If you look back at how your business has fared over the last six months, does it seem like you’ve been treading water, or worse, slipping down the drain? Do you still have the same number of clients today that you had six months ago?
If you talk to small business owners, you’ll find that many – like you – are stuck in a place where nothing seems to change. This happens easily; you just keep doing business the same way, marketing the same way, taking care of the business that comes your way, and doing nothing to create change.
What can you do differently?
If you feel that your sales and marketing efforts are stuck in a rut, then it’s time to kick-start your performance and get new clients into your business. Here are six steps that are specific and aggressive:
1. Set a goal
What are your goals? Have you set any? You may have resisted putting your goals down on paper, because this would signal that you are committed to action. This commitment implies accountability, and if you don’t reach that goal; then you have failed.
Long-term goals are essential to business success. But to implement change relatively quickly, you need to set short-term goals.
How do you measure your success? Is it based on total monthly turnover, how many clients you see on a weekly/monthly basis, number of listings, number of training days booked or billable hours? Work out what numbers would be easy to measure in your business and easy to track on an ongoing basis and use these to set your goals.
For example you could decide that you need to achieve the following within the next three months:
- Increase your turnover by 10%.
- Get two more clients into your business.
- Find ten new houses to list.
- Get bookings for an additional three training days per month.
- Up-sell to existing clients and increase your billable hours for every client.
There is huge power to be found in setting short-term goals – a 30-, 60- or 90-day goal – because it is so easy to lose direction when running a business. Once you have written down your goal make sure you put it somewhere you can see it every day to help you stay on track.
2. Make decisions
How much time do you currently spend marketing your business? An hour a week, two hours? It’s time to get serious about your marketing…What if you were to double the time you spend? Imagine the impact this could have on your bottom line. If you decide to up it to an hour a day, make sure you plan this time carefully. Look critically at how you currently spend your time; are you moving towards your goals? If not, delegate, outsource or put non-essential projects on the backburner for a while if possible. Decide to do it, make the time, and put all your excuses away for a while.
Your marketing efforts should allow you to:
- Track your results
- Measure your ROI (return on your investment)
With a scattergun approach – where you try to be too many things to too many people – it will be impossible to track your results and measure your ROI. To get new clients quickly your efforts need to be specific and targeted.
You may have identified more than one target market for your product or service. But for now let’s choose one aspect of your business, one particular target market and market only to this group for the moment.
This will allow you to tailor your message in order to market the solution to that one problem that you are an expert in solving. You can then sell the direct benefit to your clients and answer the only question they have: What’s in it for me? By targeting your marketing you will see greater results in a shorter space of time, when compared to an effort that sees you spread yourself far and wide.
If it is worth doing, it must be measurable, so to ensure your success you need to track your results on a daily or weekly basis. Commit your tactics and the frequency with which you are going to employ them to paper. Actually write down how many emails you are going to send, how many phone calls you are going to make and how many clients you plan to visit.
Hold yourself accountable for staying on track and working the plan every day. If you find you are struggling then get some help. Ask a friend, family member or coach to help out and report your progress to them, and watch your productivity soar.
5. Taste test
If you sell a service, or an intangible result, you need to get creative with your marketing. It is difficult to sell something when you can’t guarantee an outcome, or if the outcome is dependent on someone else. A way around this is to find a way to allow people to experience what you do. Is it possible to give them a little “taste” of how you work or what you could do for them? You could offer: free sessions, an informative e-book, or a sample pack.
For example, if you do massages, do a deal with a local hair salon and offer free or cheap five-minute massages to their clients. It should be a win-win situation for both of you. The search for new clients may mean that you need to start thinking outside the box. Get creative and make it easy for people to do business with you. Find a way to let them experience your unique talents, but remember to make it clear how they can take the next step – for example by booking a session with you.
The final step is to believe in yourself and the value that you deliver to your clients. Unless you believe that you are the best person to solve their problems, they won’t believe it and won’t hire you. Re-look at how you sell yourself and what you say about your business. Practice your elevator statement and your sales pitch. Listen to what you say about your service or yourself – you need to convince potential clients that you really want their business.
It’s clear that finding new clients is dependent more on a mindset change than on the state of the market. If you decide to get serious about improving your sales and marketing efforts, now’s the time to set some clear goals, line up the customers you want to target and put your plan into action.
If you hold yourself accountable to what you’ve set out to achieve, you’ll do whatever it takes to bring in the business.
* Adele Howell-Pryce is a business coach who specialises in working with small businesses and solopreneurs specifically in the area of sales and marketing. Her website is www.1StopMarketingSuccess.com. She is also an accomplished public speaker and the founder of the ISPA (International Speaking Professionals Association) www.InternationalSpeakingProfessionals.com.