Sales Cycle for Makers
We also have a question that's very specifically about retail business. Luxury is saying, "Can Tara please go through "the sales cycle for a retail business," and CraftingEmma is saying, yes, similarly, she, again, has a jewelry business, saying, "How do I get to step four, "presenting a solution, how do I present a solution "without making the offer?"
Susan, would you be okay with coming up and doing the same thing?
Mm-hmm. Okay, come on up. (audience applauds) For you, I was gonna do the exact same thing. This is a good segue. So, your collection is called Primitive Modernism, correct?
I can't wait 'til it launches! Are you calling it a spring collection? Calling it Collection One, what are you calling it first?
The debut collection is called Excavation.
That's right, excavation. So we gotta start with starting a conversation. What's the conversation gonna look like here?
It's funny, like, sitting up here, I all of a sudden blanked out everyt...
hing. I was just...
(laughs) No problem. What's the conversation? Talk to me, talk to me, Tara. (laughs)
Sure, so, in this case, because it's your debut collection, and it's got such a strong name, I want to know, conversationally-wise, why?
So, first, my question is, is this cycle, and email is cycle, so they just do an email list, this is the first email they're getting?
It could be.
And it's the conversation, and it's the order of emails they're getting, each step, or is it, they got to the website, and the home slide, is starting the conversation, and then they go to the page. It could be all of that?
It could be all of that. So you're always using the cycle, no matter where you're...
And I wouldn't say, this is not something, this cycle works, this is not something you need to stick to on pain of death. So, if you want to move it around, if you want to tweak it a little bit, if you want to just use it to inspire you with how you want to tell the story, that's fine. We're gonna do it literally here, but... Yeah, you could play with it, too. And absolutely, you can use it to tell the story of your work in many, many, many different ways. So, yeah, so if you go on Twitter, you don't need to follow all six of these steps, every six Tweets that you do, that would be weird. Although, it might work, I don't know, we should try that. Okay, so, tell me why, why Excavation, and why did you start designing jewelry.
Oh, gosh. I, well, I've been designing jewelry for a very long time. I used to have a jewelry line where I hand-carved walnut wood, into geometric shapes. And then, I always wanted to have my pieces cast. So I casted some of my wood pieces. I'm very inspired by Egyptian.
What is it about casting that inspires you?
I'm digging for a nugget, by the way. So don't feel like you're giving a wrong answer.
You're looking for something specific?
I'm looking for something that sounds really interesting. Nothing specific, that's what I'm trying to say.
I think I liked the idea of being able to produce multiple things, without having to hand-make each one, not that the customer wants to hear that. (laughs)
That's fine, that's fine, would that matter to the customer?
Well, I think it brings the price down a little bit.
Museum quality at accessible prices? Sorry, I muttered that. Museum quality at accessible prices, maybe. Tell me more about the excavation piece.
Okay, so, um, when I was originally sketching, I definitely was, my inspiration was definitely, Egyptian cultures, tribal cultures, Native American. Arrowheads, pyramids, all of that sort of thing, things. And then, once I had the pieces cast, they kind of took on a shape of their own. And because I casted my wood pieces, the wood grain came through in the texture. And seeing what they looked like, after they were cast, really made me see that they do look like artifacts, that were dug up, in an archeological dig.
Okay, so, in this case, I would say, just what I was saying about the fine artist who asked a question, what is most interesting to me, at least, off the top of my head right now, what's most interesting to me about this conversation, is your perspective, why these things are interesting to you. What that has to do with your process. And that's probably just where I'd start the conversation from. It's almost like it's your big why, right? This was hot, it's still hot, this, but Simon Sinek's idea of, people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. I would say, a great place to start, especially since this is your initial collection, is the big why behind your work. So I would just start here, I'd start here. What's your vision, or what's your customer's vision?
So, with start a conversation... Am I not... I wrote, empathize with who your customers want to become, what is the problem they're having? Am I not doing that?
So the vision is where you're empathizing with what your customers want to become, okay?
So, they want to wear... They want to wear... Art pieces that have a history, or a story behind it?
You know how I would do this? With a picture, with a few pictures. Maybe you could include some explanation in there. But I think this might just be a neat postcard email. Postcard email where it's basically just an image, your brand, maybe, on top, as well. I think, again, don't overthink this, if you want to share your vision for who is going to be wearing this, and what they want to become, just show them. You're probably going to be marketing to very visual people, as well, so you don't want to bombard them with lengthy essays, all the time, right? So, showing them can go a really really long way, as part of the sales process, too. Plus, this is great for stuff like Pinterest, that we were mentioning, earlier, it's great for stuff like Facebook. If you show me what I want to become, I'm gonna share that with other people, because, it makes me look like I'm already that. Or, it tells something about me to other people.
And, from a photo shoot, that would give them something to aspire to, seeing, the... Photo shoot, and the pictures.
The model wearing the jewelry, in, in, in a setting that's aspirational.
Right, what's the problem?
The problem is that there's so much jewelry out there that looks the same.
So much that looks the same. You might do this with an image, too. It may just be, you know, actually, so, yesterday, we talked about how, wouldn't it be neat to show your work on a professional-looking woman, or, on a kind of modern-dressed woman, in a museum setting? What if, then, when we moved to problem, in order to show that so much jewelry looks the same, maybe that's when you bring in those pictures of the women in the loincloths, and the skins, with jewelry on, because it shows, so dramatically, this is a different kind of product. Does that make sense? I mean, you could do lots of things, here. You could also write, "So much jewelry looks the same, "this is different!"
Right. Problem to solution. In this case, I would, as, I was talking about a spring collection of shoes and beige being the hot color, to me, and this answers the question from online, as well, I would kind of create a bigger picture of what the solution is. So, in this, the way you get away with not making the offer here is because you don't say, "Buy my jewelry," you say, "My jewelry is part "of a bigger trend, it's about wearing pieces "with history, with story." This might be a great place for a gift guide. Or just a collection of clothing, shoes, accessories, that all fit this theme. So, again, you're showing instead of telling. But you're also kind of showing that there's a solution. You can look really put together, you can look professional, and still bring out this really unique part of your personality, so that you look different, so that you have a story to tell. When people say, "Oh my gosh, where did you get that?" Okay? So that's how I would show the solution, without making an offer. Then I'd make an offer, and that's gonna be you launching the collection. So that's easy, that's when you finally say, "All right guys, you can get it now! "Please come, please purchase something," right? That's easy, and then strengthening the relationship would be, just like you said, it's coming back to this wearing art pieces with history, back to your why, over and over again, so that you can, you go from saying, this is the story of the whole collection, to, this is the story of this piece. This is the story of that piece. Here's why I came up with this one, and what it can mean for you. Make sense?
Mm-hmm. Cool, and you do it all over again, the next time you launch another collection. Okay?
Thank you. You're welcome, any questions?
Jessica was saying, "Maybe Susan's tagline is "unique jewelry that is "reminiscent of ancient artifacts."
I like it, thank you.
That's kind of a good one. And Studio Arethusa is saying, "As a maker myself, "I was really having some trouble relating, "but I feel for Susan, I really appreciate "her being there for the rest of us," 'cause she identifies with your challenges, too. So, thank you, that's wonderful.
I'm glad we got in a maker example this afternoon. All right, thanks, Susan.
Thanks, Susan. (audience applauds) All right, so we will have time for some more questions, but, before that, I want to get in a share, which is, even if you haven't thought of what you do, to this point, as sales cycles, I'd like to hear, what's a success story that you have, already? What was the most effective sales cycle you've ever executed? What's the most effective sales cycle you've ever executed? So, even if you've never thought about it in terms of sales cycle before, maybe you've never even thought about it in terms of launch, tell me about something successful you've sold, and how you've sold it. Tell us in the chat rooms, tell us on Twitter, with the hashtag #TaraLive, or @TaraGentile. I want to help you celebrate your success, and, more importantly, I want to really, really, really, want to help you reproduce your success. And make it a regular, predictable thing for you. So, guys out here, what's the most successful sales cycle you've ever launched? Robin, I know you've got success stories.
Um, we were hoping to, our goal was 100 people for our course we just launched, and we have 134.
It's just, we get so excited, because the designers are amazing. So it's been, and just, yeah, it's been fantastic.
Wonderful, and what do you think, what would you attribute that success to this time? What do you think, what was the defining characteristic?
I think we're getting more of a reputation. And that we've got people who have taken the course before who are talking about it, and have not only given us testimonials, but telling their friends about it. And being very vocal, which is great, but also, Tracey, my business partner, is phenomenal at cultivating more affiliates, and, I should say ambassadors, people that we work with, that we can share information with. And so we did a lot of sharing free information, with different people in the industry, so that was good.
I like what you said about, we've just had more people taking the program, we've run it enough times that there's a great customer base for this. Were you actively using those stories as part of your storytelling process?
Awesome, awesome. I think that's huge. What about up here, sales cycles that went really well. Briana?
I had a similar situation with starting the soccer club. It's a club for girls led by girls, so, female coaches, leaders. And, originally, just wanted maybe 30 girls, turned into 100 in two months, just by referrals, I didn't even set up a website or anything yet, and they were coming to me. 'Cause some of them already knew me, or the parents that I had already worked with had told them about the program, and it just took off.
Fantastic, congratulations, awesome. Any wins that we want to share from online?
We did, TheGuavaProject is saying, "I was amazed at how easy it was to enroll "people into my VIP program, once I offered "a very clear, on-the-course solution, "that this program brings to my clients."
Awesome. That's huge, making it clear.
And HelloDoor says, "The most successful sales cycle, signed up 15 people "for a webinar from just a couple of posts "and groups on LinkedIn."
That is awesome, and I have a feeling, clarity really helped with that launch, too, making it very clear what you were gonna be learning in the webinar. All right, we have a little bit more time, I'd love to take some questions about sales cycles, Sasha?
I was wondering, with this series of emails that we laid out, could it be an auto-responder series for people who were interested in that particular thing?
Absolutely, absolutely, yes.
Once you design a sales cycle, you don't need to retire it, right? You shouldn't be re-inventing the wheel every time. I think there's lots of opportunities to create different kinds of sales cycles, and use different kinds of messages, and use different kinds of stories. But if you find one that is really effective, absolutely, I would use that as an automated sales cycle, as well, that's an excellent next-level layer, so what Sasha's talking about, is a feature in email marketing service providers, where you can set up an automated campaign. So people sign up for your list, and they get a series of emails, or they take a certain action, and it triggers a series of emails that you input. And so, absolutely, if you're looking at this, as a series of emails, which is a good way to look at it, you could do it live, once, with your audience, and then, make it an auto-responder series that just goes, and goes, and goes. That would be especially great if it's an evergreen program, or if it's something that's always enrolling, or if it's jewelry that's always on your website. Absolutely, it's much, that's harder to do if something closes down for a while, and then opens back up. But yeah, any kind of product that can always be purchased, you can automate the sales cycle for. I have one sales cycle running for Kickstart Labs, where, when you sign up for my email list, you start getting a series of a few emails that I think really lays the foundation, starts the right conversation, with my people, and then I follow that up, with making an offer around Kickstart Labs. So, yeah, I think that's a great question. Any other questions about sales cycles?
For a program that is evergreen and constantly running, is it wise to start a new conversation that's still directing to the same thing? So if, maybe, this line of thought didn't work, didn't grab people, I'm gonna try this angle. Leading to the exact same thing, but catching them from a different point of view.
Absolutely, here's the thing about evergreen products. People think, I'm gonna make this evergreen, and then I'm going to make money in my sleep, and I'm not ever gonna have to think about it anymore. And that is false, it's false. Once you create an evergreen product, you still need to have sales cycles for it. Sometimes they might be automated, but I think you might even get more traction out of it by actually building it into your marketing calendar. Or your revenue plan. So if you've got a revenue plan where, you know you want to make this much this month, and that much that month, you may start a new sales cycle around a product or a program that's been running all the time. But most people don't know about it most of the time. Same thing with general coaching offers, a lot of people aren't thinking, they're not waiting to coach with you, right, they haven't put it on their calendar for three months from now to get in touch with you. I mean, sometimes that happens, but those people are very few and far between. So you might regularly have to make asks around an individual coaching program, or a one-on-one coaching program, or, even your doula services. So if you can regularly plan for having a sales cycle around those kind of offers, as well, you'll be able to keep that business model alive and healthy, all the time. And that's really what revenue planning is all about. And I'm gonna talk a little bit about that, more, in the next segment. Yeah, and so, yeah, that's how you keep it going. That's how you keep it going. I feel like there was something else I wanted to say about that, if I think about it, I will let you know! (laughs)
Judith is saying, "Now, Tara hasn't mentioned yet "a fundamental principle in traditional sales of, "identify objections, given or unspoken by a customer, "and then bring them up, and then overcome them." So what are your thoughts on that principle?
Yeah, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, important. That can be part of strengthening the relationship as well, bringing up objections, bringing up questions, that you know your customer is considering once you've made an offer, absolutely. I actually love sending those kinds of emails. I know you're thinking this, or, I know you're wondering about this, here's what I have to say about that. Here's the answer to those questions. I think it's also something that should be built-in, baked-in, fundamentally, to your sales pages. So if you're a service provider, you've probably got more of a long-form service page, if you're a maker, you probably have more short-form product descriptions, but you could still build objections and questions into both of those things. Generally, I've found the best way to build objections into sales pages is through FAQs. And the same thing can be done with product descriptions. Like Tiffany mentioned yesterday, if you lose an earring, she'll mail you a new earring. If something breaks, she'll repair it. Those are all potential objections. Those aren't just value ads, right, those are, "Oh, I don't want to spend "a lot of money on this because I lose "my earrings all of the time." Or, it's, "I am so bad with jewelry, what if it breaks?" That's an objection, it's not just that she's really generous, she's actually found a way to counteract those objections. So if that's not on every single product page that you have, you're missing an opportunity to cancel out those objections every single time. So, absolutely, challenging objections, answering questions, anticipating why someone may not buy something is super important. And it's going to happen while you're connecting a problem to the solution, and while you're making an offer, and while you're strengthening that relationship. Great question.
Jake2014, that's Jake that's got the four people watching. Right, Jake says, "What about examples "for a service with billable hours, "such as interior design, massage therapist, "or real estate agent? "Wondering how to tweak the steps "if not necessarily offering information to products, "or tangible products."
Sure, so, for billable hours, I would still think in terms of packages. And as soon as you start thinking in terms of packages, one, you get away from time for money, so, instead of saying, this package is 20 hours, you say, you get this, this, and this, that package normally takes about 20 hours. That's how you figure out what the price is going to be, for yourself. And now that you've turned your service, which is difficult to sell, because it takes a commitment, and it takes a lot of trust. Well, how do I know how many hours this is going to take, how do I know how much this is really going to cost? You turn it into a package, and now that package is much more tangible, it's got a container on it. And then, in your business model, you can figure out how many of those you want to sell. Then that's gonna guide you through that sales cycle. I don't know that you need to tweak the steps of this at all. You're still identifying problems, you're still identifying solutions, you're still starting conversations, you're still making asks on a regular basis. It's just that now, you've got something with tangible value, something that's easy to buy, because that's what a package does, packages make things easier to buy, make services easier to buy. That you can have a sales cycle around, and it also helps you plan better. So you can say, instead of, I need four clients to stick with me between four and six months, you say, I need to sell this many packages over the next six months, and you can plan your sales cycles accordingly.
Now, SundayGirlAmy is saying, "The last hot seat "with the jewelry was so great for direct-to-consumer. "But is there a tweak you would add to this "when you're talking about potential, "current, or previous wholesale buyers? "They have a different set of priorities "when they're buying for their store."
Absolutely, so, one way I would think about this is in terms of, actually, at the trade show. So this is a cycle that can happen over four weeks, it can happen over six weeks, it can happen over eight weeks. I want you to think about taking the sales cycle, and squishing it into the two-minute interaction that you're going to have with a potential buyer. How are you gonna start the conversation, what are you gonna talk to them about, about the vision that they share with their customers, about what their customers really want. Because, in the end, that's what matters to them, what their customers want. What kind of solutions are you gonna present to them? What kind of problems are you going to show them exist? And then you're gonna put that order form in their hand, and say, "Would you like to place an order today?" My friend Megan, Megan Auman, the designer of my jewelry, and Thursday's leggings, does this super, super, super well. She knows exactly what's gonna start a conversation with her wholesale buyers. This necklace looks really heavy, it looks like there's a lot of metal here. The trick is, this necklace is made mostly out of steel. I don't feel like I'm wearing anything. So what she does, what she taught me to do, when I used to help her out in the booth. (laughs) Was to pick up a piece of jewelry and stick it in someone's hand, because immediately, there's shock. There is absolute shock. People are looking at this and they think it's oxidized silver, but it's not, it's steel, so it's super lightweight. It feels great, the texture of her jewelry is just amazing, because it's coated in wax. I know that sounds weird, but it's awesome. It's got that immediate textural weight thing going on, that starts a conversation right away, with the buyer. Then she can talk about the fact that her jewelry is welded steel, which makes it virtually indestructible. All right, that is, that's both a problem, and a solution, and a vision, all wrapped into one. Because my thing was always, "Well, I love "Megan Auman jewelry because it's toddler-proof. "I want to wear jewelry that my kid "is not gonna rip apart." Megan Auman jewelry does that, for me. And then, she's really good about saying, would you like to make an offer today? Would you like to place an order today? She's gonna make the offer, they're gonna place the order. And then she strengthens the relationship by taking their business card, whether they make an order or not, and she follows up with them. So it's not that you need to necessarily tweak the steps here, but that you need to tweak the timeline. Think about that two-minute interaction that you're gonna have with a buyer, at a trade show, where they're gonna be thinking about whether or not they want to purchase from you. Squish all those steps, as simply as you can, as concisely as you can, in that two minutes, make the offer, and then follow up.
So here's one more from Sophia. "I find I sell most when I don't sell. "Just hint at the things, and people will come "over to my website to buy. "Does that tend to be the case for the luxury market? "And, for this example, can you give a sales line, "kind of like you did with quirky conversations?" (Tara laughs)
Okay, um... Did she say she hints at things and people come over to buy?
Yeah, she says, "I find I sell most when I don't sell, "and just hint at things, and people "come over to my website to buy."
Yeah, okay, so... Yes, and no. I wouldn't, I would say you could be doing better, is what I would say, not that you are... How do I want to tackle this? Direct offers, making a sales pitch, doesn't negate the luxury market. Think about, Mercedes still runs commercials, right? Lexus still runs commercials. Luxury brands still make pitches, they still say buy now, they still make direct offers. They do it a little bit differently, they do it with different values. I would suggest that perhaps if people haven't been buying when you've pitched directly before, that it's likely you weren't tapping into the right story or into the right values. And that maybe, you know, the things that are on your website, are starting to tap into those right values. And so I would look towards consistency there, and I would just also suggest that, hinting at things, and then people eventually buying, works, until it doesn't, and it doesn't work as well as having a really good system for buying. System for selling. So you might be successful now, but how much more successful could you be? And you might need to really experiment with this, and figure out what works for you, but I really do think that a system like this is a good jumping off point for you.