By Markita Samuel, for Edwardsturm.com.
There’s a popular sales saying, “Always Be Closing,” that was taught to thousands of sales reps throughout the 90s. It preaches always being on the hunt for new prospects and pitching constantly, with hopes that eventually one of the prospects will close due to the sheer volume of pitches made.
Though the logic makes sense, pitching constantly will not be as effective for the modern entrepreneur as it was twenty years ago. In the noisy digital space, your message is getting ignored before you can even get to the pitch, so what to do? How how does one close the right clients using just marketing and web presence, and not having to resort to the hard sell? Read on!
Part I: Marketing
Think Like a Consumer and a Producer
One of the things I often recommend to clients is to remember what you learned as a consumer, while remaining the producer. For example, you remember seeing a billboard for McDonalds. As a producer, try to figure out why the billboard was used at the location it was in. What type of font was used and why? Why did McDonald’s use those colors? Why was it being displayed at the time of year you saw it? Was it near a physical location? Was it near a competitor?
On the other side of being a consumer, you need to think strategically about marketing and what makes a compelling (or not so compelling) ad. Often the same things that you liked, or didn’t like, will be the same things that your customers will like or dislike (like attracts like). Further, if you didn’t like receiving cold calls as a consumer you may not execute them well as a producer because your heart isn’t in it.
So how do you create something you would want to receive as a consumer?
Step one, learn. You must educate yourself on sales and marketing terms, concepts, psychology, trends, and technology. Arm yourself with enough information to make an educated decision about the marketing decisions you make.
Step two, test. After you picked a couple of tactics, test which ones fit your business model and which ones work with your target demographic.
Make sure to keep your authentic voice and your own unique style, but also apply some common sense. Millennials don’t answer the phone so cold calling may not work. Retirees not seeking a second career may not respond well to LinkedIn messaging.
Test and pivot as many times as you need. Never get too comfortable with just one tactic and method. Especially in the digital age, you should be willing to evolve with new platforms.
Part II: Sales
Be Ready, Already!
Okay so you attracted the right client and they’re interested. You should be able to close, right? No, you already started the close! Your close started when your client first interacted with you.
A wise marketer knows that from your first prospect interaction, you’re building a trust that is invaluable in helping the prospect decide whether or not to give you money. The close does not start at the register!
Imagine we have a brick and mortar store. Your job is to create the right environment for a sale. You must be consistent, the goods have to appear useful, the pricing needs to be clear, and the checkout needs to be smooth. Don’t wait until you feel someone is ready for the close. From your first interaction you’re helping the prospect prepare to give you money in exchange for a useful item. You’re getting the prospect ready for the close, but also making yourself ready; because you’re ready, already.
I used to work in retail and remember how management would painstakingly train us on a proper greeting: “Hi, welcome to ____________, how may I help you today?” Or if we were having a special, “Hello, welcome! We have ________ at 20% off. Do you have a card with us?” Managers would ear hustle to make sure we stuck to the script because they knew that the sale started at the greeting.
As soon as customers entered, we reminded them that we were there to help them make a purchase decision. For most businesses, your first interaction isn’t usually in person, but rather online. A Google search, a quick check on social media, or a visit to your website “greets” your potential customer and starts your sales process. So make sure you are ready!
How to Build Trust in a Digital Age
This is a conversation many marketers revisit over and over.
- What tactics to use to stand out from the crowd.
- How to get into a prospect’s inbox.
- How to keep your message in front of your audience before you make the ask.
With this said, everything eventually boils down to respect, honesty, and consistency.
Respect the fact that anyone should even want to do business with you. In a world full of options, a healthy dose of humility is a great way to stand out from all the “gurus” and overnight “experts.”
Remember the Maslow hierarchy of needs: unless your business is answering a basic need like food or safety, there may not be a huge level of urgency to click the “buy” button; so appreciate the fact that the prospect checked you out in the first place.
Also understand that just because prospects came in doesn’t mean they will stay! Have you ever been in a store and the staff was rude or had an attitude? It’s almost comical when that happens, because you know you have other options. In my head, I’m like, “Okay girl, I don’t have to be here!” It’s true too! No matter the position you have in a business, do your best to show some respect. You have to don’t worship (or stalk) customers, just be polite. Acknowledge my presence, answer my questions, make me feel wanted, and let me figure out how this can work. Respect your potential customers BEFORE they pay so they’ll know what to expect working with you or having your product.
“People buy from people they, know, like, and trust.” It’s a popular phrase and it’s super relevant. Honesty will help you attract and keep your potential customers until they become buyers. Be honest about your struggles, about your success, about your intended results, and about the process, so a client can decide if you have what they want.
You’re helping the prospect find what they internally want, not what you think that customer needs. Maybe you first have to make the customer internally want what you think is needed? Your attitude in this process will either make you somebody the prospect likes, or somebody the prospect doesn’t like.
Honesty will help your prospects turn from casual browsers to an alert audience. They will remember your name, re-visit your store, and maybe even bring a friend.
Just because they didn’t buy on the first visit doesn’t mean you close the store. Open up tomorrow, and the next day, and the next week. Stay open, stay consistent, and stay positive every time prospects visit.
Online, you won’t have a physical store but an online one. Be consistent wherever you appear: on your website, in your e-mails, in your online community, and on all your other platforms.
Use the basic principles (as if you were in a real store) and your prospects will happily be ready to go to the register. Don’t be discouraged that there is no magic number to how long it will take from when a prospect first “sees” you to when that prospect will convert. There is a saying that states it takes 6 to 8 touches with a prospect before they become a customer, which could take some months or several years… The reason being is, again, prospects have choices; they are waiting to get to know you, they are waiting on the right timing, or they are waiting on urgency. Nevertheless, being respectful, honest, and consistent will help the process along and have prospects ready and confident when they approach the “counter.”
So you’ve gotten prospects to notice you, come into your space, and interact with you. Finally, they’re ready to purchase – what to do? Recalling again my retail experience, we had a checklist of things we were supposed to do with each and every customer during checkout.
We had to make sure we greeted the prospects, told them about the store card, reminded them of the sale, offered additional items that went with what they picked, got their e-mail address, smiled, completed a quick checkout, and told them to come back. Management was quite strict about this and prospects would occasionally fill out surveys after to make sure we were doing our jobs.
Why not create the same policy for your digital store? Remember, just because you have a prospect at a checkout page, doesn’t mean a purchase. Some of the closings may be done via e-mail, with remarketing, over the phone, or in-person after a prospect has gone through what was discussed above (was drawn in by my marketing style, resonated with my authentic voice, checked out my space, and then asked for help).
Nonetheless, even in a one-to-one interaction or standalone online store, you should create a checklist to make sure you reach your intended results.
Did you thank prospects for shopping today? – Yes, thank them! Let them know you appreciate them even getting this far in the funnel.
- Did you answer any questions or perceived objections? “Yes, there is support for this product.”
- Did you upsell on ways a customer could maximize a purchase? Are you making sure to attempt giving customers what they may need now that they’ve converted? Remember to let the customer have the last word!
- Are you tracking customer movements? Do you have intense analytics? If prospects are making it to this stage, but cannot click “Buy,” make sure to give them an opportunity to stay connected and follow up. It’s easier to talk to someone who is very interested, than someone who is just starting the process.
- Are you staying connected? Keep prospects close and get into their inbox or newsfeed in order to deliver your next offering!
The ABC’s (Always be Closing) of business have changed in the digital age and this requires even more intentionality and strategy from the first moment a client interacts with you.
You have the opportunity to attract an unlimited amount of prospects and guide them through your sales cycle so they can come to the mutually beneficial decision to work with you. No matter the amount of competition, and lack of customer attention, remember to stick to the basics discussed here and to think like a consumer. If you do this, you will close.
Do you have any sales tactics you think are really useful? Please feel free to share them in the comments below! And please check out my other article, “Top 10 Ways to Waste Time as a New Startup.”