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!

Creating a Communications Plan

One of the main benefits of a CRM system is that it can help you maintain contact with your customers and prospects.

We all know we need to be in touch with our customers on a regular basis but it is often a task that gets put on the back-burner, especially when we are busy. But it is very important if you want to uncover the goldmine hiding in your database, and turn your prospects into customers.

One way to ensure that you actually achieve your communications objectives is to put together a plan for 12-months ahead. It can be as simple as detailing the communication to be sent out and the contacts to be made, such as personal phone calling. Decide how you are going to communicate with your clients – phone, email, newsletter etc – and determine how often. (Read our guest blog below for more on this.)

When planning your communications, think about the resources you have at your disposal and what you will need to buy in. For example, do you believe you can competently write, design and deliver a newsletter using MailChimp? If not, you will need help. Factor the time and the cost of what you are doing into your planning.

Creating a plan is a key task at the beginning of each year so you have a clear outline of what you will be doing to contact and keep in touch with your network of clients and potential clients.

I Know Where a Goldmine is in Your Business

You may not realise it but within your business lies an untapped goldmine. This goldmine is your database. Are you exploiting it to its full potential?

Most businesses do not and that means they are leaving money on the table. Money that is likely going to their competitors.

Don’t let that be you!

While your database may be one of your biggest assets, in order to turn the static information it contains into a goldmine, you need a customer relationship management system or CRM.

Think of it is like this: your database is a record of your past transactions while a customer relationship management system is a tool to develop your future business.

A CRM will help you grow your business by building in-depth relationships with your customers. It is a system of tools, technologies and procedures – available as a software program – for managing, improving or facilitating sales and other interactions with customers, prospects and business partners.

Many businesses have a database of their past transactions but do not look toward the future by putting in place a customer relationship or contact management system.

So, a good plan for this month, especially this time of year, is to spend time developing a CRM.

There are many software systems available but before you sign up for one it is very important to first identify what you need your system to do. Only then should you research the different options to find the right one that meets your highest number of needs.

To find the right one, ask your business contacts what they use and do some online research. Check out the negative reviews as well as the positive ones so you can find out what the pitfalls are before you commit.

Speak

Darren has 5 keynote presentations:

  1. Don’t let your clients leave…… they need you!! 1 hour

As technology and the speed of life has changed dramatically, the way we do business is changing.  This change has dramatically impacted the way we now provide our products and services.  Being ahead of the 8 ball and not allowing the opportunity to dwindle….

Use these 5 key ways to hold your clients and grow your business

 

  1. Selling has changed “It’s all about advice” 1 hour

As the consumer is smarter and wiser then ever, the goods and services we provide must be supported by the skills that your customer needs.  Your advice can be unique and this has to be the way of building enterprise value in your business.

Find out the key strategies for your advice based sales machine.

 

  1. “Love thy clients” ……. Professional services new frontier! 1 hour

The world of professional services continues to change at a dramatic pace.  Historically strong businesses are struggling to define their business reason and purpose that relates to their clients.  Clients are looking away, researching different competitors and deciding to change their provider.  Don’t let this happen to you.

Find the 6 keys ways to pull your clients closer in professional services.

 

  1. Your Industry is changing, so you need to change…NOW! 1.5 hours

The real estate and financial services industries are changing at an amazing rate.  Service, compliance, and customer loyalty is driving a new type of professional to set new benchmarks that really will lead the future.  Make sure you are on this train before it leaves the station……….

“5 Key practical strategies that will make you stand out”

 

  1. Bespoke KeynoteTBA

Darren has great experience in working with clients to develop a keynote that meets their needs.  He will focus the session on developing key messages that create practical change and motivation.

“A unique presentation is perfect for your event”

4 Awesome workshops: 1.5 hours

  1. It’s your business – now lead it as a CEO ……

Develop a real plan for your business that is by the CEO, for the growth of the customer base and develops your team. That’s right!  A fast paced session that starts to get your CEO  of work that will identify the areas of focus for the period ahead.

“Great for self employed business owners”

 

  1. Developing an advice-based sales approach

Wondering what to do and then how to do it. This is a great practical workshop that looks at your sales approach, sets a new strategy and then delivers new practical steps that will support your long term relationship with your clients.

“trust is so important to your customer ….. I wonder why they don’t?”

 

  1. Connecting with your clients – we need to make it “amazing”

Look at how your business connects with your current clients.  Could this be better? …… does it need to be better?  This session is a practical way to improve your teams’ customer connection, ensure it is real and they know you care.

“Todays customer is smarter than ever – this is your opportunity”

 

  1. Leadership starts in your lunchbox

In business today the overall result and team outcome needs to be carefully managed….. but more importantly there needs to be leadership with vision, passion and clarity to ensure the speed of your market place doesn’t drown your voice.

“There is a real need for leadership at all levels of your organisation”