How stories help you generate more sales opportunities

Once upon a time…..

Normally the start of a fairytale but this time I’m hoping its something useful for the business owner rather than just their kids.

You know its no longer acceptable small business marketing to simply describe your service to a prospective client anymore.  They shouldn’t need to have to work out for themselves how to use your services; it’s your job to prove you can help resolve his pain – because if you don’t there are plenty of others who will.

As your marketing talks about how your clients benefit from the work you do for them, prospects become more interested because they see you understand the problems they face.  This moves them forward in the selection process.

To get them to pick up the phone needs more.

Your marketing needs to provide evidence of how you’ve successfully delivered on your promises and helped out your clients. They need proof!

Proof comes in the form of stories, otherwise known as case studies or blog articles.  They are then supported by testimonials

Your stories need to clearly articulate:

  • what the client wanted to achieve or resolve
  • how you helped them to do this
  • the results achieved
In my opinion it is the final stage that is the most powerful as it is the results that complete the value calculation (value = benefit/cost).
The more value your prospects perceive, the more likely they are to pick up the phone.


How to develop your elevator pitch

If you had 60 seconds with your perfect client, what would you say?

How would you explain just why your company is perfect for supply just what they need?

Would you describe what you do or would you how you’ve helped other clients recently?

If you describe what you do (the features) you are asking your perfect client to work out for themselves just how your services will help them. If you describe just how you’ve helped others, not only do you make it easier for them to understand how you can help, but you give evidence that you can deliver a great job.

Which do you think will help your sales process more?

The question is what do you say and how do you ensure they will remember you?

My suggestion:

  • 20 seconds on the benefits of using your services
  • 30 seconds on an example of how you’ve helped others in the past
  • 10 seconds on a strapline that is memorable
If you’ve got it right they should be asking for, or giving, a business card about now so that further conversations can be had.
I am sure you’ve heard something like this before but it is still great advice and so worth repeating.


What do your clients think about you?

When was the last time you asked a client for feedback on the quality of the work you did for them?

The more you understand about how your work is perceived, the better your work will become and the results of asking for feedback will help your marketing too.

The feedback will be somewhere between love and loathe and hopefully much closer to love than loathe. The closer to love it gets, the more you can ask for to help with your marketing.

When was the last time you asked a client for:

  • a personal recommendation on LinkedIn?
  • a referral to a connection of theirs who could use your services?
  • a services recommendation on your LinkedIn Company Page?
  • a testimonial?
  • a case study about the project you’ve just delivered?
  • a video testimonial?

All of the above support your marketing and provide a little extra proof that you do a great job. The more of it is available for prospects to read, the more likely they are to pick up the phone and ask you to help them.

Of course, there is a chance that the feedback will be closer to loathe than love. In some ways this is the best feedback because it gives you an opportunity to improve. You may even get a chance to improve your performance for that client, but even if you don’t the feedback will be invaluable for when you start work with your next client.

Either way, make sure you thank them for the feedback as they have helped you, no matter what they actually say.

Which marketing activity delivers the best return on investment?

There are three ways to improve your bottom line with maximised profits:

  1. Sell more stuff
  2. Reduce the cost of making and delivering the stuff
  3. Reduce your below the line costs

Lets concentrate on No.1

In order to sell more stuff you need to have more opportunities (or sell larger quantities, but we’ll ignore that for now as well) to sell.  This means making more people aware of your ability to supply said stuff and provide sufficient evidence that your stuff is great. In other words you need better marketing.

The question is: How do you make your marketing better?

or, more precisely, how do you get a better return on investment from your marketing resources – both time and money?

There is, thankfully, a very simple answer to that: concentrate on the marketing activities that deliver the best ROI.

Lets look at this in more detail.

Imagine that you use five different marketing activities to generate your sales opportunities:

  1. Pay Per Click advertising
  2. Networking
  3. Yellow Pages
  4. Telemarketing
  5. Social media

Presuming you know how each of your sales opportunities happened upon you (you do know this don’t you?) you can track their path through your pipeline, see how many opportunities from each marketing activity turn into sales, and then compare the total sales value (for each activity) to the money you spent.

You now know which marketing activities are delivering the best, and worst, ROI.

So, in order to improve the bottom line you simply have to concentrate your budget on the best performing marketing activities.  More sales opportunities should deliver more sales, with the money flowing down to the bottom line.

I hope this helps and gives you something to think about over Christmas and the New Year

Merry Christmas

Two Approaches to planning your Marketing – Part One

Planning your Marketing – Part One

This was inspired by a recent discussion on LinkedIn that asked how people tracked their sales opportunities. It seems a large number of homeworkers use Excel as their main tool, as it is simple to use and most people will have it anyway as part of Microsoft Office. One person then asked if anyone used Excel for marketing planning.

Being the generous and helpful person I am, I asked if she would send me her spreadsheet so I could see if there was anything that could be done to make it a better tool for her.

Cramming all functionality onto one worksheet is always going to make things a little difficult. A quick exercise into separating out the functionality into multiple worksheets (budget, actual spend, tasks etc.) allowed a much clearer picture of what is happening/needs to happen and the performance of her marketing.

I will be following up in a couple of months to see what has happened.

Anyway onto the main subject – Marketing planning

There are two ways to approach your marketing planning and your budget planning:

  1. Start with a budget number and work down until you’ve planned to spend all the money you have available – discussed today
  2. Work out the activities you need to do in order to achieve your goals for the year.  – next week

Nearly two fifth’s of SME’s have a budget of less than £10,000 for 2012[1] so it is vital that the budget is used wisely so lets look at the pros and cons of the different approaches above.

Pros of starting with a budget number

  1. it makes sure you don’t exceed your budget
  2. your CFO/accountant knows what they need to put aside each month


  1. This approach doesn’t take into account your business goals
  2. You may miss out marketing activities that could give greater returns simply because your budget has run out
  3. It is more likely to encourage you to do low cost activities rather than high value ones
  4. It is likely to be inflexible, even if more revenue starts to come in regularly
  5. You’re letting the accountant win!

Next week we’ll look at an alternative approach; that of doing the planning and then discussing it with the numbers guys to see what can be agreed. As much as we’d all love to simply carry out the plan, the accountants sign the cheques usually and you can spend the money if they aren’t going to sign!



Christmas is coming

& the goose is getting fat……….

But if you rely on the festive season for a significant part of your annual revenue, you better be in the final stages of planning your marketing campaign to attract customers.

Decision-makers are now returning from their Summer holidays and will be planning what  they’re going to do over Christmas.  If you’re in corporate catering, venue hire, event organising or people photography, the phone should start ringing very soon.

If not, what do you need to be doing to get it ringing?

  1. Have you spoken to everyone who bought from you last year?  They already know the quality of the work you can deliver and, if they liked it, should be considered good opportunities.
  2. How are you communicating with everyone who talked to you last year, but didn’t buy? They may have used a competitor last year but they may not have been completely happy with the service they received. If you time things right you could poach a few additional clients from your competitors
  3. What are you doing to make more people aware of your services? Without awareness there cannot be any interest or sales opportunity
  4. Is your website updated to show the seasonal services you provide?
  5. What evidence is online that demonstrates how great a job you did last Christmas for your clients? Case studies and testimonials are a big help for people trying to decide who they should talk to and buy from
  6. Have you considered Google Adwords to generate new opportunities.  For seasonal marketing, this can be very effective

Just a few questions for you to consider in order to make sure that your marketing generates the Christmas sales you are looking for

I hope this helps


A bird in the hand

Increasing your sales the easy way


Everyone knows it costs more to win a new customer than it does to keep a current one. The ratios quoted vary but the principle is still the same

Based on this fact and you’re desire to grow your business, the best route to new business is through your current customers.  The question is what more can they buy?

When was the last time you did a review of your client base to understand their buying habits; the products they buy and how frequently?

Let’s imagine your average customer buys two products/services from you.  If you can get just 25% of them to buy one more thing, you will have increased your business performance by more than 12% – not bad growth in a country that is reputedly just coming out of recession.

The harder bit is understanding what products would be right for them and then showing them how it will solve a problem they currently face. There are two sets of people within your company who can help you here:

  1. Your account managers
  2. Your operations staff

And it may be that your Operations staff talk to your customers more than your account managers, so don’t under-estimate their ability to help here.

Next Steps:

  1. Make sure that everyone within the company knows what you want to do, so they have the opportunity to contribute.  If your accounts/sales staff are on commission, make sure your Operations staff will get something from this.  They may be less helpful if they think someone else will get rewarded for their work.
  2. Analyse your sales patterns and your portfolio penetration levels so you know what is already being bought by whom.
  3. Develop the right stories to show your customers how you can help them


Of course, if you would like some help with any of this, call or email me on 07770 970 557



Are you ready for the new season?

Business decision-makers are back from their holidays: is your marketing ready?

For many businesses the months of July and August are their quietest, in terms of new sales, even if it’s a busy period for delivering.  The reason generally given is that most decision-makers are on holiday and so not there to start looking, to meet sales people or to make the final decisions.

The question now is: are you, and your marketing, ready for the new business season?

The schools around me go back a week today so you’ve got a little time left, but not much.  There will be some decision-makers who will be about to go on holiday (if they haven’t got school-age children) as bookings are that much cheaper, but that only adds another couple of weeks before the Autumn business season is in full swing.


  • Is your website up to date?
  • Are you consistently blogging?
  • Do you have plans in place for your social media activity?
  • Have you planned your special offers to draw in the interest?

Just in case you haven’t here is a little information for the future:

  • School dates for Surrey schools (other counties will vary slightly)
    • Autumn Term 2012
      • 4 September to 21 December 2012
      • Half Term from 29 October to 2 November 2012
    • Spring Term 2013
      • 7 January to 28 March 2013
      • Half Term from 18 February to 22 February 2013
    • Summer Term 2013
      • 15 April to 24 July 2013
      • Half Term from 27 May to 31 May 2013
  • My phone number: 07770 970 557




Taking my own medicine

As a marketing consultant my job is to help my clients improve their marketing and deliver better results from the resources they have available to them. I talk to people about:

  • Measuring the ROI delivered from their marketing
  • maintaining consistent activity levels on LinkedIn, Twitter and the other relevant social media channels
  • Generating evidence that shows how they help their customers
  • Deliver regular blog articles in order to develop, and keep, a following that contributes

It seems that I have a builder’s house, as I’m not following one of my own rules.

My weekly(?!?) blog has only been published every nine days and once went 71 days without being updated!

My blog simply isn’t consistent enough and for that I apologise.

What am I going to do about it?

  • Make a List of Content Topics
  • Create an Editorial Calendar
  • Post Regularly

If there is something you want me to blog about, drop me a line and let me know

I look forward to hearing from you