On June 12th, 1987, Ronald Reagan made his famous speech at the Brandenburg Gate near the Berlin Wall where he issued that historic challenge to Mikhail Gorbachev, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” The rest is history.
This speech was actually loaded with powerful lines, but they are all overshadowed by this emphatic message. Two reasons this statement was so powerful is because it was concrete (not abstract) and emotional (not just intellectual). Geoffrey James in his book How to Say It: Business to Business Selling uses this line as an example of how we as business owners and sales professionals can and should craft our selling messages.
Now President Reagan could have said, “Government action should immediately be taken to end the separation of the German states.” But instead, he said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Succinct, concrete, and powerful! That’s how we should craft our selling messages.
What Kinds of Messages Move People?
Intellectual, abstract messages are not persuasive. It’s the concrete, emotional messages that move people to action. Too many business owners lack a message that engages people on an emotional level.
What do you say when you are at a networking event? What’s your message when you have the opportunity to tell someone about your business? We should concisely and concretely tell them how we add value and use colorful (not flowery or fluffy) words to engage the emotions. You need to create a Unique Selling Proposition that will set you apart.
I suggest that we start our selling message by telling others why people hire us. This is the easiest way to communicate your value and you can focus on the needs you meet or the pain you relieve, creating an emotional connection. Here’s what I like to say about my business:
Business owners hire me for 3 reasons. First, they want to grow their business, and they know that hiring an experienced coach who has helped other businesses grow will enable them to grow, and to grow faster than they probably could on their own.
The second reason they hire me is to help them solve problems. They have people issues, cash flow challenges, marketing uncertainties. For some, they keep having these same problems over and over again, so they hire me to help them solve these problems once and for all.
Finally owners hire me to help them balance their work and personal life. Many feel like prisoners to their businesses. They work too much and make too little. They can’t take a vacation – work is hurting their family and practically all of their most important relationships. That’s why people hire me!
What is Your Message?
It’s a little long, but I find that, because I have a lot of emotional hooks, people are engaged and listen. So what do you say? Why do people hire you? Make your selling message concrete and emotional, and watch how people respond.
Would you like some marketing or selling help?
Contact me and I will schedule a complimentary 30-minute strategy session with you to help you with your marketing and selling message. There’s no obligation. I would like to help you take that next step in crafting a powerful marketing and selling message. Take action today!
You must have a system for quality control if you want to create a world-class business that is sellable. In fact, the survival of your company depends on your ability to produce a quality product or service.
Quality Control: How Do You Define It?
How does a small or mid-size business achieve quality control? First, you have to define what “quality” really means in your business.
Most industries have quality standards. It is typical for an industry to have an association or trade group that sets quality standards against which companies can measure the quality of their product or service.
You can create your own statistical definition (or metric) by which you measure your products or services. There are even international standards of quality set for most industries by the International Organization for Standardization.
These standards are recorded and updated periodically in a family of documents known as ISO 9000. There is even a special publication just for small business called ISO 9001.
However, I think the best measure, particularly for small business, is simply this
“Are we meeting our customers’ expectations such that they want to come back?”
Akin to that is this question:
“Are my customers referring their friends and colleagues to my company?”
My favorite quality control tool is the “Ultimate Question.” I use this tool all the time in various formats. This one question will tell you instantly what you need to know to assure that you have good quality control. The ultimate question is simply this: “On a scale of 0-10 (with 10 being highest), how likely are you to refer your friends or colleagues to our company?”
By asking this simple question you will get a “Net Promoter Score” which will tell you if your customers are promoters, neutral, or detractors. This will tell you how they perceive your quality! It doesn’t matter if you think you have quality control; what matters is if your customers think you do.
Quality Control: How Do You Maintain It?
The goal of every small business should be to create a business system that is profitable, consistent, and predictable. As a business owner, you want your business to run just as well when you are away as it does when you are present.
Your business must be able to perform successfully without you or else you do not have a sellable business! This requires that you maintain quality control. And now you’ve defined it, but how do you make sure you keep it going?
I recommend that business owners institute a system for feedback (like the Ultimate Question), and then create a plan for continuous improvement. A simple technique is to take a Strategic Retreat every 90 days to review and assess your feedback.
Once you as the owner have reviewed it, have your team review and assess it as well. Then brainstorm as a team on ways to improve your processes so that you will not only meet but exceed your customers’ expectations.
If quarterly seems to frequent, then take your team on an annual or semi-annual retreat to accomplish this task. Plan together so everyone “owns” the process and the vision.
Quality Control Will Not Happen Without Intentionality
As products and services evolve, consumer expectations tend to increase so that yesterday’s quality product becomes tomorrow’s junk. Every small and mid-size business MUST have a plan for quality control and continuous improvement.
What goals have you set?
How are you involving your employees/team so that they own this goal?
I’ve coached many business owners and sales people throughout the years. From individual salespeople to large sales teams, there are 10 skills that every business owner and certainly every sales professional needs to continue to develop and refine. Here they are:
To be successful you must have a positive, optimistic, can-do mindset. You’ve got to be able to identify and overcome limiting beliefs. This is usually our biggest barrier to exceptional performance! Everything starts here. If you believe that you are selling with a noble purpose, you will be more successful.
Goal-Setting and Time Management
You must be a self-motivated goal-setter to excel in sales. But you also must be able to prioritize your time around your goals. Too many salespeople aren’t disciplined with meeting goals or managing their days and calendars. If you want to get ahead, you’ve got to be disciplined enough to make this a priority.
This is everything you do to open the door for new opportunities. All of your marketing activity should result in lead generation! How do you generate leads? Online? Cold-calling? Referrals? Networking? Seminars or workshops?
This is actually a sub-set of Lead Generation. However, this is a very specialized type of lead generation. Prospecting is focused and channeled marketing activity to penetrate a specific company, industry, or market niche. While generally, lead generation is “one to many,” prospecting is generally “one to one” or “one to a very few.”
The most successful salespeople see their selling as a system or process. They know their process and they work their process. Sometimes they refer to this as their “pipeline” or their “funnel.” But this is the “way” they make sales happen. They have documented a set of behaviors that lead to a predictable outcome.
This is the heart of selling. The key to a good selling conversation is the ability to ask good questions! We call these “power” questions. They are questions which help the prospect (and you) understand their needs and feel the impact of those needs. Good questions lead to emotion, and people buy on emotion while justifying with logic.
I am not a “hard” closer! My experience tells me that a good selling conversation that puts the prospect in touch with their need (i.e. their pain), followed by a concise and relevant presentation, will lead to an easy close. I don’t typically talk much about “handling objections.” This is something you will hear about in traditional sales training. If you’ve experienced many objections, you simply have not had a potent enough selling conversation, your presentation has not been well crafted, or your prospect just doesn’t really need what you are presenting.
All throughout the sales process is relationship management. I advocate relationship selling! So you must be intentional about how you manage your relationships with your prospects, your clients, and your referral sources. To me, it’s all about the relationships. Have a plan on how you will manage those relationships.
Metrics and Tracking
You must track and measure all of your activity, just like you should be tracking and measuring your marketing dollars. By tracking your metrics you will learn quickly what to do and what not to do with your time. You will be able to set and achieve goals. You will be able to improve. Remember, if you don’t measure it you can’t improve it! Use a good CRM to make this easier and more efficient.
The best sales professionals have an intentional referral marketing strategy, beginning with their current customers, their past customers, and their strategic partners.
If you master these 10 skills you will become a highly successful sales professional. For more help, contact us so we can help you get the results you’re looking for in your sales.
Getting new customers doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, winning new customers can be the opposite…low-cost and high return! I want to share with you 3 low-cost marketing strategies that will help you win new customers that you can implement immediately.
Reactivate Past Customers
First, re-activate past customers. Have you been paying attention to your old customers? For most of us, out-of-sight means out-of-mind. We forget about past customers who we haven’t seen for a while. Make a list of old customers that you have not seen in 90 days, 6 months, or 12 months.
Think about a strategy and/or a script for reaching out to these old friends and re-engaging them. Brainstorm – what can you do to let them know you miss them, you appreciate them, and you want to serve them again? They trusted you once. Unless you really messed up, they will easily trust you again. And of course, if you really messed up, you need to reach out to them and work on making things right!
Optimize Your Referral Sources
Second, formalize and optimize your best referral sources. Think about who really sends you new business. Make a list of these valued friends and think through a plan to maintain contact, to express appreciation, and to remind them of how they can help you. In addiction, always look for ways that you can help them – send them referrals, provided an unexpected service, or simply send them a small gift of appreciation.
Create a formal process for doing this on a monthly or quarterly basis – whatever makes the most sense to you! Most business owners I know way under-utilize their referral sources. These are vitally important people to your business, and their leads are typically the best at the lowest possible cost. Have a system to take care of these special people and leverage that relationship for more opportunities.
Identify Your Informal Sales Partners
Finally, identify your informal sales partners. These are simply people who benefit when you grow. These may be vendors, people you refer business to, your banker, your CPA, suppliers, etc. Anyone who benefits when you grow can be an informal sales partner.
Communicate with them. Let them know you appreciate how they help you grow your business, and then let them know how they can help you grow more!
All three of these strategies are relationship strategies. Your relationships must be genuine and authentic. Build and nurture these relationships, don’t just use people. Be sure you are giving back to them and investing in them. But be intentional as you leverage these opportunities.
As a Houston business coach it is my privilege to serve business owners in helping them develop and implement effective marketing strategies. If you are an owner in the Sugar Land, Katy TX, or Houston area, contact us for a complimentary marketing strategy session.
Has growth stalled in your business? Have you hit a plateau? Do you need some fast business growth? One of the easiest and quickest ways to give a boost to your sales is right in front of you…don’t overlook the obvious.
Market to Your Current and Past Customers
Here’s the first step: Design and implement an aggressive strategy to market to your current and past customers. Yes, that’s right. Your first marketing priority should be to market to your current and past customers. Why? Because these are the people who have already chosen to do business with you and they are the ones who are most likely to do business with you in the future! You’ve put in the effort to market to them, you’ve gained their trust, and they have given you money for services or products. This group represents your greatest opportunity for growth, and particularly fast growth!
As I’ve seen my clients catch this and start marketing to their customers they have experienced a return of 5% to 25% growth quickly! Plus, the investment to acquire this business is usually much lower. It typically costs 6-8 times more to attract a new customer than it does to keep an existing customer. You don’t have to work as hard for a second purchase. Much of the leg work has already been done.
If you haven’t already, look for ways to increase customer loyalty. Identify new needs that you can meet for them. How long has it been since you’ve sold to them? Do you have additional products or services that you’ve added since their first purchase? Find additional ways to add value and then let them know that you want to serve them more!
There are dozens of ways to market to your current and past customers. They represent one of the most valuable assets in your business today. Don’t neglect them. Look for ways to improve or enhance customer service. Educate your customers on what you are doing to serve them better. Remember, marketing is education, so find new ways to educate your customers! Once you acquire a customer the hardest part is accomplished. Protect and nurture those relationships! They are the key to your future business growth!
What are you doing to improve your personal productivity?
Many business owners I meet have a tough time with feeling and being productive. They feel busy, but they also feel like they aren’t getting the right things done. Part of leading a growing business is making sure you are productive in your day.
Every business leader, and especially every business owner, needs to be thinking about how they can constantly improve their personal productivity and the productivity of their management and leadership team.
What I want to give you today is what I call my 7 Step Daily Process for improving personal productivity. I’ve found that when I consistently follow these steps, I become end my days feeling like I got the right things done that day. Here are the 7 steps:
This is not going to take a lot of time, in fact, this whole process will only take about 15 minutes. One of my friends actually refers to this as the 15 Magic Minutes every day. So, start by reviewing your projects and goals. Take a big picture look at the things your business has going one. What goals have you set for the next 90 days? What projects are you and your team working on?
2. Review your Daily and Weekly Calendar
When you look at your projects and goals, take out or open your calendar, and think about what your priorities are and what things you need to do. What appointments do you have today? This week? Who do you need to meet with? What are other things already on your schedule?
3. Review your “Master” To-Do List
If you think of things you need to do in steps #1 and #2, add them to this Master List.
I keep this in Microsoft Outlook, you can keep it anywhere. Some people keep it in a journal, others in a Word document or other note-taking app. When things come up that you need to do (no matter the timetable) write it down on this list. This is the power of keeping a Master To-Do list: so these items don’t stay in your head, they get written down. You don’t have to “think” about them anymore because they are stored.
4. Identify your “Must Do Today” Tasks
Take a look at your Master To-Do List and your goals, and create a “Must Do Today” List. This is usually 3-5 things that you know, “Today, I must get these things done.”
5. Estimate a Time Required for each Task
Is this task going to take 10 minutes? 30 minutes? An hour? How much time does each task take? Take an estimated guess and then..
6. Put it on Your Calendar
Put it on your calendar as an appointment, so you know, when that time comes in the day, that’s what you’re going to do. This is sometimes called batch calendaring. And at the end of the day, you’ll be sure to have those things done! Finally…
7. Review Your Affirmations
I did a blog post a while back that you can look at if you’re not sure what affirmations are. I also did a follow up on how to create affirmations. Every day, review those affirmations, rehearse them, and say them back to yourself.
One common question I get is, “When should I do this process?” There is no right or wrong answer. I am a morning person and tend to rise early in the mornings. I read, journal, and do this daily process before the day begins so I can plan properly. Others may do this at night before bed to plan for the next day.
The point is, whenever you choose to do it, make it a habit. Put it on your calendar so you know you’ve set time aside to plan.
Practice this 7 Step Daily Process, and I promise you will improve your personal productivity.
What is the purpose of your business? What is the purpose of any business? You might say, “to make money!” Well, you’re not wrong. But how does any business make money, let alone make a profit? This is how: Every business must find, satisfy, and retain customers in a profitable manner!
How do you find new customers?
First things first…you can’t satisfy or retain customers if you don’t have a way to find them! You’ve got to do it! If you don’t, over time you will eventually run out of people to serve. You want to always be adding new customers to your business…but how do you find them?
There are at least 125 different ways to market your business. One day I sat down and just began to list all the different ways I’ve seen people market their businesses successfully and I came up with a list of 110 different ways! If you would like to have a copy of this list, fill out this form and I will be happy to send it to you. I have:
56 Traditional Advertising Methods
10 Ways to Leverage Press Releases
17 Referral Marketing, Networking, and Public Relations Methods
That’s 125 ways to market your business! Now not all of these are right for you and your particular business, but this is a good place to start! Experiment. Try new things that make sense to you. But track and measure everything so you will know what works and what doesn’t work! Always make it a priority to find new customers.
How do you satisfy your customers?
Maybe I should ask, are your customers satisfied? How do you know? The simple answer is, ask them! The way I like to do it is by using the “Ultimate Question,” which is, “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to refer our company or services to your friends or colleagues?” Using this question I can determine their “Net Promoter Score.” Contact us to learn how to use this powerful tool yourself!
Once I’m sure they are satisfied, I ask them how they have most benefited from my service. We must listen to our customers so that we will know what their needs, desires, and values are. Then we can be sure to satisfy them every time!
Pro-tip: Use your customer surveys and feedback to add more value to your services. Do more of what they love, and improve what they have criticism of. Maybe you’ll find you’re not offering a service you could up-sell to them!
How do you retain customers?
Part of the answer is to keep them satisfied. But that’s not enough! Remember, your best customers are your competitors best prospects! They are marketing to your customers so you need to be marketing to them as well. The real value of your business is directly tied to the future, predictable cash flow from your customers!
So remind them of the value you bring. Look for new ways to serve them. Build and nurture the relationships as much as possible. Make sure you are not missing something. And be sure to thank them! But when you do lose a customer, do your best to find out why. Make it your goal to have the highest retention rate possible. By tracking and measuring you can continually improve in this critical area of retention.
How do you make sure your customers are profitable?
Pay attention to your numbers! Set a budget each year and compare each month’s actual profit to your budget or projected profit. Determine what you want it to be and constantly be working toward that measure of profitability. Remember, you’re in business to make a profit. You must! So make sure your customers are profitable customers.
Contact us today if you’re interested in ramping up your efforts in finding, satisfying, and retaining customers!
“In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” – Eric Hoffer
I think today is the most exciting time in history to be alive, at least for those of us in the Western world. Never before have individuals had more opportunity and more resources at their disposal. However, in many ways, this makes business more challenging. As a business coach, I’m here to help you grow through those challenges to achieve exceptional results!
Change is Here
Every week as I talk to owners of small businesses I hear comments about “change.”
Because of the explosion of information, our customers are changing – most of them are much smarter and much more prepared to make purchasing decisions. They want to know that WE are smarter – smarter about our products, their options, their needs and desires, and the kind of experience they want when they do business with us. They expect us to be more like “personal consultants” and less like sales people or order-takers.
We see change everywhere. The political world is changing, the economic realities are changing, the global landscape is changing, demographics are changing all around us, religion is changing, education is changing. The marketplace is changing, so small business must change! But how do we change?
Another quote I like a lot comes from Jim Rohn:
“For things to change, you’ve got to change. Otherwise, nothing much will change.”
3 Ways to Change and Grow
This is so true! To continue to grow our businesses, our businesses must change! However, if we as leaders do not change, nothing much will change! So how do we grow and change in healthy, productive ways? Let me offer you 3 suggestions:
Be a learner. Read blogs and read books. Feed your mind with new information related to your industry, your skills, your organization, personal productivity, leadership, and business in general. Like Hoffer said, if you’re not a learner you will probably find yourself equipped to live and do business in a world that no longer exists!
Be reflective. I encourage owners of small businesses to take a strategic retreat every 90 days to slow down, think about where they are, and map out a fresh, more informed plan of action for the upcoming 90 days. You MUST take strategic time to reflect, evaluate, and plan. Otherwise, the world and your competitors will very quickly pass you by!
Be accountable. Engage a coach or a peer accountability group (or both) so that you open yourself up to other learners and leaders who can speak into your life. Meet with the same coach or group regularly for accountability. If you make yourself accountable for learning, growth, and change, it is much more likely to happen – and happen in a powerfully productive way!
There is a world of opportunity (like never before) for the learners! As a business coach serving owners of small businesses in Sugar Land and the Houston area of Southeast Texas, it is my privilege to encourage and help entrepreneurs take their businesses and their success to new levels. If you are the owner of a small business, be intentional about your learning and growth. Otherwise, nothing much will change – at least not for the better!
One of my favorite business bloggers is Seth Godin. Frequently on Saturday’s I like to pick my favorite post from Seths_Blog that week and push it out to my readers with my commentary. One of my favorites that I bookmarked long ago was “Getting Confused About Causation and Correlation.” This has particular interest to me when it comes to small businesses and how they analyze their marketing results effectively. Here’s Seth’s insight:
Have you noticed that in most cities, every time there are lots of umbrellas, it’s raining?
From this analysis, the obvious way to make it rain is to be sure that everyone has an umbrella, preferably a black one, since that seems to be the kind that’s most visible during big storms. Read more…
Correlation or Causation?
As a business coach working with owners of small businesses, I see a lot of “faulty” analysis. In fact, I’ve been guilty of this myself. We see a correlation and too quickly draw a conclusion about cause and effect. Where I see this most commonly is in analyzing the small business marketing efforts.
I encourage my clients to track and measure everything, especially when it comes to marketing. You must market your business successfully or you will not survive – we all know that! But we frequently spend money and time on a variety of advertising and marketing efforts without effectively analyzing the results. When we do attempt some marketing analysis, it is not uncommon to draw the wrong conclusions because we do not see the difference between “causation and correlation.”
How to Analyze Your Marketing Results
Let me recommend that for every marketing dollar and marketing activity, you follow these steps:
Determine up front what your goals and expectations are for this particular marketing activity. It doesn’t matter if it is a print advertisement, a networking event, or a Facebook Ad. Be clear on what you want the outcome to be.
Determine up front how you will track and measure your effectiveness at meeting the goal. Do you want a certain number of phone calls within a specific period of time? Do you want a certain number of appointments? Do you want a certain CTR? Know your goal and know how you will measure it.
With your goal in mind, execute on your marketing activity as strategically as possible. If you’re writing copy, write it as strategically as you can. You may even consider hiring a copy writer to either write or edit your work. If you’re sponsoring an event, think through the process for how people will connect it to your company and move you toward your goal. There are over 100 ways to marketing your business, but if poorly executed, none of them will work for you.
Educate yourself. After the marketing effort is complete, measure your results and identify at least 3 things you can learn from it. This is important because we all make mistakes. Without intentionality around learning we typically continue to make the same mistakes, getting the same mediocre (or worse) results. As a business coach I tell my clients that every marketing activity at best should be a lead generator, and at worst, should be an educational experience! Ideally, it should be both!
The bottom line is this: Make sure you’re tracking and measuring your marketing activity. Make sure you see the difference between causation and correlation. And make sure you get a little bit smarter every time! I provide coaching services to small business owners in Sugar Land, Katy TX, and the Houston area of Southeast Texas. My vision is to see our business effectiveness increase every year. One way that happens is through good marketing analysis. Contact me today so we can determine if your marketing is actually generating the results you need.
One of the greatest challenges for most business owners is to get away from the business for rest, refreshment, and strategic planning. As a business coach this is my ongoing challenge to owners of small businesses. One reason this is so difficult is because we don’t understand the 3 levels of work in our company. Let me explain.
Level One: Tactical and Technical Work
These are the daily tasks and activities that enable us to deliver our products or services. If we’re in manufacturing, it is making the widgets. If we’re in retail, it is serving and selling to the customers who walk in. If we’re in professional services, it is doing whatever we do to deliver value to our clients. If we’re in sales, it is the actual selling activity.
In other words, these are the “technical” things you do everyday to fulfill your promise to your customers. Technicians are doers, and most owners of small businesses find themselves right here most of the time – doing, doing, doing. Sometimes exhausted from all the doing!
Level Two: Operational and Manager Work
The truth is that every business needs order and organization. The better organized a business is, the smoother it will operate. The manager is the one who organizes and brings order to chaos. The manager is the one who goes to Home Depot and buys stacking plastic boxes, takes them back to the shop (or office), and makes sure everyone has everything they need, easily accessible, to most efficiently do their jobs.
In other words, the manager makes it possible for the technicians to do their jobs, and to do them in the most efficient, profitable manner. Once a business owner moves from being a “solopreneur” to having employees or sub-contractors, they MUST learn to be managers. The problem is they (too often) are still doing the technical work PLUS managing the work of others. Also, they may not have the best systems or processes to get the jobs done in the most effective way. As a result, having employees creates MORE work, not less.
Level Three: Strategic and Leadership Work
Unfortunately this is what is lacking in most small businesses. The owner is too busy doing and managing chaos that they do not have time to reflect, think, strategize, and plan. They often don’t even have time to rest, nurture their family and important relationships, or envision a better future.
This is why I coach owners of small businesses!
My mission is to help business owners and executives achieve exceptional performance in the businesses, and to live rewarding lives. I do this by helping them understand what it means to be a leader in their business. I help them pull away from the business on a regular basis to grow as a leader. I help them create systems so their businesses can run more and more without their presence and their perspiration.
Leadership is the most important work of every business owner, but it is typically what is most missing!
Leaders create vision, strategies, and systems. Managers develop people and run the systems which execute the strategies to fulfill the vision. Technicians do the daily work of the company.
In reality, most business owners do all three. However, the goal MUST be to do more leadership work and less technical work. It is possible, but most of us need someone to help us, to coach us, so that we can gain a clearer vision and focus for the future, and so that we can build and implement strategic systems.
Business ownership should be about fun and fortune. It should not only enable you to create wealth, but most importantly, it should give you the life of your dreams. Are you living your dream, or does life feel more and more like a nightmare?
Business owners, take initiative! Take action to develop yourself. Engage a proven business coach to help you get focused, get relief, and make the changes necessary to create the life you really want!