How will you react next time a someone asks you to come out and quote?
Heaps of Aussie business owners are unsure what they should be doing right now. Especially Tradies and other service type businesses.
Some are asking if they’re even allowed to be at work.
The simple answer is, you can and must keep going - and adapt to safeguard your business.
Your normal way of doing things might have to change. But there are heaps of techniques you can adopt to keep the business coming in.
Very briefly, here are a few bits of advice that apply to a lot of tradies and service businesses. Some of it makes good business sense under any circumstances. You may find you even want to keep using these techniques after COVID-19 has gone away.
If you need more detail on how to implement any of these methods call the Acton Victoria Free Emergency Business Hotline and speak to a business counsellor.
Lines open 7:00AM to 9:00PM – 7 Days
We’ll also be running a free webinar online where we explain some of these techniques in more detail.
If you’re interested, drop us a quick email and paste the following into the body of your message.
PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHEN YOU HAVE SCHEDULED THE NEXT FREE WEBINAR ON QUOTING DURING COVID-19,
Without a good stream of sales you will go out of business... and with an estimated 80% of businesses expected to fail over the next 5 years, we really want to help you make sure yours is not one of them!
People like to pluck numbers out of thin air for many reasons, and one of those numbers in business happens to be customer conversion rates. Business Leaders sometimes have a vague idea of how they arrived at their magic number, and when pressed may have an impressive justification. When getting to the bottom of the real number via a proper measuring regime its often found that the number is quite a bit lower than the one originally thought. Funnily enough, many people are disappointed to find out their “number” is much lower but spirits can quickly turn around when its explained how much of an advantage that can be. For example, if a business has a conversion rate of 80% then it’s going to be harder to obtain huge improvements but if the business’ conversion rate is 30% then that business can easily double in size (and profit) just by focusing on a few very simple strategies.
Sorting the wheat from the chafe
Finding what a business’ customer conversion rate depends on how customers are being tracked. For the purpose of this discussion let’s look at two kinds of consumer businesses and how they define their leads. An an Online Retailer and a Bricks and Mortar business.
Business to Business operations function differently from the above two types, however the general principles are applied in that model as well. The only difference in a B2B organisation is that the conversions are facilitated through an Account Management team and the conversion rates are based on slightly different parameters.
Three of the best. And it won’t cost a cent.
Managing time through a Demand Diary will clearly show how much time is spent servicing existing customers and how much time is spent chasing down new customers. Once the conversion rate is known activities can either be geared up to make way for more new business interaction or shifted, to concentrate on building and value-adding to existing customers. However the rate and time spent there are three highly effective rules for converting a higher number of sales, and they are:
Number One: The Follow Up
Can you think of how many times you have received an enquiry and said to yourself “I’ll call them back in a minute” and a week has gone by? The follow up shows the customer that (a) you’re interested in their world and (b) their business is important to you. The more responsive the follow up the easier the interaction will be with the prospective customer.
Number Two: Social Proof
Answer the question “why should I believe you?” well before being asked. Show how others have experienced the business through customer testimonials, customer survey responses, vox pop videos or however the market responds best. The key element is that any prospective customer can easily see credibility and reliability as spoken by other customers that the business has served. Social proof moves away from “taking the business’ word for it” and provides solid positive stories.
Number Three: If you don’t ask, you don’t get
Should we ask for the sale? Absolutely. In sales asking for the sale is called “closing” the sale. Look at it another way. Both the customer and the sales person deserve to be rewarded. The customer for finding the product or service that they needed. The sales person for listening to the customer, asking the right questions, and matching the customers need to a products or products.
In today’s fancy world of User Experience, User Interface, UED, SEO, SEM and a bunch of other statistically analysed ways we can measure and track customers, there is no substitute for talking to a prospective person, and finding out what they need by asking them questions. Optimising your conversion rate is following three simple human experiences - following up, providing proof and asking for the sale - it’ll lead to meeting more customers and creating repeatable sales experiences. Spending time on techniques such as these are a “no cost high return” exercise that all tech and non tech people can relate to, no matter what level of HTML code you happen to know.
If you would like to discuss how you can boost your conversion rate for your particular business situation please contact Brett Burden, Senior Business Coach on 1300 971 763.
“What you should do is…”, “What you have to understand is…”, “Yes but….”, “Like I said to you before…” If a person started their sentences like this odds are people wouldn’t feel a sense of camaraderie and warmth. Shockingly though, in many business environments people are saying statements like these left right and centre. How to tackle these behaviours is through learning the art of building rapport. Previously, we discussed creating company culture, but with a lack of rapport within a business the culture will invariably remain as it was. Bringing people along on a journey is critical to a business and other relationships which requires more than one person’s help. It’s also a skill that all levels of business people (and people in general) can learn to create goodwill and galvanise other people to an idea. Once it’s established it can be used to gain trust, find common ground and eliminate differences.
93% of How. 7% of What
Building rapport starts with the words we say and ends up being about what we don’t say. Most of what we really have to communicate is done through our actions. For example, 7% of communication is done through words, 38% through the tone of our voice and 55% by our body language(1). To get a real sense of another individual it is best to have a conversation with them face-to-face, that way we can absorb the remaining 97% of what they are trying to say.
Two Layers in Rapport.
What you see isn’t what you get.
There are two levels of how we experience communicating a message to another person. The conscious level and the unconscious level.
On a Conscious level, rapport can be created by doing a host of actions that are obvious to the other person which whom we are connecting. They include dressing the same same, speaking the common jargon, discussing the same topics, watching the same programs and sharing the same hobbies.
The Unconscious ways to develop rapport is through “matching and mirroring” and paying attention to the tone of your own voice. These are subtle cues which are difficult to read by the other person but conveys more information about your intentions than any spoken word.
Become a reflection
In sales teams, one of the techniques that they train to their staff in is to “match and mirror” the other person or prospect. That is, to become a visual reflection of the person sitting opposite them. In psychology school they are taught the same technique. So why is matching and mirroring so important in human relations?
When you adopt the body posture of the other person, it is showing to the other person that you are not only listening with your ears, you are listening with your entire body (2). In the case when the opposite person’s posture is hostile (e.g. crossed armed, crossed legs, tense face), then you can choose to adopt the most open posture you can (hands on knees, not crossed legs, relaxed face). This relaxed posture shows that you are open and willing to listen their point of view. The other reason why matching and mirroring works on the unconscious level is that it gives the other person permission to be themselves.
Dulcet or Dictatorial?
The tone of voice that a person chooses to use will steer the direction of the conversation, and in some cases its outcome. If the initial tone that is taken is “to tell” the other person something, regardless of the body language, the conversation will soon go south. Tone goes hand-in-hand with building trust when we are developing rapport.
Additionally, paying close attention to our breathing will help control the tone of our voices. How quick or slow are we breathing? Is it through the nose for deep breathing or is it shallower, through the chest? When we listen to our own breathing we can adjust it to match the purpose of the conversation.
Tone of voice can be applied to personality profits. For example we can learn to applying different tones of voices to the 4 DiSC Personality Types to help a group or individual of the same preference feel comfortable. Below are suggestions on how to approach each DiSC Personality type when there is a high level of one of the 4 quadrants present:
Use the Force Luke
Once a Business Leader has mastered the art of building rapport they have the choice to use the positive energy they generate for achieving all sorts of positive goals: business growth, mending relationships, creating societal change, inciting a peace rally, saving the planet, joining the Rebel Alliance. The reason why rapport brings people together is because of what it does. It reduces the number differences between people and increases the number of similarities. With more people like you around, the world would be a much better place to live in.
Selling has been around since the 8th century BC in Athenian agora and the Italian and Spanish forums. So why are we still trying to work out the best methods? You’d think that, by now, we would know how to close a sale. Sales is still a widely studied subject and hotly discussed topic in all businesses. The simple truth is, not everyone knows how to sell something. A lot of us know how to make it, talk about it, research it or analise it but selling a “thing” is an art form and a practise that takes time and experience to master.
What are we really doing
When try to sell anything what are we actually trying to do? The simplest way to approach this question is to remember that when we are selling anything - from software, mobiles, appliances to insurance, healthcare and electricity - anything at all - what we are doing is connecting with another person. Although beliefs change and the world changes, the principles of selling from one person to another person are surprisingly the same. Why? Because, we are all human, we have the same primal drivers. We all have needs, wants and aspirations. We want to make sense of our world and use objects to reflect out, what we think within ourselves. If our world changes, then the objects change, but not the feelings of needing or of wanting. That’s what’s consistent.
Think about it. Selling, at its basic form is building relationships to uncover other people’s needs and wants. What are we selling to others is the satisfaction (Beckwith 2003, pp201-202) of having those needs and wants met. How we do it comes down to a little bit of flair, lots of imagination and a heavy dose of listening.
A festival of senses
In the story told by Lundin, Paul & Christensen in their book Fish!, MaryJane arrives at an open market, not wanting to buy anything in particular and wanting to get away from her stressful team at work. She’d heard about the open market in the neighbourhood and decided she’d try it out. It was not long before the excitement of the markets came to life for her - fish being thrown about, loud laughter, counter staff smiling, tens of people being served at the one time. It had it all! The anticipation of a bargain, the exchange of views, bustling people, the last minute sales, the variety - everything that a marketplace promises to have - a real sense of atmosphere. It was all about “the noise, the action, the energy” (Lundin, Paul & Christensen 2000 p32). All highly successful business have created for themselves some form of “theatre” similar the open markets.
Taking the time to create a total experience turns people into bees swarming around a hive of honey. When we use our senses we sidestep the rational, intellectual parts of the brain and we behave very differently. A smell, like burnt wood, for example, can recall a very powerful memories and evoke strong feelings(1). Hear the sound, smell the freshly cooked food and see the orders fly out. Restaurants are much like markets, they have the high levels of anticipation, groups of people and food envy all rolled into one….I’ll have what they’re having!
Engaging the senses fuels our imaginations, connects and reminds us of our wants and needs. That’s why the long standing author on selling, Tom Hopkins still rings true when he wrote over 20 years ago that “the more senses you involve, the better your odds of making the sale” (Hopkins 1994, p82-84).
Real estate agents know all too well how to ignite the senses. They couple music, event buzz and even the smell of freshly baked bread (2) in an open house to boost sales numbers. Selling the sizzle, reminding us that although a product or service is available, we need to create how a person will gain a sense of satisfaction when they purchase it. The easiest way to simulate this feeling is to place the customer in the environment - conjure the sights, the smells, the sounds...let them see up close, how it will work out for them.
Serve unto others
Okay, let’s put the shoe on the other foot. You’re at a counter. Ready to buy, with your wallet in your hand. Everyone you know said that you “have to” go there. So you eventually go, you take a look around and there’s no one on the other side of the counter. Fifteen minutes later, someone slowly meanders over. They tell you that they don’t know how to manage your order and you’ll need to wait until ‘so-and-so’ is ready (you’ve stopped listening at this point to remember what so-and-so’s real name is. In your mind you’ve already started calling so-and-so some names of your own). What happens next? Personally, I would have high-tailed it out of there for any low-involvement, low-cost items. When there are hundreds of other people selling it - I’m going to find those other people!
Selling to the senses and making a memorable experience also involves the moment when the customer is ready to buy and wants to connect. This is where a sale is made. Quickly building a relationship is critical to sales - regardless of the product. A customer may be ready to buy one thing and they come back, have another conversation with a well trained salesperson then buy into other areas of the business. “You have to listen to the music as well as the lyrics. Often what people really want doesn’t show up directly…” (Blanchard & Bowles 1998, p55). Having a great customer conversation that builds rapport can mean the difference between hearing the ringing of customers coming through the door or the dull sound of the air-conditioning unit.
A great business is one that’s great at doing business with people. Selling the sizzle is about selling an experience and backing it up by salespeople who will sell “the right way” (Smart & Street 2008, p16) to generate loyal repeat customers and creating powerful memories in the hearts of minds of others. It doesn’t have to involve creating a full scale production, it can start with something small and significant….like having someone at the counter, willing and ready.
Beckwith, H. (2003) What Clients Love: A field guide to growing your business. Warner Books. New York, USA.
Blanchard, K., Bowles S. (1998) A revolutionary approach to customer service: Raving Fans! HarperCollins. London, UK.
Hopkins, T. (1994) How to master the Art of Selling. HarperCollinsBusiness. London, UK
Lundin S. C., Paul H., Christensen J. (2000) Fish! A remarkable way to boost morale and improve results. Hodder and Stoughton. London, UK
Smart G., Street R. (2008) Who Ballantine Books, Random House Publishing. New York, USA.