Generate Sales Efficiently and Legally

Following a few best practices will help keep your organization’s sales robust and legal. You need to effectively use referrals, comply with e-mail laws, learn customer’s preferred contact methods, and track customer’s time zones, all while maintaining the human touch.

Using Referrals

Word-of-mouth marketing remains the best way to generate leads and close new sales. Hearing your best friend recommend a car salesman who treated her well and gave her a fair price can immediately circumvent your doing any research on competitors and instead go straight to that same guy. Yet, most businesses completely take word-of-mouth for granted and focus very little, if any, attention on referrals.

You can also ask for referrals at multiple points during and after a current sale. If you collect feedback on a sales experience, ask if there’s anyone else to whom you should reach out. On your website, add links to easily e-mail a given page or blog post to a friend or share it on major social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Make sure your customers’ last impression of you is a good one. Even if you haggled for a bit too long on price or there was a hiccup in shipping, if the very last experience a customer has with you is a positive one, then they’re more likely to remember you fondly and talk about you positively with the people they know.

Giving your customers a pleasant, memorable sales experience is the easiest and cheapest way to generate referral sales.

Complying with e-mail laws

In the United States, commercial e-mail — in other words, e-mails you send to potential customers — falls under the CAN-SPAM Act. Violations of this law can lead to tens of thousands of dollars of fines, and paying fines is never efficient. To comply with CAN-SPAM, you must

  • Clearly identify your e-mails as advertisements.

  • Provide a means for recipients to opt-out of all future e-mails from your organization.

  • Honor all opt-out requests within 10 days of receipt.

For full information on complying with this law, visit the Federal Trade Commission website.

Collecting preferred contact methods

Some people can never be sold with cold calling, no matter how badly they may need your product or how good a price you are offering. This is because some people hate phone calls and/or don’t answer calls from numbers they don’t recognize. On the flipside, some people read almost every e-mail they receive and are very likely to clickthrough to learn more about something that catches their eye.

Other people may hate e-mail and prefer phone calls. Still other may like e-mail before 6 p.m. and prefer phone calls afterward.

If you’re going to stand out among the crowd, you need to understand how each of your customers prefers to interact and adapt accordingly. Never present a potential customer with a form asking for four types of contact information. Instead, ask for the one type of contact information they want you to use — and then use it.

If that means you send tweets to certain leads, then you tweet — simple as that.

Tracking time zones

Most businesses are competing in an increasingly global marketplace. Your next customer may be coming from down the street or from an entirely different hemisphere. Don’t assume that they’re in the same time zone (or even speak the same language). One good way to make a bad impression is to accidentally call a lead at 2 a.m. and wake them up, because you didn’t realize they were in Hawaii.

Many CRM titles offer time zone-tracking capabilities. You can also get pretty close by searching online for a script that matches countries or states to time zones. You may be an hour off on some, but you can reliably avoid middle-of-the-night phone calls with minimal extra effort.

Keeping the human touch

Although the right balance between automation and human interaction is ultimately up to your specific business, a fully automated sales process is generally not the most efficient option.

Even if you sell a web-based service that customers can demo and sign up for on their own, and even if it has an extensive library of FAQs, you should still have a human around to answer questions. You can also write your messaging in a “human” way.

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