The web has dramatically reduced the barrier to entry that people once faced when they wanted to start a business. Today, someone with some talent, aspiration, and an email address can create their own empire.
But not everyone can.
There are a lot of talented, aggressive marketers out there who do start a business and make a fortune, but there are many talented, aggressive marketers out there who do not. This latter group has a sales funnel that is bursting at the seams with contacts but it’s not going anywhere. They aren’t making any money.
There are a lot of reasons this could be the case (maybe the product falls short of the promotion that was given earlier, maybe the Prospect isn’t motivated to buy) but in my experience, the top reason for sales funnel failure is because the entrepreneur didn’t ask for the sale.
I blame marketing
Marketing is fun, creative, and it can be easy to do. You write something, you put it out there on the web, and you get people who are interested. With some thought and experience, you start creating a lot of good, targeted content and the right people are attracted into your sales funnel. A lot of web-based marketing content keeps chugging along, long after you created it, bringing people into your sales funnel even while you sleep.
Marketing is a popular topic. It has a sex appeal to it. People like to talk about it. People like to “do marketing”. Marketing is all about building a relationship with a sales funnel contact around a specific topic (the benefits you offer).
But then there’s sales
Sales seems like hard work. It doesn’t seem creative or fun. Asking for the sale feels like an interruption in the relationship. Everyone wants to be a marketer but only a few people will admit they’re salespeople.
Marketing is fuzzy and difficult to measure. Sales is clear (you made a sale or you didn’t) and it’s easy to measure.
Marketing is quick to do (you write an ad or you publish a press release). Sales can take a long time (there are sales presentations and you have to overcome objections).
Marketing doesn’t require very much (just some creativity and a place to publish your content). Sales requires a willing listener and some persistence.
In spite of all this, sales is what makes a business successful. Sales converts Prospects to Customers, marketing doesn’t. Sales brings in the cash, marketing doesn’t.
It’s easy to spend a lot of time on marketing — and marketing IS important to do — but many businesses need to spend way more time on sales than they do. The most successful entrepreneurs I’ve met are good marketers and relentless sellers.
Sales isn’t as bad as it seems
Sales isn’t a break in the relationship with the contact. It’s moving the relationship forward to help add value to the contact. Good sales should feel like the next obvious step in your interaction with the contacts in your sales funnel. Earlier in your sales funnel you gave them some free, generalized value (i.e. maybe from some free advice on your blog). They benefited from it. Now your “sales pitch” is really just showing them how they could benefit even more from some specific, personalized value (i.e. from your consulting services).
Take a hard look at your sales funnel
Is it a sales funnel? Or is it really a marketing funnel without ever turning into a sales funnel? If you do a lot of marketing but never get around to the “Buy Now”, then it’s time to inject some sales into your sales funnel by asking for the order.
One last kick in the ass
In ANY business, there are going to be challenging tasks and easy tasks. It’s easy to do the easy tasks (obviously!). But it’s the challenging tasks that will make your business successful. Marketing is fun and easy, but it’s the challenging task of sales that will make your business successful.