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How is the best way to increase your sales? Should you advertise more? Perhaps a new website is needed. Is there some product improvement necessary? Or should you reduce your prices? Does your staff need sales training? Which should you do first, or do you have to do everything at once?
The answer to all these questions is in your Sales Pipeline. Every Sales Pipeline has a bottleneck, and often more than one. The first step is to identify the biggest bottleneck which is where you will get the biggest bang for your buck.
When you analyze your sales pipeline, look first at your inquiries. Are you getting all the inquiries you can handle? Is the conversion rate to sales greater than 80%? Is it close to 100%? (If so, you are too cheap, and the easiest way to increase your sales is to increase your prices!) If your conversion rate is very high, then yes, increasing your inquiries through targeted promotion is likely to be the priority.
What if your conversion rate is below 50%? There could be one of two reasons for that. Either your marketing is poorly targeted, or there are problems downstream of inquiry generation.
When looking at your marketing, it pays to segment the inquiries to determine which parts are well targeted and which parts are unproductive. One marketing executive once famously said: “I know 50% of my marketing budget is wasted, I just don’t know which half.”
When looking downstream of your marketing, it’s important to define each step of the Sales Pipeline, for example, Initial Enquiry, Initial Consultation, Quote, Close. Each step should flow naturally to the next increasing the commitment of the buyer and the perceived value of your offer. A rush to the quote stage without establishing value is a recipe for rejection.
Where in your pipeline are you losing buyers, and why are you losing them? How well are the initial inquiries being handled? Are buyers too focused on price? What are you doing to establish value before you answer the price question? How do you present your quote, and how do you close the sale?
Examples of how to improve your Sales Pipeline are having a script for the initial enquiry which both qualifies the buyer and reveals value in the new relationship, having a process in the next stages to determine customer needs and creating desire for your solution even before presenting a proposal or quote, and of course having some simple closes to get the sale.
By analyzing your pipeline, the priorities becomes readily visible and low hanging fruit can be grasped for a relatively little effort generating substantial boosts to your sales.
Of course, when the biggest bottleneck has been removed, your pipeline will reveal the next one to be removed for your next sales boost.
How well defined is your Sales Pipeline? Can you see the bottlenecks?
These simple tips will help you build a small business website that can attract and convert customers.
You don’t have to be a web design expert to understand that effective sites don’t just happen. Simply building one won’t create marketing magic and draw in customers. The good news is that knocking out a home run with your website (and engaging customers) probably isn’t as tough as you might think.
Here are some simple tips to improved your site.
Have a call-to-action offer near the top or on the sidebar of every page.
The offer can be the same throughout, but make it compelling enough that visitors willingly leave their contact information.
Update on a regular basis.
Don’t treat your site like a static digital brochure. Instead, think of it as a dynamic communication tool. Regularly injecting new content will keep the conversation between you and your visitors flowing.
Make sure your design is responsive to mobile devices.
Most people surf the Web on their phones, so don’t miss opportunities due to a poor mobile experience.
Aim for a clean design.
A professional-looking logo is a must—nothing drives away traffic faster (never to return) than a cluttered website and lackluster logo.
Link to social media sites (and vice versa).
Don’t isolate visitors—utilize traffic and sharing behavior using social media links.
Traffic reporting and analytics tools are also vital to make sure the site is working for visitors and your business and to help uncover potential breakdowns and opportunities for improvement. There are effective options available for free that, in most cases, only require adding a line of code. Reporting is often just as simple and provides unique insights that can inform critical tweaks that can lead to more engagement and sales.
Identifying the outcomes or conversions you want, such as form submissions, sales or phone calls, is also important. Tracking form submissions typically require adding a ‘thank you’ page and an additional element in the form’s code. (You may need help with this, but it’s worth it.) To track sales, your shopping cart system will usually have an option to integrate with Google Analytics and automatically take care of reporting. For phone calls, services like Callrail or LogMyCalls have integration tools to set up tracking numbers that will integrate with Google Analytics.
Finally, don’t overlook the key role content plays in generating the statistics you hope to see, particularly having the right amount of content. Also too much content will drive traffic away, but too little will have visitors questioning your legitimacy. Your website should have all of the information the media would need to write a story about you and your business: who, what, when, where, why and how.
Lastly, take particular care with the ‘about’ page. Although the ‘product,’ ‘services’ and ‘contact’ pages are obviously important, this page is the most critical. It tells your story—and can play a significant role in transforming prospects into customers.
It was a slow Thursday evening at the sportswear store. There were more sales assistants than customers silently wandering through the displays across polished black tiles. Alan decided to approach a customer who had just picked up a premium shoe, turning it over to check out the price.
‘Can I help you?’ he said.
‘No, I’m just looking, thanks.’ she replied.
‘It would be good to get out of those Nikes. Have your tried our SuperBOOST shoes?’ said Alan.
‘No.’ said the customer, as she hastily put the shoe back.
‘They’re really comfortable and last longer.’ Alan said to the customer as she started to walk away.
We would never say half of the things we say or ask many of the questions we ask if we stopped for a second to think how the customer was likely to respond. What if instead of following a script that leads us to a dead end, we anticipated where our questions would lead the customer? We know that 99% of the time the response to, ‘Can I help you?’, will be, ‘No.’ So how can we do better?
An if-then storytelling strategy invites us to be more empathetic towards the customer and more discerning with our questions.
If the customer is browsing for more than a few minutes, then I will ask how I can help.
If the customer is looking at running shoes, then I will ask her what kind of training she does.
If the customer picks up an item, then I will ask her if she’d like to try her size.
If the customer asks for her size, then I will try getting to know more about what she needs from her shoes.
Better brand stories, marketing, and sales conversations always start with understanding what unmet need or unspoken desire brought the customer to us, rather than with our need to say something when it’s convenient.
International Women’s Day first emerged from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe. Since those early years, International Women’s Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike. The growing international women’s movement, which has been strengthened by four global United Nations women’s conferences, has helped make the commemoration a rallying point to build support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic arenas. Increasingly, International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. Below is a brief history of how the Day has evolved.
The first National Woman's Day was observed in the United States on 28 February. The Socialist Party of America designated this day in honour of the 1908 garment workers' strike in New York, where women protested against working conditions.
The Socialist International, meeting in Copenhagen, established a Women's Day, international in character, to honour the movement for women's rights and to build support for achieving universal suffrage for women. The proposal was greeted with unanimous approval by the conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, which included the first three women elected to the Finnish Parliament. No fixed date was selected for the observance.
As a result of the Copenhagen initiative, International Women's Day was marked for the first time (19 March) in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland, where more than one million women and men attended rallies. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded women's rights to work, to vocational training and to an end to discrimination on the job.
International Women's Day also became a mechanism for protesting World War I. As part of the peace movement, Russian women observed their first International Women's Day on the last Sunday in February. Elsewhere in Europe, on or around 8 March of the following year, women held rallies either to protest the war or to express solidarity with other activists.
Against the backdrop of the war, women in Russia again chose to protest and strike for 'Bread and Peace' on the last Sunday in February (which fell on 8 March on the Gregorian calendar). Four days later, the Czar abdicated and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote.
The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March during International Women’s Year 1975.
In December 1977, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by the Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.
Instagram has created 2 mobile apps that allow you to do more with your photos and videos in less time - from your phone! You can highlight a favorite menu item with Layout or show customers a behind-the-scenes time-lapse video of your business with Hyperlapse.
LESSONS ON LAYOUT
Layout—an app by Instagram—lets you combine, flip and mirror multiple photos into a single image for a fun, one-of-a-kind take on your photos. You can do it all from your phone.
Tips for Success
- Get started: Upload up to 9 photos for your Layout from your camera roll, or take them directly within the app.
- Format it: Select the format for your photos. Resize the borders of each photo.
- Have some fun: Play around with the mirror, flip, and border effects. These affects can be applied to the entire Layout or individual photos within the Layout.
- Share it out: Upload directly to your Instagram or Facebook account within the Layout app or save your photo and add it to your Instagram Story.
HOW TO HYPERLAPSE
Tips for Success
- Get started: Decide what you want to shoot before you get started.
- Choose the speed: You can speed up your video up to 12x. You can also keep it at 1x like any other video, but with Hyperlapse your video is stabilized automatically—making for a less shaky shot.
- Share it out: Upload directly to your Instagram or Facebook account within the Hyperlapse app or save your video and add it to your Instagram Story.
- Bonus Tip: Before capturing the video, you can quadrupole tap the screen with four fingers to reveal a secret menu. From there you can choose your video resolution, frame rate and speeds up to 40x.
This morning, two-factor authentication plugin Clef, also known as GetClef, announced that they are shutting down. They currently have more than 1 million active WordPress websites using their two-factor authentication plugin.
"Starting next week, we will be winding down our business and sunsetting the Clef product. Our team will be joining another company, which we’ll have more news about in the next few weeks.
The Clef product will continue operating for three months, starting today, with a final shutdown date of June 6, 2017. Everything will remain fully functional and maintained until that date, at which point the mobile apps will cease functioning and be removed from the Google Play and Apple App stores.
If you are a current Clef user, we recommend that you begin transitioning away from Clef as a login method as soon as possible. We’ve written a guide for both API and WordPress user with instructions on making that transition here."
At this point, we don’t have any more detail on who Clef is joining and under what circumstances.
Small business owners can get into trouble by chasing every new technology that comes along.
On the one hand, no one would argue that technology is essential when it comes to running and growing a business. But on the other hand, if you fail to take a restrained and analytical approach when acquiring technology solutions, you could end up negatively impacting your bottom line.
There are some amazing software tools and products on the market. However, small business owners can wander into trouble by signing up for every fad that crosses their paths, often telling themselves that they’ll get around to canceling after the initial free trial—which doesn’t always happen. Consequently, if you don’t put the right checks and balances in place, the tools that are supposed to help your profitability could kill it through dozens of small fees adding up to a large amount.
Some small business spent more than $6,000 in one month on software alone, jolting them into setting a budget and reviewing it regularly as technology and their needs changed.
How do you begin the process of systematically managing your technology requirements?
- Set a budget, and keep it in check!
- List the most important segments of your business.
- Focus on the areas that could benefit from improvement or where your processes aren’t working.
- Identify what tasks each solution will support, map out exactly how it will help and who will benefit.
- Create workflows and processes for implementation, making sure the individuals involved are on board. (Be sure to include training in your timeline!)
- Revaluate quarterly, if not more frequently, to identify which technology purchases are working and which aren’t. (If you’re not using the solutions yourself, set up time with all applicable staff members to ensure you gain a complete perspective.)
Some critical areas to consider are sales, marketing, and customer data. Small businesses that make mistakes in these areas can take years to recover. So, it’s vital to evaluate specific products and services carefully. Often tried-and-true providers and products are best—even with more interesting, yet less tested, solutions available.
When you’re ready to buy, support and training are critical factors to consider before making a commitment. If you can’t figure out how to use what you’ve purchased, it’s just going to sit there and you will have wasted your money. Look for companies that provide webinars and/or private training.
Whether its CRM or time tracking, technology solutions can encourage efficiency and organization, but it can only take you so far. As you’re investing in technology, also invest in your people.
Quote of the day "Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye." Helen Keller
What does that mean?
This is an interesting quote, mostly due to the differences in cultures. In the US, looking someone in the eye is a sign of confidence. To not do so, is to look weak or defeated. The same goes for how a person holds their head. Up is showing confidence, down is showing weakness or defeat.
In some cultures, heads are expected to be bowed to some extent (often related to the difference in station or power between the people). The same goes for eye contact. In other cultures, eye contact is considered a challenge and could result in unpleasantness.
This quote is about being firm in your resolve and confident in yourself. In the US, this quote says how to show that confidence. You may need to use different behaviors to make the same statement, but that is the basic point of today’s quote.
Why is having resolve and being confident important?
Without resolve, what will you do? Probably not much, right? You aren’t really all that sure you want to do it anyway, and it looks like hard work. Perhaps you’ll do it later. That doesn’t show much resolve, does it? People with a firm resolve tend to get things done, those without, not so much.
Without confidence, will you follow through? Will you complete the task? Or will you hesitate? Will you be distracted or worry so much that little gets done? If someone answered “well… I don’t know. It depends…” then they probably don’t have much confidence, right?
People with confidence know they can do things. People with resolve keep working at things until they are complete. Together, they are pretty much unstoppable, just like the author of today’s quote. Are you pretty much unstoppable, or do you do things in a half-hearted manner?
Where can I apply this in my life?
That very much depends on how motivated you are. If you are ready to do things and make sure they get done, you are probably already doing it, at least in that aspect of your life. But what about all of the other aspects of your life?
For most of us, our lives are uneven in development. We might be confident in some situations, but timid in others. We might have the resolve to get some things done, but not others. Where you can use this quote in your life is anywhere you want or need more confidence of resolve.
That leads to a logical question, How does one build their confidence and resolve? That would depend on why you lack confidence or resolve, and may very well be different for each situation. Think about a few areas of your life where you lack confidence, resolve, or both.
For me, the primary reason for a lack of confidence is a lack of knowledge on a topic. Generally, it is an unknown or new activity, and until I know more about it, I tend to lack confidence. My other major reason for the lack of confidence is when I feel I’m being tested. My resolve tends to be directly related to my motivation. When I have a reason, things get done, otherwise, they don’t.
How about you, what did you come up with as your main reasons for having a lack of confidence or resolve? Since we’re all going to have different reasons (hopefully not excuses), I can’t really help with any specific methods, other than by example.
In my cases, when I lack knowledge or when something is new or unknown, I do my homework. I look it up, I ask around, and gain confidence in this manner. I try to find things with which I am familiar which have some similarities and use that to gain confidence as well. In the worst case, I just do it and plan to learn from the experience, like skydiving.
For resolve, I’ve just always been kind of stubborn. If I get it in my head that I will do something, it will eventually get done. But when I have the motivation, when I have a reason to make sure I follow through, I have a great deal of resolve.
I hope you will be able to find methods that help you move past the things that are holding back your confidence or resolve. Keep at it, as there will always be another part of your life where you could use a little more.
Keep after it, and your confidence, your resolve, and even your life will continue to improve
Fivenson Studios is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, our graphic design team specializes in logo and web page design, as well as marketing campaigns for social and print media. From flyers and brochures to targeted landing pages, we aim to bring your company into the spotlight and reach a greater range of potential customers.