How do you eat an elephant?
The answer is “a bite at a time.” In the small business world, elephants are everywhere. Common examples of these metaphorically-edible obstacles might include bookkeeping, hiring, and… well, pretty much everything. What can I say, being a small business owner is tough.
One of the biggest obstacles for entrepreneurs looking to grow their small business is automating their sales and marketing processes. A lot of small business owners and marketers will go through the motions and do sales and marketing “things.” However, these are often fragmented, inconsistent, and fail to mesh together to create an intentional customer journey and conversion machine. It can be an extremely overwhelming endeavor for even the most seasoned of entrepreneurs.
Here at Infusionsoft, we have worked hard with thousands of small businesses to create something to help clear up the confusion: the Perfect Customer Lifecycle.
The Perfect Customer Lifecycle (PCL) is an ideal end-to-end customer journey, beginning when someone first learns about your company and continues in the relationship with you even after they’ve purchased from you. PCL helps to focus any sales and marketing efforts on eliminating lost traffic, lost leads, and lost customers while providing an amazing customer experience to drive repeat business and referrals.
Part of the PCL is knowing where to start. As the metaphorical elephant on your plate, you can’t take on the whole thing in one bite. It helps to have a priority path—a series of “baby steps” to act on and implement the tactics that are most important to your business.
The following is a description of the priority path, eight simple tried-and-true steps you can follow to prioritize your small business’ sales and marketing processes:
1. Start with your current list
Ever hear the old phrase, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”? Well, in this case, a lead in the ol’ CRM database is worth two in the wild. So before you open up your pocketbook to set up a Facebook ad, take stock of your current list. If you have a list of current subscribers, start by reaching out and offering a special promotion such as a flash sale or a free webinar. Set up a quarterly re-engagement strategy to entice these subscribers to purchase. Using those existing subscribers and leads is a great way to market “closest to cash” and grow your sales quickly.
2. Focus on your existing online traffic
Just as in step one, this philosophy is simple and straightforward: Play to your strengths. Do you have any existing online traffic you can leverage? You might be surprised. Ask yourself the following questions. How many visitors does your website get in a month? How many social media followers do you have? How effectively are you converting the online traffic you currently have? Chances are there might be some room for improvement. Dangle some bait in the form of a lead magnet or a low dollar product offer. Use a flash sale or similar promotion to generate some quick wins. Doing so will help you collect the low-hanging fruit that is ripe for the taking and avoid unnecessary marketing expenses.
3. Ramp up your customer experience
Once the money changes hands, delivering a stellar experience is key to developing a relationship with your customer. Whether they purchased a book or an hour of consulting, make them feel like they are the most important person in the world. You could include a handwritten note or a brownie in their package when you ship their item(s). Or you might go the extra mile in your consulting session and give them a digital care package along with your time. Feel free to flex your creative muscles in making your customer feel like a VIP. Doing this will ensure that you have delighted customers and repeat purchases.
4. Ask customers for referrals
Happy customers make for multiplying sales. Once you’ve delighted the socks off of your current customers, it only makes sense to see if they have any friends or family members who might be interested. Offer an incentive for qualified referrals. Use satisfaction surveys to easily identify your most satisfied purchasers, then ask them to contribute. You’ll be surprised how many new customers may turn up if you’ll only ask.
5. Upsell to existing customers
Another strategy to consider when seeking to increase sales is to offer your customer an upsell. An upsell is a sales technique where a seller induces the customer to purchase more expensive items, upgrades, or other add-ons in an attempt to make a more profitable sale. For example, if you purchase a burger from a fast food joint, they will likely ask you if you’d like fries or a drink. Amazon or other online retailers will offer up “Frequently Bought Together” suggestions. Usually, these items will include accessories that complement the main product.
A great way you can offer an effective upsell is to solve a problem for the customer. For instance, if they purchase a pair of sunglasses, sell them a microfiber cleaning cloth. If they purchase software, offer premium support. By continuing to give great value to your customers, you will ensure an ongoing relationship and an increase in revenue.
6. Make it easier to purchase
This step is often overlooked, as it can be very hard to approach your sales process from an outside perspective. However, it’s important to take the time to intentionally review your purchase process and make sure that it is easy for the end user. If your customer has to travel through the seven levels of the Candy Cane Forest and past the sea of swirly twirly gumdrops in order to purchase, you’ll drive away many potential sales.
To do this, it helps to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Walk through each step of the purchase process as though you’re a customer. Once you’ve got a clear picture, move on smoothing out the wrinkles and rough patches.
7. Nurture your prospects and customers
Long-term nurture is another important facet of any sales and marketing strategy. People usually equate this with email newsletters and other consistent communication. This typically assumes a “shotgun” approach in that it is widespread but low in accuracy, but a more powerful way to utilize long-term nurture is when your focus is on segmentation and learning more about your prospects.
Email systems that allow you to monitor link clicks, opens, and other indicators of engagement can be a powerful tool at your disposal. Take the time to truly study the behaviors of your customers and prospects. Identify gaps in their education and nurture. Solve for problems that manifest themselves. When your long-term nurture becomes as educational for you as it does for your list, then true magic can happen.
8. Generate new traffic
Due to its higher lead acquisition costs, generating new traffic should really be your last resort. While it is essential for any healthy marketing system to reach fresh leads, it literally pays to focus first on an existing list and traffic. But if new blood is what you’re looking for, then be sure to invest your marketing budget intelligently. Brainstorm where your customers are most likely to be, and do what you can to get out in front of them. Revisit previous advertising campaigns and evaluate their effectiveness. You can utilize existing resources by making them a similar offer to steps one and two.
Expand your efforts
While approaching such an overwhelming endeavor as automating sales and marketing, this list of ideas can help you to identify your first priority. Breaking apart your marketing funnel into digestible “bites” is the best way to achieve your goals and see success.
CRM and marketing automation software such as Infusionsoft are essential tools to have at your disposal when seeking to grow your sales and marketing success. Infusionsoft allows you to expand your reach and multiply your efforts.
Ben Mosey is a Performance Expert at Infusionsoft. He has helped hundreds of small businesses to automate their sales and marketing strategies. In his spare time, he enjoys writing, playing guitar, and a nice pair of socks. He and his wife live with their two children in a constant state of sleep deprivation. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.