With limited time in every day and every week, business professionals of all stripes find it difficult to prioritize all that needs to be done. Getting paying customers is paramount to surviving and thriving as a business. Whether you are selling books, consulting, coaching or something else, what is most important in ushering a potential customer through the sales cycle? Find out if your activities are balanced to keep a constant flow of customers coming your way.

Get noticed

Be the go-to resource to solve your target customer’s problems. Provide free, quality content consistently to engage, delight or entertain for your followers.  While that doesn’t have to mean every day, it does mean you need to plan and schedule content. Planning content ensures that you deliver the best resources with the least amount of effort.

Use social media, blogging, paid advertising, Lead Pages, live workshops, webinars. Offer a sample chapter of a book, post daily or weekly tips, inspirational quotes or interview others who offer additional value to your readers. Develop how-to posts, videos, infographics, podcasts and Slideshare presentations. Seek out opportunities for guest blogging on targeted sites and encourage guest posters on your blog to widen your circle of influence. If that sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. You don’t have to create it all yourself. Curate useful content from other sources on the web to share with your readers.

To find real live people, go to conferences and other business, writing or blogging networking events. Offer to host, sponsor or volunteer at an event to put your name and face in front of more people. Practice a concise elevator pitch and offer quality business cards with current contact information.

Cultivate relationships

Customers buy from people they know, like and trust, so be part of the conversation. Be where your customers hang out. Cultivate relationships through regularly participating in Facebook and LinkedIn Groups. Seek out influencers on blogs and social media and comment regularly. Show your appreciation for what they bring to the conversation. Like and share their content with your followers to benefit your readers AND give the content provider added exposure to your followers. Isn’t it great when everyone wins? On or offline, answer questions and be a resource, not just for your area of expertise, but also to connect people to other people and resources.

Follow up with those you meet at the events and make use of the business cards you collect. It can be via email, but don’t forget to go old school. Have coffee. Make a phone call. Send a handwritten note.

Most of all, be authentic. People appreciate the real you.

Capture Email

Whether you have hundreds or thousands of followers on each of your social media platforms, you don’t own or control your list. If the platform goes down or out of vogue, your contacts go with it. Facebook is notorious for changing the rules as they go. To reach your followers, you’ve got to pay to get your message in front of them. If your post doesn’t receive high engagement in the first few minutes after its posted, Facebook sends it to post purgatory, never to been seen again.

Capturing email allows you to own and control your list, as well as deliver targeted messages to different customer personas. Customers in the info uptake phase can receive a different message than those who are ready to push the “buy” button. Use email service providers like Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, Aweber or work your way up to the granddaddy of all email programs, Infusionsoft. Get more control over segmenting your list, incorporate business or branding (like a logo) and get valuable analytics about what works and doesn’t work. These are things Gmail, Outlook or Verizon accounts cannot provide. It gives subscribers an easy way to unsubscribe or change their preferences so you don’t get flagged as spam.

To capture email addresses, use lead generation devices like Lead Pages. Advertise an offer, like a free webinar, worksheet or tips, on social media or place them strategically on your website leading to the valuable content. Your readers opt-in to receive it, so you know they really want it. The often maligned pop-ups are also a great tool. Successful businesses use them because they work. If you offer something of real value to your customer, they will gladly give their email address for the privilege.

Build your list based on the quality of the contact, not the quantity. Ten thousand unqualified leads aren’t as good as one hundred ideal customers who are ready to buy.

Ask for the sale

Do you ever ask for the sale or just hope they will decide on their own? Are you afraid of being too pushy? Look at your website, your sent emails and your follow-up conversations with potential customers. If you have designed your product or service to solve your customer’s problem, you owe it to them to offer the solution. You don’t need to shove it in their face and scream BUY NOW! BUY NOW! But, you do need to ask. Successful companies and successful authors ask for the sale.

Design a series of emails that engages your customer and finally asks for the sale. Unfortunately, most people don’t buy on the first ask. Be persistent by overcoming objections along the way. For some, it will be how much it costs. Show them how much it will cost them not to engage with your product or service. For others, they won’t want to spend the time or make the effort. Show the benefits of your offering and how it makes their life better and worth the time. Make it easy to say yes by including big buttons and easy checkout options.

Offer a great product or service

Offer a high quality product or service at the right price and deliver it with excellence. Whether that is a book, personal or professional coaching, an online course, business consultation, or the most amazing widget, make it the best it can be. Research the market to know the market and your competition. Find the most successful people in your business and explore what they offer and how they deliver it to customers.

Get feedback

How will you know if you are delivering on your promise to customers? Ask for feedback. Let them know how valuable understanding their experience is to you and your business. Ask for reviews, testimonials and referrals and encourage customers to post it on social media, Amazon or other review sites. Post testimonials prominently on your website and in your book, if you have one. Social proof and referrals are the most effective ways to sell what you’ve got.

Show your appreciation for their purchase, reviews and referrals. Send a note, a post on social media or send a token gift or bonus content as a thank you. If you have a product they will use again or have the next book or other product, continue to engage them on social media, at events or through email.

Keep learning

Make room in your schedule for learning new things on a regular basis. Read books, watch videos or subscribe to blogs about your industry, marketing your business and about personal growth topics. Take a local or online course for more structured learning. My favorite online learning platform is Lynda.com. It’s packed with comprehensive video learning opportunities at a super-reasonable price.

“If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.” ~ Author Unknown

So, what IS most important? It’s important to keep a handle on each part of the customer cycle at all times. We often get stuck trying to get noticed by posting content without a plan or bang our heads against the wall by trying to sell without cultivating relationships or trying to understand everything there is to know without taking action. Take these steps to get organized to maximize your time and effort.

Set goals – Use S.M.A.R.T goals.

Develop a plan – to organize your thoughts

Make a Schedule – to maximize your time

Get help – From marketing professionals to bookkeepers, office help to graphic designers, the investment in you make in your business will pay off with increased productivity and sales.

[bctt tweet=”The most important part of the sales cycle…are you crushing it or ignoring it? #marketing”]

What’s most important to the growth of your business?


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