With the annual celebration of one-night stands (Super Bowl ads) behind us, I still find myself asking why so many companies spend virtually all of their resources and energies begging for sales, when they should be building customers. A focus on building customers often seems like the longer, more complex path, yet it’s the only one that provides an opportunity for the predictability, sustainability and scalability of revenue growth.
When I consult with companies in developing their outreach strategies, I remind them that there are, in essence, six stages of engagement a prospect goes through when considering doing business with you. They:
- Become aware of you.
- Decide to pay attention to you.
- Decide that what you are sharing is relevant.
- Decide to talk.
- Decide that you, your company or services can make a meaningful impact.
- Decide to give you their money.
Now, take a look at your advertising, your marketing, your website and your initial sales material. Look at the message being communicated in each of them, and ask yourself, “Which stage is my material focused on?”
Without looking at them, I’ll bet they’re all about why your company and products are the best (stage six) or about all of the wonderful things you do (stage five). With little to no material focusing on a prospect should talk.
It may be the toughest lesson to learn, but your focus should never be on making a sale. Making a sale is a byproduct; it’s an ends, not a means. It’s the result of doing things right, over time. Just like winning a game is the result of hard work, not the cause; making sales is the result of creating the right conditions for a sale.
Focus first on creating meaningful conversations, and you’ll be invited in far more often, with far more influence. Stop now and create three answers to the question, “Even if a prospect were never to buy from us, how can we make them better off for meeting and talking with us?"
Your account entry strategies and marketing efforts should build upon those issues. Make the focus of your sales efforts the creation of quality conversations that allow you to dig deeper, instead of prematurely focusing on making a sale. Focus on the relationship over the one-night stand and watch your sales soar.