ROPO might be a new one for you. Research Online Purchase Offline. Professional services are typical ROPO sales. Different from online sales. Firstly, because buying is offline our online sales funnel must be geared to creating a meeting. Secondly there is a period between online research and the ‘meeting’ within which we have an opportunity to further build trust and gather information. Thirdly your partner or director who is to hold the first ‘sales’ meeting needs to be cognisant that the prospect is in an online frame of mind and a huge amount of information on the prospect has been gathered, which should be used to further the chances of success.
Allianz, in 2012 in Germany, realised the importance of ROPO and how an understanding can improve business development outcomes.
Imagine a mythical buyer who I’ll call Fox. Fox has decided to sell their business. Fox has an accountant and knows some law firms. But like everyone else nowadays Fox taps away online in the evening. Fox doesn’t know they need an accountant, a lawyer, an agent and possibly a funder, Fox only knows they want to sell the business.
Those firms that understand ROPO gear their marketing and online sales funnel to aiming Fox towards a meeting.
Firstly, they attract Fox’s attention and interest. As they’ve mastered Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) they will know the questions Fox will be tapping into google.
Google will give Fox options. Latterly these options have changed, there will be lots of paid ads, a few company websites plus the newcomer ‘blogs’ on LinkedIn.
Fox will reach your website via one of these three or through recommendation. On your website Fox will be able to download your relevant collateral for example “9 ways to increase the value of your business” etc. It will be fast and efficient, and Fox will be able to click and collect information. But not buy. To move Fox down the sales funnel there needs to be an offline meeting. There are essentially 4 main ways these occur. In order of regularity these are.
- Your firm has discovered who Fox is and actively pursues Fox by email, phone and LinkedIn.
- Fox emails a partner / director
- Fox makes an enquiry on a form
- Fox chats to a human on the chatbot and arranges a time
FOX STILL HAS A DIGITAL MINDSET
Click and Thy Will be done. How long do you think Fox expects you to take between Fox making the enquiry and someone getting back to them?
According to one of our banking clients, there is a significant fall off in success after 2 hours! Speaking to the marketing director of a global law firm, half a day and you might as well not bother!
One of our boutique accountancy (tax) clients had the divisional head of a bank make a private client enquiry (the chap reputably earned £1.3m), the partner, as he got out of the bath one evening, noticed the enquiry and phoned the chap straight away. Meeting arranged for 10 days later.
ROPO BETWEEN ONLINE AND MEETING
Keep ROPO in mind. Fox has agreed to meet. Whatever you did online Fox liked. Is this a period of calm and handover between marketing and sales. Not at all. This period is a ROPO opportunity to continue building the brand and promise and continue finding information. Here are some of the techniques our clients are employing.
Thank for your interest looking forward etc.etc.
In the meantime I was hoping you could answer these questions, your answers will help us make the best use of time when we meet.
Here’s a link to a video introduction of partner you’re going to meet.
You also have an opportunity to take Fox offline. One of our enterprising clients researches their Foxes and sends a letter something akin to the following.
…………………………………………We hugely appreciate your interest and the time you have taken so far. As a small token of our thanks we have donated £20 to the Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth, which we believe you support.
ROPO AND THE SALES MEETING
Keep ROPO in mind. Fox has, almost entirely, learned about your practice and partner / director from your website. If Fox now meets a completely different picture and experience Fox will lose trust.
I think we have all experienced the Zoom or Teams meeting where the experience is completely at odds with our expectation.
Also your partner / director will be able to create an offline meeting that entirely dovetails with Fox’s experience to date and importantly builds on the trust and brand. Here are some does and don’ts.
- Ensure there is someone in the meeting who reflects Fox’s demographic
- Early in the meeting re-iterate Fox’s thoughts and words
- Set offline expectations. As apposed to the click and collect expectations Fox may still have
- Avoid the temptation that ‘it’s an online meeting’ so a shabby bedroom look is fine. (unless of course your brand dovetails with the shabby bedroom or cupboard look, unlikely!).
- Prep some questions related to Fox and information collected to date
- Ignore the data collected on Fox to date
- Use a standard presentation without tweaking it based on the information gathered on Fox to date. A little will go a long way
- Sound as though this is all news to you. Fox, at this stage, believes you know them, this is because Fox knows you or the practice. Fox believes there’s already some sort of bond. Don’t break the spell.
- Leave the first meeting without setting a date for the next.
In conclusion higher value professional services are unlikely to be surpassed by AI and will remain as ROPO sales. Increasingly everyone, even those recommended to you, will research you / the practice / your competitors online before any face to face meetings.
Prospective clients blur the lines between online and offline, expecting what they see online and experience offline to be of similar nature. Once meetings are arranged professional service firms have an opportunity to enhance the brand / promise before the meeting takes. Finally, those holding the meetings need to be aware of all that has gone before so that the prospect feels they are on the journey rather than starting again.