By Daron Powers
Business is like a wheel and to keep it spinning each spoke needs to be strong. When customers are plentiful it's easy to get so busy working "in" the business that it's hard to find time for improvement. Then one day the wheels come loose. You get a flat. Sometimes they fall off.
When business and income slumps-suddenly improvement becomes a priority. You know you need to do something to spark sales-but where do you start?
The following nine areas taken together will provide a brief snapshot of your current situation. It will give you some clues about where to focus your time, attention and resources.
As you read make a mark next to each item. Put a "%2B" to indicate strength-not in need of attention at this time. Put a "-" for areas in need of immediate attention. Then go to it.
1. "Marketing is MY job?" Business was good, but then suddenly drops off. However, expectations continue. It's human nature to sometimes coast and believe business will somehow pick up by itself. Maybe someone else will pay attention to the marketing and drive more traffic.
If you are reading this article then you are ultimately responsible for filling the sales pipeline. Who else but an achiever would read an article like this? Continually improve your prospecting and marketing skills. Build your contact or mailing list. A good list is like gold for drumming up more business.
2. "I don't need no stinkin' marketing. I know how to sell." Myth: Marketing and selling are the same. Fact: Marketing drives traffic through your door and selling converts prospects to customers-each with a defined role. If you are not in front of as many buyers as it takes for you to create or sustain the lifestyle you choose then learn marketing skills. Marketing precedes all other business functions because it keeps the wheels spinning.
3. Myth: "If you can't sell em' in 30 days then move on." Cherry picking isn't the only way to sell. Fact is sometimes people aren't ready. Your marketing should be aimed at developing the relationship. Get prospects on the educational spectrum until they ripen.
A well thought out marketing strategy and pre-planned promotional and hopper system will keep your pipeline filled and you will sell more. But a word of caution. Be sure the heart of your marketing strategy is sound. Don't skimp on this step because a viable marketing strategy fuels every behavior, word, print or web presentation.
4. SOP or seat of the pants selling; This is the lack of a defined selling process or track to follow. The purpose is to skillfully guide qualified buyers to make a favorable decision. Without a concrete sales process to gauge performance how can you know when to make corrections or enhancements? Examples of selling steps are greeting, discovery, solutions/demonstration, credibility, agreement and follow-up.
Selling basics apply to the web and copyrighting. Get some coaching. Take a course. Read books. Listen to instructional CDs on selling.
5. Telling not selling. People would rather buy than be sold by some slick talking salesperson. An effective discovery process helps reveal your prospect's true needs and wants. Develop a list of relevant questions, take notes, shut up and listen.
Your prospect will tell you how to help them to buy but you must listen. Listen NOT with the intent to reply. Listen with the intent understand. Practice listening at home with your significant other and especially your children.
6. Killer Close Mentality: The "killer close" mentality came from the days when unskilled salespeople had to rely on some "heavy weight closer" to haul in the buyer with their "tricks" of the trade. In today's world of selling you are the buyer's guide to make the best possible decision. When you have exercised an effective sales interview-closing is a natural conclusion. Again, work from a proven sales process.
7. Moments of Truth - A MOT is any event that creates an impression favorable or unfavorable in the mind of the buyer. Put yourself in your buyer's shoes. Lasting impressions create positive word of mouth advertising more potent than any newspaper, TV or billboard ad.
Look around your business. Begin to study little things that create impressions throughout the buying and ownership experience. Small things like remembering a name, saying please and thank you, or doing what you said you would do when you said you would do it all make a huge difference. Make sure every aspect of your product or service meets or exceeds your buyer's expectations. See your business through your customer's eyes.
8. Poor hand-offs to other departments. A breakdown in communication frustrates buyers. They dislike having to solve problems your product or service creates. If you are an army of one then you act in the role of marketer, salesperson, educator, support, administration and collection. Make sure the customer perceives your right hand knows what the left hand is doing. When you or others drop the ball, customers learn to have less confidence in your ability to deliver on the promise and... are less likely to repeat or refer others to you.
9. Cynicism: Put a frog in cold water and slowly warm it up. It happens so gradual the frog doesn't realize he's being cooked in the squat. In a similar way cynicism creeps into conversations and can drive away business. Media is a prime source and bad news is contagious. Be informed but not inundated.
In a good or bad economy get in the habit of feeding your mind with positive input every day. Stay away from cynics. Hang around excited people with compelling goals and big ambitions. As sales guru Zig Ziglar would say, every so often give yourself a "Checkup from the neck up."
Summary: Rollin' In A River of Business
Look over your check marks above.
• Where are you strongest?
• What one or two items pop out as an opportunity for immediate improvement?
• What represents the biggest potential threat to your business if NOT addressed?
• What can you do within your control to get started on just one idea today?
• What will taking that one action step do for you, your customers, or your business?
Reveal the "Why" of Your Improvement
Write your responses down and keep asking yourself, "Why is that important?" As you continue to dig deeper you unveil each successive layer of motivation. Emotion is released. Feelings are generated.
You'll reveal even more compelling reasons why you must succeed. Logic alone is not enough to motivate your buyers and the same goes for you and your improvement goals. Keep asking "Why is this goal important?" Write it down otherwise it's just too easy to deceive yourself.
Get to what's most important about your goal. You will overcome procrastination, support follow through and achieve better results. You see, as you become clear about the "why" of what you do... you will figure out the "how" and ensure that your business wheel keeps on turning... and sales keep growing. "Rollin'... Rollin'... Rollin' in a river of business. (Sung to Credence Clearwater's Proud Mary.)