Posts Tagged ‘Work Your Biz Wednesday’


How to Close the Gap from Prospect to Happy Customer

Sales is a scary thing for many small business owners, but if you can figure out how to turn your sales fear into sales courage, you will change the game in your business. The key lesson I have learned about sales, in my almost 17 years in business, is that the gap between getting a prospect and turning that prospect into a customer can become shorter and shorter with only a few steps. Here are ways you can shorten that gap:

  • Speed up your sales cycle
  • Weed out unqualified prospects
  • Convert with confidence
  • Remove the fear from sales for good

Step 1: Know who your target audience is with 100% certainty. Nothing else in removing the gap between prospecting and completed sales will work without this foundational step. You want to know:

  • Who they listen to
  • Where they hang out both online and offline
  • What their sense of humor is (this is very important believe it or not!), and
  • What the one problem or challenge is that keeps them up at night.

Step 2: Tighten up your business brand. Design your signature content and your business around your ideal customer. Use the lingo of your ideal customer. Mimic the style of the experts they pay attention to. Create Facebook posts based on what they like to see from businesses similar to yours. Create a brand image with attractive logos, tag lines, and clear messaging about who you are as a business, where you are going, and who you’d like to come with you. Note: A blog is a great place to make this step a reality; you can create, nurture, and control well into the future.

Step 3: Review your previous sales cycle. Ask yourself how long it took to go from prospect to sale with all of your products – even if it was one sale of one product or service. You need this as research for how to cut down on time – and extra steps – in the sales process.

Step 4: Beef up your brand awareness: Use what you’ve learned about the length of time and the steps necessary to close a sale. Did your ideal customers in those past sales convert faster than customers who were not in your ideal target audience? Most likely the answer is yes. Solution: Beef up your brand awareness. Consider using one social media platform more to draw your target customer to your website.

Step 5: Make them testify to your greatness. When you have strong brand awareness around your business, sales that normally take one year shrink to six months or less. Sometimes you can close up in ten minutes with one phone call. The key is to get your ideal clients to say amazing things about you – and record them! Video testimonials are the Holy Grail, and they’re just as tough to get, too. Start out with written testimonials on trusted platforms such as LinkedIn or Yelp. The more of these you have, the shorter the steps in your sales conversion cycle and the more your sales funnel is filled with highly qualified prospects.

Put these steps to work and let me know how you are succeeding with this. I am confident this will shorten the gap between meeting a prospect and closing the sale and ending up with a happy customer.


Selecting a Merchant Service Account Provider

Whether you run a brick-and-mortar retail store or an ecommerce store online, you need to be able to accept credit cards easily. After all, most people pay with them, and you want to make it as painless as possible for people to buy from you. To that end, partnering with a merchant service account provider can provide a simple way for you to process credit card payments.

How the Industry Has Changed

Just a few years ago, your only option to accept credit cards was to invest in one of those bulky credit card swiper machines. Sure, these are still used by lots of businesses, but some changes have opened up your options today.

If you run transactions online, there are online card processing services like Paypal, WePay and QuickBooks Payments. No machines needed (other than your computer). If you accept payments on the go, like at a farmer’s market or book signing, there are mobile payment processors like Square to consider. Many integrate with your existing accounting software, making it simple to reconcile your purchases.

What to Expect in Fees

Naturally, any merchant service provider will charge you to use its services. Some services offer a free plan with a slightly higher per-transaction charge, versus a plan with a monthly fee and a lower per-transaction fee.

You’ll typically pay between 1.75% and 2.9% of the transaction price per sale, plus a nominal flat fee per transaction, like $.50. Your service provider may charge more for transactions that require you to key in the credit card number versus swipe it (these are at higher risk for fraud, so they want to cover their bases).

How to Find the Right Provider

In looking for the right merchant service account provider, start with the accounting software you use, as they may have a credit card processing service, or may partner with companies that offer them.

Ask about fees. It’s definitely worth it to shop around for the best price and service. For example, if you know you’re going to have a high volume of sales, look for a company that will discount the percent they charge you if you hit a certain dollar amount in monthly revenue. Those savings add up fast!

Consider how often you’ll actually use the service. If you plan for sporadic use, it’s probably not worth signing up for a monthly fee package just to cut back on the percent per transaction. You want that monthly fee and savings in per transaction costs to be worth it for the number of transactions you’re processing. Essentially: how much are you willing to spend to be able to accept credit cards?

Ask how quickly funds will hit your account after a transaction. The sooner the better, but some companies take up to a week. Can you afford to wait that long to get paid?

Before you sign up, check with the Better Business Bureau to ensure that the company doesn’t have any complaints against it.

Look for a free trial and give a few different merchant service providers a spin. See which is most intuitive and easy to use, and stick with it.


How to Develop Compelling Content

If you need to drive traffic to your website to generate sales, one surefire way to get your numbers surging upward is with compelling content. Content is what you write for your blog, email newsletter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and anything else digital. Writing powerful content is about having the right vision in your head and the right attitude before you even write one word. 

Write content well and you've cemented your success with sales. Here are a few pointers I've put together for you. Be sure to stick to each one because one without the other will tank the entire project.

  1. Your customers have a problem only you can solve. Identify the things that make your customers cringe. Present the benefits of working with you. It could be, "We handle that for paperwork for you." or, "Our clients have often received 25% more sales from our consulting." The customer will think, "I want a 25% increase!" Now you have their attention.  
  2. Focus on one product or one service at a time. Do not, under any circumstances, list 10 products and expect to win sales. It's actually easier for you to write information about your products when you feature just one.  
  3. Have a conversation. Imagine your ideal customer is sitting across from you at a cafe or restaurant. The words and phrases you would use during that coffee or lunch are the same ones you should use when writing your copy. It's about a conversation, not stuffy facts and figures. Be chill. It will relax your prospect and make them more open to what you have to say. 
  4. Keep the copy short and to-the-point. There's no need to write the Magna Carta here. State the benefits of what you offer. Follow up with features. Include testimonials from happy clients, rinse and repeat. 
  5. Focus on what makes you stand out in your industry. Be sure to relay a special technique or addition to a product no one else in your industry offers. It's amazing how that one key element of your content can be the difference between an "I need this right now!" and a "Maybe I'll buy next quarter when we get the new budget." 
  6. Ask for the sale. Just as with face-to-face sales calls or sales presentations, there comes a time when you have to go for it. Always include a clear way for your prospect to become a customer. It could be clicking a link, replying to an email, or giving you a call. Make sure you give only one option, though. You want the prospect to take immediate action, instead of deciding which way to get in touch with you. 
  7. Monitor your results. Some people only have eyes for their profits and loss statement. You know better than that. Proper positioning of your offers leads to more sales, so be sure to keep an eye on how many people are visiting certain pages on your web site. Note how long they're staying there and then you can make key decisions on which products or services to feature in the future.

I can sum up every one of these seven steps in one sentence: Write knowing who you are, who your customer is, which problem you're going to solve, and how you will ask for the sale. If you do those things, you will get a positive response from your prospects and existing customers.


Should Your First Business Be a Franchise?

If you’re thinking about what type of business to start, buying a franchise might be worth consideration. Franchises are great for many entrepreneurs: everything is laid out for you, which makes your work a lot easier. But on the other hand, many business owners find that franchises stifle their ability to make creative decisions. Ask yourself these questions to see if becoming a franchisee is right for you:

1. Do I Want an Out-of-the-Box Solution?

That’s what a franchise is, essentially. You’re handed a book full of guidelines for your business, and presented with marketing materials that are identical to what all the other franchises of this company use. If you like the idea of this simplicity, dig further into franchising.

2. Do I Seek a Proven Solution?

When you start a business from scratch, there’s no guarantee that your business will thrive. When you buy a franchise, you can look to dozens or hundreds of other locations to see how popular they are, as well as get a sense for how much you can make as a franchise owner. Knowing what to expect with your franchise can cut down on some of the risk you take on as a business owner.

3. Do I Like Playing By the Rules?

Because there are a lot of rules with a franchise! You can’t, for example, add a new product to the menu at your burger joint, or change the logo. If you’re okay adhering to what the franchisor has set as the rules, keep considering the franchise. If you prefer to play by your own rules, you’re probably better off starting your own business.

4. Do I Have the Capital for a Franchise?

Typically, buying a franchise is a fixed fee, and an ongoing royalty fee. You can find out what it is by inquiring with the company you’re considering. This will likely cost you far more than starting your own business from scratch. But one advantage is that at least with a franchise, you know what to budget for startup costs.

5. Do I Know What Kind of Franchise I’m Interested In?

There are food franchises, health franchises, grooming, boutiques; you name it. There are even business coaching franchises. So if you’re not already clear on which category you want to buy a franchise in, spend some time researching your options. Ideally, it should be in an industry you have experience in.

6. Am I Appealing to Franchisors?

While money certainly talks when it comes to buying a franchise, many franchisors won’t even talk to you if you don’t hit their net worth requirements. Many premiere food franchises require interested candidates to have a minimum of two million net worth and the ability to purchase three franchises not just one. They’re not just trying to sell you a franchise; they want to be sure you have enough money in the bank to help it succeed. Make sure your financial health is top-notch so that you’ll be a competitive candidate for buying a franchise.


How to be a Successful Mompreneur

12-30 Working Moms smallBeing a mother is a full-time job. Once you have a little person, the most important thing in your life is the health and wellbeing of your child, and then there’s your marriage. Then when you add business owner to the mix, it’s like having three full-time jobs.  To say that striking a balance between home and your business is a challenge is a vast understatement. Mompreneurs who successfully balance motherhood and business make it look so easy, but there are a few key things to know that will help you not feel so overwhelmed. Here are a few secrets of successful mompreneurs.

1. Start Early

The rise-and-grind mentality is one that many business moms embrace, but I suggest you start the day by slowing down and thinking about how you want the day to unfold. I start my days in prayer because I want to take a minute to focus before chaos ensues. It’s helpful to mentally prepare myself for the day. I also take the time to have breakfast with my son and see him off to school before I jump into a productive day of work.

2. Limit Your To-Do List

Itemizing your priorities can be a useful tool so that you don’t overwhelm yourself! To maintain balance in your life, cut your to-do lists down to five things that you will get done during the day. Try to get those tasks done by 11am each day. Consider everything else you achieve to be a bonus. This will require some prioritizing the day before, but it will stop you from feeling like you never get anything done.

3. Keep Your Schedule

It’s incredibly important to budget your time if you want to be a successful mompreneur. This means that whether your hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. or 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., they need to stay consistent to keep your schedule. You might be tempted to become a workaholic, but resist the urge. You family needs you as much as your business does. Give 100 percent and be productive during your workday. Don’t be distracted by social media or your cell phone, get your work done!

4. Use One Calendar

As a mompreneur, your have a work calendar and your family has multiple calendars. Use one calendar to manage the master family schedule. Using a single calendar for all of your commitments will make sure you don’t drop any balls. In doing this, you’ll never absent-mindedly forget about the school play or schedule a business meeting that conflicts with that dance recital.

5. Self-Care is Key

Mompreneurs fire on all cylinders, so self-care is key. You move from home to work to school, and if you are really organized, you’re able to hit the gym too. If you want to be a success mompreneur, you’ve got to take care of yourself. This means eating well, exercising and getting plenty of sleep. If you’re sick, take the day off. Your business and your family need you to be healthy. I also try to get regular massages to reduce stress. You can’t be productive at work or attentive at home if you aren’t healthy.

6. Hire help

As soon as you can afford it, hire help. You can get a college student, retired person, or another mom in your community to help with your children. Drop off and pick up can be quite time consuming, and you want to focus your time on high revenue activities, so that you can afford to do special things with your children.           

7. Unplug

I firmly believe that everyone who works should take the time to completely shut off. This means that you are not checking emails at the dinner table, you’re not taking calls in the middle of bedtime stories and you are not looking at your computer in bed. Once your workday is over, go home and enjoy your children, at least until bedtime. You are never going to get this time back with your family. Do not sleep with your cellphone in the bedroom.

Being a busy Mompreneur can be a challenge. Your work never ends, but if you can set reasonable limits for yourself and follow the tips outlined above, you’ll see that you really can have it all.


5 Ways to Add More Value to Your Customers

12-23 Product Value smallThere are no new ideas under the sun, really? So what can you do to help your small business stand out in the marketplace.  I have often said that it is a losing proposition for small businesses to compete on price, since large competitors with higher volume can always undercut you. So if there are plenty of other businesses that offer what you sell, how can you compete effectively? How are you different? What makes your customers choose you? So you have a secret sauce or specialized system for doing business? This is what’s called your value proposition. 

If you don’t have a specific value proposition, it will be extremely hard to get or keep customers. Every business offers slightly different value over the others. Here are seven ways to increase yours:

Specialize: No one wants to hire a “me too” business. You must be known for something that you specialize in. If everyone can use your product or service chances are no one will. Trying to be all things to all people never works. How can you keep your customers keep coming back? Let’s say you own a spa. You may think customers come there every two weeks for your service technicians, when in reality they come for price 50 minutes for $50 bucks. In this highly stressful out world, an affordable massage is a real treat for a busy working mom. It’s all about understanding the value you offer customers, and then owning it. You should highly this in your marketing materials.

Talk to your customers: Don’t even assume you know what your customer is thinking, you need to ask people why they buy from you. It is easiest to get customers to give feedback if you offer them something in exchange like a discount, or buy one get one offer. You could gain valuable insight that may change your business focus or delivery of your service.

Leverage Your Experience: If you’ve helped 318,356 entrepreneurs start a business, say so. It sounds better than “we’ve helped lots of people start a business.”  Think about how impressive it is to say, ”We’ve helped over 300,000 businesses get started.” As best you can, quantify your value proposition. If you can fix a customer’s hair with a cut and curl in 60 minutes, during her lunch hour, use your speediness in your marketing material.

Strong Sales Copy: Your sales copy needs to speak to a specific expertise and target customer. Anyone who visits your website, landing pages or social media profiles should be able to quickly understand how you can serve them and who is your target customer. If you are a spa owner targeting those tired working moms, they should know you are talking to them with your sales copy of the home page of your website. Your value proposition should come across clearly in all your messaging so that customers know what to expect from your brand.

Highlight Your Benefits: Outline the benefits of your product or services to potential customers. There is a big difference between benefits and features. Focus on one of these three things: Better, Cheaper or Faster? Remember it’s all about solving your customer’s pain. These are all triggers that cause people to buy, so use them. 

Your unique value proposition is ultimately what you are selling. It is what drives traffic to your website and to your retail store. Be clear about the benefits you provide over the competition, and keep it consistent across all your marketing.


How to Develop a Sales Process For Your Small Business

12-16 sales process smallHaving an organized sales process is key to building a sustainable small business. A sales process is an organized system to create an offer that persuades others to pay you in exchange for your product or service. In order to meet your monthly sales goals It’s best to develop an integrated sales process. That is a system that brings in sales based on repeatable actions that predicts conversions for each step in the process. It’s measurable and predictable.

Here is how to develop an integrated sales process:

Develop a Sales Strategy: A sales strategy is best laid out in a sales plan. It is your roadmap for generating leads and closing sales. It should include revenue goals such as how much money you plan to generate on an annual, quarterly, and monthly basis. It should explain exactly where your leads are going to come from. It also defines the sale messages you will share with target customers. Don’t struggle to build the plan include team members, especially your salespeople.

Build the Pipeline: You must always be working on generating leads, and sometimes those leads are existing customers. You need to have a process for building a sales pipeline and tracking customer contacts. Set sales goals for a given week, month, or quarter. As you understand your sales cycle, you may need to nurture a relationship six to 12 months until a new budget cycle creates an opportunity or an existing vendor makes a mistake. We call these trigger events.

Track Your Sales Leads: Your sales plan can be tracked in a spreadsheet or CRM system, such as Insightly. The key is to monitor your lead conversion ratios against your revenue goals. If you create a data-driven sales culture, you will be able to add additional salespeople with ease. It’s important to understand how many leads must you generate to meet your monthly sales goals.

Automate the Sales Process: There are several software tools, such as, Salesforce, HubSpot, and Infusionsoft that make automating the sales process easy. Track ongoing sales activities and lead traffic channels–referrals, networking, upselling, cross-selling, direct mail, paid search, organic search, social media, exhibitions, PR, and response to website promotions. You should track open rates, and test sales messages with your target customers. If you use automation to create a predictable sales process, you can guarantee sales will grow.

Sell, Sell, Sell: In order to make a sale, you must ask for the business. You must make an offer to a customer willing to buy to make a sale. You must build offers into your sales process. Cross-selling is the art of getting existing customers to spend a little more money with you. Amazon is one the best I’ve seen at this. They always let you know what customers like you also purchased. And it doesn’t take a whole lot to upsell. It could be something as simple as a “Buy one, get a second item half-off” deal.

Thank Customers: No one owes you business. Be sure to thank your customers for their business. Showing gratitude with a personal call or note of thanks can go a log way. Over deliver if you can. Surprise a customer with an early delivery of their products. If you build a relationship and constantly add value to the relationship you will have customer for life.

Building an integrated sales process is the best thing you can do to generate and watch your revenue grow.


How to Leverage Facebook Ads to Grow Your Small Business

12-9 Facebook Ads smallFacebook has grown from a purely social networking site to a marketing machine. Fortune 500 corporations and small businesses alike have realized the potential of the website’s reach. The social networking site boasts an astonishing 1.44 billion users of which 65 percent are daily. If you previously ruled out Facebook’s marketing tools, it’s time you took another look and research what it can do for your small business. With a budget as low as 5 dollars, small business owners can launch a Facebook Ads campaign.

1. Targeted Ads

Mari Smith, “Queen of Facebook,” said set aside a practical budget for a Facebook Ads campaign, calling it “the most targeted traffic your money can buy.” Facebook Ads enables you to target your marketing down to the slightest, most precise details. You can target your ads to other Facebook users by their precise location, basic demographics and even based on what type of device they are accessing Facebook on. The feature’s “advanced targeting” techniques also allow you to remarket to people who previously visited your website and can generate “lookalike audiences” of Facebook users who exhibit similar behavior and interests as those who “like” your Fan Page or visit your website.

2. Drive Traffic

Facebook ads “hide” cleverly in plain sight in a user’s newsfeed. While company ads were once completely located down the easily avoidable and camouflaged sidebar, the ads now appear directly in front of them as they are scrolling through their news. The ads appear to be shared by another user as original content and by clicking on them, the user is taken directly to the advertiser’s website which is quite often a page where the item is purchased.

3. Reporting Tools

Facebook Ads makes it incredibly easy for you to tweak your campaign to reach optimal results. Once you move forward with a Facebook Ad campaign, Facebook keeps you updated with how well (or how poorly) the ad is performing. The customary reports are so detailed and thorough you will easily be able to find out how the reach and engagement of your campaign did. The reports give you insight into what is, and is not, working in your current campaign. You can then go in and make changes to your current marketing efforts in order to yield better results from Facebook Ads.

4. Boost a post

Marketing strategies aren’t always catered around raising interest in a product or brand with an ad. Depending on the type of content you produce you might want to utilize the boost a post feature. With boosts, you can increase content views by increasing where on Facebook the ad is featured. Your budget is the only thing that will affect the potential reach of your ads. You can use this to promote your page overall, increase conversions on your website and even increase the engagement

The ads are more than just practical – they’re effective and budget-friendly. If you have a good idea of who your target audience is, Facebook Ads can get you to them. 


Websites to Find New Employees for Your Small Business

11-25 Hiring Employees smallOnce you have determined that it will be beneficial to your business to begin hiring employees, where do you to start?  While its great to start delegating responsibility to other people, your next challenge is to find them. The days of putting classifieds in a newspaper are gone and word-of-mouth recommendations can only get you so far. Here are some of the web’s best resources to find new employees.

StartUpHire

StartUpHire is a website dedicated to finding career professionals, and employee candidates. Many professionals aren’t familiar with the challenges that new small businesses face which can lead to conflicts early into their employment with you. One of StartUpHire’s standout features is the option for employees to search for employment based on a company’s stage of development (ie. seed, development, profitable) and funding. This does away with any misconceptions regarding a job description or the salary and benefit expectations. StartUpHire does charge a fee for its service. The most basic package is $79.

Indeed

Think of Indeed as Google for jobs; it enables users to search for and view jobs from all over the Internet. Indeed is a highly visited site for jobseekers. Business owners can search for qualified candidates as many of Indeed’s users keep their resumes live on the site to be found by potential employers. Besides giving your available position loads of exposure, the price is right. Indeed’s pricing is based on pay-per-click, meaning you only pay when a candidate takes a look at your job description. Much like other pay-per-click websites, you set your own budget for how many clicks you can afford and watch the resumes roll in. If your company isn't in the position to pay to post a job, Indeed also offers the ability to piblish job postings for free. 

Craigslist

You might think of Craigslist as a place sell your old couch or buy a new car, but today the website is being used for so much more. Craigslist is as close to a newspaper classified as you can get in our digital age and, with ads that are as simple and straight forward, it can be a valuable place to find new talent. Job descriptions don’t require an application and all information you provide to jobseekers is voluntary (including location, hours required and salary/benefits). Using Craigslist also guarantees that you will hit candidates within your immediate area as the site operates as separate job boards based on major city or geographical location. It costs $35 for one job posting on Craigslist that remains active for 30 days regardless of how many responses the ad receives.

Monster

Monster.com is the grandfather of job posting websites. Monster is free for jobseekers to use and puts its primary focus on the candidate. Monster offers resources such as industry insights like average salaries and job growth trends. Of all these websites, Monster is the most expensive but also has the biggest reach. With Monster’s job posting packages, your job offerings are targeted and seen across newspaper sites, mobile apps and any other sites linked to the Monster network. It also offers “Power Resume Search,” which allows you to find the best qualified candidates in the shortest amount of time.

Internet job sites are huge assets to small business owners with limited resources to conduct a job search. If you’re ready to bring fresh faces with immense talent into your business, you have to look for them where they’ll be looking for you: online.




 
Nextiva's XBert

Contact an Amazing Service
Sales Expert
(800) 799-0600

See how Nextiva will transform
the way you communicate.

Nextiva's XBert

Contact an Amazing Service
Sales Expert
(800) 799-0600
Learn how much Nextiva can save your business.