From John Jantsch:
No matter how brilliant your marketing is, how pretty it is or how expensive it is, the only real question is does it sell?
Many businesses have differing sales cycles depending upon the complexity or cost of the purchase being considered. Some have cycles that are triggered by events, such as the birth of a child or start of a company. The very concept of a sales cycle has been impacted greatly by access to large amounts of information now published all over the Web.
Today’s sales cycle contains distinct segments, and smart marketers understand they must build new touchpoints, content and processes—or destinations on the map—to address the logical progression of turning a prospect into a raving fan in order to compete in today’s dog-eat-dog world.
The most important touchpoints on your map
Be sure to focus on these areas when looking to build your customer base.
Observation: The very first stage of the sales cycle today involves intent listening. This is a significant step and one that can help you stop chasing the wrong leads while also giving you an opportunity to create a unique customer experience. Customers today are sharing everything on social media, so take advantage of this free listening weapon.
Differentiation: Until you clearly show how you are different from your competitors, people will compare you based on price only. Conveying your difference in all your marketing efforts is a very important second step in the new sales cycle and one that ensures you will stand out from the rest.
Information: Content is a strategy. Creating a focus on content allows you to guide your clients from a know-and-like mentality and gently push them towards trust. Publish educational content that informs your clients of useful knowledge that also sets you apart as an expert in your industry.
Selling: For many in selling, the game ends when the customer pays. Your lead conversion system must be created in a way that delivers the same experience once a prospect becomes a customer as is delivered throughout the entire relationship. Creating planned education events, such as webinars and peer-to-peer discussions, before and after the transaction is necessary these days.
Observation: The final stage of the sales process is a return to listening, but with the notion of reviewing. Listen to your customer after the transaction is complete. Ask him what they like, don’t like, what works, what areas of the touchpoint did you miss out on. Review these results and continue to adapt your products and services based on the feedback from your customers.
Image credit: Neil Barnwell via Flickr CC
John Jantsch is a marketing consultant and author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine. He is also the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.