When you’re trying too hard to close the deal, your customers will notice
If you push somebody too fast and too soon because you’re trying to get something out of them, defences go up and suspicions arise. That’s just human nature.
A standard rule of thumb for success is 1 percent.
If you have 100 visitors to your site, only one out of that group is going to pick up the phone and call or dash off an email to you. And if the number is zero, then you have work to do.
As much as you want every person who visits your site to do a free trial, book a consultation, or pick up a phone and call you to start talking to you about your products and services, it’s not realistic.
It really comes down to building trust—and your website is a great place to do that.
But pestering your customers at every turn—to “buy now” or “download a free trial”—is only going to turn them off.
Here’s how to close the deal without being annoying.
Don’t propose on your first date!
Imagine this scenario: You need to recruit a new employee, but you aren’t sure what your options are for finding someone.
You ask some colleagues how they find people with specific skills, and a colleague you trust suggests a name of a recruiting firm that specializes in finding the type of person and skill set you require.
So you go to their website and read some content. And because you have a very specific and immediate need, you call them. After a lengthy conversation trying to understand how they recruit and what it costs, you realize you don’t have the budget for this solution, and you don’t think this solution is for you. What happens next?
Now that you’ve raised your hand, the company in question starts emailing and calling you once a month. Even though you were polite in the beginning, you make it very clear that you are not interested. They keep calling, and they suggest a revised calling schedule every quarter. You firmly tell them, “No,” but now you’re on their list, and they keep calling.
Everyone has experienced a scenario like this at one point. It happened to us recently at Marketing CoPilot, despite the fact that we unsubscribed from the mailing list. Every person in our office communicated the same thing when they were on the phone, but the recruiters kept calling.
They kept trying to propose on the first date—to make a sale without ever getting to know us—and when has that ever been a good idea, in business or otherwise?
There is a better way to close the deal than constantly badgering people about it. And the answer lies with an engaging content marketing strategy that will help you establish a long-term rapport with your customers.
A better tactic: Focus on long-term engagement
Instead of harassing us to use their service, this recruiter could have sent a template about budgeting for new hires. They could have emailed us a best-practice guide about how to onboard new employees.
What if they sent salary research about what people are getting paid for the types of roles we were considering? Then that would be content we’d connect with.
Rather than trying to close the deal too early, you should create content filled with information for your audience. A useful content marketing strategy changes the conversation. It makes it about your customer and not about you or the sale.
But why are so many companies still cold-calling and working from the same old script? Being asked for your number on a website is a turnoff, like being asked for your number too soon while out at a bar.
It’s because performance is measured on how many calls that person makes, and how many deals they close. But what if performance was measured on content that engaged people over the long haul? If customers weren’t ready to buy, they were at least ready to keep talking because it was a useful conversation.
When you engage your audience at every stage of the sales funnel, you make an impact. And just because they don’t want to buy now doesn’t mean they won’t want to buy later. The trick is to stay on their radar — without being a pest.
How to understand the Sales Funnel
At any time, people can move between categories based on the way that you treat them. Today’s sales funnel is pretty simple:
- “I like your value proposition, and you’re helping me fix a problem I need to fix right now.” These customers will do things through the buying journey that suggests they’re ready.
- “I like your value proposition. I don’t need to fix this problem right now, but I may need to do it shortly or down the road.” These customers are keeping you around because they may want to come back to you later.
- “I don’t like your value proposition, and I’ll likely never solve this problem with you.” These customers are not interested in your product or service.
The trick for business owners is to create content that engages people who fall into the first two categories. Then don’t waste your time on the third category. They are not your people.
What those recruiters didn’t understand is that we could have a hiring problem two months from now, but I will never pick up the phone and call them because of the way they treated me. All they wanted to do was keep asking, “Are you ready to buy? Are you ready to buy? Are you ready to buy?”
When your customer is ready to buy, they will tell you.
How to tell when your customer is ready
When a customer is ready to buy, she will let you know by taking a specific path.
While working with a client of ours, we discovered that their buyer journey was very purposeful. When a customer had watched more than one video on their website, she would visit the pricing page and then enter her email to access gated content via the company brochure.
We knew that by the time the customer got to that place, entered that information, and downloaded the brochure, we would probably hear from her within a month.
We then sent the customer a relevant blog post and another download two weeks later. Then we usually saw some kind of activity in the two weeks following that.
Once the customer had submitted an email address to download that brochure, she immediately went into our email list. From there, with the email tool we were using, we could see if she had opened the most recent blog post email campaigner.
We had seen, in some cases, that she had come back to it three or four times. We could see that the customer had not only opened it, but had clicked through to come back and read it over several days.
I always remind people that while you may think you’re selling to a company, at the end of the day you’re selling to a human being. We’re all wired to react when we first meet someone.
Anticipating your customer’s needs
So now that you know not to push too hard to make the sale, there are some other tools you can use that will lead toward closure without proposing on the first date. And the biggest one is a good content marketing strategy.
This takes many forms, and it depends on the level of sophistication you’re willing to commit to.
First, figure out what’s working. Figure out what your audience is responding most positively to. Then, slice and dice that so you can serve it up in all different ways.
Maybe they want to understand just what the offer is—luckily, there are lots of ways to present that kind of info. The Content Marketing Institute does this really well.
Recently they had an offer via social media for a budgeting template illustrating ROI that you could point your boss to as a way to get him or her to agree to pay for you to go to the conference.
What a smart way to connect with their audience. A marketing director could go to their boss and say they really want to go to this conference. When the boss pushes back about not having the budget to send them, they’re already armed with this document that will help them answer that question. Now that’s a company who really knows what’s important to their audience.
Understanding the buying cycle
But what about when you just really need to close? It all comes down to the buying cycle.
For example, we talked to a woman who runs an incredibly successful business called Cubeit, a portable storage company based in Canada.
When I sat down with her to brainstorm about what she can be doing from a content perspective, she told me that the decision to rent a Cubeit container takes a customer about three days—that’s not a lot of time to get to know someone.
That’s where search engines, AdWords, and things like that come into play as a way to align the website with what people are looking for and where they are at in the buying cycle.
There needs to be a clear, quick explanation of what the product or service is and why someone would want it, plus conversion points on the site. A customer is probably not going to want to engage with a company if he or she doesn’t need something right now.
The trick is to understand how to build awareness with your brand over the long haul.
Maybe the customer is trying to put a budget together for how much the total renovation is going to cost. He wants to factor this in, but he’s really not going to do the renovation until a year from now. Or the move falls through, and he decides to postpone it for another year.
There are always reasons why people are not buying, and the trick is trying to understand that. It really has to come back to the length of your sales cycle: the complexity of what you’re selling and how much education has to happen along the way for a sale to take place. From there, you can decide how quickly or how slowly you need to make “the ask.”
Don’t force the sale, finesse the relationship
Instead of just looking for immediate leads, you should be looking for long-term engagement with a list that you’re building over time.
Be careful not to jump the gun too soon by offering things that seem to be spam or that make you appear distrustful. There’s nothing worse than a pop-up box flashing in my face, saying, “Ready to buy?” Or a countdown clock that says I only have a few minutes left to buy.
You need to be careful how you sell because it’s going to take an investment to truly build a long-term relationship.