Tag Archives: target market

The Difference is in the Listen

The Difference is in the Listen
By Talmar Anderson

I thoroughly enjoyed myself last week at a speaking event with a group of amazing business professionals.  They enjoyed themselves too though I suspect you would be surprised if I told you the topic was “Sales Strategies”. Don’t be! Sales can be fun and exciting. Remember, all the planning and operational structure can’t deliver profits without selling to your clients. If business owners have a common spot they can get tripped up on, it is in their sales process. Ohhhhhh…you heard me.  Your company will significantly benefit if you can develop an actual process in how you sell your products and services. Good sales process is all built around “the listen”.

Listening is when sales turns away from the pushing and coercive talking that feels like constant noise and reminds of us of slick, pushy car buying experiences. That “yuck” that people carry in their head when they even hear the word sell. It comes from the sales person that was so busy trying to get their point across that they forgot to check in with the prospect’s needs…much less if they had a pulse. So when you look at your sales process make sure you highlight the listen. The listen is often the portion of your sales process that is the qualifying.

When you qualify you want to hear what problem they have right now.  This requires you to stop talking about how awesome your company is within your industry.  You have to stop talking about how the price is amazing or for a limited time. You have to stop trying to sell your product or service. Just shhhhhhh. You want to listen for words and challenges that you KNOW can benefit from your company’s solution.

If you can talk less and listen more, you will more easily identify a qualified prospect.  The one that has a problem right now.  The one that is ready to buy your solution. The prospect that can truly benefit from what your company sells. And IF you have taken the time to listen, you won’t have to cram in all the details you know about your company.  You will know exactly which details are important to this prospect.  You will understand what the pain point is for the prospect and why they are talking to you about it today. Now you can simply offer your company’s solutions by highlighting how it can HELP their specific situation.

The difference is in the listen.  If we let the prospect tell us their problems and what they want for a solution, then we can help.  If we met every lead and potential person with a barrage of words that may or may not be pertinent to their situation NOW, we are far more likely to offend, be drowned out by their thoughts of escaping our pitch or frustrate ourselves with another “no” because we weren’t even talking to the right target market.

So when you are designing your sales process (not to be confused with your marketing…give me a call if you want to discuss this specific pain point!), please make sure that qualifying is a first piece to closing your sales. Starting your process this way will grow your closing ratio and build a client base that sees you as a solution more than a collector.

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How Big is YOUR Bathtub? – Business Growth

How big is YOUR bathtub? – Business Growth
By Talmar Anderson

A common denominator for my clients is growth- whether unplanned for growth or written out, controlled growth. For some, it has been slow, staged, incremental growth and for others it was full court press, hit them ‘til it hurts growth. There is a second thing that all of the clients that are already in the midst of growth have in common.  They identified the best way to get the message out!  Not only identifying the target market and the ideal client, growing companies have identified how best to get in front of their people.  While I understand that it is easier to work with an existing client base for growth, today we are talking about new clients for growth. So let’s stop fishing in our own bathtub and look to the big beautiful ocean!

For a company to experience growth we need to have successfully identified the metrics of our new clients and find where they are swimming, right?   “BEEEcause you know… it is all about the data, ‘Bout the Data. NO guessing!” (Thank you VERY much Meghan Trainor).  We should understand exactly how your clients are coming in to you.  How many similarities do your new clients over the last year share? What specifically was happening in each life or business that made THIS the buying moment? And the one I like most, how did they hear about you?

How you are getting your clients will specifically tell you how to spend each and every marketing dollar and the even more precious, marketing time! THIS can be extremely important if you as the business owner are spending any of your own time to be out in the business development of your company.  If your branding and marketing efforts include face time, you must be very strategic about it! I will assume that you are already fully on-board and gloss over the fact that marketing must be a part of your budget not just every year but for each and every month. (Don’t already agree? Reach out and we can find some ways to convince you!)

So now that we know who has historically bought from your company and why, we can be strategic about how to expand that reach.  Thinking about that market how can you get in front of them?  I am not talking about your email list and your social media current connections.  If we agree that new client growth is a part of your company’s needs, then we need to stretch beyond our current contacts.

I have complete faith that the prospects on each of your email and social media lists are consistently being followed up within your own company’s sales pipeline process.  So this is not about helping them get to the buying decisions faster.  (Again, another discussion)

We need to advertise and educate in a space where people that do not know they should be working with your company can find your solution to their problem!  How can they buy from you if they do not even know who you are and how you can make their life / company better? We need to be front of that ideal client so that they can even consider hiring us. As each individual’s time is limited, we have to find ways to put our information out there and attract new inquires to develop new prospects.  We can close a lot more people from 200 inquiries a month than we can from 4 inquiries.  Advertising, whether taking advantage of free opportunities available for your market or as a budgeted item that is systematically addressed, must be a part of your companies processes and marketing efforts.

Get your clients from referrals?  Then you still need to advertise!  You will now be advertising to your potential referral sources.  Your company’s marketing efforts are about expanding the number of referrals sources that lead a perfectly qualified prospect to your fishing pond.  Then you can hook them!

If we are going to serve a higher number of prospects to allow for higher sales revenues, then we need to stop just looking to our back yard pond.  Yes, it is easy to get to and we know what they like but they already know about you and will be on your lists for when their buying needs come around.  Now we need to grow our possibilities.  We need to educate and explain to new people how your company can offer great value and benefits. So let’s cast our line wider.  Try new avenues that are specific to your ideal market.  Make sure to be feeding them to your connections or email list so that it will be easier to keep educating them.  Then a little nibble will turn into a nice big bite!

I’d love to hear where you are having “fishing” success!

Lazy or Defeated by Choices? Referrals are a great Business Opportunity!

More and more companies are tracking that referrals are the best lead generator for each of their businesses. SEO (Search engine optimization) is certainly up there as a great resource but most of my clients and business contacts are stating point of fact that a high percentage of their new clients are coming from referrals.  I would be willing to bet that a big reason that referrals are beating out SEO is due to the vast amounts of information a person must consider to find a solution to their problem.  Whether you are lazy about looking at every possible result or frustrated by the browser generated “matches” for your internet searches, asking a trusted person IS easier these days.

The big push the past couple of years in marketing efforts has been to create content that is searchable by all of the internet tools. However, all of that content has flooded the internet and search engines with choices.  There is no such thing as a “quick” internet search anymore and that is making it much harder to find the sources we need for problem resolution.

Your search results will bring white papers, opinions, blogs and online magazines that are first ordered by advertisement before offering the search tool’s best match. The newsletters alone that come across our computers continue to grow our “To Read” folders so that they feel like one more thing “To Do” as opposed to a way to build our own knowledge base and understanding. All that information is out there to be found. Where do we go for the quick answer? Starting with a referral is MUCH easier and faster.

Now more than ever, I am one of those people that will first ask my trusted network of peeps when I have a need.  This saves a huge amount of time by not having to look through the pages of results. With group pages on many social websites, I can instantly reach out to many of my business partners with one quick question.  Not only does this really narrow the field of possible follow up options  but it is a base of already vetted possibilities. They ACTUALLY do what we need them to do to resolve our problem. So now we need only verify that they are right for our company and this specific need.

My process is to then go through the “trust but verify” procedure of logging onto company websites and social media platforms to see which of the referrals looks to be the best fit for my needs. After reading a few articles or white papers and a phone call or two later, I am on the way to a solution that is a great fit for my business.

I use it in my personal life too!  If I want to make chicken for dinner, I used to go straight to the website to look for a recipe.  Well, I will get not just the recipes but all the websites that might have chicken recipes, articles on chicken for dinner and reviews on why chicken is / is not the best  thing for dinner.  Too much work!  Much easier to call my neighbor down the street and ask for the recipe she cooked last month at the pot luck.  Tried and true!

Tried and true. Don’t we all want our businesses to be thought of that way?

Understanding that this is a legitimate and growing part of lead generation leads me to want to remind each of YOU that with a growing resource for your business comes a growing responsibility. 

If referrals are a large part of lead generation for your business, then your company may need to make a conscious shift in your marketing plan.  Just because referrals represent the coveted WOM (word of mouth) marketing this does not mean that money has magically appeared from your marketing budget.  Business should be budgeting to manage or encourage this area. Remember, for this to truly benefit your company you must deliver on MULTIPLE levels.

  •  Referrals must know what you do to find a qualified lead
    ( Especially when adding new products or services!)
  • Referrals must know that you deliver quality work
    ( So, you actually have to deliver quality work.)
  • Acknowledgement and appreciation for referrals is required.
    (No “Thank you”? This resource will feel no loyalty.)
  • And just like with new leads, referral sources must have you and your company top of mind.

Too often a business owner will think that they do not need to market to existing contacts because their prospects are already coming in as referrals.  They will network less because their referrals are up.  They may even start to depend on certain referral sources without marketing to generate new client leads.  This can lead to what many looking back at their downward trends consider as a down cycle or slow period.

As long as you are measuring regularly so you can be responsive, you should be able to change your process and grow again. Better is to shift the correct portion of your marketing budget to manage and grow this productive segment of your company’s lead generation NOW!

Which do you do first – search the internet or reach out for referrals? I’d love to read your comments!

Why your marketing isn’t working the way you want! And what your marketing consultants are trying to tell you.

By Talmar Anderson
Originally published Jun. 11, 2014

Marketing is the most frustrating and overwhelming part of running a business. It is not as black and white as addition. While I am prone to think I am the only one that struggles with the mythical “marketing strategy” I find that many of my clients have the similar issues. Primarily, I start by ensuring my clients understand that marketing and sales are 2 different areas of your business and you should be expecting 2 different results.

Sales efforts need to result in clients and products sold. Marketing efforts need to result in brand awareness and prospect generation. But just understanding those differences are still NOT ENOUGH to help you gain better results from your marketing.  NO… don’t blame the website.  It’s not your logo.  It’s probably not even your elevator pitch.

I am going to ask you a question….ready?  What happens that moves your prospect over the line to client by creating the buying decision?  What is the catalyst that has leads a client to finally click the button or pick up the phone to call?  Is it an emotional decision?  Is it a definitive need?  Is it a point in their life cycle or business cycle?

I know this is a very specific question but it really goes back to that first question all marketing consultants will ask you “who is your target market?”  If you are unable to answer that question as specifically as the triggers for that markets buying decisions, it is going to be very difficult for any marketing company to deliver on your goals.

This leads to the other reason that your marketing is not performing for you. It is wrapped around my favorite topic…metrics!! For successful evaluation, we must measure.  To measure, we must define a result (Are you following??)

If we want to measure whether a marketing effort has been beneficial, we will need to define what result we expect.  Clearly and specifically define who we want to do what exactly. We must do this for each and every marketing effort we make for our company.  “MORE CLIENTS!”….I can hear you all now.  “More clients” may be the reason why you have decided to invest in your marketing efforts and growth structures.  However, let’s get specific.

Are you planning a new marketing campaign to grow your contact list? Are you developing and delivering speaking engagements to broaden your credibility? Are you creating a promotional effort to grow the sales pipeline of a specific income stream?  What is the result you want from this effort?  Pick one.

It is possible your business will receive two benefits but pick one primary reason and communicate that with your marketing team (whether internal or external).  Then create a metric that will allow evaluation before, during and after the effort for that singular result.  Now we can measure success.

Clever phrases and neato slogans only help if they help brand identity which should lead to prospect generation which should lead to the company sales pipeline which should lead to more clients.  Each of these items requires a separate process and metric for performance evaluation and continual progress.  Tracking these items will allow us to better focus on what is and what is NOT working.  It is seldom as easy as changing marketing teams or consultants

We need to REALLY understand our target market and all that includes so that we can communicate effectively with our marketing teams to measure our results and drive prospects to sales.

Are you really surprised my answer is more clarity through process and metrics??? (Imagine my wickedly twinkling eyes!)

Priorities??!!??…They are always changing!

By Talmar Anderson
Originally published Mar. 6, 2014

Goal setting is constantly being thrown at business owners.  Where are you going?  How are you going to get there?  When do you expect to see results?  It is difficult enough to set those big vision goals.  Even harder is to bring it down to the micro level of quarterly, monthly or daily.  There are tons of softwares, spreadsheets and books written on how to set the goals. In fact, one of the qualities of a strong leader and business owner is the ability to prioritize.  This allows businesses to keep moving toward those thoughtfully planned out goals.  But a good decision maker becomes a great decision maker when they understand that priorities change…even from one day to the next.

Knowing the end vision goals and having them inform decision points is critical.  Let’s say that our year-end goal is 6 speaking engagements. This is one of the ways (the “How”) we intend to increase sales of a new software app to construction companies.  Along comes an invitation to take a speaking gig to a Chamber of Commerce which has a strong ratio of construction companies as its members. Woohoo!  But then you realize the date is the same as that trade show you were going to sponsor.  It is at this point that a great leader will take the trade show over the speaking engagement.

The great leader will look at the numbers and consider the purpose of the business.  The trade show will put your logo, information, a targeted promotion and you in front of 500 construction companies.  Closing only 10% of these qualified leads that are attending will provide you with 50 new clients.  The chamber has 100 construction companies as members. 100 is more than 50 but will they all attend?  Even if they all attended you would have to close 50% of the targeted audience to gain the same result of the trade shows potential.  Using the same closing ratio of 10% would only close 10 new clients. So a great leader would pass on making the goal of 6 speaking engagements.  That specific goal may be missed but the underlying purpose of your business is profiting…literally!

Getting so caught up in the goal setting can confuse the real reason we are in business.  We need to deliver value to our clients for income. We are not in the business of speaking engagements.  We are not in the business of working vendor tables.  These are means to the end.  While daily priorities require that we break the “growth” goal out to “what” and “how”….the goals we set to complete the “how” can get consuming.  Instead stay focused on the mission of your company.  If your mission is great customer service then you must prioritize the client follow-up meeting over the opportunity to get in front of new clients.  3 new prospects will defeat the purpose if your client is dissatisfied and happy to tell others about the disconnect between your mission and your service.

Goals are guides.  Ways to measure and inspire.  Goals are not results.  At minimum, I weekly spend time considering my prioritization of my long-term goals and current projects.  It does not always change but that priority check let’s my business take advantage of any new opportunity that had not been previously considered.  Every time a client asks for a new solution I need to consider whether it would be a good fit for other clients or as a permanent product.  Every time I receive a new collaboration opportunity I need to consider where that new project fits into the old priorities.  I need to move my goals and sometimes the dates or metrics.  I prioritize my goals to move forward my company’s mission.  What is that you say?  You want to collaborate to develop a new program….let me grab my calendar and my list and see how it will fit in….

Diversification does not need to break trust

By Talmar Anderson
Originally published Oct. 9, 2013

Knowing you niche is great.  Define it and your processes.  I say keep doing it until you are brilliant at it and your clients are telling everyone else you are brilliant at it.  Then you can look around for ways to grow AND protect your business. Along with all the other growth plans (more clients = more profit = RULE the World) comes a time when a business owner considers whether to diversify.  There are many ways and many reasons to do it. You know me and that whole risk mitigation I keep talking about, there are steps you need to ensure are part of the process to help lead to success when diversifying.

Often times, strategic planning centers around growing profits. Sometimes even dramatic growth is considered.  During strategic sessions different ideas come forward.  Merge with a complimentary company?  Start selling a product to expand on the services you currently offer?  Start offering a service that supports the products you already sell? Even just finding a new way to package what your company already offers to enter a new target market is diversification that needs to have the process behind it that will pave the way for success.

If there is a time to spend some money it is during the market research around diversification. First and foremost, ensure there is a market.  Crazy talk, I know.  Successful business owners in one area can fall victim to the “super great” idea.  Because YOU are excited and it seems right to you is just the starting point. Your excitement is helpful but should not be the decision point.  Let’s make sure that it is not only a great idea but that people will actually pay for it. No problem, you did that once before when you started your business.

Now here is where an existing company needs to take the process out a little further before officially deciding to go forward.  We need to make sure your existing clients and referral sources think it is a “Super great” idea.  More specifically, are they offended, confused or disagreeable to the diversification?  Do they think it is a good fit? You need to reach out to YOUR people and see if they will support it.

Let’s look at an example. A physical trainer has a stellar reputation for being able to help his clients become healthier and, consequently, happier people.  Easy to promote and align yourself with this guy.  Now he finds a great product.  It makes perfect sense to the trainer because he KNOWS his clients have a hard time getting to all of their veggies every day.   It is not his product but he is partnering with this company to offer supplements that help replace the nutrients people may be missing out by not eating all their veggies daily. He plans to sell them through his facility as a way to “help” out his clients and generate a revenue stream that is not contingent on booking hours of the day. But after investing and executing partnership agreements and stocking up on the product he is losing training clients.  He finds out his core client base loves working out with him and his team BUT the majority is working toward healthy eating and the chemicals in the supplement are freaking them out.  The clients thought he was about good health and their perception is that the supplements are not part of healthy living.  New clients have a harder time understanding the trainer’s brand…remember healthier for happier lives.  Much as they all agree that they have a hard time eating their veggies every day, it is not enough of a problem to the client.  Trust is broken through the confusion.  No trust. No business.

The business owner now needs to spend time and money rebranding and trying to rebuild that trust.  If he had done all of his research he would have found out the concerns of HIS clients.  He could have been in front of the education and branding tie in for current clients.  He may have even planned for losing some clients because the diversification would allow for a much stronger business in the end. The key is to be proactive here.  You will not lose trust if you announce your change of direction and address any specific hesitations from the beginning. This does not mean that all of the clients will stay or agree with the change but any parting of ways will not cause irreparable damage to your reputation in this situation.  If 99% of your clients say they won’t pay for it and don’t think it is necessary, you are looking at a major shift and building a whole new business essentially.  Is it worth it?

The other sticky wicket you need to consider is your staff.  They can just as easily break the trust between your company and your clients.  I simple memo and “this is how we sell it” can be catastrophic.   You need to plan for and allow time for an introduction and education of your employees.  If the veggie supplement makes sense to you and you take the time to share the details it will help tremendously.  Take the time to let them voice their concerns (good practice for the clients).  Plan for workshops offering how they can talk to the clients about not just the new product but why it works with your company.  They will be asked what they think about the product and the “new change” as well.  Give them advice and encouragement and then they can support the company and its effort.

I do love the idea of diversification to ensure companies are not too reliant on one client, one revenue source, or one market.  It is hard work to bring new ways into a working “machine”, but you can do it.  It’s just like starting a business out of thin air.

Is it time for a Pivot?

By Talmar Anderson

Originally published July 10, 2013

While some businesses slow down a little during the summer, the successful business owner will take this opportunity to review, plan and take action.  This can even be part of your strategic planning cycle.  Look for periods within your industry that contacts and clients become less inclined to buy.  These moments can be disappointing and frustrating if you don’t see them coming.  However, if you recognize a trend and see that July is a slow month due to vacations and summertime events, then that can allow you to REALLY take ownership by understanding what is working, considering new ideas and decide where you may need to pivot…..

I am sure some of you have heard me speak on pivots before.  Strong pivots are signs of an owner that is controlling their company and planning for their future success.  If these are not informed or well thought out, it can come across to your employees and clients as if you are unfocused or unsure.  You should pivot only after careful analysis and research. If you pivot without consideration and with every wind that blows, you can destroy your company. Literally.

Pivot = Business owner changing their mind.  That is it.  It is the owner’s option to decide to target a new client base.  It is their prerogative to decide to focus on an entirely different product or service.  It may be that you rename the company.  It may be that you decide to try an entirely new marketing channel.  Regardless of the decision, a pivot says we are changing course.

If you decide that selling your sister in-laws new jewelry line in your dental office, this may not be a strong pivot.  If you decided to give her a corner of the office because she is just starting out and your brother made you feel like it was your responsibility to help, it still may not be a great change.  If your clients are predominantly men, they are more likely to feel uncomfortable in the waiting room where sparkly things taking up space while they are waiting for their cleaning.  Or if you have a predominantly pediatric practice, I can’t imagine how much time the receptionists will spend reminding children not to touch or re-staging the jewelry that has been moved around.  This takes them away from the phone and the clients.

However….if you have been looking at your clients and their demographics and you find that they are largely female adults; that could be a good start.  If you look further and find that their annual household income level suggests the kind of disposable income that allows for jewelry purchase.  That is looking better.  If for the past six months, you have been wearing your sister-in-law’s pieces and you are repeatedly getting comments and questions during appointments to the point that clients are inquiring how to purchase, you may really need to consider it.

The work is only starting there but during your slower times you can take action to set it all up correctly.  If you have decided that this target market is a good one and has the potential for you to take over more of the market share, you may want to shift your marketing to bring in more of that specific demographic.  You will need to create an agreement on the responsibilities of the jewelry company as well as negotiate any portion of the sales for your office.  As for your dental office, you will need to decide how your infrastructure will support the jewelry sales.  BUT, it would be unique…picking up something sparkly while polishing your choppers?  That kind of pivot may seem uncomplimentary but if it is based on operating metrics, research and a supportive strategic plan…It may just work!