5 point checklist to select the right sales system for your business

footprintsIt is more important than ever to seek out practical, impartial advice to ensure that you choose the right system to match your business needs. Nett Sales is a ‘user’ of these systems, rather than a vendor. As such we can provide you with all the help and support you require to select the best software and system vendor for your business.

Here are 5 tips which will help you select a sales system that meets the needs of your business:

  • Build a selection committee from the decision makers within your business
  • Interview stakeholders from all levels to gather their system requirements
  • Document your requirements in particular anything which is specific to your business
  • Agree project objectives and deliverables
  • Research the marketplace and engage with vendors early in the process

How Nett Sales can help you?

It is more important than ever to seek out practical advice, which is why Nett Sales has teamed up with  a number of vendors and brokers.

Nett Sales offers impartial advice to ensure that you choose the system that matches your business needs, rather than just what that specific vendor offers. You can get all the help and support you require to select the best system for your business. And if you’d like independent advice on selecting the right system for you, email us at enquiries@nett-sales.com or call 01672 50 50 50.

The Peaks and Troughs of business. How to turn it into constant, steady growth

How has your sales and marketing activity gone this year? Has it been peaks and troughs or a steady stream of income?

A typical SMEs income cycle may look something like this:

typical_growth

You’ve just set up your business and you have been focussing your time on marketing to get your product/ service seen by your audience. Naturally, customers start to buy and you see sales increase. Your focus now shifts to handling these sales, processing the orders and sending out deliveries which leaves no time for lead generation and marketing.

As there is no active marketing going on, business starts to slow down.  So you kick off your marketing again. Now all your attention is on getting more people buying from you, as income has hit on all-time low. Your efforts work  but just like before you need to stop selling to get customers’ orders processed and delivered as promised…. And so it continues…. Marketing activity increases, customers buy, sales reduce, and income reduces and so on….

Is there a way where your business can get steady income from steady sales which are constant throughout the year? So your income looks something like this:

desired_growth

This would be achievable if you are able to concentrate all your time on business and not worry about lead generation and sales. Nett Sales could help. We  run your lead generation campaigns for you and find the people that are interested in buying from you now.

To learn more about the Nett Sales process and how this can generate you the business you deserve as well as giving you time to focus on business itself. Call us for a friendly chat on 01672 50 50 50 or read more about us here.

Careful how you segment your database

crewI received promational emails from Crew Clothing today.  I’ve bought from them regularly, so straight into my inbox – great let’s have a look.

But for some reason I’m on their mailing list twice and to one email address they are offering me 15% off and the next 20% off PLUS free delivery.  Just makes them look a bit foolish…

So, before you test messages to different parts of your mailing list, check that you have de-duplicated on something other than email address – mailing address or phone number would be good.

Who are you?

An email has a couple of seconds at best to catch the readers attention before it is deleted or ignored.  Conventional wisdom was that recipients checked the email in this order:

  1. Subject line
  2. Sender
  3. Email body in preview

But I would argue that the first thing most people now check is the sender.  We all get so many emails that the sender name tells us more than anything else about the email.  So when I receive and email from this sender, what do I think:

unmonitored

 

 

 

Clearly not a “listening business”!  Delete.

So, be creative when sending your emails, don’t just put a name in the “from” box, give a hint of the benefits of reading more or use some special characters – within reason…

What does a typical campaign schedule look like?

We plan client campaigns 3 months ahead in detail and 6 months forward in outline.  This requires a structure and careful control to make sure that nothing gets lost.  This is a typical schedule we may use:

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Month 1 Knowledge share email sent Follow up email sent to contacts that engage with email in week 1 Telephone follow up with best engaged contacts from both campaigns
Month 2 Knowledge share email sent

Call back contacts from last month

Telephone follow up from last week’s email Direct, single issue email sent to all contacts

Telephone follow up 20 minutes after contact clicks on key link

Month 3 Knowledge share email sent Follow up email sent to contacts that engage with email in week 1 Telephone follow up with best engaged contacts from both campaigns
Month 4 Knowledge share email sent

Telephone follow up 20 minutes after contact clicks on key link

Follow up email sent to all contacts engaged to date Telephone call backs for all previously called contacts
Month 5 Knowledge share email sent Telephone follow up with lapsed leads Direct, single issue email sent to all contacts

Telephone follow up 20 minutes after contact clicks on key link

Month 6 Knowledge share email sent Qualification email to non-respondents Telephone follow up with best engaged contacts to date

As you will see from this schedule, each month has key activities with a different focus depending on the month in question.  In this case, the client identified external events in their market to reference in the campaign that would make contacts more likely to engage at that point, so the campaign and phone activity in those months was skewed accordingly.

Engaging telephone conversations in channel sales, not just telemarketing!

We have all been there, when we need more sales and hot leads.  What most of us do is pick up the phone book and start calling potential customers telling them how good we are and how amazing our products are.

What is the usual outcome? You will sit there listening to answer phone messages for half of the day, or get hung up on as the customer doesn’t know who you are and are not interested in what you are selling at the moment.

What do you do then? Exhaust all contacts in the phone book? Is there are simpler way? – Yes.

Nett Sales has developed a system for you to share knowledge, build relationships and get more sales.  See the Process in Action here. We believe in building relationships with potential customers by writing to them about products they may be interested in.  We will continue to communicate with customers, so they will begin to trust you and when they are ready to buy your products, you will be the first company they think of. (Building trust)

You may think why don’t we call the potential customers once we know that they have read the email and/or clicked through to the link? There are many different reasons why customer’s may read the information we send them. They are actually interested in the products you can offer, they are interested but not at the moment, or they are not interested at all and have clicked through to the link out of boredom. Nett Sales will ask the potential customers some qualifying questions to ensure that only hot leads are passed to your sales team to turn into sales. Read more about this here.

When it is time to call potential customers, what is the best approach? To tell them how great you are and what you can offer to them, or to have a conversation with them.

We have found that customers are more responsive to someone who calls to ask them some questions about what we have sent them and how interesting they found the information. This will help you build trust with the customer and learn more about them and their needs. Customer’s will appreciate this and think ‘this company is different to the others; they care about me and not just about getting another sale’. By getting this type of response from the customer, you would have gained a long-term and loyal customer.

We all know that generating sales have become increasingly more difficult in the current economic climate. From experience it is proven that email marketing is one of the most effective periods of generating leads and turning these into sales. See this example if you aren’t convinced. If you want to know more get in touch.

 

How to cut the cost of working your long list by phone

In the days before the internet, or, to be more precise, the evenings, working in telemarketing involved being handed a dog-eared script – which you absolutely had to stick to, unless you wanted to get fired then and there – and being told to work your way through the names on a page torn out of the phone book.

And a very long list it was, too.

How much in the way of double-glazing was sold that way, who’s to say – but I’m willing to bet it wasn’t a lot, since I speak from experience.

And that’s because the script was pretty much about trying to sell the total stranger at the other end of the line on the idea of being visited by a double-glazing salesman.  And back then, they had a reputation for persistence.

So, in short, there you were, with no flexibility in the way you interacted with someone whose dinner you’d just interrupted, trying to get them to agree to something they didn’t want in the first place – at your very first – and only – contact.

All in all, if that particular telemarketing outfit was getting paid on a commission-per-appointment basis, then it’s very likely they were losing money hand over fist.  They had to hire the office space, get some second-hand desks, install those phones, copy that “sales” script and somehow acquire a sacrificial phone book.  Oh, and of course, there was the small matter of paying supervisors and staff – of whom there was a very high turnover indeed.

Maximum effort, minimum results.

But now, in this digital age, some people are still putting in a huge amount of effort when it comes to their B2B telemarketing, and still paying through the nose for far too few results.  OK, so phone books are pretty well a thing of the past, because it’s a simple matter to source names and numbers online these days, but you can still end up with a long list that’s very long indeed.

And if it’s possible to get past their gatekeeper and through to anybody on that list, rather than trying to establish a relationship, those people are trying to sell them straight away on their service or product.

How much more effective would it be for them if their initial call was looking for an expression of interest in what they could provide -something quick and easy as in “May we send you an email giving you more information for you to look at, at your leisure”?

If the answer is yes, then it’s time to start establishing a relationship via email – hardly the most expensive messaging medium on the planet.

And if the answer is no, well, there’s always the next name on that long list.

Building trust – 5 top ideas for how to get it right

In our recent post we discussed the need to build trust in order to boost sales. With no trust between you and your prospects, chances are they will make all the right noises but, when it comes to the crunch, will still fail to complete a purchase.

You’ll already be aware that at Nett Sales we recommend approaching this issue using three simple steps:

  • Know – Who are your prospects? Have you organised them into an orderly database? Are you able to quickly and easily communicate with them on a regular basis?
  • Trust – Building trust means making yourself useful to your prospects without even mentioning your products or services. Answering questions, offering useful information and sharing your experiences can all help to add value to the relationship without asking them to purchase. This is trust building.
  • Buy – Once you have your prospects actively engaging with you regularly, it should be straightforward to identify buying signals in your contacts, and to be on hand with the perfect solution to their needs, when they need it. And they’ll buy from you, because they trust you.

Of these three steps, probably the most difficult one to master is step two. Anyone can build a database of contacts, and anyone can sell to some red hot leads who already have a level of trust. Building that trust is often the place many will fall down.

5 top ideas for building trust

 

  1. Website – Customers expect this of businesses. But it is not enough to simply have a website for your business, you also need to ensure it is a good website, full of trust building signals such as testimonials from previous clients, examples of past projects and details of any awards or key successes you have had.
  2. Newsletters – An easy way to reach out to your prospects in one hit is to develop a well put together, informative newsletter that you can send out monthly. Include success stories or feedback from clients to add to your credibility.
  3. Case studies – Develop a few case studies of successful past projects. These will be trustworthy gold dust on your website, blog or in hard copy format.
  4. Discussion groups – Get involved in industry specific forums or discussion groups on social networks to demonstrate your expertise. Offer advice and opinion with the angle of “well, this is what worked for our customer…” and you’ll come across as expert and humble at the same time.
  5. Blog posts – Well written blog posts on topical industry issues is a great way to demonstrate your depth of knowledge and understanding in your sector. Allow comments to be posted and be ready to respond to them in a timely fashion.

In addition to this, there are many other methods for trust building that may work better for your business. From direct mail and advertising to webinars and press releases, get in touch and we’ll help you decide where the focus of your attention should lie.

How to build strong customer relationships and get long-term business without focusing on short-term price-led deals?

Every day more people use the Internet to find, price and research personal and business purchases. Companies that cater to this change will win over their competitors.

Whether a customer is walking into a supermarket, the gym or a car garage, they will often already know what they want. They’ve done a lot of online research to find the best price and right product options.  They will have read a ton of reviews from disgruntled or contented customers.

Customers are now much better informed than ever before and no longer have to spend ages staring at two products on the shelf to know which they want.

Google have even coined the term, ‘Zero Moment Of Truth’ (ZMOT), to describe this new situation where companies have to start competing for customers a long time before they think about buying. To be able to compete in the marketplace you have to be able to reach customers in their own environment wherever they are.

Not everyone has the same marketing and social media budgets as some of the larger corporations. To get past this smaller businesses are forced to lower prices or offer astounding deals to tempt people away from the more well-known and ‘trusted’ brands.

Smaller businesses cannot do without customers; however, this doesn’t mean that they should be focusing on offering the best one-off deals. This is a very short term solution. The key to running a successful business is to develop long-term relationships, cultivating customer relationships and maintaining these relationships over months and years.

How can this be done?

  1. People like dealing with people – If you’re not offering a 1-2-1 service, there is not going to be any kind of relationship. Customers will not feel loyal to you and will be happy to take their business elsewhere. To build a relationship, make your business transactions personal.
  2. Social media – This is one of the most simple and cost effective marketing channels. Keep your content engaging and interesting and make sure your posts are all personable, as this will let your customers see the people behind the company.
  3. Regular communication – Make sure you contact your customers regularly; by email, direct mail, text message and social media. Ask for feedback, act on feedback and let them know that you appreciate them.
  4. Face to face discussions – Give customers the chance to be involved in your company. Invite them to focus groups, feedback lunches and anything else you can to make them feel valued.
  5. Say thank you – A personalised thank you goes a long way, just as giving your loyal customers rewards does.

Above all, you need to remember that customers are also the best form of marketing. If you treat them right, ensuring that they know they’re valued, then they will stick with you and refer you to others time and time again, helping you drum up even more long-term business.

Why trust built relationships are important to your business

Trust is one of those things that your business cannot survive without. Unfortunately, it is also one of the hardest areas to develop effectively. You can buy yourself the flashiest website, sell the best products in your industry and deliver the slickest, most faultless customer service imaginable. But without trust between you and your customers, you still won’t sell. Why is this, and why are trust built relationships important to your business?
 

What is trust?

Without a doubt trust is the one thing that has a huge influence over our decisions in life without anyone really being able to put their finger on what it is. Ask 100 people what trust means to them, and you’ll almost certainly get 100 different answers. Trust is the difference between getting a lift home and choosing to walk. Trust is sharing secrets. Trust is handing over cash with the confidence that you’ll get a return on your investment. And in business, trust is the difference between making a sale and losing another prospect.

 

Trust in the buying process

We all have our own ways of evaluating the trustworthiness of a company before we choose to do business with them. Some of us will look for independent reviews on the internet, others will ask friends for advice. The more astute may check the company’s credentials in terms of business registrations and licenses. Being able to trust in a business is what makes us decide to buy, or in some cases not.

Take, for instance, those businesses that are founded on a review and feedback system. Amazon, for example, or eBay. Consumers know that they can buy with confidence if the person or business they are buying from have enough positive feedbacks from past customers, and that is why this system works.

In a Nielsen survey from 2009, respondents cited recommendations from friends, consumer opinions online and editorial content such as newspaper articles as much more important factors in evaluating trustworthiness than any of the forms of paid advertising available. The good news about this is that these types of PR are the cheapest to implement; the bad news is they are also the most difficult.

 

Does trust equal sales?

So we know that positive PR, and the right type of PR, can directly influence the level of trust your customers perceive in your brand. However, the critical factor that will put trust high on the agenda of your business is whether it directly influences sales.

According to marketing professors, Morris B. Holbrook and Arjun Chaudhuri, who have researched extensively on this subject, the answer is yes. These experts conclude that brand trust results in both purchase loyalty and a loyal attitude to the brand, which has positive impacts on sales figures. Additional research by Mext Consulting shows that:

  • 83% of consumers will buy more of your products if they trust your brand
  • 81% will recommend a trusted brand to their friends and contacts
  • 47% will pay a premium for the brands that they trust

In summary, trust not only leads to greater sales right now, but will also secure your business a loyal following for long into the future, and that organic growth through word of mouth and social recommendations that your customers value so highly. To overlook the building of trust is to miss out on a valuable opportunity for your business.