The ABCs of Making More Sales as an Online Business (and No, It's Not 'Always Be Closing') If you've worked in sales (or seen the movie Glengarry Glen Ross), you might know the ABCs as "always be closing" — but I have a different set of ABCs you need to know as an online business, especially when it comes to creating a customer experience that fosters deep loyalty and helps you achieve sustainable growth.
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As the digital marketplace grows more and more crowded, online business owners are in need of ways to stand out from the pack. Especially in the face of ever-increasing costs and competition, it is getting harder to answer questions like: How do I get greater reach for my message, content and offers? How do I convert that reach into more followers, leads and sales? How do I ensure I provide more value to the market and stand out from the competition? These are more than mere questions; they are concerns that will be the death knell of any company that chooses to ignore them.
Unfortunately, most people approach these questions from the wrong direction. In a world that encourages you to always be on the hunt for the next customer, there is a "secret weapon" that helps your business to stand out and rise above all the noise in the marketplace.
Businesses that profit the most often do it through customer retention rather than customer acquisition. I want to share the "online business ABCs" with you. They illuminate a holistic approach to delivering a customer experience that leads to retention and word-of-mouth referrals that can fuel the growth of your business.
A: Activation points
Many businesses consider the sale the "endpoint" of a customer's journey. Tons of time, energy and thought go into the journey up until the point of purchase, but then the level of attention, intention and care drop off from there.
Viewing the purchase as the endpoint is a limited perspective. The real journey begins after the purchase. There is a massive difference between "making a sale" and "cultivating a customer." It's a mistake to expect that the new purchase is going to be consumed at all, much less in the way that will deliver the best experience and results.
There are a handful of "activation points" where you can offer additional information, support or encouragement to continue to educate and cultivate customers. The most successful businesses understand that their role extends beyond mere transactions. In fact, they are proactive and continue to lead in their relationships with customers and clients. This could look like hosting check-ins, providing supporting content or inspiring community engagement with other customers.
B: Bias and beliefs
The second pillar of the ABCs is about introspection to question the assumptions we've built in our minds about our customers.
We are so deep inside of our own businesses that we forget what it is like to not have that context, and we assume further that if someone makes the decision to buy from our business, they fully comprehend what they bought. While obviously, they have some level of understanding because they bought, it is nearly impossible for them to fully understand what they're getting.
The remedy to this is to operate as if your customer has zero familiarity with your product. Guide them from the start and down the paths or use cases that best deliver the kinds of results they are after. The intent is to help make your customer feel supported and understood while clearing the path so that their journey with your business is as smooth and rewarding as possible.
C: Communication, community and check-ins
The third pillar of the ABCs speaks to the fundamental human drive for connection and acknowledgment.
Because there is so much noise everywhere in today's world (and not just in your marketplace), nearly everyone feels "drowned out" at some point, intensifying what is already a deep-seated desire to be seen, heard and valued. If your business can help to fulfill this need for your customers, everyone stands to gain significantly from the effort.
The cornerstone to meeting this need? Effective, consistent and personalized communication. Regular updates, check-ins and intentional outreach are pivotal if you intend to keep your customers informed and engaged. It may feel like you are "over-communicating" if you don't engage in much of this at the moment, but I challenge you to test that bias.
And while automation tools (i.e. email or text) can shoulder some of this burden, the human element is indispensable. Most businesses try to eliminate the human element because they think it is time- and cost-efficient. While that is true, it is rare to see an automated message be the difference in turning a casual customer into a loyal advocate for your business.
Lastly, a true sense of community will completely change the way customers experience and feel about your business. Give them a way to connect with, learn from and support one another. A sense of belonging is a powerful motivator, promoting repeat business and engendering brand loyalty.
The real sale and the real role of your business
You may have heard of the concept of "the sale after the sale." Just like you don't marry someone after one great date, you don't win a customer for life just because you had a slick marketing funnel and initial sales process.
The customer journey extends far beyond the initial transaction. There are many ways to guide your customer to full utilization, enjoyment and value gained from the product or service they bought from your business. In fact, your business's role is not just to sell a product or service, but to ensure that the customer extracts the maximum value possible from it.
If you do this, your business can expect greater customer satisfaction and an increased likelihood of repeat purchases, referrals and glowing reviews or testimonials. All of which will help to lower your acquisition costs for new sales and boost your profitability.
Now that you know your ABCs, I hope you use them to build a moat for your business. Putting these into practice will help you keep the customers you have and attract new ones at a low cost — because existing ones won't be able to keep how happy and successful your business helped them become to themselves!