5 Questions Ambitious Entrepreneurs Ask to Increase Sales
Anybody running a business needs clients. Without clients nothing else really matters. The process goes something like this:
- You look for people interested in what you sell.
- You find them. You tell them about what you sell.
- You get them to sign on the bottom line.
When you look at it like this, it looks simple, right? Let's take the example of two farmers that meet. The conversation goes something like this:
“You need a cow? ”
“I do need a cow. How much?”
They shake hands.
When someone has something to sell and someone else has a need for that, the transaction is really easy. It's the matching up of the seller and buyer that's the biggest issue. So what are the questions top performer must constantly ask themselves in order to get in front of those buyers and consistently attract the right potential clients so their business grows.
Question #1: How do I find qualified leads today?
In the physical world, networking is the common way you look for that farmer needing a cow. You can do some other things:
- You can cold call.
- You can ask your customers for referrals.
- You can advertise on billboards, print, TV, radio...
- You can put your speaking talents to work and present to an audience.
- You can write a book establishing yourself as the expert.
The point is you get the word out to as many people as possible looking for someone who needs what you sell. Once you connect with a potential client, you go into sales mode.
In the not so mysterious world of the Internet, you do much the same things. You:
- write blog articles,
- send email messages,
- post on social media,
- get traffic to your website using paid and organic search,
- you pick one of the other million online ways out there to find a prospect.
What you are doing is working to get a anyone's attention, so you can start the selling.
So jot down your answer to question #1, "How do I find qualified leads today?"
Question #2: How do I improve sales today?
I’ve known a lot of good sales people in my years in business. I consider myself pretty good at sales. You get me in front of someone with an interest and I can get them to appreciate what I have to sell.
But I’m not discussing sales here. I'm talking about the marketing and education and nurturing that goes on well before the over the phone and face-to-face selling begins. Let’s go over what happens then.
If I need to make 10 sales a month, I can spend - let’s say - $1,000 and 10 hours a month of my time attending networking events, posting on social media, sending out email messages all looking to generate interest. If I want 10 sales, I better find 100 somewhat interested prospects that I can convert to 10 paying customers.
Now if I want to up my sales from 10 to 20 a month there are a few things I can do. I can up my spend from $1,000 to $2,000. I take out more advertising. I up my spend on Google Ads. There's a bunch of ways I can do that. I can consider spending 20 instead of 10 hours of time generating interest. That can get me more leads.
I can also spend more time improving my sales process to up my close rate. So maybe I make adjustments so out of the 100 people I meet, I get 20 instead of 10 sales. So now I'm becoming more efficient.
If you are in sales and marketing, this is nothing new to you. Sales and marketing is about numbers and if you put more leads in the front end or figure out a way to convert more of your leads to sales, you sell more.
So jot down your answer to question #2, "How do I improve sales today?"
Question #3: How do I best promote myself today?
In any business, there are holes in the sales process. These are very real hole where leads, opportunities and live customers slip away from us. This is really sad because we are frequently so close and we don't know it's happening.
So let’s talk about all the people you know. These are all the people you run into every day. These are people you talk to on the phone. It's the people you connect with through email and social media. Consider all the people you know from high school, college and all the people you've known in your past jobs. I’m talking about all the people that if you ran into them on the street would know you buy first name.
As part of that,"What's going on?" question, they probably don't know you are a divorce attorney, accountant, consultant, web developer, Internet marketing consultant, accountant, real estate agent, insurance agent, you fill in the blank. There are a good number of people that if they found out what you do would say, "I wish I would have known. I just hired one of you." Doesn't that just kill you. Someone you know and has a decent amount of trust in you didn't call you because they didn't know you could solve their problem.
If you stayed in touch with everyone you ever knew and communicated all about yourself to them, you would up your sales for sure. But that's not really possible, is it?
This problem is what I call “Lost Traffic.” It happens on your website too. These would be all the people that visit your website and for some reason didn't make the next move to contact you in some way.
A very real example of this would be when you run into an old friend you haven’t seen for years. She’s does hair. She's really good at it and is even better at dealing with grey hair that forgets it's supposed to be the color it was when you were 10.
You run into her at a coffee shop and she never tells you she does hair. Little did she know that you just got fed up with your hair lady because she got rid of the grey hair alright, but she replaced them with a shade of black that makes you look like you landed a part in a 50’s horror flick. You’ve just parted ways and you need a new hair lady.
So a big hole we need to plug up is, “Lost traffic.” And please keep in mind. Once you lose this traffic, you can never go back and get it.
So jot down your answer to question #3, "How do I best promote myself today?" You can reword it with, "How do I prevent lost traffic today?"
Question #4: How do I follow up with prospects today?
Let’s talk about something that happens when you are generating leads and this happens to all of us. We go to a networking event and meet up with all sorts of people. There are some you like, some you don’t like or care for. Then there are those that show clear signs that they are interested in what you sell.
I ran into an obvious hot lead at a chamber luncheon. He was a guy I sort of knew through a past employee of his. He asks me what I do and showed all the physical signs of someone that's interested. He right away understood what I did, lit up and asked me to tell him more. He gave me his card and asked me to set up a time to meet. I followed up, gave him a proposal and I closed the sale. From start to finish it took about three weeks.
Clearly that's what we all would call a “Hot lead.” What makes it hot is that I connected right away. I noticed his interest. I then guided him down my sales process / funnel and, "SCORE." I got the sale.
I wish they were all like that.
It's easy to tell the difference between that "Hot Lead" and everyone else I met that day. What's really difficult is to tell the difference between "Bad Leads," people who really have no interest and will never buy from us and those that might be interested but aren't ready to buy. I call these, "Not Yet Leads." Many of us make the mistake of considering everyone that's not a "Hot Lead" a “Bad Lead.” Since they showed little interest, we assumed their is no interest and we don't follow up.
"Not Yet Leads" that we fail to follow up with are what I call, “Lost Leads.” They learn something about what we had to offer. They are a potential buyer for what we sell. They just didn’t show the signs.
Let’s go over the statistics. Did you know that statistically, it takes 7 contacts or touches with a company before a customer feels comfortable enough to do business with us. This is a really important number. How many contacts do we typically have with people if they don't show interest? Statistically. a typical salesperson will stop at after 3, maybe 4 contacts.
- We meet someone. There’s #1.
- We send them a follow up email message. That’s #2.
- We write them a hand written note. There goes #3.
- Maybe we give them a call a few weeks later. #4.
Then we stop. We mark them a "Bad Lead" and we are done.
Just think of the lady that got the 1950’s horror flick black hair color. Let's change the scenario bit. Let's say the hair lady at the coffee shop couldn't change hair stylists right then. She’d been going to the hair lady for years. She did her nails there too so if she stopped doing her hair and kept doing her nails she'd have to do some explaining. She’d leave her hair lady in a minute if she could, but needs to wait for the hair lady to retire, move on, or have something else happen before she can change. She's a “Not Yet Lead” that will consider you in the future, but only if you follow up with them long enough.
So jot down your answer to question #4, "How do I follow up with prospects today?"
Question #5: How do I "Wow" and follow up with customers I already have?
What do we typically do after we close the sale? We celebrate, count the money and we start the hunt for the next one. We get these customer after all this hard work and what do we do? We likely start ignoring them.
Did you know that statistically, 65% of customers leave to another vendor not because we messed up or because our product didn’t work. 65% of customers leave because of indifference. We spent all this time getting those customers to buy from us. We delivered the goods and the customer was really happy with us. Then we forget about them and failed to give them the attention they deserved. Basically, we failed “Wow” them and they went elsewhere.
Now not only did we lose their follow up business, we missed out on up selling them or cross selling. For the farmer that sold the cow it was selling them a bucket for the milk, feed for the cows and milk maid services.
But it’s even worse. We never got these customers, who at some point were very excited to do business with us, to refer people to us. Have you considered how valuable a referral from a satisfied customer can be?
Everyone knows that the absolute easiest and least expensive sale is a sale to customer who is already doing business with us. So failure to follow up with customers we already have is a big mistake that I'm sure is costing us all a lot.
So jot down your answer to question #5, "How do I "Wow" and follow up with customers I already have?"
You might say this article is a cliff hanger, because it is. Please share with me what you think. I'm very interested in your feedback. In a follow up to this blog I'll be posted in a few weeks I'll be covering , "5 Answer Top Performers Give on How to Sell Even More." I'll let you know when it's available.