Category: Education

How to Streamline Your Sales Process

Here is a basic seven-step process that you can follow, or fine tune to suit your unique products and services.

This system will work for every business in every industry, from sales presentations to casual conversations in retail stores. Focus on cultivating your ability to master each step, as everyone builds on the first and is important in the overall process.

  1. Prepare yourself with enough knowledge about your product, customer, and industry.

Preparation is essential – for sales presentations, meetings or the sales floor – and it is the only part of the process you have complete control over. In addition to knowledge preparation, make sure that you, your place of business and your merchandise appears clean, well put together and professional. First impressions are everything, so do everything you can to support and prepare for your success, and it will pay off in closed sales.

Know your product or service.
Continuously build your product or service knowledge, and make sure you understand what you’re selling inside and out. This includes a knowledge of complementary products and services that you can offer as an up-sell, down-sell or cross-sell.

Know your customer.
Review what you learned about your target market, or do some research on the company or person you’ll be presenting to. Establish points of common ground and learn a bit about what they’re interested in to build meaningful relationships.

Know your industry.
Stay current on new developments and trends in your line of work or industry. Sharing this information at relevant points in the sales process will position you as an expert and build your credibility.

  1. Begin to build a long-term relationship based on trust.

The first few moments of interaction with a prospect will set the stage for the rest of your conversation. Focus on casual conversation that will relax your prospect, and begin to develop a relationship. Bring up points of mutual interest and understanding, and begin to establish your credibility.

  1. Discuss the problem, need, want or desire in detail.

Now that you’ve begun to build a relationship with your prospect, you can start to ask open-ended questions to establish what their needs and wants are. You could ask them what brought them into the store, or why they are looking for a particular product or service.

Once you are clear on what they are looking for, ask more open-ended questions to gain a better understanding of the features, price range, and complementary items that would be suit their objectives.

  • Listen to their statements, and repeat back what they’ve said to show you understand
  • Ask questions to clarify their statements, and to show you are listening
  • Ask open-ended questions to keep them talking. Learn as much as you can about their needs and unique purchase motivations.
  • If you are sure the customer will make the purchase, as specific questions about size, color, and price range.
  1. Offer the solution and focus on benefits.

When you have a good understanding of what your prospects needs and wants are, begin to offer the appropriate product or service.

  • Start with an explanation of how your product or service will deliver the results your prospect is looking for, or solve their specific problem
  • Paint a picture of your prospect after the purchase using hypothetical examples
  • Offer the mid-range product, and up-sell or down-sell as appropriate
  • Use anecdotes about other customers who had positive experiences with the same product, or showcase the awards or accolades the product or service has earned
  • Focus on benefits, and support with features and advantages
  • Take cues from your prospect’s body language, and ask qualifying questions as the need arises
  • Give the customer an opportunity to ask you questions or provide feedback about each product or service after you have described or explained it.
  • Ask closed-ended questions (yes or no answers) to gain agreement as you discuss the product or service
  1. Anticipate, then overcome objections with empathy.

While you are presenting your product or service, be aware of body language and the questions that your prospect is raising and use them as clues to potential objections. Try to anticipate objections, and then address them by asking open-ended questions (What do you think about…? What is important to you in…?) Objections will arise, so do your best to prepare for them.

When an objection arises:

  1. Repeat the issue back to the prospect to show you have heard what they said, and to ensure you understand them correctly.
  2. Empathize or show that you can relate to what they said, and then provide a response that resolves their concern.
  3. Repeat yourself to confirm that you have overcome their objection.
  4. Close with confidence and awareness.

This is a crucial part of the sales process, and the step that most people have difficulty with because it’s all about timing. You have to cultivate an ability to sense the appropriate time to ask for the sale. This can’t be scripted; it has to happen in the moment when the customer’s objections have been overcome, and when you feel they are ready to seal the deal.

Here are some questions to ask yourself before you attempt to close the sale:

  • Has the prospect agreed that there is value in the offering?
  • Does the prospect fully understand the benefits of the offering?
  • Does the prospect have any more objections or questions?
  • Are there any other factors could influence the purchase decision?
  1. Make that customer a part of your customer retention program, and don’t forget to follow up.

When you’ve completed the sale, make sure to get your customer’s contact information and set up a follow-up schedule. Your goal is to establish a long-term relationship to help cultivate loyal, repeat and referral business.

You should also be sure to ask satisfied customers to be part of your referral program, or if they would mind providing you with a testimonial. Be sure to do this as soon as possible after the sale.

Integrate up-selling, down-selling and cross-selling into your business.

Up-sell to increase the value of your sale.

Cross-sell to boost your average dollar sale.

Down-sell to avoid losing the sale.

Sales is a system that can be created, improved, taught and perfected.

The important thing to remember here is that everyone needs to enhance and refine their sales skills on a regular basis. A routine review of sales 101 is helpful for even the most natural of salespeople.

Consider creating a poster of the sales process with tips under each step, and posting it in the staff room or on your staff communications board. Visual reminders and passive access to resources can have a lasting impact on your staff’s performance.

P.S. Also remember, to determine how likely your marketing is to convert, simply fill out my Conversion Equation Evaluator.

This evaluator has the unprecedented ability to predict the future success of any marketing collateral you develop… as well as predict whether that marketing will be profitable or not. And, it’s 100% free to use!

After calculating your marketing conversion level, I can show you exactly what to do with your website and marketing collateral that could double or triple the number of prospects who respond to your marketing.

Just schedule a complimentary meeting with me

Where the CEO Should Focus Her Time

     The number one place for the CEO or founder to spend their time is with customers and strategy formulation. This should be the focus 80% of the time and unfortunately the opposite is usually the case. Most often the CEO is fighting fires or dealing with a poor hire. Or maybe the founder is trying to scale a business where processes were not properly developed. Most often this is work that should have been completed before the first $1mm in revenue was realized but now ensure the leader is working 70+ hours every week. So what are the top 5 things that will ensure this is remedied?

 

 

-Develop a capable staff and second in command

-Prioritize key process indicators and assign an owner

-Ensure a strategy is in place and operating rhythms are developed

-Create a process to listen to customers for feedback

-Create a strategy process

 

The primary order of business is to hire and develop key leaders well before you 11themployee. This involves psychometric profiling, developing a network of hiring partners and create a robust process. With this system in place the founder can on-board the most capable executives well before the business starts to scale. With those leaders in the business a developmental plan can be implemented to ensure these leaders are in place and ready to help grow the business and run the day to day operations.

 

From there it is important to ensure the prioritized key process indicators (KPI) and in place to drive the correct behavior and initiatives. It is equally as important to have a clear owner for each KPI. And of course, with a great hiring system in place, you will have the most capable of business leaders to make stellar progress. Your business will have a great sales manager in place owning lead generation, a marketing person that is driving conversion strategies and a manufacturing guru reducing cycle times to drive cash generation.

 

These leaders will consequently own operating rhythms to ensure progress is made on a daily and weekly basis. A quick one hour review daily or weekly, depending on the size of the business, will quickly resolve issues and drive cross-functional accountability. While it will take time for the KPI owner to conduct these reviews, countless hours will be saved by reducing emails, adhoc meetings, and countless voicemails looking for information. These operating meeting should have a clear agenda and a follow up list generated to drive accountability for actions.

 

Now that the CEO is free from the day to day details they can create a customer feedback process with sales, marketing and customer service. Focus either on key customers or work with NPS data to gather valuable product or service feedback and respond with solutions. This will show your customers you value their input and let them know you are continuously improving for their satisfaction. These efforts alone will drive customer affinity and loyalty. This activity should consume a great majority of the CEOs time and provide daily and valuable feedback for business improvement.

 

Finally, the CEO should reserve the balance of the time for strategy creation and execution. Weekly, quarterly and yearly mechanisms should be in the CEOs default calendar to review progress with various levels of leadership depending on the size and complexity of the organization. At least weekly the leader of the company should have an early breakfast meeting with other C leaders in the business to discuss strategy in a more informal manner. On a weekly or monthly basis the CEO can review departmental progress of key strategic initiatives to ensure progress and accountability. This can be combined with quarterly and yearly reviews with a larger portion of their organization to leverage ideas and drive clarity deeper in the organization.

 

The leader of any organization regardless of size must ensure the correct people, processes and tools exist to free them from the day to day grind of business operations. Their role is to work directly with customers and direct the strategy to grow their business to include revenues and gross margins. This infrastructure should be developed early in the life cycle of the company and most certainly before the organization has 50 employees or $1MM in revenues. With this in place the organization can scale and realize double digit growth year over year.

P.S. Also remember, to determine how likely your marketing is to convert, simply fill out my Conversion Equation Evaluator.

This evaluator has the unprecedented ability to predict the future success of any marketing collateral you develop… as well as predict whether that marketing will be profitable or not. And, it’s 100% free to use!

After calculating your marketing conversion level, I can show you exactly what to do with your website and marketing collateral that could double or triple the number of prospects who respond to your marketing.

Just schedule a complimentary meeting with me.

 

 

 

9 Time Tested Principles of Leadership

There are 9 time-tested principles of leadership that will work for all leaders at every level of an organization. This is the CEO to the newest employee with no direct reports, endeavoring to drive positive change. Print this list, keep it handy and get an accountability partner.

 

  1. Know yourself and embrace life-long learning— understand who you are, your values, priorities, strengths and weaknesses. And have a development plan.
  2. Be the master of your domain — before leaders can lead effectively, they must have mastered the tasks required by the people they lead. In addition, leaders train their people to do their own jobs while understudying the leader so that they are prepared to replace the leader if necessary.
  3. Embrace accountability and take the initiative– Organizational effectiveness depends upon having leaders at all levels that exercise initiative, are resourceful and take opportunities that will lead to goal accomplishment and business success.
  4. Lead by example— people want and need their leaders to be role models. This is a heavy responsibility, but leaders have no choice. No aspect of leadership is more powerful.
  5. Know your people and look out for their welfare — it is not enough to know the names and birth dates of your people. You need to understand what motivates them and what is important to them. Commit time and effort to listen to and learn about them. Keep them updated and informed.
  6. Ensure the mission is understood and teams are held accountable— your team must understand what you want done, to what standard and by when.
  7. Develop a sense of responsibility among your people— people feel a sense of pride and responsibility when they successfully accomplish a new task. Delegation indicates trust in people and encourages them to seek responsibility.
  8. Train cross-functional teams — teamwork is becoming more and more crucial to achieving goals. Teamwork is possible only when people have trust and respect for their leader and for each other as competent professionals and see the importance of their contributions to the organization.
  9. Make sound and timely decisions— leaders must assess situations rapidly and make sound decisions. They need to know when to make decisions themselves, when to consult with people before deciding and when to delegate the decision.

PS. Do not leave this blog until you have a plan of action!

PPS. If you’re looking for a proven system to grow your business …. we created business development software and high-end step by step training to support it…

I can find any business owner $100,000 in 45 minutes without them spending an extra dollar on marketing or advertising.’

Visit me on optaprofit.com to find out how or book time on my calendar https://optaprofit1.youcanbook.me

Don Vanpool … AKA “The King of Cash”

How to Profit through Time Management

 

Manage Time Like Money

 

Why did you get into business for yourself? Was it to be your own boss? Choose your own hours? Have more time with the family? Spend more time doing what you love? Chances are, you answered yes to all these questions.

 

These days, you probably wonder where the time went. Why you spent 12 hours at work and barely made a dent in your to-do list. We already know that time is a key resource for you and your business, but it’s also a key resource in your life. Harnessing and leveraging time is the only way to enjoy life and have a profitable business at the same time.

 

Time will never manage itself. The decision to make a pro-active effort to manage your time must come from you. Once you have committed to taking ownership for your own time management, there are a host of tools available to you.

 

The Five Culprits of time Theft

 

  1. Your Email – How many times a day do you check your email? Is Outlook or Mail constantly running on your desktop.
  2. Your Smart Phone – Smart phones have created convenience, security and the luxury of telecommuting, but also the ability to work day and night.
  3. Your Open-Door Policy – If you make it easy for your staff and associates to interrupt you, they will.
  4. Meetings – How many times have you been to a meeting that was scheduled to be an hour, and ended up lasting three?
  5. You! – Every person has daily habits that sabotage their ability to work effectively and efficiently.

 

Simple Strategies for Profitable Time Management

 

  1. Set clear priorities
  2. Use your skills – delegate your weaknesses
  3. Create and keep a strict schedule
  4. Be decisive
  5. Manage telephone interruptions
  6. Keep your work environment organized
  7. Keep your filing system (digital or paper) organized
  8. Say goodbye to perfection
  9. Plan your work, work your plan

 

Choose the top 3 to 5 tips from this article, write them down with corresponding actions and start getting time back tomorrow. For example, if you are going to set a strict schedule, three actions might be to establish the schedule, communicate it to your staff, and re-record your voicemail message.

 

PS. Do not leave this blog until you have a plan of action!

 

PPS. If you’re looking for a proven system to grow your business …. we created business development software and high-end step by step training to support it…

 

I can find any business owner $100,000 in 45 minutes without them spending an extra dollar on marketing or advertising.’

 

Visit me on optaprofit.com to find out how

 

Don Vanpool … AKA “The King of Cash”

How to Double Your Referrals

What if I told you that you could put an inexpensive system in place that would effectively allow your business to grow itself?

For most business owners, a large part of their customer base is comprised of referral customers. These people found out about the company’s products or services from the recommendation of a friend or colleague who had a positive experience purchasing from that company.

If your business benefits from referral customers, you will find that these customers arrive ready to buy from you, and tend to buy more often They also tend to be highly loyal to your product or service.

 

A referral program can:

  1. Save you time
  2. Deliver more qualified customers
  3. Improve your reputation
  4. Speed the sales process
  5. Increase your profit

 

You don’t “get” customers, you buy them. The money you spend on advertising, direct mail, and other promotions ideally results in potential customers walking through your doors. Referral customers cost less and require less time investment than any other customer. That means you can spend that time making them a loyal customer, or a devoted fan.

 

Here are some ideas to get you started:

 

  • Past relationships – Former colleagues, associates, customers and friends

 

  • Suppliers and vendors – They can be a great source for referrals because the presumably deal daily with businesses that are complementary to your own.

 

  • Customers – This one should be obvious

 

  • Employees and associates – Give your employees and associates a reason to have their friends and families shop at your business with a simple incentive program.

 

  • Your network, associations and special interest groups.

Some simple strategies include just asking, offering incentives, being proactive (referral cards, gift certificates, free seminars and closed-door sales), providing great customer service and simply staying in touch with all your potential and converted customers.

 

These are just a few examples of some of the referral programs in our system. Hope this helps and happy selling.

P.S. Always remember: The first rule of Alzheimer’s Club: Don talk about Chess Club

PPS. If you’re looking for a proven system to grow your business …. we created business development software and high-end step by step training to support it…

I can find any small business owner $100,000 in 45 minutes without them spending an extra dollar on marketing or advertising.

Visit me on optaprofit.com to find out how

Don Vanpool … AKA “The King of Cash”

 

 

Cash is King in Good Times and Bad

Often business owners are directed to spend heavily on advertising and marketing programs, when looking at her companies cost structure would provide more benefit – at least initially. It will take considerable success in top line growth to match even a 5-10% improvement in variable costs/cost of goods sold.

Some areas to focus on include:

  • Misaligned pricing to her targeted margins
  • Constant or excessive discounting
  • Supplier price increases
  • Warranty and returns
  • Scrap
  • Excess inventory

By focusing on these levers, a 10% improvement can increase profitability by as much as 35 to 40% improvement in revenue, depending on the margins of the business. And in the current economic environment this leads to much needed cash.

In the area of pricing and discounting the business owner can create bundles of goods, innovate her business and benchmark industry standards. As suppliers increase prices, and they do, the business owner can get competitive quotes, set up group purchasing agreements and negotiate longer terms. And for warranty/return issues and scrap, a lean program can identify and eliminate unnecessary waste in her business.

When the business owner has a clear roadmap, she should assign specific owners to key initiatives, establish improvement targets and consistently review to establish accountability. By consistently delivering on plan, she will quickly see improvement in both operating margins and cash balances. And that additional cash can then be used to invest in marketing programs to drive leads and conversions of new customers.

While we provide programs that will triple your leads and double your conversions, focusing initially on the profitability setting right in front of you is often the best option.

 

Educate Your Customers

Educate them about what, you may be thinking. Well, consider this, many businesses focus solely on attracting new customers, but you NEED to spend a good chunk of your time retaining current and former customers. These are people you already know to be a good sales potential…they’ve already bought from you!

Take the time to market and sell new products to your old customers and less time trying to sell old products to new customers and you will see a drastic change in your sales, customer quality and branding position.

Here are a couple of key elements to use to retain your current customers:

  1. Stay in contact: This means by phone, email, e-newsletter, in person-by pigeon if you have too!
  2. Post-Purchase Assurance: This means you need to follow up with customers. Your customers need to feel like they are being supported for their purchase and with the item they purchased. How many times have you purchased a product, then felt completely abandoned? Something as simple as a Thank You note with your contact or customer service information can go along way in retaining a great customer.
  3. Deals & Guarantees: Always offer your current customers the best deals and guarantees you have. Show them you appreciate their business or even come up with a club specifically to reward loyal customers. You can also do this with a preferred pricing option.
  4. Integrity: Using good business practices and simply upholding integrity, dignity and honesty go along way with customers. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of swindling and crap out there and the safer and more confident you make your customers feel, the more they will trust you and that makes for an amazingly supportive and loyal customer.

There are three cornerstone ideas to a successful business:

  • Quality product/service
  • Offering useful products/services that solve a problem for or enhance the life of a customer
  • Offer subjects your customers find interesting

Use this approach of educating your customers and offering them real information and insight and you will be rewarded with loyalty and success.

Stop wasting all your time on new prospects while your current customers fall by the wayside!

As Jay Abraham says, “Your best prospects are your existing customers. If you’ve been putting all your marketing efforts into acquiring new customers, stop and diverts some of your resources into reselling, upselling, cross-selling to those same customers. In every ways possible – through package inserts, regular mailings, special offers – stay in touch with those customers and get them used to buying from you.”

So, there it is! Remember, we can help you put together the resources and tools to do exactly that. We can help you educate your customers and you can watch the benefits pay offer many-fold.