Selling to strangers is different

Ask 100 small business owners how they find customers and 99 of us will say "word-of-mouth".

What we won't tell you is that our word-of-mouth marketing is not well tuned engine that spits out a steady stream of great prospects. They arrive by luck or magic.

We say "word-of-mouth" because saying "haven't-a-clue" makes us sound a little iffy.

These word-of-mouth prospects have survived huge odds to get safely to our door. It would be almost impossible not to sell to them.

  • They're ready to buy now.
  • They know someone who bought from you.
  • That customer had a great experience.
  • They told that customer about their problem.
  • That customer remembered how to get hold of you.
  • That customer was confident enough to suggest you.
  • They contacted you.
  • You responded.
You pat yourself on the back, proud of your abilities as the world's greatest salesman. Your closing rate today is 100%.

Contrast that with the strangers arriving the first time you start advertising effectively*.

  • They're ice-cold. They haven't had someone they trust telling them how good you are.
  • You're probably one of many they're contacting. I've seen people with spreadsheets full of pros and cons for a bunch of suppliers.
  • They might not be ready to buy today. Some people mull for ages before handing over cash.
You now wield your trusty sales abilities at this stranger and find yourself with a much lower conversion rate. Maybe only one or two in every 10 buy today. What's the most likely reason for these poor results?
  1. This kind of advertising produces rubbish prospects.
  2. You need to sell differently to strangers than you do to hot referrals.
Sadly I've seen more people assume the first. They turn off the tap get rid of the strangers and keep hoping for more word-of-mouth prospects.  

*I'm talking about the kind of advertising that results in a steady stream of potential customers knocking on your door, ringing your phone or landing in your inbox.  Not the branding kind that makes your mom proud every time she sees your ad.

© Peter Bowen 2017 | Isle of Wight

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