How to Kick-Start the Marketing and Sales Cycle

Business

Marketing your facilityand its programs and services will be less intimidating if you realize thatmarketing is not a confusing, overwhelming jumble of costly and time-consuming activities. Rather,marketingfollows a predictable cycle that has four distinct stages: 1) filling the pipeline, 2) following up, 3) making yourpresentation and 4) closing thesale.

Almost all successful sales and marketing programs use this cycle. Knowing the phases allows you to organize your efforts so you can spend your time and money in the areas that need the most attention. Following is a discussion of each phase,along with strategies for how to make the cycle work for you.

Filling the pipeline

Your pipeline includes the following people: 1) prospects –those you attract through your visibility strategies like publicity, writing, public speaking and advertising; 2) contacts –people you meet through networking and in the course of your business or personal life; 3) leads –people you identify as potential members through research or from contacts in your network; and 4) referrals –people who are referred to you from current members, contacts and others.

Following up

Once you have all of these people in your pipeline, your next step is to contact them and to listen to their needs and wants. Then you can describe the benefits you have to offer that will address their concerns.

Makingyour presentation

Presentationsare when you listen to your prospects describe what they need and want, and then you paraphrase these needs and wants and develop a game plan of how you can help. Theymay beface-to-face meetings or telephone calls, and yourgoal is to makeasale. If your presentation results in a sale, you are successful. If it doesn’t,you haven’t failed. As the old saying goes, thesale begins when the customer says no. These prospects simply return to your “follow-up”file, and you willcontinue tocontact them to let them know what you have to offer. The needs of your prospects will change, and so might their willingness to make a buying decision.

Closing the sale

Once you have closed the sale and are providing services to your members, make sure that these members still belongto your follow-up pool. The best marketing is word of mouth, and the best way to get referrals is to let your current members know that they are important to you every day, not just on the days when they are handing over money.

Analyzing your strategy

To decide in what phase to invest your time and effort, analyze your business. Use the following questions to help:

Are you new in business? If you called every lead you currently have, would you be done before lunch? If so, you need to work on filling your pipeline.

Do you have a pile of business cards from people to whom you haven’t spoken since getting their cards?Do you have leads that you haven’t called?Do you have a large personal network, most of whom don’t know what you do for a living? If so, you havework to do on your follow-up plan.

Do you have trouble getting appointments with prospects, even with consistent follow-up?Do all ofyour prospects tell you they aren’t interested in meeting with you because they are looking at a competitor’s club? If so, you need to work on making presentations.

Do you get in front of customers, but consistently fail to get them to say “yes?”Do your presentations meet with constant objections?Do your prospects seem to be doing you a favor by meeting with you? If so, you need to work on closing thesale.

Now that you know what areas need your attention, choose your marketing strategy and set specific, measurable goals for tracking your performance. The best way to move forward is to break your plan into daily actions. For example, if following up is the phaseyou need to work on, set a goal of making at least 10 meaningful phone calls per day.

Your ultimate objective

Your goal should be to keep circulating through the cycle, with new prospects entering the pipeline at all times, and existing ones staying happy, giving referrals and using your profit centers. It’s this flow of prospects that leads to that all-important flow:cash flow.

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