Image: “Cannonball” (CC BY 2.0) by jasonippolito
When it comes to online sales techniques, it’s easy to get stuck in bad habits. This is especially true if you’ve been in business for a long time.
You find something that works, and you stick to it.
You probably know the lesson of Seth Godin’s Purple Cow. Unfortunately, your competitors are often using the same techniques, offering the same products, and even making the same claims.
The question is, what can you do to set yourself apart?
For the answer, we need to take some advice from Marcus Sheridan, AKA the Sales Lion.
Hailed as a web marketing guru by the New York Times, Marcus developed five simple online sales strategies for his company, River Pools.
When I interviewed Marcus for my Marketing Speak podcast, he revealed that when he implemented these strategies during the Great Financial Crisis, he saw a massive increase in sales, and managed to blow his competition out of the water.
What is his secret? Shockingly, his approach was very straighforward: he was honest about what he offered, and he proactively addressed people’s concerns.
Along the way, he broke a few long-held taboos of online marketing. But by doing what others where too afraid to do, he built trust with his customers and achieved amazing results.
Here’s how he did it…
1. Answer Your Prospect’s Questions
Think about the last time you were researching a product online. You no doubt came across a website that sold what you needed. But before you were ready to buy, you had a couple of questions.
The first and biggest question was probably, “How much is this going to cost?”
Chances are, the website did not have all the answers you were seeking.
What Marcus found is that when he thoroughly answered all of his customer’s most common questions is that he educated his audience, and built trust with them. Then, when they contacted him, they were ready to buy.
In fact, Marcus estimates that one simple page on his website that details the costs of a fiberglass pool has made him over $3 million!
Now that’s incredible…
2. Understand the Reasons Why Someone Would NOT Buy From You
Think about all the times a customer has come to you and said that they’re not interested in going through with a sale. What were their reasons?
Cost might be one. But there were probably many other reasons that simply weren’t true, or were cases where the customer was misinformed about your product.
Think about the seven most common concerns you hear. Then, take a look at your website, and see how many you’ve addressed. After doing this exercise with thousands of companies, Marcus reported that on average, businesses only address around 1.5 of the top seven reasons their customers won’t buy from them.
By simply addressing these issues on your website, you can overcome common objections and achieve a much higher conversion rate.
3. Analyze Every Claim You Make
When we go into selling mode, it’s easy to get carried away and make a bunch of claims about our business and our products.
Everything you say may well be true, but do you provide any evidence on your website to back up your claims?
If not, then how would anyone know that you’re telling the truth?
Write down every claim you make on your website. Then, take a look at your competitor’s website, and make a note of the claims that overlap with yours. You’ll probably find that you both make a lot of the same claims.
The thing is, if everyone is saying the same thing, it doesn’t mean anything.
To set yourself apart, you want to show your customers that these claims are true. This might be with a video, statistics, an article—it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you back up 100% of the claims you make with concrete evidence.
4. List the Problems You Solve
People coming to your website have a problem, and they want to know if you can solve it. Whether that problem is that they need a new pair of jeans, or someone to rewire their house so it doesn’t burn down, if you don’t tell them you can solve it quickly, they’ll find someone else who can.
Providing an exhaustive list of every common problem you solve can save your customers hours of research. By the time they contact you, they know exactly what they need, and they know you’re the person who can do it.
5. Be Honest About Who Would NOT Benefit From Your Products or Services
Finally, everyone has an “About” page and a “What we do” page. But if you want to stand out from the crowd, there’s another page you should have on your website.
Create a page where you list everyone who will NOT benefit from your services. Just be honest. List all the types of people who you don’t usually work with, and why you’re not a good fit for them.
While most businesses are desperately trying to attract as many leads as possible, signalling to a potential customer that you’re picky about who you work with builds trust and reassures them that you’re not desperate.
What’s the point in attracting people who are probably not going to buy your services in the end?
It’s a waste of valuable time, not just for you, but for the prospect as well.
For more great marketing advice, check out my interview with Marcus Sheridan on the Marketing Speak podcast.
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