Sales have long been regarded as the driving force of business — as they should, right? If you don’t have sales, revenue or cashflow… your business ceases to exist. So, it makes sense to celebrate completing monetary transactions. It’s the intrinsic sign your business is doing well.
Somewhere along the line, though, the concept of sales became idealized and over celebrated. This idea that if you could coerce the “adversary” into your proposition then you’ve won is just the tip of the iceberg.
Lusting after sales has driven what should be a peaceful process with no coercion or psychological manipulation into one riddled with slimy tactics and strategies. The consumer becomes timid and retreats deeper inside their shell of comfort and security, which creates inaction. They continue to do what’s comfortable because of fear of change and the memory of businesses that oversold and underdelivered in the past.
With the number of advertisements, sales calls and transactional stimulus we face on a daily basis — we see about 5,000 advertisements a day, according to The New York Times — it’s no wonder that we’re facing lower conversion rates from cold calls, door-to-door and cold reach outs.
Mix that in with the fact that in the age of COVID, face-to-face cold selling is pretty much out of the question. So how do you drive conversions and sales for your business without being pushy or overselling your product?
Turn to marketing. Here are 3 reasons why marketing is the new sales, and how to increase conversions in your business. Without marketing, there would be no sale. In fact, sales should have really been credited to marketing in the first place.
1. You can use marketing to earn back consumer trust
Sales have always been a fundamental part of business. Sales also have always been a function of relationship building.
You’ll hear these principles in entrepreneurship often. Things like, “your network is your net worth” and “Sales is the lifeblood of your business.” And while these statements are predominantly true, they are also merely facts of the equation of business and life.
It’s when sales are credited for the work of great marketing that people are capitalizing on the wrong idea.
We all purchase based on a sense of trust. Can I trust that if I give you my money, I’ll get what you promise, whether it’s a cheeseburger, a car, a Siamese cat. Enough trust must be built up in order to overcome the risks of untruth, deceit or the consequences of these outcomes. Do I trust that this is made from safe ingredients? Will this car actually last for another 100k miles “easy,” as the salesman says? Is this cat purebred?
If you can earn the trust of your prospect and they need your product, they will buy.
So how is trust earned?
By getting to know the nature of a person through interactions and relations. By stacking small dominoes of reliability and delivering what you say you’re going to when you say you’re going to. This is why salespeople are given credit cards with an unlimited budget and told to treat their prospects like royalty, so they can show up on time, deliver a good time, build relationships and treat them like they’re irreplaceable.
Related: How to Earn Customers‘ Trust
In this whole equation, where does marketing end and sales begin? And how do we use marketing to earn back the trust of the consumer?
We were already undergoing a massive digital revolution as a society. The normalization of social networks and apps in day to day life has become much more prevalent in the last 5 years. Because of this, we have new channels to market and sell.
If you’ve been on LinkedIn for more than 5 minutes, you’ve seen how spammy salesmen attempt to gain your attention and sell you on a “discovery call about X.” This is an ugly example of idealizing the sale and not understanding the power of marketing.
Marketing is the act of creating a relationship with your customer, it’s the act of building trust and educating them on your service. If you truly have a viable offer and you spend enough time and energy marketing, all of a sudden they’ll ask you for the contract, the invoice, the bill.
They’ll ask you where to buy.
So how do you ultimately earn back the trust of the customer? Show them you’re in it for them. Show them through customer experience, customer journey. By showing them how much you care, they’ll show you how much they care with their dollars.
Tactically how do you market to earn trust?
Post consistently, educate and add value. Create small changes in their life before they ever purchase your product. Speak to them as if you’ve read their diary or lived inside their heart and mind. Relate to their struggles and give them hope for a better way. Be funny and relatable. Use memetics to drive culture and create an unspoken connection.
Craft a plan that ultimately shows the customer you care, and they’ll show you how much they do. It’s as simple as that.
Once they’ve purchased, though, what’s next?
2. Relationships are more powerful than transactions
Increasing the lifetime value of a customer is an often overlooked way of increasing revenue. When you first understand the notion that it’s harder to get them in the door than it is to keep them there your world changes.
If you have a client list you truly have a bank of leads right in your palm. Chances are that you’re not a one-trick pony. Your business likely has the potential to do a number of things, and one of the things that got you where you are was focusing on that one thing. Now that you’ve created systems and processes to serve your clients in that facet, there is likely to be another want or need.
Use your customer list for market research and to gain valuable insights into which product or service will ultimately improve and build upon your current offerings. For instance, a credit repair firm is likely to offer types of funding and credit as well. It’s a natural customer journey, you focus on building your credit to use it. Why not invest in partnerships, certifications, or business partnerships that allow you to expand your offerings in a logical way.
Create relationships with your customers along the way. We all love opportunities and possibilities, especially if we’re already invested in the journey. Use this opportunity to introduce them to the idea that the journey doesn’t have to stop when it’s over.
Avoid telling them that there is more work on the other side by emphasizing the process and making it a bite-sized and digestible journey for you to undertake together. Just like airlines use every flight to encourage you to fly with them again and to thank you for traveling, it’s important to do the same with each customer journey inside your business.
When you show the customer you’re also invested in their success and that you’ve done the bushwacking to get them there faster, safer, or more efficiently, they feel how much you care about them. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Show them how much you care by compartmentalizing what you know about their pains, struggles, and wishes for life into a transformative customer experience and you’re sure to retain your customers for longer, increasing their lifetime value in several ways. Not only will they spend more with you, but they’ll be more likely to share their tailored experiences with friends or family members as it imparts changes in their life.
As a bonus stream of revenue, look at things like monthly reoccurring revenue models that allow you to expand the customer experience in realtime… think Netflix, Stitchfix or even Entrepreneur Insider’s model for serving customers.
3. Sales and marketing have always been linked
I learned from George Bryant that relationships are at the heart of all marketing. So, in essence, sales staffers who are wining and dining customers are actually marketers. They’re creating relationships and helping to educate the prospects on what your business can deliver. They are essential parts of the business and drive sales forward. But they’re engaging in marketing tactics that help drive the sale.
So how do you employ these marketing techniques to drive sales in your business, especially in the digital age?
Examine what other businesses are doing to have a direct relationship with their customers. For example, Disney took a huge step to create a monthly reoccurring revenue model and to take control of their customer relationships when they launched Disney+.
As a marketer and business owner, we never know which marketing asset or channel is going to reach the consumer and cause the purchase decision. We just know what as we earn their trust and prove our product works through different psychological biases, eventually they will make that decision as long as we maintain a relationship with them. Instead of pushing for sales like you’re a telemarketer, smoothly incentivize the sale through heartwarming marketing techniques that show how much you care about them.
Marketing truly is the new sales. Use your list to gain informed market research, create educational content surrounding their pain points, learn which new products your customers want and ultimately create a higher lifetime value from your customers.
This article first appeared in www.entrepreneur.com
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