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