Category Archives: sales

Chasing the big deal

Many small deals may be a better idea

big dealWhen you know that increasing sales will solve your problems, it is tempting to chase the one big deal that will get solve them all quickly. It could be a mistake. Maybe it’s better to say, “No thanks, for now.”

It can be great for your ego and your brand if you win a big deal and make the headlines. But it may be only a short-term win based on a small price difference, product improvement or service innovation. You may simply be a temporary negotiating tactic between the customer and their regular supplier. Don’t get too comfortable. The big guys will not leave you alone for long and they will not make it easier the second time.

Wining that big deal can solve some problems, but it may introduce new ones. Do you have the resources, suppliers and financing to deliver as promised? Will you now be too dependent on one big customer? Will your other customers be concerned, disappointed or feel neglected and start to leave? Have all the risks been considered?

Before even making a presentation or proposal on that tempting big deal, be sure to check that it fits with your strategic plan. Are you matching your competitive strengths to a clear long-term opportunity? Or are you “swinging and hoping”? Will you be able to build on this success or are you making an all-or-nothing bet?

Building your business slowly but continuously one customer at a time and one deal at a time will make you a stronger competitor and more likely to become the next big guy doing the next big deal.

Be better. Do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Contact DirectTech Solutions at www.DirectTech.ca for consulting assistance on your strategic business issues, growth and profit improvement plans or your exit strategies.

Join our mailing list at LearningEntrepreneurship.com for ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Read more articles at: Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs. 

 

Click Here to check out Uncle Ralph’s books, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way” and “The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans” Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.

This article is an extract from Uncle Ralph’s, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way. Read the book.

Marketing, Sales or Customer Service?

Are choices to be made? Do we need to deliver on all three?

Bplan strategy“First let’s define better the three elements of this process to build long-term valuable customer relationships:

Marketing – understanding the market and defining the target customer; building awareness, interest, and attraction; and, identifying prospects.

 Sales – converting interested prospects into qualified, buying customers.

 Customer service – delivering products and services as promised to ensure that each customer is a satisfied, repeat customer.

Each step has to be done consistently well for the results to be achieved. But a choice still has to be made – which element are you going to be best at? Will you win from competitors on marketing, sales, or customer service? You cannot be best at all three.

In my experience managing a second-tier brand name in computer hardware, we knew that we couldn’t possibly out-market the multinationals, but we could out-sell them, one customer at a time. We spent a minimum of time and effort on marketing. Respecting basic principles of clear and consistent messaging and being creative at avoiding large expenditures worked for us.

Winning on customer service was also a challenge – it’s expensive for any manufacturer to compete on warranty terms and technical support.

So we went back to salesmanship, even in the service department – coaching staff on persuading the customer to be reasonable, patient, and give us another order, please! We carefully explained to our service technicians that the best result from a call for tech support was to turn a complaint into a compliment and then pass the call to a sales rep for another order.

You can achieve success by being selective, instead of trying to be good at everything.

So take a look at your strategic positioning, your performance and your options in marketing, sales and customer service – then choose, focus and build one of them into your competitive weapon.”

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Read more at:Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs. 

Join our mailing list for more ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Click Here to check out Uncle Ralph’s books, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way” and “The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans” Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book. 

Demonstrated by the street vendors in Rome

umbrellaWhat entrepreneurs do best is identify an opportunity and respond to it. They observe the market, test customer response, and then deliver what works at the right time and place.

In Rome this week, I noticed that the street vendors had almost all decided that the thousands of meandering tourists were most in need of either bottled water or a selfie-stick. Those were apparently the best-selling impulse items and they were offered everywhere. I did appreciate the water bottles during long tours of the ancient ruins in the hot sun, but was already hating the forest of selfie-sticks that were invading all my carefully composed souvenir photos and did not want to join in the contest of who could get their cell phone out in front of everyone else.

The street vendors’ sales strategy was simple and effective. A quick assessment of the passing prospects, a polite query then a quick decision to sell or move on to the next prospect. No time wasted on harassment or an obnoxious sales pitch. Pricing was competitive, one Euro for a bottle of water where the vendor was one of many and had a large stockpile and two Euros if he was alone in a remote corner with limited stock.  The vendors also knew they were competing with free refills from available public drinking fountains, so they all sold branded, sealed bottled water that was ice cold.

But most impressive was their response to an unexpected thunderstorm and downpour chasing all the tourists under cover.  Like magic, suddenly all the street vendors were offering small collapsible umbrellas and cheap plastic rain ponchos!  Quality and price were not an issue, we needed them here and now, so sales were brisk for those that had them.

All good tactics for successful entrepreneurs. Whether you are a street vendor, a technology guru or a small business owner.

Be ready to respond to your market, rain or shine.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Read more at:Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs. 

 

Join our mailing list for more ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Click Here to check out Uncle Ralph’s books, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way” and “The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans” Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.

 

 

Choices to be made or all part of a continuum?

I believe they are the three elements of a process required to build long-term valuable customer relationships. Which is the primary value proposition of most businesses. (Buy once and goodbye forever is not a business model that works for anybody. If you can find one, please let me know.)

The three elements defined:
  1. Marketing – to build awareness, interest, attraction and generate customer initiated action in your direction.
  2. Sales - converting interested prospects into qualified, buying customers.
  3. Customer service – ensuring that each customer is a satisfied, repeat customer.

Each step has to be done consistently well for the results to be achieved. But a choice still has to be made – which element are you going to be best at? Will you win from competitors on marketing, sales, or customer service? You cannot be best at all three.

From my experience as a second tier OEM brand name in computer hardware, we knew that we couldn’t possibly out-spend or out-market the multinationals, but we could out-sell them -one customer at a time.

Winning on customer service was also a challenge – it’s expensive to compete on warranty terms and technical support. So we went back to salesmanship in the service department – coaching staff on persuading the customer to be reasonable, patient, and give us another order, please!

So take a look at your own performance in marketing, sales and customer service – then choose, focus and build one of them into your competitive weapon.

Here is an inspiring fact about Elvis. Among dead celebrities he is still number one in annual income. More then thirty years after his death in 1976, he is still earning in excess of $50 million a year! (OK, he’s not earning it, his heirs and successors are.)

An impressive example of building a business model that ensures recurring income long after the initial work is delivered. It works for recording artists, authors and others that receive continuing royalties or sell continuity programs, memberships, subscriptions. Some of the highest earning consultants, advisors and coaches are the ones that are smart enough to sell their services with a percentage override on future sales revenue or cost savings.

Is there an opportunity that you’re missing in your business? After selling the product or service are you selling the add-on warranty support or technical service?

Wouldn’t your kids be pleased to know they’ll still be getting cheques from you long after you’re gone?

Sometimes we get so preoccupied with marketing and sales activities and all the associated details that we forget the original strategic objectives.

The basic objective, of course, is to generate and grow sales revenue. But to have sales you need customers. And to have sustained, profitable and growing sales, the best strategy is to develop loyal, long-term customer relationships.

So the marketing, sales and customer service activities should all be aligned to deliver a customer experience with you, your company and your brand that evolves from a first time buyer to a loyal, long-term customer.

The customer experience typically evolves through four levels:

1. Satisfaction with price and availability

On the first exposure to you and your business, customers will quickly, maybe even subconsciously, compare price and availability to their expectations based on prior experience with your competition. There will likely be no sale, and maybe no second chance, if this minimum expectation is not met.

2. Recognition of superior service levels

The first point of differentiation and the first step to building a stronger customer relationship will be when the customer recognizes that you offer superior service. You can demonstrate it in many ways – faster response to inquiries, easier access, more stock, better prices or terms, better delivery, better warranty service and support.

3. Appreciation of the value of your knowledge and experience

After the basic needs of price and availability are met, and you have distinguished yourself with superior service, the customer experience should then lead to an appreciation of the added value of your knowledge and experience. This will be demonstrated by applying your product knowledge, training, education and experience to educate the customer and give him/her the confidence to make better purchasing decisions. Now you are building a valuable customer relationship.

4. Connection on values, mission and vision

The final step in cementing loyal, long-term relationships will occur when the customer recognizes a common sense of values, mission and vision in the way you both do business. This connection will be developed over several interactions, particularly when problems are solved together, or you meet on non-business related issues.

The sooner you can meet customer expectations at these four levels, the faster you will build lasting and loyal customer relationships.