How to expedite trust in sales

In business, trust and profit are intertwined. In order to make more sales or convert new leads, it starts by building trust. The more trust a potential customer has the more likely they are to purchase with you and the more a customer trusts you, the higher their spend will be. 

But how do you start to build trust with a contact you don’t know and perhaps have never met? 

Be friendly and relatable

When it comes to building trust, nothing can surpass being friendly and genuine. While people want to work with experts, they also want to work with people they feel they can relate to and who don’t appear to be too far above them.  

Whether you are in front of a potential customer or they are simply a name on your database, always be friendly, pleasant and upbeat in your communication.  

Engage and validate

Take an interest in your potential customers and what is important to them. It can be as simple as seeing how they are doing, asking for their input or feedback or seeking their opinion on an issue. 

Encourage conversation and listen to what they are saying. Where possible, try to implement or reiterate what you have heard so your customers can feel important and validated. 

Make and deliver on a promise

When you have not formed trust with a potential customer, it is important to create an opportunity for you to make a promise and deliver to start building their trust in you. 

Can you introduce them to a key contact? Can you provide answers to pressing questions, or insights, guidance or tips on a key issue or topic you know they will be interested in?

The promise could be one-on-one to them personally or to a larger audience through a free webinar, event, e-book or cheat sheet for example. 

The first promise or claim you make should have no risk to them. So it is not a purchase you are seeking; it is a freebie or favour that will help you build their trust initially. Once you have gained their trust on something small, it is easier to ask for their trust on something bigger like making a purchase with you. In fact, if you play your cards right and give them something the value or need, the sale will often happen naturally.


Four places to find leads quickly and easily

Every now and again you can have a slow sales week in business. While it can provide the opportunity to catch up on all the tasks you’ve been “meaning to do”, it can put additional stress and pressure on you when it is for an extended period. 

So what do you do when your slow week turns into a slow month? Here are four places to find leads quickly and easily. 

1. Your current customers

Your existing customers are the easiest place to generate new leads and business. From asking for referrals and introductions to finding ways to upsell, cross-sell and resell your customers to get them spending more sooner, your customers will always be able to provide new leads once they have seen the value in working with you. 

How to get the best results:

Talk to them! Find out more about them or their business and where they ultimately want to be. Identify ways you can help them get there through the products and services you provide. Go to the customers who are already impressed with your products and services and ask them if they know anyone else who could benefit in the same way they have. 

2. Your database and past customers

After your current customers, your database and past customers are your next point of call. Already familiar and interested in your products or services they are the second easiest to convert. 

How to get the best results:

Identify the objections or reasons people haven’t bought yet or again and find ways to get around them. Offer an incentive. While your database is interested and has possibly bought before, they will often need an extra push to get them over the line. 

3. Cross or joint promotions

Joining forces with, and getting the endorsement of, other like-minded businesses that have influence in your industry or over your target market can be a quick and easy way to tap into a new database of leads. As it is beneficial to the business you are co-marketing with it is often an easy sell too. 

How to get the best results:

Make sure the business you partner with has the same target market as you and that you know, like and trust them. You will, after all, be recommending them to your customers. Again, make sure you offer incentive so new leads a reason to act or at the very least get in touch with you.

4. Networking

Networking, whether at traditional events, online through social media or making the most out of everyday opportunities, can be a low-cost way to attract new leads and referral partners. 

How to get the best results:

You only have limited time when networking so it is important to know and clearly articulate what you do, who you do it for, why you do it and what makes you different. When you do, you can easily qualify networking opportunities and identify the most valuable contacts so you can spend more time building rapport with them. 

How do you find leads quickly?

Amanda


How to find customers you want to work with

Our customers are the lifeblood of our businesses, the very reason we can open our doors each day and do what we love. While many are brilliant to work with, some have the ability to drain the time, energy, ideas and life out of us.

While every customer gives us the opportunity to learn and improve, I’m sure we’d all rather work with customers that challenge us for all the right reasons. So how do you find the customers you want to work with and not just have to work with? Here are four tips to help.

1. Know who you want to work with

The first step in finding the customers you want to work with is to know who they are. If you can’t clearly identify who you are looking for, how are you meant to find them?  Take a look at their defining characteristics. Do they come from a particular industry or location? Do they have a specific income, turnover or budget? Do they share a particular problem, want or need? Do they have a certain mindset?

The clearer you can be on your ideal customers characteristics, the easier it will be to find where they are, what they read, watch and listen to and who influences them.

2. Build a business they want to do business with

Now that you have a clear idea of the customer you are targeting, determine what kind of brand they want to do business with. What personality and image would attract them? What benefits or solutions do they want from your products and services? What sales and marketing messages have worked to attract these customers in the past? What information must they know to buy from you? What testimonials from past ideal customers can you use to attract them?

Once you have the answers, proactively build a business that they will want to do business with. 

3. Communicate your vision and ‘why’

As Simon Sinek so wisely said, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. Communicate your vision and why to your customers. Make your business bigger than the products and services you provide. 

Step away from the thousands of businesses who do what you do and give your business a bigger purpose, passion, cause or meaning. Then communicate it authentically to your customers.

4. Remember like attracts like

Like attracts like, so in order for you to attract your ideal customers look at who you need to become as a person and as a business owner. How do you need to talk, act and present? Who do you need to be associating with? What referral partners and strategic alliances do you need to form that will also attract your ideal customers? What circles do you need to be mixing in?

The people you want to work with are within your reach; you may just need to stretch yourself to get to them.

Amanda


Five reasons to call your customers regularly

The way to succeed in business is to be constantly in touch with your market. The moment you lose touch with them or start making business more about you than your customers is the time you risk becoming irrelevant. 

While business can get busy, and email can seem like a quicker option, nothing beats picking up the phone and engaging in conversation. Don’t think you have the time? Here are five reasons you should be making the time to call your customers regularly.

1. Uncover needs and trends

Businesses and people change over time. What they once valued or needed may no longer be valued or needed. The only way to prevent yourself from losing customers to competitors or becoming irrelevant in your industry is to be in contact with your customers and find out what is happening in their lives and businesses. 

The more you genuinely care and want to help, the more they will open up to you about their struggles, worries, frustrations and challenges. This gives you valuable insight into the minds and needs of your customers and helps you find or create the right solution for them. It can also help you identify trends, and market opportunities as similar struggles and needs appear through your discussions.

2. Upsell products and services

As you uncover needs you will also uncover opportunities to upsell (increase the amount they spend), cross-sell (get them buying more) and resell (keep them coming back). 

A customer won’t always think of you as their needs change and may not even be aware of the other products and services you provide. Talking to them over the phone gives you the opportunity to educate them on all of the different solutions you can provide.

3. Gain testimonials and case studies

Another key benefit of staying in touch with your customers is that you get to know the results they are achieving with your products and services. Customer testimonials and case studies are incredibly valuable in your sales process because they prove how you can help.  This proof reduces the risk felt by potential customers and gives you powerful marketing messages to use.

As you are talking to your customers, casually ask them how your product or service has helped them. More often than not your customers will be flattered you value their opinion and be happy to give you a testimonial.

4. Identify improvements

Some business owners fear their customers’ feedback, so much so that it prevents them from following up after purchases. But the feedback your customers share with you, whether it is positive or negative, is the key to building a better business. 

Your customers, who have experienced your products and services firsthand, will provide priceless insight into the quality, affordability, customer service and benefits you offer compared to what else is available in your industry. And if you choose to listen, help you create greater products and services that are more competitive and relevant to your market.

5. Build relationships

Never underestimate the power of a trusting business relationship. You have already invested time, money and energy into getting your customers; why not do everything in your power to keep them as well?

People want to be valued for who they are and not just how much they spend with you. A quick phone call to see how they are going is a great way to build a relationship with your customers and inspire loyalty and trust. 

These days so many businesses have an agenda when they contact their customers. However, you leave an indelible mark when you call just to see how they are going.

Amanda


Five tips for managing and increasing your capacity

When it comes to growing a business, there are a number of areas you need to manage and monitor closely. While most businesses watch their competitors, customers, and cash flow proactively, there is one  area often forgotten until reached – capacity.

It’s a familiar story; a business owner focuses on sales to increase cash flow but has not thought about how or when they can deliver all of the new work sourced. As a result, the quality of products or services can be lower or the turnaround longer, affecting their reputation.

To ensure you don’t play the lead role in this tale, here are five tips to help you manage and increase your capacity.

1. Know how much work you can handle

The first step in working out your capacity is to know how much time it takes for you or your staff to produce and deliver the products or services you provide. Then you need to work out how much time you have designated to fulfilling customer work or orders in addition to all of the other operational tasks that keep your business running as usual each working day. 

Also look at your current workload, are you servicing all of your clients successfully and meeting their expectations? What is your turnaround time like, are you meeting or stretching deadlines? Are you getting the feedback you normally do or want to? If your answer is no to any of these questions, or if you are already busy, stressed and not coping with the workload, chances are you are at or very close to your capacity.

2. Find ways to streamline

You still need to continue to bring in income so the first step is to look at how you can minimise the time spent in existing tasks. This starts by identifying ways you can streamline and systemise your processes and utilise your current team more effectively.

Also, look at how you can take on new business at your current capacity. It could be a matter of scheduling work a week or two in advance when your capacity has increased or giving a more realistic timeframe on turnaround and delivery to your customers. 

3. Revisit your numbers

When you know your what your capacity is, it pays to revisit your numbers. If you are saying yes to work because you need the money, despite not having the time or ability to service expectations, then it could be time to overhaul your pricing and minimise your expenses.

While you may lose some price-focused customers by increasing your prices, you will at least have increased your income at the same capacity. This may also free up additional funds to increase your capacity by hiring more staff or outsourcing.

3. Build a flexible team

Staffing costs can be a massive expense to business owners, and for smaller businesses, a cost they can’t always afford to sustain. With this in mind, look at developing a flexible team that can help you increase capacity through busy times. 

Having a trusted group of outsourced professionals on call when you need them, can help you meet your workload and increase your capacity when you need it, without ongoing staffing expenses. 

4. Hire smartly

When it comes to hiring staff, give careful consideration to what positions you need to fill first and their roles. While you may need ‘doers’ to increase your capacity immediately, you will also need ‘business generators’ to cover your growing costs and fill your new capacity. 

It’s at this point where you need to decide how big and fast you grow and continue to go back through the steps as you discover your new levels of capacity.

Amanda


Is the price right?

Nothing can cause confusion and doubt in a business like pricing your products and services. While you don’t want to charge less than you are worth, you also don’t want to price yourself out of the market, so how do you know if your price is right?

Whether you are starting out or starting over, here are five factors to consider when pricing your products and services.

1. Costs

First and foremost you need to be financially informed. Before you set your pricing work out the costs involved with running your business. These include your fixed costs (the expenses that will come in every month regardless of sales) and your direct costs (the expenses you incur by producing and delivering your products and services).

2. Customers

Know what your customers want from your products and services. Are they driven by the cheapest price or by the value they receive? What part does price play in their purchase decision? 

Also look at what you are selling, are your current customers buying high-end or low-end products and services? This information will help you determine if your price is right, what level of service or inclusions you should be offering and lastly if you are targeting the right market. It may be that you need to change your market to make your business more profitable.

3. Positioning

Once you understand your customer, you need to look at your positioning. Where do you want to be in the marketplace? Do you want to be the most expensive, luxurious, high-end brand in your industry, the cheapest, beat it by 10% brand or somewhere in the middle? Once you have decided, you will start to get an idea of your ideal pricing. 

4.  Competitors

This is one of the key times you can give yourself permission to do a little competitor snooping. What are they charging for different products and services? What inclusions and level of service are they offering for those prices? What customers are they attracting with their pricing? And how are they positioned in the marketplace? The answers to these questions will give you an industry benchmark for your pricing.

5. Profit

One of the most important questions business owners neglect to ask themselves is “How much profit do I want to make?” They tend to look at what others charge and then pull a figure out of the air to be competitive without giving consideration to how much profit the want and need.

While you may be in business for the passion and to add value to the lives of others, you also need to add value to your own. So give careful consideration to what your time is worth.

How do you determine your pricing?

Amanda


The three keys to emotional selling

Emotions are powerful motivators. They influence every purchase decision we make. Every day we buy based on feelings of love, fear, greed, guilt, anger, frustration, happiness, hope, and curiosity and then justify our purchases logically.

While we can try to avoid using them, the truth is if you want to persuade people to buy your products and services you need to appeal to their emotions. Your potential customers are not as interested in the features of your product or service as much as what it will do for them, give them, save them, make them feel or help them become.

So to help you get greater results from your marketing, advertising and sales meetings, here are the three keys to emotional selling.

1. Understand key emotional drivers

There are a number of key emotional drivers that motivate each of us. But the catch is they don’t affect us all, in the same way. Your job is to work out the drivers that will appeal to your customers the most. Here are just a few: 

▪    To love and be loved 
▪    To feel secure and have stability
▪    To feel important and receive praise
▪    To have pride in who we are and what we do
▪    To feel like we are making a difference 

2. Know your audience

In order to appeal to your potential customer’s key emotional drivers you need to have an intimate knowledge of your target audience. You get this by looking at your past and current customers, what they needed, what they bought and why they bought it. You also get it by putting yourself in your potential customers shoes. 

▪    What are their greatest needs and wants?
▪    What are their most pressing frustrations?
▪    What is their deepest fear?
▪    What keeps them up at night?

Once you begin to understand your potential customer and what they want and need from your industry and business, you can then identify which emotions you need to appeal to in order to push their buy buttons.

3. Tell the story

As you begin to talk or write to your potential customer, paint the picture of their current situation particularly the pain and frustration, they are experiencing. Once you’ve made them uncomfortable, give them hope, explaining what it could be like once they have your product or service. 

By doing this, you are allowing them to have an emotional experience with your product or service before they even try it. 
 
So the next time you are in a sales meeting or preparing your marketing material, remember words tell but emotion sells.

Amanda


How to manage fast growth and maintain your reputation

For many entrepreneurs starting a business comes with the dream of creating a fast growing company that customers love. But as demand grows and sales soar you can suddenly be faced with some very real and different challenges that you may not have planned for in your start-up. 

Sometimes all takes is one big customer, one media opportunity or one photo, status or campaign to go viral and you can be faced with a flood of enquiries and sales. To ensure you handle your growth effectively and maintain your reputation along the way here are five points to keep in mind. 

1. Streamline

The more you systemise and streamline each task the quicker it will be to complete and the easier it will be to outsource or delegate to new and existing team members as your business grows. 

Ideally you want to be systemising from start-up while still keeping your processes fluid enough to grow with you. This will ensure you can grow easily with minimal disruption to your business operations. 

2. Delegate

When you are experiencing high growth your time needs to be spent as productively and profitably as possible. Be ruthless with your to-do list and make sure any tasks that aren’t a good use of your time is delegated to another team member or outsourced professional.

3. Manage your cash flow

Staffing and other growth expenses can put significant strain on your cash flow, and if not managed effectively can cost you your business even despite its popularity. 

To prevent this, ensure you are receiving regular financial reports so you can prioritise expenses and plan around periods of low cash flow. Also be careful about the staff roles you look to fill first. While you will need support staff to get the tasks done, you will also need sales people to bring in new business to cover your growing expenses. 

4. Keep marketing

While stopping your marketing may seem like a good idea during high growth periods, it can drastically affect your cash flow. With increased expenses you need to ensure you have consistent income coming in. 

If you are considering stopping or slowing your marketing down, make these decisions based around your sales figures and budget forecast. Know where your leads are coming from as well as your slow periods, lead time and conversion rate. 

5. Watch your capacity

To maintain your reputation you need to grow your capacity as your business grows. Make sure you can comfortably service all of your existing customers and exceed their expectations as well as any new customers you bring on board. Your existing customer base really is your gold mine; they are the best source of new business so it is important not to burn them. 

Before you bring in new business or say yes to a project, ask yourself “Can I service this customer effectively and provide real value?” if the answer is yes, go for it, if the answer is no, be honest. If the answer is yes but not yet, then book the work in at a later date. While you may lose a sale, think about how much more you could lose if you can’t deliver and they tell people about their bad experience. 

How do you manage your business growth?

Amanda


Competitor Wars: How to Deal with Dirty Tricks

Being an entrepreneur is serious business. While some seem to thrive under the pressure of growth and competition, others harden, taking their focus off their own businesses to think up ways to sabotage their competitors. 

Hiding under the cloak of anonymity their dirty tricks are many. They plagiarise your blogs, website content, promotions, newsletter, social media updates, products, services or innovations and claim it as their own.

Some open fake social media accounts to harass you through posts or subtly (and not so subtly) promote their own business on your page. Others leave scathing online reviews for products and services they haven’t even purchased, or pose as a complimenting customer to glean suppliers and trade secrets. Doing it all in an attempt to surpass you, distract you and break you. 

While it can be distressing, annoying and downright unethical, the truth is you can’t control how your competitors will react. You can however, control how you respond. So before you go out and declare a full-scale competitor war, here are five tips to help you deal with their dirty tricks. 

1. Feel satisfied that you are doing something right

Know that to cause such a stir and have your competitors scared you must be doing something right.

People don’t copy or get concerned about competitors with bad businesses or ideas. They get concerned about competitors with great ones. You are doing your job too well in their eyes and they don’t like it. See their jealousy as a compliment. 

In fact the only time you really need to worry, is when they stop looking to you for their ideas. 

2. Mind your own business

While it’s necessary to keep a check on what a competitor is doing, the minute they consume your thoughts and energy or alter your actions they’ve won. Stay focused on your business. Keep disrupting, keep innovating, and keep making your competitors uncomfortable. 

3. Build your fans 

I’m not talking about more social media followers here; I’m talking about actual raving fans. You want to create customers that love what you do so much they become your extended sales team and in this case your supporters and defenders. 

Customers who have a strong relationship and emotional connection with you will start to notice (as will others) that your competitors are copying you or playing dirty tricks. What’s more they won’t be reserved with their opinion.  

4. Respond with kindness

Use negative reviews as a way to showcase your character and customer service. There are countless examples on social media of how a complaint turned into a massive PR opportunity for a business.

Respond with kindness, show your customers why they love you and how positively you act under pressure. You will often build more rapport with your customers, fans and followers when they see you handle a negative situation positively and authentically. It will give them even more of a reason to believe in you.

5. Let them be their own undoing

People who act in desperation or greed always slip up eventually, and those who copy you will always be one step behind. So as tempting as it can be to lower yourself to their level and play their dirty games, don’t. 

It catches up with them. It may not be in your time (or how you have plotted it in your head), but it does. The business world is too small for it not to. 

So seek legal and business council if and when you need to, though make sure your main focus is on building your business and serving your customers. 

Succeeding will always be the best revenge.

Amanda


Five sources to help you track trends

Want to give your business a competitive edge this year and ensure your products, services, innovations and messages are on market?

One of the best ways to get in front of the pack, attract new leads and build loyalty with existing customers is to identify needs and trends before or as they are coming. 

But how do you predict these changes when there is no crystal ball in business? Here are five sources to watch and utilise.

1. Industry News

One of the first steps in identifying trends is to know your industry intimately. 

Subscribe to industry association newsletters, journals and magazines, set Google alerts for keywords you want to watch, sign up for reports and statistics, do industry surveys (this will give you insight into what information they want to gather) and watch what others are doing in your industry.  

Also read books and blogs (don’t neglect the comment area), attend seminars, visit trade shows and research new techniques, methods and offerings. 

2. Identify key influencers

Do you have any key influencers in your industry? They could be a pioneer from within, or an outside influencer, someone who is not directly in your industry but often leads the way in purchase decisions like a celebrity, blogger, reviewer, commentator or sometimes even family member of your potential customer.

If your customers are looking to them to tell them what and where they should buy, you should be looking at uncovering how you can influence the influencer.

3. Get in the mind of your customer

Your customers will always be your greatest source of information and their opinion is the one that counts the most given they are the ones paying you!

With this in mind do up a survey to ask your customers about what they need and want from your products, services and industry. What frustrations aren’t being met? What ideas do they have for new innovations and offerings? Has their product or service requirements changed as a result of business growth or lifestyle changes? Extract as much information as you can to ensure you are meeting the markets demands.

4. Social media 

Anywhere a lot of your potential customers gather and talk can offer great information on new trends, needs and opportunities. This is why social media is so great, it can give you a lot of feedback and sometimes brutally honest insight into what your customers want, or find interesting. 

Be sure to follow relevant pages and groups, ask questions, do polls, share different information to see what sticks and monitor what goes viral in your industry.

5. Web Resources

There are also numerous websites that can also help you monitor popular content Like Google Trends, YouTube’s trend dashboard, BuzzFeed and Mashable to name a few. 

Now to you, how do you identify trends in your industry?

Amanda


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