Category: Small Business

Who’s Your Most Appropriate Sales MVP for the Job at Hand?

In the last post, we talked about making first contact with your prospective clients and how to make a positive first impression. In this post, we’re going to talk about feeling out the personality of your prospective large clients to match them with the appropriate salesperson.

You need to do this in two steps:

  1. Profile your salespeoples’ personalities.
  2. Match the right salesperson to your target prospects.

There are essentially three different selling personalities:

  • The Sage
  • The Pal
  • The Pit Bull

The Sage

This salesperson offers knowledge, experience, comfort and trust. They can make a concerned customer feel at ease. In order to be successful, they need plenty of information, a demo of the product/service, and references and case studies, if possible.

The Pal

Much like it sounds, this is a salesperson that shines at building relationships. They can instantly relate to the prospective client and make them seem like old friends in no time. They work best with clients who are looking for friendship, information and are in a similar peer group as the salesperson. This can include anything from age and culture to hobbies and nightlife. While, sharing experiences can be beneficial to creating a new relationship, your salesperson must always keep it professional and dignified. The resource’s this personality type needs is help in pairing with the right client, entertainment budget and the appropriate and timely information to meet the client’s needs.

The Pit Bull

Obviously, this personality type is a little more aggressive than the others. They are all about business and the bottom line. While this may seem harsh to a lot of people, there is a set of business people out there that want the same thing and respect someone who can get down to business and the benefits of a partnership. This salesperson will need to be trusted with a little authority as they will likely be closing deals on the spot. They’ll need plenty of resources and access to products and services. They are best placed in environments where they can work independently, exercise their authoritative discretion and seal deals quickly.

These can all be successful when each is used in the right selling environment. You can easily see how matching the right salesperson for the client can secure more large client wins and for a longer period of time.

If you need help figuring out which of your salespeople fit into these three areas, try our GUIDED TOUR and work with one of our amazing coaches to get your big fish plan in action.

https://ascensionbusinessacademy.com/guidedtour

First Contact Equals First Impression!

In our last blog post, we talked about how to capture those large clients and prepare for the first contact you’ll make with them.  Remember that:

  • This first contact is essential to your success.
  • You need to instill confidence in them.
  • They need to know you can fulfill exactly what you are offering on time, at a good price and at the quality you promise.

Today, we’ll actually go through the correct approach and how to make that perfect first impression. Before you put together your approach plan, you need to create the prioritized list of prospects. Take a look at your notes and the research you’ve done about prospective fish. Then decide which one will be the easiest approach to start out with.

There are a series of things to go through in choosing which fish to start with. They are:

  • Position Your Business
  • Compile Your Hit List
  • Select the Best Target

Position Your Business

You need to position your business to make the first move by listing your revenue streams, identify and list your operational procedures, where your target prospects are initially positioned, your big-customer research, and lastly, putting it all together.

Compile Your Hit List

Start with a list of all the companies you’ve been considering as prospects. Then narrow it down to the ones that you know could use your products or services and be most likely to convert. Don’t overlook obvious choices, whether they are big or small. Even small companies could be very profitable for you in the future.

Select the Best Target

Once you’ve got your list narrowed down, you need to decide which one is the best to start with. You need to consider the following:

  • Which have the most purchasing resources to spend?
  • Does their company vision compliment yours?
  • What encompasses their employee incentive program as it relates to your products/services?
  • What’s the company’s real need for you?
  • Will the partnership lead you off-course?

Now you should have a target in mind to start with. It’s time to plan your approach and execute that plan.

Here’s the step-by-step plan to help you make a good first impression:

  1. Build and analyze your database. Divide your leads into three different categories: hot leads, great fits and secondary leads.
  2. Send out introductory mailings in your medium of choice to your target(s) to introduce yourself, your company, services, products, and vision. They need to be short, clean and concise.
  3. Follow up with your first phone call 2-3 days after they would have received the reach outs. During the phone call, find out whom you need to be speaking with in the future and try to set up a meeting with this person.
  4. Follow up your phone call with another reach out that thanks them for taking the time to speak with you and then offer more details about your products/services. Use this letter and opportunity to set up a meeting to do a presentation.
  5. Follow up the letter with another phone call a couple of days after they would have received the letter. This phone call is to help you further develop your relationship with the prospective client. You should also be able to set up a presentation meeting with them.
  6. Call again a week later if they haven’t agreed to a meeting or presentation. Ask if they received your creative letter (the second one) and if they have a minute when you can stop by and introduce yourself in person.

Now, don’t be upset if you don’t seal the deal right away. Some people simply take a little longer to make a decision. This can all be a little intimidating at first, but when you know you are offering a quality product/service, you can’t go wrong.

Once you’ve gone through this process and make first contact (and most importantly a good first impression) it’s time to put your best face forward, which means sending the right salesperson to seal the deal.

If you need help putting together your approach and make a good first impression, try our GUIDED TOUR to work with a coach and have access to a wealth of great resources and tools.

https://ascensionbusinessacademy.com/guidedtour

Know Who Writes the Checks

In our last blog post we talked about how to bring the big-company mindset into your business and to your team, and how it will help you overcome the mental obstacles that will keep you from being successful.

Two of the most important things to know about your high-profile clients is their purchasing habits and procedures. Following this thought, there are four main things you need to monitor and address in order to be successful:

  1. Purchasing Responsibilities: You need to know who has influence over purchasing, who does the actual buying and who can kill a deal if they want.
  2. Get on Their List: You need to know how to get on their list of people to buy from. Your company needs to not only be on the list, but at the top of it and in as many categories as possible for the more interaction and ultimately, MORE TRANSACTIONS. Ask about a procurement program and what you need to do to go through the application process.
  3. Corporate Terminology: You need to learn the company’s unique language and communications methods. These could include report names, buzzwords and even the nicknames they have for their employees.
  4. Fiscal Budgets: It’s essential you know the their fiscal budget and calendar, so you know exactly when they are planning their expenses for the year.

If you need help with any of this, see this two part series for more information:

 

2 Part Series – How To Increase Transactions And Customer Revenue

 

Becoming One With the Big Company Mindset to Win Big Clients

In the last post we started our series on acquiring larger clients that will sustain your business over the long run. Today we’re going to take that a step further by talking about how to understand and think and conduct your business like a “large client” company and how that can help you plan your approach and find success.

Before you can start the process of landing these types of clients, you have to make sure your entire team is onboard with your approach and vision. Here are six key ways to finding big client success. They are:

  1. First Impression: You must remember you sometimes have one shot to land a large client. If you make a mistake, they are most likely not going to consider you again. Never give them a reason to doubt your abilities on that first call.
  2. First Priority: Your large prospect must always feel like they are your first priority. Return their calls and emails immediately and find solutions to their problems or questions as quickly as possible.
  3. Be flexible: You need to be flexible in your negotiations. If they need a special service or have a need for you to customize a product or product bundle, then simply accommodate them for the benefit of the long term.  A little hassle now will be a big pay off later.
  4. Long-term: This goes along with the last one a bit. As you are approaching and negotiating with large prospects you need to think about the long-term benefits for your business. If you go for a one-time big score you will lose their interest.
  5. Have Fun: Work should be fun, even when trying to land big clients. In fact, this should be the most fun. You are sharing your vision with new people and including them in your future success and likewise. People simply work better in a fun, happy environment. Your passion will also be contagious and acclimate your larger clients into your vision even more.
  6. Help Them: If you take just a little bit of time and offer your clients ways to save money or time by introducing them to potential business partners, this will show you really are invested and interested in their business. Strive to find balance between your business’ needs and your client’s needs.

There are also a few tactics you can use to bring in a big-company vision to the people on your team. You can:

  • Post these six keys for all to see.
  • Put together a performance-based incentive program.
  • Conduct frequent team meetings.
  • Use a “right now” policy that dictates high-priority client calls be answered immediately and handled with urgency.
  • Offer awards/recognition for big-company ideas and executions.
  • Put together a training and certification program based on the six keys above.

 

These six keys and tips will help you instill a big-company mindset throughout your business which will help you be more prepared and more likely to land the larger clients. Once your team is thinking this way, you’ll be unstoppable.

If you need help putting together an incentive program or other way to push your team toward the big-company mindset, try our GUIDED TOUR to work with one of our coaches or check out our resources and tools.

www.ascensionadvisingsolutions.com/guidedtour

Managing your Business Velocity and Trajectory

There are a number of factors to take into consideration when prepping yourself and your company to land the largest clients you’ll ever work with.

In this week’s post, we’re going to start with a brief look at the three paths every business can maneuver, and show you which one is the better path to success. Then we’ll talk about the mindset it takes to attract the big fish.

There are three velocities a business owner may find themselves engaged in at any given point in their business lifecycle:

  • A Snail’s Pace
  • Shooting Star
  • Catch the Big Fish

A Snail’s Pace

Most business owners here end up working themselves into the ground without much reward or success. This is what happens when you fool yourself into thinking you will most surely find quick success. You may also find yourself following this path when you are afraid of change or taking calculated risks.

The Shooting Star (that may end up burning out)

This describes a business that shoots to the top so fast that you are overwhelmed and you may lack the proper resources in place to adapt to your new influx of business. This can also happen from being overwhelmed by too many small clients, revenue-wise, and not taking the time to find large clients, which will sustain your business after the small client sales start trailing off.

Strategizing to Catch the Big Fish

This is the path that allows you to build at a steady pace that you can manage by not allowing your customer acquisition and customer mix to outpace you. You can do this by putting these tips to work:

  1. Attract, keep and lock in a relative number of larger clients.
  2. Integrate “big business” culture into your company and your employees.
  3. Acquire the demonstrable expertise you need to grow.
  4. Have the courage to evaluate and make changes as you grow.

Now we are going to transition a bit and talk about the “big fish” mindset. It may sound easy enough at first to just find and catch that big fish, but if you are stuck in the small business mindset, you may find it harder than you think.

Think of all the benefits of acquiring larger revenue clients:

  • Lower cost ratio per client
  • Highly Profitable
  • Better potential for longevity for your business
  • Financial security for your business

In order to acquire the more lucrative clients, you need to believe and demonstrate how your company can make a valuable difference for them. It’s easy to fall back to the mindset that a large company doesn’t need anything from a small business like yours, but this is entirely wrong!

Once you consider relatively how the larger companies operate, it’s important to do your research and know which ones are the best fit with your company. If you’re not sure where to start and feel a little intimidated about catching the big fish, try our GUIDED TOUR to get help from our amazing business coaches.

 

A Winning Growth Strategy to Add to Your Portfolio: The Rule of 1%

The Rule of 1% is simply defined as the process of adding to your customer service deliverables by one percent at a time. Before you can do this, you must have your consistency and standardization perfected or it will never work. This one percent may seem small, but per this strategy if you approach the vision for your company with these baby steps, you will find a huge increase over time. This strategy is not a sprint; it’s more akin to a marathon.

Avoid taking on too many customer campaigns at one time or you could set yourself up for failure. Think of the confidence you and your employees will have when you improve one percent each week. Over the course of a year, you’ll have improved by more than 50%!

While guidelines and standards are generally considered to be necessary for business growth, you should always try to be flexible with your best customers. For example, most retailers only allow a set number of items into a dressing room to reduce the risk of shoplifting, but it could generally restrict a large percentage of people who are not stealing from you. Flexibility is the key to what you deliver to your customers and consistency is the key to how you deliver it.

The bottom line is this: Customers rely on you to deliver what you promise. If you spend too much money on bulky advertising that promises more than you can deliver, even your best intentions will unravel quickly and you will fail.

Focus on your vision and take these steps to turn your satisfied customers into long-term supporters of your brand.

I hope you’ve learned a lot about good customer service and how it’s essential to your overall success. If you need help with any of the steps that we’ve gone through over the last four blog posts, then you can try our GUIDED TOUR and get access to some of the best resources, tools and coaches available.

In upcoming posts we’re going to explore strategies of winning the big clients and keeping them.

 

Establish a Consistently Achievable Customer Service Experience

In last week’s blog post, we talked about how to ascertain what your customers want and view as a positive shopping experience. In this week’s blog post, we will discuss how to establish and deliver a consistent customer service experience and how this approach can take your customer service to the next level.  I’ve decided to partition this post into next week so the next one will cover the 1% Rule.

Consistency is the key to any great customer service experience. If you want to take your satisfied customers upward into Raving Fan status, you clearly have to challenge yourself to go above and beyond the average customer service experience.

There are three ways to develop consistency:

Avoid offering too many customer service options.

We sometimes get so caught up in giving customers what they want that we get away from our original vision. Instead, stay true to your vision and offer one or two solid customer service techniques that will set you apart from the competition.  This is like a restaurant that has too large of a menu and as a result, they do not tend to do anything particularly well.

You need to fine tune the current systems you are using before you can add anything to the mix. There’s nothing worse than launching a new program when you haven’t even worked out the kinks of an old system—learn how to correctly analyze and then optimize your processes.

Put solid systems into place.

Once you know what you’re going to offer, you need to have a system in place to execute it flawlessly every time.  This system needs to consistently position the right people in the right roles (along with the corresponding responsibilities and technology) that guarantees a positive experience every time. Emphasis needs to be placed on the results, which ultimately is the satisfaction of the customer.

Good training is the key.

Once you have your system in place, you need to train your employees to follow it properly and efficiently. This helps your people deliver the results that your customers are looking for. While appropriate and timely training is essential for the system to work and for all your people to work together cohesively, always remember you’re your ongoing appreciation for their efforts will go a long way.

I hope this has given you a look into what you need to do in order to have a quality customer service system in place. If you need help, try our GUIDED TOUR and gain access to a wealth of resources, tools and as always, our game-changing coaching sessions.

www.ascensionbusinessacademy.com/guidedtour

 

How to Accommodate your Customers Within your Company’s Vision

In last week’s post, we talked about the foundational steps to building a solid customer service plan and how to decide what your company’s vision should be.

In this post, we’ll talk about the second secret in elevating your satisfied customers into raving fans. You must know what your customers want. Know who your customers are and you will know better how to serve them. Demographics are really important here. Obviously, an upper-class woman in her 30’s can have completely different expectations than a working-class man in his 50’s.

There are four main areas you need to consider and plan for when figuring out what your customers want:

  • Listen to Your Customers
  • Ask Your Customers Sincerely
  • Offer More than Just a Product/Service
  • Know When to Direct Them Elsewhere

These are all important aspects to consider when deciding what your customers want out of their shopping experience.

Listen to Your Customers

You need to listen to both what they say and what they don’t say. Customers may say they want one thing and really mean something else. For example, if your customers are begging for lower prices, you may find out after some probing that their real priority is quick delivery.

Also, listen to your “silent” customers. These customers don’t necessarily bother to complain, but because they feel that service is so bad, that they’ve just given up and don’t feel like their voice matters. They feel unwanted and when a competitor shows up, they’ll be gone.

Lastly, you need to listen to customers who only reply with “fine”. These customers are similar to the “silent” customers in that they are so used to bad customer service that they only give an unengaged response.

Ask Your Customers Sincerely

If you aren’t sincere when you ask their opinion, they are going to see right through you. You may be thinking, “What about the customers who aren’t saying anything?” You need to ask them sincere, open-ended questions that get them thinking about their experiences. Make them feel like you really care– and you should!

Offer More than Just a Product/Service

Your customers are looking for much more than a simple product or service, they are looking for a reciprocated and evolving positive experience. They gauge every step of the process with a value. When you take this into consideration and treat them like valuable members of your customer base, they will feel like they belong.

Know When to Direct Them Elsewhere

You may think this goes beyond providing good customer service, but in reality, you can’t give them everything, and, of course, some people will never be completely happy for one reason or another. You have to set limits and stick to them. If your vision for your company doesn’t meet the needs of a particular customer, they will be best suited somewhere else.

These are some steps to discerning what your customers want and how you can use them as a guide to develop your customer service vision and plan.

If you need some guidance in building your customer service vision for your company, try our GUIDED TOUR and let us help you through the process:

www.ascensionadvisingsolutions.com

 

Don’t Undervalue the Ongoing Value of Stellar Customer Service

Effective customer service is crucial to your success and as a deliverable, and easily can make or break your business. Consumers have little patience for poor customer service and easily get tired of waiting in long lines, trying to get a live person on the line, seemingly going through an interrogation to return something or trying to communicate through a language barrier.

If you provide them with a simple, efficient and pleasant experience, they will revisit your business over and over. More importantly, they will tell everyone they know!

There are three secrets to good customer service, the first one we’re going to conquer is knowing exactly what YOU want.

You are the captain of the ship and the visionary for the future of your business, so you need to have a clearly defined plan for your business that includes a plan for stellar customer service. There are three main goals you need to consider:

  1. It needs to be easy for your customers to do business with you. You can do this with advertised discounts, kiosks, your website and other technology-based programs to help them shop.
  2. Doing business with you needs to be a warm and pleasant experience. Your staff has to be knowledgeable, approachable, warm and patient. Your customers need to feel like they are getting a good value for their time and money. Perceived value goes beyond the price of the products and extends into your customer’s shopping experience.
  3. Change your mind set and ask yourself, “How can I NOT afford to do these things?” This shouldn’t be a question of expenses, but a function of making and keeping happy customers.

With these thoughts in mind, you also need to take a few things into consideration when deciding on the actual programs and standards you’ll put into place:

  • Share and solidify your customer service vision with the rest of your staff.
  • Connect your incentive programs and bonuses directly to customer service.
  • Monitor the level of customer service your staff is putting out.
  • Know when you can ignore what your customers want.
  • Continuously focus on your goals.

Now that you know what you want to accomplish, you can start thinking about how to realize those wants and create a positive customer service experience.

If you’re having a hard time deciding on what you want, the tools, resources and coaches using our Profit Acceleration Software Assessment can help you define the wants and needs of your company in relation to customer service.

www.ascensionadvisingsolutions.com

 

Seven Areas of Consideration for your Franchise Prototype (Part 2) and Recap

Seven Areas of Consideration for your Franchise Prototype (Part 2) and Recap

In last week’s blog post we talked about the first three of the seven specific areas you need to consider in your franchise prototype process.

Here are all seven again:

  • Primary Aim
  • Strategic Objectives
  • Organizational Strategy
  • Management Strategy
  • People Strategy
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Systems Strategy

These seven areas will fine-tune your plan for the ultimate level of success. In this week’s business blog article, we are going to cover the last four.

Think of constructing your business model like planting a tree. At first, it’s so small and weak that you wonder if it will even make it through the first night.  However, you keep watering, fertilizing and nurturing it. Your ideas will eventually grow the trunk and each of these strategies will extend out as the branches of your now strengthening tree. Finding the perfect support staff, employees, vendors/suppliers and other relationships will make your tree flourish with leaves and blossoms.

Management Strategy

The way you structure your management team is not only essential to your growth, but the happiness of your employees and, ultimately, your customers/clients. This strategy is results-oriented and doesn’t depend on the people, but the actual system that’s in place.

A management strategy is, in short, a set of standards that include goals, rules, a mission statement and other concrete concepts that tell your employees how to act, your management how to grow your business and also to tell your customers/clients what to expect.

These should all be in perfect alignment with your business goals.

People Strategy and Employee Appreciation

You need to put together a people strategy that shows your employees how you feel about their job performance and dedication to your business. They also need to understand “why” they are doing specific tasks. This helps them to personally connect to their job which, in turn, leads to better production and a happier workplace.

There are a number of strategies you can use to keep it interesting at “the office”:

  • Performance Incentive Programs
  • Contests that reward high performance
  • Employee of the Month
  • Performance/Holiday Bonuses

These are just a few of the ideas you can use. One of the best ways to appreciate your employees is by calling a meeting and asking them how they would like to be rewarded. Think about it for awhile and put the best strategy into play. Keep it fresh and change up the strategy you use from time to time to keep your employees guessing. Once they get used to the prize, it’s time for a whole new approach.

You need to build a community within your company. There needs to be support, appreciation and respect. The more “at home” an employee feels, the better they will perform and the higher their level of loyalty.

Marketing Strategy

Marketing is, of course, essential to the success of any business, but it also must work cohesively with the other strategies you’re using. There are two major pillars of a successful marketing strategy-the demographic and psychographic profiles of your customers.

The psychographic profile tells you what your customers are the most likely to buy and the demographic tells you who they are, which can help you learn why they buy specific items. Without this information, it simply doesn’t matter how good your business prototype is.

Systems Strategy

There are three types of systems in every business:

  • Hard Systems
  • Soft Systems
  • Information Systems

Hard systems refer to inanimate system(s) that have no “life”. Soft systems are those that could be living. Information systems indicate everything else, including customer data, product information, financial…anything with data and numbers.

The most important of all three systems is the soft systems because it includes the sales systems your business uses. In your sales system the two keys to success are: structure and substance. Structure being what you sell and substance being how you sell it.

All three systems are essential to the success of your business, and while they all have their own very specific roles, they all must work together to get the job done. This also goes for your entire business development program.

I want to take a moment to recap on the ideas we went over through the business development lessons.

An entrepreneurial myth, or e-myth, is an assumption that anyone can succeed at business with:

  • Desire
  • Some capital
  • Projected a targeted profit

There are essentially three key roles that need to be filled to set your business up for success:

  • The Technician
  • The Manager
  • The Entrepreneur

The four different stages of a business life cycle are:

  • Infancy
  • Adolescence
  • Growing Pains
  • Maturity

There are a few things we are going to talk about:

  • Business Format Franchise
  • The Franchise Prototype
  • Franchise Prototype Standards

There are three main areas of business development:

  • Innovation
  • Quantification
  • Orchestration

The seven specific areas you need to consider in your franchise prototype process. Here are all seven again:

  • Primary Aim
  • Strategic Objectives
  • Organizational Strategy
  • Management Strategy
  • People Strategy
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Systems Strategy

 

We can help you work through all of these areas and give your business a jumpstart that puts you ahead of your competition right from the start. Work with one of our business and marketing coaches, plus gain access to a wealth of tools and resources.

https://ascensionbusinessacademy.com/guidedtour