No product ever really sells itself.
Entrepreneurs often create extremely cool and innovative products that customers around the world could benefit from. But the necessity of the product is negated if no one ever buys it.
That’s why sales strategy and marketing campaigns are such an important part of a new business.
Let’s make is easy. All you need to remember about making a sale is three simple steps:
The first step to marketing any new product or service is creating awareness. No one can buy a product if they don’t know it exists.
There are several ways to create awareness but essentially this is the marketing campaign every business needs to create to make sales.
Within the marketing campaign there could be sections for print advertisements, social media accounts, YouTube videos, mailers, retail placement, online partnerships and more. There’s no shortage to the number of ways to make potential customers aware of a product.
It helps to consider the target market. Try drafting a profile of the average person who would benefit from your product or service. Ask yourself: Who is making the buying decisions? Where would this person shop? Where do they look for news?
Answering these questions sets you on the right path for making the right people aware of your business. For more information, see our section on creating a marketing campaign.
During the awareness-building part of the sale, several key points should be addressed:
This part sometimes goes hand in hand with awareness. When creating awareness the marketing message needs to be clear. In any successful advertisement a person will know what a product is, how it works and how they will benefit from owning one.
Consider investing in a quality video that explains the product or service your business is selling. In some cases the product can be explained through an infographic. Whatever medium is used, it has to be clear, and it usually helps if it’s short. Most people won’t spend more than a second or two looking at an advertisement so the function has to be explained quickly.
In some cases extra steps are needed to demonstrate a product—a photo or quick video simply won’t do.
Get creative. Think of every infomercial you’ve ever seen. What demonstrations did the entrepreneur give to show the product’s success? How can you communicate not only how the product works but it’s results, as well?
The goal is to keep the message succinct but also accurately explain all of the benefits the product or service offers potential customers.
For those in medical device sales in-person demonstrations are often most effective. A phone call can be made to a hospital, doctor’s office or clinic to announce the product and give details. A one-sheet may also be sent that shows the doctor the machine’s most impressive results and a breakdown on ROI (return on investment). Medical device sales are most often made, however, in person. The preliminary sales tactics are used to secure a meeting but the demonstration done during the meeting will make the sale.
To reach more people in a shorter period of time entrepreneurs can attend trade shows. At trade shows group demonstrations can be given that have a similar effect.
A big part of demonstrating a product is building trust. A person wants to know the results they are seeing are accurate and not constructed by television magic. If the potential customer can get hands on and give it a try, that’s another bonus.
For other products, a one-time showing doesn’t give accurate results. Consider a new face cream. How does a person know it works after only one use? Sure there may be some immediate results but for products like this repeated use is often needed to demonstrate meaningful results.
Again there is the preliminary part of demonstration. In this case a company may provide before and after photos of real patients or write up testimonials from satisfied users. To be more transparent samples may be sent out to a group who in turn writes reviews on the product with varying levels of satisfaction.
For more intense demonstration the company could consider sending out small samples, perhaps a week’s worth, for customers to try on their own time.
Regardless of the product there are right and wrong ways to demonstrate its effectiveness. The right way will be transparent and build trust. For some customers this is easier than others, and there is never only one way to demonstrate a product correctly.
Instead of picking the best, most expensive approach create a sales plan that uses several methods to reach several types of customers with different needs.
To close a sale customers need to know the next steps, and it is the entrepreneur’s (or hired sales rep’s) job to communicate those steps.
Start by reiterating the following:
If there is a trial offer or a money-back guarantee, explain it here. If there are payment plans, offer them now. Having all of the facts will help a customer make a purchase especially if one of the entrepreneur’s solutions addresses a problem the customer may have such as upfront capital.
If the product needs to be sent to the customer it’s important to explain how long it will take and when payment is taken.
Tell them in no uncertain terms how to buy.
After the offer has been defined, ask for the sale. It’s hard to close a sale if a sales representative doesn’t ask the customer for the sale. Make sure to make it a yes or no question.
Example: “Would you like to buy this product today?”
If they hesitate, revisit the benefits to the customer.
If a customer isn’t ready to close, don’t give up. They may need more time to make a decision. Instead, keep in touch. Make follow-up with failed closes part of your marketing campaign.
If the customer was interested but is still unsure, send them a mailer with additional information and stay in touch by email and phone. When leaving the failed close let the customer know you will keep them in the loop if any new deals come up or if the product is offered at a discount later on. Always give the customer a way to contact you if they change their mind and always ask why they aren’t ready to purchase so you can offer potential solutions.
Use the same strategy for following up with customers you didn’t necessarily interact with such as a potential customer who visited your company website but didn’t make a purchase.
First off track their activity so you can identify potential problems with the order process. Deliver a message with context that will help solve their problem. For example, maybe an item was placed in the cart but never purchased. Ask if they have questions, consider offering a discount or free shipping.
If you have an FAQ page for your product send it over or direct them to a live chat option to answer questions. The sale can often be saved by identifying the problem and finding possible solutions. Plus everyone responds well to good customer service. Consider these phrases and language during the entire sales process:
The work isn’t done when the sale is made. A good sales representative stays in touch even after the sale. After all, there could be potential for more revenue in the future.
Start by following up with an email and/or phone call to announce the product has been sent. Send tracking information when applicable. Then, after the product has been received follow up with an email and/or phone call to check on its arrival ensuring all pieces were included and the product showed up in expected condition.
Once some time has passed and the sale/service has seemingly gone well (i.e. there have been no formal complaints made by the customer), set the table for the next sales conversation.
Offer information on a new product, refills, etc. It helps to give loyal customers a discount or another perk.
As always it’s important to track successes and failures and adjust when necessary. If one sales strategy is outperforming another, ask why. If it’s possible to duplicate the success of one strategy in another, do it. If some strategies are simply more effective than others, adjust your sales approach to favor the plans to give the best ROI.
Contentz offers professional marketing services for every kind of business. Choose from an a-la-carte menu of services or create a monthly plan for ongoing campaign management.