Sales is a scary thing for many small business owners, but if you can figure out how to turn your sales fear into sales courage, you will change the game in your business. The key lesson I have learned about sales, in my almost 17 years in business, is that the gap between getting a prospect and turning that prospect into a customer can become shorter and shorter with only a few steps. Here are ways you can shorten that gap:
Speed up your sales cycle
Weed out unqualified prospects
Convert with confidence
Remove the fear from sales for good
Step 1: Know who your target audience is with 100% certainty. Nothing else in removing the gap between prospecting and completed sales will work without this foundational step. You want to know:
- Who they listen to
- Where they hang out both online and offline
- What their sense of humor is (this is very important believe it or not!), and
- What the one problem or challenge is that keeps them up at night.
Step 2: Tighten up your business brand. Design your signature content and your business around your ideal customer. Use the lingo of your ideal customer. Mimic the style of the experts they pay attention to. Create Facebook posts based on what they like to see from businesses similar to yours. Create a brand image with attractive logos, tag lines, and clear messaging about who you are as a business, where you are going, and who you’d like to come with you. Note: A blog is a great place to make this step a reality; you can create, nurture, and control well into the future.
Step 3: Review your previous sales cycle. Ask yourself how long it took to go from prospect to sale with all of your products - even if it was one sale of one product or service. You need this as research for how to cut down on time - and extra steps - in the sales process.
Step 4: Beef up your brand awareness: Use what you’ve learned about the length of time and the steps necessary to close a sale. Did your ideal customers in those past sales convert faster than customers who were not in your ideal target audience? Most likely the answer is yes. Solution: Beef up your brand awareness. Consider using one social media platform more to draw your target customer to your website.
Step 5: Make them testify to your greatness. When you have strong brand awareness around your business, sales that normally take one year shrink to six months or less. Sometimes you can close up in ten minutes with one phone call. The key is to get your ideal clients to say amazing things about you - and record them! Video testimonials are the Holy Grail, and they’re just as tough to get, too. Start out with written testimonials on trusted platforms such as LinkedIn or Yelp. The more of these you have, the shorter the steps in your sales conversion cycle and the more your sales funnel is filled with highly qualified prospects.
Put these steps to work and let me know how you are succeeding with this. I am confident this will shorten the gap between meeting a prospect and closing the sale and ending up with a happy customer.
Melinda is a founder and president of Quintessence Group, an award-winning marketing consulting firm based in Philadelphia, PA, serving Fortune 500 brands who target small businesses.