As a business coach, I frequently talk with small business owners about their challenges. Research indicates that there are some owners who are doing some pretty smart things. Let’s take a look at seven of the most savvy business practices seen lately:
- Persistence Pays. Frequently, when a prospect says “NO”, it really means “not now”. A Timely follow-up at professionally prudent intervals is not only appreciated but is often rewarded with a sale. Circumstances in business do change, so your perseverance in checking back is a smart idea.
- Refresh Relationships. One colleague of mine sums this up as: “See the People”. Remember that the number one reason customers leave (68 per cent) is perceived indifference. Couple that with the common belief that it’s 6 times less expensive to retain a customer as it costs to acquire a new one and it makes sense to reach out at least once every 3 months.
- Watch accounts receivable like a hawk. As always, cash is king and “sales” means nothing until the funds are collected. Look at receivable aging frequently and move quickly when there are delinquencies. The sooner you act, the easier it is to work something out, protecting your profits and managing the relationship.
- Measure the Marketing. Now, more than ever, there is no money to waste. All new prospects must be asked: “How did you hear about us?” As Jim Rohn says: “The pain of discipline weighs ounces, whereas the pain of regret weighs tons”. Religiously keeping track of the number and source of new leads will tell you what is working and, more importantly, what is not. Then it’s real easy to make the informed decision to STOP doing what isn’t working.
- Focus on your target. Getting crystal clear on your target market and aiming at it with laser-like precision is a more effective use of your time and resources. Exploit your niche and concentrate on what you do best. You need not try to “be all things to all people”. Along that same line, have the courage to decline projects that don’t fit with your talents or specialty.
- Manage expectations. Proper positioning assures there are fewer misunderstandings. Consistency is vital: Your customers must know what to expect from you (and get it) and you must be clear about what you expect from them (relevant information, feedback, payment terms, etc.). Handling this upfront with tact and diplomacy fosters great relationships.
- Never stop prospecting. Many business owners ride the entrepreneurial see-saw: Chase the Work/Do the Work. It’s a vicious cycle that perpetuates chaos. If you allow your sales pipeline to dry up, you force a state of panic to refill the appointment schedule. If deal flow is adequate, you can cut back on marketing without turning it off. The benefit is you can be more selective, ideally holding out for the “Grade A” prospects.
I challenge you to start today by implementing these techniques. If you learn to do them and do them well, you’ll be able to use some of that newfound time for some much needed personal and family enjoyment.
A final tip is to increase productivity by constantly auditing your systems.
Encourage team members to complain about duplication or wasted time spent on paperwork.
If feasible, get a third party to look after administration so your sales team have only one concern: to sell.