I remember when I first started out in business – I wasted so much time. Sales were pretty thin on the ground. I did things the hard way and I couldn’t see it because I didn’t know any better.
Take new clients, for example. I was a marketing consultant. I needed small businesses who wanted help with their marketing and would pay for it. I needed quite a lot of them and I spent most of my time wondering where the next client would come from.
I went to networking groups. I had a website. I did a bit on social media. I advertised. I asked around. I did what I thought I needed to do to get more people to find me and hire me. But it was HARD WORK. Really hard work.
My business was like a rollercoaster. I lurched from being stupidly busy to then, when my client projects came to an end (which always seemed to be en masse) to having NO clients, NO money and panicking like a mad woman. It wasn’t good for my blood pressure and it wasn’t good for business.
The thing was, it was hard work because I was doing it the hard way. I needed a train.
Let me explain…
Think of your customers and potential customers as passengers on a train – because every business needs a sales train. You get potential customers or people who have expressed an interest on the train at the furthest station and they get on and off that train at different stops until some of them arrive at YOUR station (the BUY station) and bingo, you have a sale.
Your job is to get them ONTO the train at the far end and keep them moving along the journey, getting back on that train and heading towards you.
There are lots of station stops along the way.
Some people never really get back on after they’ve jumped on the train at the far end and taken a look around. They decide your products or services are not what they were looking for and so they tootle off and find a different train that suits them better. That’s fine, you’re not a perfect fit for everyone.
Some people get on the train and look forward to arriving at the BUY destination but they get stopped along the way. Sometimes they change their minds. Sometimes they don’t have the money right now. Sometimes they were just getting on the train for a look around but don’t actually need what you sell until later in the year, so they aren’t ready to buy. YET.
Some people get on the train but they don’t have enough information. They want to study the timetable and check out the sites, they want more information and they won’t get back on that train until they are 100% certain that it’s what they need.
Other people will get on at the far end, choose the best seat, opt for the EXPRESS route and go straight to BUY in one trip. They are your super customers – we like them.
Your job is to keep getting them back on the train.
Think of yourself as part conductor, part travel agent.
You’re there to keep in touch, keep reminding them why their destination is so good, keep giving them the information they are missing and keep moving them along that journey.
Lots of ways.
First of all you need to get them ONTO the train. You do this by being visible on social media, by having a website, by letting people know what you’re up to and by getting them onto your email list.
Every time they read about you on a blog or someone’s website or you’re mentioned in a Facebook group or by a friend, that will help them get back on the train again. They will be more comfortable progressing because they can see you’re credible and trusted.
Every time you pop up in their newsfeed, they remember why they liked you and they hop back on that train and head along to the next stop to see if they still like you there.
Every time they visit your website or social media pages (especially if you have videos and stories) it helps progress them along the journey because they get a bit of YOU. People buy people and if you share videos and pictures of you, your business, your work, they build a relationship with you. You’re bridging a gap.
Every time they get an email newsletter from you, with information, help, case studies, testimonials, information about events you’re attending and announcements about new products or services – that will get them back on the train because you’re suddenly top of mind again. You reminded them why they were interested in you and you helped them decide to go to the next station stop.
And that last one – the email newsletter bit – that’s the biggie.
The best way to get potential customers along that journey, instead of hopping off at every stop is to keep in touch, build relationships, to show you can help them, to show people trust you and the BEST way to do that is by sending regular e-newsletters.
You can bypass the noise and unpredictability of social media and drop straight into their inbox when you want to. Email newsletters are your express ticket that will speed up your sales train and get those customers along faster and more often because you’re top of mind and when they are ready to buy, they will buy from YOU.
And that’s the bit I was missing, back when I started out.
I totally underestimated the power of e-newsletters and I had no sales train. I had no way of taking people on a journey so that a steady stream of customers would hop off at the my station, already liking and trusting me, already excited and ready to buy. I was trying to take random people from the street and persuade them to come on a long train journey to see me when they didn’t know me. How would YOU react to that? Exactly!
It’s Time To Get Your Train
If you’ve been collecting emails but haven’t done anything with them, the time is now.
If you haven’t been collecting emails, today is the day you start (more about that in next week’s blog)
If you’re not building trust, building relationships and being visible, it’s time to start (videos are a great shortcut)
It’s time for you to set up your sales train and work out how to get people ONTO the train and how to keep people moving along till they reach your station.
Grab your whistle, off we go! Toot toot!
Claire Mitchell is a best-selling author of the Awesome Marketing Planner and founder of The Girls Mean Business, a mum and business owner. She has been featured in Marie-Claire, The Guardian, Closer Magazine, Essentials, The Huffington Post and on the BBC.