Your Time is So Important

WOW, we are just passed half way for this calendar year and many people that I am talking to are constantly saying how they cannot believe how quickly this year is flying by.  I have been considering this in terms of how busy our lives have become  and it certainly is showing signs that we have less time by mentally and physically.

One of the key things that we need to consider is our use of IT.  I notice nowadays that when anybody has 5 minutes of down time, a gap between appointments or whilst sitting at the traffic lights in the car that they are constantly on their phone, reviewing text messages, reviewing their Facebook and checking who actually likes them.  One of the things we have to consider is now our mental stimulus is almost constant.  Not only are we going from meeting to meeting or client appointment to client appointment, we are now also engaging with the wider social community via social media constantly.  Because of this we have less mental down time which creates an environment where we are constantly with the “on” button.  Time flies by and we still feel that we have been extremely busy.  One of the things that I am encouraging more of my clients to do is to stop and consider what they are using their time for and what is creates for them towards their end game or end goal.  Reviewing their activity on a daily basis is really really important.

Outdoor portrait of happy successful business man raised arms with sky in the background.

My challenge for you is simple – please set some goals each day that are around you developing your happiness and feeling of having time.  We have the ability to fill up all of the time in the day that we have been given but we do need to create gaps and spaces where we can take a breath, relax, review our world and see our plan in the direction we need to go.

You Need to Make the Calls!

In sales, because of the further development of electronic communication tools such as text messaging, emails and Facebook, many people have moved away from the tried and tested and proven communication tool, the telephone.

The use of the telephone and creating a call to a prospect or an opportunity allows you to create a personal connection with that client that no electronic means will provide.

We know that if we can make personal contact with a potential or opportunity, the ability for us to listen to the client’s situation, understand their needs and then propose some potential solutions, helps them feel that we care and that there is a person involved in the transaction.

Because of many salespeoples’ reliance on electronic mediums there is also a reluctance to call.

This reluctance or fear of calling is a key factor in most salespeople’s inability to make the required number of calls per day.

We have to investigate why these fears or this nervousness is happening and create clear solutions to enable these calls to be made.

Once the initial fears are overcome and confidence builds, creating more and more calls to prospects becomes easy.

These new prospects are either added to your database as future opportunities or appointments are secured from that initial information and discussion.

It is simple and clear that you just have to make your calls. Putting a simple call script in place to give you some key pointers for discussing your client’s true wants and needs will help you create solutions that enable the transaction to happen.

Creating More Sales by “Feeling the Pain and Doing it Anyway”

Having worked with hundreds of self-employed business owners, I constantly see a simple mistake that literally costs business owners tens of thousands of dollars.

In our fast-paced, technology-driven world, the ability to attract customers can be more challenging and with the speed of losing customers ever increasing, we should reassess the adage that it is cheaper to keep a past or existing customer than it is to chase a new one.

Recently, I was working with a client who has built a very successful business over 14 years and was commenting about how his energy for chasing new clients and opportunities was beginning to challenge his passion and drive for new business. On asking about his past clients, he provided a very noncommittal response.

I then asked, “When was the last time that you talked to your past clients?” The blood drained from his face and he looked at the floor.

From that response, I knew the answer.

Today in business, it is very easy for us to do the deal and move onto the next one, continually spending our time chasing new business and opportunities. But it is also so easy for us to forget the deals we have done for clients where we have impressed them, but through lack of communication we have let them slip away, allowing them to be picked up by a competitor.

My challenge to you is simple. This month, create a campaign that specifically targets your past clients.

Yes, you will feel uncomfortable, but you need to do it anyway.  The simple introduction of, “Hi it’s Darren here, I’ve been updating my database and noticed we haven’t talked for such a long time I thought I would give you a call to say hi.”

This simple statement will give you feedback from your client that at least lets you know how to move forward.

Please feel the fear and make the call anyway as it will be a great chance for you to begin new relationships with your past clients. Plus, I know this really works.

How to Feed Your Sales Funnel

Sales is a process. You are highly unlikely to make a sale the first time you approach a prospect. It requires a softly-softly approach, commonly called a sales funnel. This is how prospects get to know you and what you offer, become comfortable with you, and then agree to buy.

Generally, the more money being spent, the longer this sales funnel will be. For example, if you are selling small items direct to the public, it may take only two or three touches for them to buy. If you are selling vehicles or homes, the process will take much longer and require many more direct communications before you get the “yes” you are seeking.

Currently, the most reliable and cost-effective way to get people into that sales funnel is via email. A series of emails sent on a regular basis will build a relationship with prospects and educate them about your business. Usually, this is done through an email responder series from a sign-up form on your website.

LinkedIn is another cost-effective way to move people into your sales funnel. It requires a personal approach to each person you’re targeting which can be time-consuming but is still a very good way to get a conversation going.

Once you have begun growing your list of potential customers, you need to find ways to keep top of mind with them. Emails may not be enough. One way we have found to be successful is a personal phone call every couple of months. We make this a “keeping in touch” call for the first few so there is no pressure. Usually, by the third or fourth call, the prospect is keen to learn more about what we offer and suddenly a sale is on the horizon.

You may have inherited or purchased a database of leads. In which case, they need to be divided into different categories, for example A’s, B’s and C’s. A’s are your top clients, C’s your colds. For each category, work out how you want to approach them to move them down your sales funnel. Some you will want to contact in person, some by phone, some by email and some by other methods such as LinkedIn.

Devise a system that works for your business and the type of leads you are dealing with. Make sure you have the resources to follow through – many people have great ambitions for their marketing but give up before they have made much progress.

Set up a straightforward, easy-to-implement plan that you know will work based on your experience and then stick to it. You’ll be amazed at the results you achieve.

Target Marketing and Creating Events

The first step in effective marketing is simply knowing who your target market is and understanding as much about them as you can. Are they male or female? What is their age range? What income bracket are they in? Where do they live? What work do they do? What do they have in common? What are their hobbies? What keeps them awake at night? The more you know about your target market the better result your marketing campaign will achieve. What you’re aiming for here is a general picture; of course, no two people will be the same.

One of the best ways to sell to your target market is through targeted events. The type of event will be determined by what you sell and what will interest your potential buyers. For example, seminars work well for the financial industry; showcase events for vehicle sales etc. You may be able to offer a double-whammy, for example adding a special opportunity to a networking event.

Once you have decided on the type of event, you need to get as many people along as possible to make it worthwhile. Your invitation needs to be interesting and engaging. If you’re inviting people by email, you’ll need to send repeat invitations and reminders. Automate this and link it up to a RSVP system so your manual work is kept to a minimum.

If you’re holding the event at an outside venue, make sure it’s easy to get to, include a map on the invitation and explain where to park.

Have a clear plan about how to welcome your prospects with a smile, a name tag and refreshments. At the end, give them a goodie bag to take home or, at the very least, professionally produced marketing material.

The event itself needs some pace. Don’t leave people sitting or standing around without something happening. Keep to time. Stick to the agenda. Avoid boring PowerPoint presentations. Offer prizes for mini competitions. Invite audience participation. Do everything you can think of to keep people entertained but send them away more informed about your business than when they arrived.

Next day, follow up. This is the most important aspect of the entire event. Send a warmly worded email thanking them for coming and offering your assistance should they need it. Repeat your offer, if you made one. Press your advantage – they made the effort to come to your event, so try taking the relationship to the next level. If they’re not yet buyers, offer something else – a regular update perhaps. You want their permission to stay in contact because while they may not be buyers yet, they may be in the future. As well, you don’t know who they may refer to you if you’ve done a good job.

The key to great events is detail. Write checklists, tick off every aspect and you’ll have a successful and memorable event.

From Chaos to Profits – Introducing the One-page Business Plan

Too many business plans are multi-page affairs taking weeks to complete, then very quickly relegated to the bottom right drawer.

To be successful, a business plan should motivate and inspire you. It should keep you focused and on course throughout the year with monthly and weekly key achievements identified and recorded. This will help you remain on track and feel you are achieving.

Also, another key focus in your business plan is developing real relationships with your customers. I really like helping businesses develop this culture because it can make such a massive change to the top line of your profit and loss statement.

The right business plan for many self-employed owners is limited to a double page that can be completed in under an hour. Use it monthly to remind yourself of your goals and to check that key tasks have you actively moving you toward your key goals.

Once you have all these components tested and written down clearly, you will be able to see what you need to do to achieve your goals. Listing your key activities and prioritising these will be a great next step.

Download our A4 double-page business plan template (PDF file) and try it for yourself.

How to Successfully Thank Your Clients

Christmas, as we all know, is a time of giving so it’s time to show your clients and suppliers how much you appreciate them.

You won’t want to thank them all in the same way. After all, you will have done more business with some than others, while there will be a few who deserve something a little bit special.

Here are our favourite ways to say, “thank you” to our clients and suppliers:

  • A small gift basket filled with gourmet treats and a special message that refeclects their relationship with you.
  • A bottle of wine that has a story or message.
  • A gift voucher to a special experience (wine tasting, Bridge Club.)
  • A good quality A4 writing book with a message to develop and grow ideas for their business and personal life.
  • A subscription to an online service such as Spotify or Netflix.
  •  A monthly magazine subscription that will remind them of you every time they receive it.

No matter what you decide, make sure your accompanying card contains a handwritten, personalised note. Nothing screams “we don’t really care” more than a card filled with staff signatures and nothing more.

 

Celebrate Your Achievements of 2016!

2016 has been a full-on year. Many industries have been pushed and pulled in faster and stronger ways, which has resulted in some top performances. Those teams will be looking forward to a well-deserved break!

But while you are kicking back on the beach or lazing beside the pool, have a think about your year and whether it lived up to expectations. Doing this is important for getting a good head start on 2017.

Here are 10 things to consider:

  1.  Are you happy and satisfied with 2016?
  2. Did your business grow its market share and volume of sales compared with market volume?
  3. What were the successes you and your team achieved in 2016? Write a list.
  4. How did your staff perform? Consider each person individually, and compare the goals you had for them with their actual achievement.
  5. Have you created the right structure to allow your team to flourish?
  6. Where can you find new clients in 2017?
  7. At this same time next year, what would you like to have seen changed or improved?
  8. Would a regular training or coaching plan help your sales team in 2017?
  9. Would having a mentor help your business grow faster next year?
  10. What resources might your business require for growth in 2017?

Developing Your Database

Here are the top 5 things you can do to help develop your database.

  1. Update all the contact information you currently hold for everyone on your database. Of these, their email address and phone number (now most commonly their mobile) are the most important as this is most likely how you will stay in touch with them.
  2. Grow your list. Add new prospects, people who may be interested in what you have to offer. The more people you communicate with, the more you will be able to turn prospects into customers.
  3. Learn how to make the most of your existing systems so they can do tasks which would take you hours manually. Many simple tasks can be automated nowadays through the existing software on our computers, so find out what yours can do to save you time and money.
  4. Uncover the gaps in your systems. What do you want or need to do (or your competitors are already doing) that your current system can’t? Use the upcoming holiday downtime to research new systems or software that you can install and have up and running by the time the new year kicks in.
  5. Spend some time looking at what other people in your industry are doing. Are they using Adwords, Facebook adverts or other forms of online advertising to bring in new business? Are they using their Facebook business pages or their LinkedIn profiles to improve their credibility and get noticed? There are many more online opportunities than most of us realise so take some time to look at what’s available so you can make use of them in 2017!