How To Get More Control Over Your Sales

How To Get More Control Over Your Sales

I was chatting to a lady the other day and she said ‘Claire, this business is bad for my nerves and my blood pressure. One day it’s fine, I have money in the business and then within days it’s all gone on staff costs, supplies and other bills. Then we have a quiet period with no money coming in and no idea when it will start again. I feel like I’m always playing catch up – like I’m on a rollercoaster and I don’t like it! I want to get off!’

I knew exactly what she meant. It DOES feel like a rollercoaster when all you want is a smooth ride.

You just want to know you have a steady stream of business coming in, with enough money guaranteed to pay all the bill AND your wages and without all the ups and downs and lurching from OK to broke. And then you add in ‘seasonality’ and ‘quiet times’ and it becomes like a big dipper.

It’s a real challenge though, because when your business behaves like that the only way to stop that rollercoaster effect is to change the way you do things.

You have to smooth out the bumps and level out the ride and that takes time and effort, but once you get there it’s SO much easier (and better for your health).

So, How Do You Stop Those Rollercoaster Ups And Downs?

The ups and downs are caused by a few things.

By not having a steady stream of clients, by not having a steady stream of money coming in and by not having a plan to keep sales moving all the time.

So, what can you do about it?

Well, there is one thing you can do that will change the way your business behaves. It will smooth out the lumps and take out the quiet patches.

And yet, hardly anyone does it.

And even when they do, they hardly ever do it properly and consistently and yet, it could TRANSFORM their business for the better.

What is it?

Build Your Email List!

This is one of the most under-rated areas of business EVER!

So many people don’t bother building their database or collecting email addresses – or worse, they collect them and do nothing with them – and yet it could be the ANSWER to most of their business rollercoaster problems!!

Let me explain. 

When someone visits your website, they might take a look around, find a few things they like but they don’t buy – why not?

Because it’s not the right time for them.

Either they are looking for something they don’t need right now, but are just researching (think gifts for upcoming birthdays or other celebrations) or they aren’t in a position to buy YET because they are saving up or need more information or to talk to someone else about it.

So, although they LOVE your stuff, they decided not to buy today.

So they go.

Forever.

And then they forgot what your site was called so even though they vaguely remembered how lovely it was, after a quick Google it didn’t show up so you lost them.

What are you going to do about it?

“What do you mean, what am I going to do about it?” You ask! “I can’t MAKE them buy, I can’t MAKE them come back!” I hear you say.

Well here’s the thing: you can’t make them buy TODAY but do you know what?

You CAN make them much more likely to come back and buy when they are ready.

How?

You can get them onto your mailing list and you can build a relationship with them. Yes, even despite GDPR. You just have to make it very clear what they are signing up to – your ‘regular newsletter packed full of exciting news and offers’. That’s it. Make sure you use a proper marketing software package like Mailchimp to ensure you conform to all the anti-spam regulations and you’re ready to go.

THEN you can send them your regular e-newsletter, packed full of things they will love and find useful.

You’ll share new product information, you’ll tell them about any sales or offers you have, you’ll talk about the business, you’ll suggest ways to use your products and services and you’ll include lovely testimonials from happy customers.

Every month.

That way, they get used to seeing you in their inbox.

They start to look forward to getting your emails and hearing from you.

They look out for your sales and offers.

They become familiar with your name and your business and your products and services.

A Transformation Takes Place

They change FROM someone who loved your stuff but wasn’t ready to buy (so they left your website never to return) INTO someone who looks forward to your monthly email and buys even when they hadn’t planned to because you put such lovely things under their nose all the time. 

You go from being ‘just another business’ to being the business they think of when they need what you sell. And when they are ready to buy, they will buy from YOU. It’s like magic. But it’s actually quite simple, really. You just need to stay in touch, keep sharing stuff they love and keep adding value.

It Just Keeps Getting Better

Not only do they get used to seeing you around in their email, they also start to get to know you (and people buy people, remember?).

They learn about your business.

If you’re clever, you’ll have videos and images on your website and social media pages of you and your team so customers know who they are dealing with – it will bridge the gap between you being an ‘untrustworthy stranger’ to being someone your subscribers feel they know.

And you can direct people from your newsletters to your website to find out more about you and your team.

People are much more likely to buy from you if they feel there is a ‘real’ person behind the business who loves what they do and can help them if they struggle with a purchase. This is where you have a HUGE advantage over the big faceless corporates who can’t manage that personal touch.

Smoothing Out Cashflow Lumps

And remember we talked about that lurching rollercoaster feeling of ups and downs in sales and money coming in? Well building your database and keeping in touch with your subscribers via regular e-newsletters is an antidote to that. It smooths out the big lumps. It steadies the ride.

Think about it. Most businesses rely on potential customers finding them on Google. If those people visit their website and don’t buy there and then, they have lost them. What a waste.

Not you though, you’re clever and you’ve got this covered. You know now you need to get them onto your email list and keep in touch with them.

And you’re sending them lovely newsletters packed full of things they will find interesting, useful and valuable.

And then every so often (in your usual quiet time) you send them a BIG DEAL newsletter. A newsletter with a FAB offer they can’t resist.

Do you think they will take notice?

Well, they will probably take far more notice of YOUR offers than those of any other random company who happens to tout to them.

What will actually happen is that you’ll have control over your sales.

Let me just repeat that in case you didn’t get it.

YOU WILL HAVE CONTROL OVER YOUR SALES

That’s MASSIVE!

Because 80% of your newsletters and newsletter content will be non-salesy, added value loveliness, when you DO send out an offer your subscribers will take notice. And BUY.

This is what I do with my business. It’s what ALL successful businesses do – because it works!

It takes time to build your database and build those relationships. You have to put some work in to establish your monthly newsletter and work out what your subscribers love to see and read. But once you get the recipe right, it really works.

When you send out offers, the people on your growing email list will buy. 

That counteracts seasonality.

It flattens out those horrible rollercoaster peaks and troughs.

It gets rid of the stress and the fear of NO SALES.

It works whether you have a physical shop or premises, or you’re totally online.

Quiet times are a thing of the past.

You just need to plan your e-marketing in a very simple way and you’ve got it covered (eg. January Sale, February Valentines, March Spring Offers, April Showcase, you get the idea)

So let me just recap:

  1. Build your database (another blog coming next week to tell you HOW to do that)
  2. Keep in touch every month
  3. Share information that’s topical, useful, valuable and interesting but not SELL, SELL, SELL
  4. Once in a while, on a regular basis, send out a BIG DEAL OR OFFER newsletter
  5. Watch the sales come in

Are you up for a challenge? The sooner you start building your list and e-marketing, the sooner the magic will start to happen. I can’t wait to see how you get on!

Would You Pay To Shovel Poop? I Did…

Would You Pay To Shovel Poop? I Did…

I did, today. And last Wednesday. It’s not me doing the poop shovelling, I hasten to add but Chloe, my 9 year old daughter. She is horse-mad and has been having weekly riding lessons for a few months now, so when ‘Easter Pony Experience Days’ were mentioned, she was all for it. Here is the advert from her lovely riding school (below)
You see where it says ‘stable management lesson’ and ‘practical activities’? That’s basically mucking out the stables and cleaning tack.
Yes, there were lots of other lovely activities but a good part of the day was learning to look after the ponies, which is mainly the messy stuff.
Chloe won’t even clean her room without a huge fight, so when I saw THIS photo I was a bit gobsmacked…Chloe has the purple and pink coat on…

Chloe with her nose far closer to Pony poop than I would ever have thought possible…

So, naturally it made me think of you.
Chloe won’t clean her room but she will happily shovel pony poop when it’s part of a Pony Experience Day because it’s fun and it’s something she doesn’t usually get to do. It’s a new experience. How could you use this in your marketing?
Let’s think about it…People will happily pay for an EXPERIENCE.
The riding school isn’t daft, they get a bunch of horse-mad kids in doing work that they would usually pay staff to do but it’s a win-win because the kids LOVE it. So the riding school SAVES money, while MAKING money AND has delighted customers.
How can you use that in your business? What do you do that people would pay to learn? What would your customers love to EXPERIENCE that is part of your daily business activity?
Be a florist for a day? ‘Sew your own cushion’ workshop? ‘How to set up your own Yoga Business’ taster workshop? ‘Self-Assessment Made Fun’ masterclass (might be stretching it with that one…).
Remember, Build-a-Bear and Pick-Your-Own farms have made an entire business out of charging people to do something other businesses have to pay staff to do.
I’ll leave that one with you – let your imagination run wild and remember not everyone gets the chance to do what you do every day and some people would PAY to experience it….How could you use it in your business?
Let me know what you come up with, I’d love to hear from you,
Love, Claire xx
The Money Is In The Follow Up

The Money Is In The Follow Up

How many times do you start researching something you were thinking of buying, just to get distracted? Or realise you need to talk to someone else before you buy? Or you’re just doing initial research? How many times do you put things in your online basket and aren’t quite ready to check out yet? How often do you go into a shop just looking for ideas but you want to think about it before you commit?

In other words, how often do you start the ‘buying’ process but don’t finish it? Fairly often, if you’re anything like me.

And your customers will be just the same.

So why then, do we not follow up with these people? Why are we so worried about pestering them or feeling stalky? Surely, if they enquire there is a possibility they might be ready to complete that sale, hopefully with you, at some point soon?

Let me share a story.

I was shopping for a dress online and I got it in my online basket, paid and the payment failed. It was because my card had been cloned earlier in the year and I got a new one, but I’d saved my old card on this site and didn’t realise when I clicked to use it that it was my old one. The message said ‘payment failed’, I couldn’t be bothered to go downstairs right at that point to fetch my purse but I thought I’d remember to go back and get this lovely dress while it was still in stock.

The trouble is, I didn’t. Remember, that is. Even when the store kindly sent me an email an hour later reminding me that I still had things in my basket and I just needed to update my payment method. I meant to do it because I definitely wanted the dress, but I was putting my daughter to bed and by the time I got back downstairs, I was zonked and updating my payment method didn’t even enter my mind.

It wasn’t until I got a phone call the next day from the team at the store – as soon as I answered the phone I knew exactly why they were calling and I was happy to speak to them and finish my purchase but I was just about to go on another call and didn’t have time to speak.

Finally, the following day the team called me, a lovely lady very politely asked if now was a good time and would I like to complete checkout with her. I did indeed want to and I finally bought the dress.

Now, did you see how that worked?

How many steps it took for me to actually buy? It wasn’t because I didn’t want to, it’s just life got in the way. I was really happy to receive the email and 2 phone calls. I didn’t feel pestered or stalked or freaked out. I was just glad they persevered because I wanted to buy that dress but my life is busy and often chaotic and I get tired and forget because I’m a mum and a business owner and a wife and a dog mum and a home educator.

Your Super Customers are just the same and your business could work the same way as the store I bought from.

Imagine if you followed up with customers who put things in their basket but didn’t check out? Imagine if you followed up with people who enquired about services a little while ago but never came back? Imagine if you got your web visitors to sign up to your email newsletter so you didn’t lose them when they left your site. Imagine how many more sales you could achieve and how much more profit you could make? And all you have to do is follow up.

Not in a pestering way or a stalky way. Not in an uncomfortable way. Just in a helpful way because your Super Customers are like me that day, life gets in the way.

You’re helping them like the store helped me and I was happy to be helped.

Yes, you may get people who were genuinely researching and don’t want to buy but at least you have tried to help them and for every one of those, there could be a busy home-schooling mum and business owner whose brain feels like a sieve some days and who will be eternal grateful that you helped her finally buy that thing she wanted. Just a thought.

Scared To Put Your Prices On Your Website?

Scared To Put Your Prices On Your Website?

Don’t be scared to put your prices on your website. Here are 4 REASONS why:

1. If you’re scared of your competitors finding out, they will find out somehow anyway. Forget about them and focus on building a loyal following of people who LOVE YOU and love what you do. Your Super Customers won’t care if you’re not the cheapest – they come to you because you are awesome and they trust you.

2. Leaving your prices off is off-putting for customers. If I have to dig around a website, fill out a form, make a phone call or send an email just to get an idea of price I’d sooner go elsewhere. I assume the prices will be so high that the company will have to get a salesperson on the phone to HARD SELL to me (eeek!)

3. Out Of Hours Shoppers – I do most of my online browsing and shopping when my daughter is in bed, after 9pm. Here’s how it works: If I love what I see on your website or Facebook page AND if I can see the price and it feels like good value AND if I can get answers to any questions from your Frequently Asked Questions section AND I can see lovely reviews and I can see videos of you and I can see you’re a real person who can be trusted – I WILL BUY. You’ve made it easy for me. I like that.

4. Be proud of your business and what you sell and don’t be ashamed of pricing properly. Your Super Customers know you have to make a living. They know you are worth it. You’re not after bargain hunters – you want to attract people who value what you do because it’s perfect for them.

If you offer bespoke or custom products or services then at least say “prices start from” or “basic packages start from” or “this item cost £XX as a guide price, this is how we cost it” Give us a clue. We will still love you.

YOU ARE WORTH IT

YOU ARE WORTH IT

YOU ARE WORTH IT

Got that? Good 

Love, Claire xx

How To Keep The Money Flowing Into Your Business

How To Keep The Money Flowing Into Your Business

I was chatting to a lady the other day and she said ‘Claire, this business is bad for my nerves and my blood pressure. One day it’s fine, I have money in the bank and then within days it’s all gone on staff costs, supplies and other bills. Then there are days when sales are GREAT and other days and weeks when nothing I do works, nobody buys. I feel like I’m always playing catch up – why can’t I get a steady stream of customers and money coming in, so I’m not always in this position?

I totally understood what she was talking about – it’s the unpredictability. Wouldn’t it be lovely to be able to predict the future and know who will buy, and when? To know you have enough money coming in to cover your costs, pay yourself a salary and have some left over? But as you probably know, it’s harder than it looks. Business is like a rollercoaster, where you lurch from highs to lows, seemingly with no control over what’s happening.

It’s a real challenge, because when your business behaves like that the only way to stop that rollercoaster effect is to change the way you do things. You have to smooth out the bumps and level out the ride and that takes time and effort, but once you get there it’s SO much easier (and better for your health).

So, How Do You Stop Those Frightening Ups And Downs?

The ups and downs are caused by a few things.

By not having a steady stream of clients, by not having a steady stream of money coming in and by not having a plan to keep sales moving all the time. So, what can you do about it?

Well, there is one thing you can do that will change the way your business behaves. It will smooth out the lumps and take out the quiet patches. And yet, hardly anyone does it. And even when they do, they hardly ever do it properly and consistently and yet, it could TRANSFORM their business for the better.

What is it?

Build Your Database!

This is one of the most under-rated areas of business EVER!

So many people don’t bother building their database or collecting email addresses – or worse, they collect them and do nothing with them – and yet it could be the ANSWER to most of their business rollercoaster problems!!

Let me explain. 

When someone visits your website, they might take a look around, find a few things they like but they don’t buy – why not? Because it’s not the right time for them. Either they are looking for something they don’t need right now, but are just researching (think gifts for upcoming birthdays or other celebrations) or they aren’t in a position to buy YET because they are saving up or need more information or to talk to someone else about it.

So, although they LOVE your stuff, they decided not to buy today. So they go. Forever. And then they forgot what your site was called so even though they vaguely remembered how lovely it was, after a quick Google it didn’t show up so you lost them.

What are you going to do about it?

“What do you mean, what am I going to do about it?” You ask! “I can’t MAKE them buy, I can’t MAKE them come back!” I hear you say. Well here’s the thing: you can’t make them buy TODAY but do you know what? You CAN make them much more likely to come back and buy when they are ready.

How?

You can get them into your database (or onto your mailing list, however you want to describe it) and you can build a relationship with them.

You can send them your regular e-newsletter, packed full of things they will love and find useful. You’ll share new product information, you’ll tell them about any sales or offers you have, you’ll talk about the business, you’ll suggest ways to use your products and services and you’ll include lovely testimonials from happy customers. Every month.

That way, they get used to seeing you in their inbox.

They start to look forward to getting your emails and hearing from you. They look out for your sales and offers. They become familiar with your name and your business and your products and services.

A Transformation Takes Place

They change FROM someone who loved your stuff but wasn’t ready to buy, so they left your website never to return INTO someone who looks forward to your monthly email and buys even when they hadn’t planned to because you put such lovely things under their nose all the time. 

You go from being a lost opportunity TO being the business they think of when they need what you sell. And when they are ready to buy, they will buy from YOU. It’s like magic. But it’s actually quite simple, really. You just need to stay in touch, keep sharing stuff they love and keep adding value.

It Just Keeps Getting Better

Not only do they get used to seeing you around in their email, they also start to get to know you (and people buy people, remember?). They learn about your business.

If you’re clever, you’ll have videos and images on your website and social media pages of you and your team so customers know who they are dealing with – it will bridge the gap between you being an ‘untrustworthy stranger’ to being someone your subscribers feel they know. And you can direct people from your newsletters to your website to find out more about you and your team.

People are much more likely to buy from you if they feel there is a ‘real’ person behind the business who loves what they do and can help them if they struggle with a purchase. This is where you have a HUGE advantage over the big faceless corporates who can’t manage that personal touch.

Smoothing Out Cashflow Lumps

And remember we talked about that lurching rollercoaster feeling of ups and downs in sales and money coming in? Well building your database and keeping in touch with your subscribers via regular e-newsletters is an antidote to that. It smooths out the big lumps. It steadies the ride.

Think about it. Most businesses rely on potential customers finding them on Google. If those people visit their website and don’t buy there and then, they have lost them. What a waste.

Not you though, you’re clever and you’ve got this covered. You know now that you need to get them onto your email list and keep in touch with them.

And you’re sending them lovely newsletters packed full of things they will find interesting, useful and valuable.

And then once a month you send them a BIG DEAL newsletter. A newsletter with a FAB offer they can’t resist.

Do you think they will take notice? Well, they will probably take far more notice of YOUR offers than those of any other random company who happens to tout to them. What will actually happen is that you’ll have control over your sales. Let me just repeat that in case you didn’t get it.

YOU WILL HAVE CONTROL OVER YOUR SALES

That’s MASSIVE!

Because 80% of your newsletters and newsletter content will be non-salesy, added value loveliness, when you DO send out an offer your subscribers will take notice. And BUY.

This is what I do with my business. It’s what ALL successful businesses do – because it works!

It takes time to build your database and build those relationships. You have to put some work in to establish your monthly newsletter and work out what your subscribers love to see and read. But once you get the recipe right, it really works.

When you send out offers, the people on your growing email list will buy. 

That counteracts seasonality. It flattens out those horrible rollercoaster peaks and troughs. It gets rid of the stress and the fear of NO SALES. It works whether you have a physical shop or premises, or you’re totally online. Quiet times are a thing of the past. You just need to plan your e-marketing in a very simple way and you’ve got it covered (eg. January Sale, February Valentines, March Spring Offers, April Showcase, you get the idea)

So let me just recap:

  1. Build your database (another blog coming next week to tell you HOW to do that)
  2. Keep in touch every month
  3. Share information that’s topical, useful, valuable and interesting but not SELL, SELL, SELL
  4. Once in a while, on a regular basis, send out a BIG DEAL OR OFFER newsletter
  5. Watch the sales come in

Are you up for a challenge? The sooner you start building your list and e-marketing, the sooner the magic will start to happen. I can’t wait to see how you get on!

Don’t Miss The Sales Train!

Don’t Miss The Sales Train!

I remember when I first started out in business – I wasted so much time. Sales were pretty thin on the ground. I did things the hard way and I couldn’t see it because I didn’t know any better.

Take new clients, for example. I was a marketing consultant. I needed small businesses who wanted help with their marketing and would pay for it. I needed quite a lot of them and I spent most of my time wondering where the next client would come from.

I went to networking groups. I had a website. I did a bit on social media. I advertised. I asked around. I did what I thought I needed to do to get more people to find me and hire me. But it was HARD WORK. Really hard work.

My business was like a rollercoaster. I lurched from being stupidly busy to then, when my client projects came to an end (which always seemed to be en masse) to having NO clients, NO money and panicking like a mad woman. It wasn’t good for my blood pressure and it wasn’t good for business.

The thing was, it was hard work because I was doing it the hard way. I needed a train.

Let me explain…

Think of your customers and potential customers as passengers on a train – because every business needs a sales train. You get potential customers or people who have expressed an interest on the train at the furthest station and they get on and off that train at different stops until some of them arrive at YOUR station (the BUY station) and bingo, you have a sale.

Your job is to get them ONTO the train at the far end and keep them moving along the journey, getting back on that train and heading towards you.

There are lots of station stops along the way.

Some people never really get back on after they’ve jumped on the train at the far end and taken a look around. They decide your products or services are not what they were looking for and so they tootle off and find a different train that suits them better. That’s fine, you’re not a perfect fit for everyone.

Some people get on the train and look forward to arriving at the BUY destination but they get stopped along the way. Sometimes they change their minds. Sometimes they don’t have the money right now. Sometimes they were just getting on the train for a look around but don’t actually need what you sell until later in the year, so they aren’t ready to buy. YET.

Some people get on the train but they don’t have enough information. They want to study the timetable and check out the sites, they want more information and they won’t get back on that train until they are 100% certain that it’s what they need.

Other people will get on at the far end, choose the best seat, opt for the EXPRESS route and go straight to BUY in one trip. They are your super customers – we like them.

Your job is to keep getting them back on the train.

Think of yourself as part conductor, part travel agent.

You’re there to keep in touch, keep reminding them why their destination is so good, keep giving them the information they are missing and keep moving them along that journey.

How?

Lots of ways.

First of all you need to get them ONTO the train. You do this by being visible on social media, by having a website, by letting people know what you’re up to and by getting them onto your email list.

Every time they read about you on a blog or someone’s website or you’re mentioned in a Facebook group or by a friend, that will help them get back on the train again. They will be more comfortable progressing because they can see you’re credible and trusted.

Every time you pop up in their newsfeed, they remember why they liked you and they hop back on that train and head along to the next stop to see if they still like you there.

Every time they visit your website or social media pages (especially if you have videos and stories) it helps progress them along the journey because they get a bit of YOU. People buy people and if you share videos and pictures of you, your business, your work, they build a relationship with you. You’re bridging a gap.

Every time they get an email newsletter from you, with information, help, case studies, testimonials, information about events you’re attending and announcements about new products or services – that will get them back on the train because you’re suddenly top of mind again. You reminded them why they were interested in you and you helped them decide to go to the next station stop.

And that last one – the email newsletter bit – that’s the biggie.

The best way to get potential customers along that journey, instead of hopping off at every stop is to keep in touch, build relationships, to show you can help them, to show people trust you and the BEST way to do that is by sending regular e-newsletters.

You can bypass the noise and unpredictability of social media and drop straight into their inbox when you want to. Email newsletters are your express ticket that will speed up your sales train and get those customers along faster and more often because you’re top of mind and when they are ready to buy, they will buy from YOU.

And that’s the bit I was missing, back when I started out.

I totally underestimated the power of e-newsletters and I had no sales train. I had no way of taking people on a journey so that a steady stream of customers would hop off at the my station, already liking and trusting me, already excited and ready to buy. I was trying to take random people from the street and persuade them to come on a long train journey to see me when they didn’t know me. How would YOU react to that? Exactly!

It’s Time To Get Your Train

If you’ve been collecting emails but haven’t done anything with them, the time is now.

If you haven’t been collecting emails, today is the day you start (more about that in next week’s blog)

If you’re not building trust, building relationships and being visible, it’s time to start (videos are a great shortcut)

It’s time for you to set up your sales train and work out how to get people ONTO the train and how to keep people moving along till they reach your station.

Grab your whistle, off we go! Toot toot!