Jun 252017
 
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7 Quick And Easy Ideas For Clever Sales Promotions 

You may, rightly, be asking yourself what exactly is meant by the term sales promotions in this context. While there are various competing definitions for the term sales promotions, here we are going to keep it very simple.

For our purposes in this article, sales promotions means: any promotion that you use to increase the sales of your products or services.

So, let’s dive right into the seven ideas for sales promotions that you can use in your business.

Cause-related Promotions

Have a special sale, for a limited time, or if you’re really committed to the cause, on an ongoing basis, where a certain percentage of the revenues (or profits) is donated to the cause.

This is a great way to kill two birds with one stone, if you are committed to supporting certain causes.

Also, if the supporters of that cause (those causes) match up well demographically to your target market(s), then this sales promotion can yield significant results.

Joint Promotions With Other Vendors

Sales promotions that you do jointly with other complementary vendors can yield excellent results. This is particularly true if your clientele aligns well with that of the joint promoter.

The alignment of your business with that of your joint promoter can be based on geography, complementarity of offerings, joint support of a particular cause, or any of a number of other factors.

Brainstorm a list of potential joint promoters and see what you can come up with for ideas.

Free Gift With Purchase

What customer does not like to receive something for free? These sales promotions where you offer a free gift with purchase leverage the innate human desire to receive something for nothing.

From your perspective as a vendor, such a giveaway does not need to be costly, particularly if you have certain goods that you need to liquidate. The giveaway has to be seen as something valuable, of course, or it will not work, but as the saying goes, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

Interestingly, if you sell services, you can also give away a free (shorter, for example) consultation that could also lead to additional business.

Flash Sale

Flash sales have become very popular as sales promotions.

The key with flash sales is that you need to have good communication set up with your customers and prospective customers, usually via email and social media, so that you can make them aware of an impending flash sale. If you have to depend on a slower medium of communication such as “snail mail,” to get the word out, by definition, it takes the flash out of the flash sale.

Flash sales can be very effective. The main caveat is to not overuse them, as once they become less surprising and more of a regular event, the novelty wears off and they become less effective.

A good use of the flash sale can be when you have particular inventory (or consulting time, for example, if you’re selling a service) that you need to liquidate.

Coupons

Coupons are a tried and true type of sales promotions.

The key with coupons is that you must make the coupon valid for something the customer perceives to be of value, so it will draw them into the store. Or, more commonly, you’ll make the coupon valid for a certain percentage off storewide, sometimes excluding specific items, where your cost prohibits offering too large of a percentage discount.

Another important aspect of coupons is the length of their validity. As a consumer, it’s frustrating to have the thought to go to a particular store, or use a particular service, to make use of a coupon, only to realize that the coupon is no longer valid. If the idea of the coupon is to draw people into your store, or into using your service, make its validity as long as reasonably possible.

As with other promotions mentioned herein, it’s typically prudent to state that the coupon is not valid in conjunction with other offers or discounts.

BOGO Sales

Buy-one Get-one sales promotions have become very common, as have variants of this approach, like Buy-one Get-one-half-off. This type of promotion works very well, under the premise that more is better. If you want one of a particular item, why wouldn’t you want more of the same (or similar) item?

This type of sales promotion is also somewhat evergreen, as it’s not likely to ever “get old” that you are getting two for the price of one, or similar.

This approach is also quite helpful when you are trying to get rid of excess inventory of particular items, while at the same time offering a promotion that should bring more people into the store.

Loss Leader

The concept of sales promotions often referred to as “loss leaders” is when you are willing to take a bit of a loss on the item you are promoting, under the assumption (hopefully, supported by sales data) that when customers purchase the “loss leader” item, they are likely to also purchase other items that more than make up for the lost profit on the “loss leader”.

With this type of promotion, you need to not try to get too cute and have only one or two of the “loss leader” items, as if you take that approach, besides potentially running afoul of the law (bait and switch advertising, or similar), you are likely to end up with a lot of upset customers. Those upset customers likely will not only not buy other items from you that particular day; they may not every come back to your store.

So, this loss leader sales promotion can work well, particularly when it’s data-backed (prior sales data), but think it through well and do it honestly.

There are, of course, many potential variations of the ideas above for sales promotions. Hopefully, the seven ideas discussed above will get your creative juices flowing!

I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

 

 

 

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Jun 142017
 
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People Will Never Forget How You Make Them Feel

As an entrepreneur, it’s important to remember that people will never forget how you make them feel.

The Maya Angelou quote goes like this: People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.

Apparently, the quote attributed to Maya Angelou is a close paraphrase of a quote attributed to Carl Beuhner many years earlier: They may forget what you said – but they will never forget how you made them feel.

Source: Wikiquote – https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Maya_Angelou

Regardless of which quote you want to look at and who said it, though, I think the idea is 100% on-point. People can forget a lot of things, but they cannot and will not forget how you make them feel.

So, how is this relevant as an entrepreneur?

Though the relevance of this idea extends to ALL people with whom you interact, here we will focus on how it impacts your relationship with the source of your revenues – your prospects and your customers.

Remember, humans typically make a purchase decision based on emotion and feelings, then later try to justify that decision with logic. So, how you make prospects feel has an impact right away, from the first time you interact with them. That initial interaction may be through an ad you place, the prospect coming into your place of business, or any of innumerable other potential interactions.

How do you make your prospective customers feel? What is the messaging that you put out on a consistent basis, or inconsistent basis, as the case may be? How do you want your business to be perceived by people who are thinking about doing business with you?

As discussed in another article, your marketing and sales efforts have to be focused on the needs of your clients, not on your needs or those of your business. Focus on the benefits, not the attributes of your product or service. Key in on how those benefits will make your prospect feel, should they decide to purchase from your company.

At the end of the day, it’s not even the benefits that are driving your prospects’ purchase decision; rather, it’s the prospects’ expectations about the feelings they will get from the benefits of what you offer.

Let’s look at a simple example.

You decide you want to buy a bicycle, so you head down to the local bike store. The salesperson is happy to help, of course, and proceeds to show you several bikes, priced from $250 to $1,100. The salesperson goes through all the features of the bikes, and if they’re smart, they also go through the benefits you’ll derive from each of the features mentioned. For example, this one has this type of better, lighter rims [feature], which means that with less effort, you’ll be able to go faster [benefit] than on this other, less expensive model.

The whole time the salesperson is speaking, what are you, the prospective customer, thinking?

Are you focused on all the great features and benefits of the bike models you’re hearing about? Probably not. Instead, you’re figuring out how this salesperson is making you feel. Does he or she really understand what you’re looking for? Do they care to provide you with what you’ve indicated you need, or are they just trying to figure out a way to sell you a more expensive bike? Will the cheaper bike they mentioned get the job done to get you the feelings you’re looking to achieve from your purchase – freedom away from thinking about the issues of your life, the joy of time doing something healthy with your family, exercise that will make you feel better, etc.?

You see, the whole internal dialogue you have during the sales presentation is all about feelings, not about features and benefits.

It is only after you’ve come up with satisfactory answers to these emotional questions in your mind that you will pull out your credit card and make a purchase from that salesperson at that bike store, for a particular model of bike that you think will get the job (creating the correct feelings) done.

The same idea applies not just to prospective customers, but also to existing customers. How they feel while at your establishment or otherwise doing business with you will have a major impact on whether they will become repeat customers, or will just be a one-time sale.

In other words, they will never forget how you make them feel.

Your job, therefore, from the time they are prospects to when they’ve already been customers for a period of time, is to have them walk away from all interactions with your company feeling good about how it went down.

They may not always agree with you or your company on everything, and from time to time, they’re bound to have experiences with your company that are sub-optimal, but they must always feel that you understand them, respect them, and are striving to serve their needs, not just optimize your profits.

Keep this in mind when you are creating your business, planning your products and services, developing your marketing strategy, selling to your prospects, and interacting with your existing customers:

They will never forget how you make them feel!

Use this to your advantage, by showing them that your focus is on their needs and have them walk away from each interaction with your company feeling like they’ve been treated well. It won’t always be perfect, but they must believe you’re trying to give them the feeling(s) they seek by doing business with you and your company.

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

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Jun 102017
 
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How To Sell Better If You’re Not A Salesperson

Most everyone in business would like to know how to sell better. If you don’t perceive yourself as a salesperson, but you still need to sell, it’s that much more important that you arm yourself with tips and tricks to get the job done.

Here we’ll go over several tricks (“hacks, tips) you can use to learn how to sell better, even when you don’t really want to be selling…

A Few Tips On How To Sell Better…

… even when you’d rather be doing almost anything besides selling:

 

How To Sell Better Tip #1

Realize that you don’t need to be an extrovert to be good at selling.

There is a common misconception that only backslapping, glad-handing people that say hello to everyone they see, can and should be salespeople. That mindset is outdated in a day and age where the world is much more complex and has many more channels for “selling” to prospects. Do these sorts of salespeople still exist? Of course they do. Do you need to take this approach to be effective at selling your products and services? Absolutely not.

 

How To Sell Better Tip #2

Work with an organization that appreciates different approaches.

If you want to be good at sales, and let’s be serious, everyone who’s an entrepreneur is selling to some degree, work with, or better yet, create an organization that appreciates that all selling doesn’t need to be of the stereotypical used car variety. A great deal of your success in selling as a non-salesperson will be a function of working with a team that appreciates non-salesy selling. If you’re being pushed to be pushy and that’s not what you’re all about, then you’re probably working with the wrong organization (even if you created it).  Change it, or move on.

 

How To Sell Better Tip #3

Change your definition of selling.

Rather than seeing selling as pushing something on someone who doesn’t want what you have, see it as a combination of education and helping others. Go into it knowing and acknowledging that your product or service may not be for everyone, but commit to using the process of educating your prospect, and educating yourself about the needs of your prospect, to only help those who are in need of what you offer.

 

How To Sell Better Tip #4

Become a thought leader in your field.

Use blogging and social media to develop a reputation as a thought leader in your field. You will then have people coming to you seeking your expertise, rather than you having to go to them asking for business. Once this dynamic changes, you will be amazed how much easier it becomes to make the sale. In fact, you likely won’t feel as if you’re selling much at all. If you truly become a thought leader, many people will arrive pre-sold.

 

How To Sell Better Tip #5

Make sure you are selling a product and/or service that you believe in 100%.

If you’re a thinker – and you probably are, or you wouldn’t be reading this to educate yourself – then you need to believe fully in what you’re selling, or it will likely be very obvious to your prospect(s) that even you are not completely sold on what you’re selling. In my experience, it’s hard for cerebral types – thinkers – to fake their enthusiasm for something they don’t believe in.

On the other hand, when thinkers fully believe in what they’re representing, their passion and sense of mission for getting it out there to the world is palpable and contagious.

Do you believe in what you’re selling? Be honest. If not, change it so you do believe in it 100%, or change what you’re selling.

 

How To Sell Better Tip #6

Put your big boy (or girl) pants on.

Listen, if you don’t perceive yourself as a salesperson, that’s fine, but if you’re going to be effective as an entrepreneur, as already discussed, you’re going to be selling, in one form or another, a good portion of the time. So, suck it up! Stay mission focused. Realize that in order to accomplish your goals and dreams as an entrepreneur, selling is part of the deal! Learn to sell in a way in which you are comfortable and effective. Undoubtedly, particularly in the beginning, you will step out of your comfort zone plenty, but as time goes on, as an intelligent and adaptive entrepreneur you will come up with a selling approach that works for you. Embrace it and continue to grow in the important craft of selling.

 

How To Sell Better Tip #7

Learn to have fun will all aspects of selling.

Bottom line is that certain aspects of selling are not very pleasant. Being rejected is not something many people wake up in the morning actively seeking out. Over time, though, you can learn not to take yourself, or your prospects, too seriously. It’s highly unlikely that what you’re selling, particularly in a sale to a particular prospect, is life or death. Learn to focus on the big picture of your goals and dreams and rather than letting rejection or “failure” in a particular sale get you down, take it for what it’s worth – a learning opportunity – and move on. If you can learn to enjoy, rather than dread your interactions with prospects and other important constituencies of your business, your life will be that much more pleasant and your effectiveness in selling and beyond will likely reach levels you never thought were attainable.

 

What other tricks have you used to sell better as a non-salesperson?

 

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

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Jun 032017
 
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How To Create A Compelling Elevator Pitch

Are you familiar with the concept of an elevator pitch (a/k/a elevator speech)?  If you’re an entrepreneur, you really need to understand the idea of an elevator pitch and you need to formulate your own.

The name elevator pitch (or elevator speech) comes from the idea that when you get on an elevator and want to describe your business (rather than staring at the floor or the wall) to someone you just met there, you don’t have very long to do it!  How long you have depends on how many floors you’re going, how fast the elevator goes, and how soon after entering the elevator you start speaking to the other person. But regardless of the number of floors, the speed of the elevator, and how soon you start speaking, unless the elevator gets stuck for some reason, you don’t have much time!

It’s a great metaphor and a great idea, as it forces you to boil down your “pitch” to its very essence, so you can get your point across “before the elevator opens”.  The concept of elevator pitches has been around for a long time.  If you’ve not already formulated yours, I recommend you do so as soon as possible and begin using and refining it as you meet new people.  Before you take it “prime time” with potentially important prospects, partners, investors, etc, I strongly advise you to try it out on several people you know and get feedback.

So, how should you think about constructing your elevator pitch?  How long should it be?  What should it include?  Think about the scenario of just entering an elevator and realizing that, by chance, a potential investor you had wanted to get in touch with is on the same elevator.  You have an opportunity to give an elevator speech to a very important audience!   Unless you’re in a very tall building with lots of stops, you would likely have less than thirty seconds, potentially far less, to deliver your elevator speech.  What would you want to get across to this very important prospect in such a short period of time? Remember, the idea is to pique their interest and increase the probability that you can take the conversation to the next step.  Let’s look at an example.

In this example, we’ll think along the lines of being the founder and CEO an early stage technology company, getting into the elevator with an important potential investor.  We’ll look at a couple of elevator pitch examples for the same scenario, so you can see the good and the bad.

Elevator Pitch To Potential Investor – Example #1

Hello Mr. Investor.  It’s a pleasure to meet you.  I have been wanting to get in touch with you to tell you about the extraordinary technology we’ve developed.  I think it may be a great investment for your venture capital fund.  It’s based on nanotechnology and has the potential to help a lot of people and keep them from getting sicker.  I’d love to be able to get some of your time and tell you more about it.

Elevator Pitch To Potential Investor – Example #2

Hello Mr. Investor.  It’s a pleasure to meet you.  I have been wanting to meet you to tell you about the amazing technology and business model we have created, which I think is very well aligned with the types of investments your fund focuses on.  It’s based on our patented nanotechnology, which has been proven to reduce repeat heart attacks by 65%.  The addressable market is $10 billion and our team of veteran entrepreneurs and award-winning physicians has been at the forefront of many advances in this market.  Could we meet or have a call next week, so we can provide you with more details?

Ok, so which elevator pitch above do you believe is more likely to get the desired result – a meeting with the potential investor?  I’d have to say it’s pitch #2.  Do you agree?  Why?

Elevator speech #1 focuses on the entrepreneur and does not provide any specifics, particularly those specifics that would be of greatest interest to the potential investor.

Elevator speech #2 immediately shows the investor that you are thinking about their needs and what they’re looking for.  It says, “… which I think is very well aligned with the types of investments your fund focuses on…,” immediately proving to the prospective investor that you’ve done some research and are not just throwing out the same canned elevator pitch to everyone you run into.  Elevator pitch #2 also quickly gets into key points that are very relevant to most every venture capitalist, such as: “patented technology,” “proven to reduce,” “addressable market,” and “team of veteran entrepreneurs”.  With this second pitch, you are “talking their language,” as the saying goes.  Such an approach greatly increases the odds that they will listen and grant you the meeting you are seeking.

You can see how this concept of “talking their language” is relevant for any kind of elevator pitch, whether it’s to a potential customer, partner, investor, or any other important constituent.  Everyone is busy.  Everyone has a natural filter to help them ignore or “pay lip service” to those things that really are not relevant to them.  In order to get through this filter, you must be able to put your elevator speech in terms that really matter to the person with whom you are speaking.  If you do not take the time and effort to do this, you probably shouldn’t bother giving the elevator pitch, as you’ll only end up sounding irrelevant and confused.

When you are thinking about how to construct your elevator pitch, think about it the same way you would think about any marketing or sales pitch; it must be focused on the benefits you offer that solve specific problems the target is facing.  Elsewhere I’ve written about why most marketing does not work because it is focused on, and written in the language of, the seller, rather than focusing on the needs and language of the prospect.  Every prospect with which you have a “conversation,” regardless of the medium through which that communication occurs, has one thing first and foremost on their mind.  What is that one thing?  It is solving their issues and problems, particularly the most pressing ones.  That is what we as human beings focus on all day long.

If you show up on the scene with your marketing message or elevator pitch and it is not relevant to me, my problems and issues, or my future aspirations, you get filtered out.  Period.  End of story.

Make sure your elevator pitch quickly gets to the point, which should be about how what you have to offer is highly relevant to helping the person with whom you’re speaking solve their issues, problems, and aspirations.  Keep it under thirty seconds.  Have a couple of versions prepared, so you can change it up a bit, based on relevancy to the particular person with whom you’re speaking.  Keep refining your pitch based on the feedback you receive and results you achieve.  Remember, you’re not giving your whole pitch in the elevator; you’re just trying to “open the door,” so they’ll be intrigued enough to be willing to listen to a more detailed version of your pitch.  If you do those few things, you should end up with an elevator pitch, or several audience-customized elevator pitches, that allow you get your message across to key constituencies quickly and effectively.

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

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