It seems simple on the surface. You sell something awesome that people really need and want. In theory, all you should have to do is let them know you’re open to selling it to them, right?
And yet we’ve all experienced the frustrating situation of having someone tell us that they genuinely want what we sell and yet somehow, they can’t get over the hurdle and actually take action. Even after you’ve removed all the barriers (“why yes, Mrs. Smith, we will deliver that to your home” to a payment plan) it still seems to take people a long time to take that final step.
I often read that for most people, the scarcest of resources is time. I don’t disagree, but I think the kissing cousin to time is attention. We are rarely alone anymore. Even if we are physically alone, because of our devices and technology, we really aren’t. Someone is always pinging, poking or prodding us through email, apps, or even the old-fashioned phone call. In fact, we don’t really know what to do with ourselves if we get a rare moment of silence. It’s why you see everyone grabbing their smartphones every few seconds.
We literally spend the entire day filtering. We filter our emails, skimming over them and quickly deleting the ones we think we don’t need. We filter calls with caller ID and even text messages can be ignored and/or deleted without reply.
Given all of that, how in the world do you get people to take action and buy what you know is a valuable product/service?
First, I think we have to accept the reality that they’re in control of the situation. They will buy (or not) when they’re ready. Yes, you can do things to make it easier or more compelling but at the end of the day, they will take action when it suits them. The most destructive thing you can do to your sales opportunity is to demonstrate your frustration and get pushy.
Which means you need to adjust your expectations about your sales cycle. When you’re setting your goals for 2020, go back and really analyze the time span between your first connection to a new customer and their initial purchase. I’m guessing it’s a lot longer than you think.
It’s not uncommon for me to have a prospective client say, “Oh, I’ve had one of your columns pinned above my desk for years.” The longest so far has been 8 years. But you know what, they just weren’t ready. And there’s nothing I could have done to make them get ready any faster.
Given both our lack of control and the unpredictability of when a prospect will finally be ready to make that first purchase, the reality for us is that we need to think of marketing like dollar-cost averaging investing. According to this philosophy, since we can’t predict when the market will go up or down, we put in a little bit every day. Some days we’ll buy high and some days we’ll buy low but in the end, on average, we’re going to come out ahead.
Marketing and sales work pretty much the same way. Unless you can accurately predict the day your prospect is finally going to be ready to buy, you’d better be out there consistently so you’re still top of mind on that day. As you work with your 2020 marketing plan, make sure that consistency is there.
In today’s marketplace, your competition isn’t just the other company who sells what you sell. The real competition is for the prospect’s attention; and in that race, you’re running against every email, TV show, billboard, phone call, and ping.