The future of selling efficiently

Making customers jump through hoops is the future of business to business marketing. And it’s already here.

As business people, we are now more time poor than ever before. And, typical of any business person that likes to make money, we tend to say yes to everyone. We work longer hours and utilise an ever-increasing list of applications designed to make us more efficient.

However, despite this push towards efficiency and making the most of our decreasing time, we tend to become less effective as we develop a client list full of ‘less than ideal’ clients, who dilute our clear competitive advantage.

So, what does that mean? It means we need to be more efficient with our time by being stricter on who we choose to work with and what we choose to work on with them.

So why make potential customers jump through hoops?

In a typical B2B environment, you’re likely constantly trying to fill the top section of a sales funnel in order to gain consistency in the work that falls through. Let’s say for example, you are following a fairly standard 6-step lead generation process:

  1. Target generation (The market who do not yet know who you are or what you do)
  2. Lead generation (Letting targets know who you are and what you do)
  3. Lead qualification (Establishing whether a lead could become a client)
  4. Needs assessment (What the nature of the work could be)
  5. Proposal presentation (The solution that meets their need)
  6. Negotiation (Closing the sale)

 

I have left out the follow up steps post negotiation; instead, we are going to focus on steps 1 through 4 here – and how you can identify a market and make these prospects jump through a series of hoops in order to establish how worthy they are of your time before engaging face-to-face.

In this way, you will save yourself phone calls, meetings, proposals and doing the wrong work… Ultimately, you will save time.

The goal, for successful sales, is to spend your time face-to-face with ideal customers who are ready and waiting to work with you. I believe I’ve found the way to do this. Although this example focuses on online lead generation, it is transferrable across other lead channels.

Let’s say you have a target market you want to communicate with (via ads or email campaigns) First consider, what do you want them to do? What data do you want to see once they have done it?

Effectively, you are trying to align their needs with your product set – so that you know you have a mutual fit. First, bait their interest by putting out a communication that identifies (and discusses at a high level) a problem that is common for your potential customers. This should be light on real information; more importantly, it needs to resonate, be easy to understand and promise to share more. Whatever channel you choose, you want to know that they have read it and that they want to know more, so there must be a measurable call to action to find out more.

Once a target has taken action and registered interest (which could simply be a click-through), you have made a customer jump through their first hoop. Here your potential customer is moving from a cold target to a cold lead… Hoop 1.

Next, you need to deliver the first piece of value as easily and efficiently as possible. Give them more information. Answer the first of the vague questions they had in their head. Talk more in-depth about the issues – but do not show how you solve them. You want to get your prospect to prove that they want to know more about how you are relevant to their need. You need them to take action again (and yep, you need to measure it). They must let you know that they are curious whether what it is you do, can solve the problem front of their mind… Hoop 2.

Hoop 2 is where your approach can become more customised. Channels or mediums you set up can be unique. They could be custom-made landing pages, blogs or pages on your website. Whatever the method, they must show they are interested in hearing your solution – because you have not yet told them and, right now, they still have that problem.

Your potential customer is now a warm lead that is genuinely interested (and you know this because you measured it).

Hoop 3… Here you present your solution. But not the “full monty”- just a taster of what you do, why you do it and what it has done for other customers. The thing is though, they don’t get full access to it without jumping through your third hoop.

Your third hoop is a customer-driven contact whereby they have to put in effort. This isn’t as simple as a click-through – they need to register, in detail, why they are interested in you and your solution. You need to know they have moved past the point of being curious, to being genuinely interested.

You need to know you have a hot lead.

Until this point you have not spoken to a soul. You have not met in person. You have produced no paperwork. And you have a potential customer waiting to meet with you. You can now move through stages 4 and 5 in person, knowing your close rate will be much higher.

This process of making customers jump through hoops of engagement saves you wasting time on cold and warm leads. It saves your prospects time from auditioning the wrong supplier and having to send awkward rejection emails or make excuses over the phone… It’s better for everyone.

For more information on sales techniques visit www.wedgwoodgrainger.com

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