Information that slips through your fingers like sand – unless….

I find myself getting into this type of conversation a lot.  I ask a businesses owner or manager “What is the main source of your business right now?”

I get a shifty flick of their eyes followed by very similar responses:

  • “I guess, it’s repeat customers….”
  • “Well, I run ads in local papers sometimes….”
  • “Hmm, the brand name above the door does it in most cases….”
  • “I think, it’s probably the Golden Pages….”

They are fooling nobody – except maybe themselves :)

Straight away, I’m trying to work out what process is in place to measure sources of business because any business owner or manager that is focussed on those metrics can quote them off the top of their head.

I love to hear “30% of my business is repeat trade, 50% is walk-in business because I have a great location and the rest comes from different marketing and promotion campaigns that I run at different times of the year”.  There’s no sand slipping through those fingers.  Having spent a little time with them, that’s the level of focus that clients of EzSales develop throughout their teams.

Before we can establish the likelihood of your success in new promotional activities, we have to understand where your current business is coming from.  I do not want to start pushing your promotions away from a successful source.  In fact, the main reason I’m asking the question is to work out where you are spending your money and to see if we can take some of your current marketing spend and make it work more productively for you through other channels.

Sales ends up being a numbers game, so you have to be on top of your numbers.  You need a system that tracks every enquiry and qualifies the source of that enquiry.  This will drive your actions too.  If you see that most people are coming to you for goods or services because they were recommended by a friend, then the likelihood is that they have received a little bit of pre-selling.  They are already disposed to like you and your products or services because a trusted friend has recommended them to you.  If you’re not measuring the volume of business that you get through this channel, you could become complacent when it comes to customer service.

Equally, it has become expensive for businesses to continue to pay for premium listings with the golden pages.  If you were to stop doing that and spend the money in a different area it could be a risk.  If you assume that all calls you are getting for new business enquiries are coming from your Golden Pages listing, perhaps asking the question from a caller about where they heard about you could go a long way to establishing whether that it truly the case or not.

When building a cohesive sales strategy it comes down to a simple approach:

A)    Know where your sales come from (Measure and report)

B)     Identify if your competition are winning sales from you through other channels and if it is possible for you to compete in that space (I see no reason why not)

C)    Work out what business will churn of it’s own accord once your product or service quality remains consistently high – take that as a baseline of business in the bank (My guess is that any figure you list as business in the bank will be a fairly low one in current market conditions)

D)    Look at what costs will go behind driving business through other channels and break out your sales and marketing plan accordingly (This will make you focus on the return you get from the money you spend behind every activity)

E)      We’re back to Point (A) – Measure sales and report

F)      Rinse and repeat (Don’t lock your strategy in stone, but don’t change too often either.  Review the success of your activities and identify the impact in positive revenue growth)

I suspect that if you haven’t run this simple exercise recently in your business, then there’s a good chance that you are spending money from your sales and marketing budget without knowing what return it’s delivering to your business.  It’s money you’ve spent in the past and each year you pay it again.  Don’t get upset, get focussed.

By stepping back and looking at your sources of our success, we can learn what activities are fruitless.  Cut them out and increase effort and focus on the areas of your sales and marketing plan that give you the highest return and you’re well on the way to a successful strategy.

At EzSales we have simple, cost effective solutions.  We make it a priority to get the necessary systems and structures in place throughout your business to deliver measured results.  These bring focussed strategies that WILL increase your sales and will increase your PROFITS.

Focus or Fire Your Staff for a Winning Sales Strategy

Okay, as I said in the last post “Why you need to be all about the PROFITS in 2012?” the section on Focus or Fire Your Staff sounds a bit dramatic and based on the number of emails from people looking for a view on this, I thought I’d expand on my statement a little further.

You’ll note that I begin with the intention of FOCUS rather than fire. There’s a good reason for this, most people fail to do it. They have a valuable (And costly) resource sitting within their business that will never be unlocked because of a lack of direction and motivation. To illustrate, I’ll fall back on my role within hospitality businesses where the logic is easy, but the practice can be slightly more complex.

I go back again to my previous article (Linked above) and remind you that we have to review our costs. You have to decide if there is sufficient staff resourcing to cope with the business volumes and in hotels this is an easy one to understand. You know how many rooms need to be cleaned from last night, how many breakfasts to serve to the people who stayed and how many people are staying with you tonight? They’ll need receptionists to check them in / out and people to take care of their lunch / dinner / rom service. It’s Groundhog Day – but the numbers change slightly daily.

The question shouldn’t be “How many staff do I need to cover the bookings for tonight?” – that’s reactive, not proactive. The real question will be “How many staff do I need to win MORE business today?” If the staff that you employ realise their importance to your sales effort, then the link between business and FOCUS becomes clear.

Set targets so that each person within each department knows exactly what is required from their performance on that day. Your team should know this and be working with you to help ensure that their performance matches your targets for them but it is your responsibility to empower them to do what it takes to deliver that result.

You MUST give them the necessary training and the benefit of your experience and guidance, but you have to trust them to come up with ways that they believe they can achieve better results. If they are not focussed on the Target, they will simply walk through the steps of their role – do simply what is required on a task basis, clock-out and go home. A focussed team work towards a target and know that their performance will influence whether or not the overall team will be successful – preferably for THAT DAY.

Setting targets as part of an overall sales strategy is a skill and I want to stay on point in this post – there are a number of givens now to be considered:
1. Your team are trained
2. They have the tools required to be successful in their role
3. Their performance has had a measure applied to it
4. Their performance has been linked to the overall business targets
5. The elements of points 3 & 4 above have been communicated clearly to your team

In this context, your team now have the skills and targets. You have to motivate them and each manager will have his / her own style for doing so. Now you can objectively assess individual performance to see if your team are giving you 100% effort. So it’s not completely down to the members of your team – you have your part to play in setting the stage for them and then you have to monitor their performance and communicate with them effectively.

If you have invested this effort into your team and still you have an employee who consistently underperforms, then you implement your own disciplinary procedures and either manage the employee back into effective performance or regrettably, you manage them out the door.

Keep in mind my original point on this. An employee who gives you 8 out of ten for effort is STEALING 20% of the productivity you require from their role. If we thought about lazy attitudes towards work in this context it would have a dramatic change in the way we approach it with our staff surely. If you pay a bar tender €90.00 for six hours work and he stole €20.00 from the till, you would fire him / her. If they take an extra 30 minute break or don’t bother going to greet guests who are stood at the door reading your food menu, why should this be treated differently. These things happen just as much because of a lack of FOCUS on YOUR part as they do when your staff are not focussed on the results that your business needs for success.

Keep your comments coming, I’d love to hear the feedback now that you understand a little bit more about my thoughts on this subject.