Archive for the ‘Sales’ Category

Shirking Responsibility

November 15, 2011

In the past, I’ve found ways to shirk responsibility.  It all started with girls.  In fact, one girl in particular in high school.   There I was, standing there minding my own business when this girl walks up to me in the cafeteria and says with the utmost conviction and gumption “We have slept together.”

Stunned silence on my part.  I believe my mouth was hanging open as I stared at her, looking her up and down.  My first thought was – who the hell are you?  Honestly, I had never laid eyes on her in high school and I knew that I didn’t go to elementary school with her.  My second thought was – please god no, do not let her be pregnant!

The next words out of her mouth were, “In fact, we have shared a bed together on many occasions.”  My stance changed to the defensive, peering deep into her eyes and thinking “I have no clue who you are” then glaring at the few people who had gathered around us, seeing if I could garner any clues as to her identity.

Nothing.

A cold sweat permeated my body.  More people were looking over at our small group; pointing, whispering.  I fully expected someone to wheel in a baby carriage and for her to launch into the full blown antics that I had witnessed on Jerry Springer – only this time there was no Steve to break things up.  I knew I had to do it.  I never imagined that at the age of 17 I would be in this situation.

“I’m terribly sorry, we may have slept together, but I seem to have forgotten your name.”

Thank you Jennifer.  It turns out that we had slept together.   On many different occasions.  And we thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company and played with each other for hours.

As toddlers.  Over 15 years ago.

Jenn had just switched over to my high school and her mom had told her to look me up.  We had a few mutual friends that were in on it and from that point on I never looked at women and responsibility the same way again.  I figured that I had dodged one bullet, so let’s see how many others I can dodge.

It took me another 12 years to figure out that my behaviour was hurting not only myself, but those that I cared about as well.  I had created this wonderful behavioural pattern around shirking responsibility – being accountable to no one except myself (and I was not hard on myself either) and it was beginning to show to those around me.  I had started the 31 Day Sprint as a way to hold myself publicly accountable for my successes and failures and it was not until today when I fell back into my old habit that I realized that something more drastic had to be done (hence this post).

I’ll admit that right now I’m struggling with the shift in focus from marketing activities to sales activities.  I know that this week and next week I will overachieve on my daily numbers but it will be the weekly numbers that will hurt the most – units sold, sales volume (in terms of $$), and income (%age).  I will fail miserably at achieving a sustainable level of sales activities to translate into income.  I expect this failure knowing that I will use it to learn and adapt and figure out a way to turn it into a success.

I’ve been in business too long for myself without having to produce a weekly income that drastic measures have to be taken – I have no choice but to continue to break my behavioural pattern.  Wednesday morning when I wake up I will do the two things that I fear most – only because these two activities will help me become successful – workout for an hour and call my clients and business associates.  I’ve relied far too long on technology (email, social media, etc) and I’ve been content with the mediocre results for far too long.  Now is the time to overachieve.  Now is the time to get results.

Hard numbers for today – 67 (12 over daily average)

Marketing – 62
Sales – 3
FLH – 2 (0 fitness, 1 hobby, 1 life)

When I wake up, it will be a new day.  I relish the opportunity for another woman to give me the opportunity to dodge more bullets – just not when it comes to those that I care about most.

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Day 23 and Day 24 of The 31 Day Sprint

October 24, 2011

Thursday and Friday of this week were a struggle.  After a 90 minute run on Wednesday morning I was feeling lethargic and slow until Saturday.  It took me a while to figure out that getting four hours of sleep each night is not enough if you plan on not having a sedentary lifestyle.  I’ll be gunning for 6-8 hours of sleep each night and will try to keep the productivity level high.

Here are the updated numbers:

  • Total Weekly Points: 337
  • Average Daily Points: 67
  • Rolling 7 Day Total: 491
  • Rolling 7 Day Average: 70
  • LinkedIn Connections – 1,700+
In otherwords, I managed to hit my goal even though Thursday and Friday were technically a flop.  In addition to the Gobi Capital site, there are four other sites that are being prepped for launch.  One of them will be a subscription based portal that will provide business owners and soon to be entrepreneurs the tools to test their new business/product/service idea, launch their project and then achieve a high level of growth.
The objective of next week is based on income.  The whole purpose of The 31 Day Sprint was to achieve a higher level of activity that would enable an increase in income for myself.  I’ve been toying with the idea of doing another 31 Day Sprint, but adjusting the metrics slightly and setting a different objective.   When I was studying in Findland, there was a course based on a book called The Balanced Scorecard – I think I’ll start to adopt some of those concepts and take a more holistic approach to the next sprint.
Hard numbers for this week:
  • 63+ marketing points each day (minimum of 315 Monday to Friday)
  • 8 fitness points for the week (Saturday-Friday)
  • 5 life points for the week
  • 10% increase in weekly income
  • Identify 5 new potential projects
That’s it for now.  Have fun!

Are You Coachable?

February 9, 2011

You don’t know everything.

You do know that, don’t you?

Continual learning is a basic necessity to professional improvement and in many cases it’s other people who will help you get there.

But only if you’re coachable.  Are you?

To be coachable means to be…

  • Approachable
  • Attentive
  • Receptive
  • Curious
  • Objective
  • Trusting
  • Shapeable
  • Confident

It means that you must listen with the intent to learn rather than to show what you know – exactly the type of listening required in the sales process (listen>talk).

So who wants to coach someone?  And who needs a coach?

Top Ten Tips of Customer Acquisition and Retention (5 of 5)

January 4, 2011

Finally, the last two.  Great way to start 2011 – finishing off something started in 2010!

9.   Telepathy.  You and your employees need to have telepathy.   You have to be able to anticipate the future.  Your organization must assume a proactive stance as it relates to all of your customer’s needs.  You have to foresee any and all potential problems that could crop up before they do crop up.  You also need to recognize the patterns that are indicative of future success or failure or future opportunities.

One of the best ways to generate predictive power in your organization is to make it easy to communicate with your company, especially to complain.  You want your best customers to tell you how they think things are going, even when they are not going well.  That tells you what they really want and what they are willing to pay you to do for them.  They will give you the best indication of the actions you need to take to improve and grow.  Consider the story of Google, who would receive an email every so often from one of their customers – all the email would contain is a number.  They eventually figured out that the number represented the number of words on the Google Search page (their index page).  If the number got too high, they would get an email as a reminder to keep things simple.  Your customers may not know how you can solve their problems, but they can certainly tell you about their points of pain.  It’s up to you to find a way to solve their pain points.

10.  Tenacity.  Growing a business is hard work.  Customer acquisition and retention isn’t an event.  It isn’t a new program.  It is a way of thinking about customers.  It takes the right attitude, continual effort, and constant monitoring.

The question that should really matter in whether you are going to retain your customers and grow your business is not whether they are satisfied.  The only question that matters is, “How likely are your customers to recommend you to their colleagues, their partners, their families, or to other people they do business with?”

You have to be tenacious and you have to refuse to be satisfied, even if you currently the best.  Strive for continual improvement and refinement in the areas that customers care about most, even if those seem insignificant to you.

Now you may be looking for more ways to acquire and retain your customers.  Feel free to email me (scot at gobicapital.ca) or call the office at 647-800-6587.

Top Ten Tips of Customer Acquisition and Retention (4 of 5)

December 20, 2010

7.  Time Bombs.  The old school thought on growth is that companies need to do things cheaper, faster and better to win business. While a I do not agree with this model for growth, I do agree with the fact that in order for organizations to deliver on the “faster”part they have to build and plant time bombs thoughout the organization. Time is of the essence in today’s economy and a quick response to internal and external issues can make or break a company (ahem – Yahoo! and Delicious for example).  Attention-getting time bombs of some type need to go off whenever you are not exceeding the customer’s expectation of time.  The entire organization needs to see, hear, and feel the obvious warning signs of impending time problems.

How this is setup is totally dependent on your organization and your customer’s perception of time as it relates to their consumer experience.  If you sell a product with a specific delivery terms, ask yourself if you can exceed your customer expectations without producing any negative side effects.  Or perhaps you can adjust your organization’s idea on what late means (it could mean the expectation is that the product arrives one day before delivery is expected).

If you are providing a service, it may mean that you start to track the number of times that an employee has to call to inform a customer that she will be late or call to reschedule an appointment.  Or another way to look at it is if you are working on a project and the team starts to miss small milestones.  Consider how many times do key people find out about a problem after it’s too late to really fix it or at a point where it is twice as expensive to fix it as it would have been earlier?   Worse still, when you find out about an issue or problem for the first time from a customer.

The next part is measuring the organization to the new standards and stating explicitly to everyone when they are not meeting the new expectations of the customer and when you are exceeding them.  Define key metrics, explain the importance of gathering accurate information with your staff, and ensure that everyone in your organization is aware of the minimum set of expectations that a customer has and how to exceed them.

The idea of planting time bombs within your organization so that key people are aware of issues or problems as they arise also highlights the fact that information that is vital to delivering your product or service has to be aggregated in one spot and displayed in such a manner that people can use it to make decisions.  There are a variety of solutions available for this ranging from simple email, project wiki’s, dashboards, the list goes on.  Find something that fits the culture and budget of your company.

8.  Tractable.  Tractable is defined as (adj.) susceptible to suggestion; s personality sensitive to other’s desires [syn: malleable, responsive].  In order to achieve growth as a company you need to be malleable and responsive.  Satisfaction is not a continuum.  People don’t move along in stages from “completely unsatisfied” to “completely satisfied.”   You can grab customers and immediately move them from the bottom of the scale to the top if you can solve that customer’s problem in a way that’s far beyond what they were expecting.

Give everyone in your organization some semblance of power to rectify a situation as it unfolds in front of them.  Think of ways that customers have become dissatisfied in the past and how you would have properly solved the problem.  Next, consider the implied authority that the staff had who were involved in the situation.  What’s the gap between how you as a key decision maker would have solved the situation to your front line staff?  What steps could you take to empower your staff to rectify similar situations in the future?

At the very least, be sure that you never hear these phrases uttered by people in your company:

  • “I’m sorry, but that’s our policy.”
  • “If I do this for you, I’ll have to do it for everybody.”
  • “You’ll have to speak to my manager.  I don’t have the power to do that.”
  • “I don’t know if I’m allowed to do that.”
  • “If it were up to me, you know I would do it.”

Take time to give power and authority to any employees who have contact with customers and ensure that everyone in your organization knows to be tractable with your number one asset.

Got The Blues? Seven Ways To Sell Your Way Out Of A Sales Slump

December 13, 2010

It happens to everyone – we get into a rut.  A sales slump.  Keep productive and sell your way out of this sales slump.

  1. Return all phone calls, immediately.  If the phone rings, answer it by the third ring.
  2. Establish “selling hours” – a time when you will focus on selling and ignore all non-sales related activities.
  3. Start at the top – if you can, connect with the highest person possible in the organization.
  4. Network – attend Business After 5, Chamber of Commerce, BNI, and other networking events.  Get “belly to belly” with potential prospects and follow up the next day (prepare a letter or email before the event).  If the person is not a prospect or does not know anyone who can be a prospect, follow up with them when you are out of the slump (60-90 days later).
  5. Connect with past clients, orphaned clients, and past prospects in that order.  These people are already aware of your company and receptive to your product / service offering.
  6. If you mentioned to your clients beforehand that you expect referrals, now is the time to ask for “a few good people like yourself.”
  7. Finally, narrow your focus.  Take a laser beam approach to the characteristics of your ideal client and be ruthless in your quest for them.
  8. A note on emails and social media – only respond to sales related emails during your selling hours.  Ignore all social media during your selling hours.

Now get out there and sell!

Top Ten Tips of Customer Acquisition and Retention (3 of 5)

December 8, 2010

Onwards and upwards!

5.  Tailored.  “Mass customization” was the hot buzz word in the 1990’s yet now there is a general shift towards “Mass Customerization”.  Every touch that you have with the customer is a chance to create a custom tailored customer experience.  Remember your invoice – how can you tailor your invoice so that it leads to a better customer experience?  What would your customer like to see?  I’ll give you a hint – if you don’t know for sure – ask your customer!

6.  Trenching. Trenching is a term I use to refer to the process of finding actionable information in customer data and using that to grow your business.  Some people would call this data mining, but don’t really dig for it and remove it.  Instead, you move along a trench looking at the satisfaction, like a geologist.  When trenching, you are trying to find answers to the the following key questions:

  • What king of customers should we serve?
  • What kind of customers do we currently serve?
  • How can we describe our best types of customers?
  • What patterns can we find in our customers that predict future lifetime value, potential offers, or potential actions?

Some people will find this information of great value.  Others will say, “Hey, Scot, I just own an ice cream shop.  How is trenching going to help me grow my business?”  That’s a legitimate questions and here’s your answer.  How difficult would it be to gather customer’s emails in exchange for a free sample?  Maybe you can even ask for their favority flavor, too, and get the entire family’s birthdays.  Every birthday you sendout a coupon.  If you ever want to send out a survey, you’ve got your list.

You’ve got the gist of the idea, now go apply it to your business!

Top Ten Tips of Customer Acquisition and Retention (2 of 5)

December 6, 2010

3.  Total view.  How many times have you heard “that’s not my job” or “that’s not my department.”  You had better hope that you don’t have someone like that in your organization.   There are plenty of reasons this attitude surfaces.  Maybe your employees don’t personally have the technical knowledge to answer the question.  Maybe there are too many territorial disputes in your organization.  Maybe that particular person is lazy.  You need to fix these problems either through better training, better people or better technology – probably using all three.

To grow your business, you need a total view.  You need to make sure anyone who interacts with customers in any way has a total view or at least knows where to go get the answers from someone who has that viewpoint.  Through training and technology, you can make it happen.

4.  Technology. Technology is making it increasingly easier to gather, store and interpret information about your customers.  It has become popular in recent years to put in customer relationship management (CRM) systems.  There are many prominent CRM systems and free CRM systems in the marketplace and it will take some time to evaluate what can work best for you.  The best suited CRM system that I found was with an independent consultant on Bay Street who uses Google Groups to post new prospect information and updates on contact information and conversation notes.  Everytime he talks to a prospect, he sends an email to the Group.  Any time he needs information on a prospect or client, he searches the Google Group and all of the relevant information is there in one place.

There are many ways that your organization can transition to an online presence through a web portal or using email newsletter services to send out customized newsletters to each of your potential customers and current customers.  You can also post video testimonials on your web site or on social media to show the world how satisfied your customers truly are.

Top Ten Tips Of Customer Acquisition and Retention (1 of 5)

December 6, 2010

The top ten elements for any organization interested in improving customer acquisition and retention.

1.  Training.  Do your new hires know what makes you tick?  Do they know why you exist and what matters to your customers? The training I’m talking about is customer-driven training, not internally driven training. Generally, you want to answer the following questions:

  • Why do people buy from us and not the other guys?
  • When people buy from the other guys, why do they do it?
  • What makes us unique?
  • What do our customers care the most about?
  • What are the primary tasks you need to know, and how do those tasks relate to the customers’ needs?

The key to the training should be focused on creating a “customer-centric” thought process – letting your new hires know how far they can go to solving a customer’s problem and when they need to ask for help.

2.  Touches.  Every time you come in contact with a customer, it’s a “touch” and an opportunity to shine.  Every contact with the customer is important – and can have a direct impact on your customer acquisition and retention.  This includes the initial phone call, credit terms, confirming email, returns – everything that your customer sees and hears from your organization.  Take time to ensure that you have proof read emails, all links in your correspondence are live, that everyone in your organization is aware of the new deal you just sent out to your database.  Remember, finding and keeping customers is a touchy subject.

Develop Customer-Driven Processes

November 25, 2010

Entrepreneurs generally talk about how they are “in touch” with their customers, know what their customers want, or have their business built to serve their customers. More often than not, when we dig into their organizations processes (if they have any), they are built around what makes things easiest for the entrepreneur and their staff.

To be truly customer driven, any process that “touches” a customer needs to fully integrate the best thinking of your organization. Consider all aspects of your business – such as marketing, quality control, customer service – and ask yourself and your team questions like “how would a marketing person look at this invoice with a customer in mind?” or “how would a quality control expert reinvent this invoice with the customer in mind?”.

A quick note on processes – yes they are meant to provide a means to standardize your business. However, make sure that any process you employ is flexible enough to allow any associate dealing with a customer to be able to think on their own to satisfy any customer request. It’s the customer experience that you should focus your efforts because 9 times out of 10 that is what will keep your cusotmers back for more.


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