EnMast http://www.enmast.com Small Business Community | Small Business Tools, Templates, Help and Resources. Mon, 13 Apr 2015 13:00:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 How to turn online connections into real world sales http://www.enmast.com/2015/04/how-to-turn-online-connections-real-world-sales/ http://www.enmast.com/2015/04/how-to-turn-online-connections-real-world-sales/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=19080 If you’ve been following along with our blog posts, or if you listen to our podcast you know that we are big fans of social media and online marketing. There has never been a better time to be prospecting for new client leads–they are all right out there! You can search for them, reach out

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If you’ve been following along with our blog posts, or if you listen to our podcast you know that we are big fans of social media and online marketing. There has never been a better time to be prospecting for new client leads–they are all right out there! You can search for them, reach out to them, make friends with them…it’s like magic.

make sales

There is a “dark side” to all this online networking though. You don’t make sales from behind your computer (very often). It’s rather compelling to spend time on social networks; it feels productive to connect with more and more prospects; but does online networking lead to actual sales? You can spend a lot of time and energy building up your social profile, creating rich, shareable blog posts, and at the end of the day, not have any business conversations that lead to sales! You’ve made friends–just not business friends!

If you find yourself in that predicament, here’s 3 ways to turn on-line relationships into real world sales.

1. Go to (or host) some events

Events are a great place to meet casual acquaintances and start building a deeper relationship. Notice which events seem popular among your online connections (especially the ones that look like real prospects) and sign up to go. When you are there your goal is to take relationships further–spend time with folks one-to-one, listen to what’s going on in their world, make connections between them.

networking

But the real work happens after the event. Go home and start doing some follow up. You’ve met folks, you’ve gotten their business card (right?), so start following up by phone or email. Talk more deeply about the needs you heard from them at the event, set up a time to go meet with them (and make a sale).

If you don’t see any events happening that your prospects are attending, make one of your own! It doesn’t have to be something fancy–just pick a local place and invite folks for drinks. Give them a reason to get out from behind their computers.

2. Co-create something with them

Maybe the folks you are meeting aren’t prospects, they’re referral partners. You don’t want to meet to sell to them, you want to sell to their clients. Invite them to co-create some content with you. Maybe it’s as simple as creating a guest post for their blog, or inviting them to be a guest on a webinar you are hosting. If you have a podcast (or if they do) you need guests; invite them to be on (or ask to be a guest on theirs).

co create content

If that goes well, you can keep going–is there a topic that is of interest to both of your audiences? Create an ebook or video about it.

Working with them helps to create a connection and deepen the relationship.

3. Pick up the phone

If you know someone well online, and you know that you can help them–that is, they are your ideal client–the most efficient thing to do is to pick up the phone and call them. If this is a business person you are getting to know, their phone number is on their website–just call them! Introduce yourself and remind them of the discussions you have had online. Let them know that you couldn’t help but notice that they were facing some challenges… Just the kind of challenges you’ve helped other businesses with…

pick up the phone

Sure, some of those folks are going to be put-off. They might already have a provider, or feel upset because you assumed they needed help. But way more of them are going to be happy to talk to someone who can help with their issue. Call them.

Even the most committed inbound sales people have to move the conversation from online to in-person (or on the phone) in order to sell. It’s a key skill that will make your work on-line so much more productive.

What works for you? How have you made on-line relationships work for you in the “real world”?




The 2015 Guide to Using LinkedIn - Webinar

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How to respond to random LinkedIn requests http://www.enmast.com/2015/04/respond-random-linkedin-requests/ http://www.enmast.com/2015/04/respond-random-linkedin-requests/#comments Fri, 10 Apr 2015 16:11:49 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=19076 If you are active on LinkedIn, your chances of “getting found” increase. You will get more inbound contacts from prospects, job seekers, potential partners and (unfortunately) random connection requests from people you don’t know. While some of these requests can be kind of puzzling, (“Why would the CTO of the country of Bangladesh want to

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If you are active on LinkedIn, your chances of “getting found” increase. You will get more inbound contacts from prospects, job seekers, potential partners and (unfortunately) random connection requests from people you don’t know. While some of these requests can be kind of puzzling, (“Why would the CTO of the country of Bangladesh want to connect with me?”) it’s also a sign that you are doing a great job of increasing your visibility. The issue of random connections gets further complicated because some people use connection requests as a sort of free InMail.

responding to linkedin requests

Instead of using InMail to contact people they don’t know (but with whom they want to do business) they just send a connection request with a (usually) vague message in it. So you will likely end up with an inbox on LinkedIn that’s filled with a mixture of people, some of whom you know–and with whom you do want to connect. And there will be some you likely don’t want to connect with, whether you know them or not; and a few that you’re just not sure about… Those usually end up being the tricky ones!

I find a lot of professionals end up with at least 10 – 20 connection requests in their LinkedIn inbox (though I’ve seen folks with over 100!) that they just aren’t sure how to respond to. They might be a good connection–but I don’t really know them! So they hesitate. The connections grow cold; and they just keep looking at them over and over…

I’ve found a way to deal decisively with these requests. It enables you to determine if there is any value in connecting quickly–and then ignore the rest! It keeps my LinkedIn Inbox clean, and doesn’t offend anyone (that I know of).

When I go through my LinkedIn Inbox I quickly accept the requests from folks I know, and ignore the requests from random people I can’t imagine connecting with. For the ones that are left, I hit the little down arrow to the right of the “Accept” button (it will say, “Reply (Don’t accept yet.)”) and I send them a stock reply that I have saved on my computer (so I can send it really quickly) that says:

Thanks for offering to connect with me. I usually only connect with people I’ve met and know well enough to recommend. I meet a lot of people and I may be having trouble recalling how we know one another, do you mind refreshing my memory?

If we don’t know one another, but you feel like there is some way that we could have a business connection that would be profitable for both of us, I’d be open to hearing about that too.

If you just enjoy the content I’ve been sharing maybe following @blfarris, or @enmastbusiness on Twitter makes sense?

This reply does three things:

1. It gives them a chance to remind me if we have met

Maybe I met them at a speaking engagement, or some other place where I met a bunch of people and I just forgot them; that’s possible. If so, then I want to give them a chance to remind me and renew the connection.

2. It gives them a chance to pitch me

Many of these folks are sending connection requests because they think there is something I can do for them, or something we could do together. I don’t want to turn those folks down without hearing them out. This gives them a chance to communicate what it is that they think we can do together.

(Of course, they are already starting out behind the 8-ball. If you have something to pitch, just send me an InMail and pitch me! Sending a connection request is a pretty passive and indirect way to do that).

3. It helps them to stay connected

There are a lot of people who use LinkedIn differently than I do. They may not use it as a way to curate a list of trusted partners; they may use it more like Twitter where they are connecting with content they find compelling.

I wish that there was an easy link I could send them to ask them to “follow” me on LinkedIn (Did you know you can follow people on LinkedIn? The only place I can find to do it is on one of their published posts); but since I can’t, I send them my Twitter addresses. This gives us a chance to stay connected (or at least they stay connected to the content) without making it hard for me to use LinkedIn the way it works best for me.

Of course your mileage may vary; you may want to just connect to everyone on LinkedIn. If that’s your plan, go ahead! But if you find yourself staring at a bunch of connection requests you aren’t sure about, this might be a way to make a decision about them without missing out on potentially valuable connections.

How do you deal with random LinkedIn connection requests?




The 2015 Guide to Using LinkedIn - Webinar


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5 reasons why your small business needs a strong sales pipeline http://www.enmast.com/2015/04/5-reasons-strong-sales-pipeline-business/ http://www.enmast.com/2015/04/5-reasons-strong-sales-pipeline-business/#respond Wed, 08 Apr 2015 18:31:51 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=19067 We all want to have a strong sales pipeline, right? Who wouldn’t want to have a consistent flow of prospects interested in engaging their company? But the value of a strong sales pipeline goes beyond the marketing and sales team. It’s like having a tailwind for your whole business. If there is one thing you

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We all want to have a strong sales pipeline, right? Who wouldn’t want to have a consistent flow of prospects interested in engaging their company? But the value of a strong sales pipeline goes beyond the marketing and sales team. It’s like having a tailwind for your whole business.

If there is one thing you can do to make your job easier as a business owner, it’s to strengthen your sales pipeline.

Yes you need to pay your bills, and keep your team in line, and deliver consistently to your existing clients, but none ofthat needs to be your #1 priority. You can, and should, hire someone to do that other stuff!

sales pipeline

But as the business owner, your priority needs to be filling the sales pipeline. Let me show you why!

1. When your sales pipeline is strong, you are more selective with your clients

One sure sign of a successful business is that they select the right clients. When your pipeline is strong you can say “no” to work that’s not a good fit–work that doesn’t align with what you are best at. By doing that, you have more work that moves smoothly through your organization. You aren’t learning new industries or trying to offer new services, but you are delivering your best work time and time again. This makes it easier to have the right staff and keep them consistently busy; it makes it easier to estimate correctly so that your business remains profitable. A robust pipeline that allows you to turn the “wrong” client away is an important key to your success!

But it’s not just about efficiency. When you’re able to be selective, that also means you don’t have to work for jerks. Clients who abuse your staff, or who are disrespectful, can be shown the door–and that does wonders for staff morale and engagement.

2. When your sales pipeline is strong, you don’t discount

When we have a strong pipeline we don’t feel the need to negotiate on price. When someone asks for a discount we know with confidence that we can get another client (at full price) to replace this cheapskate! So we say no. This means that we have the profits we need to invest in better tools, and improve our staff. It means we can make good money ourselves!

3. When your sales pipeline is strong, you don’t have to “break” your internal processes

When clients come by who want our help, but who want us to step outside of our normal processes, I always cringe. I want to say “Yes! Of course we can.” But I know that every special process means that it’s going to cost us more–and give us opportunities to screw up!

When our pipeline is strong I am more likely to hold to our process (which, I know, works); I’m not going to panic when the client tells us “it has to be done by” some unreasonable date, or wants to do things out of order, or by using some tool that is foreign to me. If they can’t work with our process, we have another client who will.

4. When your sales pipeline is strong, you hire better!

One of the hardest calls for any business to make is when to add more staff. Is it time? Are we busy enough? Or will business suddenly dry up right after I add a bunch of new salaries to the budget? When your pipeline is strong, you have more confidence that the work is coming in.

So instead of hedging your bets by hiring someone young and cheap, you can go for that talented, experienced person who will really do the job–because you know the work is there. Having a strong pipeline gives you the confidence to hire the right people (and fire the wrong ones)!

5. When your sales pipeline is strong, you have more confidence

Have you ever thought about how much your confidence in your business effects you every day? Almost every decision you make is influenced by your confidence. When you know your business is rockin’, decisions come easier, sales come easier, you don’t hesitate and second guess, you just do what you know is right. Your job is so much easier (and your days better) when your sales pipeline is full and you know that what your team is doing is working. Not that there isn’t room for improvement, but you know you aren’t going to go broke before you have a chance to fix it!

This is why it’s the business owner’s #1 job to fill the sales pipeline. If you can get new clients lining up at your door consistently, your job is so much easier! Make room in your calendar every day to do business development! Never let a day go by without following up, or getting a proposal out, or making some calls to prospects or referral partners. If you make it a priority, track your progress, and measure the results, you will have a booming pipeline in no time!

What do you do to fill up your pipeline?




The 2015 Guide to Using LinkedIn - Webinar


Photo credit: Seattle Municipal Archives

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5 ways your website can help you fill your sales pipeline http://www.enmast.com/2015/04/5-ways-website-fill-sales-pipeline/ http://www.enmast.com/2015/04/5-ways-website-fill-sales-pipeline/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2015 13:00:22 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=19012 Finding more qualified prospects to fill the top of your sales pipeline is the best way to accelerate the growth of your company. Any action I can take to bring in more leads on a consistent basis, well, that’s action worth taking! You have a website. Everybody does. How hard is it working for you?

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Finding more qualified prospects to fill the top of your sales pipeline is the best way to accelerate the growth of your company. Any action I can take to bring in more leads on a consistent basis, well, that’s action worth taking!

how to fill sales pipeline

You have a website. Everybody does. How hard is it working for you? Do you regularly get calls or emails from prospects who have been to your website? If not, here’s 5 Ways your website can help you fill your sales pipeline.

1. Be clear about what you do, who you do it for, and the difference you make in their lives and business.

Make sure that when your ideal client lands on your website it’s clear to them–in the first minute–that they belong there. You need to know the signals that will let your ideal client know that you help people just like them. For some folks it’s easy; if an accountant has chosen to focus only on churches, her message is clear. How do you make sure your ideal client knows that they are in the right place as soon as they land on your site?

Not only will this clarity magnetically attract your ideal clients, it will also discourage prospects who aren’t ideal. And this is doing you a favor, because people who aren’t your ideal client steal the time you could be using to find and serve the ones who are!

Example: BizEase Support Solutions

sales pipeline

What do you think BizEase does? If you are a speaker or coach, what tells you this is the right place to be?

2. Demonstrate your expertise. Show, don’t tell.

When I am at a party meeting new people, I start to notice people falling into two broad categories. The people I notice first are those who are driven to tell me how impressive they are. They talk about their travels, their important job, their accomplished children, etc. Then I start to notice another group of people. This group is often quiet initially–they aren’t banging a drum about where they work or where their kids go to school. Instead, I discover these things as I talk with them. They don’t trumpet their accomplishments, but I experience their intelligence and wisdom through the quality of the conversation we are having. And that conversation isn’t even about them! These folks are always returning the subject of the conversation to me–it’s like playing catch! I enjoy talking to these folks much more than those from the first group.

That’s the experience I want to have on your website. I don’t want your website to announce how great you are and shove your signs of success in my face (though, when I want to verify your bonafides, I should be able to find them). Instead of puffing up yourself and your company with a bunch of buzz words (which you think will mean something to me, but they likely won’t), impress me with real stories of the problems you’ve actually solved for clients just like me. You don’t have to work so hard telling me how great you are; because when you show me, I see your expertise in action. Stories and a demonstration of your knowledge will not only stay in my head, but they make me more likely to become a prospect.

Example: Digital Third Coast

sales pipeline

What tells your story better than a whole page full of client case studies with real numbers? Don’t miss the video too. There is no greater salesman for you than a happy client! Let them speak!

3. Invite people in. Collect email addresses — and actually use them.

If prospects feel at home, and they get to experience your expertise, then they want to stay connected. Give them an easy way to do that by putting an email subscription form on every page of your website. Make it prominent, and make it simple. Just add a little text to let them know what to expect when they sign up. Better yet, offer them something of value that they can get in exchange for that email address.

Once you have those email addresses, make sure you send something to them! A simple monthly update that points folks to the best stuff you are reading and writing–material that gets right to the heart of the problems your ideal clients are stuck on–will build trust and make them part of your tribe.

Example: Kneen & Co

sales pipeline
There’s nothing fancy here, but the call to action is clear. I know what to put in the box and what I’m going to get.

4. Ask them to raise their hand.

When people know that they are in the right place, and see that you are helping them, they might just want to hire you! Make it easy for them to do that, too. Don’t make folks go to a contact form, or “Contact Us” page. Put your phone number on every page of your website.

Make it easy for folks to call you! Have a spot on the sidebar where you tell people what to do if they want to work with you. That could lead to a form that emails you, or even to a page that sells a package right on your website. Just make it crystal clear, and easy.

Example: Assessment Pros

how to fill your sales pipeline

Assessment Pros have their phone number on every page of their site, and in the side bars, they have two different calls to action to prompt you to take action to reach out to them.

ways to fill your sales pipeline

5. Build relationships with your referral partners.

A good referral partner is a precious thing. That respected associate who serves an audience that overlaps a lot with your ideal client, but isn’t in direct competition with you, who is willing to send their clients and prospects to you (and if you can reciprocate, even better!) can be a continual source of well qualified leads.

Give them some space on your website too! Maybe they publish a blog post on your site a few times a year; maybe you co-create an eBook or video together that can be on both of your sites. Finding a way to get your partners to help you create the content on your website makes the job easier and helps you cement the bonds of that important relationship.

Example: Ask it Forward

Go to a conference, ask all the smartest folks there to answer one question and ask one question. Edit it all together and you have a fascinating piece of co-created content.

If you are doing all of this, and your website still isn’t bringing in new prospects, maybe you aren’t getting enough traffic, or you aren’t promoting your blog posts effectively. It can be done. Your website can be an effective part of your sales strategy.

What does your website do for you?




Sales Pipeline Report Template Download




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How to build a company culture that invests in Millennials http://www.enmast.com/2015/03/millennials-in-the-workforce-build-company-culture-invests-millennials/ http://www.enmast.com/2015/03/millennials-in-the-workforce-build-company-culture-invests-millennials/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 17:18:43 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=19020 In Part II, Devan offered further advice on how to create a magnetic company culture. A significant part of building a strong, positive company culture is letting each worker know that they’re seen as not just a company employee, but first and foremost as a person. As Millennials cement their role in the current workforce, research

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In Part II, Devan offered further advice on how to create a magnetic company culture. A significant part of building a strong, positive company culture is letting each worker know that they’re seen as not just a company employee, but first and foremost as a person. As Millennials cement their role in the current workforce, research and personal experience tell me that one of the core Gen Y values is achieving work-life balance.

millennials in the workforce

By working to ease generational tension and granting Millennials in the workforce the space and trust to work the way that best suits them, employers help their younger employees excel in their positions and strike the healthy work-life balance they desire.

Break down the divide

Before I discuss how we can specifically fulfill younger workers’ values while optimizing their performance, let’s look at how the workforce as a whole currently views them. The stereotypical attitude experienced workers have towards Millennials is one of condescension and confusion, but does research support that viewpoint?

millennials

In MySafetySign’s 2015 Health and Safety Industry Survey, experienced workers tended to have a lower opinion of younger workers. Respondents with more than five years’ experience found Millennials challenging to work with: 28% felt that they are easily distracted.

Are Millennials in the workforce actually easily distracted, or do they simply take a different approach to their work? Younger workers may be more inclined to ask “Why?” Experienced employees may be choosier when it comes to communicating their concerns because they understand that questioning their employers may not ultimately help them meet their end goals.

Asking questions and seeking additional information is a form of hands-on, on-the-job training that benefits Millennials more than outdated instruction manuals and rereading the company handbook. Just as some people learn better using visual aids, others prefer reading step-by-step written instructions, and different generations may also excel using different approaches.

Employers can help solve these generational challenges by inviting respectful discussions, providing constructive criticism, and helping employees mold their position to fit their individual strengths.

Play to their strengths

While the pre-1990 crowd is critical of Millennials’ ability to focus on tasks, they can also admit the younger groups’ talents. 25% of survey respondents do consider Millennials to be better with technology than other workers. This acknowledgement has the potential to pay off in big ways if used to a company’s advantage.

While Baby Boomers and Generation X employees are known to check their email at 11pm, Millennials’ savvy tech skills and desire for work-life balance allows them to unplug after hours. They are able to accomplish more in less time and may not need to be available around the clock the way older workers were. This kind of willingness has become outdated as many workplaces switch to shorter workdays or adopt “Summer Friday” policies. The 24/7 work policy will finally see a sunset as Millennials rise to power.

This is not to say that you should make exceptions for the Millennial force. It’s not that they need constant coddling in order to produce quality results, but they do want to hear positive feedback when they’ve earned it. Like Devan said in Part II, build a culture of appreciation, not condemnation.

Knowing that your experienced employees respect younger workers’ technological abilities, challenge the Gen Yers to develop new, streamlined processes using technology that they can pass on to experienced workers who may not be as familiar with newer tools.

Takeaways

Millennials in the workforce have high expectations for both their lives and their careers. If you can’t meet their needs, don’t be surprised if they look elsewhere for a boss who can.

If your Millennial employees need a little flexibility from you to maintain their desired work-life balance, try to find a compromise that suits both parties. Offering them a flexible schedule or providing them with outside training resources are both forms of employee investment.

Create a company culture that invests in Millennials by recognizing the work they do while also integrating them into the existing office culture with older workers. Millennials may be able to teach you a thing or two as well — like turning off work email at the dinner table!




Employee job description template


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How to warm up cold leads (without being a pest) http://www.enmast.com/2015/03/how-to-warm-up-cold-leads-and-turn-them-into-hot-sales/ http://www.enmast.com/2015/03/how-to-warm-up-cold-leads-and-turn-them-into-hot-sales/#respond Thu, 26 Mar 2015 16:35:04 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18999 Cold is not usually a positive association. Cold coffee. Cold weather. Cold attitudes. Not a lot of people will jump up and down with excitement when you’re describing something cold…unless it’s ice cream. The same goes for cold leads. They’re not the easiest to work with–and you need to find a way to warm them

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Cold is not usually a positive association. Cold coffee. Cold weather. Cold attitudes. Not a lot of people will jump up and down with excitement when you’re describing something cold…unless it’s ice cream.

cold leads

The same goes for cold leads. They’re not the easiest to work with–and you need to find a way to warm them up while prospecting without being a pest. If you don’t do anything, your relationship is likely going nowhere — what was once a potential sale, is now lost.

cold leads into hot sales

So how do you avoid that? Here are a few tips for making your cold leads a little bit warmer so you can close a sale.

1. Connect on social media

Say you got a new lead at a networking event a few weeks ago, and you reached out via email but never heard anything back. You’re stuck in the cold zone. A nice, subtle way to remind them you exist is to connect with them on social media. Start by seeing if they have a presence on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, and connecting with them there.

Now, you don’t want to appear stalker-esque, so don’t go overboard on this one. Take it slow, and see if anything comes from one platform at first. Then you can move on to other social networks.

2. Offer an update

Have you recently hired someone new? Changed your services or offerings? These are relevant pieces of news that can provide a way for you to re-start the conversation with past leads. Now you’re not just sending a nagging follow-up message, but you’re offering something new to the back-and-forth.

This might be just the right thing to pique the interest of that potential client whose initial interest fizzled out.

3. Educate

Let your cold leads know you’ve got lots of valuable expertise up your sleeve by producing a constant trickle of helpful content in the spaces they use to gather information. Whether it’s an insightful blog post, podcast [hey, you should check out ours ;)], or e-newsletter, this consistent reminder that you really know your stuff can eventually tip the scales in your favor. Think about where they go to find information on how to be better at what they do (maybe LinkedIn, a popular industry website, etc.) and find ways to build a presence there.

Gary Vaynerchuk describes this as “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.” Your jabs are those awesome pieces of material that help your cold leads, and the right hook is the direct ask that follows through. Since you’ve provided so much free information, your cold leads are more compelled to give back.

5. Send something valuable

See an article that might be right up a cold lead’s alley? Send it over with a quick message referencing the helpful resource you found that you wanted him or her to see. Or, maybe you know that they’re looking for help within a certain department. Is there someone in your network of connections that you could refer for that role?

When you can offer something valuable to a cold lead, they start getting the warm and fuzzies (and they might feel like they owe you something.) Make introductions and be a helpful resource for those stubborn cold leads, and they’ll begin to change their tune.

6. Reinforce your ethos

Have you recently won an award, been featured in a prominent medium, or done something groundbreaking that people are taking note of? Highlighting your accomplishments on social media helps you reinforce your ethos as an expert in your field–and reminds your cold leads that you really are fantastic at what you do.

Don’t be boastful, but be sure to highlight your successes in a way that compliments your efforts.

7. Call

Yes! It’s true. Picking up the phone is sometimes the only way you’re going to get a finite answer to if the two of you will be working together. Grit your teeth, dial the number, and use your dazzling charm. Oh, and be sure to re-introduce yourself. If it’s been awhile, you shouldn’t expect your lead to remember you right off the bat.

One caveat, though: Don’t leave a voicemail. They’re worthless. You want a concrete yes or no–so try to get your cold lead when they can actually pick up the phone. Here’s a few sales call tips as well.

Hang in there

Perseverance is the name of the game. When it comes to cold leads, you know there’s some initial interest there…but it’s your job to work them through the sales pipeline and to turn them into a living, breathing customer. Try out these tactics and see which ones are most effective with your target audience.

What did we miss? Anything you’d tack on to this list?

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How to increase sales (and make more money) http://www.enmast.com/2015/03/how-to-increase-sales/ http://www.enmast.com/2015/03/how-to-increase-sales/#respond Tue, 24 Mar 2015 18:44:57 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18989 What creates sales for your company? What is one thing can you do today that will increase sales in the future? What can you do that will move the needle on your top line? It’s surprising how few of my clients have ever sat down and thought about the answers to these questions. If you

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What creates sales for your company? What is one thing can you do today that will increase sales in the future? What can you do that will move the needle on your top line?

how to increase sales

It’s surprising how few of my clients have ever sat down and thought about the answers to these questions. If you need more sales what do you do? I’m not talking about what 50 things could you do that might cause sales. I’m talking about what are the 2 – 4 steps you can take that will clearly open conversations with new prospects. Because, no matter what business you are in, more conversations with prospects will mean more business.

How to increase sales

I’m all for powerful marketing. I’m a huge believer that you should be bringing more traffic to your website every month. But when it comes to selling something, usually a conversation–face-to-face, or over the phone–is what’s required.

You need to somehow get appointments so you can talk to people who are interested in buying from you. How do you get prospects to volunteer to have that conversation?

I’ve got more than a dozen things I’ve tried on how to increase sales. I’ve listed them starting with the ones I’d try first, and ended with those I consider “If you’re desperate,” ideas. Look them over and find one to try this week.

1. Increasing Awareness

People have to know you exist. If you are just getting started, or have a specialty that not everyone needs, you must focus here. Some ways to “get the word out” include:

  • Calling past clients–prospects who weren’t a good fit (I sent them a proposal and they said no)–and asking for referrals.
  • Speaking engagements in front of audiences that contain a substantial number of potential customers.
  • Writing something for publications that my customers read.
  • Being a guest on a podcast, or show (that my prospects, or people like my prospects, listen to).
  • Promoting a new piece of content we published that highlights the need which my service meets. (The promotion has to include getting other people to talk about it or write about it).
  • Advertising (another way to promote that content piece!)
  • Sponsoring a contest.
  • Giving something away (something that’s very relevant to your targeted prospects.)

From Awareness to Consideration

In this part of the sales process, you’ve made a lot of “business friends”; but now you need prospects–people who can actually hire you. You have to convert that awareness into consideration. In order for folks to consider turning to you for services, they have to believe you can help them. They need to see that you are an expert at what you do. Some ways I demonstrate expertise to my audience include:

  • Calling past clients–again, those prospects who weren’t a good fit (the ones that rejected my proposal)–and asking for new opportunities; telling them about new service offerings; or just reconnecting.
  • Hosting an event with clients and prospects in attendance.
  • Hosting an educational event; a seminar, webinar or conference. When I do this, I’m always addressing my prospects. And at some point in the event I want to highlight for them the benefits of working with me.
  • Follow up calls. Call people who downloaded that content piece that we’ve been promoting.
  • Specific calls to action. Whenever we are creating awareness, we are specific about what we want people to do in order to work with us.
  • Asking, “How can I help you?” when I see someone in person at an event.
  • A “needs survey” on my website or in person.

Discovery Conversations

In this part on how to increase sales, once people are considering you as a viable solution to their challenges, you need to do some investigating. Do they really have a problem? Is it a big problem–one they would pay money to solve? Are you a good fit for them? You have generated some leads from all the activities I mentioned above. Now it’s time to come out and ask, “Can we have a conversation to see if our services are a good fit for the problem you’re having?”

If you are generating awareness with the right audience, you will have just “caused” sales to happen!

Notice that none of these examples include the following (which for me and most of my clients don’t cause sales. They may feel like they are going to cause sales, but, more often than not, they are just a big distraction):

  • Respond to an RFP that didn’t initiate with a conversation with me prior to the RFP getting written. This is tantamount to investing in lottery tickets as a retirement strategy. It might work.
  • “Networking”. If I don’t know if there are prospects in a group, or referral partners who can get me to prospects, then I’m fishing, not networking.
  • Re-writing or re-designing my website. Not that it doesn’t need to be done, but go find some clients then pay someone else to do it.

So, I want to know. What do you do that causes sales for your business?




Sales Pipeline Report Template Download



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5 Sales Prospecting Tools Every Entrepreneur Needs http://www.enmast.com/2015/03/5-sales-prospecting-tools-entrepreneur/ http://www.enmast.com/2015/03/5-sales-prospecting-tools-entrepreneur/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 16:30:17 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18966 When you’re working hard to build new relationships and network for your business, you’re ultimately working to increase your sales pipeline. You’re connecting with new people and getting your brand in front of new faces. Part of this happens in the form of in-person meetings, but other times, we use platforms like LinkedIn to do

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When you’re working hard to build new relationships and network for your business, you’re ultimately working to increase your sales pipeline. You’re connecting with new people and getting your brand in front of new faces.

5 sales prospecting tools

Part of this happens in the form of in-person meetings, but other times, we use platforms like LinkedIn to do this online.

The trouble with this continuously expanding network of connections, however, is that now you’ve got to keep them all straight.

Today, we’re discussing 5 sales prospecting tools that will help you do just that.

Refresh

When you’re getting ready to have a discussion with one of your new connections, it’s a good idea to get a quick recap of whatever information you have about this person for the sake of conversation. When paired up with your calendar, Refresh helps you do this by sending you a quick dossier on that person right before your meeting.

sales prospecting tools

You’ll receive a full look at the person’s profile based on their email address–meaning it pulls all of the social profiles connected to the email address. You’ll be able to check out the person’s recent Facebook posts, Instagram feed, and gather some general background information that will help you prep for your meeting.

Rapportive

Rapportive is a tool you can use to get LinkedIn profiles to tie-in with your Gmail account. This allows you to see a full profile on the person you’re composing a message to. You’ll be supplied with information about where the person works, lives, their job title, and any shared connections you may have–which establishes common ground for the two of you (hence, the name.)

screen-shot-2014-06-17-at-10-28-06-am

You can also use this tool to search for people at a company who’s email you don’t have yet. You can try out a few different email combinations to see what profile information comes up based on the email addresses you type in. Then, you can reach out to the person right from your Gmail account without having to go back into LinkedIn.

Contactually

When you want a CRM system that helps you group your email connections into groups or to tag them for different skills, Contactually is a great option. Then, when someone asks you if you know of any people with a certain skill set (let’s say copywriting, for example), you can do a quick search through all of your connections that you’ve tagged with “copywriting.” Now you can send referrals without having to dig to find all of the possible candidates you could recommend.

This resource also has a great introduction tool that helps you keep track of introductions you’ve made. It automatically saves your descriptions of each person so you don’t have to re-type it each time.

featuresintro

Boomerang

Boomerang keeps track of your email correspondence in Gmail and sends friendly reminders when it’s time for you to follow up with someone who hasn’t responded to your message. No more conversations falling through the cracks–you set the time frame, and if no response is received by then, you’re reminded to get back in touch.

It also allows you to send messages at a later date/time so it’s delivered at the ideal time.

sales prospect tools

LinkedIn Connected

If you need sales prospecting tools because your business thrives on recruiting great people, the LinkedIn Connections app is a great way to see what’s happening with your talented LinkedIn connections. You’ll be notified when people change jobs, when a connection has a birthday, when someone gets a promotion, etc. All of the sudden, you’re presented with great opportunities to reach out to you connections.

LinkedIn-Connected-Screenshots-e1404966183802Sales Prospecting Tools are what you make them

You can have all of the fantastic sales prospecting tools in the world–but unless you take the time to get them set up and start using them regularly, you’re missing opportunities to expand your reach.

Your turn: What tools would you add to this list?




The 2015 Guide to Using LinkedIn - Webinar


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What is a sales pipeline? Here’s everything you need to know http://www.enmast.com/2015/03/what-is-a-sales-pipeline/ http://www.enmast.com/2015/03/what-is-a-sales-pipeline/#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2015 13:08:47 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18958 Getting a customer, for most of us, isn’t a one step process. It’s different for all types of businesses. So then, what is a sales pipeline? If you were to draw a map of the stages that your prospects go through — from the time they first hear about your company through consideration, talking to

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Getting a customer, for most of us, isn’t a one step process. It’s different for all types of businesses.

So then, what is a sales pipeline?

what is a sales pipeline

If you were to draw a map of the stages that your prospects go through — from the time they first hear about your company through consideration, talking to a sales person, reviewing a proposal, negotiation or contract review, and finally (some of them) buy — that process is what a sales pipeline is for you. A sales pipeline is all the people currently, and actively, considering buying your product or using your services.

In order to manage your sales pipeline, we need to get potential buyers to identify themselves. Sometimes we find out they are interested when they fill out a form to download our sales information. Other times, we don’t know they are “in” the pipeline until they contact a sales person! The earlier in their sales journey we can get them to identify themselves to us, the better we are able to manage the process. What offers can you make that will get your prospects to identify themselves earlier in the sales pipeline?

Managing the sales pipeline

At each stage of the sales pipeline (awareness, consideration, sales presentation, proposal, negotiation) some prospects drop out. For example, if we deliver 10 proposals in a month, and 5 of them ultimately buy, we have a 50% conversion rate from proposals to sales. If you measure from consideration all the way through to sales, you might convert 1% – 2% of your prospects into sales.

That closing ratio will vary by a number of factors, including the type of prospect, the sales person delivering the presentation, the lead source, etc. Looking carefully at all the variables will give you information to optimize your sales pipeline. If your sales team spends more time working on the sales leads that have a higher conversion rate, then your sales will increase!

For example, if we see that we convert more proposals from bigger companies than we do from smaller companies, we know we need to prioritize big company leads! When sales slow (or accelerate) we can go back to our pipeline and try to diagnose. Are we getting fewer leads? Are leads not turning into presentations?

Tracking these stages helps us to identify what might be going wrong, and focus our efforts to fix it.

Using the sales pipeline to forecast sales

sales prospectingThe sales pipeline also helps us to forecast sales. Over time, we may learn that 20% of people who download our sales brochure ultimately request a sales presentation; and out of those, 40% request a proposal, and then half of those buy. Now we can see the future!

Working with these numbers, we know that if we get 100 brochure downloads, we can forecast 4 sales. When we track the prospects in our pipeline, we can “see” sales coming before they happen. Knowing what’s coming puts us in a better place to prepare for it. We can make sure we have the capacity and the inventory to meet the demand.

A sales pipeline report tracks each lead and identifies what stage the lead is in. According to the stage, we can know the likelihood of closing for each deal. If we know the approximate value of each deal, we can forecast the value of the sales in our pipeline.

The sales pipeline is a report that you should be able to get out of your CRM system (if you have one); or it could just be kept by your sales team in a spreadsheet. It’s important that you review it regularly to make sure there aren’t any deals that are “stuck” at one stage. When leads get stuck for too long, the likelihood that they will close decreases. Eventually, you just need to take them off the report.

Once you create the sales pipeline report, it’s easy for the sales people to see the deals that they should be focusing on; they just need to move each prospect to the next stage in the buying cycle.

But don’t forget, the best way to increase your sales is to add new leads. Once a lead is in the pipeline, you need to make sure your team works it diligently, even though–unless your process or lead sources have changed–you should already know what percentage of those leads will close. If you want more sales, do more prospecting!

What does your sales pipeline look like? How do you keep track of it?

Not sure where to start? This Sales Pipeline Report Template will help you build your own. Click below to download!




Sales Pipeline Report Template Download


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Sending Price Increase Notices: 4 Best Practices http://www.enmast.com/2015/03/price-increase-notice-practices/ http://www.enmast.com/2015/03/price-increase-notice-practices/#respond Mon, 09 Mar 2015 13:00:58 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18161 When you finally decide it’s time to send your clients a price increase notice, there are a few best practices to follow to help ensure you and your customers are on the same page about what’s happening. The last thing you want to transpire when you’re making a request is to put them on the

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When you finally decide it’s time to send your clients a price increase notice, there are a few best practices to follow to help ensure you and your customers are on the same page about what’s happening.

tips for sending price increase notices

The last thing you want to transpire when you’re making a request is to put them on the spot, surprise them, or make them angry.

That’s why today, we wanted to outline a few best practices to help you send a price increase notice that gets your clients on board (instead of running for the hills.)

1. Give some warning

Surprises + Business = Bad.

price increase notice

Nobody likes seeing a price increase on his or her monthly invoice—especially when it comes without warning. All of the sudden you’re stuck with a higher bill and have no idea why. It feels sneaky and gross.

Which is exactly why you need to give your clients some warning via a price increase notice.

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes: If they came to you and said, “I need you to do 2x more work and I need it completed by tomorrow morning,” would you be obliged to help them out? Probably not.

Instead, if they came to you a month ahead of time and said, “Look: We’ve got a new product launching next month so I’m going to need you to prepare for double your workload in the coming weeks. Can you take that on?” you’d probably be more able to wrap your mind around the project and willing to hop on board.

So how much notice is enough?

30 days is ideal because it gives your client enough time to plan (or re-organize their budget) to accommodate the price increase you’re requesting. It also allows time for conversation and negotiation if the two of you need to work together to find a new balance.

2. Offer a deal

Sometimes you need to find a way to make your price increase notice more appealing to your clients. After all, you’re asking for more money—so what’s in it for them?

price increase notification

Offering a deal is one solution to help you address your needs while making a concession for your client.

For example: You’ve sent a price increase notice that informs your client that prices will increase by six percent on January 1st, but also include that you’d be willing to let them buy the first six months at the old rate if they pay up front.

It’s a win-win: You get cash up front, and they get an extended period at your lower rate.

3. Give the details

Clients want to hear your reasoning behind the price increase. Obviously you’ve pulled numbers from somewhere to figure up how much you want to raise your prices, so have those ready to share.

price increase notices

For example: Say you own a non-profit that transports medical supplies to disaster relief sites. You’ve noticed that your freight charges have gone up 10% due to the cost of fuel. Have the invoice from your transportation company to share with your clients so they have physical proof that your price increase notice is backed by necessity.

When you can validate your request with hard numbers or statistics, it shows that you aren’t just taking advantage of your customers.

4. Have an alternative

If you sense that a client is going to look elsewhere for your type of product or service after receiving the price increase notice, be prepared with another solution that can meet their needs.

Maybe it’s a similar product that is slightly cheaper (but still effective) or a decreased workload that still meets their core objectives. Having other options ready can help retain those customers who can’t afford your price increase.

When you aren’t willing to negotiate and don’t have alternatives to offer, you might be communicating, “Welp, if you can’t pay me more, see ya later.”

If that’s not the message you’re going for—be ready to work together to find a new solution.

Remember, sending a price increase notice is more than a one-step process. There are conversations that need to take place. You need to allow time for the request to be digested. But if you follow these best practices, your request can take effect without a hitch.

What advice do you have for business owners who are sending a price increase letter?




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Sales prospecting: 4 Ways to take control of your sales pipeline http://www.enmast.com/2015/03/sales-prospecting-control-sales-pipeline/ http://www.enmast.com/2015/03/sales-prospecting-control-sales-pipeline/#respond Fri, 06 Mar 2015 14:00:57 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18886 You all know what the sales pipeline stages are, right? As you market and sell, you are moving people from awareness (“Oh, look, they exist”); to consideration (“Hmm, they might be able to solve my problem”); to discovery (“Let’s talk about how you might be able to solve my problem.”); to engagement (“Let’s work together to solve my

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You all know what the sales pipeline stages are, right? As you market and sell, you are moving people from awareness (“Oh, look, they exist”); to consideration (“Hmm, they might be able to solve my problem”); to discovery (“Let’s talk about how you might be able to solve my problem.”); to engagement (“Let’s work together to solve my problem!”).

sales prospecting

Each stage of the sales pipeline has it’s own challenges. Some businesses seem to think that they should keep what they do a secret (or at least, they’re doing a lousy job telling people about it), so they have problems with awareness. Others might have trouble with how to close a sale. They struggle with how to ask for the business. We’ve talked before about improving your whole sales process, but there is only one point in that process where we are in total control. That’s at the top of the funnel.

Every business — no matter where their weaknesses are in the sales process — will have more customers if they get more prospects.

If more people consider them as a credible solution, then more people will buy from them! This is why cold calling “works”. Cold calling is 100% focused on awareness and consideration. If you ask enough people, someone will have the problem you solve! Some percentage of people have it bad enough that they will consider hiring you (even if you cold call them). If you look at it that way, it’s just a numbers game.

While the numbers are real, they aren’t the only factor that drives the art of prospecting (the only point on the sales pipeline where you are truly in control!). To prospect well, you need to look through the numbers. You need to do more than simply cold call (that’s doing it the hard way); you need to focus on lots of other ways to bring increased awareness of your solutions to your target market. If you need more sales, get more prospects.

Once people consider you, they can decide to buy (or not buy) for a million reasons–they don’t have the money, they don’t like your logo, they think you talk funny–whatever reason they give, it’s their decision. You can’t make that happen. But if you invest your time (and money) into prospecting, you will get more awareness, more prospects, and eventually, more sales.

Here’s 4 steps to building awareness and getting more prospects:

1. Be clear about what the problem is that you solve.

I interview two business owners a week on my podcast and I’m constantly amazed by how few of them can articulate clearly the problem they solve. Many of them also can’t describe their ideal customer! If you are clear about what you do and who you do it for, your prospects will jump when they hear it. You won’t be chasing them — they’ll be chasing you.

2. Target your efforts toward people who have that problem.

Once you clearly define your ideal customer, and describe their situation in a way they will recognize, then you want to get that message in front of as many of those ideal clients as you can. Where are they online? Be there. Where do they gather face-to-face? Be there. Who else knows those people? Meet those people.

The more focused your marketing is, the more effective it will be.

3. Be helpful.

Once you find those ideal customers and they recognize you as a credible solution to their problems, you want to woo them. Be as helpful as you can. If they believe you understand their problem, you don’t have to “sell” to them, just help them out. Offer them resources, ideas, connections, information, whatever they need; that builds your credibility and their trust in you.

4. Be clear about the response you want from them.

Once you’ve done all the work to find your prospects, understand their problems, and be helpful to them, they are going to want to work with you. But how do they respond? Make it easy! When you’re face to face, you need to ask for the order; on your website you need a button that says, So, are you ready to get started? (or something like that) where people can raise their hand and say, “Come sell me something.”

I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will…

When people fill out that form, call them back. Call them right back. Don’t delay.

Yes, there’s more to sales than just prospecting. But if you invest your time and energy and focus in prospecting, the rest of the process will be a lot easier.

What about you? How do you go sales prospecting to keep your pipeline full?




Sales Pipeline Report Template Download


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Part II: How to build a magnetic company culture http://www.enmast.com/2015/03/how-to-build-magnetic-company-culture-part-2/ http://www.enmast.com/2015/03/how-to-build-magnetic-company-culture-part-2/#respond Wed, 04 Mar 2015 14:00:40 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18827 In Part I, I addressed the values of Transparency and Purpose. I hope you’ve taken some time to think about at least one of those values–what it means to you, and how it might be expressed, or not, in your company’s culture. This time I’m talking about enduring values. Values that, when they are part of

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In Part I, I addressed the values of Transparency and Purpose. I hope you’ve taken some time to think about at least one of those values–what it means to you, and how it might be expressed, or not, in your company’s culture.

This time I’m talking about enduring values. Values that, when they are part of a company’s core identity, have a significant impact on company culture; an impact that stands the test of time.

company culture examples

With that, I’d like to throw another couple ways to build your company’s culture:

3. Invest in your people

I’m not just a cog in a machine. And no employee wants to be treated like one.

The best way to motivate me is to see me, treat me, and invest in me as a person, not just as an employee.  If you are being treated as a person, your boss will actually ask about your life outside of work! A boss that sees you as a whole person will cut you some slack if something in your life outside of work isn’t going well (like health issues, or serious family stuff).

This past year was a tough one. I had some health issues, and they weren’t resolved in a week. Or even two. For months, I was not able to give 100% at work, and it was a really tough time. But what my boss wanted most was for me to get better. He even went as far as to say “When you’re sick, your job is to get better.” I know that kind of compassion is rare to come by in a boss, and I am incredibly grateful to have the job I do.

Now I have a lot of colleagues whose major complaint is that they feel like automatons at work. Despite all their effort on the job, they don’t feel like anyone actually cares about them at the office, particularly from management. I realize my situation is not typical, but in our office if someone is struggling, everyone picks up the slack with joy, not dread. There is this feeling (and it starts at the top) that we are all more than our jobs; and that sometimes life is more important than work. And because of this, I have a tremendous sense of loyalty to my boss, my team, and to the business.

4. Have a positive bias

A friend once told me “Praise in public, reprimand in private.” Seems like good advice; but I have to say I haven’t seen a lot of examples of it. No one likes to be called out for a mistake in front of the entire team. (That’s what bullies in grade school do.) And yet, I still have colleagues who share stories like this to me about their managers and bosses.

Since we were kids, we’ve been influenced by our peers. That peer influence makes us conform because we want to fit in; no one likes being outcast. But even more than fitting in, we want to be recognized and respected. It’s our nature. And it doesn’t really change when we grow up.

So when the boss gives us praise in front of everyone for a job well done, it feels great and motivates us. But when the boss makes the smallest comment criticizing our work, it can hang over us like a cloud for days. Build a culture of appreciation, not condemnation. Build your people up, don’t bring them down.

I’m not saying you can never address any issues, but when a company has a bias toward positive thinking–and values seeking and appreciating good things–good things often flourish. And when difficult conversations are had in the context of lots of positive ones, it shouldn’t surprise you that the outcomes of those conversations are a lot better, too.

It all starts with you

For better or for worse, the seeds to grow your company culture are all inside of you. And if you want to change that culture, you need to work in each of these areas for yourself. A company with a culture rooted in the values of transparency, purpose, invests in thier, and a positive bias is a company I want to work for. It’s a place where I want to bring my A game.

What are the core values of your company culture? What would you like to change? What will you do to change it?




Core values list: How to identify your company's core values



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