A great way to monetize your blog is to sell products, and before you sell the first unit of your product, you’ll need a pre-sales process. This process can determine the success or failure of your product. In today’s blog post, let’s take a look at what a pre-sales process is so you can adapt it to your own process and assure your success.
One of the best ways to monetize your blog is by selling products in your website.
But before you sell products on your site, and sometimes even before you have a product to offer, you need to do some tasks, mostly research, so you can offer the right product to the right people. This set of tasks is called a pre-sales process.
It doesn’t sound too interesting or exciting, but your pre-sales process can make or break the success of your product.
In today’s article, I’ll run through the pre-sales process and how you can use it to sell products on your own website.
To put it simply, a pre-sales process is a set of tasks that you perform before your customer buys a product from you. That is, a pre-sales process is executed before the first customer clicks “Buy” on your product page.
Okay, but can’t you go straight to selling? Why do you need to establish this process as part of your overall strategy?
1. It ensures that you find and engage the right target audience.
A good pre-sales process helps you know your target audience, what they’re looking for, what they want, and whether they’re willing to part with their money to get what they want.
When you know your target audience inside and out, it’s easier to find ways to engage them, as well as the right words to say or write that will make them pay attention to you.
2. It improves your products.
Knowing the right people to sell to means you know the right product to sell to them. Not only that, you know what features to include in the product, and what benefits to describe to your audience so they’re inclined to buy the product.
3. It builds a strong foundation for the rest of your sales process.
An engaged audience plus a valuable product equals an efficient sales flow for you. An effective pre-sales process enables you to achieve this.
4. It helps you develop your skills in finding prospects, recognizing problems, and providing solutions.
Do this often enough and you’ll find it gets easier and you’ll realize that you’re getting so much better at it. This is helpful if you’re planning to sell more products on your site for the long term.
The first phase of your pre-sales process ideally involves market research.
Market research is the process of gathering and analyzing data about a particular market and potential customers in that market for a certain product. It involves identifying your target customers, researching about their personalities and needs, and compiling data from your competitors.
Market research is the most efficient way to start your pre-sales process because everything starts with your target audience.
Here’s how to do market research as part of your pre-sales process.
Targeting the right customers does more to influence sales than applying the trendiest marketing techniques. Thus, it’s important to understand who your target customers are so you can understand how they make buying decisions.
Buyer personas, sometimes called marketing personas, are general, hypothetical representations of your ideal customers. They help you form an image of your target customer so you can form your strategy accordingly.
Some of the characteristics that you should include in your buyer persona are:
But how do you know who your target buyer is?
If you’re blogging, and have researched your niche thoroughly, you’d have a pretty good idea of who your target audience and readers are, so you can start from there.
But you can only know so much about your target audience. For example, you probably don’t know exactly what kind of education they have or what they do at work.
If you already have a blog and an email list, the best way to go about researching this information is to do a reader or email list survey, with questionnaires asking all these questions above and incentives for them to complete the survey.
In the process of researching and building your buyer persona, you’ll probably find yourself making more than one buyer persona. This is perfectly all right and, to a certain degree, expected.
The number of buyer personas you ultimately come up with will likely impact how you create your product, and it’s entirely possible to have a single product that addresses most, if not all, of the different needs of your buyer personas.
However, the fact that you have different buyer personas will have the greatest impact on how you market the product to them because they’ll want to hear different things. One buyer persona could be interested in value for price, while another buyer persona could be interested in whether your product is indeed the best in the market.
When you’ve built your buyer personas, the next step is to research their spending habits and preferences. But to get actual helpful answers, you need to start with the questions that you’re going to ask them.
Here are some guidelines for questions you can ask your audience.
Stick to an outline format. You want to make it easy for your respondents to answer your questions, and an outline format makes it easier for them to see all the questions and related “sub-questions” and respond to them in turn.
Ask open-ended questions. This might require more from your respondents than simple “Yes/No” questions, and contradict what I just said about making it easy for them.
But open-ended questions avoid the bias that Yes/No questions unintentionally introduce. For instance, “Do you like lemons?” invites a different response than “What fruits do you like?”
Find out more about their background. Aside from things you already know about your target buyers, like age, gender, and other demographic information, ask your respondents about other seemingly asinine information like their favorite food or restaurant, or their latest vacation.
This isn’t to be creepy; the answers to these questions can give you a more comprehensive image of your buyer persona, especially with regard to their lifestyle and buying decisions.
Bring up their biggest challenges and obstacles to their goals. You might have asked these before and they may have answered, but if you can narrow down and get more specifics, this will help you improve your product.
Inquire about their latest purchase. You’ll want to know how they researched for this purchase, how they narrowed down the stores, where they ultimately bought, and what factors influenced the decisions they made throughout the buying process.
The purchase doesn’t have to be related to your niche or the product you’re planning to sell. What you intend to find out is their thought process, how they research, and where they research.
Ask them about their good and bad experiences when buying. Both good and bad experiences when buying are universal. For instance, everybody likes good customer service and fast transactions, while nobody likes bad product images and slow delivery.
But you want to find out what’s at the top of their minds when you say “good experience” and “bad experience.”
You can ask this question in general terms or in the context of their last purchase. The important thing is to see what they like and what they don’t like to experience when buying something.
Don’t forget to express appreciation. After you’ve asked your questions, don’t forget to thank them for their time and effort in answering your questions.
Once you have your questions ready, you can go ahead and invite respondents from your blog readers, email list, and social media. Similar to when you were building your buyer persona, offer freebies and gifts for answering your survey questions.
The most effective way you can get the answers you want is to ask the right number of people. Make sure to recruit as many of your audience as you possibly can. Also, if possible, target an equal number of respondents for every buyer persona you’ve built.
First, let me say that you don’t have to be scared of competition.
The fact that you have competition means that you’re in the right niche and you’re targeting the right target audience because people are buying products and solutions in that niche and category.
Knowing your competitors in your niche well will help you learn what works and what doesn’t, and will help you work on your own selling point that will make you stand out from the competition. What kind of added value can you provide that your competitors can’t?
Here are some things to remember when scoping out your competition.
Start broad. When using online search engines to look for your competitors, start with broad terms to describe your niche. For example, if you’re running a fashion blog and looking to sell related products, search for terms such as “dresses,” “accessories,” “shoes,” and other general clothing items.
Take note of the companies and websites that you encounter. Then take a look at the product categories and products that they’re selling or promoting.
Use social media search. Any business worth its salt would have social media accounts for marketing purposes. Facebook and Pinterest searches are good for finding competing online stores, websites, and blogs, while LinkedIn is good for finding larger companies.
Narrow down. Search for more specific products on both Google search and social media, and take note of companies that come up that you haven’t listed yet during your previous search.
Consider your buyer personas’ preferences. The real test of whether a blog, online store, or retail store is a competitor is whether they match what your target buyer is looking for.
By now, you probably have plenty of files and plenty of information.
When you’re done with your market research, it’s advisable to organize this information, and the most effective way to do this is to compile an outline of all you have: your buyer personas and their information, the answers of your respondents to your survey questions, and the list of your competitors.
Once you have this summarized information, you can now see and paint a picture of who your target buyers are, what factors they consider when buying, how they decide which store to go with, what existing stores and websites they’re likely to consider, what products you’re going to go against, and what characteristics these products have that makes them attractive to your target audiences.
When you have a more comprehensive picture of your target audience and how to get their attention, it’s time to move to the next phase of your pre-sales process, which is product research.
Product research is the process of assembling information on the product you want to build, conceptualizing it, designing it, and then testing the product.
The goals of product research are to evaluate your product idea, see whether there is a demand for that product, learn whether there’s a possibility that your product has a chance to be successful against your competitors, and discover the best ways to design, create, and market your product to satisfy your target buyers and compete effectively at the same time.
Here are the steps to do product research.
Based on your research on your target buyers’ needs and preferences, list down all the product ideas that you have.
To know whether your product idea is workable, check your ideas against the following basic criteria:
When you’re left with a list of ideas that meet the above criteria, the next thing you need to do is to validate your product ideas. This is particularly important because, at this point, you’re not really certain whether there will be demand for your product.
One of the best ways to validate your product ideas is to go straight to your target buyers. Gather a focus group composed of your target buyers and present a draft of one of your product ideas, complete with its features and benefits. Then, ask them for their feedback and whether they’d buy the product if you ever released it.
When you’ve validated your ideas, you can then try to create a minimum viable product (MVP), which can be described as a miniature version of your actual product.
Be aware, though, that this doesn’t mean creating a part of a complete product. An MVP should be able to stand on its own. For example, if your product idea is an eBook, the MVP won’t be a chapter to that eBook covering a subtopic; it should be a shorter eBook covering all the topics you plan to cover in your eBook.
A couple of advantages of creating a minimum viable product are as follows.
An MVP allows a faster feedback loop. The more basic your minimum product, the easier your focus group can review your product, and the quicker you can work on it to ultimately build the final product.
An MVP reduces your initial cost. Smaller units cost less to produce than bigger ones. Plus, if you do identify errors or problems with your process, then your investments in time, effort, and cost are easy to recoup.
When you have your MVP, it’s best to obtain feedback from people who would be most likely to buy your product. Thus, the next step is to have a focus group use it, review it, and give you feedback. It’s preferable to use the same focus group you had when you were conceptualizing your product idea.
Some questions you can ask your focus group include:
What you want to take away from their answers are their motivations (i.e., what reasons would they have to buy your product?) and concerns (i.e., what reasons would prevent them from buying your product?)
Based on the feedback you gather from your focus group, tweak your MVP accordingly and do it all over again until you’re satisfied with your MVP and its feedback.
An outstanding pre-sales process helps you find the right target audience, create solutions for them, set up a foundation for the rest of your sales process, and sharpen your prospecting and analytical skills.
Here again is a simple pre-sales process that you can follow.
Steps Of A Simple Pre-Sales Process
Are you planning to sell products on your website? Or have you started to create them but don’t know how to sell them? Was this article helpful? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!
JoAnne is your average, everyday, sane stay-at-home mom who believes in the power of the internet to make dreams come true. She has an insatiable appetite for chocolate, as well as all things internet marketing. She keeps up with the latest trends in blogging, affiliate marketing, e-commerce, and more.