If you’re looking to generate higher-quality leads, improve your digital marketing, and boost your sales in 2021, our step-by-step guide will show you the proven steps you need to take.
Sales isn’t a science. It’s part data, with equal parts art and relationships. Most importantly, it’s about understanding where your potential customer is in their purchase-making decision.
This post will discuss how to boost your sales in 2021 without being pushy and establishing long-term brand loyalty.
There are 6 ways to master the art of selling, and we explain those ways below:
- Identify: Identify the right type of lead and nurture them in each stage of their buying process.
- Education: Know your market, analyze the trends, know your clients’ needs, and answer them in a way that makes the reader see you as the best solution.
- Authority: Develop expertise and establish authority. Build a reputation as the provider that has the trusted solution.
- Inspire: Speak with confidence and be a leader. Inspire your audience and build on their trust in you by the way you message them.
- Relationships: Be personal and not “salesy.” No one, and I mean no one, likes a pushy sales agent; it’s a turnoff. Future sales come from becoming a reputable source that customers would return to with other needs.
- Be Realistic: Set realistic, manageable goals. It’s nice to want to be an industry leader, but think about how to get through today and tomorrow as your primary objective first.
Now that you have a clear picture of the steps needed to boost your sales output, you need to understand the sales process and what stage a prospective customer is in concerning making a purchase.
Identify The Right Type Of Leads And Nurture Them
We classify prospects as leads, and there are three types of leads; cold, warm, and hot.
A cold lead is someone who lacks knowledge about your services or products and is most likely not in the market at the time to make a purchase. The operative phrase here is “at the time,” meaning that this lead may move from cold to warm with some education and time, which is where your outreach becomes essential.
Warm leads are people familiar with a service or product you offer but maybe looking for more information, pricing options, and other incentives.
Meanwhile, a hot lead is someone ready and willing to make a purchase. They just may need a little more time, information, or other motivation to pull the trigger.
Hot leads are those prospective customers that are already aware of your brand and are looking to purchase your product and service or something similar.
A warm lead is a person aware of your brand but may take some time to prepare to make a purchasing decision.
The cold lead is someone that has just started to consider your product but is unaware of your brand.
To recap, a hot lead is ready to purchase, a warm is closer to making the decision, and a cold lead is someone at the earliest stage of making a purchase decision, often not even considering it.
The goal is to find hot leads and move the warm leads from being on the fence to be much closer to action.
Four Different Buyer Types
For example, if you run a traditional brick-and-mortar furniture store, you can’t assume that every single person that walks through your doorway is going to make a purchase.
Why is that?
Let’s examine four types of shoppers, all at various stages of the buying process. Let’s name those four types as Gary, a first-time buyer, Susan, thinking about buying, Henry looking to kill time, and the Roth’s, who are ready to act.
Gary, The First Time Shopper
Our first-time shopper, Gary, may just be browsing, looking at the selection you have, secretly price checking, or looking at how you position pieces of furniture together for a DIY interior decorating idea.
This introductory stage is the beginning of the purchasing process. These types of leads are usually first-time contacts with you and your product. At this stage of the buying process, you may expect less than 5% conversions. It’s not impossible, but it’s not the greatest chance of making a sale.
Susan, Thinking About Buying
The second type of person may be in the market to buy a new couch, table, or chair and just aren’t 100% ready to make a purchase. This is the early-to-middle purchase stage, and for Susan, it is the point where she is starting to seriously consider a purchase but is trying to get more information before acting.
At this stage, getting information to the prospect, encouraging them to seek help, and ask questions to move them closer to acting is your focus. Like most buyers at this stage, Susan is willing to move quickly toward a purchase decision but may need some motivation or time to nurture their decision.
This stage requires the most time and effort to move them through the process, and we’ll discuss the best strategies later in this article.
Henry, Killing Time
The third type may be looky-loos. Henry may be browsing while waiting for food at the takeout next door or browsing while his wife shops elsewhere. He’s just killing time and not serious about a purchase at all. For browsers at this stage, a purchase is not a reality, but they may be in the market down the road. It’s vital to grab their information for that opportunity, and you should treat this buyer the same as you would with a cold lead.
The Roth’s, Shopping For A Deal
Finally, the last type of shopper is definitively ready to buy but needs assistance in moving to purchase. For the Roth’s, they’ve been looking for a new couch for months and have decided to buy one.
These are the highest-quality type leads and are the ones that you want to focus your attention on the most.
People at this stage are ready to make a purchase, whether with you or someone else and how you handle them makes them comfortable with their decision to act. How you get them to act is part messaging and part of previous sales experience.
Understanding where a potential customer may be in the purchase decision will help you market to them more effectively. The goal is to empower their decision by educating and motivating them without coming across as pushy.
Once you understand where your potential customer is within their purchasing decision, utilizing our top-selling techniques listed below will help you move a possible sale to closure.
The process is a system built on educating your prospects, establishing your authority along the way, developing a rapport with your prospects, and iterating and refining as you discover what is more effective.
Education: Know Your Product and Market
To be more effective with your sales strategy, you need a solid grasp of the fundamentals. In sports, fundamentals are the building blocks toward success, such as learning how to handle a ball, the proper stance to throw or catch, and more.
In sales, the fundamentals change all the time depending on the market, the trends, and the business environment you’re operating in.
Take time to study what is useful in your market, the current trends, and what experts predict for the future. As you analyze what is working in the market, understand how you fit into that space and what you can do to separate yourself and your product from others.
For example, imagine you’re selling a digital product that helps recent retirees with their financials and how to be sure they have enough for their future.
If you don’t grasp the market for what is effective strategies and don’t know what is selling or how your product stands out, it can be a significant problem. This trial-and-error learning process to understand what best practices are for your market can be a costly mistake.
Traditionally, sales strategies follow the progression of ready, aim, fire.
This strategy can offer misleading information as you analyze results, especially if you are wildly off-target in your product launch, costing you hours, labor, and other expenditures.
A better approach may be the Ready, Fire, Aim, Reload strategy first discussed by Michael Masterson and detailed by Brian Clark of Copyblogger fame in an article of the same title.
The strategy is simple.
- Prepare a product
- Launch it
- Find the audience
- Re-launch it after making minor adjustments
Too often, before a product launch, we try to anticipate every nuance in the marketplace for our product and then set out to make it as perfect as possible.
Instead, a better concept is building a product, launching it, editing it, and iterate a newer version that matches consumer demand before relaunching it.
By releasing your product this way, you gain insights into your audience and other prospects interested in and cater to those desires.
By analyzing how your competitors and industry leaders are doing things effectively and then launching an earlier “Beta” version of your product, you’ll gain invaluable insights. And understanding this data helps you cater to your potential consumers’ specific desires.
Develop Yourself As An Authority
Now that you understand what is working within your market, you can better position yourself as an authority.
You want your prospects to perceive you and your product as having the solution to their questions and needs.
But how do you establish your authority?
Being an authority doesn’t mean you have every answer.
You only need to know more than your prospects and have the solution they need at that time.
If you’re doing market analysis and watching trends, you’ll position yourself to have the answers to common questions and concerns, and your product will best address them.
This process will create the perception of your authority and expertise.
To establish your authority, one of the best tactics is to speak and write in a confident voice about problems your prospect may face and how you have a solution to that problem.
Again, you don’t have to have every answer that may be asked but speak in a way that conveys to your prospect that you will find it soon even though you don’t have the answer right now.
Sometimes referred to as the “fake it til you make it” strategy, this process is all about solving a problem or promptly offering a solution.
Understanding your insights and answers is more than the casual prospect may know about a given topic. How you communicate your expertise goes a long way to how they will perceive you and the solutions you offer.
Be An Authority In Your Messaging
We touched on this a little in the previous section, but how you speak and write conveys a message. To be seen as an authority, you should be direct in your solutions and use short, clear statements.
There is confidence in brevity.
Writing many words to say, “x, y, z,” doesn’t convey confidence.
It potentially clouds your prospects’ thinking and may confuse the audience about your product and solutions’ benefits.
Of course, the more you understand about the market, the problems your prospects may be experiencing, and how your product will help them, the more confident you come across.
This confidence builds your authority with the prospects, building trust, which is crucial in any sales process.
Leadership is an excellent example of authority in action.
Effective leadership creates a strategy, implements tools and mechanisms for everybody’s success, and is an excellent listener to get insights into what is and isn’t working.
Becoming an authority and utilizing that skill in your message is very similar.
How you receive information and formulate a plan to communicate that in a way that is simple and concise is the sign of good leadership and creates a sense of authority by default.
Be Personal, Not “Salesy”
Sales too often focus on the outcome, i.e., the sale and not the prospect. Nobody likes a pushy salesperson, whether in the digital realm or with used cars.
Sales should be approached as a relationship and not a transaction.
The prospect should feel as if you care about their concerns and offer them a solution that benefits them.
Diagnose The Problem And Treat The Disease
In sales, the better you establish trust in your services and products, the more attractive your offers become. The goal is to become a trusted resource for your customers and your offerings in solving their problems.
A good analogy of this type of relationship is the doctor/patient relationship.
Among many roles the doctor takes, the most overlooked one is as a point of contact in their institution’s sales process.
In this example, the doctor provides customer service to the patient, and that is the sale the doctor makes for the institution.
Obviously, the doctor’s priority is the patient’s health, yet the relationship and rapport a doctor has with a patient is part of the health care provider’s long-term business.
An influential doctor can resolve the patient’s concerns by the patient’s trust in the doctor’s expertise. This relationship of trust encourages the patient to seek future advice and guidance, increasing “sales.”
The goal is to be personal and establish a connection with the customer rather than being transactional.
Basically, a transaction occurs between two parties and is the outcome of their agreements and nothing more. They can make it hard for the customer to believe their interests are a priority and come across as cold and detached, creating a perception that the sale is more important than any other part of the transaction.
A relationship built on trust, such as a doctor and patient, is when the right solution is offered for the specific problem in such a way that there is no uncertainty.
You Are The Bus Driver, Not A Passenger
Another way to create a relationship business is to understand your process in their purchasing phase.
Your role is to make the product, market it, and deliver it when the time is appropriate.
At no time are you deciding for the customer what they need.
You’re merely providing the vehicle for that thing they are looking for and want.
In other words, you are providing the mechanism for your prospect to permit themselves to act on what they want to do.
You are the guide helping them on the sales journey, a bus driver assisting the passenger in getting to their destination.
You are allowing the customer to say, “yes.”
The reality is that boosting your sales requires more attention toward building relationships and establishing trust, but don’t take that relationship too far.
You need to understand that you are more bus driver than the passenger, and your role is to get the passengers to where they want to go.
Set Realistic Goals
It’s easy to set a lofty goal, think about the outcomes, and dream of success. The challenge is to make those goals actionable.
Too often, goals are set and slowly, over time, forgotten or discarded.
We see this phenomenon in our personal lives all the time.
Every New Year, people make resolutions to make changes in their behaviors, and every year those more often than not fall by the wayside.
In fact, over 80% of resolutions fail. Why is that?
The reason our goals fail is that they are too broad. We lack the metrics needed to make them foundational and don’t have a support system in place.
Let’s examine what this means in greater detail.
Goals that are too broad are motivating but are difficult to conceptualize how to achieve them. By being challenging to conceive the goal in the broadest terms, we can’t establish that objective process.
In other words, we fail because the steps to achieve the goal aren’t made clear, and there may be too many things necessary to get to your objective.
In behavioral psychology, the research shows that making lasting change in your behavior starts with establishing small achievable goals, making the behavior “fun,” and creating a support and accountability system.
So how does this research boost your sales?
It shows the importance of setting realistic goals to help keep us motivated. Some think of this as lowering the bar, but you need to think of it differently.
Think of it as a marathon.
A marathon in and of itself is a daunting task. But with proper training and preparation and a strategy that focuses on the incremental “steps” to get from start to finish, the marathon’s overwhelming task becomes more manageable.
Our motivation ebbs and flows, so having a plan to take on small achievable with a support system helps maintain motivation toward our goals.
Small achievements are so helpful because our motivation is affected by our outcomes, like our marathon runner example.
Focusing on every step and stage of the run is a good strategy. Rather than the overall distance is a great way to take on the arduous task of running a marathon.
The Plan In Action
Creating lasting behaviors is a step-by-step action plan centered on a realistic goal objective, boosted by a support system to maintain motivation, and finding a perspective that makes the process “fun.”.
This process is the foundation for mastering the art of selling.
Taking the time to identify the right type of prospect and where they may be on the purchasing journey is the first step toward increasing your sales.
Understanding the market, the trends, and what is the most effective way is the next step.
Establishing yourself as a trusted authority that can solve the most pressing problems and one that inspires action is a great way to boost your bottom line.
Remember, people want to be treated with respect and as a person, not an outcome, so treat each sale as a person and not a transaction.
Finally, set realistic goals and create the systems that can help you achieve smaller goals and make them scaleable for each success.
Sales, especially repeat sales, are based on relationships.
Sometimes the connection is with the product, but often it is with the person who made the sale that matters more.
Remember that treating each prospect with respect and being genuine will help you build positive customer relationships to give you the best chance for future business.
So, there you have it, an action guide of the top 6-secrets to help you master the art of selling in 2021.