Relationship Building > Sales Process

Relationship Building > Sales Process

Relationship Building > Sales Process

Many people hate the word “sales” with a passion. It brings to mind images and feelings of sleaze, dishonesty–like you’re trying to trick prospective clients. People hate it for good reason.

Some time back, I (Matt) was meeting with my business coach and saying that same thing, “I hate sales!” His suggestion? Stop using the “S Word” completely; just refer to them as relationships.

If you’re doing business the way we are–focusing on your strengths and how you can be of value to others–that’s an easy fix, and it should come pretty naturally, because that’s exactly what you’re building; relationships. We can do relationships a lot better than we can do “sales” usually. It can change how you feel about sales, which in turn can change how you approach them, and it might gain you more business. If you’re hesitant about something, even if it’s just because of simple semantics, modifying it can sometimes be a game-changer.

When I first started Day Creative, my first thought was the same one that most small business owners have; “How do I get paid?” However, I was so focused on how to get clients and how to make money that I was hurting myself without realizing it. I was looking at my business more transactionally than relationally. Need a logo? No problem, BOOM! (Invoice, wait for check, cash it, thanks, next!) 

I went from project to project, thinking “MoneyMoneyMoney”…but I didn’t build relationships. About a year and a half in I realized there was a hole in my business. Many business owners will tell you that repeat business is how you grow, and I was lacking in repeat business;  I needed to transition from just getting a sale to being the “go to” company for repeat business. I needed to develop a relationship. Become a trusted advisor. And you do that by going beyond concern about the one job to answering an ongoing need. I learned that by doing a great job and building rapport, I could pick up future work with them–I’d built a relationship. If I’ve done my homework, found someone whose struggles I can understand and address, then answering the need and having a relational mindset positions you as a potential trusted advisor. People return again and again to a trusted advisor.

Most successful businesses develop processes for the important things, so that’s what I did with this. A process is ideally a set of instructions for a practice you need to repeat, that the dumbest person in the world  could follow. I made a relationship process, which sounds counterintuitive and possibly sales-y, but think of it this way; all of your important relationships, business and personal, fall back on certain procedures, whether you know it or not, or whether you’ve codified them or not. This is simply taking a natural process and making it followable, repeatedly. 

I decided I was either going to be onsite or visit them once a year or twice a year, maybe monthly depending on the client. I didn’t want contact to have the effect of, “Oh, great, here’s Matt bugging us again.”; it needed to be positive, engaging and friendly, not always a sales call, or asking for payment. I didn’t want it to be unpleasant when they picked up the phone or read an email from me. One of the ways I did that (I stole this from a client), was to, twice a year, do a customer appreciation event. Nothing big, easy in and out, and a way to say “Thanks”. This ensures that the ONLY reason they get a call or email from me isn’t asking for money…sometimes, it just might be a thank-you gift for them. Positive association. Who doesn’t like free stuff?

One easy method I have for this, that has low overhead (not a hosted, expensive event that people have to attend at a certain time) is to contact a local establishment and ask if I can open a tab for a customer appreciation event. I make a flier for a free drink, cupcake, etc., send them to my clients, the local establishment gets some business (and more positive association with Day Creative), my clients get a treat, and everyone wins. I just pay the tab at the end of the week or whatever. It’s a way to say, “Hey, we appreciate you”.

I have reminders set to do that, to automate it, and no matter how busy I am, I make time to do it. 

Another thing I try to do is get to know the client. What are they interested in outside of work? One of our clients is really into triathlons (weirdo), and so if I see an article or meme, I send it to him. It’s a positive touchpoint that isn’t sales-y. Might seem like a small thing, but again, it’s a positive association. I don’t do it often–you don’t want to bug people–but just an occasional contact.

The overarching goal in business is business, and I’m not trying to conflate that with friendships, It may seem like a small distinction, but I do believe that even though I’m making sales-focused contact, ultimately, I’m not focused on the hustle. I’m focused on providing value and positioning myself as a trusted advisor, and it’s proven to be a great business strategy.

Creative Sales Ideas to Grow Your Business

Creative Sales Ideas to Grow Your Business

Creative Sales Ideas to Grow Your Business

Our focus is typically towards online marketing strategy, but there are other facets that can’t be ignored when looking at how to grow your business. How do you think strategically about your sales? First, you want to define who you’re targeting. Who is your target customer? Where are they? Try to empathize; put yourself in their world. Don’t stop at thinking in terms of, “A business owner with ___ sized company”, with a certain cap, this many employees, this industry, this region…those things are helpful and they’re a good place to start, but the next level of strategizing for sales is truly entering their world.

 

Empathize.

Think about their day to day experience. If it’s a large company, they’ll have several roles; they’ll be busy. They’ll be looking for a certain type of customer or company to partner with, and you want to flesh that out to understand if it’s a good fit for both of you. At Day Creative, we’re looking for owners of companies who are still doing everything from HR management to day to day operations. They’ve reached a growth point where it feels overwhelming to do their own advertising and they’re ready to branch out and partner with a company that can fit into the plan. They want more leads, they want more sales, they want to get better at closing on leads, and they’re open to partnering and outsourcing some of this, but they’re wondering how to find the right people. We’re perfectly poised to take the marketing burden off of them and be a good partner because we’ve done the groundwork and evaluated their needs, and grown our model to provide solutions. If they grow, we grow–we get in the door by providing value and stay involved by continuing to do so. 

 

Educate.

You can learn the pain points of your target customer, but you also have to know how to speak their language. Find out where they are, who they are..and what will sound awesome to them. What’s in it for them, if they work with you? Not “Here’s how awesome we are and all the awesome things we offer”, but “Here’s how working with our awesomeness makes your life easier, better, etc.” There’s a two-way education taking place; you learn about their process in enough depth to provide deep solutions, and you educate them about you.

 

Explore.

Once you have an idea of who you’re targeting and what’s going to move the needle with them, you ask, “Where are they?” and what’s the best use of your time? It may not be worth it for you to drive around town and find people one business at a time to cold call…the thought is, “Are there strategic places where you can get in front of a whole bunch of new prospects, potential partners, all at once?”

There are professional associations–like home builders associations, financial planner associations, etc.–show up to events. Provide lunch, give a talk, set up at one of their trade shows…find the ways you get in front of them. Sometimes associations have committees; you may be able to contribute to the success of these associations which would tell a prospective customer that you understand their industry. (You need to actually understand the industry in order to do this, obviously. See “Educate”, above.) Having conversations about their world, their concerns, is key in demonstrating value. 

At Day Creative we prefer to frame ourselves as “trusted advisors”. When you work business to business, as we do, you look at the relationships any business owner has, and trusts as potential sources. His banker, his insurance agent, his attorney, his HR company…could you build relationships with those ancillary connections to find clients that have problems you can solve? Build trusted relationships across a spectrum of “Gatekeepers”. Business coaches, incubators, lenders…how do you get in with them? Anything that serves the function of qualifying leads for you will work. Whatever keeps you from relying on going door to door–those sort of interactions have their place, but you need to focus energy and attention on what gets you qualified leads that can benefit from your service. By the time it gets to you there’s someone who is actively looking for what your business does.

 

Extend.

An unexpected source of sales for us has been…other companies in our industry. It’s worked well for us, as a media/marketing company, to extend offers to other companies, either to support their efforts when they need extra help or take on contract work if there’s overload. If your industry is similar, consider abandoning the cutthroat mentality and look to other businesses and say, “Hey, if you need someone to step in, either behind the scenes or as an option when you can’t help someone, keep us in mind.” Doesn’t work in every industry, but it’s likely that there’s more openness to that model than you realize. You can also find companies in your industry that may be lacking where you’re strong; maybe they provide service or maintenance, and you provide sales, or actual strategy. Do they install a product you service? Maybe you specialize in someone that’s of less priority to a competitor and you can help each other out by partnering and increasing each other’s sales.

However you do it, developing strategy for your sales is key to continued success.

Innovating Your Business in the Face of COVID-19

Innovating Your Business in the Face of COVID-19

Innovating Your Business in the Face of COVID-19

There are several examples right now of businesses pivoting in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, and the challenges that it has brought along with it; some have changed their models completely, others have simply modified their services to address social distancing-induced needs.

It can feel a little questionable, looking at ways that your business can potentially profit around a pandemic. People are losing loved ones, and it’s natural to struggle with unfamiliar emotions, or the sense that it’s somehow wrong if this time presents opportunities for you to adapt your business to a need that is in place because of COVID-19.

That being said, if there’s a way your company can be beneficial to your customers in this time, you have to realize that it’s not helpful to anyone to wait until life returns to “normal”…not only because you could lose the chance to be helpful, but also because there may not be a return to what we knew before. There may really be, as so many have said, a new “normal”, and if you wait too long to act, you may not have a business by the time these new limitations are gone.

So, once you’ve dealt with the feelings, and realized that you need to pivot, what are the practical steps?

 

Re-evaluate Your Purpose.

The value you provided customers before may be different in the face of working from home, managing kids who are also at home, and being disconnected from previous resources. Is there a NEW way you can lean into what your client base needs now? How does it look different? Where are their new pain points? Find those, and you’ll find your purpose. Once that’s done…

 

Create New Solutions.

Could you consult about the products you previously offered? Offer subscriptions to services that were purchased piecemeal before? Leverage technology by offering online video options? We learned that one of our clients who offers software solutions is pivoting away from that approach to consulting, to help their clients navigate issues around cleanliness and recovering lost revenue. I think this is a brilliant apporach, because that has got to be the number one thing most businesses will be considering in the near future. Almost anything is possible when the world is still connected via the Internet, which brings us to the next task on your list…

 

Establish or Update Your Online Presence.

For businesses that have been based in a brick and mortar location, the impact of not having an online presence will be a hard one. A current projection is that one in four small businesses will go out of business during this crisis; social distancing has already closed several, and if you don’t have a vibrant online presence, you can’t maintain the contact you need with your customer base in order to provide services. If you have a website but it’s out of date, bear in mind that ease-of-use is a high priority, and the competition in the online marketplace is steep. Getting or updating a website is crucial to engaging clients and keeping them engaged, especially when more time than ever is spent looking at content. The bar is higher than ever.

Adding an online store (with a do-it-yourself platform like Shopify) can save sales. The addition of a chat bot makes a tremendous difference in customer engagement. Creating short videos and posting them to a YouTube channel can capture worldwide exposure. A digital makeover can be a huge difference-maker for your business.

And once the digital presence is there…what’s your social media strategy? Your blog and email marketing content? This is another area that will change; helpful, authentic content is going to be even more important in the online marketplace. With the over-exposure to content, since people are so focused on online content right now, dynamic content will stand out, and set you apart. But make sure its about helping them; not how awesome you are.

The change in definition for “normal” doesn’t have to mean the end of your company or the services you offer. But business adaptation in this environment is definitely something that a majority of entities are going to need to adopt in order to continue to be of service, and since the foreseeable future is one based on social distancing, that means finding digital solutions.

When you’re ready for direction and practical help, reach out to us. In the meantime, stay safe, and plan for a productive future.

Strategic Thinking for Finding A Client Base

Strategic Thinking for Finding A Client Base

Best Practices for Finding a Client Base

Every business is built on relationships. No matter how much money you bring in, or the number of customers you have, it all boils down to the relationships you have with your customers. If customers like you, know you, and trust you, that will go much farther than any marketing investment you could make. But to do that, you first have to get out there and meet people. So how do you do that? Here are some methods we have found effective:

Know Your Customer

This seems like a “no duh” statement, but it is the cornerstone of your business plan. Pin pointing your target customers is the first step for any new business, but you also need to consider where they are as well, as this will allow you to wisely use your marketing budget to focus on a specific region, rather than blindly casting a wide net.

Consider Where There Are Large Groups of Potential Clients

Remember, networking and relationships are going to be the best way to grow your client base. Some options here would be to join a professional trade association or joining some subscription lists that provide you with access to a pool of potential customers. Trade associations are a great option, as they not only put your name in the same arena as established and trusted businesses, but will allow you to build relationships with fellow business owners in your field and learn from them.

Joining a Business District Association

This is something that we here at DayCreative have found to be very beneficial to growing our business and getting our name out there. Anywhere you have a business district, it’s likely that they’ll have a district association of businesses as well. By joining one, you’ll be able to attend monthly meetings and meet both prospective customers and fellow allies in your business arena, as well as make good use of their databases.

Joining the Chamber of Commerce

This is a cost-effective way to entering into basic networking. Most commerce meetings are focused around networking and letting business owners and hopeful start-ups engage with one another and form relationships. You’ll also be able to attend various luncheons and ribbon cuttings, allowing you face-time with people you wouldn’t ordinarily have access to.

Attending a Trade Show

Lastly, if you’re a business owner that has been established for a while, or are in a market that has a more national scale, it’s not a bad idea to look into purchasing a booth at a trade show. While this is more of a financial investment than the other options above, the scale is much wider and you have a much more focused group of potential customers coming to you, rather than going to them.

Summing It Up

Again, this is not the end-all, be-all list of options, but they are different strategies that we have found to be very helpful when you’re starting out with a limited budget. Getting face-time with potential clients and established business owners takes time and you may not see results right away, but the payoff is well worth it, as you will build a reputation for yourself and your business that will be seen and recognized by others.

Strategic Thinking for Finding A Client Base

Marketing on a Tight Budget

How should I best spend my marketing budget?

A question that’s on most business owners’ minds when they first launch their business is “how do I best spend my money? What do I invest in?” Because when you’re just starting out, you don’t have a lot of money for marketing and you have so many other expenses.

We wanted to share our insights on this topic and provide you with our suggestions on how to best spend your marketing budget (we use $1,000 as an example here).

STEP 1

Logo/Business Cards (Est. Cost: $250).  Even if it’s a simple and cheap logo you get online, you need a logo so that you can start marketing your new business. While we would never recommend this for the long term, if you only have $1,000 to spend, you have to go cheap. Just make sure it is different from your competitors and you get the final files in both vector and raster formats (.pdf and .jpg). From there, pick up some business cards to give to your customer leads. Depending on your industry and sales plan, 1,000 cards should last between 6 months to a year.

STEP 2

Website/Domain (Est. Cost: $400).  Once your logo is created, you’ll want to build on that by creating an online presence. Securing a domain not only is the first step towards getting a website up and running, but it also allows you to send emails from a business account, rather than your personal Gmail account, making your business seem more professional. By getting a WordPress or SquareSpace account, you can set up a website that will allow you to present your business to online customers for a small monthly or annual fee without any up front costs. But of course, you have to do the heavy lifting of providing images and copy for the web pages yourself (unless you can find a local writer and photographer who is willing to do it for you for cheap. Just do your homework).

STEP 3

Set up a Facebook page (Est Cost: $0).  This one is easy, as it requires no money! By regularly posting on your account with links pointing back to your website, you can boost your web traffic. In thinking about what to post on your page, try to think of what your customers are looking for and distill your company’s solutions to their needs in quick sound bites. How can you be valuable?

STEP 4

Run Facebook or Google ads (Est Cost: $350).  With the remainder of your budget, we recommend some small investments in online marketing. Boosting posts on Facebook and/or setting up a GoogleAds campaign is very cost effective and can be one of the easiest ways to get some increased visibility for your brand in its early stages. If possible, invest as much of your $1,000 in Boosted Facebook posts. It’s going to be the best bang for your buck (assuming that your target customers are on Facebook). If you’re not sure where to start with boosted posts or Google ads, a simple Google search on the topic can yield a lot of information to get you up to speed.

Final Thoughts

Of course, every business and industry is different, so this approach might not make sense for your business. But, by far, the best thing you can do is know your customer, know your customer, know your customer. The better you can enter their world, the better you can find new customers like them and speak their language….which gives you the best chance to earn their business.

If you have found this blog post helpful, we have assembled a more thorough eBook with even more tips and ideas, which you can download here.