Category: Target Market

O No First Contact! Are you prepared?

O No First Contact! Are you prepared?

Home page picture, used for social post

In the last post, we learned the process for researching our big fish (ideal client). Being prepared to make a great first impression is imperative to your success. Your strategy needs to instill confidence. The prospect needs to know you can meet expectations on time, at a reasonable price, and the quality at or above expectation. 

Now let’s begin to create the perfect first impression. Building a good plan starts with identifying the right big fish. Take a look at your notes and the research you’ve done about prospective fish. Then decide which one will be the most straightforward approach to start with.

There are a series of things to go through in choosing which fish to start with. They are:

  • Compile Your Hit List
  • Prepare your position
  • Define where to start 

Compile Your Hit List

Start with a list of all the companies you’ve been considering. Then narrow it down to the ones who know could use your products or services. Don’t overlook obvious choices, whether they are big or small. Don’t discount a company just based on the physical size. A small company can have significant opportunities. Think back to your earlier work where you identified what makes a good big fish.

Prepare your position 

You need to prepare your customer research. This starts by creating a documented procedure including the companies revenues, perceived target audience, industry challenges, company culture, decision-makers, etc. Use this tool to get into the heads of your clients to understand their needs and wants.

Once, you have the information you’re ready to make the first move.

Define where to start (prioritize) 

Great so you have been able to narrow your list to a responsible 10-20 ideal clients. Now you need to set priorities of who you should contact first. To help you chose please consider the following:

  • Which have the most purchasing resources to spend?
  • Does their company vision complement yours?
  • What are their employee incentive programs as they relate to your products/services?
  • What’s the company’s actual need for you?
  • Will the partnership lead you off-course?

 

Now you should have a target in mind to start with. It’s time to plan your approach and execute that plan.

Here’s the step-by-step plan to help you make an excellent first impression:

  1. Build and analyze your database. Use the following lead tags to categories and track your sales process (if you don’t like these, come up with your own, but make sure you a definition that includes the behaviors your prospect should be displaying): hot leads, great fits, warm leads, and secondary leads.
    1. Great fits: these are the top 1-3 from your list above.
    2. Hot leads: these are leads that you have been able to engage in meaningful conversations. Specifically, you have spoken with them, and they have moved to the end of your pipeline.
    3. Warm leads: these are the leads that you have engaged in meaningful conversation but have not been able to get over all their objections. They see you as a problem solver and their most likely solution but you still have to get them over the hump.
    4. Secondary leads: These are not great fits, but you feel you can still bring value to them. However, they may not be your ideal for several reasons.
  2. Send out initial mailings (this a print mailing, you may, in addition, consider sending an email) to peak interest, educate, and establish preeminence. It should be short, clean, and concise. Ideally, to speak to the problem they have and don’t want.
  3. Follow up with your first phone call 2-3 days after they would have received the mailings. During the phone call, find out whom you need to be speaking with in the future and set up a meet with the right person.
  4. Follow up your phone call with another mailing/E-mailing/social contact that thanks them for taking the time to speak with you and offer more details about your products/services. Use this letter and opportunity to set up a meeting to do a presentation.
  5. Follow up the letter with another phone call a couple of days after receiving the letter. This phone call is to help you further develop your relationship with the prospective client. You should also be able to set up a presentation meeting with them. 
  6. Call again a week later if they haven’t agreed to a meeting or presentation. Ask if they received your creative letter (the second one) and if they have a minute when you can stop by and introduce yourself in person.
  7. Repeat, Adjust and Adapt. No process is perfect; keep adapting and changing your contact method and message as long as the prospective client fits that ideal process. 

Now, don’t be upset if you don’t seal the deal right away. Some people simply take a little longer to woo. This can all be a little intimidating at first, but you can’t go wrong when you know you are offering a quality product/service.

Once you’ve gone through this process and make the first contact (and hopefully a good first impression), it’s time to put your best face forward, which means sending the right salesperson to seal the deal.

If you need help putting together your approach and make an excellent first impression, schedule a free consultation to discuss your big fish.

The best time to start was yesterday, but today will do just fine.

About the Author

I am a business coach and consultant specializing in uncovering the root cause of a challenge and offering an unexpected solution. That solution typically results in a substantial increase in profits and the peace of mind to set you free from your business.

I ask powerful questions to clarify who you are and what you want. I am empathetic, although surgical in approach. I make my clients feel they are the only person I am working with. I have an uncanny way of drawing people out and getting to the heart of the matter.

I am a Pittsburgh native who aspires to free business from the rat race. If I am not working to improve the lives of my clients. Then you will most likely find me on the ice playing hockey, reading, or making plans for the future.

If I can ever be helpful to my readers, it would be my pleasure to connect and see where I can bring you value. I look forward to continuing to share more great lessons with my growing community.

Secrets Secrets they Can Be Fun… Let me tell you one.

Secrets Secrets they Can Be Fun… Let me tell you one.

Top secrets customer service information

In the last post, we talked about the first secret to building a solid customer service plan and how to decide what your vision is. 

Today we’ll talk about the second secret in taking your satisfied customers to raving fans. You must know what your customers want. Know who your customers are, and you will know better how to serve them. Having a defined ideal client is really important here. An upper-class woman in her 30’s is going to have completely different expectations than a working-class man in his 50’s.

When considering what your customer wants, there are four main areas to focus in:

  • Listen to your client
  • Ask Your Customers Sincerely
  • Offer More than Just a Product/Service
  • Know When to thank them for their feedback 

These are all important when deciding what your customers want out of their experience. 

Listen to Your Client

You need to listen to both what they say and what they don’t say. Clients may say they want one thing and mean something else. For example, if your customers are begging for lower prices, you may find their real priority is quick delivery. Your clients fall into four categories.

First, you have the raving fan; they’re the person who will self-identify with your brand. Take, for example, the hipster that will say I will only use apple products. Most of the time, they love what you do and provide you with positive feedback. This is your 20% sweet spot. However, if you’re looking to grow or pivot, you have to listen to what they say and prod them for negative feedback.

Second, you have the passive client; you need to listen to customers who only reply with “fine.” These customers are so used to bad customer service they only give a monotone response. Think of the client that leaves the 3-star review and writes it was good—clearly, no a lot to go on here. 

Third, you have the silent client. Listen to your “silent” customers. These customers don’t bother to complain because the service is so bad they’ve just given up and don’t feel like their voice matters. They feel unwanted, and when a competitor shows up, they’ll be gone.

Lastly, you have the detracter or “Karen.” These are your clients who had such a negative experience that will actively try to cause harm to your business. This can be in the form of a poor review or youtube rant. It is essential to make sure that you have a plan in place to handle these people. One suggestion is to create a Non-ideal client profile; this will allow you to figure out who that person is before they even have a chance to buy from you.

Ask Your Customers Sincerely

If you aren’t sincere when you ask their opinion, they will see right through you. It is essential to understand why you are asking them for their feedback. Are you truly prepared to take feedback and make changes? If not, don’t ask. Client feedback is not an opportunity to pander to them in an attempt to create some false value. This is your chance to reengage them and keep them as loyal customers.

You need to ask them sincere questions that get them thinking about their experiences. Make them feel like you really care, and you should! 

Extra tip: If you have a plan of how their feedback is being used, share it with them during your review process.

Offer More than Just a Product/Service

Your customer service process does not just start after you have completed the sale. Make sure you are thinking holistically about your client’s experience. It starts from the first contact and continues indefinitely.

Your customers are looking for much more than a simple product or service; they are looking for an experience that makes them feel good. They gauge every step of the process with a value. When you consider this and treat them like people, they will feel like they belong. That is when your product or service becomes a community.

Know When to Ignore Them

First, you must acknowledge that your business is not for everyone and everyone is not your customer. You will sell to people, and people will buy from you that really shouldn’t have. 

It is okay; in reality, you can’t give them everything, and some people you will never make happy. You have to set limits and stick to them. If your vision and company don’t meet the customer’s needs, they will be best suited elsewhere. 

Be direct, tell them this is not working out, and create a process to help them find the right place for them, and then move on to those you can help.

Start Here

  • Who is my customer? 
  • What are my goals for my customer experience?
  • What questions can I ask to make sure I am delivering on that experience?
  • How will I use their answers?

Now that you have learned some quick tips and tricks. If you get stuck, I am happy to answer questions. Email me: doogie@ideasactionssuccess.com 

 

Business 2.01: Grow the Right Way

Business 2.01: Grow the Right Way

Show how your business grows just like planting a tree. It is to serve as symbolism for the work we put in as business owners.

Two weeks ago, we talked about the first three of the seven specific areas you need to consider in your franchise prototype process. Here are all seven again:

  • Primary Aim
  • Strategic Objectives
  • Organizational Strategy
  • Management Strategy
  • People Strategy
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Systems Strategy

(The first three focus areas were covered in the blog: Business 2.0, please read before continuing)

Creating a focus in these seven areas will get you on the path to creating a business that works for you. Today we are going to cover the last four.

Before we jump into it, think of constructing your business model like planting a tree. At first, it’s so tiny and weak you wonder if it will even make it through the night. But, you keep watering, fertilizing, and nurturing it. Your ideas will grow the trunk, and each of these strategies will extend out like the branches of your now a strong tree. Finding the perfect support staff, employees, vendors/suppliers, and other relationships will make your tree flourish with leaves and flowers to bear fruit. 

Grab your pen and paper, roll up your sleeves; it is time to get to work.

Management Strategy

If I told you, having excellent management is not about finding great people with a lot of experience but about creating a system to cultivate, promote, and train talent. 

The way you structure your management team development is essential to your growth and your employees’ happiness and, ultimately, your customers/clients. This strategy is results-oriented and doesn’t depend on the people but the actual system that’s in place.

A management strategy, in short, includes goals, rules, company direction (mission/vision), standards (supervisor expectation of behavior and performance), skill development. That tells your employees how to act, grow your business, and meet clients’ expectations. 

It is a well-orchestrated procession of actions that allows your staff to exceed your clients’ expectations while fulfilling strategic objectives over and over again. It is your operation manual, your series of checklists, scripts, and action processes. 

People strategy: 

If your management strategy is what you want your people to do, your people strategy is how you get them to do it.

You need to show your employees how you feel about their job performance and dedication to your business. They also need to understand “why” they are doing specific tasks. This helps your employees personally connect to their job, leading to better production and a happier workplace. 

There are several strategies you can use to get the highest performance of your employees (They are in order of effectiveness):

  • Constant, regular, and public reminder/thanks of how their work is impacting the community (companies goals)
  • Internal education program
  • Internal staff dream program
  • The innovation game
  • A learn this business program:” not just your job.”
  • Performance Incentive Programs
  • Contests that reward high performance
  • An employee of the Month
  • Performance/Holiday Bonuses

These are just a few of the ideas you can use. To create a great people strategy is to find the balance between appreciation, education (the why), and directing of staff energy.

One of the best ways to appreciate your employees is by calling a meeting and asking them how they would like to be rewarded. Think about it for a while and put the best strategy into play. Keep it fresh and change up the system you use from time to time to keep your employees guessing. Once they get used to the prize, it’s time for a whole new approach.

You need to build a community within your company. There needs to be support, appreciation, and respect. The more “at home” an employee feels, the better they will perform and the higher their loyalty level.

Marketing Strategy

Marketing is, of course, essential to the success of any business, but it also must work cohesively with the other strategies you’re using. There are two central pillars of successful marketing strategy-the demographic and psychographic profiles of your customers.

The psychographic tells you what your customers are the most likely to buy, and the demographic tells you who they are, which can help you learn why they buy specific items.

With this information, you have answered the pivotal questions of marketing:

  • Who are they?
  • Where are they at?
  • What do they want?

Now all you have to do is speak to them. 

Systems Strategy

There are three types of systems in every business:

  • Hard Systems
  • Soft Systems
  • Information Systems

Hard systems refer to those that immutable they’re opening and closing procedures, your standards of office cleanliness. These are the systems that don’t have any wiggle room and are usually all internal.

Information systems include customer data, product information, financial…anything with data and numbers. This the recording of important information to the operation, use, and success of the business.

The most important of all three systems is the soft systems because it is where your employees have the most flexibility in execution and usually require the most creativity.

The most critical soft system is your sales system. In your sales system, the two keys to success are structure and substance. The structure is what you sell, and substance being how you sell it.

All three systems are essential to your business’s success, and while they all have their particular roles, they all must work together to get the job done. This also goes for your entire business development program.

Recap 

I want to take a moment to recap on the ideas we went over through these business development lessons. We have covered a lot of the series of blogs.

An entrepreneurial myth, or e-myth, is an assumption that anyone can succeed at business with: 

  • Desire 
  • Some capital 
  • Projected a targeted profit

There are essentially three key roles that need to be filled to set your business up for success:

  • The Technician
  • The Manager
  • The Entrepreneur

The four different stages of a business life cycle are:

  • Infancy
  • Adolescence
  • Growing Pains
  • Maturity

There are a few things we are going to talk about:

  • Business Format Franchise
  • The Franchise Prototype
  • Franchise Prototype Standards

There are three main areas of business development:

  • Innovation
  • Quantification
  • Orchestration

Seven specific areas you need to consider in your franchise prototype process. Here are all seven again:

  • Primary Aim
  • Strategic Objectives
  • Organizational Strategy
  • Management Strategy
  • People Strategy
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Systems Strategy
Question and Actions

If you have been following along over the past few months, I thank you for those who have not; then you have a lot of work to do. Below are guiding questions and action steps. As always, I am here to help.

  1. What do I do now? First, identify what role in your business you play. Are you a technician, manager, or entrepreneur? 
  2. Where do I need the most help? Take some time to think about the area you need the most help, then start taking your business’s next step.
  3. What will it take to get past my ego? As entrepreneurs, we constantly feel we must go it alone, but in reality, once we get past our ego holding us back, we can get the help we need to succeed truly.

I am here to help you work through all of these areas and give your business a jumpstart that puts you ahead of your competition right from the start. Feel free to contact me directly at doogie@ideasactionsuccess.com. I am happy to answer any questions you have and discuss the success of your business.

5 Quick Tips for a Kick A$$ Internship

5 Quick Tips for a Kick A$$ Internship

Internships are no longer a tool for massive companies to get grunt work out of college kids. It is a significantly underutilized option for small businesses to develop high-quality talent. Entrepreneurs tend to be overworked and stretched thin. Many of them have dreams of growing their business by adding digital marketing, business outreach, sales teams, or taking a real vacation. However, most feel they lack the funds to invest in their business. 

Here comes the power of an internship. The internship provides you the opportunity to get high-quality inexperienced talent at a low to no cost. It also is a fantastic tool for building relationships with major educational institutions.

Take a minute and review the graph to understand the cost and benefits of adding this program. It is always essential to understand what your committing to before you get started.

Cost/ Benefits

I have created several internship programs, from short 4-week middle school programs to multi-year professional programs. Here are my tips for creating an effective program for both you and the participant.

Set aside time.

It is pivotal before you get started creating a program, you first organize your schedule. Most internships require a reasonable amount of time upfront to get up and running. Then minimal time to maintain the progress.

Here is a rough time breakdown to run an effective small business internship program.

  • 3-5 hours for initial planning
  • 4 hours for onboarding 
  • 1 hour a day for the first two weeks 
    • Specifically for skills training and internship planning
  • 15 min a day for daily check-in
  • 1 hr every two weeks for the remainder of the internship 
    • Continued skills development
    • Performance review

Start with the talent.

Now that you have a rough idea of the time commitment, my next tip is to start by finding great talent. Most people will tell you to start by having a problem in mind and then find the person to solve it. 

However, when it comes to internships, most of the people you talk to will not have extensive experience or knowledge. It is best to look for two things talent and attitude. The rest you can teach them or even better they will learn themselves. Hire fast and let them have some control of the scope of their work.

Define the scope.

When starting a program, make sure you keep the project somewhat vague. Once you have great talent, engage them in identifying the work that will benefit the organization. How do you do this?

Tell them your desired outcome, for instance, if you would like them to take on your marketing. Then simply say that you would like to see a 10% increase in inbound leads. Then they can figure out how to achieve this goal, and you can coach them to this desired goal. 

Find the right partner.

Go to your local high school, junior college, college, technical school, or university and offer an internship for the semester by connecting with the student affairs office and at least one professor in a field similar to your business. Set up a meeting and discuss the possibilities.

For example, every business needs additional administrative help, so offer an internship to a student majoring in business administration. The schools LOVE it when a company provides internships since they act as a value-add to their educational offerings by providing their students with real-world experience. Make sure you negotiate that the school will give the student credit. On the flip side, if you find the right student, they can do all of this for you.

Prepare to mentor, be patient. 

Have a plan to mentor and develop the missing skills of your interns. Once you have created the space for them to successfully make sure you provide them access to the coaching/skill development to achieve your desired outcome. 

I strongly suggest taking a scientific approach to coaching. What I mean is be prepared for your interns to fail. Use their failure as a chance to improve your process. Remember, an internship is a low risk and high potential reward. The only way to get those results is to create a process around failure. 

Measure Your Results.

The final tip is to make sure you measure your results. I strongly suggest committing to running your internship at least three times before you scrap it. Each time you run, make sure you measure it against the previous results and against what your business was like before having the program. Make adjustments and improvements with each iteration.

Here are few categories to consider when evaluating your program:

  • Revenue/profit
  • Where you spend your time
  • Problem solved vs. created
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Intern satisfaction 
  • Your happiness

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section and feel free to share your top internship tips. For additional business improvement strategies, get your free copy of my book here

I am actively seeking business case studies for my next book; if you would like to be featured, please email me at doogie@ideasactionsuccess.com to set up a time chat. 

Stop Wasting Your Resources!

Today you’re going to learn how to find a target market of potential customers so you aren’t wasting precious resources on blitz marketing. So, the two questions you have to ask yourself are:
  • What do people really want to buy from me?
  • What related products are they already buying?
Once you figure this out you will know who is more predisposed to purchase your products/services. Then, you find other businesses with the same customer base who you can customer share with. Come up with an incentive and great arrangement to encourage both of your customer bases to shop at both of your stores. The basic concept is this: You want to find existing businesses who have the customer profile that you are looking for to market your products/services to. Then strike up a relationship with those business owners to work out an incentive for customers to purchase from both businesses. As a result, you have an audience to market to and they generate an added value from their current base. So, how do you figure this out? There is a great formula from Jay Abraham you can follow with great success. LV = (P x F) x N – MC Here’s what it all means:
  • LV is the life time value of a customer
  • P is the average profit margin from each sale
  • F is the number of times a customer buys each year
  • N is the number of years customers stay with you
  • MC is the marketing cost per customer (total costs/number of customers)
Once you know how much you need to spend to attract a new customer, you will know how much of an incentive you can offer to a business to help attract new customers. So, here’s your step-by-step process:
  1. Find companies who already have the customer base you are looking for.
  2. Negotiate an incentive for them to share that customer base with you.
  3. Focus your marketing resources to this group of predisposed customers.
If you need help working through this process, please contact us and we’ll set you up with the most comprehensive system of marketing tools and resources.