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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!

Celebrate any wins lately?

Well done!! Way to go!!!! You’re a rockstar!!!!!!!!

When was the last time you sat down and reflected on a win you had in the past week?  How do you acknowledge your business accomplishments?  Do you recognize and praise your team on a regular basis? How do you celebrate your victories, however big or small?

I don’t know about you, but if you’re like most people it doesn’t occur to us (including me) as a natural act to reflect on our performance.  We just keep on going to the next thing and the next thing.  It takes courage and commitment to look back on the things you did well, the things you didn’t do so well, the things you succeeded at, where you fell short of your mark.  Maybe that’s why so few people do it. 

When individuals routinely operate at such high levels, it can sometimes seem like the norm; these people say things like “it’s no big deal, that’s just what I do”. Instituting a ritual of weekly reflections that are grounded in what went right go a long way toward building confidence as individuals and as a team.  Completing what didn’t go the way we’d hoped and identifying what was missing allows us to do better next time and serve as a training opportunities that turn into wins. 

Success breeds success!  Be sure to build on your successes by stopping to smell the roses and bask in the sunlight of your accomplishments.  Start your weekly reflections and watch your successes take off.

Learning the art of questioning and listening

Being the expert in your business means that you have all the advice to give about your product, so selling should be easy, right? Selling is a tricky thing. Knowing about the product isn’t enough anymore, you need to know the right questions to ask.

Have you ever answered a question with a question? Would that be making a difference to your conversion rate? The answer to the latter is most definitely yes! Asking questions not only increases your conversion rate, but builds rapport with your customer and ensures that the sale becomes their idea and not yours.

Asking questions also means active listening. You can ask questions about your customers work, business, kids or hobbies but make sure that you are listening with sincere interest. It may even be helpful to note down some of the answers – such as the names of their kids, interests etc for future communication. By asking questions and listening, you are building rapport and attaching importance to their conversation.

Also, by asking questions you are remaining in control of the conversation. Once you find yourself doing all the talking you are no longer in control. Just remember that the person asking questions sets the direction for the conversation. If the customer is dominating the conversation by asking you questions make sure you answer the question with a question. However, try to vary the questions that you ask. You may remember from looking after your own children or babysitting that being asked “but why?” over and over again tends to get a little monotonous.

Questions can guide consumer interest, discover a need and give accurate information. There are two commonly known types of questioning – open ended and closed questions.

Building Rapport and Qualifying
Open-ended questions are an excellent way to ensure customer involvement in the conversation and are key to identifying not only what they need but a lot about themselves. You can use open-ended questions to build rapport, to find a need, to discover a customer problem and find the right solution. In journalism there are six key questions used in the interviewing process which is as equally useful in sales – who, what, where, when, why and how.

Here are a few example of open-ended questions which are very useful:

  • Who are you buying the product/service for?
  • How often would you use the product/service?
  • What features were you looking for in this product/service?

This type of questioning yields a lot of great information from your customer and helps you determine which product/service is uniquely suited to them.

Closed questions tend to get one word answers ‘yes’ or ‘no’. They can be used to gather information quickly – not unlike a check-list. Using closed questions can also confirm a buying detail and help confirm the sale.

By using questions you are encouraging the customer to communicate, building rapport, establishing their needs, directing the conversation, diffusing tension and inviting discussion.

Learning the art of questioning and listening is the key to increasing your conversion rate and well on the way to creating a continuing customer relationship.

10 Tips For The First Time Business Owner

Whenever possible, we encourage up-and-comers and established entrepreneurs to mentor the next generation of dream-seekers; for it is this insight and insider education that will provide the foundation for the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. With that, here are 10 pieces of advice:

  1. Focus. Focus. Focus.
    Many first-time entrepreneurs feel the need to jump at every “opportunity” they come across. Opportunities are often wolves in sheep’s clothing. Avoid getting side-tracked. Juggling multiple ventures will spread you thin and limit both your effectiveness and productivity. Do one thing perfectly, not 10 things poorly. If you feel the need to jump onto another project, that might mean something about your original concept.
  2. Know what you do. Do what you know.
    Don’t start a business simply because it seems sexy or boasts large hypothetical profit margins and returns. Do what you love. Businesses built around your strengths and talents will have a greater chance of success. It’s not only important to create a profitable business, it’s also important that you’re happy managing and growing it day in and day out. If your heart isn’t in it, you will not be successful.
  3. Say it in 30 seconds or don’t say it at all.
    From a chance encounter with an investor to a curious customer, always be ready to pitch your business. State your mission, service and goals in a clear and concise manner. Fit the pitch to the person. Less is always more.
  4. Know what you know, what you don’t know and who knows what you don’t.
    No one knows everything, so don’t come off as a know-it-all. Surround yourself with advisors and mentors who will nurture you to become a better leader and businessman. Find successful, knowledgeable individuals with whom you share common interests and mutual business goals that see value in working with you for the long-term.
  5. Act like a startup.
    Forget about fancy offices, fast cars and fat expense accounts. Your wallet is your company’s life-blood. Practice and perfect the art of being frugal. Watch every dollar and triple-check every expense. Maintain a low overhead and manage your cash flow effectively.
  6. Learn under fire.
    No business book or business plan can predict the future or fully prepare you to become a successful entrepreneur. There is no such thing as the perfect plan. There is no perfect road or one less traveled. Never jump right into a new business without any thought or planning, but don’t spend months or years waiting to execute. You will become a well-rounded entrepreneur when tested under fire. The most important thing you can do is learn from your mistakes–and never make the same mistake twice.
  7. No one will give you money.
    There, I said it. No one will invest in you. If you need large sums of capital to launch your venture, go back to the drawing board. Find a starting point instead of an end point. Scale down pricey plans and grandiose expenditures. Simplify the idea until it’s manageable as an early stage venture. Find ways to prove your business model on a shoestring budget. Demonstrate your worth before seeking investment. If your concept is successful, your chances of raising capital from investors will dramatically improve.
  8. Be healthy.
    No, I’m not your mother. However, I promise that you will be much more productive when you take better care of yourself. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, not a 9-to-5 profession. Working to the point of exhaustion will burn you out and make you less productive. Don’t make excuses. Eat right, exercise and find time for yourself.
  9. Don’t fall victim to your own B.S.
    Don’t talk the talk unless you can walk the walk. Impress with action not conversation. Endorse your business enthusiastically, yet tastefully. Avoid exaggerating truths and touting far reaching goals as certainties. In short, put up or shut up.
  10. Know when to call it quits.
    Contrary to popular belief, a smart captain does not go down with the ship. Don’t go on a fool’s errand for the sake of ego. Know when it’s time to walk away. If your idea doesn’t pan out, reflect on what went wrong and the mistakes that were made. Assess what you would have done differently. Determine how you will utilize these hard-learned lessons to better yourself and your future entrepreneurial endeavors. Failure is inevitable, but a true entrepreneur will prevail over adversity.

Successful Business Networking Tips

Everyone knows that the benefits of networking are great, but most people don’t know how to take full advantage of it.
Effective business networking is the linking together of individuals who, through trust and relationship building, become walking, talking advertisements for one another.
Want to make your business networking more effective?
Here are ten tips to keep in mind:

  1. Keep in mind that networking is about being genuine and authentic, building trust and relationships, and seeing how you can help others.
  2. Ask yourself what your goals are in participating in networking meetings so that you will pick groups that will help you get what you are looking for. Some meetings are based more on learning, making contacts, and/or volunteering rather than on strictly making business connections.
  3. Visit as many groups as possible that spark your interest. Notice the tone and attitude of the group. Do the people sound supportive of one another? Does the leadership appear competent? Many groups will allow you to visit two times before joining.
  4. Hold volunteer positions in organizations. This is a great way to stay visible and give back to groups that have helped you.
  5. Ask open-ended questions in networking conversations. This means questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how as opposed to those that can be answered with a simple yes or no. This form of questioning opens up the discussion and shows listeners that you are interested in them.
  6. Become known as a powerful resource for others. When you are known as a strong resource, people remember to turn to you for suggestions, ideas, names of other people, etc. This keeps you visible to them.
  7. Have a clear understanding of what you do and why, for whom, and what makes your doing it special or different from others doing the same thing. In order to get referrals, you must first have a clear understanding of what you do that you can easily articulate to others.
  8. Be able to articulate what you are looking for and how others may help you. Too often people in conversations ask, “How may I help you?” and no immediate answer comes to mind.
  9. Follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. When people give you referrals, your actions are a reflection on them. Respect and honor that and your referrals will grow.
  10. Call those you meet who may benefit from what you do and vice versa. Express that you enjoyed meeting them, and ask if you could get together and share ideas.

How do You Create a New Business Reality?

The one constant in business is change. We are all are living in a major transitional time and we know that carving a new path is difficult. As business leaders, we plan to take action and get results. However, we do not always get the results that we desire and at times we do not know how to shift the actions to get different results.

As the owner of your company, you might ask yourself, how do I shift my mind set to create a business that is growing, making a profit and allows me time to enjoy my family and friends?

Here are some tips that can help you answer that question.

  1. Write down what is working or not working in your business, relationships, well being and spirituality.
  2. Evaluate or perhaps recreate a new vision for yourself and your company.
  3. Take a hard look at your Financials, Budgets, Plans and be honest with yourself where you stand.
  4. Create crucial action steps in each key area of your business (and/or life) that you have never taken.
  5. Implement new plan and keep your commitments.
  6. Hire a business coach that has the experience, tools and support to help you win your game.
  7. Read a book that can help you in the areas of your business that is not working.
  8. Attend business workshops that will help you elevate your performance.
  9. Surround yourself with a team that has strengths that you do not have.
  10. Exercise, meditate and or/pray.

Tying together the 4 “F”s in Business

Everyday business owners are faced with a myriad of choices. Some seem easy and others, not so easy.  As a Business Coach, I’ve been writing about Feelings vs. Facts and Fear vs. Faith in the daily life of a business owner and their teams and how important the choice is to make over and over.   

Until the business has a meeting rhythm where the team  is confronting the realities of the business through Critical Drivers (leading indicators of performance) and Key Performance Indicators (lagging indicators of performance) they will be running the business based on feelings.  Ok and even effective from time to time however it’s not reproducible or sustainable.

The old classic still applies if you can see it, you can move it and manage it.  This is difficult enough to implement with rigor and consistency.  It took us a year to really get the weekly and daily huddles into existence with consistency and we’re still refining our process.  A couple of weeks ago we added in a review of our daily and weekly promises, we report percentage of completion and what was missing from the promises we didn’t achieve.  This public accountability is causing a surge in performance from everyone on the team. 

Let me speak to the Fear vs. Faith component of the 4 F’s in business.   Most of the small business owners I know are afraid.  Of many things, and having gone through the last couple of years there seems to be a certain level of fear in the air that’s kind of catching.  Operating from Faith is a conscious choice and it’s a moment by moment choice. Sometimes it seems like a bad idea altogether.  However when people chose to operate from  Faith they may have moments of fear and yet there is a certain peace in having congruence with a chosen operating state that elevates they’re level of performance and gets them and their team back on track quickly.  My wish for you is that you have the clarity  and peace of running your business from facts and faith.

The 4 F’s in Business (They’re NOT What You Think) – Part 2

If distinguishing between feelings and facts brings clarity and direction to your business decisions, then choosing whether your operating state as the owner will be fear or faith becomes the energy that fuels your business engine.  Maintaining a positive mindset may be the biggest challenge you face in your business.

Both fear and faith have enormous energy associated with them.  Think of it as a spectrum.  A healthy fear expressed as a mild anxiety can actually compel you to check something out, be alert, dig deeper and uncover issues as well as opportunities and so on.  At the far end of the spectrum fear at its worst can be crippling or even paralyzing to you and thus your business.  Fear of this nature saps the energy in the business depleting the energy needed to drive the business forward.

No matter what problem you are facing today there is always a solution, because ultimately the only thing you have to deal with is your own thoughts. There may be all sorts of external factors involved however as long as you think the solution is in something out there or someone else’s hands the situation is hopeless.

All of your actions are correlated to the way you see the situation your in.  This idea cannot be over stated.  This is also where the operating state of faith can make the biggest difference.  Faith you ask?  Faith in what?  Faith in yourself, faith in your team, faith in your product or service, faith in you clients, faith in a higher power, I could go on and on. Faith breeds belief, belief breeds success and success breeds more success.  This kind of energy is exponential resulting in a thriving business.

If you find that you’re experience is more fearful than faithful it’s time to evaluate your predominate thoughts and put in a practice or structure to support you in what your committed to.

Perhaps Einstein said it best “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly universe or a hostile universe.”

Feelings and fear or facts and faith, the choice is yours and it’s up to you.

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