Ignoring the role spheres of influence play in your marketing plan can be very perilous to your business health.
Briefly stated, a sphere of influence is any entity or person that can sway the purchase decision of your prospect. In the auto industry, all of the following would be considered spheres of influence:
- Auto Magazines/Auto Writers
- Consumer Advocates
- The Insurance Industry
- The salespeople on the dealer’s showroom floor
Although none of these people are your end-customer, they have an inordinate amount of power to influence the purchase decision of your prospect.
- The magazines and their writers can glorify or vilify your car.
- Consumer advocates can bless, or curse, your new vehicle.
- The insurance industry can place your car in a high risk/high premium, or low risk/low premium category.
- The salespeople on the showroom floor can have incredibly high, or phenomenally low, enthusiasm for the car.
By simply focusing your marketing efforts on the end user, you are ignoring the incredible influencing leverage that these spheres of influence play. You will often see computer hardware and software manufacturer’s soliciting the input of computer consultants and “beta” test sites before releasing a new version or model of their product. As well, many incorporate a “sales training” program for dealer sales reps so that they will win their allegiance and also provide the knowledge on exactly how to sell the new product. After all, the last thing you need is to invest $3,000,000 into R&D only to have the sale killed on the dealer’s floor by an unenthusiastic or even hostile sales rep.
So, the question becomes: Who are your spheres of influence and what are you doing to educate and win their allegiance?