There are some surefire principles that can truly enhance your ability to increase your bottom line via sales strategy. When I'm selling my consulting services, I turn to Dr. Robert Cialdini's six principles of influence (thanks to Guy Kawasaki for the introduction in his book, Reality Check):
- Reciprocation. Do you always make it about you? Or what you've done? Nobody cares unless that directly correlates to how you can help them. Give customers one example, and spend time having a dialogue about what they want and how your services can help them achieve it. This doesn't mean dictating to them what they need, either. Maybe they can't articulate it, but they already know. Your job is to help them extract it.
- Scarcity. If you're cold-calling people for business or have the time to revise proposals over and over -- even when the potential clients don't have the budget or clearly aren't interested -- then chances are your services aren't much in demand. If you do a good job the first time, they'll come back when the time is right. Times are tough for a lot of companies, but break your back for the clients you do have; over deliver and they'll tell others.
- Authority. Cold-calling and soft leads take time, and time is money. My time is valuable to me, and I want to spend it helping clients, not desperately trying to close leads. If you offer them a stockpile of information in the form of a blog, free reports, white papers or webinars, clients will come to you with the cash already in their hand. The best part? Instead of wasting time pursuing leads you may not get, you're investing that time into content that will provide value for years to come.
- Commitment. If you're so focused on getting the sell that you leave out key information, then you're digging yourself into a hole from the onset. You can promise add-ons and package deals to your heart's content, but make sure that you're also getting your client to commit to helping you attain the resources, and giving you the feedback necessary to ensure you can provide the most value. Also, tell them up-front, "Provided that I do a good job and you achieve the results you're looking for, I would really appreciate a referral/testimonial upon the conclusion of this project." Most people will agree to this, and having committed to it, they'll be reluctant to go back on it -- even if you didn't blow them out of the water.
- Liking. If you're shoving your product down someone's throat, forget it. If you're snarky or always assuring a potential client that nobody else can do what you do, they already know you're full it. I think being overly assured of the value of your abilities is the top reason why people squander a good thing. (At least confine those thoughts to your own head, eh?) But there are many others: being boring, having a dry personality, being a machine, thinking of a client as only a paycheck. I'm sure you can name countless others. Be yourself; be likable.
- Consensus. Testimonials are a good thing, particularly if the client you're trying to land is similar in size, stature, personality, etc. as the people who have provided you with testimonials. Don't tell a company about all your previous clients; rattling them off one after another is obnoxious. But do point them to a couple of testimonials (and explanations if they ask) about how you helped other organizations very similar to theirs with similar tasks. This offers valuable reassurance, yet it's subtle enough that they don't feel like you’re shoving your product/services down their throat. Consensus is comforting.
Ryan Stephens is an entrepreneurial-minded 20-something who is extremely passionate about both marketing and helping people. He believes in the power of the Internet and its ability to cultivate conversations, relationships and the spread of ideas.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC leads #FixYoungAmerica, a solutions-based movement that aims to end youth unemployment and put young Americans back to work.