Monthly Archives: February 2014

Making Sure Customers Can Find You

Once you have a customer, you want to make sure that you continue to get their orders in the future.   There are a variety of different methods you can employ to ensure that your customer will always have your contact information handy.

business card

business card (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Reorder Labels

The first thing I recommend is that you have re-order labels that you put on your product.  Depending on what you sell, this may not always be possible, but try to locate a place where you can put your name and contact information on your products.  I recently was looking for a consultant I had ordered from in the past, but as she didn’t use re-order labels on her product, I couldn’t find her.  I even went through my emails but there was nothing.

Catalogues

A catalogue is an obvious location to put your information but people may not always keep them.  But due to the small cost of the label, make sure you put one on every catalogue that you hand out.  I have had people contact me a year later with their catalogue and wanting to place an order.

Business Cards

Another no brainer is to give out business cards to everyone you meet.  I always put three business cards in every order I deliver.  It does not matter if it is the person’s first order with me or their tenth, they still get cards.  You never know when they are going to want to contact you for something or a friend will want your contact information.  Women tend to hold onto cards for a very long time, so you should be giving these out to everyone.

Invoices

I suggest that you place your contact information on your invoices.  Whether you use a stamp or a sticker is your choice.  Not only does that allow them to contact you if they need to make a change with their order but chances are they will keep that invoice around and will have your information for the future.

Magnets

Magnets are a great option as your customer can put it up on their fridge and they will likely never lose it.  I do not know about you, but the magnets on my fridge have been there for years.  They are useful for holding things in place even if they are not places I have patronized for a long time.  But if I need to contact those places, the information is right there.

Regardless, it is important that you customers have a way to contact you whether it is a week since they last saw you or a year.  Make it easier for them by giving them your information multiple times and hopefully they will hold onto one to use later.

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Leveraging Social Media and Other Marketing Mediums

There are more marketing channels available to small companies than ever before. These range from the tried-and-true broadcast channels to more experimental online approaches. The good news for start-ups and small companies is that it is more affordable than ever before to launch a well-calculated marketing campaign with serious potential. The bad news – if there is any – must be that competition is fierce. Actually, that’s an understatement. ‘Cutthroat’ is probably more apt.

Leveraging Technology

Leveraging Technology (Photo credit: giulia.forsythe)

For those hoping to capitalize on new marketing possibilities, we are going to review a few of the major marketing channels that are open to start-ups and small businesses. We’ll start with a section on social marketing and take it from there:

Social Media
This is the big one that everyone is anxious to master at the moment. Social media is free (though you are certainly welcome to pay the piper for more, better targeted exposure). Furthermore, a person can’t help but suspect that – if they play it right – a strong social media presence could completely reinvent their company image. This suspicion isn’t completely unfounded, though it certainly takes a best-case scenario approach to social media marketing.

If you want to get ahead on social media platforms, you either need to hire a guru or become one. Posts on the platform need to be regular and compelling, and meaningful engagement with fans, friends and followers must be the core objective. It’s easy to talk about successful social media strategies in a forum like this, but actually turning those talks into actionable strategy is complicated. In other words: hire an agency to do this for your company.

Broadcast
What started with radio waves gave way to television and, in this age, a string of YouTube-like websites. Broadcast marketing still has a strong (if changing) role to play. Just understand that purchasing advertising time on television – or even on the radio, for that matter – probably costs more than you would have assumed. This isn’t meant to suggest that it’s overpriced or to be avoided. However, do be advised purchasing broadcast time is only worthwhile if you are willing to invest a great deal more in high production values. That’s when you really start getting your money’s worth.

Brick and Mortar
Long before there was social media – or even broadcast television, for that matter – there was good, old-fashioned brick and mortar marketing. Giving away freebies and sending a crier out into the public square never disappeared from common practice; furthermore, it’s had a strong resurgence of late. As people spend more time absorbed in their digital lives – tweeting, texting, surfing, watching and otherwise feeling like a slave to the screen – it has actually become refreshing to be engaged in the real world.

This is where brick and mortar marketing has a strong advantage. When you pass out wrist bands, promotional pens and similar items, you are literally setting yourself apart from the digital competition. The items you distribute possess a ‘realness’ quality that interaction in the digital realm lacks entirely. You’re likely to be surprised how much you can accomplish these days by distributing promotional freebies.

Print
Print ads are rapidly being supplanted by a more ephemeral online equivalent. Of course, newspapers and magazines still sell ad space. The problem is that fewer people are reading print publications in general. This is especially true of those who own tablet computers and e-readers. Of course, those people are still reading news and articles; they’re just doing it from portable screens rather than from pieces of paper. To that end, many companies are taking out digitized ‘print ads’ that are displayed on e-readers and news-reading sites.

Author Bio:

Brianna Flierl is a writer for Dynamic Gift in Australia, one of the country’s most reliable providers of promotional items. By visiting their website, people can browse through their selection of promotional pens and more.

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Using Email for Outreach in a Business Sales Environment

The world of business has become increasingly challenging over recent years, and this means that in order to compete effectively businesses have had to utilise technology and business tools as effectively as possible. Working in a business sales environment in particular can be very difficult in the current economic and financial climate, with businesses now having to look at as many options as possible when it comes to marketing their goods and services in order to enjoy success.

English: Screenshot of Mozilla Thunderbird 1.5...

English: Screenshot of Mozilla Thunderbird 1.5.10 under Ubuntu Linux 6.10, self-made. Category:Screenshots of Linux software (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While there are some methods of promotion and marketing that are pretty obvious and used by many small and larger businesses, there are others that can often be overlooked even though they are both simple and effective solutions when it comes to effective outreach in a business environment. One of these is the use of email for outreach in a business sales environment.

How this can work

In a business sales environment, huge numbers of emails are typically sent out each day to other agencies, businesses, partners, and clients. However, many businesses miss out on the opportunity to really use these emails to their advantage, as they simply send out plain emails that say little to nothing about the business or its goods and services.

By using email stationery effectively, businesses can use emails to their advantage by turning them into marketing tools that can promote and raise awareness of their services and products. Email stationery can transform every email sent into a marketing tool and is something that is extremely easy and convenient to implement.

When you use email stationery you will be able to efficiently and very easily market the goods or services you sell to everyone you send out emails to. This means that you can make the most of each email you send out, which could potentially generate increased website traffic and sales for your company. The fact that email stationery also makes your emails more eye-catching means that even more people may actually read and take notice of them – in fact, you may even get more people forwarding them on to others, which expands your marketing even further.

The key thing with business email signatures is that you can transform your emails to really reflect your business and what it is all about. This gives each recipient far more information than just a standard plain email with nothing more than a name and job title on it.

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Book Review: The Women’s Home-Based Business Book of Answers

By Maria T Bailey

I will start off by saying that the subtitle of this book is “78 Important Questions Answered by Top Women Business Leaders” so you get an idea of the type of content you are going to find.

The book focuses more on the person starting a business entirely from scratch from finding a product/concept, to getting funding, to creating a business plan and moving forward from there.

Each section discusses a concept and then is full of personal antidotes in answer to the questions posed such as:   women home based

  • Juggling family
  • How they funded their business
  • How to be organized
  • Obstacles faced
  • Secrets to Networking
  • Daily Schedules

As I stated, the book is not geared to direct sales/party plans but there is still a lot of helpful information such as information on how to create a business plan and how you can market yourself.

The author includes some ideas on how to create a daily schedule which is more suited to someone who works from home but there are likely ideas that a person can take from that an adapt.  There is also a section on different types of advertising as well as using online marketing, but as the book is copyrighted in 2001, a lot of the information is now outdated.

She concludes the book by discussing an exit strategy if you plan to get out of the business and words of wisdom from a few people.

I did not see much in the way of interviews from direct sales companies but I did not expect to see any.

I think this could be a good book if you are looking for some inspiration and are not sure where to look.  There are multiple questions and areas that may gave you something to think about and consider in your own career.

Buy:  The Women’s Home-Based Business Book of Answers

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Leadership Ideas: 5 Ideas to Motivate Your Team

You’re a team leader for a reason. Now that you’re in this position, it’s up to you to keep your team feeling excited and motivated about what they’re doing. There will be times when team members hit road blocks. Who do they look to for guidance? You, of course! Following are 5 ideas to keep them motivated:

found photo: business leaders

found photo: business leaders (Photo credit: squareintheteeth)

1. Get them excited: Nothing motivates more than excitement and it’s up to you to create it. If you’re excited about what you’re doing, the rest of the team will “catch” that excitement. Pull them into your frame of mind.  Offer contests, host training meetings, whatever you think will add that sparkle back into their business.

2. Keep it fun: Nothing’s worse than being miserable in your career. Consider that your team members entered into this arena to build something for themselves. Keeping things fun and active will remind them of why they wanted to do this.

3. Involve your team members: Let them see that their contributions and ideas are valued. Supporting your team members and listening to what they have to say energizes them to keep moving forward.  Ask them to come up with ideas for a team newsletter or why they love their business.  Share this with the others on your team and give them the credit for it.

4. Help out: No one can force another person to do what they need to do to be successful, but you can be a team leader and offer your support. Let them do the work but also let them know you’re interested in what they’re doing. Offer advice and suggestions.  Give them one on one time with you, send them emails with suggestions they can follow, whatever you feel that they need based on talking to them.

5. Don’t hover but be available: Be there to offer guidance and check in from time to time. But remember it’s their business. Let them run it. They’ll let you know if they need you.  It is important to learn when to back off and give them their space.  Sometimes people have things going on in their life where their business is not their first priority.  They will let you know when they are ready to come back.

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Should you join a Start Up Direct Sales Company?

When it comes to direct sales companies, there are a lot of choices which can be overwhelming.  Sometimes you will find a company that is brand new and it looks attractive as everything is wide open for you to get in and be very successful.  But, there is more to consider than just getting in on the ground floor as start-ups can be more risky.

Flower new

New business a good idea? Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Knowledge

Do these people know anything about the direct sales industry or been involved it before?  While the concept of direct sales sounds simple and easy, there are many different areas to be considered.  For instance, can consultants sell the product all over the country or are there restrictions in some areas so you cannot recruit there?  Who is responsible for paying sales taxes to the government?  How is product going to be delivered to consultants?  What type of commission will consultants make at different levels?  Will there be rewards for recruiting people?  For someone who does not know the industry, some of these considerations can be very daunting.

Financial

How is the company financed?  Have people invested their own funds or has it all come from the bank?  How long has the company been in operations?  Even if you are just hearing of it, it is possible it has been around for several years.  For instance, my company had only been in Canada for a year when I joined but had been in the States for over 10 years.

Compensation Plan

There is more to consider than just getting in on the ground floor.  Does the company offer a good compensation plan to consultants?  This would be commission on personal sales and any people that they recruit.  If they only offer you 5% of your sales in commissions, it may not be a company you want to join.  But on the other hand, if they offer 50% commission, the question is whether that is sustainable in the long term and if you will make sales at that level in order to earn the commission and keep the company operating.

Product Choice

How many options do the customers have product and is there similar product available elsewhere?  If you are selling the exact same thing that is sold at Wal-Mart, you may have difficulty selling it at parties.  But if your product is exclusive to your party plan or you have a better version of the Wal-Mart product, then you should not have a problem.  You want to know if consultants have any say about new product that the company makes available in the future.

Know the Story

It is always nice to know why the company started and sometimes that can make the difference to people considering signing up.  There are many people that like to support the little guy and will join a company that was a Mom and Pop operation before they will join a company that was started by a big corporation to get bigger.

The biggest factor when joining a direct ales company is finding one that fits your needs, whether they are new or old.  Do your research and find out the answers to your key questions and concerns before making any decisions.

 

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Don’t Sweat the Sales Stuff

Business

Business (Photo credits: www.roadtrafficsigns.com)

 Sales is really quite simple and not nearly as frightening as some people think.  If you’re a new business owner or just starting out in sales you may be feeling a little bit intimidated by the sales activities involved in promoting your product or service but don’t sweat the sales stuff.  You just have to get a list together of why your service or product is of value to your prospect and be willing to promote it.  Always be willing to answer this question; what’s in it for them?

Many people think about sales the same way they do about telemarketing.  Those annoying calls you get at home that can be so distracting.  I had a telemarketer call me the other day to sell me some magazines.  He was offering this and that and such and such. I said, “I’m sorry but I’m not interested”.  What he said next really cracked me up.  He said, “You don’t read”?  Rule #1, don’t insult the prospect.

Car sales are another way salespeople get a bad reputation because that whole process is exhausting.  When you walk into a showroom and ask how much a car costs you are likely going to have to answer 12 questions before they give you the price.  Many times they will sit in the back seat while you test drive the vehicle and analyze the conversation you have with your spouse.  Then they take off to go see the manager to discuss your offer without you.  I’m offended by these games and I think most people are.

You need a straight forward, honest approach.You have to be naturally confident and pull it off something like this, “Here’s what we offer.  This is what we do really well and what’s excellent about our products. Here’s the value for you and this is how much it costs.”    Don’t inject any type of attachment to the outcome and stay away from any neediness which is just creepy.  Know your value, have a positive attitude and be persistent.

Determine the potential

Is this opportunity feasible for them? This is tricky because people have an inclination to say no quicker then yes so you have to keep your questions open ended and conversational so you are able to qualify them and decide if it’s the right business opportunity for them. They won’t share too much information with you initially.That’s your job to figure it out. I like open ended questions that are conversational as they land easy on people.

Building the relationship

Once you’ve established a good fit with your prospect you must develop a rapport and build the relationship.  Be persistent and cultivate it.  It’s like planting seeds.  You’re watering them, fertilizing the soil, nurturing the seeds so that the plant becomes healthy and strong.  It’s the same with an account.  You’re making follow up calls, staying in touch, offering your value and services, thanking them for the opportunity and politely asking for their business.

Time management

Either you will run the day or the day will run you. We often get distracted throughout the day which is why it’s so important to have goals and priority lists so we can stay focused and use our time wisely. Get familiar with online tools such as conference calling, video conferencing and online meetings.  See the infographic here from InterCall that outlines time and cost wasted in traffic.

Be confident about your business knowing you have a great product or service to offer.  One final thing that many salespeople forget to do is ASK for the business.  Will you call me when you’re ready to move forward?  Will you give me an opportunity to quote next year?  Will you come in and see me when you’re ready to sit down and discuss going ahead?  That alone with make you more money than any other thing you do.  Ask.

About the author:Carrie Wynne is the author of 10 Ways to be Deliriously Happy – How to Live an Inspired Life.  She conducts personal development workshops based on the principles in her book showing others how to connect to the power within themselves and develop mental strategies to create an incredible life.  As a professional sales consultant she also offers training, coaching, and sales seminars.  Connect with Carrie on Google+,Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

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Making an Online Sale Personal

In the age of information, when everything is at our fingertips, it makes sense that more and more people are starting to favor shopping online versus shopping at the mall. However, a computer screen can’t replace human interaction, especially when purchasing big-ticket items like jewelry and electronics. Having the opinion of a customer service representative or personal shopper can be priceless and have a huge impact on whether or not you will make the sale. When running an online direct-to-consumer business, here are some ways to keep it personal to help out your bottom line.

Shop online

Shop online (Photo credit: Daniel*1977)

  1. Be present: Just because the sale is happening over the Internet doesn’t mean that there aren’t two parties on either end. Taking advantage of great tools like live chat, where customers can ask specific questions about a particular product or ask for advice can be the difference between a consumer buying an item online or going into a store to check it out.
  2. Have a good return policy: Your return policy is key for customer service, and often plays a direct role in whether a customer will give repeat business. If one of your clients isn’t satisfied with her purchase, having the ability to return it hassle-free will help her keep her faith with online business.
  3. Communicate often: Your website offers a wealth of information about your business, but the difference between a good and a great FAQ page can affect your bottom line. Don’t have control over you’re employer’s website? Facebook and twitter are great tools to help address customer concerns and inquiries. Think about it – if you were shelling out mucho dollars for a set of pearls with diamonds, you would want to know that you were getting great bling for your buck, and constant contact would play a big role. Focusing your store on customer service instead of sales breeds repeat customers.
  4. Socialize: Social media is a huge opportunity for consumers to interact with merchants, so keep it personal when utilizing social media. If someone airs a grievance, use discretion in determining which posts to keep or delete, and don’t be afraid to comfort a customer on a public forum. If other potential clients see that you care, they may bookmark your site.
  5. Be creative: As a business owner or operator, you are certainly creative, so put your brain-wheels to work to figure out the best way to achieve making relationships with your clientele. For some, offering the option of an interactive “dressing room,” where customers can upload an image of themselves and “try on” products may be the way to go; for others, it may mean offering a “Free Try-on Period” where you send home a few items with the understanding that the customer will get charged for the items they don’t send back within a few days of receiving them.

In the age of information, it seems like everything is done online: dating, college classes, and of course, shopping – but that doesn’t mean that these should be impersonal experiences. Keeping these tips in mind can ensure that your customers are happy with their shopping experience enough to return time and time again.

Carly Chodosh is the Social Media Manager at Pearl & Clasp, a pearl jewelry company that specializes in restringing pearls, pearl clasps and custom designed pieces.

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Talking the Talk: Six Musts When Trying to Reach New Prospective Clients

To thrive among stiff competition, your business needs to always be reaching out to new prospects and winning them over. There are several good methods that should be incorporated into your regular marketing efforts.   billboard-advertisement

Stop Promoting to Anyone

Promoting to anybody with a pulse often wastes marketing dollars. Realize that everyone that sees your message is not going to be a customer. Develop an ideal customer profile of people that truly have a need or desire for what you sell. Adjust your marketing to focus on this target group.

Educate Prospects

People are often hesitant to buy when they are not familiar with your company or products. Provide prospects with lots of detailed information about the benefits and uses of your products and services. The more someone knows about your company’s offerings, the more they will know whether your services apply to them or if what you have to offer is really something they want.

Get Customer Reviews

Ask your current customers to write reviews. Customer reviews are a powerful way to attract new customers. People often read reviews first to discover all the pros and cons about a company’s products or services. Existing customers can provide unique insights that are helpful in this regard.

Establish a Relationship

Offer an online newsletter and encourage prospects to sign up. Use this opportunity to build trust by providing beneficial information about your company and products. When they like you, they will turn in to buyers. This also creates customer loyalty because they will actually feel like they are a part of something.

Give Away Free Stuff

A favorite business marketing strategy is to give away free promotional products to customers and prospects. Each item you distribute can be customized with your logo, and may also include a short tagline along with your contact details such as your URL or phone number. Choose popular items such as custom laptop bags by HALO that are useful and portable.  Promotional products are a wonderful form of marketing in that they will remain in circulation for years, making them an extremely effective and cost-efficient form of advertising.

Trade shows are ideal for giving away free stuff. People’s eyes light up when they receive gifts like HALO branded solutions promotional bags. Everywhere their bag goes, it will be seen by countless new prospects. Your business will get lots of effective advertising from these types of highquality products.

Cater to Their Desires

Know what potential customers really want when they seek out companies like yours. Successful selling involves figuring out what people want and then giving it to them. Conduct market analyses to find out what products and services are likely to attract customers to your business.

Check out your most successful competitors and see what they offer. Find ways to put a unique twist on your offerings to stand out from the crowd.

In order keep business flowing in any economy, it is essential to market to prospects in ways that turn them into loyal customers. Use proven marketing strategies like these to spread brand awareness and increase sales.

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