If you’ve wondered recently what the difference is between marketing and sales, your sales conversations are an excellent place to start. This is how you can squeeze the most out of every lead.
Sometimes it seems like the world has become focused on simply making sales based on leads as if there was no longer any meaning to what happens before or after. Strategies to produce leads are being perfected and we often forget what the goal of managing a brand actually is.
In our last post, we talked about how to make your customer the focus of your efforts. It’s easier if you have a physical location where customers visit; when it comes to leads, they are often mistakenly seen as numbers rather than people, especially when all you’re focused on is making a sale.
But even if you’re producing mountains of leads, your goal should go beyond making a sale. Here are a few points you should clarify for yourself before and during your first sales conversation.
1. Sale vs. experience
It begins even earlier than the sales conversation when specifying your goals and asking yourself the question: Do you just want to make a sale or create something more?
Of course, your motivation here is based on the prospect of making an income and the sharper and more focused you are, the more sales you’re likely to close. But the perception of your brand is comprised of all the stages of a client’s journey – and that includes their first conversation with you. When you think about it, you only get to speak to a small number of your customers personally and that’s your opportunity to achieve much more than a sale. How about creating an experience for him to remember? The question is what feeling you want to leave him with, and finding the answer to that depends on your values. What does your brand believe in? If your company had a flag, what symbols would be on it?
For us, it happens quite frequently that even customers we can’t sell to right away return later as an even better prospect. Funnily enough, this is partly because we didn’t make the sale in the first place and the overall feeling they were left with that we genuinely want to help them. If you do it well and with your whole heart – when you think first and foremost about their interests and not your own – you may very well create a situation in which a customer doesn’t close a deal with you, but was deeply impressed by your conversation and will recommend you to others. That’s more valuable than any sales campaign.
Even if you’re stressed to make some quick sales, you don’t want to give that impression to your customers. That’s why, even if you personally aren’t the one making sales, you should instruct your sales reps to speak to customers in the way that’s right for you.
2. Sales conversations are also funnels
One of the things that need to be decided on before getting started is the sales process itself. In some cases, especially involving complex, new or long-term services, it’s possible that one conversation won’t be enough. Either way, that’s something that should be decided ahead of time.
For example, one option is to define the first conversation as a compatibility test wherein you ask the customer questions in order to formulate a specific idea or solution for him that you can present during the next conversation. If you rely on the first conversation just to create interest and value then you shouldn’t even discuss a price. This builds a lot of interest and expectation, or in other words, it creates much hotter leads.
It’s also worth thinking about how the customer reached you. Was it an ad? A Google search? A blog post? What message did he get from you there? Then consider what the natural course would be in continuation of what he saw or read.
3. Aligning expectations
After building an organized sales process that’s clear to you, it’s important that you know how to bring it to the customer. For example, you might just be explaining things to him now and plan to call him again in another two days, or maybe you’re focused on one aspect for this conversation and in the future (it’s important to decide when) someone else will contact him who specializes in a different aspect.
And there’s another important element to aligning expectations: If you don’t get back to the customer in the immediate future after receiving his details (which we seriously recommend you do), it’s important to let him know when you’ll be getting back to him. No, “ASAP” is not aligning expectations. Commit and stand by your word. That might sound less than important in this case, but that’s exactly how you build mutual trust and commitment. What’s more, the less you leave him in doubt, the more he’ll trust you.
4. Learning lessons
Most professionals will agree with you on at least one thing: It’s better to have fewer, high-quality leads than leads that aren’t right for you (customers looking for service at a lower price than what you offer, for example) or even worse, leads that waste your time with misplaced questions with no desire to invest in the process.
The smart thing to do is to take notice when you’re wasting your time (and budget), and analyze the process to understand what isn’t working. Then you’ll need to take bold steps sometimes, even if it means letting go of the audience you’ve built and started from scratch.
How will you know when it’s not working? Assuming that your goal is not only to make a sale, but also to create a larger experience, you should look beyond your sales rates. For example, pay special attention to the course of the conversation itself: According to most in the industry, the more connected the customer is to what you’re talking about and the less you feel that you’re banging your head against a wall trying to explain a point, the higher-quality the lead is – a lead worth investing in.