Whether services or products - no company can function without customers who pay an appropriate price for them. The topic of acquiring new customers is therefore a perennial issue that primarily occupies the areas of marketing and sales.
A sufficient number of paying customers are the basis for a company's success - and for this reason alone they are the focus of numerous efforts: They are ensnared with advertising, directly addressed by sales or lured with special promotions. The strategies for acquiring new customers vary considerably; after all, a luxury watch cannot be marketed in the same way as food or electricity supply contracts. In turn, a company that conducts new customer acquisition in the B2B sector will have to take a different approach to building new business relationships than is conducive to B2C companies. In addition, the digital transformation cannot be ignored; today's customers are much more informed and therefore more demanding. The right approach therefore depends not only on the industries in which companies are active, but above all on the respective target groups.
Es stellt sich also zunächst die Frage, wie die idealen Neukunden, die einen Bedarf an den jeweiligen Produkten oder Leistungen haben, zu charakterisieren sind:
Unternehmer bedürfen als potenzielle Neukunden naturgemäß einer professionellen Erstansprache, hier kommen nur ausgewählte Kommunikationskanäle in Frage, da das Ziel langfristig erfolgreiche Kundenbeziehungen sind. Im Gegensatz dazu eröffnen sich zur Neukundengewinnung von Verbrauchern andere Gestaltungsspielräume - selbstverständlich immer in Abhängigkeit vom konkreten Marktsegment.
Die Zielgruppenanalyse ist die Grundlage für alle Aktivitäten, die gesamte Marketingstrategie baut darauf auf:
Schon das Produkt oder die Dienstleistung selbst, die Eigenschaften, die es vom Wettbewerb abheben, die Verpackung oder Größe müssen auf die besonderen Bedürfnisse der Kunden zugeschnitten werden.
Ein weiteres Instrument ist die Preispolitik, die sowohl die externen als auch die internen Faktoren berücksichtigt. Hier werden aber auch weitere wichtige Themen, wie beispielsweise die Rabatt- oder Zugabe-Politik, die Garantie-, Liefer- und Zahlungsbedingungen oder Lieferarten festgelegt.
Die Distributionspolitik befasst sich mit der Analyse, Planung und Realisierung der Vertriebskanäle und Strategien, die sich zur effektiven Verteilung der Produkte oder Dienstleistung empfehlen.
In den Bereich Kommunikationspolitik fallen alle Aspekte der Ansprache neuer Kunden - von der Corporate Identity bis hin zur Werbung, für die die zur Zielgruppe passenden Kanäle und Strategien erarbeitet werden.
Erst aus dem effektiven Zusammenspiel dieser Marketing-Instrumente entstehen auf die jeweiligen Kunden zugeschnittene Strategien, die eine Neukundengewinnung erfolgreich machen.
The sale of products or services and thus the acquisition of new customers is based on close cooperation between the marketing department and sales: The target group definition enables the selection of potential customers whose approach is promising.
If the products or services cover a real need in a way that stands out from the competition in terms of quality and/or price, the chances of success increase.
If the sales department experiences during the acquisition that these requirements are not met by the own offer, the information feedback in turn opens up the possibility of improvement and realignment to the real needs - and thus to increase sales and profit.
It is therefore a matter of generating and communicating a customer benefit: The more plausible and authentic this is, the greater the likelihood of winning customers.
If both parties, i.e. company and customer, are on an equal footing in the negotiations, a satisfactory relationship can be established.
If the customer's concerns are recorded and in turn flow into the company's offer, for example in the form of comprehensive services, customer satisfaction is created - and with it the potential for further sales.
Unfortunately, the reality often looks different: Marketing and sales do not act as effectively together as would be necessary for sustainable success.
One reason for this is already in the remuneration: If the sales department profits from the acquired customer, the marketing department remains unaffected - the interests can therefore quickly diverge.
If there are breaks in the course of the sales process, for example because new customers are handled by different employees than existing customers, the entire customer loyalty is endangered: If an employee has acquired the customer, he should continue to be responsible for him in order to provide him with new offers, point out promotions and thus establish himself as a real problem solver.
In this way, the sales department builds a resilient customer relationship and can provide valuable information to the marketing department.
Mixed project groups open up an interesting new approach: Marketing and sales employees work together as partners on the marketing of certain products - from the development of the strategy and suitable measures to acquire new customers to the implementation in sales and the associated information feedback.
Since both partners are paid at least partially based on sales, not only are the otherwise widely divergent prerequisites evened out, but also the motivation: If the marketing experts otherwise prefer to act from the green table, they now find themselves just as exposed to the topic of customer acquisition as sales.
Depending on the business, the specific type of products and services and the respective target groups, two basic strategies can be distinguished:
- The stimulation strategy, which uses advertising to arouse the interest of the target group in order to attract customers, and
- the persuasion strategy, in which the company recommends itself as a competent solver of customer problems or a perfect answer to customer needs and wishes by presenting its specific capabilities.
The resilient basis for the development of a suitable strategy is, in turn, the bundled knowledge from the areas of marketing and sales: products and services that precisely fit the analyzed customer demand, are offered at a reasonable price and through suitable channels. If the two areas play well together, companies save themselves the effort of intensive market research or customer surveys, because the sales staff can contribute their experience directly and authentically. This applies not only to prices, but above all to the design of the offers themselves. Nevertheless, the competition should be kept in mind in order to be able to react to new developments, special promotions and changes in the market at short notice. Important note: If so-called leads, i.e. data sets of potential customers, are used for the approach, the applicable legal framework conditions must be strictly adhered to: The leads may only be used with the consent of the persons concerned. This is where discrepancies often enough arise when prize competitions or other forms are filled out with name and address without reading the fine print. However, there are also qualified leads if an upcoming consultation or sales meeting has already been indicated by telephone and the consent for this has been obtained.
The strategy of new customer acquisition also plays a decisive role with regard to addressing new customers:
- The push methods include all measures that are intended to push the products or services factually into the market.
- Pull methods, on the other hand, stimulate demand, which in turn triggers a sales pull.
A few examples will serve to illustrate this:
Typical push methods are direct customer approaches in public places, the sending of advertising letters by post or mailings, unsolicited visits by representatives or telemarketing and customer surveys, which are summarised under the term cold calling and can quickly fall into the category of "unwanted telephone advertising".
Negative reactions are pre-programmed here, which successively shrinks the significance of these approach variants.
In contrast, some push methods can be quite successful.
These include, for example, direct contacts at trade fairs or conferences, recommendations and references from satisfied business partners and customers, and direct visits preceded by a telephone appointment.
With such contacts, the intentions of both sides are clear from the outset: the company presents itself and its offering, interested parties obtain information - if a business relationship results from this, the effort has been worthwhile for all involved.
Referral marketing is becoming increasingly important for acquiring new customers: receiving recommendations and references from satisfied business partners and customers, who thus become multipliers, is proving to be just as effective a method in sales as direct visits, which are preceded by an appointment by telephone.
Here, a basis of trust already exists, because on the one hand, another customer has already had a positive experience, and on the other hand, the appointment was made voluntarily, so the customer is prepared for it.
Still effective and especially effective in combination with online tools are the pull methods based on classic advertising.
For example, print advertising, such as flyers or posters, but also radio, TV and cinema advertising as well as ads in newspapers still reach their audience, should this fit the business and of course the products or services.
In combination with concise websites, company pages in social networks and blogs, the effect can be drastically increased.
The legal framework with regard to cold and telephone canvassing has changed just as much as consumer acceptance: If there is no consent from the person in question, even expensive leads or telephone calls will not lead to success. These customer addresses should first be qualified in order to be able to win with this approach at all. Depending on the company and the business field being worked on, the Internet can be optimally used to acquire new customers without the need for the significantly more cost-intensive classic advertising.
The linchpin is the website, which concisely presents a company and its special offer.
In any case, it should meet all the technical requirements of a professional website, such as short loading times, clear structure and accessibility.
Another KO criterion can be the lack of mobile capability: More and more users move around the internet with mobile communication devices.
The website should therefore be created in responsive design in order to be optimally displayed on the different displays. Otherwise, the risk increases that annoyed users will abort their visit directly without even having taken note of the products or services.
In turn, these must be presented in such a way that the visitors generate a benefit. Content texts that address specific needs and offer solutions are just as important as the optimal placement of the website in search engines: If the website does not appear on the first page of the results list in a Google search query, it will not be found - the customer approach thus goes nowhere.
In online marketing, there are many different instruments for search engine optimization (SEO), ranging from technical and content optimization to Google AdWords campaigns and linking with social media channels. Newsletters, blogs or discussion groups in the networks have proven to be effective measures to present the company and the special services in a personal context on the one hand and to use customer reviews to build trust and word of mouth on the other hand.
All measures in the field of online marketing are aimed at increasing the traffic on one's own website and turning interested parties into customers.
Which options are the best for this depends not least on the specific products, the services and of course the target customers.
Depending on the company and the business field to be worked on, the Internet can be optimally used to acquire new customers without the need for the significantly more cost-intensive classic advertising.
However, the prerequisite is a professional website in order to achieve attention optimally placed in the search engine results and to be able to acquire new customers.
The way in which one's own products and services can be sold effectively should be answered individually on the basis of the following questions:
- How do potential customers define themselves?
- What needs or problems do they have?
- How should a suitable product or service be designed?
- At what conditions can it be offered?
- How can the first contact be established?
- Which channels are recommended for marketing and sales?
- How can sustainable customer loyalty be built up?
No company can be successful without selling its products or services to customers.
Marketing and sales should work together effectively in order to develop the optimal products, prices and channels on the one hand and to be able to design a perfect customer approach equipped with comprehensive information on the other. Especially in the age of digitalization, one thing should not be underestimated: Today's customers are informed, compare the increasingly transparent offers of competitors and pose great challenges to marketing and sales.
Only a flexible response to customer needs and demands offers companies a sustainable chance of success.