Category: Small Business

Word of Mouth Tactics – Part 1

Today we’ll start a new series talking all about Word of Mouth and how it can make or break your business in an extremely short amount of time. In this first lesson we’ll get a feel for what exactly word of mouth is.

Word of Mouth is easily the most powerful form of marketing and is absolutely free. People talk about ads they see, experiences they have, and the products they purchase. If you treat people right and spread the word about your new products/services in a positive way, you’ll attract the right customers and client who will sustain your business for a long time.

Now, as positive as word of mouth can be for your business, the other side of the coin is how negative it can be as well. Bad news seems invariably to travel faster than good news and if you have a less than high-quality product or weak customer service system, then your customers will tell everyone they know to not buy your products and services.

The age of technology has proved to be an amazing benefit in the world of word of mouth. With blogs, podcasts, online marketing, forums, social networking and all the other online mediums available, it is easier and easier for consumers to share their experiences. And remember this is all free advertising for you.

Let’s take a minute to talk about the importance of shortening the customer decision cycle to help customers/client choose more quickly and easily. There are three great ways to increase sales by shortening the decision cycle. They are:

  • Increase the overall dollar amount customers spend on each purchase
  • Increase your number of customers
  • Increase frequency of purchases

Let’s take a deeper look at decision speed. Offer simplicity, ease, and a fun purchasing atmosphere and you’ll help your customers make their decisions quicker and more confidently. When this happens, your customers will buy more frequently, spend more money than usual, refer friends and make the decision to purchase more quickly. This can raise your market share by over 100 times.

The time it takes your customer to decide and purchase far outweighs any other component of marketing. When you focus on customer decision speed it forces you to take a hard look at your company and brand image, positioning, value, customer service, guarantees and product quality.

The next area I want to talk about quickly is how to minimize the friction, or stress, involved with decision making. No matter how easily people find decision-making there is a certain amount of anxiety we all experience when making a purchase, especially from a new source or for a large amount of money. When you help to minimize this emotional response, you will soothe your customers’ anxiety and they will make their decision quicker and more confidently.

There are a few secrets to accelerate the customers decision making progress:

  • Your benefits, features, claims and promises must be obvious, clear, and concise.
  • The information you offer must be complete, easy to understand, credible, and balanced.
  • Use comparisons that show a marked difference.
  • Your guarantees must be rock solid and more than the customer expects.
  • Make trial periods easy.
  • You must have simple evaluations of your products or services.
  • Testimonials need to be relevant and positive.
  • Your support, delivery and other operational systems must be perfect.

Your website can be as good as you make it. You can offer more than information; you can offer an experience that guides your customers gently through the decision making process to make it easy for them to buy. Take it a step beyond by offering toll-free support numbers, software downloads to help with the process or other classy and informative ways to reassure your customers that you are there with them every step of the way and have nothing to hide.

This wraps up the first post in our series on word of mouth. If you need help identifying your target market and the issues they run into that lengthen their purchasing experience, try our FREE test drive and work with one of our coaches to come up with the best way to smooth out your purchasing experience.

 

Next time we’ll move forward with word of mouth and talk about the power of word of mouth and what exactly this powerful tool is and can be used for.

Maximize Your Resources – Part 3

In the last post we talked about three more ways you can work on maximizing your current resources. They included:

·         Reveal your business’s soul

·         From breaking even to breaking the bank

·         Stand up and stand out

 Today we’ll talk about the last three areas you can work on to maximize your current resources. They are:

·         An offer they can’t refuse.

·         Would you like fries with that?

·         Stay away from the edge of the cliff.

 An Offer They Can’t Refuse

The secret to success is to stay ahead of your competitors by maintaining the competitive edge. To do that, you need to make it easier for your customers/clients to say “yes” rather than “no”. You do this by eliminating all the psychological, financial, physical, emotional and other roadblocks they may have.

You can take the risks for them by offering warranties and guarantees that make the customer feel more confident in you, your business and your products/services. You also must be serious about your offer and follow through if a situation does arise. The quickest way to the bottom is to play games or take back a warranty or guarantee.

Would You Like Fries With That?

It’s the oldest trick in the book. I mean, really, how many times a week do you fall for it? Every time you sell a product or service, you need to offer an add-on, upgrade or back-end product to go with it. These products must be complementary to the original product being purchased and must create a higher perceived value.

Avoid the Edge of the Cliff

Continuing to test and measure your systems, products, marketing methods and all other aspects of your business allow you to see problems before they happen and therefore avoid falling off the edge of the cliff.

Here are a few specific areas you can test for potential improvements:

·         Marketing

·         Sales Copy

·         Customer Service

·         Sales Letters

·         Sales Presentations

·         Employee-Customer Interaction

 Through testing these different areas, you will find products/services where you can raise the price, maybe others where you can lower the price or offer that product as an incentive item and find many other areas for improvement that will better utilize your current resources.

 

This wraps up our series on how to maximize on your current resources. If you need help working through any of these or the previous areas, try our FREE test drive to work with one of our amazing business coaches.

Maximize Your Resources – Part 2

Last time we talked about the first three areas to work through in maximizing your current resources. They were:

·         Recognize the obvious

·         Unconventional breakthroughs

·         Face the facts

Today we’ll cover the next three, which are:

·         Reveal your business’ soul

·         From breaking even to breaking the bank

·         Stand up and stand out

Reveal Your Business’ Soul

Every business has a soul and you likely felt it the strongest when your business was just starting. It’s that passion, newness and momentum you had at the very beginning. Sometimes that can get lost along the way as your business gets stagnant and set in its ways. You have to break out of that rut and get back to your business’ true soul.

The philosophy of putting your client’s needs above your own is the true key to success. You need to serve your clients not sell to them. They want to build a relationship based on trust, not a used car. Add to these responsibilities your ability to solve problems, handle special situations, be a friend to your clients and focus on offering valuable, high quality products/services. Only then will you get back to the basics and find you have more resources than you thought.

From Breaking Even to Breaking the Bank

One of the classic and most used ways to attract clients is to offer them a ridiculously low price on their initial purchase and lock them in for future purchases. You see this approach with movie or book clubs and even credit card companies who offer lower interest rates for the first six months.

Essentially, you are offering them a deal on their first purchase and then you offer them back-end and add-on products along the way. These are naturally higher prices and will bring them in to more of an intimate relationship with you and your company.

Stand Up and Stand Out

You need to stand out from the pack among your competitors. They only way you can do this through consistency and value. You do this by discovering what your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is and perfecting it. Here are some tips to help you find and develop your USP:

  1. Look for unfilled needs in your industry.
  2. Use preemptive marketing.
  3. Use a technique that is clear and to the point.

 

This wraps up this post. If you need help with any of these areas and techniques, try our FREE test drive to access a wealth of resources and tools.

Maximize Your Resources – Part 1

Over the next few posts we’re going to talk about how to take a hard look at your current resources and get the most out of them. This can help your capital go further and increase your profit margin.

Today we’ll cover three different ways to maximize what you already have. These include:

  • Recognize the obvious
  • Unconventional breakthroughs
  • Face the facts

 

Recognize the Obvious

Sometimes when you are too close to something, you can’t make out the big picture. You need to step back and really take a hard look at the resources you currently have in front of you. You are surrounded by opportunities that can boost your career and help your business become more successful.

Unconventional Breakthroughs

Don’t sit around waiting for breakthroughs you need to create them yourself. A breakthrough is merely a new way of doing things or finding a new thing to do for the same or better results. You should be having regular brainstorming sessions and encouraging your team to come forward with breakthroughs or ideas any time they have them.

Some great examples of breakthroughs are:

  • A health and beauty company discovers a side effect of a product that can be re-marketed and sold.
  • A company creates a roll-on deodorant inspired by the shape and size of a ball point pen.
  • The founder of Nike poured rubber onto a waffle iron and created the most innovative and successful running shoe ever.

 

When attracting or strategizing for a breakthrough there are some key objectives you need to keep in mind. They are:

  1. Looking for the hidden opportunity in every situation.
  2. Looking for at least on cash windfall for your business every three months.
  3. The more value for your client, the better your breakthrough.
  4. Creating multiple streams of idea to find the best breakthroughs.
  5. Effective breakthroughs remove all risk or resistance.

Face the Facts

Before you can put your breakthroughs to work you need to face the facts of the processes and systems that are not working for you and work to correct or get rid of them. System analysis is a good way to do this. Once you have a listing of your strengths and weaknesses, you need to compare those to the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.

There are some great questions you can present to you and your team to get a handle on where your business is right now. They are:

  1. Why did I first start this business? Why am I in this industry?
  2. What products/services did I offer then? Which were the most popular?
  3. Why are my customers/clients buying from me right now?
  4. How did I generate new customers/clients then?
  5. Which of my marketing efforts were bringing in the best results?

Once you’ve got some answers to these questions, you’ll know better how to approach your weaknesses.

These three areas we’ve gone over give you a jumping off point for how to utilize your current resources to their fullest potential. If you need any help with your strategic or systems analysis, try our FREE test drive to work with one of our amazing business coaches.

5 Killer Mistakes – Part 3

The last 2 posts covered the first four of the killer mistakes you can make that will not only make you lose your fish, but possibly your entire company. Today we’re going to talk about the fifth killer mistake: Up Cash Creek Without a Paddle.

Even when business is good, there’s still a chance of running out of cash flow. You have to always be prepared for a slow in sales or a surge in expenses. One of the keys to balancing your cash flow is to get your clients to pay on time. This can seem like a nightmare but is absolutely essential to a successful business.

Here are some tips to speed up the payment process:

·         Always send invoices on time and adjust your records for potential audits.

·         Learn how the client processes payments on their side and find out precisely where to send invoices.

·         Find out who’s in charge of processing orders and payment, so you know who to contact if needed.

·         Have a follow-up procedure in place, just in case.

·         As a last resort, call your contact to ask questions.

·         Always make sure your invoices are correct before sending them out.

You also need to make sure your cash flow is protected. You can do this by:

·         Always know which accounts need paid and when.

·         Negotiate with your suppliers for the lowest cost possible.

·         Have a bank contingency plan in place.

·         Build your own investor network.

These are all great ways to protect the cash flow of your business and prepare for fish transitions and slow sales. These last few lessons are all about finding and catching your big fish clients. These clients are essential to your success and you need to take the time to work through each of these steps carefully and correctly for the best success.

If you need help with any step of the process of catching your fish or subsequent big fish clients, try our FREE test drive for access to a wealth of great tools and resources as well as our business coaching staff.

5 Killer Mistakes – Part 2

In the last post we covered the first two of the 5 biggest mistakes you can make in dealing with big fish clients. Today we’ll cover the third and fourth ones: Taking on More Than You Can Handle.

When you take on too much, your business can’t keep up and therefore you can easily lose control of everything and find yourself barely functioning. You want your business to be successful, no doubt, but you need to have a plan for how you will handle the growth. Your clients expect great customer service and high-quality products/services, they don’t know or care about your behind-the-scenes operations to get those things done.

Look for these signs that you are taking on more than you can handle:

  • Anticipate future problems better.
  • Clients’ needs aren’t being met.
  • Employee morale is low, clients are upset and you’re in a panic.
  • You have to react in emergency mode to save accounts.
  • Your current clients are suffering from trying to keep up with new business.
  • Profits are going down.
  • You are just trying to pick up the pieces of your business.
  • Your clients/customers leave.
  • Resources are being reallocated.

There is a trick called the Mock Fish Plan. This plan can help you react positively when you are facing some or all of these things and help you get your business back on track. This plan will:

  • Help increase sales in a short period of time.
  • Alter your products/services for the better.
  • Fulfill promises you made to your clients.

There are six steps to this plan:

  1. Bring in your best team and have them all help to meet the fish’s needs.
  2. Review your operational system.
  3. Communicate better.
  4. Include costs in your quotes.
  5. Always have a back-up plan.

All Your Eggs in One Basket

You can allow your company to become dependent on any one fish. Eventually or for certain periods there is going to be a slowing down period with your fish. To stay in the game, you need to diversify.

If you’ve ever mishandled a fish, you could drive away potential fish as well. In order to keep balance and prepare for a strong future, there are a few things you can do.

These things include:

  • Stay in the loop and try to know what’s going on inside your fish’s company.
  • Constantly reinvent yourself and stay at the top of your industry.
  • Stay exclusive.
  • Try to secure multi-year commitments and contracts.
  • Spread your contracts out.
  • Price your products/services correctly.

You also need to work to reduce your dependency on your fish. This can generally be measured in sales or profits. Take a look back at the process we’ve used thus far to snag more fish to keep this all in balance.

These are the ways you can help avoid the killer mistakes that can make you lose it all. If you need help with any of these tips or tricks, try our FREE test drive to get the help you need fast.

Next time we’ll talk about the last of the killer mistakes and how to combat it from hitting your business hard.

5 Killer Mistakes – Part 1

There are 5 big mistakes that will kill a deal with a big fish. They are:

  1. Not meeting the client’s expectations
  2. Mishandling a client crisis
  3. Taking on more than you can handle
  4. Putting all your eggs in one basket
  5. Up cash creek without a paddle

Any one or combination of these can not only kill the partnership but have the ability to take down your company as well. We’re going to take a bit of time to talk about each one of these, in this lesson we’ll cover the first two.

Not Meeting Client’s Expectations

It’s essential you give your client’s exactly what you promised during the negotiation portion of your relationship. If an event does happen where there is no way to meet the client’s expectations, not only do you have to find a way to fix the situation, but you also have to find out where it all went wrong.

A couple of things could have contributed to this problem:

  1. Bad salesmanship. This could mean the salesperson was trying too hard to seal the deal and didn’t listen to the client’s needs.
  2. Lack of communication. This breakdown occurs between the salesperson and your operations department.

In order to avoid these mistakes, you need to put a clear plan of action into place that all of your sales staff needs to follow:

·         Think before you speak.

·         Give yourself a break.

·         Perfect your process.

·         Pre-format over-deliverables.

·         Stay hands-on throughout the entire process.

·         Define success.

Mishandling a Client Crisis

Crises will happen, but how you respond and fix them will define your company and interaction with your clients. You need to respond quickly and effectively. This will help you gain even more trust and confidence from your client.

Some simple tips can help you deal with any client crisis:

·         Take responsibility and apologize no matter who is at fault.

·         Act swiftly and effectively.

·         Step in and take control of the situation.

·         Never point fingers or place blame.

·         Stay in constant communication with your client.

·         Stay calm throughout the situation.

·         Keep your eye on the ball.

Now, that you know the top two mistakes you can make to kill a big fish deal, you’ll know better how to avoid making these mistakes in the first place and know how to put a plan of action into place in case of a crisis.

If you need help with any of this, try our FREE test drive to get all the help you could ever need.

 

Next time we’ll talk about the 3rd and 4th killer mistake you can make in working with big fish clients.

Keep Up the Momentum

In the last post we talked about negotiating with your big fish and how to nurture and build on the relationships you are creating. Today we’ll talk about the power your fish has and how to utilize that for your benefit.

One of the most important aspects of this is to keep your cheerleader cheering. This refers to the ally you created in the company and who needs to stay loyal to you for you to continue a profitable partnership with your fish. You can keep your champion going by offering or doing a number of things to show appreciation. Some of these things are:

·         Share the limelight.

·         Help them thank their company with new products and services.

·         Emotionally connect them to your company.

·         Know when to leave them alone.

·         Keep your “family” happy.

·         Stay on the front lines.

Now that you have some ideas of how to build solid relationships, you need to seek out people to build these relationships with. These alliances will help you get bigger clients that stay with you forever. You can often get in the door by offering them something in exchange for something they need:

  1. Power
  2. Information
  3. Better work experience

These are all great ways to feed your alliance. You need to go into a relationship considering the things a big fish can offer you besides money. These can include:

·         The opportunity for your business to expand

·         The opportunity to learn from the experience and find ways to grow

·         The opportunity to improve your processes, systems and other means of doing business

These are some of the best ways to keep your alliances going strong and your partnerships fresh and content.

 

If you need help with any of these tactics, try our FREE test drive for great tools and resources that can help you every step of the way.

Bring Them Flowers

There are a few things you need to do and consider to prepare for your first face to face meeting:

·         Make a list of what you want to accomplish during the meeting.

·         Anticipate potential concerns from the client.

·         Check to make sure you are completely prepared.

·         Listen more than you talk.

·         Bring support staff with you.

·         Use and respect the clients’ format.

·         Always follow through.

·         Ask for what you need and seal the deal.

·         Simplify your prospects life.

·         Find ways to boost your credibility.

·         Build and nurture relationships.

·         Learn from “no”. Find out what didn’t work so you know how to change it for the next time.

These are all important things to do both before and during your presentation. With confidence behind your company and product you will catch that big fish. The next step of the process is negotiation. This can seem a little intimidating but with a few tips and tricks can become natural to you.

Here are some tips to help you negotiate successfully:

  1. Build a pricing strategy and stick with it.
  2. Prioritize what you plan to offer. This should include what really matters to you and what you are willing to give in on.
  3. Don’t give in too quickly.
  4. Negotiated with a person, not a “company”. Don’t let their answer be that they would like to, but can’t.
  5. Don’t sell yourself short.
  6. Mitigate your pricing. If you go too low, you won’t be able to raise it back up and you need to make a profit.
  7. Don’t sacrifice quality for the deal.
  8. Your services should always count as costs.
  9. Boost margins with add-ons.
  10. Handle request for proposals with the utmost care.

These are the ways you make sure that both parties are getting the best possible situation from the partnership. Once you start meeting or working together, it’s important to continue to build your relationship so that the representative becomes as big of an ally that best suits you. They are more likely to vouch for you and build on the partnership you have with their company.

We like to call this person a champion. They are a champion for your company and can bring a stronger, brighter future to your company. Here are the characteristics of a great champion:

·         They are respected by supervisors.

·         They are socially networked.

·         They think in the best interest of their company, long term.

·         They are able to quickly navigate through the company to get things done.

·         They are willing to give credit to another person.

·         They share the same business philosophy, values, and vision as you.

Now, that you know how to negotiate for what is best for both parties and build on relationships, we’re going to talk about how to use your fish’s power to the best of your benefit.

If you need help with any of the negotiation or courting process, try our FREE test drive to get access to a wealth of great tools and resources to help you be successful.

Who’s Your MVP?

In the last post we talked about making first contact with your prospective big fish and how to make a positive first impression. Today we’re going to talk about feeling out the personality of your prospective big fish to match the right salesperson to the fish.

You need to do this in two steps:

  1. Profile your salespeople’s personalities.
  2. Match the right salesperson to your target fish.

There are essentially three different selling personalities:

·         Sage

·         Pal

·         Pit Bull

The Sage

This salesperson offers knowledge, experience, comfort and trust. They can make a concerned customer feel at ease. In order to be successful they need plenty of information, a demo of the product/service, references and case studies, if possible.

The Pal

Much like it sounds this is a salesperson that shines at building relationships. They can instantly relate to the prospective client and make them seem like old friends in no time. They work best with clients who are looking for friendship, information and in a similar peer group as the salesperson. This can include anything from age and culture to hobbies and nightlife. While, sharing experiences can be beneficial to creating a new relationship, your salesperson must always keep it professional and dignified. The resource’s this personality type needs is help pairing with the right client, entertainment (or schmoozing) budget and the right information to meet the client’s needs.

The Pit Bull

Obviously, this personality type is a little more aggressive than the others. They are all about business and the bottom line. While this may seem harsh to a lot of people, there is a set of business people out there that want the same thing and respect someone who can get down to business and the benefits of a partnership. This salesperson will need to be trusted with a little authority as they will likely be closing deals on the spot. They’ll need plenty of resources and access to products and services. They are best placed in environments where they can work independently, exercise their authoritative discretion and seal deals quickly.

These can all be successful when each is used in the right selling environment. You can easily see how matching the right salesperson for the client can secure more big fish and for a longer period of time.

 

If you need help figuring out which of your salespeople fit into these three areas, try our FREE test drive and work with one of our amazing coaches to get your big fish plan in action.