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Build a Better Sales Process: How to Find What Will Work For You

Is your sales process effective, efficient, and money-making? That is a question you need to be asking yourself every day. Whether you are building a brand new process or refining an old one, you need to find out what works and what doesn’t.

Success in this part of your business is one of the most critical business development strategies you have. Without a successful sales process, your business will not be successful.

How to build a better sales process

You can use these four principles to ensure that your sales process works:

  1. Understand your sales style. Your sales process is going nowhere until you know how you interact with prospects. Some industries thrive on long-term ongoing relationships, while others demand a short buying cycle with lower repeat client counts. A face-to-face retail setting is very different from a B2B online company. Each sales situation requires its own sales style.
  2. Ensure you are touching prospects at least 7 solid times in the sales process. Remember, people buy from people. You need to earn the trust of your prospects before they will consider making a purchase with your company. Each solid touch you make helps bring that prospect further down the sales funnel. Plus, it helps sort out qualified leads from casual prospects.
  3. Use “de-selection” to focus your sales efforts. This can be as simple as an unsubscribe link in your email messages and as bold as making the prospect jump through a hoop, or two. Again, this depends on your sales style. Further down the sales funnel, your sales team should be open to hearing that a prospect is not interested in what your company offers. Trying to push a sale that cannot exist is a waste of time and effort. Plus it can give your company the reputation of having a pushy sales team.
  4. Of course, you have to know your ideal client profile first. This should probably be first on the list. You cannot develop a sales style without understanding your ideal client. You cannot build solid touch points without that knowledge either. You cannot sort out your qualified leads from the crowd. Put this first on your list for building a successful sales model.

Take the time to implement each one of these principles to build a better sales process for your company. The time and effort you spend will be well worth it. Consider it an investment in one of your company’s most important business development strategies.

How are you going to invest in your business today? If you would like to learn more about how to keep your sales pipeline full join our next webinar. 

4 Ways to Turn Your Clients Into Your Sales Team

Have you ever been to a movie that was so good, you found yourself telling people all about it as you left the theater? Have you ever left a restaurant and started telling people on the streets that they have to go in and try the best food on the planet? We call those people “Raving Fans”. If you are looking for a winning business development strategy, getting your raving fans to do the selling for you is the way to go.

How do you create raving fans?

  • Offer extraordinary customer service. Create the “WOW” factor. That happens when one of your customers says, “Wow, no one has ever done that before”. That level of customer service needs to be present from the moment they first contact your company to the day they make their 100th purchase.
  • Build a personal relationship with your customers. You want them to feel like they belong to your “family” of close clients. They need to know that you truly care about them, their needs, and their desires. Get your employees into this, since many times they are the front line of your business.
  • Be proactive about solving problems related to anything in your business. Do not wait for problems to occur. If you see ways of improving your product or service, do it immediately. If you can improve your customer service, do it now, not later. If a customer comes to you about a problem, react immediately and provide a solution for it. Then, take steps to make sure it does not happen for that customer, or any other customer, again.
  • Know when it makes the most difference to impress your customers and be sure to always impress them at those times. This takes attention to detail and the ability to act at the right times. Impressing your customers can be as simple as greeting them by name the second time they do business with you. It can be as complicated as expediting an order, without extra cost, for something they need urgently.

If you are looking for ways to expand your sales team, without spending a bunch of money, you have just found it: your customers. Take the time to build your raving fan base and see them start spreading the news. This business development strategy is something you can start doing today.

How do you build your base of raving fans?

Would you like to learn more like this? Register for our next webinar and learn at your desk while you eat lunch.

Shameless Selling: How to Promote Your Brand Effectively

Shameless selling. You love your company. You believe in your products. Why wouldn’t you always be telling people about it?

What is shameless selling?

Now, shameless selling does not mean becoming a “Product Pusher”. That kind of selling involves only talking about your products and nothing else. Can you imagine walking into your class reunion and only talking about your new line of plumbing supplies? Your former classmates would probably look at you funny before running away as fast as possible. That is not a business development strategy any business should adopt.

But, what if one of those old classmates started talking about the problems she is having with her current home’s plumbing? You know that one of your new products might solve her problem. That is the perfect time to mention it and tell her to give you a call. You do not need to hide the fact that you are in business. It is just a matter of finding the right context to talk about it.

That is shameless selling.

How can you start shameless selling?

You want to give potential clients the ability to recognize your company. Wear your pride and love for your company on your shirt. Display it on your portfolio. Put it on your business cards. When people see your logo, they will ask you about it. That gives you an opening to tell them how your products or services help people. This can spark a conversation about a problem the other person is having and how your product might be a solution.

As a business coach, I get to meet a lot of people. I am always asking them about the business they are in. Once I get an idea of what their company does, I start asking questions about it. This seems to spark their curiosity and they want to know why I am so curious. This sparks another conversation about how I work with my business clients. My curiosity is actually natural to me, but it is another way to sell my business shamelessly. 

Selling your business is part and parcel of being an entrepreneur. But, doing the hard sell constantly is not going to do your business any favors. Give people the opportunity to learn more about what you do instead. That is a business development strategy that will open up new avenues.

How can you shamelessly sell your company?

Learn more for your business by attending our next webinar.

Want to Fix Your Sales Problems? Start Looking at the Sales Process as a Buying Process

Is there anything worse than “being sold” something? You know what I’m talking about. The hard sell. You know that the person in front of you is trying to sell you something, touting its benefits and expounding its virtues. And that person is not listening to what you are saying at all.

The truth is that people hate “being sold”, but they love to buy. If you are guilty of trying to “sell” your prospects, you need to change your approach by looking at the sales process as a buying process. It is a business growth strategy that will pay off with big dividends.

Orient your sales process around the buying process that your prospects use.

Ask open-ended questions that get your prospects talking. You need to get as much information as possible. Asking a question that allows the prospect to talk is the perfect way to accomplish this. Keep track of what they are saying and how it pertains to things you can help them with.

Delve deeper into the items they bring up. As the prospect is talking, grab on to the nuggets of information they throw you. “I am having trouble with Product X.” “What is going on with Product X?” Getting more from them gives you the information you need to sell your products or services to them.

Present solutions. Prospects are usually in the market for solutions, not necessarily specific products or services. For example, let’s say they are in the market for products to help them clear up adult acne. You present a solution that helps them clear up acne they currently have and that will help them keep future breakouts at bay. Instead of selling them a single product, you have introduced them to a line of products geared to their needs. That is a business growth strategy for any industry.

Get to the emotion behind the buying. Almost all buying is done with an underlying emotion. It may be a desire to look more beautiful. It may be frustration at an appliance that is no longer working. It may be a medical need that is causing pain or discomfort.

After you get the emotional response, your prospects are going to buy on their own. At that point, you only job is to help them through the details.

Join us for one of our webinars and learn more while you eat lunch.

Why Entrepreneur’s Have to Be Salespeople

Who is the best salesperson in your company? The answer better be you, the entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs not only have to be salespeople. You can only call yourself an entrepreneur if you are a salesperson. That is key to owning and growing a successful business.

As the business starts up

As an entrepreneur, you have to always be selling. Selling ideas, selling yourself, selling your product, selling your service. That is something that cannot let up, even when you bring other people into the company to fill sales roles.

The truth is that no one can ever sell your ideas as well as you can. This is especially true when your company is just starting up. No one has the same passion and heart as you, the entrepreneur. It is your passion and your heart that will make the difference in whether your company is a success or not.

Adding sales staff

Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking that a salesperson they bring into the organization will sell the company’s products or services as well as they do. While adding sales staff is a business growth strategy critical to success, it is not a guarantee of success.

Don’t make the mistake of giving the new salesperson just a brief overview of the company before dropping him into the deep end of the client pool. That person will start floundering and eventually start drowning, possibly taking a client or two with him. That is not a business growth strategy for success.

When you start bringing people in to do sales, you have to work with them until they can start taking on your passion and heart. That will take time. They need to understand what drives you and how you take that and use it to sell your brand.

The bottom line is that, no matter how many sales people you bring into the company, you are always going to be the head sales person.

How do you impart your passion and heart to your customers?

Join us at lunch for a webinar and learn more.

3 Ways to Generate More Leads

Leads. Leads. Leads. They are the fuel that drives your sales engine. Without leads, your sales efforts will go nowhere fast. Finding ways to generate more leads is a critical business development strategy that you cannot afford to ignore.

Three ways to get more leads

Here are three ways you can generate more leads to fuel your sales engine:

  1. Offer something of value for a limited time. You may have plenty of prospects who are interested in your products or services, but do not have an urgent need to take the next step to become a lead. If you offer something of value free for a limited time, it can spur those prospects into becoming a lead. The free time period can be a month, a week, or even just a day. At the end of the free period, that offering should become a product that you sell to your customers.
  2. Give your existing customers a reason to refer your company. A customer referral is gold when it comes to leads. The customer already knows your products or services. They can give personal testimony to others about your brand. Your existing customers have a good idea of those in their circle who would likely be most interested in your company’s offerings. The key is to give those existing customers a reason to make the referral. Offer a discount or freemium to those customers who make a referral that turns into a sale.
  3. Use cross-promotions and co-marketing to your advantage. Do you have a supplier or a vendor that offers a complementary, non-competitive product that you could cross-promote? You would form an alliance where each would share leads, promote products together, and do other mutually beneficial activities. Leads that are generated from these kinds of partnerships can be high quality. The difficulty is that you need to have a partner that you can trust and you need to manage that relationship closely to get the most benefits.

Each of these techniques will help you generate leads now and in the future. That is a business development strategy that will pay dividends in a healthy, growing company. Your company.

Do you have any unique ways that you use to generate leads? For more information on how to Keep Your Sales Pipeline Full join our convenient and informative webinar!

5 Vital Steps to Building a Worthwhile Target List

Building a high-value target list of potential clients is a business growth strategy for companies of any size. The list helps target marketing and sales efforts, while guiding product and service development as well. Creating such a list is an investment in both short and long-term growth.

But, not all target lists are created equal. To build a worthwhile list, you need to put time and effort into the process.

Five steps to building a worthwhile target list

A worthwhile list is not a random list of potential clients. It is well thought out and thoroughly researched.

  1. Know your ideal client well. This involves building a persona for each of your ideal customers. Who are they? What kind of company do they work for? How is your product or service going to help them solve a problem or fill a need? This step is essential, because without it, your target list is not going to be high quality. Filter all leads against this persona before putting them on your target list.
  2. Start with your current customer base. These are the companies or individuals who know and use your products or services. Who, in their circle, could use your products or services as well? Make a list of their competitors, clients, affiliates, and associations. Those are all potential clients.
  3. Review literature produced within your ideal client’s industry. This includes industry magazines and blogs, trade show handouts, conference notes, and convention presentations. Look at the companies featured. Look at conference sponsor lists. Check out which speakers/bloggers work for what companies.
  4. Make personal connections within your community. You may be focused on getting clients from around the world, but fail to realize the potential customer base in your own neighborhood. Take part in networking events. Become a part of your local Chamber of Commerce. Make the acquaintance of leaders in the local business community.
  5. Keep your target list fresh and up to date. For your target list to be worthwhile, it must reflect the current status. Companies go out of business. New companies emerge. Older companies transition into new markets. New client industries develop. Your list needs to change as your target audience changes.

Is your client target list as good as it needs to be? Make it a habit to review and update your target list every month or so. It is a business growth strategy that will keep your efforts focused. For more tips on how to keep your Sales Pipeline Full click here! 

What to Do When People Say They Buy Based on Price

How many times have you run across a customer who is looking for the cheapest price? If you have been selling for any length of time, you have probably run across plenty of customers who buy based on price. Being able to manage such a customer is a business growth strategy you need to master.

Digging out the reality behind their price point

Buying based on price can take a few different forms. It is important to do a bit of digging to find out what form each customer is using.

  • Buying within a set budget. Some people have $X amount to spend and that is it. You might be able to bump their base budget up by a small percentage, but not by much.
  • Buying based on the cost of past purchases. If you are selling something the customer has bought in the past, they may be comparing your price to what they paid last year or last month.
  • Buying based on anticipated cost. Many times, a consumer will do a bit of online snooping to find out the lowest prices out there. They then set their “budget” in that range.
  • Buying based on price is just an excuse. The customer may be saying one thing and thinking another. Ask if they have any other concerns besides price. You may be surprised at what comes out. 

Managing or eliminating price concerns

Once you know what is behind your customer’s price concerns, you have the information you need to manage the concerns or eliminate them all together. It is a business growth strategy you cannot avoid.

  • Turn the conversation from price to value. You know your product. You know your competition. You know the value that your product has over that of your lowest priced competition. Use that information to redirect the conversation.
  • Compare products and features vs. the customer’s needs. Many times, a consumer thinks the lowest priced item will serve their needs. However, when you do a point-to-point comparison of what they need with what you have to offer, your product will win.
  • Offer a solution instead of a product. People buy products and services to solve a problem or to fill a perceived gap. You need to position your product or service as a solution to their problems.

What do you say to someone who says they buy based on price? Start with “Why?”

Being able to solve a problem for your customer will help keep your Sales Pipeline Full. For more ways to fill your pipeline join our short and informative webinar. 

Do Customers Know They Want What You’re Selling? The Story of the Pumpkin Spice Latte

Consumers often do not know what they want until you show it to them. The story behind Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte is the perfect example of this.

Since it was introduced in 2003, the Pumpkin Spice Latte has been sold over 200 million times. It has an cult following among its fan base. Many fans line up to get their first taste in the fall and mourn the day their local store runs out of it.

The kicker to all this is that, if the company had gone with the wrong business strategies, that flavor would never have reached the consumer’s hands.

The Story of the Pumpkin Spice Latte

Back in 2003, Starbuck’s product development team was looking for a new espresso flavor. The company had seen excellent results when they had introduced Christmas flavors, like Peppermint Mocha, in previous years. They wanted to replicate that success by introducing flavors for autumn.

The development team came up with a long list of potential flavors. One of the flavors on the list was a pumpkin pie latte. The team then let a pool of Starbuck’s enthusiasts rank the list. Drinks that contained chocolate and caramel definitely came out on top of the customer survey. The pumpkin latte idea fell close to the bottom.

However, the product manager of the espresso division, Peter Dukes, could not get the idea of the pumpkin pie flavor out of his mind. He created a short list of four flavors for further development. The list included the top three contenders from the consumer survey and the pumpkin pie latte.

His bosses were skeptical, but Dukes pressed the issue. He knew that consumers loved the traditional flavors of Thanksgiving. Pumpkin pie, with its rich blend of spices and pumpkin, is a must-have for many during the autumn months. Fortunately, Starbuck’s management team listened to Dukes.

It was a decision that would mark the most successful rollout and seasonal flavor in Starbuck’s history. 

The Moral of the Story

Consumer feedback is great for identifying problems or areas where innovation can happen. However, it is not the best way to come up with a solution. It is the job of the entrepreneur to come up with solutions that the consumer will love.

Focus the efforts of your company and team on coming up with innovative solutions. It is among the strongest business strategies your company can adopt.

 

Innovative Solutions are part of what help Keep Your Sales Pipeline Full. To learn more ways to pump up you pipeline join us for a webinar April 21st. 

 

The Big Secret to Building Relationships With Senior Executives

Are you just another vendor looking for a senior executive’s time? That will get you nowhere fast.

The secret to building relationships with the C-suite is to become more than just another vendor. You need become a trusted external advisor. And it is one of those business development strategies that takes time and dedication to implement.

The power of the C-suite

Senior executives have the power to say “Yes” and sign contracts. However, they do so much more than make purchase decisions.

Senior executives can implement real change, provide insights into company thinking, and get sticky situations unstuck. Remember, it is always easier to start at the top than the bottom.

Preparing to meet the senior executive

You must move beyond the title of the executive and find out about the real person behind it. What are their ambitions? What keeps them up at night?

A well-run company is always aware of its challenges, limitations, and upcoming goals. You must know the same information, in intimate detail.

You must become someone of interest by building your own portfolio of knowledge. Cultivate interests outside of work and develop a breadth of knowledge in topics surrounding the executive’s industry, company, and personal interests.

Gaining access

Executives are busy people with limited time. They want to know that their time is going to be well spent. You should start with the people you know in the company and ask to meet people above them. Build relationships at each level, moving ever higher.

Extend your networking to people outside the company that know the senior executive (former executives, board members, trusted clients, etc.). Getting a warm referral from outside could open the door.

How do you move into the position of a trusted external advisor?

Your meeting with the senior executive is going to be short. So you must make a big impact, and show you are more than a vendor.

Don’t come in with a subordinate’s mindset. Address the executive as a peer instead. Always be objective and truthful in your dealings, even if you know it is in opposition to the executive’s current view. Bring outside perspective to the discussion. This will help build the elusive trust that senior executives crave but rarely get.

If you are looking to build long-term relationships with important clients, becoming a trusted external advisor is one of the best business development strategies you can implement.

To learn more strategies for Keeping Your Sales Pipeline Full join us April 21st!

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