You’ve done the hard work to get your marketing under control. Your ideal clients know who you are and how to find you. When done right, marketing generates leads and interest, and potential clients will start to reach out to you.
The next step is vital in running a successful business. What do you do when people contact you interested in what you’re selling? How do you close the sale?
As is true for other areas of control, there needs to be a process in place in order for you to make the best of your sales opportunities.
The key for every business owner is to understand your lead times.
For some businesses, the sales process is simple. If you have a physical store, a customer comes in and buys what you’re selling. Online transactions for physical products can be just as easy. You receive an order, you send it, and the sale is done.
The process can be much more complicated in other types of businesses. Business to business professional services can take weeks, months, sometimes years of contact to make a sale to a potentially interested client.
Far from one touch client interaction with a physical store, the sales process for other business types can be as many as 13 touches.
The ladder of loyalty shows an important perspective on customer relations. Your relationship with someone who might buy from you starts well before they hand over any cash.
The moment someone touches your business, you have a chance to lose or retain them.
This includes the moment they sign on to a database, like your Facebook page, follow you on LinkedIn or Twitter. No matter how removed you feel from a sale at this point, retention starts straight away.
It’s important to understand that these people should already be considered customers, even though they’re not spending money just yet.
The ladder of loyalty starts at the level of suspect, which is your defined target market.
When a suspect reaches out and makes contact, they become a prospect. This is where retention starts. Yes, before you’ve made a sale to them.
After a sale, there are several levels of loyalty that occur. Shoppers buy once only. Customers return and buy from you again. You want to get as many suspects up to the level of customer as possible.
At this level, as long as you keep your customers engaged and you keep offering products or services that are relevant to them, they will keep buying from you.
The next levels on the ladder of loyalty are for clients that continue to purchase regularly.
The first of these levels is member. These people have purchased a pack or ongoing subscription or loyalty card or similar.
The highest rung is people who will provide you with free advertising.
An advocate will promote and recommend you to others that are part of your target market. These are invaluable. Encourage and reward them.
A raving fan will indiscriminately tell everyone about you and perhaps overpromise. These sometimes need to be reined in or they can harm your reputation.
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