Sometimes known as the seven dwarfs these steps make perfectly good sense once you understand them, but be wary of making any rash assumptions.
- Get found by a sufficiently large number of people with a reasonable likelihood of being interested in doing business.
- Keep the visitor for more than 1 second
- Get the visitor to initiate further contact
- Qualify the visitor under BART or similar rules
- Get agreement to a pitch with qualified prospects
- Make a good competitive offer
- Convince the prospect to act now
Poor assumptions that amateurs frequently fall for.
- Only eCommerce businesses sell via their website, for the rest of us its just PR
If you don’t plan to sell via your website, you are probably going out of business. Web search has become the number one method of sourcing, even when they can see your building out of their window. It tells them you are a suitable business, it tells them some information, it convinces them to contact you and begin a buying process, in some cases it facilitates an eCommerce sale.
The majority of business sales that begin on a website, result in a lead that is eventually converted via a salesperson or by a frustrated customer doing your job for you.
2. If you explain yourself well, they’ll understand
Now there’s the mother of all bad assumptions, the fact is that the majority of visitor are expecting your site to be mere clickbait and have their finger poised to leave if in any doubt. Even when you have exactly what they want, some visitors will decide your site is not what they wanted and just leave. You definitely can’t win them all, but following a few basic rules combined with some good housekeeping can make a big improvement in leads and sales.
- You can win them all
Gamblers suffer a lot from this syndrome. Some think you can and should win most of your bets if you are good. Big mistake. The key is making a steady profit. Others think if you try your hardest to win each and every bet, your average will be higher and you will do better. No it doesn’t work like that.
Statistics and averages in particular have had some long awaited updates lately with some great new books hitting the shelves. Many still miss the point though. Knowing the average depth of the Colorado river wont save you from drowning in a 30 foot plunge pool any more than it is feasible to build a bridge over all of them. The key is to be good at deciding which ones to take on and which ones to completely ignore so you increase your chances and save some wasted time and know when to buy insurance and how much to pay. It’s the combination of these two things that makes all the difference.
3. You can bully the customer into buying
No, there isn’t any situation where you can get a sale from somebody who doesn’t want to buy from you for whatever reason. Not the same as helping someone who wants to buy but has a problem to overcome, but that’s outside of this scope. Whether you are attending a pitch or serving content on your website, there’s a time to let go.
4. Amazing presentation is all it takes to win business
This the commonest mistake and it usually is found among wannabee marketers and wannabee salespeople. Don’t get me wrong, its very important to present the proposition well and help the customer really understand the benefits, but investing your hopes in swaying unqualified leads with great presentations is just like swimming those dangerous deep pools we talked about. Walk away and focus on the ones you can win. Understanding what that customer needs and being able to offer it is the key, sometimes she doesn’t need much and goes away really happy that you helped.
5. Customers are dumb.
Customers don’t tell you everything, even when you have known them for years and you’ve just been on the golf course for several hours with them, let alone on your website. They even make foolish decisions for secret reasons you will never know. The important thing is that this is their right and you have to respect them, but don’t set out to mislead because you are the only one likely to be mislead.
6. People need to think it over and come back, that’s what websites and phones are for.
There is any amount of evidence in almost every business that keeps records, all of it demonstrating categorically that customers who want the deal, just buy it and people who want to think about it almost never, or close enough to be never, ever come back. If you added up the entire profit from customers who thought about it and came back over a decade, it wouldn’t buy your morning coffee and indeed as a segment they are extremely unprofitable in most business. Now let’s be clear, these figures assume that a customer is easily considering a small purchase, the sort that requires little thought, or the customer has been engaged and qualified as described above and has then absorbed the information, invited a pitch or whatever and wants to think about it. Re-marketing can catch those who are confused by information overload, especially the perfectionists with a long list, but don’t overdo your spend or reliance on customers returning after they have been to the coal-face once.
7. The sale is all that counts.
Sales forces will argue this one time and again. Whenever there’s a budget argument and the discussion returns to attribution, sales-people will assert that they got the sale and the marketing was of little consequence. Well when this happens, suggest that they meet their targets next month without any leads or marketing support. The fact is that the initiating action is still the most important one until it has happened. Of the AIDA quartet, the first A (attention) remains the biggest and most expensive challenge.
8. All the Content can be critically important in getting the sale.
Marketers are siting on increasingly huge budgets to generate mountains of content and engage on Social Media and naturally they will argue strongly for increasing this budget.
They will show you a convoluted customer journey and point out that without the random email at this point that formed a conviction about the brand, the other steps might never have happened. Well no two propositions are identical and hard and fast rules are tricky to come by, but if you faithfully record your sales funnel for a few thousand transactions and talk to a few dozen customers, you wont make this mistake again.
People are still a hugely important aspect of closing sales
In the modern world we tend to either close a sale via an eCommerce workflow or by generating a lead which is then handled by sales-people.
In the case of the eCommerce journey, there is a minefield of often unknown problems waiting to thwart your customer not to mention missing bits of information that might cause her to abandon that cart. This is a fact of life and we must be able to profit from a good conversion rate but keep working on perfection by all means. Piling more information in her path is definitely not the way to go. Closing is all about facilitation and the path of least resistance it’s definitely not about more information.
After all, a decision made is a job done and then there’s the anticipation to look forward to, we just have to get it reasonably right and not get in the customer’s way.
Leads handled by sales-people are definitely a case of “ Passed the previous tests, just one left to go”. The sales person can have a big impact, but more content is not likely to help, nor is the previous content very relevant other than the possibility that it helped create this sales opportunity. Let me simplify this a little. The first part of the process, however many virtual steps you may have placed in your funnel, is getting a prospective customer to the point of purchasing.
For the complex, there is a lot of good content to consume and there are ways to engage and ask questions, take trials and so forth. This is all legitimate reason to create and test content, but remember you can’t win them all and your time may be better spent qualifying new potential customers.
Purchasing is about checking a few final details, allaying doubts, making arrangements and committing to, OR making payment. Only some of it in a face-to-face sale and none in a shopping cart journey involves going back over previous questions. The shopping cart is all about confirming that everything is indeed as promised and making it very easy to complete the purchase.
Fear is the emotion you must pander to here, that;s where the human touch comes in and please no extra hoops to jump through, no new pages, or confusion of any kind. While I have designed Attribution funnels many times with many different degrees of sophistication, in most cases, my instinct in a sales process is to create three main steps.
- Instigate a conversation.
- Generate a lead.
- Close the deal.
They applies equally well to eCommerce as selling high powered cars and they save a great deal of wasted effort with attribution. These three will inevitably be broken down further as you learn more from experience.
Another great way is to follow old-fashioned frameworks like AIDA (Attention Interest, desire, Action, or DIPIDA (Discovery, Identification, Proof, Acceptance, Interest, Desire, Action) The latter is more suited to a complex consulting type engagement with analysis followed by a pitch etc.
The key is understanding where to invest your time, effort and capital and building everything on top of hard evidence won through scientific experiment, not other people’s blogs, nor guesswork.