Category Archives: Prospecting

Jackie and her Ladder – A Business Story

Once upon a time there was a very nice lady named Jackie.  Jackie sold cupcakes and cookies from her cozy little home in the suburbs that she built herself.

Now, Jackie made great cupcakes…and cookies.   And Jackie was even pretty skilled at building houses. 

But..she was missing one small skill:  she did not know how to cut out and put in a door.

So, Jackie bought a ladder and put it up her Chimney. 

Every day, Jackie climbed up the Chimney with her cupcakes and cookies, sold them in the marketplace, and went back home through the Chimney.  It was an OK life.  And, since she was pretty good at going up and down the Chimney every day, Jackie lived a nice life.

That is, until Louise moved into the neighborhood.

Louise DID know how to build a door.  And she could fit not just cupcakes and cookies through the door, but Cakes and Coolers of Ice Cream.

And, if Louise did not have a specific item, she could go back easily into her house and get it.    As fast as Jackie was able to climb up and down the ladder; Louise’s door was still faster.

So, Jackie HAD gotten better at what she was doing.  But, because she was missing a crucial skill, her sales started falling. 

Everyone still agreed that Jackie had great cupcakes and cookies; but Jackie eventually went out of business. 

All because Jackie was convinced that her 20 years of ladder-climbing and cupcake/cookie selling experience were going to continue to sustain her.  She never saw Louise and her door coming until it was too late.

How many of you out there keep saying that you DON’T need help; because what you do has been working?

Well, THIS is what I help you do with a PLAN.  We’ll not just determine how you get from where you are now to where you want to be; but we’ll find out:

– Do you need a Door (a different marketing approach, new team members or better recruiting/hiring/team motivation plans)?

– How do you even ANTICIPATE a potential door-building competitor (there are simple financial indicators that will reveal problems long before they become catastrophes)?

– How do you build the door, or get the bank to lend you money to purchase one (having helped companies obtain millions of dollars in funding, I’ll teach you how you can get the bank to loan you more money at a lower rate)?

– Do you need to have Cakes and Ice Cream (new products or services)?

– How could you get your Cakes and Ice-Cream to market quickly and profitably?

It’s time, RIGHT NOW, for you to get that Plan. 

A Strategic Plan helps you now AND will provide you a way to see the signals if something is going wrong.  Plus, you learn how to be agile enough to respond to changing markets and customer desires.  AND MAKE MORE PROFIT. 

While I’m not Bob Villa with a tool chest building a house; I AM like a Bob Villa of Business Plan building.  Check out this LinkedIn Profile (at last check, 29 Strategic Planning endorsements and 35 Written Recommendations).

When we are finished you will have, IN WRITING, a LIVING DOCUMENT FOR YOU!

Engage Now for a Very Special Year-end rate.  CLICK HERE and reserve your spot!  On Saturday night,  November 17, 2012,  the $997 rate becomes the regular, $2,500 rate.

Remember:    It is OK for you to say “No” and keep going up and down your ladder without a Professional plan.  Just make sure that you DECIDED to do that; instead of letting it happen to you like it did to Jackie..by default.

Why a Short-Term View and poor Math Skills are Bad for your Business

OK, I might have frightened many of you.

Math?

Well, the good news is that we’re not going to do any regressions or differential equations today.  So…breathe slowly into the bag; and let’s talk.  I am going to do the math FOR you.

Many of you own a business that is very stressful for you.  You constantly worry about cash flow.  You feel pain because your team does not seem to care about anything but their paychecks.  And, you sometimes wish that you could wave a magic wand, so people could “Get it” about the value you provide. You might even have to discount your prices, which drives you crazy (after all, you are worth more, aren’t you?).

To make matters worse:  you keep thinking things will “get better”; but, six months go by, and it’s just as tight and stressful as it was six months ago.  One year passes, and you wonder why things seem to be just as bad, or worse, than they were at the same time last year.

So, let’s do a little math (I’ll walk you through it 🙂 ).

  1. What if you invested $15,000 over six months to learn some proven tactics to get new customers and build a more motivated team?  Or, you invested that $15,000 to train 3 or 4 of your managers with a Management Training program; so they could  close some of their skill gaps?
  2. What if, based on extensive data, that investment were proven to get a 5-1 return (so, exchange $15,000 for $75,000 in one year)?  BUT, to be conservative, you won’t believe anything more than a 2.5-1 return (so, you invest $15,000 and get $37,500 back in 6 months – Net profit is $37,500 – $15,000:  $22,500).
  3. Then, you were able to take that $22,500 and grow it just 3% per year for 10 years.

Over 10 years, with a conservative view, your $15,000 investment would be worth $257,937. 

If you took the full 5:1 return, and grew it at 5%/year; you would have $15,000 become $754,674That’s a quarter of a million dollars extra in your pocket, for a $15,000 investment.

This is why the short-term view of fearfully holding onto money limits the greatness of so many business owners.  The simple math is that, holding onto the $15,000, with no change in how you do things in your business, will just result in more of the same stress and a return of $0, won’t it?

The fact is, whether you are talking about investing in a coach/consultant or a management training program; your long-term benefits are huge.   Here is a personal case study:  I invested in my own coach even when I could not afford one; because I realized the value of having someone to get me to think outside my personal experiences and make decisions even when I was not sure of the potential results.   It’s why, when I owned a business coaching franchise, my business was 3 times as big as the average coach in that system (which made me the top Franchisee).       All franchisees had the same “system,” but my coach made me prospect when I did not want to; he gave me strategies that I had not considered; he helped me focus when I was looking at “shiny objects”; and he even helped me realize why a strategy that HAD been working suddenly lost effectiveness.   Even a coach needs a coach.

There is a reason that an elite athlete invests in coaches, even though he has an enormous amount of talent.  The one-tenth of a second that his coach helps him cut from his 40-yard dash time could be worth millions of dollars.

For a business owner, there might be one thing you or your managers are not doing that, with the right training, you could discover can make you millions of dollars, or remove 90% of the stress you experience every day.

Am I the right coach/consultant for you?  Most likely not:  unless you are in the restaurant or hospitality business (private coaching/consulting), or have a management team helping run your business (our classroom-based training program).   But, I promise you that there IS someone out there who is a great fit for you.   And, doing the math, thinking that you are saving money by not making the investment in closing your skill gaps is absolutely bad for your business.

Take Action Today, and start your path to investing in your future success.

I am connected to a lot of coaches/consultants; so feel free to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin; read what they write and post, then contact those who might be the best fit for you.

5 Things Most Business Owners Rarely Do…But Should

How many of you as Entrepreneurs/business owners recognize this as your typical day (having worked with a LOT of you, this is what I hear quite a bit)

Basically, most business owners are moving as fast as they can trying to get customers so they can stay afloat.  The idea of having excess working capital is a wish…a dream.  You tell yourself that, “when things get better,” you will be able to create the systems and processes that you know are important (but you are too busy to work on right now).  This may surprise you, but I even get THIS as an objection:

“When things get better, I’ll be able to work with you, Roger.”  As if a world-class athlete would say, “When I get into the Olympics, I’ll work with a trainer.”  What do you think the odds are that they will get INTO the Olympics? (hint:  pretty close to Zero).

So, I am going to break it to you gently (or, not so gently):  THAT DAY WILL NEVER COME AS LONG AS YOU KEEP DOING THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER!

It’s time for you to draw a line in the sand and at least do these 5 things. 

1.  Forecast Sales

Be specific.  Start with what you want to sell in a year, both in dollars and number of customers; break it down to quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily (and even hourly for some of you) targets.   But make this more than a numbers exercise.  Who is buying?  When are they buying?  Why are they buying what they buy, with the frequency they buy it?  ETC. ETC.

I love a quote I heard from Bob Burg (from one of HIS mentors) that said “If you miss the target, it’s not the target’s fault.”  But, if you don’t even know where the target is; you don’t even have a CHANCE of hitting it.

2.  Spend enough on targeted Marketing.

When you learn to forecast sales well; you will realize that you need to be more methodical in your marketing; instead of the blind chase most of your competitors (and maybe you) are doing.

Consider any great athlete.  If they want to be a champion, how likely is that to happen if they were just randomly running around every day for 20 or 30 minutes; hoping that…somehow..their excercise will be enough to help them be better than their competition?

Yet, I was sitting with a Restaurant Owner the other day who was complaining that “marketing never works.”  When I asked what he did, and who he was targeting; he said he had bought newspaper ads (yikes..for a restaurant?) and said he wanted to target people who wanted “great food and great service.”  (for my regular readers, you know how I feel about THAT one).

Even worse, most business owners not only do not have enough process around their marketing; they underspend.   Just to MAINTAIN your business, you should be spending AT LEAST 5% of your revenue on marketing.  To grow, you might invest 10% or even 15%.  Yes, if you do the math, that may seem like a LOT.   But, the 8, 10, or 12 hours of training by a champion athlete also seems like a lot to the 3rd place finisher.   As long as you underspend and lack focus, you WILL be the one in 3rd place; struggling to get ahead, and often wondering why your competitor gets “the lucky breaks.”

By the way, I would 100% recommend that, before you increase your spending or try targeting; do your research and learn what works, what does not, and how to test for maximum effectiveness (or, find someone who specializes in marketing, so that your learning curve is not so steep).

3. Analyze and ACTIVELY MANAGE your Costs, especially Cost of Goods Sold and Labor

This is much more than just knowing your product costs and “beating up” on your vendors to get the lowest price; while paying your team members as little as possible.  It involves incorporating your marketing, product sales strategy, and operations strategy into a cohesive plan to ensure that you are making money.  Since I work with Restaurants, my experience is that most of them throw their menu together with no strategy or understanding to how it affects either their food cost or labor expense.  So, when they are not making any money; they THINK it is just because “sales need to be higher.”

Even if you are selling mufflers, though, the concept of this integration is the same.  Sales cures a lot of ills..but it won’t fix anything if your cost to deliver more product is more than the revenue.     Or, if your marketing gets more customers, but they all come when you are at capacity already; so you cannot serve them well when they DO come (which can be bad).

4.  Recognize Positive Actions by at least half your Team – EVERY DAY

If I had a Dime for every business owner who wonders where all of the “hard workers” have gone….I’d have a lot of dimes.

Seriously, maybe the problem is not in their motivation, but in the fact that many business owners have the attitude that their “employees are lucky to have a job.”  Well, maybe they are; but what are you doing to make sure they are motivated to care as much about the business as you would like?

If all you do is continue to point out their errors and faults; eventually you build it into their heads that they need to work on “avoiding errors.”  Can you see what they are now focused on?  Errors.

Now, I am not saying you should celebrate mediocrity; but set a goal every day to find positive actions by your team and recognize them.  Guess what you do then?  You will create in them a focus on doing positive actions.  Then, even when you need to point out opportunities for improvement, your team is going to be more accepting.

5.  Get  HELP!

If things are not working as well as you had hoped, get help.  Stop doing your own website, creating coupons and offering deals when you do not understand how these impact your business and your brand, hiring people without a profiling system, etc. etc.

I talk to restaurant owners every day who, with very little experience in the business, have put down half of a million dollars of their savings in a building and equipment (because someone said they were great cooks); yet have let their nephew do their website, have designed their own menus, and let the Groupon people talk them into money-losing online deals.    Then, they cannot afford to get help because by the time they realize that they should get help; they have burned through all of their working capital and are funding a burning building out of their own pockets.  It’s painful to watch.

If you do these 5 things, I can guarantee that, in the very near future,  your business will be 100% better than it is now.  You will have more sales, more cash flow, a more motivated team, and a business that you feel GREAT about.

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Please comment below: are you doing all 5 of these?  If not, which ARE you doing, and how will you begin doing the others (PS.  if #5 is on your “to do” list, email me at Roger@RestaurantSuccessGuru.com for some ideas.  If I’m not the right one to help you, because of my Restaurant owner focus; I have an extensive list of contacts to find just the right person for you)

Do This One Thing and You WILL Get More Sales Next Month

After reading hundreds of books.

Getting an MBA in Marketing

Working on a lot of Marketing Campaigns that have made millions and millions of dollars for both small and large companies.

After all of that, I realize that there is just ONE THING that you need to do to get more sales, whether you sell Real Estate or own a Restaurant.

Here it is:     SEE MORE PEOPLE

What, you say?  That’s so obvious, you say?

Then why don’t you have more sales?  And you cannot tell me it is because of the economy or that people “just aren’t buying.”  I would agree with you 100% if you were the only person in the world who had a company that sells your product.

But you are not, are you?

So here are 4 things you must do to SEE MORE PEOPLE

1.  Stop Advertising and start Marketing.  

What’s the difference?

– Advertising is the sporadic promotions that you throw out there hoping to catch anyone who might want your product.

– Marketing is having a plan to address a specific targeted market in the right place, with the right promotion, the right price; with time-based sales & profit objectives and a process for analysis and adjustment, if necessary.

Having a coordinated and targeted PLAN will absolutely help you SEE MORE PEOPLE

2.  Let your prospects speak for themselves.

How many salespeople and business owners consider a prospect and, instead of actually calling or approaching, think of all the reasons the prospect might say “No”?  So, they talk themselves out of making the actual approach.    Perhaps you even convince yourself that following up when they have not called you back is being “pushy.”

Or, you worry about “bothering” someone, so you give yourself the excuse that you need to get an introduction.  Meanwhile, the prospect uses another service provider, goes to another restaurant for their catering order, or just misses out on the benefits you could provide.

Do yourself a huge favor, and let the prospect tell you “no” if the answer is “no.”  But, you MAY find some of them will tell you “yes,” and you will SEE MORE PEOPLE.

3.  Give yourself annual, monthly, weekly, and daily goals IN WRITING.  Be specific not only about the numbers; but also about what it will MEAN to you when you accomplish those goals.

Everyone knows this, you say?  But how many people reading this are actually doing it?  Most are just running as fast as they can to get “more customers.”  The problem here is that, without defining how many is “More,” you will never get there.

Consider this:  If one day I tell you to run up a hill, you might run pretty fast.  If the next day I say that, if you get up the hill in 2/3 of yesterday’s time you and your family get to live for free in the mansion at the top and you can SEE the mansion; most of you will find it in you to run a lot faster today than yesterday.

Your mind is a great resource; but you waste it if you do not tell it specifically what you want it to help you do and why you want it to do it for you.  I can guarantee you that, if you have a specific goal tied to an emotional benefit, you will find a way to SEE MORE PEOPLE!

4.  Schedule your time and determine if you can hold yourself to it, or if you must get someone else to hold you to it. 

Some people are very good about being efficient with their time.  They do not waste the day watching “funny cat videos” on YouTube, or reading about their favorite sports team or actors, or reposting “motivational” quotes on Facebook for hours on end.  On the other hand, many people get distracted.  Yes, every morning they wake up with the DESIRE to be focused; but every night they realize how the day got away from them.

If you are one to get distracted; get your ego out of the way and have someone there to hold you accountable.  There is no shame in that.  It is much better to have the temporary annoyance of someone “calling you out” if you do not follow your plan; than the long-term struggle of not having customers.

Whether you can do it for yourself, or you need someone else to do it for you; become accountable so that you will SEE MORE PEOPLE.

You get my point: if you change nothing else in your business this month vs. last month;  you will sell more if you SEE MORE PEOPLE.  It’s as simple as that.

If you have any other ideas or suggestions; or just want to provide a little feedback, post your comment below.

4 Ways that you Block your Potential Customers from Buying

“Sales cures all ills.”

Most people have heard that saying before.   Now, it’s not ALWAYS true (since I have seen a lot of business owners who do not understand that they are selling at a loss  – many of my Restaurant clients sell a lot of things at a loss, until I help them see why their profit is almost zero).

That said, if you have SOME margin control, increasing Sales DOES help quite a bit, wouldn’t you agree?

So, here’s the strange part:  many business owners – Restaurants, retail, even B2B – put up giant obstacles to getting sales from eager prospects.

What are the Top 4 ways you Block your Customers from Buying?

1.  You make it hard for your best prospects to hear or see you:  When I was working on marketing campaigns for Joe’s Crab Shack; one time we were doing a coupon as part of a “Welcome to our Email Club” campaign.  When Tilman Fertitta, our CEO, was asked about the coupon, he responded with “Do you think I use coupons?”

Somewhat of a humorous note; but an excellent point for you:  unless you have actually defined SPECIFICALLY who your best prospects are, you will not be able to create marketing that actually talks directly to those prospects.   Your prospect WANTS your product; NEEDS your product; will PAY for your product; but you create such generic messages that they never can hear you above the 10,000 other messages they get every day.  Your message of how you “have the best product, service and prices” makes you just another black and white penguin on an icecap filled with penguins.

2.  You get your prospect excited, then Ignore him.   Many of you have prospects out there who have heard of you and actually like what you have to offer.  They are ready to buy,  But, you do not answer the phone when they call to find out your hours.  Or, they call and leave a message, but no one ever calls them back.  Or, worse, they call and you transfer them to another line that never answers.

Maybe you have called them when they are busy themselves; but you forget to call them back, so they buy your product from someone else.

Yes, you are busy.  Maybe your restaurant is having a busy lunch, or you have back-to-back sales appointments; but, without a strong SYSTEM to ensure prospect contacts get answered. your customer will feel ignored.  And, just to be clear, ignored prospects rarely buy.

3.   You speak German when your prospect speaks French – I am not really talking about languages in the literal sense.  I AM talking about all of the advertising out there that is based on the business owner’s perspective, instead of the customer’s perspective.  Your lunch menu says that you have $8 lunches; but your customer really wants 30 minute lunches.  Or, you talk about the beauty of your landscaping designs, when your customer wants to know if what you plant will last more than 6 months.

Do some research, talk to current customers as well as people who do not buy from you; and find out the language they want to hear.  You may be surprised to find out that just a few tweaks in HOW you talk to potential customers can have a massive impact on how MUCH they buy from you.

4.  You “bring him the check before he sees the Dessert Menu” – One of my rules when we go to a restaurant is that, if the server brings me the check before I see the Dessert Tray or Menu, we do not order dessert at the restaurant.  That’s a lost sale for the restaurant, and lower tip for the server.

But, even B2B businesses do this: you find something your customer wants and you are so excited to get a sale; that you do not ask follow-up questions to see if there are more ways for you to serve them.  In your mind, you are yelling “Hooray,” while your customer is thinking, “I sure wish they would do this also, because I wanted it.”  You DO have that extra product or service, but the prospects don’t find out until they have bought that from someone else (when it’s too late for you).

To wrap up, how many of you have said or thought that you wished you had more sales?   Before you just throw more money at marketing, or offer more discounts; see what you might be doing to block the sales that are already waiting to come to you.  You may find that just a few simple adjustments can make a massive difference in your sales growth!

I really would like your feedback on this.  Is there anything else that you have found “blocking” customers from buying from you?  

Comment below, or email me at Roger@CoachRogerBoneno.com.

Marketing Lessons from a Tried and True Hollywood Formula

How many of you have seen the Hollywood love story formula (even if it was just because your girlfriend or wife wanted to watch it):

       Boy feels lonely

       Boy meets girl of his dreams, but girl already has a “boyfriend”

       Boy starts “courting” girl by being her “friend”

       Girl starts to confide in boy, who is a great listener

       By being true to himself, Boy’s “authenticity”starts to attract girl

       Girl realizes her “boyfriend” is not so great after all (or a jerk)

       Girl falls in love with her “friend.”

Interestingly enough, this formula is filled with lessons for you as a business owner.

Lesson #1: There are PLENTY of great customers out there to grow your business, even in a bad economy. When I talk to Restaurant Owners, for example, who say that the “economy”has hurt their businesses; what they are REALLY saying is that their customers have just made other choices.  Maybe the customer decided to stay home; or perhaps they just decided to go elsewhere.  You may need to change how you look; but your first job is to find out where your customers are.

Lesson #2:  If the boy had just walked up to the girl and said, “I’m a great guy.  Do you want to be my boyfriend?” he would most likely have gotten an awkward silence and then,“I already have a boyfriend.”  At that point, his chances of winning her over are tiny. But that’s what many businesses try every day.  They put ads out there that say (for example), “I have great food.  Come and be my customer.”  And your customer thinks, “I already have a restaurant I like to go to.”

Instead of just telling everyone that you are great; learn to listen to what customers are saying. You have to be careful here, because it is the subtext that is most important.  For example, your customer says they will try you out if you give them a “deal,” so you run big discount coupons; but they really just want to know WHY they should try you and how they could justify paying the price you charge.    When you run “deals,” you basically tell your customer that your product was not worth what you were charging; so they were right all along to go elsewhere when they are willing to pay “full price.”  This is why the data shows how so few “deal”customers ever become loyal “full price” customers (no matter how hard you want to believe that you can “convert” them; the fact is, once you set a “reference price,”customers fixate upon it).

Lesson #3: The girl who dates the boy because of his “social status” or other superficial reason, is never really happy; instead, she is just trying to avoid the perceived “pain” of being unpopular. And, even though she really would be much happier with someone else (like her “friend”), she won’t easily “break-up”with the boyfriend she is with now.    In the same way, many of your potential customers are absolutely “settling” for your competitors:  they are not really “thrilled” with their current choices; but they would rather stay there than risk changing because they fear the unknown experience.  So, your job is to help them understand why, if they come to you, they will not experience what they fear. 

Offer them a guarantee. Show them testimonials.  Create an active program to create “Raving Fans” who praise you online.  (This is why I include both Marketing and Operations improvement in all of my packages; because you do not want to bring in MORE people who will give you poor online reviews.)

Lesson #4:  It may not happen overnight; but maintain focus on what the CUSTOMER needs and they WILL learn to “love you.”  Listen to your customers, provide an outstanding product, great service, and a differentiated reason to come back; and your profits will grow exponentially.
Let me know your thoughts by adding a comment below.

4 Reasons to Ask Before Listening to “Joe”

My oldest child is a 15-year-old boy who is about to enter 10th grade.  Of course, his school assigned him 2 books for “Summer Reading”:  Inherit the Wind & 1984.  He has read Inherit the Wind; however, even though school starts this Wednesday (yes, THAT early), he has not yet finished 1984.

When I suggested to him today that he needs to finish this book now, his comment to me was that, “Joe (not his real name) says that his Honors English teacher last year did not even quiz them on the Summer Reading” (my son is also in Honors English).  I was talking to a friend of mine this morning about this (his son is the same age as mine), and he suggested that this would be a great BLOG subject.   And he is absolutely right – because too many business owners are listening to “Joe.”  And “Joe’s” advice is often very risky.

For a business owner, “Joe” is that brother, cousin, nephew, parent, fortune-teller, or anyone else who gives you opinions about how to run your business.  Here are 4 questions to ask yourself before following “Joe’s” advice.

– Does the advice apply to what worked in the past, but may not be applicable NOW?  Just as my son’s friend was talking about what happened last year, to him individually, one time; many times the advice others give you is based on what happened to them one time, individually.   So, it might apply to your situation, but it most likely will not.

Does the advice come from an individual’s opinion, or is it based on FACTS?  “Joe” is making an assumption, but most likely has not talked to others about THEIR experiences.  Find out if the person can give you not just what they did, but how it specifically helped them.   Get numbers, percentages, and names of those involved.   Also, have others followed the same path, and what where their results?

What are the consequences to your “advisor” if the advice is wrong?  If my son decides not to read the book, and the teacher gives him a test this week, Joe does not lose points.  How many people are willing to give you advice, but will not be impacted if the advice is bad.  This is one reason why I have incorporated performance based investments in all of my programs: if what we do works, then we BOTH win.

Are you taking advice because it is good for you, or because it is self-serving?  Obviously, my son is not thrilled to be reading a book that he considers “boring.”  So, the advice to not read works for him; but only in the short run.   Is this you?  Are you spending time doing activities that you know are not highly profitable, but ARE easy?  Are you avoiding making an investment that requires a little risk, but has a big potential reward (like hiring a coach, or having a professionally designed website); because you have a fear of spending the money?

The reality is: we are constantly surrounded by people who want to give us great “advice.”   However, as I have heard it said, be sure you are getting COUNSEL and not OPINIONS.  So, before you listen to all of those people who want to tell you how to run your business, just ask yourself these few simple questions.

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Schedule a free 15 minute call with me today – Marketing Guru, Financial Wizard, and Team Motivation Expert – and we’ll talk about how to build a strong Brand targeting your Ideal Customers.     https://my.timedriver.com/191CR   We work together based on a performance program, so you your investment is based on RESULTS.

How to Implement Stevie Wonder’s Best Business Building Tip

No April rain

No flowers bloom

No wedding Saturday within the month of June

(If you are feeling a little romantic, or WANT to feel that way 🙂 , watch here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwOU3bnuU0k)

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I am probably revealing how old I am, but this was a very popular song when I was in High School.  So, why am I bringing this up in a Business Blog?

Because, while many business owners believe that “word of mouth” is a great way to build their businesses with less  effort; very often they believe that just having a great product and service is how to get referrals.    But, realistically, how many of you have received great service from someone, and MEANT to tell everyone about it, but never did?   You get busy, so you never do.   Or, maybe there was just this one thing…

This is where Stevie Wonder comes in.  His advice?  “Just [Call] to say I love you…just [call] to say how much I care.”   And Stevie says to do it not because of an occasion, but “just because.”   Here are some ways for you to do that:

1.  Send physical (NOT email) Thank You notes;

2.  Send them a little gift (or, if it is a BIG contract, a BIG gift…assuming you are not in a regulated field);

3.  Actually CALL them, and say how much you appreciate their business;

4.  Actively seek out a referral for them, or make a strategic connection that might help THEM;

5.  Provide a little unexpected bonus service.

Again…don’t just do these right after they give you money or because of a holiday; but do it when they might not expect it.  Perhaps you send them something midway through the contract period.  Or maybe a month after they bought something.  You CAN schedule it on your calendar, but just do not do it around any specific event.

And do NOT..I repeat..do NOT ask for more business or try to sell them something else at the same time that you do one of these.  Otherwise, it does not really feel like love.

The fact is, loving your customers and telling them (in words or unexpected actions) is a fantastic way to get more referrals AND more business.     Plus, when there is love, they will overlook minor faults,  forgive errors, and are loyal based on more than price.

PS.   This assumes that you really DO love your customers.  If you do not, then you are just a “Con Man” and need to be in a different business (or jail).

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 Schedule a 15 minute call with me – Marketing Guru, Financial Wizard, and Team Motivation Expert – and we’ll make you Love what your business can do for you:    https://my.timedriver.com/191CR  The Call is free, unless you don’t schedule it…then, your opportunity cost is expensive!

The 5 Diseases of Business Owners that Cripple their Success

After working with dozens and dozens of businesses, from billion $ public companies to startups, I see many very smart and very nice business leaders suffering from disorders that are crippling their chances for achieving amazing success.  Based on my experiences, here are the top 5 diseases afflicting business owners:

1.   Independitis – The feeling that, because they need to be “independent,” no one else can help them.  The problem with this is that, if your expertise is in AC Repair; you would be much better off if you spent your time repairing AC’s while getting expert help to work on your Marketing and Sales tactics or coordinating your schedule;

2.  Blamethemenia – The belief that, when sales go down, it is because of “the economy,” “dumb prospects,” or “unfair competition”; when the real issue is an uncoordinated marketing plan (or no plan at all).  This is often an outgrowth of a previous case of “Igetallmybusinessfromwordofmouthia.”

3.  Denialopathy – When what “used to work” is not delivering results; you refuse to believe that you need to make a change.    You keep denying anything is wrong; even as your bank account dwindles rapidly.  Or, when employees perform poorly, you believe it is because of their lack of motivation or laziness; when YOU hired them and do not have a well-designed team building plan, training system, or job description manual.

4.  Putitoffinoma – When you delay doing what you KNOW you should; because you have rationalized that you can just do it “later.”  Sadly, all those “little” items eventually pile up and spread, so that your business dies a painful death; even though you HAD the knowledge to make yourself successful.

5.  Flybytheseatofmypantsology – You have no Plan; no strategy; you do not know what numbers you should know to track the health of your business; and you have not set a goal for the next month, the next quarter, or the year.  The biggest symptom of this is a business owner who is working 14 or 16 hour days, and keeps hoping that things will “get better” if they just “persist” and “persevere.”  Unfortunately, days, weeks, months, and years pass and nothing gets any better.

Other symptoms are:

-you cannot take much time off without worrying about your business; you have to tell your employees OVER and OVER AGAIN how to do something that seems so simple to you;

– your final profit margins are a lot lower than you expected, based on what you charge for your product;

– if someone asked you what your average sales were over the last few months, or what your most profitable products are, and why, you do not know;

– and, if someone offered to buy your business right now and pay you to not work, you know in your heart that the business just will not run as smoothly without you managing all of the details.  This disease actually is often accompanied by “Youownajobia.”

The fact is, many business owners suffer from more than one of these maladies.  And, even though these are “curable” with the right prescription and ACTIONS, how many of YOU still continue to suffer and hope it gets better on its own?

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Everyone knows that early detection of any disease greatly enhances your chance of a cure.   Waiting is just allowing the disease to become more entrenched.   Let us give your business a thorough “Exam.”   Just like a Doctor, I will ask you some questions about your business; and then we’ll work on the “cure.”  Use my online calendar to schedule a 15 minute call to learn more.   https://my.timedriver.com/191CR

Sales Lessons You Can Learn From Scooby-Doo

How many of you would like a 100% “Capture Rate” in turning prospects into customers?

Well, Scooby-Doo and the “meddling kids” DID capture 100% of “prospects.”

Yes, I know it was a cartoon.  But, if you watched closely, you could take away some lessons that might just increase YOUR ability to convert prospects to customers.

Lesson #1:  Have a Strategy to bring the prospect to YOU, even if you feel a little intimidated.    The kids never really caught these “scary monsters” by chasing them.  Instead, the team created a strategy to get the creature to fall into a trap they had set.  Now, I am not saying that you need to “trap” your customers.  But, I am telling you that you are far more likely to get a sale if you LEAD them to you based on a defined plan.  Will it work perfectly every time?  No.  However, you have a much greater chance of success if you have a strategy for them to want to chase YOU.

Make yourself interesting; ask a lot of questions; and create more compelling marketing than “we have provided great service at reasonable prices for thousands of years” (see Why Most Marketing Copy is Terrible).

Lesson #2:    Your prospect is not a Monster; they are just a person.  You do not have to be afraid to prospect.    Interestingly enough, even though EVERY time the “monster” turned out to be some crook in a costume; these kids acted like it was real the next time it happened.    The kids in the “Mystery Machine” never seemed to connect the dots.  But…YOU CAN.  Many of YOU will not prospect because you have mentally put your prospect into a monster costume.   You are afraid of the terrible consequence if they say “No.”  But, as a former VP I worked with once said, “They can’t eat you.”

Lesson #3:   Find out what your “Scooby Snack” is; then use it.  I do not know what was in those things, but they must have been amazing for a dog AND a person to be willing to face mortal danger in exchange for a couple of bites.   Of course, most of you are not facing mortal danger; but, you DO face the unknown.  So, maybe you need to listen to a favorite song, a motivational CD, speak some affirmations to yourself; read some previous customer testimonials, or get someone to “pump you up” before making your sales calls.  Whatever you need to do, it it perfectly OK, and even recommended (although, I cannot recommend that you eat dog treats for strength..unless it works for you 🙂 ).

Lesson #4:   Watch for clues, and then be open to information and inspiration from those clues.    If you watched Scooby-Doo, there was always some point at which Velma would say “Jinkies”; because, suddenly the clues added up.  Not only would she have an idea of the “who,” but also the “why.”  For many of you, if you do your research, your customer will leave you clues as to whether they are the ideal candidate for you.   Also, with the proliferation of Social Media, websites, and online reviews, and the expertise of companies who can do research for you; you can discover specific factors that will help you create more targeted marketing, as well as be far better prepared when you are prospecting and presenting.

Many companies spend very little time researching their markets’ and their customers’ specific needs; then wonder why their marketing is ineffective and their prospects are “shopping” them and then negotiating on price.

As a side note, CONTINUOUS research is essential.  Just because your product/menu/service were the perfect solution 6 months ago does not mean they are still appropriate. 

Lesson 4.5:  Relax and watch some Scooby-Doo this week.  Give your brain a break. 🙂

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Are the “Monsters” of the Economy, unmotivated team members, and/or cash flow stresses chasing you and your business?   Take the Mystery out of having a business that makes you more money with less stress.    Contact me for an initial consultation, business analysis, and ideation session.  Use my online calendar to schedule a 15 minute call to learn more.   https://my.timedriver.com/191CR