Learn how to get more customers to say “yes” during your selling interactions
Sales are what make or break your business – but unless you’re a natural at selling, the process can be intimidating.
Even experienced salespeople trip up at some point between that initial conversation and closing the deal. Often one or two small changes to your approach can make a huge difference in your success rate.
Use these suggestions to improve your close rate.
1. Make a great first impression
It’s easy to make a great first impression – it’s also easy to blow it.
Show up to the sales appointment on time.
Be prepared with any materials and samples.
Research in advance as much as you can about the customer and his or her company.
Identify the customer’s need for your product – why should they buy from you?
Rehearse responses to customer questions.
Your customer forms an impression before they even meet you. The customer will likely visit your website, check out your LinkedIn profile and see what you say and share on social media before meeting or talking with you. Make sure all of your marketing materials make you shine.
2. Slow down
The goal of each sales conversation is getting to a close, but nothing scares a prospect away faster than pressure or desperation.
Keep in mind that most buyers won't commit to a purchase the first time you speak. It can take numerous customer interactions before the customer is ready to proceed, so slow down and focus on being helpful.
3. Focus clearly on benefits relevant to the buyer
If you believe in your product or service you're well on your way to being successful in sales. But if you get too wrapped up in talking about everything your gadget can do then you're missing the mark.
Buyers need to know exactly how your product or service can help solve their particular problem or make life more enjoyable. How does your product satisfy their need or want? Make sure you know exactly what their particular need or what is before you address it.
4. Don’t worry about your price being too high
Buyers want value more than they want low price, so don't get caught up worrying that your pricing is choking sales.
Instead focus on whether you've made it easy for your customers to understand the value of your offering. Talk about things like product quality, satisfied past customers, product or service performance, industry reputation, money-back guarantee, support services and the availability of your own expertise.
5. Make next steps very easy
When you feel a conversation naturally coming to a close, are you ready with the next step toward purchase?
The next step may be to connect by email, call next week, send some more information, share customer references, talk about delivery times or start dates, complete a work order, prepare a contract, or take payment.
The key to successful selling is really about listening to the customer to understand what they want. If you listen more than you talk, you’ll likely close plenty of future sales.
What to look for when you hire your most important business advisor
An accountant is the most important supplier to your business. So selecting one should be done with great care and without rushing.
A great accountant can save your business money, identify revenue opportunities, reduce your stress and make your life a whole lot easier. A poor choice for accountant may end up costing your business money with mistakes and poor advice.
Follow these tips to find your ideal accountant.
1. Determine the level of service you require
You want an accountant who can meet the needs of your particular business. Consider these questions:
Will you do the bookkeeping, and hand files to your accountant to prepare year-end tax returns? Or, will you hire an independent bookkeeper to manage your monthly record-keeping in house, and file routine government paperwork?
Would you prefer your accountant handle it all? That level of service may affect price, but you may end up paying less money than you would by hiring a separate bookkeeper.
Do you want to meet with your accountant throughout the year to obtain business advice?
Focusing on what’s most important to your company will help you narrow the field so that you can get on with your accountant search.
2. Pay extra for long-term tax reducing strategies
A good accountant will find deductions to lower the amount of tax payable in a given year. A great accountant will develop tax-reducing strategies to save your business money for many years ahead. Expect to pay more for the latter service.
3. The right kind of industry experience
Every accountant will be familiar with standard business expense deductions (like rent, payroll and utilities). But your ideal accountant should be aware of tax credits that are geared towards your industry or type of business. For example, a transport company will prefer to work with an accountant who understands their particular industry.
4. Terrific business references
Don’t be shy about asking for references from your short list of accountants. Speak to an accountant’s past and current clients to understand the experiences of other business owners.
And pay attention to your own first impression – you’ll be working closely with your accountant, so you want to make sure you feel comfortable with the individual or firm you choose.
5. Make sure you can afford to pay your accountant
Expertise comes at a price – so be sure to understand how much your accountant will charge for:
Bookkeeping services (unless you do the books yourself or hire a bookkeeper)
Business consultation & advice throughout the year
Tip: Ask your accountant to invoice your business monthly to avoid paying a big invoice at tax time.
It can take time and some effort to find the right accountant for your business. Start your search long before you need one so you aren’t rushed into making a decision. And if you need help finding an accountant, ask your banker, lawyer and other business owners for referrals.
Boost your retweets with engaging content and a solid twitter strategy
If you're already on Twitter you know what a great tool it is for building your brand, networking and connecting with customers.
But for most small business owners, social media poses a time challenge: How can you reliably write and post shareable content?
While there isn't a formula for the perfect tweet, there are some definite no-no's you should avoid. Getting too personal, promotional or pushing the sale are obvious turn-offs. Not being personal enough can make it look like a robot is composing your tweets. Finding a balance is important, and always being positive and helpful is essential.
A great guideline when tweeting is to remember why people use Twitter. Most people are not necessarily being strategic about it. They're using it to pass the time. A funny video, inspiring quote or a comment on a trending story are likely to get shared more often than company news or what you did on the weekend.
Here are a few tips for writing tweets that will make the social media rounds.
Before you tweet, check what's trending on your Home, Connect, Discover and Me tabs in the left hand column of your page. Then answer a question, link to an interesting article, offer a solution, point to a valuable resource or share a quote on the hot topic of the day.
Ask a question
The great thing about Twitter is that your followers may be strangers, but many will be willing to reply when you need information – and spread the word for you with a retweet (RT).
Let your followers know you're looking for a solution to a problem. If you're looking for a virtual assistant, accountant or legal expert, ask for a referral. Request a recommendation for the best Thai restaurant in your area for an upcoming customer meeting. You may be surprised by the number of responses you'll get to a simple question or request for help.
Promote an event
If you plan to attend an upcoming trade show, conference or workshop, why not spread the word? List a clear benefit at the beginning of your tweet. For example:
- “Hoping to generate more leads for my business at this year's XYZ workshop”.
- “Can’t wait to learn how to increase sales. Join me at the XYZ conference before it sells out!”
Promoting someone else's events may attract the attention of the event organizer and earn you a retweet.
Share tweets Retweeting shows that you're not on Twitter just to broadcast your own news. You're there to be social and helpful, and ready to provide great content from a variety of sources. A RT is a show of appreciation for someone else's efforts to make Twitter a great place to hang out.
Don't underestimate the power of a retweet for building relationships. You never know when your kind turn will result in someone else returning the favour.
The best rule of thumb for writing shareable tweets is to think of Twitter as a party. Make your 140 character contribution to the conversation topical, amusing or helpful to someone else in the room and you can't go wrong.
Every dollar counts when you’re running a small business. That’s no business owner wants to spend more money than necessary on professional fees for accountants or lawyers. There’s no doubt the advice and assistance available from your accountant or lawyer is extremely valuable and worth money:
• Accountants are valuable advisors to any business, because an accountant can help you to reduce taxes, increase revenue, decrease costs and plan ahead.
• Lawyers are valuable advisors to a business because a lawyer can help you to create contracts, review agreements and avoid legal hassles.
However, you owe it to your bottom line to take whatever steps you can to get the professional services your business needs without paying a fortune.
Follow these suggestions help keep costs down.
Do the easy work
If you hand an accountant a shoebox of receipts, or ask a lawyer to create a document from scratch, that professional will need to do more work on your file. And that will cost you more money.
Instead, you can save money by doing some of the work required to prepare a project or file before you hand it over to a professional.
For example, if you want a lawyer to create a sales contract for your company to use with customers, you can start by finding a free version of a contract online, downloading a copy, and making some edits. Along with some instructions, give your edited version of the file to the lawyer and ask him or her to draft the agreement from there. It’s a lot less expensive to have a lawyer work from your draft document than preparing an original document from scratch.
Share your budget
No one likes to receive a big invoice by surprise, but that’s exactly what can happen if you don’t set a budget with your professional advisor.
By disclosing your budget upfront with the professional, a lawyer or accountant can communicate the level of service they are able to provide. It helps to clarify expectations on both sides: you’ll know what you’re getting for your money, and the professional will know what to deliver for the agreed fee. If your budget is too low for the work required, ask if you can do some of the preparatory work on the file—like entering receipts into bookkeeping software instead of handing a shoebox of loose papers to your accountant. Or, you may need to shop around for another provider.
Tip: Be sure to ask about payment policy. Ask how much of the fee must be paid upfront and how much can be paid 30, 60 or even 90 days after the work is complete.
Shop around Take your time when selecting a professional because you will likely be working with that individual or firm for a long time. Identify and approach at least three other professionals in order to find the best choice. The right professional for your business will be the one who:
• Has experience working with similar clients.
• Can do the work within your budget.
• Makes you feel comfortable.
Lastly, before you make the decision to hire a professional, be sure to ask for references. It’s always wise to first check the experiences of other business owners.