How to target the right customers
The secret to generating more sales leads comes down to how good your business intelligence is.
You would think business intelligence is about spying on your competitors and copying what they are doing. Gathering business intelligence is quite different, it’s about conducting research that informs the decision making process to generate more leads to grow your business.
You might be trying to grow your business by adding a whole bunch of new products or services hoping this will stimulate sales. Perhaps your sales growth strategy is to discount your products or services to get the sale because, this is what your competitors are doing. You might be trying to grow your business by sending out lots of push messages on social media (which sounds like you are desperate for a sale) because, this is what your competitors do.
These are not good growth strategies.
There is a better way to grow your business. That’s by conducting research which is what good business intelligence is really about.
Sadly, many people in business think that to sell more people, more often, you have to constantly keep pushing your products and services in the face of prospective customers. If you do constantly push your products and services, you are in fact pushing people away and losing business. Let me explain.
Adopt a pull not push strategy
The new marketing paradigm is to have a presence on social media. If you aren’t using social media for business, then you are missing out on sales. Not true! If you are using social media purely as a push strategy, then you are missing out on sales.
Using Twitter as an example, there is a direct message (DM) function where you can message people directly. Every day I check my messages and for the most part, you can tell which ones are robots and which ones aren’t. Here are some examples.
- Thanks for following. If you would like to lose weight fast, here’s a free ….
- Thanks for following. Follow me on Facebook and LinkedIn ….
- Thanks for following. Here’s my latest …. you are going to love it …. here’s the link.
Apart from the fact that most of these DM’s are robots talking, there is nothing authentic about their approach or their message.
Let’s examine what’s wrong with these messages. The first one about losing weight, there is an assumption that I want to lose weight. No I don’t want to lose weight so I immediately ignore the message. They also asked a yes or no question.
Rule number one in sales; don’t ask yes no questions unless you know the answer.
The second response is asking me to follow them on Facebook or LinkedIn. I find myself asking why? There is no compelling reason for me to do this and clutter an already cluttered world of chitter chatter tweet tweet.
Rule number two in sales; make sure you give a compelling reason why people should support you. What’s in it for them? Very simply, WHY should you connect with them and WHY should they connect with you.
The third response is telling me I am going to love their offering and to click on the link. They don’t know me. They don’t know what I like, don’t like or love.
Rule number three in sales; don’t tell someone you have the most fantastic product or service in the world and they are going to love it. You know nothing about them, their wants or their needs. How could you, you are making assumptions based on ….. what?
This is not exclusive to Twitter, it also happens with Facebook where misguided business pages are focused on telling their following how great they are and the next greatest thing they have to sell. Tell, Tell, Tell! Sell, Sell, Sell! No wonder people don’t engage. Businesses forget it’s called social media for a reason. Being social means posting other content on these platforms that keep people engaged. If your prospective customers are engaged, they begin to trust you and trust is very important in growing your sales.
Many small business owners feel the only way to make a sale is to constantly tell you about their products and services. This is a push strategy and the premise behind it is, if you push enough, a sale will stick. This scatter-gun approach takes an enormous amount of energy and time wishing and hoping you’ll make a sale.
The problem with adopting a push strategy to grow sales, is that it’s very akin to bullying. Yes, some businesses do make some sales using this strategy but in the long run it doesn’t work.
When someone feels browbeaten into buying something, even if they do buy from you, they end up resenting you and won’t want to buy from you again. Certainly not the way to build a loyal customer base.
The push approach puts people off because they begin to fear you. When people fear you, they start to avoid you. You often see this approach in multi-level marketing (MLM). People begin to doubt the motives of some in MLM. They wonder if the person is only being nice to them just so they can push their own agenda. It’s the stereotypical ‘bad’ salesperson approach who jumps all over you when you walk onto a car yard, store or marketplace. You just want to be left alone to wander and not feel attacked.
The pull strategy is like having a magnet where people are attracted to you (not as in love) but as in trust and friendship. Because people don’t like to buy from people they don’t like, building that trust and rapport with prospective customers is the number one component of being authentic in sales and in business.
Going back to the Twitter examples above, not one of those messages got to the WHY. They all talked about the how, what and who.
When you get to the WHY, not the HOW, WHAT or WHO, you start to become an authentic seller. One that prospective customers begin to trust because they feel you are looking to help them, not sell them.
Simon Sinek talks about this in his famous Ted Talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” viewed over 26 million times on YouTube. Although the title sounds like it’s about leadership, it’s really about the WHY in sales and how great companies like Apple have such a huge following of loyal customers. It’s because they understand their customers WHY.
Having a WHY in your approach to selling, particularly on social media, means the difference between making potential sales and banging your head against the proverbial keyboard with tweet after tweet after direct message for little or no return.
What is your why?
Why would people buy your products or services? What is unique about your product and service offering? What is your value proposition? If you don’t know your customers, WHY it’s because you probably don’t understand how people make buying decisions. People don’t like being sold to (push strategy) however they do like to buy (pull strategy).
Buyers go through a sales process when they look to buy. Some people make buying decisions very quickly and others make buying decisions very slowly. A lot has to do with the price point. An impulse buy of a dollar or two doesn’t break the bank however you find very few impulse buys when it comes to property or a car because the investment is much greater.
Getting to the why comes down to buyer motivation. Although we all have different buying strategies, we all buy for only two reasons; to take away the pain of a problem or to gain the rewards from pursuing an opportunity.
Generating leads and making sales are the lifeblood of any business. If you don’t think this is the case, then trying running your business without making sales (unless you are for non-profit with federal or state funding to back you up). You can add all the new products and services you like, if you don’t know your ideal customers WHY – then you are wasting your time and you won’t grow your business.
In order to find out what your prospective buyers WHY’s are, you need to create buyer personas for your business.
Creating a buyer persona
A buyer persona is a fictional character that represents your ideal customer which is either based on market research and/or using real data from your current customer base. These fictional characters or personas, help you to identify and understand who your prospective customers are.
A buyer persona is not merely a description of your prospective customers, it’s a profile of your ideal customers. A buyer persona gives you an insight into what your prospective customers may be thinking or doing and WHY they should buy from you. Buyer personas uncover a prospective customer’s dominant buying motive? They indicate what pain they may be experiencing so you can match your products and services to take their pain or problems away. Buyer personas also identify the rewards prospective customers will they gain from buying from you?
Buyer personas give you insights into your prospective customers WHY.
This is important because people don’t buy your products and services, they buy what your products and services do for them, in other words, the benefits they will receive by doing business with you. People don’t insurance, they buy peace of mind. That’s their WHY.
Women don’t buy cosmetics, they buy fabulousness (if there is such a word) – they want to look and feel fabulous. That’s their WHY.
People don’t buy a mobile phone to talk or download data, they buy connectivity both personally and in business. That’s their WHY to keep up to date and be connected to their friends, family and business.
Creating buyer personas inform you exactly who your target market is, what their likely problems and opportunities are and how your products or services can either resolve their problems or help them gain the rewards from an opportunity.
How to create a buyer persona
Before you can create a buyer persona, you need to ask some critical questions about each fictional character associated with your buyer personas. This includes identifying their age, income, job role and title along with possible fears, goals and challenges they commonly experience carrying out their role. You also want to know how your products and services will benefit them and resolve any problems or opportunities they might face.
In other words, you need to conduct some research.
1. Conduct market research
The strongest buyer personas will be based on the quality of your research. You could engage a market research company to conduct the research on your behalf. This can be time consuming not to mention the cost. Great if you have the budget, but the majority of small to medium business enterprises don’t. Therefore, here are some other strategies you can use to identify who your ideal customers are.
- Conduct surveys with existing customers or prospective buyers
- Use your website or social media analytics to gain insight into your current customers
- Research who your competitors typically sell to
- Conduct a focus group made up of existing customers, prospective customers, suppliers and other interested parties
The objective of your research is to find out the following:
- Why are they likely to buy from you and not your competitors?
- Where are they likely to see your marketing messages? (marketing channels)
- How will you go about reaching your ideal customers?
- When are they likely to buy? (now or sometime in the future)
- What are their needs, problems and opportunities?
- Who are the key decision makers?
2. Give your personas a name and an identity
Now that you have some idea of who your ideal customers are, time to create their typical personas to include the following details.
- What is their name?
- How old are they likely to be?
- What is their gender, male or female?
- Are they single, married or do they have a partner?
- Do they have children, if so how many and how old are they?
- Where do they live, in the city, a small town or a rural area?
- Where do they work or do they own a business?
- What is their job role and title?
- How much do they earn a year?
- What is their highest level of education?
- What are their career or business aspirations?
- How computer literate or tech savvy are they?
3. What are their communication preferences
If you want to sell more people more often, then it’s really important to talk to prospective buyers in a language they understand using a marketing channel are they likely to interact with. For instance, a younger demographics are likely to engage with social media and an older demographics might prefer to engage with radio or the newspaper. You could have the greatest marketing message in the world but if you use the wrong channels to communicate it, you have just wasted your money.
Problems and Opportunities
- What challenges do they face personally?
- What challenges do they face professionally?
- What opportunities would they most likely want to pursue?
- What are the common objection they are most likely to raise when looking to buy your products or services?
- What would be their biggest buying concerns?
- What is their dominant buying motive? (their WHY)
The problems and opportunity questions above will help you identify your buyer personas WHY. Once you know their WHY, you can then identify how your products and services can benefit your buyer personas and plan a sales and marketing strategy that will resonate with them.
4. Put your buyer persona together
Now that you have gathered all the information about your buyer personas, time to put it all together. There are many ways to style a buyer persona, it depends on your business and individual needs. You transfer all the information into a format that works for you depending on how well informed you need them to be.
5. Use your buyer personas to inform your marketing strategy
If you have completed your research and taken the time to create several buyer personas of your ideal customers, you will then get to understand their WHY. Using their WHY, you can then craft smart marketing messages that will resonate with them and use the right marketing channels to deliver that message.
Not only do buyer personas help you create smart marketing campaigns for less money, you also grow your sales accordingly.
Download the Buyer Persona Toolkit in our Free Resources section of this website.
On a final note
When you create buyer personas, you identity WHY people should buy from you. When you identify the WHY, you are able to sell more people more often by matching your products and services to their WHY.
In a Nutshell
Business intelligence is about gathering information about the market and using that intelligence to inform the decision making process in your business.
- Adopt a pull strategy not a push strategy to grow your business
- If you are using social media, remember to engage with your followers, don’t keep push, push and pushing your products and services
- Find out your customers and prospective customers WHY
- Create buyer personas to identify your target market
- Use buyer personas to inform your marketing messages
- Create marketing messages that resonate with your ideal customers
- Use marketing channels your buyer personas are most likely to use to deliver your marketing messages