Get More Sales on Purpose

To support your team and finance operations, an executive team must be able to generate large volumes of revenue throughout the year. This revenue generation takes place through a combination of marketing, sales, and service. The customer has to

  • know that a product is available (marketing)
  • be convinced to buy that product (sales), and
  • be pleased with the purchase (service).

We have been discussing how research leads to better product positioning, and that is certainly an important part of marketing. We will zero in on the other components of revenue generation in this edition.

Many companies assume that all they have to do is make a product or offer a service and everything else will fall into place. Nothing could be farther from the truth! If no one knows who your company is, what the offering is, and how/why to buy it, you will either have inventory (goods) or idle workers (services). Similarly, if buyers know your business has something to offer but have no reason to purchase your offering over another’s, you will not make sales critical to business survival and growth. Providing a quality product in a timely manner an correcting defects quickly translates into repeat sales in any industry. 

Sales

Sales depend on three critical elements:

  1. the quality of leads
  2. the quality of the sales team
  3. buyer perceptions

The three need to converge into transactions built on relationships. Buyers are like pupils in an educational system–the sales team and the marketing team are the teachers. The marketing team must supply enough information so that the target buying market can learn about your offering. What is supplied to the sales team is information to reinforce the message: these products or services meet a distinct need in the mind of the buyer. As feedback is collected from target buyers, those conversations become a means to qualify leads that are much easier to convert.

Marketing

Inform the general buying public both directly (in face to face situations) and indirectly (in various forms of media, including social). Failure to reach either audience results in insufficient leads for the sales team–both in quality and in quantity. If your marketing team is not accountable for lead generation, it should be. Those who do not perform the lead generation function well should be replaced with others who are tuned into what makes your business continue to exist: revenues. The marketers can improve effectiveness by paying attention to statistics–whether it is website inquiries, newsletter subscribers, store visitors, or something comparable. There has to be several metrics in your setting that you can identify that make the conversations very professional an on point all the time.

Selling

Think through things like your incentive programs for your sales team, but don’t neglect to think through how to equip the individuals for success with well produced collateral, clear messaging and selling tactics, and sufficient training to overcome potential objectives smoothly and respectfully. Appreciation notes to customers are an art that has lost ground, but that demonstrate a personal touch that often leads to new customers. In your training sessions, emphasize product or service features, how and why they are important, how you have positioned your offering versus the competition, what your perceived competitive advantage is, what common objectives are, and how you want prospects to be treated when in a consultative sales conversation.

Buyers

Buyers also need to be instructed about what they encounter. Make an effort through both marketing and selling activities to run through the competitive advantage positioning messages that you have developed. Be consistent. Be passionate. Be sensitive. Emphasizing your research findings as to what potential buyers want and how you have tailored your offering will go a long ways to build identification with your company and its product or service. Think about where the buyers hang out and “meet” them with a compelling invitation.

Service will be tackled in the next post!

Advertisements

Wow Your Customer to Win

How many times have you heard a phrase like “user experience” or “customer experience” in the past decade? Quite a lot I bet–unless you live under a rock. Great companies from Starbucks to Ritz Carlton, Nordstrom’s to Apple have taken the time to be intentional about their offerings, including those small touches that are so memorable.

Paul Spiegelman is a business owner whom I follow on Twitter. He wrote for Inc. magazine over the weekend about a splendid resort experience he had recently. There were aspects of the stay where expectations were met. However, he was blown away by the special touches. Paul believes that small businesses would do well to:

1. Notice What’s Important

When my wife and I got to the check-in counter, we were assigned to our hotel room. The staffer noticed we had small children and immediately brought out a wagon full of stuffed animals and encouraged our kids to pick one. This seemingly small gesture showed the resort was paying attention to what is most important to us.

2. Be a Guide

Rather than just hand me the room key, the clerk stepped around the front desk, told me he was going to tour my family and me around the property and then escort us to our room. And that’s just what he did. Not sure how the hotel managed that with multiple people checking in at the same time, but it was impressive. Do you do this when you give clients direction?

3. Start the Morning Right

I love it when hotels offer morning coffee. But it is usually in very small cups, and you inevitably wind up going back repeatedly for more. At the (place we stayed), the coffee cups looked about the same size as a Starbucks Venti. And the coffee was free until 11 a.m. What a great way to start the day.

4. Empower the Unexpected

At breakfast one morning, we celebrated my 12-year-old nephew’s birthday. During the meal, unbeknownst to me or my family, our waiter slipped out of the hotel, went to his car, and brought back a book that he gave to my nephew as a gift. Can you imagine? What small, unexpected touches do you enable your employees to offer without having to ask permission?

5. Don’t Just Pass By

As usual, I often saw hotel employees in the hallways or outside walkways. But in addition to the standard “good morning” and pleasant smile, the workers went out of their way to purposely step aside and create a path for me, whether I was with a group or walking alone. Instead of two people mindlessly passing each other, we had a moment to interact.

6. Communicate Price Clearly

When I checked out of the hotel and asked for a bellman to help my family and me with our bags, he also brought our bill to the room so we could check it then and raise any issues or questions. I have never experienced that kind of active transparency; it was great to have someone make sure the details of the bill fit the service we paid for.

7. Leave Them With a Lasting Memory

When our car was loaded up and my family and I were ready to go, not only did we find the staffers had left two bottles of water in the car cup holders but also two logo baseball caps on the dashboard for my wife and me. We drove away with smiles on our faces.

Many of these noticeable expressions of customer care do not cost anything extra to provide, but make a huge impression. How do you show that you care about what’s most important to your customers? Are you the type who tells a customer what needs doing, or do you take the time to show? How do you go “above and beyond?” Do your customers feel respected by your actions? Have someone in your organization (as senior a level as possible is ideal) take the time to explain billing and offer to answer questions for customers. What memories would you like to build in the minds of your customers?

If you will think through these questions and best practices, you will win the hearts of your customers.

 

Shark Tips For Second Career Entrepreneurs

“The best advice I would give to somebody is, don’t ever start a business that you are not incredibly and deeply passionate about,” said Robert Herjavec, one of the “sharks” on ABC’s hit TV show, Shark Tank. “It is hell, and you will spend more hours with your business than you will with your family and friends. You will have horrible days that will make you want to quit and question everything you have ever learned. Along that journey, if you don’t absolutely love what you do there is no way you will survive.”

Many people who are looking at starting a business as a second career are intrigued that, if it works out, they can create a new source of income in addition to the retirement income sources they’ve worked on for years. True entrepreneurs, however, don’t start businesses to produce money. What?

“The biggest mistake I see people do is they start a business to make money,” said Herjavec. “The problem with that is on those cold days, money doesn’t keep you warm at night. For me, it is impossible to expend the effort required to start a great business because you want to make more money.”

Passion is what is critical to successful entrepreneurship. Some would even label it fanaticism. When one is in the midst of a dogged pursuit of what is primal, success looms in the not too distant future. It is as though a deep seated conviction drives one to pursue what is the convergence of talent, inspiration, and motivation. Not everyone, though, even considers that starting a business is a possibility. Some were just not raised to think entrepreneurially.

“When I was younger, I didn’t know that people could start a business, and I always say now that if I knew what I know now, I would have dreamed bigger,” said , CEO of Canadian-based information technology company The Herjavec Group. “I don’t have an MBA, or a business degree, and I wasn’t very good at accounting. I remember when I wanted to start a business; everybody said to me, ‘you can’t do it.’ Fundamentally, I owe my success in business to the fact that I really love what I do.”

“It was really interesting because, where I came from, we lived on a farm and my grandmother raised me and everybody lived like us,” said Herjavec. “Then, we came to North America and it was my first impression of not being well off. I realized that compared to everybody else, we were really poor.”

To make a living, Herjavec began working as a newspaper deliveryman and waiter in the early 1990s.  He was able to make ends meet and learn important business lessons at the same time.  The biggest, perhaps of all, was noticing what was on the mind of his customers.

“The most important relationship in business is the one between you and your customers. All my experience is customer-related. When I was delivering newspapers, you used to have to collect the money,” Herjavec said. “When I was a waiter, it was all about maximizing a tip and ensuring enough turnover. All these odd jobs always related in different ways to customers.” 

Knowing what customers want and creating a strategy to meet their needs is critical path stuff. What else is desirable in terms of an entrepreneur’s worldview? Flexibility and good analytical skills rate highly for Herjavec.

“People ask me if there is a quality or characteristic for entrepreneurs, are they born or made?” he says. “The one characteristic that I find in most people who start a business is, they are very comfortable and adaptable to change. I always say my greatest skill is if you throw me in the middle of the forest, I’ll figure out the game.”

Finally, it is crucial that a business founder have a distinct competitive advantage. Whether taking on the 100 ton gorilla (market leader) or a local competitor, it is key to know how you are differentiated from the others. One of the best ways to stake your claim is through unique knowledge or processes.

“The other thing I notice is that lots of other entrepreneurs make the mistake of changing fields all the time and start businesses where their knowledge level isn’t very high,” said Herjavec. “I always say to my kids, become an expert at something and become such an expert at it that you can walk into a room and people will pay you for your knowledge.”

In summary, here are lessons we can learn from Robert Herjavec, aka the Shark:

  • Be extaordinarily passionate
  • Start a business because you believe you were meant to, not for income only
  • Know what the customer wants and deliver
  • Be flexible 
  • Hone your analytical skills
  • Be a lifelong learner and master of a unique subject matter