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Getting Smart With Lead Generation

Generating consumer interest in your company’s products and services is key to increasing your sales. Lead generation focuses on creating, nurturing and monitoring prospects’ interest in what you have to offer so that your sales team can approach them for conversion. With limited time and budget available, business training experts will tell you that you need to be smart about the way you approach it.

The Smart Approach to Lead Generation

  • Know your ideal customer, inside and out. This should be a given. But a surprising number of companies have never defined their target audience, or have lost sight of it as their businesses have grown. Building, maintaining, and refining consumer personas is critical if you want to attract highly-qualified leads to your company.
  • Determine the best methods for reaching your ideal customer. Once you know your ideal consumer, you should be able to tell the best options for reaching that person. Reaching a B2B customer in your industry takes a very different approach that trying to gain the attention of a 18-year-old kid about ready to go off to college.
  • Build your company’s reputation. Even with the explosion of online and automated marketing, people still want to trust the companies with which they do business. Your company needs to garner customer praise and address any negatives as quickly as possible. Your reputation can generate customers or drive them away.
  • Make your existing customers part of your sales effort. If one of your customers recommends your company to a friend, family member, or business acquaintance, you have just received the highest level lead possible. A personal recommendation from a trusted individual carries far more weight than an anonymous online testimonial or a positive review from an industry magazine.
  • Monitor all lead generation efforts. Most companies do not have an unlimited budget for lead generation or any other marketing effort. Before you deploy any lead generation campaign, make sure you have clear goals and a way to monitor it. That way you can measure just how successful things are and make adjustments as needed.

Successful lead generation begins with knowing who you should be talking to, how to talk with them, and giving them a reason to consider your company. Business training experts will tell you that building an effective, smart lead generation system takes time. But it is a worthy investment.

What No One Tells You About Networking

Networking sounds so easy on paper. There are tons of articles and mentoring programs out there that give you a series of steps to follow so you can start networking and building your business. When you get out there and try it yourself, it is not as easy as they make it out to be.

The truth about networking

Here are some things you may not have heard about networking.

  • First impressions are everything. Bad breath and stained clothing are the last things you want business contacts to remember. But, those will be the things they remember if that is the impression you present. You should look and present yourself as a professional at all times.
  • You have to be well prepared before you make first contact. When you identify a potential client or contact, you should take the time to gather pertinent information about the person and the company they represent. Even basic information will help you build a useful conversation and make a personal connection.
  • Networking is an investment. Don’t expect to introduce yourself to someone the first time and get all the benefits of networking. It is about building a relationship with a person based on trust and mutual benefit. Building that relationship takes time. After first contact, it could take several more touches before that person is ready to do business or bring you further into their trust.
  • Follow-up is almost as important as first impressions.  I like to say, “The Fortune is in  the Follow-Up” People get busy. It is very easy for them to forget about a conversation or email they exchanged with you weeks or months ago. Keep in touch with your contacts. A simple email, a phone call, a note through snail mail, or a social media message will keep you alive in their memories.
  • Don’t become a one-note conversationalist. Being an expert in your industry or niche is important. But, don’t make that the only topic of conversation you can hold. People do business with other people. Being able to have a well-rounded conversation on a number of topics is important for building trust and creating a network. And work on being more interested than interesting.

When you are networking and building that important list of contacts, you are doing it as a real person, not just as a representative of your company. Mentoring programs are an excellent way to build your skills and make networking second nature

How to Turn Your Customers Into Your Sales Team in 3 Easy Steps

Customer referrals are gold when it comes to building your business. Your customers know your products/services, your company, and your people. Any small business expert will tell you that if a customer thinks well enough of your business to refer you to a friend or family member, you have received the best sales referral possible.

The good news is that you can actually turn your customers into your best sales team.

How Do You Do It?

Building your customer sales team can be done in three easy steps:

  1. Build a relationship with each of your customers.

People want to buy from people, not some faceless, nameless automaton. Even if you do most of your business online, you need to make sure that every communication you have with your customers is personal and focused on their needs. Offer clear communications. Enhance your customer service. Be flexible. Make them feel important. Maybe even have them be part of the family.

  1. Continue to innovate.

You need to offer your customers the products and services that address their particular pain points. Even if you have a solution, continue innovating and finding new solutions. Look for new pain points to address. By offering more solutions and better products/services, you will gain your customer’s continued patronage and strengthen the relationship you have developed.

  1. Wow them.

You need to have the mindset that you and your team will do whatever it takes to get the job done. That is key to move from satisfying your customers to wowing them. Wowing your customers means having them go “Wow, no one has ever done THAT before!” Offer your customers solutions, even if it means referring them to a competitor. You cannot be everything to everyone. But, you can be the company that wants to help the customer at all costs.

Add personality to every interaction that your customer has with you. You are talking to a person, use his or her name. Treat every customer the same, no matter if they are your smallest or your largest.

This is not something that is going to happen in a day or even a week. It will take time to build the relationships and put things in place to make your customers want to join your sales team. But, it is time well spent.

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.

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.