Improve your sales by being a broken record…

When I was a kid I would always be asking for sweets and chocolate. In fact I never stopped.

My Mum used to say to me “you sound like a broken record!” because I was always asking for the same things.

When I was quite a few years older and working in insurance sales I was reminded of my Mum’s saying by my first manager.

“Make sure your customers think you sound like a broken record,” he would say when we had our weekly meetings. At first I wasn’t sure what he meant by that but eventually I began to understand.

I would walk around my round, collecting my insurance premiums and on the way I would let my customers know about any new offers or policies we were selling.

My manager would ask me: “Have you told them about the new ABC policy?” and I would answer: “Yes, I’ve told everyone about it.”

He would just smile and say: “Good! Well, tell them all again!”

At the time I wasn’t sure why I had to tell them all about the same thing that I had just told them – I thought I would be insulting their intelligence, and if nothing else their memory!

To my amazement, on my second run round I had customers suddenly telling me that they were interested in what I was telling them – even more amazing was the fact they were surprised I hadn’t told them before about what I was offering!

Of course I had told them, but for whatever reason they either hadn’t heard me, or it wasn’t important to them at the time – but now it was.

The big lesson I learnt from then was to not assume your customers remember everything you tell them – in fact, you’re better to assume they remember very little, or anything at all.

Despite what we would like to think, customers are only genuinely interested in what we do when they want the results we can deliver.

I was a good example of this a couple of weeks ago when Spring came early in the UK. I went into my local garden centre and queued up to buy some tomato seeds. The place was packed with customers, and it took me forever to get served with my little packet of seeds. Bizarrely, I could have bought them a week earlier and the place would have been empty, because the weather was still cold and wet. But that’s the point – I didn’t want them a week earlier, or on any other day that I passed by the garden centre. I wanted them that morning, because for me it was the right time to buy them.

So, make sure you are always letting your customers know about what you do and what you offer. I might have driven past the sign outside my local garden-centre saying “Get all your Spring seeds here!” a dozen times, but I only remembered it when it was important to me.

Become a broken record to your customers – have a rota of messages you send them. Don’t be afraid of repeating a similar message, because one day will be the day they want to buy from you.

By keeping in the sub-conscience of your customer base you will improve your chances of increasing your sales to them.

Increase your repeat-sales by using the Marillion Model…

I was sent an email yesterday from a rock-band called Marillion (best known for 80s hit Kayleigh) letting me know about their new album and world tour. Now before you all tell me how sad I am for receiving emails from Marillion, I want to point out how very clever they are!

They don’t have the broadest fan-base in music and they don’t sell-out stadiums when they tour, but what they do have is a small, though extremely-loyal following – like me!

I buy every album they release, I buy tickets to see them live, I buy their T-shirts…Hell, I even use one of their mouse-mats for my computer! (Now you can call me sad!)

And this is why they are very clever – they know they are never going to get to #1 in the charts, so they don’t try! They know they are never going to get a guest slot on X-Factor, so they don’t try! They know they are never going to win a Brit Award, so they don’t try!

But what they do know, with some certainty, is that their existing fan-base (like me) will always buy their albums, their concert tickets and their T-shirts – so they always make sure I’ve got lots of different things to buy from them! The reason being it’s a damn sight easier to sell to me than to try and convince someone who has never heard their music before to buy their album.

Let’s look at how this can work in your business…

A client of mine recently told me that their biggest challenge was to get existing customers to repeat-buy from them. So I asked them: “What other services/products do you have that your customer would want to buy from you?”

The short answer was not a great deal – so unless you’re selling nuts and bolts it is unlikely that you’re going to get many repeat-sales. So create something more for your customers to buy!

Just look at the Marillion Model – I like them enough to have bought from them already, so it’s extremely likely I’ll buy from them again. All they have to do is give me enough opportunity to buy (new albums, tour tickets etc) and let me know what they have on offer (regular emails/blogs/Tweets etc)

To my mind the Marillion Model is all about selling deep to your existing customer-base, and not spending all your time trying to sell wide to new customers – this a far more cost-effective method of increasing your sales.

Apply the same model to your business, and you’ll start preaching to the converted – in other words, people/companies that already like/know/trust you – and they will buy more from you as long as you make it easy for them to see how their world is going to be a better place as a result of buying more from you!

Get better results from your emails by making them CAC!…

Do you ever receive an email and after you’ve read it, you still don’t know what the sender wanted from you or what they were trying to say?

Claire Young (star of The Apprentice) recently tweeted about how many emails she gets every day and how amazed she is at how unclear, over-long and pointless they are.

I know she is not on her own!

Just check out your own e-mail inbox (or trash file!) and count how many of them make you feel like Claire Young – it’s frustrating isn’t it?

Chances are you probably decide not to read them properly (you might stick them in a file and kid yourself you will read them later!) and if you do read them, you certainly don’t action them.

So, whoever has taken their time to construct a communication and send it to you has probably wasted their time – as well as yours?

Now, try looking at your sent box and re-read the emails you have sent to your customers recently –

Did you have a clear benefit-rich title? Did they include an action-based request? Were they concise and straight to the point? Put bluntly, were you making the same mistakes as the emails that are sent to you?

If you were, then the chances are you are not maximising your chances of getting the responses from your communications that you want.

So, why don’t you try making your communications CAC?!

This is how CAC works…

For the sake of this exercise, let’s assume your communication is an email. The first thing you need to do with your reader is to make sure they want to read your email in the first place! This is the first C in CAC – Clear, benefit-rich title!

Whether we realise it or not, most of us decide to read our emails based on (i) the name of the sender (your boss or biggest customer for example) or (ii) if we find the subject line (title) interesting.

You can’t alter who you are (sender) but you can alter the subject line – so that is what you need to do to give your email the best chance of being read.

The quickest, easiest way to do this is to think about the person you are sending your communication to and ask yourself the question – If I was them, what benefit would I need to see to make me want to read this communication?

This is where you start thinking about how you can make your reader’s world a better place as a result of your service/product.

For example, if you were sending an email to a company that attracts all its new orders via their website, then the chances are they would be interested in hearing from someone who could help improve/increase the results of their website enquiries.

So, a clear, benefit-rich title could be – How we can help you increase your website enquiries…

If you do this effectively, you now should have the person interested enough in your title to want to read what is contained within your email – your first step to success is complete!

Now you have to make sure your reader knows exactly what it is you want them to do as a result of reading your email.

The rule with this is simple – if you don’t know what you want them to do; then they certainly won’t and will end up doing nothing! (Or at best doing it wrong!)

Far better for you to ensure your reader is crystal-clear on what action you want them to take. This is the A in CAC – Action-based request!

The key word here is action – this is what you want your reader to actually do – not think, or ponder or consider. But DO!

Here’s a good example of an action-based request…

To find out more about how we can help you, simply click here!

Without doubt, this is a crystal-clear, action-based request that they can’t possibly get wrong.

Now we have the first C and the A in CAC – let’s look at the final C – Concise!

Few people in business have either the time or the inclination to read reams of information in an attempt to get to the point of what they are reading – so don’t expect them to!

Keep your emails courteous but to the point.

Make them easy to read – keep your sentences short and avoid starting new sentences on the same line. Also, make sure any paragraphs are no longer than 3 or 4 lines deep.


A good rule of thumb is to imagine your email is going to be read on the 2-inch screen of a smart-phone, so don’t make it too wordy and don’t expect them to open an attachment – if you can’t hook them with the email, they’ll never take the time to open and read an attachment!

So there you have it – the quickest, easiest way to make your communications CAC –

C – Clear, benefit-rich title

A – Action-based request

C – Concise message

Go back to the future for success in Q2 2012…

Why don’t you go back to the future this holiday weekend?

Going back is sometimes the best way to ensure success in the future – let me explain…

This week in the UK we’re enjoying our first holiday week-end of the year. It is also the end of the tax-year (and the start of the new one) and the end of the first quarter of 2012.

As well as enjoying a well-earned break, what better time to take a deep breath and look at what you’ve achieved so far this year – you’ve been working away at you business for the last 12 weeks so how have things gone?

Take a piece of paper and answer the following questions as best you can –

  1. What has been your biggest success and why?
  2. What has been your biggest challenge and why?
  3. What did you want to do and haven’t?
  4. What have you done but wished you hadn’t?

Once you have your answers this is what to do next –

  1. Look at ways you can repeat this more often
  2. Work out what you would do differently to overcome this next time (because it will happen again!)
  3. Remove the reason why you haven’t and make sure you set about doing it to a deadline (don’t make it a line in the sand because we can always keep moving those!)
  4. Check to see if – in hindsight – there was any warning signs you should have seen, and look out for those warning signs next time to avoid doing it again

Time spent on this little exercise will help you have a successful 2nd quarter to the year!

Have a great Easter break…