Generating leads and closing sales is a never ending challenge, regardless of whether you target consumers (B to C) or other businesses (B to B).
Early in our business development, we tend to rely on our personal networks – “friends and families” – to generate the leads and sales necessary to sustain us. However, at some point, we must go beyond networking and commit to a planned, systemized, marketing driven approach.
One of the core elements of a systemized approach is a Marketing and Sales Process. “Marketing” and “Sales” activities are part of the same continuum – an integrated process that begins with generating a lead and moving the lead to closure.
We break the Marketing and Sales Process down into four distinct steps and, in so doing, this challenge becomes more manageable.
Step One – Lead Generation
Often times when people use the term marketing they’re in fact referring to advertising. However, advertising is just one lead generation vehicle that may or may not be well suited to your business.
There are many ways to generate leads, and examples include direct mail, public relations, Pay per Clicks (PPC), trade shows, conducting seminars or workshops, etc.
The key is to figure out which lead generation tactic(s) delivers the best results for your business. The only way to definitively determine this is through testing.
Step Two – Moving Prospects Through the “Investigation Phase”
It’s highly unlikely that a prospect will make a decision to buy based on one interaction or “touch”. If a prospect is exposed to one of your lead generation activities and expresses an interest, they’ll likely require additional information before they make a final decision. When this occurs, the prospect has entered the investigation phase, during which you have a golden opportunity to develop a value based relationship and build credibility.
If you don’t provide the information a prospect requires during the investigation phase, then who will? Either your competitors will provide it, or the prospect will search for this information on their own.
Neither of these scenarios is desirable. It’s incumbent upon you to provide prospects with what they’re looking for in the investigation phase – decision facilitating information.
Businesses that do a good job during this phase of the Marketing and Sales Process have a much better chance of winning the customer.
Step Three – The Sales Encounter
The key to this phase is to optimize the close rate. This is done by making certain that when you finally secure that sought after encounter – when a prospect finally says “OK, I’m willing to meet with you” – you’re able to effectively deal with objections and have whatever information the prospect asks for at your fingertips.
You should be armed with testimonials, references, case studies, examples of prior work, exhibits or anything else the prospect wants to see or hear before making a final decision. We’ll know precisely what the prospect requires if we’ve done a good job with our Prospect Analysis (click here to review what you need to know about your target prospects.)
Don’t leave anything to chance once you get that precious sales encounter.
Step Four – Post Sales
The final step entails leveraging one of our most valued assets – our customer base. If we have a database of extremely satisfied customers, we should be well positioned to sell them more products or services or to encourage them to provide leads and referrals.
By breaking the Marketing and Sales Process into these four steps, the challenge of continually generating leads and closing sales becomes much more manageable. By fully integrating these steps, you’ll take your prospect through a logical progression; from an expression of interest, to providing the information they require to make an informed decision, to a successful sales encounter, and finally to developing a long term, mutually beneficial relationship.
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