There’s less “junk mail” cluttering up mailboxes these days, have you noticed? They haven’t been this empty in 50 years. This is an opportunity.
In this video, I’m demonstrating a powerful and free resource you can use to generate fresh prospect lists fast and easy. This tool is called Reference USA and it’s as good a list-building software system as any I have ever used.
If you are marketing business-to-business or business-to-consumer, it doesn’t matter, this resource has it. If you’re a local business like a restaurant, service business or retailer, you can pull a list of “new
movers”. These are a great target for a “Welcome to the Neighborhood” postcard campaign.
The list builder has lots of options in order to drill down to find your best prospects. Criteria such as:
I like to choose the records where the name of the owner (or “executive’s) name is listed because it’s a well-known fact that personalizing a mail piece gets a better response. In this video demonstration, I chose 4 zip codes and an annual sales range of $500,000 to $5 million and there were over 6000 results. Then I show how I can choose to select and download only specific records which have the contact names and rule out certain specific types of businesses.
I highly recommend you check your municipality’s public library website for this awesome resource. There’s no need to create lists. You can just get one record at a time. Sometimes a use it just to find out the name of the owner.
Some of the other cool functions of this program are the ability to generate New Business lists, Canadian lists, Healthcare-Specific Lists and even Job Postings.
This is a powerful tool everyone in business can utilize to build a list of prospects for direct mail marketing, email marketing and telemarketing.
Don’t wait another minute. Go to you local public library’s website and see if they have Reference USA available. If not, find out if they can get it.
By the way, you’ll need a library card to access Reference USA, but don’t worry, that’s also free!
The idea behind The 3i System of Sales and Influence™ is to position yourself and your business as a welcomed source of value before you ever even deliver your real product or service.
The 2nd i in The 3i System of Sales & Influence™ is INVITATION. An invitation to an an educational event,
a networking meeting, a fundraiser, or a professional sporting event are some ideas. When your prospects accepts your invitation and something goes very well for him or her there, YOU will be the one remembered for such a gesture.
Small Business University events are an ideal place to which you could invite a prospect. There are dozens of people there with whom to network and with 3 fast-paced presentations delivered by experts in their field, everyone in the room stays busy jotting notes.
When you invite someone to an event like like SBU, YOU will be remembered as the conduit for their new valuable relationships and ideas
The 3i System of Sales and Influence™ effectively eliminates the awkwardness of cold calling and soundly positions you as a persona of value and trust. The law of reciprocation will at least land you and appointment and possibly a sale and referral.
This system is a long-term effort but like any long-term, wise investment, patience is required. If you’re looking to build long-term business relationships, it’s well worth it.
One of my core philosophies is, one good idea or one good connection can change your business or your life.
This is the foundation of Small Business University. As a venue meeting people in a networking setting, it’s also a resource for absorbing the knowledge and experience of others who share their expertise on our stage, on this website, and in our printed newsletter.
This and the next 2 blog posts here are on the subject of
Ever since I started executing the 3i System of Sales & Influence™, not only has it become easier for me to get more appointments with people, but more prospective clients have approached me first!
Even if you’re not in sales, the principles in the system are very useful and to get what we want, we all need to be better at the game of influence. As business owners, sales professionals, parents and employees, the power of influence is a key element in elevating our chances of success whether for making more money or teaching our children.
Information has value. People pay for information. We pay for books. We pay for newspapers. We subscribe to magazines, take classes, go to seminars and attend Small Business University events in order to consume information. We tend to trust those people who volunteer information we feel is valuable. We tend to view them in a positive light. Most of all, we tend to reciprocate to those who give us good information. We reciprocate by giving them more of our attention and often, giving them our business.
In a networking environment, we’re usually put off by those people who request a follow up appointment immediately after the first contact. Successful relationships require a bit of romance. This is true of intimate relationships as well as business relationships. Sure, there are exceptions, but even then, long-term relationships are rare when the courting process is short.
When you share information, you are looked upon as intelligent, empathetic, an expert and not desperate to make a sale. Your credibility rises and your influence rises as well. It’s powerful.
What kind of information should you share?
Don’t share information about you, your company or your product. Keep your eyes open for new information on useful technology, information you think your prospect will be interested in on a personal level, or find some industry-related trends which could be helpful in his or her business or marketplace. Now, when YOU consume information, look at it in a new light and ask “who else in my circle of influence could this help?”
I write a monthly newsletter. It’s a resource you can pull ideas from to use for your new “swipe file” of useful information. Subscribe to it. Small Business University events are also a rich resource you can leverage for material.
Running the Business with Your Fingertips
The most successful business executives and owners understand that even the best athletes, as an
example, recognize the need for “outside” objective coaching and mentoring. You can remain at the top of your game without growing.
Your response is “OK maybe I do but it’s not because I want to. You don’t really think I’d be doing this if I didn’t have to, do you?” The quick answer is “Yes I do, because you don’t have to!”
I’m betting you believe you’re already doing everything you’re supposed to do and you’re still fighting the daily fight to keep revenue and profits up, deal with disgruntled employees and a laundry list of other problems. Being at the top isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be hard. Most of us get caught up in the “Tribulations of Operations”.
When you’re driving, you continually make small adjustments to your steering while looking ahead down the road. How far do you think you’d get before hitting something if you were focused on only the first ten feet in front of the car? Yet that’s the trap we fall into. We focus on the wrong, and I’ll use a technical term here, “stuff”!
How many times have you heard “Learn to work ON your business and not just IN your business?” You’re response is, “Yeah, sure I’d like to do that but I don’t have the time. You don’t understand how much I have to do and how tough times are right now.”
Have you enough guts to take the step of putting aside your ego along with the list of reasons why you can’t, and admit that maybe you’re not doing things as well as you should or are not as effective a leader as you could be? AND, get this, THERE’S NO FAULT HERE!. It’s not about blame. IT IS, however, about accepting responsibility.
Listen, ain’t nobody that does it right all the time. No one’s perfect and I’m pretty sure there’s never been an exec, that’s never made a mistake. So own it and deal with it. When you do, you’ll gain a sense of renewal and energy and be ready to accept objective input. That’s when you begin to grow again and to view the future with renewed excitement. When that occurs, care to venture a guess on what happens to the organization.
An important tip is to be sharp enough to be aware of the signs of complacency or mediocrity in ourselves and businesses. Unfortunately, that isn’t something any of us are any good at, but that’s where a professional consultant can provide perspective. When we master that we keep incidents from maturing into problems.
Another trick is learning to understand what the real problem is. Suffice it to say that the “problem” is rarely the problem. It’s a symptom of the problem. Digging down to expose the real culprit is the only way to develop an actual solution that will work.
Real success isn’t reaching the top, it’s continuing to learn, plan and execute. If you think you’ve reached the top, you’d better keep an eye out for those about to pass you on the ladder.
There are many business tips, tricks and techniques a truly experienced business consultant can assist you with to adjust and realign the ‘Spine” of your business or organization.
This is how to begin the process of making small adjustments to stay on course, stop wrestling with our business and “Run the Business with Our Finger Tips”.
An unknown sage wrote: “There is no elevator to success, you have to take the steps.”
Are you ready to take the steps?
This post contributed by Dan Ceglia of Strategic Business Management Group. Dan’s bio and resume are far too interesting to abbreviate. I encourage anyone to read it. It’s truly remarkable. Click here to read it. Dan is a regular attendee at Small Business University events. Join us sometime!
You need your employees more than they need you.
“Wait a minute that sounds like heresy to me! I’m the boss. It’s my business. I worked long and hard to get here, and you tell me I’m not important.”
I never said you are not important. What I said is that you need your employees more than they need
you. Because if you have employees, it’s because your business has gotten to a point where you cannot do it all yourself. When you have employees they are closer to your customers, your products, and your processes than you are.
It just works that way.
As an example if you have seven employees and four of them don’t show up on a Monday morning you are in a situation where the synergistic efforts toward a common sustainable organizational goal are not going to be achieved (or using a very basic business term, you’re in deep do-do). If you do not show up on a Monday morning, my guess is that things will go ok for the day. If nothing happens because you are not there to give everyone their minute-by-minute instructions, then shame on you.
As managers we get things done through others. When it was just us doing the work it was easy. Our senses told us what needed to be done, our mind sent a message to our hands, and our hands did the work. Now we have to use someone else’s hands to get the work done. So our ability to instruct, communicate, encourage, coach, and support helps our employees and their senses, minds, and hands to get the work done. This is called management, and these skills can be developed. Some people take to this better than others, and some people really have to work at it.
Things get easier as a business if you spend the time to interview and hire good people, treat them with respect, and develop and apply good management skills with them.
It just works that way.
Contributed by Dan Sell of Danumur Consulting, LLC who recently delivered a presentation to alive audience at a Small Business University event. Dan is an HR professional, executive, and consultant with over thirty years of extensive leadership and senior level management experience.
To learn more about Dan Sell, his expert qualifications and his consulting business, please visit his website http://dansumur.com/
To contribute to our blog, go to: https://smallbusinessu.org/contributors-wanted/
People die and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s generally only about 1% for most businesses.
People move away. About 3% of your customers will move too far away to maintain a business practical relationship with you. Not much you can do about that (although it IS much easier today to keep in touch and to serve people at greater distances today).
5% of your customers will take the advice of a friend or relative and choose another source for the product or service you provide. There IS something you can do about that.
9% will find what they perceive as a better deal, a better product or service. There is also something you can do about that.
14% will leave you out of plain old dissatisfaction with you, your product, your service or an employee.
68% of the people who leave your business and never come back due to indifference.
What is indifference?
Indifference occurs when people just don’t have a feeling either way about your business, the service, the experience, the relationship. This is ONE crucial area where you, as a small business owner have the hands-down advantage over most of your larger competitors.
A warm greeting, eye-to-eye contact, a sincere “Nice to see you again” and a smiling “Thank You” can easily differentiate your business from others. This is the absolute minimum I personally expect when I patronize a business and yet it’s a rare occurrence.
Making clients feel good, welcomed, valued and convenienced are critical in overcoming almost ALL these reasons people will forget about you. Create relationships and keep more customers.
2 ways to keep people feeling like you recognize them and care about them: (there are more, but these are cheap & easy)
The Powers of Persuasion
Persuasion is the single most important skill for a person to master both professionally and
personally. Without this skill leaders would be unable to lead, and salespeople would be unable to sell. Persuasion is the key to success in every facet of life. Most people don’t understand the key elements of persuasion and fewer still apply the process.
Current neurological brain research shows how the mind reacts to logic and emotion. By integrating age-old knowledge with modern science we can help people make quick, non-analytical decisions using their own built-in shortcuts to making decisions.
The more skilled leaders are at the art and science of persuasion, the more likely it is that the goals of the organization will be met successfully without frustration or resistance.
Building Blocks of Persuasion
Leading through persuasion is a skill that can be learned. It’s not about swaying people against their will; persuasion is offering others a chance to see things from a different perspective. As the initiator, you must find a delivery system that allows you to communicate your conviction in a compelling way. Taking part in the act of persuading others and sweeping them up into a mutual vision can be a wonderful experience.
Persuasion is defined as a process that changes attitudes, beliefs, opinions or behaviors. It’s the single most powerful skill a leader can possess. Persuasion provides the ability to shift and transform employees and ultimately the culture of an organization. Leaders who practice the skill of persuasion are more engaged and trusted by their employees than those who adhere to the old “command and control” way of management.
There are three building blocks that support the persuasion process. Plato and Aristotle defined the process thousands of years ago, but they still remain valid today.
The three building blocks are:
Every persuasion process involves one or more of these building blocks. To decide which tool to use, logic or emotion, it’s essential to understand whether an individual responds in an analytical way or an automatic way.
The Secret Life of the Brain
The analytical thinker is thinking logically, systematically working out the decision with analysis, judgment, evaluation, and concentration.
The automatic thinker operates on “gut feelings”, basing decisions on their automatic, built in psychological reactions. Our brains are hard wired to respond to stimuli that help us make easy, quick, correct decisions. We respond to these powers of non-analytical compliance with what feels like gut reactions. These reactions are a composite of prior situations and experiences that we draw on. They are our built in navigational aids. They are essential parts of our very being. Leaders who learn to help others make quick, automatic, non analytical decisions using their own inborn powers have incredible power over others.
The Powers of Persuasion
The friendship power – this power encompasses all elements that create the feelings of positive relations. The goal of the friendship power is to bond with others by finding common ground, common interests and common goals. The strongest element in the friendship equation is similarity.
The authority power – authority is a critical emotional power, a prerequisite for other powers. Authority is usually defined as a position such as a lawyer, manager, teacher or policeman. The authority power uses the “rightness” of the request based on association of the role.
The consistency power – consistency is important because it makes us feel comfortable, gut level confident that we are making the right decisions. Leaders persuade by making people comfortable. The consistency power forms the bedrock of our internal self-guidance system. People are slaves to consistency and conformity. We use past performance data as a safe, easy comfortable, non-thinking guide to make current decisions and to generate action.
The secret to benefiting from the consistency power is to learn what the person you are trying to persuade will be comfortable with. By learning about the person and how they acted in the past about issues being discussed, frame your request so that a positive decision will be consistent with past actions. Set up a safe “consistency zone” for each person to make relatively risk free, comfortable decisions
The reciprocity power – reciprocity is the well documented, universal psychological requirement to have the recipient of a gift give something back in return. You create indebtedness, and IOU that must be repaid in some way at some point in time.
The hope power – this drives all human motivation. It’s the foundation for all human decision and action. Decisions and actions to achieve hopes, needs, wants and dreams always trump logic, reason and cognitive thought. This wonderful power is easy to activate. Adding the right powers to the hope power, you will have a formidable multi-pronged arsenal for success.
Persuasion is based on giving, receiving and understanding information. To persuade effectively, you must be able to understand an individual’s needs, wants, and desires and be understood when proposing the idea or solution. Effective communication is more important now than ever, especially as employees are encouraged to ask the question “why?” True communication only occurs when the message is received and understood as intended. Communication is the basis for all interaction and is the process of understanding and being understood.
The most persuasive arguments come from leaders who exhibit high ethos, and appeal to both logic and emotion. All of these require listening to, understanding and empathizing with your employees. By listening and understanding, leaders build trust within the organization. Listening also helps one base persuasive arguments on the facts or logic that others find compelling. It is essential to listen and understand to the employees of your organization. Leaders who do not exhibit these qualities have a difficult time persuading and rely on coercive power, rather than leadership.
This is the best sales tip I ever got.
Introducing: The 3 i’s
…even after experiencing “NO”.
The 3 i’s stand for:
Information – Introduction – Invitation
The 3 i’s put you or your sales team in a position of value and expertise in the eyes and minds of your prospects. They make it easier to approach a prospect and carve a path for follow up.They make it more likely each contact made with a prospect will get attention and move the relationship forward. You and your company will stand out when you use the 3 i’s.
“Hello, I’m Andrew Mazer and I’m calling to invite Mr. White to a lunch meeting with me and a couple of other business owners. May I speak with him, please?”
Or, “…Our company is donating turkeys to a local charity and we’re pulling together some other business people for this good cause. I’m calling to invite Mr. White into a small group who will get some public recognition for a tiny investment.”
Think about events or meetings you could invite a person to which would be a benefit for them. Keep an eye out for events which would be conducive for this kind of invitation strategy. This is not about inviting someone to lunch (although you can) but it’s more like telling someone, “I was thinking about you and your company and I think this could be a good investment of your time.”
Sharing quality information is an excellent positioning tool. I’m not talking about the information which describes your business or your products & services. I’m talking about useful information which pertains to interesting business matters, business-related news, or to a specific niche or industry your prospect is in.
Sharing information shows your prospect:
Sharing information could come in the form of an article clipped from a newspaper, magazine, or a blog post printed out and mailed or a link sent via email. It could be as simple as recommending an event, a website or a video. Even if you have not yet met or spoken with your prospect, submitting information through a gatekeeper will often get through.
I launched my internet marketing business this way. I created an information-rich presentation which I delivered to a room full of business owners about how to increase their visibility online. Breakfast, the least expensive meal you can serve at an event was provided. First I created the presentation, then I got to work on inviting people to come take in the information. It generated clients and referrals.
What if you could refer a new customer to a prospective client before you ever asked for an appointment for yourself? Wow…talk about a foot in the door! Not only you could introduce your prospect to a new customer, you could also introduce him or her to one of your other satisfied clients who may be of synergistic value. In networking, we call these power partners.
An example of a power partner relationship could be a personal injury lawyer and a financial adviser. A good prospect for a financial adviser is someone who may have recently been awarded a large sum of money in a lawsuit or settlement. The lawyer would be an excellent referral source for the adviser. Facilitating an introduction between these 2 professionals would put you squarely in a good position to get yourself a meeting with either party any time in the future.
The 3 i’s. Surefire ways to get your foot in the door and look like a pro.
In a discussion among the founders of Small Business University recently, we debated the
notion of “labeling” our audience “small business owners”. As business owners we strive to grow and become bigger, right? One could argue, the word “small” has a negative denotation in the realm of business. I say, “BALONEY”!
Criteria which places companies in the category of “small business” varies by industry and
specific type of business. But on average, “small”, a business may have up to 500 employees and do up to $9 million is sales. Seems to me, one could be a pretty big fish in the small business pond without feeling like a minnow.
Small business employs nearly 90% of working Americans. Just because you’re small doesn’t mean you’re not big. Big is a relative term. I’m talking about serving big. It doesn’t matter if you’re a one-person show or if you have 500 employees. Your business matters.
I never had a LOT of employees at any given time but I’ve had dozens over the course of time. Between all the business owners I’ve touched, customers I’ve served and employees I’ve paid over the years, it’s a remarkable feeling to know I’ve made a difference in many people’s lives.
WE matter as small business owners. And if you work for one, you have no less prestige or importance than of you work for a world-renowned corporation.
The small business owners I served over the years in my wholesale business have used the merchandise I sold them to resell for a profit so they could pay their bills, their employees and take car of their families.
The employees I’ve paid have built new sets of skills and paid their expenses (and hopefully saved a little) while under my employ. One of my favorite parts about being in business has been the experience of former employees who have come back for a visit or called me just to say hello.
Nobody thinks it’s easy to be a small business owner. It’s not easy. It takes passion, early mornings, weekends and evenings. We are a special breed.
One of my core philosophies is “Service to Many Leads to Greatness”. It’s what drives me to wake up early and hit the ground running every day without ever the need for an alarm clock.
I’m a small business owner and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Small Business University was born of the idea of greater service through delivering information and a networking experience to business people. On November 10th, we’re celebrating our last major event of the year: Talking Turkey About Business.
Dozens of business owners, executives and professionals will gather to network and learn some key information about sales, maximizing your networking investment and performance management. Get more information about this event here. Don’t miss it!
Target audience. Ideal client. Target market. Niche. You’ve heard the terms, and if you’ve been in business for any length of time, I’m sure you’ve given a lot of thought about whom you should be marketing to. My background is in public relations, and in PR school it was all about defining your primary audience, your secondary audience and your tertiary audience, then speaking to those audiences through the appropriate medium with the right messaging.
But the way we do business has changed, which means our marketing has changed. Unless you’re a giant conglomerate or a mega movie studio, you’re target probably isn’t that large. If you’re a small business owner, your target audience is probably very narrow, and most likely you’d get better results if you narrowed it even further.
In the Sizzle System of Personal Branding, I have my clients describe their Dream Client. They define demographics and psychographics, and characteristics down to hair and eye color, and even the car they drive. This can be a real live client or a conglomerate of several different people.
Why just one Dream Client? Because our marketing copy needs to be directed at a real live person who needs what we have to offer.
My dream client is a forward-thinking, opportunity-seeking entrepreneur with brown hair and blue eyes. She drives a Lexus and buys her clothes at Nordstrom. She’s kind of edgy.
When I write my marketing copy I speak directly to her. I know she can afford to pay me for my services because she’s been in business for a while and knows how to bring in money. I know she cares about how she shows up for the world – for God’s sake, she drives a Lexus! She believes in quality and her clothes reflect that. I know her type, so when I write copy that speaks to her, it’s going to speak to others like her.
And yes, maybe some guy with a ponytail and beard who drives a Harley and wears leather will hear my message and resonate with it, and that’s fine, but those types are far and few between. It’s the 80/20 rule — again.
Then there’s the second part of the formula and the most important: Be the answer to your Dream Client’s dreams. What does your Dream Client need that you can provide — easily? That is the real key to defining your Dream Client.
My Dream Client is one smart cookie, but she’s not getting the clients she needs. Something is falling flat and she can’t figure out what that is. She’s gone through some changes and she’s starting to question her why. She’s feeling the need to reinvent herself or give her business a facelift, but she doesn’t know where to start. She’s tossing and turning at night wondering how she’s going to get these issues resolved.
Meanwhile I’m miles away tucked snuggly in my bed, sound asleep, with visions of my Dream Client frolicking in my subconscious like a sheep leaping over clouds. I’m smiling, because I know that she’s just waiting for me to come along and solve her problems. All I have to do is make sure she hears my message and make it easy for her to find me.
Once that happens, she’ll be happy to pay me for my services because I’m saving her time and money in the long run, and she knows that, pretty soon, she’ll be back to business stronger than ever. The clients will start rolling in, so whatever she paid for my services she’ll earn many times over.
My Dream Client is now sleeping soundly thanks to me, and I’m sleeping sounder than usual, satisfied that I could help her.
The moral of this story: Defining your Dream Client is based on the problems you solve, not the problems they have. Make sure you communicate the value that you bring to others so your Dream Client can find you. You’ll sleep sounder at night knowing you’re putting yourself out there, and she will too, knowing she can find the answer to her prayers.
by Carol Ann DeSimine, TheSizzleSystem.com