The 5 keys to greater success in sales in your business.
This whole selling thing carries so much baggage. Many of us don’t think we’re any good at it, we don’t like it and we don’t think our customers like it much either. The great news is there are some very simple things we can do to free ourselves of all this fear, this baggage and negativity we have about sales, because… Anyone can be truly great at sales.
Small Business Masterminds Foundation webinars and podcasts tackle the key aspects of business all business owners have to face from time to time when developing and growing their business. Focus, Insight, clarity and simple practical steps forward you can take in your business in the week after the webinar to start to build a Fun Business that sustains you for years to come.
Joan took a redundancy and started her own graphic design agency… it was the scariest decision she ever made but after a year she got herself a puppy… want to know how it all came about?… listen to the story
Business Bedtime stories are real world case histories of clients I have worked with in the past decade or more. Some of the Business Bedtime stories can be found in The Ten Truths Books, others are new to my podcast. I hope you enjoy them, and I’d love to hear if you got something out of them.
My time at Lifeline and what I learnt about business
I was thinking about resilience the other day, it came up in a conversation somewhere.
I’ve said it before… in fact I sound like a broken record sometimes, but being in small business can be tough. The life of a business owner does not generally go over roses and small and large setbacks are part of the territory. Paraphrasing an old joke:” You can divide the business owners of the world in two groups: those who’ve had a serious setback and those who are about to have one”.
I’ve certainly experienced significant setbacks in my career in business over the last 30 years and most of my clients have as well. I’ve come to believe that the difference between those of us who get to build Fun Businesses that sustain us for years to come and those that don’t is one word:
This is the Wikipedia definition of resilience: “Psychological resilience is defined as an individual’s ability to properly adapt to stress and adversity. “
To be a successful small business owner I believe you must live higher up the resilience scale than the average person, because the journey of building a small business is full of traps and snags and rapids; full of stress and adversity. A resilient business owner doesn’t sit around and lick her wounds for too long when she’s hit a snag, because she knows she’ll drown if she does..
A good example of resilience is a friend of mine Jacob Ohlson. His is the founder of Powernet It and he is building a really great business. Jacob is one of the most resilient people I know. Last night he took the CEO sleep out challenge in Sydney, which is all about raising money for homeless people. As it was, it rained all night and Jacob got soaked and freezing and he would be feeling miserable. But I know he’s hard at work, back in his business today… Jacob is resilient (and you can donate to his appeal here)
So if Resilience is key to building a healthy business, let’s explore where it comes from and how we can get more of it.
My romantic business failure
I think am fairly resilient in business myself, or I certainly believe I have been in the past. I’ve experienced all kinds of setbacks when developing my various businesses in the past 30 years. I remember my first exploration of business in the mid eighties, was an unmitigated disaster. I’d started out a boat repair and maintenance business on Sydney Harbour. It was a truly romantic affair, and I felt that this was what I was put on this earth for. The reality was though, that I truly had no idea what running a business meant or how I should go about it. After a year or so, I’d totally run out of money, I was insolvent and I’d generally made a mess of things. So much for romance. I decided to branch out into house carpentry and building from boats, because it looked like an easier path, but I had bills to pay then and there (we’d bought our first home and there was a mortgage to pay). So I decided to get a taxi license, because I could drive taxis in the evenings and on the weekends while developing the building business. The plan worked and I dug myself out of the hole and survived.
So yes I was resilient and my resilience meant I didn’t crumble and I came back for more.
My circumstances were quite fortunate though in many ways. We’d recently emigrated to Australia from Holland. My wife at the time was Australian, we had a big support group in Sydney and she had a job as a teacher with a solid regular income (and we bought the house for $50,000 which we thought was a fortune at the time … wry smile… )
So how do you find resilience when you are not so fortunate?
Resilience when there is no hope
I have spent a number of years working as a Volunteer Telephone Crisis Counsellor in the past 11 years (at Lifeline in Sydney) and I came across people in much much tougher circumstances than I’ve ever experienced. I’ll never forget this one woman who rang in frequently. The woman was known as ‘M’ at Lifeline. ‘M’ was permanently bedridden and alone. She could not get herself to the toilet so a carer would come in a lot of the day. She was increasingly blind and in permanent overwhelming pain throughout her body and she never slept at all; all she could do was listen to the radio all day and night. And yet, ‘M’ managed to make us counsellors smile sometimes and I remember many conversations with her in the middle of the night sometimes, where I’d come off the phone with a lump in my throat, thankful for the half hour I spent talking with her. ‘M’ was inspiring and amazing, even though, for her, there was no hope, she would never get better, her life would simply get progressively worse and worse until she’d die one day.
‘M’ was more resilient than anyone I’ve ever met before or since, the kind of resilience I don’t think I could ever possess.
But ‘‘M’ and I did have something in common that has helped both of us find resilience in trying times, and that was that we were able to access support. I’ve had people around me who I trusted and cared about, who believed in me and supported me and bolstered my confidence most of my life. Lifeline gave that to ‘M’ in some small way as well. It’s the reason ‘M’ rang Lifeline most days, she just needed to hear that someone cared about her and that she “was doing alright” and just hearing that every day, combined with what must have been an amazing inner reservoir of strength, allowed her to hang in somehow.
That’s why I believe it’s so important to create a support team around you when you are developing a business. As I said before, setbacks are part of the journey of developing a business and when the setbacks happen they can knock your confidence and your hope. Having people you care about and especially people you respect as equals in business demonstrating that they believe in you will have an enormous impact in how you deal with the setback and how you get back on your feet to fight the next battle.
As a business coach I often find myself taking the role of chief supporter of my clients when the “s%$t hits the fan”. I am convinced that having me by their side increases their level of resilience. I have seen the evidence of it many times. My most successful clients have taken it even a step further and have put together a small team of trusted advisers and mentors that they can lean on when required. One of my clients has two coaches, a financial management mentor, another mentor who has been wildly successful in the same industry before him, a human resources adviser and a marketing adviser who he leans on from time to time. All of us support him, bolster his confidence, hold him accountable and generally stand by the sidelines, cheering him on. As a consequence, he is probably one of the most resilient people in small business I know.
To build a Fun Business that sustains you for years to come, you’ll need to be resilient, and the best way I know to make sure you are as resilient as you can be is to make sure you have a bunch of great people around you, who believe in you… I promise you.
Heath was my client during 2014 and 2015. I ask him to describe how the development of his business is like a journey.
Heath’s company is Global Grapevine in Sydney and the import amazing wines from Southern Italy, selected regions in France and Spain.. Most of the best restaurants in Sydney have Global Grapevine wines on their list http://www.globalgrapevine.com.au/
Why You Have to Try Online Marketing No Matter How Small Your Business Is
Online marketing is where it’s at and I believe no business, micro, small, medium or large can afford to ignore it anymore.
I know that there are still lots of business owners who haven’t come to terms with it fully, but if you still want to be around in a few years you’d better be online and you’d better be engaged.
In 2015 I would be surprised if I still need to spend energy convincing business owners to have a website, but just having a website is not enough anymore.
I met a web developer the other day at a networking event and he sold websites to small businesses. He told me that: “We create websites for small business and a basic site starts at $750 including design and hosting for a year.” On my questioning he explained that the websites his company sold were mostly what is referred to as static sites. Static sites are essentially brochures put online and once they’re up, they’re actually not that easy to change, they’re designed to be static
I suppose you’d have to say that having a brochure up on the web is better than not having anything at all, but only just. Unless 100% of your new business comes from direct word of mouth (“My favorite aunt told me to give you a call to supply me this widget or do this thing for me, please deliver it to my door tomorrow, I don’t care about the cost or anything else, because i trust anything my favorite aunt tells me”), every business is dependent on being found online and most importantly starting and maintaining a relationship with current and future customers online. And if you want to be able to do that at all, a static website is not going to cut it.
There are a bunch of reasons for that… Here are just a few:
Your customers want to be able to put your business name into their Google maps and get driving directions to your business, directly from their phone
Your customers want to look at testimonials from other people who have engaged with your business
Your customers want to be able to compare your product or services with those of others, directly online
Your customers don’t use the yellow pages anymore
Your customers spend more and more time online on social media of various forms, and they want to interact with business in the places they spend time (BTW that’s why advertising on the walls of urinals in pubs can be so effective… talk to your customers where they hang out!)
The big search engines and social media organisations will not rate websites that are ‘static’ well at all, meaning you will not be found if all you have is a brochure website
Static/ brochure websites start to look dated and sleepy very quickly, you can always tell a brochure website, they’re usually boring.
So what does that mean for you?
It’s hard to be too prescriptive of course, a local carpet cleaning business has different needs than a PR firm in the city, or a restaurant or a manufacturing business that operates nationally or internationally.
But let me give you some of the principles of online engagement and marketing to think about.
Mobile is getting more and more important for everything. More than 50% of searches on Google are done via handheld devices now and that trend is set to continue strongly.
Video is getting more and more important.
People spend time on Social Media, not necessarily to buy stuff. Just like you don’t spend time in the pub to buy anything else besides drinks and food. Anyone who walks up to you in a pub when you are hanging out with your friends to sell you something is generally not welcome
Your customers want to trust you before they will buy from you. Focus on getting them to trust you, and the rest will follow
Your customers will look for you where they are, they will not go looking for you elsewhere if they can help it. So if your customer is on Facebook and he wants an electrician and he can find one directly on Facebook recommended by a friend, they won’t even bother going to Google and find you there.
Scary stuff right? But you know I’ve heard it said that there’s actually nothing new under the sun. In the old days we used to hang across the fence chatting to the neighbours and getting our recommendations and introductions that way, now we hang over the fence at Facebook and do exactly the same.
The analogy isn’t totally accurate because in the old days, your fence didn’t have any pay per click advertising stuck all over it, but it’s not that far off. It’s all about trust and being where the customers are.
And they’re online, all the time.
So you better be talking to them there… don’t you think?
PS: If it’s all too scary… drop me a line and I’ll connect you to the right people to help you get on top of this stuff… you probably shouldnt try and do it all yourself anyway
Geoff explains how he’s come to the conclusion that it’s right for him to keep the business small. not to grow any further.
And Geoff’s business is exactly right for him, it allows him to spend enough time with his family and to engage with the other things in his life that mater to him and hence his business sustains him (and all of those he cares about) for years to come.
I love Geoff’s insight and I believe more business owners need to have this insight. I’ve written about it in The Ten Truths for Making Business Fun as well, because I think we have been doing ourselves a big dis-service to follow the mantra: “Business must grow or else it dies”. t’s simply not true.
I’m not qualified to make judgements about the world of large business, although I do believe that our worldwide focus on growth at all cost must come to an end really soon or there won’t be a planet left, but I do know about small business and in small business there is simply no rationale to keep growing and growing… just because.
We need to grow exactly to the point that serves us and sustains us and makes Business Fun… but no further. And where that point is, will be different for everyone, and that’s how it’s supposed to be in small business.
So ask yourself… what’s “Enough” for you?
Answer that question for yourself and for your business and your life will never be the same again… I promise you.
And thanks Geoff Anderson for those great insights