Everyone, whether a buyer, seller, marketer or manager, is crunched for time. No one has time to waste when doing business, and as a seller, you certainly do not want to waste hours on a project or a prospect unlikely to score returns.
Here are a few simple tips to incorporate into your daily routine that can help you sell more in less time.
1. Make the first move.
Some believe that the sooner you get in touch with a prospect, the greater the likelihood he or she will convert into a customer. Attention spans are short these days, so you need to move as quickly as possible.
Gauge the person’s level of engagement and see how far along he or she has moved. Has the person just signed up for more information? Or has the prospect viewed your products and pricing page?
Understand how and why the person came to interact with you. When you make a call, put things in context. By making the first call relevant and timely, you will have a more meaningful conversation.
2. Don’t sell to the unmotivated.
But don’t approach those who are not ready. You are the best judge of who is really ready to make a commitment and who is just shopping around. If you feel that someone has little or no intention of buying anything, move that person to your marketing list. If the person shows genuine interest later, you can then get back in touch.
3. Make use of the prospect’s best time.
Traditionalists will tell you that calling someone after 5 p.m. is inappropriate and calling someone before 10 a.m. is rude. But is there a strict 9-to-5 code in today’s business world?
Once you begin interacting with a prospect, you’ll get an idea of when he or she is free to speak and in the best frame of mind to have a conversation that will make an impact.
Schedule your calls to the person’s convenience. He or she will appreciate if you call at a convenient time and then you’ll have the person’s attention for sharing more before you move to a close.
4. Qualify your leads.
Just because a person shared contact details with you does not mean he or she qualifies as a sales lead. Be careful before taking the bait. Jumping at any chance to sell will result in wasted time, resources and energy. Try the classic qualification BANT method and ask the following questions:
Budget: Does the lead have enough money to purchase your product?
Authority: Does this person have the authority to make a purchase decision?
Need: Does he or she have a genuine need for your product or a problem that your product can fix?
Timeline: Has he or she specified a desired time frame for making a purchase?
Ask other questions to determine if a person qualifies as a real lead. Assess the overall mood of his or her company or any internal relationships that might influence a purchase decision. The BANT method usually helps determine whether the lead is worth pursuing from the start.
5. Plan for tomorrow.
You won’t close any deals without following up. Since following up will be part of your daily routine, why not plan ahead? The worst way to start your day (and the best way to waste time) is arriving at work in the morning and trying to figure out whom to call and what to say.
By planning which people to call back and scheduling automated follow-ups, you can erase the headache of scrambling for numbers and information. And if you log your calls and make a quick note about what has been discussed, you’ll know exactly where you left off so you can avoid repetition and focus on only what will move the deal forward.
6. Make it personal.
Strive to forge a personal connection and genuinely relate to your prospect and his or her situation. But don’t force the conversation. Did the customer just get married, have a baby or move to a new city? Talk about this before you dive into business. The initial interaction may need to be formal and professional, but you can break down some of the barriers as conversation progresses.
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If you’re like most entrepreneurs you get hit up to work for free. Someone wants to pick your brain (yes, if the contents of your brain usually have a price tag higher than a cup of coffee, then coffee a good brain picking is working for free,) or they want you speak, consult, design, troubleshoot or otherwise provide your products or services for charity, for the exposure, for the good-will or just because they don’t want to pay for it.
As many reasons as there are for people to ask you to work for free, there are only two good reasons to do it. They are equally good reasons, but you should never use the first to justify the second.
1. It’s marketing.
Every business should have a marketing budget. Benchmarks vary by industry, but let’s say you decide to budget a minimum of 5 percent of gross revenue. That may not be much money, but a lot of entrepreneurs don’t spend even five percent on their marketing efforts.
They network, they use social media, they take their clients to lunch and ask for referrals. They avoid spending money by leveraging their two other resources
, time and energy, to make up for what they aren’t investing in dollars.
That’s great, so long as they follow the same principles for their time and energy investment as they would for a monetary investment. Which means having a clear strategy for their efforts and an eye on their return.
So if doing the work for free fits your marketing strategy, and you believe the investment represents a reasonable expectation of return, then it might be well worth saying yes. Your guidelines may differ, but here the questions I ask before investing time and energy instead of dollars:
If I were spending money, how much would I be willing to invest?
Let’s take a conference, for instance, at which I’ve been asked to present for free. If I had to pay for a sponsorship to get in front of that audience, I’d be weighing the potential return against the investment. I’d be asking questions like, “How closely does this audience align with my most profitable niche?” and “How much impact will this exposure allow me to have on the audience?”
Based on my conclusions during that line of inquiry, I’d decide if I was willing to invest marketing dollars to promote my business at that event, and if so, how many dollars I was willing to invest. Once I know that, I can do a pretty fair calculation of how much time and energy I should allow myself to put into presenting in exchange for exposure. That raises some questions.
Do I have the time and energy to invest?
If I plan to invest dollars, I have to make sure those dollars are available without putting other financial obligations at risk. The same is true of time and energy. If doing a project is going to stretch me too thin to take care of other obligations, then I’m either going to spend money paying someone else to take something off my plate, or I’m going to short-change someone in my business or personal life. Unless this is a huge opportunity, it isn’t worth that. If it is a huge opportunity (see above) it may be worth it to pay for some assistance so that I can take the project on, even if I’m not getting paid.
Will I have to invest money as well as time and energy?
Depending on the type of product or service I’m being asked to provide, there may be hidden, or not so hidden, monetary costs as well. If I’m being asked to speak I may be expected to provide handouts. Or pay my own travel costs. Or, as I mentioned, I may need to pay additional staff to cover tasks I won’t have time or energy for if I take the project.
Is it something that aligns with my personal values and my brand?
This should go without saying, but it’s actually my first question. If the answer is no, then the other questions don’t matter. So what do I do if I go through my checklist and conclude that it just isn’t a good marketing investment?
Then there is that second good reason to work for free:
2. Just because I want to.
That’s right. Because the project is in my heart space, it gives me joy.
I hope you never work for free out of guilt. And I hope you never fool yourself into thinking you did it for the marketing when you really did it “just because.” But if you have the time, money or energy, feeling good is reason enough to invest it in anything or anyone you choose.
Don’t Let your bark be bigger than your bite
Successful entrepreneurs don’t sit back and talk about what they are going to do. They plan, follow through and conquer. Nothing is going to get accomplished just by talking about it, and nobody is going to be impressed with words alone.
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Don’t Focus solely on dollar signs and decimal points
Instead of chasing the money, focus on creating products and services that make a difference and provide value. If you do this, the money will come. I would be lying if I said the goal of my company wasn’t to make money, but focusing on providing a great service paves the path for the money to follow.
When we take on a new client we focus on creating a partnership. As partners, we have a vested interest in your success because your success ensures our success. Let’s Partner Up!
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