About a week ago, I signed up for AWeber – a top email marketing service. Since some of my clients were using it with success, I decided it was time I get with and get to work on building my own email list of interested prospects. Since I get a lot of miscellaneous inquiries, it will be nice to funnel some of those folks into a central database, so I can keep in touch with them.
But this article isn’t about email marketing, it’s about sales process.
I’m fascinated by the processes that companies use to keep in touch with us (or not keep in touch with us), develop us as future customers (or not develop us), and stay top of mind with us (or let us slip away).
That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to receive a call from an Aweber customer service representative this week. She was calling to follow-up and to see how things were going with my new subscription. She wanted to know if I needed any help getting the system setup and functioning.
But what she was really doing was locking down the sale. You see, Aweber provides their service for the first month for $1. After that, you pay a scalable rate based on the number of email subscribers you’re managing. The lowest rate is $19 per month, so their smallest customer is worth $228 per year.
The CEO of Aweber probably knows that if they can get a new customer going into their 2nd or 3rd month, that they have them hooked for a few years. They probably also know that the first 30 days are crucial and I’d be willing to bet their highest rate of attrition occurs during that time.
So, if I’m the CEO of Aweber, I’m looking at the data and I’m thinking, “Hmmm, we need to find a way to decrease our attrition rate in the first 30 days. We also need to help our new customers get past the 90 day window.”
Now, these are just assumptions on my part, but I’d be willing to bet they’re pretty close to the truth.
The AWeber Sales Process
Obviously, email is their first contact with me. I’ve just signed up for the month long $1 trial and they send me a confirmation email, along with a follow-up email to see if I’m using the system.
Now, here’s where something interesting happened. They didn’t just leave it at email contact: They actually called me. They got me on the phone and took the first real step toward solidifying me as a long term customer.
As it turns out, I hadn’t had a chance to look at their emails yet and I did have some questions about how their system works and how to implement certain automated functions. Perfect timing on their part! They assured me that, yes, I could do what I wanted to do and they showed me how to do it.
Then they directed me to the section of their website that contains a knowledge base full of step by step instructions and videos on how to maximize use of their product. There are also webinars and PDFS available, along with online chat support (love that), a blog and a search box to easily find and access all of the above.
You see, they know that if I succeed, they succeed. In fact, the more I succeed, the more they succeed because their subscription service increases as you increase your number of subscribers.
And while they can’t control how many customers I actually sign-up, what they can control is the level of customer service they provide me with. And they can also control a complete set of educational tools. They can make those tools easy to understand and easy to find., so I can run a successful email marketing campaign.
Pretty simple, right? Yet, I am amazed at how many businesses screw it up.
You know as well as I do that every lead your website produces is like gold. If you’re like me, you’re probably all over each lead, trying to nurture it into a paying customer. You’re taking them by the hand, communicating with them, and being helpful. Heck, maybe you’re even offering them a free trial in order to make sure that your product or service is right for them.
But so many companies don’t take those extra steps to ensure a sale – if not today, then tomorrow. Don’t they know that a little bit of customer care goes a long way toward creating a superior long term relationship?
It doesn’t matter if your business is online or offline, or both – put in the extra effort if you really want to see your sales grow. Get to know your customers. Identify problem areas and view them as opportunities for improvement. Then put an unbeatable sales system in place that helps convert leads into customers.
AWeber identified some key sales functions to help them increase their business:
- Education. They invested in creating a top notch knowledge base aimed at helping its customer utilize their technology and enhance their email marketing.
- Customer Service. They’ve gone the extra mile by initiating phone calls with new customers in order to make sure those educational tools are being used.
- Customer Care. They’ve also shown they care. I was invited to call back if I had any questions. You can bet I’ll be a long term customer, as long as my business is growing.
I enjoy helping companies look at all aspects of their sales process, so they can enjoy an improved bottom line. As a Myers-Briggs INTJ (:)), it’s what I do: Put efficient systems in place, test them, review them, and then look for ways to improve them.
Nothing is more pleasing to me than to see the gap between sales and expenses widen year after year.
What processes within your business have you improved to increase sales? Which companies have you experienced that “get it right” with a great customer service driven sales process?