Driving the 5 Business Growth Enhancers

Category: Marketing (Page 1 of 4)

How not to be found – the junior sales prevention officer fails again – Part 3

This is part 3 of a dialogue between a senior sales prevention officer and a junior seeking to learn the ropes. Sales prevention is ubiquitous. It can lurk in the back ground or be found right at the customer interface.

If you have an example of sales prevention do let me know. Now, on with the story.

Remora!

What do you mean they found your company on the internet! How did you allow that to happen? As a Junior Sales Prevention Officer did you not realise that prospective clients would be looking for your company using the internet? Your excuse that “Only those under 18 years of age would use the internet.” is way out of date. It is THE way to be found. You have been lax in your duties and you may need to rethink your future.

Everyone knows that Awareness is the first part of the buying process. When clients become aware that they have a problem, they start to search for possible solutions. Being hard to find is where you should have focused your energies. I accept that it was easy for me in the past. We ensured we remained hidden by not subscribing to any form of advertising, avoiding any relationship with the press and refusing to subscribe to directories. I did this by informing the Board that our investment funds would be better spent on making further enhancements to the product. A better product would surely attract more customers I argued. They bought it hook, line and sinker. We had so many product enhancement projects underway that the Board do not have the time to look at the languishing sales figures.

With the age of social media however I do accept that your job is harder. But not impossible. Start with the website as that is where most potential customers would go to find you. Imagine a site that allowed the customer to enter the site and then be unable to find what they are looking for. Make navigation or search really difficult, that is the goal. Moving on. It doesn’t have to be too technical. Start with a really slow download speed by using the cheapest server and low tech or free website package. Ensure the navigation bar is poorly worded and links to the wrong pages. Post updates very rarely and ensure that it the site is littered with spelling errors. Done well then they will bounce right off the site. A job well done.

You then cite SEO as being the bain of your existence. It is unless you understand that SEO is Search Engine Obfuscation. Here is how you prevent yourself being found online. Start by using search terms that have absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with what your customer might type into a search engine. Litter the content of your pages with worthless drivel. Use jargon that obscures what you do. Jumble the text around and pack the words in tightly by assuming that the last thing clients want to see is any white space on the site. Avoid punctuation. And most importantly do not seek to craft any form of narrative that might suggest passion or emotional engagement with what you do. Design is for wimps. Branding is for cows. Just words, no images to brighten up the site or videos to ensure they have something to engage with.

Do not help the client by writing about the benefits they may receive from working with you. Just list the features of your offering. That way Google will rank your page as not relevant to your prospective customers and you will wallow on page 15 or 16. You will never be found. That should be your goal. Personally, I set a target that I will never appear higher than page 20. It works for me. It is so much quieter here once the machines sit idle when the incoming orders cease. I can really think creatively about preventing sales and earn my crust.

So my dear Remora, think about ways to hide and not be found. Google is smart but you are smarter. They use spiders and robots whereas you have the god given gift of articulate thought. Sales prevention requires the use of top level thinking if you are to succeed.

Sales strategy – 5 things being a sales manager taught me

Sales strategy that delivers profits, pride and performance.

Being a sales manager is so rewarding. It’s one of those roles that really has everything.

Sales strategy, business coachingAs It’s your responsibility to deliver the sales strategy you get to see all sides. The externals, which includes clients and supply chain. And the internals as you are the link between the client and the product or service delivery team.

In summary it means working with good people, good clients, with good marketing support, delivering good products and making the business strategy a reality.

Aligning clients needs with the firms ability to satisfy or delight the client is a win win win scenario and one that sales managers everywhere seek to make happen frequently and regularly.

But it doesn’t always go so smoothly. That’s the problem. There are irritations along the way that if not treated become festering sores that in turn could become life threatening. That’s when the sales strategy starts to unravel.

Sales strategy - 5 things being a senior sales manager taught meHere are the 5 things that need to be in place if the sales manager is going to deliver the sales strategy.

1. Get and keep good people who make or deliver the service. It makes a huge difference. How many great meals are ruined by sloppy, indifferent, incorrect or late delivery? Strive to get it right first time so that the relationship account is always in credit. When or if a withdrawal needs to be made then there is some value in the account.

2. Get and keep good clients. Not all clients are the same. Strive to hold on to the good and divest the poor. Build strong bonds at all levels with the good clients. Make them feel valued across the organisation. Let your competitors have the poor ones. You can be generous here. Actively guide the poor clients over to them. But hold on to the good ones with all your might. They are the ones that generate most of your long term profit.

3. Get the best marketing support possible. Make sure it either sells or eases the sales process. Sales people need collateral to sell, not for any other reason. Make sure that the brochures, website, email campaigns even the stationery all aid the sales process.

4. Get the very best product or service that you can deliver. Embed continual improvement in every aspect of service design, innovate, copy, mimic, benchmark to make sure that what you are selling delights the clients and gives pride to the firm.

5. Get a realistic business strategy in place. Implement it well and measure those performance metrics that impact the strategy directly. Make changes quickly. Embed the good. Keep the plan’s delivery in the public eye.

Those are the 5 things that being an international sales manager taught me when delivering the sales strategy. If they were all firing in sync then my life was more focused on generating more and higher profit new business. Done poorly and I spent my time firefighting, politicking, scoring points and seeking my own teams agenda.

Do these 5 things well and your sales manager will be deliver the strategy:

1. Get and keep good people

2. Get and keep good clients.

3. Get the best marketing support.

4. Get the very best product or service that you can deliver.

5. Get a realistic business strategy in place.

Call me on 0117 317 8147 if you want to talk through your organisations performance in these five areas and deliver the sales strategy.

Click here to go to our sales strategy training page

Jettison the ballast and soar!

“I haven’t got the time, Rob!”.

“In your dreams, Rob”.

“When am I supposed to do this? I am working 10 hour days”

What would your response be if you had to increase your workload by 20%. Would you tut and go back to the day job? Would you reflect longingly at what life would look like if you could increase the time at work? Or would you do the following?

The Ditch List – jettison the ballast

Business coaching Bristol Bath and South WestWrite down on a set of Post It notes everything you spend your time on. Get it all down first, we will work on it later. Then add in the non-work commitments.

Once you have emptied your brain, take a break and enjoy a hot beverage or glass of wine because now comes the hard bit. Put all the notes in a long vertical line, the most important things you spend your time on at the top and the lesser items at the bottom. You can do the next bit weekly or monthly, it is up to you. But what you need to do is to calculate how much time you spend on each activity.

Add up the time per task as you go down the list until you reach 80% of the time you want to work. Anything below that should be outsourced, discontinued or delegated. Be ruthless!.

Why do this exercise?

Because you need a minimum of 20% of your working time to run the business. That’s right at least 20% or one day per week of quality time to ensure the business vision, goals and objectives are being met. All too frequently we find as business coaches that senior business leaders spend too long on non essential tasks to the detriment of their business.

So what would you jettison if you had the time?

Pinch points in the sales process

Getting the customer to buy is tough. There are so many opportunities along the sales pathway for them to opt out. Why make it harder than it needs be?

Business Coaching BristolWhen the customer engages with the organisation they in effect “touch” them. They become touch points. So when the customer phones to place the order that is a touch point. Or when the customer goes on line to check the stock availability or to determine delivery costs, these are touch points. Each touch point with the customer can become a pinch point.

A few months back I was doing some strategic sales management consulting with a firm in London. They sold technical products that required detailed order taking over the phone. The pinch point was with the incoming tele-sales staff. Neither spoke English well enough to understand the complexities of the customers needs. I could hear the frustrations of the callers trying to explain what their issues were so they could place the order.

I spoke with the Sales Manager who shrugged his shoulders and said that “they did get a lot of complaints about it”. 

We can lower the numbers who opt out at each stage by looking closely at what the customer is being asked to do and ensuring it is as complex as necessary and as simple as possible. By doing so we will increase the conversion rates that in turn enhances the margins downstream.

Social media in a B2B setting doesn’t work

Social media - is there any point?Let me clarify. B2B is business to business where one firm is looking to sell to another firm. B2C is business to consumer where the firm is seeking to engage with a consumer directly.

Social media is any on line promotional platform whereby firms seek to engage with other firms via platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn etc.

The goal in social media is to engage more with the personality than with products or services. It’s all about personal branding, ego and demonstrating who you are and not what you do or the benefit that you offer.

Social media in a B2B setting does not work

Why? Because businesses buy products or services. They are not interested in personality, personal branding or ego. They just want to buy a solution to a problem, to scratch their itch. They seek solutions by looking for the closest thing they can to a solution and then fine tune it when they have a few options. But they certainly wont be buying based on an on line personality.

Only the very smallest firms might buy through social media connections, and one could argue that is more a B2C transaction as they are in essence buying for themselves and not as an officer of the company.

4psSo my view is that if you want to sell to established businesses, focus more promoting what you do in terms that your audience understands. Make it clear what you are selling, the benefit the users get from using you and the process that you will use to make it happen.

Any thoughts?

 

A business succeeds only when customers buy

Business CoPilot top brandsNo matter what the size of the organisation, no matter what it makes, no matter what – it will only succeed if customers buy from them. It is that vital transaction that determines success or failure.

No one is immune. Coca Cola, Nokia, Kit Kat, Ford, Apple. As soon as sales drop then alarm bells ring.

OK, I do accept that products and services need to be developed and innovated, that the support services are in place to delight the customer and yes marketing needs to be done to build awareness. But without customers buying then anything that the company does is not worthwhile. Put another way without sales it all fails

The problem is that many senior business people do not understand what selling actually means. Smarmy hair cuts, sharp suits, gift of the gab, morals of an alley cat are stereotypical traits of how sales people are viewed.

What traits do you think should be exhibited by a top line sales person? Here are a few starters:

  • Persuasive – able to lead a discussion
  • Knowledgeable – understands the nuances of the market
  • Intelligent – can demonstrate business acumen and business learning
  • Social – able to mix at all levels and speak fluently

What are your traits? Do let me know

Start with Why

In Start With Why, Simon Sinek say that good business leaders start with ‘why’.

Start with Why

Most of us start with what we do. The service we offer, the products we promote.We spend time polishing it to make it shine brighter in the hope that in doing so it will attract more attention.  We seek external validation via testimonials, likes and so on.

We have to do that. Enhancing the offering is essential. But only after the question why has been answered.

Why why?

Because until we can find why, we are at risk of missing the point. For instance, if train companies understood why people travelled on their trains, they would have understood that there were rivals in the wings. Literally. Planes and cars would change the travel industry for ever. But the train companies saw their mission as selling seats on trains. Most people wanted to get to the their destination quickly.

Top tips

Here are a few questions to get you thinking:

  1. Why do people buy from me
  2. Why do people buy from my competitors
  3. Why don’t people buy more from me
  4. Why are they not willing to pay more for what we do

Have a go.

Ask yourself why do you do what you do and why do they do what they do. It might show a rich stream of innovative thought and release the creative pressure to inspire others.

Game, Set, Match – get them in the right order

To win a tennis match means winning a series of games. The games won will then turn into sets that will then turn into matches.

Balls win matches

“Isn’t that insulting my intelligence?” I hear you rant at the screen. “I know how to win a game of tennis!” Agreed. How about winning in business though?

I come across a lot of business owners who want to win matches but don’t accumulate enough games to win the match.

They are too busy doing the other things assuming victory is theirs as a right. Using the tennis metaphor they will be writing their victory speech or reflecting on the press conference rather than getting on with the grind of winning games.

In business a game could be completing the marketing collateral, writing the job specs, filling in the expenses, doing the budgets, reviewing client satisfaction ratings. Al the small but essential tasks that need to be done and done well.

Do enough of them and you will see progress. The equivalent of a set perhaps. Persist and the match might be yours. Time for you to grasp the racket and head for the base line.

New balls please …

Freebies are priceless

giftsWith the internet’s wealth of free content, we are all used to getting something for nothing. Whether it’s sharp insights from a blog, a song streamed through Spotify or a tutorial watched on YouTube, you can get most things for free somewhere on the internet (though quality might not always be guaranteed).

This culture of free access to information is not limited to the internet. Actually, giving something away for nothing (think loss-leaders and taster products) has been a tried-and-tested part of the sales process for a very long time.

But why, you might ask, should you waste valuable time giving your services away for nothing? You might have plenty of paying customers, but if you don’t have more in the pipeline, offering a freebie can provide a great boost.

You build trust

A free use of your services builds trust with the customer and gives them an opportunity to ask you any questions which might be preventing them from buying. They can experience first-hand your expertise and see exactly how the product works.

They get to try something new

Giving your customer the opportunity to experience your service for nothing offers the perfect excuse to step outside their comfort zone and try something new. The freebie offer is particularly useful for things which people are unsure about or don’t quite understand. Showing is far more effective than telling.

Start building a relationship

Most people understand that they will be required to give something, whether it’s their email address, feedback or something else of use to you, in return for their freebie. It also gives you and the customer an opportunity to see you’re the right fit for what they need.

Engage with a wider audience

Hand in hand with relationship building, the freebie gives the customer a chance to engage with you and vice versa. Eve

n if they don’t become a customer following their freebie, stay in touch using your newsletter and social media, in case future offerings will be better suited to them or their contacts.

Try it:
Perhaps you could offer a free consultation, if your business suits this concept, or hold an event to display your expertise in a certain field. Make sure you get at least an email address for anyone you meet with and keep in touch!

Practising what we preach: We offer a free 90-minute one to one meeting to gauge how well we’ll work together and what we can do to help you achieve your business goals. To see how well our freebie works, get in touch and book your one to one now, by emailing alexh@businesscopilot.co.uk or calling 0117 317 8147. 

5 questions to ask yourself when creating content

1157699_typewriter_3Creating content on a regular basis can be difficult, and losing momentum can mean you produce content which isn’t up to scratch. Sometimes, inspiration dries up, or we’re not sure that we can create something people really will want to read.

Your outlet for content must be regularly updated, but more than that, it must constantly provide value and engaging content to keep readers coming back.

Here are some questions which will help keep you on the straight and narrow of content creation, and help you provide content which will keep readers coming back for more.

1) Is this relevant to my clients?

Your content needs to be written with someone in mind, and it’s likely that the person you want to be reading your content is a potential client. Don’t start with what you find interesting, but what they’ll feel compelled to read.

2) Have they read this before?

It’s tempting with so much content surrounding us to recycle material. Sometimes, it can seem impossible to create original content, but even if you are taking inspiration from an existing article, allow your own experience and voice to add originality. Don’t be afraid to develop your own voice and put a piece of yourself into your writing.

1186845_pen-friend3) Will it give them value?

It’s important to give your reader something which will be of benefit to them. While doing this, you get to demonstrate your expertise and begin building a relationship. Think about what they will take away from the content; are you giving advice, or perhaps the benefit of your experience? What do you hope they’ll get out of reading your content?

4) Is there an opportunity to engage?

Content without engagement is like bouncing a tennis ball off a wall. There needs to be an opportunity somewhere within your content to create a dialogue. A typical example is to ask a question at the end of the article, but this also goes for the posts you put out on social media to invite people to read what you’ve written. Ask for the views of individuals who you think might be particularly interested, and try to create a conversation.

5) What do I want them to do at the end?

Some content lends itself well to a call to action. Perhaps you have been giving a case study or listing the benefits of your service or point of view. At this point, it seems natural to ask the reader to get in touch with their view, connect with you on social media or simply give you a call if they think you can help. Or, perhaps you want them to pass it on to their colleagues or others who will find it interesting. Whatever it is, ask it in as clear terms as possible, and remind them why it will benefit them.

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