Here’s the next — and second-to-last — chapter in my lead generation book.
Today’s issue is a little late because I really wanted to make sure I got this chapter right.
If you’ve been following along, I want you to pay special attention to the request after the chapter. Thanks!
It’s time to close some sales.
If you’ve been following along up until this point, you have just about everything in place.
You created a book designed to serve two main purposes. First, to deliver educational value to ideal prospects for your business around a core problem your product or service solves for them. Second, because the information itself is an inferior solution to your products and services (or can only point them to your products and services as the best solution), it sets up the sale for you.
In addition to the book itself, you’ve created an entire system or funnel for automated lead generation and selling. You target your ideal prospects. You offer to send them the book free (they pay shipping). They raise their hands and ask for it. You fulfill on the book, plus have a sequence of follow-up designed to go out to them to help them get the most out of the book and nurture them toward doing business with you.
And in the book itself, you created an offer for them to take the next step. Preferably, you point them to an application they can fill out, to move forward with you. This application gathers critical information to qualify prospects and set you up to close the sale. Along with completing the application, the prospect schedules a consultation call, where you will help them make a final determination whether your products and services are a fit. This offer and call to action are also sprinkled throughout your follow up system, to continually feed prospects who are growing ready, willing, and able to do business with you forward into a conversation with your sales team.
Let’s walk through what your system for closing the sale should look like, with tips on maximizing your conversion from qualified lead to paying customer…
This builds on and is, in some sense, repetitive from what you learned in the previous chapter, The One Thing you Must Include In Your Book. We’re looping back around though, because repetition will allow us to look at it from a new and more informed perspective. Plus fill in additional details.
A lot of businesses would see it as strange to add an application to your selling process. The gut instinct of most sales people is to remove barriers to the sale, not add them. And in some cases, I’d agree with them. Especially if you’re dealing with a product with a clear value proposition and not a lot of selling needed.
However, the types of higher-value products and services that are the best fit for a book-based selling system tend to work well with an application. You offer a distinctive type of product or service that really is a best fit for a certain type of customer. It’s in their best interest and yours that you establish fit before moving forward. Because if you are not a fit, nobody will be happy in the end, and it will have been a waste of time, talent, and resources. By establishing the fit ahead of time, everybody wins.
Not only that, it’s good sales positioning for a higher-dollar sale. By having a book, you’re establishing yourself as an authority, an expert, a leader. This commands premium prices.
Early in the selling process, you had to proactively go out and find customers to whom you could offer your book. This proactive lead generation is necessary to get good market penetration. But the harder you’re selling, the harder it is to then justify premium pricing. You have to transition from this outward-focused selling through marketing to an inward-focused qualification and on-boarding process.
And so you build a very proactive lead generation and lead nurturing system that automates much of the selling process. But when it comes time to close the sale, you make them come to you so you can hold onto the authority status and justification for higher prices. The difference here is that everything that is automated can be relatively aggressive in going out and selling the customer on responding. But when it comes time for people to become involved (especially if YOU, the expert, have to be part of closing the sale), you want the customer to be the one selling you on taking them on. An application does a better job of making that transition than just about anything else you could do.
What do you include in the application?
Here, I defer to your expertise on your business, and your market, and your product or service that you wish to sell. You have a number of criteria that you know make someone a good customer.
If you sell business-to-business, maybe it’s team size. The amount of technology in the business. Total revenues. Sales volume. Previous spending on alternative solutions in your category. The works.
If you sell business-to-consumer, maybe it’s home ownership. Family size and make-up. Age. Income. Past purchases.
You may also want to ask them this magic question: “What’s your single-biggest challenge related to X?” X, obviously is the problem your product or service solves.
Also, “What difference would it make to you to find the solution to X?”
What you want to do is ask probing questions that clearly establish buying criteria for the prospect. The same kind of questions your sales people might ask on the phone when speaking with a potential client one-on-one.
By getting these answers ahead of your sales team actually speaking with them, you’re preparing them and the sales person to have the most productive conversation possible.
And don’t forget to work scheduling into the process…
As part of the application process, or immediately after, you want to make sure that you schedule the sales call.
Once someone has brought themselves to the point of filling out that application, they are ready to move forward. Here is where you want there to be no friction.
You can use a service like TimeTrade or Calendly (or one of many others like them) to do all the scheduling online. Or, follow up quickly with a few available times for them to schedule a conversation with your sales person.
The one critical thing to remember in this is that you’ll do better by positioning the conversation that they are scheduling as a “consultation” rather than a “sales call” or some other description that leads them to believe that they’re going to be sold.
The Consultation and Close…
There are entire books and training programs on consultative selling, and if you’re not familiar, I encourage you to become so.
Once a prospect has submitted their application and scheduled a consultation with a member of your sales team (or “product/service/solution advisors”), that team member’s job is to help them make their final decision.
This can include telling them, after they’ve come this far, that they’re really not a fit.
Remind your sales team early and often that a bad customer is worse than no customer, so if someone is not a fit, they should not be closed.
The idea is to walk through the application with the customer and discuss their answers, their situation, and determine if your product or service really is the best fit.
I will remind you at this point that there are a number of criteria that may disqualify a potential customer.
— If they don’t have the money to invest in your solution, they’re not a fit today.
— If they don’t see it as an urgent enough problem to justify immediate action, they’re not a fit today.
— If they don’t believe that your solution is the single-best option for their needs, they’re not a fit today.
— If they’re not actually capable of giving you the order (and other decision makers are not yet on board), they’re not a fit today.
— And if they meet all the other criteria but moving forward with your product or service doesn’t fit into their immediate plans, they’re not a fit today.
Some of these can be addressed in the consultation. Some are objections that can be worked through, and overcome. But in some cases, these are show-stoppers.
Your sales person’s role, in conducting this conversation, is to first find out if they are a legitimate fit for your product or service. Then, determine if these or any other barriers are standing in the way.
If there are no barriers, great. Ask for the order. If there are barriers, they have to be decided whether they are show stoppers, or simply obstacles to be overcome.
With a steady enough flow of leads from putting this system in place, your sales team can be confident passing on one sale, relieving themselves of the empty effort of following up with a bad lead, knowing they can focus their time and energy on the next good lead that will be coming in behind this one.
Do this, and you’ll close even more sales…
If you do everything I’ve recommended up until this point, you will have an incredibly high closing ratio of prospects from application to final sale. Most of the qualification, education, and even selling was done prior to the application being filled out. The sales person who did the consultation with the prospect addressed any final questions, and made it easy for the prospect to say yes.
But inevitably, some of these customers will not be ready to move forward yet, but they will still be sold and wanting to move forward in the future.
For this, I strongly recommend your sales people adhere to a very simple follow-up process, very much like the automated follow-up process after the book was sent out.
All of these prospects should be entered into a customer relationship management (CRM) system. This allows you to track leads, and — importantly — schedule tasks related to certain leads.
One of the most effective things a salesperson can do for leads who did not buy after that initial consultation is to stay in touch with them until they say they are no longer a fit.
This should be a natural conversation, and focused on answering any questions and helping the customer with any needs.
Following the consultation, communication can be frequent. A “thank you” immediately after is great. As is an offer to answer any questions the next day. Following that, communication should become less frequent, but it should remain regular. The longest a prospect should go between contacts is about three to four weeks. A simple, “I’m just touching base to see if there’s anything I can do for you” goes a long way.
When I was selling IT training and using consultations to sell $30,000 training solutions, I would communicate with customers like this for 4, 5, 6, even 12 months before their order came in. When I left that job, I had some customers who had received more than 30 “touches” from me.
This kept me on their radar, and kept their purchasing process moving forward. And was a large part of why I was so consistent in closing these high-value sales. This is remarkably simple to do, and devastatingly effective.
In our next and final chapter, we’ll look at how to integrate this “free book funnel” into your business as a whole.
REQUEST: If you’ve been reading these chapters and are interested in this, do you have any lingering questions or is there anything more you’d like to make sure I cover in the book? Please let me know at Roy@RoyFurr.com.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
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