by Amy Birks
Your spot her from across a crowded room. You’re in the right place, so you can be pretty certain that she’s what you’re looking for. You came here to find her, after all.
She shoots a quick glance in your direction and your eyes meet. You can tell that fast that she’s probably been looking for you too. Excited, but trying to conceal it, you head over for an introduction.
“Keep your cool and say the right thing. Don’t blow it...” you think to yourself as you move through the sea of unfamiliar faces. Her gaze guides your path all the way across the room.
After what seems like an eternal journey, you arrive at her side, welcomed by her warm smile. Extending your hand, you offer her your best, most seasoned introduction, and then she says, “Hi, I’m Mary, and I help savvy small business owners just like you market their services online.”
...cue the record scratch.
Nope, we’re not at a singles spot looking to kick up a new romance; we’re at a networking event, looking for prospects to convert into clients.
But really, the scene when you’re dating and the scene when you’re trying to convert clients isn’t all that different, is it? And whether you’re trying to pick up prospects in person or online, the fundamentals are still the same.
You’re working hard to make a great first impression. You’ve got your intro or elevator speech (or landing page copy, for that matter) carefully crafted. The people you’re connecting with expect to be qualified as a good candidate for whatever you’re offering. It’s all the same whether it’s a date or a sales pitch on the other end of that initial conversation.
So why are we talking about dating on a small business marketing blog? Because entrepreneurs wooing prospects make the exact same mistakes as all those lonely guys we see leaving the bar solo at the end of yet another unsuccessful Saturday night out.
Let’s take some lessons from the sticky barroom floors of our checkered dating pasts and shift them to our home offices and co-working spaces so we can finally get the girl (or guy), shall we?
Here’s my best dating advice to increase your conversion rate. (Feel free to apply these tips to your next Saturday night out on the town too; I promise they’re universal...)
1. Take it slow
A favorite of parents and health ed teachers alike, this old adage is an awesome place to start. Whether you’re trying to persuade a prospect to head back to your place or to buy what you’re selling, you can’t expect a hot lead to immediately be enamored with you the moment you’re introduced.
Building a genuine relationship with your prospects is the easiest and most rewarding way to convert them to customers.
By taking your time to get to know them, understand their needs and desires and most importantly build trust with them, getting to “yes” becomes a no-brainer.
By the way, whether you’re interacting with your prospects online or in-person, it doesn’t matter. This tip still stands firm.
In-person, suggest lunch or coffee to break the ice. Or get creative and offer to meet someplace out of the ordinary like a museum or park. When you meet, let her do the majority of the talking. Take your time to listen to what she needs. Ask questions to understand her big goals and vision for her life or business. Taking a genuine interest in her and her needs will rocket your trust and likeability factor skyward, which doubles your opportunities of making a sale later.
Online we often forget that we’ve still got opportunities to build relationships with our web visitors, however, anonymous they may seem to be. Think about the journey you can take them on when they visit your site; a robust marketing automation tool can make that journey super easy. If you’ve got an enticing lead magnet or freebie for your web visitors to opt in to download, where could you lead them next through your follow-up email series?
So many business owners miss the mark by immediately piling on the solicitation emails the moment they get access to a prospect’s inbox. Like that too-eager dude at the bar who won’t stop texting today but seemed oh-so-normal the night before when you gave him your number, diving right in for the sale immediately is an easy way to turn prospects from warm leads to ice cold instantly.
Experts say that it takes seven contacts with a prospect for them to consider converting to a sale.
Rather than just remaining mostly detached through your automated responders, consider inviting subscribers to reply to those automated emails so you can respond personally and start getting to know them better. Remember when we're talking about how to increase conversion rate, we're talking about taking things slowly and building a relationship, not just trying to get someone to go home with you at the end of the night.
2. Just be yourself
Mom’s favorite reassuring advice holds true here too. Don’t be afraid to be you, genuinely you, when interacting with potential clients either in-person or online. Don’t think too hard about what to say to sound “smart” or “professional.” Let your passion for what you do show up in your conversations and website copy.
As human beings, we love to experience the genuine excitement and enthusiasm of others, so go ahead and let your freak flag fly. So often, entrepreneurs are scared to use their “real” voice. To say the things that they know are true to what they believe and value.
Just like in romance, if you’re hiding who you are, your prospects will see right through it and you’ll lose trust and credibility.
Be you. And know that the right people will show up, resonate with your message, and LOVE you.
3. Be a giver
Kind words. Memorable experiences. Flowers and jewelry. We all love gifts, don’t we? Well, your potential clients are no different.
There’s something really incredible that happens when we’re generous.
Not only are we able to make someone else feel great, special, and genuinely cared for, but WE reap rewards too. Yes, sure, giving stuff away to your prospects helps them like and trust you, which certainly leads to more sales, but beyond that, being a giver simply FEELS good.
So how can you really wow your potential clients on this journey from prospect to buyer?
What content, advice, samples or resources can you give away happily that will make their lives better? Maybe you offer advice from your area of expertise in a weekly free video series (with no pitch at the end!). Or you could share your favorite resources that you know would provide value to them in their lives or businesses. What if that ebook you were thinking about selling for $10 on your site could be a free giveaway instead? Being generous with your gifts is the secret to a long and happy relationship, business or otherwise.
OK, so who are YOU going to be next Saturday at the bar? Mr. Lonely-dude who the bartenders pity with a free last cocktail at the end of the night? Or will you be Ms. I’m-About-the-Rewards-of-the-Long-Game who leaves with a stack of warm (and getting warmer) leads to follow up with?
People call Amy Birks the Strategy Ninja because she helps her clients make swift, calculated shifts in their businesses, seemingly out of nowhere. Her genius is that she can see the shortest distance between two points, which allows her to help her clients pull forth exactly what they need in order to make the next leap in their business (which is generally accompanied by a big ol' payday and lots of fun, too).
She's the entrepreneur's secret weapon and ultimate wing-woman because she combines the roles of COO and biz bestie and wraps them up into one cute little, bicycle-riding, dog-loving, strategy-wielding package.