Today in New Zealand it’s Waitangi Day. This public holiday marks the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Special commemorations are happening at Waitangi – our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has even received gifts for her baby! Many New Zealanders, aside from acknowledging the history of our nation, are thankful that we have an extra day off, and in the middle of the week too.
Where are you today while you’re reading this blog post? The weather is sunny and clear throughout the country. Many people will be at the beach, perhaps tramping in the bush, or catching up with friends. Some are on holiday, having taken Monday off to gain a four-day break.
What device are you reading this blog post with? It may not be a laptop, more likely it’s a mobile phone or even a tablet.
Our customers might be on holiday today, but they’re not on holiday from social media. Checking Facebook and LinkedIn is a hard habit to break for many of us!
Looking at the ratings from a post earlier today on LinkedIn – they're a little less than usual, but people are definitely checking their social media. If you’re not posting today on social media, well - you should be! Here are some thoughts about how you can leverage this for your business.
If you’ve missed posting today – start planning for Easter! With four days off work, your customers will most certainly check their newsfeeds. If you don’t want to or simply can’t write your own blog posts, social media posts or articles, outsource your writing. You have just over 7 weeks to go. Make sure you’re found on social media for that next holiday period!
What is your top challenge in Sales in 2018? According to this Gartner Report, 25% of respondents identified new customer acquisition as the top challenge for Sales Leaders in 2018.
Reading further through the Gartner report, 80% of respondents listed ‘improving sellers’ skills and enablement’ as their top initiative by importance and leadership confidence in execution.
We’re living in an age of inbound customers, delivered to us on an email platter, garnished with tasty data telling us exactly what it would take for them to buy. It is so easy to reach customers. Some would say it’s never been easier. So why then do sales leaders report that their top challenge in 2018 is new customer acquisition?
Another question - With the latest training so easily accessible from our desktops, why are salespeople in such urgent need of training?
Perhaps the time that we’re living is the source of these challenges. Many businesses are so distracted by generating inbound leads that they forget some vital statistics. Like the fact that only a very small percentage of visitors to your website are ready to buy right now. Read this blog by HubSpot, where they put the figure of website visitors who are ready to buy at just one per cent!
Make no mistake – the one per cent of total website visitors who are ready to buy are most definitely worth spending time on.
However – what about the remaining 99% who are not yet ready? How do you bring them in so that they become your customers? The automation software that is available to help you progress these website visitors on their journey to becoming customers is a huge help to your sales team.
Sticking with these prospects on their journey to becoming your customers will require a lot of love and a lot of patience. That’s right – you’ll need to nurture them.
Sales is all about building positive and profitable client relationships. Emphasis please on building. It takes time to build something worthwhile. Sometimes, the best customer relationships, those long-term customers who absolutely love what you do and will never move, take some solid time to build up. Along with your content marketing, social media and any automated sales processes, customer relationships can also benefit from some old-fashioned care in the form of telephone calls, visits and even snail mail.
There’s so much noise for your customers, so many emails to navigate through each day. If you’re serious about succeeding in new customer acquisition in 2018, when you’re looking to improve your ‘sellers’ skills and enablement’ in order to deliver on this goal – be sure to look for ways that you and your team can stand out to your prospective customers.
Getting paid. If you're in business, this is definitely something you think about. Yet no-one really talks about it. Good sales processes will help you to get paid, without detracting from your client relationships. There's no need to be desperate like Jerry Maguire (if you need reminding about this great movie from the 1990’s – watch Tom Cruise in the famous ‘Show Me the Money!’ scene here). You and your business really can have positive and profitable client relationships.
As salespeople and/or business owners, it’s our job to move the needle for the businesses we represent, to form good client relationships, close deals, hit targets and make quota. This activity results in money moving from one business bank account to another. This means getting paid.
One of the most topical articles on the internet last week was written by David Cormack of Draper Cormack Group, a Wellington-based PR and communications business. David wrote in The Spinoff about the challenges that SME’s, particularly the smaller businesses, can often face in getting their invoices paid. In our interconnected world, when one business is challenged, this can have a flow-on effect across our entire business community.
I vividly remember the first time I was personally impacted by a client not paying. It was my first full-time sales role, selling advertising space for the late, great Capital Times newspaper. Yes, we are talking last century! I was keen as mustard but also green as grass. As a commission-only rep, if the client didn’t pay for their advertising, I didn’t get paid. One client did not pay his invoice for two months or more.
‘Ring him up yourself and get him to pay!’ said my manager.
Ouch! None of us likes making those type of calls. Sales is all about creating a win-win with happy clients and everything going well. How stressful to have to call this man and talk about a late payment!
During the telephone call, I tried to diffuse the situation with a bit of humour.
‘Look, I could be facing a winter stuck in a Parisienne garret!’ I said.
‘Well it might not be so bad’, said the client. ‘It all depends who you’re stuck with!’
His response surprised me. Would he have said that to a man? Probably not, but then in the early 1990’s we didn’t really question as much as we do now. I quickly ended the call. Thankfully he paid soon after.
It’s 2018. We’ve come a long way. Email, automation, software like Xero and all its add-ons – here to take the pain out of managing your business and your accounting.
So, what do you do, especially as a SME, if you’re waiting for an invoice to be paid? We’re not talking about being a few days late – the timeframe that David Cormack wrote about is 60 days or more.
Short of doing a Jerry Maguire – it can be hard to know exactly what to do in this situation.
With any business challenge there are always three options:
If you’ve read this far, I assume you’re in the third category.
Sales Processes are an important place to start. As part of our service, Magnify helps clients to look at their sales processes, so essentially, we’re talking about money and how to grow it for a good part of the day.
Everyone in your sales team, whether your team is large or small, needs to get comfortable talking about money. This doesn’t have to be difficult – get further sales training if necessary.
Here are some steps that you can take to encourage payment for your business efforts:
Happy New Year! Are you ready to grow sales and grow your business in 2018? Check these ten tips to get started:
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me -
twelve proposals winning,
eleven reports convincing,
ten reps a-selling,
nine products launching,
eight sales a-closing,
seven phones a-ringing,
six leads a-growing,
five new clients,
four press releases, three sales strategies, two hot coffees
and a sales consult with Magnify.
Are you committed to breaking through with your sales and marketing material? I'm sure that's a 'Yes'! Do you take the time to brainstorm perfect headlines that will appeal to your ideal customers? It’s amazing how many business owners have never even considered the importance of perfecting their sales email subject headlines.
Your customers are incredibly busy. Many of them will already be receiving 80 to 100 or more emails each day. You need to give them a compelling to choose to open your email, out of all the others in their inbox which are screaming at them for attention.
A good email subject headline can make the difference between your sales and marketing campaigns flying or frying. That’s because the true of a successful email campaign is sales results – which often start with your customer clicking through into the email.
The ideal headline grabs attention and piques customer interest enough to get them to click into the email and start reading. You need to tell them what’s inside without telling them everything that’s inside. In other words – keep them curious enough to click through by not giving away everything.
Think carefully about your target market. What are the pain points that your product or service will solve for them? Your email subject headline should act like a hook to draw them into your sales process.
Keep your email subject headline short and sweet. As Albert Einstein said – ‘If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough’. Opinion varies as to the optimal number of characters – it could be less than 50 characters, or as many as 65 characters. Here at Magnify, we like to aim for 4 to 6 words for our email subject headlines. We want to catch the reader’s attention and draw them into reading our email.
Here’s a great list from HubSpot, outlining several ways to perfect your email subject headlines. One point they raise is to personalise your emails subject headlines. This can work beautifully. Or it can backfire if you’re writing subject headlines for a more conservative audience who prefer a little more formality. Knowing your audience and writing the email subject headline in a voice that resonates with them will give your campaign the best chance of customer engagement.
To achieve true customer engagement, you also need a call to action in your sales email. Is there an offer with a deadline? If so – tell your customers. Creating a sense of urgency, while demonstrating the value of your offering is a sure way to bring in the sales. And yes, if your email is well-written and sent to the right people, they will write back to you!
It’s often a good idea to brainstorm with your sales team, and to have a selection of email subject headlines. Try them out, in different situations, to determine which headlines work (and to remove any that don’t!). If you send some emails with a headline that has little or no engagement, the good news is that at least you know what doesn’t work. The great news is that you can perfect your subject headline and send them another email next quarter, and probably achieve more customer click-throughs as a result.
Journalists have excellent headline writing skills. Check out this headline from SmartCompany, which really grabs the reader’s attention. It's just a fraction longer than recommended, but the hook is so good that it doesn't seem to matter.
Remember the reason you’re writing email subject headlines – to connect with your ideal customer, and draw them into the sales process with you.
How well are your email subject headlines breaking through into sales for your business?
Thepermoon rises over Auckland's North Shore tonight. Photo / Michael Craig
The Supermoon rises over Auckland's north shore. Photo/Michael Craig.
Last night's Supermoon was breathtakingly beautiful. The writer Anton Chekhov is reported to have said - "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass". There is some discussion on the internet about Chekhov's exact words. The essential message applies to all of us, in business and in life - 'show; don't tell'.
Are your customers clear on your vision, and how it impacts them? Your customers need to see and feel and experience results, not just hear about the detailed tasks you carry out.
Don't tell your customers what you are doing; show them how you transform their lives.
In the last decade, business has been completely transformed by the spread of the internet. Around 90% of businesses research online prior to making purchasing decisions. Inbound selling is crucial for many industries.
However, many businesses lack an outbound sales prospecting system for lead generation.
‘Do I even need this?’ many business owners ask.
Yes, you do. Here are 10 reasons to use outbound sales prospecting for lead generation:
Are you aware of gaps in your sales processes, especially with lead generation? Assess the sales needs for your business. If you need extra help, you can always outsource all or part of your sales and lead generation for 2018.
We are all in sales. Whether we truly get the best from sales depends on how much we embrace this truth.
So – what should you expect when you’re in sales?
Expect to be strategic
Your customers can research their needs any time of the day or night, thanks to the internet. So, expect to be strategic when you want to get in front of them.
Expect to have to work for the sale
How many websites do you see where the business says something like ‘We need a total IT overhaul. Please call us very soon. We have a budget of $500K.’ Not very many. If you want to pull in big sales, you’re going to have to put in the work to proactively build relationships founded on mutual trust. Once you’ve done this (and it can be done relatively quickly if you get your research right) – then you’ll be privy to your customers’ deepest needs.
Expect to be proactive
Unless you want to rely solely on Inbound Sales (which by the way, are also excellent to develop!), you’ll need to be proactive. This means actively approaching ideal customers in your target market, building relationships, uncovering customer needs and providing solutions to your ideal customers’ problems.
Expect to become a better writer
It’s busy out there. Many potential customers let their telephones go to voicemail as they go from one meeting to the next. Well-written emails and proposals, with supporting graphics, will speak for you when you can’t physically talk to the customer.
Expect to follow up
It’s a rare customer who says ‘Yes’ on the first approach. In some industries, it can take up to three months or more just to get a meeting with the right person. When you follow up, you demonstrate commitment and belief in your business. You also blitz the competition right out of the water – many of them will give up too easily.
Expect that the competition will be fierce
There are so many options for our customers these days. The internet has vastly increased competition as geographical borders cease to limit us. The competition for your customers’ dollars has never been greater.
Expect your customers to be busy
Any customer worth having will be busy, because they’re working hard in their own business. Make it easy for them to buy from you. Well-designed sales processes will help smooth their onboarding customer experience.
Expect that you’ll need a new sales approach compared with 20 years ago
Huge changes in sales in the last 20 years! The internet means that customers can do so much of their research and comparisons online. Often you won't hear from them until they’re ready to buy.
Expect to work closely with marketing, or that you’ll need good marketing
Customers who start their sales journey on the internet are checking out your marketing. Align your marketing and sales activities to grow your sales. A good digital marketing strategy, combined with some excellent search engine optimisation, will set you up for success.
Expect that customers are no longer just buying your product or service, but your story
Yes – Finding your Why, as the great Simon Sinek says.
Share your story, how your business came to be, the gifts that you share with your customers and the world. Tell them what you’re so passionate about that makes you get out of bed even on cold mornings.
Expect your customer to be very knowledgeable
Customers who check you out online know all about you, and your competition. Being able to quickly assess where the customer is on their customer journey is vital for you to give out the right information at the right time.
Expect to be ready to close when your customer approaches you
When they ask about price far too quickly, it’s because they’re ready to deal with you now. Get your contracts and documentation ready.
Expect your customers to be on social media
If they’re not on social media, they’ll know someone who is. Take great care to give your best to all your customers, even the challenging ones.
Expect to deliver excellent customer service and a great overall customer experience
This one goes without saying. If you want repeat customers who give excellent feedback on social media, give them something great to talk about.
Expect that to get outstanding results, you’ll have to do something outstanding for your customers
Like most business owners who want to grow their sales and grow their business, you’ll need to win new business from customers who are currently dealing with your competition. Where can you differentiate your offering, or your delivery to win prospective new clients? How can you lead the way in your industry to make clients want to switch over to deal with you?
Expect that your customers are people, not robots
Just like our first ancestors who traded fish on the lake shores, people buy from people. Treat your customers like people who matter to you – they’ll love you for it.
Expect that your customers want to win just as much as you do
Everyone likes to win. Don’t win sales that make your customer the loser. Is your customer unhappy? The way you respond to challenges is a better marker of your company than almost anything else. What can you do today to add value and ensure that your customer is winning just as much as you are?
Expect to have fun!
Yes – that’s right – Sales is Fun! It’s fun meeting new people, helping them solve problems, and growing both of your businesses at the same time. Remember to have fun while you’re selling!
Many business owners admit to fearing sales. The thought of selling their goods and services is enough to make them break into a cold sweat.
If you’re scared of sales, pause for a moment and think about what a sale is. At its core, a sale is an agreement between two people. One person agrees to supply goods or services. The other person agrees to buy the goods or services, for an agreed price.
The very heart of sales is an agreement between two people. Sometimes we’ve forgotten the power of personal contact. Listening to clients, making time for them, providing solutions to their problems – these things never go out of fashion. Yes – that’s right! People buy from people.
Next time you’re at a function and you meet a potential client, remember that they are a person first, and a potential client second. Take the time to understand their story. Listen to their pain points. Have one or two good sentences (your elevator pitch!) that you can say about your business. Then, suggest a coffee catch up. They’ll probably say yes!
Why? In experience, it’s a rare man or woman who says ‘no’ to a suggestion to catch up for coffee. When two people sit down over a cup of coffee (or tea), they relax. Even the person who says, ‘I’m happy with my current supplier’ will often say ‘Yes’ to a coffee catch up. When you’re sitting having coffee, relaxing, you might just discover more of their pain points.
You might not realise it, but you’re already starting the sales journey together. Whether they buy from you now or in the future, that person you’re having coffee with is evaluating whether they’d like to deal with you. That’s right – you, as a person.
Think of sales as an opportunity to meet some great people, learn more about them, and then to share how you can help them.
As Zig Ziglar says ‘Stop selling. Start helping’. Focus on how you can help people. Any fear of sales will soon go – all you’re doing is helping people to understand the options available to them. Your sales will just naturally ‘close’ if you focus on helping those ideal clients.
Yes - People buy from people. We love how that still works!
Getting people and businesses excited about Sales.