by Ken Sethney, Volunteer Business Mentor, SCORE Kitsap
Every business owner I’ve had a conversation with in the last month or so is struggling to answer that question. It doesn’t matter what they sell, products or services, they are struggling to find answers to very difficult questions. Almost everyone in start-up mode has simply stopped.
So, what should they do? What should you do? My suggestion is to keep moving forward.
One of my SCORE clients owns a well established business with several employees. She and her team provide therapeutic services, but they don’t qualify as “essential.”
Making the sale, especially when your small business offers products and services to other businesses, demands more than being good at what you do. It definitely requires building professional relationships. To do that, you must earn your customers’ trust.
There’s no scientific formula for earning trust. It requires time, patience, and honest effort.
Here are some suggestions to help you lay a foundation of trust with your potential customers: Continue reading
As a former CEO and software engineer (Citrix, XenSource, VERITAS, etc.), board member of GitHub (recently acquired by Microsoft), and lecturer in management at the Stanford Graduate School of Busines, a16z general partner Peter Levine is constantly asked “Why sales?” by entrepreneurs and technical founders. He himself used to hold the “engineer-centric” view that if you build a great product, customers will come. But the fact is, all world-class companies must have a strong sales force. So — how do they get there? How does a technical founder begin to build a top tier sales motion?
In this series of snack-sized videos — which you can watch all together, or mix-and-match for your particular questions and needs — Levine distills the fundamentals that every founder should know about sales. The 16 lessons in this “mini-MOOC” offer everything from definitions to concrete guidance for the following:
1. All Things Sales! 16 Mini-Lessons for Startup Founders [Introduction]
Continue viewing here…
What Does It Mean for Your Small Business?
By Andrey Bobrovskiy, smallbizdaily.com
Have you noticed something different about your in-store transactions recently? If so, that’s likely because the end of the signature requirement announced by Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover is finally coming into effect. Although it affects just one step in the payment process, it means a lot more for your small business in the long run.
It Makes Checkouts More Convenient
The payment card industry has been moving toward simplicity and convenience for years. Customers want seamless and secure methods of paying for goods and services, while merchants seek reliable and flexible ways to process these payments across a variety of channels. This paved the way to innovative forms of payments, including those using near-field communication and virtual reality.
However, convenience isn’t always about adding new features. Oftentimes less is more, and this happens to be the case with credit card signatures. By now, they’ve simply outlived their usefulness, a fact supported by Mastercard’s revelation that it already didn’t require signatures for 80 percent of its transactions even before the changes went into effect. Continue reading
by Ken Sethney, Volunteer Mentor, Kitsap SCORE
Let me begin by saying that I have tremendous respect for sales people. They have an extremely difficult and vitally important job. When they are successful, everyone wins —customers, owners, managers, widget makers, support staff, and consultants.
Therefore, it is in everyone’s interest that sales people are given the support, encouragement and tools they need to succeed. To that end, I offer the following strategies for increasing sales productivity. When they are successfully implemented, your customers and everyone in your organization will benefit. Continue reading
As the owner of a small business, you may be struggling with a frustrating reality. You are confident that you have excellent products and services, but people aren’t just lining up to buy them.
You know that you can solve problems for your customers and deliver significant value for a reasonable price. All you have to do is convince them to place an order.
Unfortunately, sales skills don’t come naturally to everyone, but they are essential if you want to build relationships with potential customers and generate orders for your products and services. Continue reading
You have a business, but are people talking about it?
Word-of-mouth is just as relevant today as it has ever been. When a business asks you to talk about how great they are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on, that’sword-of-mouth. When you provide good content that others can share, that is also word of mouth. Today, potential customers are more likely to pay attention to people they know and a large general following (e.g., Yelp) than if they see the same commentary in a company advertisement.
In fact, they’ll pay much more attention. The Word of Mouth Marketing Association published some research a couple years ago that found “the value of a word of mouth impression is from five to 100+ times more valuable than a paid media impression.”
You don’t have to spend all day convincing people to spread the word about your new business on social media.
Keep your customers happy with a personal touch.
You’ve seen people so absorbed with their smartphones that they appear oblivious to everything that’s going on around them. Of course, everyone is entitled to their personal privacy, and perhaps the message or video on their phone really is that important, but spending too much time in a “heads-down” position can be off-putting to others.
Many entrepreneurs, particularly those who work from home, operate their small businesses much the same way when they rely too heavily on email or texting to communicate with clients. Digital communication is convenient, particularly for work-related issues and updates, but numerous studies have come to the same conclusion—customers want to be treated like people.
When you take a technology-centric approach to communication, you’re missing an opportunity to foster a relationship with your customers, a quality that is becoming increasingly critical when deciding who we want to do business with. Continue reading