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3 Mistakes to Avoid if You’re Running an Online Store(s)

online ecommerce business

online ecommerce business

Stepping into the virtual world of ecommerce is going to be one of the most educative experiences of your life.

The things you will learn by actually running your own online business can easily challenge anything you would find in a business course or MBA. However, you will make these common mistakes, but the best thing to do is learn from them and move forward.

Rushing the Math

Of course, one of the most important skills any entrepreneur should have while running any business is math. When starting out, most people run their online businesses like a hobby, and do not pay much attention to math, as they should.

The result is, hopefully, good demand, but lack of enough revenue to make the business venture worthwhile.

You are probably selling your products very cheap, but you have to sell more if you want to make some decent money. To find out how profitable your online business really is, use the formula; Profit is Demand multiplied by (Revenue minus Expenses).

Using the formula, you can tell what you are really in for. For example, your online store might have a high average order value (AOV), but the margins are so thin that you do not make enough money after you factor in costs.

Not Having a Content Plan

Lacking a content plan is another common mistake many new online entrepreneurs make. They simply do not put enough thought into content marketing, which makes getting social and organic traffic difficult.

For starters, writing about a boring niche is, admittedly, difficult. After all, how much can anyone manage to write about fountain ink pens? However, the key is not to create content according to your products, but according to your target customers.

Continuing the fountain ink pens example, consider people who would potentially use them, probably someone that is into stylish writing instruments and environmentally conscious. It is also possible that your target customer is also into luxury items, natural wellness and working out. These are all initial hooks that you can confirm with a little research.

When you build a content marketing strategy around such an ideal client, rather than the product, you get plenty to write about and connect with your target. Even for a very technical niche, you need to have something in common with the customer apart from the product you are selling.

Wasting Time with Menial Tasks

Once you choose an opportunity, the cost is that you will no longer have time for other opportunities. In other words, the cost of a single opportunity is every other opportunity you come across.

If you are bootstrapping your online business, chances are that you want to do everything for yourself. From setting up the website and tinkering with it to uploading product, writing description and doing all the marketing. You have successfully become a one-man/woman show.

Doing everything by yourself is great, but it also takes away too much of your time. The time you could have spent with family, creating new ideas or establishing business relationships.

What you need to do is automate as many of those menial tasks using applications such as quick and easy ELB monitoring. In addition, you can also find people who will do menial tasks like data entry and inventory uploading for a reasonable sum.

Conclusion

Each mistake made running your business sets you up to doing better in future, as long as you take time to reflect on what you ought to have done differently. By identifying the three common missteps above, you can avoid them, and achieve online and financial success even faster!

Marketing

Effective Sales Prospecting Techniques You Should Be Using

email prospecting

email prospecting

Prospecting is a key process for any business, finding those unqualified leads and nurturing them to be happy customers. But for something that sounds so simple on paper, it can be tricky to know if you’ve really done everything you can, or if there are more effective ways of getting better results. Here are a few of our favorite techniques.

Don’t sell

Yes, prospecting is a key part of the sales process — but it isn’t selling. When you’re first reaching out to leads, the last thing you want to do is scare them away with a hard sell.

The original prospectors would sift through the mud and stones to find gold, but they weren’t the ones who refined and crafted the gold. That was someone else’s job.

In the same way, your job is to find the ‘gold’ prospects, nothing more or less. In most cases, there’ll be someone else who’ll do the selling, but even if you’re a solo salesperson it’s important to have a clear distinction between the prospecting and the selling.

Instead, your first contact with a prospect should have only two key objectives:

  • To provide value
  • To pave the way for a second contact

The pitch

If your pitch is all about you and how awesome you are, your prospects aren’t going to be impressed. Instead, spell out exactly what’s in it for them. You need to provide actual value right there, or at the very least make it clear what value you can provide in the future.

Then, rather than closing your message with the hard sell, aim to start a conversation. A great way of doing this is asking a sincere question to open up a dialogue. No rhetorical, obvious questions here, please.

Pro tip:

Sound like a human being, not a cheesy infomercial.

Good question:

How are you dealing with ?

Bad question:

Are you ready to start winning and stop being a loser?

Mix it up

We all have our favorite methods of communication. Unfortunately, that can often blind us to other methods when it comes to prospecting. Whether you prefer getting in touch with your prospects via email, phone calls, social media or carrier pigeon, you need to consider several factors.

First of all, each method has its own strengths and weaknesses. Cold calling is great for getting attention, but many people will screen their calls and may not be open to approach that way.

Use email

Email prospecting can easily be scaled up to massive numbers, but it’s also easily ignored. Social media may be great for specific markets, but your ideal prospects may not even be on the network. And while everyone loves carrier pigeon, they may take a long time to reach your prospect (even longer if they have a cat).

Different methods will work better for different prospects, but it’s usually difficult to know the best way beforehand. That’s why we recommend mixing up your approach and getting in touch using different methods.

The two most effective methods have proven to be emails and phone calls, so start with those. For example, use a phone call for your first attempt, then follow up with an email, alternating until you get a response.

Using sales prospecting tools

One of the top sales prospecting mistakes is trying to do all the work yourself. It’s essential to keep it personal when it comes to your prospecting, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it easier and reach more people with the right tools.

There’s a lot of services that’ll take care of the manual, time-consuming tasks, leaving you to personalize the important parts.
For example, you could use:

  • Email verification tools to quickly verify long lists of email addresses,
  • Data enhancement apps to find out more about your prospects before you get in touch,
  • Email automation software like Reply to send effective prospecting emails at scale.

Templates

Additionally, you could use cold email prospecting email templates or cold calling scripts, to make sure you’re never stuck staring at a blank page or wondering what to say next.

Research

Of course, it’s important to do your research before you decide on your tools. Have a clear idea of your prospecting process, and identify any parts that are time-consuming or difficult to scale manually. Ask fellow prospectors for their recommendations.

Testimonials

Check out any available reviews and testimonials. Just as you wouldn’t try to build a house with your bare hands, neither should you try and build an effective prospecting funnel without using any tools.

Segmenting like a pro

If all this talk of automated prospecting has you wondering how you can possibly keep things personal, segmentation is essential.

If you have a clear idea of who your prospects are (based on hard data, rather than assumptions), you’ll soon start to see distinct groups emerge. These might be across industry, job title, behavior, location, or other demographics.

Group your prospects

Start breaking down your prospects into these groups, imagining as you go that you’re separating them into different physical rooms. Maybe one of your rooms contains C-level management who you’ve contacted before and are based in Europe, while the next room contains salespeople from America who’ve never heard of you.

Now, imagine standing in front of one of those rooms and talking to them. Are some people looking confused, maybe even falling asleep, wondering whether what you’re saying has anything to do with them? Then you should consider segmenting further.

On the other hand, is everyone in the audience nodding along, certain you’re talking personally to them and them alone? That’s the power of good segmentation, which leaves your prospects with an uncanny feeling you were reading their mind.

Each prospect on your list is unique, but not as unique as they may think. By segmenting them into groups with common traits, you can talk to them personally, but on a larger scale.

Summary

There are many more prospecting techniques you can use. However, by making sure you’re not going immediately for the hard sell, mixing up your contact methods, using sales prospecting tools and segmenting your list, you’ll have a solid foundation to your next prospecting campaign.

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Sales

4 ways sales automation improves efficiency through data visibility

business teams

business teamsSales automation software delivers a huge amount of data for B2B organizations to analyze. When provided with this information, field sales reps can make informed and educated sales decisions as well as providing beneficial advice to your customers.

Due to the large increase in CPG brands and wholesalers using sales automation tools, managers and CEO’s have more data available to them than ever before and many rely on this new wealth of data to help their sales teams thrive.

Let’s look at how…

1.      Focus on the right sales activities

The best sales reps know that to increase revenue they must focus on adding value, by prioritizing the right opportunities with the right products, at the right time. How do they do this? Using a sales automation tool such as mobile CRM allows them access to relevant information telling them exactly who to visit.

Sales tools such as a sales order app automates sales tasks providing more time to meet high value clients face-to-face and more.

In addition, automating data entry reduces inefficiency and errors and real-time visibility helps companies identify problems and risks early so they can address them before they erupt into major and expensive crises.

2.      Customer experience is the top sales benchmark

The B2B buyer has changed beyond recognition. Millennial customers are sophisticated and knowledgeable about the product they want by doing their own online research before they even meet a sales rep.

Because of their familiarity with advanced B2C sales cycles, they want and expect smarter and smoother B2B sales experiences, and they want sales reps that act more like personal consultants to address their individual challenges and solve them.

Although the priority for sales reps is closing the deal, the most successful ones also know that it’s vital to maintain long-term customers through memorable purchasing experiences.

Sales automation helps by providing a 360˚ view and personalized picture of every customer to ensure they are each provided with the experience they expect.

3.      Collaboration between departments

To provide an excellent customer experience also requires cross-collaboration between all departments. It’s no good providing a seamless order-taking experience, only for the wrong delivery to turn up.  Sales software provides the platform for all your sales tools providing complete visibility into the customer journey.

With consistent data, everyone can be responsible, respond quicker and more effectively and work together when disruptions occur.

It’s no longer acceptable for different departments to operate in siloes, a B2B sales platform will connect, sync data in real-time, improving efficiency and speeding up your entire sales workflow.

Summary

Sales software has multiple benefits especially when it comes to providing a large amount of data to increase sales.  Adaptation is important, but sales teams need not fear. To build relationships, they will always be needed to be in front of the customer, understanding their needs and more.

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Sales

3 Motivational Sales Meeting Ideas That Will Transform Sales Performance

meeting

meeting

As you approach sales kickoff time, you’re probably putting all the final touches in place to ensure another great event — you’re finalising ideas for the theme and content, checking you have the right entertainment organised and making sure you have the speakers booked. After all, the sales kickoff meeting sets the tone for the year ahead.

But while many salespeople will be looking forward to the annual get-together, there will be many more who dislike taking time away from the office and their families for the sake of what they perceive to be long days in rooms with no windows, watching the same people win accolades that they can’t ever seem to attain.

Publicly acknowledging an organisation’s top sellers is a common element of most sales kickoff meetings, but it can leave your hard-working mid-range salespeople feeling despondent. After all, they’re putting in just as many hours as those salespeople up on stage, but they’re not being invited to President’s Club.

Of course, training is key to helping those mid-range sellers “level up”, but you can’t expect to achieve a total transformation in a one or two-day sales kickoff meeting. Instead, consider your sales kickoff meeting as an opportunity to get them off to the right start, using these three motivational sales meeting ideas.

1) Find a Theme That Is Constructive

There are plenty of sales kickoff themes that are essentially meaningless. For all the heart-pumping appeal of a Daft Punk song they possess, vague sentiments like “Better. Stronger. Faster” are unlikely to provide much motivation for your mid-range salespeople.

It’s easy to get carried away with coloured balloons and fun goody bags, but it’s important to remember not to choose a theme just because you need a slogan for this year’s T-shirt. Themes enable you to weave all the events, training and content of your sales kickoff meeting into a cohesive narrative. Narratives help us engage with materials, meaning we are better able to recall those materials over a long period.

We know about using storytelling techniques for sales and ensuring our customers can see themselves in the stories we tell. In the case of the sales kickoff, you have to think of the salespeople as your customers and make sure that they can see themselves in the narrative you’ve created.

If you’re focused on a “superhero” salesperson, make sure it’s clear to your mid-range sellers exactly how they can become that person — otherwise, you risk further disengagement.

2) Use Your Top Sellers to Motivate Your Mid-Range Salespeople

Typically, a sales kickoff meeting will include at least one networking opportunity per day, which might be dinner, golf or some other “non-work” event.

Before the meeting begins, make it clear to your top performers that you expect them to use these opportunities to meet and talk to the “up and comers”. They don’t need to share their worldly wisdom there and then, but relationships forged at the sales kickoff can pay dividends in mentorships throughout the year.

If you don’t trust that this will happen naturally, make it happen. For example, you could create a table plan for dinner that puts possible pairings together. You could even hold a special event exclusively for salespeople who show a lot of potential, hosted by the top sellers, with the intention of pairing up mentors and mentees.

Sales coaching is a proven means of improving sales performance, and who better to coach your sales team than those already excelling at their job?

3) Ditch the Slide Shows for Panel Discussions

If you have access to a motivational speaker who will take the time to create something that really speaks to your business — great. If not, consider replacing their slot with a really juicy panel discussion — or a couple, if you can.

Watching one person on a stage can make the audience passive. If it’s a great speaker, we might get fired up for a moment, but the great ones are few and far between. Watching an interactive discussion is far more engaging. It encourages us to consider our own responses to the questions on the table.

A panel discussion that accepts questions from the audience is even better.

Who could your panel include? Consider the following:

  • Top sellers — sharing what works for them, best practices, success stories, etc.
  • C-suite executives — discussing brand vision, appraising the year that’s passed and looking to the future.
  • Happy customers — talking about why your company has been important to their success, providing insight as to what was helpful to them throughout their buying process, etc.
  • A formerly unhappy customer — wouldn’t it be interesting to hear from someone who could talk about what went wrong and how it was put right?
  • An average Joe/Jo field-salesperson — it’s equally important to have a ground-floor perspective to represent the viewpoint of the majority of the attendees.

If you go down this path, remember to appoint a separate moderator. This task might be best outsourced to a professional, as it’s a real skill to direct and share a group discussion while avoiding having four people answering the same question.

However you celebrate your achievements at your 2019 sales kickoff, don’t forget that the majority of your salespeople are not at the top of the leaderboard — but they all have the potential to get there with the right training and motivation.

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