Some businesses get so caught up in marketing and promotion they forget to ask for the sale. More times than not, focus on the sale distracts from the true measure of a sustainable business…
What You Sold Today Will (or Should Be) Different from What You Sell Tomorrow
Truly sustainable businesses adapt over time. Savvy brands take into consideration market conditions, customer feedback, and technology, to reinvent themselves to compete and continue to grow market share.
So, while the sale may reflect the acceptance of a specific offer, it does not necessarily represent the acquisition of a life-long customer. If a customer’s relationship with a business ended with the purchase of a solution, a new solution from a different company has a much better chance of winning them over in the future.
Relationships Are The Ultimate Measure of Success
The Money is In the List.
By list, I don’t mean a lifeless spreadsheet of email addresses. The list represents relationships with customers, partners, influencers, media, etc. – the lifeblood of your business.
While this concept is not new to most of us, it is often not internalized by the humans in direct, and indirect, contact with the customers. Organizations invest in Marketing Automation, CRM and Customer Service Tools. Yet, the people managing the customer acquisition process are most often focused on the final phase of the purchase decision; the sale.
Having spent decades managing, training and speaking to marketing and sales professionals as well as the executives and business owners leading the charge; I can tell you with confidence that the programs deployed to manage customers are largely focused on the final conversion; closing the sale.
So what are they missing?
Perhaps one of the most overlooked opportunities is to include customers not yet ready to buy in marketing and sales efforts.
The Three Phases of the Purchase Decision
There are essentially three phases of the purchase decision which I cover in greater detail in my book Million Dollar Websites.
- Where the customer does not yet know, exactly, what solution they need to solve the problem.
- Where the customer has determined what solution will solve their problem, and is now exploring the best source for that solution.
- When the customer is ready to buy, and is seeking the best offer for the solution they have chosen.
Why does this matter so much? The third phase is where most marketing and sales time and resources are invested. When the sale is the focus of executive management, it is reflected in communication with customers from across the organization. When emails, website content, demo scripts, SEO, social media, advertising, convention booth messaging, print collateral, etc. and customer service are shortsightedly focused on only the sale; the potential to win the hearts and minds of customers, and the many people they influence, are lost.
3 Ways to Reach Customers Not Ready to Buy
80% of shoppers will research online before making a purchase according to Google. This behavior applies to B2C and B2B customers. In fact, 93% of tech B2B customers research products on the internet, predominantly via search engines.
Real World Story;
Not too long ago the CEO of a well-funded startup communicated to me that a large multi-national purchaser was in the final phase of making their purchase decision and was about to buy a competitor’s product when out-of-the-blue, he called the name of a contact he had met some time before. They told the CEO that they were about to purchase a competitor’s product, explaining that they had searched online for the solution that would best meet their needs…And, because his solution never appeared in their research, it was never a consideration. He was granted a meeting and the technology he presented was what they were looking for. If he had not called that person on that day, he may never had had that chance. He immediately recognized that there were likely many more potential customers that could not find them in the quest for a solution.
There are three powerful steps you can take to insure you don’t lose costumers by focusing solely on the sale…
1.Consider Customer Intent
Brands understand the channels available to reach potential customers, yet they still struggle with connecting with consumer intent. In other words, connecting to what solves the customer’s problem, as opposed to pushing their message or using industry jargon to promote their product or service.
Do not expect new customers to know the name of your product or solution. In fact, a true measure of success when seeking to grow market share is to attract 80% of inquiries from those who had no previous knowledge of your brand.
Did you know that “non-branded search” accounts for 78% percent of all search engine referrals according to Google? That means the first step most people take to find any solution will not include the name of a specific product or brand.
Think about the problem you solve and present it to the world. Ask what your ideal customers are really looking for.
- Are they looking for speech translation software – or a tool to make life easier for a loved one with a disability?
- Do they want a travel agent – or someone who can plan a truly-memorable family reunion?
- Do they want the cheapest laptop – or a quality laptop affordable enough for a parent to buy one for each of their children in college?
- Are they looking for a haircut – or a hair stylist that will create a whole new look for a mom re-entering the work force?
By matching your solution to customer intent, you demonstrate your understanding of their problem or need, which will enable you to present the solution.
Focus on Winning Hearts and Minds
Before a customer is ready to hear why your product or service is better than the others, you must first win their trust. Providing customers with the information needed to make an informed decision builds trust, and can significantly impact the purchase decision.
When executive leadership, sales and marketing can get out of their own heads and get into the mindset of their customers, winning the hearts and minds of customers becomes natural.
Satisfy the emotional and logical arguments for a purchase and you are half way to the sale.
3.Present a Compelling Story
Once customers identify possible solutions for their problem, the comparison begins.
The easier it is for your customers to find the answers, the easier it is for them to advance toward the purchase. One of the most powerful way to win new customers in this phase is to answer common qualifying questions wherever your customers may make comparison between you and your competitor’s solution. Forget about hiding your features, benefits of solutions from competitors (cannot tell you how often I hear this!). If they are worth their salt, they have already purchased and/or thoroughly reviewed your solution and know it all already.
Clearly articulate (in text) features and benefits, the difference between models, levels of service, etc. And, be sure to include ratings and reviews, 3rd party endorsements and/or media coverage online and in marketing, sales materials. You can’t control how information is shared through the approval process, so always be clear and concise across all communication channels.
Compliment the written word with visuals such as infographics, comparison grids, explainer-videos, video demonstrations, illustrations, photographs, etc. to appease the right and left sides of the brain – after all, some people prefer visuals over text, and visa versa.
When you are willing to put it all out there, you can expect the right customers to respond by making the purchase.
After the Sale
You have invested a great deal to win the heart and mind of these customers. Like any relationship, be sure to nurture it over time – so the next time they, or someone they know, needs a solution to a problem you can solve, you are front-of-mind.