For World Password Day: Why Use a Password Manager, and How

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On this hardly-known but highly-important World Password Day (https://www.passwordday.org/), let’s discuss my password manager of choice, and why you should use it (or one of its competitors), too! I know, I know…how unsexy is the password!? But, the risk is

Building a Sales Process

Building a Sales Process

Let’s start with three simple questions: 1) Do you have a sales process? 2) Is it written down? 3) Have you made a change to it in the last 6-12 months?

If you answered no to any of these questions, definitely keep reading. Even if you answered yes to all three, I am confident you will learn something from this post that will improve upon your current sales process.

What is a Sales Process?

A sales process is the repeatable set of steps your sales team will take to move a prospect through various stages from initial contact to closing. While there isn’t one sales process that works for every business, there is a formula that everyone can follow.

Step 1: Know Your Lead Source

Do you feel like you have enough leads? Do you know where most of them come from? Do you know where the best come from? Many businesses are focusing on getting “more” leads, forgetting that quality leads will get them more business than quantity. Really evaluate these three questions above, write down your responses and determine how you should move forward.

For example, does your Facebook lead generation bring in 5-10 leads a day however your sales people are only closing 1 in 100 of those? Meanwhile, your LinkedIn leads generation is bringing 1-3 a day and your salespeople are closing 2-4 a month. I like the odds from the LinkedIn conversion rate a lot better.

Now, depending on your business and what you are selling, your convertible leads may be higher from Facebook, Instagram or your website than LinkedIn. The purpose of this example is not to sell you on LinkedIn lead generation, but rather to give you an example of how you should be evaluating conversion rates from your various lead sources.

If you cannot answer these lead source questions, put a process in place to track this information. 

Step 2: Track Your Leads

Here’s where the heart of the Sales Process comes in. A good framework for a repeatable sales process involves Sales Stages. This helps you track clearly where your leads in their buying process which will help your salespeople to overcome objections more easily (more on this shortly).

Know that you know your various leads sources, you know how they are entering your process and you can decide what happens next. Depending on the lead source, the first action or two in your sales process may vary, but don’t worry, they’ll all sync back up again quickly. Once your lead comes in to you, add it to your tracking system. A customer relationship management (CRM) tool simplifies tracking leads through the sales process. Having your leads automatically input into your CRM not only streamlines the process and saves you time, but it also works to ensure that no leads are lost due to inefficiencies. Once in the CRM, you can easily drag and drop to move your prospects through each stage. An example of potential sales stages may look like this:

Prospecting → Contacted → Qualified → Educated → Visited → Quoted → Sold / Lost

While a linear sales process would certainly be ideal, that is not the reality of it. So instead, most sales processes look more like flow charts, with branches going on in various directions. Many of those branches are due to buyer objections that come up at various parts in the process. This is where you can start to see real value from a sales process, especially when working with a more junior salesperson.

Step 3: Find Leaks and Fix Them

Leaks in your Sales Process are the points where a lead drops off and either makes a firm decision not to buy or simply stops responding to your salesperson. Think about two or three of the most common objections that you receive. One objections that we hear in almost any business is around price. There are a lot of sales strategies to overcome pricing objections, but often it involves a bit of a dance between buyer and salesperson. Perhaps even ends in a salesperson over-promising what the operations side of the business can actually deliver upon.

Rather than having to respond to objections after they occur, what if you could head them off. If you know exactly where in your sales process common objections occur, then you can put a step into your sales process that heads off those objections before they even arise.

Step 4: Re-evaluate and refine your sales process as you go

A sales process is an ever changing thing. I’ve run into companies that say “we had a sales coach come in several years ago and put a great process into place for us.” First of all, Kudos for taking the steps to bring in an expert to help you with building your process, which can get a little complex. However, have there been any changes to your business? Has your marketing strategy changed in the last few years? (I hope so, given that there have been amazing advancements in digital marketing). Do you offer any new products or services? Even if neither of those have changed, your buyers and their communication preferences certainly have. Your should be regularly assessing your sales process. Perhaps a new objection came up that you haven’t heard before; write it down and how you overcame that objection, consider building that into your sales process at the educational stage, providing a new resource to your buyers to help them understand your offering better.

Step 5: Sales is not Marketing, Marketing is not Sales, but they do need to work together.

A solid sales process utilizes the marketing branch of the company. When a prospect stops responding to calls or emails, or when they tell us they aren’t interested, commonly the sales process ends right there. How many times do your sales people reach out to each prospect before stopping? 80% of sales people only contact a prospect 1-2 times, however it typically takes 8-12 touches to convert a prospect.

When you receive a no, add that person to your drip marketing campaign (make sure to give them an option to unsubscribe, but understand that often a “no” is just a “not right now.” If they’ve stopped responding to calls and emails, add them to a drip marketing campaign. Just because they don’t have time to answer your calls right now, doesn’t mean they won’t need/want what you are selling in the future. Did they buy from you? Add them to your marketing campaigns. Previous buyers make great repeat customers. They already know and love your products. If you rely solely on salespeople who are chasing the next new lead, your prior customers may go unattended. Leverage your marketing team here, and if you don’t have one, leverage your CRM which can make marketing to them easy.

Follow these 5 steps to build your proven and repeatable sales process. Make sure to include your sales team as they will have valuable insights to provide. If you need help with this, let us know, this is exactly what we do!

Manage Your Sales Leads

Manage Your Sales Leads

There are a lot of ways you can manage your leads. CRMs are the best and most effective way to do so. If you use them properly.

What is a CRM?

Simply put, a CRM – Customer Relationship Management – tool allows you to track and follow-up with your leads and customers in a more efficient way. Perhaps you are currently using a spreadsheet or pen and paper. Is your office wall covered in post-it notes with your most promising leads and priority tasks? Don’t get me wrong, I love post-its, my wall is covered in them, but these are my long-term goals, dream projects, etc. My priority items, are all digitally stored, so that I can get pings, dings, emails, alerts and whatever other automated reminders I need to keep me on task. This is the way I operate my daily activities AND my leads.

Why do I need one?

Maybe you just have a handful, so few that you remember every conversation in perfect detail. What happens when 10 become 20, or 200, or 2000? You need a system in place that works just as efficiently for a few leads as it does for thousands. Why? Because your business is going to grow. That’s what you want isn’t it? So be prepared for that growth.

What to do with your leads once you have them

Most people follow-up with a lead 1-2 times. Studies show that it takes between 5 and 12 contacts with a person before they buy from you. A CRM will help you make all those touch points in a variety of ways. 1) Notifying you, at intervals you set, based upon your sales process, when your next action is due. 2) Sending automated emails based upon where a prospect is in your sales process. 3) Providing date-based alerts – birthdays, anniversaries, expiration dates, service due, etc. Reminders and follow-up will become second nature. Let your CRM be your automated assistant.

Additionally, with a CRM you can segment out your leads based upon purchase history, interest type and virtually any other category you can come up with for your business. If you offer multiple products or business lines, this is a must when you are trying to effectively market to your audience.

What features should I look for/avoid?

When determining the best CRM for your business, you should consider factors such as, what features you need, how many leads do you have and how much does it cost. One of the key pieces necessary to understanding this, is know your sales process and finding a tool that aligns with that process. I included more tips on selecting the best CRM for your business in a previous post.

When is the right time to get a CRM?

Now! And yes, I can say it this assertively, NOW  is the right time. If you are reading this post, or asking this question, then now is the right time for you to get a CRM. This doesn’t mean run right out and get the first one you find, however. Do your research and pick the right CRM.

Mark Hunter, author of High-Profit Prospecting and High-Profit Selling was quoted saying: “It’s not about having the right opportunities. It’s about handling the opportunities right.” You can purchase an incredible lead list, or spend a ton of money on marketing, but if you aren’t managing those leads daily through a CRM, you are wasting your time and money.

So, once you have the best CRM for your business, make sure you are fully utilizing it! Even the most expensive CRM does you no good if you don’t use it. Every. Single. Day.

What’s your Work Style and is your Virtual Assistant the same?

What’s your Work Style and is your Virtual Assistant the same?

I recently came across the book, “Organize Your Office…In No Time” by Monica Ricci.  The very first chapter in Ricci’s book is called, “Determining Your Work Style.”  Ricci goes into 6 different work styles that will help you organize your office.

The work styles (with a very short description) are:

  1. The Speed Demon – everything is FAST
  2. The Ponderer – Slow and steady
  3. The Scarlett O’Hara – Puts things off
  4. The Visual – Everything must be visible
  5. The Aesthetic – The outside looks in order, but the inside might not be
  6. The Combination – Characteristics of two or more of the above work styles

WHY am I bring up your work style? Because what if you and the Virtual Assistant (VA) you hire are the same?  What if you are both completely different?

Just like when you hire an employee, you want to make sure that a subcontractor that you hire has a compatible work style.  You want that person to help your business thrive and take you to the next level, not hold you back because of different work styles.

When hiring a subcontractor, make sure you let them know how you work, how you think, how you are organized, and how you act on an idea.

Also, know what work style your Virtual Assistant is.  If you are a Speed Demon,  Virtual Assistant who is a Ponderer might not be a good fit if you need help researching a business tool.  If you are a Scarlett O’Hara who puts things off, more than likely a VA with the same work style isn’t going to help your business grow.

Taking the work style a step further is considering your personality and your Assistant’s personality. Do you want them to take an idea and run with it?  Do you want them to keep you focused? Does that VA have the personality to step up and let you know when you are off-course or push you forward to make a decision when you need that push?

Some of these work style and personality questions can be brought up when interviewing a subcontractor, but unfortunately, the only way to really make sure you mesh is to work together – so take that chance.  You are both professionals, running your own businesses, so you should be partners growing BOTH of your businesses together.  If it doesn’t work out or you grow beyond each other, that’s ok – it’s not personal, it’s only business.

You can learn more about Monica Ricci at monicaricci.com and catalystorganizing.com

5 Types of Tasks to Outsource to Build Your Business and Become a Better Business Owner

5 Types of Tasks to Outsource to Build Your Business and Become a Better Business Owner

outsourcingWhen you own your own business, it’s all about efficiency.  Having those processes in place and delegating tasks that others can do.

Sometimes it’s easy to know exactly what you want to outsource – especially if you don’t have the skills for it.  But what about those little tasks that are taking up your time?  Time that you could use to take your business to the next level?

So, where do you begin on deciding what to outsource?  Here are some ideas on where to start your list.

  1. Tasks that you HATE doing

You know the tasks – the ones you put off until the very last minute and then you drop everything to do them.  You have the skill to do them, but you just HATE to do them.

  1. Tasks that you don’t have the skills for

These are the tasks that you have research on how to do it or take classes for.  Yes, DIY saves you money, but are you saving money in the long run?  How long are the research and class taking you and then to do the actual task?  Think about the money you could be making if you didn’t spend that amount of time on learning and doing the task.

  1. Tasks that are repetitive

These are the easy tasks that you do day-in and day-out.  The time you spend on those tasks adds up.  What if you wrote done the process and delegated it to someone?  How much time would you be able to add to working on your business instead of working in it?

  1. Tasks that have been sitting on your to-do list forever

The “I’ll get around to it someday” tasks.  These are the great ideas you have and have never acted on.  What if you did complete those tasks?  What would your business look like?  Would you have better processes in place? Would you be able to increase your income?  Would you be able to spend more time enjoying life?

  1. Tasks that you enjoy doing, but should really be growing your business

These are the “working in the business” tasks that you enjoy doing, but you still need to schedule the time to do them.  As a business owner, you should be working on your business – the income generating activities – and not the “back office” items that keep the business running or even are an expense of the business.

Can you imagine the time you will free up if you outsource these 5 types of tasks?

Do you need even more ideas for items you can delegate?  Check out this list by Chalene Johnson – Delegate or Die.  The list covers not just business, but also personal tasks!  Who says you can’t have a “personal assistant?”

And – enjoy your newly found time.

Limits: Embrace Them

Limits: Embrace Them

It is easy to stand in front of a potential client and tout all of the wonderful things you’re able to do. It’s difficult to stand in front of that same potential client and be honest about your capabilities. This is why it is so important to have a network of resources you can draw from to meet a client’s needs. This is why you need to know your limits.

You’re Not One Size

“The world is my oyster.”
“My ideal client is everyone.”
“I can do it all, don’t you worry.”
Have you heard these statements? If so, I hope you ran as far away as your business suit would take you. This is the hallmark of a business without a niche, without an ideal client and frankly, potentially, without a clue! This usually means that they’re going to try and fit you into a “one size fits all” business plan. That type of plan may harm the growth of your business. Your business isn’t one-size-fits-all, so why would you choose to delegate tasks to someone who is.

We All Have Limits

Early in the growth of your company you probably reached a breaking point. Sleep was elusive, time was beyond limited and there were tasks you avoided simply because “you didn’t wanna.” Are you still in those days? Are you wrestling with the idea of hiring a dedicated marketing person, accountant or virtual assistant? Think about it this way, you can only fill a cup to a certain point. Once full the glass begins to spill over and you miss out on all the great stuff you could have consumed. Business is similar. Opportunities will continue to present themselves but if you’re bogged down with doing all-the-things (i.e. social media posts, email follow up or invoicing) you’re going to miss out on potential growth. Without knowing your limits you end up restricting your potential.

Stay in Your Lane

This is not to discourage you from stepping out of your comfort zone or discovering new avenues for growth. Stay in your lane in terms of your skills and abilities. If you’re a digital marketer but you don’t excel in Facebook Advertising, don’t go there. If you’re an awesome landscaping company but you don’t design pool structures, don’t. Stick to beautifying the land and leave the aquatics to those who know. This is where the need for a strong network resides. When asked, instead of saying “No” and leaving the conversation there, you can confidently say “That isn’t somewhere we specialize but if you’d like I can put you in contact with two or three vendors who excel in that space.” BOOM! You’ve done three things here:

1 – Helped make your potential client confident that you know your limits

2- Strengthened the relationship with a networking buddy

3 – Lowered the potential for a headache when you’re in over your head down the road

Embrace & Grow

Embracing your limits doesn’t have to mean saying “no” to the fun stuff. It means saying “yes” to all of those things you rock. So always remember: Know (your limits), Delegate (where you can) and Grow (onward and upward)!

 

If you’re struggling in a potential area of delegation, reach out! I’d be honored to help where I can and put you in contact with a rockstar who could give you more time in your week. Drop me an email at [email protected] or connect with me instantly on Instagram and Twitter