Tips and stories to add value to you and your organisation
Do you like driving? Perhaps not the morning commute, or the time sensitive school run. Maybe when there are no roadworks or school buses to slow us down, or when we can take our time and cruise along happily.
At a rough estimate I’ve driven over 300,000 miles for business in the 15 years I’ve been self employed. That’s a lot of CDs listened to and roadside sandwiches scoffed.
Now though I’ve discovered Audible and the music has taken a back seat to a raft of celebrities, who happily chat to me on my travels about their interesting and varied lives.
Driving is much more fun when you have company.
I was chatting to a colleague the other day about how to generate more sales. They were grumbling that work was hard to find and I asked how far they would travel to find some.
‘Well, I’d happily do 20 miles,’ they replied.
A whole 20 miles! I shared with them that a friend of mine, in the same business as them, would drive 100 miles to run a workshop. The workshop itself didn’t make much profit, but did introduce them to 15 people, of which a couple would probably buy further work from them.
Keep repeating this process in different locations and, with a bit of effort, it would be fairly easy to build a business.
I am currently in advanced training to qualify as a therapeutic counsellor, partly because I love to keep learning, and partly because I have clients who have asked for counselling services to fit alongside my coaching work.
I drive 350 miles every month and love my course and the people on it. Of course, being me, I’ve pitched some workshops to the centre I attend and am now discussing dates to run a first one.
The course has opened up a new bunch of people to work with, learn from and sell to.
By putting in the miles, I have kept in business for 15 years and constantly evolved my customer base.
Yet I do come across people who want to build a business on their doorstep and that makes life hard for them.
If we subscribe to Abundance Theory, which states that there’s enough work for everyone and we just have to go and find it, then putting in the miles is a good way to go.
Good business is all about making the effort. When I started up one of my first sales meetings was 4 hours away. I turned up on time, to find that the client had forgotten the appointment and was elsewhere for the day.
Curiously, I wasn’t disappointed, as we can all make mistakes. I rebooked the appointment and turned up on time a month later and although I wasn’t successful in selling my services, it did teach me a good lesson:
If we don’t do the miles then we are guaranteed a no-sale. If we make the effort enough times then we will sell something.
Business can be very simple at times.
So, this week we can all work out if we are doing enough miles to win enough sales. Despite modern technology, it’s still easier to sell face to face than via an email.
My 300,000 miles have been a good investment really. How many more miles do you need to do?
Next week: Office Flower Power
I like to keep things simple. Maybe because I’m a simple soul at heart. Life seems hard enough already, with bills to pay and children to organise and food to be cooked and all the other things we have to pay attention too.
Business can seem complex and daunting, more so if we’re setting out on a new venture and have a long list of items to tick off. We can get a bit lost in the details and can lose sight of what business really is and what makes us successful in our work.
In my experience the most successful businesses have a clear sense of purpose. The owner knows what they are selling and who their customers are. They know what makes them different and special, compared to the competiton, and they keep that firmly in sight at all times.
The more simple we keep things the easier it is for our customers to buy into us, because they have busy lives too and are not interested in complicated sales pitches. They have a pain point that they would like to fix, so they can get on with their business.
Keeping things simple means that we need 3 key documents in our business, that work to keep us on track:
1. A cashflow forecast. Cash is king and without it we will go bust. It’s that simple, so we need to know the ebb and flow of cash into our business.
2. A marketing plan. We need to identify our unique selling points, what our message is to the world and how we are going to get our message out. If we don’t know what makes us special and different then how can we expect others to know that too? Differences count because we can leverage them when people are making purchase decisions.
3. A sales activity log. We need to keep track of all the enquiries and purchase patterns we have in our business, so that we can be proactive and chase up new orders. If we can see what’s happening we can do something about it.
Now, I have to hold up my hand and admit that several years ago I had the first two documents and lacked a sales activity log. What I had was a bunch of Post-it notes and scraps of paper on my desk. A sort of sales activity pile, if you like.
I was noting possible enquiries and projects, but in pile form I could do nothing with them. They were just a pile and too easy to ignore, with me saying often ‘hmmm I need to sort that, I will do that tomorrow.’
I’m great at procrastination and would probably have got an A* in my Procrastination GCSE, had there been one all those years ago.
Then one day a friend said he had some spare time and was looking for a business project and I knew how we could both get a win-win out of it. I threw all my bits of paper into a large envelope, posted it to him and asked him to create a sales activity log for me.
That was one of my smartest moves in 15 years of business. He created a simple spreadsheet and suddenly I could see what was happening in my business. Customers were chased up, quotes were written and my simple sales process started to deliver results.
I’ve had a sales activity log ever since and now get my PA to organise it and nudge me when it’s time to make a call and follow someone up.
I’m a great business coach and love my work and also give myself permission to learn too. We don’t have to know all the answers all the time and yet we can make sure we have our 3 key documents in our business.
So, this week take a fresh look at your sales activity log. Even if all you have is a sheet of paper pinned to a notice board that’s good enough. Anything is better than nothing and you’d be surprised how many businesses have nothing!
Next week: Putting In The Miles
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Brilliant ways to increase performance, stay employed and keep the money rolling in
Published 2011 Marshall Cavendish
Secrets and skills to sell yourself effectively in the Modern Age
Published 2010 Marshall Cavendish
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Published 2007 Cyan Books and Marshall Cavendish