Train Your Client Retention Team

You’d never knowingly kill your relationship with your best customers or most lucrative clients.

Yet too many businesses do exactly that. Instead of nurturing the relationships that have supported and fed their business and employees for many years, they spend the majority of their time chasing after new prospects.Game Plan

I remember visiting one day with a friend Jeff at his office. His secretary walked into Jeff’s office as we were about to head to lunch. She was excited about a check that arrived in the mail from a new customer. It was a sizable check and certainly worth more than a few high-fives.

The thing I remember most about that episode in Jeff’s office was a check that arrived in the mail that same day from a long time customer.

It was about the same sizable amount as the one that arrived from the new customer. No less valuable. However, it was practically ignored. Continue reading

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Video Interview: The Sales Process

I had the pleasure of appearing on Bruce Hurwitz’s Meet the Experts. My topic, of course, was “How to Close More Business in Less Time.”

Run time of the interview is about 30 minutes. I walk through the steps of the sales process. You can download the chart at

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When is the sale over?

Surprise, surprise! The sale isn’t over when the customer says “Yes” and reaches for a credit card.

The sale isn’t over until the product or service is delivered.

And it’s not over until there’s followup to make sure the the customer is totally satisfied and is experiencing the full benefit of what was purchased.

Benefits2I recently purchased an online program which was to be supported by live one-on-one coaching. The sales person did an outstanding job of outlining the benefits I’d receive and the value I could expect.

I don’t know about you, but when I purchase something I want to take delivery right away. I don’t want to buy today and wait weeks or months to take delivery. That’s probably why I purchase cars off the lot rather than ordering them from the factory. I want it now.

But I digress.

So, I signed up for the program and the coaching. I was assigned a coach and the first coaching session was scheduled 10 days out. I was ready to get started now, but I could be patient.

A day before the first coaching session, I was informed that the coach was no longer available and that the company would match me with another coach.

Oh, no. Ten more days before I was able to speak to the second coach.

Now, at this point, I’m raring to go. I want to dig in, learn as much as I can, and start putting what I learned to work.

The first coaching session happened and it was helpful. While I expected the frequency of coaching sessions would be fast and furious, the second coaching session was set in another 10 days.

The enthusiasm is gone. The momentum not only isn’t there, it was never there.

So, this brings me back to the purpose of this post. The sale isn’t over until the product or service is delivered and there’s followup to make sure the the customer or client is experiencing the full benefit and value of what was purchased.

One more thing: The sale isn’t over until there’s a plan to continue growing the lifetime relationship with the customer so both you and the customer derive benefit and value for years to come.

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A CMO Solution for Smaller Businesses

Most major corporations employ a CMO –– a Chief Marketing Officer. This C-level executive is supported by a staff of dozens or hundreds of marketing specialists. The larger the corporation, the larger the marketing department.

Some marketing specialists deal with planning, others with market research, social media, customer service, branding, or sales promotion. If you didn’t know better, you’d think you were looking at an autonomous marketing agency living within the corporation.

Smaller businesses don’t have the luxury of this vast resource of experts and professionals. But, as always, they have choices.

When it comes to marketing, the most obvious approach for owners of smaller businesses is that they personally take ownership of all marketing activities. It’s not a bad decision. After all, owners are closer to their businesses, their products and services, and their customers than anyone.

The problem is they already have many hats to wear and the marketing hat is a big one. (The task of feeding Facebook can become a full-time job in and of itself.) Plus, they might have a very narrow view of marketing, basing what they create and deploy on what they personally like.

Or, an obvious choice is to seek help from the outside. This help can come from their local printer –– the one that has a couple of people in the back room that set type and design flyers –– or a marketing specialist, consultant, or small agency. If they go the marketing consultant route, they quickly learn no two marketing consultants are alike. Each has his or her special skills and areas of expertise. One may be expert at expanding your reach into global markets. Another may have a knack for launching new products or services, but be bored to death with routine day-to-day marketing activities. Although some have diverse credentials and talents, it’s hard to find the one perfect consultant.

One of the shortcomings associated with hiring a consultant is that they don’t stay around very long. They work on a project or two, and then they’re gone.

So that brings us to the next choice for smaller businesses.

That is to bring in a contract marketing director. This part-time addition to their staff (and it’s part-time simply because it typically doesn’t require a full-time involvement) provides CMO-type leadership — strategy, marketing planning, and then supervising the implementation of various programs. The outsourced marketing director keeps the business’ marketing activities on a specific course, hiring out specialized services as needed.

From my vantage point, one of the primary differentiator between a marketing consultant and the outsourced marketing director is that while the consultant is looking to sell something to the business owner (services or programs) the outsourced marketing director is helping the business owner make better and wiser marketing decisions and appropriate marketing investments.

He’s a sounding board for the owner and then boots on the ground to get a campaign up and running. He’s also focused on short-term and long-term goals, planning many months out.

The outsourced marketing director is an active member of the management team. He just doesn’t live at the office on a daily basis.

Personally, I’m spending more and more time these days in the role of outsourced marketing director. It’s good for me because I get to be a part of long term planning and it’s good for the organization because I get to know their business inside and out. I become more valuable to them.


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The fear of change

You offer a great solution. You give a great pitch and presentation. You handle and answer all the prospect’s objections.

Then why don’t prospects say Yes?

It’s not your pricing and it’s not that they can’t see the benefit. Simply put, business owners resist change. Actually, they’re afraid to change.

Until they realize the danger of not making a change is greater than the danger of making the change, they’ll be frozen in fear and indecision, and they’ll never say “Yes.”

Your first order of business is to help them handle their fear of change, their fear of the unknown, their fear of failure, their fear of the implemenation approach, and their fear of their lack of competency to change.

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The most important letter you will ever write

Even if you never mail it, writing a one-page sales letter will clarify your thinking and your marketing and sales message. Plus, it’s a great learning experience for you and has far reaching applications. Envelope

A well-written, direct-to-the-point one-page sales letter helps you clarify your value propositions, pitch, message, and language.

It helps you focus your reader on the intended outcome of that letter –– the specific action you want the reader or prospect to take. That could be to buy, call, send an email, and so on.

Whether I’m working on my own marketing materials or I’ve been contracted to do a writing assignment for client, I always start with a one-page sales letter –– even if that letter will never be mailed to a prospect.

I write the letter because I’ve learned that developing and writing a simple one-page sales letter helps me address the problem or problems I solve on behalf of the reader/prospect, specifically outlines the solutions I have in mind for solving the problem or problems, and asks for the sale (that next step you want your prospect to take).

It’s a very simple formula: Problem. Solution. Call to action.

Once you have your carefully forged one-page sales letter in hand, you can apply the format and content to everything in your marketing arsenal –– from your elevator pitch to a flyer or email campaign, and even to your sales pitch.

Caution. While this blog post is entitled “The most important letter you will ever write,” the reality is constructing this one-page sales letter may become “the most difficult and challenging letter you will ever write.”

But, believe me, it’s well worth the effort. Give it a try and let me know how you do. If you get stuck, let me help.

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Small business vs. big business

From time to time, I conduct a “meet the author” program. It’s like a lunch-and-learn but can be a breakfast-and-learn or a brunch-and-learn.

My program last week was to a mixed group –– business owners, sales reps, and several people in real estate. I spoke about How to Close More Business in Less Time for about 25 minutes and then opened the floor to a robust conversation about improving the sales process and, subsequently, sales outcomes.

Following the program, one of the attendees asked me if he could purchase a quantity of Weightliftingbooks for his team — to make them stronger. Authors’ ears always pop up when they hear “quantity of books.”

I phoned him a couple of days later with a price. He said he needed to check with his supervisor.

In the meantime, he sent me an email. He said, “I love your book. I’ve been in sales for 20 years. The book has made me look at several aspects of my sales process more closely. I now know what to do to make it better.”

When we spoke a few days later, he disappointedly announced his boss wouldn’t pay for the books. (The supervisor didn’t read the book or look at it. The door was slammed shut.)

He works for large, national corporation. There’s a lot of red tape and things move slowly. Decisions take time. Owners of smaller businesses are closer to action. When a team within their organization finds something that will help them, the boss will go along with it or, at least, give it the time of day.

In our world, with competition the way it is, it is imperative to stay ahead of the curve and the competition.

Staying ahead of the curve could be and should be easier for larger organizations with deep pockets than with smaller businesses. But setting aside the depth of pockets, the real difference is the mindset of one versus the other.

Small businesses need the right tools. I developed My Marketing Handyman to help level the playing field –– to make it easier for owners of smaller businesses to obtain quick, experienced, affordable marketing support and solutions that help them become stronger and increase sales and share of market.

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“Please help me”

It’s easy to ask for help. (Unless, of course, you’re trying to reach tech service at a mega corporation that wants your money but doesn’t want to talk to you.)

Yet people resist asking for help. Perhaps it’s because they want to figure things out on their own or they want to be totally independent.Information Desk 2

I believe many business owners – especially owners of smaller businesses – try to do things on their own to save money. They focus more on the upfront expense of doing something than on the potential return on investment.

Sometimes, we think we can do something on our own, but the outcome doesn’t live up to our expectation. It’s not as well thought out or professional as it should be.

I’ve never been shy about asking for help. I find that when I ask I save the time and money. If it’s a one-time task –– something I’ll probably never do again –– I never hesitate to ask for help for no other reason than it eliminates the learning curve. That saves me time, money, and hours of frustration.

Of course, when you’re asking for help, it helps to ask someone who knows how to help. Asking the wrong person rarely produces an exceptional outcome.

When we ask the right person for help, we wind up with a better solution and outcome. We’re able to move forward with greater confidence.

That’s what prompted me to develop My Marketing Handyman. Because business owners have lots of questions and they need professional help when it comes to marketing, promotion, advertising, and closing more business in less time, I wanted to be there for them… with good answers and professional help.

Whether they’re at their wits end or determined to increase the effectiveness of their marketing and their ability to close more business in less time, My Marketing Handyman is designed to give business owners competent, experienced, and authoritative help.

It never hurts to ask for help.

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Writer’s block

I’ve been writing professionally my entire adult life — books, articles, reports, marketing copy, radio and television commercials, blog posts, you name it. I’ve always proudly proclaimed that I never get writer’s block.

Until today! Nothing came to mind as a topic for this week’s blog post. I had a terrible case of writer’s block and the vultures were circling overhead. Pressure as it was, I found my answer. writersblock

Most of my ideas come from my personal experiences and from what I see and hear in the world of business and marketing. So, I thought I’d write about my dilemma du jour –– writer’s block.

There are some rules I follow that make writing easier and more fluid and can help prevent writer’s block. These apply to most all writing.

Little stories make for great ideas. Like me, today, writing about writer’s block. It’s not earthshaking, but it will help someone. And it’ll be fun to read.

Write about what you know. This is perhaps the most important of all. You wouldn’t jump into a conversation with a group of medical technicians (unless you were one) and start pontificating. When you write about what you know, it’s effortless. Continue reading

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Who Killed the Family Business?

In 2015, Centre Club Business Connection Committee (the committee in which I currently serve as chair) needed an event: something theatrical. My recommendation was that to make it truly effective, it needed to be more than actors speaking to a passive audience. It needed to be totally interactive.

That led us to think mystery dinner theatre. Two other committee members joined me in attending a mystery dinner theatre production in St. Petersburg. At the conclusion of what we saw as an amateur program, we agreed we could do better. And we could make ours truly valuable to our audience by adding a business theme. That saw the creation of our first production, “Who Killed the Business?”

It was fun and it was educational. With so many thumbs up, we produced an entirely new mystery dinner theatre production in 2016 entitled “Who Killed the Customers?”

This year, we’re producing still another all new production entitled “Who Killed the Family Business?” If you know anything about family businesses (and even if you don’t) you’re in for a real treat.

Plan to join us on Friday, September 22, 2017.

By the way, the production isn’t scripted. The cast uses improv to work our way through the scenes. We never know exactly what will happen. One thing is for sure, If you pay attention, you’ll be able to determine who is pulling the rug out from underneath the family and the family business!

Mystery blog promo2





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