The sale process, start to finish, can be a tricky one to navigate. Customers, whether B2B or B2C, are often skeptical when you do try to “sell” them. Any yet, if you simply back off and just “let nature take its course,” odds are your sales numbers will be subpar to say the least.
There is a fine line between pushy and persistent. What differentiates a successful sales strategy from an abysmal one is knowing how to walk that line and do so in the most effective way possible.
So how do you promote your products and/or services and generate those sales? What are the best strategies for engaging potential clients and getting them to take a second look at your brand? Sales promotion is not about just one strategy or technique but rather, an array of approaches that ultimately help to set you apart from the competition.
We recently spoke to experts who sell for a living and asked them about their top sales promotion ideas. From an emphasis on authenticity to being able to “think like a customer” to snail mail campaigns even, some of their answers may surprise you.
What is your best sales promotion strategy?
I recently heard a podcaster say if you want to be chosen by a HARO reporter, you need to start with your credentials. Around the same time, when people asked for affordable SEO courses on Reddit, I promoted my SEO courses, but someone claimed he’d never heard of me. I gave him my credentials. He admitted I’m more qualified than many “famous” blogging school owners, and he bought my course.
I now realize I need to lead with my best foot forward– start with my credentials in order to get credibility before I attempt to make a sale. This experience resulted in my making more concerted efforts toward branding since that is the most effective sales strategy I’ve experienced. Your reputation sells for you. Trust is already built up in your name before you even say a word.
Social Media Profile: https://twitter.com/MrsPaznanski
Whether you sell services or products, you should have a database with all your clients, past and present, and also another list with all your leads (people that were interested in buying what you have to offer but for a reason they didn’t go through with the transaction).This way, you can make a promotion for your former clients and another promotion for the undecided buyers.
If you also sell services, like me, you can have a sales promotion in which either offers the same amount of work at a lower price or more work at the price of regular work.For people that haven’t worked with you yet, you may promote a smaller offer for a lower price, as a starter package. If they like the results they may trust you more and buy a more expensive offer.
What you should keep in mind is that you shouldn’t lower the price too much just to get clients. If you have lots of clients but you are charging very low prices then you will end up overworked and frustrated.So you should put things in balance.You can send your sales promotions to the subscribers of your email list and also promote them on social media
Social Media Profile: https://twitter.com/MinucaElena
Believe it or not, one of the most effective strategies for us is cold outreach. First, we make a list of companies we would love to work with. We’ve worked with companies that focus on content marketing, advertising, skincare, swimming gear, video conferencing, among others. The industry isn’t really an issue for this strategy.Then we reach out to the CEO or Marketing Manager (the position will depend on who you need to talk to to land a new client — it has to be the decision-maker) offering some brand utility. In our case, it’s to perform free Quora marketing research for their company. The key here is to make the outreach simple. Here’s a template of an email we’ve sent in the past:
Subject line: do you have a minute?
This is [your name + title] at [your company], we are a company that believes [what your company believes about what you do].
I’m reaching out because I’d love to know if you’ve ever considered [what you have to offer] for [their company]?
I did some research to find [what were you looking for? related to what they do] for [their company] on [channel] and found [what did you find?].
Would you like to check it out?
It’s totally free – it’s some brand utility we are offering.
Thanks for your time,
This email works because it’s personal and it’s all about them, not us. The people who reply are the ones who believe what we believe and resonate with the message. Anyway, what you want is for people to reply saying “yes” to what you are offering.
After that, you just have to send it over. We do it through video because that way people can consume and understand the content easily. The length of the video should be no more than ten minutes (ideally five) and should cover all of your findings related to their company. At the end of that video, we pitch our services by mentioning how we can help them and the benefit they’ll receive after we finish our work. This part takes us about 20-30 seconds.
The goal of the video is to schedule a video conferencing call to discuss more about our findings, our service, and the opportunity. Then, if the call goes well, it’s all about creating the project proposal so that they sign it and we start working together. Depending on the company and its size this may take between two weeks and six months. Patience and follow-ups are key. 😉 In our last outreach campaign, we reached out to 17 companies, 8 replied, and 2 became clients.
Social Media Profile: https://twitter.com/JohnNunez2905
Embody the business or practice that you’re selling, reflect its success through yourself.
Ultimately people buy from people. With that very much in mind we are our best advertisement. Think about it, we want to engage with and learn from people that have had the success that we want. If you want to learn a sport for example sake, you’re going to want to learn from somebody who’s had success in the field, somebody that you admire and look up to.
If you’re selling something people will feel all the more confident in buying from you if you’re a reflection of your product or services success.
So before distracting yourself with sophisticated marketing campaigns, sales pages etc. please first take time to think about your offering and how it has impacted your life, the value it has given and the change that it has brought. Do you believe in what you’re offering? Are you a reflection of its success?
When we take time to consciously think through things like this, it affects the way we show up, the way we present ourselves and how we communicate with others.
Now there is a slight caveat here in that you have to believe in what you’re offering and have had value from it. Authenticity is absolutely key when selling. You can’t sell something you don’t believe in. So let’s take that as a given.
Now when that is, when we are a reflection of the success of our offering, people we come in contact with can’t but be attracted to engage with us and want to learn more.
When we are an example of the success we’re offering, we’re a walking talking advertisement that inspires curiosity, interest and ultimately sales. When this is done right, every meeting, every engagement whether personal or professional starts to work more for you and compliment whatever it is that you’re doing.
I would urge all those in sales to think about this first, it’s all obvious but often overlooked. Make sure you believe in what it is that you’re selling, make sure to sample it and experience its benefits and from that position then authentically move forward. All those around you will take note and you’ll find your success accelerated.
Social Media Profile: @jamiewhite (IG)
As The Digital Marketing Infotainer, my job is helping others run promotions. I recently worked with a client that helps small business finance business equipment. We implemented a Facebook Ad and a handful of boosted posts to set up phone calls and more importantly, obtain email addresses to nurture those that did not close in the near term.
By spending a little less than $300 on ads and boosted posts, the Facebook efforts performed very well. We obtained almost 80 form submissions, 12 phone calls, and 26 prospects to reach out on Facebook Messenger. That is $2.54 cents a lead!
The client has closed four deals so far that have more than paid for the ads. The best thing is that we are still working on converting some of the leads since we have their email address and can continue to nurture them with email marketing automation!
We attribute the success to the power of ad targeting combined with the offering of valuable content to the target audience. We found an audience that had a need and offered them the opportunity to fulfill that need and either start or grow a business.
No matter what promotion you run, make sure that the content and goal benefits your audience and not you as a marketer.
Social Media Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hankhoffmeier/
As a content marketing company, we are primarily focused on managing digital marketing channels for our clients. However, in seeking profitable sales opportunities, it pays to be familiar with a broad range of traditional marketing techniques as well.
One of the most successful sales promotion campaigns we ran was for a roofing company in a coastal region of the United States. They serviced islands that their mainland competitors rarely bothered with due to transportation costs and logistical complications, and the local competition was deeply entrenched (though not actively advertising). The customer base also spanned a large physical area that some popular online platforms did not even register as possible audiences for pay-per-click advertising. This meant that most of their prospective customers – with nice homes that required frequent maintenance due to harsh weather – were primarily reachable through snail mail.
This also meant that, due to their isolation, these prospects were not oversaturated by mailers and other forms of advertising. We determined that an Every Door Direct Mail campaign through the U.S. Postal Service could reliably reach this audience and deliver seasonal sales promotions that they were not receiving from any competitors. Specifically, it was helpful to promote maintenance services heading into the fall and winter – when leaves could damage/clog roofs and gutters, and focus on roof repairs and installations in the spring and summer.
Running an EDDM campaign has a low variable cost for each delivery, as it is not targeted, and it is not ideal for all B2C services or campaigns; however, it can be highly effective for selling home services such as roofing, in which any recipient along a residential route is a prospective customer. In this case, we designed professional postcard collateral that stood out among other mailers and included actionable contact information that could be kept or hung on a fridge for reference. It is also advisable to include an offer or deal as the call-to-action to elicit immediate inquiries, and a tracking number for attribution.
Our client was amazed by the resulting business from this sales promotion, and with the high value of their service, the campaign paid for itself with their first resulting sale. They continue to run variations of this campaign seasonally.
Social Media Profile: https://twitter.com/jackandbeanphx
Before diving into the types of sales promoting I find useful, I want to highlight one that might not be considered as “sales”.
For every client I take on I want them to have outstanding results. This is not just because of my competitive nature or fierce commitment to a great customer experience. It is simply down to referrals.
Referrals are where 70% of my new business come from. I doubt that I would have so many referrals if my current clients did not have great results. Referrals though are a double edge sword in two ways: one they are not scalable or predictable and two the size of clients you have are likely to be the size of the referred client. Just to make this clear, if small businesses with 2 to 10 employees are your typical size of clients then it is likely your referrals will mostly be in that range. Great if you start with large clients, but hard to step up from if all your clients are solo businesses.
Like most agencies we don’t get a great number of useful inquiries from our website. The website ranks highly for excellent terms, but due to the high cost of SEO it appears most clients want a referral. But, the website does bring proof we can rank websites and 3 or 4 good clients per year.
LinkedIn though is where I put all my networking efforts. I now have 10,000+ connections on LinkedIn built up over the years. These connections were targeted at marketing managers and business owners in specific sectors. As we work best in growth situations with start-ups of companies using content marketing my target connections are likely to work in industries where this will work as a business growth strategy.
For example we work with a few accountants, and pre lockdown work with lots of travel companies. I now have many connections that are accountants in an accountancy firm. I share information on an ongoing basis that they will find helpful. I stay connected with every connection at least twice per year and use LinkedIn’s sales navigator. For me this is a long game, I am not connecting with people and pushing them a spam message as soon as we connect. This has paid off well, our last client to come onboard mentioned liking what I shared on LinkedIn, (client do background checks!). I have been running this business for 5 years and been in SEO since 2006, I do not mind the long game.
Social Media Profile: https://twitter.com/lesliegilmour
Sales promotions are all about getting your offer in front of the right audience and developing a catalyst for a prospective customer to make a buying decision. Creating urgency around a promotion has shown effective for many of our clients. Some of these urgency-driven promotions include a free trial for a limited time, an end-of-year promotion, or a limited time free consultation on the back end of a webinar.
Perhaps the most effective sales promotion strategy for many of our B2B clients has been to create incredibly valuable content that delivers far more than the competition. Customers can’t help but trust your expertise and the credibility gained through interacting with your content, whether that’s an ebook, guide, video series, or webinar. That expertise compels them to want your help in solving their problem.
Once a prospective client interacts with your content and gets on your email list, you can use a variety of sales promotion strategies to then drive them to a sales conversation or even further in the buying conversation. For example, we’ve used ebook downloads to then nurture a contact into an exclusive complimentary service such as a free web audit or a package that’s discounted within a specific time frame. We’ve also used a webinar to promote a specific introductory offer that’s low cost and provides an ease into our services and is a low-barrier for entry, making it easier for them to start a client relationship.
For B2B marketers who are selling a SaaS product, we’ve seen end-of-quarter promotions that work well. Plus, those usually coincide well with sales quotas for B2B sales teams. Some customers even come to expect discounts from SaaS companies at the end of a quarter or year. Lastly, when you’re making changes to your product or releasing new features, you can use that as a catalyst to lock in customers. We call this the “something is changing, get in before it does” promotion. They want to get in before the price goes up.
As a final reminder – with all great promotions come the responsibility of a good customer experience once they’re in the door. Sales promotions are effective at getting the customer to say “yes” or complete a buying transaction, but there needs to be an equal amount of effort, if not more, to onboard them effectively and ensure they recognize the value of the product or service. This ensures they feel good about their purchase. Otherwise, the sales promotion will only serve to close the deal but may lead to buyer’s remorse on the client/customer end.
Social Media Profile: https://twitter.com/alischwanke
If you’re like most sales and marketing executives, you’re probably wondering what the best approach is for designing, developing, and deploying sales promotions. The odds are good that you’ve tried just about everything possible. After all, it’s your job to compare and contrast different techniques so that you can ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. But the number one approach that I use for sales promotion has nothing to do with a new tool or a new technology.
Instead, it has to do with a technique which helps improve the results of any promotion. The technique involves something a mentor of mine calls Thinking Backwards. To Think Backwards you must get inside the mind of your prospect or customer to understand what it is they’re actually buying. By that, I mean when someone buys a “widget” for their business, they’re not only buying what the “widget” does, but they’re also buying what the brand represents – does it represent predictability, safety, cutting-edge technology? It could be any number of things.
So, my #1 technique is to get inside the mind of your prospect and to figure out what it is they’re really buying. That’s the secret to an effective sales promotion.
Social Media Profile: https://Twitter.com/AskJamieTurner
In short – Packages and fixed prices for the win!
Customers are lazy, I know I am when it comes to buying stuff. I want to know what it does, if it works for me and how much. No one has time to trawl through endless agency websites reading their waffle on web design, looking at pretty pictures, baffling digital marketing only to find that they have to get in touch to get a price. Then when they do buzz it’s miles out of their budget.
When I am looking for something to buy I want to be able to sit down in the evening with the laptop, Netflix on in the background, a big bag of Doritos and quickly be able to surf the internet and within the hour have a winner.
This is where packages with fixed prices are such a good idea! (Edit – But only for particular clients).
When I said lazy before, I really meant to say that customers are busy with their own jobs. They want to read something, see if it resonates with them, look at the price, look at the change in their pocket and then make a decision.
A great example for fixed price packaging is websites for tradespeople. The plumbers, roofers, joiners and legends who keep my house from falling apart as I personally suck at DIY. All they really need is a website with a couple of pages showing what they do, who they do it for, some scintillating testimonials and some nice call to actions. Sprinkle on top of that some local SEO and Google My Business optimisation and you have yourself a nice package fit for most tradespeople. No hidden costs or extras that are going to pop up later. As part of the package we also handle all the content and images, as who can be bothered with that!
So the customer can see they are going to get a fully complete website, that is a good fit for them and what the cost is going to be. All without having to do any heavy lifting or ring up and speak to our dreary monotone voices!
For those progressive customers, we offer bolt-ons for blogs, galleries, case studies (and tonnes more!), so there is always an upsell hustle on the go too.
But yep we know that we can’t package up everything we do for all customers, so we focus on those that we think it would work well for. These packages are great for posting on social media too, to see if anyone nibbles.
P.S. If you are heading over to the Way Fresh website to peak at our tradesperson packages, we have had to hide them away for the mo due to them being too sexy and successful that we are still beavering away on the backlog.
TL;DR – Packages, fixed prices, Doritos, dreary!
Social Media Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/simon-hawkins/
When you think about sales promotions you tend to think about big projects that reach thousands or even millions of people. But what if you only need a few customers? In 2019 I decided to run a small workshop with a maximum of 10 participants. My existing audiences are international so it was going to be harder to fill a real-life event than an online one.
I did all the usual things, promoted it with a webinar, a lead magnet, used Facebook ads and a chatbot. I mailed my list. These activities filled about 1/2 of the spaces. It also cost me significant time and some money to sell those spaces.
How could I fill the remaining seats? Instead of pumping more money and time into mass communications, I got personal. I made a list of my previous clients, people I had worked one to one with, and sent them a personal email. For no budget, and a small-time commitment I was able to fill the final seats.
For those who couldn’t attend, I was able to renew relationships and open new opportunities with those clients. The interesting thing is, all those people were on my email list, they got updates about the workshop but didn’t book.
So why did this approach work? My guess is: This was a hyper warm audience. They’d worked with me before, they knew the value they’d get from the workshop. It’s much easier to sell something new to your existing customers than to new people.
And, although they’d been receiving my mass communications via email, the personal invite worked. Could this be because the personal, tailored email made them feel more connected and valued?
Social Media Profile: https://twitter.com/Spiderworking
It appears as though there is no one set strategy for optimizing your sales promotions. Clever and concise ideas integrated into your marketing and sales efforts in the right way and at the right time seem to be the best way to boost that bottom line in the long run.
Not going away anytime soon, a focus on authenticity and credibility continues to be perhaps among the most effective sales tools in your arsenal. The ability to connect with current clients and leverage their satisfaction to enhance your profile and reputation is also going to be key for any company looking to promote sales.
Not to mention, the ability to think outside of the box and even go “old school” when necessary, can go a long way toward solidifying the customer sales experience. The key is to not be afraid of trying something new, even if it may be unfamiliar territory. Some of the best sales promoters were also pioneers.
For more marketing tips, check out our ‘Creative Ideas to Increase Sales’ e-book.