Creative (and Free!) Ways to Grow Your Business in 2024

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Creative and Free Ways to Grow Your Business

As you may know, getting word-of-mouth business is one of the most powerful ways to grow your business. Below are some creative ways to “prime the pump” and get others to promote and grow your business and refer you…..and all of these things are free!

Do Press Releases.

Your local media is always looking for current news events. Every time you hire someone, promote someone, receive an award, have a grand reopening, move to a new location, or anything else of note write a press release. Find out who your local business editors are and send them an email with your news. Many of your releases will be printed by the local newspapers. Also from time to time a writer may contact you to write an article about your services… maybe even a front page article with your photo!

Barter Your Services.

Bartering is trading services and products with another individual or company. A throwback from the past, bartering has become quite popular again. Some business owners even find professionals to help them with trade execution services, which lowers the friction in their trading activities.

Think about the kinds of services that you are presently paying to use. Some examples may include accountants, advertising companies, attorneys, automobile mechanics, chiropractors, doctors, graphic designers, HVAC contractors, roofers, plumbers, sales trainers, etc. These small business people may need your service and you may need their services. Trade retail to retail. This is a great way to get business experience and their services in return.

Join Bartering Clubs.

Join a bartering club and you get free marketing of your service. Some clubs will even provide an unlimited amount of promotions of your services in their e-newsletters. When you provide your services the retail amount of your services go into a bank, less the broker fee which is typically around 6%. Then you can spend your barter dollars with other barter club members….restaurants, hotels, service providers, advertisers, social media experts, you name it.

Free Services to Referral Sources.

One great way to get endorsements and referrals is to provide free services to high profile people and to service providers such as accountants, attorneys or bankers or any other service provider that works you’re your prospects. Your agreement at the beginning of the relationship is that you will receive endorsements and referrals from your client in exchange for your services.

Offer Gift Certificates for Free or Discounted Services.

Chambers of Commerce, Civic Clubs and Charities are always looking for donations for special events. You can select the time of day, week or year to coincide with your slow times. Freely give out gift certificates for a free or discounted service. Your name will be promoted by the organization and you will get exposure to business owners when you provide the free service. If you do a good job with the service you may get a client, a referral or both!

Make Referrals.

Be generous in making referrals to others and you will receive in like manner. Be attentive when talking with others about a service they need and service providers that you may connect them with.

Get Testimonials.

Make sure you always get testimonials for your services every time whether a barter client, free coaching client or a paid client. The reason most clients don’t give a testimonial is because you haven’t made it easy enough for the client. Simply bring your pen and paper to your meeting or your phone call and ask the client how they benefited from your coaching. Jot down their response, then type it up for them and send them an email requesting their approval. If they are very busy this may also require a follow up phone call. Once you have their approval you can place on your website, your marketing materials or even on your office wall. One extra thing you can do is send them a LinkedIn request for a recommendation. Ask your client to copy and paste the testimonial into the LinkedIn field that is provided to them.

Partner With Complementary Businesses.

If you do your job as a service provider, you will become a trusted advisor with your clients. This will place you in a great position to recommend your clients to all kinds of service providers; web designers, graphic designers, banks, accountants, the list goes on and on. These B2B companies likewise are in a position to refer you as well. You can be intentional with these complementary businesses and become strategic partners. Plan to help each other.


Another step you can take with strategic partners is to jointly market and promote your businesses. You can create marketing materials, advertising campaigns, business socials, etc. with your strategic partners.

Using these free ideas to grow your business can make a big impact on your profits. Check out the strategies below to ramp things up even faster!

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The Best Way to Grow Your Business in 2024: Getting Referrals

best way to grow your business

The Best Way to Grow Your Business

We all know that word of mouth is the best way to grow a business. When you receive a referral you will have little or no competition, you will be able to command a higher price, and your referral source will have done much of the selling for you.

Getting Referrals for Your Business

The best way to grow your business is, to begin with, people that you already know. People do business with those whom they know, like and trust. This will include people you have worked with in the past, friends, family and your current customers. On average, each one of us knows about 250 people. Among the people that you know are people who will refer business to you if you will only ask!

Consider these facts: 20% of the people that you know will give you referrals without you having to ask. 20% of the people that you know will never give you a referral no matter how many times you ask. However, 60% of the people will give you a referral if you ask in the right way.

Here’s the way to ask: “Who do you know who could benefit from my services?”

Below are some keys to getting referrals:

Develop your big list of people who can refer others to your business.

The best way to grow your business is to write down every adult that you know on a list. Use the list of professions below to give you a reminder as you develop your list.

Develop your small list.

Prioritize your big list, and select 20 people that you want to focus on building deeper relationships with. The best sources of referrals are people that know, like and trust you. Select people who are centers of influence in your community. Develop a list and deepen relationships with them. Choose people that you will serve. The question is not “what can I get, but rather what can I give?” You will serve them by giving referrals, remembering important events like birthdays and anniversaries,  sending books, thoughtful articles, etc.

Strategies to Deepen Business Relationships

  • When you identify someone who could be a great referral source, meet with them one-on-one to deepen the relationship.
  • At that point, keep asking questions and listen 2/3 of the time and talk about the benefits of your service or product 1/3 of the time.
  • Ask “feel-good” questions. Be a good interviewer. Stay focused on them rather than talking about yourself.
  • Listen well, affirm them and get their business card.
  • Ask: “If I were to meet an ideal client for you, how would I recognize them?”
  • Connect them with other people that are a good fit for them.
  • Connect with them on LinkedIn. Before you do that, make sure that your LinkedIn profile is updated and features the benefits your service or product provides.
  • Follow up with a thank-you note. Say that you will try to make referrals to them.

Begin speaking to everyone who is within 3 feet of you.

Follow the interviewing tips above to begin to develop the relationship.

Ask for referrals from everyone you meet

Especially from your small list. Educate your small list of your services and deepen your relationships with them.

Know that you will not likely get a referral the first time you ask.

You must be consistent and persistent to get referrals. Also, realize that getting to the first referral is the key with many people. It’s like priming a pump. Once you get the first referral, future referrals are likely to flow.

Educate everyone about what you do.

Don’t simply give a generic “commercial.” Use stories of working with clients to illustrate different aspects of your services.

Be generous in giving referrals.

Give generously and you will likely find other givers.

For business owners, learning the art of getting referrals may be the most important skill you can possess. Develop that skill and you will prosper!

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How To Use CRM For Sales And Lead Management


Sales and lead management are crucial in the sales pipeline and should be done correctly. Read this blog to learn:

How To Use CRM For Sales And Lead Management

One thing every company owner will agree to is that customers are essential for a business to exist. As your brand grows and with it more customers and sales, handling this data becomes challenging. It is well beyond a manual task and businesses cannot take the risks associated with human error, data loss or duplication associated with pen and paper.

The best way to ensure complete customer data management is by using customer relationship management (CRM) technology. CRM software can manage all the interactions your business has with your customers, past and existing, as well as those who have expressed an interest in doing business with you. By having this ‘bank’ of information at your fingertips, you can invest the time to nurture your relationship with them. This way, the communication you have with them can also be used for sales and lead management in the following ways.

  1. Sharing information across teams

Information forms a crucial part of your lead and sales management. Collecting enough consumer data can help you really understand your customers, their problems and how you can act to solve these for them. If you are able to put yourself in a position where you can create personalized messages that engage your customers and turn them into brand advocates, then you immediately put yourself in a very strong position to win their custom again. This information needs to be visible across all the teams who will have touchpoints with your customers. It is only by doing this, that you can achieve a personalized service that caters to their individual needs.

Jobber is a good example of a CRM system that has been developed specifically for companies operating within the field service sector, such as window cleaning. All customer information is collated in one place making it very easy for any team member to access when speaking to a customer. The progress of sales can be tracked with ease, and it becomes simple to share consistent and effective marketing messages to customers at the various stages of the sales funnel.

  1. Gathering data when and where needed

The primary function of CRM is collecting customer data from the different channels where they interact with your brand. First, the system will gather all the required data from all the essential channels, which it does without any human intervention. Second, it will check the data for keywords or customer demographics. This kind of quality data is essential for lead management and for making conversions.

Additionally, CRM can facilitate an easier delivery of information to your team by providing it when and where they need it. This is done through customizable CRM dashboards, which can be designed by your team according to what they want to see. This helps with productivity as administrators can immediately find the information they are looking for.

  1. Reporting

Analyzing the data you’ve collected and making reports in between marketing campaigns will help you assess where your progress stands and benchmark your levels of success. This will tell you if you’re meeting your marketing goals, and if you need to improve or change the tactics you have adopted.

CRM shows infographics and information in real time and when needed. Because of its automated features and customizable dashboards, there is no longer the need to manually gather data for reporting purposes. It can be used for real time decision-making to improve sales and lead generation management.

  1. Offering better customer experience

Customer experience is an important step in lead management as it determines how satisfied your prospects are with your services. Therefore, make it a point to always offer the best experience to your customers and endeavor to turn qualified prospects into buyers.

Unfortunately, there are businesses that fail at this, and so they end up losing out on revenue for several reasons. To prevent this from happening, the investment of a CRM system will help automate all interactions between your business and its consumers. If used correctly, it should be able to capture data to help your sales team understand your customers frustrations, emotions, and other needs and how you can service these.

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  1. Tracking leads

Companies can improve their sales and lead management through the tracking of leads. This is an effective way of knowing the status of each. For example, you can track the number of customers who were contacted during the past month. You can also track what was discussed, the results of the interactions, and what channels were used.

Using a CRM will allow you to identify the actions that can drive conversions or generate quality leads. You’ll have an enhanced sales process as a result that helps you reach your goals faster. Also, tracking with the use of CRM helps identify areas that may need improvement in your sales pipeline.

  1. Distributing leads

During high seasons, businesses can experience a high influx of leads over a short period of time. This can quickly overwhelm internal teams if they don’t have the right tools in place to deal with them. A CRM software program can help to automate leads so they can be assigned to specific team members to be dealt with in the most effective way. The same applies if territorial sales are to be assigned to a particular regional or sales group.

  1. Nurturing leads


Lead nurturing is the process of identifying where a prospect is in the sales pipeline. It happens after the leads have been tracked and distributed to the sales team and includes the creation of targeted content and communications with prospects who are at different stages of the process and whose preferences may be through different communication channels.

A CRM system can help you personalize and coordinate these communications. Without a CRM tool in place to automate this process, it will be difficult to track whether your messages are working and leading to conversions.

Conclusion on CRM

Good sales and lead management requires the automation of certain tasks. Large volumes of data is required in order to draw actionable conclusions to inform business decisions. This can only be done with a robust CRM system in place that has the capabilities of handling large amounts of information and collecting it in such a way that it can be sorted, reported on and used to inform strategic direction and deliver a personalized service that your customers want.small business coach

Design A Bonus Program for Your Team

bonus program

Create an Effective Bonus Program for Your Business

One of the best ways to improve performance in your business is to implement a bonus program for your employees. A well-designed bonus program will motivate employees to achieve your goals, and you as the business owner get the lion’s share of the increase in sales and profits.  On the other hand, a poorly designed bonus system will only increase frustration and reduce morale.  Here are some things to consider.

Use Open Book Management

As a beginning place for a sound bonus system, I’m a fan of Open Book Management for any arena of business, non-profit or for profit. Since information is power, sharing your information with managers empowers them, and they will understand why they are achieving or missing bonuses prior to getting the good or bad news.

Determine Key Business Drivers

Secondly, decide what your key business drivers are and develop measures for each key driver. In other words, what major factors drive the success of your business, and what goals do you want to achieve? What goals will each retail unit need to achieve in order to attain your corporate goal?

Next, determine how much of a bonus you will share; will you establish a set pool of dollars for a flat bonus, or will the bonus be paid as a percentage of success once a certain goal has been attained? Then, of course, break it down by unit.

Decide how often you will pay the bonus. I prefer a year-end bonus since many businesses are seasonal; a good month or quarter does not always mean a good year.

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Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Finally, meet with your team on a regular basis to share financial results and other key driver results. Have your managers share what is working and not working for them at these meetings. Brainstorm at every meeting about how you can attain your goals; many times this will mean adding dollars to the top line and reducing expenses. Keep your team focused on “the ball.” Celebrate successes, and encourage managers who fall behind; learn from failures.

A well-designed bonus program works especially well within the framework of a clear, overall vision that is well communicated, deployed and that impacts every area of the organization.


You can see employee and customer satisfaction rise, turnover decrease, and more money in your pocket if you do this well!

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10 Easy Ways To Optimize Your Sales Pitch

sales pitch

Your sales pitch can say a lot about your business. It’s your opening line and your chance to show a great first impression when meeting with your customer. 

Understanding how to meet your buyer’s needs and engage with them is a crucial step in sales. The first half of having a successful sales pitch is securing their attention, and the other half is closing the sale. 

To optimize your sales pitch to the maximum, in this article, we will show you ten easy ways to optimize your sales pitch. 

What is a sales pitch?

A sales pitch is an optimized sales presentation where a salesperson explains the benefits and ideas of their business in one or two minutes or less. Sales pitches are frequently referred to as the ‘elevator pitch,’ a term that states you should be able to deliver the sales presentation (message) in a time frame equivalent to a single elevator ride. 

Ten Ways To Optimize

Your Sales Pitch 

1) Do research 

Every interaction with a buyer will require you to know about their market and which problem you can solve with your sales pitch. Buyers are always searching for an answer, and when you conduct the proper research, you may be their right solution.

Avoid approaching people at all costs when you don’t know the industry well. For example, when it comes to highly technical fields like a medical sales pitch, which involves presenting complex medical products and technologies to healthcare professionals, It’s crucial to have a solid understanding of the subject matter before engaging with professionals in that specialized area.

Ideally, you should be able to continue the conversation to close right after you present your sales pitch. Although, never forget that when you don’t do enough research in the market, your sales pitch can never be simple to understand. 

2) Make it short & clear 

A sales pitch isn’t going to a classroom and presenting a 1-hour presentation. You’re not going to have people’s attention for too long until they are interested in buying. A short sales pitch lasts about 15 seconds. 

According to a study done in the early 2000s, it was shown that the average attention span of human beings only lasted eight to 12 seconds. This is shorter than the average attention span before the 2000s. Considering this, you know that you have to make your Pitch enjoyable or else it won’t succeed! 

3) Show who your customers are 

Show your potential buyers who are buying your product or service. That way, you show how you are approaching the market and whether the buyer you are presenting matches your target audience. Be specific in finding out who is interested in your product or service and try to convince potential buyers why they should be interested. 

4) Address the problem 

Your target audience can only consider you valuable once they know you can solve a problem for them. Address the situation they are consistently facing. For example, the potential buyer you are approaching faces an issue when sharing files, and you have software that solves this issue. 

After that, you can discuss further how difficult it may be for the potential buyer to share files without your software. 

5) Show your progress

People want to invest in things that are proven to work. Ideally, you can do this by showing them your current customers and how well your growth rate has been in the past year or six months. Additionally, you may even show past achievements you have accomplished and revenue rates that have been achieved from your product or service. 

Trust is built when you show potential buyers that others are buying from you too. Word of mouth is the most powerful marketing tool and directly can affect how well your sales pitch may go. small business coach

6) Describe how the outcome looks like

Show the benefits behind your product or service, just like the example we took before with the software for file sharing. Show your potential client how they would save time while using your product or service. Or even show them how their overall life would improve when they choose to buy your product. 

In short, your Pitch should look like a brief conversation that summarizes what your business does, how it does it, and who is it doing it for? By stating this, you are painting a clear picture of what the outcome will be for your potential clients. 

7) Tell a story 

Keep your listeners engaged by telling a story about your product or company. Interesting stories include how customers succeeded while using your product or service. Maybe even a story of how difficult it may have been for your company to succeed, but with your new product or service, you managed to succeed. 

Stories create emotions, which may be a great way for listeners to feel an urgency to buy. 

8) Show facts 

Consumers do buy when they feel arousal of emotion behind it, although every consumer rationalizes before making any decision. By providing proven facts such as case studies or statistics, emotional decisions feel satisfied. This is you showing a proven reason why they should buy from you and will help them feel comfortable that they made the right decision. 

9) Educate 

Teach your potential buyers more about your product or service. Additionally, while doing that, you may include some issues people of the same target market are going through and how to avoid them through your product or service. 

While doing this, you are adding trustworthiness to your Pitch and maybe even teaching consumers something they may have never heard of. 

10) Implement the fear of missing out (FOMO) 

A powerful motivator when it comes to deciding whether to buy something or not. It is just like when the new iPhone comes out, and many people will buy it because of the fear of missing out. Make your product or service look the same way during your sales pitch. 

It would be best to create a sense of urgency to buy and not let the decision wait and fade away. For example, urgencies can be a limited-time offer, showing your brand authority, offering a gift if they choose to purchase no, and much more. 


Examples of a great sales pitch 

If you need some examples to look at before your creativity can start coming into play, here are a few examples from top sales pitch examples. 


“Deliver your next deck faster with our free presentation templates. They’re fully customizable, professionally designed, and delightfully easy to use.” 

If you were about to make a presentation and wanted to customizable the way it looks, then you would be convinced right away from this sales pitch. Why? 

Pitch offers ppt templates that are customizable and professionally designed. Many business people may lose time thinking of what design they wish to add to their presentation. Pitch is offering them a solution by giving them ready-made templates with world-class designs. You even see how straightforward their sales pitch is when claiming that it is fully customizable, professionally designed, and easy to use.


“There’s a better way to grow. Hubspot offers marketing, sales, service, and operations software that helps your business grow without compromise. Because ‘good for the business’ should also mean ‘good for the customer.”

By reading this sales pitch, you see Hubspot is getting straight to the point. It is telling businesses that they benefit when the customer benefits. Your customer is busy and has other things going in their mind, so a pitch that gets straight to the point saves their time and yours as well. 


“Vidyard is the best way to sell in a virtual world. From prospecting to proposals, record and send videos that personal touch to every sales email.”

Vidyard, in their sales pitch, is getting personalized, mainly because many salespeople find videos a unique tool. Sales pitches are best when personalized, but Vidyard also makes you feel comfortable when they say, “Vidyard is the best way to sell in a virtual world,” stating that remote selling can be done quickly and easily. 

Why shorter sales pitches are a better idea

Having shown you the examples above, you see that all these sales pitches got straight to the point and were maximally optimized for a short conversation. Talking too much, not providing the correct information, lack of market research, and talking for more than two minutes can quickly kill your sales.  

A long conversation isn’t important but a short one that is quality. It is just like when you are told not to talk too much in class or by your parents when you were a kid. So furthermore, keep your sales pitch clear, short, and simple! It will help a lot and have customers thanking you after for your efforts! small business coach

How Live Demos Can Increase Sales For Your Small Business

live demos

Consumers’ preferences and behavior may have changed over time due to digitalization, but the fundamentals and basics of making your business thrive still matters. Live demos can be an essential factor in regards to your success as a small business owner.

Even though customers’ shopping experience and purchasing behavior are now mainly shaped by digital marketing, it is worth noting that physical stores are still on top of every shoppers’ preference list when it comes to flexibility and convenience. Online shopping may have taken the world by storm, but customers still rely on hands-on engagement with products found inside a store.

How Live Demos Can Increase Sales For Your Small Business

So with that said, we have created this guide to help you launch successful in-store demos for your small business.

 Understand your customers’ behavior with live demos 

Research published by IBM pointed out that 71 percent of the people they surveyed often shop in micro-moments. This means that shoppers go to the store and purchase goods/services in-between errands. Basically, they are shopping “in the background” while doing other tasks.

For a small business owner, these types of insights are crucial because it tells you how a potential buyer actually ends up buying your products. On top of that, it would even give your marketing strategy some semblance and clearer direction.

Take, for example, your in-store demos strategy. If you have this type of insight and you know that your usual customers just shop in the background, then your sales pitch and demos should be short and concise. This way, you would not take up too much of their time and they would not be discouraged to come back to your store again.

So before you start writing your sales pitch script and organizing your live demos, you should at least know and understand your customers’ behavior first.

live demos

In-store feel to rival the digital experience

Consumers have become smarter and they are more likely to shop online these days. So in order to catch their attention and make them more curious about your store or products, then you should bring something new to the table, something that is not found on any digital site, and something that is unique only to your store.

For small businesses, doing this is not that difficult. It is common knowledge that small local stores are a sanctuary for niche and specialty products. Oftentimes, products found in local stores are so unique you cannot even find them in big grocers or outlets.

With that said, you should capitalize on your unique products and use this as your leverage every time you do live demos. Keep in mind that your customers may not know that your products are only available in your store, so you have to explicitly tell them this whenever you do your sales pitch or live demos. 

And to have that in-store feel to rival the digital experience, it is also a great idea to offer discounts, vouchers, or promos only found in your physical store. This way, customers would be more inclined to visit your store.

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Personalized sales pitch

Keep in mind that attendees of your live demos are already at the door of your store even before the actual demo day. They would not sign up for your live demo event if they are not interested or have no clue about your product. That’s the reason why attendees are also called “potential buyers.”

They clearly know about your brand or products already. The only thing that you need to do is to convince them to spend their money to buy it.

In this situation, the best route is to try and establish a personal connection with them during the live demo. This way, you would know what they are specifically looking for in a product. Doing this allows you to highlight how your product is the exact thing they are looking for or how your product can perfectly solve their unique problem.

Given that improvisation during the actual demo day might be difficult for newcomers like you in the industry, it would not hurt to hire extra help from an event staffing agency. In fact, doing this can lighten the workload and you can even learn a thing or two from them. Once you fully get the hang of it, you can organize and prepare your own sales script for your other succeeding live demos. 

Transform to Thrive by using live demos

live demos

One of the reasons why some live demos often fail is because they do not adapt to their customer’s needs and preferences. Remember that following trends and understanding the changes in your customers’ behavior is one of the keys to retaining them as loyal customers.

Nowadays, live demos do not always have to be physical and face-to-face. Even small local businesses are starting to adapt to the tech-savvy generation of consumers and are now holding live demos via Zoom, Skype, Meet, and many more. On top of that, in-store experience has a whole lot of other new meanings these days as well. There are now things like in-store app navigation, in-store digital display, and many more.

So to keep up with the times, it would be in your best interest to listen to your customers’ suggestions as well as make an effort to respond and meet their recommendations.

Doing all of these does not mean pooling all your resources and hiring a full-service IT and digital team to help you. Oftentimes, you can do all of these for free if you just take the time to learn and adapt to these new changes in tech and the digital world.  


All in all, it all comes down to your research and planning process. The only way you can ever have a successful live demo is if you do your research right and plan for every possible event that may happen during the actual demo day.

Remember that a successful live demo does not have to be extravagant that it burns a hole in your pocket.

More often, a simple but well-researched and well-planned live demo is enough to do the trick. It can help you reach your target, establish a deeper connection with your customers, generate a conversation around your brand, and ultimately increase your sales.small business coach

Shipping Checklist For Your Business On Peak Shipping Times


Don’t make the mistake of neglecting the preparation aspect of any business. Peak shipping season is a great opportunity to gain more profit. Now, you can get organized with our shipping checklist to be in tip-top shape when it rolls around.

With small business shipping, being organized and on top of things is critical at all times. The margins on your business are not usually that big, so you need to ensure you always bring your A game. However, during the peak season, it’s even more essential. 

Disappointing customers and annoying suppliers during the busiest periods can easily give your business a negative reputation that could last throughout the quiet periods too. This could be hugely detrimental to your business, and cost you a fortune in sales.

Peak Shipping Times Checklist For Your Business

So, how do you get your business prepared for peak shipping season? Let’s take a look:

1. Set Your Shipping Checklist Guides According To The Season


Whether you’re planning your own stock levels and ordering, or you’re providing shipping guides to customers, you should never have a one-size-fits-all approach. Things will change depending on the time of year and the general volumes of items being shipped. Just like a hotel will have peak and off-peak rates for their rooms, you should have peak and off-peak shipping season guidelines as part of your business processes.

Peak seasons can also vary slightly depending on what industry you’re in and what is being shipped. For example, on the consumer side of things, peak season will be November to December as people gear up for the holiday season. However, the retailers will need to gear up in the months before that, meaning their main shipping season is August through to October.

Over the Christmas period, it’s also a good idea to clearly provide details as to when the last order can be placed so that it will be shipped in time to give as a gift, or use over the holidays. Being open about this up front with your customers will alleviate a lot of heartache and worry. Plus it will provide your customers with a good user experience as they know whether or not their expectations will be met. No one likes not knowing if the gift they ordered will arrive in time!

2. Ship And Store What You Can Early

Shipping during peak season can also bring with it a hefty price tag. The demand for shipping lanes and transportation goes up and those providing these services can increase their rates (and usually do). If you have any products that are not perishable and can be shipped before you hit the peak season, it might be far more cost effective to do so.

Shipping early will come with other implications, especially the cost implication of storage at the receiver’s end. You may need to look into getting a warehouse space, which costs money. However, this could still be less than the increased shipping fees. Do your homework about small business shipping timings and plan accordingly.

3. Stagger Your Shipments Based On Need

What can often hold up a shipment, especially in the busier peak times, is that an entire order can’t be made ready at the same time. This means that one part of your order is sitting waiting and won’t be shipped to you until it is complete.

Instead of placing your regular orders, look critically at what is urgent during the peak period and only order that. You can talk to your suppliers about sending part orders so you don’t completely run out of something.

If you are shipping orders to customers, consider setting up a similar option for part orders. If you speak to regular customers early on about stock issues or potential issues with shipping, you can usually find a way around the concerns together.

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4. Be Aware Of The Impact Of Holidays In Regards To Your Shipping Checklist

During the peak holiday season, there are fewer working days. This means that there is a higher demand for items to be shipped, and fewer days in which to make those shipments.

The impact of this could mean a longer time for an item to arrive or a higher price tag attached because the shipping company has to pay employees to work over a holiday. There are strict regulations around this in the trucking industry and other shipping methods so it’s a crucial item to add to your checklist.

5. Change Up Your Shipping Methods


Before demand for couriers and shipping goes up over the peak season, you may want to shop around and see what other options there are. You don’t always have to use the same company or method to send your products to customers or to get items from your suppliers. You should also consider seeing if the companies you use have flexible options.

For example, if you don’t mind the products arriving between 15 and 20 days, rather than arriving within 15 days, you might get a better rate on shipping. This is because the shipping company then has a bit of breathing room to work around the massively varying shipping requests coming in during peak season.

You can also consider creating your own small business shipping delivery methods if it’s possible. Look into the logistics of hiring a driver and a van for the peak season so that you can stay in control of what you deliver to your customers. It doesn’t have to be a permanent solution – just something to help you stay on top of things when they are busy.

6. Insure Your Shipping To Prioritize Your Shipping Checklist

This often seems like an unnecessary extra cost, but it can help your business to survive if a shipment goes missing or is delayed. In peak shipping season, it is far more likely that you will face one of these scenarios and that can do real damage to your ability to make money.

With proper shipping insurance, you can easily make claims and cover any losses that are incurred. This extra peace of mind can help you to thrive through the busy seasons and grow through the quieter periods.

Peak season can make or break your business. If you ensure you are prepared for peak shipping season, you should reap the rewards. Your bottom line will improve and your customer service and satisfaction ratings will too.small business coach

Measure Twice-Cut Once: How a Carpenter Taught me Marketing!


Measure Twice-Cut Once: Marketing Lessons from a Carpenter

Marketing for small businesses is frequently a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. I learned a lesson about successful marketing while I was working my way through college. Although I didn’t realize the application of the knowledge until later, this lesson has stuck with me.

One summer, while going to college, I worked for a company that made kitchen cabinets. My job was to cut the front frame where the cabinet doors attached. On my first day of work, I asked the Head Carpenter what was the most important thing about the job, besides not cutting my fingers off? He said to always remember to “measure twice – cut once”. As we became friends, he jokingly reminded me for most of the summer; “measure twice, cut once”, it almost became my nickname. To this day, when I drag out a piece of wood to cut for a home repair project, I still laughingly say, “measure twice – cut once.”

Sales and Marketing Activities Today

Fast forward to today. I have since realized that I owe much of my success in the world of sales and marketing for small businesses to that same rule of measuring, not measuring wood in this case, but my sales and marketing activities. As salespeople, we face an ever-growing list of sales and marketing activities that we can spend our time and money on; many of these tools are more powerful than we could ever have imagined. The likes of Facebook, Email, Twitter, LinkedIn, the Web and who knows what’s next are constantly pulling us to choose them to be the next marketing concepts.


 Why is Measurement in Marketing for small businesses so Important?

As small business owners, we might say that we’ve reached a point of too many choices and not enough time. But too many choices is exactly the point why measuring is an absolute must. It’s easy to just grab on to the latest-greatest marketing thing, especially if everybody else is doing it or it’s getting the latest press. So, pick the latest-greatest, choose the easiest, pick the cheapest; I don’t care. What I care about is that you measure twice and cut what doesn’t work because you don’t have the time or budget to waste chasing down every narrow little marketing idea that pops up.

The role of measurement in sales and marketing activities today

When it comes to making informed marketing decisions, measurement plays a key role. However, keep in mind that there are many marketing concepts, and some of them could be considered intangible (i.e., brand awareness). Below are four examples of what I believe is important for any business looking to gain a competitive advantage through effective marketing: choosing an approach that uses all available resources; developing promotional activities based on customer needs and behaviors; effectively addressing competition; and understanding consumer decision-making processes. Now let’s take a closer look at each one:

Choosing an approach that makes use of all available resources: help you streamline your efforts, so you’re not wasting money on techniques or marketing concepts that aren’t bringing in results; help find the right balance between all the different activities (i.e., advertising, new product development, sales promotion) to ensure they work together effectively without being redundant or conflicting; and give a clear focus for all marketing activities by helping you stay true to your overall business goals and objectives.

Developing promotional activities based on customer needs and behaviors: help marketers figure out who their target market is; what products/services the company offers; which channels should be used for promotion (i.e., social media as opposed to television commercials); how customers are likely to behave when exposed to specific tools/techniques (or how effective each one is at getting customers/clients to respond); and what type of communication will be most effective.

Effectively addressing competition: helps you understand how well your competitors are doing; the strengths and weaknesses of the organization (through analysis of competitor activity, resources, etc.); where they get their money from; how successful they are in different regions; which products/services have the highest demand and so on… In short, it gives you a complete picture of the market and your competitive environment.

This is important because you must develop an appropriate strategy using great marketing concepts to stay ahead of them or even take over their position in certain areas. Keep in mind that this work can be time-consuming, but it could give you a significant advantage over your competitors if done correctly.

Understanding consumer decision-making processes:  This can help you develop products/services that customers will buy; pinpoint how sales are made (i.e., who makes them, what channel they’re made through etc.); inform the creation of promotions by showing which types of products/services make customers happy and most importantly: where are competitors failing.

A practical example of NIKE

Here we consider the role of measurement in sales and marketing activities today by taking an example of a sportswear company, Nike. They had a clear target market segment for their products: those who were into sports, yet they managed to make this brand available to everyone. They used proper indicators to do so. So, when it comes to marketing for small businesses, the same technique applies, which means if you want your business to grow, you have to use certain metrics and marketing concepts to help analyze progress towards targets.

Let’s consider how the proper indicators were implemented during Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign by focusing on their main target market. To reach this market, they toned down their approach, chose to appear youth-oriented and put all the focus on sub-brands. And it worked! To me, that is a perfect measurement., which can also be applied to marketing for small businesses.

 How can market measurement help in marketing for small businesses?

As a small business owner, by changing in some way or another, your marketing campaign can be more effective. Setting the right targets and monitoring them is important, but it’s equally significant to measure if such a change is really working. That’s what we must learn from these companies who are taking their market measurements seriously, and as a result, are benefiting from them.

In addition, the performance of your marketing for your small business needs to be measured so that you may identify areas where improvements are needed or changes need to take place. Through proper measurement, you’ll get an idea of how successful your advertising was by comparing past performance with current performance via indicators like cost per impression or click-through rate. This way, you can take a calculated decision on what to change and how.

One significant point here is that it isn’t only about the eventual results but also the process used. For example, utilizing social media channels to gain attention provides businesses with more opportunities to get noticed than from traditional marketing concepts such as television or newspaper advertisements.

 What are the tools for market measurement?

In marketing, two main types of measurement are used to determine if the market is responding positively or negatively towards a change in your strategy – qualitative and quantitative.

Qualitative Measurement

Qualitative tools provide you with customer feedback and focus on product development. Examples include focus groups and brainstorming sessions, allowing marketers to get valuable information about customers’ thoughts and feelings towards product features, design, packaging, pricing and advertising. In fact, such feedback can help businesses gain an overall understanding of what their prospects want.


Quantitative Measurement

Tracking sales figures over time is one way to measure if changes were effective or not; it’s often simple information that can be collected through business systems like sales reports from accounting software. The amount of money spent on marketing campaigns, the number of new customers, and sales figures are all examples of quantitative measures.

Other tools for market measurement

Analysis: Analysis is a fundamental tool for market measurement because it helps brands track their progress towards business goals or marketing objectives. When it comes to marketing for small businesses, analysis can be used to help you see what marketing activities are working best and which ones have little impact. This way, you can focus on the things that work and avoid those that don’t bring in results. A few examples include: how well your website performs in terms of visitor traffic; whether visitors respond better to a video or text; who influences most other customers (i.e. high-value customers) within your target market; and what customer segments have led to increased profits the most (i.e. new vs existing clients). Even if you’re unsure what marketing concepts you need to implement, analyzing all the available information will become clearer.

Then, you need to measure your results. With the right tools, such as contact management software (and I’m sure there are many solutions out there), it’s easy to keep track of all contacts and leads generated from your marketing campaigns. This way, you can see the status of the communications being made with prospects/customers at any time and place.

Also, check how well your company’s website communicates its message through measures like traffic on a specific page, conversion rate; return customer rate; bounce rate; how long people stay on each page and what pages they visit most often. The list could go on…

Social media: is another important tool for market measurement in marketing for small businesses. Nike, (though not a small business) not only monitor their brand’s performance but also measure the results of individual posts and how they can be improved on. For instance, there is no difference in what you post online if your message or image does not reach the target audience because that’s what needs to be recognized by this company for it to work well using social media marketing concepts. And they do this; they take note of what works best (for instance, the happiness index), and that’s how proper use of measurement should work in developing successful campaigns in respect to marketing for small businesses.

So nowadays, we don’t just buy stuff because something looks good anymore. It must be the right product at the right price and accompanied by great service. Businesses that consistently do this are thriving, while others are failing. That’s why measurement plays such a big part in understanding which marketing concepts is most effective in marketing for small businesses.

Social Media Analytics:  a recent post by Hubspot states, “By measuring the performance of social media against specific business objectives, brands will be able to determine what is and isn’t working—and improve upon it. In fact, 84% of U.S. marketers said they are using social media analytics right now to do that very thing (HubSpot). Clearly, this practice alone can ensure maximum returns on investment for your brand’s marketing activities online.”

Make sure you measure results regularly – at least once a month or so — while also considering long-term results, such as how well a campaign resonates with customers over time. If there are any setbacks in sales or even if there are successes, you can still monitor these areas, too (in addition to your sales pipeline). Be sure to note important shifts in customer behavior and, whenever appropriate, adjust strategies or marketing concepts accordingly.

Another benefit of Social Media Analytics for marketing measurement is that you can easily view “the social media landscape” (as well as your competition) in one convenient place; the vast amount of information that you gather could strategically guide future campaigns. It also helps you to understand what’s working, what isn’t and why this is happening so that you can measure and cut as necessary.

This may seem obvious, but it’s important to remember that there are many factors involved with marketing measurement. One very significant factor is how much data you have on prior marketing activities. For example, is your knowledge based only on qualitative or quantitative data? Is there a clear overview of all contacts made with prospects/customers?

You should definitely strive for an accurate record of all leads generated from your efforts because this will help when it comes time to making sales presentations. With this information in hand, you could even create reports that show your growth over a certain period of time (such as half a year), which is valuable for forecasting and determining what will work next.

Measurement is vital in marketing for small businesses, to track your progress towards marketing objectives and learn how to improve marketing efforts.

Levels of market measurement

Top-down measurement is the traditional way of evaluating sales results, which advertisers and marketing managers use to track progress towards their goals. This method looks at sales and profits while also analyzing the number of new customers. It also looks for changes in customers’ needs and wants because these shift constantly; this could be due to demographic changes or economic downturns, for example.

Top-down marketing measurement also looks at a brand’s marketing costs compared to the size of its market share and profits. To do this, marketers use the incremental sales figure (which is your increase in sales as a percentage over last year). This figure allows you to calculate what you can spend on advertising without considering how much it costs you in efficiencies. Also important is the ongoing tracking of financial results via systems like accounting software. We want to know that we’re getting better rather than worse over time; if not, then we need to question why and make changes to our marketing concepts so that our business stays successful.

Bottom-up measurement provides a more specific analysis, which means looking at each individual customer’s buying process with you. For example, how did they find out about your company? When did they make a purchase? How many repeat purchases have been made, and at what frequency has this occurred? Bottom-up measurement can be applied to any department within the organization to identify which individual performers are contributing most towards overall sales and profitability.

According to Jack Welch – former CEO of General Electric, bottom-up measurement means looking at the numbers in great detail from every angle possible. He also said that managers shouldn’t just look at basic financial results; but also apply more creative methods of analyzing all data available, including direct feedback from customers. In order for these measurements to work, companies need to commit time and resources to them regularly. Not just when the company is doing badly, but all the time. That way, we can see how it performs over longer periods, such as months and years.

In his book “Good to Great,” Jim Collins talks about how an effective measurement program consists of a few simple but important factors. The first factor is that good measurement should be quantifiable (that means the underlying data should be measurable). Is your sales process pretty much understandable by most people? If yes, then you are probably measuring well; but if not, then either you need to make changes to those measurements or rewrite them in simpler terms for everyone to understand what they mean. This concept is best applied in marketing for small businesses.

Consistency:  The next aspect of successful measurement programs is consistency because this makes it easier for managers to understand the data. When conducting marketing for small businesses, you should have a standard way of reporting sales results each month, for example, because this helps you compare performance over longer periods and see what’s working well and what isn’t.

Precision: Precision is another important factor in measurement systems; if you want your numbers to be an accurate portrayal of how the business is performing, then they need to be precise. This also means that if problems are highlighted by an analysis of the measurements, then people need to ask why these problems exist so that change can happen.

Collins says that measurement must be managed with discipline; some people might not like it when told where their weaknesses lie, but it’s very useful information nonetheless. What does ‘management with discipline’ actually mean? Basically, it means that everyone in the company has some sort of measurement system. If they don’t like what they see as a result of this measurement, then it should encourage them to find ways to improve their performance and achieve better results.


Another important fact about good measurement is that it encourages employees to think outside the box by providing them with detailed information about how the business operates and where opportunities exist for improvement – whether in terms of sales or customer service. That way, we can identify problems before they become too serious; and make sure our customers are receiving an ideal level of service so that they will continue to shop with us.

Also, linking your measurements with budgets makes sense because it brings in a degree of planning and control. In your marketing for small businesses’ journey, ask yourself whether your marketing concepts are helping you achieve your budget objectives? If not, then maybe some changes need to be made to your measurements.

I really enjoy the quote from Napoleon Bonaparte that says, “Measurement leads to control and eventually mastery” because I think it shows how everyone in an organization needs metrics or measurements to monitor their performance; making sure they achieve their required results. This is important if we want our business to grow, as well as stay profitable for a long time.

Compliance with legal requirements is another reason why companies need measurement programs – particularly if their marketing concepts involve any kind of financial transactions where large sums of money are involved, such as retail commerce or banking institutions, for example. Basel II is an important example of a set of principles and guidelines from the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision that institutions must follow if they want to expand their operations into new countries or markets.

It helps to ensure that capital adequacy standards are met, meaning financial institutions have enough money available if anything unexpected happens. A measurement program can help banks measure how much capital they have at any given time, helping them to predict whether additional cash will be needed by the business. That way, companies don’t run out of cash when it’s most needed – such as in difficult periods where lots of customers are asking for refunds and charge-backs, for instance.

Measurement, in relation to marketing for small businesses is vital for any business to not only track its progress towards marketing objectives but also to learn how to improve marketing efforts.

Measuring twice and cutting once in marketing:

This simply means making sure you check your numbers twice and take the time to learn from successes and failures. Measurement is a continuous process that will help marketers and small business owners you find out what works best for your business.

Remember: measurement is one of the great marketing concepts that can be used by anyone (whether you are marketing for small businesses or big one) to understand customer behavior, gain insight into how campaigns are performing, or even just get a better grasp on the changes in your industry. Don’t forget, though, that there are many other ways besides quantitative measurement of how successful marketing efforts are; qualitative measures such as interviews (i.e., focus groups), surveys and questionnaires should not be overlooked when undertaking marketing for small businesses. The more information you have about your audience, the better results you can expect to achieve.

How can you apply market measurement strategies?

While reading this article, whether you were aware of it or not, you’ve been applying market measurements by analyzing what you read through your critical thinking skills and how much value they provide to you.  The same applies to businesses that apply market measurement strategies.

You can apply market measurement strategies in 10 ways as listed below:

  1. Evaluate existing marketing campaigns and advertising investments
  2. Determining the effectiveness of marketing efforts
  3. Determine how well your product/service is perceived by target customers
  4. Tracking changes in consumer behavior patterns over time
  5. Project potential changes in customer needs/desires for future products or services
  6. Identify new opportunities to increase sales and profits through effective segmentation, targeting and positioning strategies
  7. Develop appropriate pricing levels based on economic conditions (i.e., recession) that are going to affect demand for certain products or services
  8. Monitor competitors’ activities toward learning what works best from a particular campaign, then using it as a benchmark for future references
  9. Understand how different strategies contribute to overall performance (i.e., sales and profit)
  10. Help answer the question: “what else do we need to know?” about a particular situation or problem


You might say that we’ve reached a point of too many choices and not enough time. But too many choices is exactly the point why measuring is an absolute must. It’s easy to just grab on to the latest-greatest marketing thing; especially if everybody else is doing it or it’s getting the latest press. So pick the latest-greatest, choose the easiest, pick the cheapest; I don’t care. What I do care about is that you measure twice and cut what doesn’t work. Here’s an article on results from using a tactical marketing plan.

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Importance of Business Networking

Business Networking

Do you feel awkward or afraid when going to business networking events? You are not alone!  Many people avoid networking events and many others make big mistakes while networking. Simply showing up at a networking event with your business cards is not enough! Successful business networking requires planning and strategy.

Business Networking

Importance of Business Networking

Networking is important and networking works! According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of all jobs are found through business networking. As a business owner, you want to constantly grow your network of contacts.

How Have You Been Impacted by Meeting Other People?

Think about some ways that meeting other people has impacted your life. The position you now hold likely happened because you met someone somewhere. How did you meet your spouse, your friends, and your work associates? In many cases, you were introduced or you met them somewhere. Many of us have gotten something free such as tickets to an event through networking. Don’t miss out on this great way to grow your business!

Here are some tips to make your business networking effective:

Go with the networking plan to serve others.

The best way to set yourself at ease during networking is to focus on other people. Go with the mindset that you are there to give. Listen well! Think about ways you can help them: people that you can introduce them to, resources and tools that could benefit them. Make them happy that they met you!

Have a goal with your networking events.

You are attending events to make contacts that will be mutually beneficial. Decide in advance how many people you want to meet. If possible, decide in advance who you want to meet. Arrive early and view the attendee name tags and the companies they work for. Arriving early is also important to start the event in the right manner. You can position yourself to meet attendees as they arrive.

Don’t get into cliques while networking.

Remember your goals for the event. If you get into a circle of people you already know, you will limit your ability to meet new people. Spend a few minutes with everyone you meet, but move on. You can say, “excuse me, I need to freshen up my drink.”

If you are anxious while networking, go with a friend.

This is a good way to get your feet wet. You can talk with your friend during the gaps between meeting new people. As you get more comfortable you and your friend can split up.

Get introduced at networking events.

Another advantage of arriving early is to ask the host to introduce you to some of the guests. Or if you see an acquaintance talking with someone you want to meet, approach them and ask your acquaintance for an introduction.

Take your business cards and a pen to networking events.

However, don’t offer your card too quickly. If you meet someone that would be a good contact for you, ask for their card. Once you have ended your conversation, write down key information about your new acquaintance. This will help you later to remember details about them and will aid you as you begin your next conversation. Of course, when people ask for your card, be ready to provide one. Don’t give them more than one card unless they ask for it.

Small Business Solutions Book

Be a good interviewer while networking.

For a great example, watch how newscasters interview people. Listen twice as much as you talk. Keep good eye contact while they are speaking; don’t look around the room while they are talking. Nod your head, smile and laugh where appropriate. Interject short responses from time to time to relate to your acquaintance. Make affirming comments and sincere compliments. Most people will ask what you do, but if they don’t, feel free to briefly tell them about what you do.

Have a thirty-second commercial while networking.

Be ready to briefly describe what you do. Talk about the benefits (how you impact your client’s life) of your product or service rather than the features (what you do). Know what makes you unique and better than your competition.

Be ready to describe your ideal client while networking.

Know how to describe your prospects in terms of demographics. For example, “My clients are young married couples who live in working class neighborhoods in Greenville SC.”

Look for “Networking Orphans.”

At just about every event there will be someone who is new, uncomfortable and anxious. They may be standing awkwardly against the wall looking out of place. Find them and become their friend. Introduce them to others. They will be very thankful that you rescued them.

The most important thing…follow up after networking!

If you don’t follow up with your new acquaintances, you have just wasted your time at the event. Be unique in your approach. Send a card, or make a phone call thanking them for meeting with you. If appropriate, invite them for coffee or lunch to deepen the relationship.


Remember that people do business with those they know, like and trust. Business networking works! Serve your business contacts well and you will be on the road to great clients and referrals!

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Selling: Ten Things to Know and Do Before Making a Proposal

Ten things to know and do before making a proposal

Many small business owners simply “spout off” what they do with prospects, and lose the opportunity to win a new account. With selling, there are things to know and do before making a proposal.

Ten Things to Know and Do Before Making a Proposal

If you try to shortcut the process, you will likely lose the business. On the other hand, if you cover the following bases, you can move rather quickly to winning a new account. Below are the ten things to know and do before making a proposal to a winning business:

1. Know that you should have a good relationship with your prospect(s)

prior to making a proposal. Remember that people do business with people that they know, like and trust. If you have not moved to some level of likeability and trust, you will not likely win a proposal.

2. Do make a concerted effort to establish a strong bond and rapport.

You can only do this by asking good questions and listening well. Repeat back and summarize their answers to help them know that you are listening. Briefly relate to experiences and activities that you have in common. Give your 30-second commercial, but keep the main focus on your prospect(s).

3. Know that you and your prospect should have an “out clause.”

Both should have the ability any point to walk away. Many salespeople are so eager to make a sale that they lose their dignity and the prospect’s respect during a proposal. The prospect may mislead the salesperson about their true intentions after a proposal is made. Eventually, the prospect stops returning phone calls and a lot of time is wasted by the salesperson.

4. Do confirm your “out clause” with your prospect.

Do this early in your discussions. To remain on equal footing with your prospect, lead them to an understanding that either you or your prospect has the right to walk away if either one of you determines that there is not a good fit between the two of you. Agree with them that either party will immediately inform the other should that occur, and neither one of you should feel offended if that should happen.

5. Know who the decision-makers are.

Many salespeople spend a lot of time talking and making proposals to people who don’t have the authority to make a decision. In larger businesses is it not unusual to have more than one person or even and committee that makes spending decisions. Prospects may not reveal that they don’t have the authority to make a decision. Ask the following question: “In addition to you, who else will be involved in making the decision?”

6. Do make your proposal to the decision-makers.

Always ask for a meeting with all of the decision-makers. Meeting with all decision-makers will be easier if you invested the time in getting to know each person prior to making a proposal.

7. Know the “pain points” of each decision-maker.

Understanding the prospect’s pain points may be the most important part of making a successful proposal. How can you help a prospect if you can’t relate to their problems? You need to know three to five pain points and how much money this pain is costing them. For more on this topic, see the coaching tip “Winning the Business: Focus on the Prospect’s Needs.””””

8. Do address and solve their pain points in your proposal.

This is where the rubber meets the road. If you can clearly articulate the prospect’s pain points, the costs associated with the pain points, and how your product or service can save them money and make their pain go away, the decision to go with you will be a no-brainer.

9. Know the amount in the budget.

Knowing the amount in the budget will help you to determine whether to make a proposal. Although many small businesses do not use a budget to run their companies, many mid-size to large companies operate on budgets. Always strive to determine the amount of budget dollars available for your service or product. Sometimes your prospect may try to evade the question. You can ask, “In round dollars, how much is your budget for this service?” Or “What’s a ballpark budget range for this service?” Another approach is: “I’m trying to determine which package to propose to you. Would you say that your budget is closer to the $5,000 to $10,000 range or to the $15,000 to $20,000 range?”

10. Do tailor your proposal to the available budget dollars.

This goes without saying. But you would be surprised to know how many salespeople just throw out proposals that are way too high. Or even worse a salesperson will leave money on the table because they proposed well below the amount in the budget.

As you can see, if you do the extra due diligence before making a proposal, not only will you increase the chances of success, you will put more in your pocket. Go for it!

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