Email Marketing

Email Marketing: 7 Ways to Build Relationships and Get More Customers

With the so much emphasis on social media, many believe digital newsletters and email marketing are less valuable as a marketing tool. I disagree.

When done properly, email marketing can complement other online and traditional marketing tactics. Most email platforms offer options for automation, landing pages, integration with e-commerce and list segmentation. So it’s an effective and affordable way to generate new business and keep current customers engaged and buying more.

Whether you want to stay connected with customers, build your reputation as an expert or generate leads and sales for your business, success (a.k.a. results) with email marketing is in your reach. Here are a few things to consider, so you get results.

How to Get More From Email Marketing

Build a permission-based list. Customers and prospects that choose to receive your emails are a goldmine for small businesses. Make it easy for people to sign-up by including a ‘join our mailing list’ option on your website, blog, email signature, etc. Invite people you meet at events to join. Invite customers who visit your location to join. Make building your list a priority.

Deliver what you promise. People sign up based on what you communicate: the value and the frequency.  If you promise tips and articles, include them. If you commit to specials or savings, offer them. If you promise something free, make it easy to get it. If they expect something monthly or weekly, be consistent. And remember, more is not always better. Set the expectations and deliver what you promise. Otherwise, people will unsubscribe or not open your emails.

If you use email marketing for multiple purposes, allow people to choose what they wish to receive. Most email marketing platforms allow for options or subscriber preferences. For example, a reader may sign up for your monthly newsletter only, everything you send or something in between. They have control and you have readers who want what you send.

Use a compelling ‘subject’ line AND headline. You need both. The subject line get’s it opened, the headline get’s it read. Too often, the subject line is almost an afterthought. Give it the same attention you give a headline – make it compelling and recognizable. One way to do this is to include your company name such as ’10 Tips for Better Living from Company XYZ’ or ‘Upcoming Events from John Smith’. If you do a monthly newsletter, give it a name and include it in the subject line each month. The headline in your email is a key to getting people to read it and works the same as other print advertising. Make it benefit focused – what’s in it for them or why should they read more?

Stay True to Your Audience. Be clear on your target and always write with them in mind. Since most email marketing lists begin with customers, you should have a good idea of who they are, what challenges they face, what they like and dislike and why your products and services are the best choices.

As your list grows, you may have less intimate knowledge about your audience. That’s okay because you can assume they are looking for the same value and information. Why else would they sign up? So stay true to your target and you’ll enjoy greater success with your email marketing.

Make Content Count. If you are writing promotional copy, keep it concise and make sure your message – value/benefits, offer, and call to action – is clear and understood. Bullet points and sub-headlines work well. Write copy in the present tense, not passive voice. Avoid weak words like can, may, and maybe since they dilute your message.

If you write newsletters, make sure the topics are relevant and timely for your audience. Select topics that tie-in with what is happening in the news, in their lives or in their business – at this time. Include links to your website, blog, special offers, or other resources – to create additional traffic.

Encourage sharing. Ask readers to share directly or via social media. It’s a easy way to get your message to others, grow your list and generate additional leads.

Use Customer Quotes. Adding a brief but compelling customer quote creates a third-party endorsement and added credibility to your email marketing. Make the customer ‘real’ to your readers by including the customer’s name, city, company (if applicable) or even a picture. If you have testimonials on your website or online reviews, include a link and invite your audience to check them out.

It’s Measurable & Actionable

Email marketing is highly targeted, low-cost and measurable. Most programs include reports to show you how many subscribers opened, clicked on links to your website or other URLs, and bounces.

But here’s the best part. You can get a list of WHO opened and then clicked through to learn more. It’s actionable. You can follow-up or send additional information to create more sales opportunities.

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Customer loyalty

Customer Loyalty: 7 Secrets to Create Raving Fans

“A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits – they will be embarrassingly large.” Henry Ford’s words reinforce the importance of customer service, satisfaction, and customer loyalty in your business. So what are you doing to create raving fans – and why is this important?

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Loyal customers spend more and buy more frequently.
  • Customer satisfaction is linked to customer retention.
  • It’s cheaper to retain profitable customers than acquire new ones.
  • Customers are willing to pay more when service is better than the competition.
  • Happy customers refer others, write reviews and sing your praises every chance they get.
  • Unhappy customers tell anyone who will listen about their negative experience – and social media makes this really easy!
7 Secrets to Improve Customer Service

Get Feedback. Encourage and welcome customer input about how you can improve. Provide a method and process to get constructive comments and suggestions. Customers can be your best advocate and your best source of learning. They are knowledgeable about competitors and what they do or don’t do well. Remember, you cannot fix or improve something if you don’t know it’s broken.

Treat Employees Well. Appreciation starts at the top. Your team will treat customers the way you treat your team. Do you greet them when they arrive? Do you thank them? Do you listen to their concerns and ideas? If you take care of your team, your team will take care of you.

Handle Customer Complaints. No matter how good you are, things can and will go wrong. Identify the source of the top 5-7 complaints, even if they only occur periodically. Then develop a procedure to handle them. Don’t forget to include guidelines and limits of authority so your people, who actually deal with customers, can resolve the majority of complaints without going to the boss! Keep in mind, complaints, if handled well, can actually build loyalty with customers.

Track and Reward Customer Satisfaction. If customer satisfaction is really a priority in your business, demonstrate this to your team and customers. Develop a method to measure it, set goals for improvement and reward the team when the goal is accomplished. Keep it simple.

And here’s another plus. If your documented customer satisfaction score is 95% or better, you now have a great message for use in marketing. It sure beats the ‘we deliver great service’ message so many businesses like to put out there.

Train Your Team. Customer service skills, like technical or sales skills, can be developed and improved with training. While most businesses train new employees, existing team members need ongoing training and development too. In addition to better service, employee training is linked to improved employee retention and satisfaction – a big benefit in a competitive labor market.

Document Your Critical Systems. Too often the source of dissatisfaction or perceived poor quality is tied to your processes. Take a look at your procedures, from initial customer contact through billing and collection. Document what gets done. I guarantee you will find gaps in consistency and opportunities for improvement. Systems put money on the bottom line by reducing re-works, returns or callbacks – a big satisfaction driver.

Set Expectations. In marketing and sales, a  can-do attitude is important, but only if you can deliver what you promise each and every time. Set the right expectations with customers and work to make it happen consistently. Remember the old saying, better to under promise and over deliver!

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marketing purpose

What Is Your Marketing Purpose?

As a business owner, you have a lot of marketing choices. But what you choose and how you use them will ultimately drive success. While cost and ROI will always play a role in your marketing decisions, don’t overlook your marketing purpose and integration.

Marketing has many purposes. From creating awareness and building relationships to generating new sales or repeat business. Depending on your marketing purpose, some tools work better than others. And when you combine various tools, through integration, you have a better recipe for success.

Here are a few commonly used small business tools to demonstrate this point.

Social Media | Organic versus Paid

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are popular with small businesses. They are good for sharing things that others want to re-share – and that’s the key. Photos, infographics, local events, helpful tips and good news posts can help you stay connected and reach some new people.

If you are using social media as a free or low-cost method to reach lots and lots of new customers, you may be disappointed. Most social platforms rely on ads or premium subscriptions for revenue, so your reach is limited (by design) unless you pay to boost the posts, display ads or sponsor messaging. Promotional messages and special offers need a boost to perform well. The good news – when done right, paid social media is an affordable, effective way to reach more of your targeted prospects.

Tip:  When it comes to content and platforms, quality beats quantity every time. More is not always better. Choose the platforms that work best for your business then deliver quality information – stuff that is relevant to your customers.

Email Marketing | The Ultimate Stay Connected Tool

Your permission-based email list is an asset! It’s comprised of customers and prospects who said YES and want to hear from you. So, it’s a great tool for staying connected and building relationships that may create sales now or in the future.

Email marketing is flexible and affordable. With a variety of platforms like Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, and iContact, it’s also easy to keep your name and message in front of potential buyers. For helpful tips, check out my article, 7 Ways to Build Relationships with Email Marketing.

While consistency and good content are important, the size and quality of your list is a key to success. The bigger the list, the better the opportunity. So, put a lot of effort into building your list.

Use your website, social media, and sales or service teams to help grow your list. Give customers and prospects a reason and make it easy for them to say yes. Then deliver what you promise – relevant information.

Website | For Questions and Information

Good marketing gets attention and creates interest. But it hardly ever provides all the information someone needs to make a decision. So where do people go to get more information? Some may call but most will go to your website.

SEO and other marketing will certainly drive people to your site. So about us, services and contact information are helpful and expected. But you may be missing opportunities if you rely on these alone.

Blogs can answer common questions, provide updates and deliver relevant information.  Frequently Asked Questions – with simple answers – can also do the trick. Case studies and white papers allow you to demonstrate your expertise with problem-solution type information. Testimonials, online reviews, and certifications can offer proof of expertise.

Is your website the go-to place for questions or information prospects need? Here’s what you should consider:

  • What questions do prospects commonly ask during the sales process? Write them down and create clear (brief) answers.
  • What is the best way to share this information? Would a page with FAQ’s do the trick or should you create a blog post (or series of them) to answer the questions?
  • Do customers look for proof of your expertise? If so, case studies, white papers, testimonials, online reviews, and certifications can help you deliver. Make it easy for customers to find them.

Direct Mail | The Forgotten Tool

With so much emphasis on digital marketing, direct mail is almost an afterthought. When used with other tools, digital or media, direct mail helps reach new customers. It can be highly targeted and there’s a lot less direct mail competition today.

Whether you want to drive people to your website to learn more or call to schedule an appointment or get a quote, direct mail can deliver more bang for your buck when used with other tools. To get more customers, check out the article, 10 Direct Mail Tips.

A Final Thought

To get more sales and profit from your marketing efforts, build a plan with purpose and integration in mind.

It all starts with your marketing goals. Ideally, your marketing should accomplish three things:  generate new leads, nurture unconverted leads in your pipeline and create repeat business from customers.  Budget funds to do all three – with consistency.  Then, choose the right tools to support each purpose.

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LI customer investments

Customer Investments – How To Do It Right

Make Your Customer Investments Pay Off

Your customers are your source of revenue, so it makes sense to invest money into them. But before you put a plan in place to attract, convert and retain customers, here are a few things you should consider to make your customer investments payoff.

#1 – Look Beyond Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is certainly an indicator of customer repurchase intentions. Improvements can reduce churn and create new business through referrals. So, it makes sense that businesses invest in this area. But even satisfied customers are not created equal as it relates to profitability. Understand why customers are satisfied. Some factors that impact both satisfaction and profitability include brands, products/services, buying experience, differentiation – and of course, price.

Satisfaction and profitability are not mutually exclusive. If a customer is only satisfied when you give them special deals, do you want them? What about those who pay full price but demand so much that they offset the revenue they provide? Some customers simply can’t be profitably satisfied. So why make the investment in them? Invest resources in your profitable customers.

#2 – Focus on the Lifetime Value of the Customer

How much you invest to acquire a new customer or retain them will vary. But you need to think beyond the most recent or first transaction. Consider instead what you expect to earn from customers on an ongoing basis.

This long-term view considers what products or services they buy, how often and for how long. Seek to understand your customers’ value. When you do, you can look for ways to improve it and decide how much you will spend to acquire and retain customers.

Related:  What Are Your Customers Worth

#3 – Budget and Plan for Retention Too

Marketing costs are typically focused on new business generation efforts. While important, a portion of your marketing budget should be allocated toward nurturing and retaining customers. When you consider lifetime value, it’s a good decision. Bonus: It’s a lot cheaper to retain a customer than to acquire a new one!

Imagine if you took 10% of your marketing budget and used it for engagement and retention? Depending on your industry, these areas come to mind: service, support, and account management. But extra touches and thoughtful gestures are equally important.

How are you going to keep your customers engaged? This is where the plan comes in.  Create a variety of retention strategies or tactics to implement throughout the year.  How often you do it will likely depend on your industry and clients. Get creative. Stand out. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking….

  • Pick up the phone and check in with a customer. Lunch, golf or coffee optional.
  • Create a blog to educate and empower customers.
  • Remember special occasions with birthday or holiday cards. It’s the thought that counts.
  • Turn fast service into quality and complete service. Customers will view you as courteous and helpful.
  • Email special offers just for customers. It’s not special if everyone gets it!
  • Surprise them! Little, kind gestures make an impact. A client left a Hershey kiss with their invoice. Low cost, but memorable.
  • Send postcards for reminders. With so much emphasis on email and text, snail mail gets noticed.
  • Say thank you with a personal, handwritten note.
  • Build a social community online. Choose the platform that is best for your business and customers.
  • Use white papers and eBook guides to demonstrate expertise. Be a resource for your customers.

Remember, nothing happens until you take action. So, decide what you will do and how often you will do it. Then, schedule it so it gets done!

#4 – Track Retention Rate Over Time

What we measure we can celebrate or improve! Do you want to know if your customer investments are paying off? Your customer retention rate, over time, will tell you that.

You can calculate the retention rate for any period you choose: weekly, monthly, quarterly or something else that is relevant to you.  Pay attention to the trends over time! To calculate, you need to know the following:

Retention Rate Formula: ((CE-CN)/CS)) X 100

  • CS – number of customers at the start of period
  • CN – number of new customers during the period
  • CE – number of customers at the end of period

Let’s do the math with a simple example. 

You started the first quarter (January 1) with 200 customers [CS]

You ended the first quarter (March 31) with 250 customers [CE]

During the first quarter (Jan 1 – Mar 31) you acquired 65 new customers [CN]

Let’s plug them into the formula: ((CE-CN)/CS)) X 100

250 – 65 = 185;    185/200 = .925;    .925 x 100 = 92.5

Your retention rate for the period is 92.5%

#5 – Monitor Satisfaction

If you spend money to acquire and keep customers, it makes sense to get feedback and monitor customer satisfaction. Surveys allow you to do this. When done right, they help you quantify the quality in your business – and support your investments.

When done by phone, they allow you to stay in contact with customers, identify and fix mistakes, identify possible problems (before they become major issues) and request testimonials, reviews, and referrals. Remember to apply item #1 above when you consider changes or improvements in your business – rely on feedback from ideal, profitable customers!

Related:  5 Reasons Why Surveys Should Be on Your To-Do List.

Customer acquisition and retention are important for any business. Planning how you will do both will save you time and money. Incorporating the five items above will help you make better decisions.

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mktg strategies

Choosing the Best Marketing Strategies

With over 75 different ways to generate leads, is it any wonder that many small businesses get overwhelmed with all the possibilities? Yet choosing the right or best marketing strategies to promote your business is a key to getting more customers – and doing it profitably.

What marketing strategies have worked for me in the past? While not a guarantee, past performance can be a good indicator of future success. Remember to consider both the number of leads and the quality of leads these efforts produced. Some strategies may produce poor leads or price shoppers, but not sales. Others produce fewer leads, but more quality sales.

7 Questions To Choose The  Best Marketing Strategies

What products or services do I want to promote? As a small business, your marketing needs to produce sales, not just awareness. So it’s important to select the right products or services to promote, then select strategies that work for that product or service. Avoid trying to sell everything to everyone with your marketing since that is a recipe for failure – and costly.

How do my target customers like to give and receive information? Do they prefer communication in-person, by phone, email, snail mail, online, or social media? For most small businesses, this depends on what information you are providing and typically includes multiple methods.

How many contacts do I actually need to build relationships and create sales for my business? Typically, businesses require seven or more contacts or business encounters in order to create awareness, build a relationship and create a sale. For higher priced services, where prospects may perceive more risk, the number of contacts may be greater. So build a variety of possible touch-points and deliver the same message consistently.

How can I get existing customers to keep buying, buy more or buy more frequently? Many small businesses focus their marketing on generating new customers and ignore their existing customer base. Current or past customers offer a goldmine of opportunity, but only if you market to them. Did I also mention that it is a lot cheaper to market to existing customers who already know and like you?

How much time and money can I invest consistently? Marketing strategies have both a time and money component. Some, like networking and social media, are free or low-cost but consume a lot of time. Others, like direct mail or advertising, require a higher money investment but little time. The key is to balance out your time and money investments so you can do marketing consistently throughout the year.

What do I like and what am I good at? Let’s face it, nothing happens until you take action and implement the strategy. So it makes sense that you consider this point when putting together your plans. Avoid building a plan with a lot of strategies you dislike or struggle with. You simply won’t do them. Either delegate or outsource the implementation to someone who does it well, or get some help and learn how to do it effectively. It is amazing how we like to do what we are good at, we’re in our comfort zone. Recognize this and integrate uncomfortable strategies a little at a time, and make the commitment to do them.

How do I systematize my marketing so it gets done easily, effectively and profitably? Once you have decided on what you want to do, create the campaign, implement it, monitor it, modify it and document it! Look for ways to make it easy, repeatable and more effective the next time. When your marketing takes less time and effort and still delivers the return on investment you want, you will find it’s not so overwhelming. You may actually grow to like it!

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sales marketing up-down

5 Ways to Avoid Peaks and Valleys For Better Sales Results

Do your sales results look like a roller coaster? High spikes followed by steep declines? Here are five ways to avoid peaks and valleys for better sales results.

Set Goals — Without clearly defined goals, you will achieve very little. Since your sales success directly impacts your personal income, this is always a good place to start. Ask yourself how much you want to earn – then how much you need to sell to achieve this income.

Don’t stop with sales or revenue goals. Since results come from taking action, set some activity goals — how many calls, meetings, proposals, events do you need to achieve your sales objectives? Break them down into daily, weekly or monthly goals as appropriate – and focus!

Be a Prospector — While your website, advertising and other marketing efforts will send leads your way, you must be willing to generate some of your own – by prospecting. Put a system in place to regularly find new customers through referrals, networking, social media, past customers, etc. Build and maintain your database – your pipeline of current and future opportunities. Don’t wait for leads to come to you – go get them!

Qualify Before You Invest — Qualifying prospective customers is crucial to managing your time and getting more from your efforts. We have all had situations where we invested a lot of time and other resources trying to sell to someone who will never buy, for whatever reason.

Your success here starts with being clear on your ideal targets — those who need and value what you sell and have the ability or authority to buy now or in the future. Without clarity, every prospect looks like an opportunity.  Be clear on what you want, screen out what you don’t and watch your sales improve. Do you have 4-5 good questions to help qualify customers? You should.

Use a Sales System — People buy from those they know and trust, so building relationships is an important part of sales. But relationship building in business and in life takes time. For most people, it won’t happen with a five-minute phone call or a brief conversation at an event.

A system is the best way to ensure a consistent approach to nurture leads and build relationships – from the initial point of contact to the eventual sale. Depending on the business, it may take a week or months, a few contacts or a lot of them. Use your past experience to select what works best for you, then be consistent. Stay connected and choose methods that appeal to your targets. I recommend a combination of methods, including phone, email, mail or social media. Linked In is a must for sales professionals – so make it part of your sales system.

Follow up — Follow up is a key to converting more prospects to customers AND getting customers to buy more. So why do so many salespeople fail to do this or give up after one or two attempts? When you consider that most sales are made after seven or more contacts, the gap is obvious. No need to hound prospects. Just follow-up until you get a decision – yes or no. Be relentless with your follow-up and your sales will improve.

Follow-up is not just for prospects.  Incorporate a system for customers too! It is the first step to the next sale or referral. Whether you mail a thank you card note, call to determine satisfaction with a recent transaction,  or provide them with a token gift, your follow-up after the sale can pay big dividends.

Sales don’t just happen, they require effort, persistence, and consistency. So try integrating or improving these five elements into your sales efforts and get off the sales roller coaster.

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marketing elements to build relationships

What Marketing Elements Are Missing?

The term marketing conjures up a variety of things. To many, it means advertising, publicity or maybe lead generation.  But promotion is only one marketing mix element. Since the key objective of your company’s marketing efforts is to develop satisfying relationships with customers, it involves every aspect of your company, not just communication.  So what ingredients are you missing?

The 7 P’s of Marketing

While product, place, promotion and price (the 4 P’s) are certainly key ingredients in your marketing mix, I would argue that there are three more:  people, processes, and physical evidence.  Focusing on a few and ignoring the others can cost you sales and profit, especially in service companies.

Since 80% of small or medium companies are SERVICE businesses, you likely need all seven ingredients working together to create a pipeline of quality prospects and build a base of loyal, profitable customers.  Here’s how you can fill the gaps in your marketing.

Products

The products (or services) you offer must solve a need or pain for your target customers. That’s obvious. The right features, ease of use, packaging, and other benefits also matter.  But what makes them different or unique? How can you and your ideal customers benefit from product diversification?  These two areas are often overlooked but are a great way to maximize profit and revenue, reduce risk and better meet the needs of your target customers.

Place

In your marketing mix, place refers to distribution, providing a convenient way for customers to access your products or services.  For some, this may be local retail or commercial space.  It can also include online delivery through your website or another third party site like Amazon.  Wholesalers and distributors, resellers, other retailers and strategic partners also provide a channel to reach more customers.  And of course, franchising is yet another option. There are a lot of ways to get your products and services to customers. Look beyond the most obvious.

Promotion

This includes all the ways you communicate information about your products or services to prospects, customers, channel partners, and alliances.  Promotion comprises elements such as advertising, public relations, sales promotion,  digital marketing and your sales organization! The purpose is to (a) deliver the message or promise to others, (b) get them to take action and (c) build relationships that eventually turn into sales and repeat business!

Most businesses recognize the need and value of promotion. But it starts with a budget and marketing plan to support all the important relationships that impact sales, not just new prospects. The plan includes what you will do, when you will do it and what it will cost.  Since you don’t have an unlimited budget, here are two suggestions to get the most from your marketing.  First, choose the tactics that put you in front of your target, not necessarily what everyone else does.  Second, focus on profitable and unique products and services, not all of them.

Price

When pricing your products or services, you certainly want to know and understand your costs, what competitors charge, standard industry mark-up and the value to the customer.  But often overlooked is the relationship of price, value and product positioning (such as quality, convenience or low cost).  Keep them aligned to avoid confusion. For more on this topic, check out my article, 6 Common Pricing Mistakes

People

The employees or sub-contractors who sell your products or execute your service impact the success of your marketing.  Do they have the skills necessary to do their job well?  Can they solve problems and perform quality work each and every time?   They are a direct reflection on you and your business. So choose wisely, invest the time to train and develop them and keep them in the communication loop.

Physical Evidence

Your promotion activities communicate the promise, what customers can expect.  Physical evidence is a way to demonstrate how you do this. It reinforces or supports your claims for service, quality, convenience and more. It reduces the perceived risk for customers.  There are a variety of ways to do this.  Online reviews, testimonials, guarantees, customer satisfaction scores, quality assurance programs, certifications and post-sale surveys are just a few common ones.  Look to support your claims and your messages will be far more compelling.

Process

The systems and procedures that impact the execution of your sales and service delivery are often overlooked. But they impact both new and repeat business.  From initial contact to delivery and billing, each step in the process is an opportunity to create a positive or negative buying experience. Don’t ignore this area and the effect it has on your marketing results.

The Bonus P

Profit.  It’s your reward for excellence in marketing that comes from mixing the ingredients just right.

Remember, marketing is more than just a website, ads, mailers or social media posts. So start asking the right questions and take action to fill the gaps before you invest more money in promotion activities.  By building a stronger foundation, you really will get more from your marketing budget.

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Make Your Business Stand Out

USP: 9 Questions to Help Your Business Stand Out

The average person is exposed to over 5,000 messages each day.  Getting through the clutter is a challenge.  So how do you make your business stand out?  Marketers call this a unique selling proposition or USP.  When you nail it, marketing is a lot more effective.

While the latest, innovative product or service – something that nobody else offers – is one way to create uniqueness, it’s not the only way.  Service delivery, processes, people, technology, performance and other factors can help your business stand out in the crowd — if you do it consistently well and tell people over and over again.

Discover Your Uniqueness

The best way to determine your uniqueness is to look at your business from the outside. When working through this with my clients, we start by answering the following questions.

  • What do you actually sell?  Think benefits, not features.
  • What are your core products or services?  Some are profitable while others generate more sales. Some provide easy entry for potential customers while others are what you are known for. Your products can differentiate you, so look at them closely.
  • Who are your key competitors?  Based on the benefits you deliver, consider actual competitors who do the same thing AND consider those who potentially deliver the same benefits with different products or services.  Since you compete for a share of the household or business budget, this can be helpful.  Once you identify competitors, consider (a) what they do well (b) what others say about them (c) what makes them unique or different and (d) what they can do that you can’t.
  • What are the perceived standards for customer service, technology, product quality, sales and marketing in your industry? How does this compare to other industries?  Then consider how your business compares to those industry standards.
  • If there was one phrase your customers and prospects use to describe you NOW it would be… “Oh, you’re the ones who….”.  How about in an IDEAL WORLD?
  • What are 4 reasons why your customers come to you rather than your competitors?  This is important so give it some thought – or ask them.
  • What are 3-4 things about your product or service that you take for granted that customers know about?

As you go through the process, ideas will pop into your head.  Write them down, no matter how silly they may appear at first glance. Use all the information to come up with a few options to consider.

Now it’s time to do a little research with your customers or ideal targets.  Did they know this about you or your business?  Do they care?  Why or why not?  What does this claim say about your products, service or overall business?

Find something you do so well that you can guarantee it, especially if your industry has a reputation for doing this poorly.  Look for a process in your business that links your products or services to quality or performance or reduces risk.

Sometimes simple things, such as custom scheduling blocks to eliminate long wait times, can make you stand out.  You only need ONE.   Identify your claim to fame and make it the focal point in your communication to customers and prospects.

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Follow Up System- Boost Sales

Follow-Up System: Easy Way To Boost Sales Results

No surprise that a lot of sales are lost because the business did not follow-up or gave up too soon. A good follow-up system can often boost your sales conversion rate by 10% or more!  But a one-size fits all approach isn’t the answer.  You need to build your follow-up system to support your business.

When it comes to follow-up, there are plenty of excuses floating around. I don’t have time, I don’t want to appear pushy, the customer will call when they are ready,  I knew they weren’t interested, I know they don’t have it in their budget so why bother!

It’s true that a customer must be ready, willing and able to buy in order to close a sale.  But a good system will certainly nurture your leads and help you close more sales now and set up future sales opportunities.

What To Consider

What’s the Risk?  Buying decisions take longer as the cost goes up or when the purchase has long-term impact or higher perceived risk.  Buying a new home or car, doing a major renovation, investing in business equipment or replacing a heating system are big investments, not impulse buys! The decision can take many months depending on where your prospect is in the buying process.

How long is the sales or buying cycle for your products and services?  You need to know this.  Then build the follow-up system to match it.  A six-month sales cycle often requires at least six months of ongoing communication.

Think Contacts. Follow-up is not a series of phone calls asking “have you decided yet”?  Nor is it a series of reshuffled sales pitches.  A good follow-up system is a combination of education and communication.  It’s a way to share information, build trust and keep your name in front of the prospect – to move them closer to YES.

Remember, buying decisions often require seven or more contacts or touches.  Giving up after a few tries will leave sales on the table.  Berating prospects with a stream of sales pitches will simply annoy them. Find the frequency and communication that works for your business – then do it consistently for each prospect.

Mix Up Connections.  While phone is certainly a great follow-up tool, it is not the only method available to you. I find a little variety goes a long way.  Based on your customers preferences and type of business, why not use a combination of phone, email, direct mail, text and social media to follow up and stay connected.

Now here’s a real benefit for all the “I am too busy” people out there.  Many of these methods can be systematized, automated, delegated or even outsourced. So supplement the personal phone calls with other communication.  You’ll save time and convert more sales.  Sounds like a win-win to me.

Consistency Matters.  Leads come from a variety of sources such as networking, referrals, website, search engines, direct mail and social media.  While it’s helpful to know the source, don’t take shortcuts based on that information or other assumptions.  Apply your process consistently to all prospects – because you just never know.

 

Now It’s Your Turn

Create your follow-up system.  The best approach is one that details the steps from initial interest (lead) to conversion (sale) in a logical, practical way.  Incorporate the number of contacts or touches, methods of contact and frequency.  Then be consistent in your execution.

fix sales performance

How To Fix Poor Sales Performance

We all know that sales growth is critical to sustained profitability and income. But often we attribute our poor sales performance to things outside of our control – like the economy or competition. Maybe it’s time to look internally.

The reasons for less than stellar sales results in many small businesses is often linked to a lack of focus, systems, collaboration and time management. Fix these areas and you and your team will achieve better sales results.

Lack of Focus. You won’t sell anything if you don’t make it the focal point of every day, week and month. The best and easiest way to turn this around is with written goals – tied to both results or outcomes and activities, the stuff you must do to create the results. Here’s a few my clients find helpful:

  • How much revenue or sales do you need to generate or produce each month to achieve your annual goal?
  • Based on your average sale or transaction, how many customers do you need to achieve that revenue each month?
  • Using your conversion rates (and you should know these), how many calls, events, meetings or proposals do you need to make, attend or generate?

While this may seem obvious, it is not often done. What we measure and track, we can and often do improve. In fact, I’ve seen clients achieve double-digit sales growth simply by using this technique. Focus on the results, do the activities and watch your sales improve.

Inconsistent System. Prospects don’t become customers overnight. And it rarely happens by chance. It requires a step-by-step approach which often includes a variety of touch points and methods to uncover needs, build a relationship, earn their trust — and ultimately the sale. A good nurturing system often includes a variety of methods from calls and emails to social media and print. What is your system to nurture prospects into sales — and do you do it consistently each and every time?

Not sure or don’t have one? Then think back to the last few ‘ideal’ customers you acquired.

  • How did you connect after your initial discussion?
  • How did you follow up? At what frequency or how often?
  • What critical events need to happen to move to the next step?
  • What questions did you ask to uncover their needs?
  • What messages (benefits) resonated well – and how did you reinforce it?

Write it down. Now define your system, step-by-step, based on what you learned and start doing it consistently for every lead. Tweak if needed – then do that consistently. Test alternative options – and implement them if you find they are successful. A quality system is developed over time. But it pays big dividends – makes selling easier, more effective and productive!

Lack of Collaboration. Did you ever notice that selling an idea to someone is much easier when he/she is engaged in the process? Well, the same is true when it comes to selling your products or services. If clients help you ‘build’ the best solution, they feel a sense of ownership and the confidence to invest. So how do you collaborate better with your prospects? Ask more and better questions. Seek to truly understand the problem, then ask questions that help the customer come up with the best solution – yours!

Poor Time Management. Building relationships and creating sales requires a big investment of time, so you must plan your activities and execute efficiently. Goals for focus and a system for consistent conversion will help improve your time management. However, you also need a system to prioritize tasks and schedule the work, then do it. Take advantage of technology such as video conferencing, smartphones, online presentations to minimize travel time, make meetings more productive, schedule your appointments and related tasks. An earlier post, Why To-Do Lists Aren’t Enough, may also help.

Now It’s Your Turn.  Little improvements in each of these areas can make a huge difference in your results.  If it feels overwhelming, then pick one to start – then another and another until you’ve conquered them all.

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