I wasn’t a very good networker. I struggled a bit to network with purpose or intent and just ended up chatting to people. I was ok at business events but more general gatherings, not so much. I never knew when or how to extract myself from a conversation and go talk to someone else. Before starting a conversation I would prepare myself like leaping into cold water - 3 quick breaths, brace myself and I’m off. Once the conversation started flowing and I got into my groove I was alright but a bit rudderless and lacking any kind of direction. Needless to say I didn’t do a lot of it or enjoy it at all, it was a chore.
Now, after a joining Chrysalis for Women and attending a few workshops with super networker Kim Chamberlain my approach to networking is entirely different. I go to meet people, learn about them, make some connections and help where I can. This wasn’t a conscious change and I only really recognised it after working through the chapter on networking in the Your Business Journey Workbook. It gave me the opportunity to reflect on what type of networker I was and how that had evolved. Basically for me it has become the easiest way to connect with small businesses with the real power in relationship building. Much of my work comes from networking and not from new contacts but ones I have built up over the years. With networking, it is never about what happens on the day but what it leads to as you develop the relationship.
This really came home to me this week when I was invited to meet with the Minister for Small Business Jacqui Dean and talk about the work I was doing with small businesses. I didn’t even know there was a Minister for Small business so how did this come about? Over a year ago I was dragged along to a meet the neighbours drinks by the ever enthusiastic Kathleen Wright. I went along to support her and the the, very new, Sub Urban Co-working which I was a part of. There were drinks and conversation with very established local businesses which were very much not my market, and a nice chat with local list MP Brett Hudson. It was a pleasant hour or two and I felt I had done my good deed for the day.
It was that nice chat with Brett that led to an opportunity to speak with Jacqui Dean about local initiatives for small business over a year later. Kathleen had kept Brett up to date with what was happening at Sub Urban and he remembered our chat about the work I was doing with business mentoring. Jacqui came and had lunch with us at Sub Urban, heard about our business and those of some co-workers and we hope, got a good sense of what we are doing and achieving in this small local community. It was a very positive experience all round.
Where will it lead? No idea, but my advice on networking - enjoy it, have fun and meet some really cool people - you never know where it will lead and what can come back to you.
Often poor business success can be linked to simply not following established leads.
It is the number one area where people are letting themselves and their businesses down. We put so much money and effort into making contacts, securing leads and getting our businesses known. However, if we don’t consistently include follow-up into our processes it can all be wasted.
I regularly have clients come to me, wanting/needing more customers. This is their top priority and their biggest concern - how can they get new customers. They believe more customers will make the biggest difference to their business.
More customers are only part of the puzzle, you have to make sure you are getting the most value out of each new contact and not constantly filling a leaky funnel.
Most of the people I talk to actually already have untapped business at their finger-tips, they just haven’t realised the potential yet. All of your leads and customers are potential sales - what are you doing to convert them?
The easiest way to get more sales - from the customers and contacts you already have!
There are a lot of stats floating around the internet about sales follow up but to me it comes down to simple common sense. Follow up with people, be authentic, be interested, get the sale, repeat.
Here are 3 things you can do right now
Don’t rely on your potential leads – chase them
If you want the customers, you have to work to get them. So many times I have heard clients say “they will contact me if they are interested.” Good luck with that! Business doesn’t work that way.
You are selling and it's YOUR job to follow up.
Be customer focused
Being customer centric is critical. "I sent them an email but they didn't get back to me." So what are you going to do about that? Sadly 80% of the time businesses do nothing and lose potential customers. The 20% that are following up are very happy for you to do nothing...
Look after your existing customers
“ They already bought from me” Ok great but you have other products/services you can offer them. If they have bought once they know and trust you so are are way more likely to buy again AND recommend you - look after these people.
The great news is that it’s actually not that hard to make follow-up part of a regular business routine
The essential ‘Sales Process’
Every business needs a sales process. This is a basic checklist or set of rules to deal with different situations. You need to ask yourself, what do you do when:
You need to have a clearly defined, simple process for each situation.
“It’s too much – how will I ever remember all this?”
Often when I talk to clients about their sales process I get the same response – “I really want to follow-up on leads, but I can’t remember all the details, who to contact when, or what to do next. I just don’t have the time.”
This is what CRM’s are for! Every contact/lead is recorded and a follow-up scheduled. A CRM will help you to successfully manage your relationships with current and prospective customers.
Why you need a CRM
How many opportunities have you missed by not following up? It’s not hard to make some changes and the benefits are truly worth it.
Without detailed knowledge of your target market, you could be losing business to your competitors and missing out on opportunities to increase sales.
Whether you sell socks or windmills, you need to understand your customer if you want to maximize your sales.
Ask yourself these questions
Who are you selling to?
Why should they buy your product?
What do they stand to gain?
Look at your existing customers to identify similarities between your regular customers, you can begin to use this information to refine your existing customer base into a target market.
Why do your existing customers choose your business over your competitors?
What are their common characteristics?
What are their common Interests?
Customers don’t buy products and services – they buy the benefits the products and services produce for them. Customers want solutions.
People will either buy from you or spend their money elsewhere. They need to know why they should buy and what’s in it for them.
Why should they buy your product?
What do they stand to gain?
Once you have a clearer understanding of the problems you solve you can start to work out who is most likely to suffer from these problems and offer solutions.
What problem are you solving?
What is the purpose of what you sell?
What is the benefit to the customer?
When researching target markets, start broad, but become increasingly narrow
eg. you may identify homeowners as a potential demographic BUT when you drill down deeper you discover that homeowners with older children, earning a certain annual income who work in a particular sector are your best customers.
This level of segmentation makes it easier to tailor your messaging to appeal to these individuals rather than a general customer base
Market segmentation can help you understand how your products or services appeal to individuals across several demographics within your target market.
Use these demographics below to help you define your target market by painting a picture of your customer - where are they, who are they, what are their interests and values and what is their buying behavior?
Geographic: Location, Region, Sub-region, Climate, Population
Demographic: Gender, Age, Household size, Marital Status, Occupation, Education, Religion, Race/ethnic group, Language spoken, Children, Age of children
Psychographic: Personality, Values, Attitude, Interests, Lifestyle
Behavioral : Products purchased, Channels products purchased, Rate of usage, Benefits sought, Method of usage
Working through the all of the above, you should now have a very clear picture of who your target market actually is.
This can be different for different products and services for example one of my clients is a Pilates Instructor with extensive experience in rehabilitation and pain management who runs classes for horse riders as well as community classes. She has a different target market for each of these separate services.
Use this checklist on all your market segments and build your very targeted marketing strategy around it.
If you would like to talk about your business or your target market simply contact me anytime, happy to answer any questions or meet for a coffee
Because it gives the best return for your marketing $$.
Annual research shows that email marketing has the highest ROI and the widest reach. Despite the rise in social media, email marketing is still the best for growing a business. According to McKinsey Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter.
As well as the above and being way cheaper than traditional marketing, email marketing -
Ensures you keep in touch with all your contacts: As your business grows, it can become hard to give ongoing attention to each contact. With email automation, you can easily send personalized, timely, relevant emails to everyone with just a couple clicks.
Has wider reach than social media: While it’s true social media is massive, it’s still not as big as email with over 4 billion users worldwide and social media totaling only half that. All of your contacts have an email address but not everyone is on social media (stats from Radicati)
Is highly measurable: With a an email marketing platform such as Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor you have real-time access to metrics like opens, clicks, bounces, forwards, social shares and more
Cements your brand and increases engagement: Regular professional emails with great subject lines, logos and consistent branding, reinforces your company and product awareness. It creates engagement and grows quality customer relations.
Drives conversions: The ultimate goal for your business is to turn potential customers into paying customers, and when it comes to conversions, email is the most powerful channel.
The e-commerce software firm Monetate found that 4.24% of visitors from email marketing buy something compared to only 2.49% of visitors from search engines and .59% from social media.
Can be very targeted: Being able to group and segment your customer database means your email marketing campaigns can be customized with specific customer data and allow highly targeted mailings to specific recipient groups.
* According to DMA, marketers have found a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns ( image from Campaign Monitor
If you are not already doing email marketing campaigns, you totally should be.
Check out our $20+gst Newletter Training Workshop - Empowering and Enabling Small Businesses
We all want our websites for our small businesses to get found and incoming links are one of the most important ways to boost the search engine ranking organically. Each one is like a vote for your business and can directly influence Google's determination of your page ranking.
Remember however, all links are not created equal, and search engines look for both quantity and quality. The number and the relevance of your links are critical for getting your website found faster by search engines and potential clients.
One of the easiest ways to build incoming links is by listing on credible directories. There are many directories on the web you can list on for free.
Here is a list I provide for my clients, feel free to share or to let me know any I've missed!
You can also search for more directories that maybe relevant to your industry
Search online directories + ( your industry name) eg online directories + accountant
Remember, SEO for small business is just as important and relevant as for big business.
Feel free to ask me any questions about this and inbound links - if I don't know the answer I can find it out for you :) I will be posting more about other kinds of inbound links and SEO as well as ongoing strategies to grow your business.
Very simply because you don’t want to limit your business by what you can store in your head. A CRM can store, manage and update all your clients and interactions in one place so nothing gets lost - most importantly sales opportunities.
You may think you can manage your business with spreadsheets and emails but you will miss the big picture. You need to bring all this information together and get organised to get a clear overview of your business.
A CRM is your information center which will let you know what needs doing, when and by whom. It tells you what marketing worked and what didn’t, where your best sales are coming from AND the revenue potential.
A CRM is an application that helps you manage your relationships with current and prospective customers
Here are some questions to help you decide if you need a CRM.
If you answered yes to any of these questions then you need a CRM in your life...
Growing a business isn’t easy but luckily there are great tools like CRM’s available to make our lives simpler and more organised. Being more organised is always good for business and puts you on a stronger path to success.
Feel free to ask me any questions, anytime.