By Gil Cargill, Sales Acceleration Coach, Cargill Consulting Group, Inc.
In the preface that I published last week, I talked about the fact that you and your sales team need to be very clear regarding the results that are produced by your products and services when a customer contracts with you. If you don't understand the quantity of results (as measured by the client) and the value of results (again, from the customer's point of view), then you are doomed to pitching your features and prices. Obviously, this is an unprofitable way to go to market.
In this chapter, I will talk about building a prospect attraction system. The keyword in this entire phrase is system. If you don't have a systematic way to attract new contacts to your value propositions, your company's growth will stagnate. Literally, all of the 20th-century techniques are old-school and don't work anymore. Phone-calling, by itself, doesn't work. In many instances, canvassing is prohibited. Consequently, there are new ways that must be employed to drive traffic.
First, let's explore the definition of traffic. I define traffic as anyone that comes across your path, gets onto your "radar screen", and/or is hovering above your funnel. They're hovering above your funnel and not yet ready to be defined as a prospect but are a demographically desirable opportunity. Traffic can come to you in many ways. Also, you can and should go out and generate your own traffic. You'll learn both methods in this chapter.
Traffic can be defined as a contact who hits your website and fills out a form, as someone that calls in to your business, or as someone that you proactively meet at a networking event, tradeshow, et cetera. Traffic also includes contacts that are generated by cold-calling, direct mail, mass media advertising, SEO advertising, pay-per-click advertising… you name it.
Clearly, there are a million ways to drive and/or create traffic but, as Henry Ford once said, "Fifty percent of my advertising worked, but… I don't know which fifty." Today, it's very difficult (probably impossible) for a business to grow and succeed if you only utilize one strategy for driving your traffic. Let's examine each of the techniques and/or strategies, individually.
- Website: Many companies spend an inordinate amount of time, energy and effort to develop beautiful websites. The website is indeed beautiful, but it's worthless – and I repeat – totally worthless, if no one sees it. Even worse, statistics show that upwards of 90% (and, in some cases, more than 90%) of website visitors fail to identify themselves. Therefore, you have invested a significant amount of money to create a beautiful edifice (i.e., your website), but you don't know who has visited your website.
This problem can be remedied with a tool that we and many other companies offer. These tools are in the category of anonymous website visitor ID. These tools work very much like caller ID on your cellphone. It will let you know from what companies these visitors originated. You then have to do some "James Bond" sleuthing to find the individual within the company, but it's a lot easier to find that individual when you know what company they work for.
While we're on the topic of websites, let's take a quick gander at your website. What's in it for a prospect to leave their name, phone number, contact information, et cetera? If there's no value that they'll derive by giving you their information, they won't give it to you. As a matter of fact, I've seen some websites that didn't even have a place for a prospect to leave their name and phone number, in the event that they did want to get some information.
I encourage you to stop measuring your website based on its attractiveness and start measuring it based on the number of people that visit the website and identify themselves. Google, for instance, offers a myriad of analytics. These are useful, if you have the bandwidth to do split-testing. Split-testing literally means offering the same product or service two different ways to your audience. Google's analytics will tell you which approach and/or message is more effective.
Unfortunately, it won't tell you who resonated with that message. So, it's time for you to get serious about your website, identify the value (from a prospect's point of view) of leaving their name, address and phone number, as well as start driving the traffic to your website.
- Pay-per-click: This is my favorite method for driving traffic. It will produce instantaneous results but, if you don't have the aforementioned anonymous website visitor ID tool on your website, you will spend a lot of money in pay-per-click advertising to drive people to your website, but you won't get the maximum return on your investment due to the fact that they will, in all likelihood, not identify themselves.
This is true unless the offer that you present, in exchange for identification, is overwhelmingly seductive and valuable. But, if you have a visitor ID tool on your website, you will have the ability to know what company these people come from.
- SEO: SEO also drives traffic to your website, but it does not produce instant results. SEO only works if it is attended to regularly. By that, I simply mean that you must review your rankings, keyword positions, et cetera weekly. Adjustments must be made continuously. Remember, your competition is doing the same thing.
Even worse, the search engines frequently modify their algorithms and, in some cases, I've seen companies drop from very high rankings (single digits) to extraordinarily low rankings, overnight. This is as a result of the algorithms being changed.
- Video: Video is one of the best ways to get people to come to your website and, more importantly, stay on your website. Having video on your website increases your search engine rankings and makes your website much "stickier". The same video that's on your website should be uploaded to YouTube, as it is the world's second most popular and most frequently used search engine. Consequently, your video should be on YouTube and searchable by the public.
- Cold-calling: Yours truly grew up cold-calling to get sales appointments, but that was back in 1970. At that point in time, one hundred phone calls resulted in anywhere from fifteen to twenty appointments. This worked like clockwork. As a matter of fact, I dedicated every Friday morning to generating appointments for the following week, and I never had a week without an adequate number of sales appointments booked.
Every call evolved into a conversation with someone. Voicemail has completely eliminated this capability. Consequently, driving traffic by cold-calling today is very unproductive. As a matter of fact, some studies show that as much as 92% of cold calls wind up in voicemail boxes. Consequently, a good cold-caller must have a very seductive offer and must be a bit of a detective. He/she must be able to navigate the voicemail systems within prospect companies and talk to multiple individuals in order to find the man or woman who is most interested in discussing the possibility of change.
- Database marketing: Database marketing is a proven method for driving traffic. I won't say it is the best, but it is certainly right up at the top. One of the exercises that you should do, as a result of reading this chapter, is to contact any list broker to have him/her produce a "count" of the demographically identical companies within the geography that you wish to serve. This is a great starting point for your traffic-driving exercises.
In my experience, companies that want to grow have an extraordinarily low – indeed, a pitifully small – number of prospects in their marketing database. The exercise of contacting a list broker to gain a count will help you understand exactly how big the market is. Once you know how big your market of demographically identical and desirable accounts is, compare that to the number of names in your marketing database.
If there is a huge difference, then you have a huge opportunity to grow your business. I've literally seen businesses in major metropolitan areas, such as Chicago or New York, who have fewer than three or four dozen names in their marketing database. If that's all of the population that you're serving, then you will have an ongoing problem in gaining the traffic volume that you need to gain in order to market successfully.
- Traffic metrics: As mentioned in the paragraph above, one of the most traffic-driving metrics is the number of contacts in your marketing database. After all, if they aren't in your database, it's impossible for you to get in touch with them. And, if you can't get in touch, it's impossible to stay in touch with any of those individuals; and you should, at all times, have an ability to both get in touch and stay in touch with all individuals.
The most important metric that you can measure is the number of marketing touches that you and your team send into your marketing database. If you send one touch every three or four months, you may as well forget the opportunity to grow your business. As a matter of fact, studies have shown that it takes 6.7 touches annually, per contact, just to maintain top-of-mind awareness.
Top-of-mind awareness is a very fragile, human phenomenon. We humans forget information that we don't use with a half-life of approximately thirty days. Consequently, any frequency of touching that is greater than thirty days allows the prospect to start the process of forgetting about you.
Have you ever had an opportunity that looked good, but they said "not now", and you went back six months later only to discover that they had purchased an identical product or service from your competitor? If you have, then you've experienced the corrosion of top-of-mind awareness. Consequently, I recommend that you touch every contact in your database every month. Never allow anyone to forget about you.
So, if you have one contact in your database, that man or woman should receive twelve touches per year. How many touches, annually, are you currently launching into your database? The second question is: How big is your database, relative to the universe of demographically desirable opportunities? Again, if they don't know about you, they can't – indeed, they won't – buy from you. This leads me to the topic of closed-loop marketing.
- Closed-loop marketing: The Aberdeen Research Group has published a study which shows that companies that utilize closed-loop marketing outsell their direct competitors at the rate of 36%! This is a very simple concept which pioneered by Joe Girard, a car salesman, back in the 1960s. For your reference, he set the Guinness Book of World Records for the number of new cars sold in one year. As I recall, he averaged eight cars sold per day, for 365 consecutive days.
What was his secret? Literally, he stayed in touch with everyone that he ever talked to, by utilizing closed-loop marketing. Closed-loop marketing is simply the process of sending a newsletter, email, postcard, note, or what have you to your database, monthly. Any touch is better than no touch. Mixing the touches is a great strategy to avoid boring your database. Tradeshow invitations, lunch-and-learns, even a scheduled face-to-face plan-and-review meeting all qualify as marketing touches.
When utilizing closed-loop marketing, make sure all of your touches are educational. Never pitch!
- Referral marketing: This is a concept that we all intend to do but we rarely, if ever, proactively ask for referrals. Rather, my observation is most sellers hope that a client will appreciate the value of their work and that that client will volunteer an introduction to a prospect. Proactive referral marketing is the key. You must A-S-K to G-E-T. This is an axiom of all sales, and it applies to generating referrals.
- LinkedIn: Working your relationships through LinkedIn and gaining introductions via LinkedIn is a proven strategy to drive traffic. It's a proactive, 21st-century replacement for cold-calling and/or canvassing up and down office hallways. If you aren't active on LinkedIn, you are missing many opportunities to grow your volume of traffic and, thereby, your ability to grow your top line.
Make sure you join as many LinkedIn groups as possible, contribute to those groups, and research contacts through your network, regularly. Don't be bashful; everyone who has joined LinkedIn expects to help and/or be helped by someone to meet someone. I know LinkedIn doesn't say that, but de facto that's what all of my clients think about LinkedIn. It's a marvelous tool and, the more you know about using it, the better off you'll be.
Your sales cycle starts with traffic and, if there is no traffic, your sales process will end with the lack of traffic. Pay attention to the activity – both quantitatively and qualitatively – above the funnel. Make sure that you're talking to all demographically desirable opportunities in your market, all of the time. Recognize that the buying process has changed dramatically.
I have talked about this in the previous chapter, but I think it's worth restating here. Today's buyer, according to many studies, has completed 80-85% of the selection process before they talk to you. Consequently, they know which product and/or service they're leaning towards. When you talk to these individuals, you must make sure that they understand that your way of delivering results is better than your competition's.
As you're driving traffic, every message that you broadcast must focus on the quantity and quality of results that you deliver. Taking to its literal end, you could almost stipulate that your competition delivers products and services, but you deliver results. Remember, results have value, and everything else is nothing but a talking point.
Manage your direct traffic-driving metrics continuously. The more traffic you get, regardless of the method that you employ, the more opportunities will go into the funnel. It's math, it's straightforward, and it's very simple; but it is work.
If you missed last week's installment, you can find it on my blog http://gilcargill.com/about/blog/. As always, I wish you…
Good Luck and Good Selling!!!
Sales Acceleration Coach
This article was originally published at http://gilcargill.com/nine-ways-improve-traffic-driving-traffic/