A few weeks ago I ran a short market research survey to find out more information about my readers.
And the results were surprising.
The #1 problem — by far — was about generating more leads for your services. And the 2nd biggest problem or pain point? Selling those services.
I can completely empathize, because for years I always felt insecure or uncomfortable selling my services. What’s even worse, after 4 years as an undergrad and 2 more in my MBA program, I only took ONE class in sales. (Yet I had COUNTLESS classes in a variety of other topics that I’ve already forgotten.)
There are three things to focus on to improve lead generation and sales.
- Pick the right target
- Choose the right positioning
- Use the right weapon
(I’m also going to use a hunting analogy to provide concrete examples. But don’t be offended, because in reality I’ve never even shot a gun before. So please, nobody go all PETA on me.)
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Tip #1. Identify the right target.
The very first step in marketing and sales is to get really clear on who the right target is.
This step seems obvious, but yet most of us still probably waste time with the wrong prospects, or as we’ll discuss later, use the wrong marketing tactics and channels to reach these people.
There’s a smart venture capitalist named Mark Suster who wrote a blog post about Elephants, Deers, and Rabbits. Elephants are the enterprise clients and huge targets, Rabbits are the very small companies or individuals and consumers with lower transaction value, and Deers are somewhere in the middle like a larger small or medium sized company.
Each business has their own preference and strategy so it doesn’t matter which one you choose per se. But the point is that we need to PICK ONE and really focus on how we’re going to serve that segment of the market. And then get really, really specific on exactly who you’re looking for within each one.
Too many people and companies try to serve all 3 segments, which makes the next two parts of our strategy impossible.
In sales they talk about “qualifying” to make sure that prospects meet certain thresholds. But if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, then I’ve found that it’s easier to focus on disqualifying people first. Turn people away as soon as possible so that you don’t waste their time or yours.
And by identifying what you DON’T want to deal with, it becomes easier to see which ones you should accept. Which brings us to #2…
Tip #2. Choose the right positioning.
I have a friend who works for Toshiba and he’s currently getting his MBA at the University of California, Irvine. We always talk and laugh about all the stupid business buzzwords people and professors like throw around — like “synergy” — that are basically meaningless.
I used to think that “positioning” and “differentiation” fell into this buzzword category. But it’s actually incredibly important.
For example, let’s say you get a flat tire while driving this morning and you need to buy a new one. Can you tell me the difference between what makes one tire company better than another?
Nobody knows. And that’s why tire companies are forced to compete on price. Because each one sells the same exact solution, to the same exact market segment, who has the same exact problem.
This concept is especially important when we’re talking about selling services, because services are intangible and invisible. Not to mention, most prospects ARE NOT qualified to tell the difference between how one company’s services are better than others.
You don’t want to chase your target around and be reactive to the market by discounting and using low prices. Instead, you want to be proactive and position yourself in front of the path your target market is coming down.
The key to positioning and differentiation is to be seen as an investment, not a cost. INVESTING in your services or products will actually provide MORE value for someone (either emotionally or financially).
So sell the end results or outcomes that people get from your solution, not the features or technical specs that nobody really cares about.
Tip #3. Use the right weapon.
Once we know (a) the right target we’re after, and (b) how we’re going to approach them, the next step is to use the RIGHT weapon.
In hunting, it wouldn’t make sense to use a rocket launcher on a rabbit. It would be too expensive and overpower them. And it also wouldn’t make sense to use a shotgun to bring down an elephant. The message is too scattered to have any real effect.
Different promotional channels, like radio ads, TV ads, local networking events, email, social media — and even individual tactics like Twitter vs. Facebook — are all good at different types of things. And they’re all better at reaching different types of people in different ways.
The key is to make whichever one you choose reliable and systemized. You need to be able to turn new leads on and off like you’re turning a faucet.
Because if you have ways to consistently generating new demand, and you know how much it costs compared to what you get in return, then you will basically never go hungry.
You’ll be able to consistently generate business and you’ll have the confidence to only work with the people or companies that you prefer, while having complete control over your earning potential.
If you’ve been paying attention so far, you may have noticed that I didn’t actually talk about a classic sales strategies. I didn’t cover any “closing techniques”. And I didn’t give you any specific scripts of what to say on the phone.
That’s because none of that matters all that much. They matter to large companies and seasoned sales departments who are trying to add another percentage point to the bottom line.
But most of us need to focus on the big picture. And besides, sales is just a numbers game. Even if we are terrible at it, we’ll still convert 10% of sales conversations we have.
Instead, if you can…
- Pick the right target
- Approach the target with the right positioning
- Use the right weapon or channel to reach them
… then you’ll make a faster, more significant improvement.
Because all we’re doing in sales is trying to provide a solution to someone’s problem. And if you can show — both qualitatively and quantitatively — that your solution provides more value than it costs, then you can be simple and direct.
And you’ll have the confidence to know that even if you can’t close one customer, then it’s just a matter of time before the next one shows up.