My previous post Diversify Your Materials for Sales Success focused on asking the question “Are you putting out materials and touching clients for each of the three buying phases?”
So, if you’ve sat and determined there is a gap, then what?
Strategy is key
First, I always recommend a strong sales and marketing plan – time and money spent on these strategic documents provide the road maps businesses need to plan for success and growth, not to mention make jobs like mine much easier. No ESP needed, simply follow the plan. It saves guessing, multiple revisions and in the end money.
For this post though, let’s assume you have one. Here is a breakdown of the three buying phases and some of the tools businesses can use.
My little disclaimer: Please keep in mind there are hundreds of different tools you can use, it would take many posts to cover them all. This is simply meant as an overview to get people thinking about possibilities.
Phase 1: Education
This phase is characterized by clients thinking of changing their status quo and committing to change. While you are always looking for new clients, many of your existing clients are ideal for these materials since they already trust you. Keep top of mind for when they are ready – Like sales blogger Anthony Iannorino says, Sell from in front.
Tools: Networking, events and trade shows, websites with downloadable resources and information, soft touch online tools such as social media channels with online education like slideshows, idea/inspiration catalogs and epub/tablet publications, advertising and direct mail. Each industry is a little different, but the need to get your company and product in front of them before they want to buy is important to all of them.
Phase 2: Active Buying
Clients are generally exploring possibilities in this phase and finding solutions to meet their needs. Your materials need to be speaking to the right audience and answering their questions and needs in both print and accessible online digitally.
Tools: Data/tear sheets, presentations on computer or tablets, promotional flyers, catalogs, product demos, white papers, case studies and of course the sales kit with the company information are just a few options available, all of them should be available digitally. Potential clients will be interacting with your staff and possibly your environment, so well branded signage, literature, company stationary and product/service information are important to keep you top of mind.
The danger during this phase is advertising for the competition, so you want to make sure you don’t look like everyone else, that your materials project your company authentically and encourage them to keep coming back with valuable information that will help them make their decision.
Phase 3: Closing
Here clients are justifying a solution and making a decision. The key is to know who the decision maker is and provide what’s needed to them and the people influencing the sale in order to close it.
Tools: A consistent brand from internal documents such as stationary, cover sheets and such are important here for a professional and credible image. Proposals, quotes and presentations are usually at the management level. Client lists and testimonials help to reinforce credibility. Testing samples and supporting data/spec sheets are usually the base for the engineer decisions, the buying process and customer service touch points will affect the outcome during and after the delivery. So making sure that you are consistent throughout is critical for client retention and loyalty.
As mentioned above, these are just a few tools, the big heavy hitters. For real buy in from your sales team I often recommend that companies have a team brainstorming session. Your staff are in front of your clients and prospects daily, they often know parts of what is missing and needed. They likely have a number of these tools half done for proposals and pitches they’ve done before. Decide what’s usable and refine it, why reinvent the wheel?
With a strategic plan and direction from your sales team getting a set of sales tools designed to help move your sales forward in a measurable way through all three phases is achievable.
If you have tools that have worked for you are welcomed to share, please post them in the comment section. Needless to say, please refrain from selling products here.