In order to ensure long term viability in your business, you have to always be increasing your sales. And to keep making that literal or proverbial cash register ring, you need to have your nose to the ground keeping up with what makes a prospect turn into a paying customer.
Whether it be in retail, ecommerce, or services; customers across all industries inherently make their buying decisions using similar base criterion.
Here are 3 of my top trends that will drive customers in (or out) your door for the rest of this year:
1. Recognize that when a customer contacts you, they’re already close to buying
They rarely need to be pressure-pitched about the product (features/benefits) because they’ve done their research already. Old-school sales tactics are all but gone in the information era, circa 2015. Take a look at this study on B2B sales as they relate to a customer’s buying mindset when contacting a company sales rep.
Outside the B2B world, well over 50% of consumers will research a product or service online before they enter a store or call your purchase hotline (side note: in ecommerce, many prospects will return to your landing and checkout page several times before deciding to pull the trigger.)
When they finally contact you, they already have their mind mostly made up. It’s not time to use out-dated pushy sales tactics and relentlessly hammer the features/benefits home them. What most customers are looking for is a friendly and informative ear, to get a sense of your after-sales service potential. Answer their questions, be nice – and leave the aggression/progression model to Wall Street investment bankers!
2. A successful business needs to be adaptive to online pricing pressure
Consider how easy it is for a customer to compare your prices with competitors. Price comparison apps aren’t going anywhere and there’s so many free and quality ones out there, it’s hard to keep track.
For a business, this equals constantly-increasing and never-ending pressure to offer the lowest price point possible to consumers. This is counter-intuitive to many who’ve built their brand based on offering higher quality and using a value perception model to price their products for maximum profits. In a few years, perceived value may not matter at all in many industries who don’t glean their profits from a performance-based structure (SEO, consulting, telemarketing, coaching, investing, etc.)
3. Top-performing business will give away more than they sell
There’s so much value to offer customers in the form of a great content marketing plan. While “article marketing” and “vlogging for cash” were popular a few years ago and made more than a few upstarts into overnight successes, consumers soon rebelled and so began the content revolution: giving away free information and entertainment in an effort to build trust and lead the customer into the sales funnel. Rather than assuming that all consumers are buy-happy and only need to be sold to is out; “lulling” and “coaxing” the customer to the sale via free content that delivers value to their life is the only way to get the sale in most industries nowadays.
Take Gary Vaynerchuk, the prolific entrepreneur, investor and social media expert, for example. His #AskGaryVee show features him answering business questions from his social media fans and followers, delivering value without expecting anything in return (except fans engagement and loyal following.) One of the results of bringing in so much value is brand equity, new clients, and features on top publication, such as Inc.
This also applies to offline products as well. Look at the choking cable and satellite industry: anywhere you look these days, you’ll find even the biggest players offering 1 – 3 free months of their service for new customers, followed by at least a year of heavily discounted monthly fees. They have to “give it away” in order to hopefully get their hands on a long-term customer.
Look at Internet providers too: if you have a slow Internet connection for a day or two, all you need to do is call customer service and you’ll be promptly granted up to a week of free Internet service on your next bill. They know you can go elsewhere and have adapted to a proactive approach to retain customers, something many of us know would have been impossible a few years ago.
Customers have so many choices. It’s hard to become an impervious monopoly empire in this day and age.
Customers are tired of being pressured to buy; they want to be courted before they buy, then treated with respect after the sale completes. And most know what they want before they walk into your store, pick up the phone to your sales department, or enter your sales funnel online.
Price comparisons are just a click away. If someone has a cheaper price than you, you’re going to lose the sale outright, or risk costly charge-backs from the banks and credit card companies when your high prices are discovered.
Lastly, in many industries, perceived value is turning toward how much of your service a customer doesn’t have to pay for, in the form of free information and entertainment. Those businesses who adapt to these and other emerging trends will surely capture more market share for their diligence in the coming months and years.