5 Simple Ways to Positively Impact Your Customers

May 20th, 2014

You’re missing out big time if you’re not engaging with your customers on a personal level. If you staying up at the fringe of “I’ll see you when I see you” level I can guarantee you’re missing our on more (profitable) recurring business.

Why it’s so important to get deep

Humans are social creatures by nature, and although we may be oblivious to it most of us crave social interactions.

People are many times more likey to buy from you if they have a relationship with you. If a customer likes you, chances are they’re going to keep coming back to you and they’re going to refer you to others.

And of course if they don’t like you, quite the opposite will be true.

Although many business owners are friendly to their customers during the purchase process, most miss the boat during the in-between stages. It’s easy to let the time in-between purchases slip away. It’s easy to get distracted by the many things we have happening in our lives.

Thank you technology

But you know what? Technology has made it much, MUCH easier to stay connected and keep the relationship with your customers strong.

Here are 5 simple and free things you can do immediately to stay better connected with your customers. If you do these I promise you’ll forge a deeper connection with your customers.

5 easy things you can do right now

1)   Buy their products and/or services. This one’s big. If you become a customer of your own customers, they will continue to be a customers of yours. Seems too straight-forward, I know. But it’s surprising how many people don’t practice this easy and powerful thing.

2)   “Friend” your customers on Facebook. Now, this isn’t for everyone. But for the right kind of business this can be massively powerful.

I’ll give you an example. I go to spin class every week. Several of my spin instructors have friended me on Facebook simply to stay connected. When this first happened I thought it was so cool. Our instructors cared enough about their students that they took the time to engage with them outside of class. Even if they don’t really care – which I highly doubt isn’t the case – they sure make it seem like they do (which is what really matters).

3)   Follow any blogs your customers write or subscribe to any newsletters they create. Many people have blogs these days. And if there’s one thing that shows you have an interest in others, following their blog is near the top.

4)   Follow them on Twitter and engage. This one’s easy. Go out of your way to follow your customers on Twitter and engage in converstation. Perhaps you’ll “favorite” or “re-tweet” some of their tweets. Surprisingly people do pay attention to this stuff (enough they might not admit it!)

5)   Connect with them on LinkedIn and endorse. Most professionals have a LinkedIn profile and many are active on it. Connect with your customers and endorse them for capabilities you think they’re worthy to be endorsed for. Praising others goes a long way.

Wrapping it up

Those are the 5 simple steps you can take right now to develop a stronger relationship with your customers. Of course there are MANY other things you can do, and I encourage you to do them (and please leave a comment below with other ideas).

Just remember: technology is your friend. Use it wisely and you can make a big impact for little to no investment.

Your friend,

Dennis Paresa

Got other powerful relationship building ideas? Drop a comment below and share it with other readers.

Oh, and if you haven’t already be sure to sign-up for my free weekly newsletter. It’s slammed with tips on marketing, sales, and other useful business building topics. Click here to sign up! 

 

 

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How to Increase Sales (by Doing Less)

February 7th, 2014

HammockIf I told you there was a way to increase sales by actually doing less – would you believe me? If you’re like the majority of entrepreneurs out there then you probably wouldn’t! Not that there’s anything wrong with working hard. As you’d likely agree, most business endeavors are in fact tough and time consuming.

What I’m about to share with you isn’t earth shattering and quite frankly you’ve probably already heard about it.  But, if you’re looking for an easy to understand tip (or reminder) for increasing output by working smarter then read on.

What we know about productivity is completely backwards

We’ve become accustomed to equating busy work with “real” work, and confusing multi-tasking with efficiency and productivity. We get tricked into thinking we’re being productive when in actuality we’re just doing busy work.

We all get distracted. It’s way too easy these days to get stuck in an endless stream of news, chatter, meetings, and other things that suck our productivity.

The result? We rarely get anything meaningful done. Our business suffers because we can’t focus on the activities that actually help it grow. And our personal life starts nosedives because we end-up with less time for friends and family.

Fortunately, there’s a simple approach for digging out of this rut.

Observations from one wise Italian

The 80/20 Rule is a concept initially observed in the 1800’s by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. Unsettled by the wide gap between the rich and poor in his country, Pareto decided to do some digging into the matter.

Pareto observed that 80% of his country’s land was owned by 20% of its people. He later validated his hypothesis through empirical research and other surveys. This observation was later dubbed the “Pareto Principle.” But others have since referred to it as the 80/20 Rule, so for simplicity sake will roll with that convention.

Simply put, the 80/20 Rule states that for many events, around 80% of the effects come from only 20% of the causes.

For example:

  • 80% of the wealth on our planet is owned by 20% of the population
  • 80% of NBA championships have been won by 20% of the teams (think Lakers, Bulls, Celtics)
  • 80% of insurance claims come from 20% of those insured
  • 80% of cars travel on only 20% of the roads

This list goes on and on….

The 80/20 Rule is fascinating because it can be applied to just about anything that has a cause and effect relationship. And because of that, it truly is a law of nature – not just of economics.

As a law of nature, it can be applied to your business

So this bears the question, how can you apply the 80/20 Rule to increase sales? Here it is in 4 simple steps:

1) Know what you want. Before you make radical shifts in your business, it’s important to first get crystal clear on what you want to improve. Is your ambition to find more customers? Or perhaps it’s to do more business with existing customers? Get clear on exactly what you’d like to improve.

2) Understand the 20%. This is where you identify the main drivers (the 20% that result in 80% of your sales) of your business. For instance, if you want to capture more sales from existing customers, you’ll need to identify your major customers (those who are responsible for 80% of your business). This may sound like a big task, but you’ll quickly find that it really isn’t. Most clients I work with can identify their major customers in under a minute.

Understanding who your big customers are will help you focus your efforts later on.

3) Set goals. Now, hang with me here. I know many business owners cringe at the thought of setting goals. I don’t know what it is about them, but at some point many of us developed a raw attitude at the thought of setting goals.

If you’re going to improve anything you’ll need to set a goal or target for it. This is one of the most important parts of the process. If you can’t measure your progress then what’s the point?

Using the example above, if you’d like to do more business with existing customers, set some targets for doing so. Setting targets will significantly improve your changes of success.

4) Action. This is the most important part in the process. You’ll need to focus relentlessly on action. Instead of letting yourself get pinned-down by all the little things impacting your business, you’ll need to focus. So what you’re doing here is narrowing your actions. This is where the 80/20 Rule comes into play…

None of us has the luxury of a surplus of time. We’ve all got stuff to do. Payroll, taxes, managing inventory… there’s a ton already on our plate.

The key here is focus. So when you do have time to take action toward your business targets, you’re dialed-in on exactly what you need to do. You’re not wasting your time on stuff that doesn’t matter. When you focus on those activities that generate 80% of the results, you don’t need to spend your entire day acting busy. Instead you can play it smart.

If you start doing this today you’ll start seeing results. Start small – you don’t need to boil the ocean. For instance, I know that 80% of my online referrals come from LinkedIn. So what do it do? I spend 80% of my social media efforts on LinkedIn, and 20% on the rest. That’s playing it smart.

Your friend,

Dennis Paresa

Got other 80/20 ideas? Drop a comment below and share it with other readers.

Oh, and if you haven’t already be sure to sign-up for my free weekly newsletter. It’s slammed with tips on marketing, sales, and other useful business building topics. Click here to sign up! 

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How To Increase Sales (Part 4)

January 3rd, 2014

ToiletsThis is the final installment of a four part series on how to increase sales.

This one will be a shocker to most of you. One of the most underrated tactic for increasing sales is perhaps one of the simplest: paying attention to details.

I don’t eat at restaurants with dirty bathrooms

A mentor of mine, a former CEO at a global advertising agency, once remarked that you can judge the cleanliness of a restaurant’s kitchen (and it’s food!) by looking at one place: their restroom. If there’s a filthy restroom, you can guarantee the kitchen is in worse shape. If a restaurant can’t keep clean an area that the customer’s can see, how can you expect them to maintain an area that customer’s can’t?

This one’s a no brainer for me. If a restaurant can spend 1% of their day keeping their bathrooms clean there’s no flippin’ way I’m going to trust them with cooking my food.

Now here’s the problem: restaurant managers who don’t pay attention to how clean their bathrooms are do so because it’s too small of a detail. They’d rather focus on making money, which is fine – but if you don’t focus on the important details that can really impact your business then you’ll lose in the long run.

The challenge

The hard part about details is they tend to become invisible. There are so many things jockeying for position in our minds that sometimes we lose sight of the little things that really matter.

For example, I’ve created a ton of presentations in my life. I used to have a manager that was brutally focused on what seemed to be the insignificant parts of presentation. Font size, alignment, font type, etc. So much so that you seriously wondered if he ever actually read any part of them!

One day I decided to point out his penchant for details. I thought it was silly that he was so obsessive about presentation details that seemes so trivial.

It turns out he had a method to his madness. And it made perfect sense…

If you neglect the little things and your clients or customers notice, they won’t be able to focus on anything else. They’ll be so distracted by a misaligned bullet point or a misspelt word that they’ll lose focus on what really matters – the presentation itself.

Whoa.

And worse, a client or customer of yours will extrapolate those little detail mishaps into other areas of your presentation, business, product, etc.

People love to make assumptions.

If you give your clients the ammo to make assumptions about the big things in your business based on the seemingly insignificant, then you’ve got a problem on your hands. One that could end-up costing you dearly.

Wrapping it up

Go spend 10 minutes today thinking about the details of a specific part of your business. The important thing here is that you don’t get bogged down in the details or focus on the trivial – that isn’t healthy. Instead, think about the details that actually do impact your business. Think about what your client’s see regularly. It could be a bathroom, website, menu, invoice, furniture piece, etc.

Next, imagine how your business might improve if you took these seemingly small details up a notch… then, go do it.

I know you’ll see a difference.

Your friend,

Dennis Paresa

Got other creative ideas on this topic? Drop a comment below and share it with other readers.

Oh, and if you haven’t already be sure to sign-up for my free weekly newsletter. It’s slammed with tips on marketing, sales, and other useful business building topics. Click here to sign up! 

 

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How To Increase Sales (Part 3)

August 15th, 2013

How to increase sales - retail bagsThis is the third of a four part series on how to increase sales.

In this article I’m going to show you how to increase sales by using a maneuver that far too many businesses fail to deploy. It’s a massively effective tool that most of us experience every so often – though it’s something that should happen during every sales transaction.

Introducing the Upsell

In business there are really only three ways to grow: 1) Find more customers, 2) Increase the order size of each transaction, and 3) Increase the number of times that your customers buy from you during a given period of time. If you focus your efforts on each or a combination of these you’ll undoubtedly grow your business.

One of my favorite sales boosting techniques is the upsell. The upsell falls under point #2 above. And for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, an upsell is what you do to increase the order size of a transaction. For example, when you’re getting your oil changed and the maintenance technician recommends that you change your air filter, he’s trying to upsell you. If you can increase the order size of each transaction you make, you can create massive sales increases all while not spending a dime on extra marketing or advertising.

Why the upsell is so powerful

This is why the upsell is so powerful – you don’t have to do any additional advertising or marketing because the upsell typically happens after you’ve already secured a decision by your customer to buy something. All you’re doing during the upsell is adding additional services or products to the initial order. That’s it. Using the example of the oil change, I’ve already decided to get my oil changed. All the maintenance tech is trying to do is add to the service package I’ve already decided to buy.

Consumer behavior studies have shown that customers are more open to buying additional services right after they’ve made the decision to buy something. In fact, a mind-blowing 60% of customers will buy more if you offer it to them.

The reason? We have a tendency to do this because we want to confirm our rationale for making the purchase in the first place. We confirm that our initial purchase was a good one by adding more to it. A very simple, but powerful concept.

There are emotional things happening at this point too. But the main point is: second money is ALWAYS easier than first money. You will always be more likely to secure more sales right after you’re customer has decided to buy something from you. And if you fail to try it then you’ve blown a humongous opportunity.

Why it’s your obligation to offer your customer more

Now read closely here…

Without even the slightest bit of doubt, it’s your obligation & responsibility to offer your customers more if you know that it’s going to add to the value of the primary purchase. This is essential.

If you know that your customer will benefit from adding to the primary purchase, then it’s your obligation to offer more. This is important to hammer home because many business owners are reluctant to add more to the primary purchase. And if you think about it, it’s pretty silly not to!

If you don’t offer your customer the choice of rounding-out their purchase then you’ve just done them a disservice. And that’s unfortunate.

Don’t make it awkward

If you know in your heart that you’re providing a better service by upselling your customers, then offering more is going to be easy. If you’re coercing your customer into an upsell for the sake of lining your own pocketbook – then it’ll show. And your customer will hate you for it. Think about going to the car mechanic. Although most mechanics are honest and hard working professionals, haven’t you felt that some were convincing you to buy things that you really didn’t need? How did it make you feel? Crappy, I’m sure.

The fix? Shoot from your heart and only offer upsells where you feel they’re necessary. And for the most part, nearly every transaction you make with a customer will offer a ripe opportunity to offer more. If you know that you’ll be offering your customer with better service, more protection, and more value – then why in your right mind would you not try to do it? You wouldn’t.

How to do it

Offering an upsell is easy. Upselling typically falls under one of these offers:

1)   Adding products or services. Offer the opportunity for your customers to add related products to their primary purchase. (Example: an oil change provider offering you an air filter in addition to the standard service package.)

2)   Adding time or volume options. (Example: a plumber offering you routine maintenance check-ups after he’s made an emergency service call at your home.)

3)   Adding combinations. Offer your customers the opportunity to purchase combinations of products that improve the end result. (Example: a cable company offering you bundled internet and phone services as part of a broader television package – typically the bundled package is cheaper then buying each service on its own.)

Wrapping it up

If you increase your upsell efforts you’ll see rapid and immediate sales increases. If you don’t do it, you’re blowing a massive opportunity to boost sales and profit margins. It’s a no-brainer business must-do – and is one that I hope you do!

Your friend,

Dennis Paresa

Got other creative upsell ideas? Drop a comment below and share it with other readers.

Oh, and if you haven’t already be sure to sign-up for my free weekly newsletter. It’s slammed with tips on marketing, sales, and other useful business building topics. Click here to sign up! 

 

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How To Increase Sales (part #2)

July 20th, 2013

How to Increase Sales - ReferralsThis is the second of a four part series on how to increase sales.

In this article I’m going to show you how increase sales by using a maneuver that nearly all of use periodically. It’s a tactic that can land you lots of new customers without you spending a dime to acquire them.

The problem with this tool is that it’s rarely formalized, and as a result business owners significantly underachieve on reaching their full potential.

The power of referrals

So what’s this powerful, inexpensive tactic that offers such an amazing customer building opportunity for business owners?

Referrals.

Yep – referrals. Referrals are one of the most powerful sales generating tools around. And all too often business owners fail to reap the full rewards that referrals bring because they don’t have a formalized, systematic process in place. 

How referrals generate their power

Referrals get their power from the fact that consumers are naturally inclined to be weary of advertisements and sales pitches. To get around this weariness, we consumers instead resort to asking our family and friends for advice. Since we tend to trust the advice of our loved ones and assume that they have our best interests at heart, we tend to act on their referrals.

And of course… seeking out advice is significantly easier than doing our own research! Why not follow the advice from someone that has your best interests at heart, and has already done the research and experimenting for you?

Science proves it!

Studies show that:

  • Consumers are 200% more likely to pay attention to recommendations that come from friends than from any other source
  • According to the Wharton School of Business, a referred customer has a lifetime value that’s 16% higher than those of non-referred customers
  • 83% of satisfied customers say that they’re willing to refer, while only 29% of them actually do! (This means there’s a significant opportunity to for you.)

So there you have it. Referrals results in more customers, increases the value of customers to your business, and there’s significant opportunities to increase the odds that your customers will refer your business.

How to quickly double your referrals in 3 simple steps

Step #1: Ask. Yes, really, just ask. Far too many business owners miss the boat on this easy, yet critical step. And when you do ask, don’t just ask: “Hey, do you have anyone in mind that you could refer my services to.” No – you’re way better than that!

Instead, frame your question like this: “I really enjoy doing business with you, and I’m sure you’re friends with other people who share your high values and taste. Who do you know that could benefit from my services?” Notice the difference? This subtle yet powerful difference has a dramatically different impact on a client because it already assumes that your client knows someone who’d benefit from your service. And, it forces your client’s brain to start scanning around for people they know. Your client almost can’t help BUT give you name.

Step #2: Get their contact info. As soon as your client shares a name, ask them to spell their name, then you repeat it back – twice. Spell then repeat twice. Spell then repeat twice. Easy. Then immediately ask for their phone number. Since most people have their mobile attached to them 24/7, chances are your client has instant access to the referred person’s contact info (if your client doesn’t have their phone number, ask if they can connect the two of you though email for Facebook).

Step #3: Contact the referral immediately and make a compelling offer. Don’t make the mistake that 98% of other business owners make and sit on the referral for weeks. Call them the same day. Follow-up immediately and make a compelling offer. The longer you wait the less powerful your referral becomes and the less likely you’ll ever reach out to them.

Stumped on what a compelling offer could be? It’s much easier than you think. Examples:

  • If you sell homes, invite the prospect to a monthly lunch and learn where they can get free food and advice on market and interest rate trends
  • If you’re a personal trainer, offer a free 20-minute health assessment. (A good friend of mine offers “Go Giver” bootcamps to prospective clients – check it out. This tactic works like gangbusters for their business.)
  • If you’re a copywriter, offer to do a free assessment of the prospect’s website homepage
  • If you’re a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) expert, offer to do a free keyword search for your client and advise them on several improvements they could make

This is list could go on and on. The point is: ask for the referral, immediately get the referral’s contact name, and contact the referral that same day with a compelling offer. That’s all you need to do!

Wrapping it up

If you follow these 3 steps, you will dramatically increase the number of referrals that flood into your business. As opposed to taking many weeks and months to land new business through online and offline advertising, referrals can lead to new business in a day. And remember, referred business = more frequent, and more profitable business. 

Your friend,

Dennis Paresa

Got other ideas on how to increase referrals? Drop a comment below and share it with other readers.

Oh, and if you haven’t already be sure to sign-up for my free weekly newsletter. It’s slammed with tips on marketing, sales, and other useful business building topics. Click here to sign up! 

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