Posts Tagged ‘Sales’

Mondays with Mike: What Sunsets Can Teach You About Sales

imagesI’m going to tell you a story that never happened.  A man and a woman didn’t stand and watch a sunset and exclaim, “That’s the ugliest sunset I’ve ever seen!”

Think about it.  Have you ever heard someone complain about how unattractive a particular sunset is?  The fact of the matter, though, is that some sunsets have to be better than others, right?  They’re not all created equal, but there’s something about their nature that only makes us remark on them when they’re beautiful. 

Wow.  Think about that.  If you could infuse some of that positive power into the products or services that you sell, you’d have a much easier time marketing your business.  So what is it about sunsets that makes them so powerful, something that we typically only comment on in order to praise it?

Not sure?  Here’s the answer:  it’s scarcity.  Scarcity?  You may be thinking that sunsets happen nearly every day.  They can’t possibly be considered scarce.  But scarcity is the reason we prize these daily, ever-shifting light displays.  We know they’ll only last for a few moments, and then they’re gone.  We know that we have to savor them while they last because there will never be another exactly the same. 

That’s the kind of scarcity you want to cultivate for your business.  Here’s how you do it:

  1. Limit Access.  Reserve certain products – or unique bundles of products – only for your best clients.  If you create a special club of sorts, whose members get access to products other clients don’t, then they’ll see more value in those products.  They’ll feel special and will be predisposed to find their exclusive offers to be valuable.
  2. Create Beauty in your Business.  If you display your special offering for a limited time only, then consumers will be more apt to snap it up right away.  Limited time offers give customers a sense of urgency for the purchase, and a sense of relief when they receive their exclusive product.  Showing the special benefits that your customers with exclusive access receive makes other customers want that privilege as well.  Whether it’s a section of your website, or a special area of a retail store, find a way to showcase your special offers.
  3. Raise your Prices.  We value that for which we spend more money.  If you create an exclusive, limited time offer for your customers, then they’ll be willing to part with more money in order to secure your special deal.  Pack in tons of added value, and it’s a win for everyone.  They key here isn’t just to slap a higher price tag on the same old product.  You must create an authentically more valuable offer, and your customers won’t be able to resist it.

The ultimate marketing win is when you can get consumers so excited about your product or service that they start to market it for you.  We see this happen all the time on Facebook.  People “share” books they’ve bought on Amazon or “share” the outrageously expensive eyeshadow palette they just bought from Sephora.  Why do websites prompt shoppers to “share” their purchases?  Because we see value in the things our friends buy.  Use the sunset effect in your marketing, and you’ll start to see excited customers sharing the news about your brand.

Mondays with Mike: The Tier Method for Increasing Revenue

A disclaimer of sorts:  This method of boosting revenue is intended for entrepreneurs who own businesses that are already making a little money.  This strategy can help you look down the road if you’re just getting your business up and running, but the method I describe in this article is intended for established businesses, rather than those just starting out.

More money.  It’s an appealing prospect, but it’s not always easy to achieve.  One of the most versatile solutions I’ve ever found is the tier method, and it’s successful because it’s such an elegant and simple strategy. 

Here’s how it works:

Your business is established, and you have a good product, but you’re looking to increase sales.  The answer is simply to create additional, higher quality (and higher priced) offerings. 

Let’s look at some examples:

  1. ????????????????????????????????????????You own a restaurant, and you’ve found success with your weekday, prix-fixe menu.  Folks love coming in and selecting three courses for a set price.  How do you step it up?   Add on the option for wine pairings for each course (with an additional fee, of course.)  You’re adding an additional tier of services that will entice your existing customers.
  2. If you own a cleaning service and have regular customers, but need a way to get more from them, create tiers of service.  Your existing contracts – let’s call that your Silver Service – is offered at the current price.  You add Gold Service with additional services – periodic window cleaning or carpet shampooing, as well as Platinum Service – where you clean everything that doesn’t move.   You’ll inevitably find some clients who want to step up to a better plan, and your new clients are likely to settle for the option in the middle, so you’ll be starting them at the Gold Service – it’s your new default setting, complete with higher price tag.
  3. You sell original artwork, either online or in a brick and mortar store.  Your customers love your work, and you decide to offer additional options.  Your first tier is the watercolor painting – the work your clients know and love.  You offer one option of adding a frame, and a second option of high quality mats and a custom frame.  You’re adding tiers of service that save your clients the time they’d have to invest in selecting the perfect frame that shows off your valuable artwork.  

Why is the tier method so successful?  You’re starting with an established brand – a product or a service that your customers already trust and enjoy – and you’re offering a better version of that product.  We all want the best, and we’re conditioned to think of selecting the least expensive option as settling for less than the best.   Airlines make bank on pricier seats in first class.  People pay extra to buy iPhones with more memory than they’ll ever use.  If you offer your customers pricier options, it is inevitable that some of them will take you up on it.

The key here is to offer authentically better options.  We’re not talking about smoke and mirrors  — playing games with your clients is a tactic that can alienate loyal customers.  Rather, you want to develop tiers that are meaningful and offer additional value that’s appealing to your customers.  You’re finding a way to enhance your existing high quality offerings by creating options with added benefits to your clients and added revenue for your business. 

Sales Contests: 6 Planning Questions to Consider

Sales contests can be excellent ways to motivate your team members, add some excitement to the office environment and, ultimately, boost revenue.

Here, Lauri Flaquer, owner of Saltar Solutions, a business consultancy based in St. Paul, Minn., offers her top questions small business owners should ask themselves when launching a contest.

#1: What is the objective of the contest?

While increasing revenue could be one objective, contests can also be effective ways to retain former customers and to build a more cohesive team. Establish a clear objective before diving in, recommends Flaquer.

#2: What prizes will you offer?

“Figure out what specific prizes motivates your group. Not everyone will be motivated by money, so consider offering days off, trips or merchandise,” she advises.

Not sure what motivates your employees? Just ask them. The more involved they feel, the more excited they will be to perform.

#3: How will you structure your teams?

Team sales contests are far more effective than individual sales contents, says Flaquer, adding that three-person teams can create the best scenario.

“Engagement is really important with these situations, so if you pit one person against another and the same person wins all the time, the other person will just think, ‘why bother?’” she says. “I recommend pairing strong staff members with weaker ones to allow them to learn from each other.”

 #4: How will you track results?

Visible results make the greatest impact. Post results daily in your break room or on your company’s intranet homepage. Share a link to the results page with your whole team so people know where they stand at any given time.

#5: How will you keep participants engaged along the way?

Consider giving out incremental prizes to help keep your employees excited about the contest, recommend Flaquer. Gas cards and silly gifts from the dollar store can suffice.

Keep the grand prize top of mind in your office by making it visible. “Put the prize in a case in your lobby or keep a photo of it sitting in an entryway,” she says. “It will keep people subconsciously thinking about the contest and the prize at the end.”

#6: What is your post-contest celebration plan?

Organize a fun event for the final day of the celebration—be it a pizza party or a picnic at a nearby park.

“Be sure to celebrate the entire contest, not just the winner,” Flaquer suggests. “Everyone should feel good about having participated.” 


How to Sell More in Less Time

Small businesses waste a lot of time selling to the wrong people. As a result, their company either does not grow or their sales drop. Here are 3 ways to improve their sales yield:

1. Focus on the right prospects. People only buy when they are in pain and have money to solve that pain. Every prospect should be asked:

  • What pain does your company need to solve?
  • What is the cost of that pain to your company? (or What will it cost your company if the pain is not solved?)
  • Who in your company can make the decision to solve that pain? (or Who has the money in their budget to solve the pain?) 

Many sales people make the mistake of not getting these questions answered up front and waste time with non-buyers masquerading as prospects. 

2. Be there when prospects are ready to buy. Companies actually don’t sell their products or services, but rather customers buy from them. As a result, companies need to be there when prospects are ready to buy. They need to be found and put into the “maybe pile” when a customer is making a decision. In order to achieve this, every small business owners needs to establish long term relationships with clients by offering them valuable knowledge at least monthly that showcases the company’s brand. For example, a dentist may send information on how patients should floss their teeth or a comparison of toothbrushes. Remember, this is not marketing communication that sells product, but a friendly offer of knowledgeable help.

3. Practice the rapid release strategy. Any company can reduce their selling time by 90% and improve their sales yield by only focusing on customers that are ready to buy. Many prospects say yes to a company and then never respond to complete the sale. These people should be contacted a few more times and then put back into the marketing funnel. Sales people waste a lot of time “hoping” these “closed” prospects will contact them and get started. They get stuck here and stop looking for new prospects to meet their sales targets. If they have not heard from the prospects after several calls or contacts, they need to be let go and move on.

How does your company improve its sales yield?

Do You Walk Your Talk in Business?

More than ever before, people are inundated with all kinds of fancy marketing campaigns, tactics, offers and strategies via online media, print media, television, telemarketing and even billboards in just about any place that you can imagine (I have even seen ads in restroom stalls!). Businesses put lot of time, money and effort into these over the top advertisements and offers, each seemingly trying to capture the increasingly elusive attention of potential customers.

Don’t get me wrong; getting the word out about your business is extremely important, because as I always say, if you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business. And having some kind of flashy gimmick may help your business break through the noisy, overcrowded marketplace. But while your slick new offer or campaign may get someone to walk through your door or purchase from you one time,  if your products or services aren’t up to par and you can’t meet (or exceed) the expectations of that offer for that new customer, they won’t ever purchase from you again. And they definitely won’t tell all of their friends and family to purchase from you either. 

bullhorn-guyEven worse, if you really can’t back up the offers or assertions that you put forth in your marketing campaigns, that unsatisfied customer will tell everyone that will listen about their bad experience. And with internet comments, reviews and tweets so prevalent now, that one bad experience can multiply into a storm of negativity with worldwide ramifications, far beyond the scope of someone just telling a few of their local friends or family members, like what was the case in the past. This can be a huge disaster for any company and is extremely difficult to overcome, not to mention just bad business overall.

And this isn’t just true for marketing. It goes for live events, conventions and conferences, too.  You may think that bringing in a big name host, entertainer or speaker will be enough draw people to your event and make a big splash. But if that individual doesn’t do a good job or doesn’t deliver useful content to the audience, your event will suffer the same negative consequences of not living up to attendees’ expectations. And once those negative comments and reviews get out, it’s nearly impossible to get people to attend your future events or do business with your company, whatever your ultimate goal for the event was.

So, no matter what your offering is, make sure that you put your energy and focus on creating the absolute best product, service or experience that you can. Approach it from the perspective of what your target customers truly want and need. That way, when you craft your marketing campaigns and offers, you can really back up your claims with confidence.  This will keep your customers happy and coming back for more. And these happy, repeat customers are the real key to a successful business.

Did you have a bad experience with a marketing campaign or offer that didn’t deliver what it promised?  Please share it below.

Nextiva Tuesday Tip: How to Motivate Your Salespeople

When it comes to managing employees, your salespeople are a special breed. Dealing with rejection day in and day out is tough, so it’s important that you are your sales team’s biggest cheerleader. Need help motivating your salespeople? Try these tips:

  1. Money matters. The salary, commission and bonus plan you offer is a key motivational tool—but what combination works best? While a commission-only approach can be motivating, it also tends to decrease teamwork. Straight salary, on the other hand, removes motivation and creates “coasters.” You’ll typically get the best results offering a base salary plus commission. Quarterly or year-end bonuses can be an additional motivator.
  2. Offer extras. Non-cash incentives like prizes, trips or gift cards are good motivators and help foster healthy competition among the sales team. You can keep costs down by bartering with vendors and suppliers to get incentives.
  3. Create “stretch” goals. Goals should be neither too easy to attain nor so hard that salespeople get discouraged. Aim for “stretch goals” that require just enough effort to build new skills.
  4. Be clear. Put the details of how commissions, bonuses and incentives are earned in writing and make sure every salesperson understands what he or she needs to do to attain the rewards. You don’t want disappointment and resentment.
  5. “How’m I doing?” You or your sales manager needs to provide ongoing feedback or salespeople won’t improve. Make sure criticism is combined with suggestions for how to sell better. Sharing positive feedback and praise in public (such as at sales meetings) is a great motivator.
  6. Know your team. Different salespeople are motivated by different factors. Instead of using a “one-size-fits-all” approach, tailor your feedback, rewards and interactions to each individual for best results. For instance, one person might be more motivated by tickets to a sporting event, another by an afternoon of comp time.
  7. Help them grow. Ongoing training such as that offered by sales or industry organizations is a great way to show your salespeople you value them—and motivate them to try the new tactics they learn. You can also have more experienced salespeople on your team mentor novices. 


The Double Helix Trap

Don't let your business get caught in the Double Helix Trap! Grow your customer base steadily and consistently with these tips from author and speaker Barry Moltz. It only takes 5 minutes a day:

3 Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

A well-thought-out marketing strategy will attract clients to your business; a strategy with holes in it will allow customers to seep through the cracks. Here, Josh Turner, a marketing expert and founder of Linked University, a consulting firm that helps small businesses market on LinkedIn, offers his top three marketing mistakes to avoid.

Engaging in an empty social media campaign

You want your company to have a presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, so you sign up and start posting. You fail to regularly check comments on your updates, re-tweets and follows and then wonder why leads aren’t flooding into your inbox. Does this sound familiar?

“If this describes your social media practices, don’t worry because you are not alone,” says Turner. “I think a lot of companies are misled to believe that if they just get on social media, potential customers will come their way. That is simply not the case.”

Instead, Turner recommends small business owners develop a clear strategy linking social media marketing activities and sales outreach. As long as the two are working together (i.e. sales is alerted and follows up when a positive comment is left on Facebook, etc), success should follow.

Failing to add real value

Think back to your last client-facing email newsletter. What did it contain? Did it describe your latest and greatest products? Your company’s most recent awards received? Maybe your latest big client landed? While all of those pieces of information are important for internal use, they create an annoying, snooze-fest of a newsletter for clients.

“You don’t want to seem too promotional with your marketing,” says Turner. “You need to make sure that you are providing real value. Instead of pushing your brand all the time, try offering your clients a helpful white paper on their industry and other resources to help them do their jobs better.”

Creating a stark division between marketing and sales

Marketing and sales should not be viewed as separate functions, according to Turner. Instead, the two roles should be complementary.

“The most effective companies are those that use marketing to nurture suspects and sales to help make those suspects into prospects,” he says. “Don’t do different things in your marketing and sales departments and just wait for the phone to ring. Use those roles in tandem for the best results.”



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