As a solopreneur the demands on your time are most likely split between delivering your service and staying on top of all the tasks it takes to make your business a, er, business.
Unless you have a fandabbydozy sales team, sales is naturally going to form a large, and necessary part of this workload.
Responding to enquiries, building relationships, understanding the scope of requirement and putting together estimates, while gently nudging prospects towards a happy purchase, takes a lot of time.
Obviously, prioritising the time you spend on sales is vital. But, weeding out the ‘possible’ opportunities from the definite ‘no’s is work that could be done by marketing activities, instead of by you. This would free up time in your schedule for client work or (more likely) to finally fix the office photocopier.
So, how can marketing reduce the time burden that selling your service takes?
It’s all about one key word: filtering.
If you are providing an hour-long discovery call or face-to-face meeting to every prospect who mentions that they might possibly want to buy something from you, you must be kissing a LOT of frogs to find your one true love. Admittedly, the process of kissing the frogs involves nice, fun chats in lovely coffee shops, but these chats are not earning you any revenue, you may have lots of new friends, but this time investment isn’t feeding your business.
We love a good coffee chat as much as the next person, but if you need to be more productive with your time, you could reduce the time spent on meetings, by filtering enquiries before they get to this stage of the process.
When people buy from you, there are a few forces at work pushing and pulling them away from and towards the sale:
- How much they like you.
- How much they trust you.
- How much they understand your service, the features of it and whether they believe that what you provide solves the problem that they have.
- How much you cost and if they can afford to pay you.
Your marketing should be allowing prospective buyers to resolve these issues for good, before they speak to you in person, in order to short-circuit the sales cycle. Anyone who doesn’t like your style, the way your deliver your service or your prices is never going to buy from you; they should be weeded out before you get to the meeting stage, leaving you free to deal with only the solid-gold enquiries.
Here are the marketing activities that could help prospects to process their buying decision without you having to rack up points on your Costa card.
1. To help them understand whether they like you
Use video or detailed written material, shared on social media, to help the audience to understand your personality and interact with your brand. Getting your personality or the personality of your brand out there, allows them to confirm whether they like you, or not, before you are face-to-face over a skinny latte.
2. To help them to build a trusting relationship
Share content such as recorded or written testimonials and case studies on your website, on social media, in email footers, sales flyers etc. Third-party endorsement, especially when it’s from a mutual connection or a well-known publication (in the form of PR coverage), will help your prospect to trust that you are the real deal, and that you will deliver on your promises.
You should also make sure that your website is robust and secure, and that your branding and messaging are consistent, as these factors also communicate resilience and trustworthiness.
3. To help them understand your service and what you provide.
Develop descriptions of your offerings and fine tune them so that they are as clear as possible. Describe the steps of your services so that the prospect is familiar with your way of working before you sit down for that 50-minute chinwag, to help prospects self-select and avoid walking away knowing that that person will never be your client. Create a robust FAQ section on your website (here’s an example of a brilliant FAQ page), so that if questions are raised in the mind of an interested buyer they can get the answers for themselves without having to phone you to find out. (Not only that, but using an FAQ page can be really effective from an SEO perspective).
4. To help them understand your charging structure.
You can tick all the boxes for niceness, trustworthiness and skill, but if your prospect simply doesn’t have enough money in the bank to buy your service, they can’t become a client. For this reason, it’s important to communicate your pricing, even in a vague way, before you start a sales conversation.
Many service-based businesses find this tricky – prices fluctuate depending on the specific requirements of each customer. But, it is possible to share a ballpark range, minimum investment, or basic price list on your website or at some point during the ‘warm-up’ process. If your prospect is still happy to have a sales conversation with your basic cost out in the open, you can be confident that they are a qualified prospect when you finally do have a live conversation. At that point (or afterwards in writing) you can sell the value of what you offer and provide a more detailed estimate or the fixed cost.
Covering off all of these knowledge points before you get to the discovery call stage will save you hours, so it’s worth taking the time to invest in creating items such as FAQ pages as soon as you can.
If you need advice on developing FAQs for your business, support with creating sales materials, or refining the sales messages on your website, give us a call, this is the kind of work we love to get our teeth into and it could save you hours of time in the long run!