In today’s competitive business world where consumers are being hit with literally hundreds of sales messages every day the hit and run or one shot sales approach doesn’t work. Because of the Internet consumers have more choices than ever before. Consumers today want more information. They want to be educated about your product or service. They want to be consulted not sold. You have to build a relationship to make the sale.
Before you can actively sell to someone, you first have to drop down or move up to his or her comfort zone. You can’t always get the sale with the first contact you have with the prospect. It’s often more practical to stair-step your way to get sales, much like a canal uses a series of sequentially and progressively raised locks that float a ship through it.
You should use a two-step approach to all your selling. You need to use non-threatening, big-promise, and lead-generating ways to induce your prospects to buy. For example, you could run an ad or a commercial offering a special demonstration or a free trial offer for something just for visiting your store or office. Or a simple, irresistible, introductory price on some extremely desirable product or service.
Two-stepping is a sales process that can be utilized in many different ways. In the purest sense, it is the process of generating leads and then converting them into sales. The first thing you do is run an ad, send out a letter, or an e-mail promoting your product or service to qualified prospects, and get them to respond in person, by phone, or by personally coming into your place of business. This process allows you to identify the people who are the most qualified and interested in your product or service.
Once you’ve identified your best prospects, then your selling process begins. They have an acknowledged interest. They’re saying they can use your product or service. They’re interested and want to know more about your product or service.
Now, you’ve got to cultivate and convert them into customers. You can do this in a number of ways. For example, if the prospect has contacted you by mail, telephone, or e-mail you could give them an extensive sales presentation over the phone followed up by a letter that reiterates the offer, answers all their questions, and attempts to close the sale.
If you have a Web site (and every business should), you could have them sign up for your free newsletter or consultation. This allows you to easily capture their name, address, phone number, and e-mail address so that you can follow up by telephone, letter, or e-mail and then add them to your prospect list.
In most of your marketing, two-steps are really multi-steps, because you generate and identify a qualified lead and then begin a process of continual nurturing that may entail a sequence of four, five, or even ten different follow-up events. These events could be an expansive call, followed by a letter, then another letter, and even another letter. This process is simply continuing to educate and build the relationship with your prospect.
Keep in mind, that the more expensive and complex the purchasing decision is, the more nurturing you will have to be, the more questions you will have to answer, the more powerful case you will have to make, and the more credibility you will have to establish. Most of the time it takes more than a simple one or two-step process. It’s a multiple step process.
Many businesses sell products or services at a very modest price just to qualify people. For example, some businesses will sell introductory quantities of a product just to get a prospect. That’s a good first step. The next step is building the relationship so that the business can get them to make a larger unit of purchase.
Two-step selling can be used in many different ways. For example, you could run ads to get people to come into your store which is the first step. The next step is selling them. You could send out letters to get people to contact your business for more information. You could hold free seminars, offer free lessons, or other training events, where you have an opportunity to qualify them as prospects. When the event is over, you can either offer them a special proposition, or you can offer to send them more information and continue to build the relationship.
Your company’s stability is very important when you’re trying to convert a prospect to purchase an expensive product or service. This is why many times multiple communications are actually a selling process, because it conveys and establishes your dependability, stability, and trustworthiness. It tells people you won’t simply “hit and run. ” Studies show that many people will look for the stability in a company based on how it communicates with them over time. And they use this as an important criteria on whether to buy.
Your purpose in selling should always be to suggest first. By suggesting instead of selling you will be able to bring more qualified prospects to your business. Too many businesses try to slam-dunk or one-shot approach. This is out of your prospect’s perceived comfort zone. You need to test more compelling and less threatening offers as opposed to the one-shot, all-encompassing ones.
People don’t want to be threatened. They are uncomfortable being asked to commit to purchasing something they’re not sure they want or believe they can afford.
Always test different two-step offers. Call a prospect, follow up with a letter, then send out some informative materials and some educational offers. Then, follow up again with another call. It would be a good idea to let them sample your product or service with a guarantee that costs them very little. Ultimately you will win the prospect over to a higher-priced product or service.
Keep in mind, if you induce hundreds or even thousands of people to show an interest in your product or service or make an initial modest purchase, you’ll end up nurturing hundreds or even thousands of customers who will buy from you over and over again. Always try to achieve your sales goals by using a series of progressively more encompassing, small, and non-threatening steps. If you do, you’ll sell a lot more people more easily, and a lot more of your marketing will work for you.
Copyright© 2005 by Joe Love and JLM & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.
Joe Love draws on his 25 years of experience helping both individuals and companies build their businesses, increase profits, and achieve total success. He is the founder and CEO of JLM & Associates, a consulting and training organization, specializing in personal and business development. Through his seminars and lectures, Joe Love addresses thousands of men and women each year, including the executives and staffs of many of America’s largest corporations, on the subjects of leadership, self-esteem, goals, achievement, and success psychology.
Reach Joe at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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