The office equipment channel has been a bustling place over the last few years. The competition is fiercer than ever and the entire industry continues to buzz with mergers and acquisitions at every corner. Even through all of this commotion, independent office equipment dealers have remained unwavering in their commitment to serve their customers, actively seeking out new ways to claim market share, differentiate themselves against the competition, and ensure protection of their customer base.
We are also amidst a massive digital transformation. New technology is infiltrating the marketplace at a staggering rate leaving prospective buyers in need of education in order to make the right purchasing decisions. They want to know things like how they can print less? Or how they can automate workflows? They want to learn about new available technologies and what kinds of products or services can be implemented to promote ease of business while saving them time and money so they can stay focused on their core business.
Buyers also want to know about the track records of potential service providers – how they’ve been rated online, or what their customers are saying about the quality of products and services offered. They not only seek out this information, they arm themselves with it – and it’s all in an effort to make the best, most educated purchase decision to serve the needs of their organization.
Regardless of industry, we know just how resourceful today’s buyers are. They have access to all the information they want and they’ve become experts at using the internet for research.
With a simple online search, buyers can learn everything they need to know about your office equipment business without ever even talking to you.
They know what you’re selling and they know how you sell it. They also know if you’re delivering on your promises.
While the thought of this can be a little bit overwhelming, it’s also very exciting. In a recent blog entry, I discussed Hubspot’s Flywheel and how embracing this model can help you grow the momentum of your office technology business by simply delighting your customers and prospects at each and every touchpoint. But even if you’re doing a stellar job delivering exceptional service to your customers, how can you make sure your online presence reflects that? How can you proactively give your prospects the information they want so they feel good about doing business with you?
In this entry, we will discuss 3 actionable steps you can take to make sure your online presence is optimized for the “wants” of today’s buyer.
#1 - Buyers Want Details about Your Proven Successes - Leverage Testimonials
When you’re about to make a purchase, do you take into account the experiences others have had before making a decision? Your customers also behave in this way. The stakes become higher when you consider the office technology products and services you are selling require fairly large investments, making it even more crucial your prospects do their fair share of vetting before they sign on the dotted line.
Whether you are selling printers or full-fledged managed print programs, you better believe buyers considering your products and solutions want details about how you’ve been able to help customers already doing business with you. You can provide proof of your capabilities through the use of case studies or testimonials.
A goldmine of opportunity lies in the positive experiences your customers have already had with your business, but if you aren’t capturing these stories in a form that can be easily shared and promoted, you can’t use them to your benefit. Reach out to your happy customers and request an interview with them. Ask them about the products they’ve purchased from you and the experiences they’ve had interacting with your business. How specifically have your products and services impacted their business? Use their interview responses to create detailed testimonials or case studies. Your prospects will be delighted that you’ve given them the opportunity to self-educate on the value you’ll bring them.
#2 - Buyers Want Unfiltered Stories from Those Who’ve Interacted with Your Brand – Manage Your Reputation on Review Websites
Do you know what your customers are saying about you online? The testimonials and case studies you share on your website or social channels are valuable tools, but your reputation goes beyond the messages you so carefully craft and publish for the World to see. Today’s buyers are smart enough to look for unbiased information about you, too. The content you are generating will tell them if you can talk the talk. The content your customers are generating will tell them if you can walk the walk.
Those who are considering your products and solutions want to hear directly from the people who have experience with your company or who might know about your track record. They turn to online reviews to get this kind of unfiltered information.
There are many review platforms out there (Google, Facebook, Yelp! – just to name a few), but one of the most important places you should look to for managing your online reputation is Google My Business. Along with listing out business information, like hours, location, and photos, Google My Business listings also allow users to enter ratings and reviews about their experiences with your brand. All of this information displays to any user that does a quick Google search for your business name or address.
Since most of the time these listings are generated automatically based on Google’s data, businesses may not even realize they exist. Unless you’ve claimed and verified your Google My Business listing, you will not be notified when a user leaves a review for your business. If you have a bunch of negative reviews piling up, you can bet that’s what people will see when they search for you.
Businesses should claim and verify their Google My Business listings. Doing so will allow more control to business owners over the business information listed. It will also allow them to be notified when reviews are submitted. Having control over your listing also gives you the opportunity to leverage it positively by asking happy customers to leave you a review! Simply send them the link to your listing and ask them if they’d be willing to share the positive experience they’ve had with your company.
#3 - Buyers Want to Find Answers - Start a Blog Centered around Answering the Questions Your Customers and Prospects are Asking!
Because office technologies and new offerings are rapidly evolving, you have an opportunity to educate your prospective buyers on the new solutions that await them.
Today’s buyer is hungry for information and they are going online to find it.
If they don’t get information from you, they will move on to your competitor. Your buyers have questions about what kind of office technology they need to run their business in the most effective and efficient manner. They want to hear about new technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), The Internet of Things (IoT) and the ever-growing importance of Data Security.
Create content that educates your customers and prospects around these questions to establish yourself as a trusted thought leader.
Buyers want to buy from a voice of authority – if you can prove your expertise through the creation of educational content that helps them along their buyer journey, you’ll be the one they turn to when they are ready to make the purchase decision.
One way to build your credibility is through the use of a blog. Work with those in your organization who occupy customer or prospect facing roles, and ask them about the questions they get the most often. Challenge them to dig deep and encourage them to brainstorm ideas ranging in scope from simple to complex. You’ll be amazed at how many questions you’ll uncover. Then create blog entries that answer these questions. Prospective buyers can read your entries online to self-educate. Additionally, your sales process may be shortened since many of their generic questions will be answered already though the content!
Regularly devoting time to brainstorming with those who work face to face with your customers and prospects will be time well spent. Not only will it help you to identify topics you can generate content around, but you’ll get to know the needs of your customers and prospects on a deeper level through this exercise.
Your Office Equipment Prospects are Online… Are You?
While this may seem like a lot to add to your to-do list, devoting time and attention to these areas will actually help your organization work smarter, not harder. If your leads find through their online research that you’re a well-established company that has a proven track record and displays trusted expertise, selling your products and services will become much more natural! Closing a deal will become easier and more enjoyable. You’ll win loyal advocates and grow your office equipment business for the better.
For more information related to cultivating a stellar customer experience, the concept of inbound marketing, or tips for retaining your customers, please take a look at some of our other resources:
Marketing: Could it Be Your New Differentiator?
Customer Friction & the Flywheel: Delighting Your Customer
7 Ways to Protect Your Most Prized Asset
What Really Drives Your Customer Experience?
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