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5 Ways to Close More Sales

Posted by Roger Pierce Posted on 11 Sept 2018

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.

 

Business Succession Planning and the Next Generation

Posted by Steve Frye Posted on 01 Aug 2018

All business owners face the task of trying to determine what to do with their businesses when they retire or in the event of a sudden death: sell to the next generation, sell to a 3rd party or sell the assets and wind-up the business. According to the Canadian Federation of Business, only about half of business owners have a succession plan. Not having a plan can create a lot of turmoil as you would expect.

If there is a next generation to consider and there appears to be interest, owners are often encouraged to start gauging their children’s interest and competency in the business when they are teenagers or young adults by bringing them to work at entry-level jobs in the business.

However, according to a recent Harvard Business Review blog, this approach to planning for the next generation may be considered “short-sighted” in some regard (my words). In fact the opposite was suggested. Children should be encouraged to try to build a career outside the business before they are encouraged to come into the family business.

With the belief that family business owners bring their kids into the company early on and “damage” them, by perhaps making it too easy for them or not setting them up properly to succeed, the suggestion was made that owners should be encouraging their children to develop their skills and competencies on the “outside” and then interest them in coming back to well defined roles in the family business, which maximizes the best use of their acquired skills and experience.

Creating a next-generation development program to develop the necessary skills and competencies and helping the next generation find their right roles in the business was suggested as essential elements in business succession planning. Getting the group dynamic right, that is how they work together and communicate, helping them find their voice in the organization, perhaps with the help of non-family members in the business, and giving them room to operate – “know the rules of the room they are in, be it the family room, the owner’s room or boardroom” – were also suggested as essential elements to business succession planning.

Happy Reading

How to Get People to Share Your Twitter Tweets

Posted by Roger Pierce Posted on 07 May 2018

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.

Be timely

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.

How To Escape Your Business While on Vacation

Posted by Eric Walker & Steve Frye Posted on 02 Jan 2018

You’ll return healthier and happier if you learn how to truly unplug

It’s a scene many entrepreneurs know all too well: you go on vacation to take a break from your business, but as soon as you step foot on the beach you begin thinking about work. 

No matter how hard you try, your mind keeps drifting to some matter you forgot to deal with before you left, or the work you must do when you return. 

Sound familiar?

Here are some tips to keep your mind from wandering back to your business while you’re on vacation.

Leave Your Business in Good Hands

A common worry for vacationing entrepreneurs is the business falling apart without them.

While an understandable concern, it’s often not the case. Your business will be just fine providing you’ve taken a few precautions.

Train your employees well. Invest in training once they are hired and again every six months so they can keep up with any changes in the way your business operates.

Appoint an assistant manager and train that person what you do.

Appoint a temporary manager while you are on vacation.

Ask a colleague or trusted family member to handle select business responsibilities while you’re away.

Or, if there’s no one available to run things for you, simply tell your customers your business is closed for a week. Prepare for your vacation by doing any important work before you leave so there’s no void in customer service.

Really Unplug

It’s not truly a vacation unless you’re taking a break from email and your digital devices. 

Ideally you will leave the laptop, tablet and smartphone at home to avoid the temptation to “check in” on your business while on vacation.  

If going device-free is impossible, instead set some boundaries to define your technology use.

Limit email time to 15 minutes each morning.

Send as few emails as possible and only respond to essential messages. 

Check voicemail once a day only. 

Don’t take your electronic devices out of the hotel room to avoid the temptation to power up by the pool.

Give your employees clear instructions about when (and why) they may contact you; otherwise, you may get calls all the time.

Say You’re Away

It’s hard to keep your mind off work if you keep getting calls and emails from your customers or suppliers. 

In addition to communicating your holiday time to your employees (and providing instructions when it’s okay to reach you), consider likewise informing key customers and suppliers or anyone who connects with you regularly. 

Let people know you are away and provide clear information about how and when they can reach you. 

Share your schedule for checking emails and answering calls while on vacation. 

If possible, name an employee or partner as your contact while on vacation.

Set up an email vacation alert containing any instructions for contacting you or your team. Be sure to include your return date.

Chances are people will be much less likely to bother you during your vacation.

Don’t let work eat into your precious vacation time. You deserve a break! There are plenty of benefits to taking some time off but you risk returning from holidays just as tired as when you left unless you can free your mind from thinking about your business while you’re away.

How to create a vision statement for your business

Posted by Eric Walker & Steve Frye Posted on 12 Dec 2017

It’s not just something a big company does

A business vision statement gives your growing company something to aim for. It gives your business purpose. 

Business life is full of twists that can distract from your objectives, so your chances of success are better with a clear vision. A vision will guide you forward. 

The importance of a vision statement cannot be overlooked – not only does it provide long term direction and guidance, but it also gives you the inspiration and the necessary energy to keep going when you are feeling down.

A business vision will steer your efforts beyond a business plan.

A business vision will inspire your employees.

A business vision explains to investors, lenders and suppliers what you want to achieve.

What is a vision statement?

A vision statement declares what an organization wants to achieve over time. It answers the question, “Where is my business going?” in one sentence or one short paragraph. 

Think of a vision statement as a future description of your business. It doesn’t address the immediate goals or activities of a business (usually covered in a mission statement) but instead elevates the discussion to what is possible for your business to achieve and contribute to society over time. 

A vision statement defines the core ideals that give your business its shape and direction. It’s an essential part of success and some of the world’s largest organizations find value in a vision statement. 

Here are three examples of vision statements from organizations that you may recognize:

“Helping people around the world eat and live better” (Kraft)

“To create a better everyday life for the many people.” (Ikea)

“A world where everyone has a decent place to live.” (Habitat for Humanity)

 Crafting your vision statement

Start by addressing the following questions: 

What does my business do? For example, say your business creates software to help people manage their finances.

How will others benefit from it? You believe that better financial management enriches lives.

What will be the legacy of my business? Take a future look at your business to address long-term impact. Using the above example, you might talk about making the world a smarter place through intelligent financial management.

Now put it all together in a trial statement:

 “Improving and enriching lives everywhere using intelligent personal financial management tools.”

 

Once you’re (almost) satisfied with your statement, let it marinate for a while before you return to make any edits. Read your vision statement aloud. Next, share it with business colleagues and other business owners to obtain their reaction and feedback. It always helps to search online for sample vision statements from companies both large and small.

Once you’re happy with your vision statement, share it with the world. Put it on your website. Make it part of your training program for new employees. Add it to your business plan for stakeholders to see.

A business vision statement won’t last forever – once you achieve your original vision, you can (and should!) update your vision statement to reflect new ambitions.

4 ways to improve your business cash flow

Posted by Eric Walker & Steve Frye Posted on 31 Oct 2017

Use these suggestions to keep more money coming into your business than going out

Cash flow is a serious issue for entrepreneurs and can be a source of significant personal stress.

There is plenty of advice on how to improve your business cash flow but not all of it will be applicable to your situation. In many cases your business may only require a cash-flow tune-up in one of the following areas.


1. Speed up receivables

How quickly your customers pay and how you manage outstanding invoices is one of the biggest factors determining the strength of your cash flow. Have you let this area of cash flow management slip? Try any of these tactics to get your money quickly:

  • Ask for payment upfront.
  • Accept credit cards. There are plenty of options online, and most accounting software features a payments option.
  • Invoice right away, with short payment terms. Ask for payment in 10 days instead of 30.
  • Stay on top of receivables. Make it a habit to check the age of your receivables daily so you can take action.

2. Stretch payables

Did you know your cash flow is affected by how you pay your bills, when you pay them and how much you owe your suppliers? Keep more money in your business for longer periods of time by:

  • Negotiating a longer payment period with your suppliers.
  • Asking for a discount from your suppliers if you pay quickly (if you have excess cash).
  • Paying a portion of an invoice and the balance in 30 or 60 days.
  • Using a credit card to pay bills. When used wisely, credits cards can provide an effective short-term interest-free loan that can ease a temporary cash flow crunch.

3. Improve inventory management

If you think your problems are inventory-related it may be time to evaluate your current inventory management system.

  • How often is your inventory turning over? You may need to adjust prices and/or reduce future orders.
  • Are you running out of best-selling items? It deprives your business of cash from sales.
  • Get rid of stale inventory. Hold a sale to move old inventory so you can invest in stock that turns over more frequently.

Accounting software can make inventory management easier, so you might want to consider investing in an affordable program.


4. Make a cash flow strategy

Don’t have a plan to manage your cash flow? You may not have any cash flow issues at the moment, but without a cash flow strategy to help keep you on track you could run into problems in the future. 

Search online for a free cash flow forecast template and take the time to fill it in. Update it weekly or monthly. A cash flow template will let you see how much money is coming in from all sources and how much money is flowing out to pay various expenses. It will let you see how much cash surplus or shortage your business may encounter in any given week or month. By completing a cash flow forecast you’ll be in a position today to spot future cash flow problems so you can take corrective action.

Insufficient cash flow can kill any small business. Make it your personal responsibility to actively monitor cash flow so you can avoid a money crisis and plan ahead with confidence.

The content provided within this site is for general information purposes only, and should not be used or construed as a substitute for consultation with qualified professional advisors.