I’m sure that every top entrepreneur will agree that success isn't a straight line to the top. There are many peaks and valleys and some detours along the way.
Each person’s journey may look a little different but they all have specific stops along their journey that happen for success to last. In the post we’ll talk about the 5 Foundational Principles for Online Success.
Every journey starts with the first steps. For every entrepreneur it’s about finding the right product or service to sell and deciding who to sell it to, your customer avatar.
For the sake of this post I’m going to assume that you already know what product/service it is that you want to sell.
You may even have a general idea of who it is that you want to sell it to.
Your Customer Avatar
At this point in your journey your main focus should be knowing your customer better than they know themselves.
The key areas to focus on are:
- Economic Status
Demographics for B2C companies are people based on gender, age, location, marital status, etc. If you are running the marketing for the business, then it’s up to you to determine which of these demographics are important to your company.
Demographics for B2B companies will include the people based information for the person within the company that you are targeting but also key aspects of the company you are targeting such as size, years in business, budgets, etc.
When you first start out you may be collecting too much information or too little information and that is ok. This process of collecting information isn’t a static process and should not be done only once. Think of this as something you continuously refine and define with the more information and data you collect from your customers.
This is the part where things can go down a rabbit hole really quickly because this involves gathering the information around the mindset of the person before and after they have made the decision to purchase your product or service.
You’ll look at what things are motivating the customer to purchase like goals, values and what’s going on in their life at that moment such as challenges or pain points from life’s circumstances. Basically what is moving them to make a purchase now vs later.
You’ll also want to consider where they get their information like books, magazines, websites, influencers, groups, communities, etc. All these sources of information will have an impact on the choice your prospect will make when selecting your product or service vs your competitors.
The point of view that is brought into your sales process will influence different objections they will have about your product or service. You’ll need to answer these questions somewhere in your sales cycle in order to close the deal and get a new customer.
This is generally part of the demographic data but there are some considerations for you to make. When you look at data points like income and revenue it doesn’t necessarily mean that they can afford your product or service so you need to take into account the other driving factors that were listed in the Psychographics section.
When creating a customer avatar, you’ll want to answer the following questions with the information that you provide in the profile.
- What is driving the decision to purchase my product or service now?
- Is there something going on in their life or business that is influencing their decision to purchase now or in the future?
- Is this purchase a want or a need?
- Can they afford to make this purchase now?
Now that you know who the customer is and what products or services you will be offering now it is time to move on to the next step.
If you haven’t clearly defined your customer or your product/service, then that is the next step of what you need to do.
Lead Generation Systems
Now your focus should be on lead generation.
Prospecting and lead generation go hand in hand but it really depends on who it is you are targeting so that you can determine what you will do.
Lead generation is all about finding people that are interested in your products or services. You then use your marketing to move people from being casually interested in your products or services to be ready to make a purchase.
In today's world most of this can be done with automation. It’s so prevalent that it is referred to as … you guessed it, Marketing Automation. The purpose of your marketing automation is to sort through all the “interested” leads and qualify them based on the customer avatar that you created. It’s why you need to create the customer avatar first.
Your lead generation system should track things like the number of leads you generate and the costs associated with generating them like cost per lead (CPL), cost per acquisition (CPA), customer acquisition cost (CAC).
Tracking these metrics will allow you to make data driven decisions instead of guessing what’s working and what’s not.
Knowing your numbers will allow you to scale your business growth down the road.
Now that you have your lead generation dialed in it’s time to move on to the next set of systems to work on.
It’s now time to focus on your sales systems.
There are a couple of considerations to think about when building or improving your sales systems.
The first thing that comes to mind is the hand-off from your marketing efforts to your sales person or team. Is your sales team getting all the information that they need to contact the lead and move them along in the sales process?
Passing the right information can be done in your CRM tool using automation so that you don’t need to manually enter information in multiple places.
Depending on your sales process you may need to set an appointment or simply have a way for someone to make a purchase.
For simple or low cost items sending the website visitor to a page to make a purchase is perfectly acceptable. You’ll then just need to focus on optimizing that page to get more people to complete the purchase.
Optimizations will include things like:
- Adding/updating testimonials
- Adding/updating your guarantee
- Adding/updating payment options
- Adding/updating product summary
- Is free shipping an option? Let them know.
- Adding/updating upsell or cross selling items
- Adding/updating your bump offer
If the product or service is more expensive or a more complex sale, then there may need to be several steps in your process before they get to the payment part of it.
You may have a demo or sales call that is required. You may need to meet with several decision makers. You may also need a contract approved and signed.
Whatever your sales process looks like, the key is to map it out and know every step of the way what is required to enter into that step and what is required to leave that step of the process.
Clearing defining the actions that need to be taken will be important so that you can set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure and improve down the road.
Your sales system ends when your customer is done with the onboarding process.
The onboarding process means that they have been informed about the next steps and any account creation has been completed.
There are other things that you can include in your onboarding such as calling your customer or sending them a thank you gift in the mail.
You’ll need to decide what that experience looks like for you and what you’re willing to spend to make that happen.
Now that your sales process is dialed in enough to have consistent revenue it time for the next phase in the growth process.
Your business really comes down to 3 elements that need to harmonize. People, Process, Products.
I’ve made the assumption that you have a good product. We’ve been talking about several different processes to get in place like the lead generation, and your sales process.
Building Your Team & Hiring Systems
Now it is time to focus on your people.
Building the right team is going to be critical to growing your company. Without the right people in place you will hit a ceiling really quickly on how much you can earn.
You’ll never be able to leverage others skill sets so that you can free up your time to do other things inside or outside of your business.
I’m going to talk about the people needed in terms of roles and responsibilities so that it’s not specific to any business. This way you can look at your business and determine who needs to fill those roles.
The first role we’ll take a look at is that of your marketing. Specifically, the lead generation part of it. You’ve likely been doing this role quite a bit, especially in the beginning.
The role of marketing is all about communicating with your prospects and customers throughout the customer journey. Marketing's job is about moving the prospect or customer to the next step.
In the lead generation that means attracting the right people with the message that is sent out and qualifying them with questions and messaging along the way.
When the prospect makes it through the filters at that point they are moved to the next step and introduced to your sales process.
If the prospect gets stuck in the sales process, then marketing’s job is to help move them along. This can be done via email, sms, direct mail or other forms of automated communication.
Once they are a customer, marketing's job is to inspire that customer to become an evangelist for your business and send you more customers.
Marketing is present throughout your entire business.
Eventually your marketing needs will grow and you’ll have several people filling that role. Initially though the role should focus on lead generation.
You’ll have several options to fill all the roles in your business with in-house staff, freelancers, or agencies. There are pros and cons to each but this isn’t the place to outline that.
When you have the lead generation role filled, next look to your sales team.
Depending on your sales process will determine the types of skills necessary to work for you.
As an example, someone that is dealing with large companies and long sales cycles will need a different skill set than someone selling cars or waiting tables.
Look at your sales process and determine the tools that you use and the minimum skills required to use those tools. Also keep in mind that the length of time of your sales process will require different skills.
The people on your sales team will be responsible for qualifying and closing the sale, which should include collecting payment and/or a signed contract. The sale is not done until the money is collected.
The final roles to fill out for your team are customer fulfillment. This will include any customer service roles that you have as well. The purpose of customer fulfillment is to deliver on what you are selling.
If you are a restaurant then it will include cooks, bartenders, wait staff.
If you are a roofing contractor then it’s the laborers to install the roof and clean up afterwards,
If you are a consultant or agency it will be the people that do the work that is promised.
You get the idea, anyone that is needed to ensure your customers get the experience you want as the business owner is the part of customer fulfillment.
As your business grows then these 3 roles will start to form different departments but the responsibilities will remain the same.
As your team and business grows you’ll move into the last area of focus for your business.
Become The Leader
This is about building up your niche leadership and leadership in your business.
Leading yourself or leading a small team is a different task than leading people in your business that you never interacted with during the hiring process or on a day to day basis.
This level of leadership requires you to inspire from the top down and also shine in your niche. If you are going to attract top talent, then you need to be known in your industry.
Your leadership skills will need to grow beyond just leading a team but also encompass leadership in your niche as a thought lead, in your community as a business leader, and in your own business as an inspiration to those that work for you.
In every phase of your business growth it’s all about consistency and incremental improvements. When you have that mindset then your online success becomes inevitable and not something that is left up to chance.