Archive for June, 2010

 

SYSTEM – Save YourSelf Time Energy & Money

How many yellow sticky notes can you juggle before they mysteriously start crawling away?  In desperation, you start doing things the same way each time and voila you’ve developed a system! Let’s take it to the next level; actively search for routines you can systematize.

Save YourSelf.  It’s your business so the benefits of more saved time, energy, and money will flow to you.

Time.  By doing things the same way each time, you have the tools, forms, and answers closer to-hand saving you time.  You’ll spend less time tweaking the tools, finding the forms, and searching for solutions. Systems can be trained into employees, so you’ll be able to delegate confidently, leaving you to spend that time elsewhere.

Energy.  Let’s face it; it’s exhausting making dozens of decisions and creating new ideas every day.  Systematizing may improve those numbers to a more energizing level.

Money.  Also you’ll save money. When you’ve created systems, you can spend less money paying for customization, special skills, and training.  Starbucks delivers high quality, high value, high priced products, yet delivers it with minimum wage employees.  Using systems, you’ll be able to measure and fine tune your results.  Only through repetition can you hone your skills to see where faster, cheaper, better results can be achieved.

Here’s an example.   When I meet new people, I use a simple follow up system.

1)   I send them a hand written note card so they’ll remember me.  I have blank cards, stamps, and an assistant to help make this fast, easy, and meaningful.

2)   My intern enters them immediately into my contact management system.  So if I need to follow up by phone or email, they’re in my iphone quickly.

3)   I add details about their interests next time we meet. Thus, I can learn what they’re interested in, so I can make suggestions or referrals and remember what’s important to them.,

4)   I send them emails of my upcoming events, seminars, and socials; but only if I think they’d be interested.

5)   About the 4th or 5th time I ‘chat’ with someone, I have an idea if any of my services or products would make sense to them so I can make a helpful offer rather than an intrusive sales pitch.

6)   Once a week, I look for my ‘network’ of connected people using Internet social networking services LinkedIn and Facebook.  I get notices of their profiles being updated (new job, new project, new interest).  I compliment, congratulate, commiserate or contribute in a meaningful way depending on what’s happening in their lives.

7)   I use referral groups like PRE (professional Referral Exchange, LEADS and WIN (Women in Networking) to meet, connect with, and find referrals for others.

This system steadily increases the ‘connectedness’ I have with ever larger number of people. It becomes easier to spend my time and energy thinking of ways to really help people since my system handles the mechanical part of deciding when and how to connect and keeps the tools near to hand.

If you are looking for better systems to connect to more entrepreneurs in a meaningful way to build your business, ask me about the new Greater Reading Chamber’s LEADS program or a group in your area. Drop me an email or give me a call.

Now stop reading about Saving yourself Time Energy and Money and start doing! Let’s create YOUR personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

Measuring your Referral Network

First the real question.  Do you measure your referrals and where your customers originated?  It really isn’t difficult if you just want to get started.  A tally sheet kept at the cash register, a customer database, even a 29-cent Palm Pilot (a pocket-sized spiral notebook) will get you an initial measure.

Why track client referrals? If you know how much time, energy and money went into getting your clients, you can see which methods you want to keep when you are looking for expenses to cut.  You would cut the one that was least effective, not the one that was most expensive. Alternatively, when looking for more customers, you’d want to expand the programs that are most effective.

Be careful what you track. A common approach is to measure the final trigger that ‘caused’ the prospect to become a customer; for example, being introduced by an existing client.  That, however, leads to some inaccurate conclusions.  For example, I have 69 clients that have come directly from my networking efforts (PRE, Chamber mixers, Church, Boy Scouts, etc).  Those people have introduced me to another 90 clients.   It would be easy to say that the 90 came from ‘client introductions’, while only the 69 came from networking.  That would lead me to the false conclusion that I should focus primarily on client introductions to build my future business.  Especially since those are virtually free; there are no dues or mailing costs and it takes very little time to generate them (except of course for the hard work I do to earn client satisfaction).   However, if I had not done the original networking effort to get the first client, they wouldn’t have been able to introduce me to their friends and family.  It’s like trying to have grandchildren without first having children!

Measure the lifetime value of a referral source. Instead, I include in my metrics for each networking group, the full count of original clients and the people they introduced to me. Thus, all 159 clients came from networking. That tells me I should keep networking and look for new ways to network. So, the lifetime value of my involvement in PRE, for example, includes all the clients that have been introduced to me by people who first became clients from PRE.  That total is 31 with 18 of those being second or third generation.

Oh, and yes I should keep on doing a good job for my clients so they keep introducing me to their friends and family.

Now stop reading about Your Referral Network and start doing! Let’s create YOUR personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

Posted by Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP under Business Owner Mindset, Increase Sales Tags: ,  •  No Comments

Follow Up Fatal Flaws: Why Self-Employed Fail at this Most Basic Sales Skill

Okay, I admit it.  I don’t always follow up promptly every time.  And when I don’t, it ruins my whole week; I feel like a complete fool. I resolve to get better, put in a place a fail-proof, simpler follow up system and get on with my life.  So here are my pitiful, real life reasons for not following up and what I am doing about them.

“I lost your card.” Maybe men don’t have this problem, but I sometime have no pockets, my purse is not nearby, or my day timer has a loose sleeve and the cards fall out.  Maybe it’s just that I have too many places to put the business cards I receive.

So I bought a business card holder.  In fact, I bought 2, one for my purse for casual meetings and one for my carry-all, a bag that holds a laptop, notebooks, or folders, for business meetings.   If I receive a card, it goes into the business card holder, right after I write what the person was interested in and what networking event I met them at.  The card doesn’t come out until it’s ready to be put it into my sales management system.

“I forgot to call you.” We are all busy especially if we’re successful.  Yellow sticky notes no longer count as a reminder system.  And your memory is what you forget with. Let’s stop feeling bad about this and put in a system.

I started using Google Tasks <http://mail.google.com/mail/help/tasks/>.   It is always on, sits next to my calendar, and takes only seconds to add an entry. My iPhone can get to it and so can my assistant.  So I can enter tasks from anywhere as well as delegate simple tasks like sending information (if that’s what I promised you) or having her call to set an appointment for me, which I tell people if I promised to set up a meeting.

When I schedule my meetings, there’s typically a little time between them, so I can review my task list and make a quick call if that’s what I promised.

“It’s been too many days and now I’m too embarrassed to call.” My life is about paperwork, calling people back, and meeting with them face-to-face.  Sometimes with too many meetings stacked back-to-back, my task list gets too long to get everything done quickly enough to suit me.

First of all, get over it.  Many people don’t call you back for a week, and you forgive them, so forgive yourself.  Just be honest and apologize genuinely.

Now fix your system. Set a personal commitment that your follow up calls/emails/mailings will occur within 48 hours.  Then put it on your dashboard and measure yourself.  It’s amazing how focusing on and measuring a result will produce dramatic improvement.  Even if you don’t reach 100%, your success rate at prompt follow up will skyrocket.

Do I feel like a failure for exposing myself this way? No.  I work with self employed people everyday; they share their own foibles.  I’m not alone and neither are you. My clients and I work on easy, simple, no cost ways to measure and improve profits.  Follow up is free and profitable, so every self employed person should build their skill.

What have you done lately to improve your follow up?

Now stop reading about follow up and start doing! Let’s create YOUR personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

The “Five R’s” of Recovery Marketing

While many self employed are still focused on survival; now is the time to plan for growth.  The recovery is underway; those with the stamina, drive, and forethought to enhance marketing efforts now will see the benefits in increased sales.

Your clients and customers have had a tough couple years.  Between reduced incomes and general fears of the economy, they’ve been forced them to rethink what and how they buy.  Customers have been cutting their spending by 1) trading down to less expensive alternatives, 2) delaying buying where they can, and 3) eliminating what was merely nice-to-have.

Whatever business survival tactics you’ve have been forced to use during the recession, recovery is the time to focus on rebuilding your client loyalty and sales momentum.  Your future market share growth depends on the strength of your existing customer loyalty and newly gained momentum.  If you are successful at convincing people of your appeal and difference from the competition, you’ll grow sales and market share.

Your recipe will be unique to you, but when creating your claw-back strategy, consider these five ‘R’s for Recovery:

Remind people

Frequently and in new ways, remind people that your product/service still offers the best solution to specific problems. Increase your advertising. In particular, add some of the new technologies that share voice and video in new ways to reach new audiences. New media increases the perception that your solution has the performance, recognition, and differentiation to solve customer problems in new ways.  If you can’t spend more, make sure your efforts are well spent. Pre-test your ads, videos, and voice before committing full-out to make sure they invoke the desired response.

Restore confidence

If you have a premium brand, offer affordable new formats such as cheaper packaging. Reinforce that you are not only still in business, you’re focused. Focus your attention on how well your product solves the problem and with uncommon value. Celebrate with positive and upbeat messages that confirm your product’s core benefits. A positive tone helps restore consumer confidence.

Re-establish differentiation

While the price of many things went down during the recession, premium products mostly maintained their relative price. That is, their value still commands a better price, however reduced. During this recovery, reframe your value. Seek to restate your value in new ways so you’ll both restore and retain perceptions of differentiation. This will help you sustain a premium price.

Seldom do consumers buy based on price alone. Focus on your benefits and how the customer gains an advantage using you. Convenience and effectiveness always sell, particularly when people can afford to be doing something more enjoyable. If your brand lacks a compelling functional benefit, focus on emotional

differentiation. If people have an emotional connection to your brand, they will want to return to it even if they must choose cheaper alternatives until the slowdown is over.

Relaunch

A compelling innovation can help regain customers who have traded down. Create well publicized easier to use packaging, new colors, flavors, or combinations.  This gives customers an excuse to come back if they had traded down during the recession. But don’t change just for the sake of it. Focus on the benefit of the change in the customer’s mind.

Rally the troops

Mission critical to the recovery is your ability to focus on delivering a positive customer experience. Motivated, energized, and focused people on your team will bring your client experience up to new levels.   Involve them in the decision making, the design, and the delivery.

The road to recovery is likely to be a bumpy one. Especially this recovery, which right now looks more like a meander than a highway. Don’t wait for the news to tell you that the recovery is underway. Some products and services recover earlier while others lag. Remember, economists tell you 6 months later that the recovery started 6 months ago.  We need only look at the lines in our favorite restaurants, to see that people have begun spending.

If you are ready for the recovery, you’ll be first in line to win back customers and re-engage clients. Being fast and first in your recovery strategy will not only help you capitalize on improved consumer sentiment, but also counter your competitors.

Now stop reading about (The “Five R’s” of Recovery) and start doing! Let’s create your personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

Posted by Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP under Collect Cash, Increase Sales Tags: , ,  •  No Comments