Sales cycles and offerings

So, I’ve been working with a client on his business and he asked a very good question and my response became long winded and rambly and now I’m summarizing it here.

Basically, the client is torn between two options:Offering a lot of free content on his site, or, offering a wealth of information but only after a prospect signs up.

The first option results in no customer loyalty (customers get free information from him and go elsewhere). The second option doesn’t get a lot of prospects signing up, but when they do, they stick and tend to convert. The first option, in many cases, is the most popular one today because a lot of information is freely available. I told my client that if the information he was offering was freely available elsewhere, then he should offer it for free. However, my advice was to offer some kind of unique, differentiating information and require a prospect to sign up.

Normally I might not suggest this for a lot of sites but once his prospects sign up, his conversion process is successful. He’s staying with that model and we are going to work on some ideas that will enable him to convince more prospects to sign up.On its own, that’s an interesting conversation, but it led into a far more interesting conversation and one that is relevant to nearly all of my clients. We talked about the sales cycle and the steps in a sales process.

And above all else, each step that you require a prospect to take in the process to become a customers should be a little, tiny step. In other words, you want to nudge your prospect along the sales process with baby steps so that each contact they have with you they are just slightly more invested than the last time until suddenly they discover that they are so completely bought into you that the next obvious choice is to give you their money.

Lots of companies have a sales process that is extremely basic: “we do this to turn a lead into a prospect and we do this to turn a prospect into a customer”. That might work fine. But it will work better if the process goes more like this: “we do this then this then this then this to turn a lead into a prospect and we do this then this then this then this to turn a prospect into a customer”.

Check out your sales cycle. Do you try to capture 5 pieces of information from your leads before they become prospects? Maybe that shouldn’t be one step but 5 steps. Yes, there are more times to potentially lose them, but I think the net result is actually positive: more people will be scared off by leaving 5 pieces of information than they will if they have to leave 1 piece of information each of 5 times.

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