Marketing and Sales are critical to the profitability of every business. There is little point “building a better mousetrap” if the world does not know you have done it, nor where to find your front door!
Marketing involves increasing brand awareness and creating prospects. A marketing plan which complements the business plan ensures that there is a structured, considered and quantifiable marketing expenditure and return on this expenditure.
Sales is the process of turning prospects into clients or, at the most fundamental level, getting money off people – preferably on an ongoing basis.
Principles of Persuasion
There is a lot of great literature which marketing personnel and sales representatives should be familiar with such as works by Brian Tracy, Dan Kennedy and Frank Kern (primarily internet marketing) . “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini is an excellent book that gives case studies and the psychology on what he calls the six key principles of persuasion:
- Reciprocity – People tend to return a favour. Free samples and/or reports often result in the recipient feeling they need to reciprocate the favour and purchase something.
- Commitment and Consistency – If people commit, orally or in writing, to an idea or goal they are more likely to honour that commitment.
- Social Proof – People will do things they see other people doing. In the Sales & Marketing context this can be shown by testimonials, FaceBook fans and/or sales volume (“10,000 Australians can’t be wrong”).
- Authority – People will tend to obey authority figures. This can apply to commonly accepted authority figures such as Doctors, Dentists or Police Officers who are used by some advertisers to give their product/service more credibility. Alternatively, becoming a recognised authority on your products/services will increase sales.
- Scarcity – Perceived scarcity will generate demand. For example saying offers are available for a “limited time only” makes the offer “scarce” and this usually encourages sales.
- Liking – People are easily persuaded by other people that they like; they also prefer to do business will other people that they like.
How can you apply these principles to your marketing and sales?
The following items should form part of a marketing plan:
- Market Analysis
- Target demographic identification
- Target demographic buying practices and trends
- Market size (for each significant product/service)
- Competitor analysis
- Advertising – both off and online
- Collateral – brochures, business cards
- Mail Outs
- Email Marketing
- Networking Events
- Industry Events/Tradeshows
- Christmas Party/Gift List
- Pricing Strategies
The Sales Process
Once initial contact has been made and/or a prospect has been identified, the following process should improve conversion rates:
1. Connection – establish rapport with the prospect. Identify similar interests if possible but this needs to be genuine. Remembering and using the prospects name – good; using the prospects name seven times in the first 30 seconds – bad.
2. Identify Needs – understanding the prospect’s needs is a critical step that is often overlooked. If the underlying intent is to satisfy a prospect’s requirements, you will be far more successful than trying to promote a product/service which is not a good “fit”.
3. Presentation – demonstrating how your product/service meets the needs of the prospect. This should ideally be benefit based (rather than feature or advantage based). People buy on emotion and then justify this decision afterwards. Using benefits such as safety, time saving, prestige etc evoke emotions and improve the probability of a sale.
4. Commitment. Closing the sale which includes:
- Overcoming objections – there are numerous delaying tactics people will use to not purchase at the time of the presentation, and if they don’t purchase immediately they often won’t purchase at all. Common objections include cost, need to confer with partner, don’t have the time to implement/use right now.
- Confirming payment, quantities, delivery etc as appropriate
5. After Sales Service – ensuring that your client is happy with the product/service, payment is being made in accordance with agreed terms and conditions, leading to:
6. Further Business
- Repeat business from the existing client
- Referrals to new prospects