How does your sales cycle begin? Do you reach out to find clients with traditional marketing methods like direct mail and cold calling on the phone? Or have you built a content marketing engine that brings the leads to you? Either way, that’s only one step in the sales cycle and once you’ve identified a promising prospect, what do you do next to help them complete the journey to becoming a customer?
Finding the prospects
Typically, it takes a mix of marketing techniques to fill the sales funnel for your business. For example, if you are working on becoming a content marketer, that strategy takes time. It could take years to grow your audience to a level sufficient to support the revenue model you require to survive. While waiting for that audience to grow, you can market your business in other ways.
If the price point of your product or service can support it, face-to-face sales calls are very effective. People like to do business with people they have met, like and trust. Setting up face-to-face appointments requires persistence in phoning and emailing the potential prospect. But that’s not quite the beginning of the sales cycle. First you have to find these folks.
Manning a booth at a trade show – while expensive – typically results in the collection of a large number of quality leads. These are people who have already stopped at your booth and expressed an interest in what you do. So while you will be picking up the phone and making calls, they won’t be cold calls. You’ll be calling someone who has already met you and now you can begin to grow the relationship and establish an level of trust your competitors may not be willing or able to give.
Working the prospects
Following the acquisition of the leads, schedule a couple of weeks to work the phones setting appointments. Work small geographic regions so that you can schedule appointments the following two weeks. It’s best to plan about two or three appointments a day if you can schedule them close enough together geographically. The last thing you want to be doing is rushing from one appointment to the next. You need downtime after each appointment to process what happened and to comfortably get to the next appointment.
Now comes the hardest part for many small business owners. The followup that happens now matters the post. You’ve committed all your resources and the customer has asked for a quote or other followup. How quickly can you make that happen? The answer is that it’s the most important thing on your to-do list. Ignore everything else and do your sales followup. You’re 95 percent of the way to making a deal, but this last 5 percent is where most of your competition falls down or becomes a formidable competitor. Set yourself apart by responding quickly and professionally.
Closing the deal
Once the proposal is in your potential client’s hands, continue to follow up regularly. Just like you, these folks get busy and what was top of mind last week can move to the back burner overnight. It’s important to close the deal while you still have top-of-mind positioning. Trying to regain that positioning can be almost impossible.
It’s about having a system and sticking to that system when it’s working. If your sales results start falling off, stop and analyze the system to make sure it’s still valid for the current business ecosystem.
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