B2B Sales–build your business –getting more customers

19 10 2007

One of the things I love in business is watch the different ways businesses grow through discovering new customers. I love business owners that like to think out of the box. See a lot of business owners think that if thy advertise in the right places or market to the right people then people will show up at their doorstep. I say “maybe” but what is your back up plan if that doesn’t happen? If you don’t have a good back up plan I’ve got a successful one I have used in all the businesses I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of.

Being in outside and retail sales for many years I learned that if my customer wasn’t standing in front of me it was my responsibility to go out and find them. So I used to ask myself a series of questions in order to find my BEST customer. Notice I didn’t say just “a customer” I wanted to find the person or company that most desired my product or service. So I would imagine somebody using my product– sounds stupid but the details of the visualization were extremely helpful. Rather than explain this let me show you how I did it.

One of the companies I worked for was Sprint. I was lucky enough to get in right when people where realizing how much having a cellphone could change their life for the better. I primary enjoyed focusing on business customers when I wasn’t busy at the store. So I asked myself the most powerful question that you can ask in sales “who would benefit most from having the ability of the features that my product offers?”

Then I just sat down and wrote out a list of who and more importantly why they would be able to use my product to better their business. If I understood and could communicate the reasons why it showed them that I had their best interests in mind. What also separated myself is that I wasn’t just a salesperson rather I was someone that was trying to help them achieve their long term goals while achieving short term savings. Then I looked at the areas that I had the greatest opportunity of positively impacting the bottom line. Why did I do this? Those where the areas which I would be able to utilize my time and get them to say yes the fastest. After that I look at the who and wheres of that industry, company of division.

Who is the best person in this segment to prove my products worth to? I never looked at normal purchasing channels which really helped my success in that I never fought through red tape. So if I knew that a sales manager could make the most money I lent him out the phones for a couple of days so he could see it himself then he sold the purchasing manager on the decision. Most others started with the purchasing manager instead of the end user.

Where is the best place to find get in touch with that person? I molded my schedule to where and when was the best time for them. This was critical for me because I into place that others couldn’t access. I was always looking for the back door if you will. So if they were on the road I met them for breakfast, or I would show up at a trade show that I found out they would be attending. Needless to say I was never that guy waiting in the office for the appointment unless I absolutely needed to be.

I have this little thing I say to myself in business to business sales “If I can find the area which I can make the most difference to any business it will help me to penetrate the whole business”


WEBMASTERS – LISTEN–What can you do to make the customers experience Amazing

8 10 2007

The other day I was on Amazon.com and I was updating my recommended list. Once I got 5 minutes into that list I realized why it is that I stop working on it every single time. Amazon.com make the layout of the site easy but once you want to do something they make it a lot harder than it needs to be. So I wanted to tell them about the laundry list of things I saw they could do to make the customers experience easier and more productive. Guess what? I look through 3 pages from where I was and I couldn’t find a feedback link. Listen Amazon finding out what your customers think should be more important than selling stuff because when you frustrate customers you lose them PERIOD. So a feedback link (unless I am blind) should be as easy to find and as noticeable as that stupid gold box that I have never opened. Of course I instantly thought of my readers and I thought this is a hugely important topic that isn’t discussed often enough LOSING CUSTOMERS and what you can do about it. So this post is lesson one the customers experience.

So the first thing about their website is that they make it easy if you want to place an order but hard if you want to do anything else it become progressively harder. Let me give you an example I want to put something on my wish list and the next thing I see is a page of recommended items which I appreciate. However They don’t make it easy to do your only two choices — there is no direct link back to what you where doing before your wish list or selecting multiple things on the recommended list without having to go back and forth. At this point I have forgotten what I started and get frustrated and leave. My dumb ass forgets though every time I go back why I left–I was frustrated, lost and couldn’t find help so I start the hopeless crusade again. Hopefully I’ll remember now that they only care if I’m purchasing something.

So what does you customer feel about your businesses experience on line or off line? Have you keep with the times in your store design? Every knows that JeffBezos hasn’t done anything to make that website any better in 5 or 10 years. He probably thinks that since his company makes billions that he is okay but so did AOL when they pulled this junk of being the best.So talk to your customers and ask them (don’t ASSume) everyday about all the parts of their experience. If they give you things that they didn’t like be grateful because they my have just saved you. Sometimes just talking to our customers can save us more than a sale would give us in profit–not all the time sometimes. Become a people watcher step back and look how easy it is for your customers to see prices, get something off a shelf to look at it, or walk without trip over a display. Here’s the rule= just because you think something is completely obvious doesn’t mean that your customers will .

Your goal is to make the process of doing ANY type of business with you as enjoyable as possible. Give you customers an experience that leaves them saying "WOW "and that is one the keys to them coming back again and gain. After all look at Disney World the rides don’t change but why do people return year after year? Simple they want the experience of how they feel when they are there. If Disney could bottle that up and let people take it with them they would be trillioniares. Make your customers viewpoint and their experience be your number one goal and it will be sure to help your profitability

Does your neighbor 4 houses down know what business you own?

6 10 2007

Small business owners are always looking for that great idea that will make their marketing and advertising bring more customers to them. Start with yourself and work your way out instead of advertising in some magazine or newspaper and guessing if it will work.

<>When I started in retail sales and management years ago I started with the easiest and least inexpensive way to grow your sales. I went around to all the stores and I introduced myself and told the employees where I worked. Then afterwards if I walked by their store on the way to lunch I always waved saying hi.Now I was doing this at first for many different reasons and creation of sales WASN’T even a goal. It was primarily for safety reasons “I keep an eye on your store if you do the same”–etc.

<>However I noticed that over 20% of the people I talked to never even realized that my type of store was even in the mall they had been working in. Many others came down to buy from me specifically just because I was thoughtful enough to reach out to them. I created SEVERAL employee and family appreciation events that grew my businesses over 10-15 % in profits just by this one activity. How these people gave me great refferals without having to ever ask for one is a whole other topic.

So if you can find time to take a walk through your neighborhood and knock on doors and introduce yourself and your business. If your can’t get another family member to. Don’t try and sell them just introduce yourself and get to know them. Just how they will help you out by returning the favor of you being a good neighbor will make the walk(s) worthwhile. Just watch sooner or later they will come though your businesses front door when they are ready for what you have to offer. They will choose you just because people naturally want to do business with people they know and like.Your neighbor would LOVE to support the local businesses and once you tell them that you own it they will start coming in.

The line” if you build it they will come” from Field of Dreams is absolutely true here. The “it” is the relationship with your neighbors

Why start up businesses FAIL –how to not be a statistic

5 10 2007

There is a few very good reason why new businesses end up out of business before they know it. This is all the things that they do wrong so you don’t have follow in their footsteps. These all can be summed up by saying DO as much homework as possible before you get into business and you’ll have a lot less struggle while your in business.

  1. They don’t plan to screw up they are so busy trying convince everybody else that it will succeed they don’t play devils advocate for the challenges they will face. If you don’t mess up your business will have no foundation. Great businesses are built on massive I mean HUGE Adversities. Plan for the worst case scenario then work for the best case.
  2. Have a business plan that people would feel good lending you money on even if your no looking at any. When people say it won’t work instead of defending why it will instead tell them to read your business plan (most people will shut up at the sight of even seen a business plan) . Remember the things that most people that don’t believe in your business idea are saying one of two things either they don’t believe because they couldn’t do it or that you haven’t shown them enough working on the business only getting into business.
  3. Read at least 5 business autobiographies– figuring out how others became successful will only help you to get there faster. It also makes smarter by learning the reasons why things do and don’t work. The more we can learn from those before us the more time we can take in focusing on achieving our dreams.
  4. Interview competitors in your industry and similar industries that aren’t your direct competition or in your local market. You’ll find that almost all entrepreneurs are willing to help you because they understand how hard it is. Never “think”you understand you know the reason why things happen in your industry ask others and use their experience to your advantage.
  5. Over estimate all your expenses by 25% and under estimate all your profits by 40% . In the beginning most businesses are cash strapped so if you set yourself up for things being HARDER than they will be you will surprised at how much cash flow your actually have. You need to give yourself a lot of leeway financially for all the things you never saw coming but show up when you least expect them too.

    Don’t make you customers have to find you…..

    4 10 2007

    I just heard a great hint by the guy who created the game “Cranium” — “Take our games to where our customers are, instead of where games are being sold.” So start looking at where your customers are using your product instead of buying your product. You’ll have a much greater chance of communicating positively with a better outcome in a short amount of time. I have used this insight to help launch sales of companies that I have done consulting for into the stratosphere. It so simple and yet hardly anybody ever considers because they are busy following the “proper channels in order to get the product to market”. In today’s sales environment there are no longer any “proper” channels left.

    Where are the people that are most likely to purchase your product right now? GO there!!