But there’s not a business I’ve worked with that can truly thrive on campaigns and product launches, alone.
“A product launch, does not a business make” – Ryan Deiss
Too many of us place far too much importance on making that initial sale.
It’s short-term thinking. The antithesis of strategic.
Don’t get me wrong, making sales is required. Trouble is, there’s aaaalll kinds of stuff that needs to get thought through and implemented before and after that initial sale gets made, to create long-term sustainability in your business.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce the Customer Lifecycle :
In my consulting business, I take a critical look at how to strategize and optimize the entire Customer Lifecycle for my clients’ businesses…instead of just the “making the sale” part.
I liken this distinction to dating and sex.
If you want a sustainable business, then focusing all your energy on making the sale is a bit like saying you want a long-term relationship, but then spending all your time and energy just trying to get laid.
If all you want is sex, you can get to it with relative ease and speed, by taking certain actions and avoiding others.
Pickup artists are great at this.
Trouble is that the strategy you employ to compel a stranger to sleep with you isn’t the same one used to cultivate a long-term relationship. In most cases, it’s the opposite.
In this analogy:
- One-night stand = making the initial sale
- Long term relationship (with lots of sex (sales), along the way) = strategically masterminding the entire Customer Lifecycle
Some of the fellas out there are like, “Whatever, bro! I can always just go back out and score another lay/sale!”
Sure. Fine. More power to ya, “bro.”
While a sale can be financially gratifying in the short-term (much as one-night stand can scratch tonight’s pelvic itch), it leaves much to be desired in the “sustained fulfillment” department.
Trouble is, in business, it takes more than buying a couple of drinks and a shoulder rub to make the sale. There’s all kinds of preamble and forethought required before you’re able to convince your prospect to disrobe and become your custy.
And if you ain’t got the rest of the customer lifecycle thought-through and locked in, you’re prolly not gonna delight that customer, get ‘em to buy again, tell their friends, leave positive feedback, and all the rest of what you want from them. Which is a shame, ‘specially after all it took to get them to buy in the first place. Dig?
I like to think of the customer lifecycle as a funnel. Goes a lil’ something like this:
These Stages Are Distinct
Think of each of the stages of the customer lifecycle as a distinct and critical part of your business. If one part is weak, it’ll hurt the entire business.
Tackle the Stages One-by-One
Of course, the idea is to get peeps from the top to the bottom and back in again. To reliably do that you need systems for managing performance at each stage, combined with the ability to accurately gauge how things are going at every stage. This is where the metrics, or reporting, comes in. This way you can see where folks are falling out of your funnel, and fix what’s not working.
How to know whether your business is just lookin’ for one-night-stands or if its ready for a long-term relationship:
Attract and Capture:
1. Do you have two or more reliable, repeatable, scalable systems for generating traffic to your store or website?
2. Do you have one or more reliable ways of getting visitors to your website or store to join your mailing list so you can keep in touch with them over time? This’d be like a taste of your goods or services for free (or damn near) in exchange for giving you their email address.
3. Have you created and automated a system for nurturing leads until they’re ready to buy? In other words, do you have a strategic system that builds relationships with prospects, getting them to know, like and trust you, on autopilot?
4. Do you have a system that can sense when certain leads are more engaged (coming back over and over again to your website, visiting your pricing page, opening or clicking links in your emails) and automatically following up more aggressively with these folks?
5. Have you thought through and created a purchase process that’s smooth and pleasant for converting your prospects into customers?
6. Do you have a system that senses when someone abandoned the purchase process without buying and then automatically responds with attempts to get the customer re-engaged?
7. Do your buyers get segmented so that you can easily (bonus points for automatically) target them for similar offers in the future?
Upsell and Cross Sell:
8. Do you have a system that automatically offers relevant follow-on sales to buyers, cross sells, etc., during the initial purchase process (e.g., one-click upsells)?
9. Do you have a suite of products that take customers down a continuum, where progressively higher-priced products earn them greater and greater value, access to you, etc.? In other words, is there always more to buy from your business for those who want more?
Fulfill and Retain (aka, Delight):
10. Do you have a system that fulfills your product or service in a way that delights your new customers?
11. Do you have a system that proactively provides new customers with resources that answer their questions and address their concerns?
12. Have you got a system that ensures your customers are actually engaged with and getting the most out of their purchase?
13. Do you have a system that automatically follows up with customers for feedback on their experience?
14. Do you have a system that allows those who said they had a negative experience of your product or service to give their feedback to YOU, instead of to the rest of the world via social media?
15. Do you have a system that automatically follows up with customers who loved your product or service, giving them specific ways in which they can share their positive experience, and refer their friends and family?
16. Do you have a way to track from which of your customers such referrals are coming, and optionally, which reward those referrers for their referrals?
[box] Key: If you found yourself answering “no” to more than a couple of these questions, then you’re likely leaving your customers feeling a bit cheap after their “encounter” with your business and you’re most definitely leaving money on the table (or betwixt the sheets, as the case may be). [/box]
Strategize and map out systems for each of these stages of your customer lifecycle.
Automate these systems so they run while you sleep.
What you’ll need to pull this off
1. Quiet time to think strategically.
This is critically important work. Turn off the distractions and let your mind think creatively. Now, consider the flow your prospects ought to take from the top of that funnel, and in what order they should take them. Consider what communications would be required at each step of your funnel to create the conditions for delighted customers who leave great feedback, refer all their friends and buy everything you put up for sale.
2. A way to map this flow.
I use Lucidchart for creating my maps and my clients’, because it rocks harder than Sisyphus at an AC/DC concert, but don’t get hung up on which tool to use. The point is you need to map out the ideal flow you want someone to take, from the time they get to your site or store to the time they make it all the way down your funnel and back in the top again. Seem daunting? It should. This may be the single most important thing you do in your business. Give it some time.
3. A platform to automate these systems.
I recommend ONTRAPORT, though plenty of fine folks love Infusionsoft, and they’ll both work nicely. Your alternative is to string together a number of other lesser apps to accomplish the same outcome, but that’ll require more time, hassle and headaches than I can recommend enduring to anyone (save for you tiny subset of masochists out there). Plus, I offer a bitchen’ bundle of bonuses if you sign up for ONTRAPORT through my link, too. Just lemme know when you’ve signed up through my link and I’ll hook you up…big time.