You know what a bad sales call feels like. The aimless small talk, the thinly disguised attempt at ‘relating’ to you, and the ever-present background anxiety of the sales person desperate to meet their monthly quota. All you wanted was a real conversation with a real person to help you make an informed decision. Now think about your business (and your sales numbers). Are you giving your prospects a sales experience like that?
Why You're Frustrated and What to Do About It
Employee turnover. Customer complaints. Unplanned expenses. Competition everywhere you look. Pain in the neck vendors. An endless string of new technologies you’re supposed to learn how to use. Social #%?@! media. It’s enough to make you want to go get a job.
This isn’t what you signed up for. The whole point of this was to get in control of your life, to do something that you’re passionate about. It wasn’t about the money, but about being able to do what you love. What the heck happened?
You’re always looking for new ways to grow. But the trap most owners fall into is that they spend too much time figuring what they’re going to do, and not enough on what they’re not. It’s the ‘secret ingredient’ to our 6 step planning process—the simplest way we know to figure out where you want to go and what needs to change to get there.
Topics: Strategic Planning
When you really break it down, a salesperson who has the highest lead to sales conversions is doing one thing better than everyone else: leading the sales conversation. If you, in your sales role, or your salespeople are not leading the conversations you’re having with prospects, then the only other thing that can be happening is that the prospect is leading. There are only two options. When the prospect leads, the conversation is driven by whatever happens to be on the prospect’s mind, and that may or may not serve the result. The prospect is not focused on the result you’re there to produce. For example, she may be consumed by what she wants you to know about her, yesterday’s difficult department meeting, this morning’s argument with her husband as they left for work, the dinner plans she has for this evening, and yes, the thing she would rather be doing than speaking with you. We all have a finite amount of attention. If you’re not leading, you’re giving your prospects too much room to fill the available space in their hearts and minds with things that won’t lead to a ‘Yes’, even if your product or service is a real solution to their real problem.
How well do you know what’s really going on in your sales department? Whether you’re a solopreneur or you’ve got a team of salespeople responsible for bringing in new business, how much do you really understand about how your sales staff (which might only be you) engages with people introduced to your products or services for the first time? Have you ever explored what your sales process actually communicates to prospects about your values, or how that makes a difference in your sales? If you’re looking for ways to increase your sales or your lead to sale conversions, it might help to take a look, in a very granular way, at the subtle messages you or your salespeople are sending to prospects that you may not have thought about before.
Isn’t it curious that sales, the lifeblood of every small business, is so damn hard to get right? You started your business because you believed you could make or do something that other people wanted, but then you struggle to find a way to talk about it with them so they’re moved to say, “How can I get some of that?” You want so badly to connect with prospective customers. You want so sincerely to experience your salespeople connecting with them. And, it hardly ever feels like there’s enough connection going on, enough excitement about the product or service you’re so invested in, enough prospects turning into customers.
It’s not hard to agree with the idea that your business needs systems. But, when it comes to sales, small business owners often have a lot of difficulty really getting behind creating a comprehensive sales system or sales process. Naturally, nobody wants their salespeople to sound ‘canned’. It’s much more thrilling to dream about finding salespeople who will just know how to bring in your best customers and create exponential growth for you because they have that magical gift of getting people to buy.
The money you make in your business is hard-earned. It’s the reward for all of the sales calls, difficult client deadlines and customer support challenges. So it’s hard to give it up to anyone—least of all the government. Yet, taxes are a part of doing business in almost every country on earth. And we want you to focus on one thing: keeping as much of your money in your pocket as possible by taking advantage of every possible legal method of reducing your year-end tax bill.
Topics: Managing Money
If, after reading part one and part two in this series, you’re starting to see the value in better understanding your financial performance, then we’re in a good place to move forward. If you’re thinking, “Sure, that all sounds good, but there’s no way I have time to put this much energy into tracking and thinking about my money—nor the ability to pay someone else to do it,” then you need to stop and reconsider. Wearing several hats is part of the art of running any small business, but there are tools you can use and people you can add to your financial team to make all of this possible with minimal resources and maximum efficiency.
Curious? I’m glad. The first principle to recognize is automate, automate, automate. The more you take these valuable—but admittedly time consuming—processes and automate them, the more you will be able to see the value in your data without feeling the pain. In the not-too-distant past, getting any information out of your accounting system was a nightmare. Data input involved long hours of tedious work—or hefty fees paid to bookkeepers to do it for you. But in this web 2.0, cloud-based, app-driven business ecosystem, there’s no reason to keep your accounting records in Excel or tape expense receipts to a piece of paper. And by leveraging these systems to automate financial functions, you’ll use your money and time in a smart way—allowing you to put more time into growing your business.
Perhaps you use Google Analytics to track every visitor to your website, right down to the country they’re visiting from. Maybe you even use wearable technology and a smartphone to measure the steps you take in a day or how much sleep you get at night. But what are you doing to measure the financial health of your business? If your only measure of financial performance is the revenue you generate each month or the balance in your bank account, you’re missing out on a wealth of information about your business.
Financial statements and metrics are more than just numbers that go up or down month after month: they tell a story about your financial health, your ability to grow, and your ability to sustain and weather trying times. This information can help you build an awareness about your business finances. For most small business owners, it makes sense to “check in” at least once a quarter. The reason is that when you look at things at too granular a level, small variances can be distracting. It’s better to let things ebb and flow in a natural way, and to look at the development of your business over three month periods.
Topics: Managing Money