The economy is not the only thing that has changed, so has your relationship with your clients. If you want to attract new clients and expand existing relationships, then you need a new approach to selling and a new sales funnel.
the market was hot, the selling cycle was short, and you had more influence and control over the buyer. But let’s face it, the market has changed. Increased competition, globalization and advancements in technology have put the consumer in control. They decide where, when, and how they are going to buy. Trust and value have become the new return on investment (ROI) making what we sell a commodity but HOW we sell it our competitive edge!
The sales cycle is much longer now than it used to be. In an economy where trust and value are the ROI, sales cycles naturally lengthen as we have to build trust and establish value before we can even start to sell. That takes times. Clients will buy our services once they trust us, and they will buy our products when they understand the value to their business..
In an overcrowded market consumers are overwhelmed with choice. I actually believe they are looking for reasons to reject us and limit their field of options. Sales people and marketing gurus are inundating them with opportunity and messages of what, where and who else to buy products and services from. If you want to hold on to your client, then you have to understand the real selling begins once you’ve closed the first sale. Creating a sales funnel or sales cycle that looks far more like an hour glass than a funnel.
Let’s take a look. To establish trust you have to be authentic it is your greatest asset. Meaning you have to spend a lot of time at the top of this funnel. Set a goal, target the right client and begin to make the connection. Build the trust and watch them slowly move into the top of your funnel. During this phase you are going to deeply invest in them. Developing connections and establishing trust takes time, so expect this phase to move slowly and understand you are not in control of when the consumer is ready to buy. They will move through your funnel at their own pace and only when they are ready. The more you push the more likely you are to lose the client to a competitor. That is why it is critical to overfill your sales funnel. Once you have targeted the right client and established your prospect list, then overfill your funnel with your target client. Overfilling ensures you have enough volume giving you the patience to allow sales to close on the clients schedule not yours.
Once you finally close the sale (and it will be a small sale at first) your client moves into the “stem” of your new sales funnel. In a trust and value economy you have to sell small to sell big. Clients will most likely “try you on for size” before they commit to a bigger investment, so in this phase of the funnel you have to truly add value. You have to create an exceptional experience deepening the clients trust and establishing real value in their mind. It is important in this phase of the funnel that every member of your team understands they are in the sales business. Selling at this phase is everyone’s job. Anyone who touches, interacts, delivers a service for or indirectly impacts the client needs to be clear in their mind they all have the same goal – to create and amazing experience for this client. One bad apple here will certainly ruin all the time and work invested in this client.
Once you have wow’d the client in this phase of the sales funnel they’ll move to the “base” of the funnel. You have invested a lot of time, energy and resources to get to this point, but understand it was worth it. Clients who move to this level of the sales funnel love you, and they are ready to do more business with you and ready to sell for you. They trust you, believe in you, and most importantly truly understand the value your products and services have to offer. So, this may look like the end of the sales funnel, but in truth it is just the start of phase two. With all the hard work done, it is time to start deeply selling the relationship and deepening the trust and value you have with this client. Conversations to assess what additional needs or opportunities they have naturally lead to additional product sales and value add services. In addition, clients in this level of the sales funnel become advocates, your unpaid sales force. All you have to do is ask.
Yes, this economy has changed and your approach to sales needs to change with it. Work your new sales funnel, and I believe you will find selling in this new economy fun, easy and highly effective!