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Archive for March, 2011

Habits of Highly Effective Networking

For most solo professionals, in-person networking is a significant piece of their ongoing marketing strategy.  Getting out and meeting the right people is often the quickest way to enroll new clients into your program and generate additional revenue.

Though networking can open the door to numerous opportunities, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s one of your favorite activities. I know a fair number of entrepreneurs who dread networking and consider it to be a necessary “evil” of running a business.

Whether you LOVE networking or do it out of sheer necessity, I’m confident you want to enjoy the best possible results at every opportunity. Here are some  Smart, Simple Tips on how to use this strategy effectively to connect with your ideal clients and create opportunities to grow your business:

1. “Fish in the Right Pond” – Don’t attend a networking event just for the sake of doing so. To get the most bang for your buck (and use your time efficiently) make sure you are ONLY attending networking events where your target clients and referral partners are hanging out. Remember, to be extremely successful in business you can’t market to any and everyone. You need to focus your attention on providing specific solutions to your ideal clients. Which means you need to do targeted, focused networking. You’ll enjoy yourself much more, have better conversations and create more opportunities when you’re talking to people who “get” what you do and are already looking for your product or services.

2. Get your head right – Networking isn’t about selling yourself or pitching your services. It’s about making connections with people, getting to know them, finding out what they need and creating opportunities. Be clear about your objectives BEFORE you attend the event so that you “show up” as a friendly, gracious and helpful resource. If you are a person who doesn’t LOVE the experience of networking, adjust your mindset. A lack of confidence and a negative attitude are highly unattractive and will repel others from wanting to connect with you. Instead of dreading the experience, look forward to the opportunity to meet other people and educate others about what you do. Set the intention before you head out the door that you’re going to have a GREAT experience and enjoy yourself!

3. Have reasonable expectations – Don’t attend the event desperate to close new business on the spot. If you do, each person you meet will “sense” it on you and will likely be turned off your approach. Instead, focus on having meaningful conversations with the people you meet and getting to know them so you can follow-up as appropriate.

4. Resist the urge to “work the room” – I know you’ve seen this. There’s always a guy someone at networking events running around the room, almost tossing their business card at every person they pass. Don’t be that person. Take your time. Enjoy meeting various individuals. Allow the conversations you start to develop and end naturally. You’ll feel much more relaxed and have a better experience. Plus you’ll create deeper connections with the people you meet and have a much easier time following up with them after the event. It is far better to have 4-5 fabulous conversations than to run around the room passing out your card to everyone in your path.

Eliminate SHYNESS, Increase SALES!!

Every business owner has a weakness. For some people it’s dealing with numbers. For others, it’s putting their thoughts in writing. However, just because you have a weakness in a particular area doesn’t mean that weakness can’t be overcome and it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be a business owner.

As someone whose natural tendency is to be a bit shy, selling can make someone a bit anxious. However, you can overcome your shy tendencies by following the principles below.

Here are some tips to follow when talking with prospective clients:

Avoid being unnecessarily apologetic

Many of those who are naturally shy tend to be too apologetic. Yet, unless you’ve actually done something where an apology is warranted, there’s really no need to be apologetic. If this is your tendency, try to watch for it and eliminate it from your speech patterns.

Do prepare for sales calls

Natural sales people may be able to sell without much preparation, but if you’re shy you’ll need to make sure that you’re well prepared for each and every sales call. It you keep some detailed notes beside you while you talk on the phone so that you can glance at them if you get tongue-tied during a call.

Be prompt when you reply to prospects

Promptness counts for a lot. When you reply promptly to a prospect, it usually comes across as being enthusiastic. This doesn’t mean you have to accept rush work. A reply could be to simply let them know that you’ll set up a time to get with them as soon as you become available.

Let them do most of the talking. It will take a lot of the pressure off you and besides, being a good listener is more important in sales than being a good talker. Just make sure that you pay attention to what they are saying and take careful notes. If necessary, repeat a point that you don’t understand back to them.

Be yourself

Whatever you do, don’t try to project an image that doesn’t fit you. Instead, talk to the prospect as naturally as possible. I know that sometimes shy people try to emulate someone else who they believe to be more successful, but usually this strategy just comes off as being contrived and fake. Don’t do it!
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You may be afraid that asking questions will make you seem less knowledgeable. Actually, the opposite is true. Asking appropriate questions when you need to shows that you are concerned with the project and with getting it right.

Smile while you are talking

This is a great trick! Having a smile on your face can help get rid of any anxious tones that you may unconsciously be using. Smiling also helps you sound more relaxed and pleasant to the prospect on the other end of the phone line.

Avoid negative self-talk

Before the sales call begins, avoid thinking about the worst things that might happen during the call. Likewise, when the sales call is over, avoid beating yourself up over what you think went wrong with the call. Chances are your clients didn’t even notice your perceived shortcomings.

Categories: Uncategorized

TRUST, A Social Media Missing Link!?

Having a Facebook Page WILL NOT bring instant sales.

Twitter WILL NOT triple your Web traffic overnight.

A press release WILL NOT get journalists banging down your door.

Harsh truths, I know, but ones that need to be heard. The problem with small businesses and marketing is they want instant coffee. They want to see a spike in sales or Web traffic instantly, and that simply doesn’t happen unless you’re the Old Spice guy. Freshly showered men aside, all your marketing efforts should lead to one thing:  T-R-U-S-T.

Why Trust Is Important

Is trust necessary? Not really. You could sell a thousand widgets to a thousand people and never see them again. Or you could work to build trust with these customers, and rely on them to become your brand evangelists, to let them tell others how great you are because you’re a trustworthy company. Let them blog, tweet and share their love on Facebook.

Trust keeps customers coming back. If what you sell costs a lot of money, it gives them the confidence to drop the $100, $1,000 or $10,000 on your product or service.

How to Build Trust

Every component of marketing is about trust-building, if done properly.

  • Social Media. Face it: You probably haven’t bought much from brands on Twitter just because they’re there. If a brand you’re following is having a promotion, you might click the link and buy. But that’s promotion. Not marketing. So your role in social media is to use it as a channel to build trust. Create conversations, whether they’re related to your industry or not. Share relevant links, even if they’re not from your own blog. Interact. Give people a reason to seek your brand out on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Press Releases. Sometimes trust is just about being there consistently. Putting out a press release each month can go a long way to say, “Hey! We’re still here doing awesome things.” And while journalists may not be clamoring to publish your news, searching for keywords that lead them to one press release after another from your brand certainly shows that you’re consistent. And consistency is one of the cornerstones of a healthy relationship, is it not?
  • Blogger Relations. If you’re smart enough to be working with bloggers to spread the word about your products or services, kudos. But how you work with them can have just as much impact on your brand as what they think of the product. First off, pay your bloggers. Their time is as valuable as yours. But be there for them too. Make sure they know you’re partners in the blogger outreach campaign you’re working on, and make sure to address any questions or concerns they have before they post. If you build that trust, they’ll go beyond the call of duty for the campaign and talk about your brand on all the social channels, resulting in bonus play for you.

Now WHAT!?

If I’ve put you into a tailspin, don’t worry. Keep doing what you’re doing in marketing, but shift your thinking.  Don’t focus on how many (or few) website visitors that last Facebook contest netted. Instead look at how you built the trust of hundreds of loyal fans. If they are engaged in what you’re doing, you’re successfully building that trust. Keep it up, and those relationships will come to fruition.

You Have Your DREAM Client, NOW WHAT!?

You put a lot of time and effort into turning your dream clients into clients. Once you acquire them as clients, you have to manage and deliver the outcomes that you sold and promised. You must also understand and become an active participant in their buying cycle—or someone else will!

Where the Cycle Starts

Your dream client became your client after they became dissatisfied and after you built the relationships, created value before claiming it, and developed the necessary trust to deserve and opportunity.

The buying process always starts with dissatisfaction. Once a buyer becomes dissatisfied, they start to work to understand their needs, identify possible options that will deliver an improvement, and then to resolve any concerns. If your dream client is now your client, it’s a pretty safe bet that you helped them through this process.

You may have delivered your solution, and you may have already made a significant, measurable improvement for your client. But know this for certain: your solution did nothing to change the deep fundamental that began this process.

The Deepest Fundamental

The deepest of all fundamental trends is change. More still, the pace of change is accelerating at a breath-taking and astonishing speed. Great change and shifts in the business environment and economy mean that the buying cycles are shorter.

The time between a new solution and an external change that causes dissatisfaction is growing shorter. Retaining your client means understanding these shortening cycles—and then getting deeply engaged in your client’s buying process. Again!

It’s You—Or It Is Your Competitor

When the buying cycle starts again—and it will start again—it begins, as always, with dissatisfaction. Something has changed. Your solution no longer produces the needed result. Or some other part of your client’s business comes unraveled and needs to be put back together because something changed.

You have a choice: you can either work with your client through their buying process, or you can wait for your competitor to find their way in.

The pattern is one you should know. Your client is dissatisfied. Either you help them identify and understand what they need, or they will find someone who will.

Your client needs ideas. They need solutions. They need options. Either you get engaged in working with them to identify all of the potential changes that might be made, the new products, the new services, the new solutions that may be necessary, or they look outside.

Someone is going to help your client build a vision of the right way to move forward and deal with the change that has been thrust upon them. Someone is going to help them sell the case internally, and someone is going to resolve their concerns about undergoing a change effort. It’s up to you whether they resolve the concerns about switching partners or whether they resolve concerns about your proposed changes.

Retaining your clients means understanding the buying cycle begins with dissatisfaction and that the deepest fundamental, change, means that dissatisfaction will be making its rounds again soon (sooner than you imagined!). The only way to retain your client is to become an active participant in their buying cycle and ensuring that they don’t need to look elsewhere for help identifying and understanding their needs, coming up with options, or resolving their concerns.

 

Mind Yo Manners on Facebook!

Alright you have joined facebook for business purposes and are wondering why you are not getting instant results. Well first thing you have to realize it will take time to build it up. Second is that there is definitely a facebook business etiquette that you should follow. Why is this you are thinking, let me explain it for you.

Facebook is a social community online and people go on there to communicate with others and build relationships. This sure is a perfect place to do business if you use the right etiquette when approaching others. No matter where you are from in the world the basics are the same.

Basic facebook business etiquette that everyone doing business on there should know.

  1. Someones personal profile or page is their own personal space. Now in real life you would not go up to someone and say ‘I’m a car sales man, buy this car. Here is my card ring me as soon as you can so we can get it all settled.’ I am sure you would not be interested one bit in what they have to offer. Facebook is the same as real life when it comes to approaching people. When you friend someone or they friend you means they are giving you the okay to form a relationship with them. If you were to go and put your business link on there wall or post about a great deal you have on there, you are not only being disrespectful to them you are invading their personal space.
  2. Sending out friend requests. When sending out friend requests it is polite to send a personal message with it. A personal message is not Hi my name is …. then a business link. This is a sure way to have your friend request ignored. You need to treat people as you would someone you meet for the first time. A hello and the reason why you are wanting the friendship is a good way to start. This does not mean Hi I want to add you so your can join my business or buy my product. You need to have something in common with the person so you have a reason to connect.
  3. Sending messages. To be in business for yourself you have to have passion, this does not mean you go spamming peoples inboxes because you believe in your product or service. People will either stop reading your mail or will delete you. Remember it is a social network with real people.
  4. Pages are for business. This is one people seem to forget regularly. Sure you want to get your business out there but to only post business on your personal profile not only is boring for those who read it but is not excepted by facebook. A personal profile is a place to share who you are and what you enjoy or have learned. A page is a place to share your business as everyone who has decided to be on your page is happy to read about your business and receive mail about it. Together we can all make facebook a great place for business and pleasure if we follow this basic facebook business etiquette. Happy facebooking to all you business owners.

Together we can all make facebook a great place for business and pleasure if we follow this basic facebook business etiquette. Happy facebooking to all you business owners.

The GROWING Optimism of Credit Availability

Overall, 61% of borrowers and 74% of lenders who responded to a NREI survey expect credit to become more available over the next 12 months. That fits the emerging storyline that the economy is on the mend and that property values for commercial real estate have begun to stabilize or even rise in some cases, forcing lenders out of hibernation. Still, 30% of borrowers and 19% of lenders say that the availability of capital will stay the same or worsen in 2011. That sentiment could reflect the fact that lending conditions in secondary and tertiary markets are less favorable and more stagnant than primary markets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Customers ATTACK!

When making the decision to become a small business owner there’s a good chance that at some point in your career you’re going to come across a customer or two that might have had an issue with the service that your business provided.  I would imagine that the more conversation that occurs between veteran business owners and newbie business owners the better off everyone will be, or at least customer service concerns might get handled faster.

It’s safe to say that you’re going to need to have tools that you can use in order to address and resolve those customer concerns in the fastest possible manner. Your business relies on it.

1. Respond QUICKLY

No matter what you do make sure that you always have a prompt, lightning fast response. Yes, even if you don’t have a resolution or an answer to the situation you should still make sure that the customer receives a call that let’s them know that their concern is being worked on. A stewing, raging, waiting customer is NEVER a happy one.

2. HOLD Your Tongue

It’s so easy in business, especially as a young manager or newbie small business owner to wanna jump right in and start running your mouth. This sounds nice, but it won’t solve the problem, sit back and shut up and remember that the customer is the one that has a problem with your business. Jumping in before you hear your customer out will only frustrate your customer and it can cause you to miss important details.

3. Professional Reply

Assuming that you actively listened (based on step 2 above) it’s now time for you make it very clear to the customer that you understand their problem, 100% of it. Take the time to repeat back to the customer what they said to you and be sure to focus on the key points to ensure that the customer is comfortable with exactly how much you understand their concern.

4. Resolve the issue

Now that you’ve listened to the customer and displayed good active listening skills it’s time for you to get down to solving the problem, this is the big moment. Once the screaming and yelling stops it’s time to focus on the problem and get it resolved, no matter what it takes.  Overdue it.

5. Follow Up

Once the issue has been resolved it’s always a good practice to follow-up with the customer to ensure that things are still moving in the right direction.

6. Training

Complete your customer resolution process by taking the time to train fellow staff members and associates, doing so will help avoid the same issues in the future.

It’s important to handle every customer service issues as an experience and learn from it, it gives you a chance to improve your skills as a leader and business owner and helps you to mentor others.