The owner of Robinson Dairy put on a marketing clinic about 10 years ago and I still remember his sales mantra. I never stopped referring to it as a foundation for my own process. The sales cycle is in constant motion as we adapt to new technologies and market conditions. Regardless of the ever-shifting customer acquisition landscape, the following four steps are fundamental and never change.
What is the sales process?
A sales process can help in many ways, but most importantly, it gives you confidence that a process is actually in place to grow your business. Once you have a sales process in place, you can begin to test, optimize and really grow your business.
Also known as sales funnel or revenue funnel, the sales process is the journey your customers take from beginning to end. From the time they know you exist to actually purchasing a product or service. Unfortunately for many businesses, the sales process is happening without your input or control.
The reality for most businesses is that the sales process can seem complex and overwhelming. You know you need one, but don’t know where to start. The sales process can be as complex as your business demands, but if you are starting from scratch, it doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. The sales process can be boiled down into four simple steps.
The four-step sales process
We’ve designed a sales process that is simple to understand and easy to implement. With these four steps, you can begin to interrupt potential customers, engage them with compelling content, educate to build trust and make an offer they simply can’t refuse (hopefully).
Potential customers obviously need to become aware of you before they make a purchase. Interruption is the step where you get in front of them with a social post, an advertisement or an email campaign. This is a tough one because no one likes to be interrupted. Interruptions should be tailored to your audience and be short and to the point. Here are a few practical ways to interrupt potential customers:
- Website SEO – Appearing in the search results of potential customers.
- Advertising – This includes all forms of advertising from billboards and radio to pay per click and banner advertisements.
- Email marketing – this requires prospects to have already opted-in or signed up, but it’s still an effective tactic of a successful sales process.
Engagement is when you actually earn a prospect’s attention. Compelling headlines and quality design are important aspects of engagement. Tailor your copy to the audiences you are targeting. Don’t neglect good design. Apple didn’t dominate the mobile device market with the use of mediocre design. Here are some tactics to improve engagement.
- Write compelling headlines and subject lines
- Use calls to action that help educate your audiences
- Focus on quality design
No one likes to be sold. In fact, the instant I think I’m being sold something, I tune out or drop off altogether. The content you produce and share with potential customers needs to be educational and informative. Educating your audience builds trust which creates long-term relationships.
- Create and share white papers or case studies
- Offer free consultations and advice
- Blog on topics that inform your audience
The offer is simply asking for their business. Avoid sleight of hand, in your face sales tactics. Keep the offer simple and be transparent about the details of the offer. This is by no means the most emphasized part of the sales process, but it is important to be visible and accessible on nearly every marketing piece you produce.
Website landing pages are a great place to make an offer. By the time they have reached the landing page, you have already interrupted them with content, engaged them with compelling language and graphic design and gained some trust with free educational content. Landing pages also have the added benefit of being tested. You can learn if your prices are too high by testing multiple variations of a landing page.
I’m sure we all agree that converting a prospect into a customer takes time. If you repeat the steps above enough times, you will start to see results. Test as you go and don’t be afraid of experimenting with copy or design. The important thing to remember is to plan the sales process ahead of time. Write down all the ways you intend to interrupt, engage, educate and offer.
I’d love to get involved with the development of your sales process. Contact me to start the discussion!
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