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The Importance of Strong Customer Relationships

In Business Buy Guide, Business Leads on January 7, 2011 by businessbuyguide Tagged: , ,

Good relationships are essential in business and sales. The stronger your relationships with your customers, the more likely they’ll refer your business to the people they know.

Make it a point to enhance your customer relationships every day. Don’t just say hi when they come in and goodbye when they go. The last thing you’d want to do is to make your customers feel like a statistic. People like to be appreciated, so take a few minutes of your time to do just that.

Strike up a conversation with your customers, but avoid talking about business. A non-business chat will make them feel comfortable and get them talking. And the more they talk to you, the more sales opportunities will come your way.

Start by getting to know the names of your customers, then make sure to address them by name. You can ask them how they’re doing today, how their weekend was, or if you can help them with anything. Make your presence known.

Another way to strengthen your customer relationships is to have a directory of all your customers’ birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions, such as their kids’ birthdays and graduation dates. Keep your ears open to pick up on any mentions of such upcoming events.

When it’s almost the date of the event, send a card. Your customers will be pleased that you remembered them on their special day, and this will only reinforce your existing relationship with them.

There are many reasons why you should focus on developing good relationships with your customers, but these are the two most important:

1.    People value excellent customer service. As long as you provide this, your customers will remain loyal to you. But once you cease to do so, your competitors will be able to swoop in and take them away. Remember, there is absolutely no substitute for excellent customer service. This is the only thing that matters the most to a customer (yes, even more than price).

2.    Good customer relationships are key to getting referrals. Think about it, why wouldn’t someone whom you treat with respect and provide with excellent customer service tell their family and friends about you?

Your customers are your most important assets. By nurturing your relationships with them, you boost your sales as well.

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The Significance of Posture in Relationship Selling

In Business Buy Guide, Business Leads on January 5, 2011 by businessbuyguide Tagged: ,

Relationship selling or consultative selling is key to building a successful online business. An important element in this process is posture. One must project a confident posture, especially when on the phone.

Although many of us would like to conduct our business solely through online means, we still need to use offline tools such as the phone. Having excellent telephone skills is essential in relationship selling, since you only have about ten seconds to introduce yourself and give a valid reason for calling.

Because you only have your voice to create an atmosphere of trust, it’s more challenging to communicate via phone. Your tone is very important. Is your tone pleasant? Do you sound sincere? Is your voice clear? Do you have a “smile” in your voice? The listener will be able to tell if you have confidence and a positive attitude. Here’s a tip for you – smile! Doing so will help you project optimism.

To be confident, you have to be prepared. Know what you’re going to say beforehand. Practice so you’ll feel comfortable and be able to carry a natural conversation. Instead of worrying about what you’re going to say next, you can listen carefully to the other person and take down notes.

Be friendly yet professional. Take the lead in the conversation by guiding your prospect or customer through the call. Stay focused on your main objective and stick to a time limit. You can share a little about yourself if you have something common – this will help develop their trust in you.

As long as you’re sincere, you’ll be able to gain your listeners’ trust as people do pick up on that. People want to be heard, so be a good listener, which is something rare these days. Also, if you take down notes, you can use them during your sales follow-up.

In summary, you want your tone to be confident. Prepare so you can be fully present during the call. Be professional and sincere. Relationship selling is all about having good posture and being prepared. Once you have those, your phone meeting will be successful, and you can move on to the next step, which is the follow-up.

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3 Tips for Effective Follow-Ups

In Business Buy Guide, Business Leads on January 3, 2011 by businessbuyguide Tagged: ,

Why do some people succeed at following up while many others fail? Do you belong to the second group? Are you unsure how to follow up effectively? Following up can be a frustrating task, but here are three tips to help you turn things around. Hint: the difference between good and bad results often lies in how the individual approaches the situation.

1.    Be prepared to arrange the follow-up during the initial call or meeting. Have a script ready so you’ll know what to say. Let your prospect know that they’ll be hearing from you again; neglecting to do this may lead to an awkward moment and a loss for words on your part during the follow-up. If you follow up the wrong way, it’s more likely that you’ll have a hard time communicating effectively and getting something out of your prospect.

2.    Keep in mind that timing is everything. This is one of the major deciding factors in your follow-up success (or failure). Good timing is very important because if you contact your prospect at an inconvenient time, they may brand you as a disruption. Always ask when the best time to call is. Again, as mentioned in the tip number one, set the follow-up during the first call or meeting.

Following up is actually a time to build a relationship with your prospect and not to close the sale, unless they ask for it. Focus on establishing a smooth conversation, as failing to do so will decrease your chances of getting the results you want. Moreover, always use your best judgment to determine whether the prospect is interested but very busy or simply not interested at all.

3.    Stay focused on your goals, but maintain an open mind at the same time. You will encounter several prospects who just aren’t interested. Be ready to hear the word “no” from time to time. This way, you’ll be able to handle rejections better and not be as disappointed when things don’t go as planned.

Remember these three tips and use them to improve your follow-up efforts. Things may not change overnight, but don’t give up and just keep practicing!

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5 New Year’s Resolutions for a Better Business

In Business Buy Guide, Business Leads on December 31, 2010 by businessbuyguide Tagged: , ,

Are you ready to experience your best business year yet? Make your 2011 amazing and grow your business by leaps and bounds by making these five New Year’s resolutions.

1.    I will direct my marketing efforts outside my comfort zone.

Try at least one marketing program next year. Consider direct mail, Google Adwords, or even podcasting! Sure, you’ll be in for a wild ride ahead, but the benefits you reap will be well worth it.

2.    I will listen to my gut more often.

Even if you’re learning from the most wealthy and influential business experts, keep in mind that they’re still human and that everyone makes mistakes. Their advice may not always work for your particular situation, or they may be having a bad day.

Try this exercise. Review your current strategies and see which ones worked best to bring you more clients, money, and success. It’s very likely that you’ll find a bit of serendipity and/or your intuition in each of these.

3.    I will earn and claim my bragging rights.

Throw all those unnecessary apologies and excuses away. Sentences such as, “I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but…” and “This is probably a silly question, but…” should never come out of your mouth ever again.

4.    I will test drive at least one piece of business advice that I normally resist.

When I first became a copywriter, I resisted the idea of self-promotion. I also refrained from buying a copywriting phrase book and from using a headline generator. Nowadays, I can’t imagine my life without promoting myself and without these tools. Little things do make a huge difference.

Of course, if someone suggests that you sell all your possessions and live in a camper van in the middle of nowhere, say no. Remember rule #2!

5.    I will honor myself to stay motivated and enthusiastic.

What do you need? Is it listening to music while you work, exercising in the mornings, or going to the movies every weekend?

What kind of schedule suits you the best? Do you prefer to work continuously with absolutely no interruptions or in shorter blocks of time? Do the kids and/or pets have to go to daycare for a few hours so you can concentrate better?

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The 7 Rules of Lead Follow-Up

In Business Buy Guide, Business Leads on December 29, 2010 by businessbuyguide Tagged: , ,

Rule #1: Following up leads is really a disqualification process.

Your objective should be to disqualify certain people from doing business with you. Have a set of criteria ready to help you determine their probability of conversion. You must be willing to let poor leads go so you can focus on creating and converting good ones.

Rule #2: Don’t waste your efforts on low probability prospects.

We spend a lot of time, energy, money, and emotion on our leads, and some of them take more of these resources to convert than others. These types of prospects are the worst, so watch out.

Rule #3: It’s better to have no prospects than a low probability one.

When we have low probability prospects, we try to change them. When we have zero prospects, we go out and look for new ones. And when we search, we will find.

Rule #4: A “no” is just as good as a “yes”.

There are only three possible responses that a prospect can give you: “yes”, “no”, and “maybe”. Many people beat themselves up when they’re not able to convert enough maybes, but this is the response that wastes the most time and energy. Personally, I’d rather get a “no” than a “maybe”, because most of the latter will eventually turn into the former. When somebody tells me “no”, I can move on to the next prospect. A “no” is just as good as a “yes” because there is certainty in both cases.

Rule #5: Eliminate the lead if you’re not getting anywhere with it.

If you’re not moving the prospect closer to agreeing to an in-person meeting, then you’re losing the game. If you know that now is not the right time to book an appointment, end the conversation. Call them back after a few days or a week if there is some motivation. You should be able to secure the appointment within the first five to ten minutes of the phone call. Your chances decrease as the conversation drags on.

Rule #6: People are more likely to talk with you when they think that you are willing to take “no” for an answer.

Consumers are wary of being talked into buying something from a salesperson. They believe that all salespeople are trained to corner them. The best way to deal with this fear is to let your prospect know up front that it’s okay for them to say “no”. Design your scripts so that they have a chance to say “no” early in the conversation.

Rule #7: Only spend your time on high probability prospects.

The largest cost in your business is not the advertising, the broker, the marketing, the car, or anything else. It’s the opportunity costs of investing your time in the wrong prospect and not getting paid when you could have found and worked with someone else who would have given you a commission check.

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Why Following Up is More Important Than Generating New Leads

In Business Buy Guide, Business Leads on December 27, 2010 by businessbuyguide Tagged: , ,

One of the main reasons why small business owners often seek out new marketing strategies is because they think that the solution to slow sales is more leads. If you agree with this point of view, then have I got a shocker for you. According to the 2010 Lead Life Cycle Optimization study, over 80 percent of all leads generated by small businesses are never followed up with by a salesperson. Eighty percent! Can you believe that?

I went looking for these statistics not so long ago because I had a hunch that this was the cause of the sagging sales problem many businesses were having. Let me tell you about a couple of my own experiences…

Last year, I went car shopping. I usually use the same vehicle for as long as possible. My previous car was at the end of its life, so it was time for a new one. I visited a few dealerships, test drove four cars over four days, and made my purchase two weeks later. Guess how many salespeople bothered following up with me over that time period? Just one. I had told each dealer what I wanted in a car and left them my contact details. How hard could it have been for them to get back to me?

Here’s another story. This happened when I was 21. I was in search of an apartment and deliberately looked at seven different units, even though I already knew exactly what I wanted from the very beginning. Despite the fact that I filled out information cards and requested a follow up with each salesperson, only one called me back. I have a tip for all you sellers and realtors out there: follow up!

I’m sure you get the point by now. However, the real question here is not whether a problem exists or not, but why it is happening in the first place. I have some theories, and after training several salespeople, the same patterns emerge time and again:

•    You prioritize fresh leads
•    You intend to follow up but get too busy and eventually forget
•    You assume that leads which are a few days or weeks old are too old
•    Your days are too hectic for a regular follow-up routine
•    You’re not confident with your follow-up script or plan

Do any of these sound familiar? If so, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. That’s just how business is – you need to multitask and be constantly diligent to master everything.

The good news is, automated follow-up solutions are available for busy entrepreneurs like you. I suggest using a lead capture form along with an autoresponder series. Add some great customized copywriting and genuine promotional offers, and watch your sales figures grow!

Keep in mind that even something as seemingly unimportant as a follow-up call or email can mean the big difference between a new customer and a wasted lead.

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The Cost-Effective Option of Outsourcing Web Design Services

In Business Buy Guide, Business Leads, Web Design Quotes on December 24, 2010 by businessbuyguide Tagged: ,

If you own a startup or small or medium business, it is most likely that the thought of setting up a company website has crossed your mind. You may have also found out that the cost of having a website designed and hosted on the internet may be bigger than your budget if you hire someone for the job locally. Outsourcing, on the other hand, lets you avail of the same quality services for less.

Several companies, both big and small, recognize the importance of having an online presence, and the simplest way of doing so is to have a website. But since the costs of hiring local professionals to develop and maintain a website can go beyond a company’s budget, many organizations are turning to outsourcing these services nowadays.

With email, chat, file transfer, etc., the internet has made it very easy for business owners to work with web designers and developers who may be halfway around the world.

Aside from lower costs, outsourcing gives entrepreneurs access to the same or even better quality of services. Smaller companies can therefore cut down on website expenses and use the spare resources to market their business locally instead. This way, they can keep up with their competitors without spending as much. Companies can also use the extra funds to promote their website online with methods such as search engine optimization and pay per click.

Given the limited resources of small and medium businesses, the money saved from outsourcing can be utilized to establish their brand online. Internet marketing is a more viable option than traditional advertising since it is less expensive, and more and more people are going online on a regular basis.