Sarah said goodbye to her client, sat down and sighed. The session had gone really well. Her client was delighted with the service she received. Just like the other two. It felt great to deliver a really professional service. So, why was it so hard to gain credibility in the wider business world?
Sarah needed just three clients per month to break even and cover her bills. It couldn’t be that difficult, could it? She had invested several thousands of pounds in training over several years. Now she was a skilled nutritionist and making a massive difference for her – so few – clients. What was she doing wrong?
Credibility and professionalism go hand in hand. It is hard to imagine a professional who lacks credibility or credibility without professionalism. So, what is the difference?
I’m using professionalism in the old-fashioned sense of particular expertise. Usually this includes knowledge and experience. The medical doctor knows the theory but also how various conditions present in a variety of patients.
Certainly, if the professional lacks knowledge or experience, they lack credibility. For many professions though, credibility includes capacity to deliver. Can the professional marshal the resources they need to the required degree? It is possible to have professional ability and lack capacity to deliver as a business.
This post covers credibility as a business, the issues all businesses must address, irrespective of their profession. The next addresses how to communicate professional content online.
The Sales Funnel
This subheading implies a single thing called a sales funnel. The concept is a funnel you might use in the kitchen, to fill narrow necked bottles. It has a wide end and a narrow end and so channels fluids or powders into the bottle. For the cook, the funnel saves time and spills (loss of valuable resources). Can the same be true of your sales funnel?
The analogy breaks down because the sales funnel does not save spills! Nowhere near the numbers who enter the wide end emerge from the narrow end as customers! Reality is more like the image at the top of this post!
If you are in business and can describe your sales funnel, you have a marketing strategy. It serves several functions; it can be tweaked, reviewed and measured. If you do not have a marketing strategy, you do not have a business.
Your credibility as a business depends upon a marketing strategy that looks out for customers at whatever stage of your sales funnel they are at. When potential customers experience your sales funnel, you must reassure them they are in safe hands, they can trust you to deliver on your promises. The details depend upon the nature of your business. This is why I say there is no single sales funnel that applies to all businesses.
Social Media Alone Cannot Work
By and large, social media functions at the wide end of your sales funnel. Use it to pique interest and build an initial following. Social media may fulfil other functions, for example private Facebook groups help build community between paying customers.
Your aim is to move people from social media to your email list and website. There are several reasons for this and I shall cover them in later posts. Overall, moving prospects from social media to your own site gives you more control over their experience.
- It is easier to sell within your own website and email list.
- Your marketing strategy is safer, protected from rule changes or suspension within social media platforms.
- It is likely there will be more charges for selling online as social media platforms work out how to sell services to businesses. There’s nothing wrong with paying for social media support for your business so long as the service you purchase works for you. But be aware the rules and the prices change and you have little or no influence over how and when those changes happen.
Your email list is the glue that holds together your sales funnel, including the social media elements within it.
Automating Your Sales Funnel
Your email list enables you to automate your sales funnel and increase your business capacity. Once you have a name on your list, someone has expressed interest in your business and you can show them more material of interest, exclusive to people on your list.
You increase your business capacity. Automation saves time.
You deliver regular information into their inbox. Whatever social media platforms your prospects favour, they are likely to check their email several times a day. You need to capture and hold attention. Imagine if they see your email and trust you enough to at least open it and scan the content, based on past experience.
High quality content is essential. Use it to win credibility by drawing upon your professional expertise.