Author Archive

Nurturing the Not-Ready Customer Through the Buying Cycle

Posted by

We’d all love it if we could close every deal or every sale with a new customer in 30 minutes or less. But that rarely happens. A sales cycle can last up to six months, depending on how much research the potential customer has done before he or she comes to you.

Before customers are ready to sign on the dotted line, they first must go through a well-researched route to purchasing products and services, called the Buying Cycle. You need to nurture these potential clients and help them along this route to ultimately choosing the solution you’re offering them.

Studies show that 79% of website visitors aren’t ready to buy. They’re somewhere else in the buying cycle. They may not even be aware of the scope of their problem, and may simply be in the early stages of researching a possible solution.

But just because they’re not ready to buy doesn’t mean there isn’t opportunity for you as a business owner. If you continue to educate them and nurture those leads – wherever they are in the buying cycle – you’ll be at the top of their minds when they’re ready to buy.

The Buying Cycle

The typical buying cycle goes from having an awareness that there is a problem to evaluating the possible solutions, choosing one and implementing it. And it ends, hopefully, with a long-term, meaningful relationship with a customer.

A more detailed explanation of the buying cycle:

  1. Acknowledging there’s a problem they need to solve. Something is broken – either a physical product, like their washing machine, or a process in their business – and they need to fix it.
  2. Making a decision to fix this problem. They can’t do it themselves, so they need outside help.
  3. Determining exactly what results they want. What’s their end goal? What outcome or results do they want after purchasing and implementing a solution?
  4. Gathering basic information. They’re searching for companies that can help them, and often doing this research online. Perhaps they’re asking friends or other business owners who’ve had similar problems about their solutions.
  5. Identifying possible solutions or vendors that will give the result or results that they want.
  6. Comparing those solutions or vendors.
  7. Selecting a vendor/product.
  8. Negotiating the deal.
  9. Making a purchase decision. This can mean either signing a contract or making a direct purchase.
  10. Implementing the solution. Your relationship doesn’t end with the purchase. Now you have to help them use your product or service wisely to get full results.
  11. Forging an ongoing relationship. This allows for repeat business from the same customer and ensures ongoing customer satisfaction and word-of-mouth referrals.

Recognizing where your customer is in this buying cycle is key. When a customer first makes contact with you, have a set of questions ready that help determine where he or she is. “Tell me about your situation?” “Have you looked at other solutions?” Their answers to these questions can help determine whether they’re still early in the buying cycle, or if they’re close to making a decision.

Pick Marketing Techniques Based on Buying Cycle

Choose different marketing techniques for each phase of the buying cycle. For instance:

  • A well-designed website can help customers early on in the buying cycle by allowing them to gather information.
  • A free whitepaper outlining possible solutions and comparing them helps mid-way through the buying cycle.
  • An email campaign helps prospective customers through the pre-purchase process, and later forges an ongoing, repeat-buying relationship near the end of the buying cycle.

Having content for each stage tells your customer, “We’re ready when you are.” If they’re early in the buying cycle, back off and let them explore, but be available to answer questions. If they want to discuss possibly buying from you, be available for a phone or in-person meeting, and have marketing material ready to help them make a choice from among your offerings.

By being aware of the different stages in the buying process, and thinking about what questions your customer are asking at each stage of the cycle, you can provide a prospective customer with the appropriate marketing technique at the right time.

8 comments for now



Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing

Warming Cues to Make Your Prospective Customers Feel Welcome

Posted by

I know you’ve heard it a thousand times: make your prospective customer feel welcome and safe while they’re learning about your products and services, and they’ll buy from you.

But when you actually see this in action, it’s a miracle to behold.

One afternoon, with several hours to spare before I had to appear at a speaking engagement in New York City, I wandered into Macy’s Herald Square. It’s one of the busiest department stores in New York, and it didn’t help that it was pouring rain and everyone wanted to get inside to dry off a bit.

So how does Macy’s welcome its customers? With the most brilliant — and inexpensive — solution that can be handed out at the door on a rainy day: Umbrella Bags. A very nice man in a very nice business suit stood at the door for hours, offering people plastic bags (with the Macy’s logo on it, naturally!) so that they could tuck their wet umbrellas away while they shopped.

You might think this is no big deal, but if you’ve ever shopped in a crowded store, trying to figure out what to do with your web umbrella is a real distraction.

Macy’s made every person who walked through the door feel welcomed and cared for. Net result: less distracted people who could focus on buying.

Now apply this to your business:

  • If you have an office or a place where you meet customers, how welcoming is it? What color is the decor? Do you see to their basic and common needs, like bathrooms, water, etc.?
  • If your business has a website, do you give them the information they’re looking for, in a simple and speedy way? Are your text, graphics and colors friendly and welcoming?
  • When you answer the phone or connect via video conference, how is your voice modulated? Do you act rushed or do you relax into the conversation and create a great environment?
  • When you answer emails, what’s the tone of reply coming off your keyboard?

Make your customers feel welcomed and cared for, and they’ll return again and again.

Comments Off on Warming Cues to Make Your Prospective Customers Feel Welcome for now



Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business

Does Your Voice Tell Your Story? – Free Audio with Katherine Scott

Posted by

Are you a:

  • coach
  • speaker
  • consultant
  • teacher
  • webinar leader

If yes, you’ll want to hear what Katherine Scott has to say about your voice. Katherine was a voice coach who helped people realize the true strength, the true authenticity, of their voice.

Katherine has been a guest on my monthly podcast and you can listen to the recording for free here.


Comments Off on Does Your Voice Tell Your Story? – Free Audio with Katherine Scott for now



Category: Creating, Marketing & Teaching Classes, Podcasts, Running a Strong & Efficient Business
Tags: , , , , ,

We Won’t Eat What We Don’t Understand

Posted by

Aly and I had lunch with my Mom and Dad at a trendy fusion restaurant with a highly creative menu. While we were happily trying Turkey Wraps with Butternut Squash inside, what did my Dad have? A steak sandwich and a Coke.

“Dad,” I said, “Why not try something new?”

My Mom chimed in:

“Because we won’t eat what we don’t understand.”

I cracked up laughing because it seemed such a preposterous and over-the-top statement, especially since Aly was sitting next to me trying quinoa for the first time.

But on the way home I got to thinking: maybe she’s right!

Aly had asked the waitress: What Is Quinoa? She gave him a full description of what it was, how it was cooked and how it would taste.

She took the mystery out of this new item and made Aly feel safe in trying it.

It’s not just men —  it’s all of us — who won’t try something new unless they feel safe about it

When you’re explaining to your customers the service or product you’re offering, you must help them to understand everything that’s involved with it:

  • what it does
  • what it doesn’t do
  • who it’s for and who it’s not for
  • who are you and why should they listen to you
  • what it costs
  • how much time they’ll have to invest
  • what to do if they don’t find it valuable
  • what outcomes to expect
  • how to buy it
  • what will happen after they buy it

Some love the risks, others are more cautious

There are two types of buyers:

Some buyers are risk-takers and love to have the newest, latest thing regardless of whether there might be some glitches. They want to be the first to have an item, a new experience, be the beta tester for a program. Often these are the customers who already know you and trust you, so in their minds, the risk isn’t actually too high. But they still won’t buy if they don’t understand a feature, a benefit, or if the price seems too high for the benefits they’ll get. You need to help them see that the price is equal (or less than) the benefits.

Next are those customers who don’t want to be “bleeding edge” — but they do want to get in on a great service or product that will help them. They have to think about it, weigh it in their minds. They can take days and weeks to decide, so you have to keep your offer in front of them, and answer any questions they have. They might call you, or email you, or put a question in your blog post comments. They might text you ,or communicate via social media. Your job is to be present on whatever channel they use to communicate, and answer their questions thoroughly so that they understand the offer completely.

Because customers won’t buy what they don’t understand. So that’s the focus of your marketing.

So the next time you’re at a restaurant and you see “chicken dancing in a white wine reduction” — ask them whether they mean a glaze or marinade, or whether they mean a gravy!

Do you have a story about a time you walked away from an offer you didn’t understand? What comes up for you when you try to put together your words around your service or product? Please share your stories, questions and comments on my blog…I’d love to hear from you.

16 comments for now



Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing
Tags: ,

Avoid Pricing and Discounting Mistakes

Posted by

In 2008, Pizza Hut saw its sales drop because of the Great Recession. Competitors were lowering their prices and offering discounts — and Pizza Hut figured they had better offer a discount if they wanted to compete with Dominoes Pizza and Papa John’s Pizza for a dwindling market.

So in 2009, Pizza Hut began to offer a large cheese pizza with three toppings for $10 (the normal price was $15). Then they sweetened the deal by offering unlimited toppings for the same $10 price.

And sales rose.

That’s a good thing, right?

Fast forward to 2011. The economy was easing and Pizza Hut (and the other pizza competitors) now wanted to reinstate their normal pizza price of $15.

And customers resisted.

Why? Because of two psychological triggers:

  1. People had gotten used to paying only $10 for a pizza with unlimited toppings. When you increase the price back to the “normal” $15, people see that as a raise in price of 50 percent, conveniently forgetting the pre-2009 pricing.
  2. When you lower your prices, you devalue your product or service. You’re basically telling people, “It’s not worth $15, it’s only worth $10. We’ve been overcharging you all along.”

What do you do when sales are sluggish and you want to offer a discount, but you don’t want to imply that your products and services are worth less by lowering the price?

Enter the Concept of Adaptive Pricing

Here’s the psychology behind the concept: Customers have different needs, and place different values on the various aspects of your products and services — price being just one aspect they consider.

For example:

  • Many customers value access to a live instructor above learning on their own, so if they have questions they can get help immediately from the instructor. Therefore, they’re willing to pay more for a live class than a self-study program.
  • Some customers place value on group brainstorming and sharing of best practices to shorten the learning curve, and are willing to pay to be a member of a mastermind group.
  • Other customers value private one-on-one services and are willing to pay a premium price to get your total attention to find solutions to their problems and think strategically.

By knowing what your customers value — and creating pricing and discounts based on those values — you can increase customer satisfaction and sales at the same time.

But My Customers Want Low Prices!

Be careful of your own psychology: you might be a budget shopper yourself, but not all your customers are. If you constantly offer things for a discount (or for free!), it’s more about your own feelings about money and pricing than the needs of your customers.

For every customer who wants things as cheaply as possible, there are customers who demand extraordinary quality and are willing to pay for it. Just look at the different price/value levels of department stores (from Wal-Mart to Neiman Marcus) and you’ll see that there are huge ranges of quality, service, experience and price needs among customers.

Don’t assume your customers want cheap prices and are willing to take a lower quality service or product in order to get the lowest prices. Price based on the value of what you’re offering, and on your branding strategy. Are you the Wal-Mart of your industry or the Neiman Marcus? (Or somewhere in between?)

So, You Want to Offer a Discount

Great! Offering a discount has a lot of benefits for your business. Pay attention to your strategic purpose behind the discount — to increase sales, to increase demand, to test a pricing strategy, or to get the word out about a new product/service — and price accordingly.

When you offer your discount, test to see if your goals have been met. You may be assuming a discount will produce a certain results, and you could be wrong. Tracking your results is the only way to know for sure. (The numbers don’t lie!)

Three Adaptive Pricing Techniques to Use in Your Business

Versioning

For customers who are concerned about price above all else, offering them your product or service in a different version at a lower price-point will serve them while still keeping your sales up. Here’s an example:

  • You teach a 5-week class where students submit their homework assignments to you for review and analysis, and have access to you during class to ask questions. That class is priced at $599.
  • For the budget-conscious student, you offer similar material in a self-study version $399, (and they don’t have access to you at all if they purchase the self-study version).
  • For customers who want more private access to you to learn the topic and apply it specifically to their own business, they join an ongoing mastermind group that includes both the class and the mastermind group access for several weeks after the class.

Each customer has a different need — and by creating three versions of the service, you meet the needs of each type of customer. For example, I recently launched Synergy Core, a version of my Synergy Excel program for mastermind group facilitators. Synergy Excel is a 12-month program and includes a monthly mastermind group meeting; the Synergy Core version is a 6-month program and does not include a monthly mastermind group meeting. Two different versions of the same program, geared towards two different audiences.

Additions for Free

Another adaptive pricing technique is to offer an “extra” or “bonus” for free, but keep the base price of your product and service the same.

For example, you could offer your mastermind group to your customer at full price, but then offer them a free additional hour of your time. Walt Disney World theme park had a great success with offering their Buy Four Entry Tickets and Get Three Free package.

But don’t offer pseudo free bonuses unrelated to the product or service that customers are buying. Customers are now savvy to the free bonuses that many internet marketers offer (like: Buy Our Ebook and Get $40,000 Worth of Bonuses Free), and it just makes people think you’re trying to fool them, lowering trust and harming the relationship.

Unbundle

Everyone is telling you to combine a whole bunch of your offerings together, then give the customer a special price. But what if your customer doesn’t want everything in the bundle?

Consider offering your main product or service at full price, and then offering upgrades at a reduced price.

  • You could offer your live event for $1,200, then offer an hour of private consulting time for an additional (discounted) fee to those who are attending the live event. Or you could offer them an ongoing mastermind group for an additional fee.
  • Or you could offer them recordings of the live event for an additional fee. That way, customers can choose which upgrades are valuable to them and you can clearly see which upgrades are the winners in the eyes of your customer.

Final thoughts…

The key here is to know your customers, and know what they value when it comes to purchasing services and products. If you’re not sure, test out several pricing strategies and see which one pulls in the most revenue.

It’s also important to stop offering discounts when they are no longer needed to boost sales.

Be strategic and think through your pricing ideas before implementing them so they don’t come back to bite you later!

26 comments for now



Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business

Why Redesign Your Business?

Posted by

Did you know your business runs in cycles? The key to a successful business is to begin the process of change, growth and/or innovation before the preceding cycle of success runs out.

Over the years, I’ve had an influx of prospective clients come to me with these exact words: “I want to rethink my business.”  I thought:  Cool! Me, too!

For me, I want to shake things up a bit. Running my business is too easy for me. There’s not a lot of day-to-day challenge and I don’t feel like I’m reaching my full potential. I don’t know what my full potential IS — but I know I’m not there yet. Have you ever felt like that?

A great way to keep growing personally and professionally is to keep rethinking and redesigning your business model without completely wiping away everything you’ve done in the past. Take all your experience and knowledge, plus any new goals and lifestyle changes, and make a plan for your future business.

Redesigning Your Business Model

There are lots of reasons why people redesign their business model. Here are some of the ones I’ve heard recently:

  • One of my clients needs to take her business completely virtual so that she can travel extensively with her husband, who retired early.
  • Another client said he wants to make more money so that he can send his kids to college in a few years.
  • One of my business colleagues wants to expand the services and products he offers to his customer base, to be more “full service” and have multiple streams of income.
  • One of my favorites is a colleague who wants to make her business completely based on passive income by selling educational products about her field of expertise. So not only is she redesigning what she offers her audience but her marketing model as well!
  • And last but not least, one colleague wants to completely redesign herself, sell her existing business, and take everything she knows and loves, creating a whole new career/business for herself.

Do any of these sounds like you? If yes, are there specific reasons why you’re transforming your business or marketing model, or just a gut feeling you have? I’d love to hear your comments!

9 comments for now



Category: Business Strategy & Planning, Rethinking Your Business
Tags: ,

« Prev - Next »