Have you planted your seed… and, suddenly there is no rain?

Have you noticed that our parched economic landscape doesn’t nourish the existence of small business?

Have you experienced that people are holding tight to their dollars, waiting for a rainy day?

If you want to grow in these dry times… you must be your own rain maker!  You have to find new ways to quench the thirst of potential customers.

If you want to flourish and survive… you must conserve energy and assets… get the most bang-for-your-buck!

If you want to multiply, you must collaborate… engage others in the process.

Secret # 1 – Become accomplished at the Art of Selling Solutions

Zig Ziglar tells the story about a salesman selling socks… and a potential customer who had no desire for socks. The prospect “wanted time and energy to train his people, play golf and participate in more activities with his family.  His obstacle was poor health; his solution was socks.”

This salesman used his understanding of the unique benefits of his socks… to solve the prospect’s real problem, poor health.

If you want to Sell Benefits… and pull-off that type of turnaround, you must first, have a good grasp of your product or service.

  • What IS your product, anyway?  Can you identify the individual parts of your service?
  • Are you able to relate what each part of your product or service DOES?  Can you describe what each part undertakes to accomplish?
  • What’s in it for your customer?  What is the ADVANTAGE, BENEFIT, IMPROVEMENT, GAIN your client will receive from your product or service? What problem will it solve?
  • Recognize that people do not buy because of what your product IS (facts, figures, features, double-blind studies)… they will buy because of what it DOES… Specifically, what it does for them!
  • How will that simple fact impact your marketing… your website… your conversations with prospects?

If you want to Sell Solutions… you must discern your customer’s real need and  most pressing problem.  Then provide a solution, specific to them… A solution that responses to their requirements… repairs their situation…   impacts the nucleus of what they want to experience.  But how do you all that?

  • Eliminate distractions – It’s best to meet in a physical space away from their office, kids, TV, barking dogs!
  • Ask questions – Use inquisitive questions to get to the core of what they are looking for.  Ask:
  • That’s interesting.  Tell me more…
  • I’m not sure I grasp what you mean by that…
  • Can you help me understand it better?
  • Why do you say that?
  • Can you give me an example?
  • What else would help me understand?

    • Interject empathetic, thoughtful, accepting statements that prevent your prospect from experiencing you as pushy or aggressive… and help to reduce resistance.
    •        I can appreciate what you are saying.
    •        May I make a suggestion?
    •        I’m glad you brought that up!
    •        If I were in your shoes…I’d feel the same way.
  • Listen –
    •      What are they trying to accomplish?
    •      What experience are they looking for?
    •      What do they require?
    •      What do they need to repair… restore?

If you want to Sell the Advantage, Benefit, Solution … If you want  your customer to recognize the solution you offer, as a perfect answer to his problem…  you must ALSO be sure your customer understands his need.  Repeat what you hear him saying… Validate what you sense he really means.  Guide the conversation with your questions and comments.

If you want to Eliminate Rejection forever… simply:

  • Be confident… Express your conviction!
  • Use an indirect approach… Speak as a friend or consultant… “Funny you should mention that.”  Explain how your product or service just might offer a solution specific to their must-haves!
  • The fact that they told you their need, gives you permission to offer an answer.  You are just offering friendly advice… not selling an offer.
  • Even if they decide not to buy right now… they will still acknowledge and remember your caring and good intentions.  Recognize that people buy when they are ready to buy… not when you are ready to sell.
  • Keep in touch every month or two.  Use an auto-responder to keep your name and product on their mind with short e-mails.   Remember to sell solutions… not facts, figures, features or double-blind studies!
  • When they are ready to buy… who do you think they will call?

If you want to Make the Sale… you must ask for the order… Ask them to buy your product or service.

  • If you offer the right product, at the right price, with the right intention, then you are not selling, you are serving.
  • When you supply a solution for their most pressing need… your offer becomes irresistible!  

Secret # 2 – Pay attention to your own bottom-line!  So many small business owners are doing it all!  They are so busy working in their business…that they don’t set time aside to work on their business.  This can be tragic!

Stay on top of your Return-On-Investment.  Pay attention to how much are you spending to receive your revenue?

  • How much is it costing you to provide your product or service… to acquire a new client?
  • How much revenue are you receiving from that customer?
  • Is there a problem there?
  • Recognition is the first step toward solution!
  • If you know it costs you $200 to acquire a customer… then can you see that retaining the customers you already have is a cost-effective strategy for stabilizing your ROI.  Exceptional customer service is essential.  In today’s competitive economic climate, loyal customers are often as rare as hens teeth.  Happy customers are your most valuable asset!
  • Offer existing clients an incentive for referring other customers.

Secret # 3 – Collaboration multiplies your efforts, ideas and perspectives.

Suggestion Box – If your small business has employees… know that they have their finger-on-the-pulse of what is working and what is not!  Your employees are on the front-line… dealing with customers, meeting their needs and solving problems. They are a valuable source of ideas and perspective!

  • Create a sense of team
  • Let your employees know their thoughts are valuable…important to you.
  • Offer rewards for suggestions that get implemented.

Brainstorm Bash – If you work alone in your small business… throw an idea party for friends and business associates you respect.

  • It’s probably best to request help from people with a different client base.
  • Have a large pad of poster paper… and plenty of colored markers.
  • Take one topic at a time… and record ideas from their insights, inspiration and experience.  You’ll be surprised at the wisdom you receive:
    • Different perspectives
    • Fresh marketing ideas
    • Solutions to problems you are facing with
      • Employees
      • Optimizing your ROI
      • Customer retention
  • Above all delete the drama and have fun… Your guests will probably take home a few good tips they can use as well!
  • Be sure to serve some great h’orderves or a delicious light lunch, so they want to come back!

Advisory Board – Meet monthly with a group of business leaders from different industries.

  • Each person gets a chance to speak, ask questions and benefit from the advice and wisdom of the individuals present. These business leaders become a personal advisory board for each other.
  • Confidentiality is essential.  What is said in this group… stays in this group.
  • Review your Profit and Loss Statement with the group.
  • Restate your challenge from last month.
  • Restate your commitment from the last month… What did you say you would do?  Did you take consistent action?
  • Discuss a challenge you have had this month.
  • Make a commitment… What you will do next month to ease the challenge?
  • Even though it takes a little time to cultivate trust… as the months go by, a special bond develops and the group becomes a safe source of accountability and a place to celebrate successes.

I want to hear from you.  Let me know about your triumphs and tears navigating potholes on the dusty road we call business in 2013… How has this been article helpful?  What concepts did you find valuable?  Which ideas are you going to implement?

Let me know! 

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