For a long time, the word ‘sales’ was a dirty word, conjuring up images of a used car salesman or a door to door salesman using smoke and mirrors trickery and persuasion to sell you something you don’t want or need.
The harsh reality is – and especially in today’s competitive landscape – every business needs an organised process for bringing in new customers or clients on a consistent basis. Obtaining random customers or clients will never provide the stability or growth your business needs to thrive.
No obligation quotes… yawn
The days of yore involved many approaches, the most recently defunct of which is the “Consultation and Recommendation” method. You’ll recognise this from websites and tv ads which overuse the phrase CALL US TODAY FOR A NO OBLIGATION QUOTE.
When this was a new and slick way to sell, the prospect would call and request a consultation, whereby the service professional would gather some basic information about the prospect’s needs before the consultation. Then, the majority of the fact finding would be done during the consultation, after which the service professional would make a recommendation accompanied by a quote for the required services.
If you’re tempted by this sales technique as a way to avoid the ‘hard sell’ and only attract warm clients (i.e. those with proven interest in what you are selling), think again. Not only have savvy consumers grown wise to this tactic, you are most likely causing yourself a headache through potential customers “playing the prospect” in order to get free advice or to compare your price with that of your competitor.
The fresh face of sales
Thanks to the internet and marketing automation, there is a better way, and its name is Decision Based Selling (“DBS”). DBS is about recognising that:
“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.”
to quote Theodore Levitt.
Simply put, DBS uses your marketing TO HAVE the conversation, not TO SELL the conversation.
Best of all, the majority of DBS can be done at the ‘lead stage’ (i.e. before you’ve met them while they are interacting with your website or blog) as part of an automated campaign. That’s right… you don’t have to wait until they are in your meeting room to start the process.
This article gives you the ‘what‘ and the ‘how‘ of the 5 steps of DBS:
1) Speak to their identity
What: The first step is to get the prospect to identify themselves and their circumstances. The secret is to use bait (information that will appeal to them) so that when they opt-in, they need to tell you about themselves and their circumstances.
How: Let’s pretend you run a retirement consulting services agency. An idea might be to design the bait (articles, interviews, news) on your website to segregate visitors into two categories: those planning for retirement in the next 2 years and those not planning on retiring in the next 2 years.
2) Focus on outcomes, not methods
What: Once you have established who they are, it is important to engage in a conversation about the possible outcomes that can be achieved by working with you. At this early stage you don’t need to get crazy with detail. Using the retirement example again, you just need to know they want to maximise their income after retirement, you don’t necessarily need to know they want $6.5 million to retire on. Yet.
How: There are a number of ways to obtain this information, you can:
- Ask for it upfront when they opt-in
- Send them a post opt-in survey
- Track which items they choose to read when you send them content.
Whichever method you choose, this is where a powerful automation marketing tool is invaluable. With one of these babies, you can progressively profile your prospects based on the information they share and continue to adjust the conversation accordingly.
3) Get to their “Why”
What: Chances are you know your customer base better than they know themselves. You’ve connected with dozens, maybe even hundreds or thousands of them, so you have gotten to know the drivers of why people tend to engage with you. With your retirement consultancy, you may have heard time and again that “I want to retire early” or “I want to live comfortably” or “I want to help my kids establish themselves earlier than I did”.
Understanding why people make their decisions will shine a laser beam on the content you provide, the services you provide and the types of conversations you are having with them.
How: This step is crucial, but challenging, and it is the one that is hardest to automate. The best option is to make a list of the decision drivers you can think of, and use them as subjects or topics for content on your site or on social media. You can then start building a profile for your customers and tracking what they engage with more than others.
4) Identify their Obstacles
What: If a prospect is considering hiring you to do a job, it’s likely there will be something standing in the way of them doing it themselves. Perhaps it’s a fear of doing it themselves and messing it up. Or it might be a belief that they can’t really have what they want – they don’t deserve it. No matter what the obstacles you need to understand what these are.
How: A good way to obtain this information is to use a bespoke survey embedded on your site or through content you push out to your followers. If you choose the latter though, be warned… you might end up with skewed results. For example, let’s say you publish a piece entitled “The 6 Things that Will Sabotage your Retirement”, a thousand people may click on that link just to see what it says, even if it doesn’t really apply to their circumstances.
5) Tell them about the “ick”
What: This is the reality check part. Make a list of all the reasons why someone might NOT hire you. Wait. What?? While this might be a bit confronting for you, it will save you lots of time and effort in identifying the prospects who will follow your advice, respect your time and really want to work with you to achieve their desired outcome. And whether it’s price, time, effort, quality, or specific terms and conditions, you need to understand what they are sacrificing to get the results that they want.
How: Unlike other steps, there is definitely a right way to do this. I mean, you wouldn’t broadcast the fact that you are expensive and hard to work with (even if that were true). A better approach is to discuss the positives first. That way you put your price in the context of VALUE. In fact, if you follow the order discussed in this article you will have done that already!
All together now…
Knowing and applying this information will help you sort the “chaff from the wheat”. One of the best case scenarios is if they have already considered the “ick” and they still schedule the meeting with you anyway. If you’ve followed all of the steps in this article, you should be able to pass this little test.
Think about the last person who contacted your business for information and see if you can complete this sentence about them:
“You are [identity] who is looking to accomplish [outcome] so you can [why]. You want me to help you avoid the [obstacles], and you are willing to pay and do the [ick]”.
How did you go?
If you weren’t able to, don’t despair. Remember, gathering all of this information was almost impossible just a few years ago. Now, it can be done with a properly configured automation campaign, which will save you valuable time you could be spending on qualified leads.
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