After 10 years of working with local business owners, I know the pain and frustration faced by hundreds of small business owners who have a physical location and thousands of dollars in monthly overhead. Far too many have been burned by spending money and not getting the type of return on investment they were promised.
If that’s you, or relates to someone you know… this blog post will outline a 9 step system guaranteed to bring more buyers into your small business. The steps I’m going to go over will work for local businesses with a physical location, or those that only have an online presence.
Know Your Ideal Prospect – by far, this is the single most important step to boosting sales in your small business. People by from people they know, like, and trust. Once you know your ideal customer – their wants, needs, desires, and aching problems… you can speak to them with authority. People automatically listen to people when they feel understood. Let your customers know you understand their world, and have relevant solutions to solve their problems where the value received exceeds the monetary cost, and they’ll get on-board fast.
Create a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – easily the most important question you’ll ever answer concerning how you get and keep customers. A prospective buyer needs to know why they should do business with you instead of any other service provider in the marketplace…? (Including their option to do nothing at all.) Without a clear and compelling answer to the question “Why buy from you?”, your buyers will comparison shop on the basis of who has the lowest price.
Create a Sales Process – with the exception of commodity items like toothpaste, cooking oil, and toiletries, every buyer goes through 3 stages before buying a product or service. If you sell higher priced services like life coaching, home improvement, any kind of professional service, etc., statistics suggest the average buyer shops 10.4 service providers before making a buying decision. To maximize the opportunity to close a sale, you should have a sales process in place. The most effective sales process will match the ‘journey’ the buyer is walking through. The buyer’s journey has 3 distinct stages:
In an effective sales process, the communication changes at every stage to match the thought process of the prospect.
No matter what stage a prospective buyer is at, it’s pretty clear that we live in a ‘reputation economy’. There is a trend that clearly shows people consult consumer reviews prior to making a buying decision. A 2015 statistic states 87% of consumers won’t choose a business with low rating. This leads to the next step.
Build a 5-Star Reputation – because consumers are looking at reviews, it’s becoming more and more important for small business owners to take a proactive approach to building a 4 or 5 start reputation. To do this, there needs to be a systematic approach to requesting and collecting reviews from buyers on a consistent basis.
Too often, a business owner will begin to pay attention to reviews after they get a one or two bad ones. That’s too late. If there’s appropriate focus on building a strong reputation in the beginning, when one or two bad ones come along (which happens to everyone sooner or later), it doesn’t hurt as much.
Imagine this. If you owned a dental practice providing emergency services. I Googled the phrase, “emergency dentist atlanta ga”, and here were the results.
Having a 4 or 5 star reputation is critical to making consumers feel comfortable in picking up the phone, or stepping into your place of business.
Show Up in Leading Local Listings – one of the most important factors in ranking for local search is showing up in local online directories. Almost everyone is interested in “free traffic”. In reality, there is no such thing in today’s marketplace. To create a website that ranks for relevant local search terms (even in a small metropolitan area) requires a minimal skill level. That service is not being provided free of charge. It may be built-in to the overall website design process, but it’s there rest-assured.
A key to ranking for local search terms is to be found in the leading online directories. Just as important to being found, is having accurate and consistent information across all directory sites. The most important business data include the “NAP”, or name of the business, address, and phone number. Having your business listed in 34 directory sites is diluted if the details of your business are incorrect or inconsistent.
There’s a free tool to find out exactly how you rank in terms of your local “visibility score”. Local Score Report is a great resource we make available to help local business owners know if they’re visible or invisible to prospective buyers. Click the button below to get your score in just 60 seconds.
Build a Back-End FIRST – if you were not aware, only 2-6% of website visitors will be ready to buy when they arrive at your website. That means 94-98% of a business owners website visitors are leaving without taking the desired action. However, savvy business owners know how to boost the number of website visitors that convert to buyers. They do it by putting a back-end in place.
A back-end refers to automating follow up with email marketing using an autoresponder. This is important because research shows the average sale happens between the 5th and 12th touch. Most small business owners are juggling too many balls to reach out and touch every prospect 5, 6, 7, or 8 times to get them to buy. Besides, that’s not a good use of time. To be more efficient, it makes sense to create a pre-written email series that adds value. Drip those emails out every day, or every other day and earn top-of-mind positioning. That’s a proven way to close more sales.
Prioritize DAILY Lead Generation – to close sales, there must be prospective buyers (aka leads). A lead generation campaign should be running on a daily basis. There are multiple ways to generate leads for almost any business. Again, this goes back to knowing your customer, and what challenges they need help with. Sometimes, just having a coupon they have to “opt-in” for is a great way to generate leads of people who’re ready to be in a sales conversation.
Send Targeted Traffic to Your Low-End Offers – once the right kind of lead magnet is created, we need to send targeted traffic to these lead generation tools. The inability to control traffic and leads will cause any business to stall. If lead-flow and sales get stuck, that becomes one of the leading causes to business failure and financial ruin.
For almost any industry, Facebook marketing is a great way to send targeted traffic into a lead generation campaign for as little as $5-10 per day. When managed well, that’s enough to jump-start almost any local business. Especially because Facebook allows us to target traffic on a geographic basis. Any local business can target buyers within a 5-40 mile radius. With a few tweaks to the traffic campaign, they can be off to the races in a matter of days or weeks.
Optimize Your Process with A/B Split Testing – finally, once everything is in place, it’s important to engage in A/B split testing. While marketing professionals have a handle on best-practices, knowing which headline, pricing offer, graphic image, or buy button will convert best is NOT an exact science. They only way to know for sure what works best is to optimize the sales process with ‘conversion rate optimization’.
As an example, GetResponse utilized an A/B split test to find out which approach would get more signups on their homepage. Here’s a summary of their case study taken from Visual Website Optimizer:
The results they found after running the test were astonishing. GetResponse noticed that by adding free trial buttons on homepage, the number of free accounts increased by 158.60%, while there was no negative influence on the number of paid accounts created via homepage. That is a very strong proof in favor of providing a “Free Trial” button on the homepage itself.
Most small businesses fail to split test because they’re not aware of how to go about it, or the learning curve seems intimidating. Nevertheless, it’s often the fastest route to boosting sales and bottom-line profits for website already getting a fair amount of traffic.
If you’d like to find out how any of the strategies listed above can benefit your business, you can request a strategy session. After completing a brief online questionnaire, you’ll get to choose a time-slot that makes sense for your schedule. We’ll invest up to 30 minutes discussing your business goals, and looking at any ‘under-utilized assets’ that could be used to reach your goals. To request a strategy session, click the button below.
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