk about their work plan and their creative approaches. On page 27, the “Outcomes and Performance Measurement” section share how they use client feedback to understand and serve the needs of clients over the course of each project.
We believe there is tremendous value in receiving feedback over the life of a project while there is still an opportunity to affect change as opposed to getting input at the project conclusion.As written in a client proposal
They go on to describe how feedback is integral to their internal QA/QC program. Putting a page in your proposal saying client feedback is part of your quality management and relationship management performance measurement clearly differentiates your company.
Prospective clients always try to determine, “Will you be a good fit for me?” when evaluating a new provider. You can prove the appropriateness and success of your feedback process by using the metrics you’ve been collecting. Often, the metrics you collect for operational excellence may not directly translate into “marketing friendly” statistics. For example, users of our Client Feedback Tool collect center-weighted metrics. They may struggle to explain that “an average score of 5.2 out of 7.0 is really good!” In a world where anything less than a five-star rating means “something’s wrong,” you may need to craft a better narrative. Savvy firms are best served by reporting how often they “meet or exceed expectations.” This is, on average, 93% of the time. This claim is both accurate and more powerful than “5.2 out of 7.0.”
Today, objective feedback and ratings are important. We delegate trust to others when we aren’t familiar with the quality of products and services. This has been driven by the popularity of online review sites, app stores, Google, Amazon, and more. People trust feedback from total strangers more than they trust what a company says about themselves, their products, and services. As such, the metrics from your client feedback are invaluable to the prospective clients evaluating you.
Reporting on your metrics is good. Better is reporting on the right metrics. If you have some insights into the priorities of a buyer, home in on those. The more you know about the buyer, their needs, and wants, the more you can use your knowledge to make a compelling presentation and differentiate your company.
If you know meeting a delivery deadline is the most important thing to your client, let the client know what percent of the time you meet or exceed expectations on schedule management. But don’t stop there. Staff the project with project managers who also exceed expectations with regard to schedule management. Doing so lets your client know you know what’s most important to them. And, it shows you’re staffing the project to ensure their success. By knowing the most critical element for a client, you can position your staff to communicate we’re a good firm, and we assign the right people to your project. How many other firms come to the table with that kind of information and assurance?
Several years ago, we worked with a 300-person engineering firm. They spent years trying to break into the Utah DOT market. Our client was not local to Utah. Government-based selections are typically qualifications-based not price-based.
Our client was submitting a project and they sent us the RFQ. They asked, “there’s a question here about service and relationship quality. Do you think we can put some feedback stuff in here?”
We helped them craft a statement on how they meet or exceeds expectations 96.2% of the time. They also highlighted two staff, whose resumes are in the proposal, who both had 100% rates of meeting and exceeding expectations.
Our client ended up winning the RFQ. The question was worth two points on the selection-grading rubric and our client won by one point. That got them into Utah. The project was so successful they soon opened an office and grew it to six people.
Proposal developers can find many opportunities for data segmentation. Here’s another example, “We deliver at or above expectations 96% overall. However, for our K-12 clients, we deliver at 97.5%.” The data becomes more believable when the source of the data aligns with the person you’re trying to persuade. You can target prospects more granularly when you have more data from their peers.
Living the Process
When you say, “here’s our firm. Here’s what clients like most about us. Here are the projects most like you are doing. And, here are our PMs that are most successful with those projects.” You are telling clients you measure carefully and are committed to delivering positive outcomes. Measurements and data are how you build your business.
Clients come away thinking, these guys measure everything. They really care about outcomes. It builds confidence and trust that I will have a positive outcome. It’s less about saying how good you are and more about revealing your commitment to the process of greatness. Some firms even solicit feedback as part of their proposal. This shows their buyers how much they care even before the sale.
Marketers miss a lot of opportunities to be selective and targeted with testimonials. The same way you filter and segment data, you can filter and segment comments to find the perfect testimonials. Get testimonials from people most like those to whom you are selling (e.g., lab space, IRS audit, defamation lawsuit). Get the right message to the right people for more relevance, effectiveness, and impact.
If you use the same words as your competitors to describe what you do, you are not differentiating your brand. We suggest referencing what your clients actually say about you.
Based on feedback from 1,273 clients, this is what makes us “different and better.”Research compiled from actual client feedback.
Statements like this in your proposal, are more credible than the unsubstantiated claims your competitors make.
If we present ourselves to the market based on feedback from our clients, we will attract buyers more similar to us. Like attracts like.
Alignment exists between what we are and what our clients are looking for. You 1) build market awareness and presence with people who like you and are positively predisposed to you; 2) reduce opportunity costs by not pursuing people who are not like you; and, 3) are less likely to attract those with whom you are less likely to be successful. Pursue prospects consistent with your strengths versus chasing every project that moves.
Feedback helps paint the picture of the ideal client profile. Don’t market to the masses. Identify the profile of clients that love you and the attributes of the ideal client. When you do so, you’ll have better business outcomes, clients that are enjoyable to work with, and earn better margins.
We helped a design firm in the Midwest identify its ideal client profile. By focusing on their ideal clients, they reduced their pursuits by 67%, increased backlog by 30%, increased revenue, and margins. You can have greater success with better targeting. You can chase fewer prospects and win more business by knowing your strengths.
Leveraging data-driven client feedback will positively differentiate your company. This will enable you to have more success with more clients like yourself and your company.
If you’d like to know more about how data-driven client feedback works, click here.
If you’d like talk about using data from client feedback to have more successful business development and sales, let us know.