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It Pays to Say Thank You

Did you know that it cost 5 times more to find new clients than to keep the ones you currently have?

And that it also costs 5 times less to get new clients from referrals than from advertising?

 

Whoa!!!  Don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying that advertising should not be a part of your marketing mix.  I’m saying that you should invest in customer loyalty and referrals. Here’s a simple, yet overlooked, trick that can improve customer retention, loyalty and referrals.

 

Ask for a referral and say THANK YOU

Customers who have had a positive experience with you are willing to refer you to their friends.  Just ask. But they get busy, and they forget. Here’s the simplest trick to ensure they refer: Just ask for one.

 

There is nothing wrong with saying “thanks a ton for your business John, would you mind referring us, and talking about our business to your friends? We work very hard to satisfy customers like you, and every referral is sincerely appreciated.”

In other words, train your employees to show appreciation for the customer’s service whenever they’re able to. The customer will feel close to you, and everyone loves to talk about businesses that they feel they have a special relationship with. The effect will be remarkable.  Heck, I always find myself taking about AAA and their impeccable service…and they aren’t even paying me.

By: Mitch Nabki Guerra, President – Long Beach Chapter of TEAM Referral Network

Contuitv Consulting

As business owners, we wear many hats.  Multi-tasking becomes our M.O.  But staying on point with a dozen moving parts and multi-tasking can result in not completing action items.

It’s all about FOCUS.  Here are some tricks-and-tips I picked off the internet on staying on point.

How To Become More Focused

  1. Define your goals and prioritize tasks accordingly. The first step in concentration is to form a mental picture of what you wish to accomplish. Understanding why you are engaging in an activity and clearly stating what you hope to achieve from completing the task adds clarity to your thought process. It’s important to write down your objectives and pinpoint how that job assists you in meeting those overarching goals.
  2. Slow down. When you work with a deliberate slowness, it allows you to more effectively pay attention to the task at hand. When it comes to engaging in mindful work activities, it is important to gain the discipline to keep things simple and moving at a pace conducive to improved focus.
  3. Conquer negativity. Negative thoughts greatly drain mental capacity, as an unhealthy thought process overly stimulates the brain, increasing mental pressure and tension. When your mind is overloaded with threats, demands and counterproductive thoughts, cognitive impairment (a big hindrance to productivity) is the result.

Such tricks as remembering your core values, defining aspects of yourself that you are grateful for, breathing to relieve bodily tension and getting up and moving will lessen thoughts of doom and gloom and heighten your ability to think efficiently and produce at optimal levels.

  1. Practice intense focus. Whenever you fix your mind on a certain thought and hold your mind on it at successive intervals, you develop concentration. Understand that the human brain has limited capacity for attention. When you allocate anything less than 100% focus to a task, you weaken your ability to produce at a level consistent with your capabilities. If you wish to enhance the quality of your work, it is imperative to set aside any other activities that require effort for the time being.

I hope these tips help.

Mitch Nabki Guerra, President of Long Beach Chapter of TEAM Referral Network

Contuitiv Consulting

By Shaun Buck

As I am writing this article, I have been on this earth for 35-plus years. In that time, I have been self-employed full-time for 14-plus years — or 40 percent of my life. I have also owned a number of businesses and learned a few valuable lessons (most of them the hard way), and I wanted to share three of the most valuable lessons with you.
Lesson 1: It’s not all about the money.

Around 2004, I bought a franchise called Bevinco. At the time, I was looking to make an “investment” in another business, as I was rather bored with the business I had. Bevinco has a noble business model; they help restaurants and bars inventory their liquor, beer, and wine. The company can pinpoint people who are over pouring, giving away drinks to friends, and even outright stealing.

Personally, I have very little interest in alcohol other than having a margarita from time to time, but as an entrepreneur, I could see the benefit of this service. What business owner wouldn’t want to make their bar more profitable and stop waste and theft? I could almost taste the profits flowing my way. So with little interest in the industry and even the business in general, I decided it would be best to spend $55,000 dollars spread across three zero-percent-interest Discover cards (you have to love the age of cheap and easy money) and buy this franchise solely based on the notion that I would make loads of money.

Two days into my two weeks of training, I realized I had made a MASSIVE mistake and that this business wasn’t for me. I struggled daily to perform the minimum functions required to keep the business running, and after six months of doing something I hated, I put the company up for sale. Shortly thereafter, I just barely got my investment back out of the business — which was nothing short of a financial miracle at the time. In the end, I learned a valuable lesson; when starting a business, it can NOT be solely about the money. Few people can be successful when that is the sole motivation.

Lesson 2: To get big, you must be a good pointer.

My company, The Newsletter Pro, is in a hyper growth stage right now. As an entrepreneur, I want to be involved in everything that goes on in the business, but at our size, that simply isn’t possible. Although it has taken longer than many on my team would have liked, I have finally gotten comfortable with — and even good at — simply pointing, giving simple instructions and letting my talented staff take over from there. If you want massive growth, you CANNOT micromanage everything.

The idea of delegating (pointing) is not new of course, but I had such a hard time doing it in the beginning. In retrospect, one of the main reasons it was so difficult is that I haven’t always employed only “A” players. In the past, when I have employed “B” players, they often let me down. So I felt and even said from time to time, “No one can do it as good as I can do it.” I know that thought process is common for many entrepreneurs. I continued to feel that way right up until the point when I got an “A” player or two, and then I quickly realized not only can the “A” players do “it” as good as I can, they are actually better than me. At the end of the day, I enjoy doing and I’m very good at a few things; when I focus on those few things I both enjoy and I’m good at, and then delegate the rest, we, as a company, are more successful.

Lesson 3: Retention makes everything else easier.

Most businesses focus only on getting new customers. Nearly all of their marketing money and efforts are firmly placed in the getting-new-customers bucket — which leaves just over ZERO dollars to focus on retention. Since my second full-time business, I have been heavily focused on customer retention as I quickly realized it is easier to grow your business, and grow it quickly, when you don’t have customers jumping ship all of the time. Plus, study after study has shown that repeat customers spend more money, more often, and are easier to sell additional products and services to.

The above lessons are not rocket science. But they are lessons I had to learn the hard way, and working with as many entrepreneurs as I do, I see others still making these same mistakes. I hope that you can learn from my experience and save yourself some time and heartache.

by: Maribeth Kuzmeski

In general, networking to increase sales quickly can often be a frustrating undertaking. It seems, the more hungry you are for the sale, the less effective your networking activities will prove to be. Many professionals join their local Chamber of Commerce or business-networking group, and are initially excited at the prospects. But the unfortunate reality is that these groups often don’t live up to expectations; so we quit and look for another way to drive sales to our business. But wait! There are principles of networking that do work – and they may be the opposite of what you may believe about networking.

When writing the book, The Connectors, I observed fairly quickly that the most successful businesspeople I interviewed were incredibly skilled at networking. But their success was achieved by operating differently than the way I was taught to network.  The main difference? These successful networkers were not out to make a sale during networking!

The focus of successful networking is actually not about gaining an immediate sale from the people you meet. In fact, that tactic almost never works. Instead, success tends to come from focusing on building advocate relationships – those that turn into referral connections. These connections serve as potential conduits to other potential clients. So the secret is that successful networking is founded in the desire to build a mutually beneficial relationship with someone who is a connector, and one that may never even buy your product or service.

Networking, in essence, is not exactly about who you meet in your networking activities – it’s about who they know. And it’s about sharing who you know with them. This leads to a relationship based on referral trust and credibility that results in your advocates doing the selling for you. It’s contrarian and it’s smart!

By Mitch Nabki Guerra, Contuitiv Consulting

We all know the power of networking and personal referrals.  Eighty-five percent of small businesses get customers through word-of-mouth.  And that’s why we value a referral /networking vehicle like TEAM Referral Network.

 

With small businesses, it’s not about casting a wide net, but rather about connecting with a select number of customers, enlisting their trust and loyalty, and having that positive impression spill over among their circle of friends and colleagues.

 

That said, what does it suggest about steps you should be taking to increase and leverage word of mouth?  Here are four items for your To-Do list to increase word of mouth:

o   Specifically ask for referrals

o   Suggest easy ways to leave testimonials

o   Provide referral cards

o   Offer ‘refer a friend’ links on newsletters

 

So, when it comes to word-of-mouth, just remember it’s becoming more digital.  You’re web sites, social media profiles and other platforms are a reflection of who you are.

Mitch Nabki Guerra is the current President of the Long Beach Chapter of TEAM.  Mitch brings 17 years experience delivering technology solutions, business strategy and marketing to drive business growth. His company, Contuitiv Consulting, helps small and medium size businesses get to the next level by combining technology, business intelligence and experience.

by Kelli C. Holmes

Having the right introduction when you are the featured speaker at a meeting sets the tone and atmosphere for your presentation. The purpose of an introduction is to gain the audience’s attention. The audience may have just come from listening to another speaker on a totally different topic, or they may be in the middle of an interesting conversation with a friend. The right introduction will put the focus on you!

 

A secondary purpose is to motivate the audience to listen. Just because the audience is there, doesn’t mean that they are ready to listen. Let them know “What’s in it for me” – narrow the gap between the audience and the stage with your introduction.

 

How is a good introduction organized? Introductions fuse three elements: the subject, the audience and the speaker. As the speaker, you put into your introduction what you would like to emphasize or what you think is relevant. Write out your introduction. Practice it for timing. You want it to sound natural and enthusiastic. Reduce your written introduction to a few key words and phrases, shooting for about one minute of information. Transfer it, in large font, to a sheet of paper.

 

Introduction Tips:

 

  1. Include your name and how to pronounce it. If it is an unusual name, help the audience learn it. “It rhymes with…”
  2. Put in your title or position.
  3. Be brief, aim for about one minute.  Three minutes max!  Five minutes is too long.
  4. Include the speech title and make sure your description matches the title given.

 

Additionally, be sure your introduction answers these questions. Why this subject… this audience… at this time? Use the “miniskirt rule” for introductions – It should be short enough to be interesting, and long enough to cover the subject!  One minute is a gracious amount of time and plenty for most people. You can qualify anyone in 60 seconds. Too much data and their attention wanders.

 

One way to build intimacy with an audience is to relate something of a personal nature, a little known fact, or a special talent, relationship, or community service. For example, “What you may not know about this evening’s speaker is…” The goal is to make your speaker introduction short, informative and interesting!

 

Stay happy and positive! Give a brief summary of what you do – but also add a new tip every week. It helps you stay fresh, relevant and educational. Make sure there is a feature and a benefit of what you’re sharing!

DON’T EVER talk bad about your competition and why they are inferior to you, that makes you look petty and unprofessional. Focus on what makes you and your company great and how it will benefit your listeners. Give practical and simple application. Simple sells!

 

Dan Felico, Santa Clarita Professionals Chapter

By Jonathan Raymond

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?

There’s an incredibly simple, effective and ‘win-win’ step you can take right now to turn things around. Give your salespeople a structure showing how you want them to start each and every call, in exactly the same way. Don’t listen to anyone who says the structure will dehumanize their calls and ‘restrict their freedom’–it’ll do the the opposite. Your salespeople will be able to relax, and your customers will feel cared about in a whole new way. Here’s an example of the one our training sales team uses. This is verbatim what you would hear if you got on the phone with one of them.

“Hi __________. Before we jump in, I want to let you know how our process works and what I’d love you to come away with from today’s call. This is a 15-minute introductory call, and if we get into a really hot conversation, I can go a few minutes over.

My role is to answer any questions you have about logistics, pricing, curriculum and the process of becoming an EMyth Coach.

I want to clarify anything from the website that doesn’t make sense to you and help you get to a high level ‘yes or no’ about whether this is the kind of opportunity you are looking for and if you have the financial resources to pursue it or not. Okay?”

Pretty straightforward. Let’s break down the key elements so you can build your own.

By actually respecting their time, you can show how much you care. The response we get is some version of: “Okay, that sounds great … really appreciate that clarity.” And that’s not only what your prospects want, but what your salespeople desperately need.  Go for clarity over hollow strategies like ‘creating rapport’.

By being candid and honest about expectations, you can show them you value transparency. If you give people the mandate to ‘close deals’, your prospects will feel it. If you give them the mandate to have human conversations and be helpful, your prospects will feel that too. What if the most important role your salesperson plays is not to prove to somebody that this is what they want to buy, but to give them an experience that this is a business they want to buy from?

By creating structure that steers away the wrong customers, the right ones get to feel they’ve come to the right place. Do your salespeople really have the freedom to say no to the wrong kind of prospect? You know–though it’s hard to admit–that the wrong customer is way more trouble than they’re worth. Creating structure in your sales process, by standing for what you offer and what you don’t, has huge downline implications to controlling your support and administrative overhead. Sometimes the sale you don’t make is the most profitable result.

By being willing to not have all the answers, you show them that they’re dealing with humans. Does your agenda have room for the salesperson to not have all the answers? Especially in a service business, people will often want to talk to someone else, to hear a personal experience from one of your current customers. Do you try to talk them out of that to get the deal done? Why would you give up the opportunity to let your best customers talk about the brand they love?

With that background in mind, here’s a short list of questions to create the agenda for your new script (and who knows, maybe an entirely new sales culture at your business). Once you’ve worked through these, feel free to use the sample we included above as a starting point to create this element of your script in a way that really fits with your brand.

Create Your Agenda:

  1. Our qualifying call is __________ minutes long. It can go a maximum of __________ over if that’s really called for. Use your judgment.
  2. The primary goal of this call is to help people get to a stage in the process where they are __________.
  3. The most important thing I want them to feel, whether you sense they are interested in buying or not, is __________.
  4. The most important thing I want you (as the salesperson) to feel during the call is __________.
  5. You should feel free to turn the prospect away if you feel __________. If the prospect insists on cutting you off and pushing you to answer specific questions out of context, politely explain to them again the purpose of the call. If they get frustrated by that, trust that they’re not a fit for this product.
  6. You don’t need and shouldn’t try to answer every question about __________. If a prospect needs more than you’re able to give them, ask them if they’d be interested in talking with __________ and tell them how __________ might be able to help in a way you can’t.

Dozens of elements go into a well-designed, thought-out sales system. This intro agenda is one small piece of it. But what better way to start?