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How to Get Ready For 4th Quarter

5 Sales Strategies You Need to Drive Results We are about here, October 1st marks the beginning of the MOST important sales quarter of the year! Why? Because whatever you do in the fourth quarter will determine just how successful you are going to be in 2019.  Yeah, it is THAT important! Laying the groundwork, […]

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How to Get Ready For 4th Quarter

How to get ready for 4th quarter5 Sales Strategies You Need to Drive Results

We are about here, October 1st marks the beginning of the MOST important sales quarter of the year! Why? Because whatever you do in the fourth quarter will determine just how successful you are going to be in 2019.  Yeah, it is THAT important!

Laying the groundwork, making the calls, and setting the stage now will ensure you start 2019 strong, and if you want to increase sales in 2019, then you need to start planning now. Funny thing about fourth quarter is that most of us tend to back off, slow down and just not put the energy into our sales planning that we do throughout the rest of the year.

And I get it. First, you’re tired. You have been going at it for the last three quarters, giving it everything you’ve got, and you need a break. Then there is the understanding that by the end of third quarter, you know whether you are going to hit your sales goals for the year or not, and nothing you do in the fourth quarter is going to change that. Add to that, it is the holiday season, starting right at the end of October and running until the first week in January, it seems like every week there is some sort of celebration going on. As a result, you’re busy, your customers are busy, and no one has the time for a sales call.

The excuses are valid. The fact remains is the work you do in the fourth quarter determines the number of doors you will open and sales you will close in 2019. Then, how do you keep the energy going, and make your fourth quarter rock?

5 Sales Strategies You Need To Increase Sales Performance for Next Year

  1. Get a plan – now is the time to sit down, take an hour or two and think about what you need to accomplish in the 4th Look at the holiday schedule, the commitments you have made, and determine what time you will have available to make sales calls. Then set some goals – put some hard numbers to networking, sales calls, and sales follow-up calls. networking events will you attend, how many sales calls will you make, and how many proposals will you write?Going into the fourth quarter with a plan will ensure you use the limited time you have as effectively as possible and will keep you from getting off track with the busy work that comes with end-of-the-year commitments.
  2. Build your list – Think about your best customers, your top prospects, leads that have gone cold, and those prospects that are still on your wish list. Being proactive with your calls in the fourth quarter is vital to your success.Then sit down and write out exactly who you are going to spend this fourth quarter calling on, where is the highest and best use of your time?
  3. Get creative – on how you will call on them. Again, fourth quarter can be tricky – holiday season, end of the year reporting, and just the hustle and bustle of trying to get everything done on time. To make sales calls in the fourth quarter requires you getting out of your box and thinking differently. Maybe you will have a holiday party and invite prospects and customers; you will perhaps do an end-of-the-year review with your top customers. Perhaps you will make a “thank you for your business” call to anyone you closed a deal with this year. Whatever it is, get out of your traditional sales calling strategies, and take a more creative approach.
  4. Set the stage – the most important sales strategy for the fourth quarter is setting the stage. While fourth quarter can be a tough time to ask for business, it is the perfect time to let your prospects and customers know that you will be calling them right after the new year to design a plan for making 2019 their best year on record. Setting the stage ensures you have permission to start making sales calls right after “Happy New Year.” If you don’t set the stage, then guess what – you not only blew 4th quarter – you will lose the first two weeks of January too.
  5. Review and adjust at the end of every month – October, November, and December, take the time to review and adjust. What is going well with your fourth quarter plan, what results are you getting, and what if anything, would you change?

Yes, the fourth quarter is the most powerful sales quarter of the year. Follow these strategies, and you will position yourself to open more doors, close more sales and start 2019 strong!

 

 

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Posted by Meridith Elliott Powell in Business Growth, Sales Tips and tagged , , ,

How To Prepare For Rising Interest Rates

5 Strategies To Get Your Business Prepared Will they or won’t they? Raise interest rates that is. To date, the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates twice this year and is forecasting two more increases before year-end. While President Donald Trump is breaking with tradition (President’s do not typically interfere with the Fed’s decisions) and […]

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How To Prepare For Rising Interest Rates

How to Prepare for Rising Interest Rates5 Strategies To Get Your Business Prepared

Will they or won’t they? Raise interest rates that is. To date, the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates twice this year and is forecasting two more increases before year-end. While President Donald Trump is breaking with tradition (President’s do not typically interfere with the Fed’s decisions) and trying to talk the fed out of more increases, it appears that despite his protests they will move forward nevertheless.

Most of us have been in business long enough to know that a single rise in interest rates can have an impact on the economy, but four in one year? That that will change on how people will borrow, spend and put money back into the marketplace.

So no matter which side of the fence politically you sit on –  thinking the Fed should not raise interest rates – or being that person in full support, the truth is you and I have no control over what the Fed does. Their decision may impact our plans for growth, but in the end, we have no say.

However, we can anticipate the decision they will make, and make some changes now to position ourselves for a different marketplace.

So how do you prepare for rising interest rates? What can you do now as a business to ensure that changes with the Federal policy and their impact on consumer spending will not derail your plans for business success?

5 Strategies to Get Your Business Prepared:

  1. Pay Attention – to the Fed that is. What the Fed may do and what they ultimately do will both have an impact on consumer mindset and your plans for growth. You need to pay attention, read the reports, watch the news, and follow those economists that will be making predictions. The marketplace changes as much based on what the Fed is predicted to do, as it does based on their final interest rate decision. The better informed you are, the better positioned you will be.
  2. Pay-Down Debt – rising interest rates can impact the flow of money into the economy, the rate at which businesses growth, as well as the cash flowing through your business. When the signals come that the Fed is going to raise interest rates, it is time to start thinking about taking those final steps to pay off debt. Especially debt that carries a variable interest rate.
  3. Find Lower Interest Rates – if you have debt that you can’t pay off or revolving debt that you use the fund your business in times of tight cash flow, then it may be time to shop around. Before the Fed raises rates, look around and see if you can find a lower interest rate. Doing so before the Fed raises funds may make it easier to find, qualify and ultimately move the debt. You will also, if the fed raises rates, be better positioned to absorb the cost.
  4. Do A Business Review – rising interest rates will impact the economy, and most likely slow down consumer spending and the level to which businesses buy and borrow. The rising interest rates could affect the cash flowing through your business, and your ability to reach your business goals. So now is the time to do a business review. Take a step back and analyze, before it happens, what a rising interest rate may do to your business. Maybe you keep six to eight months’ worth and do a final push knowing sales will be harder in a higher-interest-rate environment.
  5. Get Smart – and last but not least, get smart! Interest rates go up, and they go down. That is just the world that we live in, and the Fed is doing what needs to be done to make this economy healthy. Your job is to know the interest rate environment and adjust your business strategies accordingly. To succeed in business today, you need to be proactive!

This is going to be an interesting year, if the Fed raises rates two more times, it will significantly impact how we grow our businesses, and even just the hint of rising rates can make a shift. Don’t wait for the Fed’s decision to affect your business. Use these five strategies to get prepared!

 

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6 Strategies To Develop A Great Sales Conversation

You can sell the best products, have all the knowledge in the world, and be sitting in front of the most qualified customers, but if you cannot deliver a meaningful and engaging sales conversation, you will never get the sale. A productive sales conversation is a powerful tool as it engages your customers, provides you […]

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6 Strategies To Develop A Great Sales Conversation

Man and Woman ConversationYou can sell the best products, have all the knowledge in the world, and be sitting in front of the most qualified customers, but if you cannot deliver a meaningful and engaging sales conversation, you will never get the sale.

A productive sales conversation is a powerful tool as it engages your customers, provides you with valuable information and sets you apart from your competition. In fact, it is your best shot to stand out from your competition. Customers who feel heard, understood and validated are far more motivated to buy.

Building sales conversations are about ensuring you have the steps in place to meet the needs that are most foundational to a strong sales conversation.

Below are six strategies in developing great sales conversations with your clients:

  1. Build rapport – customers buy from people they like – period. So, for them to like you, your customers have to feel connected to you. Building rapport is about merely taking a sincere interest in your customer. An interest that goes beyond the business at hand. I always love to know how my customers got started working in their field. Alternatively, what do they enjoy doing in their spare time? Give it a try, take a minute now and then, come up with one or two questions that you could use to establish rapport.
  2. Explore the opportunities – next, you need to start asking those open-ended questions that will help you understand where your customers’ pain point is or where their opportunities lie. You cannot sell anything until you know your customers’ goals and their obstacles.
  3. Transition to value – with their pain point established, it is time to validate that you heard their challenge and understood it. Next, you can transition to value. Value is about the solutions you have (i.e.) products that will solve the issue. In a sales conversation, you have to position your products as solutions to the problem or opportunity you and your customer have identified.
  4. Listen to resistance – invite your customers to ask questions, challenge your ideas and resist the idea of purchase. In this part of the sales conversation, it is important to slow down, not talk, just listen. If you listen to the resistance, you will understand how to approach the next step.
  5. Create the vision – now is your time to create the vision. Resistance happens because customers are still unsure of the value, or what difference your product or service will make for them. If your customer is challenged by a lack of cash flow, and the inability to meet financial deadlines. You may offer a line of credit that eases the burden and provides cash at times when they most need it. However, your customer is still worried – worried about paying fees, becoming dependent on the line or their ability to pay it down as the product requires. So, creating the vision would be helping them to see how much more time they would have to generate more revenue or develop efficiencies in their business if they did not have to worry about cash flow.
  6. Plan for success – the end of every sales conversation either ends with a sale or with the seed planted to continue to have more sales conversation. More often it is about planting the seeds. A closed sale is the result of many sales conversations that follow this exact pattern.

So now it is your turn, follow the steps, put them into action, and you will create a strong sales conversation.

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Five Strategies To Increase Product Knowledge

You know what they say – knowledge is power. So that is indeed true when it comes to selling and even more so when you are selling financial services. It is not going to come as any surprise that if you want to sell effectively, you must have a strong understanding of the products and […]

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Five Strategies To Increase Product Knowledge

5 Strategies to Increase KnowledgeYou know what they say – knowledge is power. So that is indeed true when it comes to selling and even more so when you are selling financial services. It is not going to come as any surprise that if you want to sell effectively, you must have a strong understanding of the products and services you offer, and more importantly precisely how those products benefit your customers.

Product knowledge is an ongoing process and something you will continue to do to increase your effectiveness as a salesperson. No one, not even the best salespeople, ever wholly master product knowledge.

However, product knowledge is so valuable, it increases your confidence as a salesperson and your customers’ trust that you are the right person to serve their needs.  Customers today come armed with their level of product knowledge. The internet and competition have created a more educated consumer base, and that is all the more reason we need to know more than our customers do about the services we offer.

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

So what do we need to know about products?

First, how your product adds value. Remember customers buy benefits not features. (article) A customer buys a diet cola not because it has zero calories (feature) but because it will not make them gain weight (benefit.) Product knowledge is about understanding the result your customers gain from the products you offer.

Second, how your products differ from your competitors. Remember, customers have done their homework, and if you cannot provide a compelling reason to buy a product from you over your competitor then neither will your customers.

And lastly the details. You need a good grasp of how your product works, the pricing structure and any other benefits your customers get with their purchase. Customers expect you to know the basics.

Once you understand what you need to know, it is time to build your product knowledge.

Five Strategies To Increase Your Product Knowledge for Sales Success:

  1. Invest the Time – to learn about your products and services. You can read the literature, take some online courses or talk with more experienced salespeople. Any strategy you want to use will work to increase your product knowledge you need to invest the time.
  2. Get the Basics – You will never master product knowledge because most organizations offer many different products and some of these products tend to evolve. So you need to understand the natural flow of product knowledge. If you learn the basics first, the easier it will be to follow the rest. Customers expect you to know the basics; they will understand if you need to get back with them on more sophisticated products.
  3. Learn the Need – understanding every detail about products can be frustrating, so learning the need products solve is a better way to go. For example, even after years selling financial services, I struggle to get the details of factoring or lines of credit, but I understand when my customers have a cash flow timing difference both those products will solve their problems. You may not know the details of how a Trust works, but you can understand when a customer is thinking about transferring wealth that this product is vital in estate planning.

In financial services, many of the products we offer our customers are actually “sold” by real specialists. Our job in product knowledge is more about understanding the needs our products and services provided.

  1. Role Play – okay I can hear you moaning from here, and I get it, no one likes to role play. However, it is one of the best ways to learn product knowledge. You play the customer, your co-worker plays the sales professional, and you only pick the product to have the conversation.

Think of role play as spending the time to practice on how you would present products, how you would identify the need; plus, it provides you the freedom to try new things and build your confidence.

  1. Jump In – finally, don’t wait, just jump in. The most important line you need to have in your product knowledge arsenal is “let me find out more about that, and I will follow-up with you.” Customers do not need you to know every little thing. However, they do expect you to be a resource.

Product knowledge gives you an edge when it comes to selling financial services. Also, while you may never completely master all the products and services you offer, this is enough for you to take off the training wheels and get started!

Interested in learning more about how to sell financial services? Then check out my new LinkedIn Learning Course – “How to Sell Financial Services.” This power-packed course has everything you need to know about how to master the art of sales!

The link to my Linkedin Learning Course “How to Sell Financial Services” is here:
https://www.linkedin.com/learning/sales-selling-financial-products-and-services

and on Lynda.com:
https://www.lynda.com/Business-Skills-tutorials/Sales-Selling-Financial-Products-Services/659273-2.html

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Customer Service – The difference between Poor to Great

One CRITICAL Step to Get Employees on Board My work as a business coach and sales and service speaker has me traveling quite a bit. I often must run errands and take care of family business while on the road. This past week, in between speaking engagements in South Carolina, I needed to pick-up a […]

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Customer Service – The difference between Poor to Great

Image of Grumpy CashierOne CRITICAL Step to Get Employees on Board

My work as a business coach and sales and service speaker has me traveling quite a bit. I often must run errands and take care of family business while on the road. This past week, in between speaking engagements in South Carolina, I needed to pick-up a graduation card for my nephew. Luckily for me, I quickly found a CVS pharmacy and pulled right into parking lot and headed in to make a purchase.

As I selected the card and headed to the counter, I noticed a long line and one poor customer service person handling it all. Now I know she was a “poor” service person because of the irritated look on her face and the story she shared with every customer in line. Here is what she said: “I am sorry for the long line, CVS says they want to improve customer service, but they keep cutting our staff. They are so greedy.”

So now let’s think about this. Ten customers were standing in line, each waiting their turn and listening repeatedly that CVS is understaffed and greedy. What kind of impression does that make, and what kind of brand is CVS creating? I dare say not the one they want.

Now visualize how much CVS, and other corporations are spending on marketing, advertising, sales training, and big customer initiatives. Vast amount of money is being spent, immeasurable decisions are being made, and big ideas are being undertaken in the name of improving customer experience and increasing revenues; all the while overlooking the most critical factor in the customer experience. The element that is going to decide whether the customer service experience improves or falls flat. That element is the employee.

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” ~ Richard Branson

Oh, I do not mean that employees do not know, that employees are not sent to training, and that employees are not needed to perform these new tasks. I’m implying that they are not involved, not engaged and not on board. Therefore, they are not “really” improving customer service.

So why if we are spending all that money, engaging all the experts, and implementing the right programs; we are still getting employees who act like that “poor” CVS customer service rep? Because we miss the one critical step that ensures we get our employees on board.

The one critical step? Get your employees involved about customer experience right from the start. You can tell your employees what they need to do, but you need to ask them how to do it. Employees support what they help create. If you want your employees to implement your customer service strategy truly then you need to give them a voice in the process. Get them on board early, help them understand why customer service is important and then include their ideas in the strategy.

Engaged employees outperform their competition and in a gallup survey shows that there is a connection between engaged employees and customer satisfaction!

Getting them involved, giving them a voice gets them motivated, engaged and a reason to take ownership. (source – Forbes) Besides, they live this day-in and day-out and they have great ideas!

All the money in the world, all the best experts and all the latest ideas and techniques will never do as much to help you improve customer service as taking the one critical step you need to get your employees on board. Great customer service begins on the front lines of your company and considering this one crucial step will make sure your frontline staff has the same goal in mind as your top executives.

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