The first lesson you learn in sales is how to qualify a lead.
After all, speaking with someone who’s not legitimately interested in your product or service is a waste of your time — and theirs.
But there’s something that’s even more important than making sure your prospect wants to buy what you’re pitching: ensuring that they’ll be happy with the purchase long after you’ve cashed their check.
Just because you can smooth talk your way into a sale doesn’t mean you should.
Let’s take a look at the reason why.
The long game
As a busy content marketer with short-term sales goals, it’s easy to lose track of what your long-term objective actually is.
No matter how exciting the launch you’re in the middle of is, what’ll really build trust and authority — and, ultimately, ensure the health of your revenue and your business — is developing trust with your readers.
And one of the quickest ways to lose someone’s trust is to sell them something that’s not a good fit for them.
What is a good fit?
If you’ve been reading up on persuasion, your product or service may practically sell itself.
However, you’re likely to get emails or blog comments from people wondering if they’re a good fit.
Here are some ways to determine whether you should encourage a sale or walk away from it.
Do they have the problem you’re trying to solve?
You had a very specific problem in mind when designing your sale, long before you started illustrating features and benefits.
The first step to determining whether a product is right for a particular person is to see if they have the same problem you’re trying to solve.
Let’s take a look at New Rainmaker as an example.
Rainmaker is a marketing and digital sales platform that is intended for people who want a website with all the bells and whistles, but don’t want to go through the trouble of building it. Instead of researching WordPress plugins and trying to determine the best ones for their specific needs, they want to be working on what they do best.
It’s for business owners who want phenomenal website features without breaking the bank (or spending time they don’t have) on something they’re not comfortable working with.
On the other hand, website developers who tinker with code for fun don’t have that problem. They enjoy researching and installing various plugins or creating custom code, and don’t mind the time it takes.
A good product or service is highly specialized. It’s a mistake to try to be all things to all people — or to pretend you are, in order to get the sale.
Instead, be honest with your audience about whether something is right for them.
Will your solution help them with their long-term goal?
Sometimes, what you think they want isn’t what they need.
It’s tempting to offer assistance, but turning down the sale, and explaining why, will build loyalty. And working for that sale will only build frustration and hurt your reputation down the road.
I often meet with startups and creative entrepreneurs who think they need to hire a PR firm to build buzz for their business. Agencies that will gladly take their money are a dime a dozen, but the really smart public relations specialists will take the time to ask them what their overall objective is.
Brand new businesses with little traction are unlikely to get much ROI from a media push, especially if they view earned media as a replacement for good old-fashioned validation. Businesses that need someone to manage the media they’re already getting, on the other hand, may very well benefit from specialized assistance to help them handle the load.
Is your delivery palatable to your prospect?
The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed. ~Carl Jung
The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung wrote the quote above, referring to the relationship between a patient and physician.
That transformation can either be delightful or downright volatile.
Bartenders know this truth better than anyone. They’d be unlikely to recommend an Old Fashioned to someone who’s been ordering Strawberry Daiquiris, and wouldn’t dream of recommending rum and diet to someone looking for whiskey.
Savvy marketers are clear with their readers about who their product is for, and who it’s not for. An online course designed for complete beginners will bore more advanced students, while a highly specialized program can overwhelm beginners.
An online course with minimal interaction may discourage a reader looking for a lot of support. On the other hand, someone used to working alone may not see an online forum as a benefit.
It’s always a good idea to let prospects self-select early on by providing detailed information about what you’re offering.
Play the long game
It can be painful to turn down a sale.
But remember, it’s the right strategy to build long-term loyalty.
Being honest about whether your product is a good fit or not has many benefits. Instead of creating unsatisfied customers — who express their dissatisfaction and ask for a refund — you’ll build the type of trust and loyalty needed to cultivate customers for the long haul.
Now over to you
Have you ever sacrificed short-term sales to build long-term loyalty? How did it go? What did you learn?
Let us know by joining the discussion over at Google-Plus.