Touch your customer, and you’re halfway there. – Estee Lauder
I’ve been thinking about customer acquisition recently.
You know, the process by which you grow your customer list?
Now that’s easy, you might say.
You can follow AIDA – attention, interest, desire and action.
Or perhaps use SPIN selling – describe the situation, talk about the problem, work out the implications and resolve the needs.
But are those processes?
Actually, what is a process when it comes to this sort of thing?
One thing that a couple of sales experts have said to me – a decade or so apart – stick in my mind.
One said that the thing with sales is to always get to the next step.
It’s not about the win, the shower of gold, the big deal.
Instead, it’s one step at a time, just moving forward, getting agreement on the next bit.
If you’re in a hurry or looking for a quick result that can be painful – but that’s what you need to do.
The second said that you’ve got to think about connecting the dots.
What do you need to have to help move the customer along from one dot to the next?
Now those are quite similar ideas, the first looking one step ahead and the second thinking of having everything lined up so you can go through the steps.
And maybe that’s a process that customers can go through but how do you get them in the first place?
So let’s think of that specifically in the context of a service business – something where you have to sell yourself and what you do to a customer.
Now, there are people out there but is there a market?
The difference between a crowd and a market is that you have a chance of doing a transaction in a market, between you, the seller, and a buyer.
So, you should probably ask yourself a few questions about your service.
Of the people out there are there some who need your service?
If so, do they know about it.
And once they know about it, do they want it?
But that’s not really the right entry point.
What you should ask is whether anyone in the market knows about your product.
If they don’t know about it, the other two questions are irrelevant.
So, customer acquisition starts with that contact – the touch that gets them to turn and raise their eyebrows – that quizzical expression that asks who are you and what do you want?
And your customer acquisition strategies are the ways in which you get that contact with someone else – whether it’s face to face, networking, referrals, direct marketing or all the other ways of getting your message out there.
But how do you get someone to actually try out your service?
And the answer, in this day and age, seems to be that you remove all the risk that they might have.
That’s the realm of free trials, money-back-guarantees and pay later if satisfied programmes.
I guess really a customer acquisition strategy has to have two things at the very least.
You need to do things that let you have conversations with people you don’t know well so you can get to know them better.
If you want to have the conversation go well make something they need or better still, something they want.
That gets you halfway there.
And then you’ve got to make it really easy for them to try what you’re selling – at absolutely no risk of loss to them.
That’s the other half.
And perhaps, if you can see that you’re doing those two things, you’re on your way – headed in the right direction.