The trick for an effective sales process is to create a clear and engaging pathway for building trust with your target audience. This article is the second part of ‘How to Craft an Offer and Sell It Fast’.
So, if you haven’t yet read part 1 or listened to the podcast part 1, where I shared the steps to create, package and deliver an online group program, I encourage you to do that first and then come back to this article afterwards.
Because now that we have crafted our offer, here we’re shifting the focus to the fastest ways you can sell your program.
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So from part 1 of How to Craft an Offer and Sell It Fast, we focused on creating your online group program. How did you get on with that? Are you ready to put the pieces together so you can sell it consistently, over and over?
That’s what this part 2 building an effective sales process is all about.
We’re going to look at ways you can set up an effective sales process that gets people excited and engaged about your offer, creates trust and moves them to enrol on your program.
If you did your due diligence and that market research I mentioned, and you’ve created your offer around the things your target audience told you they desperately wanted to achieve, you’ve got a great head start on what most people do – or rather what they don’t do, the steps they skip!
The question for creating and selling online group programs is how can we use these requirements and desires for professional and personal growth as part of the ‘demand narrative’ for what we offer.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Offer Positioning When Your Participant Isn’t the Buyer
- Creating a Compelling Demand Narrative
- Assembling and Engaging a High-Value Customer Journey B2B or B2C
- Deciding on a Launch or Rolling Strategy
- Why You Should Have a Free Webinar and How to Promote It
- Making the Offer on a Discovery Call
Offer Positioning When Your Participant Isn’t the Buyer
So the first part of effective sales process starts with offer positioning when your participant isn’t the buyer. What do I mean by that?
Well, if your program falls into the continuing professional development or CPD category – then it may be either something that an individual wants to do for their own professional or personal development or for business development – or it’s something that an organisation – perhaps their employer – may pay for them to do.
This distinction between business to business or B2B and business to customer, B2C in important, because your strategy to sell your program is likely to be vastly different. Generally speaking, if you’re selling into organisations, you won’t want or need a fancy digital marketing funnel. You’re going to want people to find you through your expert positioning and then arrange a conversation.
If you’re selling to individuals, you may take that same approach depending on your price point. For instance, there’s two reasons I enrol people one by one onto my online group program. Firstly, I don’t just want anyone to join, and secondly, because when the price is high, it’s a more considered purchase for your prospect.
There is a way around having to do lots of ‘sales’ calls and that’s to use a webinar as part of your marketing campaign.
What that tells us is that it’s important to really know who you’re selling to. And this comes out in the distinction between whether it’s an organisation who will buy places on your program for their staff or an individual who makes the decision and is paying for the program out of their own pocket.
Either way, you have to think about who in the organisation you need to capture the interest of, and how you will reach them and invite them to a call to discuss their needs and make the offer.
Of course, sometimes the lines are blurry. In some cases, an individual will go make the case for doing your program to their employer who, if it fits that person’s training needs or professional development plan, the company will fund it from their training budget.
If your client is a large corporation, they may want to book several of their people onto your program and you can leverage your time and effort because you’ll potentially be able to create one group of many participants with one sales call.
If you want to work with people in organisations or companies or you help businesses, the fastest way to sell your program is not through an automated funnel. Really you need to orchestrate a one-to-one conversation with the key individual responsible for making the purchase decision. For instance, in corporate organisations typically you want to find the person responsible for training, personal wellbeing, IT, finance and so on.
It’s still helpful to have a sales page and a brochure as marketing assets, that you can attach to an email to send someone or send someone back to who you’ve spoken to.
Creating a Compelling Demand Narrative
So once you’re clear whether you are selling into an organisation or selling to an individual, let’s move to creating the demand narrative that will be the backbone of your sales page.
The demand narrative is kind of the why this, why now, why you explanation – the what, who and how. Essentially, it’s the story behind why your ideal client or customer would want to enrol in your program.
You guide your prospect through the process of exploring whether your offer, your program is what they need, and whether it’s value for money for the result you deliver. There’s an element of whether your method sounds plausible and fun. But generally, it’s whether they see the program as relevant, compelling and something they see the value in for themselves.
If you’re working B2B, it’s very likely that the person you need to speak to who makes the buying decision in an organisation, is not the direct beneficiary. What I mean by that is that they’re probably not the person who would be doing your program, so it’s important your demand narrative in this case, address the needs of the organisation and the impact you bring through the work you do with the individuals.
Make sense? People often forget this, because they’re so wrapped up with the people they work with directly, they’re less used to the sales process or conversation with the Training Manager, Team Leader or CEO. And those people often have to make the case to their finance person too, plus lots of complicated procurement hoops to jump through. That’s why B2B sales cycles can be much longer.
And having worked predominantly in non-profit sector for our consulting work, I can tell you the wheels turn very very slowly. Working with small businesses and solo practitioners is way faster, because those people can make the decision usually without a whole committee meeting.
Once you have the demand narrative, there are various marketing assets you might want to create. Here’s six:
- A strategic email series
- A compelling sales page
- A punchy brochure
- An insightful webinar
- A pithy presentation
- A professional proposal
There’s TWO maybe three in that list that really are all your need – emails, a sales page and possibly a webinar. You definitely will need to create the series of email messages whatever other pieces you put in place. 4-5 well-constructed emails are a key part of an effective sales process so make sure you spent some time really homing in on your core message pillars – what it is, why they need it and how it works (for your target audience).
Sales funnels are all the rage – and there are loads of tools that help you map it out, play around with forecasting, build it into complex sequences, and track conversions.
It’s unsurprising that, to some business owners, the mere mention of them can create a great deal of stress for some of my clients. In episode 21, I busted a few myths about sales funnels and so-called launch formulas, because all we’re really talking about is the need to put together a nurturing process that will take your prospects from interested to invested in the shortest time possible.
So, if setting up an effective email funnel that gets opens, clicks and sales, that’s the kind of thing I help people with in the Leveraged Business Accelerator program. We really get down to the practicalities, roll up our sleeves together and get those emails crafted.
Assembling an Engaging & High-Value Customer Journey
Whichever combination of tools you choose becomes your customer’s journey into your world and into your offer. So to create an effective sales process, you need to be strategic – be very intentional about each piece and how it fits the need.
In my book, I outline a pathway that’s just three steps – Engage, Educate and Enrol. And I talk about “client dating” as a way to move along that pathway. It’s the process you take someone through to build the relationship.
If you don’t know each other too well, you start by dating, this is like a long sales funnel.
If you already have a good relationship, the process and the funnel can be shorter – you might get engaged.
And when you’ve really wooed and wowed your perfect person, you can ask them to marry you –make the offer, ask for the sale. Generally, your prospect is already sold on you and just needs reassurance to say yes.
So the sales funnel looks long and thin or short and fat, or something in between. And the shape and length of the process really depends on the level of work you need to do to engage, educate and enrol a new client.
Track your numbers at each stage too – so you can see how easy or fast each step is for your people. I’d say the dating funnel with cold leads probably needs to be really wide at the top unless you have very warm and pre-qualified contacts.
That means you’re more likely to have a fast an effective sales process if your visitors are really well-targeted visitors or you’re making an offer to an existing and responsive email list or a super loyal and attentive group of social media followers. I tend to work more from my email list than social media, but it depends on your business.
That said, if you really work on the copy in your communications and you have a great sales page or webinar that really resonates with your audience and you can get it in front of the right crowd, it can also convert really fast from a standing start. A kind of whirlwind romance if you like! But it’s unusual if you’re not a master marketer or experienced salesperson.
If not, then you’ll have to have done some serious romancing – lots of gifts and loving gestures to show your audience you really care and understand them in order to nurture and grow the relationship before you ask for the sale.
Depending on how aligned, targeted and positioned your content is, you can manage to get people to sign-up for a high-end offer in just one step with a well-structured sales pathway.
To do that, you’ll need a very well-crafted sales page or a video series, a webinar or face-to-face presentation – where you have more opportunity to build trust.
Peter Drucker – one of the most widely-known and influential thinkers on management – said “The role of marketing is to make selling superfluous… [in other words] The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits and sells itself. Ideally, marketing should result in a customer who is ready to buy.”
So, if you’ve been “courting” your person a little while, or you offer an online course as bait, the engagement funnel can be much shorter and narrower. A good learning experience can springboard the relationship and trust building that otherwise would need to happen through a lot of “touch-points” using traditional (and often expensive) marketing and sales methods.
And your conversions are likely to be higher because you need less people coming into your funnel. Those who go through one of your free courses or free sessions become pre-qualified and pre-sold on what you deliver and convert more readily.
The best way to lift your success rate in any of these funnels is to:
Be aligned and targeted with your ideal audience so you’re having an “on-message” dialogue and can generate high-quality, responsive leads;
Become a well-positioned and visible brand in your industry or field of expertise so your prospects can easily get to know, like and trust you;
Develop excellent enrolment skills, i.e. you can elegantly “close” your leads on your high-end service or programme.
Deciding on a Launch or Rolling Strategy
If your offer is targeted at individuals, your dating or sales campaign is likely to be more of a launch style sequence – culminating in the ‘big ask’ flurry of excitement. I’m not a big fan of all the hype, but hey, done well, building anticipation and the right moment to make the proposal does work, quite brilliantly in some launches I’ve been involved in.
For me an effective sales process is equally achieved with a soft launch approach. My preferred strategy is a rolling strategy of engaging, educating and enrolling, that funnels people into a discovery call from where I’ll book them into the program and work with them on their customised 90-day business acceleration action plan.
At the moment, it’s very individualised, which I’m really enjoying and my clients get a tonne of value and keep enrolling for the next 90-day cycle. At some point, they become a great candidate for the ACES program I coach on, run by my friend Danny Iny. That’s a one-year program where they can get a wider set of support, expertise and done-for-you services, as importantly be part of a bigger community of entrepreneurs.
So that’s my current strategy for my offer and how I sell it. Happy to chat with you about that if business acceleration is something you want and are willing to invest in yourself to get the support you need to boost your success.
As I alluded earlier, the speed you can sell your program is super dependent on (a) the prior relationship you have built with a prospect, and (b) the price point. If your program is in the ballpark of a few hundred dollars, quid, euros and you’ve done a great job at engaging and education as part of your email nurturing or content strategy, you could potentially send people to your offer via a sales page that presents them with a Buy Now or Enrol Now button.
We talked about creating a high-converting sales page back in episode 23, so I’m not going into detail on the structure or what to include in the page – it’s all covered in that episode, and there’s an article based around the transcript if you prefer a written version.
By comparison to having people just buy a place on your program, having a discovery call with a prospective new client is such a joy! But the downside is I have to have a session with every individual as I fill my group cohort rather than with one representative of an organisation who can book several places.
On your sales page (and possibly again in your enrolment call), you need to provide answers to common questions / objections that prospective buyers have, from broad ‘is it a fit’ questions to specific details, essentially:
- Who does it help and will it work for my industry/niche?
- How does the program run and will it work for their schedule/time as well as their budget.
Basically, they want to know:
- What’s involved?
- Will it work for me?
- How long does the program last?
- What’s the time commitment?
- What time are the live calls?
- Are the live sessions recorded?
- Why is it more expensive than ‘other’ things they’ve seen?
- Can I pay in instalments?
- Can I get a refund if I don’t see results?
One of the best and fastest way to not only get the information across but to build trust is a consultation call or a webinar. So I want to just say a little here about those two approaches.
There’s quite a bit on webinars as an education tool in In my book. But here’s essentially why you should have a free webinar or perhaps a video series.
Why You Should Have a Free Webinar and How to Promote It
In today’s increasingly busy and competitive market place, it’s not enough just to throw up a lead magnet and a few social media posts. That’s not going to cut it, especially if your offer is high-end, high-ticket.
A webinar is a great way to help people see all the ins and outs and get to know, like and trust you, so they can make a considered purchase. And that sense of trust and decision can happen pretty fast with a webinar.
There’s three pieces of the puzzle to focus on doing well. First, the way you structure and market the webinar is important for ensuring people actually show up to buy. Second, you need to do your homework and choose a hot topic that’s connected to your paid program. And third, you need to portray a professional image and deliver a killer presentation.
Now, let’s remind ourselves: the perfect webinar and perfect sales pitch don’t happen overnight – it’s a learning curve so be patient and keep improving each piece, tracking your conversions at the key points.
When you get those things working well, a webinar is the perfect way to build a trusting relationship in a short timeframe so your offer becomes a ‘no-brainer’.
A key part of using a webinar is getting people to sign up and attend, right?! So your content, social media and emails are certainly an important ingredient in the process. What I’ve seen working is where the host – as the expert – is building excitement without being spammy, is stepping up to showcase their expertise and to give value.
Two little tricks that can speed things up are to use video – as you get a very fast connection if people can see and hear you first, so know what they’ll get more of on the webinar.
And you can drive visitors to your webinar invite page very fast by using paid ads – on Linkedin, Facebook or google ads, wherever you reach your target market, because you can get super-targeted traffic by setting up your demographic. If you get some help, it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune per click. But make sure you’re tracking how well those clicks convert to webinar registrations and sales!
In episode 29 on Leveraging Group Programs a couple of weeks ago, we touched on how you can use paid advertising to drive registrations for your webinar. If you don’t have a big list or a big following on social media, that’s by far the fastest way to get people into your sales process.
Making the Offer on a Discovery Call
Another great way we can sell a high-ticket program fast is to get people on a call. In my day, it used to be the telephone, nowadays more often we use zoom. Just as with video or a webinar where people can see you and hear you and maybe interact with you if it’s live, a one-to-one discovery session is a great bridge to help someone get to know, like and trust you, more so than the phone and definitely more so than emails.
It’s often been a reason people prefer to close a sale in person. Because if you want someone to feel confidence in you to buy, you need to look them in the eye and shake their hand. So nowadays, with zoom, you’re at least halfway there!
A discovery call works great for both parties – for you and for your prospective client for your program. It’s the best way to determine if someone is the right fit for an online group program, especially if there’s a participative or coaching element.
And after you’ve explained what’s in the package, what you’re helping them with is making the decision that’s the best one for what they want to achieve… B2B may involve a bit of flexibility/customisation or negotiation.
That’s why the sales page is just one step in the process of discovery for your potential program participants.
Some of you probably dread or detest doing “those calls”. You can’t get your mind away from knowing at the end of the call you have to try to “sell” someone something. And I delved into that mindset piece in episode 23 how to use consultative sales to enrol with ease and grace – go listen in to get your belief the right way up on that whole question of serving versus selling.
Because the truth is, discovery or strategy calls are hands down the best and fastest way to get to know a potential client, and for them to get to know you. It’s a quick route to building the trust they need to say yes to your offer and purchase your program.
There’s a school of thought that says you’re doing the right prospect a disservice if you don’t help them say yes if you think it’s a great fit for what they need. And that comes back to your belief in what you do and your confidence that you can deliver the result or outcome they want to achieve. They just need to be able and willing to pay to get it. They don’t work for free and neither do you.
And it’s also because you need to know you CAN help them, to make sure you’re the right person for them and that your online group program is the right solution before they invest. No point wasting each other’s time or money or ending up with a disgruntled person wanting a refund.
So hopefully, you agree, the discovery call is super valuable, and an essential part of the sales process. It’s a great entry point in the relationship you will have with them as a client. So make sure you’re planning effective sales calls and setting yourself up for success.
However, just bear in mind that individual discovery calls are also a drain on your time and energy. So if these are not converting into sales, you need to improve your skills or get better at pre-qualifying who you speak with. I use an application process where I can ask specific questions about the business and where they’re at.
When you can really rock your discovery sessions, you start the ball rolling for a good and long-lasting relationship with your client.
Whether you call it a discovery call, or a strategy call or an exploratory call, it’s the best way to open up that part of the conversation to understand their context, identify their needs, and help your person make the right decision to buy.
In a future article and podcast episode, I’ll go over the structure I use in my strategy calls and share some tips on how to have better discovery sessions and make more sales. So please do send in any questions you have or let me know if there are specific issues or challenges you face so I can make sure to cover those.
The link to submit a question – written or recorded audio – is jayallyson.com/podcast/qa.
And that’s it for this two-parter – how to craft an offer and sell it fast. If you’d like to have a chat one-to-one, go ahead and book a discovery call with me. You knew I was going to say that right??!!!