Here’s another one of those quotes that’s chock full of truth, yet no one is exactly sure who said it first. Maybe that’s because the idea it expresses is so universal that many people have independently uttered it – or something like it – that establishing attribution is impossible.
However, I’m not here on a linguistic treasure hunt, I’m here to give you some help making those sales happen and I’m going to divide this task up into categories loosely based on where your business might be today: starting up, beginning to cruise along or trying to break into the (fairly) big time.
Making your first sales
Growing up, many of us made our first sales by giving our baked goods or magazine sales sheets to our parents so they could sell to their coworkers. Alas, most of us are beyond those days – in fact I suspect many of you are trotting off to work with a signup sheet for cookie orders in hand these days – so your business needs a different strategy.
However, the idea behind those childhood cookie sales is still operative: approach people with whom you already have a relationship.
Your first email list
Even before you start working to build an email list, you have a pretty good “hidden” email list – you’ve been building it every time you use your email software or web-based email service. Why not try making your first sales to this list? Here’s what you do:
Craft a sales letter. Keep it short and sweet. Start a new email. Type the letter “A” in the “TO:” field. Everyone you’ve sent to whose email address starts with the letter “A” will appear. Select the first one on the list. Personalize the email if needed, saying something like “Dear Adam,” and then paste in the sales letter you’ve written. Send the email and then move on to the next address that pops up when you start with the letter “A.”
Work your way through the entire alphabet. Yes, it will take a while, but there’s a good chance that the effort will be worth it. By the way, when you write your sales letter, encourage recipients to forward it to other people they know who might be interested in your offer. Personal referrals and introductions are priceless.
Your next email list
People who end up doing business with you from this initial blitz of personal emails can be pulled into a commercial email list that you can have hosted by one of the excellent email service providers (ESPs), such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, AWeber and others.
There are lots of good “Tips for building your email list” around the Interweb, so I won’t go there in this article. What I want to mention here is the beauty of an autoresponder. When you sent emails via your personal account, you were the autoresponder.
Autoresponders can be used to automatically send a series of emails that lead the recipients on a journey. For example, if you wanted to sell a series of videos you put together on winning in Las Vegas, you could share a few tips via email to build interest and then end the series with two emails that have these subject lines:
- How to Beat Vegas Video Series 10-Day Sale! Then 9 days later send this one:
- How to Beat Vegas Video Series 10-Day Sale ends today!
Add more automation
To keep from writing a book, I’ve focused on email marketing here, but when you have a more established business, a business with bigger ticket items, or a B2B company, there’s a good chance that you’ll need other pipelines to feed into your sales funnel.
The standard ESPs are great at automating email, but ask them to pick up a phone and they just stare at you like you’re crazy. You’ll want to add more tools to your collection. A customer relationship management system combined with a predictive dialing system could pay big dividends as you move to automating your marketing efforts.
Infusionsoft, for example, allows you to create marketing sequences that can include events such as sending an email, mailing a standard letter or catalog, sending a FAX, or even picking up the phone and calling a customer. Further, the software can react to what prospects do and put them into different automated sequences. When placing a phone call is the best way to get a sale, you don’t want to be blindly cold calling in an attempt to get prospects into your sales funnel. A system like CallTools will automate the process, which enhances productivity.
Let’s take a step back for a moment here as we lower the curtain. We started out with an effective, somewhat efficient and very low-cost system of selling to everyone you’ve emailed over the last couple of decades. We applied some automation to your emails and finally we added telephone sales and greatly enhanced our options based on how our prospects behave.
Now you just need to go out there and start doing it, because remember: Nothing happens until someone sells something.