Category Archives: Marketing

Want To Sell More? Look To Product Development First

Sales is not about convincing people who do not want your service to buy it. Sales is about finding the people who do want your service and letting them buy it.

Odd that this premise is so overlooked in business. I’ve worked with 100’s of small and medium business owners or senior managers who really didn’t get this. And it can be a fatal flaw to a company.

Sales

There is a complete misunderstanding of what a salesperson/group/ division is capable of. I’ve worked with owners of multimillion dollar companies, who really think the simple act of hiring a professional sales person means that sales person should now be able to convert most (or at least a decent amount) of prospects by using the magic they have learned throughout their career, no matter how good a fit the service or product is, no matter the position of the product in the marketplace, no matter the branding of the product. In the mind of the less informed, a sales rep can sell anything.

Add to that the natural and common tendency for owners to have a higher regard for their offering than the market itself, as well as the common optimistic early sales projections and outlook communicated by the new sales force, and you have a disaster waiting to happen.

I should note that I have worked with sales people who can sell anything, but they are very rare, and they generally produce much lower customer loyalty. Perhaps these are the salespeople owners are thinking of when their expectations are that a “sales person” can sell anything.

The solution is a well thought out sales and marketing assessment before you go and buy the farm. And this is tricky, because the reality is marketing is primarily responsible for identifying the target market (People who will like your service) finding out how to reach them , and then attracting them to your sales group or funnel.

Yet most companies I have worked with don’t have a budget or an understanding of how these two key disciplines must work together to achieve success. So they put all their dollars in one or the other, or severely under budget one.

So if you buy into this premise, the fundamental success of sales for you company starts with product development. A good sales rep can’t sell a product that is hard to use, or poorly designed. A good sales rep can sell a product that is easy to use, and has a clear advantage for their target market.

So working relentlessly on improving what you sell, will do more for driving sales than anything else you can do.

After that, you must have a marketing machine to get the service in view of the right buyers. Once that is accomplished, sales comes into play. Sales is the last piece of the sales process, following product development and improvement and then marketing.

So if you’re struggling with sales, perhaps where you should be looking for answers is in your product or service offering, or are you asking your salesperson to be both your marketing department and sales department.

By: Mike Bayes

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Lead Generation Is Easy (Not)

Building a Lead Generation Program Is Easy (NOT).

So… I’m asked all the time how to build sales for a business. Should I do Social Media, SEO, Advertising, Direct sales, all of that.

I think the first point to start with any “sales” program is the understanding of one very important principle. So to get to that lets start with this question which is this: Sales starts with and goes no where without what?

There are many good answers to this, you might say..

– A great product, – A sales person, – An offer, – Marketing dollars, and on and on.

But the pragmatic answer is this: Sales go nowhere without “leads”. A lead is a business or person who has been qualified as a prospect AND expressed interest in what ever it is you sale.

This is Important! >>>>>
This is Important! >>>>>

Lead Generation is hard

Now here is the second principle you must understand….Lead Generation is hard, expensive, and can be very painful. That’s why “inbound Marketing” has become such a big tactic. Inbound marketing whispers the promise of easy leads being sent to your inbox, ready for your sales rep to close.

The mistake in this concept is that Inbound Marketing is HARD, expensive and can be painful. like any other form of lead generation, it just has a prettier face.

So if you want to build sales, you have to understand, it’s going to either cost money, or it’s going to take all your time (if you’re a small company).

How much money depends on your service or product, and market. To get the picture on how you should budget (or spend) on sales (and 30% to 50% of that should be in lead generation) you need to understand there are different type sales strategies and customers. Depending on your growth strategy, and your tactics have a everything to do with the cost.

If you’re in a sustain mode, relying on referrals and luck, then your budget is tiny because it costs very little to acquire referred customers.

If you want new “open market” customers, that’s a completely new game. And these new customers are your growth group. You have to sell to them in a completely different way. They don’t know you, so you have to establish trust in the relationship. That takes time and money.

So here is a simple formula you might consider. A new market customer will cost you at least 15% of your Gross revenue. So if you sell $2500. Web sites, a new market customer will cost $325. Also understand that that’s 15% of a new sale, not 15% of your gross revenue. If your revenue is evenly split between referred customers and open market customers (a nice healthy mix), your budget is 7.5% of all revenue. That’s why the first few years of a business is so tough! Your cost of sale is twice to three times what your established competitions is.

The thing that really stops most companies from investing that 15% is the fact that it’s money up front, and it takes time to get the return. If you want 10 new customers in a quarter (or a day, its all just math) you are going to have to invest $3250.00 , it may take 6 months to see the total first stage results (First stage is the original prospect buys, second stage is when they refer others).

So if you have an ongoing program, you’re into the budget $3250 time 6 months before the first months return is final. Ouch! That’s why most start up sales programs don’t have a positive return until the 9th month.

if you do it wrong (which is easy to do) it’s throwing your money away. So you can start to see the pain… it’s hard, and it’s temporarily expensive. Not only that, but if you do it wrong (which is easy to do) it’s throwing your money away. And the first way to do it wrong is by NOT focusing on lead generation first.

For small companies without a sales department or person, you are going to have to outsource your lead generation. Sorry, no choice if you want to grow. You’re also going to need to put some dollars into it. So if you don’t have 15% of the expected new revenue ready to spend, your not ready. If you want to add $1,000,000.00 in sales in the next 3 to 12 months, you need $150,000.00 in funds. Sorry, that’s the truth. And of that 30% to 50% should be in lead generation.

The bottom line in a successful lead generation campaign is this: If you don’t have the money, it’s not going to work 95% of the time.

So if you do have the money or time where should you spend it for the best return on Investment? Well, that’s a whole new subject, which I will write about soon. But, here’s a big hint, you should start with Lead Generation.

You can generate leads with:

Social media campaigns managed by a professional firm with a great track record.

• Search Engine Optimization
• Email campaigns that drive qualified prospects to euth your site, or your online presentations
• Advertising on any media
• Trade shows
• Direct sales
• Co-op marketing
• Networking
• Referral programs

And a bunch of other tactics. All of which, falls under business development, because any of those tactics have to be implemented well, and will need to be integrated with other parts of your business to be successful.

That’s what I do with companies. What I call business development. And that starts with assessing budgets, strategies and tactics to be uses, and finding decent measurement metrics and tools.

It’s hard, it’s expensive, and it’s painful at times. It’s also the way 95% of businesses grow, and owners become wealthy.

Your choice is to recognize the challenges, and do nothing, or boldly go where few small businesses go, which is find the money and courage to grow.

Monthly SEO Check and Web Presence maintenance

Monthly SEO Check and Web Presence maintenance.

From time to time we are asked what we do monthly to check on a web sites SEO status. So, instead of boring you with a narrative I thought we would just post some of the instructions I give to our SEO people. It’s in no way completely inclusive, but if you want to D.I.Y this is a good guide.

On Site:Home Page and Main keyword page.

– Meta Tags:  The Title and Description

Google Web Toolkit

  • Does it contain the keyword(s))

  • Does one of the two contain a local intent keyword if a local company.

  • Find the meta tags by right clicking on a blank part of the page. Click on “page source”  A new page will open.

– Does the home page have a G+ icon that goes to the business G+ profile?

If not, refer them to this link on how to add a business page: http://www.google.com/+/business/

Mention that when the Business profile is complete, they should add the G+ badge to their home page. Instructions are in the G+ business page information.

– Does the home page have at least one out bound (external Link) to a high authority site? Example:  Check our B.B.B. ratings and a link to their B.B.B. page

– Does the site have good quality content?

Google 貼牌冰箱(Google Refrigerator)

Internal pages should be added from time to time, and a page from the main navigation should have at least 700 + words.  The information should be useful and well written.

– Does the site have a Blog?  If yes, is there new valuable content on the blog? Are blog titles used that will be easy for the search engines to identify what the blog post is about. Are they using a SEO plug in for a word press blog.

– No blog?  Add one. They can pay content writers to produce blogs. (average cost $70 to $129.00) or write their own.

Site Structure: Is the navigation clear and using a silo system for main search topics ?

Site Load Time:Does the site load in an acceptable time.  Check GWT  for speed test.

NAP (Name, Address, Phone)

Does the site clearly display the local businesses Name address and phone number on the homepage and contact form.  Suggest they use http://schema.org  mark up for their address. Their web master can do this very quickly.

If its a local company are they using a local number? Add one if they are using a n 800 number.

Google Web Master: Is there a current site map on G.A.?

Reputation Management:

Search for business name on Google.

Check all first page results for any positive or negative reviews.

Here’s what you find under My One Call LLC

What ever review sites show up (Google, Yelp, Youtube)  you should encourage the web owner to ask for more positive reviews on those sites and make them aware of any non positive mentions or reviews.

MOZ Rankings: Go to MOZ.com and log in.

Run an open explorer report on the main URL. Note and communicate the Page Authority, and Number of links. Down load a monthly back link report.

Competitive assessment:  Search for their main keyword and city (if Local)  Note the top ranked sites.  Make a note of the top three. (do not include directories)

Go to moz.com open Site Explorer.  Add top three competitors to “compare link Metrics ”Copy report to client.

Run Open Site Explorer for the top three sites. Look for linking opportunities.

Provide a brief summary of work completed this month or period.

Social Mentions

Continued Web site presence on My One Call LLC sites

Tips and updates.

Research

Links

Site review

Reputation check

New Keyword ideas

New content ideas.  (FAQ page)

Rankings for main keywords.

Traffic reports.

By Mike Bayes

My Google Plus Profile: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MikeBayes/about

More about us www.salesjumpstart.net

Want to learn more about Google Plus and promoting your business?

Try these two G+ Guru’s (my words not theirs)

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JesseWojdylo/posts

Stephan Hovnanian is a true G+ Master! https://plus.google.com/+StephanHovnanian/posts

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Ecommerce for Solopreneurs

Ecommerce for Solopreneurs

By Rob Gordin. 

Suppose you want to start selling online, but you are a one man (or one woman) show.  What solution fits your needs the best?   How much work will it be to get up and going?   How much will it cost?  Is it flexible and easy to maintain?  Does it provide a growth path for the future?

These aren’t easy questions to answer, and there are a mind numbing number of options, but this article will give you a few things to consider in making a rational decision on the best eCommerce system for you.  This is not intended to give you every possible option in selecting a platform for your  business  – that would be all but impossible.   Rather, we would like to provide a “framework” for ways you can think about it so you can make rational decisions on the eCommerce approach that is best for you.

There are two things that Solopreneurs generally don’t have in great abundance – the first is time, and the second is of course, money, so those will generally be the primary consideration, but there are many others.   Let’s take a look at the possible options, and note that there is a great deal of overlap with each of these approaches.

1.   Use an open source platform.   Many solopreneurs are into DYI (do it yourself) approaches, so these are always popular.  Basically this just means you select one of the many solutions that have been developed by the open source community, then configure and modify it to fit your needs and then host it on your own server and domain.  A few of the more common examples in this genre:

  • Zencart

  • Magnito

  • OpenCart:

  • osCommerce:

  • Miva

  • PrestaShop

The Upside:  For all intents and purposes, you will “own” this system and can do what you want.   There will be no monthly service fees beyond what you pay for hosting, and no transaction fees beyond what you pay to your credit card payment provider.  There will also be a great deal of flexibility in development – with some effort, you should be able to get the exact “look and feel” that you want.

The Downside:  This is not for the faint of heart.   Even if you are technically skilled, this is often a “trip into the weeds”.   You very will may find yourself working far more on your technology, then you are on selling and marketing your products and services.   The maintenance and upkeep of these systems can be daunting, and technical support can be spotty at best.   In the case where the open source software company also has a paid version, there will usually be less functionality and the free version is mostly meant to eventually get you to upgrade to the paid version.

2.   Use a Content Management System.   This is somewhat similar to using open source software, except in this case software that is designed for managing content on websites is used, and a plugin of some kind is used to provide the eCommerce functions.   Depending on the technology selected, this can be either easier or more difficult than using open source software designed specifically for this purpose.  A few of the common examples in this genre:

  • Joomla with VirtueMart Plugin

  • Drupal with Ubercart Plugin

  • WordPress with WP e-Commerce (and others)

The Upside:  Most solopreneurs who use this approach are already using it to manage their website so it has the advantage of being well integrated with what is already in place.  It can often be a superior way to showcase products, as not everything is oriented to :”selling” so product displays can be mixed with other content.

The Downside:  This is usually not quite as flexible as using an open source system specifically designed for eCommerce.  Technical support is usually through online forums and can be frustrating and time consuming.

3.   Use Commercial Software.   This is also similar to the “free open source” approach, but in this case solopreneurs elect to pay for their software solution – either through a one time or ongoing licensing fee.  Note that “open source” and “free” are not exactly the same thing.,  Software can be open source – meaning you have full access to the source code and can modify it if you wish, but it still requires a licence fee.   Also, some commercial ecommerce software does have free versions with less functionality.   A few of the common examples in this genre:

  • Magnito (also has free version)

  • CS-Cart Shopping Cart Software

  • X-Cart Shopping Cart Software

  • Pinnacle Cart

The Upside:   Purchased ecommerce store software is generally has a higher initial cost but there is only a single payment and then you own the software or have a permanent licence.  Support is generally superior and you have an accountable party and “someone to talk to” if something goes wrong.   Purchased software is also usually more flexible and can be modified to suit your needs.

The Downside:   Primarily the up front fee, and also the danger of being “locked in” with a single vendor.   It is not unheard of for these companies to go out of business which will leave you with no growth path.

4.   Use a Hosted Platform.   This is an approach where you do not host the ecommerces software at all, but rather use a host to provide this service.  Typically you will “embed” the shopping cart into one or more of your website pages, but is is also possible to use many of these as standalone platforms – even while retaining your domain name.  Be aware that there is a wide range of functionality with these platforms.  Some hosted platforms provide no more than an “add-on” cart which is deployed on an existing website by copying a few lines of HTML, while others provide a complete stand-alone website builder can be added onto an existing site or used independently as your entire website.   A few of the many examples in this genre:

  • Yahoo Stores

  • Intuit Ecommerce

  • Shopify

  • Paypal Shopping Cart

The Upside:  This is a great solution for beginners because the hosting is included and there is usually no technical setup required.   There are some great deals out there especially if you don’t have a ton of different items to sell.   In general, the will support multiple payment providers so that is one less thing to worry about.

The Downside:  There is usually a monthly fee and often transaction charges.   Many of the deals out there are “loss leaders” and If your store is successful there could be some hefty fees and service charges as you grow.  When the platform is provided without charge, some companies put advertisements on your store which can be a turnoff to your customers. It can also be extremely difficult to migrate to another platform once you have selected one of these services.  

5.  Get in Bed with a Giant.  This is an approach where you use the solutions provided by one of the major players in the ecommerce industry.  At the moment, there are really only two “giants” to consider – Amazon and eBay, but we can expect all the major social networks – Facebook, Google+. Twitter and Pinterest to have offerings in this area.   The two major examples in this genre:

  • Amazon Webstore

  • ProStores Store (An Ebay Company)

The Upside:   These sites know how to sell, and there may be some advantages to their dominant market position.   If you are selling on Amazon or eBay anyway, this is something you probably want to consider.   There are generally multiple payment options and since these sites are highly “trusted” you may get more sales by associating with them.

The Downside:   Since these services are associated with these giant companies, your branding may become overwhelmed by the larger company.   The solutions are often more “canned” and less flexible than other approaches.

6.  Get Social.   This is an approach where you sell primarily socially – either through an existing social network or through sites that have been specifically set up for this purpose.  This is an emerging genre and we can expect to see more players in this area, including all the major social media companies.  A  few examples in this genre:

  • Etsy  (mostly for art and handcrafted items).

  • Envato (for digital goods)

  • Threadflip (clothing)

  • FriendShopper

  • Vendio Ecommerce (for Facebook stores)

The Upside:  This sites often specialize in niche areas, and come with a built in community of prospective buyers – a big plus for the solopreneur.

 

The Downside:  As with hosted services, the growth path is uncertain and you may find yourself needing to do a migration at some point – which can be even more difficult since you may have active buyers and prospects in the community.  Also, since the genre is new, no one really know what will happen.  New players will almost certainly emerge, and there may be a shakeup with some of the existing companies.

7,  Go Mobile.    More and more people are buying off their mobile devices – smart phones and tablet computers.   While this genre overlaps somewhat with the others, it is worth considering in its own right.   A few examples in this genre:

  • Square

  • Venda

  • Shopgate

The Upside:  This, along with social commerce, is likely to be “the wave of the future”.  Most ecommerce providers will be designing support into their platforms if they haven’t already

The Downside:   Many new and smaller players that may not provide support for more traditional methods.   Some “trendy features” may not stand the test of time, and not all products are ideal for being sold on mobile devices.

***

At best, a report like this can just scratch the surface on an industry as broad and multidimensional as ecommerce.   For all intents and purposes, you can expect just about every Internet technology company to try to get a “piece of the action” this, for the simple reason that it is “where the money is”.   Most players in this industry will be integrating different approaches so it shouldn’t be to difficult to find the provider that is best for you.

For most solopreneurs, however, the best solution will likely be to use one of the hosted platforms.  These will allow you to get up and selling almost immediately, which you can’t do with either open source, content management or commercial software.

Regardless of ths solution you select, do your homework.   Select the approach you think works best for you and write up some specifications for your needs before you even look at the prices and feature sets of the different systems.   Avoid any services  require you to pay a percentage of your sales and “free trials” are all but useless.  Even with hosted platforms, there will be some effort in setting this up so you want to select the system that best matches your needs.

 One more thing – don’t delay.  If you have products to sell, you can be making money sooner than you think.

About the Author. Introduction. Rob is the founder and owner of one of the largest business communities on Google Plus.  You can find his information on his G+ profile. Because he interfaces with over 25,000 small business owners he has a unique knowlege of that market. He also is the founder of http://world-startups.com/


 

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You don’t need to learn to sell. You need to learn how to generate prospects.

You don’t need to learn to sell. You need to learn how to generate prospects.The truth is, in 99% of the sales challenges  I have been involved with, the problem isn’t in the person’s ability to “sell” its in the fact that they have no one to sell too.

Mike closing2First, selling isn’t different than any other skill set, it must be learned.  When we hear someone say someone was a “born” salesperson, it’s really not true. That’s like saying Peyton Manning was a born a quarterback, and discounts the years of very hard work and dedication he (or anyone very good at what they do) has put into their profession.

In my experience the absolute most important part of selling is having a plan of how you are going to generate prospects. Small business owners who state, I don’t know how, or I am bad at sales, are thinking about the actual process of presenting and closing a new customer in many cases, when what they are really talking about their ability to generate leads and prospects. The truth is, in 99% of the cases I have been involved with, the problem isn’t in the person’s ability to “sell” its in the fact that they have no one to sell too.

The simple and fairly quick process of having a plan, and working the plan will solve this.

So here are some simple steps for the business owner who doesn’t know how to generate prospects. It’s not original, and you will find this advice by reading any of the great sales or marketing guru’s.

1.) Identify who is most likely to buy your service.

2.) Build or buy a list of these businesses

3.) Develop a compelling reason for them to contact you, or speak with you.

4.) Write a letter (can be email). In the letter describe a problem you solved for some business like theirs. Drop names of happy clients. Offer something in the PS  (It’s worth paying a few hundred dollars to a professional direct mail copywriter) Mail the letters.

5.A) wait for them to call you

5B)  Call them and asked if they read your letter.  What did they think?

6.) Repeat with new letter.

7.) Repeat with new letter

(I will be writing or asking an expert to write a blog on each step mentioned above with instructions and details on each.) Subscribe to be notified. (I mean it, subscribe NOW)

You may be asking… that’s it?  Yup that’s it.

Your success will depend on:The value of your service to the target market. Make it (your service) as good as possible before you start all this. The quality of the list, and where you got it. If it’s opt in, great. If you buy it, you need to send a bunch of letters. The quality of the letter or email you send.  The offer you make them and your follow up.

In my experience you will have something like three times the success if you are brave enough to call the list. I’ve seen success rates as high as 50% on this program.  Overall we average a 14% response or generated prospect rate on these programs.  Think about that.

You send 1000 letters.  You get 140 prospects. You sell 35%. You have 49 new customers.  The cost?…. depends on how you implement it, but figure a $1.00 per letter with printing and stamps and maybe a copywriter.

As far as the actual “sales” process with these prospects, remember that the word sales means to persuade. If they called you, you’re 80% there.  Now relax and ask then the questions you have developed on your sales questionnaire. Oh… that’s on another blog here…

And then, ask them when they would like to start.

Congratulations, you are now better than at least 60% of the salespeople I have met who do no targeting, little or no qualifying and never close.

Don’t know how to sell?  Who cares, because now you know how to generate prospects.


 

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Worth the Read. Best SEO and Marketing Articles

A collection of great articles and Blogs over the last few months.

When I read an exceptional blog I put it in my pocket to read or reference later.  I thought it might be a good idea to share some of the better ones here.  Some are SEO related, some are content marketing (same thing right?)  and then just good marketing.

SEO:

http://justinbriggs.org/sometimes-seo-is-just-seo

Just one of the best and simple SEO articles in years.  Can it really be as simple as he makes it sound?  Yes.  Read this if you get stuck on an SEO project.

Content Marketing:

Well, more like content distribution. If you want some tips on how and where to publish your blog, Mike Allton is the guy to read.

http://www.thesocialmediahat.com/blog/how-i-promote-my-new-blog-posts-04162013

SEO Checklist:

If you don’t have one, this is really great.  From beginners to professionals you should find some great ideas here, or at least a nice list to work from and cross check.

http://www.myoptimind.com/seo-audit-checklist-20-tasks-that-every-website-owner-shouldnt-forget-about/

Creating a referral group:

We all want them, but how do you build a really strong referral group?  This article has some powerful ideas if you are willing to work at it. In my experience, it’s one of the better tactics you should use.  Stop advertising and get on the referral ban wagon.

http://www.melissadata.com/enews/marketingadvisor/articles/0811b/1.htm

Non technical Startups:

And here is one for all of us non tech types who want to do a startup.  I loved this article. If you have ever felt a bit frustrated because it seems like all of the successful startups are tech driven,  read this. Great advice for all of the non tech entrepreneurs.

http://benogle.com/2013/03/25/an-idea-for-non-technical-founders-service-first-business.html

Enjoy, and let me know what you think about these articles.

By Mike Bayes


 

Marketing Plans. If you Don’t Have One You’re Acting Dumb.

Marketing Planning. Quick… grab your marketing plan.

Okay… for those of you who have nothing to grab, I am going to tell you something you may not want to hear. Your behavior is dumb.  You’re not dumb, but not having a marketing plan is.Mike closing2

I communicate with a bunch of small business owners every week.   You know the number one question that gets asked about, in one form or another, it’s about how do I sell my stuff.

Lot’s of businesses ask about and are interested in social media to develop new relationships and leads. Some are looking at email as a tactic. Lot’s like the SEO  or search engine marketing route. A few talk about direct mail.  Yet, when you ask-

 

  • Who is your target market

  • How do you reach them

  • And what message they have developed for that buyer

It gets quiet.  So very quiet.  And in that very silence, unlike the silence between notes in music  which is in fact what makes it beautiful,  this silence is horrible.  It  means  you are wasting away whatever vision you had for your business.

You can’t implement any advertising, promotion or sales campaign without understanding those three areas, and have any  success, unless your service/product is irresistible. Building a irresistible product is the best way to sell a lot, because, if its really irresistible, you don’t need much of a plan… the market will find you.

So.. ask yourself, Is my service/product irresistible?   No it’s not. Can it be? Maybe but unlikely if you want to make money.

So having recognized that 80% of small business owners don’t have a marketing plan, and the reason for that was generally they didn’t understand it’s value, or they didn’t know how to do it, or they didn’t have the money to get it done. we developed a very good program for

business owners that is sold through Bayes Square LLC  and some ActionCOACH franchises. We take the info you have on your current good customers… the type you want more of, and  we research up to 70 different possible commonalities in the group.

The Premise is easy enough, your next customers will look like your current customers.

( Play along at home if you Like)

List everything you can think of that businesses might  have in common. Start with at least 10 areas…  things like time in business, Industry type, locations, associations….

Now list your 10 or 20 best clients.  Now check mark the commonalities and the percentage as a total. If 75% of your good customers are part of a certain association,  and you are prospecting less than 75% of the time in areas besides that association, well, your behavior is dumb.

The Marketing Crystal Ball service looks at up to 70 different commonalities than does the research to understand why prospects buy from you, and how to reach them….

TA DA!

You have a targeted List

You know the message

You know how to reach them

Frankly, for less than 2K  you would be an idiot not to have one done.

Ask yourself…  if I had a targeted list, and a compelling message, and knew how to reach that list, how many additional customers would I sell this year?  Now how much more revenue would you have from the new customers?

Now it that amount is anywhere above 20K you need to make a decision. Am I an idiot, or not?Our last client sold 24K in new revenue in the first month after it was finished. You might too, but only if you call me, or DIY.  Either way,  a marketing plan is the first thing you must do every year.

One last thought. It’s important. I know 2K can be a lot of money for very small businesses. So…  We can do the mini version for you which will tell you your best prospects highest commonalities and a 30 minute call to give you thoughts on how to reach them for $549.00. This includes all the research we do for a standard client, except, we don’t call them or do an email survey. I will be glad to tell you how to execute that part of the marketing plan.

You just send us the info you have on 20 customers. We will do the rest. This is good through April.  Do it now. Click the button on the left to call me, or just call 303 500 3053 ext 1.



 

Top Lead and Sales Sources for Small Business

Top Lead and Sales Sources for Small Business First Quarter 2013.

We track where sales come from for various small businesses, and I think we have enough data to say what we see is fairly representative of many small businesses.

We also provide a service we call the “Sales Crystal Ball” that shows where a company’s new customers are, and why they will buy. To accomplish that one of the things we have to look at is where their new sales have come from (for their best customers) and the sales tree from that customer.

 For the first three months of 2013-  and now updated through JUne 2014

  • Number one source : Referrals and Relationships  61%. Relationships can include referrals from other businesses, or non customers.

  • Internet leads from their site. Not Social Media or PPC stuff. So a business who has high rankings and have employed a good SEO service do see new sales from the Internet.

  • Pay per Click advertising.  In some cases this is number one.  In some cases this is not on the list at all. Depends on your industry and service.

  • Print advertising:  Can be effective if placed correctly. Check current references for any Print advertiser.

So what’s interesting in this, as there is no surprise in the list, is…  what many of us do,  and this costs us in the sales area, is forgetting that the sales that were referred to you, have a history, and it’s important to understand where the first sale in that chain came from. Because the reality is, if it hadn’t happened, you would not have received the referral.

Do a sales tree to see what activity was really responsible for a referral, and then add that to your list of lead generation tactics.

Here’s a quick example:Referral sale came from > Another referral  ( very common) That sale came from a telemarketing appointment.

So, without the original sale, you never would have the most recent customer.  Do this for all your good customers, and you may see why your sales are flat.  We stop doing the “seed” activity, or fail to replace it. Relying primarily on referrals is a recipe for flat and inconsistent sales.

There isn’t any reason to go back to a lead generation source that overall was poor quality. So, if in the above example, telemarketing didn’t produce well, then you may need to replace it with a lead source that does.

Have at least 3 non referral based lead generation programs working at all times.  The Internet is a natural place for this.  SEO, Pay per click, and online advertising can generally keep new leads coming in.  You need to plant those seeds to continue to grow your referrals and relationships.

One of my personal examples is in the early days we did cold calls via the phone to very targeted prospects.  Worked fine, I really should do it again, except, I hate cold calling and telemarketing. So, to replace that lead flow we have built in a targeted networking program.  I am not talking about BNI or those type lead groups.  We are involved in pretty expensive private business networks that , when we are active, is great new lead sources. More about those later.

By Mike Bayes

Call me at 303-5003053 ext 1 with questions.

If you want to jump start your sales, look at our sales coaching or crstal ball programs! www.salesjumpstart.net


 

 

How To Write Content Your Readers Will Act On

Author Info:  Matt Brennan is a Chicago marketing writer, helping businesses tell stories to attract customers. 

How To Write Content Your Readers Will Act OnIf you’re running the marketing campaign for a small business, surely you know a lot about the industry. If that industry were announced as a Jeopardy category, dollar signs might start dancing inside your head.

It’s not enough to “brain dump” your encyclopedic knowledge on the page. Readers may make the decision whether to stay with your content in a few seconds flat. If they’re bored or frustrated, they’ll leave in favor of the next Google result. 

You’ll need to generate interest in the topic.

What makes the topic interesting to you? It’s up to you to convey that enthusiasm to your audience. It’s the lifeblood they’ll need to keep reading.

What problems are your readers trying to solve? Think of what information they are looking for as they make their way onto your website. Present this information in an entertaining matter, and you’ll be ahead of the game.

What questions do your customers frequently ask in person? Try and answer those questions in prominent places on your website.

Do your pages contain strong calls to action?

They should. It doesn’t always mean a hard sell, it simply means making sure your reader knows what you want them to do.

To find out more information, they can call you or fill out your form. To answer a question you posed in a blog post they can comment. Don’t be afraid to be specific about what you want them to do.

You’ll also want to pay attention to the language you are using.

Strong writing wins the day. 

Strong verbs improve sentences. Active, punchy writing keeps readers interested.

Avoid using too much industry lingo. Your mother may be proud of your expansive vocabulary, but your readers may not share this knowledge with you. The second they feel like you’re talking above them, they’ll move on.

Vary your sentence lengths to create  a tempo to your writing. If every sentence is too short or too long, that can become frustrating to your reader. A good gauge for figuring this out is to read your work out loud.

As you’re reading out loud, you may catch mistakes that weren’t discernable before. Make sure to edit ruthlessly. Grammar and spelling mistakes erode trust, and that can have a financial impact on your work.

Remember, good content evokes action. Keep your readers engaged, and they’re more likely to reward you in the end.

The Socratic System of Sales. The Customer Questionnaire.

The Socratic System of Sales. The Customer Questionnaire.

The Socratic System of Sales is a system that is based on using the questioning process to persuade a prospect to buy your service. In fact, it can be used to pre-qualify a prospect, and in doing so, save the salesperson time in establishing that the prospect is in fact qualified, and what is important in the buying process to that prospect.

Cropped image of a Socrates bust for use in ph...

I should ask you, why are you reading this? Is closing and qualifying more prospects important to you? If so, read on.

The main complaint I hear about salespeople is that they don’t care about a prospect’s needs or issues. They “show up and throw up” as they say. It’s all about their product and service. True sales professionals speak less than the prospect, and ask excellent questions.

I am going to blog about many uses of the Socratic form of sales, but to introduce it I want to encourage you and your sales department to have a standard prospect questionnaire that is a required part of any sales process or presentation.

It’s important for your salesperson to understand the following.

  1. What is the number one issue the prospect has that you need to fix?
  2. What buying criteria will they use to make a decision?
  3. Does the prospect understand your company’s value as it relates to their problem?
    English: Graphical Representation of Public Sa...
    . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

     

Here is a quick example of questions a business might ask every prospect, and the reason they ask it should be clear. Many of these may apply to your business.

  • How soon did you want this project completed?
  • How important is a detailed proposal showing all expenses and a bottom line price?
  • How important is it that the company you select have experience completing similar projects?
  • How important are recent references of people that had similar projects completed?
  • How important is it that you are able to speak directly to those references?
  • How important is the financial stability of the business you select?
  • How important is the insurance and licensing of the company you select?
  • How important is bottom line price in your decision?
  • How important are the billing arrangements the company offers?
  • What other areas will you look at to make your selection?

A salesperson should never address any of the answers until all the questions are asked.  If you take off on a tangent because they say a detailed proposal is very important, you may never get back to the other questions, in which you may have found out that the detailed proposal while being important, is not the hot button.  Take the time to walk through all the questions. It’s certainly okay to add a brief statement after a question, like, yes we find that true with many of our clients, and then move on.

You should build your questions around the strengths of your business. If you have only been in business 1 year, you don’t ask, how important is the number of years a company has been in business is. You ask. How important is it that the company you select has new ideas and is hungry for your business?

Oddly enough, many small businesses don’t use a questionnaire because they don’t want to hear the answers. They would rather have a “shot” at the business and ignore the reality their business doesn’t actually have a shot.

Once you finish the questions, you have a couple of choices to make.  You can address the main issues at this time (If this is a one call close) or you can briefly cover their main concerns, and then go into detail when you return with the actual proposal for work.

Your presentation or proposal needs to focus on the answers to the questions. If you have a canned presentation you send to every prospect, then you are losing out in sales conversions.

Start with these words…. Ms. Smith, let me tell you why our customers love our service.  Like you, they were looking for a business that had experience in servicing their industry. We have over 25 clients in similar industries, and have learned that it takes a very specific approach (go on about this unique and valuable approach).

Can you see the benefits of using a questionnaire with your prospects? Instead of selling them what you “think” they need or want, you can actually address what they feel they want and need.

Another value of a questionnaire is many businesses fight the “price” battle all the time.  A questionnaire will help you educate a prospect on your value. If used correctly, it will help you win business over the “cheap” competition, by having the prospect state and acknowledge that there are far more important issues than price.

Now if the prospect says the biggest issue is price, and you know you can not compete on that basis, then you have saved a lot of time by identifying this, and not moving into a proposal process.

There are so many examples of using the Socratic method of communication I will be blogging about later. It’s used in Marketing, Sales, H.R., P.R., as well as Education and may other fields   – because it works.

Sit down and write out the questions you should ask every prospect and then start using them! I am positive you will see a much better sales conversion rate, and have a better relationship with new clients or customers.

By Mike Bayes

If we can help you accelerate your sales contact us at www.salesjumpstart.net 

Who was Socrates? http://www.columbia.edu/itc/lithum/wong/Socrates.html

 

 

 

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