No business without sales

car sales man

car sales man

Forget all the sexy stuff… Focus on the three S-es first

I love walking into an office supply store and getting the sexiest looking pens or clips or gadgets for my business desk. I get excited over developing more smart and beautiful stuff for my website. I can obsesses over a new design for my business cards or my logo. Many of my clients are that way inclined too. All of that stuff can be highly satisfying and give us a feeling of satisfaction… Build it and they will come… We think.

But it doesn’t actually do much for your business, does it? Ultimately the only thing that gets your business to develop is sales. The three S’s: Sales, sales and sales. If there’s no sales, there’s no business.

I thought of this maxim recently when working with my client Mark in 2009.

Mark is the owner of a small consultancy working with charities to improve their fundraising. One of Mark’s goals at the time was to double the size of his business by the end of 2011. So we developed a business plan and a marketing plan, and he got going.

Mark started blogging and sending out a beautiful newsletter. He redesigned his website and became active on LinkedIn. He joined the Australian Institute of Management and attended all their functions and networking events. He engaged an SEO consultant to improve his Google ranking and installed CRM software. In short, he did everything the modern “attraction marketing gurus” tell us to do, and he did it efficiently and consistently.

All the KPI’s are moving up

Mark’s Google ranking did go up and Mark’s database doubled and tripled in size and Mark went from 375 LinkedIn connections to over a 1000 in a year, and he got great feedback and comments on his blogs and articles and posts and newsletters and whitepapers. Exciting stuff.

Mark and I did a lot of back slapping and congratulating each other. Every KPI we measured was moving up steeply. All of them that is to say, except one… his revenue. Sales stuck more or less where they’d been for the past three years.

We’re all getting frustrated

By the end of 2009, Mark was getting frustrated, and he was ready to throw in the towel. I was pretty confused myself by this stage. Everything I knew told me that the marketing work that Mark was carrying out week in, week out, should have led to a steady increase of business by now… but something was missing.

I remember one day, asking Mark about the feedback he was getting from his potential clients. What were they telling him, how were they responding to his proposals and his quotes? Mark looked at me with a confused look in his eyes and said, “I don’t know”.

I asked, “But you must get some sense of their reaction when you talk to them, right?” Mark replied, “Well, I don’t really get to talk to them much unless they call me”. And I was silent for a while.

Picking up the phone

It turned out that Mark had a block of picking up the phone and talking to prospects unless they initiated the phone call themselves. He never just picked up the phone and called a prospect and said: “Hi I’m Mark, I saw your comments on my articles, and I wondered if you’d like to have a coffee and discuss how I can help you improve your fundraising targets in 2010”.

Nothing happens until we sell something. 

Once we identified Mark’s problem, we set about fixing it. I got Mark to identify one person every week, who had commented or engaged with one of his articles and to call that person. Because he only had to concentrate on one person and he and I customised a strategy for every one of those people, Mark was able to overcome his block.

He ended up having a coffee with a new prospect nearly every week, and Mark’s business started growing again.

No matter how amazing your website, your collateral, your service or your product, at some stage you must go out and talk to the customer, make them an offer and ask for the sale. Sales simply do not happen by themselves… I promise you.

You can watch one of my recorded Small Business Masterminds Webinars called “Making Sales Fun” HERE. and don’t forget to download the other sales resources on the same page anytime.

For more resources, and reading on strategies for growing your business follow this link to the first of The 7 Big Questions that all small business owners want answered

Would you like to download my free 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

Cold calling is not dead, it just smells funny

cold calling

How to pick up the phone and make it work for you

Cold calling is definitely on the nose these days. Most business development gurus will tell you that in 2017 we shouldn’t practice the art of the cold call, ever again. We must focus on attraction marketing and adding value and building relationships instead.

And that’s all very well and there’s nothing wrong with the idea that we should offer solutions and take the trouble to get to know our customers and they us, all well and good. But cold calling as a practice is far from dead. It still remains a highly effective method of developing your business.

Just the other day, I did some cold calling myself, with a great result. I connected with two prospects, made each of them an offer and one of whom took up my offer.

Not bad for half an hour’s work spent identifying two prospects and another 15 minutes writing two short emails.

And it’s certainly not the first time I’ve used this process.

The reach of LinkedIn

In this case I used LinkedIn to start the process. LinkedIn allows us to search for a narrow category of people in our direct or indirect connections and then allows us to send those people a personal email.

By being strategic about the people I approach and the emails I write them, I often have great success opening a business opportunity. My LinkedIn connections will usually read the email I have sent them and more often than not respond in a positive manner.

There’s one crucial bit of information I haven’t told you yet though.

What I’ve neglected to tell you so far is that these “cold calls”, these approaches I make are not actually positioned for myself. The cold calls I make, are on behalf of friends of mine.

Helping a friend

This is how it happened two weeks ago: Kim is a friend of mine and we are both members of a group of business owners who meet every week for the purpose of referring business to each other. We have made a commitment to helping each other and so I sat down with Kim the other day and I asked how I could best help her grow her business.

Kim runs a bookkeeping business and she told me she wants to be introduced to CEO’s of not-for-profit organisations that are based around membership, with a head office in Sydney.

I went to my LinkedIn database and found 5 people who looked like they just might be the kind of people Kim wanted to talk to. She confirmed that two of them, John and Michael were indeed perfect. I then wrote a succinct personal email to John and Michael and asked if I could connect them with my good friend Kim. I explained Kim’s reasons for wanting to be introduced and assured them I believed Kim to be a perfect fit.

Immediate response

Both John and Michael responded to the emails within a few hours. John declined the introduction but thanked me for the email and confirmed that he felt completely comfortable with being approached like this on LinkedIn and Michael said yes, here is my number and direct email, and happy to have a coffee with Kim.

Kim has since had a meeting with Michael, submitted a proposal for ongoing bookkeeping work for Michael’s organisation and everyone is happy.

Cold calling isn’t dead… far from it. Don’t believe everything you’re told. Instead, figure out how you can use cold calling in conjunction with new marketing strategies. Michael needed a good bookkeeper, Kim needed a good client. I wanted to help Kim and Kim’s going to help me next.

For more resources, and reading on strategies for growing your business follow this link to the first of The 7 Big Questions that all small business owners want answered

Before Jumping Into Advertising, Get The Basics of Marketing Right First

Before Jumping Into Advertisement, Get The Basics of Marketing Right First

Half of all money spent on advertising works wonders

Before Jumping Into Advertisement, Get The Basics of Marketing Right First

Here’s how not to spend the other half in your  business

Advertising works. It does. Next time you think it doesn’t, have a look at your grocery choices when shopping in the supermarket.

The reason Nike spends 30% of the price of each pair of shoes it sells on advertisement is that if they didn’t, they’d sell a fraction of the shoes they do.

But there is an old saying in the advertising industry that is still just as true now as when it when coined in the sixties by a famous CEO, that half of all money spent on advertising is wasted, if only we knew which half.

The big temptation that gets us as small business owners to spend more money on advertising than we should from time to time, is how easy it seems. It’s the easiest, least time consuming and quickest way to get more customers. It’s the reason the Yellow Pages phone books became so big and profitable all round the world. If you wanted more business there was a simple equation for the Yellow Pages: spend more money on bigger ads and the phone will ring more often… a direct correlation. Advertising sales people all over the world are trained to say: “Look, Mr business owner, you only have to make 2 extra sales this month, and the ad pays for itself, so what do you think?”

Good looking sales people

A perfect example of the temptation comes from a client of mine, John, who owns a gym. John was recently convinced to purchase a 3 month contract to have a couple of good looking young people hand out flyers about his gym with a special promotion offer on a couple of busy street corners. The sales person convinced John to invest the money because he only needed to get 10 people per month to take up the special offer in the flyer to pay for the promotion contract. The deal looked too good to be true.

3 months later we looked at the numbers when assessing whether or not to continue the promotion. It turned out that John’s Gym had indeed had some 60 people come in and take up the offer from the flyers, twice as many as the minimum needed to break even. However, nearly 50 of those people had cancelled their contract at the end of the special promotion period.

Luckily I’d insisted that John implement a system to be able to track the promotion and it became an easy decision for John, not to proceed with the contract.

The Golden Rule of marketing

The whole experience perfectly demonstrates two things you need to consider when deciding on any form of paid marketing, be that advertisement or some other kind of promotion.

Firstly there is a Golden Rule to consider:

If you can’t measure your return of investment, there is none.

Secondly is that when spending money on getting more prospects for your business, you better make damn sure you are going to convert a healthy percentage of those prospects to customers. There was nothing wrong with the offer that John made in the promotion, but there were all kinds of things wrong in his “onboarding” and “induction” processes in the gym. People came to the end of their promotion period and generally didn’t feel inclined to continue onto his full membership program.

I’ve seen this issue come back time and again. Business owners get convinced to spend thousands of dollars per month on Pay Per Click advertising in Facebook or Google for example. Lots and lots of visitors come to their websites as a result, but when they get there, they get lost, because there is no solid marketing conversion process in place on the site.

If you’re going to spend money on advertising, first make sure you’ve dotted all your I’s and crossed all your Ts … And then … Spend away.

This will be an extremely enlightening post for some to read. If you felt you need to debunk more myths in marketing and growing your small business, here’s another treat for you:

FREE Download: The 10 Truths For Making Your Business Grow

These truths will help you avoid some of the marketing pitfalls and business obstacles that prevent many small business owners from reaching their dreams.

The 10 Truths for Making Your Business Grow

SBP The One-Month Business Transformation Programs

Transform Your Business in a Month

Transform your business in a month

How would you like to blow away the biggest hurdle you face right now?

Skip ahead to the individual program details

If you’re anything like most other small business owners (and like me when I ran my building companies), you spend a lot of your days in a state of overwhelm and feeling like you are stuck.

For many business owners those feelings originate in one major issue. One challenge above all others needs to be tackled effectively right now before you and the business can start to move forward again:

  • Maybe it’s your marketing that isn’t working and you are not getting enough new inquiries
  • Or maybe you’re not converting enough inquiries into new sales, or
  • You’re always struggling to pay the bills on time, or
  • Maybe your staff are not delivering for you, or
  • Your business plan is way out of date
  • Or you simply feel that you are drifting from job to job, client to client, without a sense of direction.
Lifting the fog

It was certainly like that for me in my days as a builder in Sydney and I believe most of us experience at least one of those challenges at some stage in our journey. When we are in the midst of such a challenge it can feel like we are surrounded by a fog through which we can see very little else.
What we need at a time like that is to fix that issue and lift the fog… Nothing else. Book a free Discovery Coaching Session with me to explore how to lift the fog.

“Roland’s keen perception has helped me get to the heart of my issues extremely quickly”.

(Rebecca Wells, Clear Horizon Coaching)

Tackle one issue at a time

If you find yourself in that situation from time to time, I want to help you. The One-Month-Business-Transformation programs are short, sharp, fun and intensive 4 week programs designed to tackle one specific business development priority in your business, in one month, and implement a series of effective and simple strategies that will start to transform that specific aspect of your business.

One Month… One Issue… Fix it now!

I will customise each program specifically to your circumstances and your business needs.

The programs consist of a Discovery session (see below) and up to 4 one-on-one 1hr coaching sessions with me via Skype, spread out over no more than one month.

The Programs:

Each of the One-Month Business Transformation Programs tackle one of the following topics (click on each one for more information):

  1. Transform Your Purpose
  2. Transform Your Business Plan
  3. Transform Your Cashflow
  4. Transform Your Marketing
  5. Transform Your Sales
  6. Transform Your Staff
Structure and investment:

All programs come with a workbook or worksheets and relevant resources and tools, such as videos, podcast stories, webinars, articles, surveys and templates.

Each of the programs will be customised to suit your business and your circumstances, we will only be working on the stuff that really matters to you.

Your investment for each of the One-Month Business Transformation Program will be between AUD $1500 and $2500 (plus GST if you are in Australia).

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Read about all my business coaching programs here

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

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Transform Your Purpose

A Business without True Purpose and Passion, isn’t

Why does your business exist?

What’s it on this earth for? And why would anybody care?

purpose of business Many times when I’ve asked business owners those questions, they answer with a variant of the three standards replies:

  • We deliver a great product.
  • For a great price.
  • With great customer service.

Is that maybe what you would have said?

Probably, right? But the problem is that all your competitors say the same thing (they do, believe me), and so you make it very difficult for your prospective customers to make a decision based on anything other than price, and we all know that competing on price is a dog’s game; We’d all like to stay away from competing on price if we could, right?

Read the chapter on the Purpose of your Business in the first of The Ten Truths Trilogy books for business owners.

What you can expect:

In the Transform-Your-Purpose program we find the unique answer for you and your business to the question of why your business exists, what it’s Greater Purpose is, and why anyone else would care about that. When you nail that answer, once and for all, your business and your life will never be the same again…

I promise you.

“I always leave our meetings feeling aligned, confident and positive about the direction I am heading.”

(Colin Garrett, Colin the Butcher)

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

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Transform your Business Plan

A business without a plan achieves everything in it

plan We all know we should have a business plan, all the business gurus, all the business books, our accountants and even aunt Sally have told us so for years… Or maybe you actually did write a business plan a couple of years ago, but you haven’t looked at the thing for over a year and it’s gathering dust in the bottom of a filing cabinet somewhere.

So how do we write a business plan that actually works, a business plan that functions as a tool for the development of our businesses, a business plan that makes a difference.

What you can expect:

In the Transform-Your-Business-Plan program you get to understand how to write a business plan that transforms your business, and depending on your circumstances you’ll either create your first ever living business plan or get well under way to creating one, in a great position to complete it and implement it in your business.

Read the chapter about business planning in the first of The Ten Truths Trilogy business books.

Creating a business plan that works for your business is the first step to transforming your business and your life,

I promise you

“I implemented a range of enormous changes in my business and in my life.”

(Dave Scott, Invenco)

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

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Transform Your Cashflow

A business that doesn’t make Profit and generate Cash is a hobby

cat Many times have I spoken to business owners who tell me they are confused about the fact that they make profit, but they don’t know where the money is. In my days as a builder I also saw lots of business owners get into trouble, because they thought that because they had lots of money in the bank, they must be doing alright.

The fact is that the connection between profit and cash is a loose one generally speaking, unless your business operates entirely on a cash on delivery basis, and very few businesses are.

To build a fun business you simply must keep your eyes on 4 things:

  1. Sales
  2. Production
  3. Invoicing
  4. Collections

Drop your attention from any one of those 4 factors and as sure as God made little apples, you’ll get into trouble.

Read the chapter about financial management in the first of The Ten Truths Trilogy business books.

What you can expect:

In the Transform-Your-Cash-Flow program you’ll learn how to measure those 4 factors. You’ll also learn which one of the four is the most important and how to watch it and manage it like a hawk.

To build a business that is Fun and that sustains you for years to come you have to be all over those 4 factors, like a rash…

I promise you

“Roland helped me focus on the fundamentals and that has now given me peace of mind and control over my business.”

(Brad Chapman, BIC construction)

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

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Transform Your Marketing

Marketing is everything and everything is marketing

markeing stand out from the crowd Most of us think of marketing in terms of advertising, and doing social media, sponsoring the local under 10’s footy team or going networking at the local chamber of commerce.

And all of those things fall in the marketing camp, no doubt. But marketing is so much more. The price you charge for your product is a marketing decision. How you answer the phones in your business is about marketing and so is the wording you use on the reminder letters your accounts receivable person sends out to your customers.

Everything you do and every decision you take in your business has a marketing angle to it. In fact if there is anything you do in your business that doesn’t have a marketing angle associated with it you could argue you shouldn’t be doing it at all. The Granddaddy of all the 20th century business gurus, Peter Drucker, used to say that the the purpose of business is to get and keep a customer, so anything that doesn’t contribute to doing that, doesn’t belong in your business. Does that sound a bit extreme? Maybe, but let’s find out what it means for your business.

Read the chapter about marketing in the first of The Ten Truths Trilogy business books.

What you can expect:

In the Transform-Your-Marketing program we’ll examine the opportunities in your business to improve your marketing so that you’ll start to bring more customers through your doors.

To build a business that is Fun and that sustains you for years to come, you have to learn to think about marketing in everything you do…

I promise you.

“Roland forced me to address the hard issues and in doing so, I have made changes which have saved me over $50,000 per year.”

(James France, Vanguard)

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

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Transform Your Sales

Nothing happens until we sell something

sales is hard girl selling Without sales there are no customers, without customers there is no income and without income there is no business. It truly doesn’t matter how gorgeous your website looks, how well your apple peeler works or how silently your IT systems are humming along in the background. Business can not exist without sales.

But sales can be hard. There are some people for whom sales comes easily, but you may not be one of those people. The temptation for many small business owners is to believe that if we deliver good enough products or services, the customers will somehow flock to our doors. But the customers rarely will cue up  for our stuff the way they do for the latest Iphone. Somehow we have to get our stuff in front of enough of the right people and then we have to make it so attractive to buy from us that they’ll do so with a smile

Read the chapter about sales in the first of The Ten Truths Trilogy business books.

What you can expect:

In the Transform-Your-Sales Program we’ll look at the opportunities in your business to make sales much easier for you and your business, so that you’ll convert a greater percentage of the people that walk through your doors into paying customers.

To build a business that is Fun and that sustains you for years to come, you must get good at sales…

I promise you

“Working with Roland, was the most productive time I have ever dedicated to me and my business.”

(Anna Field, Paddington Beauty Room)

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

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Transform Your Staff

A fun business hires the brightest and keeps the brightest

the right people on the bus The Right people on the bus,
in the right seats,
facing the Right direction.

An old business mentor of mine used to say: “You could have such a great business if it wasn’t for the staff”, and famous business author Michael Gerber said in The E-Myth: “It’s impossible to manage people, because people actively resist being managed and they are unpredictable, only systems can be managed”.

I’m not sure that I entirely agree with Michael Gerber, but he had a point. People complicate things. It’s much easier to manage an office after hours, when everyone else has gone home. But the nature of business is that it’s with people that business creates value. It’s the combined effort and creativity and knowledge of the people of the business, that allow a business to make profit and grow and develop.

But all people are not created equal, some are definitely more equal than others, and some start out looking really good, but half a year down the track we’re not so sure anymore. Maybe that’s even a pattern that seems to repeat itself a lot in your business?

So how do we go about finding the right people and once we have them how do we keep them engaged?

Read the chapter about staff in the first of The Ten Truths Trilogy business books.

What you can expect:

In the Transform-Your-Staff Program we’ll look at the opportunities in your business for finding and keeping the right people and maximising the opportunities we have to get our people to do great work.

To build a business that is Fun and that sustains you for years to come, you must have the right people on the bus, and facing in the right direction…

I promise you

“Roland has created a simple, effective, and repeatable process that makes his coaching strategy work.”

(Wendy Lloyd Curley, WLC Enterprises).

Free Five Step Discovery Process:

Before we engage in any of my coaching programs, I always suggest we follow my Five Steps to Discovery Process, starting with a free 30 minute Discovery Coaching session (Skype) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book a Discovery Business Coaching session and Business Discovery Survey through any one of the forms of this page. In the Discovery session, we’ll get to know each other a little and I’ll get some insight into what stage you and your business are at, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Next step:

Fill in the form below to find out more or book in a Free 30 minute Discovery Session with me to explore what is right for you at this stage of your journey.

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How to Make Sales Fun: Podcast on Marketing

nice wives

nice wives How to  take the fear out of sales and make it fun again

Small Business Masterminds Foundation webinars and podcasts

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Itunes

View in Itunes

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.

Cheers,

Roland Hanekroot

Sales Is All About Giving Rather Than Getting

nero

Always Heed The Golden Rule of Sales

the matrix There’s a great scene in the first Matrix movie. Neo turns to Morpheus and says “I know Kung Fu” and Morpheus replies “Show me.” They are then transported (metaphorically speaking) to a virtual dojo where Morpheus goes on to explain to Neo “This is a sparring program, similar to the programmed reality of the Matrix. It has the same basic rules, rules like gravity. What you must learn is that these rules are no different than the rules of a computer system. Some of them can be bent. Others can be broken.”

Like Neo many in sales have learned there are rules that can be bent or even broken in order to achieve what may at first seem like success, but of course it isn’t. Although you may have succeeded in ‘making a sale’ you may have lost the relationship. It’s illusionary and those feelings of ‘success’ achieved at the expense of others are fleeting. However the stain on your reputation most certainly is not.

When you set out to build a sales career your single most important task is the building of reputation; and as Bob Burg and John David Mann write in Go-Givers Sell More “Reputation is a house that once burned down is very difficult to rebuild.”

However if you diligently construct your reputation on the foundation of what Bob calls ‘The Golden Rule’ of sales, of business of networking. You will cultivate a flourishing reputation and the influence it generates will reach way beyond the people you meet and touch the lives of people you have not yet met.

“All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.”

The golden rule goes like this: “All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.”

In sales your job really is to meet new people on an everyday, ongoing basis, in a way that’s comfortable both for you and for them and cultivate and develop relationships with these people to the point that they feel so good about you; they know you, they like you, they trust you, they want to see you succeed.

Why is “know, like and trust” so important; so vital to sales and business success?

Well, the know part is obvious. People have to know you, or at least know of you, or at least of your company, in order to do business with you. What about like. Do they have to like you? Here is where the disclaimer, “all things being equal comes into play.

If you’re the ONLY game in town; the only person in your field or your area that provides your product or service and that person, for whatever reason, feels they have to have it or can’t live without it, then no, they don’t have to like you. They’ll do business with you anyway. However, there are three challenges with that:

  1. You’re not the only game in town. None of us are.
  2. They will only do business with you until someone else comes along who provides what you provide, or at least close enough to it, and who they like.
  3. You’re a good person, and you want to like those you serve, and you want them to like you.

Likeability is indeed very, very important. Check out Dr. Robert Cialdini’s landmark book, Influence: Science and Practice, for a more detailed exploration of this subject. In summary Dr Cialdini discusses the six main reasons why people will buy from someone, follow someone, join someone, etc. He talks about one of those six as being “likeability.” Plainly and simply, people will do things with and for people they like. As human beings, we put on pedestals the people we like even when it’s not deserved. People impute high character traits to people who perhaps don’t possess them because they like them.

Indeed, both know and like are important.

And, then there’s “trust.” I’ll leave this last one down to the way you answer this question. How many of you would agree with the following statement: “We currently live in what, could be called, a ‘low-trust society’?”

Bob has been asking this question at practically every program he has delivered over many years and whether the audience is 50 people, 500 people, 5000 people, or 15,000 people, the response is ALWAYS the same. Practically everyone in the audience raises their hands that we live in a low-trust society, and a couple of people feel we live in a high-trust society. It’s not a matter of being right or wrong, or even that people are any more or any less trustworthy than they ever were. What it does say is that the perception is that we absolutely do live in a low-trust society.

In a low-trust society, that person who can quickly and effectively communicate trust; their trustworthiness; their worthiness of being trusted, is nine steps ahead of the game in a ten-step game. Remember, it’s not enough just to be trustworthy; most people actually are. The key is to be able to communicate this trustworthiness.

So, there we have it, all things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.

Of course none of this can happen unless you’re able to shift your focus. It’s only when you can take your eyes off of yourself, your products or your services, and focus like a laser on adding value to your customers that you can begin to to elicit those know you, like you, trust you feelings toward you in others.

Ian J Lowe is the CEO of Go-Givers Australia a sales realignment, coaching and consulting organisation offering a unique culture-defining philosophy and framework that makes giving value the cornerstone of a refreshingly open and authentic approach to selling.

Download the first chapter of ‘The Go-Giver and Go-Givers sell More’ here.

Image Credit: The Matrix, Warner Bros 1999

Becoming a Sales Machine

sales flexibility

Taking sales seriously will change your life.

Are you spending lots of time doing estimates, quoting jobs, writing proposals,  and not winning the work?

Stress It is just so frustrating isn’t it? It gets you down sometimes… What is your strike rate? 20%? 30%? 50%?

How would you like to win twice as many proposals than you currently are without doing more quotes?

Easy… you say… just drop all my prices by 15% and I’ll win everything, but I’ll be losing money hand over fist…

WRONG

Price comes last

Here are the top 9 success factors for winning quotes and proposals:

  1. The client likes you.
  2. The client trusts you.
  3. The client ‘gets’ what you are passionate about and how that relates to them.
  4. The client has experienced your professionalism.
  5. The client understands what your offer is.
  6. The client knows that other people like you (if others like you, you must be good).
  7. The client understands the benefit they are personally going to get from using you.
  8. The client can picture how good they are going to feel when you’ve completed the work.
  9. Your price is right given all of the previous factors.

Have another look at that list and notice that price is at the bottom. Don’t allow yourself to fall in the trap of thinking that you lose sales because of price… If you lose a sale because of price, you simply haven’t done a good enough job of addressing the other factors. Trust me!

The 3 success factors of Sales…

That leads us to the three basic principles of sales that you must get your head around to become more effective at it:

Firstly, in order to sell your service, you have to, sell yourself before you sell your ‘stuff’.

Secondly, selling is a skill, you can learn about it, you can train in it and you can get better at it.

Finally, sales is a function of business just like operations, marketing and distribution. It requires resources and systemisation to work well.

Point number 1 doesn’t need much explanation; clients must buy into you before they buy into your product. If people don’t like you and don’t trust you they will not buy from you. Enough said I think.

So, let me share a little case history with you about a client of mine called George that illustrates points 2 and 3

George learns about sales as a system

carpenter-builderA few years ago I met George, who is a builder in Sydney with a small team of carpenters and labourers on the payroll. George’s wife Lisa runs the office.

George mainly builds in the $500K to $2Mil range, large renovations and some upmarket new homes.

When I met him, one of the biggest issues George faced is how much time is wasted on preparing tenders for architects. His strike rate was about 20% and each tender was taking him around given 20 and 40 hours of his time, Therefore, George spent some 20 – 30 hours every week of the year to win about 6 to 8 projects.

George felt he was stuck and he was frustrated, because he felt he was missing out on the best years of his young kids’ life.

Coming from my own experience as a builder, I explained to him that the most effective way to get un-stuck was to improve his strike rate. If we could improve his strike rate from 20% to around 1 in 3, the impact on his business and his life would be enormous.

A target is set

So George set himself a two-year target to get his conversion rate to 35%. The first commitment he made was to become just as professional about Sales as he was about every other facet of his business.

We started by carefully designing and implementing a sales system that would run like a machine to manage inquiries, leads prospects and quotes.

George and Lisa invested in a high quality CRM system. Soon they were keeping track of prospects and leads at different stages in their sales cycle. Inquiries through email, phone, website, word of mouth and referrals were all entered, tagged, categorized and appropriately followed up in the system by Lisa.

George also wrote a series of scripts for answering telephone inquiries and follow up calls. And finally George enrolled himself in a 6 month sales training program.

A year later George’s strike rate reached 28%. Then he got the rate down to 36% the year after.  Just as importantly though, now that George is so much more professional in his sales approach, he doesn’t feel the need to negotiate on his prices anymore and his margins have gone up significantly.

George and Lisa are a lot happier these days and so are their kids.

The lessons

The three lessons from George and Lisa are:

Firstly: The only way to do sales well is to take it just as seriously as all the other aspects of your business

Secondly: One of the most effective approaches to making more money, finding more time and having more fun in your business is to improve your sales conversion rate.

Thirdly: To do sales well, think systems and think training.

What do you think? Is it time for you to make a commitment to become professional at sales?

My One-Month Transform Your Sales Program is a short, sharp, fun and intensive 4 week program designed to tackle your sales, in one month, and implement a series of effective and simple strategies that will start to transform your business. It starts with an obligation-free half hour Discovery Session via Skype!

Transform your sales in one month! Book in a FREE Discovery Session with me via Skype.

goal setting and planning

1001 Business Bedtime Stories… Mark’s Great Sales System

Mark’s simple and effective sales system… Truth 7

So you’ve got a great product or an awesome service but where are all your customers? Read on to see how Mark found his customers and sent his sales rocketing.

Once upon a time… a long, long time ago in a country not unlike Australia…

Mark was a graphic designer.

In fact he was a fantastic graphic designer. He had put together a small team of other passionate and inspired designers and together they created beautiful, eye-catching, ground-breaking designs. Yet despite his and his team’s talent, the work coming in was sporadic and the business was only just making ends meet.

Sometimes potential clients made enquiries about design work, and sometimes leads just walked in the door. Every now and then Mark made a few phone calls and sent out some emails prospecting for work, but this was only occasionally and usually just when the need for work was greatest.

The result of all this meant that sales were haphazard and work fluctuated wildly. One week the team would be flooded with new projects, the next everyone would be heading home early.

The stress of wondering if the business would survive each month was beginning to affect the quality of the work produced. Mark was finding his staff turnover was high because of the constant insecurity and worry.

Mark wondered, “How can I smooth out the peaks and troughs of work coming in?”

Mark was going grey.

The Bootcamp

Working in The Bootcamp with me, Mark came to appreciate that he would need a consistent sales strategy and system if he wanted to build a healthy business. He came to see that the only way a business can grow is by making regular and consistent sales. Of all of the Ten Truths, Truth Number 7, that nothing happens until we sell something, really struck home with Mark.

So we got started developing a simple and manageable sales system, and worked on increasing the sales focus of both Mark and his staff. To turn things around Mark would need to not only implement the new sales system but to work consistently at it, week in, week out.

And he did… and it took a lot of courage.

Mark found an easy-to-use customer relationship management (CRM) system, that had great sales funnels and pipeline reports. Then he set targets for himself and his team for numbers of calls to make, emails to send out and proposals to write and follow up. Every week Mark and his team had a 20-minute structured sales meeting.

Very soon things started to turn around, and just three short months later Mark could see a difference. By the end of the financial year the business was at a completely new level.

Now, a couple of years later, Mark has a stable team of 10 designers whose talents are being fully utilised. The business has a great pipeline of work ahead, and Mark now knows with a certainty what his resources are and how much revenue and profit the business will generate in the next three to six months.

And Mark lived happily ever after… The end.

Ask yourself… Where will you find the courage to make profound things happen in your business?