The Perfect Bait

In the last post we talked about how to learn about your big fish and prepare for the first contact you’ll make with them. This first contact is essential to your success. You need to instill confidence in them. They need to know you can fulfill exactly what you are offering on time, at a good price and at the quality you promise.

Today we’ll actually go through the big approach and how to make that perfect first impression. Before you put together your approach plan, you need to choose with big fish you’re going after. Take a look at your notes and the research you’ve done about prospective fish. Then decide which one will be the easiest approach to start out with.

There are a series of things to go through in choosing which fish to start with. They are:

  • Position Your Business
  • Compile Your Hit List
  • Select the Best Target

 

Position Your Business

You need to position your business to make the first move by listing your revenue streams, id and list your operational procedures, where your fish is initially positioned, your big-customer research, and putting it all together.

Compile Your Hit List

Start with a list of all the companies you’ve been considering. Then narrow it down to the ones who know could use your products or services. Don’t overlook obvious choices, whether they are big or small. Even small companies could be big fish in the future.

Select the Best Target

Once you’ve got your list narrowed down, you need to decide which one is the best fish to start with. You need to consider a couple of things:

  • Which have the most purchasing resources to spend?
  • Does their company vision compliment yours?
  • What are their employee incentive programs as they relate to your products/services?
  • What’s the company’s real need for you?
  • Will the partnership lead you off-course?

 

Now you should have a target in mind to start with. It’s time to plan your approach and execute that plan.

Here’s the step-by-step plan to help you make a good first impression:

  1. Build and analyze your database. Divide your leads into three different categories: hot leads, great fits and secondary leads.
  2. Send out introductory mailings to your target to introduce yourself, your company, services, products, and vision. They need to be short, clean and concise.
  3. Follow up with your first phone call 2-3 days after they would have received the mailings. During the phone call find out whom you need to be speaking with in the future and try to set up a meet with the right person.
  4. Follow up your phone call with another mailing that thanks them for taking the time to speak with you and offer more details about your products/services. Use this letter and opportunity to set up a meeting to do a presentation.
  5. Follow up the letter with another phone call a couple of days after they would have received the letter. This phone call is to help you further develop your relationship with the prospective client. You should also be able to set up a presentation meeting with them.
  6. Call again a week later if they haven’t agreed to a meeting or presentation. Ask if they received your creative letter (the second one) and if they have a minute when you can stop by and introduce yourself in person.

Now, don’t be upset if you don’t seal the deal right away. Some people simply take a little longer to woo. This can all be a little intimidating at first, but when you know you are offering a quality product/service, you can’t go wrong.

Once you’ve gone through this process and make first contact (and hopefully a good first impression) it’s time to put your best face forward, which means sending the right salesperson to seal the deal.

If you need help putting together your approach and make a good first impression, let’s set up a time to talk!

Are You in the 1%?

The Rule of 1% is simply defined as adding to your customer service one percent at a time. Before you can do this you must have your consistency perfected or it will never work. This one percent may seem small, but if you approach the vision for your company with baby steps, you will find a huge increase over a solid chunk of time. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.

Avoid doing too much at one or you’ll set yourself up for failure. Think of the confidence you and your employees will have when you improve one percent each week. By the end of a year, you’ll have improved more than 50%!

While, rules and standards are necessary for growth, always be flexible with your best customers. Most retailers only allow a set number of items into a dressing room to reduce the risk of shoplifting, but it generally restricts the large percentage of people who are not stealing from you. Flexibility is the key to what you deliver to your customers and consistency is the key to how you deliver it.

The bottom line is customers rely on you to deliver what you promise. If you spend too much on bulky advertising that promises more than you can deliver, even your best intentions will unravel quickly and you will fail.

Focus on your vision and baby steps to turn your satisfied customers into Raving Fans.

I hope you’ve learned a lot out good customer service and how it’s essential to your overall success. If you need help with any of the steps we’ve gone through over the last four lessons ask about some of the best resources, tools and coaches available.

In upcoming posts you’ll explore strategies of bagging the big clients and keeping them.

Deliver + 1

In the last post we talked about how to figure out what your customers want out of a positive shopping experience. Today we’ll talk about the concept of Deliver +1 and how this concept can take your customer service to the next level. I’ve decided to split up this post so the next one will cover the 1% Rule.

Consistency is the key to any great customer service experience. If you want to take your satisfied customers to Raving Fan status, you have to go above and beyond the average customer service experience.

There are three ways to develop consistency:

Avoid offering too many customer service options.

We sometimes get so caught up in giving customers what they want we get away from our original vision. Instead, stay true to your vision and offer one or two solid customer service techniques that will set you apart from the competition.

You need to fine tune the current systems you are using before you can add anything to the mix. There’s nothing worse than launching a new program when you haven’t even worked out the kinks of an old system.

Put solid systems into place.

Once you know what you’re going to offer, you need to have a system in place to execute it flawlessly every time. This system needs to consistent of the right people in the right roles and responsibilities and technology that guarantees a positive experience every time. Emphasis needs to be placed on the results, which ultimately is the satisfaction of the customer.

Good training is the key.

Once you have your system in place you need to train people to use it properly and efficiently. This helps your people deliver the results your customers are looking for. While, train is essential for the system to work and for all your people to work together cohesively, appreciation will go a long way.

I hope this has given you a look into what you need to do in order to have a quality customer service system in place. If you need help, ask about my wealth of resources, tools and coaching.

Another Secret Revealed

In the last post we talked about the first secret to building a solid customer service plan and how to decide what your vision is.

Today we’ll talk about the second secret in taking your satisfied customers to raving fans. You must know what your customers want. Know who your customers are and you will know better how to serve them. Demographics are really important here. An upper-class woman in her 30’s is going to have completely different expectations than a working class man in his 50’s.

There are four main areas you need to consider and plan when figuring out what your customers want:

  • Listen to Your Customers
  • Ask Your Customers Sincerely
  • Offer More than Just a Product/Service
  • Know When to Ignore Them


These are all important when deciding what your customers want out of their shopping experience.

Listen to Your Customers

You need to listen to both what they say and what they don’t say. Customers may say they want one thing and really mean something else. For example, if you customers are begging for lower prices, you may find out their real priority is quick delivery.

Also, listen to your “silent” customers. These are the customers don’t bother to complain because the service is so bad they’ve just given up and don’t feel like their voice matters. They feel unwanted and when a competitor shows up, they’ll be gone.

Lastly, you need to listen to customers who only reply with “fine”. These customers are similar to the “silent” customers in that they are so used to bad customer service they only give a monotone response.

Ask Your Customers Sincerely

If you aren’t sincere when you ask their opinion, they are going to see right through you. You may be thinking, “What about the customers who aren’t saying anything?” You need to ask them sincere questions that get them thinking about their experiences. Make them feel like you really care, and you should!

Offer More than Just a Product/Service

Your customers are looking for much more than a simple product or service, they are looking for an experience that makes them feel good. They gauge every step of the process with a value. When you take this into consideration and treat them like people, they will feel like they belong.

Know When to Ignore Them

You may think this goes beyond providing good customer service, but in reality you can’t give them everything and someone people you will never make happy. You have to set limits and stick to them. If your vision and company don’t meet the needs of the customer, they will be best suited somewhere else.

These are the steps and tricks to figuring out what your customers want and how you can use them to work on your customer service vision and plan.

If you get stuck, let me help you through the process.

Shhhh…I Have a Secret

Customer service is a pretty hot topic and can make or break your business. Consumers have little patience for lousy customer service and easily get tired of waiting in long lines, trying to get a live person on the line, going through an interrogation to return something or trying to communicate through a language barrier.

If you provide them with a simple, efficient, pleasant experience they will revisit your business over and over. More importantly, they will tell everyone they know!

There are three secrets to good customer service, the first one we’re going to conquer is knowing exactly what YOU want.

You are the captain of the ship and the visionary for the future of your business, so you need to have a clearly defined plan for your business and that includes customer service. There are three main goals you need to consider:

  1. It needs to be easy for your customers to do business with you. You can do this with advertised discounts, kiosks, your website and other technology based programs to help them shop.
  2. Doing business with you needs to be a warm and pleasant experience. Your staff has to be knowledgeable, approachable, warm and patient. Your customers need to feel like they are getting a good value for their time and money. Perceived value goes beyond the price of the products and extends to their shopping experience.
  3. Change your mind set and ask yourself “How can I NOT afford to do these things?” This shouldn’t be a question of expenses, but making and keep happy customers.

Which these thoughts in mind you also need to take a few things into consideration when deciding on the actual programs and standards you’ll put into place.

  • Share your customer service vision with the rest of your staff.
  • Connect your incentive programs and bonuses directly to customer service.
  • Monitor the level of customer service your staff is putting out.
  • Know when you can ignore what your customers want.
  • Continuously focus on your goals.

 

Now, that you know what you want you can starting thinking about how to meet those wants and create a positive customer service experience.

 

The Corporate Puzzle

The 7 specific areas you need to consider in your franchise prototype process:

  • Primary Aim
  • Strategic Objectives
  • Organizational Strategy
  • Management Strategy
  • People Strategy
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Systems Strategy

These 7 areas will fine turn your plan for the ultimate level of success. In this lesson we are going to cover the first three.

Primary Aim

It’s essential in business development to set goals and see a vision for the future. This needs to go beyond the business and you need to think about what you want out of life. What do you dream about? How do you see your success unfolding? Knowing and understanding these things will give you the momentum to get started and the stamina to see it through. Even take a minute to write them down and tape to your desk for a constant reminder of what you’re aiming for.

Strategic Objectives

These are essential in taking your business from surviving to thriving. All of these objectives should offer solutions for how to get to your primary aim. There are many things you can use to set strategic objectives, but here are a couple of the most popular:

  1. Money: Setting monetary goals is a great, simple way to see how you are doing at any point in the game. It’s easy to measure and easy to find adjustments to help meet this goal.
  2. Worthy Opportunities: When considering partnerships and other business opportunities you need to think about whether or not they will help you reach your primary aim. Those that will are the best opportunities to seriously consider.

The key in setting standards and goals is not to limit you or stress yourself out. You need to find some quantifiable things you can use to measure your progress toward your primary aim. These are just two suggestions, but make sure no matter what you standards you set you are paying attention to the details, as these are one of the biggest keys to your success.

Organizational Strategy

The strength of your organizational structure can make or break your business, so it’s important to take the time to put together a solid structure for your business to grow from. Generally a company is organized around the roles and responsibilities that need to be taken care of on a daily basis and the personalities that need to fulfill those roles.

No matter what roles and responsibilities you’ve defined for your employees, you must always keep your personal primary aim separate from your company’s primary aim or mission statement. Once you’ve identified the primary aim for your company it will be easy to set up a position structure that will work.

Don’t forget to put together position contracts. Your employees should sign a statement of their roles and responsibilities. This helps keep them clear for you, the employee and other employees/vendors or other individuals.

You can see how these areas all work together to build a solid structure on which to build your business. 

Mortar Makes It Happen

Today I’d like to talk about the three keys to business development and how you can put the right bricks in place to build a solid foundation.

There are three main areas of business development:

  • Innovation
  • Quantification
  • Orchestration

 

If done well these three areas will help you build a solid foundation for you business. Let’s talk about each one of these for just a minute.

Innovation

Innovation should not be confused with creativity, which is the expression of ideas. Innovation is taking these ideas and putting them into action. This is where a large amount of your focus should be in the beginning and even throughout your business’ entire lifespan.

Quantification

This, of course, refers to the numbers. We are talking about the value of your innovation. The best way to gauge this is by your customer response. Look to positive responses for what you are doing right-and keep doing it. Look to your negative responses to find out what you’re doing wrong-and fix it. This will enable you to keep growing and progressing with the needs of your customers and business climate.

Orchestration

Once you’ve had a chance to find what areas are working, you can narrow down those areas and concentrate on making them the stand out ideas. You shift your focus here to get the most out of your business and to meet the needs of your customers.

We can help you work through these three areas to put together your franchise prototype during your FREE test drive.

In the next few lessons we are going to transition to the 7 specific areas you need to consider in your franchise prototype process:

  • Primary Aim
  • Strategic Objectives
  • Organizational Strategy
  • Management Strategy
  • People Strategy
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Systems Strategy

These 7 areas will fine turn your plan for the ultimate level of success.

Expand the Life of Your Business

Today I’m going to talk about the life cycle of a business and how to get the most out of each cycle while also extended the lifespan of your business.

The four different stages of a business life cycle are:

  • Infancy
  • Adolescence
  • Growing Pains
  • Maturity

 

We’ll talk a little about what each of these cycle’s means and how they can each help expand your business’ lifespan.

 

Infancy

This is generally consider the technician’s phase, which is the owner. At this point, the relationship between the business and the owner is that of a parent and new baby. There is an impenetrable bond that is necessary to determine the path your business will follow.

The key is to know your business must grow in order to flourish. You cannot stage in this stage forever.

Adolescence

In this stage you need to start bringing your support staff together to delegate to and allow growth to happen. The first line of defense is your technical person as they need to bring a certain level of technical experience. This cycle really belongs to the manager though. The plan stage needs to start and a relationship should be built with the entrepreneur to plan for the future.

Growing Pains

There’s a point in every business when business explodes and becomes chaotic. This is referred to as growing pains. It’s a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless. You are often faced with a number of choices:

  • Avoid growth and stay small
  • Go broke
  • Push forward into the next cycle

 

Maturity

The last cycle is maturity, though this doesn’t mean the end of your business. Your passion for growth must continue in order for your business to succeed. You need to keep an entrepreneurial perspective in order to push your business forward.

You see how all three of these cycles are connected and depend on a strong foundation for each one of them for your business to be and continue to be successful. All three of your key roles must also work together to work through these cycles.

If you’re having trouble putting together your business life cycles and figuring out which of the key roles you fit into, try our FREE test drive and work with one of our amazing coaches.

Do It Like the Big Dawgs!

Today we’ll take a look at how the kings of industry wine, dine and otherwise cajole prospects.

Most of successful professionals use a series of information based ads that build emotion and a call to action. These are much more effective than a standard company branding advertisements. The same principles that go into putting together a high impact (and, often, high priced) ad campaign can be adapted to fit your needs with similar results.

Here are some ways to put together and execute a professional, effective ad campaign:

  1. Put together a short report that’ll you’ll automatically send to prospects when they contact you. This should include a short description of your business and what you specialize in. Don’t forget to include case studies, samples or other proof of your success.
  2. Develop value-oriented yellow page ads.
  3. Consider newsletters as a way of educating and informing customers about your industry and services offered.
  4. Offer a free seminar, webinar or other lecture to build awareness of your business, but make sure you make the information pertinent to your target market and find speakers who are respected and known in the industry.
  5. Buy an existing business, introduce better marketing and grow this new business faster than a “from scratch” business.
  6. Always test different versions of your ads to find the most effective ones.
  7. Use direct mail marketing to grow your business.
  8. Put together a database of previous customers and send them new information.
  9. Offer incentives such as frequent purchasing benefits, loyalty programs, referral programs or others.
  10. Approach large firms who may need your services and negotiate a deal to be their exclusive expert in your field.
  11. Offer a 24-hour information line with a regularly updated recorded message. Make this available to all past and future customers/clients.
  12. Donate time or materials to local charities to show support in your area.
  13. Offer public clinics for the general public to come along and discuss what they need that’s free and approachable.
  14. Organize seminars your customers/clients can pay to attend by putting together a high-perception value package.
  15. Approach local newspaper by offering to write a weekly column  about your area of expertise. Don’t ask for money, just a byline and bio.
  16. Develop a weekend or other destination seminar for customers/clients, not only does this give you an action-packed weekend with the most important people, it gives them a tax-deductible business adventure.
  17. Take a good seminar and turn it into written form as a home study, member site program, audio or video program.
  18. Approach large companies and offer to give seminars to their employees, investors or management.
  19. Be proactive with your marketing plan.
  20. Barter for your marketing. Offer products or services in lieu of payment.
  21. Be willing to bring in new clients, even if at an initial loss because it will likely pay off later.
  22. Regulate your marketing budget to maximize the potential income from them to hit the next year and try to push back advertising costs for the next year to offset your expenses.
  23. Make offers to target markets or target market businesses to pay them for referrals or shared databases.
  24. Offer loaner products to replace equipment that’s be repaired or refurbished.
  25. Give away something free to everyone who brings in a print version of your advertisement. This is a great way to see which ads are giving you the most bang for your buck.
  26. Continually consider what new products/services you can offer to current customers/clients.
  27. Develop a mail order division of your company.
  28. Offer a proposition to your competitors to trade customers/clients you were both unsuccessful in selling to.
  29. Use different marketing tactics as an excuse to attract new customers/clients with new offers and goodies.
  30. Offer a “you-choose-the-price” program. This is especially good for product you just can’t seem to sell.

So, there are 30 great ways to market to other professional and businesses. Some other great ways to get your name out there for little or no cost are:

  • Get involved you in your community-volunteer, donate to local events, etc.
  • Join your local Chamber of Commerce and attend the networking and other activities throughout the year.
  • Join a local, state or regional professional associates for further networking opportunities.
  • Become a board member of a local organization.

 

Advertising should never be your only method of marketing, there are a myriad of ways to get your name out there in a way that feels personal to potential customers/clients.

“Effective advertising…must be used to get your name out to the public. If your name is not familiar to people, they will not come to you.” Jay Abraham

If you’re not sure where you start with your marketing plan or how to reach out to your local community, competitors, customers/clients and others who could influence your business in a highly positive way, try our FREE test drive to experience the tools and resources we have to boost your business to the next level and beyond.

PR Equals Free Publicity

There are three key areas of public relations you can use to boost your advertising results ten-fold over your paid advertising.

The key to public relations lie in:

  • Public relation or publicity
  • Merchandising
  • Promotions

With a solid plan in place that encompasses all these areas, you’ll have a great approach to use public relations in the best way possible.

Public relations include all that is the media. Don’t limit yourself. The attention of newspapers, television, radio, magazines, bloggers, ezines and more are all equally powerful. Online marketing is just as, if not more, important as conventional media.

Here are the steps to get noticed by the media:

  1. Put together a press release for your company. The press release should be relevant to your target market and address consumer interest, not just announce your business.
  2. Compact your press release to include one hook and one angle. Choose the most attention-getting to make sure the media person you are sending it to is interested in reading it.
  3. Put your press release in professional formatting. With press releases you need a dateline, the most important information at the top, facts, figures and wrap it up with contact details including who and how. Print the press release on your letterhead.
  4. Send your press release to all television and radio stations, local and metro newspapers, national newspapers, industry magazines, and any other form of media that reaches your target market. Don’t forgot to include relevant blogs, ezines, press release submission sites and to industry professionals.

More importantly than a perfect press release is to make sure you have addressed the needs of your target market in the products/services you offer and made that clear in the press release. If you are provided people a solution to a problem, a way to avoid a problem and an opportunity to enhance their life the media and public will be interested.

If you have a connection (or the ability to get a connection) with a celebrity, this can practically guarantee you’ll get attention. Make sure you are offered newsworthy information, and then follow up with media outlets to make sure they are publicizing that information.

“One of the most powerful techniques every business should use is free publicity. As the name implies, there is no cost, just the time and effort required to attract attention to your business.” Jay Abraham

Our FREE test drive can show you how to put together press releases that work! Check out how the pro’s do it and craft the perfect press releases for your business.