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Thursday, 5 May 2011

The Old Give and Take

When people start looking for what it is you are selling, whether it be on Google, or a trade directory or a show, all of your competitors could be trying to SELL straightaway. Your prospects may not yet have made that 'decision to buy', so any hard sell is going to go down like the proverbial lead balloon. Rather than try to sell to your customers immediately, shift your thinking 180 degrees.

Begin the relationship by 'giving' first.

The people that arrive at your website or make an enquiry have been looking for what it is that you can provide, whether that is a service or a product. Just 1 minute before landing on your site, or phoning you up they didn't even know you existed. They don't know you and may not want to make the commitment of buying something (or contacting via the website) at this point; some of them want to think about what it is you offer, and they still might want to keep surfing or looking around. They haven't yet made the 'Decision To Buy'.

What you should do at this point is GIVE your visitor something that is of value to them.

Effectively, by doing this you are saying "You don't know me but I have a great product/service for you and I'm so confident about that product that I don't want your money yet. I want to give you something that will provide value to you. I'm willing to do this and if you accept this from me, it's my hope that you and I will have a long term relationship".

Give prospects something in exchange for their basic contact details.

What types of things could you offer ?

On a website you could offer a free report or article. These are excellent because you produce them just once and then send a copy electronically by e-mail or let visitors download it.

If you were a landscaper for example, you could offer a report on the types of driveway available and how to choose the best type of driveway for your needs.

If you sell self-catering holidays in French Gites, but you don't sell the travel, you could provide a free report on how to get the best priced tickets on Ferries and Airlines.

If you're selling a service, perhaps you could give a free 30 min consultation, and if you sell physical products, it doesn't take much imagination to think of something you could send (of course you would need an address to do this) or give to your prospect if they are physically with you.

Going back to the landscaper, one company I know allows visitors to access free 'garden planner software ' online in exchange for name and e-mail address.

It is of course vitally important that you collect the visitor's contact details, no matter how brief. Online, you can do this 24/7 with contact forms or by using an 'autoresponder' which will automatically send your gift by e-mail. You can google 'autoresponder ' to find out more about it, but essentially it's a widget that your webmaster can incorporate which 'automatically responds' to the prospect entering their details, and sends an e-mail with an attachment or a 'link' to the gift

The idea is that you will use the 'permission' you have been given to contact the visitor again to maintain the relationship.

Your visitors will be surprised that you are offering something free when your competitors are trying to get money out of them.

However, when you next use your prospect's details to contact them, keep the relationship going. Don't try to sell immediately.

You might follow up with a second e-mail that says "We recently sent you a report on the 5 best barbecues, we'd now like to give you some of our favourite barbecue recipes, please visit our site on {site page} and download your free recipes" or "Visit our retail outlet at {} and collect your free recipes"

Now the person who downloaded the report on barbecues in the first instance, may not have bought a barbecue from you or anyone else yet, but they are certainly thinking about it because they came to your site or contacted you in the first place.

Now at some point, that prospect will make a decision to buy; and when he does, which barbecue seller is going to be at the forefront of his mind?

Take our landscaper. When his prospects have finished playing with his 'garden planner software', who are they going to call to do the job ?

This is psychology and it works. It creates the feeling in your prospects that they are indebted to you

Why does that work?

Here is an extract from 'Influence. The Psychology of Persuasion' by Bob Cialdini. Available from Amazon - RIGHT HERE. Influence, the classic book on persuasion, explains the psychology of why people say yes and how to apply these understandings. Perfect for people in all walks of life, these principles will move you toward profound personal change

"A few years ago, a university professor tried a little experiment. He sent Christmas cards to a sample of perfect strangers. Although he expected some reaction, the response he received was amazing - Christmas cards came pouring back from the people who had never met nor even heard of him. …. While small in scope, this study nicely shows the action of one of the most potent of the weapons of influence - the rule of reciprocation…….this rule says that we should repay .. …what another person has provided us"

That means as social creatures we feel a slight obligation to the future repayment.

In essence by starting the relationship you are doing much more than any of your competitors are doing, and by providing you with their contact details, your prospects have given you permission to communicate with them regularly and to offer useful value added information on a regular basis, in order to generate future leads.

By using this psychology you can Ring Fence in your prospects and ensure it is more likely that you are the person or company which the buyer will contact once that all important 'decision to buy' stage has been reached.

You can buy Cialdini's 'Influence. The Psychology of Persuasion' right here 

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