Selling: Getting Your Foot in the Door of Your Client

Selling

Selling: Getting Your Foot in the Door of Your Client.

I coach nearly all of my clients to personally do some outside selling, even if they have outside salespeople on their teams. In order to lead your salespeople, you need to have personally walked in their shoes. If you know how to do selling, you can relate to your sales person’s challenges, you can teach them how to do the job, you will know how to monitor their performance and you can help them establish realistic goals.

One particular client had no sales background; he is involved in operations. I helped him to establish sales goals and sales targets. He had a list of around 500 prospects. His question to me was the following; “How can I get my foot in the door with these prospects?” Here is my counsel to him and to you.

Selling

There are basically two types of prospects:

1. Warm leads.

This is when you have a personal referral or introduction.

2. Cold leads.

This is when you have no introduction or referral.

Go with the warm leads first.

You should have already created your big list and a small list of contacts. You have a list of some past and present customers. Go to all of them and ask for referrals. Here’s the process you can use. Visit your customers and thank them for using you. Ask them if they are satisfied with your service or business. If so, this would also be a good time to ask for a testimonial. (For more information on getting testimonials to see the coaching tip “Creative Ways to Grow Your Business.”)

Getting Referrals

Ask the following question to customers and other referral sources: “Who do you know that could benefit from my service?” To help prompt their memory, you can show them your prospect list and ask if they know anyone on your list. Once they have identified some prospects for you, the best scenario would be your referral source endorsing you first. They can call your prospects in advance, join you for a conference call or meet with you both. Otherwise, tell them that you will contact these people that they have recommended. Contact these “warm leads” and tell the prospect that you promised your referral source that you would contact them. Then do the following:

How to Get Your Foot in the Door With Warm Leads

• Ask if you are calling at a convenient time; “Did I call you at a bad time?” If not, ask them when would be a good time to call back. Establish a day and time.

• At the appointed time, call your prospect and remind them that you promised your referral source that you would contact them.

• Explain the nature of your relationship with your referral source; you have served your client for three years, you have known your referral source for 2 years, etc. If you received a testimonial from your customer, share that with your prospect.

• Briefly discuss your service and how your service benefits your clients. In selling you want to point out what “pain points” your service eliminates.

• Ask if your prospect would be available for a brief meeting (30 minutes to 1-hour maximum) to better understand their business. Face-to-face meetings are the best way to develop a relationship and eventually win the business.

• If the prospect will not commit to a meeting, ask if you may touch base with them in the future at a more convenient time. Get their email address. Send them a thank you note for speaking with you over the phone.

• Send them interesting emails, call them from time to time to see how their business is going, or stop by their business with a gift or information. Always be brief, non-pushy and respectful of their time. Become their friend.

• If the prospect grants you an appointment, then your foot is in the door. If they grant you permission to contact them again in the future, they are still a warm lead. If they are not interested, move on to the next prospect.

• If you ask for referrals from all of your contacts and with all of your past and present customers, you may never run out of warm leads. But if you do, move next to cold leads.

Selling

How to Get Your Foot in the Door With Cold Leads

Your goal is to turn your cold leads into warm leads. This is an important part of selling. Lower your expectations with cold leads, but remain optimistic. Most cold leads will not do business with you. However, some will if you are respectful and make enough calls!

• Call your prospect and be forthright that you are making a prospecting call. Ask them if you may take 45 seconds of their time so that you and your prospect may determine if there is a fit between your offering and their business needs.

• If they say “yes” give them your 30-second commercial. Then ask them if they would have any interest in continuing a conversation at a time that is convenient for them. Honor your promise on the 30 seconds; some will actually time you.

• If they say “yes” go to the first bullet point for warm leads and follow the process.

• If they say “no” move on to the next prospect. Remember this acronym… SWSWSWN: Some will, some won’t, so what? Next…..

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Adding Value to Your Business

value of your business

How to Increasing the Value of Your Business

If you’re looking to sell a business, it’s helpful if you are constantly adding to the value of your business. In this articles we’ll explore some ways to do that.

A typical business really has two values. The “academic” value is the one determined by a professional business valuation. The other is the “true market” value. The academic value is arrived at with a formula based on the firms’ hard assets, cash flow, industry averages and multiples. The fair market value also takes those items into consideration, but then considers what buyers are really willing to pay.

value of your business

For many small and mid-sized businesses hard assets like equipment, vehicles, land, buildings, and inventory may be limited. For some small businesses there may be no hard assets at all. Instead, their value is based on intangibles like employees, business processes, customer lists, location and business relationships.

Adding value to your business requires focused efforts. To maximize the fair market value of your business, it’s vital that you capitalize on those intangible assets.

• Develop key employees. Buyers generally aren’t interested in paying a premium if the business relies on you for its success. Remember to delegate responsibility to key employees and involve your key staff members in the decision making process. Demonstrating that your company’s success is reliant on your capable, well-trained employees – not just you – will pay off at the time of sale.

• Document what you do. Be sure that job descriptions, operation processes, and strategic plans are documented. Documented records and plans give a buyer greater comfort that he or she will be able to emulate your successful growth and will help your buyer obtain financing. Also, be sure to keep business records like sales and expense reports, internal profit and loss statements/balance sheet, and tax returns clean and well-organized.

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• Build relationships. Name recognition, customer awareness and your reputation are all part of your business value. Even if your company doesn’t have many hard assets, your relationships are key. Consider diversifying both supplier and customer accounts.

• Improve cash flows. A potential buyer wants to see the “true cash flow.” And, of course, in the business world cash is king. Be sure you are driving all income to the bottom line.

• Review your assets. Sell off or dispose of unproductive assets or unsalable inventory. Remove or buy off any assets that are primarily for your personal use.

• Find and build your niche. You don’t have to be everything to everyone. Buyers will pay a premium for a niche that has barriers to competitive entry.

• Remodel, clean, and organize. What’s the first thing anyone does when they put their home on the market? They spruce things up and make sure everything is in its right place. Yet, in business, that’s rarely considered. A well-maintained facility will get the best price. Even businesses that lease space can benefit from a thorough cleaning and organization to convey a feeling of quality and efficiency.

value of your business

Keep these important intangible assets in mind if you’re looking to sell your business. They convey a value that financial statements alone do not. If you are looking to sell, make a plan. Start working on the intangibles well in advance of putting your business on the market. For many business owners, they reach a point where they burn out and psychologically retire early, before a sale is made. It’s important to work to keep your focus right until the sale is complete. Make sure that focus is on adding value to your business.

Finally, when the time to put your business on the market arrives, consider lining up key specialists who will help you make the most of the sale – an attorney, an accountant, a small business coach and a business intermediary to name a few. Remember, you only have one chance to sell your business, so you want to do it right.

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Part 1- How to Profit through Time Management

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Manage Time Like Money and Profit Through Time Management

Why did you get into business for yourself? Was it to be your own boss? Choose your own hours? Have more time with the family? Spend more time doing what you love? How do you profit through time management? Chances are, you answered yes to all these questions.

These days, you probably wonder where the time went. Why you spent 12 hours at work and barely make a dent in your to-do list. We already know that time is a key resource for you and your business, but it’s also a key resource in your life. Harnessing and leveraging time is the only way to enjoy life, and have a profitable business at the same time.

A few years back I was working with a client who told me that he hadn’t had a date with his wife in years! He was running a million-dollar business with ten employees but he didn’t take any time off for himself. We were able to restructure the business that made him more profitable and he was able to get regular dates with his wife.

The Pareto Principle in Business

You may be familiar with the Pareto Principle; 80% of your results can be attributed to 20% of your efforts, while 20% of your results can be attributed to 80% of your efforts. As the leader of your business, you want to focus your efforts on the activities that yield the greatest results.

Most business owners carefully manage their financial and personnel resources, and pay due attention to their performance. Marketing plans and budgets are created, people are hired and fired. What most business owners don’t realize is that time – and the time of all employees – requires the same attention and diligent management.

Time will never manage itself.

Time is invaluable when you are running a business. That is why it is important to manage time like money and profit through time management. Time will never manage itself. The decision to make a pro-active effort to manage your time must come from you. Once you have committed to taking ownership for your own time management, there are a host of tools available to you. But first, you must understand how much your time is actually worth, and where you are currently spending it.

What is Your Time Worth?

Ever wonder what your time is actually worth? Here’s a quick way to figure it out:
Target annual income A.
Working days in a year B. 235
Working hours in a day C. 7
Working hours in a year D. 1,645
A/D = YOUR HOURLY WORTH (before tax + expenses) E.

This is a very simple calculation intended to put your time in perspective. In reality, no one is productive for each of the 1,645 hours. Various studies have put actual productivity at anywhere between 25 minutes and four hours per day. Either way, there’s a lot of room for improvement.

How Many Days Do You Have Left on Earth?

Let’s look at it another way:

Your age A.
Days in a year B.
Days spent on earth to date (A x B) C.
Average life expectancy D. 70
Total projected days on earth (D x B) E.
Estimated days left (E – C) F.

This exercise isn’t intended to scare you, but bring your attention to the importance of choosing how you spend each hour you have available. It is a choice! By developing the skills required to manage your time, you will not only have a profitable business but rewarding and balanced life.

The Five Culprits of Time Theft

Chances are – if you’re like most people – you have no idea where your time goes. You’re likely frustrated by the fact that you can spend 10, 12, even 14 hours a day working, and not make a dent in your to-do list, or only bill half of those hours.

When we’re too busy and overloaded with work, we often switch into reactive mode. We can’t make it to the bottom of the pile and end up handling issues and making decisions at the last minute. One of the great benefits of choosing to become proactive in time management is that you can become proactive in all other areas of your business. When in a proactive mode, you can take steps to grow your business through networking, building programs, and establishing systems.

Before you investigate where your time goes, let’s take a look at the top five culprits of modern-day time theft:

1. Time Management and Your Email

Make profit through time management and managing your email. How many times a day do you check your email? Is Outlook or Mail constantly running on your desktop? Email – internal, external, personal and business – clogs up your day like no other communication channel. For many of us, it is possible to spend the entire day writing and responding to emails without even glancing at our inbox. The number of emails sent and received each day by the average person in 2007 was 147. Multiply that by an average of two minutes per message, and you have spent almost five hours on email in a single day.

2. Time Management and Your Mobile Phone

Cell phones have created convenience, security, and the luxury of telecommuting. PDAs and cell phones have also created a society that expects to be able to reach you at any moment or at least receive instant responses to their calls. Your cell phone or PDA not only robs you of your time during the day but also during the evenings and on weekends when you are not at work.

3. Time Management and Your Open Door Policy

If you make it easy for your staff and associates to interrupt you, they will. Too often, open-door policies are set up by human resource departments to create clear communication channels. Instead, they create a clog of employees lined up at your door seeking immediate answers to non-emergent issues.

4. Time Management in Meetings

You can profit through time management if we also manage our meetings well. How many times have you been to a meeting that was scheduled to be an hour, and ended up lasting three? How often do you attend unnecessary meetings? Or meetings that run off-topic? Meetings can be a huge source of wasted time – your valuable time. In a senior management or ownership position, your day may consist of back-to-back meetings, leaving only your evening hours to complete the tasks that should have been done during the day.

5. Time Management: YOU!

Every person has daily habits that sabotage their ability to work productively and efficiently. Many entrepreneurs and business owners can’t separate business hours from leisure hours. Some get caught in a time warp while surfing the internet. Others – mainly overachievers – can become paralyzed by perfectionism or procrastination. Mainly we just don’t have the tools to schedule and structure our time in a way that fits with our working style.

Where Does Your Time Go?

So far we’ve seen that time is a resource that should be as carefully managed as cash, we’ve figured out what your time is worth, and looked at the top five culprits of time theft. You’ve committed to taking steps to become a better time manager. What now?

Personal Time Management Research Exercise

The next step is to take a good, (and honest!) look at how you spend your time. Once you understand your patterns and habits, you begin to implement the strategies in this chapter that will make you a better time manager.

Step One: Time Audit

Use the Time Log Worksheet at the back of this chapter to record how you spend your time for three working days in a row. Be honest, and be specific. Include time spent in transit, surfing the web, interacting with clients and colleagues, as well as how your time is spent at home in the evenings. The more information you can record, the easier it will be to analyze your time management skills in step two.

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Step Two: Time Categorization

Once you have recorded your time for three days, sit down with all three sheets in front of you and identify the following using different colored markers or highlighters:

• Driving, public transportation or other travel
• Eating, including food preparation
• Personal Errands
• Exercise
• Watching TV
• Sleeping, including naps
• Using the computer, personal use only
• Being with family/friends
• Emailing, including checking, reading, and returning messages
• Talking on the phone, including checking and returning messages
• Internal meetings
• External meetings
• Administrative work
• Client work
• Non-client, non-administrative work

Step Two: Time Analysis

Now that you have identified how you have spent your time, go through the worksheets one more time and identify if you have spent enough, too much, or too little time on each main task.

Then, based on your observations, answer the following questions:1. What patterns do you notice about how you spend your time during the day? (i.e., When are you most productive? Least productive? Most or least interrupted?)

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
2. Write down the four highest priorities in your life right now. Does your timesheet reflect these priorities?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
3. If you had more time, what would you do?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4. If you had less time, what wouldn’t you do?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

5. Could you remove the items in question four and add the items in question three? Why or why not?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

6. Is procrastination a problem for you? How much?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Go here to read Part 3.
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Finding and Training Great Employees

Part 1 of 3.

The people you hire to work for your business can be your biggest assets and your biggest headaches; finding and training great employees can be a challenge. They can support and help you to achieve the vision you have for your company – but they can also prevent you from reaching that vision.

Finding and Training Great Employees

Too many businesses overlook the role of employee recruitment and retention when planning for the success of their organization. Staffing is an important exercise that needs to be purpose-driven and strategic, just like marketing.

Employees Think: What’s in it for Me?

It is vital to understand in today’s market that the relationship between employee and employer is a two-way street. Now, more than ever, employees have a “what’s in it for me?” attitude that extends beyond salary and benefits expectations into incentive and rewards programs. The days of simple compensation structures are over.

Now, this may sound like a big headache, but it’s actually a good thing! With some simple systems and open dialogue, you will be able to effectively create – and keep – your dream team.

The Power of Your Dream Team

How much of your own personal time has human resources – staff hiring, firing, issues management, etc. – taken this year? No doubt staff recruitment and retention is one of the biggest challenges facing any business owner today.

The truth is, if you spent half as much time on human resources as you do on marketing, I guarantee your sales would increase dramatically.

Employees Treat Customers Exactly the Way You Treat Them

Customers know the difference between happy employees and disgruntled ones, and it makes a difference when it comes to purchasing decisions. I’ve heard it said that your employees will treat your customers exactly the same way that you treat them. Would you rather have your car serviced by a grumpy mechanic who doesn’t feel his good work is rewarded or a pleasant one who just stepped out of a weekly team meeting?

A successful business owner has confidence in the people who work for him because he believes they are the best people for the job. Employees who know their employer believes in their skills and abilities will go over and above to get the job done, to make the sale.

Successful Business Owner Invest Time and Money in Employees

Successful business owners invest time and money in finding, keeping and training great employees. These are the people who share and support the collective vision of the company.

I’m not talking about a complicated formula or magic concoction. I’m talking about some careful thought and a proactive strategy that will make your business shine from the inside out.

Finding Your Dream Employees

Building a dream team starts by finding and hiring the right people for the job. Sounds simple enough. You post an ad, find someone who has the necessary qualifications and hire them on.

Not so fast. Recruitment is a complex process that can dramatically impact your business operations. Just like finding and securing the right customers, finding and hiring the right candidates requires pro-active planning and careful evaluation.

Create an Internal Recruitment System

If you currently work with a recruiting agency to build your team, now may be a good time to stop and evaluate the effectiveness of their service. While a recruiting agency can save you the time and hassle of working through the hiring process, it can also cost more money in the long run.

I always recommend creating an internal recruitment system, not because recruiting agencies do a bad job, but because no one knows your business like you do.

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Create an Attractive Business Culture

If you want to attract and retain the highest quality clients, you must have a culture that is attractive and a future that is compelling. Developing an effective strategic plan and including your employees in the process is a good place to start. Determine where you are going, what your mission is and how your organization will treat others. Once you have established your vision, mission, and values, then you must deploy them throughout your organization to ensure that you “practice what you preach.”

An internal recruitment system ensures that the true essence of your business culture is communicated – from advertisement to interview. You also have the opportunity to communicate expectations from the outset, instead of relying on the recruiter to relay this information. The middleman’s thoughts and impressions are eliminated, leaving you to make decisions based on your impression of the candidate and no one else’s.

Step One: Advertise the Opportunity

The first step in recruiting candidates is obviously letting potential candidates know about the opportunity with your company.

But before you pick up the phone to place a classified ad, remember that advertising for potential employees requires just as much consideration and planning as general advertising for your business.

Before You Place an ad ask yourself:

• Who is your ideal candidate?
• What are their skills and qualifications?
• What is their personality or demeanor?
• What are they passionate about?
• What are they looking for in a job?

Once you have a mental picture of your candidate, then you can begin to write an ad that will not only reach them but also inspire them to act (and submit an application).

When writing this ad, be as specific as possible and focus on the benefits of the job. Remember that potential candidates screen job postings with an eye for “what’s in it for me.” Tell them exactly that.

Here are a few sample job postings:

 

Are you the Marketing Assistant we need?

About You

You’re fun, friendly and have a keen eye for detail. You’re always two steps ahead of your colleagues, and eager to take on new and exciting challenges.

You’ll be the glue that keeps the marketing team operating in a seamless fashion, responsible for website updates, copywriting, event coordination and client relations. You’ll be punctual, responsible, and well put together.

You’ll ideally have an undergraduate degree in marketing or English, and some previous office experience, but a fast learner with a great attitude will also get our attention.

About Us

We are a collaborative team of young professionals. We offer a competitive salary, great benefits and performance incentives.

Think you fit the bill? Email your resume and cover letter to John Jones at jjones@your business.com by Friday at 5 pm.

Are Computers Your Life?

About You

You are smart, outgoing, and a wiz when it comes to computer programming. You’re on your friend’s speed dial for computer emergencies, large and small. Helping people understand the complex digital world is your passion.

You’ll be our Lead Computer Technician, managing our computer repair counter and five Junior Technicians. You’ll have great people skills, mounds of patience, and enjoy working as part of a dynamic team.

About Us

We operate Anytown’s leading computer repair store and are known across the region for our customer service. We work hard, play hard, and offer a competitive benefits package to our employees.

Tell us why this job is for you. Email your resume and cover letter to [email protected] by Thursday, September 23.

Both of these job postings speak directly to a very targeted audience. They’re friendly, colloquial, and communicate the job requirements in an informal way.

Every job posting should:

• Be written in the way that you talk
• Be specific
• Describe benefits
• Include skills, qualifications, duties and job title
• Be written in the present tense
• Have a great headline
• Call the reader to action
• Be simple – in word choice and sentence structure
• Be more exciting than the competition

Now that you have a great ad to post, you need to decide where you are going to publish it. This depends on the level of the job (junior to management) and on the specific type of candidate you are looking to recruit.

Here are the five major places to advertise your opportunity:

Government Employment Center

These are great places to find blue-collar or junior level employees. Candidates register with the center, which keeps their resumes on file. Be cautious with this route – it can produce a wide variety of candidates who are not qualified.

Indeed, Ziprecruiter, Etc

This is a great place to post junior to mid-level employment opportunities. You’re looking for basic qualifications from local applicants, perhaps even for part-time positions, with minimal cost.

Linkedin

Senior employment opportunities that require specific high-level qualifications are best advertised with a broad scope. This incurs a greater cost but will return a greater variety of candidates.

Online

This is a cheap way to tap into a massive database of job seekers. Post your ad online on sites like www.monster.com or www.workopolis.com and watch the resumes come flooding in. A large number of highly qualified job seekers who do not wish to register with a recruitment agency will use these services.

Referrals

The most ideal way to find candidates is through your existing network – including associates, colleagues, employees, friends and family. These candidates come to you already vetted by a trusted source. You may also wish to consider giving your staff an incentive to refer their qualified friends and associates to you.

Other Niche Areas

You should also brainstorm a list of any other niche areas that your target market may look for a job. Consider vocational schools, colleges, industry publications, industry associations, small publications, etc.

Conclusion

Once you’ve posted your ad, your next step is to manage the inquiries that come flooding in. These are just a few steps in the process of finding and training great employees.

To read part 2 Finding and Training Great Employees.

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