Top 14 Reasons to Join a Small Business Mastermind Group, Part 2

Top 14 Reasons to Join a Small Business Mastermind Group, Part 2

This post was originally published on September 24, 2018 and updated on April 16, 2020.  

In Part 1 of the Top 14 Reasons to Join a Small Business Mastermind Group we covered what mastermind groups are and the first four reasons, in no particular order, why as small business owners who are serious about growing their companies should join one – brainstorming, accountability, to help you “think bigger” and for support. Top Reasons to Join a Small Business Mastermind Group

In Part 2, we continue with our last 10 reasons, in no particular order:

New Business Ideas (5)

While helping each other, whether you’re making a presentation to the group or simply doing a check-in, the group is often discussing new business ideas. When you’re in a roomful of bright, dedicated, focused small business owners, how can it be any other way?!  It might even be something you had thought of before and rejected, or an idea you had decided to pursue but just hadn’t gotten around to it yet.  In your mastermind discussion, you will see these ideas from different perspectives, and hear everyone else’s thoughts on them.  And times change.  What didn’t seem practical or worthwhile before could be critical to your success now.  So whether it’s a revisited idea, a reevaluated idea, or a brand-spanking-new idea, it just might be the idea that you decide to pursue next. And it could make a big difference in your business.

Better Decision-Making (6)

Back to brainstorming and new ideas. Again, ideas are a dime a dozen. What really matters is your choice of which idea(s) to pursue.  Logically, what are the steps you need to take to execute that idea? How much time should you allow?  Is the idea timely?  Does it support your strategy?  If you run with the idea, what comes next?  Do you see where this is going?  Better decision-making is a key benefit of small business mastermind groups.

Aha Moments (7)

And I say “moments” because they happen often. What is an “aha moment”? Wikipedia describes it as that moment of suddenly understanding a previously incomprehensible problem or concept.  That’s what I’m talking about, and they are golden!  In our groups, the mere act of discussing your challenge in front of your mastermind-mates forces you to really think it through, and leads to your “aha moments.”  I love it when they occur! The presenter often stops mid-sentence, looking completely befuddled, and says something like, “I just figured it out! It’s so obvious to me now –  why didn’t I think of it before?!!”  Then there is a little group “victory dance” celebration.  Mastermind groups have clear, actionable deadlines that force you to act.  The group holds you accountable.  As you work on your challenge, your conscious and subconscious minds get into gear, begin to work in concert, and in the process you find solutions.

Learn New Skills (8)

Often the group decides they want to learn more about a specific topic.  We frequently address that by scheduling a speaker, whether it’s an outside professional or a group member who excels on that topic.  And it is more fun to learn together, especially in a group that has bonded.  You not only ask questions you want to be answered, but you’ll also think of questions a fellow group member wants but might not be thinking of.  Again, more minds are better than one. The group has your back!

Stretch Yourself (9)

When you are by yourself, you often play it safe. Not with mastermind groups. You will be constantly testing and challenging yourself, but in a positive way.  You will set goals that will force you to stretch and get outside your comfort zone.  We are not talking about taking leap-off-the-cliff wild risks, and we are also not talking about simply taking safe steps you are 100% sure you can achieve. We support you in setting higher goals so you can accomplish more.

Positive Impact on Others (10)

As we grow and mature, we want to help others. While there are many ways outside of business to achieve this desire, mastermind groups are a way to fill this need inside the business world.  With a well-run mastermind group, you are only selected to participate if you want to help others, not just yourself.  Yes, every member wants to grow their own business, but they also want every other member in their group to succeed.  I still love watching the positive impact group members have on each other with a well-placed compliment, specific and well-deserved praise, and simply the offer to meet outside group to lend a hand.  It means the world to your fellow mastermind group members. And ultimately it means the world to you to be able to have a positive impact on the lives and businesses of others.

Focus on Priorities (11) 

I call this one “fight overwhelm.” I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you simply cannot do it all.  Small business owners often have too many irons in the fire, and they barely know where to start or which fire to put out first.  The group helps focus on your priorities.  In other words, you concentrate on your most important goal, figure out the highest and best use of your time to achieve that goal, and stick to that plan.  When you do that, overwhelm begins to fade away.

Stronger Network (12)

As you work with your mastermind members and gain their trust, you bond.  The friendships and “business-ships” formed in our small business mastermind groups often last for years.  Interestingly enough, even when you know someone before you join the group, you may not know them really well. Members often say to me, “I knew so-and-so before our group, but not like I know him/her now.  They are now part of my circle.”  That alone is priceless.  And there’s more!  As you gain the trust of your fellow mastermind group members, they will offer to introduce you to someone else in their circle that you need to know.  These are often people you would never have met without your mastermind group. For you, this means a wider, deeper, stronger network. And it means the same thing for them as you figure out who in your network to introduce them to.

Gain Self-Confidence (13)

While these reasons to join a small business mastermind group are in no particular order, one item does lead to the next.  By focusing on priorities, gaining new skills, making better decisions, stepping into accountability, and successfully reaching your goals, you gain self-confidence as a business owner.  There is no better feeling than this!  It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

Increased Profits (14)

When you gain self-confidence, you show a more accomplished self to your customers, employees, partners, suppliers and others.  When you are confident you are more at peace, and you worry less. It’s not surprising that you are likely to increase your profits as a result.

Conclusion

So now you have my top 14 reasons to join a small business growth mastermind group, as of this writing.  Find a group, join it, and work on your business!  I wish you much business success moving forward!  Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.  I would love to hear from you.

Also please check out our website for our virtual Rapid Launch Startup Mastermind Groups and Breaking 6 Figures Growth Mastermind Groups. New groups form on an ongoing basis. Email us at [email protected] for additional details, or schedule a free consultation and together we’ll discuss what is best for you.
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Robin Suomi, MBA, is an experienced small business expert and founder of Startup to Growth. She has worked with thousands of small business owners through coaching, mastermind groups, education and training.  Robin believes success is rarely accidental and her passion is to help her clients set and reach their goals. Working with clients remotely through video platforms, she helps clients answer their technical business planning questions as well as supporting them while they explore their potential. She encourages clients to dig deeper, dream bigger, and works with them to create their tangible Success Steps. Check out the website for ongoing virtual Small Business CoachingSmall Business Blueprint in 30-Days classes, Rapid Launch Startup Mastermind Groups, Breaking 6 Figures Growth Mastermind Groups, and virtual networking groups. Email [email protected] with your questions.

The post Top 14 Reasons to Join a Small Business Mastermind Group, Part 2 appeared first on Startup to Growth.

Top 14 Reasons to Join a Small Business Mastermind Group, Part 2

Top 14 Reasons to Join a Small Business Mastermind Group, Part 1

This post was originally published on September 17, 2018 and updated on April 14, 2020.  

Are you are serious about growing your business? Join a small business mastermind group.  This two-part blog explores what small business mastermind groups are and the top 14 reasons to join one. Hint: one reason is so you can achieve more in less time!

Top Reasons to Join a Small Business Mastermind Group

What are Small Business Mastermind Groups?

I first discovered the mastermind concept in Napoleon Hill’s book, Keys to Success.  He writes, “No one mind is complete by itself,” explaining that we need contact with others to grow and expand our minds.  He defined the term mastermind alliance as “two or more minds working actively together in perfect harmony toward a common definite object.”

Let’s put that into today’s language.  In the small business world, in its simplest form, a mastermind group is:

  • a meeting of two or more people who share a common purpose (business launch or business growth)
  • where each person is committed to helping every group member, including themselves, reach their common purpose
  • a meeting where brainstorming, accountability, support, education, sharing of knowledge and resources happen, empowering all mastermind group members

In a well-facilitated mastermind group, your business grows as each member goes from being a single note playing alone to being part of a powerful, harmonizing orchestra. While you are working together, you will each be creating your own masterpiece…your small business.

Top 14 Reasons to Join a Small Business Mastermind Group

Hill’s core idea remains the same today – many minds are better than one when you share a common goal.  In our startup and growth mastermind groups, your goal is to either launch or grow your business. With an experienced facilitator and dedicated, open-minded group members, our mastermind groups can guide you to achieve more in less time. Specifically, we talk about achieving more in the next 12 months than you did in the last 12. You are challenged within a supportive environment.

With this background, here are the top 14 reasons to join a mastermind group, in no particular order. They are the “how” mastermind groups function to help you achieve more in less time:

Brainstorming (1) 

You need ideas and you need feedback!!  Are you wondering about your online marketing? You know you need to have a stronger online presence in today’s world, but what does that actually look like and how can you achieve it? How can you be strategic in your choices and make the best use of your limited resources (time and money!)? What are the best technology tools and platforms to use today? Are you bringing a new product or service to market, but want to talk it over with trusted colleagues, getting their feedback before you roll it out? Do you have a challenge that is making you lose sleep at night?  Or maybe you simply know something is missing, you know you can do better, but you’re not sure what is lacking.

Your mastermind group is tailor-made for all these situations. You build trust over time with fellow group members.  “Talking it out” with your mastermind group colleagues gives you new insights and ideas.  This is your safe place to explore new and old challenges, as well as seemingly wild and wacky ideas. It is all part of finding your path forward to building a stronger small business better equipped to withstand economic ups and downs.

Accountability (2)

Good intentions and a dream are meaningless without action. By ourselves, with no support, we often set goals and they wither and die. We don’t reach them. Your mastermind group works with you to ensure that doesn’t happen. You will create your Action Plan, and your group will hold you accountable.  And by the way, “accountable” does not mean judgmental. We are humans, and we naturally allow other things in our lives take priority. We also face fears and perfectionism, and they can stop us. In our groups, members help you set goals that are truly meaningful, goals you commit to achieving above all else. They also call you out when fear and perfectionism (and whatever else!) is intruding. You will constantly be checking that your goals are setting you up for success, not failure.  And then (again….drum roll, please) they hold you accountable.

Think Bigger (3)

This thread runs throughout everything that is done in our mastermind groups.  You know people who set goals that are ALWAYS achievable, right? They are safe, sure goals.  That is not what happens in our mastermind groups.  Your fellow group members will help you see the bigger picture, explore it, and establish goals that are often bigger than you might set by yourself, but not overwhelming (at least, not all at once!!).  They will help you think bigger and set up a plan to achieve your goals over time in bite-size pieces.

Support (4) 

Sometimes as a small business owner it feels like you against the world.  You love your family and friends, but they don’t understand anything about what you are doing or what your challenges are. They want to help, but they really don’t know how.  Where can you find a group of people who “have your back” no matter what is going on in your life and your business, a group who wants to hear what you have to say, and a group with no hidden agenda?  Your small business mastermind group, that’s where.

Next Steps

We will explore the remaining 10 reasons in Part 2.

Check out our website for our virtual Startup Mastermind Groups and Growth Mastermind Groups (Breaking 6 Figures). New groups form on an ongoing basis. Email us at [email protected] for additional details, or schedule a free consultation and together we’ll discuss what is best for you.
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Robin Suomi, MBA, is an experienced small business expert and founder of Startup to Growth. She has worked with thousands of small business owners through coaching, mastermind groups, education and training.  Robin believes success is rarely accidental and her passion is to help her clients set and reach their goals. Working with clients remotely through video platforms, she helps clients answer their technical business planning questions as well as supporting them while they explore their potential. She encourages clients to dig deeper, dream bigger, and works with them to create their tangible Success Steps. Check out the website for ongoing small business coaching, Small Business Blueprint in 30-Days classes, virtual Startup Mastermind Groups, Growth Mastermind Groups (Breaking 6 Figures), and virtual networking groups. Email [email protected] with your questions.

The post Top 14 Reasons to Join a Small Business Mastermind Group, Part 1 appeared first on Startup to Growth.

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.

Small Business Sales and Activity Planning for Success

Small Business Sales and Activity Planning for Success

“It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.” – Scott Belsky

Ideas are a dime a dozen.  Your world changes when you make ideas happen.  And in the for-profit business world, that means sales.

Do I Really Need a Sales and Activity Plan?

Yes.  You start your business because you have great ideas.  When you grow your business through sales, you are getting your ideas out there to a bigger audience, making an impact, realizing your dreams, changing your world and the world of others. You are, in Belsky’s words, “making [your] ideas happen.” You are also reaping the rewards you envisioned when you started your business.

This only happens through sales planning and executing!  You start with a plan, then you execute through activity.  I have found there are two types of business owners:

  • those who love to plan and are afraid to execute
  • those who hate planning and do nothing but execute

As a small business owner, your “happy place” is planning and executing!  That means you need your sales and activity projections as a starting place.  These are key metrics in business planning.

Before we go any further, let’s debunk a myth.  As a small business owner, you often believe if you do enough marketing activities you will miraculously grow your business and be profitable, and therefore you won’t have to “do sales.” Not true.  Marketing will grow awareness of your business, which is very important.  However, you must also…actually…sell.

To increase sales without feeling like a hamster running endless circles on a hamster wheel and going nowhere, you need a sales plan. Your sales plan becomes part of your business plan.

Now that I have convinced you, how do you start to figure out your projections?  The process is to ask yourself these questions:

  • How many units must I sell to realize my desired profit plus expenses and taxes owed?
  • How much time and effort per week/month/year will it take me to achieve my goal?
  • Can I devote necessary resources (time/money) at this point in my life to achieve this goal?
  • Do I want to?
  • By doing this, what other opportunities am I giving up?
  • By doing this, what opportunities am I “growing” for myself?

Sounds like a lot of work, right?  Actually, it is not, with the right planning and support. In this article, we will stick with the basics of making realistic projections and ensuring you can handle the activity to support those projections.  To simplify this, these calculations are based upon a solopreneur business where you are the business owner and the only sales person working in your business.  If you have a sales staff, great! Simply add them to the math calculations below and consider them in the resulting questions you will ask yourself.

Sales Projections and Activity

I am assuming you have projected your annual expenses for your company, including taxes, and your desired profit for the next 12 months.  This is your Annual Sales Goal.  Divide that number by 12 for your Magic Monthly Sales Goal.  [Note: This is where you begin to add those extra sales people in if you have them! If you have 3 sales people, divide your Annual Sales Goal by 3.]

In your business, you will break your monthly goals down into weekly and daily goals.  In this article, to simplify this, we’ll keep it at the monthly level.

To keep the math simple, let’s say your Annual Sales Goal is $120,000 and you are a solopreneur. That means you will need to sell $10,000 per month to reach your goal (120,000/12).  Is that realistic? First, you need to know a couple of numbers. Let’s start with your historical data.

  1. Average Sale Per Client: Let’s assume your revenue for the past 12 months was $96,000 and you had 48 sales. Your average sale/client was $2,000 (96,000/48).
  2. Conversion Rate: If on average you make 50 calls and they result in 2 sales, then your conversion rate is 4% (2/50).
  3. Activity Goal: Using these numbers, if you make 125 calls per month, you will close five sales (125 X .04).  With five sales at $2,000 each, you will have reached your monthly goal of $10,000.

Are These Realistic Projections?

Now, back to our basic question about whether these projections are realistic.  It depends.

You used historical data and math to calculate your key metrics.  Good so far.  But let’s dig deeper. Using our example:

  • Do you have systems in place so that you will have 125 solid leads to call each month?
  • Are you properly qualifying those leads? This is a great area to delve into, so you can achieve higher conversion rates (more sales!)
  • Are you looking for opportunities to upsell?
  • What is your client retention rate? To dig deeper here, ask yourself:
    • Are you in a constant state of client churn? How can you change that? Do you need to?
    • Are you reaching out to existing clients on a regular basis?
    • Are you engaging in conversations with your leads, creating relationships, or are you simply being transactional? Does this fit your business model?
  • Are you receiving word-of-mouth leads from existing clients and referral partners?
  • Are you using the new technology that is available to you (there is always new technology!)?
  • Do you have the proper tools and training already in place to be successful in sales?
    • Have you included time in your projections for training and professional development if you need to get up to speed?
  • Do you have any seasonal fluctuations in your sales? Have you adjusted your projections for that?
  • Are things changing in your business or your industry? (Automatic answer: )  How is that impacting your sales?
  • Are there new competitors in your space? How are they impacting your sales?

Soft Metrics Are Also Important

Now you have the hard metrics (black and white calculations). In our simple example, you need to make 125 calls per month to close 5 sales of $2,000 each, and you will reach your goal of $120,000 per year in revenue.  You have determined $120,000 annual revenue will meet your profit goal plus expenses and taxes owed.

But what about the soft metrics, the “work life balance” and “quality of life” considerations?  How much time and effort per week/month/year will it take you to compile a solid lead list so you can make 125 calls per month with a 4% conversation rate?  How much time will you spend in making those calls and following up on each one, scheduling 1-1’s, doing demonstrations, etc.? Can you devote the necessary time and resources to your sales efforts while also running your business?  Do you want to at this point in your life?

Your Decision

The answers to these questions are subjective.  One person will say, “Heck, yes, I can’t wait!” while another person may not be so sure they are willing to pay the price to achieve their desired sales level.  We are all at different points in our lives, with different responsibilities and personal goals in addition to our career goals.  That is okay.  What is not okay is to make excuses or let fear rule your decisions.

After careful consideration, you may decide that your sales goal is too aggressive for now, that you are not willing at this point in your life to give up other life opportunities open to you to achieve those goals.  You may choose to adjust those sales goals and grow your business more slowly.  That is fine!

Or you may feel now is the time and you are more than ready! Great!  However, there could still be something stopping you.  Are you afraid of sales?  Many people are (just saying!).  If so, schedule some sales coaching or training.  We have a video in our Startup to Growth Video Library entitled Sales 101.  It is fun and will get you excited about sales! Or you can take a seminar, a workshop, or hire a small business coach to work with you on your business sales goals.  You can do this, if you are willing to devote the time and resources to making it happen.

Make the choices that best fits YOU and YOUR circumstances, but don’t make excuses. In setting your sales goals and making them happen, you are choosing between the time you devote to current opportunities (including life activities) and the time you devote to growing future business opportunities for you and your company.  Grow at the pace you desire.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, of if you would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact me at [email protected].  Together, we’ve got this!

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About Robin Suomi, MBA, Owner of Startup to Growth, LLC.  Robin is a small business coach, consultant and trainer who has worked with thousands of small business owners for over 10 years, helping them start and/or grow their small businesses.  She combines her combines solid technical knowledge with her coaching and listening skills to help clients achieve their goals. In addition to teaching business courses as an adjunct professor, she created her own Business Plan Boot Camp and Customized  Individual and Group Business Plan Boot Camps for her clients. Today, she delivers most of her coaching/consulting/training services to clients across the country through a live, video meeting platform.  She has also developed an online small business training and professional development video Library, where experts in the fields of marketing, sales, insurance and law, to name only a few, present their expertise to Library Members 24 X 7 X 365 by a recorded video format.

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Top 10 Reasons to Write a Business Plan, Part 1

I rarely work with clients who are over-the-moon excited about writing their business plan, at least in the beginning.  They often view it as a necessary evil, sort of like doing chores when you’re a kid, or taking medicine when you are sick.  It’s something you think you “have to do,” but you’d rather not. That’s really too bad, because it can be one of your best business moves for success.

What are the top 10 reasons you need a business plan? Below are reasons 1-5; Part 2 of this blog will have reasons 6-10. They are all in random order. Some reasons will surprise you. Also remember that writing a business plan does not have to be like doing chores or taking medicine.  It can be fun – seriously!  Just ask some of my clients.

1.Feasibility – Will Your Idea Work?

We call this “Fail First on Paper.”  You have an idea, but you would like to make sure it will work before you put your time and money behind it.  Good luck with that!  Oh, you meant you would like to have a higher level of confidence your idea will work.  Great.  We can work with that.  Writing your business plan will help you make educated guesses about your success so you don’t simply “jump off a cliff blindfolded.”  Is your industry healthy and the market you are targeting large enough for success? Is there a need for your product or service? What price will you charge so you can make the profit you want? Will the market bear that price? How many units will you need to sell each week/month/year? These are the types of questions you will explore so YOU can decide if your idea is worth pursuing now.

2.Leave No Stone Unturned

Writing a business plan leads you through the planning process in a logical, straight-forward fashion.  Why is this important?  We are human, and we are drawn toward things we like and away from things we don’t.  In business, you need to address it all. Let’s take the example of marketing and finance. Often people love one and hate the other.  It doesn’t matter!  You need to address both marketing AND finance in your business plan and make the best decisions for you and your future success moving forward.

3.Prepare for Left Turns

I often work with clients who start their business with one strong idea and a straight path mapped out; then, for very good reasons, they make a left turn.  In other words, they change their mind. Based upon solid knowledge they head in a different direction.  That can be healthy if they make the left turn based upon the information, experience and confidence they have gained since they opened their doors.  What does this mean for you?  With a solid plan behind you, you are much more prepared to navigate the left turns you choose to make in business.

4.Create your Action Plan for Success – Goals and Objectives

Once you have written down your top ideas, captured them on paper or your computer, your mind is free to prioritize those ideas and turn them into goals with a timeline of up to 5 years. Some people prefer to begin with short-term goals and build out to long-term goals. Others prefer to start with their 5-year goals, and then set shorter timeline goals.  Either way, you will create your action plan for success as part of your business plan:  your goals and the steps, or objectives, you will take to turn them into reality.

5.Curb the “Bright Shiny Object” Dragon

Small business owners and entrepreneurs are creative folks. They are easily drawn to the next new idea or more exciting task (a/k/a – Bright, Shiny Objects). Stop! This is not a good thing! When I work with clients, we work together to decide what their priorities are.  If a Bright Shiny Object comes up in a business plan class or a coaching session and it is 1) not a priority, and 2) does not support a priority, it gets “parked on a shelf” for future consideration.  It doesn’t go away; it simply does not get attention now.  I help clients stay focused on their priorities.

Your business plan can function in the same way.  In the business planning process, you will set your priorities, the goals you are determined to achieve first.  If something catches your attention, decide if it is a priority or a Bright Shiny Object, and act accordingly.  There’s plenty of room on the shelf, and the shelf is not going away.  Stay focused!

In Part 2, we’ll tackle the next 5 reasons to write a business plan, in random order.

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Robin Suomi, MBA, is an experienced small business expert and founder of Startup to Growth, LLC.  Working with clients remotely through video conferencing, she helps clients answer their technical business planning questions, and also encourages them to dig deeper, dream bigger, working with them to create their Success Steps!  Check out the website for ongoing How to Start a Business and Business Plan Boot Camp classes, as well as 1-1 and mastermind small business coaching.

Also check out Startup to Growth Video Library  for additional small business training and professional development videos available to you online, anytime.  A very affordable option.

 

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How Do You Improve Your Sales? Just Ask!

Guest Post by Kim Fredrich, Sales Trainer, Coach and Speaker

How Do You Improve Your Sales? Just Ask!

People tell me all the time that they can’t sell. Sometimes they don’t see themselves as salespeople (ick, slimy right?), sometimes they are quiet and introverted, and sometimes they are just so uncomfortable in a sales situation that selling becomes a never-ending spiral of ineffectiveness and anxiety.

And then there are those who feel pretty good building rapport, asking qualifying questions, and talking about their product or service’s benefits, but when it comes down to it, are unable to ask for the business.

What’s true in both cases is either a business that never gets off the ground or one that is doomed to failure. Because without sales, you don’t really have a business.

What to do when you must sell?

First, recognize that selling is like any other skill; it’s unlikely you’ll be Olympic caliber the first few times you try it. Practice is imperative.

Second, you’ll need to shift your mindset around selling, especially if you want to succeed as a business owner. Selling is really about service – you are providing a solution to a problem that your customer has. You’re not pushing something your customer doesn’t really need, and you’re not in the transaction just to make a buck. That’s how selling got such a bad name in the first place!

You’ve accepted those two points? Good, we can move on to the nitty gritty.

How do you actually ask for the sale?

Here’s the funny thing, you just need to ask. I know, I know. This is supremely uncomfortable for some of you. Remember this: your prospective customer is expecting you to ask and will find it strange if you don’t. They’ve just spent their valuable time getting to know you and your company. They’ve decided that it’s worth continuing the conversation, and they are seriously considering you as a supplier of whatever product or service you have to offer.

So, go ahead, take a deep breath, and JUST ASK.

Here are some “go for the gusto” direct ways to ask for the sale:

Are you ready to sign a contract?

Can I book you in for Tuesday next week?

How many would you like to order?

What needs to happen for us to work together?

Can I put you down for $3000?

You’ll notice that these are all closed questions that can be answered with a yes or a no. That’s because at this point in your sales conversation, you need a direct answer. Yes, I’d like to work with you. Or no, we are unable to commit at this time because . . . . Hint: you’ll always want to get a reason for the no. You may still have an opportunity depending on that reason.

And here are some less scary ways to ask for the sale:

If the direct way to ask for the sale is still a little too frightening, you might also try something like:

Is there anyone else who needs to be involved in this decision?

What do you think about my (your product or service here)?

Is there anything stopping you from purchasing?

How can we get this [insert your product or service] installed?

There! You’ve done it. You’ve asked for the sale.

After you ask for the sale, then what?

Keep quiet.

That’s right, you don’t say anything. That interminably long pause while you wait for your potential customer to respond is in reality only a few seconds. And it’s up to the client or customer to respond. You lose so much business and personal credibility if you find yourself compelled to fill that silence. Most likely you’ll start doing something foolish like discounting your product or service or throwing in extras, all while your potential client hasn’t even said yes or no yet. There’s a good chance they were going to say yes at your asking price, but now you’ve gone and discounted it! A sale, yes; profitability, not so much.

Hopefully you’re feeling a little bit more comfortable with the idea of taking a deep breath and just asking for the business. If not, I encourage you to practice with a colleague or a friend. It really isn’t that difficult, but the more you practice, the easier it will become.

To find out more about how to make your selling more successful check out additional tips in my blog, ‘Substance & Style’.

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About Kim Fredrich

Kim helps customer facing ‘non-sales’ staff get comfortable with sales and realize the importance of their role in business success. Her one-on-one sales coaching, consultancy and workshops focus on building relationships and having conversations with purpose. She has recently presented at The Power Conference, NAWBO, the Freelance Union and the Women in Business Leadership Council. She has also conducted workshops for Howard University’s In3 Incubator, Hera Hub and the Maryland Women’s Business Center.

 

Kim began selling with her first job in food services, branched into marketing, and came back to sales because it was a bigger challenge and much more interesting. She has trained with some of the most respected business brand names over her career, achieving a training commendation from Xerox. Over the past 20 years she’s delivered sales and marketing services to select clients across the globe, in B2C, B2B and nonprofit industries.

 

[email protected] 703-822-1928

 

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