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.
Not all KPI’s are created the same… Some are more equal than others
Mastermind about numbers and measurement with Rick Polito from AXSAPT
The podcast of the Small Business Masterminds Foundation Webinar on Numbers and measurement in May 2105. I am joined by Rick Polito from AXSAPT in Sydney www.axsapt.com.au to help us get to the bottom of how we can go about growing our business with control… how we can gaze into the future with our fingers fiormly on the pulse of the health of our business weekly.
Are you spending lots of time doing estimates, quoting jobs, writing proposals, and not winning the work?
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…
Price comes last
Here are the top 9 success factors for winning quotes and proposals:
The client likes you.
The client trusts you.
The client ‘gets’ what you are passionate about and how that relates to them.
The client has experienced your professionalism.
The client understands what your offer is.
The client knows that other people like you (if others like you, you must be good).
The client understands the benefit they are personally going to get from using you.
The client can picture how good they are going to feel when you’ve completed the work.
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
A 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 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.
What does it take to make a success of your small business… how can you avoid adding to those frightening statistics about failure rates of small business.
In this series of articles and associated webinars and workshops, by Roland Hanekroot you will learn the basic concepts and get the knowledge you need to become a successful ‘Business-Owner’, as opposed to a struggling ‘Business-Doer’.
The format of each episode in the “First Steps” series is to explain the basics of the topic and then in line with the principles of New Perspectives business development programs, to suggest some small simple “First Steps” you can take straight away to put the knowledge into action.
In the second of these articles we’ll look at Your Market and ask:
What, who and where is my market?
Most of us business owners find ourselves in a market by accident. Not many of us start from scratch in a new market. We’ve either taken an existing business over from a previous owner or we’ve started our business doing something that we happen to be particularly good at and hence we’ve already had a couple of clients and a market from day 1.
Consequently we roll along doing more of what we’ve always done. Our recipe for success is our belief in ourselves and a vague notion that we’ll be able to do it better than the other guys, somehow.
The things that don’t set us apart
This situation is equally applicable to someone with a carpentry business, as it is for a mortgage broker, a café or a fashion store. When asked what sets them apart, most business owners will say 3 things:
1) We give great customer service
2) For a great product
3) At a great price.
And I have no doubt that they do, believe that they do, or at least strive to.
There are two problems with these statements though:
1) The three statements are not special enough, they don’t offer enough value (Customers expect good service, good quality and good price from everyone… as a minimum)
2) And most importantly, all your competitors say exactly the same thing.
Who is the cheapest?
If you and your competitors make the same promise, the customer will make a decision on price because it is the easy factor to compare on.
In small business, there is nothing worse than being forced to compete on price, because there is always someone who is prepared to do it cheaper. You cannot build a long-term sustainable small business based around being the cheapest.
Find a tight niche
One of the most effective solutions to this problem is to find a tightly defined niche market that is either not serviced at all or is underserviced.
If you can find a niche market for your product or service that has few or no other business operating in, you can set out to own that niche and dominate it. Dominating a niche is a recipe for building a long-term sustainable business, like no other.
3 Niche questions
There are 3 questions you can ask to help you find such a niche:
1) Who does not currently use my product or service but might?
2) What are all the factors that we and all our competitors already compete on with each other?
3) On which factors are none of us competing?
I am going to work through a couple of examples to demonstrate how to go about finding a niche and stepping into it.
The carpet cleaners
Re question 1: ‘Who does not currently use my product or service, but might?’
Assume you own a carpet cleaning business and your town has heaps of carpet cleaners and they all offer more or less the same thing so that 75% of the inquiries you get from prospective new clients revolves around the question: How much do you charge per room? The question drives you mad, because you are only just making ends meet as it is and having to be the cheapest all the time just isn’t viable.
One day you decide something has to change and together with your wife you start to have a look through your database of clients and jobs from the last 3 years. You are not sure exactly what you are looking for yet, but you hope to find a specific category of client or job that is either more profitable than the rest, or more fun to do, or is easier, or all of the above.
After an exhaustive search over many evenings, your wife mentions that she’s come across a few big 21st birthday party cleanups and an idea starts to form.
21st birthday parties
You decide to create a special offering and expertise in preparation and cleanup before and after big parties. Especially 18ths and 21sts can be massive messy affairs and a lot of anxiety goes along with them. How about offering a package that includes preparing the carpets for a big party with a protective spray application and then coming back the day after the party to do a thorough clean to make the house smell like new again?
A special package like this is actually not offered by anyone in your city and addresses a great need.
John and Mary’s Party Cleaning is born… a unique product and offering at a price level that you can make good profits on and best of all, prospective customers cannot compare on price.
Your business and your life will never be the same again… I guarantee it.
Kelvin’s bike shop
Now lets have a look at the other “niche questions”. This is a story about a different set of circumstances as experienced by Kelvin who owns a bike shop.
This story relates to questions 2 and 3: What factors are you and your competitors already competing on and what factors are you not competing on:
Selling bicycles is not easy because there is a lot of competition from many different sources. There are other bike shops all around the city; there is the ever increasing number of ‘Big Box retailers’ such as Big W and Kmart and the internet is increasingly impacting traditional retail models as well.
Kelvins shop was still doing just ok but the trends were not looking good at all, and pressure on his margins was constant.
Just at this time Kelvin came across a quote from a bikeshop owner in America, Chris Zane: “The only difference between our competitors and ourselves is the service we provide”
The fish pond
Kelvin realised the obvious truth of this statement. There is effectively no difference between the bikes sold by Kelvin or any of his competitors or the pumps or the bike-shoes. Kelvin and his competitors were all fishing in the same pool trying catch exactly the same fish and the number of fish in that pond was diminishing. The only way forward was to create a new pond and attract enough of the fish away from the old pond to be able to enjoy the fishing again.
So Kelvin set about changing his approach to business completely. First Kelvin looked at all the factors he and his competitors fought over (price, range, convenience, friendly service, speed of delivery, connection with major sporting heroes etc)
Then Kelvin looked at what other factors there were that nobody competed on yet.
The insight that Kelvin had was that the greatest opportunity for his business, lay in creating long term customer loyalty through delivering truly extraordinary service, and absolute peace of mind.
Lifetime free stuff
For example, Kelvin implemented a life time free flat tire repair; Kelvin offered ‘no questions asked’ replacement guarantees for any bikes and products sold if you were dissatisfied with the product for whatever reason. Kelvin taught his staff that from now on the word NO was out of bounds and no request was to be rejected.
A couple of years later, Kelvin moved his store to a new location with three times as much space.
Kelvin created his own fishing pond and he was able to dominate it, year after year.
This is the topic we will be talking about at the March Small Business Masterminds ‘live’ workshop as well as the Masterminds online webinar, both on 10 April. If you would like to attend either the webinar or the workshop, go to http://smallbusinessmasterminds.com.au
Take the first steps:
As mentioned in the opening paragraphs of this article, I will suggest some “First Steps” actions you can take right away, that will get you started on implementing the topics and principles we discuss: The resources page is here: http://tiny.cc/marketlpage
Roland Hanekroot is a business coach who works with Small business owners to help them have more Fun in their businesses and build businesses that sustain them for years to come. Roland is also the author of “The Ten Truths books for Business owners” (more about the books here: http://thetentruths.com.au)
Every month Roland Hanekroot runs a business development workshop as well as a webinar called “The Small Business Masterminds” more information here and to register for the next webinar or workshop, follow this link: http://smallbusinessmasterminds.com.au/ The first time is free.
In part 1 of this series of articles I wrote about how 3 letters, FUN, are the most important thing to focus on in your business.
In part 2 of this series I wrote about the 4 steps to take to create REAL FUN in your businessIn part 3 of this series I wrote how we can go about measuring how much Fun we are having on a day to day, week to week and month to month basis and how to apply that knowledge to the way we run our business and where we focus next.
So in part 4, I will summarise the whole idea for you and sketch out some real word examples of the concept and how to apply it.
Overwhelmed and stressed…
As I’ve said, most small business owners are overwhelmed and stressed; there are so many different priorities vying for their attention every day that they simply don’t know where to focus next. It is simply too much… everything is important and then there are the crises.
So what we tend to focus on instead are two things:
The crises… the everyday brush fires. The crises have to be dealt with or else… so we don’t have to think about that.
What we are best at, our actual skill…the thing we started the business for…carpentry, architecture, graphic design, IT development or whatever… we revert back to “swinging the hammer” in other words, because at least we know how to do that properly.
The stuff that falls by the wayside is the Stuff that Steven Covey in his book “The seven habits of highly effective people” refers to as “Quadrant 2” work… the work that is important but not actually really urgent… it can always be postponed for another day or another week.
The work of the business owner…
The problem is that exactly this work is what I call “The work of the business owner” as opposed to the work of the business, and hence the business stagnates and you as the owner of the business start to feel stressed, frustrated and overwhelmed even more.
So how about if there was one measurement that could tell you what the most important thing to do was in the coming week to move out of that stagnation and overwhelm.
And that is the concept of “Fun in Business”
Because when a business is Fun, it means that everything is working.
If your business is FUN, it means you are making money and staff are engaged and customers are Raving Fans, and all of that good stuff.
And most importantly, it is actually possible to measure Fun in business as a relative measurement and when you do so consistently and systematically; it can help you decide where to focus your time and energy next. Then what happens is that you will start to move out of overwhelm and stagnation and start to build your business that works for you again, instead of the other way around.
So if you ask yourself and your staff: “How much fun did we have last week on a scale from 0 to 10, where 10 is that we just couldn’t wipe the grin of our faces and 0 means the opposite?” you can find an answer. Let’s say that the answer is 6.5, for last week; you can then ask yourself (or your team): “What do we need to do to make next week a 6.6 on that same scale?” This last question can often lead to surprising and very narrowly focused answers…
Answers I have seen to this question have been as prosaic as: “Let’s make sure we collect some more of the outstanding invoices this coming week” or: “If we could all come in an hour earlier this week, then we can get this project out the door and that is just going to be such a relief for all of us”.
I wrote about my client Richard and his design business in part 3 of this series, and how he implemented the Fun scale in his team management.
John and his casual staff…
Another client of mine, John, has a small chain of cafés in the inner city of Sydney. John also incorporated the Fun in Business scale in the way he manages his businesses.
A problem John has is the transient and casual nature of a lot of his staff. Managing the business is therefore a headache, as he never knows how long his staff will stay and how committed they will be.
But John has taken the fun concept even further in an effort to engage his staff. It is difficult for John to get all his staff together on the same day at a staff meeting, people might only work on aMonday and never meet half his other staff. So John has introduced a digital system that integrates with his time sheets.
Each staff member has to sign into his staff management computer system when they arrive for their shift and at the end of their shift they have to sign out in the same system but at the last shift of the week the staff member also has to answer a couple of questions in the form of a survey.
It’s all about the questions…
The questions are:
Question 1: “On a scale from 0 to 10 where 10 is that you have had the most fun you could imagine having at work this week, and 0 is the opposite, what score would you give this week?
Question 2: “What rating on that scale would you like next week to be?”
Question 3: “What can we, your manager, and the business as a whole, do to help you achieve that number?”
Question 4: “What can you do yourself next week to help you achieve that number?”
These questions were confronting at first for a lot of staff members, but slowly but surely people were starting to see the point, especially when shown that their manager (John in most cases) took their suggestions and requests seriously.
After a few months of consistent application of this Fun in Business system, John’s business truly became unrecognisable and his business started growing again.
And that is why deciding to take a determined focus on having more FUN in business may well be the most significant decision you make in your business.
You have a go now…
Thank you for reading this series of articles… Now it is your turn… I’d love you to start thinking about how to start measuring how much Fun you are having in your business… why don’t you call a staff meeting and discuss it… brainstorm it… see what people think?
You might be surprised how even a few conversations on these topics might start to introduce a little bit more fun for everyone in your business.
I came across this quote by Seth Godin in “Small is the new Big”
“Too many companies believe that their owners would have them make schlock and alienate their customers for the sake of profit…”
Odd really… As human beings, we are prepared to make and do stuff that just isn’t all that remarkable, but when we are the customer ourselves, we expect even the item we’ve bought at a knock down bargain price to be perfect in all respects. Why do we allow ourselves to be tempted to think that “close enough is good enough”?
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.
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?