One of the most important elements of any search-based lead generation campaign is the offer – what does your prospect get as a result of giving you their contact information?
Ideally, this offer acts like a magnet, attracting qualified prospects and having no effect on non-prospects (in this metaphor qualified prospects are iron or nickel, while unqualified prospects are lead, or wood, or belly-button lint).
A good “magnet” can bring in oodles of qualified prospects, while a poorly conceived or described offer can stop your lead flow dead in its tracks.
There are several different forms of the “what’s in it for them” for becoming a lead. Three basic formats include the sales consultation, a demo or sample of the product or service, and information about the prospect’s need. This article will focus on the first two.
The sales consultation is fairly straightforward: fill out this form and we’ll get in touch and try to sell you stuff. While hopefully your sales consultation would be, in fact, a consultation in which you assess need and answer questions, the fact is that most prospects are highly resistant to “being sold.”
The sales consultation is the default offer, probably because it’s the most obvious and easiest to fulfill. And there are cases where it can be highly effective – especially when you can identify and articulate tangible benefits that come from the consultation itself, even if no deal is closed.
For example, if you're selling a service, your offer should promise several outcomes. Your prospects will gain clarity about their goals, increase their motivation and energy to achieve those goals, and identify and make plans for dealing with likely obstacles.
Even if they don’t end up hiring you, that sales call has tremendous value in and of itself. Your job as a marketer is to highlight that value on the landing page that describes the offer. Here’s some copy:
“We'll get on the phone and talk about your current situation, your goals, and the challenges that have been getting in the way. Whether we decide to work together or not, you'll leave the call with a clearer picture of what you need to do, and you'll be more energized than you've been in months.”
Tips for Marketing a Sales Call
1. Give it a title that highlights the benefits of the call itself.
My “website scorch” combines an in-depth critique of your website with an action plan for instant improvement.
2. Charge money for it
Nothing says “this is valuable” like making people pay for it. If you position your sales call as a sales call, you often devalue your expertise in the eyes of your prospects. When you charge money for the initial call, you attract a much more attentive prospect. And you approach the call differently yourself, knowing that you have obligated yourself to provide value.
Not everyone can charge for a sales call, but often the only thing holding you back is your own doubts and fears.
3. Limit availability
Nothing erodes prospect confidence faster than your neediness. If you give the impression that you’re just sitting around waiting for the phone to ring, your sales calls will fall into the dynamic of you need them more than they need you.
In fact, the opposite is true. They have money – a commodity. You have knowledge and experience and caring and skills and discernment around a particular topic – that makes you uniquely valuable. They definitely need you much more than you need them.
When you offer the sales call, stress that you only do so many of these per week, or month. And then honor that limit – the worst thing you can do is pretend scarcity and not enforce it.
The truth is, a great sales consultation can be exhausting. You need exquisite presence, you must be a great listener, and you must balance your business needs with the goals and needs of your prospect. There really is a limit to how much attention and presence you can muster each day.
Product or Service Sample
You may have noticed that in the case of my coaching practice, the sales call actually serves as a demonstration of my coaching style and method. If someone came to me pre-sold, I would still begin the paid coaching by asking them about their goals, motivation, obstacles, and so on.
As Mahan Khalsa writes in “Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play”, “the way you sell is a free sample of the way you solve.” (Although, it doesn’t always have to be free.)
If your business is consulting, then your sales call can easily be a sample as well. In order to deliver useful advice, you need to assess their needs, the context in which you’ll be working, what they’ve already tried, who the key stakeholders are, and so on.
The software industry most commonly uses product samples as lead generators. Just like a warm tidbit in a paper cup at the end of a supermarket aisle, a taste of something that makes your prospect’s life easier or more enjoyable can create an appetite for the full-fledged product.
The biggest challenge about sample marketing is getting the prospect to consume the sample, and not just stick a zip file in their downloads folder and forget about it. Samples should be accompanied by an email autoresponder series whose entire purpose is to get the prospect to try it.
Tips for Marketing a Free Sample
1. Turn your consultation into a free sample, if possible.
2. The goal of your sample is to give an experience of what life would be like with your product or service.
Focus on the one or two ways in which your product or service enhances your customers’ lives the most, and craft the sample to address those specific issues.
3. Focus on getting prospects to consume the sample.
If there’s a set-up process, provide a tutorial that makes it drop-dead simple. If using the sample requires a new habit, then provide support to build that habit in your prospects.
Image Credit: explainthatstuff/Flickr