You meet with a prospective client, and the meeting goes good.  There is definite interest in your product or service, but not enough to buy right on the spot.  You leave feeling positive that you have a chance to win the business in the near future.  You don’t want to come across as pushy, and you follow-up in two weeks to set another meetingwho, but unfortunately it is too late.  The prospective client has bought from someone else.

This isn’t uncommon today, and it’s not personal.  What we all have to realize and believe is that our society is completely overwhelmed with tasks, meetings, and messages.  Our electronic devices that were designed to help us consolidate tasks and free up more time have simply allowed us to do way much more than we used to, making us more busy and distracted than ever.  They have also allowed competition, direct and indirect, from across the globe into everyone’s back yard.

If you really want the business, and you really want to keep it, you’re going to have to find creative ways to stay in front of your prospects and clients.  If you don’t, you’ll be forgotten all too easy. Make sure you are in front of your clients often, by scheduling regular meetings and they know your commitment to them.  Follow up with prospective clients several times a week with information that has great value to them.  Send them client testimonials.

There are all sorts of ways you can keep your name in front of current and potential clients.  Find what suits your personality and go for it, and best of all, this little discipline will put you ahead of nearly every competitor you have!

Advertisements

I don’t usually keep up with UFC, Ultimate Fighting Championship, but I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the Silva vs. Weidman hype streaming all over the internet. Seeing the videos of this champion, Silva, doing more dancing than punching and even spending several minutes taunting his opponent, I couldn’t help but think “I hope he gets his”. Sure enough, when he dropped his hands Weidman took advantage and with a strong left hook sent the champions eyes rolling to the back of his head. There was a new champion! Silva thought he was better, and he probably was, but he let his guard down and his era was over.

No matter what business you’re in, you know once you’re the best, you have to work twice as hard to stay the best. It’s the same with customer service. You have a great company culture, training program and you work to hire the best people who fit this culture. But, it isn’t always easy to keep your employees motivated each day to deliver the type of service you have worked hard to instill in them.

There are several skills you must look for when hiring & training your staff for handling your customers the way you want them treated. Just being a “people person” isn’t enough. What does that mean anyway? Most people can be great when things are going their way or when things are easy. But, how do they respond when things are tough. Do they get complacent & let their guard down?

Below is a list of essential skills your employees must possess if they are on the front lines representing your brand.

  • Patience to listen and not interrupt with policies. They must have the attentiveness to really hear what the problem is.
  • Communication skills to respond in the appropriate matter and diffuse a situation if necessary. Using positive language always encourages an amicable ending. Instead of “we don’t have your replacement part now”, try “the product you need will be available in 2 days”.
  • Product knowledge to make an educated decision.
  • Acting skills. We know some situations are just ridiculous, but your employees handling these must still be able to respond in caring fashion and sometimes that takes a bit of acting ability.
  • A calming presence is essential in situations that could easily get out of control.
  • Ability to handle surprises because you never know when an unsatisfied customer will come your way.

No matter how you train your new employees, it has to be on a consistent basis. Because it is easy to let your guard down and lose customers.

Follow up or Fall Out

June 27, 2013

Here is a really pathetic statistic. Over 40% of the time a new prospect is never followed up with after the first call. Consider how distracted our society has become, and Hellothat should really scare you. You are exposed to more than 35,000 messages a day between signs, email, texts, advertisements, etc. Chances are your prospects forget about you the next day. How could they not? It’s not personal. They are just simply overwhelmed with messages.

The good news is that you have a tremendous opportunity to stand out simply by developing your organization’s follow up skills. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Schedule a follow up call before ending your meeting.
  • Send a handwritten thank you note. This is a lost art, but will put you ahead of nearly everyone.
  • Confirm the details and next action of your meeting with a brief email.
  • Add every new prospect to your email distribution list.
  • Call all prospects at least one time per week.
  • Meet with current clients weekly if possible, and monthly at a minimum.
  • If you have an unhappy client or things aren’t running to their expectations, follow up with them right away. It’s better to deal with a problem head and let your client know you are doing everything possible to deliver.

Today we all have more competition for our clients’ attention, and most of it comes from indirect competitors. Remember that someone is going to call them, usually someone different every day. If you don’t follow up, one day someone else will win their business and you won’t. You may have to follow up with a prospect more than 20 times to get their business, but that’s ok. They will know you’re committed to them.

How do you follow up? Share some of your best experiences with us.

You’ve got the perfect 30 second commercial, a great social media campaign, an informative website, and a trained staff to sell your products and services, but if you were on an elevator and had 30 seconds to tell a stranger what you do, could you do it?

As a business owner, you know your business, but often explaining the business to another seems harder than it should be. Do you give them just a simple sentence, “I am a lawyer” or do you go further and explain all aspects of the specialty law you do? The answer lies somewhere in between both. Too short of an answer and you will not give the listener any reason to use your business if they happen to need it. Too long of an answer and you may come across long winded and “salesy”.

An “elevator speech” is a 30 second or less description of your business that gives the listener enough information to know what you do, and if your services would be valuable to them. Doesn’t seem very long, does it? It’s not, but it’s also about as big of an attentions span as our society has these days, and good “elevator speech” will get the reader’s attention, have them engaged in a conversation, and illustrate how you could help them in a very short amount of time.

Step 1: Getting their Attention
Does your current explain of your business or “elevator speech,” give a clear explanation of what you do? For example, if you have seen the show Gas Monkeys, if the owner of this Dallas based business simply said they were mechanics, he would be short changing his business and the work they do. However, if the owner said, “I have a car shop that restores old cars and restores cars to be sold at auction; we can simply restore them to their original condition or go further and add custom detailing to make the car even more special.” This tells the listener that they are no ordinary mechanic shop.

Step 2: Engage in Conversation
Now, that he has peaked an interest much more than if they had just said I am a mechanic, he needs to engage the listener. Let them ask more questions and help them understand your business. Once, they understand exactly what you do, your business is likely to be top of mind, when there need arises.

Step 3: Entice the Listener
In this particular example, the need is a desire to have a great car. You would know because you engaged conversation, and they understand that you are an expert in your field. The perceived need has been planted and they will be calling you soon to do business. Success!

All small businesses are in sales, and the doors are never closed. Whether you are at a soccer game or an elegant dinner, every conversation is an opportunity. Don’t miss out!

Training staff. Every company recognizes the importance of it, but few actually dedicate the resources to properly do it. This week’s blog looks at two methods of training and asks you which one you want to practice, and which one you currently are. Have you built your company where it can run on its own without you? Can your staff handle every situation without you? If the answer is no, your training program needs an upgrade. What kind of training are you currently using? Let’s take a look first at the most popular form.

The Tribal Method
Using the tribal method, companies pass information down from employee to employee. Is it effective? If you have a superstar employee passing the information down, yes. In many cases though bad habits and poor practices are passed down using the tribal method. This only multiplies these bad habits and practices in your operation. Unfortunately the tribal method of training is the most used.

Developing a successful training program takes a tremendous amount of time and energy. This makes the tribal method very attractive. It is easy and requires very little thought other than which employee to match up and train your new one. Don’t be tempted to take the easy road.

Now let’s look at an alternative to the tribal method that will get your employees producing faster with less effort on your end (except in the development phase)

The Systematic Method
The systematic method is very simple. You basically define how your entire operation functions. The hardest part for you is taking the time to define your operation. If you will take the time to do this, it will pay huge dividends for you in the future and will save you and your staff a tremendous amount of time training new employees. Here are some basics that you should include:

  • Welcome statement
  • Employee handbook
  • Time management
  • Company history
  • Company philosophy
  • Business model
  • Sales process
  • Products and services
  • Competitors
  • Industry knowledge
  • Specialized knowledge
  • Policies
  • Procedures

Next you should include testing on each section. These tests make sure your new employees comprehend the information. They should be reviewed with the new employees before moving on to the next section. This also gives you the opportunity to reemphasize key points of the training to set the appropriate expectations for your new employee.

Your training can be presented in a printed format or even better, online in a separate training website. If you would like to learn more about how to develop a systematic, online training program, give SDB a call. We’ll even let you take a peek at ours.

Here at SDB Creative Group, it’s not uncommon to hear misconceptions about advertising. In an industry with so many avenues to relay your message, there is bound to be a few. Here, we tackle a few of those myths.

Myth: Our business can’t afford advertising.

Truth: A well thought out marketing plan, with your goals and budget in mind, will make you money. Often, when we talk about running a television campaign, a business owner’s response is, “I just can’t afford it.” Truth is only about 1% of companies can run a commercial during the Super Bowl with David Beckham as their spokesperson, but all businesses with a well thought out plan can have success on TV, radio, cable or any other medium, for that matter. The key is to find the right combination to reach your goals.

Myth: A great commercial make my product or service better.

Truth: Advertising will not make your product or service better. If the product or service is bad, no amount of advertising will fix that problem. Go back to the drawing table. Figure out the problem with the product or service. Then, advertise. Make sure you are offering your clients the best possible product or service and advertising will make you look as great as you really are!

Myth: I have a marketing plan and a great product. I should make lots of sales and $$$, right?

Truth: This is only true if your team is able to sell the product or service you are advertising. If I have a specialty candle business, but don’t train my staff on what makes them so special and give them tools to help them sell more effectively, I won’t sell many candles. This is where your efforts come full circle. You have a product. You introduce the product to the consumer through an effective marketing plan. Now, your customer wants to buy. You have to sell them!

As an advertising agency and marketing firm, our job is to make your advertising efforts seamless and effective. If you don’t start to see results from those efforts, we’re not doing our job.

Let SDB Creative Group help you with your next advertising push or marketing campaign. Call 432.218.6736 today to speak with one of our Marketing Representatives or check out our website (www.sdbcreativegroup.com) to see other companies, just like you, who’ve debunked the above myths and now believe in the power of advertising.

Lately, there’s been a lot of focus on ‘social media’. Businesses are clamoring to create Facebook and Twitter pages and get their messages out to the masses. While we agree that social media is important, the question you should be asking yourself is, “Is social media important for my business?’ Just like people, all businesses are different. The medium with which you spread your message will be different, too.

“Traditional Media”
With the rise of social media, ‘traditional media’ has emerged as the go-to name for mediums like radio, television, newspaper, billboard; those mediums that up until about 3 years ago (more or less in different parts of the world) drove the advertising world. While digital/internet advertising has grown, it’s easy to forget that traditional media still helps drive prospective customers to your product or service. People are still watching television. Radios still come standard in all vehicles. Newspapers (whether printed or online) are still being read. You are still seeing billboards on your commute to work.

The key to traditional media, in this digital and social world, is knowing your customer, knowing their lifestyles, knowing their buying habits. Once you’ve figured that out, you’re one step closer to knowing where they will see your message.

How do you learn about your customer? ASK THEM QUESTIONS! Why wouldn’t you want to know where your customers come from? Why wouldn’t you want to know their radio-listening or TV-watching habits? I’ve walked into plenty of stores and been asked, ‘How did you hear about us?’ They are doing their research. If they have put money into radio and nobody mentions radio, then why would they continue to use it? Doing simple research can help you determine, to a better extent, where to focus your advertising budget.

Enter ‘Social’
So, you’ve figured out who your customer is and how they respond to certain traditional advertising means. Now, should you use social media?

When thinking about social media, most business owners think that it’s just something to do. Something that isn’t that important. Something that can be done as an afterthought. This is dangerous. Allowing interns or ‘the girl at the front desk’ to manage your social media presence could be worse than having any social media presence at all. Unlike traditional, social is constant. It’s a 24/7 message about your company. You don’t let interns handle your business, you shouldn’t allow them to handle social media.

Social media is important to your brand and it should be handled as such. What can social do for your company? Social media offers an alternate outlet to promote your message. By coupling social with your traditional campaign, you’re amplifying that message, which can only help. In addition, because social IS social, there are more opportunities for your business to be shared, liked or talked about. Who wouldn’t want that?

But, before you jump into social, ask yourself these questions:
Does my business need to be social? If you’re a retail store or restaurant, your answer is already YES. If you’re not on social, you’re behind. But, if you’re a sign company, you may not have a huge audience to begin with, so investing time in social, may not be the best use of resources.

Do I have the time to commit to social media? Social isn’t to be taken lightly. If you’re going to have a presence, it can’t be an afterthought. It must be done and done consistently.

Will I be consistent – posting daily or at least 3-4 times per week? If you’re jumping on social, you must be SOCIAL. If you post consistently for days, weeks, months and then get busy and leave your page silent for days, weeks, months, you’ve lost any momentum that you had gained. Social is quick, instant and constant. People are online at all times of the day, sometimes all day. In order to be seen and remembered, you must stay active.

Can I handle being engaging – answering questions or complaints? Again, because it’s the nature of the beast, social gives consumers the outlet to engage with businesses like never before. They ask questions – Do you have this in stock? What colors does ABC come i? How much is it? They also post praise and complaints. Are you ready to deal with this?

Once you’ve answered those questions, you’re ready to at least dip your toe in the water.

Considering there are more than 800 million people on Facebook, we’d say that either way, having some kind of social presence can’t hurt.

Need some help? SDB Creative Group is a full-service marketing firm offering complete traditional, digital and social solutions for businesses of all sizes. Give us a call to set up a consultation – 432.218.6736 or email us at info@sdbcreativegroup.com.

Written by:
Danita Maldonado, Director of Social Media, danita@sdbcreativegroup.com
@danitalicious

Connect with SDB Creative Group here:
www.sdbcreativegroup.com

www.facebook.com/sdbcreativegroup

www.twitter.com/sdbcreative

www.linkedin.com/company/sdb-creative-group

sdbcreativegroup.wordpress.com