How do you get consumers to commit to making a purchase and buying your product or service? Better yet, how do you train your tribe of employees to grow and expand their sales skills to increase sales and profits? This article will help explain the process of converting prospects to sales and how to best utilize your sales force.
Breaking Down the Psyche
Are you familiar with the term “breaking down and buying something?” This choice of words supposes that we are somehow broken should we choose to purchase something, which is an unfortunate way to look at a purchase. When we buy something, we often look at it as a loss of not only money but of will power. We weren’t strong enough to resist the temptation. We “gave up” and “broke down” when we made the purchase, and this suggests guilt.
As business professionals, we must be persistent and willing to have our egos bruised and be rejected. Depending on what you are selling, you will require a different number of touches before you can convert the prospect into a sale. Here is a ballpark figure was thrown out by BusinessInsider.com, “you have to contact the prospect a minimum of seven times within an 18-month period.”
Our natural inclinations as consumers towards avoiding buying something protects us against the endless stream of salespeople and marketers that see us as dollar signs instead of people. The multiple touches salespeople and organizations need to make before they close the sale naturally weeds out the businesses that don’t have the stamina to compete.
The breaking down of a potential client through consistent advertising can also break down the advertiser if they aren’t careful. Advertising, especially Internet marketing, requires consistency to have an effect. Running a Facebook ad for a week and wondering why no sales come in demonstrates a lack of understanding of how consumers shield themselves until a threshold is reached. Trust is earned over time.
As you move forward with your business endeavors, keep in mind how a stream will eventually wear away a sharp rock into a smooth pebble. Keep your advertising budgets under control so that you can perpetually advertise, as opposed to starting and stopping. The effect of consistent advertising is cumulative, meaning that you are unlikely to see a lot of results up front. However, over time the growth is often exponential until you saturate your market. Hopefully, you can repeat this process across regions and demographics once you understand the pace and patience required to advertise effectively without breaking down.
Breaking Through to Your Tribe
The more speeches I give, the more I see how tribal people are. I recently spoke with a group of professionals in the insurance industry, and the consensus is that because the regulation on the industry is so strict and the potential liability so high, no one seems willing to take the risk of allowing their insurance agents access to what makes the Internet great, which is sharing. These professionals agree that moving forward with blogging, creating videos and sharing online is the future, but no one seems willing to be the first one to take the risk. I love opportunities like this.
Because I am an outsider to the tribe, it’s easy for me to call out the appropriate next step. The more difficult part is to convince one group to be the leader. I’ve seen the competitive nature of business play out where competitors fight for every inch of advantage. What’s clear to me now is that there are often two or more battles waged simultaneously: the first in this case is against one another (simple capitalist competition), but the second is against a larger force (in this example the government, whose regulations threaten the entire tribe).
Politics aside, this dichotomy between the two parties galvanizes them. Both sides actively advertising to promote their vision. Where the insurance professionals fall short is in the lack of advertising created by individual agents, which could show the human side to their industry. It’s easy for politicians to advertise their side of the story. They are, in fact, master advertisers – if they’re successful in politics at all.
As your company grows and you develop a sales force, remember that they have a vested interest in their personal brand and are looking for ways to reach new prospects. Limiting their ability to use social media effectively due to liability concerns can be shortsighted. Granted, there will always be mistakes that arise from allowing anyone to represent a brand. The fact that there might be a record of it online increases the potential threat.
That said, you should find ways to train your tribe on how to empower and grow their reputation. Invest in their education and lead by example. For example, every agent, as far as I am concerned, working for an insurance brokerage should have their own website and social media channels. Giving individuals one page on a corporate website is seriously limiting and demonstrates how much trust the organization places in their employees – not enough.
By understanding the consumer’s thought process, you and your team can implement the appropriate strategies and commitment needed to turn prospects into sales. As we learned, it takes an average of seven ‘contacts’ to convert a sale, so following-up and advertising play a vital role. Don’t give up, keep going and positive results will follow.
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