The Australian Small Business Blog

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Are Your Salespeople Planning For Success?


Planning is critical if you want your sales team to achieve a high level of success, so if your salespeople are failing to plan, then they are planning to fail or at best underachieve. Salespeople often overlook the planning stage because they find it difficult or don’t see an immediate benefit to themselves however if they continue to do more of the same they will get less of the same.

If you think of developing a sales plan in the same way you might think about climbing a mountain, the purpose and advantages of planning become clearer. When you start up the mountain you never know what to expect, sudden change in weather, lost or broken equipment, mistakes in maps, an injury. Planning for these eventualities will allow you to deal with them and still reach your objective in spite of temporary setbacks. On the other hand, lack of planning can spell disaster.

The more careful the planning, the more likely problems will be anticipated and not allowed to interfere with your ultimate sales objectives.

Sales Performance & Effectiveness

There are ONLY three (3) ways to improve your sales team’s personal sales performance:

1. Increase the value of their prospects by cross-selling or up-selling;
2. Work harder; or
3. Increase their sales effectiveness

The key to increasing your sales team’s effectiveness is for them to spend more of their valuable time with prospects who are truly predisposed to buy from them.

Why Plan?

Selling is and always will be challenging, but through effective planning your sales team will be able to find more prospects who are truly predisposed to buy from them. Developing a well researched & thought out plan will enable each salesperson to achieve improved and repeatable sales results.

Planning

The first part of the planning process involves learning from the company’s sales history. Much can be learned by documenting past wins along with the associated problems that were solved in a simple reference template. Previous sales wins always provide a trail of valuable clues to lead salespeople to future success.

The second and most important aspect of the planning process focuses on drilling down to uncover ALL of the Tangible & In-Tangible Added Value that your product, service or solution provides. By empowering salespeople with this knowledge, they can offer real business benefits to Approvers – the individuals who matter the most!

The third and final part involves documenting Advantages Features & Functions. It is not always possible for salespeople to initially gain access to an Approver in a complex sale; therefore it is important to have a clear understanding of each of the remaining member’s specific interests within the Decision Making Unit (DMU).

All of the valuable information gathered during the planning stage can also greatly assist with the creation of attention grabbing written marketing material.

Summary

Fail to plan and you plan to fail; make your sales team the exception to the rule - plan, assess and plan some more. You MUST have a clear goal and a well defined methodology for getting there.

Ensure that each member of your sales team is investing the necessary time to produce a well thought out sales plan that will result in them spending more of their valuable time with prospects who are truly predisposed to buy from them.

Tim Williams is the Managing Director of Deakon P/L.

Monday, February 27, 2006

False Economies


by Dr Greg Chapman


Today I was discussing with a business manager the future of a business which has an innovative product but low sales. The owner had invested over a million dollars in the business developing this product, but had spent nothing on marketing. The manager told me how he believed that their product was superior to others on the market, but because of their size, other businesses were not taking them seriously.

Now, because of poor sales, the owner wants to sell the business. But guess what? No-one wants to buy it as there is no demonstrated market for the business. It is perceived as just another product in a crowded marketplace. Consultants that were advising the owner on the sale advised him that this was the issue, but he has taken the view that he does not want to spend anymore money on the business.

To obtain a sales price of $1,000,000 just to recover his costs, the owner would have to demonstrate that a buyer would receive a return of 25-30%. But at the moment he can't even cover the modest running costs of the business through sales.

So the owner has three choices. He can hang out for a fire sale price while his operating costs continue to bleed. He can write off his investment and walk away. Or if he really believes that there is a need for this product, he could put together a short term marketing plan to demonstrate the viability of his product.

If he invested $30,000 in marketing, or 3% of his outlay, and 10% of his projected sales turnover to justify his $1,000,000 business valuation, it is likely that he would not only start to see such returns, that he may even decide to hang onto what has become a very attractive business.

In business, the concept of sunk capital is crucial for an owner to make unemotional business decisions. But if you have invested the capital for product development, not investing in a marketing launch is just crazy. If the owner had created a business plan at the start, he would have probably been quite happy to add in 10% for marketing, but refusing to spend on marketing at this stage is just false economy.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Don’t Advertise Your Business- Market It!



by Dr Greg Chapman

Too many business owners believe that marketing their business means just paying for a few ads. What few understand is that Advertising is not the same as Marketing. Many of Empower Business Solutions clients have come to us only after they have wasted large sums of money by copying their competitors with “me too” advertising. And the media and advertising agencies love it. When you approach an advertising agency, their mission will be to convince you to spend your entire marketing budget with them, not to help you devise a marketing strategy for your business which will look at all available marketing options, not just advertising.

When developing a marketing strategy for your business, you must consider a number of aspects of your marketplace, before even thinking of your business. You need to answer the following questions:

- Who are your competitors?
- Who are your customers?
- Can you segment your marketplace?
- How do your customers make a buying decision?
- Who else has customers who could be your customers?

Only once you understand your marketplace should you consider your business. At this point of the marketing process you would ask the following questions:

- What is the ultimate benefit of my products and services for my customers?
- Why should people buy from me?
- What is my offer? (Product / Service / Price / Support / Guarantee etc.)
- How do I define My Marketplace? (Who / What / Where / When and How)

And only once you have answered these questions, ask the one that most businesses ask first rather than last:

- How will I promote my business?

When answering this question, consider all the promotional options, not just advertising. Some of the marketing options available to you are:
Networking, newsletters, cold calls, special offers, public relations, referrals, joint ventures, trade shows, seminars, workshops, website, sponsorship, media advertising, yellow pages, direct mail and brochures.

All of these methods are, in one form or another, lead generation strategies. You are buying customers, and the bottom line for everyone of them is the cost per qualified lead. And that’s how you decide how to spend your promotional dollar. When you approach an advertising agency, you must already know how much want to spend on that marketing channel. While they may give you good advice on how to spend your money in their channel, they will not consider alternatives which may be better for your business. It is also essential to consider whether the selected channel is capable of generating qualified leads at a reasonable price. For example, if your product is upmarket, generating leads from the budget market is of no value to you. And there is also false economy in choosing low rating media which often generate no leads at all!

Whichever marketing channel you choose, it is absolutely essential you measure the results from each promotion. Over a period of time, you will learn which ones work best for you. However, this can be a lengthy experience. Using a marketing consultant, such as Empower Business Solutions, can greatly reduce the painful and often costly learning curve, and can save you many thousands of dollars in your marketing costs, and even more importantly, in the opportunity cost of lost time.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions

Friday, February 24, 2006

The myths surrounding PR and advertising: what is the difference?


Public Relations (PR) is a commonly used term which, more often than not, is used and abused. Just what is PR? Is it marketing? Is it even management? What’s the difference between PR and advertising?

Well, big differences do exist and the small business owner is in a unique position to take advantage of this underused marketing component.

PR, when used correctly, is a powerful tool which can add great value to a business. From an external point of view, to an internal one, PR can be used daily to great benefit.

Below explain some common statements that are often fired at the PR professional.

• Advertising and PR is the same thing.

Is marketing and sales the same thing? No. Neither is PR and advertising. Advertising uses paid for media space to convey a message which primarily aims to sell a product or service, but usually comes straight from the business owner or representative. In its media form, PR aims to convey a message that educates readers, listeners and viewers. PR aims to inform the journalists that a story is worth publishing. If it’s paid for, advertising is guaranteed to appear. If it’s not a newsworthy item, then PR has to fight to gain the journalist’s attention.

• Advertising influences behaviour.

How can it influence behaviour if you don’t know the person’s behaviour to start with? Both advertising and PR can have tremendous impacts, depending on the product or issue. Many see PR as being more effective, simply because it is seen to be endorsed by the paper, journalist or editor.

• Writing an Advert is the same as PR writing.

Both take a lot of skill and craft, but both use vastly different approaches. The PR professional’s favoured tool is the media release, a form of communication which is aimed at media outlets. This has to be crafted in a news style format which contains facts and matches the medium for which it is intended. Advertising copy uses words geared to sell like proven, guaranteed, love and health.

• PR isn’t planned, unlike advertising.

No, the best PR person will always endeavour to plan and program a campaign in order that the communication is constant. Strategic PR planning identifies key messages, target publics and audiences, works within a strict budget and adheres to a timetable.

• PR is only used by the big corporations.

Simple but effective PR campaigns are something that every business should be implementing. PR can be used to improve staff morale and focus, and it can also form a crucial link to marketing campaigns.

• Media coverage is enhanced by advertising.

A common myth! In mainstream media, even in local media, advertising and editorial sections are completely separate. Normally the advertising person doesn’t know what the journalists are working on – and vice versa. Depending on the publication (trade publications and newspapers who frequently run supplements), advertising and editorial can be linked, likewise product placement can also be an important part of PR marketing, which enhances brand/product awareness.

Stuart Evans is a director of Vibe Communications
www.vibecommunications.com.au

Thursday, February 23, 2006

So lets Brand from the Inside Out (or brand your people first)

A company, especially a new one, spends many weeks developing the "marketing message," examining and experimenting with slogan and logos. It is also not unusual to spend days determining brand colours before any launch is possible. There is however an area that is almost always forgotten in the planning phase of any company or the re-engineering of an established one. That area is the training whereby your people understand and project the new slogan and brand. Marketing starts from the inside and works it way into the domain of your customers.
Ask yourself these critical questions.

Do your people believe in your product and the services that you offer? Are they standing 100% behind you in the mission of your brand? Are they living your brand? It is important that your people are informed and involved in new initiatives and strategies that are taking place within your organisation.

If your people are unable or unwilling to support your marketing efforts it can have detrimental results. How can you begin your internal branding campaign within your organisation?

• Step 1: Synchronize Your Brand Personality, Values and Corporate Culture
Your marketing team should be working with the management and the Human Resources people to ensure that the common values of your organisation internally and externally are matched for greatest effect.

• Step 2: Get Your People behind Your Brand
Your criteria for recruiting and rewarding people need to be aligned with the criteria of the brand value. Look for the right skills and aptitudes that will represent your brand promise to the client. Do the new people value the same culture that you are trying to foster?

• Step 3: Reinforce and Repeatedly Explain Brand Values and Behaviours.
Use your internal communication to reinforce and develop the values and behaviours that reflect your brand promise. Continuously do this as if you are marketing to clients but now you are marketing your brand to your own people until it becomes the ethos within the company.
Involving your people is so important because your people meet, greet, speak to and assist your customers every day. They are the soul and face of your brand. Engage your people right from the start and encourage individual input.
Ask your people to form a focus group to develop your brand - after all who knows your client better than they do? By involving your people, you will not only have their support but you will be given insight and ideas that you otherwise may not have considered.

Developing your Brand's Strategy

Lesson 1 -- What is Branding A brand is officially defined as a "name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors”.Therefore, it makes sense to understand that branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but it is about getting your prospects to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem.

A brand should be able to:
• Deliver the message clearly
• Confirm your credibility
• Connect to your target prospects emotionally
• Motivates the buyer impulse
• Create customer Loyalty
To succeed in branding you must understand the needs and wants of your customers and prospects. You do this by integrating your brand strategies through your organisation at every point of public contact.
Your brand resides within the hearts and minds of customers, clients, and prospects. It is the sum total of their experiences and perceptions, some of which you can influence, and some that you cannot.
A strong brand is invaluable in the battle for customer’s loyalty. It is important to spend time investing in researching, defining, and building your brand. Your brand is a promise to your consumer. It is the foundation in your marketing communication. It is being first in the mind of your customers.

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude."Thomas Jefferson1743-1826, Third President of the United States
Richard Gill is a Director of The Banner Lady

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

How Business Davids can overcome Goliaths


In the story of David and Goliath, young David challenged the mighty Goliath. King Saul wanted David to wear his armour so that he could fight Goliath in the traditional way. But David chose to forgo the armour, used a weapon of his choosing, and relied on his own speed, and was ultimately successful in slaying the giant Goliath.

Small business owners viewing the Goliaths of their industry slugging it out using all the marketing weaponry in their well stocked armoury, can be daunted by the battles raging around them. And if they choose to fight them with the same weapons, they have much to fear. For large businesses, economies of scale is their most potent weapon. A very powerful weapon. But like Goliath, their strengths are also their weaknesses.

Relationships
The biggest point of vulnerability for business Goliaths is their need for volume, and their inability to react quickly to changes in the marketplace. For small business, this means that relationships are the key. It is the flexibility to do the little bit extra without having to go back to head office for approval. It is the continuity of the relationship between a business and its customer, and the ability to customise its service.

Using the banks as an example, we have seen a number of smaller banks flourish because of the relationships they have had with their customers. The response from the big banks was to acquire the smaller banks (and their customers). However, the efficiencies that the large businesses gain with their economies of scale create a negative impact on individual relationships with their customers. While local staff do their best to nurture their relationships, their authority is limited, and they do not stay as long as staff do in a small business. In the end, all their customer relationships, except with their very largest clients, become transactional. While computer systems can help ‘personalise’ these relationships, it is a relationship with a system rather than a person. When mistakes happen- and they are inevitable in all systems created by humans, they tend to be very difficult to rectify as any human relationship can be spread over many individuals. And it is impossible to talk to the boss to sort things out.

One Size Fits All
As Goliaths depend on volume, they must target as large a segment of the market as possible. Hence the need for one size to fit all. They are unable to survive in a niche as no niche is large enough to pay for the overheads. For a business David, finding the right niche and tailoring services for those customers in a way that is impossible for Goliaths, is a way to take their customers away from them.

Price
Small businesses in competition focus all too often on price, which is one of the Goliaths biggest weapons, through economies of scale. It is a mistake to fight on Goliath’s turf. And you should be aware that price is only the fifth reason people buy. A recent survey showed the top five reasons someone buys, are:

1. Confidence that your products and services will meet their needs
2. Quality of the product and service
3. The level of service that is provided
4. Selection or range of offers
5. Price

Just knowing this creates a massive advantage for any business.

Market Share
Market share is something that all Goliaths focus on. They study the movements of their share, and those of their Goliath competitors. But everyone else is in a group called ‘Others’ usually totalling around 10% of the market. THEY DON’T MONITOR MOVEMENTS IN THIS SECTOR. It is not important to them. This becomes another big opportunity for business Davids.

If you are a small business that has 2% of the market, and double your share to 4%, they don’t notice. You could double it again before they even are aware what you are doing. Therefore, a small business can build up great momentum before a Goliath notices and takes retaliatory action. Goliaths can’t double their share without coming to the attention of the competition regulator. Such a feat would normally only be possible with a takeover, or failure of a major competitor. Goliaths can only make small gains in their markets- because they are so big, although their strategy may be to grow the market with new products and services, which is great for everybody. Or to cut costs which may have a negative impact on quality and customer relationships.

This creates huge advantages for business Davids. With smart marketing initiatives, they can steal market share from all their competitors without them being aware what is happening until much later. The competitive response from Goliaths will be very slow and may not occur until you get above 10%. And is likely to be around price, which as you now know is only the fifth most important reason people buy from you.

Marketing
Goliaths rely heavily on advertising to reach their mass market to create volume. For Davids, advertising is too often the most expensive form of marketing. Fortunately, there are much cheaper forms that bring you much closer to your customers, such as a pro-active word-of-mouth strategy. Goliaths use these as well, but as these are less effective in mass marketing, it is not their area of focus. So business Davids should choose the marketing weapons that give them an advantage.

Business Systems
The one thing that businesses Goliaths do very well is to systematise their operations. This provides consistent quality and helps control costs. This is one thing that small business should copy from big businesses. As most small businesses have poor business systems, it is not difficult to out-deliver your competitors of similar size, just by having even a basic system in place. And you certainly need that when you are up against Goliaths.

Conclusions
Business Davids have an advantage over Goliaths in a number of key areas. They can make their service personal, and tailored for the individual. They can focus on a niche which has special needs unserviced by Goliaths. They can more easily compete in non-price areas, and can steal market share before they are noticed. And they can choose marketing strategies that place them at an advantage over Goliaths. But they must have systems in place or else they will be unable to deliver as their business grows.
Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Welcome to the Australian Small Business Blog


Our objective for creating the Australian Small Business Blog is to provide a forum for the small business owner to share their experiences and seek advice from other owners on issues in their business. The format of the blog will be to post articles or ideas that will provoke comment, and even argument!

Although this blog has been founded by Dr Greg Chapman of Empower Business Solutions it is intended that this forum will also be available to others to post their ideas. As moderator of this forum, I would expect, at least initially, to provide the bulk of the posts. But I certainly encourage others to contact me to find out how they might contribute.

Suggestions for subjects for articles either by myself, or if it is outside my expertise, by others that I regard as experts in that area, will be gratefully received.

While any article to be posted on this site will require my approval, commenting is open, subject to deletion if posters are unethical or use this forum to defame others. Promoting your own business is allowed on this blog, but it expected that any post be substantially educational. Pure advertising will be deleted. The 80/20 rule on information/promotion will be strictly applied.

If you wish to post here, and you have a website, we request as a courtesy, that you return a link to this site. This will benefit ALL posters.

If you would like to contact me privately, please click on my profile and send me an email. Your feedback, public or private will be welcomed.

Please enjoy this forum.

Regards

Dr Greg Chapman, MBA
Director- Empower Business Solutions

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Dr. Greg Chapman is also the author of
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