Entrepreneurs know they should have a business plan when they move into business ownership; some do, some don’t. Regardless of whether you have a formalized business plan in your office and refer to it on a regular basis you may still want to keep a journal of the process. We’re not talking about a “Dear Diary” type process, but one in which you make note of how you got where you are in the business process and where you hope to end up.
There are three items you can make note of and track in your business journal:
- Entrepreneurs with a business plan already have a formal, this-is-how-we-do-things, but a business journal is a place where you can jot down various new ideas that may pop into your head — a new process or service to offer, new way to market for clients, random thoughts on how a service can be tweaked or revised. This is a place for business dreams.
- Use your journal as a place to reflect — whether it’s on the day just past, a week in review or a conversation with a potential client that didn’t come to fruition. This is a place where you can jot notes and review what you might do differently. The business journal is a place where you can congratulate yourself on a job well done.
- Planning for the future. Before you put your next steps into your formal business plan, use the business journal as a place to plan for future services to be offered, ways to grow the business, changes you may need to make in staffing, etc. Because you’re not reworking your formal business plan, your thoughts are more free to flow as you uncover new paths for your business to follow.
Do you have a dedicated place in which to jot down random thoughts that pop up during the course of your business day and your client interactions? You should!
As a business owner you are also a sales person. Does that take you by surprise? We’ve found that when we work with our clients some of them don’t identify themselves as sales people but if you own a business and are the face of that business you are a sales person.
Now that you know you’re a sales person, let’s look at the five steps in a successful sales cycle; chances are you already have these in practice, but it’s sometimes good to look back at the cycle and perfect it if necessary:
- Prospecting. Everytime you leave the office for a networking event or meet with a potential client or answer the phone you are in the prospecting phase. If you’re cold calling you need to understand where your target audience is and what your services will do to address his or her pain point.
- Pain points aka needs identification. How will you know whether your goods and services are a match to a clients’ needs? By talking with him and uncovering what his underlying needs are. As a seller you need to uncover those needs and validate to the client how you can help him.
- Needs development is a way in which you and the client come together to build a better mousetrap, as it were. What can you offer that will not only address his problem, but make it better for him?
- Satisfying your clients’ needs. During this part of the sales cycle, let your prospect “interview you.” Let him or her uncover if you truly have the items necessary to help them effectively. Consider this part of the cycle, the “test drive” phase for the client.
- Make a commitment. Once the sales cycle is over, and the sales cycle is truly never over, you need to commit to doing what you said you would or the sales cycle will have been for naught. Every time you make a sale you are making a commitment to that client that you will meet his needs as you indicated you would during your initial meetings — you should try to exceed those needs if possible.
How well-refined is your sales cycle? Are there steps on which you stumble? Do you freeze at the prospecting phase? We can help.
When it comes to marketing we find that many of our clients have a “scatter shot” approach, they simply aren’t targeting on a specific bulls eye but are sending out messages “everywhere” hoping that something will hit the target. This is no the way to go.
Here are some steps you should implement to make your marketing efforts, and your marketing dollars, make sense:
- What is your brand and how are you using it? Do you have a logo that you use consistently? Are there specific keywords that you want your brand associated with? If so, are they being used in your marketing messages? Your brand, bottom line, is your company image, its mission and vision statement and you and it must be authentic in all of your dealings.
- Do you have a strategy in place for your marketing? Strategy involves understanding where your clients congregate and putting plans in place to reach them there whether that’s through newspaper or radio advertising, attending networking events, visiting LinkedIn or Facebook or both or even having a robust Twitter presence. You can’t strategically market unless you know where your target audience is.
- Planning and implementation of that plan go hand in hand. Once you have a strategy, you then need to plan how you will actually market. Your plan could include, “posting to social media sites five days a week” and then to implement it you need to have a person dedicated to making it happen.
If your company needs assistance implementing a marketing strategy give our consultants a call.