An educated prospect becomes an educated client

The cornerstone of your marketing plan should be to educate your clients. Your primary job is to educate them on your product or service. One of the costliest marketing mistakes I see is the failure of businesses to educate their customers about the unique advantages offered to them. Your customer won’t know about these advantages unless you clearly and articulately demonstrate them.

When a company or salesperson takes the time and initiative to demonstrably educate you on all the products in the field in which you’re considering making a purchase, it gains massive trust and favour. Educate your prospective buyer about everything on your product or service and you’ll sell to almost twice as many people as you do now. This one concept – educating your customers – will gain you a huge advantage over your competitors.

You must take your customer by the hand. Few businesses realise that they must lead the customer to action. People need to be explicitly told how to act to obtain your product or service. Therefore – and this is incredibly important – every sales call, presentation, brochure, letter, advert or personal contact should make the case for your product or service. Give prospects a brief education, then take them by the hand, figuratively speaking, and tell them what specific action to take next. If you’re selling an impulse item, or if the offer is for a limited time, tell your prospect to get in touch with you immediately.

People want to be led. They want to know more about a business’s product or service. Think about your own experience. When you consider buying any item or service – for yourself, your home, for your family as a gift, or for your business – you often don’t know as much about the product as you would like to. And, if you have unanswered questions about a product, you’re less likely to buy it. Yet, when a company or salesperson takes the time and initiative to objectively educate you about all the products in the field you’re making a purchase in, they gain your trust and goodwill immediately.

Educate people to appreciate the value of your products and services. You can’t appreciate value in a vacuum. You can’t appreciate anything until you’re educated about it. Most people forget this when it comes to marketing and they leave a fortune of potential profits on the table.

This marketing concept – educating your customers – will gain you a dramatic advantage over your competitors and could make you a fortune. Ensure that education is the key part of your marketing plan. 

“No matter what your product or service is, you are ultimately in the education business.” – John Lloyd

John Lloyd is a business growth strategist, award-winning marketer, speaker, trainer, columnist and author of the book Smart Thinking for Crazy Times.     

Visit John at www.brandstorm.co.za and subscribe to his free newsletter.

Do you need a speaker who will educate and inspire at your next industry conference or a trusted advisor who will increase profits, multiply sales and magnify marketplace positioning?                                                      

Contact John today – john@brandstorm.co.za

Why should you instantly ask for a referral?

Do you ask for referrals after each and every positive client engagement?

The Harvard Business Review has shown that if you give good service and then immediately take the opportunity of asking for a referral, more than 50% of people will recommend you to other prospects. A very impressive figure compared to the 5% of referrals it is estimated you receive when you provide good service but do not ask for a referral.

Ensure that you ask for referrals immediately after dazzling a client and I guarantee that you will double your sales.

John Lloyd is a business growth strategist, award-winning marketer, speaker, trainer, columnist and author of the book Smart Thinking for Crazy Times.     

Visit John at www.brandstorm.co.za and subscribe to his free newsletter.

Do you need a speaker who will educate and inspire at your next industry conference or a trusted advisor who will increase profits, multiply sales and magnify marketplace positioning?                                                      

Contact John today – john@brandstorm.co.za

Old age is contagious, but you don’t have to catch it

This is advice for the young and the young at heart.

I recently read an article about a research project conducted to evaluate how people age and the empowering or disempowering mindsets that they carry throughout their lives. The research study extended over fifty years.

The primary conclusion was – old age merely continued what earlier years had lost, meaning that most behaviour, personality and character traits tended not to change over time. The research revealed that people who were irritable in the 1940’s were a great deal more irritable in the 1980’s.  Those who were intolerant in 1949 were even more intolerant in 1979.

Today, many of us make excuses for those old codgers who are difficult to deal with, prejudiced in their outlooks and show little interest in anything.  However, research into the characters of those old people will invariably reveal that those were the traits that were quite evident in their earlier years. A person isn’t suddenly transformed into a “nasty old man” or a “miserable old git” or a “gossiping old bag” because of birthdays. He or she becomes that way through a series of habits that are established much earlier in life.

I share some thoughts and ideas that will help each of us avoid “getting old”, at least in the areas we have control and choice: attitudinally and emotionally:

  • Learn something new every day.
  • Say something cheerful and pleasant to everyone you meet.
  • Be a ‘mover and shaker’, not a ‘moaner and groaner’.
  • Do good deeds for others.
  • Take up new hobbies.
  • Develop new empowering habits.
  • Eat sensibly and exercise regularly.
  • Be a volunteer.

In short, put others first and you’ll be amazed at the fact that you’ll end up feeling better yourself. And above all, constantly be appreciative and grateful for all you have. Oh yes, and don’t forget to smile!

Remember, you have to get old, but you don’t have to act old. I hope this gives you reason to be hopeful about your future years. Enjoy them!

John Lloyd is a business growth strategist, award-winning marketer, speaker, trainer, columnist and author of the book Smart Thinking for Crazy Times.     

Visit John at www.brandstorm.co.za and subscribe to his free newsletter.

Do you need a speaker who will educate and inspire at your next industry conference or a trusted advisor who will increase profits, multiply sales and magnify marketplace positioning?                                                      

Contact John today – john@brandstorm.co.za

How improving your prospecting skills will double your sales

“Fish where the fish are.” – Chuck Lamb

For most salespeople, prospecting is the most challenging activity they do. They dread the thought of picking up the phone to make a living. No matter what product or service you sell, success in sales is built through effective prospecting.

Here are five prospecting secrets to help you:

1. Establish a routine. You must schedule time for prospecting every day at preferably the same time. Do not allow anything to interfere with your prospecting time. The salesperson who has a set daily routine of making prospecting calls at a specific time and adheres to this schedule without distraction has a massive advantage over others.

2. When is the best time to prospect? The best time to make prospecting calls is when you have the most energy. I always prospect early in the morning because that’s when I have the most energy. It also gets me off to a winning start, which sets up my day for success.

3. It gets easier after the first call. The first call is always the most difficult. Getting yourself to make the first call of the day is normally the biggest hurdle. After you make the first call, you realize it was not as difficult as you had imagined. Prospecting is fun after a few positive calls. You will often find receptive people on the other end of the line who are open to your call. Just do it, break through the barrier, your confidence will soar when you realise that prospecting is the trigger to all successful selling.

4. Set prospecting goals. Set a specific goal of what you want to happen on each call. Know what you want that prospect to do. It is difficult to achieve prospecting success without clearly defined objectives.

5. Prospecting is a numbers game. I guarantee you that the more prospecting you do, the more deals you will secure. Prospecting allows you to plan your income and results. If you track your prospecting efforts, you will find that you have clear ratios in your sales efforts. Once you know how many prospecting calls you need to make in order to get a client presentation and therefore a closing opportunity, then you have a good measure of how to achieve any sales target.

Prospecting is truly the starting point of success in any sales profession. I teach a simple sales model – the more you effectively prospect, the more presentation opportunities you will get, therefore the more sales you will close. Develop and apply the above-listed prospecting ideas and I guarantee that you will become one of the top sales people in your field.

“Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman – not the attitude of the prospect.” W. Clement Stone

John Lloyd is a business growth strategist, award-winning marketer, speaker, trainer, columnist and author of the book Smart Thinking for Crazy Times.     

Visit John at www.brandstorm.co.za and subscribe to his free newsletter.

Do you need a speaker who will educate and inspire at your next industry conference or a trusted advisor who will increase profits, multiply sales and magnify marketplace positioning?                                                      

Contact John today – john@brandstorm.co.za

Get busy living or get busy dying

I was recently watching a rerun of the brilliant movie The Shawshank Redemption. The character Andy in the movie states a classic quote, “Get busy living or get busy dying”.

I’m going to use Andy’s quote as the message of this week’s One Minute Motivator. The key lessons for me that I would like to share with you are:

  1. Your life is finite. Your life is a one-time deal and it is up to you what you make of it. Life is finite, so this fact should be what forces you to take your precious life seriously. Use your time wisely, and make meaningful choices.
  2. You are the author of your life story. Your life is an unwritten book that only you can write. You are the architect of your own destiny, so make sure that your blueprint is based on solid purpose, passion and values. You are nothing else other than what you make of yourself.
  3. It’s not what happens to you that matters, it’s how you respond to it. Life will sometimes give you nasty challenges. This will happen to us all. No matter how things stand in your life, you and you alone, choose how to interpret your situation. You choose how to respond to it.
  4. Stop playing the blame game. When caught in a challenging situation, some people will instinctively blame someone else. It is the always the other person’s fault. There is tremendous power in taking responsibility. Develop a no-excuses philosophy.
  5. Your life is the sum of all your choices. You give your life meaning by the choices you make. With freedom of choice, however, comes responsibility. Because you have the power to choose, you have the power to change. The freedom to choose may be the most powerful attribute and potentially the most precious resource that you have in your life. Change is a choice born of hope, faith and courage.

By the time you lay your head on your pillow at the end of this day, you will have made dozens of choices that will affect the quality of your life, some for better and possibly some for worse (I hope not). The freedom to choose is yours alone to leverage or not. Make the choice to live an empowered life; make the choice to live in the present. I wish you every success.

John Lloyd is a business growth strategist, award-winning marketer, speaker, trainer, columnist and author of the book Smart Thinking for Crazy Times.     

Visit John at www.brandstorm.co.za and subscribe to his free newsletter.

Do you need a speaker who will educate and inspire at your next industry conference or a trusted advisor who will increase profits, multiply sales and magnify marketplace positioning?                                                      

Contact John today – john@brandstorm.co.za

Burger, fries and a shake

‘Energy and persistence conquer all things.’ – Benjamin Franklin

You see them scattered all over the planet. Kids love them; they have an iconic logo and always place on the Top 10 list of global brands. I am also a first-hand witness that kids (very young kids) have the amazing ability to spot their logo from miles away. Love or hate their food, the one thing that you cannot argue with is their success.

The founder of this food empire was a man called Ray Kroc. Ray Kroc was an incredible entrepreneur and his story is one we can all learn from. It’s a story of determination, persistence and never giving up on your dream.

At fifty-one years of age, Kroc wasn’t making much money, but he wasn’t letting go of his dreams. Ray was a milkshake machine salesman. He was laid off at the age of fifty-one, but instead of allowing this setback to hurt him, he still had ambitions of making it big. It would take far too long to go into Kroc’s failures and challenges, but a quote I read says a huge amount about his determination to becoming a success:

‘When I met the McDonalds brothers, I was ready for the opportunity. By then, I had enough experience in the food and beverage business that I could tell a real idea from a counterfeit.’ The McDonald brothers felt that there was a big opportunity for fast food. They felt that after the war, women were joining the workforce and a new need would exist for fast and convenient food.

For twenty-five years Kroc had some success and many failures in the food service industry, but he was passionate about it and kept persevering. Kroc was well known for going the extra mile for his clients and trying to help them add revenue to their business by using his milkshake-maker and other related products. So in 1954, when Ray Kroc saw what the McDonald brothers were doing, his eyes lit up. He partnered with the brothers and began opening McDonald’s restaurants. They launched a few fast food diners in California and they created the drive-through concept. The tough times, the failures, the years of struggle all started to pay off in that moment.

Remember that it wasn’t Ray Kroc who invented McDonalds, but when he saw what they were planning he immediately had a mental picture in his mind of what the potential was. Ray Kroc had a vision of thousands of McDonalds around the world. Kroc had been preparing all of his life for this moment. All the years of struggle and challenge were about to be rewarded. Ray Kroc knew, even at the age of fifty-two, that he wasn’t going to give up on his dreams.

The rest is history; he launched McDonalds with the McDonald brothers and then, in 1961, he bought out the brothers for $2.7 million. He then proceeded to build the biggest franchise operation in the world. In early 1984, he died a billionaire but by then he had left his mark on the world as a successful entrepreneur. There are today over thirty-one thousand McDonalds in about one hundred and twenty countries across the planet. He was a late starter, but boy did he finish strong. The lesson of Ray Kroc is that there are opportunities everywhere, but if we can’t see them, if our mindset isn’t ready for them, then the opportunities remain invisible.

That’s the inspiring story of Ray Kroc, a determined and persistent man who never gave up on his dream. It’s also proof that it’s never too late in life to dream and succeed.

An extract from my book Smart Thinking for Crazy Times. Buy a copy today!

John Lloyd is a business growth strategist, award-winning marketer, speaker, trainer, columnist and author of the book Smart Thinking for Crazy Times.     

Visit John at www.brandstorm.co.za and subscribe to his free newsletter.

Do you need a speaker who will educate and inspire at your next industry conference or a trusted advisor who will increase profits, multiply sales and magnify marketplace positioning?                                                      

Contact John today – john@brandstorm.co.za

How to out-think, out-market, out-sell, out-manoeuvre, out-perform and out-earn your competition

Today I want to try something different. The goal of this article is to provide as many businesses as possible with an instant ‘virtual’ business growth consulting session.

The starting point for success is your own vision and image of yourself and your business. If you think you’re a commodity, a generic product, or service like any other, then that’s just what you’ll become. You’ll do the same things everyone else does, you’ll price the same way as everyone else, and you’ll sell, market, communicate, deal with people and relate to clients the same way as everyone else does. I call this game ‘following the follower’.

If you sell the same thing, at the same price, the same way as everyone else, then you must add massive value, or you will be marginalised by the marketplace. Value can be more benefits, a clearly articulated and demonstrated unique selling proposition, a better guarantee, more access, better processes or more technical support.

You’ve got to distinguish yourself, your product, your company, and your business model in ways that make you unlike anyone else, to make you more distinct, highly desirable and valuable.

I want you to evaluate the following 15 effective growth factors and ask yourself if you are doing each of them. If not, just take 3, more, or all of them, and introduce them to your business thinking and strategy. I guarantee that your business will grow. The effective growth factors are: 

  1. Developing a unique selling proposition
  2. Acquire customers at break-even upfront and make a profit on the back-end
  3. Referral systems
  4. Guaranteeing purchases through risk reversal (you eliminate every possible risk to your customers)
  5. Increasing the perceived value of your product or service through better client education
  6. Educating your clients by giving reasons why your service or product will solve problems and fill voids
  7. Improving the sales skills levels of your staff
  8. Improving your teams selling ability and techniques to up-sell and cross-sell
  9. Making irresistible offers to your prospects and customers
  10. Delivering higher than expected levels of service
  11. Communicating frequently with your clients to ‘nurture’ them
  12. Packaging complementary products and services together
  13. Increasing your pricing and therefore your margins
  14. Offering greater or larger units of purchase to improve your volumes
  15. Price incentive packages to grow the frequency of purchase

Target, implement, measure and manage these growth ideas. I wish you every success.

John Lloyd is a business growth strategist, award-winning marketer, speaker, trainer, columnist and author of the book Smart Thinking for Crazy Times.     

Visit John at www.brandstorm.co.za and subscribe to his free newsletter.

Do you need a speaker who will educate and inspire at your next industry conference or a trusted advisor who will increase profits, multiply sales and magnify marketplace positioning?                                                      

Contact John today – john@brandstorm.co.za

You grow from the inside out

‘Nurture great thoughts, for you will never go higher than your thoughts.’ Benjamin Disraeli

Many of us get this back to front. We believe that the more money we make or the more toys we acquire, the happier and more secure we will be.

So some of us make the money and collect the toys and realise that there’s still something missing. So what do we do? We set our goals even higher to make yet more money and acquire even bigger and better toys.

We create this vicious circle until one day we wake up and realise, ‘Oh no, this is not what I thought it would be.’ Unfortunately, some of us wake up too late or not at all.

The reason is simple: we’ve been searching outside of ourselves for the ‘core values’ that we hope will provide what we need in our lives in order to live a ‘whole’ life. Lasting success in life emanates from two basic emotional states: love and being grateful.

If you can love who you are, then you can love others as well and if you are grateful for the joy and good that is present in your life, then you will attract more of the same.

You and you alone are responsible for your own true happiness, inspiration and success. And everything that you need is inside of you right this moment.

It reminds me of the wonderful Persian fable Acres of Diamonds. Briefly, the story goes like this:

A wealthy farmer, unhappy with what he has, sells his land, leaves his family and goes off in search of diamonds. He spends the rest of his life travelling the world, searching in vain, until finally dying a poor and disappointed man. One day, the man who bought his farm is working in the fields. He sees something shiny, bends down to pick it up and, sure enough, it’s a diamond. In fact, it turns out that the farm is sitting atop a huge diamond deposit.

The moral of the story: Everything you need in life is already in your possession, if only you’ll take the time to find it.

‘All you need is love.’ John Lennon

An extract from my book Smart Thinking for Crazy Times. 

John Lloyd is a business growth strategist, award-winning marketer, speaker, trainer, columnist and author of the book Smart Thinking for Crazy Times.     

Visit John at www.brandstorm.co.za and subscribe to his free newsletter.

Do you need a speaker who will educate and inspire at your next industry conference or a trusted advisor who will increase profits, multiply sales and magnify marketplace positioning?                                                      

Contact John today – john@brandstorm.co.za

8 Powerful tips to write sales letters that sizzle

How’s business? Brilliant I hope! I am going to provide you with 8 tips guaranteed to improve the quality and focus of your sales letters.

Sales letters seem to be a forgotten art by many business people, but I believe that they are a low-cost and effective tool to add to your marketing toolkit. Very few businesses are using this powerful relationship-building tool, therefore it is a good method to help you position and differentiate your products and services.

Use these 8 tips in every sales letter you write:

  1. The headline is the most important part of your sales letter. At the top of your sales letter, use a strong headline that states the most important benefit you are offering. This headline should be bold and a larger font size than the font size you use for the body text in your sales letter. A great headline promises a specific result.
  2. When writing your sales letter, always use a friendly conversational style. Do not try to write in a formal and corporate style. Don’t use large words to try and impress your prospects with your vocabulary. Flowing, easy to understand language is way more effective in a good sales letter that sells. Write your sales letter using friendly and simple language as if you were talking to a good friend.
  3. Provide powerful benefits. Your sales letter needs to explain the benefits your potential customer will receive. Understand that everybody cares about one thing – WIIFM ‘What’s in it for me.’ This is essential. You must review the ‘WIIFM’ factor in your letter.
  4. Offer measurable proof why your product or service is better than the competition. Show quantifiable proof that your product is better than your competition. Your sales letter should state facts that you can prove, such as your widget lasts 2 times longer, costs 15% less, your company offers a 90-day 100% money-back guarantee while the competition offer no guarantee, plus your widget is guaranteed to last 2 years or we will replace it for free, while our competition only offers a 6-month replacement guarantee, etc.
  5. Use testimonials. Customer testimonials are proof that your products or services work. Testimonials are one of the most powerful marketing tools you can use, so take advantage of them and always use them in your sales letters. One effective testimonial is worth a hundred sales pitches. Let your clients shout it out loud.
  6. Call to action! To get your prospects to take action, your sales letter must ask your customer to take action and purchase by a specific date. Consider giving them a bonus for ordering by a specific date. For example, ‘Buy our widget by May 19 and get an instant 10% off’.  Use words like ‘order today’ or ‘call now’. Your prospects need to be led.
  7. Use a P.S. in your letter to reaffirm your most powerful benefit and sales offer in it. Most people will read a P.S. first before reading the letter, so ensure that your P.S. has a very strong sales message and a call to action.
  8. Use repetition. You will rarely have success with your sales letter campaign if you only send out one mailing. Each prospect on your contact list should be contacted a minimum of four times during a 12-month period.

P.S. – Now go and write a sales letter to your top 20 prospects. Happy writing!

John Lloyd is a business growth strategist, award-winning marketer, speaker, trainer, columnist and author of the book Smart Thinking for Crazy Times.     

Visit John at www.brandstorm.co.za and subscribe to his free newsletter.

Do you need a speaker who will educate and inspire at your next industry conference or a trusted advisor who will increase profits, multiply sales and magnify marketplace positioning?                                                      

Contact John today – john@brandstorm.co.za

How to Recruit Sales Superstars

Ask any recruiter about sourcing top-producing sales talent and you’ll often hear the same old story: “the real challenge is just finding qualified candidates to interview”. There are plenty of C-players out there, but finding A-plus players, the true sales superstars who consistently achieve their targets, month after month, is the key.

In today’s economy, in any economy, you can’t afford to lose sales because of mediocrity in your sales force. What you want from sales professionals is top-notch performance.

Every successful business needs sales superstars. I would like to share a few key ideas about recruiting sales rainmakers.

  1. Hire Slow – Fire Fast! Most companies do this the wrong way around and pay a terminal price for this folly. A sales champion will most likely present themselves expertly at a challenging interview.
  2. Good sales people are free. If a sales superstar delivers way more income than they cost, then think about the concept that these people are “working for free”. This mindset will eliminate the stupid comment that business owners and managers make when they say “we can’t afford him or her”.
  3. The paradox of point 2 is that poor sales people are expensive. Think about it!
  4. You don’t attract sales rainmakers with boring adverts. Get rid of the poor applicants by bluntly stating “if you don’t have a track record of achieving 500% over target then we are not the company for you”. Your adverts must declare that you want champion achievers or don’t waste your time.
  5. Always be recruiting. The moment you identify a sales champion, you must grab them.

Ten traits of sales champions:

  1.  Tenacious in the face of rejection
  2.  They are energetic, driven and self-motivated
  3.  Tireless prospectors
  4.  Outstanding networkers
  5.  They think like marketers
  6.  Curious about everything
  7.  Urgent in all communications
  8.  Outstanding presenters
  9.  Brilliant closers
  10.  Fanatical about follow through

Employ enough of these sales rainmakers and your business will fly. Employ average sales people and your business will stay average. The choice is yours!

John Lloyd is a business growth strategist, award-winning marketer, speaker, trainer, columnist and author of the book Smart Thinking for Crazy Times.     

Visit John at www.brandstorm.co.za and subscribe to his free newsletter.

Do you need a speaker who will educate and inspire at your next industry conference or a trusted advisor who will increase profits, multiply sales and magnify marketplace positioning?                                                      

Contact John today – john@brandstorm.co.za