Marketing and sales. In my experience, these two words have the power to excite you or make you want to run away. You’ll often hear people say they are either good at sales, or that they’re not. Typically there is no in-between or grey area when people self-assess their sales abilities. I hope that after reading this article, you’ll be a little more relaxed when you think about trying to sell your products or services and experience less of a struggle when the time comes to do it.
Sales conversations with potential clients or customers are just conversations. You’re not trying to force them into a situation, and you’re not trying to swindle them out of their hard-earned money. You’re simply having a conversation with them to share what you sell and how it can benefit or impact them.
Gone are the days of the 1980s used car salesmen with slicked-back hair and a sweaty handshake trying to push you into buying the Lincoln Continental when all you need is a Ford Pinto. The edge that particular salesman had going for him wasn’t his fashion sense, but rather, the customer’s general lack of knowledge and understanding of what was available in the market and how to differentiate a great buy from a lemon.
This is vastly different from the current reality for businesses today.
So, what’s the best sales and marketing tactic for your business? Well, it depends on your product or service and how you want to interact with your clients.
What is your brand?
How does your company look and feel and what do you want people to say about your business when you’re not around to hear it?
You can control the aesthetic of your business, but you can’t control the reputation. It’s important to build a brand that speaks to what you want for your business and represents who you are and what you do when you’re not around to speak for yourself.
Part of this process is developing a distinct voice for your brand so that when it is speaking on your behalf, it effectively reaches your ideal customers or clients. Social media is a great outlet to bring this to life because speaking directly to your potential customers is exactly what it’s meant for. Figure out which platform your ideal customer hangs out on, and focus your social media efforts there first. Develop your brand voice intentionally and use it in your posts, your stories, and your live videos to connect with your ideal clients.
The objective here is to build a relationship or a connection with your customer. It is often referred to as the know, like & trust factor.
Consider what the journey looks like to make your ideal customer keenly aware of who you are, what you do, and why it matters to them. You want to be top of mind when it comes to what you sell, so when the time comes that they need it or want it, they will come to you ready to buy because they already have an understanding of what you offer and why they need it.
They know you, they like you and they trust you. Your brand and your voice resonate with them. And if (or when) they reach out, they’ve likely already decided you’re the one they want to purchase from, or at the very least, you’ve made it into the shortlist of top candidates.
Brand awareness, brand voice, and intentional communications reinforce the connection your ideal customer has with you and your business. It establishes a relationship with your customers even before you’ve had a personal conversation with them. It also immensely helps with the sales process because a foundation of understanding has already been laid.
What is your sales channel strategy?
Is your business brick & mortar or completely virtual? Do you offer e-commerce or is your online strategy to provide information only? What complementary partners are you working with? A few examples of complementary partners include retail partners, referral partners, stockists, informal partnerships, joint packaging arrangements, and various other types of partnership agreements.
Essentially, you need to know how you are going to get your product or service into the literal hands of your customer. Telling them what you do and how you do it means absolutely nothing if they can’t experience the product or service you’re offering. Figure out the tangible sales process to get whatever you’re selling out of your head and into the customer’s hands.
One thing I recommend is to spend time building a website for your business. The internet is a fantastic tool. Use it. Build a website that is a spectacular representation of your brand to excite your customers and get them to the checkout, whether that checkout exists virtually online or only in person at a physical storefront location. Yes, it’s possible to build a business without a website, but in my opinion, in this day and age where technology is king and instant information is everywhere, your website matters. People expect to find you with a quick Google search and if your ideal client isn’t able to find you online, you might lose them altogether.
What type of promotions or unique opportunities can you incorporate into your marketing?
This doesn’t mean you need to have a big splash every time you add something to your product line or service offering, but what little touches can and will you incorporate into your business practices? Design a tactic that personalizes your interactions with your customers. whether that is through special events like grand openings or product launches, or more personal touches like thank you notes, discount codes, or referral incentives for loyal customers. Leverage this high-touch tactic to connect with your existing and potential customers.
And when you do connect with them through these promotions or unique experiences, collect their email. Getting their email address is key because it gives you the ability to send them information about things they care about relating to your business. You want to keep the spark alive, and collecting their email helps you build a relationship and reinforce the connection.
If you’re wondering what types of promotions or activities to focus on, my answer again is it depends.
The sky is the limit when it comes to unique promotions to support your sales process, so be creative. If you’ve done your market research and understand your ideal client, use that knowledge to determine what matters most to them and focus on that. If it’s discount codes, use them. If it’s exclusive invites to special events, host them. Offer something that tells your customers how important they are to you in a way that’s important to them. The basic truth is that your customers and clients are extremely important. Make sure they know it!
Finally, if you’ve got a network of complementary partners, see if they have any opportunities for you to get in front of their audience. For example, be a guest on their podcast if they have one, or write a guest article for their blog. Go live with them on Instagram or co-host an event with them on Facebook. And when you find yourself on someone else’s platform, ask if you can offer their followers something from your business, like a discount code or a free item. You’re looking to build a connection between their audience and your business so when you cross paths again, you’re not a stranger.
The constant theme here is connection. If you take the time and make the effort to build a relationship with your ideal customers, selling is easy.
Your sales process becomes a conversation rather than a pitch. Your potential customer already knows who you are and what you offer, and they know what’s in it for them. Sure, they might have some questions and want to dig a little deeper, but that’s great! They’re invested enough to ask and you want your customers to be informed about your offer.
At the end of the day, if they decide what you are selling isn’t for them, that’s ok too. Remember that you’re not going to close every sale. But when you build a connection, you are establishing a foundation that supports your selling process and leads to a greater likelihood of making a sale than if you are cold calling.
So, do the heavy lifting before you even come face-to-face with your potential customer.
Build connections and educate your audience to reinforce what you do and how you can help them with your product or service.
Doing so will make the sales conversation flow much easier, and ultimately, cut the ‘ick’ factor out of your marketing and sales.