Office technology as-a-service continues to gain popularity, even in these challenging times. But it’s easy to get wrapped up in the technical details of this new way to buy.
So much so that the complementary need to develop a new way to sell takes a backseat, particularly when it comes to marketing as-a-service finance capabilities. But for customers looking for solutions, that financing—and the flexibility and affordability it offers—can be far more important than components and specs. If you’re looking for new ways to differentiate your offering from the competition’s, a finance program marketing strategy based on the following best practices can go a long way.
Put Your Best Thinkers and Thoughts Forward
We all have instant access to information, and your prospects and customers are no different. When they’re looking to acquire equipment, they not only want the best deal, but the most-customized solutions that fit their budget. While leasing and financing are frequently used as a means to acquire new equipment, your prospects may be limiting their options because of budget constraints, especially in today’s challenging business environment. That’s where your dealership’s thought leadership comes in.
By addressing customers’ top-of-mind questions and concerns, you and your sales team become the go-to subject matter experts. Relevant and concise content disseminated strategically makes your dealership stand out as industry leaders while also attracting new prospects and cementing existing customer relationships.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask your financing partners for some ideas here. After all, they are also experts at simplifying complex financing concepts and structuring solutions that meet your customers’ needs. Whether it’s a guest blog or a reprinted article, their insight can lend a deeper level of creativity when it comes to explaining the benefits and mechanics of leasing and financing equipment, whether your customer is interested in traditional or as-a-service offerings.
Using Social Media—Engagement and Consistency Are the Keys
You have a sound thought leadership strategy in place; your company is producing and posting content on your website and sending it directly to your customers. It’s a great effort, but is it enough?
A study of 100 office technology provider websites conducted by LEAF revealed that only 6% maintained an active social media presence. LEAF defined “active” as having at least four posts per month. That’s a missed opportunity. Inactive firms are automatically at a competitive disadvantage for a few reasons. One is that social media is here to stay. The platforms may change, but in the broadest sense, it’s deeply embedded in our culture. That’s good news, since it’s also an effective medium to build brand awareness and differentiate your business. There’s even better news; it’s simple and inexpensive to utilize. But if you take it on, consistency is key.
For the sake of your brand, make sure your company’s relevant and well-written content is engaging, sensitive to the current environment and provides value to your followers. Another tip: avoid overly self-promotional postings. Simply put, that content doesn’t resonate with your customers. They want information, not ads.
To underscore the point, social media is a powerful means of highlighting your company’s leasing, financing and SaaS capabilities.
Are Your Professionals Mentioning Financing Options, Even at the End?
While it seems to be a basic concept, it’s never too early to mention your company’s financing capabilities in the initial selling stages. But what about at the end of the equipment’s lifecycle? In another survey of more than 900 dealer sales teams, LEAF learned that only 14% made the end-of-lifecycle event a primary marketing focus. Leveraging this strategy can help your company capitalize on sales activity to ensure repeat business.
Every office products customer needs an equipment management plan. Your sales professionals can use their expertise and detailed understanding of customers’ equipment financing arrangements to guide them in formulating that plan. The end-of-cycle event is an opportune moment to present the newest office technology solutions affordably. But to reap these benefits, your sales reps need to follow up by alerting customers before the end date with 12-, 6-, 3- and 1-month email reminders that include information on new equipment, promotions and financing options.
Putting It All Together
As-a-service isn’t just a new way for customers to leverage office technology to drive results. It’s also a new sales challenge for office product dealers. But a marketing strategy that promotes your financing program as an integrated, value-added part of the solution can make all the difference in helping your company to reach existing customers and prospects in these uncertain times.