Yet we don’t really focus on the current health and value of our relationships with business contacts. As small businesses we track and analyze piles of information, and ignore our greatest assets, relationships.
Here’s a system (or part of a system) we have used for several years that can drive your sales, and build your relationships. I think its self explanatory. Just list every business contact you can think of… even people you haven’t communicated with for years, in each category. The spreadsheet gives you a blended score which in theory predicts which of your contacts has the most “referral” potential.
Then do something for each one. Even if you can’t think of anything to offer, you can call or email them, and say, I was just thinking about you and wanted to see what you are doing these days. You can offer to do an introduction to someone, or invite then to lunch. Have a great tip on sales or marketing, or something that is working for you that you can share? Any thing that is of value.
Relationships, like anything else, need maintenance and nurturing. This simple spreadsheet can go a long way in helping you grow your most important marketing and sales resource… the relationships you have built.I would love it if you would try this for a week or two to see what results come from it. I can tell you, it’s been my number one source of leads and sales for two years.
If you are an Internet Marketer you can use it to build great on-line contacts. In many ways, its much faster because you can use Social Media as the nice thing to do for someone. Post their blog on your G+, Facebook, Linked in… that’s a gift. Even good blog comments are gifts.
Click here to view the Google Docs Sheet Relationship Chart
Let me know how this works! This is a part of our Sales Coaching Program. Need help building your sales and revenue? Contact me for a free consultation.
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.
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.
What is the number one issue the prospect has that you need to fix?
What buying criteria will they use to make a decision?
Does the prospect understand your company’s value as it relates to their problem?
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.
How A Blog Can Help Your Google Rankings (again, and again):
Blogging is a buzz word in the small and medium business community. Almost every client we talk with (or potential client) wants to know how to do a blog because they have “heard” it will help their search engine rankings. This falls into the tradition of small business owners being about 8 years behind on new marketing tactics. That’s not a criticism, it’s a reality. Most small business owners don’t have the hours in a day needed to stay on top of anything besides what they do.
The Bad News. Although there is clearly some truth left in that assumption that a blog will help your sites rankings, but, and it’s a big but, if you are to see an increase in your sites popularity based on a blog, it must have valuable content that other sites and social media will pick up on and mention. If your blog is just another 700 + words of regurgitated news, facts, rumors, or opinion already published or blogged about on the Internet by 100 or 1000 other sites your chances of a web master or influential social media picking up on the blog are very low. And if your Blog isn’t mentioned on other web sites, it gets no help in rankings.
Additional Value of a Blog bedside’s Rankings. Now, if your blog gives your prospective clients or current customers some unique insight into your business or industry, even if they are not going to mention it or link to it, it’s still of value, just not for your search engine visibility. It will help you become more of a trusted source for whatever it is you do.
Internet Marketers Are Blog Obsessed. That’s a problem, because many (and I mean many) Internet Marketers have had some success with getting their blog or content mentioned and linked to, (and all that SEO stuff), by writing a blog,. They write blogs about blogs that are based on another blog in the hopes that someone they don’t know, and who is trying to get followers on twitter will retweet their content to an audience that has little or no interest in what they are saying, and have already seen the information 5 times in other higher authority blogs or sites.
The reason they have any success is it’s far more likely to get Internet Marketing content linked or mentioned on the INTERNET because Internet Marketers spend half their life reading this stuff. If you are a Plumber, or a Dentist, the likelihood of having your content picked up is very small. Plumbers and Dentists, and normal people don’t spend their life on-line reading every blog written, even when its content is the same as the last 5 they read.
It’s important for an Internet Marketer to be up to date on all the new stuff on the Interweb, if for no other reason, so they can sound really knowledgeable and use uncommon words when they speak to Plumbers and Dentists. I call it selling through a vernacular fear factor. More on that some other time.
Blogging For Visibility. So how does a small business utilize a blog for better Internet visibility? It’s all about the subject and content.
Blog about a question a customer asked you.
Blog about a unique problem you solved.
Blog about how a person can prepare for your service.
Blog about your kids.
Blog about your employees.
Blog about your favorite customers
All of the above will at a minimum be unique, and unique is the first principle of good content. Any content you write and publish should have these attributes.
Interesting for your prospects
And if you can make it about the internet you’re really doing well.
By Mike Bayes, My One Call LLC, www.salesjumpstart.net
Why do so many small SEO companies struggle with selling their services? Many reasons, as you will see below. SEO and Internet marketing services are, in the universal world of all type sales, on a scale of 1-10, 10 being really hard, and 1 being simple, about a 7. Here’s why.
1.) You are generally selling to a small business owner or manager.Small business owners really hate spending money on anything they can not see a very quick and tangible result from, and they have very good reason to feel this way. You must understand that most small businesses operate on a very slim margin of error when it comes to advertising and promoting their business. Unlike the fortune 500, where a $100,000 campaign is small fry, a few thousand dollars to a small business can be a big investment. A $10,000 investment may be one of the largest advertising investments they make.
2.) They don’t understand the process and experience needed to do SEO.
It’s far easier to buy a T.V. or radio campaign than SEO. You can see or hear what you are paying for. It’s an easy decision (in comparison) to purchase a new server, computer, or furniture. SEO is a promise, an “IOU” if you will.
Many small business owners I have worked with just think it’s some sort of I.T., PR, Web based thing we do.
3.) Most local SEO providers don’t have sales experience and rely on word of mouth. This in itself isn’t a bad thing. If you have to rely on referrals and word of mouth you are going to have to be very good at what you do to keep the existing customers happy enough to refer you, so if this is your number one (and possible only) sales strategy, you are probably doing pretty good work for your clients! (That assumes you are getting referrals)
4.) Most Local SEO providers don’t really try to sell. This goes with number 3. Because they do not have the experience or training, they just don’t try. Can’t blame them really, if someone asked me to rebuild my cars engine, and just handed me a book with “how to rebuild your cars engine”, the job would most likely, never be done. Or if it was, the car would not run, or be so rusty due to the passage of time, that it would be worthless. Does that sound like the state of your sales process?
5.) Many businesses in some markets have had a bad experience with SEO or Internet marketing.
This is the old one bad apple syndrome.
So what are the solutions? If you look at all the reasons there is one very large commonality. They are all fear based both on the prospect side and on the sellers side. A SEO service has to reduce and eliminate the fear of buying and the fear of selling.
How do you reduce the fear in buying? You replace it with confidence by identifying what the fear is, and addressing it. Let’s look at the first fear:
1.) I am afraid I will waste my money. How do you replace this with confidence? First acknowledge the concern (fear). Let them know you understand that many companies have a natural fear that SEO won’t work, and it will be a waste of money. And of course ask them if they feel this way.
2.) How do you answer that or address it? Actual current examples of SEO clients that are similar to their business with a full explanation of their success. Don’t go summary version with this. Have all the facts and details ready. Where they where ranked, what their traffic was and how much revenue increase they have seen. Have 4 pages of explanation, and the last page being the reference letter from that client. Three of these type examples, and a phone call from the prospects office to one of your current clients, on speaker phone, to let your current client tell your prospect how great your service is, and that fear as significantly put to rest.
All the buying and selling fears above can be addresses with logical, honest tactics, and having trained over 1000 sales professionals, hundreds of sales managers and business owners, I know that any company that makes a commitment to the sells process will see results.
Let me know if you would like a free consultation on how to grow your revenue. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Oh… and if your challenge is just not seeing enough new prospects, we have proven systems that can jump start your sales with lead generation.
One of the more powerful SEO tools for a business is winning business awards. The problem is the vast majority of businesses don’t understand the process of submitting their business for consideration to the hundreds, if not thousands of organizations that issue awards.
Traditionally a business would use a P.R. firm to identify and submit their firm for business awards. The truth is very few small companies can afford a P.R. form, and when they can, they will generally run out of patience long before any results are obtained.
One of our clients, M and E painting, is owned by an up and coming entrepreneur, Matt Shoup. Matt owns several companies, and has worked diligently over the last few years understanding P.R. and specifically how a business can win awards. The result of this is his Book, How To Become An Award Winning Company. You can read about it on his site here www.becomeanawardwinningcompany.com
The value of winning or being noted in a business award category is obvious. It builds credibility and trust with potential prospects, it helps create a powerful company culture with your employees, and it can create great links and citations for your site.
In this era of SEO, a great SEO knows that we need to think outside the old, Link, Link, Link, thinking and move more into a early to bed early to raise, Promote, Promote, Promote. When your client receives an award from a trusted local or national organization, you will see good things happen to their sites rankings.
Take a look at Matts’ book. It will be released in December of 2011, and has already received excellent reviews