How to Reach Your Audience

When running a small business, it’s best practice to develop a solid marketing strategy.  One of your main goals is to rise above the competition.  You not only want to reach your target audience, but you want to appeal to your niche customers so you get more out of your marketing plan. We all know that it’s best to stand out as the number one expert in your field.  That is why it’s extremely important to start with your niche customers.  You want to focus on a tight market so you can reach new leads faster, with a higher chance of turning them into buyers. Here are some tips to reach your target audience:
  1. Find out what value your business brings to your customers.
  2. Identify how much customers spend with you, and how often.
  3. Send surveys on a consistent basis for feedback to make improvements.
  4. Track the activity of your top competitors to find the value they provide their customers.
  5. Reposition yourself in the market by re-branding or adjusting pricing, if needed.
  6. Update your marketing plan to reflect any changes in customer spending.
Remember that building relationships with, and listening to, your customers not only gives you the opportunity to find that specific niche, but it provides your business with the opportunity to grow.  Don’t let your business get stuck, or lost in the shuffle. Consistently make changes based on what your audience wants and needs.  Rise above the rest and STAY the expert in your field. PJ's New Pic (smaller) ActionCoach-logo
YOUR CHALLENGE:  Find 1 competitor and study their marketing strategies.  Do you see any differences from your current marketing plan? If you would like further information or you have any questions about this blog, you can email me at or call 847-739-3079.
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Selling as a Process

Do you have a defined sales process? By working with a client on their sales process we were able to double their conversion rate and shorten their sales cycle from 22 days to 8 days. In working together we defined the steps in the sales process, measured the effectiveness of each step and purposefully included activities that built trust and credibility in advance of asking for the sale. We then trained the sales team, giving them the tools and support required for success. YOUR CHALLENGE:  Start by documenting your sales process.  Be sure to include what you expect to happen, who is responsible and the purpose for each step in the process. If you would like further information or you have any questions about this blog, you can email me at or call 847-739-3079. Please visit to register for our complimentary workshop, 6 Steps to a Great Business, and let’s work together to help your business grow.

Referrals Rock

If you ask a room full of business owners if they’re a referral based business the majority will declare a resounding YES! The truth is that very few have a defined Referral Program that’s run and managed with predictable results.  If referrals are a key element of your marketing plan, then start by answering:
  • What are the triggers to ask your clients for referrals?
  • What is the defined script used to get solid referrals?
  • And how are you incenting and thanking your referral sources.
YOUR CHALLENGE:  Take a second look at your current and potential referral sources, then begin to help each one of them learn more about how to best recommend you. If you would like further information or you have any questions about this blog, you can email me at or call 847-739-3079. Please visit to register for our complimentary workshop, 6 Steps to a Great Business, and let’s work together to help your business grow.

Counting Medals and Keeping Score

What is it about Americans, The Olympics and the Medal Count? The world is currently focusing its attention on Russia where we will watch as the winter Olympics unfold. We will watch athletes compete at the highest level for Gold, Silver and Bronze medals. Every time a match is won, a race is finished, an event is completed – the announcer will provide a tally of medals by country. The tally, or keeping score, is not just for the Olympics. In our businesses, we need to look for ways to track and measure and look to the numbers to provide us valuable insight into our progress. Forward thinking business owners are skilled at measuring the key indicators in their business. They understand the power of keeping score. We Americans will watch closely as we battle with Norway, Canada and Germany for the top spot in the medal count. Our pride is at stake. In each of our businesses, we should also be measuring daily and focus on leading indicators – those numbers that allow us to look forward and ultimately drive customers, revenues and profits. There are five key numbers that every business needs to measure: number of leads, conversion rate, number of transactions, transaction value and margin. Whether it is a medal count or key performance indicators in our business, they tell a story and allow us to track progress and ultimately measure our progress forward. YOUR CHALLENGE THIS WEEK: Look at the numbers you are tracking in your business and how you are using them to propel your business forward.   If you would like further information or have any questions about this blog, you can email me at or call 847-739-3079. Please visit to register for an upcoming workshop and let’s work together to help your business grow.

The Eyes Have It

Eye contact is something that we don’t think a lot about until we experience too much or too little.  Eye contact is a very powerful communication tool that can be easily overlooked. Positive eye contact, which is usually 70-80% of the time, can convey genuine interest, a sense of connection or empathy, and sincerity.  When we make meaningful eye contact with our prospects and clients  it accelerates the trust level and builds a deeper connection that allows us to better get to know them which results in better customer service. It was found that people give more eye contact to those who smile to them more often. If you are looking to keep others attention, a smile might just be the way to keep their focus. In today’s world we are distracted by our phones, texts, emails, and other alerts, that take us away from maintaining positive eye contact.  We also live in a world where more and more is done on the phone, on a webinar, and in person communication is not always possible. We have all been to networking events where someone we are talking to is looking over our shoulder, watching the door, or perhaps we have been guilty of that ourselves.  If charisma is about, prescience, power and warmth – then it is important to stay present.  Be present with the person we are engaged with and eye contact is the biggest indicator of presence. YOUR CHALLENGE:  Make an effort to look people in the eye, when speaking and when listening, and office the deeper connection that you make and the better listener you become.

Super Size Your Marketing

Marketing is the action of promoting interest in good or services for the purposes of selling.  If you are looking for some ways to reinvigorate your marketing efforts – here are a few ideas. Be Present. People do business with people they know and like, so build your network, extend your reach.  Attend events, join community organizations.  Be seen frequently.  Make the personal connections, don’t rely solely on email or online presence. Get Listed — Free. It would be a shame if you didn’t take advantage of free listings online.  Be sure to set up your free business pages in Google Places, Yahoo Local, Yelp and others.  Include as much as you can about your products and services, hours of operation, specials, even add photos or offer specials. It’s a key, free way to market on mobile devices and Web search engines. Focus on the Top 10. Make a list of your top 10 prospects or referral sources and keep it visible.  Put the list on your desk, your mobile phone, or use it as the “wallpaper” on your computer.  Contact each of these key income-generators at least once a month. Know Your Brand. Be clear in your branding.  Make sure it conveys who you are – then use it consistently on everything, your website, business cards, packaging, newsletters, marketing materials, invoices. If possible, give your brand some zip and personality that makes it memorable. Talk Value. Let people know what they get, not what you do.  Keep your marketing materials and messages, focused on the benefits the buyer receives – of course, customers compare features and services, so you’ll need to include those. But always emphasize the benefits those features bring. Stay in Touch.  An e-mail newsletter or e-blast can be an effective and inexpensive ways to regularly stay in front of customers, prospects, and referral sources. Make sure your newsletter provides some value for the recipient, such as useful information, details on discounts or a special offer. Online Visibility. Be proactive about your online presence.  Make sure you have a website that promotes your business and is mobile friendly.  Learn about social media. If you sell to consumers, get a Facebook page if you are selling business to business than leverage your Linked In connections.  Actively monitor your reviews on Yelp and other review sites, encourage your customers to post reviews. Tracking Connections. Keep yourself organized by using a contact management system.  Track details of past and current customers, prospects, referral sources, and more. This data is an invaluable business asset — use it for staying in touch, making sales calls, announcing new products or sales and more. There are endless ways to get in front of your potential customers and stay in touch with current customers. YOUR CHALLENGE:  Build a marketing strategy for your business and track your activities and your results.

Hunting or Farming

As salespeople, as business owners we decide how we will source our prospective customers.  We look to others in our industry for clues on what works, we try a variety of approaches, sometimes we just do as much activity as possible and cross our fingers.  Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t, in good times our strategy and marketing plan matters less, in tough times it matters even more. Regardless of where you are in your business consider what you are doing from two perspectives…. hunting and farming. As caveman can attest to, hunting is hard work – it is a daily activity where you are personally engaged in finding your next potential customer, and walking with them through the sales process.  You are actively hunting each and every day making one on one contact.  Things like cold calling, bold calling, most networking and direct mail are examples of hunting.  The upside to hunting is that there is very little mystery between the person you meet and the sale. The flip side to hunting is farming.  Farming is more about leverage, about planting the seeds in the most productive of places and then nurturing them along the way.  Farming often has a longer lead-time and can be more difficult but not impossible to link the activity to the specific sale. Things like speaking engagements, advertising, strategic alliances, or newsletters are a few examples. There is no magic formula. It’s about employing multiple marketing strategies that work for your business, some long term, some short term, some highly leveraged and others less so. Your challenge:  Look at the lead generation activities in your business, are your lead generation activities hunting or farming, is the mix working for you or is it time to adjust the mix.

Know Your Numbers

In business, and in your personal life for that matter, you must be familiar with your numbers, you must “know” and be comfortable with your bottom-line. Don’t let your discomfort with accounting or your inabilities to “analyze” your business keep you from growing and prospering. Even though the mindset that many of us grew up with was “numbers are no fun”, “numbers are hard to understand”, “boring”, “not creative” … whatever the misconception you were given about numbers when you were young. But quite the opposite is true. Numbers tell a story of not only your past, but how you can move forward in the future. Numbers help you forecast (your own personal crystal ball), numbers are creative, and when you get right down to it, numbers make up the universe – think music, chemistry, cooking, dance, architecture, and on and on and on. And another simple truth about numbers – if you don’t watch them, test and measure, and track what they’re telling you, then numbers won’t do squat to help you succeed. Embrace numbers, they are your ally. With just a few basic KPI’s (Key Productivity Indicator’s) or metrics, you can keep your finger on the pulse of your business and build accountability into your Team. As an Owner, don’t leave the maintenance, analyzing, evaluating and monitoring of numbers solely up to someone ELSE in your organization. As the Owner, it is your responsibility to KNOW and be a good steward of your business too! YOUR CHALLENGE:  Look at the numbers in your business.  Determine what are the drivers and what you need to know to make your business grow.

Timing is Everything

You have all heard this adage before, and never is it more true than in sales. There is no sales without a customer, and customers, rather prospects are in one of three categories at any given time. Satisifed:  Buyer believes that all of their needs are currently being met, they are not shopping or actively looking for alternatives. Seeking:  Buyer is actively looking for a better mousetrap, there are certain needs that are not being met, and the buyer believes there is a better alternative, they just need to find it. Sedentary:  Buyer knows that their needs are no longer being met, but they have not yet decided to take action and start looking for another option.  They are the easiest target. These types of prospects are five times more likely than the others to buy.  When connecting with these prospects it is rare to be in a competitive sales position.  You are the one that has the solution and have made it very easy on them, no shopping around, no dealing with pushy salespeople, they are able to move forward with a solution that has sought them out. So how do you find those in the Sedentary mode?  Teach your network, your strategic alliances and your current customers how to identify the early signs of dissatisfaction.  Getting to these prospects early ensures that they have not started ‘Seeking’ for an alternative – and you will be able to make it easy on them. The other way to find the Sedentary prospects is to connect with those that believe they are Satisfied and provide them with additional information on quality, service levels or additional products that there current solution is not providing.  Your efforts will result in shifting those that thought they were previously Satisfied into the Sedentary category, and since you have connected with them emotionally, you are the natural choice when they realize their needs are not being met. And finally, when allocating your time to prospects, you should spend about 50% of your time with those that are Sedentary as they are most likely to buy from you because of the relationship, and split the balance of your time between the Satisfied and the Seeking. YOUR CHALLENGE:   Look at the prospects in your pipeline and make sure that you are spending your time appropriately with those that are Sedentary.

Getting the Sale

Whether you are a veteran salesperson or new to the sales world, it is likely that you can find ways to improve your sales process.  Tom Hopkins a sales guru and author of  ‘Sell it Now, Sell it Today’ provides us with some very real insights into the key components of the sales process. The first element is TRUST.  Early on in the sales cycle the prospect is looking for evidence that they can trust you.  This can often be easily demonstrated by following through on simple commitments, call when you say you will call, send what you say you will send, and do what you say you will do.  Using body language there are several cues that subliminally reinforce trust, such as keep your hands above the table, sit side by side, keep arms and legs uncrossed, match and mirror the tone and pace with whom you are speaking. The second element is NEED.  Asking good questions is the first step in getting to the needs of a prospect, asking great questions allows you to understand the full impact related to the need.  It is important that you don’t stop too early and you drive to get to the details so you are fully prepared when you move to the next step. The next element in the selling process is HELP.  Now that you have their trust and you understand the need you are well positioned to offer very specific details on how you can meet their needs.  The details of what you have learned by asking great questions can now be used to highlight the facts or features of your products or services, immediately followed by the benefits.   Make sure your point of view reflects the customers’ perspective of ‘what’s in it for me’. The final element is HURRY. Creating a sense of urgency around making a decision about moving forward can be a tricky or uncomfortable situation.  It is not necessary to be pushy in order to create a sense of urgency.  By focusing on their dissatisfaction about their current situation you can stimulate a desire to take action.  As an alternative you can focus on the upside or the vision of what it would be like using your products or services.  Either way you are trying to compel them to make a decision. YOUR CHALLENGE:  Take a look at your sales process and see how you can incorporate trust, need, help and hurry into your approach.