Sales are the cornerstone of any business because there can be no clients without them, and hence no revenue and development. Sales formats can vary and include cold calling, social network advertising and billboards on streets, but their ultimate goal is to sell services or goods. So why sometimes an entire marketing department develops a strategy but there is no result? The simple answer is that they did not manage to interest their audience, did not find it, or did not understand. If you learn to understand what task of the client you can deal with, sales conversion rate will reach a whole new level.
Do not rub salt into wounds, but deal with the problem
Everybody knows that it is healthy to avoid fatty and sweet foods, walk outside, and exercise and jog. But how many people who know this do all this regularly? You know the answer, at the very best it will be 1 out of 100, or probably even fewer than that.
The situation in sales is similar. Everyone knows that they need to know their client, their target audience and try to meet its needs. However, managers usually sell not what people need, but what is in stock.
Let’s take, for instance, a dance school. Managers sell regular classes in classical European dances or Argentine tango. And clients want to feel intense emotions, develop a healthy lifestyle, seek the thrill, and enjoy a cozy atmosphere. An online language school sells English for business, prepares students for exams and offers lessons in Chinese twice a week. Clients, most likely, want a new hobby, be able to communicate freely with friends all over the world, and develop self-confidence. There are numerous examples in all niches.
So, how can you increase your sales, make clients happy and improve your business? The answer is simple: just ask your client.
Many marketing experts tend to search for their clients’ sore spots. They are important, and need to be dealt with, but before that, it is necessary to understand the client’s core needs, what they want from using your goods or services, and what personal needs they need to fulfill.
The most amazing thing about this approach is that in the process of understanding the hierarchy of client’s needs, the owner and top managers begin to better understand their product and its place on the market, its unique tasks and best features.
You shouldn’t try too hard by stepping into the client’s shoes and think about their potential choices; you just need to regularly ask your clients about what brought them to you, what product or service they are seeking, what is going on in their lives, and why they should approach you.
Here is a case study: a large city has a cafe in a shopping mall. The owners approached us to figure out an offer they could provide to visitors. We went through various traditional ideas such as freshly brewed coffee, meal that feels like home, and others. And then we saw that visitors actually enjoyed staying in that café to ponder on their household chores in a quiet environment. As a result, our offer included the message: “Sort all your household chores at our café and work in a quiet atmosphere.” There was a response from people, and the customer flow grew very fast.
The trend is your friend
Despite its simplicity, solution-based selling is a universal approach that works for any business and niche. For instance, you seek ways to stand out in a marketplace that has a thousand sellers offering the same product. You do not have to invent anything: just look through reviews of the product from competitors, note good things customers say, and just copy them to your page. Response will inevitably come because people normally write product reviews to emphasize benefits they actually consider important.
An example of such approach would be major property developers who sell apartments through their subsidiaries. Instead of offering a 76 square meter apartment on the 18th floor in a new 100-unit residential building with no parking space, they offer renderings to present the future vision: infrastructure, stores, schools, kindergartens and sports clubs within walking distance, and a happy childhood for kids or privacy in a quiet center. Essentially, they are selling a future life scenario targeted at potential residents who represent various social groups.
Large retail chains are aware that using customer value hierarchy to generate more sales is important. Marketing campaigns, gamification, mobile apps and Wednesday morning discounts for the elderly – this all addresses an entire scope of customer needs.
As regards small and medium-sized businesses, the situation is much worse. Nearly 60% are aware that businesses exist to interact with customers in a certain way, but are not eager to change the entire marketing paradigm. 40% of owners simply fail to understand the essence of client tasks as well as reasons for handling them, seeing their business as going great.
The existing trend towards marketing transformation to address core client problems is very relevant. However, as in the case of a healthy lifestyle and morning jogs, a very small amount of entrepreneurs are willing to take consistent efforts.
You need to understand that any competitive niche that uses the solution-based selling approach receives an advantage that will definitely increase business profitability.
Here’s an example: a major software and antivirus systems manufacturer chose this approach and made a basic move by placing two buttons on its website: For Your Home and For Your Business, increasing its sales 16-fold. This result is not unique; experience shows that any business that starts addressing problems of several client groups gets its conversion rate growing rapidly and immensely.
By Alexander Buravtsov, co-founder, BondaBiz consulting company