So many local businesses just don’t seem to understand the concept of the Funnel. It is no longer enough just to have a presence on the High Street or an advert in the Yellow Pages. With so much competition from other businesses offering the same service only a mile or two away, you have to offer more, be more personal, make the customer feel like you are the best choice for them and will have thier best interests at the forefront of your mind.
This involves making contact personally and quickly, but there is a fine line to tread so as not to appear too desperate for the business. Following up is not to be confused with being pushy.
You want the customer to buy your product and tell their friends all about it in a positive way. This involves being personable and providing an invaluable service. Too often the British business owner is laissez faire in a take-it-or-leave-it way. The attitude is all wrong because we don’t like to sell ourselves but, by standing back, we can appear unenthusiastic, even rude.
Sometimes a shift of ethos can be required.
I got a great deal of invaluable advice for the small business owner on how to create a funnel from a piece by Scot Smith on FaceBook.
Basically, Scot was expressing his surprise that so many small and seemingly relatively successful businesses seemed so reluctant to respond to his email enquiries about their services.
Whilst trying to arrange his upcoming wedding, none of the businesses he contacted collected his ‘lead’ information – email, address, phone number; one refused to quote him via email or telephone and insisted on sending a written quote by mail, risking the likelihood of losing out to a quicker response. And then compounded the error by not following up to check on the competitiveness of his quote with the one means of communication that he did have.
Another, more enterprising, individual had set up a direct mail marketing campaign for prospects identified within the target demographic. He had the ability to partner up with other companies offering complementary services, possibly even charging them to advertise, but this was all for nothing if he didn’t collect the lead information that allowed him to start the process.
Scot says: “Client data is your most valuable asset, and thus should be the focus of your interactions during the prospect-to-customer conversion process. With the internet, your competitor is only one page away. If you don’t have the burning desire to get an agreement with your prospect, and aren’t able to efficiently explain the benefits and advantages of your service; you will not close the sale. Easy!”
However good your service/product is, it will still sell better to a local customer through a conversation with your prospect and the sooner that conversation happens during the conversion process, the better.
The most efficient way to close a sale with an interested buyer who has contacted you by email direct is to reply to the email with a phone call, and only mail information if expressly requested. If you can call your contact within hours of the original query, the more likely it is that you’ll get them during their “want-to-buy” state of mind. This is the point where you can invoke buying emotions most easily with little, if any resistance. Not every consumer works this way but it is your job to make the purchase exciting and build your prospect’s want for your service during your conversation by explaining the benefits and value in your product, offering an incentive to make an initial deposit and then emailing a copy of the contract immediately but allowing a cancellation period. This could secure your client before they go to your competitors and is far more likely to produce a positive result than exchanging emails for days without properly ascertaining the client’s requirements.
Scot suggests that all business urls should be linked to an autoresponder that directs prospects to a landing page before they get to see the website. The landing page would collect e-mail, telephone, name, address, and something silly and nonsensical like a favorite color. Attempt to make it fun whilst keeping the buying emotions at fever pitch.
It’s a good idea to offer an incentive to complete the lead form as well. These ‘carrots’ are designed to persuade your viewer to go ahead and fill in the information box. If you use AWeber, Mailchimp or another auto-responder to collect the lead information, these services will automatically send a second email containing the incentive you offered for your lead generation.
Scot gives this example: “I was looking for wedding services so I might make my incentive an e-book with local venues, photographers, caterers and other wedding services with short reviews and comparisons. Maybe have an option to opt-in to offers from my partners who I would also charge to be listed in my free incentive offer for opting-ing. If nothing else, I would simply include a line in my Terms & Conditions that allows me to share information with other recommended and reputable Wedding Service companies that might also he of interest, and simply sell leads to my partners once I have a contract negotiated for my services. The opportunities here are endless if you keep an open mind that’s conversion oriented but also helpful to your prospect.”
Selling in this way is quite a difficult concept for a lot of British businesses. It is almost alien to our ‘nation of shopkeepers’ mentality to try to ‘persuade’ people to buy but, worse, it interferes with our attitude to ‘privacy’ to demand the name and address of every customer before we will do business with them.
This is what I meant about a shift of ethos. Persuasion is not necessarily the object here, it’s making the customer feel that, if only he had your product/service, his immediate ‘need’ would be satisfied. It’s appealling to an innate human emotion and building it up so that it overrides the natural reticence to spend money. And, with their email address, if they don’t buy the first time, you can ‘tempt’ them with other related products that might tickle their fancy in the future. You are still helping them to satisfy that need.
In these days where competition for many target markets is so extraordinarily fierce, combined with an economic climate that is making people more frugal in their spending, every available tool should be used to bolster your selling arsenal.
Scot is looking to connect with other like-minded thinkers and doers via Facebook.