For most charities the practice of selling is something alien. They don’t have a sales team and don’t see themselves as ‘sellers’.
However there’s actually quite a lot that charities can learn from them, especially if you’re developing a mobile application.
Good Vs Bad
The difference between a good salesperson and a poor salesperson can be partly attributed to the fact that they can communicate their product or service’s unique value better than the rest. Not only this, but they understand their customer’s pain and problems better than anyone else and they position their product’s value to solve these problems.
They move away from ‘what it can do?’ and ‘what features it has?’ to ‘why it will help you’.
The successful salesperson has spent time getting to understand the stakeholders that exist around their product and organisation. They know their ‘pains’ and they match their product to relieve it.
Of course there are many other attributes to a successful salesperson, but knowing your value and targeting it in this intelligent and structured way is the most important.
A Great Buying Experience
It doesn’t matter if your app is for external users or your own employees. It doesn’t matter if it’s a free product or one that costs money to download. The successful salesperson knows how to communicate their unique value to each of the mix of people they come into contact with. What seems valuable to one stakeholder, may not to the next. You see, this ‘unique value’ is only ever aimed at the right user (aka, and henceforth, ‘customer’) and to the right market at the right time.
From my experience of 17 years in digital, this back-to-basics principle is vastly under-optimised among charities and social enterprises. I don’t see enough of it being incorporated into the product and marketing mix. People tend to shudder when sales cycles and buying cycles are mentioned in conversation. All kinds of images are conjured up!
Fear not however, because if you can understand the journey the customer makes through the buying cycle, you will be at a distinct advantage to deliver the right value at the right stage of their process of deciding whether to ‘buy’ your app. This is what I call a great buying experience.
Walk Before You Can Run
Before you can communicate your value you need to know what it is. You need to know who your target customer is and who your likely stakeholders are. Take note, as great salespeople always know these things.
We can learn from these individuals and it is this correlation between a great salesperson and a development project that I would like to bring together. Yes, you may think it rather unusual but believe me, there are some key takeaways here for you. In fact, there are six.
1. Have A Business Plan
And know why you are doing this.
I’m not saying that salespeople necessarily do, but before you embark on the development of your mobile project, you must have a business plan in place. A solid foundation to work from, and something you can refer to and develop as you go.
People ask me: is this relevant if the app is free or if it’s designed just for employee use? My answer is the same as if it was a paid and commercially focused app available across all platforms – YES!
You don’t need to be a master at creating business plans with financial overhead forecasting and modelling. You need something much simpler than that. Make use of some really great tools, such as the business model canvas and the happy start-up canvas. They both use a one-page system that captures all the key components you will ever need to create your app business plan (remember to complete this before starting any conversations with developers or designers). The nice thing with both these tools is that in the future you can (and definitely should) jump back into them as your knowledge extends and your product evolves. Both of these tools are also completely free. I would highly recommend them.
2. Solve A Genuine Problem
We come across many ideas for mobile applications that upon further investigation don’t set themselves up to solve any kind of problem. I don’t subscribe to creating something if there isn’t a problem to solve right from the off.
When we started working with the charity Parkinson’s UK, the problem was clear as day. People with Parkinson’s had difficulty making telephone calls via mobile devices. The problem was even clearer because we asked first then acted second. A genuine problem existed to which we built a very simple one-tap system app to overcome the complexities of making a telephone call. The product wasn’t born out of a meeting room and PowerPoint presentations; it was generated by the actual end-user.
Successful salespeople know that their solution can solve a problem better then the rest because they have taken the time to identify and categorise what that problem actually is. They then match their product to solving this problem.
This step is not rocket science but I recommend that you do the same before releasing any funds from your organisation’s bank account.
3. Know Who Your Customer Is
Successful salespeople don’t waste time and money on chasing a customer that will never do anything. They make sure they understand their customer’s behaviour and profile before targeting them.
Many organisations think they know who their customer is and in fairness a large proportion of them do. However, knowing your customer isn’t just about knowing their demographic profile. It should extend deeper than this and incorporate key behavioural and buying traits for each type of customer. Think about aspects such as:
- Key motivations. Try to list three of them if you can
- Alignment to your solution. Would they be cautious supporters or possible champions of your solution?
- Who would they be influenced by?
- What event would trigger them to use your product? Is there anything that would change in their lives that would mean your product becomes relevant to them?
- What is their personality? Are they expressive, amiable, or analytical?
- What is their adoption mentality? Are they early innovators, followers or laggards?
- What are there personal fears? Try to list three of them.
- What are there key goals? Aim to list three of them if you can.
Creating a persona or empathy map with this depth of profiling will help you understand their frame of mind and the language to use when communicating with them. These go far beyond age, gender, location, household income etc and look to uncover more behavioural, 3-dimensional aspects to a customer.
You may even wish to apply a score or weighting to each one of these categories. Once you have profiled as many as you can, you will be presented with a priority list of customer trends, values and behaviours
This exercise doesn’t just apply to new customers either. We’ve run this exercise for clients who are refreshing their web or mobile offering. This required insights into their existing customers as well as potential new ones. Web and app analytics can be very useful here.
You’ve now completed Part 1. Part 2 will cover knowing your target market (and how it’s different to knowing your customer), understanding why your solution solves their problem and knowing your competitors.
Read Part 2 here.