Shorten the sales cycle: one marketing message at a time

By Barbara Bix - So you’ve got the attention of your prospective buyers. The good news is that they now know of the existence of your business. The bad news is that they know far less than you think they know about your company. That’s because most of us are so busy, that we only have the capacity to think about our most pressing concerns.

First impressions count, but don’t do the job

When it comes to others, we only form a general impression. At this point, despite the fact that you may have told them much more, prospective buyers are likely to remember only one thing about you at best. It may the first thing you said; it may be something they heard about from someone else; or it may be the thing that resonated most with their top concern the day they encountered your company. Whatever it is, they need to know a lot more before they buy.

The problem is that prospective buyers are still too busy to learn about your company and its services. In fact, one of the greatest obstacles to a sale is getting your marketing messages through to the intended audience. Hopefully, you’ve made enough of an impression, to elevate your company’s marketing communications above the clutter. If so, your next challenge is staying in touch so that you can help prospective buyers move through their buying process. Any missteps and they’re likely to buy from someone else.

Brand building one step at a time

Before they ultimately buy, decision makers will need to:
• Become aware of all the services you offer
• Associate their needs with these services
• Think of your business as the “obvious” choice
• Remember your company when it comes time to buy

The best way to move prospective buyers through these steps is sequentially: one message per communication. Again, they don’t have the capacity to take in more than one detail about your company at a time.

Email marketing may be the answer

One of the best vehicles for your “drip” campaign is a newsletter—conventional or email depending on your audience. Nevertheless, each communication must be directly relevant to their concerns; else it too will remain unopened.

So, in preparing the subject lines and headlines of your missives, return to the four marketing questions we discussed last week. To increase the relevance to readers, and memorability, consider adding a story that illustrates your point and resonates with what you’ve learned about their experiences. Examples of how your accounts have triumphed using your solutions is often the best way to advance your agenda.

A typical email newsletter might describe a service you offer, provide a case study of how one of your accounts benefited from its application, and appear under a headline mentioning both the company that deployed the solution and the impact it had on their business.

Assuming that the featured business is in the same industry—and has the same issues—as your reader, your readers will be anxious to read all about it so that they, too, can achieve success. The following newsletter will follow a similar format but for a different service. One communication at a time, you’ll ensure that prospective buyers:
• Become aware of all the services you offer
• Associate their needs with these services
• Think of your business as the “obvious” choice
• Remember your company when it comes time to buy

For an example of how to implement this strategy, see this article on clinician marketing. As a bonus, you may be able to apply some of the techniques I’ve described to help your physician clients market their practices.

A drip campaign can shorten the sales cycle

So how does a drip campaign shorten the sales cycle? Although your target audience may contain thousands of people, only a few of them are ready at any point in time to buy. Moreover, even if you had the staff, it would be very expensive to follow up with them individually on a regular basis. Done well, your newsletter is likely to reach a small percentage of your audience just as they are ready to buy. If these companies contact you, you’ve generated a qualified lead—and reached someone who is ready to buy right away--without investing in expensive one-to-one prospecting or in manually helping them through their buying process.

Using an email newsletter or conventional print newsletter serves a second purpose. It serves to brand your company as a helpful and authoritative resource. Even if these companies go out to bid, your organization will stand above the crowd. You may even be able to bypass the time-consuming due diligence that companies use to evaluate prospective providers—because they already feel confident in your ability to deliver.

This blog

by Barbara Bix - In tough economic times, more and more clients are looking to their accountants to help them improve the bottom line. Often, the best way to do that is to start with the top line-since one can only decrease expenses so far. This blog discusses concrete actions you and your business-to-business clients can use to accelerate revenues.

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