Finding customers doesn’t happen by accident. Marketing, sales and customer service processes lead someone through the process from random stranger to prospect to customer and hopefully to raving fan. There is inside sales support, sales literature, social media activity and maybe referral fees and incentives for employees to bring in new business. Don’t forget computers, desks and office supplies for your sales team. Add it all up, and you will see how expensive it is to go out and find new customers.
But a few smart investments in the short term will drive your costs down in the long run:
- Add a lower-paid employee to take over sales administration roles to free up a salesperson to make more calls. With someone to write first drafts of proposals, schedule sales calls and field basic questions from prospects, your salespeople are free to spend more time face-to-face with clients and prospects.
- Invest in marketing material, both online and offline, to prepare prospects for the sales conversation. These days your website, brochure or social media page can do a lot of the talking for you by introducing customers to your team, your work and other clients who love you. By the time a prospect is ready to buy, they feel as if they already know you.
- Add sales automation software and tools. For example, we love Tinderbox. At first, the $90/month fee seemed high. But once we realized we could create professional proposals in minutes instead of hours, we did the math and knew we would reduces our sales expense if we even did only two proposals a month. Other software tools which can make you life easier are products like Formstack, Premise and ConstantContact, which allow you to automate the process of collecting leads from your website and automatically enroll them in your email marketing program. Creating standard campaigns which touch prospects two or three times without human intervention significantly reduces your sales expense. You can’t automate everything. Eventually you will need to pick up the phone or have a face-to-face conversation, but when you do, it is with a more qualified prospect.
- Referral incentives. Most of us are in a word of mouth business. Research shows more and more consumers are turning away from advertising and turning to review and referrals sites as well as input from friends on social platforms. With the growing importance of referrals, it’s risky to leave word of mouth to chance, hoping someone will refer or recommend you. A small structured incentive program to reward existing customers for referring a friend is a relatively small selling expense, because it is only paid when prospects become clients.
- Improve your sales skills. Ultimately, all of these activities will help move prospects through your sales funnel, but sooner or later it will come down to sales skills. How good are you when you are face to face with a client? The better you are at managing the sales conversation, the less money you need to spend generating leads. Not sure if your sales skills could use a little brush up? Invite a peer to go on a sales call with you to give you feedback. Choose someone who has nothing vested in the outcome. Also consider going on a sales call with them to observe their process. If you think you need to brush up your skills, I am a big fan of the Sandler Process. It was a game changer for me.
Sales is the engine which drives your business. Make sure you have the right fuel. Interested in learning how improving your marketing can actually reduce your sales expense? Give us a call.