Monthly Archives: September 2009

To Ask or Not To Ask, That is the Question

Play

My 95-year-old grandfather is quite a character. Yep, he’s still going strong, takes 2 pills a month (yes, you read that right, a month) but he always makes sure he gets his gin in every day. (Forget yogurt, the key to living a long and health life is definitely the gin.) He’s also a very successful businessman.

One of the things he taught me is you should always ask. What’s the worst that will happen? They’ll say no and you’ll be no worse off than you are now.

Now, while I subscribe to that and DO ask, I’ve realized there’s a bit of an unspoken rule here. Yes, I think asking and negotiating is part of business and life. So why do some questions put my teeth on edge and others don’t? Where’s the line?

I’ve been thinking about this and that’s when it hit me. The questions that bug me, that cause my defensives to go up, are the ones that imply a lack of respect for me.

Let me illustrate with a story. At a Dan Kennedy event a few years ago, Gene Simmons was speaking. He opened it up for questions and this guy with what appeared to be a relatively new business stood up. In the course of the conversation with Gene, he said “Well, I know you see the potential of what I’m doing, but I can’t pay you to help me market it. Would you be willing to take it on for a percentage of the business?”

Instantly groans filled the room. The would-be business owner turned around and said “It doesn’t hurt to ask, does it?”

Now on one hand he’s right. If Gene said no (which he did) he’s no worse off than he was before he asked.

On the other hand, I would argue that he IS worse off because he just lost the respect of a chunk of the people in the room (and probably Gene as well).

Why? Because that’s a question that implies a lack of respect for both Gene and himself.

What this would-be business owner is saying is this: “I don’t believe enough in my business to take out a loan or do what it takes to hire you. Nor do I really believe that YOU can do what you say to make me a success.”

Because if he believed either of those, he WOULD find the money because he would know he would get a huge return on his investment.

Now, there are limits here. A smart business person would figure out what he or she should expect to gross from their business, and then would know how much to invest to get that. So, for instance, let’s say the potential of the business is $100,000 a year. It wouldn’t make any sense at all to invest $250,000 to get $100,000. (Unless the $250,000 is a one-time thing and you were pretty convinced you would continue to make $100,000 every year, at which point by year 3 you’d start making pure profit.) Now, would it make sense to invest $10,000 to make $100,000? I’d say so.

In addition to that, the moment anyone says “I know you see the potential in this” they’ve lost me. If they have to TELL me that because it’s not so obvious I can see it for myself, we have a problem on our hands.

So, while I do believe in Grandpa’s adage which is “it doesn’t hurt to ask” I also believe that BEFORE you ask, make sure what you’re asking isn’t implying a lack of respect.

How to ruin your business reputation

Play

Awhile ago, I got an email from one of the “gurus” I follow and it shocked me. The gist of it was this person wanted to trade services for a household item.

To say it floored me would be an understatement.

What was worse was a few days later this person started sending emails promoting their coaching program. How could anyone who had gotten the “trade” email even consider signing up for their coaching program?

Now this was a pretty obvious blunder, but there are other, smaller blunders, you might be making that are hurting your business reputation and your ability to attract clients. But first, I want to make something clear.

The problem isn’t that you’re struggling right now. That happens. It’s the nature of business and every seasoned business person knows it. Businesses will lose money or be flat from time to time. There’s no shame in it, you just need to keep doing something about it (i.e. marketing, analyzing your offerings or your target market to see if you need to make a change, etc.)

The mistake happens when you make this too transparent. I’m not saying you should lie and say business is great when it’s not. (In fact, please DON’T lie. That’s another way to hurt your business reputation big time.) But (and this is ESPECIALLY true if you have a service business) don’t make it obvious you’re struggling. No one wants to hire a consultant who isn’t busy. In the back of people’s minds is the worry if the consultant isn’t busy they must not be good. So you MUST not come across as too eager or that you have too much time on your hands.

No matter how desperate for customers you are, you must get that under control. People will sense desperation and either run from you or try and take advantage of you. Neither is all that good for you (either your business or your psyche).

So what can you do? Here are 3 tips to help you stay strong no matter what’s going on in your business.

1. Keep marketing. Now is the time to step up your marketing. You have the time, why not write extra articles so you have them “stockpiled” when you do get busy again. Now might also be a good time to do a promotion but do NOT say it’s because business is slow. Find some other creative way to do the same thing (for instance, maybe you have a “back to school” special, now that the kids are back in school you have some extra time to take on an additional client or two.) Or your promotion can be around a product or a group program. (Having a promotion around your product or group program doesn’t carry nearly the social stigma of pedaling your service.)

2. Don’t answer your phone. Yes, you heard me. Let voice mail pick it up or keep your virtual assistant on to return phone calls. Busy people don’t sit by the phone willing it to ring. You need to get your mind off your phone (or your inbox) and on to drumming up customers.

3. Don’t drop your fees. Your fees aren’t the problem. Something else is the problem. Either you aren’t marketing enough or your target market isn’t the right target market for you anymore or you need to tweak your offerings or something else is going on. But the moment you start dropping your fees or doubting yourself is the moment you’ll start down a vicious downward cycle.

(Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t put together a lower priced package and promote it. That’s fine and it may be a smart business decision. But to lower your hourly rate — not a smart move.)

There’s still time to sign up for “Why Won’t They Buy?”

If you haven’t signed up for my brand-new free teleclass “Why Won’t They Buy? 5 Simple Secrets to Selling Your Expertise Online” there’s still time! It’s TOMORROW, Sept 10 at Noon Pacific/3 pm Eastern.

Here’s the link so you can take care of that WhyWontTheyBuy.com

Lisa and I got together because we’ve seen how so many entrepreneurs struggle to make money online and we want to help. Between the two of us, we’ve worked with HUNDREDS of business owners and entrepreneurs over the years and we KNOW what it takes to succeed online.

Is this you? Do you have:

  • A web site that doesn’t convert (turn visitors to buyers)
  • Products that don’t sell as well as you want
  • Your phone glued to your ear because you have to spend WAY too much time on the phone to selling your services (there’s got to be an easier way, doesn’t there?)
  • Problems attracting the wrong types of clients —  the ones who drain you rather then the ones you love to work with
  • Lackluster sales when you launch a new product or service
  • A feeling you have to sound like a used car salesman if you want to make any sales. (You’re SO tired of hype and you REALLY don’t want your web site to sound slime-y or manipulative, but how else will you make any sales?)

If so, you’ll want to reserve your spot on this ground-breaking call NOW. You’ll learn:

  • The number 1 thing you MUST do or you’ll never make any real money on the Internet (or in your business as a whole for that matter)
  • The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make when they start selling online and how you can NOT fall into that trap
  • How to become a magnet for ATTRACTING your ideal customers while at the same time REPELLING those clients who you really don’t want to work with (never again feel like you need to take on a “less than ideal” client for cash flow reasons)
  • The secret for setting yourself apart from your competition EFFORTLESSLY (no one ever again will wonder what you do or how you can help them, they’ll just know they NEED to work with you)
  • How to know EXACTLY what you need to do to present your offer to your customers so they can’t WAIT to do business with you
  • How you can start positioning yourself as THE go-to expert in your industry
  • Don’t want to sound sales-y? No worries. We’ll teach you how to create a “buying environment” that feels authentic and comfortable for your prospects to become your customers.

Here’s that link again to reserve your spot in this complimentary teleclass.

WhyWontTheyBuy.com

See you on the call!

Why Upsells and Downsells Could be the Ticket to Your Business’ Online Success

Play

First, some context. What exactly is an upsell and a downsell and why is it so important to your business?

An upsell is when your prospect has already said “yes” to buying something from you, and then they decide at the same time to buy something else. The classic example of this is the MacDonald’s “Would you like fries with that?’ The customer has already bought a hamburger and now the employee has nudged them into buying something else.

A downsell is when your prospect has said “no” to your initial offer so you present a second offer. Typically the downsell is less expensive than the original offer.  So, for instance, the customer decides the MacDonald’s hamburger is too expensive and decides to buy just an ice cream cone.

Now clearly this can and does happen in face-to-face situations. But did you realize this can also happen online?

So for instance, someone buys a product on your web site. Your web site can immediately present them with a second offer, the upsell.

And if the prospect clicks away, because they’re not interested in buying your product, your web site can also present them with a second offer, a lower cost offer than the one they were looking at.

So you’re probably thinking, this sounds a little complicated and I haven’t a clue how to start. Why would I want to do this?

Two reasons —

1. You’ll make more money. When you start using the upsell, you’ll increase your overall purchase amount. For instance, say your product is $100 and you offer a $50 upsell. Let’s say 20% of your buyers take you up on it. Now you’ve made an additional $50 on 20% of your purchases. (This can add up after awhile.)

Now, for the downsell, you’ve saved a sale you’ve probably lost anyway. Let’s say your product is $500, when someone clicks away, you pluck a piece out of the original product, say an ebook, and offer that for $97. Now you’re giving your customers a lower cost alternative, a chance to try your product out before spending a lot more money.

2. If you offer an upsell, you’ll increase customer satisfaction and decrease returns. Yes you read that right. Upsells can actually make your customers feel more satisfied doing business with you and less likely to want to return the product. Why? Because you’re helping them “skip” over buyers’ remorse. We all have buyers’ remorse after we buy something, which is when we regret our purchase. The intensity and the length varies depending on the buying situation. But if you immediately jump into and offer a second purchase, your customers are busy figuring out if they want to make that second purchase versus feeling bad over making the first one. And if they DO buy, then they’re that much more invested in you and your business and they WANT what you sold them to be what they’re looking for.

And the best part of this whole strategy? It’s automatic. You set it once and it keeps on doing it, over and over again. What could be better?

One final note to chew on as you make up your mind if it’s worth it or not – do you know what the most read page on a web site is? It’s your thank you pages. The page your prospects go to after they sign up for something or buy something. Don’t waste this valuable real estate – put an upsell on that page and watch your bank account grow.