Want More Clients? Do You Need to Fix Your Marketing or Your Sales Process?

I spent the last week at a conference and had the opportunity to speak to lots of small business owners about what was working, and what wasn’t working in their business. A lot of entrepreneurs were saying that even though the overall trend was an increase over last year, they are still looking to increase their revenues even more.I found it interesting to listen to what they thought was preventing them from achieving those goals. The two topics that come up most often in these discussions are marketing and sales. The thing is that I think there are a lot of entrepreneurs who don’t understand the difference between marketing and sales, and how one impacts the other.Here is a simplistic way of explaining it. Marketing is what happens before a client contacts you. It’s what you do to increase awareness so that people know who you are and what you do. Sales starts once the client contacts you asking for information about working with you. It continues from the initial contact until you have their credit card number and their signature on the dotted line.Once you have the sale closed, I would say marketing kicks back in again (though I know many people feel that the service you do after the sale is a continuation of the sales process – and I can see their point on that!). The reason I feel like it is marketing is that you are now setting the stage for repeat and referral business. In my opinion, that’s marketing.So basically MARKETING is the process of getting your name out in front of more potential clients, of letting them know you exist and how you can help them. SALES is the process of closing those potential clients who raise their hand and say “hey, that sounds good! I’m interested in that!” You could certainly break things down even further, but for now let’s go with that idea, OK?So what’s your problem?When you look at your business, ask yourself a couple of questions:

How often are you getting new inquiries or quote requests?

Does your phone ring fairly often?

When you do get an inquiry, is that person the “right fit” for your business?

Once you reply to the inquiry, how often are you closing the sale?

How hard do you have to work to close the sale with that prospective client?
It’s your marketing… If you aren’t getting many inquiries, it’s fairly easy to see that you have a marketing problem. You aren’t doing enough to let people know you, and your business, exist and that you can be of service to them. In this case, your marketing problem is generally pretty simple – it probably means you just aren’t doing enough marketing! No one tells you that when you open your business, you aren’t just becoming a business owner, you are also becoming a marketer… but it’s true!Not getting enough inquiries is not the only sign that you have a marketing problem. If those leads aren’t coming in the way you want them to, if the people contacting you aren’t your ideal clients or if you are just flat out having to work really hard to close the sale, then your marketing just isn’t getting the job done the way it should.Really great marketing will filter your clients for you. It attracts your ideal clients and draws them in. They see it and they think, “YES! I want that!” or “I need her!” It gets you half the way down the sales path because they have already “self selected” and decided that they want to work with you. It’s almost as if your marketing handles a good bit of the client qualification process for you.At the same time that your marketing is attracting your ideal clients, it should also be repelling those clients who you just don’t want to work with anyway. They should see that same message that makes your ideal client anxious to talk to you and think, “why on earth would anyone want THAT” and toss your ad in the trash.Far too many entrepreneurs get worried about appealing to everyone or saying something that is off putting to some people. My answer to that is that this is actually a GOOD thing. Those aren’t the clients you are meant to work with anyway!How do you fix it?If you are experiencing these marketing problems, you need to sit down and take a good hard look at your marketing message.

Do you know exactly who your ideal client really is? (hint: if your answer is a vague as “moms of preschoolers” or “baby boomers” then the answer is no, you don’t know exactly who your ideal client is!)

Are you able to clearly articulate what it is that you do for them, why they should work with you? (Another hint: if the answer is “I give great customer service,” or “I have 25 years of experience in the industry,” that’s not thought out enough).

Are you making sure you don’t put all of your eggs in one basket? You should aim to hit them with your marketing message in at least 3 different places at the same time whenever possible.

Are you marketing consistently and regularly or only here and there?
It’s your sales process… Now if you are getting a lot of inquiries from all of the right people but they just aren’t converting into sales, then you have a sales problem! At that point, it’s time to sit down and evaluate your sales process.For the next month, keep track of the number of inquiries you get and the number that you actually close and book. Keep a spreadsheet or a chart that tracks your leads and sales. Once you have that information, you can figure out what percentage of sales you are closing. No one is going to have a 100% close ratio, but if you are closing less than 50% of the prospects you work with, there is definitely significantly room for improvement in your process!How do you fix it?

Review the “script” you use as the basis for your conversations. Don’t have one? Well, that might just be your problem!

Take a good look at your qualifying questions. Are you getting the info you need?

Review the emails you’ve sent during the sales process, do they have a really clear call to action on what the client needs to do next to start working with you?

A BIG but really basic thing that I see happening a lot… are you actually asking for the sale? I’m always amazed at the number of people who present the perfect plan but then close the conversation with “so take a look at this and let me know if you have any questions. OK?” and never actually ask for the sale!

Review your follow up procedures. Chances are you aren’t following up enough!
So here’s your homework… Set aside some time to look at your business this week and see where you can find room for improvement. No matter how successful you are, we can ALL find somewhere we can be doing better! Pull out your marketing plan for the last year, review your materials and your message. Look at your sales process. Review those scripts and templates and see if you can adjust the language a bit to appeal more to your ideal clients. Practice a “closing the sale” conversation with a friend or colleague and ask for feedback. You’ll be glad you took the time to do this when you see your revenues increase as a result!

Independence From Payday Loans is Easier Than You Think

Upon getting information about an upcoming school science fair and the need to consider a topic of interest, many students will typically have no idea where to get started. While the science fair is typically a common occurrence in any school at any grade level, there are different types of topics that should be taken a look at depending on the age of the student. After first taking a look at the many different categories of science projects, you will be able to locate a suitable choice of topic to take to the next level.There is a wide variety of categories that fall under the types of science projects that can be chosen for a school science fair. These include biology, chemistry, physics, microbiology, biochemistry, medicine, environmental, mathematics, engineering, and earth science. While you may not have yet learned very much in any of these categories, don’t be afraid to see what each one entails. Taking a good look at your interests will allow you to focus on the right direction to take.Many resources are also available for those who are unsure as to the topic they are wanting to use to create their science projects. If you take a look at the topics that fall under the biology category, you will likely notice that there are topics that deal with plants, animals, and humans. For those who are in 2nd grade or 3rd grade, an interesting topic may be to determine if ants are picky over what type of food they eat. While this topic might not be of interest to an 8th grader, it is certainly something in the biology category that an elementary school student would enjoy.Along with the biology category, a high school student may want to take a look at diffusion and osmosis in animal cells as this would be a more appropriate topic for the grade level. A student in 6th grade would be more advanced than an elementary school student, but not as advanced as a high school student. At this middle school grade level, a topic of how pH levels effect the lifespan of a tadpole may be of interest.Whichever resource is used to locate a topic for science projects, it is always a good idea to consider the grade level of the student prior to making a selection. It is always assumed to be best to have a project at an appropriate level in order to keep the attention of the student and provide a fun and enjoyable learning experience.

How to Design a Long Narrow Garden

The main problem with long narrow gardens is that they can feel like you’re standing in a corridor. In a long, narrow garden your eye is drawn straight to the boundaries making the space seem small and claustrophobic. This type of garden does not invite exploration and the furthest parts of the garden often remain dark, dank and unused. Counteracting the claustrophobic feeling and giving the impression of greater space and depth are the main challenges when designing a long, narrow garden.There are three main ways to deal with the problems of a long-narrow space. One strategy involves changing the perceived shape of the garden and tricking the eye into focusing away from the garden boundaries. Another method is to introduce drama by creating a more complex journey around the garden. The third way is to draw the eye upwards by introducing vertical elements that open up the garden by giving the appearance of more height.Although it seems counter-intuitive to close off a garden that is already feeling cramped, dividing the garden into separate areas is a very effective way to design a long-narrow garden. Creating separate garden rooms each with its own distinct character makes people want to use the whole garden and explore the next room. The garden will become more useable because each room has its own purpose. Breaking up the space is a great way of stopping the eye from immediately alighting on the rear boundary. This strategy creates a more stimulating journey and encourages exploration of the garden.Walls work well for creating garden rooms, especially if they have a window offering a tantalizing glimpse through to the next room. However, brick and block walls are expensive to build and other methods of dividing the space can be just as effective. Clipped hedges, pergolas, or a simple screen of posts and trellis with an archway through all make good partitions and may be more appropriate for the style and setting of the garden. Railway sleepers set on end like a huge vertical blind create a dramatic garden screen.The transitions between the garden rooms provide another opportunity to add visual and vertical interest. Circular moon gates add striking architectural detail, they also give height and their shape is excellent for focusing attention inside the garden. An arched doorway cut through a clipped hedge creates a dark outline that cries out to be explored.Circles and curves are a great for directing attention where it is desired. Using circular shapes for lawns and seating areas focuses the eye into the centre of the garden. An ‘S’ shaped path will draw attention away from the boundaries and give a more interesting journey through the garden. Placing some taller plants or trees in the deep curves of the ‘S’ creates informal divisions and stops the eye.Another design strategy that tricks the eye and creates a more exciting, indirect route around the garden is to set the plan on the diagonal. The lines of paths, lawns and borders set at 45 degrees to the boundaries draws the eye across the garden and gives the impression of greater width. Using zig-zag paths will provide a meandering walk around the garden.There are many different ways to create height in a garden, it can be done simply by including trees and taller plants. Pergolas are useful for creating instant vertical focus, they can be used as room dividers and give extra space for planting which is especially useful in a small garden. Clipped, formal hedges are also excellent for creating height, as a backdrop for planting and as walls for outdoor rooms.Long narrow sites can make fabulous gardens, but like any tricky space they need a good design that addresses all the practical issues, and includes a bit of wizardry to make them comfortable and inviting spaces to spend time in.