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Steps Toward Better Selling

Selling today might be more casual than ever before, but it’s still the most essential part of your business. As Michael Lewis aptly stated during his selling skills workshop here at the WWCFDC office, “without revenue, you just have an expensive hobby”. At the end of the day, it’s not enough to have your doors open daily or be engaged using social media, it’s about generating sales.

That said, the following are some of the steps Michael shared to help small business owners become better salespeople:

Be better prepared – Before you encounter a potential customer, you’ll want to be well acquainted with the features and benefits of your products and services. Online shopping makes it easy for a customer to shop around and you don’t want to underestimate what your customer already knows. Some won’t necessarily want or need specifics, depending on your industry, but the more info you’re prepared to provide, the better.

Establish trust – Initial contact with the customer is your chance to smile, use an approachable tone of voice, and create a powerful first impression. Some customers won’t feel comfortable buying anything until they feel like they know you. Whether it’s offering a friendly greeting upon entering your retail space or being genuinely enthusiastic, make the effort to generate positive customer perceptions.

Engage the customer – Start asking open-ended questions to determine what the customer needs. If you notice a customer is spending an extended time in your retail space, or seems to want a never-ending chat about the construction going on outside, gear your way towards business-oriented dialogue asking something like: “so what brings you to my business today?”

Diagnose needs & offer solutions – After discussing the needs of your customer, reiterate what you think the customer is looking for, and start recommending your business’ solutions by stating the benefits. Always consider that the customer operates on the “what’s in it for me” principle; essentially, you have to pitch considering incentives from their perspective.

Address objections – There will almost always be sales resistance, so pre-consider your response to typical concerns.

If the customer is concerned with:

Price: emphasize value or offer credit if possible.
Quality: support your value proposition by providing testimonials, product reviews, demonstrations, warrantees, and possible guarantees. Time: If the customer needs “more time to think about it”, assure them you understand, but ask if there is anything you can clarify further or what exactly it is they’re concerned about so you can refine your pitch.

Close the deal – If you’ve addressed the customer’s needs, you may never need to chase the sale because the customer will state their purchasing intentions; however, even after stating the benefits, you’ll likely have to ask if they’re interested in a purchase. Remember that silence is golden at this stage. You’ve pitched and now it’s the customer’s chance to take advantage (you don’t want to talk yourself out of a sale).

Overall, selling is the transference of enthusiasm; excitement about value makes you want in on the deal. Becoming skilled with the above steps, along with incorporating both follow-up and thanking your customers, will help you to increase sales in no time.

 

 

 

Posted in: Sales, Small Business Solutions, Workshop Summaries

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Workshop Summary: Time Management with Tina

Couldn’t make it to Tuesday’s workshop? Here’s what you missed…

As a business owner you’ve likely discovered that there’s just not enough time in the day to get around to everything you need to do.

According to feedback from Tuesday’s workshop participants, every entrepreneur has unique time management challenges and most business owners struggle with the following issues:

-Determining priorities
-Eliminating distractions when working from home
-The guilt associated when you don’t finish your entire daily task list
-Taking on too many projects or being unable to say no
-Adapting to unexpected tasks and the art of delegation
-The trouble with not being a ‘morning person’

Based on our discussion, here are some tips for organizing your time effectively:

Communicate your scheduleLet folks know the time periods when you’re actually available versus when you’re at your desk with paperwork to do. That is to say, you might physically be around from 9-5, but your first couple of hours might be dedicated to specific daily tasks, so consider stating availability accordingly. This frees you up to manage your day as required.

Break a daunting project into smaller tasks – You probably haven’t even looked at a seemingly massive project because it is the most intimidating item on your list, but it might be more manageable if broken down into smaller tasks. When focusing on more defined to-do items such as “write page one of proposal” or “create appendix A”, you’ll tackle the project piece-by-piece and reduce overall anxiety.

Prioritize and “eat the frog” – When compiling a task list, prioritize according to importance or even difficulty. You can choose to “eat the frog” on the list and accomplish the task you least enjoy first (as famously recommended by Brian Tracy) or you can complete the tasks you enjoy the most first to gain the momentum you need to motivate you early in the day. Overall, which strategy works for you will depend on the type of person you are.

Learn to say no – You can’t be everything to everybody, and while you may feel guilty about turning down your clients, friends or family for other priorities, you need to stand by what’s best for you and your goals. Depending on where work stands on your priority list, you’ll have to say no to those making demands on your free time and, if your family or social life is important, you’ll have to consider how many clients you take on.

Delegate tasks It’s important you’ve hired those you can delegate to. As Tina advises, don’t fall victim to the “warm body syndrome” where you hire a person who merely exists as a space-filler without being able to take on any of your responsibilities when you’re strapped for time. If you staff correctly, hiring those with diverse skills and initiative, it’ll really pay off when you need others to step up.

Other quick tips:
First things first– if you’re most focused between 8:30-noon, get to important projects in this chunk of time. This may mean scheduling a different time to skim your inbox and answering urgent emails only.
Don’t Sweat it – Remember it’s a revolving task list. Sure there’s things you need to do today, they’re #1, but don’t stress out if you can’t get everything crossed off the page.
Be Realistic – if the same three tasks are always on the bottom of your to-do list, determine their significance and whether you can delegate them to someone else.

Thanks to all of our workshop participants; if you have some time-saving tips of your own, let us know in the comments below!

Posted in: Small Business Solutions, Time Management Tips, Workshop Summaries

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Developing Quality Content for your Business’ Social Media Pages

With Guest Blogger Glen Hall of OSIM Interactive

So someone asks if your business has a Facebook page:

“Yes!” you proudly remark, “… it just hasn’t been updated for two months.”

Sound familiar?

You might return to social media sites to dish out a few days of content, but eventually day-to-day operations pick up and suddenly Facebook, Twitter, and the social media scene has fallen off the priority list.

Providing content for your social media pages can become a time-absorbing task; however, below you’ll find five tips to make generating quality content easier:

Share Published Articles

Simple, right? Well sharing articles can take a lot more of your precious time if you’re not organized, so organize!

Oh thanks Glen, but how?

Set up an RSS Feed:

An RSS feed is ONE page that organizes ALL the blogs you follow into ONE stream. All that you need to do is subscribe the web page (ex. blog.website.com, forbes.com/tags/social-media) to your RSS feed and voila: your RSS will fill with articles whenever those pages are updated.

You may have a few websites bookmarked that you use to find articles – if not try Google-ing “top 10 blogs for <industry>” to get you started.

I recommend Google Reader. It’s free, easy, and a great time saver.

Create Your Own Articles

When creating your own articles you should focus on three fields to report on: company, community, and industry.

        • Company: Do you have any successes to share? Any odd things around the office? Photos of your work?
        • Community: report your community involvements and share community events even if you aren’t necessarily a part of them.
        • Industry: what could you tell people about your field that they wouldn’t understand? What is- and How To- articles are great ways to show off your expertise.
Newsjack Articles

Newsjacking is capitalizing on a popular story by rewriting a similar, but original article.

Ex. An article is published 1 minute ago: “Steve Jobs has died”.

So publish your own article immediately, titled: “Can Apple Persevere without Steve?”

These stories do not have to be the same in scale as Steve Jobs’ death; depending on your industry, it can be as simple as a new type of flower being discovered or Facebook’s new timeline update.

But once the news gets out, people will flock for more information and if you newsjack industry-related articles you’ll have an attractive article that pulls in the leads you want to your website. So watch your RSS feed; you can hit the jackpot.

Share Photos

Photos are an easy way to place a face behind your company. Whether it be on-site work, new products, team building, or documenting the surprise dozen of Timbits in the office can generate interactions and even be fun to create!

Motivational or funny photos are also easy to share, and, so long as you keep it relevant, they can yield excellent results.

Ask a Question

This is the social media version of a call-to-action. Leave an open-ended question to encourage conversation. See our examples below:

Question: The iPad 3 has been released in China! Are you a tablet user?

Opinion: What do you think of Facebook’s new timeline?

Response: It takes _____ cups of coffee to wake me up in the morning.

I hope these tips help grow your online presence and nurture your brand’s community.


Glen Hall
OSIM Interactive

Posted in: Guest Blogger, Small Business Solutions, Social Media Tips

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Building Your Online Presence with WordPress

Your online presence, or lack thereof, can make a huge difference in whether your business is top of mind for potential customers. You’ve heard it before, but if clients can’t find your website, or if it’s noticeably outdated, you might have already lost the game.

As we discovered recently, a WordPress site outfitted with a theme can be a cost-effective, long-term solution for a small business and you don’t necessarily have to know how to code to make it happen. With the following steps, you can highlight your products and services online with a professional looking WordPress site of your own:

1. Determine if a new site is the right move

If you already have a site, take a look to see which parts of the layout are working and what needs improvement. Some questions to consider include:

        • When customers interact with my site, do they intuitively know where to find specific information?
        • Does my site make proper use of menu items to clearly present categories of content?
        • Are the pages of my site organized under the correct menu categories?

If you answered yes to the questions above, you might not need a new site. However, if your website is visibly outdated, you might consider the swap to a WordPress theme to enhance your credibility.

2. Draft content & menus

If moving forward with a WordPress theme, determine the pages and content your website needs to feature. You’ll need to draft a site menu that includes broad menu categories (e.g. ‘Services’), and the pages that will be featured as drop down menu items under these categories (e.g. ‘Installations’, ‘Staging’, etc.).

3. Choose a WordPress theme

There are plenty of professional themes available from sites such as Themeforest.net to choose from. Themes range in price; however, depending on your needs, you can get a basic template for free. When searching for a theme consider overall look and feel, but also choose a template that suits the menu specifications you established when drafting your content.

Other considerations when selecting a theme include: your industry, competitor’s websites, colour schemes, template restrictions (i.e. if you need drop down menus, choose a theme supports this feature), forums for template support, and theme ratings.

4. Populate the template 

After installing WordPress and setting up a theme, you can use the WordPress Dashboard to add content to the template. You can find WordPress documentation outlining how to create your site’s pages here: http://wordpress.org/support/.

If your business uses social media, make sure your feeds are prominently featured on your site. Additionally, if you want to demonstrate expertise in your industry, consider using a blog to post original content. This material can be shared by those you connect with and help establish you as a knowledgeable business owner.

5. Launch your site

Once your template is complete and error-free, contact a website hosting service such as Planet CPU to have your site launched. These friendly folks specialize in website design and can help you throughout the process. After launching your site, collect feedback in terms of how your customers find the layout and navigation and adjust accordingly.

Overall, your website should make it crystal clear who you are, what you offer, and how to contact you. A good site, combined with a social media strategy, can make a significant difference and direct new business your way.

Posted in: Small Business Solutions

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Brewing Better Signage Perks up Local Café

Robin Hansford & Marty Curry pose with the finished product outside the Robin’s Nest in Elmira.

With its warm colours, deep wood accents, and the smell of fresh, organic coffee wafting through the air, the Robin’s Nest Café is perfect for those looking to unwind or work away with a latte. But until recently those driving by might not have known to drop in and discover the inviting space. Although the Nest has dedicated patrons who rave about the lemon cilantro chickpea salad and open mic nights on Facebook, Robin Hansford faced an obstacle common to many business owners; the café’s outdoor signage needed a boost.

When allocating funds for advertising, small businesses naturally want the most value for their money. What’s more is that outdoor signage needs to be eye-catching, fairly large, and accentuate the business’ offerings to be effective.

When looking into options available, it seemed a horizontal banner or A-frame boards were going to be the best choice to attract attention; however, these mediums can be pricey and may not deliver on impact. Fortunately, as an innovative entrepreneur, Robin took advantage of her space in a resourceful way and serves as an example to other business owners. When looking to spruce up your signage, evaluate what you’ve already got. Facing a major intersection in Elmira, the café’s building wall was a huge empty space, or rather, as Robin realized, a huge empty canvas.

With a few calls to organizations such as the Kitchener-Waterloo Society for Artists, as well as the Elora Centre for the Arts, Robin was able to connect with Marty Curry, a skilled local painter with plenty of experience creating defined designs on a large scale.

The two created a mock up of the design and Marty got to work at the end of August to create impactful signage that combined business savvy with the underlying creativity that is fundamental to the atmosphere at the Robin’s Nest.

Overall, this case of café connection between artist and business owner really paid off and Robin recommends the strategy to others: “I was tired of trying to figure out what would work best, the associated costs, and possible by-laws involved, but the mural was a simple solution with a reasonable cost and BIG impact. Best of all it utilizes what we already had. My advice: don’t be scared to be bold and choose bright contrasting colours to get the attention of your customer, and be careful about putting up any content subject to frequent change. We’re already planning mural number two! It is kind of like getting a tattoo… addictive”.

If you’d like to get in touch with Marty to discuss collaboration, let us know and we’ll send you his contact information.

Posted in: Small Business Solutions, Success Stories & Connections

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Blog Content Coming Soon

Check out our new look!

It’s been in the works throughout the summer and now we can finally debut our new website designed to better suit your needs and showcase our services.

This News section of the site will feature regular blog posts of interest to entrepreneurs and you can expect some excellent content from successful guest bloggers working in our community.

Be sure to like our Facebook page to receive timely updates, links to business-related articles, and to be notified about the latest blog posts.

Let us know what you think of the new format in the comment section!

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