Posts

Does your marketing support your business goals?

You have goals for your business.

You may want to sell your business in five years’ time. Perhaps you want to keep growing, simply to see how big you can get. Whatever your goal, you have to have a marketing strategy that supports your business goals. Let’s look at whether your marketing will support your goals. Read more

7 ways Google Analytics can help your small business

Google Analytics is a godsend for all small businesses. But, so many either don’t know it exists or don’t use it.

In January I delivered a marketing workshop to about 60 small business owners. Less than half of them put their hands up, when asked if they had Google Analytics on their website.

Let’s spend just a few minutes looking at why we believe EVERY small business with a website should have Google Analytics installed and what you can learn from it.

Read more

How to qualify your prospects as a small business

Are your properly qualifying your prospects?

As a small business, of course you want to generate as much business as possible. Your marketing is aimed at generating as many prospects as possible. However, not every prospect is going to bring their business your way, and so it is vital that you identify which are worth your time and effort and which are not. Being a small business, you don’t have the time to entertain every single prospect; you have other tasks that need attending to. So how should you go about qualifying your prospects?

Can you provide a solution?

The prospect needs to be clear as to the exact nature of your products or services. Similarly, you need to grasp precisely what it is the prospect requires or how you may be able to provide a solution to a particular problem. There is no point in proceeding any further if the prospect is looking for something you simply do not provide, so it’s best to just walk away at the first possible opportunity. Ensure your website and any marketing material is clear and updated regularly so anyone who comes across it can easily understand what it is you offer.

Do you have the time?

This is something that is often overlooked with qualifying prospects. Yes, it may be very nice to receive an enquiry, but if you don’t have the time to fulfil it, then you need to say so from the outset. If you take on the work but know that you already have more than enough to fill your time, then some or all of it is going to suffer, and you could ultimately lose out on future business. Check with the prospect first what sort of timelines they have and then consider whether your schedule will permit the work. It is believed that most businesses have 15% pipeline close rate efficiency, meaning that time and resources go into something that 85% of the time doesn’t drive revenue – don’t let that 85% include time wasted on prospects.

Does the prospect have the funds?

The last thing you want is to press ahead with the deal only to find that they cannot pay you for the goods or services. One way of ensuring that a prospect is likely to pay is by running a credit check or gaining access to company credit reports. This can be an incredibly useful way of highlighting whether a prospect has a healthy credit history and could save you a considerable amount of time and money in the long run. Company credit reports can let you view important information such as credit rating and limit, 5 year accounts, CCJ information and full director information, as well as links through to debt scores to find which of your outstanding debts are most likely to be paid, and access to any media stories about that particular company.

Are you speaking to the decision maker?

A sure-fire way to waste time and effort is to do your dealing through someone who isn’t the main decision maker in a company. If you only speak to an assistant or someone who is not the decision maker, then you will likely have to wait for them to feed the information back to the relevant people, which takes time and could be misinterpreted. Always ask to speak to someone in authority, such as a Sales Director, and question the sincerity of a request from someone who is not willing to talk to you themselves.

These are just a few points you should consider when qualifying your prospects, and each prospect will have to be handled slightly differently, but they should give you a good basis from which to start.

 

Business and Football

Which type of football does your business look like?
What can businesses learn from football?

Each version of the beloved game has different rules, different playing periods, team sizes and injury levels/quantities.

The reason I use football here as a sporting metaphor is the varying stop and review periods:

Footballers have one real aim: to get the ball down the other end and into the goal/across the line more times than their opponents do. Small business owners aim to win customers more frequently than their competitors do. That way they grow their profits and meet their goals.

The use of rest periods in football as a business metaphor is to compare and contrast how often small business owners take time out from the business to look at what is going on; to work on the business instead of in the business.

Working in the business brings in the money as you deliver on each customer order. Working on the business ensures the company is heading in the right direction, is meeting its targets and everyone understands is what direction they should be pushing.

Within large businesses there are layers of management to be doing this type of work constantly; for smaller businesses this isn’t the case. There is rarely enough money to have somebody doing this, unless you consider that to be the sole purpose of the Managing Director. The problem is that even he, or she, often gets pulled in to the business; meeting customers, going to sales meetings, talking to the bank etc. So what do you do?

In my humble opinion, you monitor constantly and assess periodically. Monitoring constantly doesn’t mean looking over everyone shoulder every minute of the day. Football managers are lucky as they have the TV cameras to record everything and the statisticians to produce relevant statistics. Small business owners should identify what is important for them to assess and then ensure the necessary information is being recorded constantly.

What do I mean by this? Lets consider some examples:

  • If you are a manufacturing business, keep records of raw material costs, the time used in the manufacturing process and the rate at which stock is moving.
  • If you are a services business, record the time used to deliver on each project.
  • If you are a retailer, look at the footfall patterns, the stock levels and ensure the date codes are being watched.

Above all else, make sure you know where your sales opportunities are coming from, no matter what type of business you are.

If you look at your financial year as a football match, how often should you be assessing and communicating? Again, let’s look at the various versions of the beautiful game:

  • Mob football had few, if any, rules. I doubt there was a manager and the free for all meant that lots of people got hurt or simply buggered off because they didn’t know what was going on.
  • Sunday League teams will stand at the side of the pitch at half-time for a fag and an orange segment, listen to the manager for a couple of minutes and then slag each other for either not doing something or doing it badly.
  • Premiership teams will return to a private space (their dressing room) to receive, hopefully, constructive information about the performance and direction on how to improve in the 2nd half of the game.
  • Aussie Rules and American football break the game into quarters. This means there are more opportunities to assess and communicate so the players know what is going on and how it can be further improved (or fixed dependent upon the score at the time).

Which do you think is better for your business?

How often do you take time to assess the performance of the business and then communicate matters to your staff?

How often do you listen to them about what ideas they have that could improve the business and generate more profit?