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Customer Retention is Boring

customer retention

I recently signed up for a very expensive service from someone who positions himself as an expert, no, THE expert in his field.  I was given a lot of promises which made the large investment a no-brainer.

I have pretty high standards and, over the years, I have learned to lower them.  And lower them some more.  So, even with the hype, I wasn’t expecting everything which was offered to the degree it was positioned.

However, after a possible 20% delivery and 80% disappointment, and having given said-company ample time to catch up with themselves, I was told they were too busy to deal with it.  They had new customers to deal with.  New customers are EXCITING.  Problems are boring – or so they believe.  He is operating the customer churn and burn strategy.

This individual is pretty charismatic.  He is good at winning new business.  However, his reputation is being tarnished because he is good at customer attraction and very poor at customer retention.  Given that keeping a customer is less expensive than attracting a new customer.  And that there are only so many customers in the world, no matter how charismatic you are, looking at how to keep the ones you have is an important part of your business strategy.

Brand management and reputation management are key to this.  So, a couple of questions for you:

  1. Do you have a customer retention strategy?
  2. How effective is your customer retention?
  3. What would your customers say about you if you weren’t in the room?
  4. What would your customers say are your most redeeming qualities?
  5. What would your customers say is most frustrating in dealing with your company?

Here are some of the customer retention strategies I teach my clients:

  • Make sure your systems make it easy for them to do business with you
  • Offer only quality service and quality products
  • Have a quick turnaround on queries
  • Be easy to get hold of
  • Acknowledge every communication
  • Treat existing customers with as much care as you do prospects, if not more so
  • Under-promise and over-deliver – this on its own will set you apart from the competition
  • Stay in touch

Your customers will forgive you a lot of you care about them.

Tricia Woolfrey is an integrative business coach helping people like you and companies like yours perform at their best, so that you can be more profitable, with less stress and with your integrity intact.  Call 0845 130 0854 for a free telephone consultation.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2014

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A-Z of Business: S – Selling: Your 6 Steps to Success

Sales

Sales are the lifeblood of any business and the ability to sell is an art-form.  That’s why sales people get paid so well.

It’s also inextricably linked to reputation.  So, whatever commitments you make in the sales process, it’s important to be sure that you can meet them.  It can be tempting, especially if you are chasing targets, to make a sale at any cost.  Promising impossible delivery terms, or unworkable modifications, just to get them to sign the order, can be an expensive mistake.

Conversely, being honest with a prospect if you feel your product isn’t right for them, increases your credibility, your reputation and the potential for future sales and ongoing referrals.  Your prospect understands that you have their best interests at heart so they will trust you should their needs change in the future.

Selling requires a variety of skills, from the ability to build rapport, to excellent listening and communication skills.  The ability to handle objections is possibly the most difficult component and was the subject of a previous article (view).  It requires the ability to influence effectively (view) and to negotiate well (view).

Following is a simple sales process.  To illustrate it in action, let’s suppose you are selling a printer:

  1. Build rapport
  2. Background information
    • How long have you had your existing printer?  What features are you looking for?  What kind of volume do you need it to produce?
  3. What problem are you trying to solve?
    • “We’d like to save money on ink; We’d like to improve reliability and print quality and we’d like to increase the number of functions – ie print on A3, collate reports and staple”
  4. What effect is the problem having on you?  This helps the prospect to identify with the pain of the problem.
    • “The current printer is slow, unreliable and often breaks down – last time it meant that the reports weren’t ready for the board meeting.”
  5. Suggest a positive outcome to their problem.  This will move them from the pain of the problem to the pleasure of the solution, making them more open to saying “yes”.
    • “Our model XYZ123 will produce high quality print, 50% faster than your current printer at a 20% saving on your current cartridges.  Not only that, it will collate and staple your reports for you.”
  6. Ask for the sale – the most important part!
    • There are various closing techniques, the simplest of which are:
      • Direct – “This seems to address all your needs whilst making savings for you.  Would you like to buy this model?”
      • Assumptive – “When would you like it delivered?”

It is easy to blame the product or the price for lack of sales, but often the issue is more about not having aligned your solution to the client’s needs.  Remember that selling is an art-form.  Do read the objection-handling and negotiating articles mentioned above for more information.  Also, why not call for some 1:1 coaching so that you can have a personalised input on how to improve your sales success?  Call me on 0845 130 0854.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: R – Return on Investment (ROI)

Return on Investment (ROI)

You’re in business to make money, so understanding the return of your investment is critical.  You can do this in advance of your decision to invest and also to see how your investment is performing over time.  A related measure is the timing of your break-even point.  Can your business bear that delay as you wait for the returns to roll in?

A simple ROI calculation is the amount of financial gain divided by the amount invested multiplied by 100.  So, if you invested £10,000 to develop, manufacture and sell a new product, and the sales of that product achieved a revenue of £11,000 in year one, that would give you an ROI of £11,000 ÷ £10,000 = 10%.  That return is quite modest and, with related costs could signify a loss for your business.  What would it take to increase that to, say, 25%?  Or 50%?  And what about the potential sales year-on-year?

Sometimes the returns are less tangible, or less direct.  Instead of focusing on increased revenues, the return may involve a reduction in cost, an improvement in quality, an increase in customer satisfaction levels, enhanced employee morale, etc.  These should all have a consequent effect on your bottom line in time, though it is difficult to determine whether this improvement is as a direct result of the investment, or some other measure such as improved hiring decisions or the introduction of sales incentives.

These days a lot of marketing decisions have a longer term view.  For example, free applications being built as a loss leader to attract users to upgrade to more profitable versions of a product.

When planning the return on your investment, do be aware of the hidden costs which can erode your profits.  Costs such as legal fees, administration costs, equipment, maintenance, staffing, training, office space, design, manufacture, packaging, advertising, warehousing, distribution and also the cost of delays.  When budgeting and contracting services, do think about having project-based quotes with penalties for delays to preserve your investment.

Those of you that know me well will also know that I couldn’t write about ROI without mentioning the importance of thinking about the return of investment of your time and energy into a particular activity.  I wonder how much time and energy you spend on things which have little or no impact on the success of your business?  Just busy-ness getting in the way of business?  This impacts your bottom line too.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: EQ – The Difference Which Makes the Difference

Emotional Intelligence

In this A-Z of Business series, we have reached the letter Q.  Now, I could have talked about quotas, quoting or questions if I was being a purist.  But, if I look at the balance of what’s been written and what’s missing, I think that EQ (Emotional Intelligence) is far more important.  Anything which omits this key area of business success is lacking.  So I decided to break my own rule and hope that’s OK with you?

In case you haven’t come across this before you may be wondering why it’s called EQ when it refers to Emotional Intelligence (EI)?  The Q refers to “quotient” which is the amount of a specific quality or characteristic, in this case, emotional intelligence.  But, what does it mean?  It is the capacity for self-insight, for understanding and managing your emotions and having empathy for others’.  In this way you can better manage your relationships and your stress levels.

It is such an important skill that it is thought to be more important than IQ in helping to get you promoted, in creating sales and in building collaborative effort.  Research suggests that it accounts for around 90% of managerial success as opposed to IQ which only accounts for 20%.  Not that IQ is not important.  Of course, it is.  But you need both.  The ability to put your knowledge, your expertise, your skills into effect in the most  constructive way possible is said to be the difference which creates the successful business person whether you work for yourself of for an organisation.

So, ask yourself:

  • How well do you respond to setbacks?
  • How well do you understand people’s different motivations and behaviours?
  • Do you have a balanced view of your own strengths and weaknesses?
  • To what extent are you able to control your responses in situations which challenge you?
  • Are you good at building collaborative relationships?
  • Could you be described as someone who is level-headed, positive and flexible?
  • Do you inspire trust?
  • Do you manage conflict well (rather than avoid it)?
  • Are you self-motivated?
  • How good are you at bouncing back when things go wrong?

You can learn more HERE on our website.

Emotional intelligence is one of those concepts where you need a lot of it to know you have it.  So if your EQ isn’t as high as you think it is, it will almost certainly be inhibiting your progress.  To be sure what your level of EQ is, why not book an assessment?  It’s well worth it and can put you on track for success like nothing else.  Call me on 0845 130 0854.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: M – Marketing for Success

Marketing for Success

Marketing is the activity which creates awareness of your products or services and brings new business in.  However, it does require you to spend time on your business rather than in it.  This means, creating a cohesive and sustained marketing strategy to create awareness and desire for your services or products.  A mistake a lot of people make is to try something once and, if it doesn’t yield the desired result, drop it and move onto something else.  That’s understandable but means that you are never leveraging off that effort.

Imagine that you decide on an advert.  You spend a fair amount of money, but nada.  Not one single enquiry.  Is advertising wrong for you?  Not necessarily.  There are lots of factors which could affect its success:  Was it the right publication?  Is your branding attractive and in keeping with your product or service?  Was the advert professionally designed?  Is your USP clear?  Is the wording enticing?  Does it have a call to action?  Does it clearly state how they can contact you?  Is it on the right page?  Does it lend itself better to radio or TV?  Is the timing right for you?  With advertising, one insertion is rarely sufficient.  It needs to be part of a campaign, but before committing to that, you need to make sure you have everything right.

Advertising is just one of many different marketing methods from seminars to networking, newsletters to referrals, direct mail to PR, internet to telemarketing, direct selling to alliances.  Social media is extremely popular but it is so easy to waste a lot of time if you don’t do it right.  How do you know which will be right for you?  How do you know where to invest your hard earned cash?  Marketing is an art, not a science, and it very much depends on your product, your competition and your available budget.

There are certain areas that you shouldn’t scrimp and save.  For example, I have seen many businesses who describe themselves as selling a quality product but whose business card is cheap, flimsy and ill-designed. Yet others who have hired telemarketing people who do not understand their product at all, and who follow a script which does not fit the conversation.  And yet more who spend a lot of money on a beautiful website, only to have no-one see it because it hasn’t been optimised.

Points to consider are why someone should buy from you?  What are the strengths and weaknesses of your competition?  Where can you differentiate?  Who is your ideal customer?  What problems are you solving?  Remember that people don’t want a washing machine – they want clean clothes.  Speaking directly to your customer and their needs makes all the difference – you want to inspire them to buy and have a brand which is suitable for your target market.

Once you have your campaign in place, it is important to monitor all your enquiries to see which effort is yielding the best results for you.  This lets you know what works and why, what doesn’t and why, so that you can refine, refine, refine.

Of course, once you have attracted a customer into your business, it’s essential to keep them happy. Happy customers bring more prospects to you.

If you would like help in navigating this minefield, do call me on 0845 130 0854.  I would love to help you make a success of your business.  After all, my success is your success!

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: L – Leadership-v-Management: Are You a Manager or a Leader?

How do you know if you are a manager or a leader? 

There are few job titles with the word “leader” in them.  Manager or Director (depending on your level of seniority) seem to be the titles of choice – Customer Services Manager, Finance Director, Marketing Manager, Human Resources Director, etc.  Yet, the title is not an indication.  Being a manager is as important as leadership.  However, without leadership, you are missing a crucial element in business success – winning people’s hearts and minds.

Management can be thought of as being the ‘nuts and bolts’ of your role, with duties such as:

  • Planning
  • Allocating resources
  • Organising and co-ordinating
  • Controlling and directing
  • Measuring and evaluating
  • Solving problems
  • Short term thinking for managers, medium-term thinking for directors
  • Managing systems and procedures
  • Maintaining
  • Concerned with the “when” and “how”

All of these are absolutely essential and create a framework, structure and systems to achieve results which are monitored and course-corrected on a regular basis.

A leader, by contrast will be more of a visionary and will motivate and inspire people to follow.  Their focus will be on the long-term and they will be concerned with:

  • Establishing a vision
  • Inspiring co-operation and trust
  • Developing ideas and people
  • Concerned with the “what” and “why”

Creating a vision will usually require change and a good leader will inspire the team to be motivated for that change which might otherwise be met with resistance.  A leader paints a picture that people want to be part of and want to help make happen.

Managers deal with “shoulds” (the realms of necessity) while leaders deal with “coulds” (the realms of possibility).

Of course, leadership and management are not mutually exclusive.  There is a lot of overlap between the two.  A good leader will need good management qualities.  A good manager will require good leadership qualities.  If you tend to be a good leader but are not good at the planning, implementation and problem solving, it’s essential to have a very good, reliable and loyal team to do this for you.  If you are a good manager without the leadership qualities, you will need a good leader managing you to help you pass on the vision to your team.  Both skills can be learned and, with both skills, you will be a rounded professional contributing fully to the success of your team and your business.

And, to close, off, the wonderful Stephen Covey said “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”  You have to have your vision right, otherwise you are managing the wrong things.

If you would like to have greater insight into your leadership and management skills, book a psychometric profile session.  This helps overcome blind spots and highlights development opportunities for you.  Call 0845 130 0854 to find out more.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: K – Knowledge – Your Competitive Edge?

It is estimated that 15% of success is from your technical skills whereas 85% is through gaining trust and respect.  So, what has knowledge to do with this?  Plenty, as it happens.  Knowledge covers the whole spectrum.  Good technical skills are, of course, important.  But not if the knowledge is out of date.  Technology is changing all the time – as are trends – and it is essential to keep abreast of what’s going on in your market place and in your profession.

Solicitors and doctors go through years of training in their profession before they are able to practice.  Yet, how much training have you had to run your own department, or your own business?  How much knowledge have you acquired to help you be successful?  Whether you are running a department or a business of your own, the knowledge you need to be effective is extremely broad and most people simply muddle through.  In the meantime, what happens to the trust and respect essential to 85% of your success?

The following table helps you to understand some of the fundamentals for trust and respect and the kind of knowledge you need for them:

TRUST AND RESPECT KNOW-HOW
Good people and rapport skills Influencing and leadership
Doing what you say you will do Planning and organising
Doing an excellent job Technical and delegation
Managing complaints effectively Problem solving and conflict management
Meeting your obligations Business acumen and resource management
Emotional intelligence Understanding of people and yourself and how to manage yourself and your relationships in times of stress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Business knowledge – such as sales, marketing, finance, operations –  is important whether you run your own business or manage a department as you need to see how everything fits together.  These will help you to exploit strengths, minimise weaknesses, seize opportunities and handle threats from a point of strength.

So, how can you increase your knowledge?  Through coaching, training, reflective learning and study.  Often, you don’t know what you don’t know (in the case of business, ignorance is not bliss) and it is helpful to have someone there who can help you see your blind-spot. Having your own coach and mentor is an excellent step to take to help you stay on top of your game.  For more information call 0845 130 0854 for a no obligation chat.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: J – Judgement: The Key to Effective Decision Making

 

Judgement is your ability to assess a situation and to draw sound conclusions.  This is a key factor in your decision making process.  How do you judge whether something is right for your business or not?  And how do other people judge you and your business?  When you understand this, it can really help you:

a) make decisions which serve your business well
b) help you to help other people make judgements in your favour

There are various ways in which we may be convinced of something-

  • Number of examples – ie the third time you see something, you are sure it’s right
  • Automatically –  you don’t take too much convincing, you just automatically trust that something is right
  • Period of time – you need to think about something for a while before deciding, even if it is an obvious solution
  • A trusted source – if you hear it from someone you trust, or know they are doing the same thing, that’s enough to convince you
  • Logic – you need to evaluate the facts before deciding if something is right for you
  • Emotion – you tend to trust your gut
  • Impact on the bottom line – you will not be convinced of anything unless you see how it will affect the bottom line
  • Tried and tested – you need to see something working somewhere else before you think about it for yourself
  • Cynics – you are never truly convinced of anything

None are right or wrong in themselves.  However, it’s possible to rely too much on a particular method which could leave you vulnerable.  For example, going on gut instinct without checking the effect something has on your bottom line could affect the profitability of your business; relying on a period of time may mean that an opportunity is lost; being automatically convinced can be dangerous as there is no evaluation of the possible impact something may have; cynics can fail to take opportunities because they always find fault; depending on tried and tested methods can mean you are behind the curve in terms of your competition; relying on logic alone can mean that you are ignoring the not inconsiderable power of your intuition; depending on a trusted source requires that the trusted source be right 100% of the time or that their circumstances are the same as yours.

Ask yourself, what other factors do you need to consider when you are formulating your decisions?  Do re-read the decision making part of this series.

Finally, what to do with this information when considering your customers and prospects?  You will be well-advised to consider an example of all the above criteria in relation to your products and factor in where appropriate.  For example, Jack has a strong gut instinct but likes to back it up with number of examples, so you might want to either find three ways of proving your product, or expect to make your case over three appointments, and follow that up with “What does your gut tell you about the suitability of our product for your business?”

Or, Sally may make her decision solely on the bottom line.  So you may want to take the approach of showing the cost savings your product will give her, or the revenue potential, or perhaps some other way of impacting the bottom line.

If you aren’t sure about what someone else’s convincer strategy is, ask them how they decided to buy their latest car, computer system or even holiday.  This should give you a lot of clues.

Even the most successful business people have made bad judgements in their time. However, you can minimise yours by considering all of your options to make a more informed decision.

If you would like to discuss you own business decision making strategy, or change the way others judge your business, please contact us on 0845 130 0854.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: I – Influencing Skills

The ability to positively influence others with integrity is a key skill in business.  It affects your ability to have people buy into you, your business, your product and your ideas.  It impacts your leadership style and your ability to build constructive relationships.  It can also be incredibly stressful if you are unable to influence people constructively, impacting your productivity, your sales and even your profitability.

Influence is about your ability to have a positive effect on someone.  It differs from manipulation in that it is undertaken with integrity and regard to the interest of the other party.   It’s about having people buy in to your ideas and perspectives, so that they say ‘yes’ to you more.

 

The talent for influence requires flexibility in style, clarity of outcome, the ability to understand a situation from several perspectives, and creating and maintaining a resourceful state, particularly during times of conflict, or when the stakes are high.

It is not about imposing but inspiring someone to take a particular action, while maintaining strong rapport and building positive relationships.

There are numerous language patterns which enhance your capacity to increase your powers of influence which are too numerous to go into in this short article but which I teach to many of my clients and which I include on my Influencing Skills training course.  The issue, though, is not what the skills are, but the effect that they can have on your success.  They can help you deal with objections and concerns so that you are able to transform potentially negative situations elegantly. It’s the YES factor!

 

Whether your intention is to create change, elicit support or diffuse potentially contentious situations, influencing skills can be a real boon to you in your business.

For further details, please contact Tricia Woolfrey on 0845 130 0854 or see www.pw-consulting.co.uk.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: H – Health – How Can Your Business Be Healthy If You’re Not?

 

To succeed in business you need to be firing on all cylinders.  In fact, you could say that the health of your business is a reflection of your own health.  If you are tired all the time, or run down with frequent bouts of colds and flu, suffer frequent headaches or if you are at the mercy of IBS, can you really be functioning at your best?

Health is more than just an absence of symptoms.  When you are healthy in every sense of the word (physically and emotionally), you will have more stamina and energy to deal with the stressors of business life; mentally you will have clarity of thought and direction, the ability to solve problems quickly and your memory will be more reliable; you will feel more motivated and less irritable; health will also mean that your immune system is strong to safeguard you from colds and flu as well as more serious illnesses.

If you’re feeling tired-all-the-time, or low motivation, it could well be as a result of your body needing to be stronger and healthier.

Your health can be affected by many factors including:

  • Food choices
  • Depleted nutrition in foods
  • Cellular health
  • Alcohol
  • Sugar
  • Cigarettes
  • Stress
  • Negative emotions
  • Environment
  • Lack of exercise

Taking care of yourself is taking care of business. We take great care of our cars:  fill them with petrol, make sure there is enough oil and water, take them for a regular MOT, but are you doing this for yourself?  For a health MOT, call 0845 130 0854.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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