The journey your buyer takes from the moment they land on your page to after the sale is completed should be so seamless that the customer barely knows there is a process in place. For salespeople, paying attention to the small details now results in loyal customers later. However, figuring out where in the process your system is failing isn't always easy. There are many areas along the way where your sales process might prove lackluster.
Around 63 percent of companies say generating leads and traffic is one of their top challenges. The last thing you want is to finally get people interested only to lose them to a competitor or indecision. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to improve the sales funnel and turn more leads into conversions. You'll also make the interaction easier for your current loyal customers and keep them coming back for re-orders.
A Move Away From the Sales Funnel
Marketing experts are looking at different mechanisms than they used in the past. The sales funnel has long been a popular model where traffic arrives on a website, gets vetted through a narrowed channel, and then finally you target your core customers. However, as data becomes more and more sophisticated, marketers are looking more toward techniques such as a marketing lifecycle and a buyer's journey that circles around and intersects, rather than going from a wide net of potential customers and narrowing down.
There is a lot of competition for business, both online and offline, so perfecting the experience your customers have makes sense if you want to remain at the top of your field. Updating your sales process makes sense, no matter what model you use to move customers through the buying mechanism. Here are six clear ways to improve:
1. Know Who Your People Are
If you've been casting a wide net and grabbing customers who fit a broad set of criteria, it's time to narrow your focus. Know who your target audience is and their habits. For example, if you sell golf shoes, you wouldn't market to people at the local county fair but to people at a golf conference or hanging out on an online golf tips forum.
When you really understand who your average customer is and where they hang out, it's much easier to narrow your marketing to only those who might actually be interested in your product. You'll gain more leads and your conversions will rise because you won't have to narrow down the leads. They'll already be highly targeted.
2. Keep Your Best Workers
Salespeople in your company have one of the fastest-paced and most rapidly changing jobs in the industry. Most brands invest a lot of time and money in training their salesforce. They may also have funds invested in traveling to and from networking opportunities and meetings with large clients.
However, turnover is also one of the highest out there, with about a 34.7 percent rate of sales staff churn. All that time spent training is for nothing if the employee bounces away to another company. You then have to start over and find another good salesperson and train them.
What if you could reduce your turnover rate and keep your best salespeople? Your customer experience would definitely improve with a more experienced point of contact. Treat your salespeople right. Give them bonuses, raises, and perks they can't get anywhere else. Pay them as much as you possibly can. They are a key component to getting and keeping customers.
3. Align Sales and Marketing
Make sure there are clear lines of communication between your sales and marketing teams. Put yourself in the mindset of your customers. They see a social media ad for a great deal on a gadget and they call the sales number to place an order. Unfortunately, their sales rep has no idea what they're talking about and can't offer them the deal they saw online. The customer is now frustrated and feels as though your company pulled a bait-and-switch.
Make sure sales and marketing have regular meetings with one another and stay apprised of what the other is doing. Sales can also let marketing know if a deal is actually too good and might cost the company money, while marketing can come up with tactics to help your sales team close deals more often. A weekly meeting should be mandatory, but short stand-up daily meetings are even better.
4. Perfect the Presentation
No matter what product or service you offer, how you present the item to potential customers makes or breaks your sales process. There is a fine line between providing enough information and too much. This applies to websites, in-person pitches, and telephone sales. Work on perfecting the presentation and refining it down to only the most vital information. What does the customer need to know to make an informed decision?
Start by understanding the pain point of the customer. What problem does your product solve for your buyers? How can you show the solution in the least amount of time possible?
Gather as much data as you can to understand what customers need to know before buying from you. Study popular keyword searches, what people say in online forums and on social media, and go through feedback gathered from your own customers. Know the objections they might have to complete a purchase and have answers ready.
5. Close the Sale
Closing the sale is a skill some salespeople have a hard time developing. They get stuck in the presentation phase and wind up losing the user by driving home the same points too many times.
There are many tactics you can use to finish out the sales process, including creating a sense of urgency by offering a limited time discount. However, consumers are savvy and well aware of those types of tactics. Sometimes you really just need to ask if they want to place the order today. If the other steps of the journey were perfected, many customers will go ahead and complete the order at this point.
6. Follow Up After Fulfillment
Once the order is sent and the customer has a few days to try out the product or service, follow up to make sure the customer is satisfied. This is a step a lot of companies miss, but it can result in repeat orders and word-of-mouth recommendations.
Reaching out after you've been paid shows the customer that you really do care about their experience and want to make sure they're happy. A quick email or phone call is all it takes and the majority of your customers will be happy. For those few unhappy customers, you can offer a solution and avoid the negative word-of-mouth exposure you don't want.
Tweak Your Process
Once you've developed a smooth sales process, spend time tweaking each step. If you receive a customer complaint, align the issue with a point in the journey and figure out how you can avoid the same problems next time. With a little effort and a lot of sales staff training, your customers will come to see you as having the best customer service in the industry and you'll gain fans for life.
Lexie Lu is a UX strategist and designer. She enjoys covering topics related to UX design, web design, social media and branding. Feel free to subscribe to her design blog, Design Roast, or follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.