The most important thing in business is to get paid. Without getting paid, whatever you do is charity. That’s not a knock on altruistic behavior, but if your goal is to have a viable business, then you need to get paid.
Technology has improved our ability to get paid quickly and painlessly (almost). If you take credit or debit cards for payment, you get paid within minutes or days. If you accept purchase orders, you get paid in 30, 45 or sometimes 60 days. Many businesses use discount incentives to get paid faster. My oil company gives me a discount if I pay in 10 days rather than 30. With the minimal interest I earn in a checking account, taking the discount is a better deal.
The biggest delay in the purchase process is getting a quote to a customer and having them sign it. This is worse as the product, service or project gets bigger and more expensive. Whether you are selling a car, an ERP system or cutting down a tree, you want your customer to do this as quickly as possible. The faster they sign the quote, the faster you get paid.
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Today I went into my local Apple store for my first One-to-One Personal Projects session. I bought a MacBook Pro 2 weeks ago so that I can produce podcasts, videos and more multimedia content for my company and our customers. I have been working with Keynote, iMovie and GarageBand, but it was time to get some expert help. If you are not familiar with it, the One-to-One membership lets you get individualized help on projects or just have someone teach you how to use an application. It costs $99 US for the year and you can use it as often as you like – pretty amazing. I reserved my spot online and it was a breeze. Read the rest of this entry »
Sounds like a simple enough question, but many of us are not sure. Some companies think that everyone breathing and with some cash is their customer. In the consulting business you need to know what you can do and for whom. Sales people hate walking away from any potential deal, but better to be honest with the customer and tell them you can’t do something, then lose your shirt and reputation later on. Read the rest of this entry »
That sounds crazy! How can I sell something if I forget what I am selling? In a great post on selling, Barry Farber talks about how to chase down a large account. His thinking can apply to marketing and selling to any size business. My favorite part of this is to forget about what you sell. Think about what your customer sells. Learn about your customer’s business. Who do they sell to? Why? How? How can you help them increase their business? Remember that the customer doesn’t care about you. The customer cares about themselves and how you might help them sell more.
The first step should be to visit your customer’s website. Read about their products and services, read their case studies, read their newsletters, read their current activities. If they have a blog, comment on it. This is a great way to engage them on their terms. You are providing them with something valuable and they will see you as someone who is interested in them and their customers.
Does this sound obvious? It might be, but it’s amazing how few people do it.
Stop worrying about what you sell and help your customer sell what they sell.
I hate it when I call a company and get put on hold. It’s not the wait so much, it’s the music. Most of the time it’s something really annoying that loops endlessly. Occasionally I get something interesting, like a local radio station giving me traffic reports or music. Some give me the option to cancel the music and play a beep once in awhile to let me know I’m still connected.
How about using this as an opportunity to connect with me as an existing or potential customer? My local automobile dealership has the owner read local trivia from a book to pass the time on hold. They also inform me about service specials for my car. This makes me feel that I am doing something productive with my time. It’s also fun and make me feel wanted. If you tell me about other sections of your website, maybe you can get me to go there while I’m waiting on the phone. Maybe I will read a blog post or find out more about you.
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