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The Leading Edge May 2013
Small Business Success
Taking Care of Business  

    Contents
In this Issue

20 Marketing Tips

6 Tips for Making More Sales

The Fear of Hearing No - Part I

The Fear of Hearing No - Part II

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THE LEADING EDGE - your monthly link to groundbreaking ideas for entrepreneurs

5 Must-Have Tech Tools for Small Business Marketing


Small Business News:

CFIB Report: Small business confidence inches downward in April - Canada's small business optimism inched downward in April, following on the heels of a larger decline in March. After a promising start to the year, more business owners appear disappointed with their firms' performance so far this spring. Read an overview and access a link to the full report... For provincial summaries...


Another CFIB report: Small Business gives the federal budget a "B" - Small business owners received some positive news in the 2013 federal budget with movement on several of the top recommendations from CFIB. Read more...


Globe and Mail: Average pay on the rise in Canada - The number of hours worked in Canada is little changed, and employment gains are muted, but earnings growth is firming.

Average earnings rose 3.1 per cent in February from a year earlier, with the biggest gains in construction and public administration, and in Alberta, Statistics Canada's payrolls survey showed Thursday. That's the fastest rate of annual increase in five months. Read more...


2013 BMO Small Business Confidence Report Reveals Outlook for Performance, Economy, Growth and Investment - TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 2, 2013) - According to the latest BMO Small Business Confidence Report released today, Canadian businesses remain confident in their business prospects and the state of the economy for 2013, with British Columbia and Atlantic Canada leading the way. Read more...

 
    20 Marketing Tips
 
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This month we focus on sales and marketing, starting with 20 inspirational marketing thoughts, and hard truths from Mike Wicks. Wicks' sales and marketing column has been a fixture in Douglas Magazine (www.douglasmagazine.com) for the last five years. For more about the author see www.mpwicks.com.

  1. Ruffle some feathers; have an opinion on what's happening in your industry - people don't have to like you, but they need to know you exist. Making a name for yourself is as simple as being an opinionated so-and-so.
  2. Justin Bieber yourself! Let people become fans of you and your business, and treat them like royalty.
  3. Give away the farm - shower gifts on your fans and those that have yet to see the light. Think eBooks, information, advance access to new products, even access to you!
  4. Make customers feel special. Think limited or special editions, advance availability, invitations to product launches - the people following you on social media should feel special.
  5. Court influential people (including the media) and get them onside as supporters - super fans if you like. Give them insider information and create stories about your company, and yourself, that they can spread.
  6. Take a long, hard look at your organizational culture - it's your brand. Do you like what you see? Is it visible to your customers?
  7. Demonstrate you are trustworthy and reliable everyday. Few businesses are both, and many are neither - dare to be different.
  8. Grow green, orange and purple cauliflowers and see price resistance disappear.
  9. Do something unique: under promise - over deliver.
  10. Marketing is not about who has the most dollars, it's about innovation and inspiration. Go viral and get a million dollars worth of advertising from a smartphone video.
  11. Social media is here to stay. Embrace it like an overbearing old aunt trying to smother you with kisses.
  12. If people aren't talking, linking, liking, and tweeting about you, you are fading from the scene man.
  13. Without a strong Internet and social media presence you will be invisible to many consumers. Social media is NOT a passing phase, whether you like it or not.
  14. Write, speak, make news. Pontificate - tell the world what you know - be the expert the media want to contact when discussing your industry. Write a blog and make it damn well controversial.
  15. Almost one-quarter of consumers post reviews about what they buy. Do you know what they are saying about you? Are you sweating yet?
  16. Exceptional customer service is expected - raising the bar is optional, like paying taxes!
  17. Stand out from the crowd - make random acts of kindness a part of your marketing strategy. By the way, these 20 tips are free!
  18. Change is the only constant - keep up, or ship out.
  19. Discover your voice - understand what you stand for and ensure your customers understand it too.
  20. In today's world, marketing success is gauged by the amount of chatter. If people aren't talking about you then you have become yesterday's news. In the words of Oscar Wilde, "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."
 
   
6 Tips for Making More Sales Top

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No matter what business you are in, you have to sell. Nothing happens in a business until somebody sells something. In this article we'll take a quick look at six things you can do right now to help close more deals.

  1. Dress for success. First impressions count and your appearance does make an impression. This doesn't mean you need to wear a jacket and tie, or suit, all the time, but it does mean that you should always look smart, even when meeting clients that dress in workwear.
  2. Listen more, talk less. If you recall the last really good conversation you had with someone, you will almost certainly remember you talked more than they did. When we have an opportunity to put across our ideas, we value the conversation more. Bear this in mind when selling; it's okay to guide the conversation, but be sure to listen to the answers and always be on the lookout for the prospect's concerns and objections, even those that may be hidden among a bunch of other stuff they are saying.
  3. Choose your words carefully. Never speak ill of your competition. Never undermine your boss or business partner, for example, by saying something like, "well, I'd love to give you that deal but my boss would never go for it." Never swear - even if your client uses every profanity in the book. Never try to impress with big, or technical words. Making your client feel stupid such as saying "well, anyone who knows anything about business would see this is a great deal" is never a good idea. Never talk politics, or religion; it's tempting to discuss current major events, or breaking news but avoid this discussion route. Last, do not dismiss or minimize your prospect's concerns or objections.
  4. Sell yourself first. Launching into your sales pitch straight after the welcoming handshake will start you off on the wrong foot. Spend a few minutes passing the time of day. As corny as it sounds, talking about the weather is better than nothing. People buy from people they like; people with whom they feel an emotional connection. Ask if they had a good weekend and they might mention gardening, or boating, or whatever - this is your chance to ask them more about their interests. People like nothing better than talking about the activities they enjoy.
  5. ABC (Always Be Closing). Obviously you will need at some point to make your presentation, or pitch, and that's important, but you can easily get carried away with extolling the virtues of your product and service and forget that you are there to get a sale. Make the personal connection, present the information, and then ask for the sale. People expect you to ask. Look for signs the person is ready to buy, try some trial closes (e.g. does this look as if it will do the job you need it to?) then ask for the order. If they still need more information, they'll let you know. Knowing when to stop presenting and start asking for the sale is a key to success.
  6. It's not all about you. Selling is about solving your prospect's problems, easing their pain, or making/saving them money. Customers want to see that you care about them and their best interests. They care about whether you'll deliver on your promises. They care about whether you can be trusted, and that they'll get value for money. They don't care about your previous sales success. They don't care about the prestigious companies you've worked for in the past. They don't care about how many other people you've sold this product to. Think like a customer; view the world from their perspective, and always think about how you can help your prospect. That's what will build your reputation in the industry, and in the end give you the success you want.

When it comes down to it, selling is about providing your customer with what they want, reliably, at a price they can afford. If they feel you are self-absorbed, they will doubt whether you can deliver on those three promises.

 
   
The Fear of Hearing No - Part I Top
 

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It doesn't matter what you produce, whether it's a product or service, at some point during the sales process you have to ask for the order. Sure, some people will turn up and beg you to allow them to buy from you but seriously is that the norm? If it is then you've got a business that probably doesn't need my help and perhaps you should be writing these articles instead of me!

For most people the selling process is the toughest part of business. Most of us do what we do because we are passionate about it, whether we grow vegetables, manufacture model cars, or serve people delicious food in our restaurant. Few of us start a business because we like to sell - it just happens to be a necessary 'evil' of business life.

The fear of asking for the order, or getting people to pay, is the biggest fear of the average business person and what prevents many entrepreneurs from being successful. Overcome your fear and take ownership of the sales process, and you'll go from doing well, to doing exceptionally well.

First though, we need to identify the fear, feel it, own it, understand it, and push past it toward success. Let's look at a few strategies that might help you deal with the fear of hearing no.

When you come right down to it - it's just numbers

Rejection is a key part of sales. You will face rejection, I promise. The best salesperson in the world does not get a yes from everyone he or she sells to - it just isn't possible. So we need to accept that our product, or service, is going to be rejected - probably quite a lot. If you accept that not everyone is going to say yes, then you have to also accept that many people will say no along the way. Okay, so now look at the no's as a way to reach the yes's - the more no's we hear the closer we are to a yes. Unless what you are selling is terrible and of no use to anyone, of course! Take note of how many no's you get in relation to yes's, that way you will be able to judge how many people you need to sell to, to get the number of yes's you need to be profitable.

It's probably not you they are saying no to

Unless you are a real jerk, the person you are selling to is rejecting what you are selling not you. It could be lack of need, affordability, budget, or dozens of other things - just make sure when you get a firm no that can't be turned into a yes, you fully understand what the objection was and are satisfied that you could not overcome it. So they said no - get over it, move onto the next prospect and don't carry over any negative thoughts, or feelings, to the next potential customer.

Is hearing 'no' the end of it?

You don't want to be the pushy sales person that everyone thinks is a jerk, but learn to read people enough to recognize when 'no' actually means, "I don't have time right now" or "I don't understand how this product/service could help me." The first word we learn as toddlers is not 'yes' it's 'no' and the same goes for prospects, their default is set to 'no' - you just have to make sure that the use of that word is fully justified. Learn to read people. Is their no, firm, or just reluctance? If there is hesitation, it may mean they just need to hear more. Or it may mean that they really love it, but now's not the right time. In any case, seize that moment to give them what they need. If it's more info - come back again. If it's not now, ask them when will be a good time. Is it really money that's the obstacle, or are they afraid because of a previous bad purchasing experience? Don't be afraid to ask questions to find out the truth behind the no. Good probing is intrinsic to good closing.

 
   
How The Fear of Hearing No - Part II Top

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Be your favourite salesperson

Most of us hate salespeople, almost on principle. It's that feeling of being cornered, pressured to buy something we don't know if we need or want. Think about all the things you hate about salespeople and being sold to. Then think about that salesperson you really liked and analyze why the experience was so positive.

Make a list of all the things you can't abide about poor salespeople, and beside that list note all the good things about the way your favourite sales person sells to you. Then develop a way to sell that avoids all those things you personally dislike about the sales experience, and which features all the positive sales elements you have experienced. Once you do that you will have far more confidence when selling. Believing in yourself and the way you are approaching the act of selling will show up as genuine, and that is what people are looking for in someone from whom they buy.

Never be afraid to back off

When we sell there is always the temptation to try to convince someone to buy whatever we are selling - after all we truly believe it is the right thing for them. But, often backing away from the sale, showing an understanding of their situation, can get the sale back on track or at least earn you their respect for the future.

Say something like "I can see that this may be too big of a purchase for a company of your size. Perhaps I can come back when I have something that's more within your price range?" This little bit of reverse psychology can often work - it's like you are taking something away from them. It's very unlikely that you would lose the sale by using this approach, but it may just spur them on to make the decision to purchase sooner than later.

Be prepared

One of the biggest reasons a potential sale is lost is because we haven't done our homework. Understand every aspect of what you sell; the technical specifications, delivery timelines, pricing, packaging - everything! More importantly, know in advance what objections might crop up. You should keep a list of every objection anyone has ever made about what you sell, and have a response to overcome each and every one. The more prepared you are to deal with those objections, the closer you'll be to a sale. And, if a customer comes up with one you've never heard, be grateful; it's one more to add to your list and one more you'll be able to easily overcome next time. The important thing about this strategy is that it makes you incredibly confident about dealing with objections, and confidence is the key to increasing your closing rate.

Be yourself

This may sound simplistic, but people who aren't comfortable selling often feel like they have to develop a sales "persona" to be effective. Nothing could be further from the truth. People can see through that. Your best strategy is to develop a style you feel comfortable with - one that is authentically you. Don't assume customers want a certain style or character because you'll be pretending, and authenticity is one of the strongest selling traits you can have.

Never apologize for what you charge

Pricing is one of the biggest fear factors for most business owners. They are great at telling customers how good their products are, but almost cringe when they get to the point where they need to tell them the price. Customers sense fear, and they will try to negotiate a better deal. It's human nature. You should be confident in the price you have set and make no apologies for it. That shows integrity and a belief in your product. You may have some wiggle room in your mind to be able to negotiate with customers, but whatever that number is, don't go beyond it just to get the sale. Your compromise will only serve to undervalue what you have worked so hard to achieve. Not everyone can be your customer. If they are not willing to pay a fair price, maybe they need to go to your competitor who sells for less. They may also be getting less (in quality and service), but ultimately it's their choice.


Never be afraid to hear the word 'no'. As I mentioned earlier, the word no can be just an automatic response; when our children said it we taught them that there is another word 'yes' that brings far better results - prospects are the same, their default is no, but it does not have to be their final answer. Many no's can be turned around and result in a positive result - but you are not superhuman, so no's will feature heavily in your sales life; accept them for what they are - a necessary part of getting a yes.

Fear of asking for the sale is natural, but don't let it hold you back from moving your business forward. Make a decision today that you'll acknowledge the fear, allow yourself to feel it (the adrenaline actually makes you sharper if you let it), and then go for it! You've got nothing to lose, except of course, the sale, and there's always another one just around the corner!

 
   
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