Getting someone to call, click or come in is very important, but if there’s not a plan beyond this, you may actually do more harm than good. After all, most new customers will only investigate you once, and if they don’t find anything they need, then they may be lost forever. So what happens when they respond to your special price, attend new customer event, or call because your blog has caught their attention? While there’s no silver-bullet procedure for turning these warm leads into repeat and referral customers, there are a few things to keep in mind during this critical first interaction:
You know what I hate? When I meet someone that learns that I am a musician, and they immediately tell me what band they just know I would like. It turns me off to the relationship, yet we (myself included) are so excited to get to what we want to say that we do this to customers without thinking about it. Even if the information is right, the fact that we fill in the blanks for ourselves without asking questions might close off the relationship before it gets going. When a customer is coming in to respond to a special, try not to assume a level of interest or knowledge in what you hope to do for them. Ask what brought them, if they’ve ever tried anything like this before, and if the answer is no, do everything that you can to make it a stress-free learning process. These answers can also tell you a lot about their overall commitment level and whether or not they find value in what you do. This information will be invaluable in the next steps.
Work from their responses
Rather than have a script or a path that people are guided through, just know your product and your other customers. Through conversation and observation, work with what you’re given to best assess how you can help (or not help) new customers. Gaining an assessment of their needs will require not simply waiting for them to ask for a service, but perhaps highlighting something that they didn’t even know about, and preventing them from having to do the research for themselves. Printed material is handy at this point, but only if you’re using it to highlight what you’re talking about in order to add clarity. When discussing their needs and your possible solutions, keep it experiential rather than product focused. In my experience, a conversation regarding logo design goes far better when discussing what my work has done for similar companies than it does when I describe an abstract logo process. This is where knowing your prior work comes in handy, so that you can have relevant, useful stories at your fingertips.
Sell for the long term
Odds are that your new contact is not buying anything big today. That’s not objectively a failure, because today was an opportunity to position yourself for the long term. Perhaps you have something they need, but it’s expensive and feels like a big commitment. They may eventually buy, but they need to trust you first. Rather than just push for what makes a good sale, has the best margin, or is going to help you win the trip to Cancun if you sell the most by Friday, think about what will benefit the relationship over the long term. Is there a way to break this into chunks, work with a smaller solution in the short term, and create a situation where they have an out if they feel they need it? If the customer feels in control of a gradual process during which they have options, you have the chance to build a longer, trusting relationship with them that could send you to Cancun twice, and everyone will win along the way.