Today you’re visiting a dealership. You’re looking for a car that will comfortably fit you, your partner, their landscaping business, your new baby, and your emotional support pig.
(Yup it’s a thing.)
Would you prefer talking to a helpful guide who asks you questions about your goals with the new car, your must-have list of features, your dealbreakers? A salesperson who aims to match your desires with the most suitable car?
Or would you prefer talking to an unhelpful troll who doesn’t ask any investigative questions, doesn’t seek to understand what you want, doesn’t consider if you’re just browsing or ready to buy, and talks to you as if their only goal is convincing you to part with your money? Who acts like the sales process is getting in the way of the actual sale?
Of course, we know who you’d pick.
Guide > Troll
You’ve probably heard of the hero’s journey. It’s the story template for every successful superhero movie, book, and fable since we first started telling stories.
In a nutshell, the main character (hero) starts a journey, meets obstacles along the way, and with the help of a mentor (Gandalf, anyone?) becomes transformed.
This is also the template of the buyer’s journey. If you treat your customer like they are the hero in their own story, you can be the wise old wizard who helps them overcome the obstacles to come out the other side victorious.
That’s why you need a blueprint to match every stage of your customer’s buying process. From when they first become aware of an unmet need, through all the peaks and valleys of getting that need met, to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Step 1: Departure and The Call To Adventure
This is when your customer realizes they have an unmet need. They’re not evaluating companies yet; they’re just searching for solutions. It’s up to you to make them aware of your brand.
This begins BEFORE they find you. Through exceptional customer service, positive word-of-mouth, a website, online reviews, and memorable advertising.
Your website content should be focused on providing quick, easily digestible value because at this point there’s a very low chance of making a sale. They’ve just noticed you. Think tip sheets, infographics, helpful blog posts. You’re simply trying to make them aware of your expertise.
This is also where you promise your prospect additional in-depth information in exchange for their email. Think e-books, special reports, video content, and exclusive interviews not available to the general audience. This is the beginning of your sales funnel, where you promise the customer higher-level information if they’re willing to give you their email (which they should want to do if you’ve provided them with valuable free information.)
Step 2: Challenges, Temptations, and Research Stage
Say you’re the salesperson instead of the potential buyer. You need to anticipate which car matches your customers’ needs. That family who walked in looking for something to transport their newborn is most likely going to be interested in safety statistics, lots of room for car seats and toys, and general ease of use.
At this point, your prospect knows their problem and is researching the solution that fits them. This means they’re visiting Google and company websites, reading blogs and forums, and evaluating customer reviews.
You have a much higher chance of getting their attention and making yourself memorable through highly relevant content. This includes speaking to the unsure mind, such as pointing out specific pain points and how your company provides specific solutions.
This is where white papers and industry reports are useful. This is hopefully also the second part of your marketing funnel. At this stage you’re still not going for the sale; you’re simply providing information. Not only to inform your prospect but to demonstrate your authority. You’re building trust by emailing them actionable content that speaks to their needs.
You’re the wise old wizard who is helping them overcome the obstacles they’re encountering along their journey.
Step 3. The Revelation, Transformation, and Decision-making Stage
This is when your prospect has decided on a solution and is now looking for someone to provide that for them.
This is also where the landscaping/newborn baby/emotional-support-pig-
Let’s find out.
This is where case studies and customer reviews come into play. People trust the opinion of others, and they like to hear about others’ experiences with your business. The majority opinion is a strong influencer.
This is also where your social media presence can mean the difference between a sale for you or your competitor. Are you actively engaging customers and prospective customers? This is when your emails go from informing to asking for the sale. Have you ramped up to the solution to all your reader’s problems?
Wise Old Wizarding Tips
Always Seek To Add Value At Every Stage
No matter where your future customer is in their hero’s journey, make sure they always leave you better informed than when they arrived.
Don’t worry about giving your “best” stuff away for free. In fact, you should be giving some of your best stuff away for free. Because if it’s truly extraordinary, then what in the world will your paid content be?? Think about it.
Send The Right Message At The Right Time
Don’t overwhelm first-time visitors with in-depth numbers, and don’t bore long-time readers with “Beginners 101” tips. Understand who you’re talking to at each stage, and speak accordingly.
The fastest way to lose customers is to insult their intelligence.
Don’t Miss Your Moment
Have you given them valuable content? Have you busted your butt, bent over backward, and created awesome blog posts, ebooks, and videos? Then ask for the sale!
Don’t be afraid of your customers, embrace them! Get them as excited about your new product as you are.
Involve them in the steps from creation to completion. Invite them for free trials and to participate in beta programs. Ask them for their opinions. Interview them about their struggles.
If they can feel that you’re in this with them for the long haul, they will become your greatest cheerleaders.
Louder For The People In The Back
You’re not a “salesperson.” You’re the wizard guide whose role is to help your customers become the hero of their story.
You’re an authority, you understand what they’re going through, and you’re providing a solution to their problems.
This isn’t about asking for money, this is about providing a service. Once you switch to that mindset – sales as service – the rest is just about how much value you can provide.