Acquiring customers on a consistent basis can be one of the biggest challenges facing business owners.  Additionally, not being able to do this with any regularity will result is ‘feast or famine’ revenue generation and more frequently an empty sales funnel.


Acquiring customers takes know-how, discipline and a willingness to stay your course until you produce something that works.  When I’m working with business owners to help them tune up or create a growth strategy plan, I’m frequently made aware of the confusion or lack of understanding about how marketing and sales works to improve the acquisition of customers. 


Here’s a brief explanation to demonstrate how to acquire customers:


Marketing is the messaging you send out to your targeted niche market to attract your ideal customers so they can engage you in interest, contact or a dialogue.  Marketing is usually reserved for generating leads with consumers you have yet to meet or do business with.  It’s like deep sea fishing.  You have to have the right bait and gear and know where to fish if you expect to catch what you want. 


Sale on the other hand is the phase of your plan when you begin to make contact with a prospect.  It could be face-to-face, phone-to-phone, text-to-text or email-to-email but regardless it’s actual contact with someone who has responded to your marketing.  Using my fishing example, it’s the part where you finesse the fish into the boat.


If your marketing is strong and compelling, you’ll get lots of phone calls, website hits or responses to mailing and flyers you distribute.  If your sales process is weak or nonexistent, you won’t land any fish!


Some business owners who understand this may elect to skip the marketing phase and focus exclusively on their sales process as their way of acquiring customers.  After all, if you can’t land your fish, you don’t eat!  But doing this approach can relegate you or your staff to cold calling or endless and unfulfilling networking activity.  Not a promising or enjoyable way to acquire customers.


As I stated earlier in this article, once you make contact with your prospect, you must switch to selling.  Depending on the type of business you have and the time it takes to land the sale, you may have to nurture your prospect along the way until they are ready to buy.  This is different from repeated marketing which treats your prospect as if they never made contact at all.


Take a look at your sales process.  Is it well defined?  Do you or your employees understand it?  Have they been trained in it and feel comfortable and confident when they interact with prospects?  Cutting to the chase, are you closing sales or letting interested prospects be caught by your competition!


Here’s a brief outline to help you evaluate how effective your sales process is at acquiring customers:


1.      Do you have a clear idea of your most valued prospect?  Do you know what they want and how they decide to buy?  If not, you may be overlooking clear buying signals.


2.      Are you and your staff thoroughly familiar with your marketing content? (Website information and offers, brochures, mailers, etc).  Nothing turns off someone who genuinely likes what you sell than to call your business and have to explain what they saw from you?


3.      Do you have a ‘sales conversation’ well rehearsed?  This is different than a sales pitch.  A sales pitch is a one-way conversation which you get hot with when businesses call you.  A sales conversation is a two-way form of communication that engages the prospect to help them get what they came for. 


4.      Are you ready to handle issues or objections?  This can be scary for many business people.  The thought of having to answer tough questions or listen to someone brow-beat you on your prices is no fun indeed.  This is why being comfortable with a conversation style approach is more effective at turning around unpleasant prospect calls.


5.      Do you have a method of continuing the sale if your prospect is not ready to buy?  Sometimes, people need time to decide.  Yet, many businesses will write off the call and go back to market to more people they don’t know instead of providing a way to stay connected to the person who just raised their hand.


6.      Lastly, your best prospects are people who previously purchased from you.  You need to continue reaching out to them if you expect them to continue coming your way.  And what about the people they know?  Are you asking for referrals or asking them to write a review for you.  The selling opportunities don’t end after you finish the initial purchasing transaction. 


In today’s ‘relationship driven’ marketplace, consumers and clients have much more leverage when it comes to deciding who they do business with.  Most customers understand that you are in business to sell but they first want to know you value them and want their business.  ‘Asking for the order’ from an acquired customer is the sincerest form of values prospect acknowledgement.  Try going on your next fishing trip and leaving your fishing rod unattended and see how many hits you miss! 

Originally posted 2015-09-17 10:52:42. Republished by Blog Post Promoter