Saturday, 30 June 2012

Why your customers are crying out for business training and might cancel the order

Why your customers are crying out for business training and might cancel the order: by Jason Li 2012 ©

At some point in your business training a customer is unavoidable...

Whether you are in IT or an electrician...

If you do have to, be great at training...

Because being good at training customers can make your business stand out.

Let me tell you a story of an experience of training that made a difference to me changing supplier. For a long time I had used a certain mobile phone which had a lot of contacts in the address book built up over the years, and this was the sole reason to stop me changing over to a new phone. I bet you can’t believe it, but hey, I find things like that just plain annoying. In the past when I changed phone, I had to write out numbers and names and it took me a whole day to do, so it was a case of never again.

Anyway, technology has moved on. At the shop, the shop assistant eased my fears and inertia by showing me how to copy numbers off my phone into my new phone so that I could do it in minutes when I got home. And so the deal was done.

Small business training

Every day there will be small businesses training needs, whether it is for staff or customers. Of course, with staff training this is easy because you really know your staff and if they get things wrong they can keep learning and practising to improve. But what if a new prospective customer can’t get what you are offering them, or cannot get to grips with using what you offer?

A prospect might only give you one chance or two chances at most. So you will need to try to make sure your training is as simple and understandable by anyone possible, even if you are training people with PHD’s.

The reason is that new things are hard for people to know and fully understand the first time around. So when showing prospects and clients how to use your products and services, your business needs to make sure they can understand and do all the processes to get them from A to B.

 Then get them to demonstrate back to you how to do it. If they can’t and they say: “I think I get it,” try not to leave it to chance, just say: “Well while we are here we can try it again and it should be easier this time.” Or something along these lines to ensure they can use your product or service.

Business training home page

When I trained customers, I always had the business training home page ready as my emergency. Let’s say I’m training a customer to use software, if they got lost, then we could go to the home page and get them back to the relevant page in one or two clicks. Once the customer knew this, the software felt safe and understandable to them. They knew how to ‘reset’ I guess in a way and start again.

There’s times when I’ve trained online and I can’t see what the customer is looking at on their screen, because they got adventurous. So if I thought it was too confusing to try to untangle what they’ve done and make them feel ruffled, going back to the home page and starting again always helped them get used to feeling comfortable with the software. There’s always a way to make customers comfortable with your product or service so try to find out what that is.

Finance and business training

Simplicity is always important when dealing with finance and business training. I have worked with financial people and found it easier to have some pre-calculated examples to show these customers, mainly because they would definitely be better than me at maths. Plus you can practise examples which are easy for people to follow to reduce questioning.

But doing any training in finance without preparing and pre-calculated examples will leave you confused and looking worried in your training when finance directors start picking holes in your made up examples. So why leave it to chance?

So, whether you are putting on business training seminars or there’s a need for someone in your business training individuals, remember this:

‘Making it easy for clients to follow and do what you train them can make a difference in whether they use your product or not’.

Examples include:

Apple: The giant of technology that thinks of everything. Go to an apple store and you will find that the staff there are willing to show you how to use the iPads and design software. Once you’ve got familiar and can use it, you can’t live without it.

Google Maps: Easy to use map software. Just type in a post code, follow arrows or move a bar to expand or reduce the map size. Who buys road maps anymore and struggles with trying to find 38A19? (Although I do like to show I can read a road map when the sat nav is wrong, just to make sure I can still do it)

Flat – pack furniture: A great way to build furniture if you are good at following instructions, have tools available, and like to build furniture. But what if you are not good at building furniture but bought furniture on assurances from staff that it should be easy to build? Well, many people will give it a try, make an attempt to build, struggle, get frustrated, and send it back. Remember, the product, price, design etc were exactly what the customer wanted at this stage and the order has already been placed; they just needed help so that they can use it.

Read more ...

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The £1,000,000 answer to the sales objection of resistance to change in business

The £1,000,000 answer to the sales objection of resistance to change in business: by Jason Li 2012 ©

The sales objection of resistance to change in business is one of the most frustrating sales objections of all time...

And it can make the difference between bringing on board customers soon... or even months or years down the line.

You know what I mean:”We’re interested but we’ve been doing the same thing for years; so we’re not going to change.”

Most prospects will have a reason why not to buy your product or service. Some won’t pay you even though they think the offer is the right price and they say you have the right product for them... because they have reasons not to change.

So imagine if you could find a method to break down that resistance to change in the business? Well what I’m proposing is that there are some ways to help break this wait time and get this process moving quicker.

(Would it be nice if you have deals worth £100 or £10,000 or £100,000 each that have stalled now being brought forward from two years in the future to going through in the next six months?)

It’s a bit like someone helping you to make the decision to take action to do something, say like to melt your ice cream dessert. You’ve been thinking about it for ages, as it is of interest you say to try ice cream melted, and then you do it. You help make the decision by taking it out of the freezer when you are ready to do it. You could even speed the process up by taking it out of a freezer on a hot day. Or even better still: make the process quicker by putting it on a hot plate on a hot day.

So in essence, the problem is still: how do you get someone to make the initial change?

Managing resistance to change

The key is managing the resistance to change sympathetically with your prospect.

Acknowledge the resistance... take part in learning about the resistance, get them to tell you about the resistance in detail, feel the resistance they feel...until they wear out... because there is no more...”Resistance is futile” as the Borg say in Star Trek (yeah, I’m a Trekkie).

To do this you need to build up a relationship so that on one magical occasion, whether it’s on your first call or your sixth call, they pour their heart out: and then they tell you all their objections about changing.

Aha, so now you get it. Now you know exactly why they won’t change and buy your product today.

Well let me tell you... you are now in control of your prospect.

Reasons for resistance to change

Why do you need to know all their reasons for resistance to change? And secondly, are there are more reasons than lottery combinations? It’s so that you can work out a way to handle each objection, and possibly yes to question two.

We are not talking about not willing to change as one single objection. No, each reason is a different objection, but tied to the main summary of resistance to change. So now you can work out a way to handle each objection.

Help them buy, don’t sell to them

Your problem in the past may have been to just run out of ideas and start selling to them... feature dumping, or benefit spraying prospects. This won’t help them bring their order forward in anyway.

Some things you propose may spark interest, but some will reduce their interest too, hey, Taoism exists in sales too!

Remember when you initially were finding latent needs, painsand business problems? This is where you can also find the pains of making a change. Some prospect might have been interested for over six months and not done anything about it. Now you are in control (because you know all their objections as stated above, remember) you can assist in taking away their business pain and the pain of changing: when you do this, you have helped the prospect understand it is easy to buy from you.

But that’s not all...

Get them to admit there is a problem

The reason I wrote ‘get them to admit there is a problem’ above is that it may take just one call or six calls to get a prospect to place the order; which means initiate change, and you can understand why in this story...

I once knew a friend who liked to have a few drinks, not just at weekends, but on a couple of weekdays as well. Not a few drinks over the week, but in a single session, in the bedroom, alone. So family members suggested he should stop, and in the most mindful way, to visit the AA to have a chat. But the friend brushed it off as drinking was: “Just good fun”, even though the friend did mention on a few mornings that it was a bit heavy the night before. And this went on for over a year. In the end, the friend went to the AA and after a few sessions admitted that he was in fact an alcoholic. Soon after, the drinking stopped and the change was made.

So here is the secret...don’t sell to your prospect to get them to change if they have a big flag hammered into the ground with sales objection of ‘resistance to change’. What’s the point? It won’t make them change!

1. Get the prospect to talk through their problems, only by doing so can you know their pains and;
2. Their additional pain of making the change. Once you know this you are in control.

At this point, just like melting ice cream, your job is to help them firstly, admit that they are looking to change and then secondly, helping them move to making the change. The second part is the hot plate to melt the ice cream. The better you get at helping them get to admit to themselves change has to happen, the quicker you can bring forward the orders and move prospects through your sales funnel.

On the flip side, if you have someone who will never change and you cannot make it easy for them to change, then: “Move on” as a sales director used to say to the sales team from the office corner.

Now make a few calls with this strategy, reignite some stalled deals pencilled in to come through far into the future like in two years, and sit back and have some ice cream.
Read more ...

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Can you get £100 million turnover one day by using Customer Lifetime Value (ltv)?

Can you get £100 million turnover one day by using Customer Lifetime Value (ltv)?: by Jason Li 2012 ©

You may have come across customer lifetime value (ltv) before...

But did you know it is one of the most important parts of maintaining a sustainable and growing business.

You also may have heard of ‘customer is king’...

And they are King if you treat them well over years as your profits will soar.

If you’ve heard of the phrase ‘scaling up’ then it is based on increasing the scale of your business in a sustainable way as you have a formula to look after a greater amount of customers.

(You can even estimate at which point you can start looking for that new car or holiday you always wanted with ltv analysis)

What is Customer Lifetime Value (ltv)

It is simply: ‘what is the customer worth to you over their lifetime of doing business with you’.

(Even though you knew, it’s good that we got that out of the way)

If you are a good company that keeps customers and clients happy, then you should be able to maintain repeat business. If not, then you will always have to rely on new business to sustain the business. Every morning and every week is a brand new slate.

When instant business setups (who just focus on one-off transactions sales) are struggling to find new customers that week, they may do unprofitable things such as over promise which means too much time spent on servicing the customer; or offer a huge discount which is close to making an offer at cost price.

Repeat business vs instant sale (one-off new business transactional businesses)

The repeat business type focuses on keeping a portfolio of customers who will come back to them to use their products and services regularly. In order to do this, there are three main ways:

1.       The emphasis is on building a good trusted relationship.

2.       Feedback loops so you can understand the ongoing needs of the customer better.

3.       Regular consistent contact with your customers

Businesses that focus on the instant sale are a lot less relationship focused. The aim is to take the order. After this, some instant sale businesses are not really too bothered about the customer after the purchase.

Although, you will find some excellent instant sale businesses that do focus on making sure the product or service matched the customer’s expectations and can gain referrals from those they just sold to: these are owners who know how to create a steady business by focusing on long-term stability and good reputation.

Unless you have an enormous market that you and your competitors are struggling to fulfil the orders for, then in an instant sale business setup you will be living one-day-to-the-next. If competition becomes really fierce, cash flow can be severely tested.

On the flip side, a good repeat business setup usually has a customer database that place orders on a regular basis, so cash flow is more predictable than instant sale business setups.

Repeat business setups grow the quickest

If your business focuses on building relationships and offers that gain repeat business then you will likely grow.

In fact, you can possibly predict pretty close to how your business will grow 6 months or even 2 years from now.


Having a business that pleases customers over-and-over again will lead to referrals too in the long run.

This means a stream of new repeat customers. And even better for you, a huge saving in pre-sales acquisition costs on promotion and sales costs, so these customers are even more profitable for you in the long run.

How to calculate return on investment for ltv

Let’s say your product xxx costs the customer £100, and they buy 3 times a year. Over ten years that’s £3,000 of takings.

The upfront promotion costs of advertising and pre-sales (staff, business cards, leaflets, events etc) equal to a one-off £50 per customer.

Then you have an account manager with other business costs, and product costs which equal £30 for every time they buy a product.

So total earnings are: £3000

Total costs are: £50 upfront + (£30x10) = £350

The lifetime value is £3000 - £350 = £2650 profit over ten years.

The only way to keep a customer for ten years is to meet their requirement for customer value

What is customer value, and how do you use this to scale-up sales revenue?

Customer value is the basis of marketing strategy.

In a nutshell: to find the needs and wants of the customer so that you can create a product or service of value which they are willing to pay for.

Even if you are an instant business set-up, or sell products that don’t get replaced for a number of years, focus on generating high customer value; the best in your niche.

Once you have sold your product, look at high value add-ons such as other related products or service contracts to create a steady income stream. Eg, if you sell cars, why not do a deal with a top MOT service station that can provide annual service, tyre checks, and in-car entertainment: offer these add-ons to your existing customers, even if it’s just referrals.

Over time, your business has to find out what is customer value on a regular basis, even if they have been with you say for 3 or 5 years. The industry you work in can change very quickly so every-so-often the customer’s perception of value can change. If this does happen you want to prove you are up-to-date. If not, then even repeat customers have a look down their vendor list to see how other vendors compare and what they can offer.

Let’s look at two exceptional businesses that operate a large scale with millions of repeat customers.

Heinz Beans for example will not have an account manager. But they’ve spent years on understanding customers’ tastes so that the beans taste great when customers eat them.

Amazon will track what products you view and give you plenty of products similar to your searches so that you can see the whole of the market – and of course Amazon gets to cross sell you too when they email you new products on the market.

How much will the above ideas be worth to your business if you improved the ability to increase the amount of repeat sales you get from customers over the years?

Can you draw up one new product to cross-sell or up-sell that is of great value to your customer base? If yes, then do it this week!
Read more ...

Monday, 18 June 2012

Good website design can help with on boarding lots of prospects better than sales people

Good website design can help with on boarding lots of prospects better than sales people: by Jason Li 2012 ©

Of course, its common sense and we all know that clever websites with the best websites designed on being focused on being a sales machine can help with on boarding prospects needs, but better than sales people?

How the best sales people on board prospects

It is fair to say in fact that in a one-to-one challenge, an excellent sales person can possibly outsell most websites at a quicker conversion time. What I’m saying is that given both methods to on board a prospect, an excellent sales person will no doubt move a prospect through the sales process further through the sales funnel, and possibly quicker than the website too!

A sales person will spend quality time learning about meeting the needs of prospects so that they move to the next stage of the funnel. Sales people are laser sharp and look for the quickest way to help the prospect move to the next stage.

The sales challenge verses ecommerce website design strategy

However, if you have a very good ecommerce website design strategy that can move prospects through the sales funnel, then a good website can beat many excellent sales people. Why is this? Well a good ecommerce website that has been tested and brings in good leads on a regular basis just needs help in systematically getting more prospects to the website. Once this is done, a website will systematically take a whole lot more prospects (and decision makers) through a sales funnel then a sales person that is doing this one-at-a-time.

Let’s look at some numbers, which I’ve made up. Let’s say the excellent sales person has 300 prospects every month at stage one in the sales funnel and there are five stages to an order. Consistently they have twenty prospects who reach stage four ready to order each month. This includes being flat out with talk time, admin like emails, answering queries, objection handling et cetera.

Now the website that is also a smooth running function can take prospects through the funnel, either with one prospect or a million. Yes, but the website is not proactive in any way you may say. Yes, you may also point out that the website is likely to be much slower at moving prospects through the sales funnel. But if you feed it prospects, a good website will give out a greater output. What are the chances of the website handling 10,000 prospects as well as 500? You’re right; the website will do this mechanically over-and-over again just as efficiently and effectively.

If we were to say to the excellent sales person to take on say another 100 prospects, so 33% more, oddly enough the conversion of prospects to being on board may reduce. This is due to a number of factors such as: quality of talk time being less with prospects, not answering to queries quick enough, or being too brief, and so on.

A good website designed to be a sales machine is a long term investment

It takes time to create a good website that takes people through a sales process. You might say ‘well I don’t have time to put into it. I just want one to put up on the web and it is done with'. In that case is it worth it?

Here is my answer: “By the way, doesn’t it take months or years for sales people to get used to your industry, prospects, customers, and competitors to move prospects through the sales funnel?” What’s to say that a website can be developed and launched first time round and generate results? Or even second or third time around?

Yep, you guessed it. You will have to keep investing time every week in understanding and fine tuning your website until it is a good website designed to be a sales machine. That means a bit more work than creating one that looks really cool; uploading it and then telling prospects you have a website. Just like sales people, a website has to try new ideas and change the presentation.

Latent needs

A latent need is a need we have but not seen as important. Good sales people are able to help prospects see that they have a need or problem and make a decision to take action.

Again, the best websites designed as a sales machine can do this too. See “How to generate more leads for my business” article. This is where a good website can help a prospect consider their latent needs. I have at times seen it where people have taken it as far as possible with a prospect and passed the lead to another sales person because the other sales person just hits it off better, or plays “good cop-bad cop” to try and re-motivate the prospect to have another go through the sales funnel. This is what a website can do. Be the other sales person that hits it off with the prospect.


In advertising this is one of the Holy Grail’s of marketing – for the customer to keep your brand in mind when they are ready to buy. That’s why big brands spend millions advertising everywhere possible whether it’s on television, or at the cinema, or on radio, newspaper, online and so on.

With a targeted website, your website is both an advert and sales funnel vehicle. Adverts gain interest or trigger latent needs. Your website can do this with the right information initially. Then as the prospect keeps coming back, you can use tactics to move them through the sales funnel, automating the sales process.

You still need sales people to close deals.

That’s not to say that you won’t need sales people anymore. Excellent sales people are still the difference between some businesses. People still buy from people. People still need to speak to people about queries and have a human touch.

You might even find in a funny way that a good website is generating enough good leads that you might even need more excellent sales people. If your company does better because of the website and additional sales person, then this can only be good in the long run.

So invest in the best website designed as a sales machine with content that takes prospects through the sales funnel to gain more orders over the long run.
Read more ...

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Problems with invitation to tender and being asked to provide your ‘best quotes’

Problems with invitation to tender and being asked to provide your ‘best quotes’: by Jason Li 2012 ©

Many businesses love to have prospects contact them with an enquiry either for an invitation to tender or being asked to provide your ‘best quotes’.

The great thing about this is that your lead generation system or referral system is doing a very good job...

Tell me which business does not want to have incoming leads from people ready to buy?

One of the main reasons sales people like to be asked to provide your ‘best quote’ is that it’s a lot less effort than cold calling, less painful than getting rejection; easier than having to start at a gatekeeper and work your way up the company hierarchy; or even better, save prospecting time as you have the interest of one of the decision makers contact you so you think the prospect is really interested.

So at this point you may be thinking... in order to succeed... all I need to do is know ‘how to tender’.

However, there are many reasons why incoming leads do not convert into orders.

Latent needs

These are needs, problems, pains that the prospect has in the business which they might not know exists.

Or in a lot of cases, the problem is already there, the prospect knows the problem is there, but the prospect has been able for a long time to cope without doing anything about it and put off solving the problem.

Think of a pain like the internet has constant down time or the courier takes ages to book, but just not enough of a pain to do anything in the past...but you do find it bugs you.

In many instances, the prospect is alerted by a business that the latent need is important to sort out, and then it becomes a business problem. But it’s not even at this stage you will get asked by an incoming lead.

Needs analysis and rapport

Your competitor who has contacted the prospect and brought forward the business problem will have been given a lot of consultative time to analyse the need. If they have done this correctly, then your industry competitor will have a very good understanding of the need and built up rapport with the prospect.

At this stage, your competitor will know the decision makers, have a feel about how the prospects’ business operates, and the prospects will start to trust your competitor for their expert advice: they did show the prospect there is a business need after all!

Engineer the vision

Even when your prospect has agreed to a consultation, the prospect is still not contacting you yet. Your competitor will be working on how the prospect wants the results to look like so that they are investing their time and money wisely.

Your competitor with this rapport can help the prospect engineer the vision, to help the prospect see your competitors’ product as the right product to solve their problems and how it works seamlessly in the business successfully

Let’s view the whole of the market

Now that the prospect is pretty happy to go ahead, most professional buyers will check with the whole of the market, just to make sure that what they are about to buy is not out of sync with the market – i.e. they’re not getting ripped off.

So at this stage you FINALLY get asked to tender or ‘asked to quote’, and you get a decision maker from a known company with a decent sized prospective order, and you are feeling really excited.

Only, in reality, your chances are pretty low. Not non-existent, but low.

So what do you do to put the percentages back in your favour?

Big brand

If you are a known brand or a leading player, then use your brand clout and reputation to give yourself a chance. Your aim is to get a fair crack at this, not to just reel off a list of numbers like an order taker; so you want to get commitment to get the decision maker/s to give you time to discuss and consult the prospect properly.

If you are not a big brand or don’t have much reputation in the market, don’t really expect someone to contact you.

You could say:

“As a reputable company we always provide a professional consultation to ensure you get an offer that suits your requirements. What has worked well is for us to provide a consultation regarding your specific needs, just as you might do to provide an exceptional offer to your customers”

Your aim is to create your own way of ensuring that prospects give you a chance to understand their needs so that your offer is a better match than your competitors, and you cannot do this unless you get to know: ‘What is the problem?’

Who is good at blind tenders and converting the ‘best quote’ requests?

Usually very experienced sales people with tender writing skills who have years of experience at both qualifying prospects, gaining commitment, understand the industry and know the competitors who are also likely to pitch to the same prospect. These people have a higher percentage chance of conversation by a blind quote due to understanding from experience what prospects want and what wins the deal.

However, the sales people that have the courage to work on getting decision makers to engage in a proper consultation will usually have a higher conversation rate over the long run... simply because they can tailor an offer that the prospect feels they can see working for them in the discussions.
Read more ...

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

“How to generate more leads for my business?”

“How to generate more leads for my business”: by Jason Li 2012 ©

“How do I generate more leads for my business?” is one of the biggest business questions of all time, and I’m not foolish enough to say I have the definitive answer. But you want to know how to get more business? Well I can provide you some ideas that get you closer to where you want to be.

Everyone in business will be at a certain stage in their growth cycle and want to get from A to B. B is the goal. What I can offer are ideas on how to get to B that I have seen work for some businesses.

Lead generation software

Is lead generation software or a lead generation service the answer? Certainly if you find a good vendor for either method and it works then you have done very well. As you can see in the article about the sales funnel... no new prospects equals no business. We all need new leads and new prospects. So if you have found help in generating leads then definitely use it, as long as it is profitable.

Website lead generation

However, in the modern age, there is a more permanent way to generate business for your business, and that is with a website. With a website that contains the right targeted content to keep your prospects in your targets niche segment interested, you can keep all the prospects engaged in your products and services so that when they are ready to buy, they are likely to buy from you.

With a well constructed and written website, you can also find prospects on other sites and direct them to your web site and move them through your sales funnel.

Best of all, you are in control of the lead generation asset. A website is an asset owned by your business – whether or not you develop it or you or another outsourced vendor is the administrator.

But firstly let’s double check how does this compare to other lead generation methods?

No more cold calling, networking and gatekeepers

In an ideal world we wouldn’t need to do the above anymore and just sit back and rely on the website to generate leads. But I’m not advocating this too in a contradictory way. You see some people are brilliant at getting leads from cold calling or networking, so why stop. In fact, if you are good then do more (See the Pareto Principle) as you have found an effective lead generation method.

So yes, if you are a cold calling guru, keep going if it gets you results. But keep in mind that even cold callers use websites to search for information when they were looking to buy a certain product or service. A website has also helped a cold caller out there in some way decide who would be their vendor when they wanted to buy. Imagine now if you could also generate a few inbound leads for yourself too.

You should see websites as a great add on to your existing lead generation method. Any enquiries you get should be further advanced in your sales funnel. Especially if the prospect has decided they want a product or service like yours and are actively looking for a vendor to fit. And guess what, after being on your website they know about you and trust you more than many of your competitors, so you will be ahead of the rest at this point in the funnel.

If you’re worried about having a website that educates a prospect and then they go elsewhere; well don’t. If you are worried, it means you have just created a general educational brochure site and have failed to create any added value for why the prospect should use your products and services. Keep on reading to see how to combat this.

Keep visitors sticky on your website

The only way to make sure prospects are interested in returning to your website is by making it sticky. If you have problems such as people visiting your site and then leaving after looking at a few pages or never returning again, then possibly your website is a half hearted job.

Remember the articles I have written about creating value and marketing, the reason your website is not helping the prospect to buy from you is that it is offering nothing to be of meaningful use or value to your prospect.

Your website might also be too general and try to capture everyone who ever logs online. Have you ever come across someone who says if I start a full English breakfast cafe then I will get everyone who eats breakfast. It’s just not possible. If you look at my sales funnel article, you will see that your website has to be targeted.

It is not easy. I have a background in marketing strategy and worked with entrepreneurs on marketing strategy. I’m not as conceptual as some consultants who want to draw out the award winning big idea and concepts into weeks of consultation, I’m a bit more let’s get down to basic marketing strategy and fundamentals before jumping to slogans and concepts. If the big idea fits, then great. But that’s not the sole major objective when pleasing the customer. But if you cannot have a really good grasp of marketing strategy and understanding the consumer then you’re going to end up with possibly a website which is maybe well written and pleasant looking but not effective. Then when you look at the results a few weeks down the line you will say it can’t be the website as it looks really cool and reflects how I like to see a brand to be seen.

Unfortunately, this is where I have to let you know that you will have to get a person with a very good understanding of marketing strategy involved in making sure your website has the right targeted information. Of course, you want the website to have nice design too. But cool design and a good looking website alone will never get you leads. If this was the case, every good looking website will be owned by a multi-millionaire. All graphic designers or website designers would be millionaires. The most expensive looking websites would take the most market share.

Relationship building

Websites built on good marketing strategy with targeted content will keep prospects in your sales funnel. Some prospects can take a long time to admit they are ready to buy. Some will simply wait for their current supplier to upset them enough before they “can be bothered” to change. But over time, people make the change.

A good website will be automated in keeping prospects interested in working with your business when they are ready. In marketing it is simply “top-of-the-mind-awareness”. You are already talking in their language. The prospect knows that you can help them achieve their goals, whether it is a good hair style to be more attractive to finding pet food that keeps their pet healthy to software that helps their business productivity.

Once a prospect is on your site, you can keep them engaged longer in your products and services until they are ready. They may even move themselves through the sales funnel by sharing your information with other decision makers. You might find a web page which is read the most and tells you scientifically what it is that gains people’s interest.


Once you have a prospect converted to a customer, how do they let others know about your business a year down the line? Well it’s easy for the new customer to tell a friend...because they spent a long time looking and reading your information you created for them which is of high value. So you are harder to forget.

Moreover, you’re on the internet so their friend can also learn about you in their own time and take themselves through the sales funnel.

Could a website help bring you and your prospects closer to being a customer? If this has website has given you new ideas or angles to look at your business, would you make a referral to a friend?
Read more ...

Saturday, 9 June 2012

How to train professionals

How to train professionals: by Jason Li 2012 ©

When training VIPs you will find you need to employ different techniques compared to when you train junior staff. You may be thinking: ‘Well of course, you need to have better cups and saucers and expensive coffee granules with a buffet.’

In fact, although this may impress professionals when they assess your facilities and refreshments, a major focus on this will possibly disappoint a professional.

Have you ever been to a seminar where you spent ages drinking and eating, but learnt very little from the content? Yes you may say; and that’s why professionals won’t really judge your training based on facilities and refreshments. In fact, you may have been to a seminar or conference and had to sit at the back in an uncomfortable seat, hungry and thirsty, yet, the trainer was so good and so full of interesting information you were writing down loads of material on a pad on your leg. But hey, it was well worth it as this information might be worth £500 over 12 months for your business if you implemented it.

Training directors and high powered people

These people are successful, goal orientated and not your average person who are just there to get some freebies. Only average people and average businesses go to seminars or events to miss work, because they get to have a couple of hours doing nothing. Average people go to events just to consume. Here you may be thinking: ‘Surely if a director is at the same event as an average person they must be doing the same thing, so they are consuming as well?’

No: successful people produce all the time. Professionals whether they are an accountant or book keeper, or an electrician to a web designer knows that if they are going to forego £50 or £200 for the next hour then they want information that helps make them more money in the future by using your ideas to improve their business. So don’t fall into the trap of providing fluff.

Get to the point when training

Establish who you are and let them know from the start what you are going to do. Business owners don’t like to be left in the dark in what they are doing in the next hour, directors want to know what will come out of their time ‘invested’ with you.

Cut out fluffy talk like saying ‘please’ all the time. They know you are nice when you introduced yourself. When training, time is money. Get to the point quickly. But don’t skip explanations either; but if you do explain try to do it succinctly so that high powered people understand why you had to explain points.


Business owners like to have fun and love humour. But they are not here at your training programme to have fun. They can find a better way with their profits to have fun than go to a training seminar. So there’s no need to be a comedian to offer a humorous experience. However, the funny thing is, where it’s relevant, a bit of humour will work very well.


You can use numbers at certain points to back up your explanation. This is a very effective way for directors to see if the ideas you are training quickly weighs up, to ensure if it is of value to them. People like business owners get asked to make decisions all the time and like to make assessments on behalf of the business.

When a business owner sees numbers related to a subject they have made many assessments on in the past, they will know instantly if what you are saying works, and you will lock in their interest.

Business questions and objections

Expect high powered people to interject and relate their thoughts. This is not because they are trouble. It’s because they want to get the idea now and not leave the training session with a new idea a bit ‘muddy’ in their mind. They want to be sure they know what you are proposing now. Revisiting to try to learn things again is a waste of time; as said before it could be worth anything from £50 to £200 to spend an hour going over the same material from their money making time.

Objections are normal. Often it can be because they are interested, so don’t panic when they object. Directors have a lot of data and your information may be challenging this. But they are here because they want to give you a chance to improve on what they know. So you must provide the information they need to make their assessment so that they get the answer they are looking for.


Nothing pleases a business owner more than results. Show relevant results. Show really meaningful results with impact to excite them. Give them a chance to visualise the results for their business. But in the end, show a lot of results if you want 100% success.

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Problems with brand marketing and rushing to make your own business cards

Problems with brand marketing and rushing to make your own business cards: by Jason Li 2012 ©

I have seen a few times in the past businesses that were struggling with strong competitors but denied their problems were more to do with focusing heavily on brand marketing. As someone who has a qualification in Marketing Communications and taught entrepreneurs basic marketing, you will probably find this a bit strange.

Here are some issues I have seen businesses focusing on using branding to solve:

1.       Creating a new brand to roll out as the main answer to increasing sales

2.       Needing to get the branding right first believing this will be the main customer attraction

3.       Spending lots of money on the brand as the most important part of the business budget

4.       Thinking creating a brand is the best way to start a new product or service; a brand based on internal values and beliefs only, without listening to the niche target market... even if it is with just starting to make a business card

Brand, business cards, logo, themes etc

These are all branding exercises that many businesses spend a lot of money on. It is in fact the bit that gets most entrepreneurs excited. Maybe because it is tied into the ego, a reflection of the self? If the brand is perceived as nice and shiny by the world, then the business owner feels accepted and feels reinforced in their quest to push their brand into everyone’s face.

It’s also where the business owner or directors may get the chance to get their creative juices going and possibly thoughts of leaving a legacy. If it is accepted by society, as written above, maybe it’s a nice way to claim superior creativity or intelligence of some kind?

Brand acceptance

Yes, we all love brands. We are a brand consumer society after all. Some brands make us smile like Lynx or M&M’s; some make us feel safe such as Aviva insurance; and some make us feel healthy like Boots.

So it’s not surprising businesses place a huge emphasis and spend on branding. Furthermore, when the graphic design agencies show you the first few concepts of logos and you start to visualise your brand in every local paper and on Google, you get an emotional high and are very happy to spend a load of money with your very helpful graphic designer who is always very friendly too, did you notice? But hey, they are creating what you want and are usually brilliant at creating visual work: it’s up to you to see that you have jumped into branding so don’t blame the graphic designer. A lot of the work designers create is marvellous once you have nailed the marketing strategy for the business.
But why is the brand the starting point for many businesses, and should this be the starting point?

Substance over style

I’m pretty sure some old school business/marketing strategy people will not start with the brand first. It’s likely to be the brand consumer type of personality who is running a business who focuses so heavily on brands. If you are loyal to certain brands, or can easily fall in love with a brand, then you are a brand consumer.

At the beginning of your business, you should be focusing on creating an offer of value that suits your niche target market so that you create a business that is growing – because you have found the right value formula which prospective customers like.

Have you ever noticed that from the stage of finishing your business plan to a few months later down the line when your business has grown, some of the original ideas have changed? If you are in agreement at this point, that’s because your business had to tailor the offer to suit the market.

The offer is the substance, it’s what the customer says is of value to them; and as you know what they value the customer will definitely pay for it – now. You had to change the offers, even if it’s minute in the phrases you say, subtle pricing, terms and conditions, finishing, delivery, training and support... and so on. And if this is the case, spending a lot of money and time on the brand upfront before you know what is the offer that gets customers buying can waste a lot of your time.

In fact, the brand may need to change. That’s why you see brands in fact changing, from the name to logo designs to the slogan. It’s because a business has found the offer needs to change, and the brand needs to catch up with the offer. As you can see, it’s best to do it this way round rather than create a brand and sell an offer to suit the brand.

Brand strategy

You may come across consultants who emphasis that you create a brand and everything has to suit the brand. Stop! DO NOT PASS GO! Don’t get suckered into changing your business to suit everything according to a brand. If you make your internal business rules, offers, service and everything else to suit a brand, you will be inflexible and will not adapt to the changing tastes of the market, the consumer, and competitors who are innovating.

Imagine you have a brand that says for example you are an ultra cool holiday resort for young couples. Your ads like posters, leaflets, brochure, and website are just aimed at ultra cool young couples. What happens to these young couples five years later when they have more money, are not 21 anymore, are still relatively young, but have been to your resort for five years? Do you just say no, we cannot adapt and you cannot come back? How many of these regular customers will soon not be young and ultra cool in a few years? What if after trading you discover that ultra cool people generally don’t have much money, but geeky computer programmers have more money to spend at your resort? It’s a big problem if you strictly stick to a brand as the driver of business strategy.

Value led

At the end of the day, we only pay for what is of value to us. Have you ever looked to buy something and really did not even notice the brand much, or the brand was not the main deciding factor in your purchase?

Here are some examples: tuna sandwich, plasters, holiday T shirts, a scarf, chairs, memory cards, greetings cards, help-me guides and books, coffee mugs, and natural fruit juice. In fact, do we honestly really care about the brands of high street banks, petrol stations, some of the grocery shops or electric or water suppliers? Does what the supplier can do for you everymake a difference in your decision making process, or is it all just about the brand; everything else is secondary?

But what about some products you buy because of their brand, you may say? Well, isn’t your brand loyalty  because their whole product and service does what you want and the visual brand fits as part of their offer to you? Or the supplier has a history of providing what you consider good value? Would you buy Coca Cola if you really did not like it? Would billions buy Coca Cola if they did not like the taste? That taste has been refined over many years to get a formula that has just the right sweetness, fizz, viciousness, and feel.

Brand personality

Yes, a brand is more than just a logo or colours. Brand personality is very important too. However, focusing on creating value that get customers excited and willing to spend will do more for your business, and will save you money and time on branding. Once you have the right offer of value to the customer then your brand can develop from this – pretty much naturally.

Some brand personalities are absolutely brilliant, especially when you see TV ads using animals or cute characters. They can initially storm the market. If their offer is of great value, then they do well due to the right offer of value. If not, then it is likely that brand, although well loved, may start to lose customers who experience post-purchase dissonance: a bad buying experience.

So try to start with a minimal brand and minimal spending on branding, and get your offer right.
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