2 ways (guaranteed) to dig your business out of a rut

business rut

I’m sure you know exactly what I mean by ‘business rut’.  We’ve probably all been there.  A fog has come down over your strategy.  You know something needs to change but you can’t see the wood for the trees.  The hamster wheel just keeps on turning and you want to get off?

“if you continue to do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”

So here are the 2 things that are guaranteed to re-energise, sharpen your focus and dig you out of your business rut.

1. Spend time with your Customers

Mix it up between customers who’ve bought from you previously as well as customers who are still in the buying process.  By making courtesy calls, or better still, inviting them for a coffee or bite to eat, you show that you care and want to understand what engaging with your business is really like from their perspective.  They will tell you things that you didn’t realise – we often get so close to our business that it’s difficult to be objective.

Ask for honest feedback on what improvements you could make in the business.  You will most definitely come out of the experience with new ideas and clarity on how the business can climb to greater heights.

2. Spend time with your Staff

Ok so you might think that you do this already, but I’m suggesting real quality time.  Invite your key team members for dinner one evening, or start the day with a team breakfast.  The key to making this time different to the normal time you spend together, is how open and honest you are.

My advice would be to share exactly how you feel – explain that things are just ticking along right now, and you feel as though the business might be in a rut.  But most importantly, explain that you need their help to identify key change initiatives.  You need them to share thoughts and ideas on how to accelerate business growth.  They’ll be sure to tell you about any systems and process that are less than perfect.  They’ll also have ideas on how to improve  customer service and engagement.  They might even have ideas for new products and services that they feel are in demand.

They’ll love your honesty and respect you for it.  You’ll gain their complete buy-in to the new plans that you make.  A stronger team will be born.

Best of luck…. Hope you found this useful.

Find out more about Business Coaching here.

SALES TIPS: 10 ways to make absolutely sure your customers come back

customer loyalty

Building customer loyalty is essential for success in business.  Acquiring new customers is essential, but if that’s all we ever focussed on, it’d be tough on your sales team as well as your marketing budget.

Acquisition vs Retention?

Econsultancy did a customer loyalty study which showed businesses are only 5-25% likely to sell to a brand new customer, but are 65% likely to sell to an existing customer.  So it follows that we need to look after the customers we acquire extremely well.  In fact, we need to make sure they fall in love with our products, service, systems and processes.  We need to be easy to do business with.  Ideally, we need to literally make our customers’ hearts sing.

44% of companies have a greater focus on acquisition, than on retention.

Customer Lifetime Value – a measure of customer loyalty.

76% of companies see CLV (Customer Lifetime Value) as an important part of their sales strategy, but only 42% of companies can actually measure CLV accurately.  When I work with clients on their sales strategy, I refer to the ‘sales staircase’.  The easiest way to think about the staircase, is that the first product purchased is the entry point to your business (aka the bottom stair).  Subsequent sales then draw the customer deeper into your business and product range, and consequently increase the customers’ value and longevity. The more you sell to them and the longer you maintain their loyalty, the further up the staircase they go.

So, what are the top tips for building customer loyalty?
  1. Make sure your business offers a first-class customer experience.  Be transparent.  Impress your customer with the unexpected – send a thank you card, know their birthday, offer loyalty discounts.
  2. Use consultative selling rather than pushy closing techniques.  Build broad and deep relationships, especially if you’re in a service business.
  3. Assume your customer has done LOTS of online research.  Treat them as product experts unless they tell you that they aren’t.
  4. Ask your customers for feedback.  If something hasn’t gone well and you face a complaint, deal with it positively and quickly.
  5. Make sure your website is clear, speedy and up to date.  Not too many pop-ups, check for broken links and keep content refreshed.
  6. Embrace online reviews.  You can’t control what people think or what they say. Just respond professionally and without delay in the event that you receive a poor rating.
  7. Data is king.  Build an accurate database of your customers’ details.  The minimum needed is first name, last name and email address.  The more you collect, the richer your marketing can be (just remember that too many questions may be a barrier to sale).
  8. Build a highly effective email marketing strategy.  Use welcome emails to introduce customers to your team.  Send a Newsletter.  Send regular discounts and offers.
  9. Analyse your email campaign open rates to learn which subject headers work best, and act appropriately on subscriptions and consent to use their data.
  10. Remember the human touch still has a place – doing customer care phone calls, simply to say ‘hi’ and check that all is well, impresses customers.  Find the time to call your best customers – they’ll really appreciate it.

56% of companies use email marketing as an effective way to keep in touch with their customers and upwell to new products and services.

If your sales strategy needs a re-boot, Momentum South West can audit your current approach and make recommendations to help your revenues grow, virtually instantly.  Get more details or get in touch.

Handle pressure like a superstar!

handle pressure
Are you aware of how you handle pressure?

We all handle pressure differently don’t we; some of us find a bit of pressure quite motivational, whilst others feel the weight of the world coming down on our shoulders.

Here’s a few things which might help you spot the times when you need to handle pressure.  Plus a few tips on how you might handle it positively….

Self-awareness.  Know your triggers for pressure.

What happens to you under pressure, both physically and mentally?  How does the feeling of being under pressure manifest itself?  For example, do you suffer interrupted sleep or go off your food?  Does your concentration waiver and you find yourself gazing into space?  Or do you become a busy fool running round the office trying to do everything but actually achieve very little?

Whatever your individual triggers are for becoming aware that pressure is mounting, you need to be self-aware.  Think about yours now and write them down.  You may even want to discuss them with people close to you so that they can add any observations they might be aware of.  Pressure affects everyone.

Stand back and take a moment.

So, you’ve become self-aware and spotted that pressure is building up.  Take a breather.  Stop.  Stand back.  Watch yourself as if you’re having one of those out-of-body experiences.  What do you look like?  What advice would you give yourself?  Focus in on what really needs to happen to alleviate the cause for the pressure.  Not the peripheral things, the real core of the issue.  What is it?

Find a rock and trusted ear.

Ok so now you’re aware of the way pressure is showing up in your life and you’ve taken a moment to focus on the core issues.  Now you need to find someone to share it with.  Don’t take the burden all on your own shoulders.  The person you choose, should be somebody that you trust to give you clear, unbiased advice, even if it’s something that you don’t want to hear.  Someone honest, who cares about you.  When you’ve decided who it is, pick up the phone and invite them for a coffee.  Chat it through, and ask for help and support.  Don’t be shy, don’t feel like a drain on their time – remember they care about you and will undoubtedly want to help you.

Take action.

You’ve now done everything you need to do to release the pressure, other than the critical task of taking action.  Your rock has given you food for thought and you’ve talked through what your next steps should be.  Maybe you now need some expert advice, for example, like meeting the bank or the accountant.  Or maybe the action involves other people you work with and you need to discuss the next actions with them.  Or it might just be up to you now.

Whatever the action needed is, take the steps, even if they are baby ones.  Keep a note of what you’re doing so you can check progress.  And the biggest thing to remember is… give yourself the praise you deserve for overcoming your challenges.  Pat your wonderful self on the back, raise a glass and remind yourself that pressure creeps up on all of us, but you’ve handled it like a true star.

Best of luck 🙂

 

 

Manager to Leader – How to Make the Change

Leadership blog

Have you been a manager for a while now?  Or just recently promoted?  Either way, it’s such a rewarding job to support a team by taking the reigns and being personally responsible for the actions and outcomes of everybody in the team.

The early days of management

I don’t know about you, but when I first moved from being a field sales rep to being the manager of the team, I made every mistake in the book.  Literally, every single one, I’m sure of it.  I tried to do everything myself.  I tried to think for people. My vision of utopia was building a team of mini-me.  Luckily I was saved by a wise old owl (a wonderful man called Tony) who taught me there was a different way to manage people.  And it was a much better way….

Introducing the concept of Leadership as opposed to Management.

Management is about getting things done.  It’s task focussed and as the name suggests, it eludes to a ‘safe pair of hands’ to simply manage the task that needs performing.

Leadership is bigger than the task, it’s broader than just getting an objective delivered.  People follow a leader, but they work for a manager.

Leader Manager

How to go from being a Manager, to being a Leader…..

Stop telling the team what to do and how to do it.

It doesn’t mean you can’t influence, but you do need to influence through coaching and empowerment.  Inspire the action, don’t demand it.

Share you and your values.

Be personal (not too much).  There’s no place for the corporate stiff-upper-lip style of leader anymore.  Be you.  Share your values and stay true to them.

Show empathy.

Consider the impact of your leadership on others.  How will the team feel?  In what ways can you tailor your style to suit each individual in the team?  Before rolling out a big new initiative, think things through with empathy.

Respect others’ time.

Don’t make immediate demands on people.  Give advance notice of deadlines. Share meeting agendas in plenty of time.  Allow people the time to think and prepare.

Be authentic.  Operate with integrity.

We all know that the leader sometimes has to do and say things they don’t always want to.  But stay true to who you are.  Stay true to your values.

Truly understand your people.

Know their strengths and their motivators.  Spend enough time with your team to really understand who’s good at what, and figure out how you can amplify their diverse qualities to benefit the team.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.

Be a good enough communicator to adapt your style to suit the audience, the topic and the general mood in the camp.  Share as much as you can with people.  Be open and as transparent as it’s possible to be (without overstepping the boundaries of your role)

Embed a coaching culture.

Managers give out tasks.  Leaders ask “how are you planning to achieve your goals”.  Spend time coaching your people.  They will 100% value the time and input you give them.  And they’ll also operate at a higher level too.  Businesses who embed a culture of coaching have inspired staff, who over perform.

Focus on long term people development.

You might ask “why would I want to develop someone to such a standard that they’ll then want to leave and get a better job somewhere else?” .  The answer is simple.  If you support your team’s long term development, and help carve out a more successful future for them….they’ll never want to leave you.  Have you heard the saying “people join a business but they leave a manager”?

 

Say “Thank You”

Show gratitude.  Say thank you.  It doesn’t have to be monetary or a grand gesture.  Just a heartfelt, genuine thank you is good enough.  It goes a long way.  Think about extending the thank you to your staff’s family too – especially if working late and going the extra mile is a regular event.

Leading people is an amazing privilege.  Enjoy it.

Here’s to your success 🙂

The most effective way to close your sales pitch (works every time)

Business Coaching Plymouth Exeter

Many professions are categorised as ‘skilled’ but often sales is missed off that list.  Why?  I honestly have no idea, other than those who come up with these lists have never sold anything.  Sales is tough isn’t it – I’d definitely describe sales as a skilled profession.

Sales training and coaching

There’s so many things to get right before you can even attempt to close the sale.  Have you connected with the customer and built enough rapport?  Do you understand enough about their pain points and challenges?  Does your product solve their challenges?

If you’ve ever been on a sales training course (and I’m sure most people reading this have) then you’ll have heard about all of the classic techniques for closing the sale.

Have any of these closes ever worked for you?
  • The trial close – gaining early commitment with “if I could… would you go ahead?”  Quite cheesy really….
  • The fear close – the awful strategy of making your customer feel pressured into buying from you, so as to prevent something catastrophic from happening.  Really?
  • The assumptive close – even if you manage to not come across as arrogant, you still might look silly asking how they wish to pay when they say “but I haven’t agreed to buy it yet”.  Egg on face.
  • The offer close – offering to throw in all-but-the-kitchen-sink is not going to help you, if you haven’t built up enough desire for your product.  Don’t waste your breath (or give away your kitchen sink!).

So, how do you never fail to close the sale?  What is THE ULTIMATE way to close a sale and to be 100% sure of success?

The answer:  Do such a great job of matching solutions with needs, demonstrating features and benefits, building credibility, gaining trust, creating a relationship and truly listening that the CUSTOMER ASKS TO BUY.

Do such a great job that you don’t even have to close the sale.  

It closes itself.

Good luck salespeople – and remember, next time someone talks about skilled professions, be sure to remind them how super duper skilled you need to be, to be successful in sales.

To find out more about receiving Sales Coaching, click here and get in touch.

 

 

 

 

8 Steps to Giving Feedback Like a Pro

Many business leaders shy away from giving feedback.  I guess they think that it could be a tricky conversation, or that the person won’t want to hear it.  But it’s a myth that feedback is a negative conversation.  Giving feedback on something which has gone really well is a great way to re-enforce what’s worked, so that it can be repeated.

 

Giving and receiving feedback is a very powerful tool in the workplace.  And employees can come away from the conversation feeling more empowered and enthused than ever, to do a great job for you and your business.  And if truth be known, most people just want to hear the truth.  They want their boss or colleagues to be 100% honest with them.  Let’s face it, hearing the truth is so much better than feeling like you’re being talked about in the board room, or that HR have your name written down on a naughty list somewhere.

Nobody comes to work to do a bad job.

Nobody comes to work to do a bad job – I’ve always believed this to be true.  And I’ve always believed most (a very high percentage) people’s intentions are good.  So knowing that staff want to hear the truth, and that they really do want to do the best job they can, means we just need to get really good at having conversations where quality feedback is given.

Your team will thank you for being good at giving feedback.

So here’s my checklist to help you plan your next ‘honest conversation’:-

  1. Make sure you are having the feedback conversation in an appropriate place.  This will depend on a few factors but getting the venue right, can make or break it.
  2. Be timely.  Don’t wait weeks to have the conversation.  Same day is best.
  3. Be factual.  Only base your feedback on your own observations (not those of others – that would be considered ‘hearsay’)
  4. Give examples.  Be precise about what you’ve observed.
  5. Explain the impact.  “I felt this way” “The customer found you to be..”
  6. It’s a two way conversation.  Ask for comments and discuss it openly.
  7. Make a plan for avoidance.  “Next time, I’d like you to…”
  8. Show appreciation (if applicable) for their professional approach to hearing something that they weren’t hoping to hear.

I hope this helps you on your way to being awesome at giving feedback.

I’d love to hear how it goes….

Maybe you could give me some feedback…. I’m always happy to listen to ideas on how I can improve.

Top 10 Ways to Achieve Your Goals

We’ve all got goals.  They may be huge life-changing goals or just mini-milestones.  But we create them to help us reach our ambitions and fulfil our potential.  Or to lose a few pounds (or stone!).  Or give up smoking, or drinking or other vices.

Well it’s over a month past the date when you made your New Year resolutions.  How are you getting on with achieving those?  Struggling?  Oh dear, don’t get disheartened.

I’m here to help.  I thought it would be a good idea to share some tried and tested techniques for keeping motivation levels up!!

  1. Set yourself rewards – each milestone you reach deserves a little prize.  You could make a monthly reward schedule, even build an advent-calendar-esque type chart.
  2. Create a mood board – visualise the achievement in pictures as well as words.
  3. Go public – organise a little get-together with your chums where you all share your goals and dreams for the year ahead (no wine of course – you’re trying to give that up…or is that just me?)
  4. Create an Urgent and Important matrix and plot where each item fits – this will sort your priorities and kick your butt a little
  5. Write to yourself – pop your goals onto paper and into an envelope.  Make sure you clearly outline what you wanted to have achieved and how you’ll feel when you’re successful.  Then put the date on the envelope that you’d like to receive the letter and ask a trusted friend to post it to you.
  6. Book a day in a spa (I do this a lot anyway) – Instead of reading a book by the pool, review your success and any outstanding goals.  Be honest with yourself though, if you’ve done a rubbish job, then give yourself your best disappointed face and do something about it.
  7. Talk to yourself on the treadmill.  Grab your mobile and hands free set and start walking (not too fast!) and start leaving yourself a voice note.  Tell yourself details about the goals – why they’re important etc.  Trust me, when you listen back to it, it’ll really jolt you into action and being on the treadmill keeps the energy high.
  8. Set alerts in your online calendar – make it random so you can’t start taking them for granted and then ignore them.
  9. Do the classic ‘wheel of life’ exercise with yourself.  It helps you focus on what’s really important.  Or call me and I can help you with it.
  10. If the above aren’t successful for you and your goals haven’t become achievements in the next few months, then you need a coach.  Call me.  I will get you there.  My mobile is 07980 910316 or email me at rachaelhowourth@icloud.com.  I’d love to help you out.

GOOD LUCK!! 

Strategy Made Simple in 4 Steps

Sales Strategy is essential for your business growth.

I often find the word ‘strategy’ is used to make something which is essentially straightforward, seem anything but.  In fact, some of the businesses I work with, refer to strategy as being something which bigger businesses do and that somehow they don’t need to it.  Building a strategy is thought of as complicated or only for intellectuals.  But the reality is, it’s your route to success, so I’m going to help you make light work of it.
If success happened by accident, you wouldn’t need a strategy – right?  Wrong.  One of the most important elements of building an effective strategy is the review – why did ‘X’ happen?  Can we repeat ‘X’ or was it really an accident that we achieved our ambition by such a great margin? It’s rarely an accident.

Definition of Strategy: a plan of action designed to achieve an overall aim.

Of course, huge corporations have very detailed strategies which go through multiple rounds of refinement and critique.  But it doesn’t have to be this way…  It can be a really simple 4 step process that keeps you and your business at the forefront of your marketplace and keeps the all important pounds rolling in.

STEP 1 – DISCOVERY

To be successful, you need to discover all you can about your Marketplace and how your products and services fit within it.  Who are your competitors? Are there complimentary services out there?  Are your products the right fit and sold at the right price?  Most importantly, you need to discover who your customers are.  What do they want, why do they want it and will you be able to fulfil their needs and solve their problems with what you are offering?

Discovery should be an ongoing activity that you invest time in doing regularly.

STEP 2 – PLAN

You will have learned enough in your discovery phase to build a robust plan.  First build the ‘ideal state’ from a high level.  Don’t get too detailed.  You should be aiming to cover off these key areas:-

What does my business do?  How does it do it? Keep it high level, not too much detail.

What problems does my business solve? What purpose does it serve?

Who are my customers?  How will they know my business exists?

What is my competitive edge?  What are my USPs?

Plan the financials and get help if you need to.

Identify some trackable metrics which will indicate progress being made.

STEP 3 – ACTION

This speaks for itself – put your plan into action.
This is where you walk the talk.

STEP 4 – REVIEW

As part of your plan, you identified some trackable metrics that will indicate progress.  And of course you have your financials to review.  The numbers will tell you a story and I’d urge you to stick to facts in your review process.  It’s too easy to add peripheral noise.

So you need to reflect on what’s going well or not so well.  Learn from any mistakes, spot opportunities to optimise your systems and processes.  One of the most important things you should do is speak to your customers – get their feedback on what they like or don’t like.  Also speak to your employees – they see things from a different perspective so you’ll get some diversity in your review material.

An ever-revolving wheel….

Strategy is not something which we do once as an activity and then do not go back to for a while.  It’s a cycle.  A winning strategy is an ever-revolving wheel which keeps turning to keep your business running smoothly and successfully.  Just because I’ve talked about 4 steps, doesn’t mean each step happens in isolation.  But of course you do need to give your plan the time it needs to be implemented and effective.

So, don’t get put off by people who imply building strategic plans is a labour intensive and complicated process.  Keep it simple.

Here’s to your success!

here.

11 ways to get to know your B2B customer

Customer growth is critical for every business

The key to success when selling any product or service is how well you know your customer.   

Customer-Growth

You may be the greatest salesperson to walk into the boardroom (and I’m sure that you are), but even the most polished sales process, negotiation training and presentation wizardry is not going to mean a thing if you don’t understand (and I mean really understand) who your customer is.

To achieve outstanding customer growth, you must first focus on really getting to know your customer.

Try answering these questions to help you define it more clearly….

  1. Can you describe your customer?  Have you given them an identity?
  2. Where does your customer hangout? Online – but where and at what times?
  3. What does your customer value when seeking a service provider? Why?
  4. What are you customers’ biggest challenges? And how are they solved currently?
  5. Does your customer know that they are facing these challenges?
  6. Can you talk knowledgeably about their market place?  (as well as yours)
  7. Can you share insights about what the future looks like in their marketplace?
  8. Do you understand the buying/procurement process in their business?
  9. Have you considered all of the stakeholders who may be involved in selecting a new service provider?
  10. Do you know how your customer measures success and ROI?
  11. When you link all of this together, can you position yourself in a place where you are trusted, valued, given permission to challenge their thinking and can demonstrate your competitive advantage beyond any doubt at all?

If you’ve got to this point and you’re still nodding, you’re doing amazingly well.

If you’re head has fallen into your hands somewhat, don’t worry.  None of this is too tricky, it just takes a bit of time to brainstorm.  My best advice would be to pull it all together and then ask a selection of your valued, long standing customers if you are right.  They’ll probably be happy to help.

You may be wondering why I haven’t included the question about “does your customer hold the budget and decision to buy”.  Good spot.  But I’ve left it out for a very good reason.  If you’ve got questions 1 to 11 covered, trust me, they will find the budget.

Good Luck 🙂

I work with businesses to build tailor-made strategies for customer growth.

Call Rachael on 07980 910316 to chat through how I may be able to help your sales team grow their results.