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!
Did you know there are sales sitting right there in your business, you’ve not found yet?
They are waiting patiently for you to do a couple of things and, once you do those things you’ll find these sales start to come in – kerching!
At the moment they are just out of your reach because you haven’t learned how to tap into them yet. But after reading this, you will!
It’s your CUSTOMERS. Not new customers. Existing customers. People who have already bought from you.
They know you, like you, trust you and they’ve seen the quality of what you sell. They are convinced of your value. They have bought from you. You’ve done the hard work. And yet you’re not helping them as much as you could. And that’s a shame!
What’s the problem that’s keeping you from helping them even more and selling more in the process?
You Assume They Know About Everything You Sell
Let me share a little home truth with you.
Just because somebody buys one or two things from you, DOES NOT MEAN they know about everything else.
There’ll be lots of clients and customers who come back, again and again and buy the same thing.
You’d think they’re aware of everything else that you sell, right?
Surely they looked through your website, or had a good look at what you’ve got on sale?
You’d think so.
But let me share something with you – there’s a really, really high chance that they don’t know even half of what else you sell.
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are buying products or service from other people, that they COULD be buying from you – if they knew you sell it.
Why Don’t Your Customers Know About Everything You Sell?
People are blinkered and busy. They are NOT MIND-READERS!
They usually know what they are looking for and, once they find it they just buy it.
Unless someone is in a ‘browsing’ type of mood, they just pop into your shop or onto your website and buy what they always buy.
They probably don’t even take much notice of what else is there, they’re on autopilot.
In fact I bet you’ve often done the same, right?
So, what can you do to MAKE your customers and clients aware of everything else you have on offer? How can you snap them out of their autopilot buying habits and show them the rest of your awesome stuff?
The thing you have to remember is your customers and clients are not mind readers, you need to LET THEM KNOW about everything that you do. Don’t assume they will come looking. Don’t assume it’s on their radar. Don’t assume they will remember. Don’t assume ANYTHING otherwise you’re leaving your sales to chance and missing opportunities all over the place.
Let’s look at how you can show your lovely existing customers what you’re made of and get them to buy more next time (and every time thereafter)
E-newsletters Keep You Top Of Mind
The first thing that you can do is to send out a regular e-newsletter to your existing customers and clients. Use Mailchimp or some other emailing software that keeps you compliant with the SPAM laws and get writing. It needs to really add value and be worth their while to open and read it.
What could you include?
Well, every month you might showcase a different product or a different service or a different range.
If you did that you could cover 12 products or services in one year without feeling as though you are hassling or bombarding your customers. From your customer’s perspective, they will love the fact you’re showing them things they love and they’ll be surprised they weren’t aware. You’ll probably get them contacting you saying ‘I didn’t know you sold this!’
To add value you could also share ‘how to’ tips and videos, do product reviews, share offers and competitions – I’ve got some good e-newsletter tips for you in this blog and some more here.
Social Media Is Great For Showcasing
If your customers follow you on social media (and if they’re not, make it really easy for them to do so) you can showcase your products and services and make them aware of everything you do without being overtly ‘salesy’. You can share photos on Facebook and ask for comments. Maybe put a couple of variations of a product or service in a Facebook post and ask people to say which is their favourite. You can have a product of the week and even run promotions on it.
Pinterest is great for showcasing visual products – set up boards for certain brands or product ranges, have ‘new stock’ boards, ‘sale’ boards and even mood boards if you sell something that you can match up with props or accessories. Think about creating boards with links to product demo videos. Have a ‘what people are saying’ board and put your testimonials in there. Invite your customers to follow you and ask them what they would love to see.
Twitter lets you share photos too and you can join in with local or industry networking hours to shout about your products of the week.
Instagram is another great way to showcase products that photograph well – use hashtags to make sure you appear in searches.
And don’t forget YouTube – it’s one of the biggest search engines after Google and you can point your customers in the direction of your YouTube channel to see product demonstrations, interviews with you, interviews with customers and suppliers, answering frequently asked questions – there are loads of great ways to use YouTube – here is one blog with some great tips and here’s another to help with videos.
Ask your customers if they are on social media when they buy and make it really easy for them to follow you. If you have a physical shop or premises, put your social media links on business cards on the counter, pop one into each product bag, hand one out with each receipt. Put stickers on your windows and put your FB / Twitter / Pinterest addresses on your uniforms, receipts, stationery, company vehicles – you need to keep top of mind and if your customers are on social media, you need to be too.
If you have your customers there in person or on the phone, just say ‘I’m not sure if you know we do this? Did you know that we do this?’ or say ‘Oh look, I’ve just done a little price list or a little overview of what we do in our business, can I just give you this because I’m not sure that I’ve told everybody what exactly we have to offer and you might be interested in some of the other things that we do’.
Pop a business card with your social media links and website in with their receipt.
Put some ‘bundle’ deals together – bring out things to the front of the shop that are normally not great sellers and bundle them with popular items.
Use the AMAZON effect – when they buy something, say ‘ooh lots of ladies are buying that with THIS because it really complements it’ – think about when you buy from Amazon and it says ‘people who bought that also bought this’ or ‘suggested products we think you might like’.
Ask your customers for their email address and if they’d like to hear from you once a month – you’ll be surprised how many say yes.
On Your Website
Finally, make sure that your website is up to date and it has all of the products and services on there that your customers will love.
If you have a shopping cart or you have some kind of slide show or carousel feature on your front page of your website, try featuring a new product every month.
Think about having a new products or a product of the month or service of the month, brand of the month if you sell other people’s brands.
Have a plan to showcase all your products. Use the Amazon effect we talked about earlier. Show people what they are missing.
Just Imagine How Your Business Would Look
Imagine if every customer who bought from you:
- Tried something new each time
- Increased their order each time
- Recommended you to their friends
- Bought bundles instead of single products
- Took notice of your suggestions and added to their order
- Kept coming back and spent 10% or 20% more each time
Can you imagine how your profits would look? How much more income you’d bring in JUST by making your existing customers aware of what you do?
This isn’t scary selling; This is customer service.
You’re making life easier for your customers and helping them find other products and services that are a great fit with what they already love.
If you’re not doing this you’re seriously missing out.
I challenge you to implement just ONE THING I’ve talked about today that you’re not doing and see what happens. Then come back and tell me how you did!
Some of my clients on my programmes were talking in a Facebook group this morning. Many of them were saying just how few ‘good’ customers and how many ‘bad’ customers they work with.
I think it was an eye opener for them because most of us are just grateful in the early days that ANYONE will buy from us. It never occurs to us that we have a choice. But we do!
What you put out there is what you will attract.
If you aren’t specific about who you work with or sell to, and you’re not specific about what you’ll do for them then you’ll attract a random assortment of clients who either happen upon you by chance or get referred to you by well-meaning friends.
The impact of this on your business is that you haven’t got a clue about how you help people. I remember when I first started out as a marketing consultant, many years ago, and I was desperate for business. I’d just left a job I hated and I had spent a euphoric weekend loving the fact that I never needed to go back. Monday morning came around and reality bit me on the bum – I needed to make money, fast. I went to some networking events, I phoned around old employers and I generally just put the word out that I was looking for work. I priced myself good and cheap and sure enough, the work began to come in.
I attracted people who wanted cheap marketing. Loads of them.
And before long I was completely overwhelmed – I didn’t have enough time in the day to deal with these people.
They wanted ‘cheap’ so they didn’t value what I did. They were never satisfied. They were so needy. They wouldn’t sign off jobs, they always wanted MORE. And because I’d been so desperate for the work, I hadn’t put anything in place to manage their expectations. I hadn’t put targets in place or any boundaries to say ‘this is when I’ve done my part.’
I worked like this for a couple of years- every day, every evening and weekend, I didn’t take holidays because I didn’t have time and couldn’t afford them because my rates were so low and no-one was paying on time anyway.
I worked 2 Christmases with only Christmas Day off. I was miserable but I couldn’t get off the darned hamster wheel.
It Had To Stop
It all stopped when I had my daughter. I was just too tired to work this way, I didn’t have the energy and something had to give. I decided that I’d only work with those clients I liked, there were a handful and I’d start afresh with them once I’d come back from my 4 weeks maternity leave (I couldn’t afford to take any more time off). So I decided that I’d cherry pick the clients I wanted to keep. I chose small manufacturing businesses and an engineering firm because they treated me well, paid on time and valued what I did. I contacted them to say that I was changing the way I was working and it would be project based from now on. They said ‘fine’. I said, I’m only working these days – they said ‘fine’, I said here are my new rates, they said ‘great, we’ll take that package.
And that was a revelation to me.
I Changed My Strategy
From then on I decide to specialize in engineering and manufacturing businesses who didn’t have a marketing person but needed one. I got referrals from my lovely clients. I networked at engineering type events. I got involved in an engineering/manufacturing forum. I started to really specialize. I was THE marketing person in that sector. And I got more work, so I created some more expensive packages and people bought them. And that’s how I got off the hamster wheel.
The more specialized you become, the more profitable your business and the more you can cherry pick who you work with.
So, it’s up to you. Either spend your days on the hamster wheel working for peanuts with people who don’t value you OR take a stand.
Decide to specialize and choose to work with people who value you, working on stuff that makes you happy.
Which way are you going to go?