Which Is The Key To Sales Success?

Charts of sales growth

Two major philosophies of salesmanship are prevalent among experts today, and the disagreement is understandable as both views have their valid points to make. The first approach is to emphasize being a strong closer over all else, while the second approach is to lean more heavily on being a great prospector. In other words, the philosophical tussle is between the importance of finding great prospects and converting the prospect you have.

Those who emphasize closing will offer such advice as the following:

  • Empathize with your potential customers, but don’t end up agreeing with them on the reasons they have for not purchasing your product.
  • Educate the prospect with truly valuable information they are interested in, giving them reasons to buy and a reason to return even if they don’t immediately buy.
  • Avoid the topic of price as long as possible. Spending money is not a subject that motivates many, and saving money only makes sense after you have already convinced the person that your product if worthwhile.
  • Avoid total closure. Getting a “maybe” is better than a “never,” and “yes” on a small point is better than “no” to everything. Have a plan to prolong the conversation in order to find at least something the prospective customer can agree to.

On the other hand, those who emphasize prospecting will promote such strategies as these:

  • Focus on making every page of your website attractive, engaging, easy to navigate, and full of opportunities to fill out a sign-up form.
  • Take full advantage of social media to promote your business since it can connect you to an immense audience and can be a source of friend-to-friend referrals.
  • Use highly targeted and situation-specific email follow-ups to turn leads into customers.
  • Offer a blog and other solid content that will build a loyal readership, from which you can “mine” future loyal clients.
  • Don’t go 100% digital. Still network face to face at trade shows and other events. Exchange contact information with interested parties and add them to your database.

Sales success must ultimately entail both prospecting and closing, but building a strong, detailed list of prospects is the foundation of the whole process. Furthermore, it is much easier to close when you have good prospects to begin with and much easier to practice your closing skills when your have numerous prospects on your list. Thus, good prospecting
is the more crucial of these two important sales-steps.

Automate, Automate, Automate! The Tools You Can’t Afford To Live Without

Automation

Advances in technology have made it possible to automate more of your business processes than ever before, and this is an opportunity you really can’t afford to pass up. The fact is that modern business operations are more complex and demanding than in the past, and those who fail to take advantage of available automation systems can be sure their competition will not make the oversight. When competitors boost their efficiency through automation and you don’t, you put yourself at a disadvantage.

Why automate?– To save time, which saves money, which gives you more investment capital to grow on. Automation allows you to get many of your business tasks done without doing them yourself and without hiring an extra employee to handle them.

How can you automate? – There are many tools available, too many to list them all. But 4 of the most important tools that make your life easier by reducing the number of business tasks you must do manually include:

  1. Email Marketing Tools: EMTs, like Active Campaign and MailChimp for example, help you to set up web forms and autoresponders as well as receive email marketing reports on things like open-rates and click-through rates. Auto-responders are particularly helpful because they automatically send out emails after a web form is filled out.
  2. Marketing Automation Tools: MATs, like InfusionSoft and Marketo, are a step above email marketing tools in that you can pre-set rules that will respond to actions related to your follow-up emails. They also allow you to segment contacts more effectively, which lets you keep delivered content relevant and far more likely to see high conversion rates. You can pre-arrange the rules to automatically send the right messages to the right people at the right time.
  3. Contact Relationship Management Tools: CRMs, such as Zoho and Insightly, automate the gathering and storage of valuable data on clients/prospects. They also help with management of sales processes, workflows, and more. With a CRM, Human error is greatly reduced in your files, and updating is easy.
  4. Shopping Cart Tools: Automating online payments with shopping cart solutions, like Shopify or BIG Commerce, is a must for any company selling through its website. Shopping carts can also help you track sales data like purchase quantity and frequency and give prospects the chance to make a purchase through one of your online “sales funnels.” If anything is worth automating, surely it’s the money-making process.

The Magic of Free Promotion: Worth the Time and Effort

depositphotos_26653227_m-2015Every business owner knows, without good promotion the best product in the world won’t get to customers. The challenge is getting your message to interested people. Advertising is one tried and true way of bringing in new customers. Advertising; however, is expensive, and your budget might not support spending so much. So, as a business owner, what can you do to reach a large audience quickly and affordably?

Publicity is an attractive way to reach out to your target market and increase your profile. Positive media coverage is a gift to businesses. That’s why big corporations spend millions on publicity. The good news is that done correctly getting publicity is free. The question is, how do you get the media interested. The following step by step instructions will guide you as you begin connecting with and benefiting from the media.

Step 1. Define How You’re Different Than Your Competition

Employment experts talk a lot about the elevator speech, which is a short statement that allows you to explain quickly who you are and what makes you stand out to prospective employers. The same principle applies to your business. Write out a statement, no more than a few sentences that will tell people what your business has to offer and why you’re better than the competition

Step 2. Set Specific Goals

After writing your statement, develop a list of what you want to accomplish by gaining publicity. Prioritize six objectives and remember to be very concrete and set deadlines. Two examples include gaining more brand recognition in your community and attracting more visitors to your location (physical or virtual).

Step 3. Identify Your Target Market

You define customers by many criteria. Age, gender, buying habits, occupation, income level, geography, and cultural norms. Include anything you can think of that would define the customers who would find value in what you offer. For example, you generally wouldn’t market yachts to factory workers, and you wouldn’t waste your time offering a book on shopping on a budget to the country club set. You need to understand who your potential customers are before you try to reach them. That brings you to step number four.

Step 4. List of Relevant Media Organizations

Create a list of all the media outlets in your local area. Radio and TV, newspapers, magazines, and any others you deem appropriate. Separate and prioritize them by relevance, high, medium, and low and add contact information. Get the names, numbers, email, and other contact information of local reporters, editors, and DJs. You can find most of this is found on their website. Learn who covers what within your industry. Your goal is creating a list of everyone who has influence or decision-making authority about which stories to cover. Make the list as comprehensive as possible. The project will take some effort because lots of research is required; however, the results will serve you well.

Step 5. Develop Relationships with the Media

Building productive media relationships are identical to building any business relationship. The key is focusing on the needs of the people who you can help you. You want attention to your company; they want attention for their publication. Media organizations are always on the hunt for stories that will interest their audience. Your task is getting to know the key players, gaining their respect, and understanding how they work. Ask about their deadlines and the type of stories they seek. Prove with your actions that you can provide, or help them find, good quality content. Placing your focus on them will motivate them to help you. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when working with media people.

  • Remember they are people, just like you
  • Know what they are writing about
  • Read and comment on their work
  • Act with respect
  • Ask what they need
  • Respond to their needs
  • Act Professionally and reliably. Deliver on your promises
  • Keep requests on a realistic level.
  • Most of all become a go-to resource for good ideas and good content.

Step 6. Creating Stories to Pitch

Sometimes, as in the case of a new product, you have a great story to share, and if the new product is groundbreaking, for example, the iPad, it will be relatively easy to get attention. Usually small businesses or startups have to create story angles that pique media interest. Other ideas for stories include events that your planning, important charities you support, expanding with another location, and anything substantive and positive. It is vital that your content is of interest to the media and your customers. Do not waste your contact’s or your customer’s time with fluff. Remember some of the tips from the previous step. Know what reporters are working on, ask what they need, respond to their needs.

Step 7.  How to Pitch Stories

Why is one pitch effective when others quickly find their way into the gone-forever file? What is the difference? The following tips on how to pitch a story to the press are a composite of advice from experts in the public relations field added to reporter’s opinions on what works for them. Some of the items are repeats of previous information, but you will benefit from considering them again.

1.Get specific with who you pitch and make sure they are a good fit for the story. Don’t pitch a story about women’s clothing to a reporter who covers organic produce.

  1. Always read the work of the person you are pitching. Read it carefully and thoroughly so you understand what interests them. Pitch them stories that add value to the original line of thought. Describe how your story will add that value to writer and the readers.
  2. Don’t sell your company, sell the story. The story provides no value unless it helps the cause of the writer, the publication, and especially the readers. Your message will come through but only if they publish the story.
  3. Always act with respect. Sometimes the answer is no. Accept it and move on to pitch another day. Don’t give up easy. Be prepared to offer evidence that proves the value of your story, but don’t get angry and try to bully your way to success.
  4. Be succinct. Don’t go into the whole life story of the company. Get right to the point, say thank you, exchange a few pleasantries, and excuse yourself with the promise to check back at an agreed upon time.
  5. Don’t lie about your reasons for the story. Be honest and upfront at all times. Act with respect.
  6. Resist the temptation of becoming a pest. Call once, email once, or pitch once and then let it go for a respectful period before following up; however, please do follow up. You run the risk of losing many opportunities if you forget to follow up or if you follow late. You’ve worked hard to get to this point, don’t lose your coverage now.

New Media Options to Promote Your Business

So far the focus has been traditional media options, but the world has changed rapidly in the last few decades. Traditional methods are not the only, nor some would argue the best, choice for businesses trying to get the word out.

Social Media has become a way of life, particularly for younger generations. Staying connected with these sites is something you must take advantage of as a business owner. To augment your website, you should have business pages on social sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. These options are an excellent way to explain to people who you are and what you do. Make a habit of posting business related material every day and remember to keep the material relevant to your customer’s needs and interests.

Email lists have become a very useful tool for growing businesses. You inform people about the latest industry trends by sending out a monthly or weekly newsletter. Often these newsletters will contain a call to action that will result in increased sales. Again, like with traditional media, if you create content that provides value for customers they will share that information. Over time, your email list will grow. Some e-commerce businesses operate primarily off of these lists.

Learn to promote your business visually on social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram. Sharing images, video, and other graphic representations are great ways to drive traffic to your website, or customers to your physical location.

YouTube and other video sharing sites are easy and free. Every computer or mobile device comes equipped with camera’s that produce good quality video. Star in your commercials or grab your most adventurous employees and get them ready for their close up. Or just explain what you have to offer and invite people over for a visit. Have fun with it and keep in mind all the catch phrases you’ve heard over the years. You might have one go viral create a new trend.

Take action to ensure your website is mobile friendly. Statistically, more people buy from their mobile device than from their computer. That trend will undoubtedly continue for the foreseeable future.

Tie everything together. Your social media sites, video sharing sites, website, stories in the press, email newsletters, all of it should list information about finding the others. Make sure when people get to one part of your coverage they will find out how to get to all the parts. See you in the media.

From A to Z – Liberty Tax Owner John Hewitt Explains The Record Growth of Business By Al Moore

Google the phrase “tips for franchisors” and you’ll find about 45,700 pages. What will be difficult to find is meaningful information describing the most important factor in franchisor growth: long-term commitment to franchisee success.

In order to develop a better understanding of franchisor operations, SBI sat down with John Hewitt, founder and CEO of Liberty Tax Service. John’s accomplishments in the world of franchising are well known and tough to match.

The Liberty operation is consistently ranked at the very top of high performing franchising companies in the country. The awards that have been won by John and Liberty are too numerous to list.

Two characteristics contribute to this success: 41 years of experience in the tax preparation industry; and a commitment to franchisee success that goes to the finest level of detail on storefront operations.

Supporting these two characteristics was Hewitt’s clear vision of where he wanted his company to go. He wanted to run the Number One tax preparation business in the country.

After launching Jackson-Hewitt in mid-1986, and growing from six to twenty-one stores in four years, he said, “I quickly realized that, at this pace, I wasn’t going to live long enough to surpass H&R Block’s store count of thousands.”

He replaced the organic growth plan with a franchising strategy, turning Jackson-Hewitt into the fastest growing tax service in the country.

Jackson-Hewitt went public in 1994 and John departed in 1997. While waiting for his non-compete agreement to expire, Hewitt launched Liberty Tax in Canada, creating a platform from which he could expand into the U.S.

Liberty’s growth has been sensational, in both good times and bad. The store count is now over 3,500. Liberty even grew during the past two years, adding over 800 franchisees during the worst economic downturn in our lives.

Liberty’s commitment to franchisee (“Z” in Liberty jargon) success begins before an individual buys a Liberty franchise. Each potential Z is required to participate in a one-week training program. This orients them to the Liberty operation and begins exposure to the Liberty business model. Potential Zs are assessed and John Hewitt meets with each potential Z on an individual basis. John stated that one of the most important factors from the Z’s perspective is their willingness to execute the business model. “Not listening is human nature. Our model is based on 41 years of success. The number of people who would make an investment and not listen used to amaze me. Now I accept it for what it is. I even tell them during training that they probably won’t listen right away.”

Another aspect of the selection process is understanding why the potential Z wants to invest. As you would expect, John’s advice is much more specific than what you find on the Internet.

While most of the checklists advise franchisees to pick something they like to do (tuning cars, baking, lawn work), John says, “Enjoying being a leader is much more important. Being able to work through others and get things done is much more important than liking to prepare tax returns. If the franchisee wants to succeed, he or she will do the things needed to grow the business.”

The operational detail contained in the business model is astounding. It is so detailed that it is used to help the Z identify potential store locations and potential revenue.

Each location is evaluated and Liberty is able to tell the Z how many returns that location will prepare on each day of a typical tax season. From that basis, Liberty provides a pro-forma budget detailing the financial model for that specific location. If the model is followed, profits result.

When asked about support and guidance in specific operational areas such as staffing, technology, etc., Hewitt replied, “Think everything! The model is extremely complete.”

Yes. It even defines the different waving techniques to be used by Miss (or Mister) Liberty when folks drive by.

Hewitt also cited the dozens of conference calls he holds every day during the 105-day tax season. Each Z’s daily performance metrics are reviewed, with John and the more established Zs providing mentoring to the newer ones. “It consumes a lot of time, but it’s crucial to success,” says Hewitt. “The tax season is short and it’s important to review results each day and help the franchisee make adjustments.”

“I believed from the beginning that our success would result from our management systems being better than anyone’s,” says Hewitt. Naturally, the model is constantly evolving over time.

Changing technologies and other factors have required Liberty to continually increase the investment in support systems that enable the Zs to compete effectively.

The lesson for the potential franchisor is the importance of the commitment to franchisee success.

John Hewitt exemplifies the success of this approach, enabling him to bring over 4,000 individuals into his enterprise.

USA Today: How to reach your small business customers

100-Days-to-Abundance-small

From USA Today

How to reach your small business customers

http://usat.ly/1IeuswR

Today’s Small Business Week article highlights the challenge of acquiring customers.

No surprise small business owners say word-of-mouth is their most effective marketing technique. That said, Rhonda Adams reminder to us to not overestimate our word-of-mouth efforts and at the core of word-of mouth is a great customer experience.

The “Do-it-now action items at the end of the article outlines a great starting point for all of us.

Strategic Alliances are “Where it’s at” for Small Business

100-Days-to-Abundance-smallA big challenge faced by small businesses is scarcity of resources. Larger businesses have substantial cash flow, numbers of employees just to name of few of the more critical resources a business needs to grow and be successful.  If you are in business by yourself or you own a smaller business, marshalling those resources is critical and a high bar to hurdle.

That is why strategic alliances are critical to small business growth and success. In fact, strategic alliance is one of the “don’t leave home without it” factors of small business success. It is one of the fastest, most flexible ways to increase resources in your business.

Here is what I mean. Let’s say a financial advisor and CPA were to forge a strategic alliance in which the CPA scheduled each of their clients for a financial review session with the financial advisor to provide the CPA with a better understanding of their client’s total financial picture. As a result, the financial advisor instantly has an additional source of prospects and the CPA gains a greater understanding of their client’s total financial picture.

The possibilities of strategic alliances are limited only by your creativity and endless. Strategic alliances can be utilized to:

• increase revenues
• decrease expenses
• expand your services
• increase your competitiveness
• and more.

Strategic alliances are so important, I’ve figured out a way 100 Days to Abundance can be utilized to support strategic alliances among small businesses. Strategic partners can participate in 100 Days to Abundance at the same price as one person attending $349.00.  That is the fee for one person attending and it is the same fee for  2 people from different businesses attending if they sign up at the same time. In fact 3 businesses can attend for a total  of $349.00 and even 4 businesses can attend for a total of $349.00.

Have your strategic partners right there with you in 100 Days to Abundance so you can forge a highly effective strategic alliance build around the same prove concepts, strategies and tactics of small business success.

How have you utilized strategic alliances to increases your business’s capabilities and growth? Share with us in the Comments section below.

The Day After the Kick-Off is When The Real Fun Begins

100-Days-to-Abundance-smallYesterday, was a big day. It was the Kick-Off Announcement Day for 100 Days to Abundance. A winning program for small business owners and sales professionals that I am reintroducing to the market.

The announcement went out to almost 2,000 people. The $349.00 program has a great track record of success and during the Kick-Off period I’m offering a whopping discount of $249.00, which means anyone signing up by March 29th will pay the same price as participants in 2008/2009 – Only $100.00. (The promotional code is: Retro100)

That may sound like plenty to fill the program. It is necessary, but it is not sufficient. Or another phase that captures it is “You drive for show and putt for dough (money).”

Here’s what I mean. No matter how valuable or successful 100 Days to Abundance is or has been, it is an intangible. It is an experience. It is not a product, so you cannot touch it and the description will never be exact. So no matter how much flash and discounting is done in the marketing, there is still going to be a pretty good believability gap left. If you own a service business or sell a service, you know what I mean.

So let me tell you what day two (putt for dough) looks like. I call that the KLT day. I fact it goes on until the last day of the program. KLT= Know, Like & Trust. People want to do business with and through people they Know, Like and Trust. Remember the 2,000 people I sent the emails to on Kick-Off day? That’s right. I need people they KLT to tell them about 100 Days to Abundance.

Day two was spend asking previous participants of 100 Days to Abundance to help me by sharing their experience with at least 5 of their friends and associates.(notice I asked people that KLT me.) I know this worked because as I was writing this blog my phone rang, and someone who has received an email from a previous 100 Days participant called to ask me a few questions about the program. They said they’d register right after dinner… And they did!!! Then I sent an email to the key person in a number of small business groups I am associated with and asked them to share it with their members.

The seats in 100 Days to Abundance will be filled by word-of-mouth by the people the participants Know, Like and Trust. Its the most effective client-acquisition tool I’ve found.

How do you close the believability gap for the service you provide your clients?

Unlimited Supply of Prospects

Grace Thompson of Lendor Consulting shares her experience of 100 Days to Abundance.

100 Days to Abundance (2+98=100% Growth) is designed for small business owners and sales professionals. Join the over 500 small business owners and sales professionals that have benefited from this program.  Don’t put your success off another day!!!

Discounts available when 2 or more sign up together.

Making the Best of Your Networking Efforts

Clients often asked me how they can improve the effectiveness of their networking efforts. Thanks to Kevin Corrigan of Caring Senior Services, my thoughts have been captured on the video below. My comments were made during a workshop with the Wake County Senior Alliance. Make sure to turn up the volume so you can also hear the questions I’m asked during the session.