You walk into a bar. After ordering a drink you head over to an attractive stranger on the other side of the room and ask, “will you marry me?” They gasp in surprise and exclaim “yes absolutely!” and the two of you live happily ever after.
That story is, to put it kindly, painfully ridiculous. We know instantly and without question that it can’t be true. Real life doesn’t work that way. There’s absolutely no way you could, or should, ask a total stranger for that kind of commitment. We understand that it takes time to build admiration, shared goals and trust within a romantic relationship. But somehow, we forget that the same is true for business relationships.
As business owners we tend to believe sending a few emails and running ads on Google or Facebook will attract people to our websites. Once there they will immediately buy our core offering and we will live happily ever after with our new customer. Real life doesn’t work like that either.
In this blog we’re going to explore:
Engineering the Ideal Sales Conversation
The ideal sales conversation is very simple. A prospect offers to pay you to solve a problem for them.
Thankfully, unlike our previous analogy this conversation does actually happen on its own, but not very often. The conditions need to be just right for an ideal sales conversation to occur. With a little intentionality you can design and create these magical moments with predictability.
There are three main ingredients needed to create the perfect storm sales conversation.
First, your prospect should think of you as a strategic partner and not a predatory salesperson. Unless what you’re selling is both illegal and addictive, nobody wants to be in your sales funnel. This means you want to quickly convert prospects to customers in a small way while also adding value in a big way. When you do that well, the relationship dynamic changes and you become the trusted advisor.
Second, the customer should know that you fully understand their problems and empathize with them. This is different from using marketing to tell your customer what’s wrong with their business. It takes real relationship building to gain deep insights into your customers pain points.
Finally, your customer needs to have complete trust that you can deliver on your promises and solve their problems. That kind of trust comes from creating a transformational experience that brings real value to the customer – well before you ask for a larger commitment.
When your customer views you as a strategic partner who understands their pain and trusts that you can deliver, then they’re primed for an ideal sales conversation.
Most ideal sales conversations happen inside an existing customer relationship – where the vendor is already viewed as a trustworthy, empathetic, and value creating partner. Once someone has decided to become a customer, it’s much easier for them to continue acting like your customer than it is for them to become someone else’s prospect.
Up selling your existing customers is like helping fish scale a dam. Instead of one gigantic leap, you take them through a few smaller steps. And one of the initial steps is a First-Time Offer.
What Is a First-Time Offer?
A First-Time Offer (FTO) is a relationship building shortcut we use to get out of sales mode as quickly as possible. Instead of using brute force to batter down your prospect’s fears and objections, the FTO allows you to subtly change the relationship dynamic by delivering value in advance. The best First-Time Offers are such phenomenally good deals that you would proudly offer them to your best friend.
The deal should be so good that it completely removes all reasonable objections and qualified prospects have no choice but to become a customer.
So, what is an FTO? First-Time Offers are small, productized offerings that bring your new customer disproportionate value for their money. These discreet services lead your customers toward your main offering without the pushiness of a sales pitch. You want to help your customer gain insight and solve part of their problem. (Because unless it solves a problem, you’re not delivering value.) But it should expose your customers bigger pain points and leave them un-solved.
FTOs are really, really cheap. Your First-Time Offer should be priced so that it becomes an impulse buy. (Not discretionary or budgetary.) It’s the business equivalent of the cash in your wallet or the coins in the couch. That means it needs to be priced insanely cheap, but not free. The goal is to find real customers who are happy to exchange money for value. The goal is not to give away free samples.
Finally, your First-Time Offer shouldn’t be made up of leftovers from your main offering or services you already give away for free. You need to deliver real business value, otherwise it won’t help you build a trusting partnership with your new customers. If you’re not solving problems, then you aren’t delivering value.
The natural objection you may have to this strategy is “this sounds like a lot of up-front work that has to happen before I actually start making money.” But, by the time you’ve completed all the FTO deliverables, you will have turned a prospect into a customer who feels like you’ve given them more value than they paid for. You will have gotten paid to run deep sales discovery which will inform how you position your primary offering.
You’ve also made a major psychological change in the customer’s mind. By providing a valuable service to them you’ve removed the fear and doubt they may have had about working with you. You’ve gained a leg up on your competition by turning their prospect into your customer. Finally, you’ve built a barrier to exit. In order to leave, your new customer will need to ignore their sunk cost, choose to stop doing business with a partner who delivered disproportionate value for money, and choose to start the uncertain process of shopping for a new vendor.
Signing a business contract can be a lot like getting married. It’s a long-term commitment that requires trust and mutually aligned goals. In both cases trying to jump straight from hello to let’s sign paperwork is a tough sell.
Using a First-Time Offer to engineer the ideal sales conversation is like adding a coffee date to your sales funnel. It gives you both the chance to spend time together and grow a real relationship. It may seem like your slowing down your sales process, but slowing down is often the best way to quickly build trust.