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Posts Tagged ‘sales’

Are you reading this blog post because you are procrastinating?

Oh procrastinating business owner, does your “to-do” list include things such as:

  • Sign more clients (umm… yeah!)
  • Identify places to speak (if they could just hear my message…)
  • Find prospects (where are they hiding?)

Do you look at your calendar and realize that you have no meetings with key influencers or collaborators or … yikes… potential clients/customers? Is that why you are procrastinating today?

There is simple connection tip that works to solve this dilemma every time.

Get out from behind your computer and go meet someone face to face.

I’m not kidding.

Not a phone call. Go outside and meet them.

Don’t get me wrong, there are so many amazing connections made every day via telephone but there is something extra special about sitting across from another person. Challenge yourself to put one- just one- face to face meeting on your calendar for this week. Show up engaged and asking for referrals, collaborators and ideas.

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Here’s what I know. I like to tell the truth about my business.

I admire and respect when others do the same. It’s how I learn. It’s how I course-correct some of those “not so great” ideas. It’s how I build community.

One of the tenets behind my company is Providing Visibility-both externally for my clients and their brands and internally in terms of sharing from a place of full disclosure when appropriate. Therefore, in the spirit of visibility, I want to begin a series of TRUE CONFESSIONS articles. Little “secrets” about my business and my entrepreneurial journey that might just help you. An inside look.

I wasn’t always comfortable with selling.

Nope. I really was a bit of a mess. Loved the conversation but hated talking about money. Sometimes didn’t even know someone was asking to work with me. I couldn’t “hear” them. At one point I realized that I literally sat in one chair to coach and consult and when the conversation transitioned to selling, I got up and moved to another chair. YIKES. A therapist could have some fun with that!

Things shifted for me when I stopped thinking of those conversations as sales conversations. I now think of them as simply connection conversations. When it is a connection conversation, I can have it over the phone with someone who I met at an event, a former client, a person who was referred to me or an interesting person in the line at Starbucks. It leaves it unexpected and fun for me because it is about the connection. I could discover a partner, collaborator, referral, client, or a new friend at any point.

I still come up with every excuse in the book not to leave my house.

Yup. Still a homebody. Networking always seems like a great idea when I put it on my calendar; but as the time draws closer and closer that day, I start to think about the heels, the Spanx , the makeup, the email inbox, and the endless list of things to do. They are all just distractions.

If I can just get myself out the door, I am home free. Need to remember that on the tough days. This is about growing my business. This is about connecting with people. This is about having fun. And with a connection strategy before leaving the house, I am definitely setting myself up for success. Because bottom line- I really dislike networking and love love love connecting! My challenge to myself: I must leave my house at least 2 times a week to meet new business connections.

I once had no communication calendar for my own business.

Yes indeed. Built them for clients. Taught workshops to share my passion and love of the organization and relief the communication calendar brings. But you have probably heard the old saying that the shoemaker’s children have no shoes. I needed to put myself and my business first.

Why? Because I needed to be able to see my business all in one place. Every product launch, every speaking engagement, every newsletter, etc. This allows me to look at the week and the month and know what is being communicated to my clients, friends and followers. But possibly even more important for me, it allows me to say NO. Before the communications calendar, I would say, “Yes I can speak. Yes I can promote your product. Yes I can host you to my list. Yes I can ….” and I did not incorporate my own business into my decisions. Ever feel like that? Like your business got away from you? That’s why I have a communications calendar!

Stay tuned for more TRUE CONFESSIONS!

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  • How much time are you spending each week promoting your business?
  • Does it feel uncomfortable for you to constantly be drawing attention to yourself and/or your business?
  • Are you running out of things to say and places where you can say them?

These three questions are a constant source of conversation with my clients. And like everything in my approach to business strategy, I want to keep it simple. When it comes to promotion, it’s all about the combination of ingredients in your business– like baking cupcakes!  You have some foundational work (the batter), some choices to make (size, special treats like chocolate chips) and the parts that have you grinning from ear to ear  (oh that’s the frosting!) and then sharing that excitement with those around you. Cupcakes are “Happy Food!”

Now how can we get that attitude transferred to your business in the area of promotion. Simple, fun and blended into your life and activities in a way that feels empowering – not like you are spinning around without a plan.

Promotion is Simply a Form of Self-Expression in Your Business!

And for most of you- You ARE your business- You ARE your brand– so the stakes are even higher or so it seems. From my perspective, this fact makes it even easier!

Take out that calendar- paper or electronic – and get ready. You need specific times set aside on your calendar for promotion- EVERY DAY. I am serious. This is not an activity that can be handled in fits and starts. Consistency is KEY here.

This does not mean that you engage in the same promotional approaches over and over again! Shake it up. Have fun! Promotion is FUN. This is your business!

If this whole idea scares you a little, GOOD! It should. You are taking it up a notch!

Write into your calendar EXACTLY what you will do each day. Blog post. Article creation. In my opinion, social media should be written in for a few minutes every day on your calendar. Newsletter. White paper. Commenting on people’s blogs. Calls to possible collaborators. Book speaking opportunities.

Uncomfortable drawing so much attention to yourself? Well, ultimately you will need to get over it. But for now, get some help. There are communications experts out there who will help you promote, write and share your thoughts with the world!

Your target audience needs you!

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Create a little process for yourself. Not complicated.

But a process that allows you to always have a list of people to call. Each night before you go to bed, make a list of 3 people that you can call the next day to talk about your business – with their phone number and the approximate time you are planning to call them.

It is much easier for me to do this in the evening/close of business than it is to motivate myself to create it in the morning.

 

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  • Do you currently set aside time on your calendar to talk to prospects?
  • Do you have a connection strategy that includes a sales process?
  • Do you avoid this time on your calendar at all costs?

As the brilliant Sales Mentor, Carolyn Herfurth says, “If you’re in business, you’re in sales”.  It cannot be avoided. Or you will be out of business before you start.

But KNOWING this intellectually and taking actions that allow you to ACT on it are two very different things.  Blocking time on your calendar to make those calls or have that cup of coffee with a prospective client is critical.

During this series, we will definitely be taking time to discuss the strategy behind networking time on your calendar and the time management secrets behind connect with people. But what we are talking about here is different.

Time blocked on your calendar for SALES should be used to make calls, follow up with people you met at events, conducting renewal conversations with your current clients, asking for referrals and introductions, talking about your business and ASKING people to work with you. You heard me… ASKING people to work with you.

I stumbled here when I first started…. I was not asking people to work with me. I was not giving them an option to move forward and allow me to help them. It was pretty darn selfish of me. But even more importantly, it kept me perpetuating a circle of: “reach out” ==> “have great conversation”  ==> “agree what a fabulous conversation this is”  ==> “good bye/until we speak again” ==> “hmmm I need clients” ==> “reach out to another person” and the this went on and on. I was connecting. I was talking to so many people. But it was not sales.

When I made two shifts in calendar – everything started to change in this area of my business.

  1. I put a sign in my office space that said “How many people have you asked to work with you today?” My answer- 6 days a week- must never be ZERO! And then placed a reminder in my calendar each day to determine the answer to this question.
  2. Easiest way I found to achieve an answer I love to the question above is to block time on my calendar EACH DAY (for me, I focus on 6 days a week but sometimes it is 7). The time on my calendar says SALES. Not connecting, not follow up, not networking, not calling people. It says SALES time. There is something about using that word that focuses me. Different from the very important networking time. This is a time that I am focused on finding people I can help and asking if I can help them.

Now I am not a sales expert in ANY way. This is simply from my own experience stemming from my personal madness with this issue and the challenges my clients have faced.  Having the time blocked on my calendar each day to make calls and reach out to people motivates me and more importantly, focuses me on what I planned to use that block of time for…. Talking about my business and engaging potential clients.

And remember when you blocked off Client Time on our calendars and you probably had some extra time set aside for the clients you want but do not have yet? Use that time to pick up the phone and speak to people. Use that time for SALES until you have a strong pipeline and a full practice/client base.

 

 

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  • How do you currently use your calendar?
  • What categories do you prioritize on your calendar?
  • How often do you update them?
  • Are there areas of your business where you feel you are just losing time?

Keep these answers close because over the next 5 weeks we are going to focus on 5 main areas of calendar planning: Client Time, Sales Time, Promotion Time, Networking Time and Personal Time. But you will want to use this process for other categories we don’t discuss and these answers will be critical to your success.

So take out your calendar- paper, electronic, wall, flipchart or blank piece of paper and get ready to plan! You cannot do this wrong and PLEASE whatever you do, don’t wait for the perfect calendar before you begin.

This week, we start with Client Time!

When I define “Client Time” I mean time spent in appointments with paying clients or time spent working on paying client projects- depending on your business model. Notice I said paying clients. This category is not about complimentary sessions, probono work or pre-work you are doing for clients in hope that they will sign with you.

Very clear cut, right?

Now here are a few questions that I want you to answer honestly.

  • How many clients do you have currently?
  • How many hours a month do you devote to each client?
  • Is that broken into phone sessions, project sessions, in-person meetings or some other form of work time?
  • How many clients is a “full practice” or “full slate”?
  • Where is the gap?

You will want to plan your calendar for the number of clients you plan to have when you are at full capacity. NOT for the number you have now. Our goal is to block out time on your calendar to service those clients—all of those clients- even the ones you do not have yet.  But first, a few more questions:

  • What time of day is the best time to reach those clients? Daytime-evening-early morning?
  • What part of the week is best? Weekdays, Weekends, Mondays?
  • Are your clients spread out amongst many time zones?
  • When do YOU like to speak to clients?
  • When do you feel most focused and effective at your client work?
  • Are their deadlines or meetings that have to be accounted for because they affect the client work?

At first you might need to try various combinations of time blocks to settle into the one that works best for you. In fact, I can guarantee that you will need to.

For example, early on in my business I put time on my calendar every day to work with clients. They were spread out throughout the week and I did not have enough clients to actually fill all the time. The result for me, and of course this is just for me, is that I felt unfocused. I never got on a roll. Now, I create chunks of time three days a week to speak to clients.  When I am speaking to them, I am on a roll… talking about planning and strategy.

If you have client work to do- copywriting, project planning, graphic design, etc- choose a time when you can remain focused and ideally this is NOT time when you could be on the phone with potential clients or clients. (You’ll learn more on that next week.)  I use the early mornings and block off a large chunk of time (ex: 6 am to 12 pm) a couple days a week based on how many projects I am tackling. From a creative standpoint, I am fresher in the morning, can work faster and more effectively and can get a lot done before my west coast clients ever hit their desks. For some of my entrepreneurial friends, they get started with all that creativity after dinner.

Tip: I put a little time between clients on my calendar in case I run over. But more importantly, so I can breathe a little and clear my head between each intense session. This was learned the hard way. Believe me! And it works wonderfully for client work in addition to appointments.

Tip: All that time you created for the full practice but are not using? No worries. Next week when we talk about “Sales Time” we will find a use for that time.

 

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Classic Bryn. Always trying to do everything all at once. Cram as much into a day as possible. Bite off more that I can chew and take it on anyway.

When I was a child, I hated to go to bed- not because I feared I would miss something but because I feared that everything I wanted to do would never get done if I slept. Interesting. That philosophy is an underlying belief that continues to show up each day of my adult life. I struggle with letting myself get the sleep I need.

One thing I believe is that every character defect of mine has served a purpose. Otherwise, why would I have clung to it as if my life depended on it at times?

This ability to push myself has catapulted me to great success fully embracing the things I love with the people I love.  However, it has also left me exhausted more often than not.  My saving grace? My calendar. The thrill I get from plotting out a process, an idea, a goal, my day, my week, my month or my year. It is all about the calendar. And in 2011, I strive to find the balance I need with my calendar as my guide.

THIS intention is the inspiration for my upcoming 5-part series on Planning with your Calendar! Funny, like so many of you, we teach what we have needed to master ourselves. And of course this calendar conversation is one I have with my clients and my friends OVER and OVER again. “I think in calendars” is a phrase I use often because in order to make sense of a new launch, an upcoming opportunity or a new aspect to my business or life, I need to create a calendar to see how the tasks are interdependent on other events happening.

And it does not need to be complicated. In fact, it is intended to make things simpler for all of us!

Therefore, over the next 5 weeks, I will offer my thoughts, wisdom and planning tips on the following areas of your calendar:

  • Client Time
  • Sales
  • Promotion
  • Networking
  • Personal

To add a little fun, watch for a FR*EE teleseminar series on this exact topic for those of you who want to dive in for more detail, who learn better with an audio component or who just enjoy hearing the million of examples that I have floating in my head about clients and colleagues who have calendared effectively (or not so effectively). Details will be available in the next few weeks…. for now, just read and enjoy!

Until then, start thinking about how you currently use your calendar. What categories do you prioritize on your calendar? Where do you feel like you simply lose time? These will become critical pieces of information as we move forward.

 

 

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