Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Follow up any and all enquiries.

Follow up any and all enquiries.

And not just enquiries – leads and contact too. Just make sure you stay in touch. When you call you don’t need to sell your product or service, just simply make contact, see how they are and catch up. This will keep you in the minds of contacts and potential customers.

Emails and newsletters are also a good way of keeping in contact with people, and with the use of sites such as

www.mailchimp.com anyone can un-subscribe if they really don’t want to hear from you anymore.

Don’t forget the good old pen and paper. In the past 5 years I’ve received probably one or two handwritten letters/cards from networking contacts that were simply catching up. And it worked, their correspondence stood out and I was made to think about them and their business and I immediately contacted them and past referrals their way.

Many leads and enquires can be long term and need regular contact and persuasion in able to convert into sales.

Many enquiries take at least 8 calls to be made before a sale is made.

So please don’t give up and throw away sales. It takes a lot of time and effort to generate a lead, win a contract, and earn a sale: don’t waste it all by failing to follow-up.

Just remember – if you don’t keep in touch, someone else will!

Going against the grain.

A few years ago when reality TV was still in its prime the late Jade Goody caused a stir when she went back into the Big Brother house and created ‘The Race Row’. Her racist bullying toward fellow housemate Shilpa Shetty made national and international headlines as well as creating ripples in the UK and Indian governments and causing the show to be suspended.

This then had a knock on effect to Jade’s promotional activities as many retailers decided to take her perfume, Shh, off the shelves. And once the big players, such as Boots, had removed Shh, nearly all others followed suit.

However a small discount health and beauty retailer decided to go against the grain and continue selling Jade Goody’s sickly sweet scent.

Hundreds of women went into panic, thinking the fragrance would be gone forever and the result……………the small discount retailer sold out again and again to the point where their suppliers had sold out too.

So although Jades behaviour was controversial, women still wanted to buy her perfume, and the best things to sell are the things people want. The small discount retailer cashed in by going against the grain and selling what no-one else would, purely because the demand was there.

What demand is there in your market that you may be missing?

Seems simple doesn’t it? To get more profit you just simply need to sell more, right?

Well let me give you a few points that may help………..

1)      Put your prices up. Yes that’s right put your prices up. Apparently if your margin is 10% and you put the prices up by 10% then you can afford to lose 33% of your clients. So before you dismiss this idea, have an honest think about just how many customers you may lose – 1%, 10%, 15%? But how much more income will you be making from the increase?

2)      Get your clients to buy from you more often. Do you have a database of your clients? Can you easily send a special offer to them? If you contact them more often will special offers you potentially can get them to buy more often, therefore increasing your sales!

3)      Once you’ve got your clients buying more often the next step is to get them spending more per sale. That’s why supermarkets have sweets at the checkout, thousands of customers pick up an extra items at say 49p whilst queuing which makes a massive difference to one company with hundreds of stores. All you need to do is add one extra thing to your customers basket.

I’ve only just touched the surface with these 3 points but hopefully I’ve given you some food for thought.

Last October in a business networking meeting I dared to bring up that fateful event of Christmas! Yes although it was weeks away, in my background of retail, Christmas starts in the half term of October. After a busy end to August for the whole back to school thing, September goes deadly quite – the lull before the storm. Then October half term happens and shoppers thoughts turn to the festive season.

However when I brought up Christmas at a networking meeting, where I was the only female, I was hit with a wave of negativity. I had simply asked ‘how was everyone changing their marketing for the Christmas run up’. A photographer told me he was doing ‘nothing’ in regards to marketing and another networker piped up ”well I just close down for 2 weeks”. The subject was then changed very quickly.

Although I realise that not all businesses experience a busy spell for Christmas I certainly don’t believe anyone should sit back and miss out on what is the highest spending month of the year.

This is where some brainstorm and planning comes in to play, and although any new ideas may not produce millions of sales, it ensures that your brand is seen to be active and pro-active. I would suggest a brainstorming session with your mastermind group or coach for some simple and maybe silly ideas for festive promotions. I’ve listed below a few ideas for the people that I know who usually take Christmas as a ‘holiday’ from business – which they then come to regret when they are desperate for sales in January.

(Apologises if some of these are obvious, but believe me there are business owners out there who do not take advantage of these opportunities)

Life Coach – this one is easy, they should be promoting goal setting for the New Year, yes correct, but most coaches wait until January to start advertising this. Trust me there is no harm in advertising early, especially when you add an early-bird discount. There is a lot of people out there who will fail to make a list of goals at the end of January (because the moment has passed), but many of them will feel more inspired at the end of December, so get them booked.

Also Xmas de-stress sessions and Xmas planning sessions – maybe in workshop format rather than one-2-one, should be good earners.

Author – Ummm books are in the top 5 for gifts! So 2 for 1 offers, BOGOF, anything that creates a sale.

Photographer – Portraits and pet portraits for gifts. Gift vouchers for a photoshoot. Book now for your X% discount off your July wedding. Photo shot for personalised Xmas cards.

Appointment company – I admit it’s very hard to get people to commit to sales appointments in the run up for Christmas, so get them booked now for January instead, so simple. And the holidays is probably a great time to be contacting domestic customers as they are all at home.

Storage facility – extra space for Christmas, you know when you have all the family to stay, or a secret present room – have your mail-order items sent straight to a self-storage unit for safe keeping until the big day.

Cleaning company – offer a reduced quick blitz session, aimed at saving people time when they are busy doing festive things. This is a great introductory offer to new clients as it gives them a chance to see how having a cleaning improves their life.

Basically what I’m trying to say is that the world does not end at Christmas and so what if it’s a quiet time for your business – get off your arse and do something about it! Don’t just accept that you won’t be earning any money, plan something different to entice sales and be profitable because that’s why you started a business in the first place.

The thought of going to a networking meeting can bring some people out in a cold sweat, but as long as you realise it’s all about relationship building and NOT selling then there really is nothing to be scared about.
Basically it is just common sense.
Networking is about getting to know people, helping each other out and growing your business at the same time.
For example if you are an accountant and you take on a new client setting up a gardening business you could recommend him to the leaflet printer at the networking group. The leaflet printer gets an enquiry and possibly a sale and you will be more likely to then get a referral back sometime in the future.
I will stress at this point that things do not happen overnight – so do not expect to go to one networking meeting and have 50 more clients by the following morning, it really doesn’t work like that and it does take time.
To find groups in your area just try good old Google or contact your local Chamber of Commerce and Business link. There is generally a charge for attend as most group will include some sort of refreshments and sometimes a guest speaker. Make sure you take business cards and is possible wear a badge showing your name, company and logo.
It can still be daunting to walk through the door, but remember you are actually in a room full of people who want to know what you do and how you can help them.  Ask people questions about their business and get to know what they are looking for, they will automatically ask you about your business so there is no need to ‘sell’. The worst part at most networking groups is the Elevator Pitch, this is where everyone in the room gets to stand up and give a 60 speech about who they are, what they do and what business they are looking for. If you are worried about standing up in front of people make sure you are prepared, practice a speech before hand (usually about 120 words is good) and do not waffle on, say what needs to be said and sit down, you will not be appreciated for mumbling on for 5 minutes.
And have fun, networking is about harnessing opportunities to reach out to the right people, by being genuine, building trust and demonstrating what you can do for them.

Starved of Cash

 Starved of Oxygen Cash
A challenge to many small businesses is getting paid by customers. Cash is like oxygen to a business and without it your business could die.
Sometimes, even great businesses fail due to the starvation of cash.
So I would like to ask – do you have a debt recovery system?
If you don’t do anything to chase those who owe you money then it’s unlikely you’ll ever get that money.
Here are a few points to think about:-
·         Firstly what are your payment terms? 30 days? Is this really necessary? How about reducing to 7 of 14 days or where possibly upfront payment.
·         Water, phone etc. are cut off if not paid for so stop providing services to any bad payers immediately.
·         Dedicate a member of staff or allocate one day a week/month to chase debtors.
·         Get accounting software that provides a debtors report showing how long they are overdue i.e. 0 – 30 days, 30 – 60 days, 60 – 90 days.
·         Be prepared when you call debtors, make sure you have account details and invoice numbers in front of you and always make notes of when you called and of what was said. Then set a diary date to their next call.
·         Always speak to the right person – if you sell business2business speak to the person responsible for paying you, if they can’t help go above them.
·         Write a standard overdue letter and post with a statement.
·         If dealing business2business check before you take the job what their payment terms are and get a Purchase Order number & place this on all correspondence to them.
·         If a customer is struggling would you consider taking part-payments or a settlement figure, remember 80% of the money is better than 0%.
·         Don’t be afraid to stop dealing with a bad payer. Fact: 20% of customers will take up 80% of your time. Give up that bad paying customer and replace with one in in the 80% bracket.
Thanks for reading.
Follow me on Twitter @business_gen