There are three key systems that, when used consistently, will make sure your business runs with ease and your client well never dries up. They are:
The Discovery System
The Relationship System
The Sales System
(If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know I love systems!)
Let’s start with The Discovery System, shall we?
The first part of The Discovery System is your BLOG. Blogging is not dead, and don’t let anyone try to tell you that it is. Blogging is a critical component of building your audience. It’s the foundation of The Discovery System and forms the centerpiece (or hub) for everything else you do online. Blogging consistently gives you:
CREDIBILITY. Anyone reading your blog will immediately feel like you are an expert in your field. It’s good to think of your blog as an extension of your resume (today’s resume being the About page).
SEARCHABILITY. Name a single better SEO strategy out there. Hello? Are you still here? There isn’t a better way to get found online than writing blog posts that answer the questions your audience is looking for.
OWNABILITY. While not a word, it speaks to the fact that you should own your content. Social media and other discovery methods are necessary (more on them later), but they don’t belong to you. You don’t own Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or YouTube. You can lose access to them at any time, so make sure you build your business on a platform that you own, not one controlled by someone else.
Create a blog schedule and stick to it. Don’t commit to writing weekly if your schedule doesn’t allow it, but build time for it into your schedule so there is room. Twice a month is perfect for those of us who struggle with putting aside time for it.
Take Action: Set aside one or two days each week for blogging. One day to brainstorm and get a rough draft going, and another for finalizing and beautifying. Then in a Google Doc, brainstorm the topics that will interest your audience and help it grow. These are the subjects your market is most interested in and will help to establish your expertise.
The second part of The Discovery System is your SOCIAL MEDIA. While it’s not a good idea to base your entire online business on any social media platform, it’s a necessary part of your overall success. Not all social media sites are created equal, and you’ll need to find which ones resonate most with your audience. Your people may love Instagram but they totally ignore LinkedIn, or they think Facebook is a waste of time, but Pinterest speaks to them, and that’s okay.
Your job is to find out where YOUR market spends the most of its time, and establish your presence there. Share your blog posts, start conversations, ask questions and be seen. Remember, this is all about discovery, so make sure your ideal clients can find you on their favorite social sites. Also, brainstorm ways to be discovered more on YouTube since it’s the 2nd largest search engine. If you want to be on camera, great, but if not, start creating slide presentations, screen shares, animations, and more that are helpful.
Take Action: Select THREE social media sites to focus on that are popular in your niche. Do an audit of your accounts there while keeping your audience in mind. Update your images, clean up your bio, and work on your message.
The third part of The Discovery System is your SIGNATURE WEBINAR. For list building and sales, you seriously can’t beat the power of a webinar. Where else can you introduce yourself to a previously unknown audience, share your expertise with an entire group of people at once, or grow your list by partnering with a colleague in a complementary industry? Also, once you’ve done two or three webinars, you’ve got reusable content that you can have made into worksheets, you can use the same topics as a guest on a podcast, and you’ll be prepared to present on the same topic at a conference or telesummit.
Take Action: Create your “go-to” or “signature” presentation and schedule a free webinar for your audience. Be sure you have your goal clearly in mind as you’re creating your event.
The Relationship System
Now we are on to number two, The Relationship System. Once you are getting discovered, and you have their attention, (the “know” part of the well-known “know, like and trust factor”) you have to nurture the relationship. It is not enough for a potential client to stumble across your blog or social media accounts, or even for her to buy your new book. You will also need to maintain contact and become the “go-to” expert if you want to turn those chance meetings into sales.
Like blogging, don’t let anyone convince you that email is dead. In reality, email marketing is still the single best way to stay in touch with your potential clients.
However, the key here is to remain in touch. You can’t just ask for their email address in exchange for a free download, and then only reach out when you want to sell a new product or service. That is a sure-fire way to destroy any trust they have in you.
Instead, commit to a consistent email series that provides useful, actionable advice, and little to no selling. This will train your readers to expect great content from you and help improve your open rates. The occasional sales pitch will be received much better when it is a part of an otherwise information-based sequence.
Many of my clients and other online businesses are even bringing back the weekly or bi-monthly newsletter. This is an interesting, information-packed email that typically contains several articles and resources, along with a “related products” section that offers a soft sell. Again, the key to this strategy is consistency, so if you do decide to launch a newsletter, be sure to commit to it for at least several months to better measure its effectiveness.
Take Action: Commit to a regular email series your readers can look forward to reading. Set aside time each week to curate great content, share useful information, and give them action steps.
No groaning allowed! It may sound old-fashioned, but in-person networking can cement a relationship that began online. Attending live events is also an excellent way to meet your ideal client just when she’s ready to make a commitment in her business or life.
Business networking events can be productive as well, especially if you live in a large metropolitan area. Check Meet-up groups, BNI chapters, and other organizations for events where your ideal client is likely to attend. Even if you live in a smaller town and it is unlikely your service is needed, go anyway! You’ll possibly make new friends, learn new things, and gain referral partners and cheerleaders. Who doesn’t need that?
Take Action: Plan to attend at least three conferences or live events this year. Before attending, decide on your primary goals for the event, including who you want to meet, and what you want the outcome of those encounters to be.
No networking possibilities in your neighborhood? No problem. You can network in person by providing free consultations. In fact, this tried-and-true method is my favorite way to grow my business, and I love connecting with business owners this way (and can do so in my pj’s if I want).
Not only are consultations perfect for demonstrating to your potential clients how you can help them achieve their goals, but they are also ideal for weeding out the tire kickers. By creating an online application, you can easily separate the action-takers from those who only want to “pick your brain” or who are not committed to making the changes necessary to reach their goals. I do this through Acuity Scheduling* which allows me to create a form that must be filled out when they schedule a call.
You can also use your free consultations to determine if you want to work with someone. Since not everyone is a great fit for you or your company, a short phone call is ideal for getting to know someone better and deciding if you want to continue the relationship.
The Sales System
We’ve got our Discovery System and our Relationship System (with the sub-systems of email marketing, in-person networking, & free consultations). Now that you have a plan to put those in place, the only thing standing between you and your financial goals is a well-thought-out Sales System to handle sales, follow-ups, and even client care automatically. This Sales System will leave you free to continue to grow the discovery and relationship components.
In its simplest form, your Sales System must include:
YOUR FUNNEL. This starts with discovery, and it ends with your premium services.
YOUR PAYMENT SYSTEM. This can be a full shopping cart or even just a simple PayPal button. Either way, you need a way for people to pay you and to receive their product.
CLIENT CARE. This is more than a help desk. Genuine client care includes your FAQ page, follow-up messages, answering questions, and even giving encouragement as it is needed. You never want your clients to feel abandoned after making a purchase.
Your Sales Funnel
There is so much information online about creating a sales funnel, but all you need to know is this: your sales funnel starts with your free offers (blog, social media posts, free resources) that anyone can access, and it won’t cost them anything.
Next are your offerings that are free but they require the recipient to opt-in with their email address before they receive your content. It didn’t cost them any money, just an email address. Other ideas for free opt-ins are resource guides, checklists, worksheets and step-by-step tutorials. A good free opt-in is something you could charge for, but choose not to.
The next step in your sales funnel is your secondary offerings. These are low-cost items that help people achieve something. The pricing here is entry-level and can be anywhere from $5 to $75, depending on your market.
Pro tip: If your end product or service is super high-end, you may want to skip this price range altogether.
Now we are getting into your mid-range products and services, followed by your top-end, exclusive offers. Ideally, your Sales System is working in conjunction with your social media strategy, blog strategy, and autoresponder strategy, moving people from the top to the bottom of your funnel consistently.
You’ll want to make sure you are monitoring your Sales System often and checking for what we call a “Blocked Funnel.” You’ll know this is happening when you see that people are opting in for your freebie offer and purchasing your secondary offerings, but they aren’t buying your high-end products and services consistently. When you see that your customers are getting stuck somewhere in your sales funnel and aren’t progressing forward, you’ll need to identify and fix those trouble spots quickly.
Take Action: Get out your markers and a blank white board and draw your sales funnel on it. Put your free opt-in at the top followed by your secondary offering, your mid-range products, and finally your elite program or service at the very bottom. Make sure that your email sequences, follow-up marketing and other information that you are sharing are all working together to move buyers through your process.
When a new buyer lands in your shopping cart (woohoo!) your relationship with them has reached a whole new level. This is the perfect opportunity to offer her more with a one-time special offer or a complementary product or service.
Encouraging your new customer to explore your related products and services increases not only the average sale amount, but it also shows that you have more to offer in terms of business savvy. The most popular shopping carts make this pretty easy to do, but if you don’t have that option, you can have your VA or tech team just add a few related items to your checkout page or your thank you page.
What if the opposite happens? What if they are almost ready to check out but then have a change of heart? If the price is the problem, this is a chance for you to offer a lower priced alternative or a DIY product that is similar. For example, you can suggest a self-study version here when they decide not to purchase a live training or an ebook instead of an in-person workshop. The point here is to turn a “no” into a sale, even if it’s for your lowest-priced product. Some people just need a little more time to get to know you before purchasing a high-end program.
Take Action: Take stock of all of your products and where it makes sense to add a down sell. Then start tracking your cart abandonment rate and see if this has made some improvements. If this is just too techy for you, we can help!
Delivering the Goods
The shopping cart and product delivery system you choose can mean the difference between making a sale and making nothing. Sure, a PayPal button is all it takes to collect a payment, but it’s not going to instill confidence or give the impression that you have high standards.
Your cart should be as professional as possible. InfusionSoft, SamCart or even 1Shopping Cart (though I am not a huge fan) are all excellent options. If you’re selling digital goods, you can even use services like Gum Road or Send Owl. All of these tools show your clients that you care about their experience.
The best reason to use a professional cart is they all handle product delivery automatically. In this day and age, it is assumed that digital goods will be delivered to your inbox on demand. When was the last time you bought an ebook from someone but had to wait for them to get home from the grocery store, check their email for a sales notification, and THEN send you the ebook manually? I’m not sure either, but I’ll bet the year started with a 1.
Aside from automatic delivery, make sure your cart can also handle refunds, coupons, bundles and more with ease. Buyers are sophisticated and expect their buying experience to be free of glitches, hiccups, and hangups. Choose a cart that handles this for you and you’ll save yourself a lot of future headaches.
Take Action: Look at your current shopping cart setup with a new set of eyes. Be honest. Does it need updating? Is it serving you AND your clients well? How could it be better?
From the moment a new client purchases a product or service from your website, they deserve the very best support you can offer. From product delivery to follow-up and encouragement to product updates and beyond, you want them to feel supported every step of the way.
Start with creating a brief email sequence that inspires them to use the program, course or product they purchased and encourages them to participate in any groups or live training available to them.
One coaching program does this by requiring mastermind members to complete a questionnaire by Friday afternoon each week. One of the questions is, “What was your biggest achievement this week?” The following Monday, the entire group receives an email listing the upcoming events, and detailing everyone’s greatest moments from the previous week. This keeps members engaged, and makes it far less likely they’ll drop out part way through the year.
Offer support to your buyers whether your program is live or self-study. Set up your email sequence to go out on a consistent schedule and your clients will be more inclined to complete your program and purchase other programs from you as well.
Take Action: Create an FAQ page and set up a help desk using Help Scout, Zen Desk, or Teamwork Desk to ensure your customers aren’t left in the dark after making their purchase. Check your follow-up sequences and improve them anywhere you can.
Solid Systems Can Transform Your Business!
These three systems, The Discovery System, The Relationship System, and The Sales System work best when they are tightly integrated with one another.
A Discovery System by itself can bring in clients, but it won’t be consistent. A Relationship System will increase your list and build your audience, but it will take longer without a Discovery System in place.
Take an eagle-eye view of your business and identify those areas where you need to tighten up your systems. Click here to download a checklist version of this entire blog post, so you can create these systems in your own business.
Are you actively looking for someone to partner with you in your business to make it a happier, more productive, more organized place to be? Schedule a free business chat with me to see if I can help!