Dun and Bradstreet report that over 80% of businesses fail due to lack of sales. Just as marketing is the backbone of selling; your sales process is the backbone of your marketing. Without a well planned sales process even the best marketing strategies will never reach their potential.

Structure Comes First

However, with an excellent sales process you’ll get significantly greater returns, even if your marketing is just average. Your sales process can leverage your marketing returns by multiples.

Your Marketing Plan outlines the marketing strategies you use, whilst your sales process is the overarching process that defines how you will take prospects through the process of buying from you over their lifetime as a client. Your marketing strategies take prospects and clients from one stage of your sales process to the next.

For Example:

‘Stage 1′ of your sales process may be to get qualified prospects into your online eZine list; or to attend a free Tele-Workshop.

The marketing strategy you use to achieve this may be an offer of a free Report “Learn how to quickly overcome the 3 most commonly made mistakes made by [profession] that on average cost $57,000.00 per year in net income.”

You can see from this simple example how your sales process defines the structure of how you sell. Very few business people give consideration to their sales process. And this is a very costly oversight.

In the absence of a well structured sales process, most coaches revert to simply placing ads in newspapers for their one-to-one coaching services and wait for the phone to ring. When/if it rings, they attempt to convince the prospect to attend a meeting or ‘free session.’

This is not an effective sales process. In fact, we’d go as far as to say it’s practically a guarantee for failure.

Developing an Effective Sales Process

Before designing your sales process, it’s worthwhile reviewing your notes on your business Metrics (KPI’s). A successful sales process is structured in full awareness of your business metrics.

For instance:

  • How do you know how much you can invest to get a new client, if you don’t know how much that client will be worth to your business?
  • How can you plan how many clients you want/need if you don’t know if each client is making or costing you money?

The Sales Funnel

Many successful coaches use a sales funnel approach to their sales process.

The premise of the sales funnel is that you get as many qualified prospects into a low/no cost service at the top of the funnel, and over time move them through various stages, represented by progressively higher priced services, over their lifetime as a client.

Here’s an example of a sales funnel:

Sales Funnel
Note: Depending on your product mix, clients can be purchasing or experiencing your products and services at varying times throughout their Cycle of Life. The key is to maintain valuable communication and regularly ask them to purchase.

Consider the advantages of a well structured sales process:

Vastly improved conversion. At the top end of your funnel you’re inviting people to receive valuable information from you to assist them overcome their challenges for little to no financial investment. There is virtually zero barriers to this offer, and hence you should achieve an extremely high conversion into the top of your funnel. Once you have prospects in your funnel, you should be able to progressively nurture clients in higher priced items as they experience the benefits of dealing with you.

Build rapport. You need to establish rapport with prospects before they’re willing to invest with you. Traditional sales processes aren’t able to bridge this gap. A prospect needs somewhere between 4 to 7 contacts on average before they’ll invest with a business. The sales funnel approach allows you to build the required rapport with prospects such that they’ll readily invest with you.

Dramatically reduce barriers to sales. Rapport and trust are just one barrier. Your prospects also (subconsciously and consciously) evaluate each purchase in terms of “Is this promised benefit worth more to me than my hard-earned cash (and the loss of face if I make a bad decision)?” By demonstrating your unique knowledge, skills, products, and benefits to them, they are significantly more likely (and able) to sway this choice in your favour.

Apply an education-based sales paradigm. You position your business as an educator rather than being sales focussed. By giving your prospects valuable information to assist them, you are creating a relationship based on mutual obligation.

Re-Frame your marketing mindset. Your mindset is very important when you communicate with prospects and clients. A sales funnel invokes a Service Paradigm, rather than an Influencing Paradigm. You come from the paradigm of giving, adding-value, educating; rather than from a paradigm of selling and taking. Clients innately sense this, and will act accordingly.

Showcase your service and uniqueness. Your product or service should be one of your most powerful endorsements. Showcasing your skills at the top of the funnel should immediately create an intense desire amongst your prospects to invest in your other services.

Extend the Net Margin Worth of Clients. Over time you should be able to nurture your clients through your entire sales funnel. Without a sales funnel your service may get poor conversion, and at most be a 3 to 6 month coaching contract. With a sales funnel, and the right systems, you could realistically increase the net marginal worth of your clients to be: 3-6 tele-clinics; 2-3 seminars/workshops; a cd/dvd product; group coaching; one-to-one coaching; a specialist course. This relationship could extend over several years and be worth thousands of dollars (10 times the value you would otherwise realise).

Invokes you to create new products. An important part a sales funnel plays in your coaching business, is that it motivates coaches to expand their thinking past one-to-one coaching services, and into the realm of (niche) product development.

Increase your Unit of Sale. With more products and services, you have greater opportunity to increase the value of each sale. For instance, you could package a 6-week specialist tele-clinic membership as an incentive to upsell a prospect from a 3-month contract to a 6-month contract. Your hard cost to deliver the tele-clinic is minimal (which you may bootstrap into an audio cd product as well!!), but the added net return of the 6-month contract may increase your profit by 500%.

Increase referral. By providing value to your prospects over extended periods, you vastly compound your opportunity for referrals. Remember, niches roam in packs. So the longer you nurture your relationships with prospects the higher the likelihood word of mouth will spread of your high value unique solutions.

This article is an abstract from the Ultimate Coaching Business Building Program (UCBBP); develop by the Life Coaching Institute and CoachIQ Coaching Club. The program is delivered to CoachIQ subscribers via weekly e-lessons, including extra resources such as Self-Assessment and Action Sheets, Links and Templates.

If you would like to build a flourishing coaching business, visit the Coaching Club website (www.coachingclub.com.au) and take advantage of the 60-day free access offer to new members.