Using Speed Marketing

If there is a perpetual problem in small business it is how to get more clients, and to do so without it costing us an arm and a leg.  Traditional marketing teaches you to spend large to ‘get your name out there’ and ‘build a brand’.  The promise is that one day when your buyer has a need they will remember you.  

But we don’t have the money to “spend large”!  Building brands is OK for Coca Cola or MacDonalds but not for us.

For most small businesses building a brand is a recipe for suicide by cash flow dehydration.

But what if we could make the phone ring when we want it, and get a measurable return on every dollar we spent marketing.

Speed Marketing is the art of doing just that - making the phone ring…quickly .... and getting a measurable return on every dollar.   The person to explain it is the bloke who invented the term – Speed Marketing, Richard Petrie.  He is a former New Zealand cricketer who played 12 one day internationals for New Zealand.  He is now 48, married with three children living in Wellington.

Richard now helps businesses around the world to implement a simple system to win clients for whom money is not their #1 buying criteria.  He is author of the book ‘What to do if your marketing sucks’

In this interview Richard takes us through 7 big ideas that that will help you to sell more, sell faster, and sell more efficiently than you have ever have in your entire life.  And how to do all of this without spending a single penny on marketing. 

I asked Richard:

1.    What were the frustrations of selling that lead you to develop “speed marketing”?

2.    Using your strategies and approaches what results can people get?

3.    What are the steps?

a.    What is step 1
b.    What is step 2
c.    What is step 3
d.    What is step 4
e.    What is step 5
f.    What is step  6

And here is the interview.

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 Richard may be found at http://www.speedmarketing.co.nz/ where you can get a copy of his  FREE book “What to do if your marketing sucks’”

Do you want to restore real value in your business?

When clients approach me for coaching, clients with businesses that are underperforming despite the crippling hours and effort the owner is putting into them, it is not just marketing that is holding them back.  It is the lack of control they have over their business, and eight times out of ten that lack of control comes down to a lack of knowledge of what is happening in the business.

The problems lie in the dark recesses of the business, unseen and un-resolved.  Illumination is provided by knowledge of what is happening in the business, and how to respond.

For more than 27 years I’ve been helping small business owners plug the profit leaks in their business and restoring their cash flows so there is real value in their business.

If you would like to discuss with me how you might do that, book a Strategy Consult here. 



© Copyright 2015 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 

How to maximise the Value of Your Business so you can Exit in Style

Most of us are so flat out running our business we don’t think about “What comes next?”  What happens when you decide to step back, to get out of the rat race? 

You can’t just hang up a “For Sale” sign when you are ready to step back, and get the value necessary to have the biggest pay-day you need to fund the next stage of your life.

So how do you ensure you get the maximum value from your business and not leave funds on the table?

One person who knows how to do this is Kerry Boulton from The Exit Strategy Group.

When it comes to being able to ‘monetise’ a business for sale, Kerry Boulton has over $15.4 million worth of runs on the board from businesses she has successfully helped build and sell over the past three decades.

Described by most people who meet her as an elegant, serial entrepreneur, Kerry was the first woman to manage and own an international freight forwarding company when she negotiated the buyout of Freight Management International… a division of the publicly listed company, Mayne Nickless Ltd.  She successfully sold the business nine years later after a multi-million dollar turnaround. 

Over the past 20 years Kerry has mentored many owners through successful business growth… positioning them for their ultimate sale.  Kerry works with business owners to help them create their business exit strategy, and - a life after the business. 

Cold hard facts Kerry has uncovered include:
•    81% of Australian business owners plan to retire in the next 10 years
•    53% of them have no exit strategy
•    22% will just shut shop

I asked Kerry four questions on “Game Changes to Maximise the Value of Your Business so you can Exit in Style”
1.    Do business owners actually know what an exit strategy is?
2.    Why is it important to have an exit strategy? Are there any common triggers that cause owners to put their businesses up for sale? 
3.    What would be the key areas owners need to focus on to make their business saleable?
4.    How are businesses valued? 

And here is her response:



Kerry may be found at www.TheExitStrategyGroup.com.au, where they may also get can get a copy of her FREE book “The Uncensored Truth about Exit Strategies – 10 Myths Every Business Owner Must Know Before Creating Their Exit Strategy”.

Do you want to restore real value in your business?

When clients approach me for coaching, clients with businesses that are underperforming despite the crippling hours and effort the owner is putting into them, it is not just marketing that is holding them back.  It is the lack of control they have over their business, and eight times out of ten that lack of control comes down to a lack of knowledge of what is happening in the business.

The problems lie in the dark recesses of the business, unseen and un-resolved.  Illumination is provided by knowledge of what is happening in the business, and how to respond.

For more than 27 years I’ve been helping small business owners plug the profit leaks in their business and restoring their cash flows so there is real value in their business.

If you would like to discuss how you might do that, book a Strategy Consult here



© Copyright 2015 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 

What makes your business sustainable?

You won’t improve the profitability and cash flow in your business if you are not heading in the right direction – and that requires leadership.  But there’s more to leadership than that.

Leadership is about setting the vision/mission, measuring the outcomes, assembling the team and overseeing the work.  This is where the sustainability of business comes from.

As I wrote in a blog (How do you rate your Leadership?) some time ago, assessing leadership in a small business is not easy.  Effective leaders provide direction and create a supportive environment. 

Leaders have to:

•    Set the strategic direction for the business (i.e. – where it is going, what it wants to achieve); that is, get the big issues right;
•    Make sure all parts of the business work together.
•    Encourage people to achieve the objectives they set.

A small business survey found leadership was a more burning issue than sales, finance or planning, so in this Cash Optimisation Report I sought the views of Catherine Palin—Brinkworth, a leadership expert.  Catherine is a business growth strategist, providing performance improvement solutions to businesses and Professional firms all over the world through her consultancy – Progress Performance International.

With her experience of leading organisations and chairing boards, she is in demand as a facilitator, coach and mentor. 

I asked Catherine four questions on Are you Leaking Profits Through Lousy Leadership?

1.    What does leadership mean in a small business?
2.    Is strategy important?
3.    What's the number one shift in mindset that you think is important to small business owners? 
4.    And the number one shift in Behaviour

And here is her response:

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There’s some pretty good advice there, well worth having a think about.  After all, you don’t want to be one causing those leaking profits.  Have you got “clarity, purpose and belief” in your business?

Where do you want to go?  And why do you want to go there?  And how are you going to get there?

Catherine may be found at www.catherinepalinbrinkworth.com  and  www.yourleadershipmentor.com

For more than 27 years I’ve been helping small business owners plug the profit leaks in their business and restoring their cash flows by assisting them understand:

•    The strengths, weaknesses opportunities and threats of their business
•    Determine where they want to be – clear, achievable goals, and
•    How they are going to get there – their strategies to achieve their goals

This is sometimes known as the NOW – WHERE – HOW model.

If you would like to discuss with me how you might do that, book a Strategy Consult here

© Copyright 2015 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 

And what can you do about it?

If there is one common issue I have found in 27 years helping small business owners improve their profitability and cash flow, it is stress.  The challenges of running a small business inevitably produces stress.  Stress can have a positive impact, but it is more likely to have a negative impact. 

And it can come in a number different ways.  We need to recognise these, and develop strategies to handle them. 

I’ve written about this on a number of occasions:  Is your business Overwhelming you?, How to Overcome Overwhelm, and It’s a travesty .

To further explore some of the issues than be stressful both during start-up and then coping with the highs and lows of running the business, taking care that:
•    the business doesn’t become all-consuming, and
•    we avoid sacrificing the rest of our life (i.e. family) in the pursuit of the “dream”,

in this Cash Optimisation Report I turned to Brian Carroll, a qualified psychologist, who is the founder of a Melbourne-based corporate training business "Performance Development". 

For more than 20 tears, Brian has been assisting organisations to develop the capabilities of their key people – in areas like leadership skills, performance management, and how to recruit, retain and engage their staff.

Brian is an experienced executive coach who has a particular passion for supporting business owners and budding entrepreneurs to bring out the best in themselves.

I asked Brian five questions on Staying Resilient and Coping Positively With Stress:

1.    We hear a lot about stress – is all stress bad for you? ....... After all, wouldn’t you say there are many people who go into business because they’re motivated by a challenge?

2.    What types of stresses would you say small business owners tend to face when they’re running a business?

3.    When an entrepreneur is not handling stress and pressure effectively – what are some of the effects this can have, on their health and their behaviour?

4.    What sorts of strategies can a business owner apply to help them better cope with stress - and are there ways of becoming more resilient?

5.    Is there any other final advice you might offer to our viewers, that might assist them in staying positive and healthy?

I’ve split his response into two parts, and don’t be confused that they have the same introduction.  That was necessary in splitting the interview.

Part 1

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Part 2

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Brian gives some pretty good advice there. 

So keep the stress out of your business, and make better decisions.  As I suggested is those earlier blogs, stress causes you to make poor decisions.

Brian may be found at:  www.PerformanceDevelopment.com.au, www.InterviewTrainingMelbourne.com, and www.Australia-Small-Business.com

I’ve been removing stress for business owners by restoring the cash in their business through improving their cash flow, and their profitability.  If you would like to discuss with me how you might do that book a Strategy Consult here



© Copyright 2015 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 

And why?

So many small businesses have told me that Word-of-Mouth is their most powerful marketing weapon.  And when I review entries to the Business Excellence Awards I have been associated with over the years I have found the same thing.

Why is it so?

It’s about objections.  What’s an objection? An objection is a query your prospective client has in their mind that prevents them saying “yes, I’ll take it”.

There’s a good side to objections.  Your prospect has an objection then they are more than a tyre kicker, they are interested in what you got to offer, but it’s up to you to remove the obstacles so they can say yes.

The point is a potential customer always has doubts lurking in the shadows of their mind.  They are considering your product or service, or at least have it in their mind that you could possibly help them.  But those doubts linger.

Just how serious is their consideration?  If neighbour A leans over the back fence to you and says “I had a great experience the other day when I used Amigo 3’s great waddle product”, it’s just a backyard chat unless you also need a “waddle product”.

But if you do, you take note.  In fact, you take greater note than if you had seen a television ad for a waddle product.

Why?  Because you know and trust your friendly neighbour.  And because you know and trust them, their recommendation removes those doubts at the back of your mind.

That is why WOM is so important.  It removes risk because you know and trust the person providing the opinion; much more so than a face on the television screen.

You see, very often your prospect isn’t sure whether your offer is right for them.  They not only need to believe that it is right for them from emotional point of view but they also need to be able to rationalise their decision both to themselves and to a third party like their business partner or their wife.

And that is where the backyard chat comes in.  There’s a term for it – it’s called “social proof”.  That is what WOM does, it removes objectives lurking in the back of people’s minds, and it does so through trust.  Your prospect in particular feels comfortable to saying to someone else, “this is why I purchased this waddle”.

So what is Social Proof?  People make decisions, in part, by observing the decisions other people have made, or the recommendations they may make.  

There’s one thing for sure; if you want your prospect to say yes, you can’t expect them to do so purely because you say so.

You must provide proof. 

One of the consequences of the bombardment of ads we get through so many different forms of media every day is it makes us increasingly sceptical of the promises and claims that marketers make.

Those ads come in newspapers and magazines, television, radio, increasingly in social media, in films, emails and websites.

You know it yourself; the more you get bombarded with claims that stretch your credulity, the harder you find it to believe what has been promised.  So it's no wonder your prospect's scepticism builds every day, making it hard to believe you when you tell them about the wonders of your product.

The objections take the form of doubt… uncertainty…or disbelief.

But they can be neutered.  Your prospects will believe you if you give the right kind of proof. 

What's that most effective proof?  Your prospect is much more likely to act when friends, neighbours, and people like them tell them it's a good idea – i.e. Word-of-Mouth, than when they read or watch an advertisement.

And that’s what social proof is, and why it is so powerful.  Social proof refers to the influence that other people have on our opinions and behaviour.  Social proof has far more power than other types than other types of proof such as ‘factual proof’ and ‘anecdotal proof’. 

Social proof today has moved well beyond the backyard fence.  Social media and Internet commerce are the great buying tools and increasingly people seek social proof through the Internet.

Next week I’ll look at the four types of social proof, and how you can use them, plus some "best practices", and some things to avoid when using social proof.

I’ve been working with clients on “3 email” pitch for any sales offer, a series of 3 emails each examining the issue from the client’s perspective, demonstrating the benefits of my client’s offer, using social proof to overcome objections and bring a sense of urgency to the Call for Action.  It works.  The ‘repeated’ technique has been proven to work.

If you would like to discuss with me how you might do that?  Book a Strategy Consult here.

© Copyright 2015 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 

Optimise your customer numbers, and optimise your cash

As a business owner, one of the things that continually challenges us is how do we keep our pipeline virtually always full of fresh, new client enquiries.  It’s customers who generate the cash. 

Optimise your customer numbers, and optimise your cash.

All businesses need a constant stream of customers coming through the door, both new and old, as discussed in my last blog.  One question, which I have discussed in my last two blogs, relates to the vexed question of whether too many emails are driving prospective customers away.  Hopefully we have settled that for you.

But there are other issues to be considered, like how do you get those prospective customers, sometimes known as “inbound leads”, in the first place.  To obtain some answers to that I turned to Tom Poland, from The 8020 Centre.

Tom is a 58 year old serial entrepreneur who started his first business at age 24 and has gone on to start and sell four others, taking two of them international.  In that time he’s managed teams of over 100 people and annual revenue of more than 20 million.

Since 1995 Tom has dedicated himself as a full time professional to helping business owners to live a fulfilling personal and professional life whilst adding value to their clients and their own business.

I asked Tom four questions to bring out his advice on this subject:
1. Can you sum up how you help clients get leads coming in, in simple terms?
2. You talk a lot about getting the “message” right … what do you mean by that?
3. What about Social Media marketing, a lot of people are making a big fuss about that right now?
4. One last question: what’s one thing a business owner can do that will help them take a positive step towards beginning to systemize lead generation?

And here is his response:

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There’s some pretty good advice there.  

So harvest those leads, and keep communicating.  As I suggested last week, there are plenty of cases where an email may not lead to a sale until six months later when the prospect finally has a need to buy.  You must be in their “headspace” when it comes time to buy.  Relevance is more important than frequency.

I’ve been working with clients on “3 email” pitch for any sales offer, a series of 3 emails each examining the issue from the client’s perspective, demonstrating the benefits of my client’s offer, overcoming objections and bringing a sense of urgency to the Call for Action.  It works, but I can’t claim to be the originator.  I’ve “borrowed” from people such as Tom Poland and Ryan Deiss.  And why have I borrowed?  The ‘repeated’ technique has been proven to work.

If you would like to discuss with me how you might do that?  Book a Strategy Consult here.

© Copyright 2015 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective  

And how do you know

“Early in my career I realized customers are hands down my most important asset. When you get them, do everything in your power to make sure they don’t slip away.

I also learned early on that you will not keep them for life.  You may keep them for a couple of years, but value alone won’t keep them hanging around.”

That is the opinion of noted marketer Dan Kennedy.  All businesses need a constant stream of customers coming through the door, both new and old.

The challenge is “how to get them?”  Related to this, businesses need to strike a fine balance between staying top of mind and relevant to their customers without overwhelming them or coming across as spammy.

It might surprise you that email marketing is still one of the most effective tools you can use to win customers.  Surprise you because we flick aside most of the constant stream of emails we find in our Inbox.  But if you research the experts, and I do, you’ll find the opinions are to the contrary.  I quoted some of those experts in my last email.

Here's another - Hubspot found that most marketers are already on board with the importance of email marketing, and are working hard to refine the nuances of their strategy - including figuring out what the right sending frequency is for their email campaigns.

And one more, and importantly, he suggests how you will really know.

Well known marketer Bob Bly, was asked – “how much e-mail is too much?”  His answer:

People have lots of opinions about this issue, which they support with both passionate and logical arguments. 

The problem is: their opinions are wholly subjective.

The fact is there's an easy way to objectively and accurately determine the optimal e-mail frequency for your online subscribers.

How does it work?

Well, every time you send another e-mail blast to your list, a small portion of your subscribers will opt out of your list.

Why?

They decide that your content is no longer of value to them ... or you are doing too much selling ... or they don't like your style ...or you are e-mailing them too often.

The "opt-out rate" is a Web metric that you can measure: the percentage of online subscribers who unsubscribe from your list per e-mail blast.

A 0.1% opt-out rate means that if you have 10,000 online subscribers, 10 unsubscribed after getting your most recent e-mail.

When your opt-out rate is around 0.1% or less, you can rest assured that you are not sending too many e-mails to your list too often.  If you were, the opt-out rate would be higher.

On the other hand, when your opt-out rate gets much above 0.2% to 0.4%, you are losing subscribers at too rapid a rate.

For instance, if you have 10,000 subscribers and an opt-out rate of 1%, you lose 100 subscribers every time you send an e-mail to your list.

You should measure and keep track of your opt-out rates with every e-mail you send.

Adjust your e-mail frequency, ratio of sales pitches to content, message length, and topics until your opt-out rate hovers around 0.1% to 0.2% or less.

Now, watch what happens if you increase the e-mail frequency - for instance, go from one e-mail per week to two e-mails per week.

If you get a sharp upward spike in the opt-out rate - double or more - your subscribers are telling you they don't want to hear from you that often. And you should probably eliminate the extra e-mail. On the other hand, if you add an extra e-mail per week and the opt-out rate does not rise significantly, you are safe in continuing at the higher frequency.

But should you? YES.

We have lots of preconceived notions about what our market wants -- and doesn't want.

And one of these preconceived notions is that people don't want too much e-mail.

But when the opt-out rate is low, your subscribers are telling you they DO want to hear from you often via e-mail.

That's important, because the more times you can reach out to your list with a valuable offer or content, the more money you make online. 

My colleague Amy Africa, a top consultant in B2B e-marketing, says that one of the most common online marketing mistakes is not e-mailing your list frequently enough.

And by making that mistake, you are leaving money on the table.

Now Bob has a much bigger list than most of us, but that means he is more likely to have good idea of what works, and what doesn’t.  Bob emails about 6 days a week, 5 days with useful information, and the sixth with a sales pitch.  And it works well for him.  www.bly.com

I do think customers are our most important asset, and when they stop buying, they stop being customers.  The keys are, knowing exactly who is your target market, the subject line which tells them your message is about them, the benefits you offer them, how you craft your email for that market, and how you follow up.

The key point is you should be testing how your audience responds to your email broadcasts. Don’t be afraid to lose a few people, you can’t satisfy everyone, but definitely watch for trends – for example if a certain email in your broadcast sequence produces more unsubscribers it may need to be deleted or delayed or changed in some way.

And if you email infrequently, say less than once per month, then those on your list may forget who you are, and unsubscribe from this unknown source.

But keep communicating. There are plenty of cases where an email may not lead to a sale until six months later when the prospect finally has a need to buy. You must be in their “headspace” when it comes time to buy.  Relevance is more important than frequency.

I’ve been working with clients on “3 email” pitch for any sales offer, a series of 3 emails each examining the issue from the client’s perspective, demonstrating the benefits of my client’s offer, overcoming objections and bringing a sense of urgency to the Call for Action.  It works, but I can’t claim to be the originator.  I’ve “borrowed” from people such as Tom Poland and Ryan Deiss.  And why have I borrowed?  The ‘repeated’ technique has been proven to work.

If you would like to discuss with me how you might do that?  Book a Strategy Consult here.

© Copyright 2015 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 

Haven’t I heard this before!

You want to keep in touch with your list, maintain the contact.  Or you have an offer you would like to keep in front of your prospects!

BUT, and it’s a big BUT ….. people don’t like getting too many emails; those insidious little doubts creep into your head, whispering doubts ….. you’ll put them off, they’ll get sick of you, they’ll unsubscribe, they’ll report you for spam.

Better not to do it, take those fingers from the keyboard, don’t risk your list.  Surely it is better your list doesn’t hear from you, than hear from you, and depart.

But that doesn’t make sense, does it?  The whole point of having a list of contacts is that you can contact them, make them an offer, remind them of their past dealings with you, bring them back into the fold.  And if they don’t want the contact maintained, they are not likely to buy anyway.  So do you need them on your list, apart from the gratification of the numbers?

So let’s hear from some experts, starting with social media expert Greg Paul.

How many posts are too much?

I always find it amusing when I tell a new client that we are going to post twice a day to their facebook page and they react with horror.  A quick question usually gets the explanation that the client is worried that we will flood people’s facebook feeds and they will unsubscribe and hate the company.

The question that should really be asked is what is the number of posts, - or emails, or faxes to that matter - that give the best result for you and your client.

I heard a story a few years ago about a company that tested the number of emails that they sent to their database.  In the beginning they were sending one per week and tried sending two.  When they doubled the number of emails they also doubled the sales of the business, so they tried adding another email and kept doubling the sales each time they added another email until they were sending seven emails a week or one per day.  They found that this was the optimum result and created the most sales for them.

That’s not to say that seven is right for all businesses – in fact I can tell you it is not – we’ve got clients who send one email per month and others that send three or four per week.  The best thing to do is test and see what works for your business and your clients.

The same applies to facebook and other Social Media posts.  We’ve found for most clients two per day is best and gets the best results.  Of course this again depends on the client and the strategy that they have.

We’ve got one client for example who sends out five messages per day to the same people on facebook and that brings him the best results.  I can only tell you that it is probably much more than you expect it to be.

The best advice I can give you is ignore your personal opinion and what you would want if you were your customer, for a start you are not your customer, so why would they think exactly like you.  Test things out and only go with statistics.  One of the best things about Social Media and all forms of Internet Marketing is how quickly you can get the statistics.  The results appear online immediately so you can adjust the plan and the posts as you go and very quickly.  (http://www.digitaltiger.com.au/ )

What should the messages of digital marketing be

Renowned marketer Drayton Bird was asked “What should the messages of digital marketing be?”  Which are the proven tactics and techniques in articulating these messages?

The same as in all media.

Offer a clear, precise and credible benefit. Show very quickly that you can solve a problem that matters to people.

Don’t talk about yourself. Nobody cares. Talk about the prospect and how you can help more than your competitors.

Make an offer of something free for which people must give their email address.

Keep sending helpful information till they buy – or tell you to stop.  Never give up.

My first sale comes after 344 days on average.

Note that second last sentence – “Keep sending helpful information till they buy – or tell you to stop. Never give up.”

In my next post I’ll look at another view on what works, and doesn’t, and how to measure it.

I’ve been working with clients on a “3 email” pitch for any sales offer, a series of 3 emails each examining the issue from the client’s perspective, demonstrating the benefits of my client’s offer, overcoming objections and bringing a sense of urgency to the Call for Action.  It works, but I can’t claim to be the originator.  I’ve “borrowed” from people such as Tom Poland and Ryan Deiss.  And why have I borrowed?  The ‘repeated’ technique has been proven to work.
If you would like to discuss with me how you might do that?  Book a Fast Track to Cash Strategy Consult here.

© Copyright 2015 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 

If he did, he wouldn’t be a match in a matchbox

“I can’t do that” was the reaction of my client when I suggested a certain course of action.  That’s not an uncommon reaction from people when I suggest something a little different.  And usually it is followed by “nobody else is doing that”, or “I’ll lose my clients”, or “What if it doesn’t work?”

There’s a comment by Mark Twain I enjoy; “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”  Dare to be different.

After all, you do know that to stand out from the crowd, you have to be different.  You don’t want to be a match in a matchbox, chosen at random, with no control over the outcome at all. 

You open a matchbox, which match do you choose; the nearest one, one from the middle, or do you just grab one.  Does it matter; you just want to light something.  The match is nothing but a means to an end.  Any one will do.

Is that how potential customers approach your business.  They want to light something, to achieve something.  Will any product or service provider do?  Will some do a better job than others will?  Have you given them a compelling reason to pick you?

The problem in today's world is not so much that you are different, but rather that everyone else's product seems exactly the same.  The box of matches. 

But first let me set the scene.

My client provides a service.  Now I know many of you sell products, but most products also involve a service, whether it is training, product knowledge, or after-sales support.  In fact, the service element is usually a critical element in the sale and the customer experience afterwards.
It doesn’t really matter which service my client provides; it could be anything from plumbing, bookkeeping, financial planning, engineering to investment advice.

The “dare to be different” I was suggesting to my client was to increase his prices.  And I don’t mean an incremental increase, I was suggesting a dramatic increase.

Why? There were four good reasons:

He needed to increase his profitability.  Now, that could possibly be achieved by significantly increasing sales without increasing his overheads – once past the break-even point profits can increase significantly.  The problem for my client is that his market was not a mass-market.  To increase profitability he either had to reduce his cost of sales or increase prices.  He had more room to move with the latter than the former.

If you undervalue yourself and just give away a service you are not doing yourself, your business or them any favours. 

Like many of us, my client undervalued his competence, and the value he provides his clients.  When we are expert, we do things without realising just how much knowledge and expertise we bring to a task.  To the expert it’s easy.  He just does it.  But of course it’s not so easy for the client.  They can’t just do it; they don’t have the knowledge, experience and expertise my client has in his field.

For my client to undersell himself, his business loses the revenue and the client won’t value the service because they are not paying as much for it as they should.

A much higher price will reposition him.  He will get a much better type of client, one who is more likely to implement and follow through on his recommendations.  Clients who argue about prices are costly to manage.  The last thing you want when you are trying to increase profitability is high maintenance clients.

Selling is now a battle of differentiation, and no longer a battle of persuasion.  Differentiate, and you are no longer a commodity.  So many services are now a commodity, because there are so many people offering something similar.

When you first started in your field, you didn’t know what you didn’t know.  But over time the expertise and experience you built lead you to start your own business and hopefully stand out in your field.

But even having become expert, as I have found, most business owners are hesitant about increasing their prices to beyond that charged by other businesses in the same marketplace.  Perhaps they suffer from the tall poppy syndrome, not liking to be seen to be different, or afraid they will be ridiculed in the marketplace by their competitors.

Such an approach is not going to increase profitability.  If a business chooses to be no different from competitors, it is nothing but a match in a matchbox.

By significantly increasing his prices my client will certainly not be a match in a matchbox.  But he has to believe in his value and his competence.  The value he provides his clients, and a price commensurate with that value, will reposition him in the marketplace.

Most small and medium businesses make some attempt to provide promote their business, whether it is via a web site, a Yellow Pages ad, a newspaper ad, or a flyer or brochure.  What they don’t do is provide a compelling reason to choose them.  Instead, because they haven’t thought through their message, they end up with a complex if not obscure message, trying to appeal to as many bases as possible in case they miss a possible prospect.  They rely on a lower price to make the difference.

Of course, he will lose clients, but the ones he wins will be looking for someone like him, someone different, someone better, an authority in his field.

He can do that.

So why don’t you reposition yourself in your marketplace, and increase your profits?  Pursue better, not pain.

Would you like to discuss with me how you might do that?  Book a Strategy Consult here.

© Copyright 2015 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 

How to overcome the dilemma of Selling

You know you need to increase sales but you resist “selling’, because selling is pushy or whatever; you have a somewhat adverse view of ‘salesmen.  But without sales you don’t have a business.

What a dilemma!

In my last blog I pointed out the obvious, sales is the last step in the marketing process; a process which starts with an enquiry and ends with dollars.  That step must be successfully achieved despite any adverse view of the process.

I also pointed out that salesmanship is a skill, a skill which can be developed.  It is not about pressure on the prospect.  It is about educating the customer.

So how you can develop those skills, how you can get to “yes” without being “hypie” or pushy.  It’s about your “sales conversation”.

A sales conversation is the conversation that you have with your client that starts with their enquiry and gets them to ‘yes’ without any of those attributes that give you a fear of selling.

For some reason when good-hearted, intelligent & talented people start a sales conversation they suddenly morph into blathering idiots, and you certainly don’t want to be that.
Noted sales expert Jill Konrath author of “Selling to Big Business” quotes examples such as Winging It, Diarrhoea of the Mouth, Inadequate Knowledge, Product/Service Dumper, and Too Much Too Quick.

Your sales conversation needs to give the prospective customer every sensible reason to buy, answer their obvious questions, and overcome all reasonable objections, or you'll lose the sale.

Sales are lost because the salesman didn’t find out what could make a difference to the prospective customer, what motivated him (or her), what the outcome meant to the customer in dollar/emotional/value terms before presenting their “solution”. 

People do not buy your products and services.  They buy what these are going to do for them.  To use a simple analogy they don’t buy a spanner because they want a spanner.  They want to tighten a bolt, and the spanner is one way of doing that. 

If your sales conversation ends up being just about the spanner or its price, you have lost control of the discussion.  Your need the conversation to focus on the value of what the product will do for them, how it will make a difference.

You can have the best sales message in the world, but your prospects will always understand it through the prism of their own emotions, preconceptions, prejudices, and pre-existing beliefs – not yours.  Your conversation must give the prospective customer every reason why they should buy:
•    Why your product or service is the solution to their pain/problem;
•    Why your product provides a better outcome than the competitions;
•    Why they should believe you, e.g. proof or testimonials;
•    Why they should act today.

How do you develop good sales skills?

In a blog some time ago “Slow down to increase sales”  I gave some tips on this such as listening, not offering a solution until you have understood the problem, cutting the verbiage, and keeping it simple.  But there are some other things to take into account.

It is obviously important to know who is your ideal prospect, and their issues.  That gives you the opportunity to educate.  After all, people love to buy but they hate to be sold something.  They will make a decision to buy when they have the proper information.  Part of the sales skill is to make sure they get the information they need.

You get that information by listening to the customer and asking the right questions.  Listening provides the opportunity to develop a relationship, and relationships are fundamental to gaining and keeping customers.  A little empathy goes a long way.

Listening and empathy are all personal skills, so there are personal skills that you need to develop.  And these need to be backed by a few other tools, tools such as product knowledge and the information you need to educate. 

Now if you, as the owner are indeed doing the selling there is a fair chance that you will have the product knowledge.  After all, you are operating in your area of expertise.  But keeping up to date is important to maintain your edge.

Depending on your business you may need brochures or product leaflets to hand out, or product samples.  Something the prospect can take away and deliberate over.  So having adequate supplies of good quality sales materials is important.  In some circumstances you might a trial.  Let them get their hands on your product.

What about your ability to deliver, to deliver on time, to the quality promised; your ability to meet the customer’s expectations.  Exceed those expectations, and they become a raving fan.  Knowledge that you can deliver as promised will give you confidence in the sales conversation.

You will of course have armed yourself with a few testimonials; proof of what you promise is true.  And by listening you will have found out a little about the prospect and their area of interest, and hopefully you will have a relevant testimonial to bring out.  That not only helps in the proof area, it also builds the relationship.  We talk to the same people!

There is one more essential skill that you, as chief salesman for your business, need to do.  And just to give you a clue, it’s probably something you were required to do when you were doing your apprenticeship or however you learnt your trade.  It’s also something that good sports men and women do.  And that is PRACTICE.  Sports people practice all the time, repetitively and I bet you had to also.

So why don’t you practice the skills that get the customer to take out their Order Book or credit card?

Far from being a necessary evil, salesmanship is a necessary skill.

Would you like to discuss your approach personally with me?  Book a Strategy Consult here.

© Copyright 2015 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 

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