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The 5 steps to making sales

So, I talk a lot about how to use social media and how to build relationships both on line and off.  But what about making a sale?  That can sometimes seem a much harder prospect.  How can we turn all the chat and conversation and good feeling on social media to cold hard sales?  After all, we are all in business to make money.  At the very least we need to pay the bills and hopefully drive a nice car, buy a lovely house and go on exotic holidays.  So how do we make sales?

I’m currently putting together a new lecture on Marketing and Making Sales at Loughborough University so I thought now would be a good time to address this often-thorny issue.

What do we mean buy sales?

Sales is simply influencing people to buy your products or services.  After all the marketing and storytelling sales is the final event.  When money changes hands and you get paid for all your hard work! 

Sales isn’t however convincing people to buy your products if they don’t need them. If they don’t need them they’re not your ideal customer, and although they may buy once, they won’t come back for more.

A good sale is from someone who needs your products, goes away happy, pays you the right price, tells all their friends about the amazing experience and comes back for more.  The ideal sale!

What do we mean by marketing?

Marketing is putting the right product, in the right place, at the right price, at the right time (or known as the 4 P’s – Product, Price, Place, Promotional Strategy).  It’s also the means of communication between you and your customers.

So, let’s assume you already have a fantastic product! You know it’s what your customers want, you’ve got the branding right, you know the features and benefits and how it’s different from you competitors.

Now you need to price it!

This is where a lot of people stumble. For everything on the market there is a low-price point and a high price point; shoes, consultancy, houses, coaching, skincare.  Generally, the higher the price point the more the perceived value.  But what if you’re selling yourself?  How do you put a value on your own time or amazing product?

Tricky.

There are a few rules of thumb here.  Firstly, you need to know how much it costs you to run your business.  Every business has costs, whether it’s hiring premises, to paying for Microsoft, staff wages, raw materials, postage costs.  You need to know these costs inside and out.  Because at the very least you’ll want to cover these basic elements.  Then you need to factor in your time.  What do you want to be paid?  And remember that if you’re running your own business no-one is paying into a pension fund, for sick leave or holiday pay – so you need to factor that in too.

Then consider the value of your product.  Is it high or low? Then, what will the market stomach?  Are you customers local or worldwide?  What are other people charging?

There is no real measure here, you need to figure it out for yourself.  But price too high or low and you can come unstuck.

Place

Where will you place your product or service? Online or in a store? Is a store, what kind of store? Do you need a sales team?

Marketing

And finally, we’re onto Promotional strategy – how will you market your product? How will you reach your customers? Is it social media, website, PR, print?

When’s the best time to promote? What are you competitors doing?

How are you going to market yourself against your competition? There will be lots of other people doing similar things, unless you’ve found a tiny niche or invented something (in which case, well done you!!).

Story

And this is where story comes in.  How do you tell the story of your brand, your products, your company? When it comes to business, don’t try to fit in – tell your story so you stand out!

Your story can sometimes be the only difference between you and your competitor!

So, what do you stand for? Why are you different? What are your values and beliefs? Why should anyone care?

Always stay true to your core fundamentals – it’s what makes you different!

Customers

Really all of what I’ve written above is nonsense if we don’t consider your customers! So, let’s do that now!

Who are your customers? Who do you want to serve?  What do they look like? What do they like to read? Are they a tea or coffee drinker? A short break or travel around the world type of person?

The closer you can get to who your customers are, the closer you can get to convince them that your product is the best for them.

Now I wouldn’t advocate just saying everyone is my customer – because they really won’t be.  And you’ll find it difficult if not impossible to market to everyone.  You need to know your ideal customers hopes and desires and what makes them tick.

You’re selling them who they are once they’ve bought your product.  Who do they want to be? What are their dreams.  Think about good car sales, or holiday sales, or clothing.  Are they selling you the product or what happens to customer when they buy that car, go on that holiday?  The latest Audi advert in cinemas isn’t selling a car, it’s selling the future.  Apple didn’t sell computers, they sold the future, one where everyone could and would have a computer in their homes.

And listen!

Listen to your customers. Find out why they wouldn’t buy your products and services and work with that to make them even more irresistible!

Build up a picture of who they are and then go out and find where they are.

Sales – the 5 steps

We’re now assuming that you’ve a fantastic product, a great price, you know who your customers are and where to find them. Now go and make sales!!!

I like to break it down into 5 steps and we’ve covered the first 2.  We’ve identified and found our customers, we’ve grabbed their attention with our product and brilliant marketing.  Now we need to build a relationship, follow up and close the sale.

Making Sales

So let’s use the example that we’ve run a Facebook ad.  We wanted to convert people from Facebook to our website. At this point, whether it’s a webinar or a blog post, or a free pdf we really want to be able to keep talking to them.  So, we want to grab their email address, so we can contact them on a regular basis (building a relationship), we follow this up with emails detailing our expertise (follow up) and then we offer them something irresistible that they want and need.

There are ways to make your sale irresistible, like a time limited offer, or discount. But you might just want your amazing product to speak for itself. Hopefully as they're warm leads that you've spent time nurturing, they'll be quite close to purchasing.

Simple!

Now that does simplify things a little, but it does take time.  But essentially to make sales we need to put some hard work in.  We need to get people to know, like and trust out brand.  Most people (especially online) won’t buy from you instantly so you need some kind of sales funnel in place so that you can build relationships, follow up and then close the sale.

Alongside having an amazing product, pricing strategy and marketing strategy!

Who said being in business was easy!

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