Guest post by Marzenna Almendro, CEO of Holistan
(Marzenna Almendro posts a lot of inspiring graphics on her social media sites and truly GREAT BLOG content for small business owners so be sure to follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ or visit her website.)
Tip #1: Meeting your clients – Cold Calling
When was the last time someone called you to try and sell you a new cell phone contract? Or funeral cover? Or Insurance on your car? Annoying right…? But think of it this way, if they keep calling, there MUST be some fool (I say that tongue in cheek) who signed up, right?
Cold calling is big business. I know what you’re thinking, and before you skim through what I have to say, just humour me and read on. Consider this statistic: For every 10 calls you make, you’ll get one meeting. For every 10 meetings you attend, you’ll sign up one client. For every 10 clients you sign up, you’ll get repeat business from one client. And for every 10 clients who bring repeat business, 1 will be the IDEAL client in that they pay on time, are a pleasure to work with, etc.
That’s 1000 CALLS FOR 1 IDEAL CLIENT! Sounds scary…but the moral of the story here is that cold calling actually works.
The trick is to not try and actually make a sale over the phone – all you want (industry dependant) is a meeting. Because in today’s day and age, business is based on relationships. So if you don’t get that meeting from that call, you’re out. So how do you get the meeting? You have got to ensure you have a script (don’t learn it off by heart, but know what answer to have ready for each rebuttal). Let’s use my industry as an example:
Client: I’m not interested in Psychometrics
Me: You may not be interested in Psychometrics, but we have various other services such as leadership development, career coaching and workshops your business may find interesting. I’d love to pop in and chat to you about this over a cup of coffee sometime?
Client: We don’t have budget to conduct psychometric assessments at the moment
Me: We literally have solutions to fit any budget, and with the risk of losing 200% of a skilled employee’s annual salary when rehiring, can you honestly afford to not consider selecting staff using a scientific, quantifiable measure?
Client: We have a supplier who we are very happy with
Me: That’s fantastic! I’d love to meet anyway to provide you with our offering, even if it’s so you can make sure you truly are getting the most out of your current supplier
Client: We’re not hiring at the moment
Me: Great! This is the opportune time to gather your ducks and ensure you know what is available on the market, so that when the need does arrive, you’re not scrambling to find a psychometric consultancy with the best offering
Client: We’ve actually completed a whole batch of psychometric assessments, so really, we don’t need you
Me: I’m so glad you’ve realised the value in conducting psychometric assessments. Tell you what, let me pop in for a 20 minute meeting, and allow me to take a look at what battery of assessments you’ve done, and I’d be happy to give you my advice on how you can use this data even further to develop your employees.
Ok I think you get the point? At the end of the day, you NEED to secure a meeting. Because saying no to someone’s face is a whole lot harder. And anyway, who is going to say no to that beautiful face that radiates passion, huh mama?
Tip #2 Meeting your clients by doing ANYTHING except cold-calling
Right. I get it. You hate cold calling. Can I tell you a secret? Shhh… lean in close. I hate it too.
Jokes aside, I cringe when dialling the number and PRAY that no one picks up. So what alternatives are there to GUARENTEE a meeting with a prospective client? Enter… (drum roll please) the Marketing Desk Drop. This is a client gift which can be pretty inexpensive, to capture your client’s attention, and secure that meeting! (*also, this is an ideal strategy to use for the “NO” list we spoke about earlier!).
For example, I attended a business breakfast, and an Estate Agent did a talk on her own business. Her approach was awarding a gift of wine glass charms to every new home owner she sold a house to. The rationale was that when the new home owners had guests over to show off their new space, they would serve wine, attach the wine charms to the glasses to tell who’s glass is who’s. Should anyone remark on how nifty these little accessories are, the hosts would tell their guests about their fabulous estate agent! She could very well use the same idea to approach her Avatar Client to get the meeting she needs.
Now I’m going to let you in on MY personal marketing desk drop. Picture this: you receive a black gift bag, wrapped beautifully with ribbon (in my company colours). You open the bag to pull out a black box, and on the lid you read “All I need is 20 minutes of your time…” and you peer further down “to tell you about our Psychometric Assessment Offering. We’ll be in touch. www.holistan.com”.
When you open the box, you find a beautiful ornament resting in satin: a 20 minute hour glass to place on your desk. Once delivered (give it about 24 hours or so) I call the prospective client and ask them if they like their gift. Usually caught quite off guard, they sheepishly thank me for the gift, to which I respond, “great, when can we meet?” and before you let them answer, you GIVE THEM A DATE AND TIME, “How’s Thursday at 10:00?” Don’t give them a chance to decline.
I promise you… it works EVERY TIME.
Tip #3 I’ve got the meeting with a prospective client… WHAT THE HELL NOW???
It appears to be the default approach of new business owners to meet with a prospective client, tell them all about how amazing your company is and what you can do for them (kudos for the passion shown) but you’ve just given Mr. Client 100 reasons to tell you WHY he does not need your service right now… or ever.
This may sound counter-intuitive, but you need to go into the meeting and do as LITTLE talking as possible. Prepare questions you may want to ask Mr. Client, but keep him talking. People LOVE talking about themselves and the phenomenal work they have done in the business. RECOGNISE his efforts, commend his work and stroke his ego. Once you have gathered all you need to know, you can quickly tell him WHY he absolutely needs to do business with you. Remember, you are the itch to his current scratch. Come up with a solution to make all his problems go away…
Ok let me quickly just retract by saying this: never over promise and under deliver. For obvious reasons: it will damage the relationship, and jeopardise your reputation. Rather double the time you need to execute a project, and if he asks you for a price, tell him you will draw up a quotation and send it to him after the meeting. Do not risk underquoting verbally, and then resent doing the actual work as you sold yourself off too cheaply.
Tip #4 How to price
I attended a talk once where the speaker (a male) said his wife had sent him to the grocery store to purchase Kitchen Cleaner (amongst other things). When he got to the cleaning isle, he stood in front of about 10 different brands of Kitchen Cleaner. He looked at the No Name brand (which was the cheapest) and thought “She’ll ring my neck if I buy some cheap crap that doesn’t work” and then he scanned over the prices, identifying the product that was three times as much as the No Name brand and thought “Geez at that price that Kitchen Cleaner better strip paint”. So, in order to be on the safe side, he chose the middle of the range detergent. This phenomenon is known as the “Goldilocks principle”. Remember how Goldilocks chose the porridge, chair and bed that was juuuust right?
The rule of thumb is when assigning prices to your services or products, never EVER get into a price war. At the very least, be the average price, but NEVER the cheapest. Keep in mind too that AT LEAST half your time spent doing anything related to your business will be billable hours. That means 50% of your time you will essentially be working for ‘free’.
Say NO to clients who cannot afford you. If you are trying to sell your value to others, you have to recognise that value first, and in doing so, only accepting work that is truly worth your while. You are communicating a very important message by accepting and rejecting certain work.
In terms of discounts… it’s not bad to be flexible and willing to negotiate. In fact, it’s said that if a person accepts the first offer someone makes them, you are robbing the negotiator the joy she gains from the art of negotiation. Saying that, however, discounts should not be handed out. If you are asked for a discount, always ensure you get something in return, whether it be a payment in full for a percentage off, offering more discount the larger the volume of work, etc.
Tip #5: Being an effective saleswoman
Whether you like it or not, having your own business (at least when you are starting out), you are immediately awarded the role of saleswoman. The very thought of anyone in sales is enough to conjure up an image of overly slick, cheating, lying, enticing, cheesy salesman. Well, that at least what comes to mind for me.
I hate the typical notion of sales with a passion – perhaps because when I was in my early twenties, I worked as an instore announcer / saleswoman whilst studying, and was responsible for moving pallets of stock (everything from drills to garden pots). Arg, I shudder at the thought.
The good… scrap that, the GREAT news is that sales is not the above (at least it doesn’t have to be). We’ve moved into an era that is referred to as the “Emotion Economy”, where customers and clients are no longer seeking the fastest service or cheapest product. Do yourself a favour, and think about the grocery store you do most of your shopping at. Is it the closest supermarket to your home? Is it the cheapest? Maybe it is both, but if you walked in and were met with filthy floor, rude staff, and a bad smell, would you continue shopping there?
Of course not! As consumers, we are spoilt for choice. We choose where to shop based on the entire experience we encounter, as well as how competitive the offering is, and how convenient it is to get to. Think about where you have your hair done or which restaurant you frequent. The point is that clients will keep returning if they feel you:
- Appear trustworthy & honest
- Make them feel special
- Provide tailored services to their needs
- Take social responsibility seriously
- Treat your clients like human beings, not biological machines
For more on the competencies of an effective salesman, please grab a cup of coffee and head to my blog www.holistan.com/blog (January 2016 blog post).
Tip #6: Get yourself “EntrepreneurMom’s Start and Grow your Business” Workbook
No really. This workbook has been pivotal in my growth as business owner (DISCLAMER: I have not been paid to endorse this fantastic product!). This practical workbook outlines all the necessary steps needed to conceptualise a business, building it from scratch, right through to keeping it going for years and years! I can’t even say it’s worth its weight in gold because it’s worth (in my opinion at least) so much more than what you can purchase it for! #TrueStory
Nay-sayers speak of doom and gloom, but on the flip side, I think we have the amazing opportunity to start just about any business we can conceive! Sure enough, if you choose to go into professional services like me, you need to have the relevant registrations. But honestly, if you can think it, you can do it. I have seen an incredible surge of growth in SME’s; client’s that have used my services are “kids” in their 20s demonstrating the most incredible growth year on year – even during these “tough times”.
Marzenna Almendro posts a lot of uplifting images on her social media sites and truly GREAT BLOG content for small business owners so be sure to follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ or visit her website.