Getting More Sales

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When you’re first starting out in business it can be a little disheartening to answer a whole bunch of enquiries but not get any orders. In business speak we call this your ‘conversion rate’ – meaning the amount of people you manage to convert from prospects into paying clients. Effective converting and selling is a skill set all on its own. Some people are just born salespeople who have the gift of the gab and are naturally persuasive, while the rest of us really need to work at it.  If you already find “putting it out there” uncomfortable, then me telling you that you’ve got to learn sales skills probably feels a little, well, yuck.  It feels somehow dishonest or desperate, both of which are things nobody wants to be! Here are a few things which help you convert better (make more sales) but that don’t require you to wear a bad suit or feel like you’re begging for the order.

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Make it really, really easy for people to order from you. 

Don’t make ordering a fifteen step process that exhausts people before they have begun. If people can order online from you (either product or classes), make sure the entire process, from selecting the item to checking out of your shopping cart is uncomplicated and easy to use.  The “buy now” button, “shop here” and “online ordering” buttons and pages should be really easy to find.  I’ve seen a lot of websites where I want to buy something from them, but it takes me so long to figure out HOW to buy something that I just give up! Don’t make it hard for people to buy from you.

The same is true for offline purchases. Make it VERY clear how they can pay their deposits, what the process is (and make it a short process.) Don’t wait for them to ASK how to do it, tell them! This is another place where having clear, simple and defined business procedures will really help you out because there is no question for you or your customer how to proceed with the order.

 

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Take control of the communication

When you’ve reached the point in the email conversation where they clearly are interested and wanting to order from you, actually pick up the phone and call them. “Hi Jane, I thought it would be quicker if I just called you to confirm the details we spoke about in email and get the deposit organized.”  The longer you keep dragging out that email conversation, the more of your time you are wasting, and the less likely you are to get the sale done and over with.  It’s also a lot harder to say no over the phone to someone – so you’re effectively closing the deal just by calling them.  If this sounds scary to you, remember that you’ve already established their interest in you via email, so this isn’t a cold sales call. (How to get their phone number: Make it a required field on your website “contact us” form so that they have to give it to you to submit their order question. If they didn’t come through your website, ask for it at the very beginning – “What’s the best number to reach  you on in case I need to get in touch about your order?”)

People always ask me if they should chase up quotes after they’ve sent them. My feeling on this is two-fold: if you’ve got the time and you really want to do that order from a creative point of view, a follow up is not a bad idea. If however it’s not really an order you need or are interested in (or it’s a small one that won’t make much difference to you), I’d leave it alone and not bother. I DO think there is a lot to be said for following up, if only because your competitors won’t bother – but nor do I want you wasting hours and hours on chasing up people who aren’t the kind of client you want (eg a client that calls back.)

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Act as if you already have the order

This one works unbelievably well, so often in fact for me that it was far and away my secret weapon to converting enquiries into orders. From the very first time someone contacted me, I would act as if I already had that order confirmed. This means that the language I used in emails or over the phone had an assumption in it that I’d be doing the order. You’re not ASKING them to pay the deposit, you’re telling them they’re going to do it! No, not in a “pay now or I will cut you,” kind of way, but in a gentle, natural way as though the deal has already been sealed and you’re just helping them get there. So at the end of the email instead of saying, “The price is $100,” my email would end by saying, “To create this for you is $100. To secure the date, I ask for a 50% deposit which needs to be paid by Pay Pal (include link toPP) by April 20th. I’m really looking forward to making this for you, you picked a gorgeous design – the party is going to be amazing!” Nobody reading that would say it sounds slimy or desperate in the slightest. It’s 1) friendly, 2) makes the sales process VERY easy for them by outlining the steps and gives them the chance to take the next steps, and 3) it openly assumes that I’m going to get the gig.  If you’re acting as if the deal is done, and confident that you’re going to be the only person who can make this thing for them, they are going to feel that confidence and just go with it. Plus you’re saving them a ton of time and effort here – you’re making the process easy, simple and most of all you are meeting their needs right NOW, not ten emails from now.

So how do I know this stuff works? I used to ask ALL my clients for feedback and testimonials and the one sentence which got repeated over and over again was, “Thanks so much Michelle, you made the entire process so easy for me!”  We live in an age where people are immensely time poor, reluctant to commit, and bombarded by sales requests all day long. If you can help them save time, help them commit to making a choice – you’re already halfway to getting the order. You’re flat out saying that you’re going to make it happen for them. Don’t we ALL just want that certainty, that confidence, that knowledge that a job is going to get done, get done right, and not require a bunch of flapping around to make it happen?

Here’s the BFO (Big Fat Obvious) key to closing the deal and making more sales: Don’t make the process all about you, make it all about them.

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3 comments on “Getting More Sales

  1. Hi!
    I love, love, LOVE your blog! I’m thinking about starting a business of my own and it’s so wonderful to read tips that are specifically set in the baking industry. 🙂 Most of them are quite universal and can be used anywhere in the world.

    There was one thing in this post, though, that caught my eye and gave me a really uncomfortable feeling: it was the part where you suggested calling a potential client to settle a long email correspondence to result in an order.
    I believe that is a culture-related thing. For instance over here in Finland that kind of selling would be frowned upon and result in loss in sales and a damaged reputation. We do take our privacy very seriously. 🙂
    If I was ordering a cake and the baker called me before I’d actually ordered anything, I would end the conversation very quickly, would take my money elsewhere and tell all my friends to do the same because obviosly that baker was really creepy and way too pushy. 😀 It’s cultural.

    I hope you keep writing this awesome blog! I love your stories and insights.
    Have a happy autumn!

    -Pia

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