Do you really know why your customers buy from you…?

Why do you think your customers buy from you? Are you just glad they do, or have you ever really considered why they do?

The real reason your customers buy from you is because they perceive you to be best-placed to deliver the results they want.

However, many businesses focus more on what they do, rather than how their customer’s world will be a better place as a result of what they’ve done. Yet, we know most customers will decide to buy based on the results they will get, not on what you do.

Consider this…

  • When speaking with your customers, do you talk more about your own business than you talk about there’s? Do you use words like WE more than YOU?
  • Does your marketing collateral, sales brochure or web-site talk more about what you do than the results you deliver for your customers?
  • Do you talk more about how you are going to help your customers, rather than the results they want after you’ve helped them?

If you ever find yourself doing this, then it doesn’t matter if you believe your product/service is better than your competitor – you will lose business you should be winning!

If you answered YES to the above points, then make sure you work on making sure you can say NO.

For instance…

  • Make sure you talk about your customer and their business more than yours
  • Review what your marketing literature and website is saying – ensure it focuses on the results your customers get from you
  • Don’t talk about your methods and approach (unless it helps differentiate you) more than the results your customers will get – for example, would you really care about the brushes and paste your decorator was going to use, or just how your house would look like after he’s finished?

10 Tips to make your website the sales machine you want it to be…

I was asked to a meeting with a potential client recently, and as part of my preparation for the meeting I checked out their website to find out more about what they did. After glancing over their home-page for a few seconds, I really wasn’t sure.

When I went to see them, the lady in my meeting explained what they did, and I can honestly say it was nothing like what I thought their web-site had told me!

Now, accepting that I had totally got the wrong end of the stick regarding the messages on their website, I thought I would take another look at it.

Even with the hindsight of the explanation, I was still struggling to see the key sales messages and customer-benefits of buying their services. Without these, then your website will never be the shining advert for your business you want it to be.

With this in mind I’ve put together a list of top tips to ensure your website is the sales machine you want it to be -

  1. Include the biggest result you deliver for your customers in an easily-seen head-line next to your company name
  2. Keep all the key results you deliver for your customers near the top of your home-page (don’t expect potential clients to go scrolling to find them)
  3. Make buying from your site (if applicable) as easy as Amazon!
  4. If you blog, keep it up to date (there’s nothing worse than having a blog that hasn’t been updated for months)
  5. Have an easy-to-find “Contact Me” icon on your home-page for potential customers to hit and get updates from
  6. Whatever it is you do, sense-check this by getting someone who doesn’t know your business to read your head-line and tell you what you do
  7. If you want to include testimonials, link them to the appropriate result you deliver for your customers (don’t just list them haphazardly)
  8. Ensure all your words/copy is focussed on the results your customers get from using you
  9. Win the 5-second Rule – are you hooked by what you see on the home-page within 5 seconds of seeing it?
  10. Make sure the site is an accurate representation of you (because at some point the chances are a potential customer who has hit on your site is going to have to meet you before they buy)
I understand there are many other things web-designers would ensure your site includes, but hopefully practicing what I preach, I believe you know what I do and the results I deliver within 5 seconds of landing on my home-page…

Do you know your sales numbers…?

Even if figures aren’t your thing, knowing what the sales numbers are in your business is crucial if you want to be successful. Let me explain…

Do you know how many leads your marketing generates? Knowing how many leads you generate is a great starting point to finding out how effective your marketing is. By marketing, this includes everything you do to market your business, from networking to blogging and all points in between.

Once you know how many leads you generate, you also need to know how many of these leads you convert into sales. The reason these numbers are important is because you can judge if you need more leads or if you need to improve your ability to convert into sales.

The next step in knowing your numbers is then analysing how much your average sale is worth to you, and how much profit you make from that sale.

Now you know how much your average sale is worth to you, you can then analyse how often your customers repeat buy from you, and how often they refer your services to other potential customers.

These are typical of the sales numbers you really could do with knowing about your business, because not knowing anything about these is a bit like trying to navigate your business down a mountain at midnight with no lights on!

A good place to start with this exercise is with the end results – for instance, how much do you want your business to turn-over in a year?

For a simple example, if you want a t/o of £50,000 per year, research what the average sale is worth to you – let’s say its £1k for this exercise. Therefore, you need to make 50 sales per year. Then look at how many leads you need to see to convert into a sale – this might be 5 leads on average you need to see. So, you now know you need to approximately generate 250 leads per year, which works out at about 5 every week, to make a sale. If you’re not seeing 5 potential customers a week, 1 per day, then the chances of you turning over £50,000 per years are small!

Obviously, into these numbers you would also need to plug in repeat sales from existing customers, but you can see how this exercise can quickly and clearly highlight what activity you need to be successful and where you need to improve. For instance, if your marketing isn’t generating the required number of leads, then what needs to change there?

Also, if your lead/sale conversion rate is 5:1, then what can you do to improve your sales skills to reduce that to, say 3:1. If you could do that, then you would either require fewer leads or would make more sales from the same number of leads – either way you are being more successful.

Knowing your sales numbers is crucial if you want to build a sustainable and successful business – even if figures aren’t your thing!

Did you know you’re in the coffee business, and not sales…?

If you’re trying to build your business, one of the quickest and most effective ways to start that process is to get into the coffee business! No, I don’t mean buy a coffee-shop (although a friend of mine actually just has) but I do mean have coffee-chats.

Unless you’re lucky enough to have a huge marketing budget, then you have to master what I call Guerrilla Marketing (more of this in another blog) and part of that strategy is having as many conversations with as many potential customers or advocates of your service as possible. The reason for this is that nobody, absolutely NOBODY can represent you and your service any better than you.

So, take up camp in your favourite coffee-shop and start having coffee-chats. These chats are your opportunities to discuss and explain how your service/product can help people. Without these you will struggle to get sales.

I know a successful guy who offers a business mentoring service. He spends whole days at a time in his favourite spot and people come to him for advice and ideas around how he can help them – he never has to leave his chair!

Unless you are Amazon or eBay (and if you are, let me know why you’re reading this!) rarely will anyone buy what you’re selling without seeing you, especially if you are offering a service.

The networking organisation 4Networking have a motto know, like, trust – meaning you first need to know, like and trust before you can move onto a sale. Well, its practically impossible to get to know, like and trust someone without meeting them.

You need to see people – lots of people – when you are establishing or trying to grow your business. You can never speak to too many people and drink too much coffee – so make as many appointments as you can with people you meet networking (actual and virtual) and people who are referred to you.

Have a look in your diary now – how many coffee-chats have you got lined up for next week?

If you haven’t got any, then that could result in a dip in your sales further down the line, so make sure you get into and stay in the coffee-business! Your sales could depend on it!

How to use your quote to close the sale!

 

Depending on the nature of your business, you can spend a long time preparing and writing proposals and quotes.

I’ve spoken before about how easy it is to get wrapped up in proposal writing, and agonising over every little detail and nuance in case you include/exclude something that is vital to you winning (or losing) the contract.

Often, the proposal is important, because it is something that will be looked over by other decision-makers in your absence.

However, sometimes sending a quote/proposal to a potential client is just putting another stage in the sales cycle on the journey to the client still saying no.

Sending a proposal out can mess with your head! You still think the sale is alive, but you don’t know whether it is kicking and screaming or limping by on a life-support machine! Or, indeed if it as dead as a door-nail but you are just delaying the inevitable answer.

If the rest of your client meeting hasn’t gone great, then sending a proposal isn’t going to resurrect it – put bluntly, words on paper will never be more convincing that you, so if you haven’t convinced your client to use you, then your proposal certainly won’t!

So, save yourself time and effort clogging up your sales pipe-line with pointless proposals and quotes.

If a client says “Send me a quote!” you need to find out what is going on in their head – do they really want your help or are they wasting your time?

Ask them “Am I right in thinking the quote is just a confirmation of the order?”

A great little question that will definitely give you the answer that will save you time. If they say YES then you know you’ve got your business! Anything less than YES and you will be able to easily judge whether they are wasting your time, or if you need to revisit a part of your sales pitch that hasn’t quite convinced them yet, hence their hesitation in saying yes.

Using a request for a quote/proposal like this will save you time and help you close your sale – a win on both accounts!

The fuel for your fire…

 

This isn’t a straight-forward sales tip, so you really don’t need to read this if you don’t want!

This is more about me (which is a bit self-indulgent, so I’ll apologise now) and what keeps us going in the face of adversity and doubt.

When you’re in business there is always something that you need to keep you going – it might be a big new order that puts the smile on your face or it might be a great testimonial from a client that talks about how brilliant your service is.

It doesn’t matter what it is, but we all cling hold of them and use them as fuel to fire our passion and goals – it is that fuel that drives us to our next success.

Sometimes, however that fuel isn’t always something that is obviously positive – in fact, sometimes the fuel starts life as something altogether negative and destructive.

I found that today. Someone new who has recently come into my life has a friend who is doing the right and proper thing and advising her to do due diligence about me, as every friend would, does and should.

Part of that advice was to question my integrity – in fact, it was more basic that that!

She asked “If he has been so successful in his career in the past, what has he got to show for it now?”

This is from someone who doesn’t know me, my past, my family, and the place in life where I started and what I’ve gone through to get to here, but maybe believes success is measured solely in baubles and bank accounts alone.

Also, to be fair to her I don’t know here either but this observation on me and what I try to deliver to people who believe in the advice I offer was a real dagger in the ribs.

On reflection, I used her words as motivation because I totally believe in me and what I can do for you and my clients.

The world, I find, is full of doubters and cold-water pourers and it is easy to let them douse your passion for what you do.

In the same day I met a guy who I had not seen for more than 5 years. He told me he would never had made it to where he is today without my help.

I was chocked up by what he said, especially in light of what else had happened. It also taught me a priceless lesson – don’t ever let people with feet of clay drag you down, because your feet are made of far more substantial stuff!

Onwards and upwards to all you out there that believe in more than what you do!

How to make 1 + 1 = 3!

How to make 1 + 1 = 3!

Being great at mathematics is one thing, but being able to make 1 + 1 = 3 is something else altogether! Yet in business that is exactly what you can do, especially when being looked on by larger potential clients.

I was having one of my legendary (well, in my mind only!) coffee-chats with a business friend of mine the other day. His business is marketing and publicity videos. He was telling me how he had recently hooked up with another business that specialised in e-marketing, because he felt that was part of the marketing/publicity mix that he currently didn’t have covered.  He now felt he had a much more comprehensive offering for his clients.

That got me thinking about another conversation I had had with a family friend who is a director of a medium-sized manufacturing company. The crux of our chat had been about how she wished she could have more of a “one-stop shop” for her business-support needs. She was rushed off her feet and didn’t have time to be constantly briefing and dealing with different companies for different aspects of her sales and marketing requirements. She gave me an example…

In just one week, she had a meeting with web-designers about changes to the company web-site. She then had a meeting with the printer about the new corporate brochure. Then she had a meeting with a tele-marketing company about a campaign to promote a new product. Then she had a meeting with a photographer about the shots she wanted putting into the company brochure…and so it went on!

In every meeting she had to ensure she had clearly conveyed the ethos, vision and brand of the business so that they truly understood what they were trying to achieve.

Just maintaining the joined-up thinking required for consistency’s sake from supplier to supplier was a nightmare in itself!

The combination of the chat I’d had with my family friend and my business friend made me come to a conclusion about what I had been thinking for quite a while – if you have a small business that focusses on one specific aspect of business, don’t be afraid to forge alliances with other complimentary business-services. Without even realising it you will be greater than the sum of your parts, certainly in the eyes of potential clients, and you will over-night become a bigger brand.

You will be making their buying process simpler by being able to offer a wider service with just one decision! In addition, you will also be locking out any potential competition.

Also, consider if your new “power-team” should fall under the umbrella of one existing brand-name, or should you look at creating something new to push your fresh offering.

Either way, you will find the conversations you are having with clients will start being more wide-screen and less tunnel-vision (more of this in another blog) because you are able to chat about more aspects of their business needs and provide them with the results they want to improve their business as a whole, not just one small aspect of it.

Without doubt, 1 + 1 will most definitely start adding up to more than 2!

 

Don’t make it a hard sell – make it an easy buy!

Have you ever found yourself looking on E-bay on a Saturday night? I know it’s a bit of a guilty pleasure, but I like checking out out-of-print 1970s British horror-fiction novels (they’re my thing!) to see how much they’re being sold for. You might like old Pink Floyd vinyl LPs, but my thing are killer crabs and man-eating rats. All this is good, harmless fun until…until I’ve had a drink! (It is, after all, Saturday night!)

Oh dear, drink and E-bay are not a good combination. You’ve heard of parental restrictions on computers, right? Well, I wish my laptop had a breath-test for alcohol consumption! Below safe limits, no problem, proceed to check-out. Above alcohol limits? Uh-uh! Complete lock-down, no basket for online shopping, no check-out, and no credit card details needed! (How this would have saved me a small fortune over the years!)

The problem is, sites like Amazon and E-bay make it so damn easy to buy – a couple of clicks and its done (don’t even get me onto down-loading books onto my Kindle!)

Of course they make it easy! That is exactly how they want it. Make it only minutely more difficult and buyers will have second thoughts and click-off their sites. It is their prime objective to make buying from them as easy as humanly possible.

And that is how you should view your own products and services.

Ask yourself, how hard do you make it for customers to buy from you?

In today’s market, nobody wants to take risks when they are buying new services. So, the harder you make your sale, the less easy you will make it to buy from you. Let me explain…

Do everything you can to make buying from you easy (nobody likes being sold to so don’t try!) just like Amazon and E-bay do with their customers.

Your easy buys could be free advice and tips. Another easy buy could be a special introductory price. Or you could make buying from you easier by increasing the value of your offering in a 2 for the price of 1 kind of way.  

A solicitor friend of mine offers a free initial consultation for her clients. She reckons 4 out of 5 of those free sessions result in fee-paying clients, but they start off by making an easy buy decision.

Offering an easy buy allows you to start gaining the confidence of your customers and building proper business relationships. A hard sell will ensure you never attract the customers you want, because you will make it too difficult to buy from you.

Take a look at your offering – is it a hard sell, or an easy buy?

Make sure your business engine has the right mix of oil and water!

I don’t know a great deal about cars (except how to drive them and what looks cool!) and I certainly wouldn’t know where to start if I had to stick my head under the bonnet of one (that’s why God created friends like Mick the Mechanic!) However, I do know that a car needs oil and water to help it run. Yet, I also know that if I pour a pint of water and a pint of oil into a bucket and try to mix them together…they won’t!

So, here’s the situation, an engine needs oil and water in order to run properly, yet oil and water won’t mix together whatever you do to try! Brilliant – hopefully by now you’re thinking what has oil, water and engines got to do with winning new business. Let me explain…

If you can imagine the engine is your business. Now, as we’ve established every engine needs oil and water to run successfully. In this instance, imagine the oil is marketing and the water is sales. Your business engine needs both, but often I find businesses only have one and not the other.

Here’s an example – a business-owner I know recently paid a substantial amount of money to a marketing company to run an e-marketing campaign for them (absolutely nothing wrong with that, by the way) When they told me about this, I asked them how they were going to follow the campaign up?

They said: “Well, the idea is that I’ll get some interested clients ringing me up as a result of the campaign.”

“Fantastic!” I said. “Do you know what to say to them when they call you?”

At this point, it was obvious they hadn’t really thought about it. Also, they hadn’t thought about how to follow up the e-shots that don’t call them. So, if marketing is oil, then their business engine had plenty of oil but no water!

In very simplistic terms, effective marketing drives interested customers in front of you. Good sales skills then help you to persuade them to buy from you and not your competition.

Here is a simple equation that is true for all of us – a successful salesperson won’t sell a wrapper unless they’ve got someone to sell to, and an ineffective salesperson won’t sell a wrapper even if they have someone to sell to!

So make sure your business engine has the right balance of oil and water – get the marketing mix that is right for your business (effective use of social media via the support of Linked2Success is a good place to start) and then make sure you have the right sales skills to persuade customers to buy from you. Both oil and water are vital if you want your business engine to really purr!

What’s your Spartacus Effect…?

You might be thinking what does Spartacus and winning sales have to do with each other?

Well, I was watching the 1960 Kirk Douglas movie the other day, and when it got to the famous scene where Crassus asks the slaves to identify Spartacus, and one by one they all stand forward and shout “I’m Spartacus!”, I started thinking about what had just happened in the movie.

Because all the slaves had stood forward and all said the same thing, Crassus had no idea how to identify Spartacus from the rest of the crowd. Without standing out in the crowd, he just faded into the background.

Now, I know we don’t live in Roman times anymore, but if you are in business, you do need to stand out from the crowd – the crowd being your competition. If you don’t stand out from your competition, why should your customers buy from you and not your competition?

What do you do to get noticed and stand out from your competition? Look at your business, and ask yourself What makes me different?

We all want to be liked – it’s a human condition – but sometimes we can’t always be everyone’s cup of tea. Trying to be all things to all people can lead to you sitting on the fence too much and diluting your opinion, adn what makes you different.

Your opinion is part of what makes you what you are, so don’t ever lose it! If you’ve got a strong opinion on the subject of your business then voice it.

It is what you believe, so if you say it enough other people will believe you and start to believe you can help them. There will be some who don’t agree with your opinion – well, that’s fine; don’t alter yours to bend to theirs. Otherwise you’re just becoming part of the crowd, and no-one will remember you.

You need to stand out, otherwise all you’ve got to differentiate yourself is being cheaper than the competition – and that’s a game you will always end up losing!

Think about other people in business that you admire (not necessarily like) what is it that you admire? What sets them apart from the competition?

What is their Spartacus Effect?

I met someone the other day that had recently seen my old business colleague Andy Bounds (business communications guru) speaking at a conference. I asked him what he remembered from the talk and he said Andy has a blind mother.

I know many people who remember Andy because he has a blind Mum and is partially blind himself – that is his Spartacus Effect, part of what sets him apart from his competition.

I was recently chatting to Brad Burton (founder and MD of 4Networking) and he was dressed exactly how he looks on the cover of his book and in every photograph I’ve seen of him – jeans, T-shirt and trainers. That’s Brad’s Spartacus Effect – the every-man for people who don’t like traditional networking. Like him or loath him (and Brad really is Marmite!) you certainly won’t forget him. He stands out in the crowd.

My Spartacus Effect is partly how I look too.  

I’m a 6’ 3”, 290 pound, former rugby player. I have a shaved head and a goatee beard. I look more like a door-man (which I used to be) than a business consultant. I certainly don’t look like I’ve worked in and around sales for the last 20 years, and I definitely look bad in a tie!

I also hate selling, yet have been successful in sales and sales development for over 2 decades! Why? Well, if you have read my blogs and book you’ll know why.

But this is my Spartacus Effect – I’m not liked by everyone (nor would I want to be) but my blogs attract plenty of comments, ranging from I LOVE THEM to I HATE THEM and very little in-between.

I stand by my opinion on what increases sales, and that is why I put together my book. I believe in my advice and know that it works.

That is exactly what you need to do with your business – work out your Spartacus Effect and be proud of it. Don’t change it, don’t dilute it and never make excuses for it.

It is what will make you stand out from your competition and help you win more sales - remember I’m Spartacus!