OK, you have a business and you are confident you are good at what you do. You have resources. How do you consistently and effectively use these resources to generate sales revenue and put cash in the bank? As I discuss here, many SME businesses see the answer as Sales Leads. You can see why this is. Most businesses have a pretty good conversion from a lead to a sale. It is a process they control so effectively, sales leads mean sales revenue – easy! However, there is a problem. Where do the leads come from? Historically there have been many companies (BSA included!) who have offered services to generate leads. Based on our own experience in the 1980’s & 90’s (pre-internet you note!), these lead generation processes can work, but typically things aren’t quite as straightforward or sustainable as the client might like! Since 2000 the march of the internet has seen some decline in the range of direct lead generation services. Instead, we have seen the growth of the ‘digital marketer’. While there are undoubtedly myriad success stories (arguably Amazon, recently valued at over $1Trillion, is a digital marketer at its core), at the other end of the scale there are businesses who have applied internet tools to the lead generation demand. Interestingly most of these don’t offer to generate leads! Probably the single most common service offering is SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) where by tweaking your website (and other things), it appears high up on search ranking. You are then left to join the dots…
Good Search Ranking -> People Find My Website -> Enquiries & Leads
Again, all very well in theory but not necessarily so great in practice. This article shows an experiment we did a while ago which proves the point
So, while targeting lead generation directly can work to some extent, typically the outcomes are less than satisfactory and challenging to sustain. What can be done? In a word: Marketing!
Back to basics
To repeat my opening paragraph: OK, you have a business and you are confident you are good at what you do. You have resources. How do you consistently and effectively use these resources to generate sales revenue and put cash in the bank? While most business owners jump in with a requirement for Sales Leads – immediately creating a challenge of where to get them, may I suggest a more complete and actionable process A sales revenue generation process:
- Communication with target markets to build…Awareness and Confidence
- Sales Promotion to an aware and confident audience to generate…Leads & Enquiries
- Sales Negotiation & Close with qualified leads to secure…Sales Revenue
From my comments above, you will see many businesses trying to jump straight in at #2, the Lead Generation process. However, by going in cold, with no prior awareness or confidence from potential customers, generating leads becomes much harder. Furthermore, the lead generation process is happening in your timeframe, not your customer’s. Most people buy when they want to, not when you want them to! The key to sustainable sales revenue is Right Product/Service + Right Time + Right Place By adding #1 Communication to the process you gain 2 advantages:
- You build awareness of your company, your products and your services in the minds of your potential customers – and with this awareness come confidence that you can deliver.
- When a potential customer decides they need what you offer, they already know you and have confidence in you. Product + Time + Place all come together
This process is Brand Building (even if you are a sole trader, you have a Brand). This is Marketing…
To effectively add a Marketing Communications to your Sales Revenue process, there are 3 elements:
1. Define your business proposition
What is it that you do? Most important, how do you make life easier/better for your customers? Just because you think your business proposition is great isn’t enough. Your customers need to agree! Don’t just thank about what it is that you do – listing the features. Consider how your proposition helps your customer – the benefits/value you deliver. Appreciating the difference between Features and Benefits is vital
2. Understand your audience
To properly understand the benefits and value you deliver, you need to understand your target audience of potential customers. Simply taking the line ‘Anyone could be my customer‘ doesn’t help. By focussing on specific sectors or groups makes it easier to target your communications to their specific circumstances or needs. Even if you could sell to anyone, by splitting your market into groups and targeting highly relevant communication to each group makes it much easier to engage with them. Anyway, there are ALWAYS some potential customers who are easier to sell to than others. Remember: Your market is more important than your business. If you can’t identify a market where you can show you can deliver real benefit and value, you have no Business
3. Effectively Communicate
You have your carefully crafted Business Proposition and you understand your Audience and the real benefit you deliver to them. Now you simply tell them! OK, there’s a bit more to it than this but in essence, you should tell stories that demonstrate how your potential customers can benefit from doing business with you. Remember to:
- Show people you really know your subject – a reliable expert
- Focus on benefits rather than just features.
- Show you deliver real, tangible value.
- Use testimonials and case studies as a great way to build trust and credibility
There are many tools you can use to get your message out, from websites, social media and email to networking, telemarketing and even door knocking! You won’t (and shouldn’t) use them all. Pick the tools where you feel most comfortable and which best meet your needs. Whatever communication tools you select, make absolutely sure your messages are consistent across platforms and media. Nothing destroys credibility like uncertainty. If your customers are getting inconsistent messages from you, how will they know what to believe? Pull these elements together then just do it! This process builds awareness and credibility and with this, your Brand Value – a great platform to launch your Sales Promotion. Get it right and you will have an audience that understands what you do and how they can benefit from doing business with you. They will also have trust and confidence that you deliver on your promises. Get your marketing basics right and they will come. Not always and not all the time, but they will come.