THE KEY INGREDIENT TO Selling Authentically (AND IT’S NOT YOU!)
In the last couple of months, I’ve been talking a lot about authentic selling and how our emotions, traumas (yes, we do trauma bond with our business!) and our nervous system dictate the selling process in our businesses…
…and ultimately – our revenue.
But, today – I kinda want to back up and move you to the beginning of your sales process, and yes – it always starts with your ideal client.
Don’t worry though, in this article, I am not going to cover stuff about your ICA that you’ve probably heard a million times, but instead, I’m going to focus on ONE single, most important thing you have to dial in to set your sales process for success vs failure.
The things I will share with you in this little read are something I’ve been teaching my clients (even the 7-figure businesses struggle with this) for over seven years, something so crucial that it can make or break your sales process.
In the last articles I’ve been focusing on YOU and what YOU need to feel or how YOU need to vibrate to be able to sell without effort and authentic to your true self, and today, I’m going to talk about…
…your ICA’s stage of awareness.
Stages of awareness are the first thing I teach my clients about THEIR target market and their ICA.
It is the “other side of the coin” of your authentic sales process.
Because, if you don’t understand the concept of “Stages of awareness”, you’ll always sell the right thing to the wrong people or the wrong thing to the right people.
And if you do that – it doesn’t matter how you vibe and whether are you authentic to your true self while selling – you’ll be setting your sales process for failure right off the bat.
Oftentimes, when clients come to me to help them sell more authentically, the first thing I look at is who are they selling their product/service to, and what the stage of awareness of that particular market is.
As entrepreneurs, we usually get caught up on what our funnel looks like, do we sell organically or through paid advertising, and what our sales page or sales calls conversion is, and we get distracted with numbers.
We also build the idea of our ICA based on their habits, demographics, and psychographics, but rarely do we think of what stage of awareness is our ICA, which is one of the most important factors that can break our sales process from Day Zero.
It is simple – it doesn’t matter what your numbers are if you are selling your product to the wrong people (and I see this in 80% of online businesses today).
So, what are the (ICA) stages of awareness?
Stage of awareness represents how aware your ICA is of the problem and/or the solution to that problem – and this is something your
whole marketing and sales efforts should be aligned if you want to sell the right thing to the right people, with ease and authenticity.
There are five stages of awareness every ICA is at the time they make their first contact with you and your product, whether it’s your post, profile, website, or landing page.
Also, it is your job to market and sell to a target market in a specific stage of awareness if you want to sell authentically. It’s something you choose and decides upon BEFORE you start to market and sell, it’s NOT something that “happens” along the way.
I am going to use an example of my LinkedIn coaching business to give you a clearer picture of what these stages mean, and how they translate into your marketing and sales process.
So what are the five different stages of awareness that your ICA has when they meet you for the first time? They are:
Unaware – these are the people in your audience that are not aware neither of the problem, or that they even have a problem, and of course – they’re not aware of the solution.
When it comes to my LinkedIn business, those would be the people that have never used LinkedIn for their business before. They’re not even aware of the potential of LinkedIn for their business, and what they could gain from the platform, so they’re not even aware of the problems that might occur when it comes to generating ideal leads for their business online.
Since they’re not aware of the challenges of LinkedIn lead generation, they’re also not looking for a solution.
They would be TikTok creators, for example.
If I based my business trying to teach TikTok creators how LinkedIn is amazing, it would take me forever to get them to the stage of selling to them.
Unaware markets need education about understanding that they even have a problem and that is why they are the hardest to sell to.
Because they’re unaware. It takes a lot of time, content, and effort to get them to the next stage. and that stage is…
Pain-Aware – this is part of the market that is aware of the pain and the problem, but they’re not aware that the solution exists.
If I translate that to my LinkedIn business, these would be the people that have just started using LinkedIn, have tried to post a couple of times, fiddled a bit with LinkedIn, and have realized that it’s not working.
They’re aware of their problem (not being able to attract ideal leads and clients), but they have no idea how to fix that or that there is a solution to that.
You might think this is an ideal audience, but if you work with a pain-aware market, in your marketing and sales process you need to first educate them that the solution to their problem even exists, and only then – that YOUR solution exists and is better than the rest.
This is also a lengthy process, as it takes time for people to understand that the problem they have has a solution or a number of them.
If I was talking to the pain-aware market, what would that look like?
I would need to talk about how they don’t need to figure out the solution, that it already exists, and that investing in a solution is a much better option than trying to do it all yourself. They would still be very far away from understanding that my solution is better than others.
This education takes a significant amount of time, especially if they still have no real interest in getting help to solve their problem. And pain-aware people tend to not be aware of the benefits of investing in getting the problem fixed vs trying to fix the problem themselves.
This market is the one that pushy sales guys sell to using persuasion, or the people that go on sales calls with you, waste your time because they don’t think that investing is a good option and “they’ll just go and try more by themselves”.
Then we have…
Solution-Aware – these are the people that are very aware of their problem AND are aware that there is a solution to that problem
– but not yet aware that YOU have and are the best solution.
They’ve maybe tried to solve the problem in the past either by themselves or by investing in different solutions. Their pain is big because they’re actively trying to solve it, and investing into solving it – and this is the perfect market to go for.
Because they want to urgently get rid of their problem, and their pain is actually bigger than the pain-aware market. Trying to solve a recurring problem by investing in different solutions, but not getting the desired result is REALLY frustrating.
If I put this into the context of my LinkedIn business, my only job in my marketing would explain and educate the solution-aware market about why those other solutions didn’t work for them, how I found a better solution, and why it’s better than the rest.
I don’t have to spend time educating them about LinkedIn, how it works, what’s the opportunity, what they’re doing wrong, etc etc
– I just need to explain how my solution is better than everything else they’ve tried.
This is the stage of awareness I always tell my clients to focus their marketing efforts on because these are the people you can sell authentically and by using “common sense”.
They are not newbies, they understand the need to invest in getting the problem solved and don’t beat around the bush as much. They’re only interested in – what’s your competitive edge?
Personally, I always focus on this market in my marketing, and these are the people that have been using LinkedIn for some time, tried to crack the LinkedIn code by themselves, and then maybe bought some courses and/or consulting just to see if it’s still not solving their problem – getting quality leads on LinkedIn.
For them, I just need to explain why the things they’ve invested in haven’t worked for them, how what I do with my clients is better than what they’ve tried, show testimonials, and they’ll probably take me on my offer.
They are ripe for problem-solving and they’re usually awesome clients that are easy to work with.
Product-Aware – These are the people in your audience that understand that there is a solution, and know YOU have the solution. Maybe they’ve even bought something from you or downloaded your PDF.
They’re one step closer in your sales process than solution-aware (they came from that stage and were moved to this one), but they’re yet not buying your product.
In my example, these would be the people on my email list that still haven’t bought. Or people in my FB group. Or my LinkedIn connections.
My only job in my sales process is to move them to the next stage, which is…
Most-Aware – These are your clients. They’re aware of you, your product/service, and how you work. This is a great market to upsell or downsell to.
As you see, these stages go from unaware to most-aware, and you can’t skip steps.
Every lead, depending on where you “catch” them, needs to be moved to the next stage until they reach the most-aware and become your clients. There are no skipping steps here, which I see a lot of businesses trying to do, and it’s breaking their sales process.
You can’t market your product to pain-aware people because they don’t have enough awareness about solutions to make a good and firm choice.
Yes, they might buy, but they will feel tricked, and confused and ask for a refund.
When we first meet our potential clients, the closest that we can pull them in with our marketing is the solution-aware stage.
In other words, if you focus on solution-aware market, you have the least amount of work to do to get them to solution-aware stage and then to most-aware.
But remember, there are no skipping steps – you can’t under-educate the unaware market and over-educate the solution-aware market because it just won’t work.
Another example – If I was to talk about my LinkedIn solution to a market that thinks that TikTok is the best thing since sliced bread, I need to win them over and spend a significant amount of time, money, and energy to “convince” them they need to be on LinkedIn.
And “convincing” them that LinkedIn is the best thing since sliced bread doesn’t even get them close to the pain-aware stage – they would need to start using LinkedIn regularly for some time to even get there.
And getting them to the most-aware stage… Feels like a stretch, right?
It would take me forever to sell to them authentically.
However, I can sell unapologetically and authentically to people already on LinkedIn, that are already struggling, have tried different things and still need my help.
It’s common sense, yet so many businesses get this wrong.
You can’t write posts for TikTok users about how LinkedIn is great and expect them to understand, because they’re not aware of LinkedIn. I’d be selling the right thing (my awesome service) to the wrong people.
Remember, the less aware the market is, the harder it is to sell authentically.
Now, I have some homework for you. Do this exercise:
- Identify the stage of awareness of the market you are currently serving – where do they fall in terms of stages of awareness?
- Now look at your content and your marketing – is your content talking to the right stage of awareness ICA at this point? If not, start writing your content and focus your efforts on matching your marketing to the right stage of awareness your market is in
- Are you happy with the stage of awareness your ICA is in? If the answer is no, you can change it by re-positioning and changing your marketing and sales process to the stage of awareness that you DO wanna grab.
Easy-peasy lemon squeezy, right? Now go and implement this advice.
You’ll see how much flow and momentum your sales process will get.