Sales is a process. You are highly unlikely to make a sale the first time you approach a prospect. It requires a softly-softly approach, commonly called a sales funnel. This is how prospects get to know you and what you offer, become comfortable with you, and then agree to buy.
Generally, the more money being spent, the longer this sales funnel will be. For example, if you are selling small items direct to the public, it may take only two or three touches for them to buy. If you are selling vehicles or homes, the process will take much longer and require many more direct communications before you get the “yes” you are seeking.
Currently, the most reliable and cost-effective way to get people into that sales funnel is via email. A series of emails sent on a regular basis will build a relationship with prospects and educate them about your business. Usually, this is done through an email responder series from a sign-up form on your website.
LinkedIn is another cost-effective way to move people into your sales funnel. It requires a personal approach to each person you’re targeting which can be time-consuming but is still a very good way to get a conversation going.
Once you have begun growing your list of potential customers, you need to find ways to keep top of mind with them. Emails may not be enough. One way we have found to be successful is a personal phone call every couple of months. We make this a “keeping in touch” call for the first few so there is no pressure. Usually, by the third or fourth call, the prospect is keen to learn more about what we offer and suddenly a sale is on the horizon.
You may have inherited or purchased a database of leads. In which case, they need to be divided into different categories, for example A’s, B’s and C’s. A’s are your top clients, C’s your colds. For each category, work out how you want to approach them to move them down your sales funnel. Some you will want to contact in person, some by phone, some by email and some by other methods such as LinkedIn.
Devise a system that works for your business and the type of leads you are dealing with. Make sure you have the resources to follow through – many people have great ambitions for their marketing but give up before they have made much progress.
Set up a straightforward, easy-to-implement plan that you know will work based on your experience and then stick to it. You’ll be amazed at the results you achieve.