Today, I’m going to talk about the 7 core stages in any customer’s lifecycle and the #1 mistake (or deadly sin) you must avoid in each stage.
I say “deadly” sins because these mistakes over time can erode your sales and profits and eventually put you out of business. So as you go through the list, make a note where you can improve to make your business more stable.
Here are the 7 stages of the customer lifecycle that I’m going to cover:
- Attracting Traffic
- Capturing Leads
- Nurturing Prospects
- Converting to Customers
- Getting Referrals
1. Deadly Sin of Relying on ONE Source of Traffic
The #1 mistake when it comes to attracting traffic is relying on one method. Once you find something that works it’s easy to get lazy and focus solely on the one source of traffic for your business. However, this a recipe for failure.
For example, if you rely on search engine optimization (SEO) as your ONLY traffic source, then you could be in trouble tomorrow if Google decides to switch up their algorithm.
Or if you rely only on pay per click (PPC) search traffic as your ONLY source of traffic, then your margins could shrink to zero if strong competitors start driving up bids and stealing your traffic.
The trick is to NEVER stop looking for more sources of profitable traffic. Here’s a short list of traffic sources to help you diversify:
- Add Bing Ads if you’re only using Google Ads now
- Social media advertising (i.e. Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, etc)
- Develop partnerships with other companies who offer different services to the same clientele
- Write guest articles on popular blogs/websites
- Advertise in email newsletters
- Test direct mail with sales letters and/or postcards
- Test TV and/or radio ads if your product has mass appeal
2. Deadly Sin of NOT Capturing Leads
If your website does not have a method to capture contact information from leads then you need to quickly fix this problem.
Every day potential customers are visiting your website and they are leaving for countless reasons (i.e. got interrupted by a phone call, had to go to a meeting, wanted to search for something else online first, not ready to buy right now, etc.) WITHOUT giving you any contact information.
This means you have no way to follow up with these potential customers and most will never return because they’ll either forget or go to a competitor.
So it is absolutely critical to set up a lead capture form on your website. This can be anything valuable to your prospective customer – a free “how to” report, a demo, a white paper, or a webinar. The important thing is that it’s perceived as valuable enough to give you an email address to gain access.
Once you have your prospect’s email address, then you have the ability to nurture the lead. This brings us to the third deadly sin…
3. Deadly Sin of NOT Nurturing Prospects
A recent study across multiple industries showed that 50% of leads will buy within 18 months. 85% of those buyers will make the purchase 3 – 18 months after expressing initial interest.
You may want to read that again…
85% of the people who are going to buy from you will not purchase until 3 – 18 months AFTER they first get to your website.
That means if you’re not nurturing your prospects via email, phone, and/or direct mail then you’re missing 85% of the potential buyers. Now that is truly a deadly sin!
4. Deadly Sin of NOT Converting Prospects
At this point in the customer lifecycle, you have worked hard to drive traffic from various sources, you’ve captured the lead and nurtured her until she is now ready to buy. Don’t screw it up now with a faulty sales process!
The deadly sin here is not having a sales process with tested and proven scripts and sales collateral. A lot of businesses just wing it and never document the optimal sales system for their product or service. The result is unsteady, unpredictable, and unrepeatable sales month after month.
If you have an online business (e-commerce, SaaS, etc), you may be thinking this doesn’t apply to you because you’re selling 100% online with no phone calls or any human interaction.
My response is that you’re missing critical market/customer research by not speaking to your prospects and customers. At least set up an online chat system to field some questions. You’ll be amazed at how fast you’ll learn about your customers and their buying concerns/criteria.
But even if you refuse to field calls or chats, then you still need to continually optimize your online sales system from landing page to the shopping cart to the final order page. Map out the entire process and systematically improve each page to increase conversions.
5. Deadly Sin of NOT Over-Delivering
Now we’re at the stage where your customer has handed you her hard-earned money and is excited to receive the promised product or service.
Most mediocre businesses screw this part up big time. The deadly sin here is NOT over-delivering.
Your customer trusted you enough to give you money and now is the time to reassure she made a smart decision. Don’t just send a receipt from a no-reply email address and expect your product or service to do all the talking.
Instead, wow your customer with a “thank you” phone call, email, or letter. Or even better, send an unannounced gift like a cookie just for becoming a new customer.
This small investment in your new customers will be repaid over and over as you create zealots for your products/services. When you do something remarkable, then your customers can’t help but tell all of their friends and family!
6. Deadly Sin of NOT Upselling
Upselling to additional products and services is not just about increasing the lifetime value of a customer. It’s really about providing the best solution for your customers.
I would argue if you’re not providing upsells, then you’re not satisfying all of your customers. That’s why deadly sin #6 is NOT upselling.
Don’t think of an upsell as a way to extract more money during a transaction. Instead, think creatively about how you can better serve your customers and make their lives easier.
What other products and services would help your customers achieve their desired results faster or make their lives easier?
7. Deadly Sin of NOT Getting Referrals
I mentioned in deadly sin #5, that over-delivering will naturally create referrals because your customers will become raving fans. This is true, but don’t rely on it and don’t expect it to happen overnight.
When it comes to referrals, the biggest mistake is simply not asking for them. It’s not the most comfortable question to ask a customer and it typically takes some practice to make it sound natural.
But if you’ve over-delivering, then you should not feel uncomfortable or be afraid to ask your customers for referrals. In fact, you’re doing their friends and family a disservice by not asking because they could benefit from your product/service.
In my experience, your customers are more than happy to refer because it’s rewarding for them to help you out. If you think of it that way, then everyone wins.
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