Business Travel More than Doubles Prospective Clients

While the media is abuzz with stories on how to leverage online video and Internet conferencing apps to hold down expenses, some businesses are adding to the bottom line by winning new customers the old fashioned way: they are visiting them, in person.

By Paul Moore

While the media is abuzz with stories on how to leverage online video and Internet conferencing apps to hold down expenses, some businesses are adding to the bottom line by winning new customers the old fashioned way: they are visiting them, in person.

An industry study (PDF) shows that there’s a direct connection between how much a company invests in business travel and its overall profitability. Okay, full disclosure time—the report was funded by the U.S. Travel Association. However, the group hired the respected Oxford Economics, an adjunct to Oxford University’s business college, to do the research.

Faceoff: In-Person vs. Online Meetings
The study included both econometric analysis and surveys of business executives. One of the more interesting things the execs had to say was that they believe in-person meetings are crucial to turning prospects into new customers. Apparently, face-to-face meetings convert prospects to customers at about a 40 percent clip. Without a “real” meeting, that rate falls to just 16 percent, the executives estimated. In other words, prospect conversion more than doubles when business is conducted live and in person.

Of course, the substitutes for actual meetings are many, including the old standby telephone call along with emails, online video conferences and more. In any case, the real deal seems to trump all the other options for bringing prospects onboard.

Taken from the prospective of a company’s travel budget, the Oxford Economics study says that there’s a $12.50 return for every dollar invested in business travel. Further, it concludes that on average a company’s profits drop by 17 percent the year it decides to eliminate business travel and that it takes more than three years for profits to bounce back.

Despite the business travel payoff, just over half—51 percent to be exact—of the businesses surveyed for the study said they had recently cut back their travel budgets. The reductions averaged 35 percent.

Customer Retention
Another survey done by Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and cited in the Oxford Economics report, shows that in-person meetings are also critical to customer retention rates. Failing to meet personally with existing customers would result in a loss of up to 25 percent of those customers. Revenue lost would come in at about 28 percent. Competitors willing to show up in person would make significant inroads.

The biggest risk here seems to be among manufacturers who estimate a revenue drop of 38 percent if they decide to keep their road warriors at home in the stable and fail to maintain personal contact with their existing customer base.

Governmental Boondoggles?
Not long ago the public was treated to almost unending reports about federal agency conferences gone bad. Media accounts of a General Services Administration’s convention in Las Vegas looked more like a college coed Spring break video than the work of a public agency charged with the mission to help minimize taxpayer costs.

In fact, among the various sectors of the U.S. economy, government is the third biggest spender when it comes to business travel. If we can get the image of Congressional junkets to tropical islands out of our minds for a moment, the Oxford Economics study suggests that an increase of $1 million dollars in federal government travel expenses would result in an increased worker productivity payoff of as much as $4.6 to $6.3 million. Yes, we did use the words “government” and “increased productivity” in the same sentence. According to the study, it can happen.

Reward Travel
We’ve seen airlines tighten up on their reward travel programs over the years, but the study indicates that within a company, dolling out travel awards as incentives is one of the most powerful ways it can motivate employees. While the airlines may not be rewarding you so much today, don’t stop rewarding your workers.

People tend to view travel as a luxury and psychologically it can have a bigger impact—when measured dollar-for-dollar—than other ways companies devise to reward job performance.

TIP: If you’re the decision maker, be sure to pop for any baggage fees when you’re bestowing travel awards on your high performers.

Finally, as much as we’re in love with technology like Skype, GoToMeeting and Scriblink, it looks like they’re not a complete replacement for the personal touch. We still need to amass those frequent flier miles.

About the Author
Paul Moore is a frequent traveler for his business endeavors with Bakken Residence Suites, a corporate housing provider in North Dakota. Follow Paul on LinkedIn.

How to be comfortable in online video

Video has become so common that almost everyone is a TV star these days. But how confident are you on camera?

The Internet is awash with video. At any one moment in time, every single second of the day or night, 308 videos are being watched on YouTube – and YouTube only has just over 50% of the online video market…! If you sat down in front of your computer and watched only the videos which were uploaded to the Internet today it would take you 22 years of non-stop watching….! Online video is MASSIVE…!

And that means individuals are now the video stars. The world over, ordinary folk are becoming presenters, doing “pieces to camera” in instruction videos, business videos and promotional videos. Anyone and everyone can appear on video; no longer is it the domain of “the professional”.

But with this massive outpouring of video creativity comes a problem. Millions of people lack confidence in front of the camera. The problem for business owners is that if you don’t do video you are seen as out-dated and old-fashioned. You can no longer hide behind the camera, you have to come in front of it. And for millions of business people that’s a real issue. They can not really promote their products and services online very well because they don’t have the confidence to appear on camera.

Simple steps to boost confidence

Confidence is a biological issue. It is associated with hormonal changes in your body which are triggered by fears and anxieties. Thankfully, because those hormonal changes are based on biological triggers, they can be switched off with other biological triggers, thereby helping to restore confidence.

The number one biological switch to boost confidence as a result of changing hormone levels in your body is:

MUSCULAR ACTVITY

Exercise changes your hormonal balance, removing the anxiety provoking, negative hormones and helping to restore your confidence. So, you can achieve this biological switch by making sure you get some exercise prior to any video recording you are involved with. You might like a work out in the gym, or a swim, but for many people all you need is a brisk 20-minute walk and your body relaxes and changes. Whatever your favourite muscle-using activity might be, that’s the one to try. Yes, even sex can help..!

Other ways of improving video confidence

Another issue to address is the anxiety you might have before facing the camera. This in itself can trigger the hormonal changes which impact upon confidence. So, addressing your fears and concerns in the first place can be worthwhile. For some people the thought of appearing on video is so terrifying that they need therapy, such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). Thankfully, such treatment is not required for most people. Most of us who are concerned about being on video can simply change the way we think. One way of doing that is with self-hypnosis audio recordings which help you get your mind into the right frame.

Practice helps

One of the reasons we become anxious is lack of familiarity with things. The more you do something, the more confident you become. So, one of the reasons why people lack confidence with online video is because they do not do it often enough. Instead of doing one video every now and then, save them up and do a batch. The first one may be a little shaky, but as you go through the day your confidence will improve and you can then go back to the first one and re-record it full of happiness.

You may look at many business videos online and wish you could be as confident and anxiety-free as some of the presenters. With these simple steps, you can.

The 4 Dimensions of Personality and What They Mean for Customer Service

By understanding the different dimensions of personality, you’ll be better able to guess whether individual employees will do better in specific types of customer service situations. Read on to learn about various aspects of personality, and what they mean for your employees’ approach to customer service.

By Valerie Cecil

According to the Myers-Briggs personality test, we all fall somewhere on a continuum on four different dimensions of personality. Each dimension has benefits and drawbacks for customer service representatives. Some representatives are better at handling emotional customers, while others are better with customers who know just what they want but need a little help with the details.

By understanding the different dimensions of personality, you’ll be better able to guess whether individual employees will do better in specific types of customer service situations. Read on to learn about various aspects of personality, and what they mean for your employees’ approach to customer service.

1. Introversion versus extroversion: Introverts tend to think before they speak, while extroverts speak first, then think about whether they meant what they said. From a customer service standpoint, it’s better to employ those who think first, but extroverts have certain other characteristics that make them successful in customer service positions too. For instance, while introverts need alone time to recharge, extroverts gain their energy from being around and interacting with others. Introverts enjoy one-on-one customer interactions, while extroverts often prefer making presentations to groups. Both types of individuals can be great at customer service, but if you notice characteristics of introversion or extroversion in your customer service representatives, use this knowledge to your advantage when assigning specific tasks.

2. Sensing versus intuition: Those who are better at sensing tend to live in the present, taking their cues from past experience to create common-sense, practical solutions to problems or issues that arise. Those who are intuitive, on the other hand, prefer thinking about future possibilities, and are imaginative and creative. For customer service representatives, it’s typically a benefit to be sensing, as this type of person is better able to solve current customer needs. Intuitive personalities, on the other hand, can sometimes find creative and unusual solutions to ordinary problems, and can be great at predicting customer needs in the future so as to fill holes you may not even know you have.

3. Thinking versus feeling: Thinking personalities are great at going through information and organizing it into logical categories. They’re able to stay detached where feeling personalities get emotionally involved. Feeling personalities hate conflict and are sensitive to the needs of others. For customer service representatives, both thinking and feeling can be a benefit, depending on the individual customer. Some customers want pure information and analysis, delivered as succinctly as possible, which is a great fit for thinkers, while others need to make an emotional connection to the salesperson or associate, which is where feelers can shine. Having a mix of thinking and feeling personalities on your staff means you’ll have both of these types of customer covered, and be able to call on whomever seems like a good fit for an individual customer.

4. Judging versus perceiving: Judging personalities tend to have a plan going into each new situation, whereas perceiving personalities are much more flexible and willing to adjust based on what’s going on around them. Judging personalities are detail-oriented, which is often a benefit to companies, and they enjoy taking action and working well ahead of deadlines. Perceiving personalities, on the other hand, are comfortable in unfamiliar situations in which they don’t already have a set plan, and work best under the pressure of an impending deadline. Judges, therefore, can often make persuasive salespeople, as they know where they’re headed in each customer interaction, but perceivers are better in unknown situations, such as when a customer is unhappy with a purchase or interaction he or she has had.

About the Author
Valerie Cecil is a research coordinator, marketing specialist and writer for Tissue Paper At Retail Packaging. Her work allows her to investigate many topics, ranging from online consumer relations to effective communication in the workplace. When she is not working, she enjoys kayaking, watercolor, and scouting out the best Tissue Paper At Retail Packaging out there.

Oh no, not more sales training?

When choosing sales training there are several factors to consider. Psychologists look at the key issues.

By Bryan McCrae of Sales Motivations

We’ve all been there, subjected to boring, instantly forgettable training.

I remember, many years ago when I was training to be a sales person that some of the training consisted of sitting in a room by myself, watching the video and listening to someone drone on about various sales techniques. I’m absolutely certain that I slept through a significant proportion of them, despite my best efforts to stay awake.

Of course, in these enlightened times, we all know better, don’t we ?

Well, I’m not always very convinced, in particular when it comes to training and development activities delivered as e-learning. The trouble is that it is really easy to produce very poor e-learning materials very quickly. In fact there are quite a few tools out here that do it virtually automatically if you point them at a few PowerPoint slides.

Consider what happened when you learnt to drive. It probably went something like this;

The basic controls were explained and demonstrated.

The basic ‘rules of the road’ were explained.

From now on, you’re in the driving seat…..

You were taken through various tasks one at a time, pulling away, steering, changing gear, braking and so on.

 Over a period of several weeks you practised the skills, gradually adding in more as your level of skill improved, such as reversing, overtaking and parking.

 You probably practised the skills in between lessons, until they became habits.

 Some of those skills were more difficult to acquire than others, so you kept practising them over and over until you mastered them.

 You ventured onto different types of roads and traffic conditions.

 You learned what to do in unexpected situations, eg emergency stops, breakdowns

 Until finally you had the skills and experience to take and pass the test.

 Now consider how much corporate training and e-learning works.

You press play, sit back and watch, hopefully listen and possibly click the mouse to move forward occasionally. You may have to answer a few questions at the end to get the certificate.  You’ve probably forgotten the whole experience within a few days and nothing changes as a result. Much class-room based training is very similar; just replace the screen with a trainer,

So why is the learning to drive approach more effective than the one I’ve just described?

There are many important differences; here are just a few of them.

Timing, relevance and pace – you learn to drive when it is most relevant to your life and circumstances, at times that suit you, at your own pace. Frequently sales training is done on a ‘sheep-dip’basis, just put everyone through as quickly as possible, whether the timing is right or not and whether it is relevant to them at that moment.

Flood or drip feed ? – with driving, your learn over an extended period of time, allowing the skills to build through repetition and practise. If the training is delivered as a single ‘flood’ then it tends to wash away as quickly as it came as the memory fades.

Passive or active ? – with driving you are continually involved and active in the process, as opposed to just  observing it happen. By actively using the skills, over and over, you  establish new habits and replace old ones.

Follow-through ? – with driving, once you pass your test, you have a two year period where you are subject to special rules and you probably had someone keeping a watchful eye over your driving and supporting you as your confidence grew. Often with training, you’re on your own the moment you leave to room or quit the program.

Graham Jones, Internet Psychologist said: “Learning through experience is extremely valuable. Research consistently points to the fact that people recall more about a topic after they have engaged in experiential learning than through any other form. Online, far too much learning is through what might be described as ‘talk and chalk’ where a website provides you with instruction, but you don’t actually do anything. Rather like the interactive leaning of driving a car, online learning which is two-way and experiential is much more likely to lead to success.”

In a recent study on a Physics degree course, an experiment was done to test the effects of these factors and similar factors with 267 students. Those who were taught using an interactive approach scored twice as highly in tests as those taught using a conventional (sit and listen) approach. Engagement also doubled and attendance rates were 20% higher. Psychologists have found similar effects in many other studies too.

So, next time you are choosing some training for yourself or your team, consider the above factors and it will be much more likely to be valuable, rather than the waste of time and money that it sadly often is.

About the author
Bryan McCrae is a Sales Psychologist, Sales Coach and the founder of Sales-Motivations. He has a personal award winning track record in sales and sales management spanning almost twenty years and in 2003 he founded Cognitive Sales to help organisations improve sales performance. He founded Cognitive Enterprises Limited in 2009 to create Sales-Motivations.

Should You Put Prices on Your Website?

Should you put prices on your website? Here are the reasons why you should and why you should not.

By Karyn Greenstreet

The decision to put your prices on your site is a strategic one for your business. In some ways it can make you feel vulnerable.

Ask yourself: What does my prospective customer want and need?

Studies have shown the consumers want to see prices of products and services. Even a price range is sufficient. But many business owners have reasons why they prefer to not include pricing.

How can you decide which way to go? Here are some pros and cons to consider:

Reasons to Put Your Fees and Prices on Your Site

  • Trust. Many customers will not do business with a company who is not forthcoming about pricing and fees. They simply won’t waste their time talking with a sales rep only to find out that the price is too high (or too low, which may feel cheap or low quality to them).
  • Price Range. Customers want to know what they’re going to pay for your service or product, or at least have a ballpark figure.
  • Unaffordable Beliefs. Some customers believe, perhaps incorrectly, that if the price is not shown, then it must be too high. They reason that if they aren’t shown the price, they probably can’t afford it.
  • Efficiency. People who can’t afford your services or products will not request a prospect sales phone call. Hear me out: do you want to spend time convincing people on the phone that they can afford you, when they really think they can’t or don’t see the value you are offering? It’s hard to have phone calls with people who have unrealistic expectations because they don’t know the fees. Trying to convince them is a hard-sell tactic that I choose to avoid.
  • Branding. Pricing is a strategic marketing decision and helps to set your brand apart from others. Are you the low-cost leader? Are you the expert who people pay more for because you’re worth it? Your fees tell the prospective customer where you place yourself among the others in the industry and which target market you want to serve. There is no right or wrong pricing strategy. The key is that you’ve developed on through your marketing plan.
  • Discounting. For products and classes, there’s typically no negotiation in pricing: either they purchase it or they don’t. You can always create a separate page with special pricing for existing customers or special groups, or offer coupon codes that give discounts, if you want a tiered pricing approach to products and classes. Or indicate that you have payment plans, if that helps your customer with a buying decision.
  • Budgeting. If people feel like they can’t afford you, but want to work with you, they now have a price-point from which they can start savings towards working with you. I have had a number of clients who tell me that they saved for three months in order to work with me.
  • Honoring. Your customers are busy and time-constrained. They need information at the moment when they have time to do their research. Don’t make them jump through hoops. Try to be helpful in getting them all the information they need, not just in your pricing, but in the valuable benefits you offer.
  • Information Gathering. People who are looking for a price range so they can get some budgeting ideas may be a perfect client for you. One of the important stages your customers’ sales timeline is the Information Gathering phase when they are researching possible solutions. Get to know your prospective customer’s process for making buying decisions and plan your marketing accordingly. This is especially true when marketing to women: they do a lot of research before they buy.

Reasons Not to Put Your Fees and Prices on Your Site

  • Customized Services or Product. Sometimes you can’t list your prices, because each person gets a customized quote based on what they need from you, like a home builder or a website designer. But you can offer packages with a note that says, “Fees start at…” for each package. Or show them examples of your work and indicate what each of those project fees were.
  • Competition. You’re afraid your competition will find out how much you charge. Bad news: your competition already knows what you charge. It’s easy for them to have a friend pose as a prospective customer and get your entire price list. Or your customers tell others what they paid. You are going to have a tough time keeping your pricing private, especially in the internet age.
  • Value. You feel that they need to talk with you first, so that you can show them how valuable your service is, before quoting them a price. That is the job of your website. If your website is written well, it will easily show someone whether you can solve their problem and that the price they’ll pay is worth it. Then, when a prospective customer finally does call you, they’ve already been pre-sold by your website and you don’t have to struggle to convince them of anything. I figure if a sales rep needs to speak with me, it’s because they think the product or service “needs explaining,” or that they need to “handle my objections.” Neither is a good excuse to waste my time on something that doesn’t need explaining or should have been explained thoroughly on the website. Need help with your copywriting? Read my blog post on 6 Copywriting Steps for Non-Copywriters.
  • Rapport. Your service is based on your personality and your rapport with your customers. Therefore, they need to speak with you in order to get the connection and see if it’s a good fit. I agree with this 100%. But if it’s a perfect fit, and they can’t afford you, how does that benefit either of you? Why not put some videos on your website, offer some free teleclasses or workshops, so they get a chance to experience you before the prospect call is scheduled.
  • Price Fixing. You (or your industry) in concerned about price fixing. By definition, price fixing is a conscious agreement among businesses to keep the price of something unnaturally high or low, instead of letting free-market forces determine what each customer pays. Putting your own prices on your own website is not a conscious agreement with other businesses, it’s not a conspiracy, and therefore is not price fixing. If you’re really concerned that you’ll be accused of price fixing, consult your business attorney.
  • Mimics. You are concerned that competitors who are less qualified than you will increase their prices to mimic yours, but offer poor service. Let them. You cannot be responsible for what your competitor does. If they charge too much and offer a shoddy product or service, they’ll be out of business soon enough anyway.
  • Uniqueness. You feel that your service or product is not unique, but is exactly the same as what your competitor offers. This is called a commodity. But a commodity implies that what the customer is purchasing is the same, regardless of vendor (like milk, flour or gasoline). By being clear on what makes you unique, different or better than your competitor, you avoid being seen as a commodity. This is called your Unique Selling Proposition. If you don’t have one, get one.
  • Ongoing Marketing. You’re concerned that if someone sees your prices but doesn’t reach out to you, you won’t have any way to connect with them in the long term. This is where having an offer on your website they can sign up for can help you gather a list of people who may be interested in your product or service. Think: email newsletter, teleclass or whitepaper. However, you need to handle these people differently than you would a bona fide prospect, because they’re in the Information Gathering stage of the sales cycle, not the Decision Making phase.  Establish your sales and marketing strategy and funnel, and reach out to people based on where they are along the sales path.
  • Price Shopping and Tire Kickers. If they’re shopping on price alone, they’re probably not your ideal client unless you are Wal-Mart. People who shop only based on price will leave you when they find someone cheaper. So if you put your prices on your website, you get them to exit before they waste your time. If a prospective customers is truly *only* shopping on price, then it wouldn’t matter if you tell them the price on the phone or on your website.
  • Not Knowing Your Worth. It’s true. Many small business owners feel uncomfortable setting their prices because they don’t truly know their value. Here’s some tips in setting your service fees.

What To Do?

Whether you put your prices on your site or not is a personal business decision. It depends on your business and marketing strategy. Just make sure you make your decision based on what’s helpful to your customer and right for your marketing plan, not based on your fears about what “might” happen.

If you don’t put your prices on your site, it may be helpful to explain to people why you didn’t include them, and explain what the next step is in the process. Prospective customers will be curious to understand why they need to speak with you first.

People often ask me, “Don’t you think you’ll lose prospective clients that way?” My answer is: I get 10 phone calls a week from people who want small business coaching/consulting from me. I’m not losing ideal client prospects by putting my fees on my website.

So…should you put your pricing on your website or not?

The best thing you can do it test it. Put your prices on your site for two-to-four weeks, and compare the results. If you get more inquiries, more sales, easier conversions, then you know your audience found it helpful.

You’ll never know if something works or not until you try it.

Do you put your prices on your site? Why or why not? When visiting other sites, do you want to find pricing there? Share your comments, ideas and suggestions below. We’ll all benefit from understanding the pros and cons. I can’t wait to hear from you!

About the Author
Karyn Greenstreet s the President of Passion For Business, LLC. Karyn is an internationally-known speaker, author, and self-employment expert who has taught business and personal development topics to over 260,000 people worldwide. She is extraordinarily passionate about helping self-employed people to create the life and business they want. She is the recipient of the 2011 Most Inspiring Business Woman award.

How the “Email and Video Persuasion Bootcamp” became a success

Internet marketing advice from Gareth Williams who developed his own video lessons after suggestions from “gurus” did not work.

This is a case history of how an internet marketer gained success

By Gareth Williams

Get More Profits from Existing TrafficI am the creator of the Email and Video Persuasion Bootcamp. I want to share my success story with you because if you are anything like me you crave the freedom from the daily grind of a 9 to 5 office job and just want to be your own boss.

The secret to my success is that I have developed the most effective way to build an online business and now business is booming. It didn’t happen overnight, in fact it took a lot of research and soul searching to understand why what I was doing just didn’t return the results that I thought I deserved. In fact, the boot-camp videos themselves are a culmination of 10 years work and research crammed into just 4 hours!

At first when I researched, I listened to the supposed gurus but nothing seemed to work. As you know there is a lot of information out there and I didn’t know enough at the time to be able to sift the scammers out from the genuine thing.

It turned out that that none of the advice that I came across worked. But instead of giving up on my dream to live independently and own my own business, I changed my thinking and started looking elsewhere for the answers that I was seeking.

I needed to understand human behaviour and the psychology of selling in order to reach people.

I found those answers in some unusual places and when I applied them my business grew exponentially. The changes that I saw literally blew my mind. Yet the answer was so simple. I couldn’t understand why everyone wasn’t doing it, then I realised it was up to me to spread the word.

What I recognised was that the secret to marketing anything online was to be genuine. If you provide quality content and communicate regularly (at least once per week), your customers will respond. Far too often email list owners bombard their customers with promotion after promotion. I can guarantee you that your response rate would be terrible. You are sitting on an absolute goldmine if you have your own email list of subscribers. It is the easiest way to generate consistent sales, but, you must commit to a relationship and develop trust. By doing so you will have taken the preliminary steps to becoming a success with your business.

Let me show you what I mean by sharing some of the key elements of the boot-camp training-

Creating your legend
People need to know who you are and what you believe. Why else will they buy from you? Show them that you understand what they value and share that same belief.

Internet business is not just about the sale it is about the relationship. Understand your subscribers and they will be loyal to you. Don’t forget to tell them why you are different from others who offer the same product and service. Don’t be shy about your point of difference.

Teach your subscribers
How many times have you had rubbish sent to your inbox? Maybe so many times that you unsubscribe from the list because they are so annoying. Send quality content to your subscribers not rubbish that is just wasting their time. Take the time to research and provide information that is useful to them after all this is a relationship, right? Here’s a top tip, give something away for free which offers MORE value than what your competitors are selling.

Build your influence
Have you ever wondered why some people are so successful with their online business, everything turns to gold? You know why it is because the know how to not only use the influence with their powers of persuasion but they know how to build their influence in the first place. You need to tap into YOUR power to persuade, everyone can, you just need to know how. I always use ethical subliminal influence and covert persuasion in my copy. If you’re providing quality content then it is your duty to do what you can to get the sale. If your product is going to help your customers reach their goal/s, you’re doing a disservice by not using the above techniques. Also, you deserve to reap the rewards of your hard work and achieve financial freedom. This is what I have achieved and I want to share my success with you.

IMPORTANT – I want to make it absolutely clear that these videos are only for people who have a genuine product or service to sell. What I teach is very powerful and don’t think for a second that you can use it to sell below par products. You may make a quick buck but you can say goodbye to repeat sales and customers. I don’t condone any unethical selling and if you use what I teach you for unethical means, then you’ll deserve what you get.

I invite you to join me in my boot-camp. Want a little taster? no problem, you can watch first 20 minutes for free here – www.growingyouronlinebusiness.com/bootcampvideo.html

If you do decide to join the course, you have a full 30 days to test it for yourself. If you’re not happy I will refund you, no questions asked. So you have nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain.

Start on that road to freedom with the first steps. Build your online business and say goodbye to that life that keeps you chained. Dare to dream of a successful enterprise, the key is in my boot-camp and I will wait for you on the inside.

Email and Video Persuasion Bootcamp

How to Use QR Codes to Increase Sales

QR codes are an excellent tool for business branding, website traffic, and attracting customer interest. Unfortunately, interest doesn’t automatically equate to an increase in sales.

QR codes are an excellent tool for business branding, website traffic, and attracting customer interest. Unfortunately, interest doesn’t automatically equate to an increase in sales. Once you have the customer base, you need to start hard selling your items using various techniques. QR codes have the potential to help you with increase your sales.

QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes that hold alpha-numeric characters such as website URLs, email addresses, and contact information. These barcodes are easily scanned with any smartphone. There are numerous free applications available for your customers to use to scan your QR codes.

Discounts & Coupons
Perhaps the biggest advantage to QR codes is the ability to offer discounts and coupons through them. It’s possible to create unadvertised sales pages and have prescreened customers directed to that page. Using their smartphone’s web browser, the website is immediately accessible to them. Use QR codes to re-direct your customers to discount or coupon pages on your website. They are more likely to purchase your product immediately if they receive an incentive for it.

Direct Marketing Campaigns
Many companies use direct marketing campaigns to advertise their services and products. These campaigns consist of direct mailing flyers, email campaigns, and newsletters that advertise their new products and highlight the reasons to use their services. QR codes strategically placed in these advertisements direct your customers through your sales funnel.

Increase Store Traffic
Bricks-and-mortar businesses benefit from an increase in foot traffic. You need to get people in your store in order to increase your sales. QR codes hold a significant amount of text which can include your contact information, driving directions, parking, etc. Place your contact information QR code on your advertisements, direct mailers, website and business cards. This guarantees your customers always know how to find you when they need your products because it creates a record in their smartphone.

Special Events
Not quite the same as coupons, special events work well for brick-and-mortar businesses. One-day sales and events often garner extra interest from your customers. This offers the opportunity create special deals for regular customers and not to the general public. Spend your marketing dollars where they will do the most good.

You can create advertisements on your online web presence such as Twitter or your Facebook page. Insert that URL into your QR code and place it on your direct market mailers or ads. Your customers scan it and become a follower online as well as learn about your business. You reap the benefits of a larger fan base as well as an increase in traffic and sales.

5 Ways of Branding With QR Codes

Burning your company’s name, image, and services into your customer’s minds is the ultimate goal to long-term business success. Quick Response codes or ‘QR codes’ can help you in this endeavor.

Branding, a popular marketing concept, emphasizes the need to distinguish your business identity from the competition. Burning your company’s name, image, and services into your customer’s minds is the ultimate goal to long-term business success. Quick Response codes or ‘QR codes’ can help you in this endeavor.

QR codes are graphics that hold information such as website URLs, names, telephone numbers, and email addresses in a two-dimensional barcode. Your customers scan this barcode with their smartphone to access the information hidden in the code. The applications for using QR codes to market your business are endless.

Websites & Blogs
The simplest use for QR codes involves linking to your website or blog to gain customer traffic. You set up your QR code to hold a URL to your website. Your customer scans the QR code with their smartphone and the link opens in the browser on their phone. This increases interest to your website and may garner an increase in sales.

Social Networking
Social networking venues are essential in your marketing and networking strategies. Social websites let you connect to potential clients and customers. Social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter allow you to create incentives for people  ‘liking’ or ‘following’ your online presence.

Since QR codes hold URLs to take your customers immediately to a website, them to send your customers to your Facebook or Twitter accounts. Once they like or follow you, you can offer incentives such as free e-books, tutorials, or coupons.

Discount Coupons
Your customers love discounts and coupons. Set up a page on your website with a discount or coupon that is only accessible through your QR code. The discount acts as an incentive to get your customer to scan your QR code. They get a positive experience from your company and are likely to remember your name for future business.

Personal URL (PURLs)
A direct marketing campaign using QR codes and personal URLs engages your customer and creates a lasting impression. Setting up a microsite or landing page for each customer in your direct marketing campaign creates an interactive experience for your customer. Once you have your PURL set up, you create a QR code with the URL to that microsite. Add the QR code to your direct mailers, emails and newsletters. Your customer scans the QR code and goes to a website tailored to their preferences.

Product Labels
The sizing requirements for a QR code remain flexible. You can create small QR codes to post your contact information on your business cards. You can create billboards with massive QR codes for generating traffic to your business.

Websites such as Cafepress, Vistaprint, and Zazzle let you create customizable giveaways such as pens, notepads, and brochures. Print a QR code on these items to create interest. You may also consider going a step further and putting QR codes on your company shirts, brochures and product sheets.

Inventive use of QR codes will make them feel tech savvy and automatically create a record of your business on their smartphone. Give your customer a reason to use QR codes, and they will.

Make the most of QR Codes

QR codes provide a massive opportunity for businesses – assuming they are used effectively, tested and actually do something.

Quick QRThe box-shaped symbols called QR codes are nothing more than a rather fancy version of the bar code. The only difference between the two is that a QR code carries a lot more data than a traditional bar code.

The QR code was developed by a subsidiary of Toyota in order to improve the speed by which they assembled cars in the factory.

When you look closely, you will see that the average QR code has multitudes of black dots inside a square. Just as a barcode is computed, these dots represent either a 1 or a 0 in binary code and when combined in a series the dots and spaces make up what the QR code is saying.

Normally, the QR code is read starting from the bottom right corner going up to read the first line, then it shifts one row to the left and starts down again. This up and down reading method allows a considerable amount of data to be written inside the QR code making it a much more sophisticated version of the barcode.

What makes using QR codes a good idea for business owners is this large amount of data that can be stored inside them. While the standard bar code can only store a fixed amount of numbers, the QR code can store much more, including things like a hidden sales message for example.

With the advent of high definition cameras available in most smartphones these days it is possible for consumers to decode anything stored inside a QR code. You only need to have a special program (app) that quickly decodes QR codes in order unlock its secret message.

So, business owners can put special announcements, promotions, discounts, coupons and more inside QR codes for consumers to find. Once they have scanned in the QR Code, they can be enticed to take full advantage of the special offer. You can even put prizes in QR Codes that the customers can scan and then download into their phones.

You could perhaps also post a massive QR code as a sign outside your office simply to arouse interest in what it is. In short, the only thing that will limit what you can do with QR Codes will be your imagination.

However, while the code itself may post something as simple as a discount code or a web page link you do have to be a little careful of what you use the QR code for. You just cannot post the QR code without having to think what your objectives are. In order to maximize the effect of a typical QR code, it has to be able to DO something for the customer, or a visitor.

Many businesses, for instance, use the codes to offer an additional free gift, product or service to customers – in other words using the codes to give something extra. Merely using the codes to get people back to your website is not a good use for them.

Try not to include too much in your QR code because the dots tend to be much finer as a result. If the dots cannot be clearly picked up by a typical camera phone, you just lose an opportunity. This is why you must test that codes that you want to use.

Also, if you are posting QR codes in your advertising posters try to avoid putting these posters in places where there is no signal or internet connection..! Seems obvious, but you’d be amazed at the numbers of businesses that waste the opportunity!

Can your website visitors trust you? 4 things that you can do

Before people purchase something on your website, they have to trust you. If your website does not look trustworthy, then you won’t get many sales no matter how many visitors your website has.

There are four things that you should do to show your website visitors that your company can be trusted:

real company1. Show that your website represents a real company

It’s amazing how many Internet businesses don’t list their postal addresses. Do these businesses have something to hide? If your customers don’t know who you are and where you live they might refrain from doing business with you.

Real life example:

You can find our full contact information here. We link to that page at the bottom of every web page. In addition, our full postal address is listed in the footer of every web page. We do this to make sure that our visitors know who we are.

You can see our tax number, our trade register number, publications in which our company was mentioned, etc.

What you should do on your own website:

If you’re serious about your business show your visitors that you have nothing to hide. List your full contact information on your website.

white hat2. Show your website visitors why your company is better

Why should someone buy from you and not from your competitors? Is there anything that distinguishes you from the rest?

Real life example:

We distinguish ourselves from other SEO software companies by using only ethical search engine optimization methods. Our products do not use any shady tactics that will get your website banned from search engines.

We want our visitors to know that they can trust our products and that they are safe to use. That’s why we link to our code of ethics in the footer of every web page.

What you should do on your own website:

Show your website visitors how you’re different and why they should use your products or services instead of the ones of your competitors.

testimonials3. Show your visitors that other people tested it before

If other people have tested your products and services then it’s less risky for new customers to buy from you. Your website visitors want to be reassured that you’re a serious business.

If your company or your product has received awards then show them to your visitors. If your current customers have something positive to say about your products or services, list these testimonials on your website.

What you should do on your own website:

Show your visitors how other people benefited from your products and services and what other people say about you.

guarantees4. Offer your website visitors guarantees

Web surfers don’t like risks. That’s why guarantees will help you to sell more.

Real life example:

It is 100% risk-free to test our products. We offer two guarantees to make it as safe as possible to buy our products:

  1. You can return our website promotion tool IBP within 30 days for any reason. Even if you tell us that the dog ate it, that’s no problem. You will get your money back.
  2. IBP is a tool that helps you to get your website on Google’s first result page for the keywords of your choice. If you use IBP as described in the manual and do not get a top 10 ranking, you will get your money back. This additional guarantee is valid for a full year!

What you should do on your own website:

Show your website visitors that you’re 100% sure that your product or service really delivers. Give strong guarantees so that your website visitors can only win if they try your products.

It’s important to have a trustworthy website if you want to sell something on the Internet. Show your visitors that your business is real and that they can trust you by using the tips above.

Article by Axandra SEO software

There is no such thing as B2B – or B2C either…!

Go to any business meeting these days and talk about Twitter or Facebook and you’ll be met with a familiar cry: “Aha,”, says the hapless accountant, lawyer or consultant to you, “that’s all very well for consumer businesses, but how can it help those of us in the B2B sector?” It is special pleading, suggesting that there is something very different about being in “business to business” that sets you apart from “business to consumer“. These people ask you for “B2B” examples of the success of social media, taunting you that the only real success has been found in the “B2C sector”. “Aha, got you,” they seem to be saying under their breath.

The fact of the matter is – and, be warned, this is really difficult for people who reckon they are in the B2B sector – there is no such thing as either B2B or B2C. It is a false distinction.

B2B is the same as B2C

When I get told that B2B is special I simply ask: “Who buys your stuff? Is it a machine? Is it a business? Or is it a person?”. Often people stumble out a reply saying, “well obviously it is a person,” then there’s a pause and they add “but they are in a business”. This last bit is simply justification for their thought that B2B exists.

So, I pursue my line of enquiry, rather detective-like. “Which businesses then, give you most of your business? Which companies do you sell most to?” People are usually able to say who their best clients are. Then I ask, “And do you have good relationships with the people in that business?” Naturally, the answer is yes.

Then I ask them to think about the businesses they do little business with. I ask them to consider the personal relationships they have in those firms. “Well, I don’t really know anyone there,” is the usual reply. Then it slowly dawns: the “businesses” with which a company has the best personal relationships are the ones which generate the most cash. In other words, you are not selling to a business, but to a person – often a friend.

Asking people in a B2B environment about who they do business with always reveals this fact: most business is done with individuals in a company with whom a good, solid personal relationship exists. Ask any B2B owner if relationships are not important to their sales and they will look at you like you’ve just arrived from the planet Zog.

B2C is the same as B2B

In the “B2C” sector companies, such as retailers know this. They know that each purchase is a one-on-one experience. They are selling to you the individual, whether you are buying a bottle of fizzy pop or a new dining room suite. They focus on selling to individuals, to people – they just call them “consumers” in order to make it sound much more fancy than it is.

The truth is – whether you are selling to businesses or to consumers – it all comes down to relationships. It is all, ultimately person to person business – P2P.

What this means is that “B2C” companies are merely those which concentrate on personal selling. “B2B” firms are often not focusing on the person-to-person nature of their business enough. Once they do, the difference between them and a “B2C” company gets eroded.

Whatever business you are in  your buyers make the same purchasing decisions. Whether it is a bottle of fizzy pop or a multimillion pound mega deal, the brain processes are the same (and ultimately emotionally driven). The buyers do not divide themselves into “B2B” or “B2C” – to them they are just a person buying something. When B2B companies realise they are just a person selling something they will then be able to connect – P2P – using all the wonders of the online world.

Social media may be dominated by “B2C” examples, but that’s only because they are one-step ahead of most “B2B” firms in realising that they are selling to individuals. Social media is P2P – when you focus on being a P2P business instead of a B2B one, that’s when it will work for you.

Four Free Or Open Source Shopping Carts Compared And The Powerful New Winner

Author: Greg Nicholl

Your choice of an e-Commerce Shopping Cart is very important. The software will either be suited or ill-suited to your type of business and your skills. A Wrong choice can make things more of a burden. This article talks about my journey to find a free Open Source Shopping Cart that I could use on my Shared Hosting accounts. Some carts had plenty of functions but lacked important ones like SEO modules. Some were well known but looked old like Web 1.2. One had plenty going for it but took up a ton of PHP memory. After this discovery adventure I present my top 2 choices.

The Journey Begins

When I began my search for a shopping cart I first looked at Zen Cart since I had had a little experience with it before. I find that Zen Cart looks a little bit stale by modern standards. It is noted as a very respectable and stable PHP shopping cart. However, there are few free templates available in the Zen Cart community. Most of what I\’ve seen didn\’t seem to meet the style demands that I was looking for. Granted, I could adjust templates and CSS in order to make it look better. I was not in the mood for that sort of work at the time. Zen Cart has a lot of nice features but the back end and catalog system seems overly complicated. In my opinion, it could take the newbie quite a bit of time to get used to the features of the Zen Cart back end. I decided not to go any further with Zen Cart.

Heavy Duty Stuff – Too Much To Cope With

I began to do some research and I came across a newer offering called Magento. Magento is starting to get a lot of acclaim. It is a very full featured Shopping Cart, in fact some insisted that it is a full business system rather than just a cart. At first look I thought that I had found what I was looking for. I downloaded Magento (you have to register to download it) and began to set it up. Magento has a free Community Edition that can be used. The fuller Professional Edition is available which comes with a paid support package. The Professional Edition comes with a price tag of $2,995 per year. That might hinder the participation of many small business persons. Magento Community has a lot of themes and extensions (otherwise known as modules). The Magento script has an onboard upload feature which connects to Magento Connect, the site where extensions and themes are made available. Some free things are available at Magento Connect but many of them are offered with a price and some with a hefty price tag. I had quite some trouble with installing a free module from Magento Connect. I\’m not sure just what the trouble was but the installation of that extension caused the total destruction of my site. I entertained the thought that I might have uploaded the wrong version of the extension but I had come to the belief that Magento Connect was going to safeguard me from that. At any rate, the site would need restored through a database backup or a total re-installation. I opted to do neither.

Another problem sprung up earlier which helped me to give up on the notion of using Magento. Shortly after I installed the software and started to configure it I received a blank white screen and a PHP memory error. I set up a php.ini file and increased the php memory. The problem did not go away. I did a little research and found out that Magento typically takes a whopping 128 MB of php memory. The more the weight of the php script the higher the amount of memory that is required. Magento is a little hefty. This would create a real problem. I used to run some Drupal sites on GoDaddy. Drupal with a significant number of modules can require from 60 to 90 MB of memory. When I ran into that situation Godaddy said no, I could not have an increase like that. I found that some other hosting companies will allow this on shared hosting accounts. I think it is doubtful that many hosting companies are going to want people to run php scripts at 128 MB. This could necessitate people obtaining Virtual Private Hosting or a Dedicated Server. This does not mean that Magento is bad, but it means that it is not what I am looking for. Magento is rich and feature full but it is for the online merchant who has need of a larger and more powerful site. I deleted the Magento installation and emptied the tables of the database to make ready for my next trial.

Does Not Have Features I Want

Somewhere along the road of discovery I tried Zeuscart, whose website is at http://zeuscart.com/. Zeuscart is a commercial Open Source shopping cart. with a free version. It is not Open Source in the way that Drupal or Joomla are. You are allowed to modify the source code but there is not a large community of developers for support and what community exists is not directly responsibility for the direction and upgrades of Zeuscart. The company AJ Square Inc., is apparently, responsible for maintaining the software. You may use the free version but must pay for the more advanced version with support.

Zeuscart seems to be a nice shopping cart. It has a modern look and feel and is very presentable. It did not have the extra Search Engine Optimization tools that I desired and that caused me to want to keep on looking. Someone on a forum had raised the objection that Zeuscart had had a security issue which could lead to Cross Site Scripting. Hints of this can be found across the Internet with This Site being one example. People tend to think that software owned by a company rather than a volunteer based community may not, and I stress may not, get speedy attention to security issues. I loved the way that Zeuscart looked but I moved on primarily because of the SEO and security issues. Another quirk was their registration process. When you receive your validation email you proceed to the site and are told that you may now change your password. Try as I may on a couple of occasions, I never found a member area and found no place to add or modify any information. That was sort of an ominous sign to me.

A Cute, Fast, Usable Cart

After some research I decided to try Cube Cart. Cube Cart is a nice little cart which is easy to install and is light weight. I found that there a number of really nice themes and modules available for Cube Cart. There is a tendency for sites which offer themes and modules to require registration and to then have them domain restricted. The theme which you register must have a key applied and then will only work on that exact domain. I obtained a very nice free theme called ‘Orange Crush’ at http://www.mycubecart.com. I had to jump through some hoops to get a registration key and get it registered. It will work at that domain only and it has their link in the footer which cannot be removed without paying a licensing fee. These limitations didn\’t seem too intrusive so I kept Cube Cart for one of my two sited. I find that Cube Cart is very user friendly and dependable. It was very easy to set up. The categories are easy to establish and the pricing, payment and other modules were very easy to cope with. For selling digital downloads there is no upload feature. To set up digital downloads one must use FTP to upload them to a folder on your server. This means that you must be sure to list the exact file name, to a tee, or the download will not be available. You can use Google AdSense easily with Cube Cart. In fact I find Cube Cart to be very appealing with an easy interface and it looks sweet. My shop is located here and I like it. The cart does have some limitations in the area of SEO, not offering a complete set of tools to aid Search Engine Optimization. I believe that if I had 8 to 10 solid hours I could have my cart set up and ready to go online.

Presta Shop – A Great New Cart

I wanted to install one more store and I looked further for a good cart with good SEO tools and options. I found that PrestaShop was an up and coming Shopping Cart which was getting some very favorable attention. PrestaShop is a very light weight shopping cart which has nice modern looks and a very good feature set. I found PrestaShop to be very easy to install. There is a large number of modules in the stock installation of PrestaShop. There are modules for meta keywords and meta description, Google Sitemap, traffic analysis, Google Analytics, newsletter, customer notifications, specials, canonical url and many more. The features of PrestaShop offer a lot of ways to gather and analyze the traffic and visitors to your site. Several of the payment gateways are with foreign companies, since PrestaShop originates in France. It does offer the option of PayPal and also Google Checkout also. The shop is fast to load even though it is loaded with a large number of modules.

It was easy to set up categories and to begin to install products. Setting up your display of products is very easy and there is a color selector feature for products which come in a number of colors. Upload of Cover images is very easy as well as the upload of digital products. Digital products are very easy to deal with and they are uploaded to a secure place on the server without the need to use FTP. Prices can be set at $0 on digital products if you want to offer some free items. The selection of a free item will make it available instantly as a free download. Pricing of products can be set with a discount which will expire after a set period of time. Registration is required for purchase of products with PrestaShop but modules are available for a fee, which will enable a one page checkout for people who do not want to register to buy. Some free templates are available for PrestaShop and customization is possible through templates and CSS.

This is the outcome of my shopping cart comparison in. There are many others that I have not covered. However in my opinion, Cube Cart and PrestaShop are fine php shopping carts – my top two picks. After I got my PrestaShop set up at this address The Ebooks Planet and was pleased with it I noticed that I had an email asking me if I wanted to vote for PrestaShop for the 2010 Open-source Award in the E-commerce category! I did vote for this fine cart software and was glad to do so. Then I found that on November 18 PrestaShop won the Open-Source Award for 2010. I pick PrestaShop as the big winner.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/ecommerce-articles/four-free-or-open-source-shopping-carts-compared-and-the-powerful-new-winner-4407992.html

About the Author

Do you need an Ecommerce Shopping Cart solution for your products? Find the whole process comfusing and distracting from your main business focus? Why take time out from the things that you do the best to learn a new field that is foreign to you.

Allow me to set up an effective online store for your business. I have 12 years experience in Web Design and 4 years experience in CMS and Shopping Cart design. I am a qualified Website Designer.

Shopping Carts: Five Tips for Evaluating a System

By Pam Hogan

Google the phrase “shopping cart” and you will get 946 million hits. To say there are a lot of directions you can take when it comes to selecting this ecommerce tool is an understatement.

However, it’s very important that you know what you’re looking for in a shopping cart system so that you will be happy for years to come. This is one element of your ecommerce that you don’t want to have to swap out any time soon.

So many people get lulled into the great offers of free shopping carts that abound. You’ll see ads that mention design combinations, and the ability to take all credit cards, the fact that you can make changes quickly and easily. Now when I see descriptions like this I hear the line, “where’s the beef?” These are features meant to impress but in truth they are just fluff. So, be suspicious when you read features describing a shopping cart system and there’s no meat to it.

So, how do you evaluate a shopping cart? Below I have provided you with five elements to consider.

1: Can it handle the delivery of digital products? If you think you might want to sell an ebook or special report or some other digital product then you need to make sure your cart can handle the delivery of soft goods as well as hard.

2: Some carts limit your ability to alter your pricing which means you won’t be able to create a special offer without some act of congress.

3: “Time is money” is an expression that never gets dated. You don’t want to have to reenter information from your shopping cart to your accounting program. Instead, you want to evaluate the shopping cart you’re considering to be sure that it integrates with your accounting software. Otherwise, you’ll be doing far more work than is necessary.

4: Would you like fries with that? This is a question most of us have been asked at some point. If you answered yes, you bought the upsell. Upsells are the easiest way to make extra money without doing extra work. Isn’t it easier to sell french fries to someone who just bought a hamburger than it is to find someone from off the street who wants to buy your fries? Of course it is which is why you want a shopping cart that can handle sophisticated upsells.

5: If you haven’t yet put up your first website it might be hard to imagine that one day you may have several sites. But the truth is that online shoppers respond better to masters than Jacks of all trade, which is why the people making money online have a site dedicated to a niche, talent, or field. You too will probably have more than one website in time which is why you want a shopping cart that you can use on an infinite number of sites without them being tied together in any way. Following this tip can save you a lot of money and headache in the future.

Evaluating a shopping cart may seem overwhelming because it’s a piece of software that most of us don’t think about until we need it, and even then we’re not entirely sure of everything it’s supposed to do. So, bear this in mind there is a reason why the shopping carts hosting companies offer with their hosting plans are free. Free doesn’t buy you much, nor does $9.99 a month. On the other hand, $59 or $79 a month should put you in possession of a sophisticated cart that can do amazing things for your business. It’s well worth taking the time to look under the hood and kick the tires when it comes to the shopping cart.

For a complete checklist for evaluating a shopping cart I would like to offer you access to the FREE ebook “How to Pick a Shopping Cart that Makes Money.” Get your copy from http://www.TheRightCart.com where it’s always free.

Pam Hogan is a best-selling author and nationally recognized trainer who enjoys helping other business owners use ecommerce to expand their enterprises.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Pam_Hogan
http://EzineArticles.com/?Shopping-Carts:-Five-Tips-for-Evaluating-a-System&id=5368430

Make people want to buy from you

Making people buy from you online is harder to achieve than selling off line. When selling online it is often harder to find and engage objections, there’s no body language to pick up on and customer feedback sometimes doesn’t get through on time. Here are couple of tips to make people buy from you.

1. Offer multiple means to contact you – Selling online successfully is often the case of appearing available to people who are unsure and dealing with objections. The more types of communication means you are able to offer, the more this availability will help convince people of your service and products.

2. Lead with customer service – If you want people to buy from you, you will first have to make people trust you. Leading with customer service and successfully resolving possible issues has the potential to reach people who haven’t yet bought from you, but have heard of your customer service.

3. Appear honest and trustworthy – Online shoppers are very smart, if things are too good to be true, most will know they are. Look to describe your products as accurately as possible, encourage customer reviews and show both the glowing and the not so glowing reviews, and of course take feedback on the chin and react quickly.

4. Offer choice and ensure availability – People reaching your online store expect to find the perfect product for them and buy it then and there. Therefore, it makes sense to ensure you offer plenty of choice and that this choice is available to purchase. Plan well ahead and look for new trends. 

5. Always stay competitive – Smart shoppers go online to because of the choice, the ease of ordering and… the price. If you want people to buy from you, on top of ensuring choice and availability, the price must offer excellent value for money. Check your prices regularly to ensure you haven’t lost that competitive edge.

Article contributed by specs sellers Glasses Direct. The UK’s largest direct seller of prescription glasses and spectacles.

Why Customer Objections Are Good News!

When a customer begins to express objections (or as I prefer to call them concerns) during the selling process this can be very, very good news!

Firstly, they may be genuinely considering your idea and as they are thinking about it some possible hurdles spring to mind.

And secondly as you will see far too many salespeople give up at the first sign of resistance leaving those of use who are comfortable handling customer concerns with the business!

There are a number of ways to deal with concerns expressed by customers.  The first important point is that you mustn’t panic.  It is quite rare for a sale to go through to completion without the customer expressing at least one concern!

The fact that a customer has raised a concern does not mean that they are not going to go ahead.  Relax- the sale is not lost!

Professional sellers understand that customers raising concerns is just part of the selling process and they prepare to handle them with persistence.  This puts them into a different league.

A piece of international research into the reaction of salespeople to customer concerns revealed that:

•    44% of salespeople gave up after receiving the first customer concern

•    22% of salespeople gave up after receiving the second customer concern

•    16% of salespeople gave up after receiving the third customer concern

•    10% of salespeople gave up after receiving the fourth customer concern

This leaves just 8% of the salespeople still selling after the fourth concern.

The other startling conclusion from the survey is that 73% of the customers voiced five or more concerns before being sure enough to place an order!

Combine the figures together and the research tells us that just 8% of the salespeople will win 73% of the business that’s available.  

It is therefore vital that unless you want to join the ranks of the sales no hopers that you need to get really superb at handling customer concerns.  Being able to do this will place you into the top few percent of all of the salespeople competing against you.

Truly great salespeople enjoy eating customer concerns for breakfast!

As stated earlier I view customers expressing concerns as a good sign.  They can mean that the customer is really starting to think about going ahead and are starting to consider the practicalities involved.

Or they can indicate that there is some aspect of the product or service that the customer is seeking more information about.  You can reframe all expressed concerns as being requests for further information.  The customer is looking to you, the salesperson to answer this request.

Initial Response

How you initially respond to the customer’s concern is important.  You want to appear calm, professional and unruffled but also grateful and even delighted that they raised the concern.  For example, after hearing the customer express a concern say,

“That’s a good point.  I’m glad you brought that up.”
“That’s an important point and it’s the initial reaction of some of our best customers.”
“I’m really glad you raised that point”

Once you have initially responded in this manner you can then move onto handling the concern in a variety of ways.

Drill further into the concern

It is often necessary to drill further down into a concern to understand it more fully.

You can ask, “I’m sure you’ve got a good reason for raising that concern.  Can I ask what it is?”

This will result in the customer expanding upon what lies behind the expressed concern so that you can deal with it more effectively.

So rather than get concerned about concerns – learn to love them!

Simon Hazeldine is the bestselling author of four business books that have been endorsed by famous business leaders including Duncan Bannatyne from BBC TV’s ‘Dragon’s Den’ and multi-billionaire founder and CEO of Dell Computers, Michael Dell.

Simon is in demand as a keynote speaker; performance consultant and facilitator in the areas of leadership, organisational performance and sales force effectiveness.  He has a Masters Degree in the Psychology of Performance and extensive international business experience.

The 3 Rules of Successful Selling

After fifty years of studying businesses of all kinds Dun & Bradstreet (the world’s leading provider of financial information on companies – their database holds information on 100 million companies!) concluded that the entirety of business wisdom can be summarised in one statement: “Businesses succeed because of high sales; businesses fail because of low sales.  All else is commentary.”

Therefore the most important thing you can do if you want your business to survive and thrive is to learn to sell.  Selling is a skill that can be learned by anyone.  You just have to follow some simple procedures and obey three simple rules.

Here are those three simple rules.  If you follow them then your success in selling is guaranteed.

Rule 1: Your customers (and customers to be) are not stupid.

In today’s world people are more educated and informed than ever before.  People are more sophisticated and discerning.  People just don’t fall for blatant and manipulative tactics.  I get a little frustrated when I am told that “the sale ends on Friday”.  I know, and you know, that it is immediately replaced with a new sale that starts on Saturday!
People know that there is no such thing as a free lunch.  No-one is very surprised when they get selected to enter the Reader’s Digest free prize draw.  The successful salesperson treats their customers and customers to be with respect.

Rule 2: Sell how you like to be sold to.

When I ask people how they like to be sold to, I always get some very similar responses.  People like to be treated with respect and courtesy.  People like to be listened to.  People like the salesperson to be interested in finding out what they want.  People want the salesperson to put their interests first.  People want to be helped to make a decision that is right for them.  Why then would anyone attempt to sell any differently?  To a certain extent you already know what good selling is!

Rule 3: People are convinced that salespeople want to sell them something.  They are right, so tell them!
Perhaps because of previous encounters, people can be rather suspicious of salespeople.  In the back of their mind they are worried that the salesperson will try to push them into buying something.  To overcome this fear, just tell people what you are doing.

Tell them that your company exists by engaging in commercial transactions or relationships with customers.  You provide products and / or services to customers and they pay money for them.  However, what you do first is to understand what is important to the prospective customer.  When you understand this, you will see if your products and/or services can help them.  If they can, then you will recommend an appropriate solution.  The customer can then decide to say “yes” or “no” to the proposal.  By being up front with the customer you remove any fears they may have and establish trust with them.

Mastering the art and science of selling is one of the best investments you can ever make to ensure your business succeeds in today’s competitive modern marketplace.
Secure your future prosperity and become a master of selling.

Simon Hazeldine is the bestselling author of four business books that have been endorsed by famous business leaders including Duncan Bannatyne from BBC TV’s ‘Dragon’s Den’ and multi-billionaire founder and CEO of Dell Computers, Michael Dell.

Simon is in demand as a keynote speaker; performance consultant and facilitator in the areas of leadership, organisational performance and sales force effectiveness.  He has a Masters Degree in the Psychology of Performance and extensive international business experience.

For more valuable information on leadership, sales, negotiation and persuasion including sample chapters from Simon Hazeldine’s bestselling books please visit http://www.simonhazeldine.com

A surefire way to join the ranks of the selling elite

What separates the real persuasion professional from the amateur is the quality of their planning and preparation.  Amateurs blunder into sales calls without having planned and prepared correctly.

One of the vital things to consider is: How  well do you know your  customer / potential customer? Some things to find out before you visit are: Financial information (turnover, shareholders etc) Key personnel (board of directors, senior managers, buyers), Management structure, Number of employees, Details of their brands, products, services, Major competitors, Current suppliers, and Recent press exposure.

How much time and effort you devote to this research will depend upon how potentially important this company could be to you.
The Internet gives easy and fast access to information in a few minutes (try a Google search on the company for example).  A visit to your local business library can also be a useful investment of times.  You will find a host of business directories that you can use for research purposes.

A common approach from sales people is “Tell me about your company”. I recently met the Managing Director of a large organization who told me that when salespeople ask him that question he replies “No—you tell me about my company!”  
Could you answer that question?

Simon Hazeldine is the bestselling author of four business books that have been endorsed by famous business leaders including Duncan Bannatyne from BBC TV’s ‘Dragon’s Den’ and multi-billionaire founder and CEO of Dell Computers, Michael Dell.

Simon is in demand as a keynote speaker; performance consultant and facilitator in the areas of leadership, organisational performance and sales force effectiveness.  He has a Masters Degree in the Psychology of Performance and extensive international business experience.

For more valuable information on leadership, sales, negotiation and persuasion including sample chapters from Simon Hazeldine’s bestselling books please visit http://www.simonhazeldine.com

Do You Make These Seven Stupid Selling Mistakes?

By Simon Hazeldine

How many sales are you missing out on?  How aware are you of the errors that could be costing you orders, commission and profits?  

In the course of training and coaching salespeople I see the same mistakes being made time and time again!  Review your performance against these seven areas and make sure that you are not making mistakes that are costing you sales.  

Seven of the most common mistakes that people make when selling are :

1.    Not planning and preparing
As obvious as this may appear very few salespeople plan and prepare thoroughly enough.  Far too many salespeople go into a sales call without having fully considered what they are going to do.  Have you conducted background research on the customer?  Have you set very specific objectives for the call?  Have you got all of the information and materials that you may need during the call with you?  Have you anticipated what the customer may ask you?  By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.  The elite of the selling profession are properly planned and prepared before every sales call.

2.    Not getting rapport
Psychological research shows that people are more likely to buy from someone if they like them.  Learning how to develop unconscious rapport with your customers is a powerful way of helping them to like you and to want to do business with you.  Utilising the technology of Neuro Linguistic Programming is a very powerful way to do this.  This approach is far more effective (and genuine) than pretending to be interested in what the customer is interested in.  Many people make the mistake of thinking that rapport is something that you “do” to another person.  True rapport emerges from the interaction between the salesperson and their customer.  You have rapport with the customer and they have rapport with you.  In this state communication flows easily and the salesperson is able to understand what the customer wants and needs more effectively.

3.    Not listening to what is important to the customer
Having established rapport it becomes easier to properly understand what is important to the customer.  Far too many salespeople are focussed on themselves and their agenda.  You must get your attention where it should be – on the customer.  

It is only when you understand what is important to the customer that you are in the position to sell them anything!  Attempting to sell before having done this is a waste of time.  

Your job is to firstly understand what is important to the customer and then secondly to see of your products and/or services can help them.

4.    Talking about your product or service too much
Sorry to be blunt but your customer isn’t actually very interested in you or your product or service.  What they are interested in is what your product or service will do for them.  

Far too many salespeople spend far too much time talking at the customer about their product or service.  A lengthy one way speech about all of the features of your product or service usually results in a rather bored customer. Telling is not selling.

You need to focus your presentation about how the specific benefits that your product or service possess help the customer to solve their specific problems and help them to get exactly what they want.

If you don’t fully understand the customer’s individual and specific requirements then you shouldn’t be talking about your product or service at all.  It is only after you have this understanding that you are in a position to know if the customer may need your help.

5.    Not understanding how much money the customer has to spend
If you don’t know what the customer’s budget is, you don’t know how much money they have to spend with you. You need to know specifically how much money the customer has available to solve the specific problems or challenges you have identified.

For a salesperson to be in a position to close the sale you need to know that your customer needs, wants and can afford your product or service.  Tackling the subject of money quite early in the call will also help you to separate the customer who is likely to buy from the customer who is just looking for lots of free advice at your expense.

A sale is not a sale until the money is in your bank account!  Make sure you understand what the customer’s budget is!

6.    Not closing the sale early enough
If you aren’t closing frequently then you aren’t selling – you are having a conversation.  Research shows that firstly it can take several closing attempts to finally close a sale and that secondly the customer expects the salesperson to ask for the order.

Perhaps due to a fear of rejection salespeople don’t make sufficient efforts to close.  Instead they rely on carrying on talking about their product or service in the vain hope that the customer will eventually offer to buy something.

By trial closing throughout the call (“Does this make sense so far?”), you get constant feedback about the customer’s readiness to proceed. You can then move up to test closing (“If you were going to install this where would you site it?”) before moving onto the final close (“Shall we get the paperwork done then?”) and signing up the order.

You must be a strong closer if you want to prosper in today’s competitive world.  If you walk out of the sale without having closed you may find out that your competitor didn’t make the same mistake.

7.    Not following up after the sale
How to lose sales and annoy customers in one easy step – don’t do what you said you were going to do.  Accuracy, or salespeople doing what they said they were going to do, was one of two factors identified by extensive research as being the most important contributors to customer satisfaction.

The salesperson that does exactly what they said they were going to do, follows meetings up in writing and delivers the goods is a rarity these days.  

If you always ensure you follow up you will get very happy customers.  A happy and satisfied customer is almost impossible for your competitors to sell to.   On the other hand an unhappy customer is very easy to sell to.  Make it hard for your competitors – follow up!

The commercial world may be getting more and more challenging.  However, far too many salespeople are making basic errors that are costing them business.  Please make sure that you aren’t one of them.


Simon Hazeldine is the bestselling author of four business books that have been endorsed by famous business leaders including Duncan Bannatyne from BBC TV’s ‘Dragon’s Den’ and multi-billionaire founder and CEO of Dell Computers, Michael Dell.

Simon is in demand as a keynote speaker; performance consultant and facilitator in the areas of leadership, organisational performance and sales force effectiveness.  He has a Masters Degree in the Psychology of Performance and extensive international business experience.

For more valuable information on leadership, sales, negotiation and persuasion including sample chapters from Simon Hazeldine’s bestselling books please visit http://www.simonhazeldine.com