Secrets to Short & Long Term Success in Business
Part 2 of 3
Sales & Marketing Strategies
#17 Always be looking for referrals.
Referrals are extremely valuable in business. They save you on marketing costs to acquire customers. Getting a customer to say yes is a lot easier when they have been referred by another happy customer. Asking for referrals can be a little dicey, but if you do it right, happy customers are generally willing to help you out. One way not to do it is to put a piece of paper in front of a customer and ask them to give you the top three names of people they can think of that you can call. That puts a lot of pressure on the client, and most people hate that. A much better way is to pick a time right after you've done something for a customer that makes them very happy and hand them a few business cards. Ask them if they know anyone who might use your service; you would appreciate it if they give them one of your cards. If you do this consistently, you'll be surprised to see a steady stream of referrals.
#18 Ask for reviews on Google
This is a relatively new technique that we only started using in the last couple of years. But it has been highly effective. It's very similar to the referral strategy, except instead of asking for a referral and handing out a business card, you ask if they would mind giving you a Google review. Make it easy on them and tell them how to do it. You would be surprised how many people will be happy to do that. Since we have started asking for reviews, we have had over 200 reviews on Google. All but one have been five-star reviews. One key part of this strategy is asking people you know are happy. This does not directly bring you more business, but it gives you a leg up on your competition who does not use this technique. And most companies do not use this technique.
#19 Test before you spend a lot of money.
This tip relates to marketing more than anything. No matter how good an idea seems, you never know until you put it out in the marketplace. Never go all-in on your idea until you do a calculated small test. If the small test works, then do a larger test and see if you can duplicate the results. If results are satisfactory, then you can roll out full-scale. This is truer than ever in today's social media and digital market. One social media ad might do fantastic, and the next one that seems similar may completely flop. Don't get overly confident, and always go back to your testing strategy every time you do something new.
#20 Do everything as first-class and high quality as possible.
A person will remember the quality long after he/she forgets about how much he/she paid. Don't get caught in the trap of trying to cut and discount your way to success. It will only lead to a race to the bottom. Spend a little more to do things the right way and deliver a first-class product or service. Even if you have to charge a little more for your product or service, it will pay off.
#21 Never burn your bridges.
No matter how tempting you may be to tell someone off, or give someone a piece of your mind, don't do it. Even if someone is completely wrong, it never pays to burn bridges. You never know how that person might affect you in the future. Always end any relationship on a positive note.
#22 Work hard AND smart.
I have heard time and time again you "don't have to work hard, but work smart". I don't agree. I agree working smart is important, but time is money, and the more you work, the more you will make. If you want to succeed, also work very hard.
#23 Stand behind your product or service 100%… no matter what.
I don't care if the customer is 100% wrong. Give them what they want and make them happy. You may win the battle, but you will surely lose the war if you do not satisfy a customer. You will never go wrong by making sure a client walks away happy after they have had a problem. Even if it costs you in the short run, the long-term goodwill is usually worth the sacrifice.
#24 Respond to client requests – no matter what they are – immediately.
This relates to quote requests, status checks, questions… whatever. If a client contacts you, JUMP RIGHT AWAY to help them. The client is your lifeblood, and you had better make them feel like they are #1 on your priority list every time they call or email. And do not ignore smaller clients just because they are small. Treat every client as if they are the most important person in your life. You never know who that small client knows and who they will send your way when they like you and what you do for them.
#25 Empower your customer service employees to make decisions related to client satisfaction - without your approval.
Nothing is worse than a client who needs something but the person helping them does not have the power to make that decision. We have all called into large companies only to be transferred from one person to the next because the person who answered the phone could not help you. Give your front-line employees the knowledge and power to help the customer with the majority of all issues. There are always exceptions for something that is extra-large or unusual but make that the exception, not the rule.
#26 Do not let sales reps be the only point of contact with your customers and prospects.
Nothing is worse than a client who needs an answer, and they have to wait for the sales rep to get back to them because he or she is the only person that knows anything about that issue. To make matters worse, the sales rep either takes a couple of days, or never returns their call. Has this happened to you? How did you feel? Don't EVER put your clients through that.
#27 Answer phones with live people who will get to know your clients.
Although voice mail systems are efficient and cheap, they will cause you to lose clients or miss opportunities. We only use voice answering systems after-hours or if all lines are busy. If you cannot afford an in-house live person, then hire an answering service. Do not make clients press buttons to talk to a live person.
#28 Never put a person on the phone who gives "bad phone."
When I hire a new customer service person or receptionist, I always interview them on the phone first. I want to see how they come across on the phone. I also listen to their voice message and how they act when they call me back. If there is any hint of them not being 100% friendly and courteous, they will not be hired. If I have made a mistake on a hire who answers the phone, I will usually get client complaints from customers within a few days. "Bad phone" will chase clients away.
#29 Don't get cheap when problems arise. Throw money at it if needed.
When a client is unhappy, do what you have to do to satisfy them, even if it costs you money. Even if they are wrong, spend the money and make them happy.
#30 Win the WAR – Not the Battle
This relates to the previous tip. Your goal is to protect long-term client relationships. Do what you have to do short-term – even if it means losing money on a deal, to protect the long-term relationship. Often properly handled problem situations strengthen relationships and lead to referrals.
#31 Quality beats cheap in the long run.
Often price pressures may force you to consider producing a lesser product. Don't do it. Long after the price is paid, the client is using the product. They will not remember that they got a good deal when your product is failing them. They will only remember that your product was inferior. Spend the extra money and do it right – even if it means making less profit.
#32 Offer a premium product or service.
There is a percentage of customers that are willing to pay top dollar to get the best possible product or service. If your business is not catering to that group of people, you're leaving money on the table. Companies that offer premium products for premium prices tend to do better in general than companies that are trying to discount their way to success. Don't be afraid to ask for top dollar. Just be sure that when you deliver, your product or service is worth that top dollar.
#33 Keep an open mind to any possible joint venture or opportunity – even if it seems crazy at first.
You never know where something can lead or what you might learn that can help you even if you don't make the deal. I am always open-minded to any possibility and willing to listen.
#34 Be professional in everything you do.
This means a professional logo, signage, stationery, proposals, dress, etc. Make sure your written word is coherent and well written with proper sentence structure. Do not use texting shortcuts when sending emails to anyone. You may think that is cool, but it does not impress anyone. You will never get in trouble with speaking and writing in proper English. Professionalism goes a long way to establish credibility. A high level of professionalism will never hurt you, but you can be damaged if you are not professional.
To be continued in May's 2022 Frog Blog