In order to make a sale, you need to get in front of the right audience, and that means having a market awareness and lead-generation engine powering the top of your sales funnel. This is where your marketing comes in, and to power your marketing efforts we urge you to check out the hundreds of marketing resources located in StartupNation’s “Market Your Business” section of the website.
Once a prospect contacts you, whether in person, in your store, on your website, via email, or on a social media outlet like Facebook, it’s time to start a conversation. Again, this is not an opportunity for you to communicate unilaterally about your products or services. Instead, it’s the time to start learning about your prospective customer, their goals, pain points, their business, buying type, etc. Have the questions listed in your customer questionnaire in your mind (you did the homework from Week 1 of this program, right?). You don’t need to memorize the questionnaire, but you also want to work from a solid base.
In the case that you are relying on your website to make the sale without any human interaction, make the purchase funnel as short and direct as possible. But at the same time, be sure to go overboard in making valuable information available on the site that the prospective customer may want–this is effective in addressing the needs of top of the funnel prospects, who may be at the very early stages of exploring solutions and are eager for education at this stage of the process.
If you are in a business where you actively make cold-calls to a list of prospects, then prepare a script. You shouldn’t read the script word for word, but again, you want to work from a solid base. In this way, you can maintain consistency in your sales efforts while seeing what works and what isn’t as effective and adjusting accordingly.
With cold calling, try to research your prospects prior to making the call. Review their latest press releases, announcements and other news. In this way, you can see what’s top of mind for them, and the types of areas they are focusing on. Keep your phone conversations brief and to the point. You can even promise to keep the conversation to only 20 minutes, and then do everything in your power to keep it UNDER 20 minutes. Keep the call focused on them–if you can uncover how to help them, then it’s a win for the recipient of the call and will provide justification for follow-up discussions and other types of communication.
Maintain a CRM Database
Know as much about your customers as possible, and record the information in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database. This will help you in many ways with your sales efforts.
A CRM database helps you organize customer information, which is especially important if you deal with a large number of prospects or if your sales cycle is extremely long. By using a database, your prospects’ contact information and history is always just a few clicks away. Plus, a CRM database can be configured to send you alerts for sales follow-ups, helping you to reach out to the right people at the right time with the right message.
Nurture Them Through the Process
Develop a process that provides your prospective customers with the information they would find most useful throughout their buying cycle. You can then either use your CRM system to keep you on track, or you can automate the process through marketing automation software such as Infusionsoft, Hubspot and Pardot, or more robust solutions such as Marketo, Silverpop and Eloqua. In this way, you can provide your prospective customers with a range of educational materials about the industry, about solutions to their problems and ultimately about your products or services.
Just remember that with any sales process, keep it personal. Automation can be very helpful in your sales efforts, except if it’s delivering information that’s counter to what they’ve already told you. It’s quite frustrating for someone to tell a salesperson one thing, and to have that salesperson follow up seemingly to have completely forgotten the prior conversation.
And try to be timely. If there’s something in the news or if you find an article that you think would be greatly valued by one or more of your prospects, send it to them. The more you sincerely try to help them, the more successful you’ll be.