There are tons of small business marketing companies out there. They can be small businesses themselves, or they can be as large as Google itself.
They all are more than eager to take on your business. Your point of contact with each of them is usually going to be through the sales department. It can be a real challenge to pick the right company to insure that you are getting the best bang for the buck.
Getting the most from a marketing agency
As mentioned before, you’ll be talking with a sales rep. It doesn’t matter if it’s the owner of the company, they are trained to overcome your concerns and get the sale. Their main weapon is your own words. It is ok to tell them some information about your business, but don’t tip your hand to far.
Do’s and don’ts of dealing with a salesperson
Do– Treat them nicely. Salesmen are eager to please, and if you can get THEM to drop their guard, you’ll often get a better deal. Think about it like when someone talks to the camera on T.V. Try and get them to talk about how work is going.
Do– Act like the budget is tight. Most good marketing companies will try and get you a program that works for your business. Make them work to get to the rate you are comfortable paying.
Don’t– Divulge to much. Don’t give them much personal information. This is a business transaction. You are not looking to make a friend. This person you are dealing with does this from 9-5 every day. They make lots of “friends”. It’s harder to tell a friend no.
Don’t– Automatically agree to meet face to face. It’s a lot easier to hang up the phone if you realize there’s no working relationship than it is to leave a meal before the check has been paid.
Think about who your ideal customer is
This is so critical. Who is the exact audience you are trying to reach.
Any good marketer should not just be telling you they will get you customers. They should be trying to figure out what type of customer is best for your business.
Online vs. local marketing companies
When you go to find a a marketing company for your small business, there will really be two different options. You are going to either deal with someone who has a local presence, or someone who you’ll have to deal with over the phone or computer.
Some people prefer to deal with someone in person, which is nice. But, it can also be harder to walk away from a deal when you don’t feel it is really helping your business a whole lot.
The nice thing about dealing with a larger company is that they should have examples with proven results of them helping a business that is exactly like yours. They should also have specialists that help them deal with every part of the sales process, including after the sale.
I work in advertising sales. I have for a long time. I talk with small to medium sized businesses. Many of them are just starting out and have little to no money to spend on advertising. While there is no such thing as a free lunch, there are quite a few things that you can do to get your name out and present a message. The internet has made this possible.
Keep your message consistent
You are going to be spending a lot of time on getting yourself listed on sites, as well as creating your own website. Before you go through all of that trouble you need to have a few pieces of information that you put wherever you go. It’s truly not enough to just put your name and number out there anymore.
Your message is going to give the customer a compelling reason to do business with you. You can spend all of the money that you want on marketing, but if someone comes across your information and they don’t have a reason to buy, they are going to move right along.
I remember hearing that it takes about eight visits to from the Google search results page to your site to generate one phone call. That means that on average seven out of eight people don’t like what they see. You don’t have a lot of money, so you’re going to make a robust website with plenty of information.
Before you spend one second filling anything out anywhere, you need to type up this information:
What are your hours of business? Do you take emergency calls? If so this is a plus and will often get you calls outside of normal business hours.
Do you have a physical address? If you do that’s great! When you claim things like listings on popular directories, they are often going to sort by distance from the customer. You want to be a part of that sort. So even if you don’t have an address, it may be wise to see if you have a friend with a P.O. Box number that they would let you use.
What type of services you offer? You should have a bullet point list of these services for directories. After you do that, you should write out exactly what you are offering with each service. For example:
What form of payment do you take for your services? You really need to be able to accept checks, cash, and credit cards. It is never really free to accept a credit card. You are going to have to pay a transaction fee to the vendor. You can get started with a company like Square. They will mail you a reader for free that works with your smartphone. They charge 2.75% of your transaction total. If you would like to explore this avenue further, here is there link: https://squareup.com/reader.
When were you founded?
Write out a mission statement. You want it to be something small and catchy. Example: “To provide Cook County with the most affordable carpet care, with respect to you and your property.” You would want this to be in the opening few sentences of anything you post online.
Take some photos, maybe even a video
Eventually, we are going to be claiming a bunch of online listings. Again, because I work in this space I know that half of the traffic on many of these websites go to the “organic” traffic. Since we aren’t spending any money this is great news for you. Having great looking photos is a surefire way to stand apart from your competition.
In order to maximize the usefulness of the photos that you take you’ll need to take a few things into consideration:
You don’t need to have a professional photographer, but you will need to make sure that they are plenty well lit. A smartphone camera’s Achilles heal is the ability to take a decent photo in the dark.
If you have a storefront, make sure that you take good quality photos of it both inside and outside. If you don’t have a storefront, than you are going to need pictures of a good looking vehicle with your logo on it. You could also use a photo of an employee on the job looking clean and professional.
Many sites won’t allow you to put a video directly on them, but you can make a quick video describing what you are all about onto youtube. You can than link to that video wherever you put up an ad.
You totally can make a decent website for free these days. The catch is usually that you have to register it with the domain name of the host in your URL. Let’s say we are Jared’s Plumbing.
You’d want the URL jaredsplumbing.com, but for free you are only getting jaredsplumbing.wix.com. Beggars can’t be choosers. And in this case a free site is better than no site. Wix is certainly better than nothing. Build it. Here is the link.
Here is the part where little money can go a long way. Having your own domain with a decent site is going to be a huge feather in your cap. People only want to deal with a business that they feel is legitimate. That’s why I say if you only have one dollar to spend, you spend it on a website.
With the price of hosting being as cheap as it is. It shouldn’t really cost you more than $100 to host a site for an entire year. You can register your domain for about $9 annually. You can uHere is a list of the cheapest ways to facilitate this.
Put content on the site
Today if you can edit a document in word, you can more than easily build a website for your business. In fact, if you don’t feel very confident at the thought of it here is what you do. Type up these pages in whatever word processor works for you, and find a tech savvy family member to write up the site for you. Buy them lunch, or give them $50 if you can spare it.
Before you write anything out, ask yourself who your audience is. Or, another way to put that is who is your ideal customer? Try and write in a way that is relatable to them.
Home– This page should cover who you are and what you do. It should cover the areas that you cover. Just write something like: “Proudly serving the entire Phoenix area.” You don’t need to cover every city. In fact, if you do it just sounds super spammy. You should have hours of operation, as well as your mission statement from earlier. If you have a physical address and want people to come to you, it’s important that you have a maps widget on your homepage. You want it to be as easy as possible for people to find you. Here is a link: https://maps–generator.com
Services– All of the different things that you sell to people in order to part them from their money. This is where you list it out with a description of what that is. A lot of businesses don’t like to list prices on their sites, but if you can it’ll only help you get more calls. Do you really love one kind of job, but think it’s obscure? Put it on there. Chances are it’s not mentioned in detail by your competition. It’s easier to rank for “antique copper plumbing repair” than “plumbing repair”. That’s called a long-tail keyword.
About– This should be a history of the business, as well as a bit about the owner, including how long he has been in business. If you are photogenic and look good in front of the camera, go ahead and shoot a video and throw it on Youtube. Here is a link to a video that explains to you how if you aren’t sure.
Also, you should really Google the phrase that people would type to find you, such as “plumbing contractors” and see what comes up. That’s your competition, and that’s who you are going to beat. It’ll take at least a year, but if you get onto that first page of results you are getting free advertising, really it’s the Holy Grail.
Market your website
I always tell people when trying to sell them advertising that having a website without advertising is like having a car without gas. That is true, but there are tons of freebies that we can go out and grab right now. You should claim all the major local business listings.
Be warned, when you do this you are going to get called to “verify” the listing on many of these sites. You need to stonewall the sales rep and tell them that you would just like the verification for now. Here is a list of really useful listings that can bring you business right now. As mentioned earlier, you are going to fill in every possible bit of information that you can. This will help you rank higher in organic searches.
Google– You are going to want to make sure you are seen in a few places. The first is Google Maps. Many people with a smartphone search for a local business by where they are in relation to that business on Google Maps. It’s great because the only thing you need to do to beat your competition is show up closer. You also want to claim your Google my business account. This will get you that righthand blue listing when people look you up. It looks great! Also, it points powerful backlinks back to your site, which increase your organic placement.
Yelp– This platform is fantastic if you have a restaurant or coffee shop. But, really it’ll benefit all types of businesses. They’ve recently made news for some review manipulation, but that doesn’t matter. We are beggars and not choosers. Lets claim that listing.
YP.com– YP.com gets a decent amount of traffic, and is in the top 5 online national directories (surprised?). It’s espescially effective for service and contractor types of businesses. The audience that uses the site is a bit older than Yelp, but I consider that to be a good thing. Head on over and claim your listing. Again, the more that you put into this thing the more you are going to get out. Make sure to upload pictures.
Yahoo Local– Yahoo Local is one of the most popular and well used directories. It can be difficult to get the free listing since the management of this service is now provided by a company called Yext. They specialize in “cleaning up” your business listings across the internet. It’s a huge waste of money. Here is a direct link for only the free listing:
BBB– The Better Business Bureau is an important and valuable place to get listed. It’s an incredibly trusted resource. Go ahead and claim your listing. Make sure you give them a good email, since most people who have a gripe with you will go to them.
It’s good to stay in front of any issue you may have. You’ll have to log into whatever local BBB page is relevant for your area. You should automatically get there when you click this link. You are than going to go to “for businesses” and take it from there.
Facebook– There are certain types of businesses that can really benefit from Facebook advertising. Once you set up a free business page there you can post what you do and your site to your friend. You can also go looking for jobs on local buy/sell/trade boards.
Craigslist– Look at the job boards and see if there is anything you can do. If you do a good job ask for a referral.
Local Chamber of Commerce– Look up your local chamber of commerce. Some of them cost to join, and some of them are free. If you are lucky enough to live in an area with a free chamber of commerce listing go out and get it. It provides you with an opportunity to get in front of more customers, and provides a powerful local backlink to your new website.
Lets get the phone to ring
Now that you have listed yourself on all of the top directories, and you have a website it’s time for to sit back and watch the jobs roll in. That’s not going to happen overnight, but you’ll be in a position to capitalize on anyone who may be interested in you. You’ll also start getting calls from people who found your information.
You must answer the phone every time it rings.
I can’t tell you how many people I have helped out who don’t answer the phone. Maybe they are on a job. Maybe they are busy. Leads are precious. If you can’t answer the phone, have it forwarded to your mothers house and let her do it for you.
If you take the time to do the steps you will get calls for free. You can live on it. But, I’d certainly recommend building up some cashflow and moving forward with a few paid campaigns. We’ll discuss that at a later time. You really can advertise your business for free. Good luck!!!
It’s very important to know the difference between a stall and objection. To put it simply, Objections are the real reasons people aren’t going to buy. Stalls are typically given to get you off of the phone.
What you need to do when you are presented with a stall is sidestep it so that you can move on to what is really holding up the sale. The easiest and most generic thing that you can say is:
“Besides (whatever stall they said) is there anything else keeping you from moving forward today?”
It is open ended and will often expose their real reason for not buying.
What a stall typically looks like
My favorite stall is send me the information. The only time this ends up being a task worthy of your time is when there is more than one decision maker involved, and even in that case you should still be trying to get them on the phone.
When you do get this stall is to ask what they are looking to see in the information. This will keep the conversation that they are trying to close opened, and provide you with what the reason for not buying is. They will often tell you that they want the information to show another person.
What you must ask at this point is if whoever they want to run it by signs off on the item, will they move forward with the order. If they say anything other than a yes you’ll next here their real objection. If they immediately say yes than you have an ally that’ll help you get in touch with the person that will help you get the order.
An objection can sound a lot like a stall
You’ll run across many common objections. They are usually stalls whenever the prospect does not fully understand exactly what they will be getting if they agree to go forward with the order. Anyone who is going to buy is going to take the time to listen to you and not rush you off of the phone.
So, if they tell you that it costs to much money (espescially if it hasn’t been discussed yet) than you need address that. Say: “compared to what?” They should mention a competitor. You can then tell them what differentiates yourself and how your product is better.
Make sure that you take your time qualifying your customer in order to eliminate a lot of stalls. Never let them rush you to the price or the close.
The best sales reps are comfortable in their skin, and with their product. They don’t just wait for their prospect to be quiet and blurt out a bunch of knowledge that they learned in training. They listen to what their prospect has to say, and they control the conversation from start to finish. You need to do this on every call.
When your customer stops talking wait about two seconds before you say anything.
You want to use the silence to control a conversation. Often, you’ll find that if you give a customer a few seconds of silence before opening your mouth to speak, they will often volunteer useful information as well as their buying motives.
Don’t Talk Past the Close
One of the most common issue that you will find a typical sales rep have is that they will talk past the close. They will ask for the sale and immediately launch back into the features and benefits of their product. THIS IS A HUGE MISTAKE. You are a closer. From now on, whenever you ask for the sale you shut up and let the person decide. A lot of people swear by the rule that whoever talks first LOSES. I have found this to be true for the most part.
The only thing that you can do after asking for the sale is introduce an objection, or make them feel like you just threw a price out. This makes people think that they’ve entered into a negotiation and you’ll often find yourself wrestling over price.
You are going to have to learn to enjoy the silence. You can make it a little less stressful by saying something like this:
“That’ll be $500 a month. I’ll be quiet while you decide to do it.”
Maybe saying something like I’ll be quiet while you decide to do it may come off as a little bit cocky, but this is sales. You need to act confident, and it’s a little assumptive as well. Do whatever you need to do to make sure that you aren’t a
Ask Open Ended Questions.
A good salesman learns to let the prospect do as much of the speaking as possible. A great salesman asks open ended questions. If you ask someone a yes or no question, you never can guarantee that they are going to answer it the way that you want it to go.
Selling from home certainly does sound nice, and a lot of people have a whole lot of success with that. But, it can be an incredibly challenging proposition for someone who is not organized. If you have an option between the two, will take a look at which one might be better for you.
Working from an office
Well, let’s get this one straight out of the way. It’s way easier to commute to your sofa or home desk then it is to drive all the way to work. Full disclosure, I happen to prefer working in an office environment, but it’s not an easy decision to make if you have the choice.
Benefits of working in an office
I remember reading some studies that said that a person is more creative in an office. This makes sense. And, specifically in sales, it can be very motivating to see your coworkers getting sales. You’ll start to feel left out and push yourself harder.
There’s also a sense of camaraderie that comes from working in close proximity to the rest of your sales team. Also, it can be very nice to be close to a human support staff if what you sell has a complicated fulfillment process.
Benefits of working from home
Certainly the number one benefit to working from home is that you’ll have significantly more free time before and after work. People who work from home are generally more productive. It’s easier to focus on one thing when there really aren’t a ton of distractions around you.
It can be challenging to get help when you need it though. People who work from home tend to rely on instant messaging services, conference calls (yuck), and email to communicate with their coworkers. This can prove to be more than just a little annoying. People who work from home find that they spend a significant portion of their daily time communicating with coworkers.
Which one is right for you?
If you are self disciplined working from home can be life changing. It can be nice to save the money on a vehicle. This can even allow a couple living together to survive on one vehicle.
Humans were not made to spend their days stuck in a cubicle. When it’s nice outside you can drag your laptop out and really get some work enjoying the bounty of God’s creation.
At the beginning of this page, I stated that I prefer to work in an office. Here’s why. I need to feel the energy coming from a sales floor. Also, I have two children under two. My wife and I have spoke about it, and we don’t think that it’d be possible to draw that line and keep the children away. It’s not fair to them. They wouldn’t understand. Only you can really know if selling from a home or office is better for you. I hope this helps you come to a decision.
Sales is like a high stakes dance that you have with your prospects. With any luck (and skill), this dance will lead you to a sale. As a top sales producer, one of the most annoying things that can happen is your prospect backs out after the close. We will be dividing this topic into to section and addressing each one in turn. The first will be on how to win your own customers back, and the second will be on how to win someone else’s customers back.
When you go into retention sales call, you need to be more delicate and gentle with the customer. They’ve heard whatever standard pitch that the previous rep had shilled. You need to differentiate yourself from everyone else who has called. What you need to do to truly succeed in retention sales is put on your customer service hat and politely ask why they cancelled. That’s it. Why did you cancel? It’s an open ended question if you get someone talking long enough they will tell you not only why they cancelled, but also reveal their buying motives.
The nice thing about a retention call is that you are not going to deal a whole lot with whether the cancelling customer is a good fit for the product or service. Usually you’ll find yourself jumping right into objections after hearing their cancel reasoning. Top sales reps do well in these situations, and will often find themselves closer to the close at the beginning of the call.
How to Win Your Own Customers Back
The business world is brutal. One of the best things you can do is slow or stop the loss of your own Customers. You’ve put in the work. You understand them and their needs, and you have a working relationship with them. With this in mind, you already have an advantage over your competition. Here are some typical situations, and what to do with them.d
The customer has moved on because they have found a better deal elsewhere- You’ll hear this all of the time. The good news here is that no matter what your client has been promised by your competition, they are still moving from you (a know quantity) to someone else (an unknown quantity). You must leverage fear of the unknown against your customers decision to jump ship. You should try telling.
Sometimes YOU are the problem. You can be the best sales representative in the world, but if you deal with enough people eventually something is going to go wrong. If you find yourself in this particular situation the best thing to do is own it. You have to own it even if it is not directly your fault.
The most common cause of this for inexperienced sales reps is when they don’t respond to a customers correspondence or voicemail in a timely fashion. What you need to do in this situation is let them know that you know that they have been calling and that you were on vacation or something of that ilk and tell them that you are committed to making it right. Usually they will forgive you.
They have been slighted by your company, but not you directly. This is a pretty common one. I have had someone making a low wage call behind one of my customers to initiate a product consultation, and they totally botch the sale up. They don’t think about introducing objections. They could say something along the lines of “well this product usually takes two months to work”. This plants the seed of doubt in your customers head. You must return their call or email promptly. Communication is everything.
You’ll need to explain to them that the person doesn’t understand the ins and outs of the program or package, and address the confusion. I’d say something like “I understand the confusion. When I spoke with you earlier we had discussed how we ramp the product up in order to do ad split testing. This ensures that you get the very best ROI.” If all else fails. Throw the company under the bus. If you do this, then the company is the bad cop and you are the good cop. A lot of retention is just sympathizing and siding with your customer.
Winning Another Representatives Customers Back
I love to call on another reps customers. You just need to go into it with the mindset of you are better than the previous rep who had called. The advice listed above is still totally accurate here. What you do not want to do though is throw the other rep under the bus if it can at all be helped. It never sounds professional. So, whatever you do don’t open with this: “why’d you cancel, was it a issue with your rep?”
In fact, it’s a good idea to never open by feeding a customer an objection. You’ll see a lot of reps open by doing this, espescially the price objection. “Did it cost to much money?” Please don’t do that. All you do when you open by mentioning the price is signal to the person on the other end of the line that you are able to offer a discount is ensuring that you aren’t going to increase their spend. You’ll be lucky to keep it the same.
Just keep an ear open. Try and solve whatever problems that the customer may have, and you’ll be on your way to retaining your customer base.
Of all the closing techniques, the one that I love the most is the A or B method. The principal behind it is that you give them two options, and neither of them is a no. It is very effective. It gets the person to way both options, instead of whether they wish to do it or not.
Make Sure that Either Option is to Your Benefit.
You really need to watch what you are offering for the second option. The way I like to do it is to reach for the stars with the higher offer, and make the “settle” offer exactly what you had originally.
“Most of my clients, such as yourself, come in here at this level.” “While some choose to go big straight away and go with this more aggressive option to corner their market.” “Which one works best for you?”
You really don’t want to find yourself giving a small sale that won’t benefit the customer as your back alternate option. Many people I will hear say: “Well at least I got a sale!” No, no, no. This is not the attitude that you should have. You need an expectant attitude of success on the phone, as well as in real life.
The A or B method of closing a sale is also highly effective because it is assumptive. You are not saying “if you decide to go with this product which option will you be taking?”. You are treating the fact that they are going to be doing business with you as a foregone conclusion.
How to Successfully Position the A or B Close
This works better when your relationship with the customer is consultative. If the customer feels like they are being sold the whole time than they are going to see right through this.
You don’t want the smaller option to feel cheap to the customer. And, more importantly, you don’t want the customer to feel like it doesn’t meet their needs. Instead you want the larger option to feel like it’s a more aggressive version of the smaller one.
Have you ever gotten to the end of a sales presentation and felt the awkward feeling when you ask for the sale? It just doesn’t feel very natural when you switch gears from presentation to the close. The best producers know that there is a much better way to close the sale, and that is to just assume the the sale.
Assuming the sale is one of the most important pieces of sales theory that you need to master. It’s a pretty easy concept to grasp. Instead of saying something in order of “may I have your business” you just assume that it’s a foregone conclusion. As long as you haven’t ignored obvious red flags, and you’ve qualified your lead, this technique works very well.
Many customers are ready to buy and aren’t going to have any objections. They are never going to be more ready to buy. The reason this is so effective is that it doesn’t allow the customer to have time to think about what’s going on. This closing technique works espescially well if you are a really assertive seller who has controlled the phone call up until this point.
So it works something like this. Instead of saying:
“Based on everything that we have discussed, I’m proposing that we do X for $154 a month.”
You would instead say:
“So what we will do is the $154 a month option. Give me a second to pull up these documents. All you have to do is sign them and we will be off to the races.”
Instead of being their salesman, you are their trusted consultant. It’s a much better way. There are many useful closing techniques out there. This is the first one that you really need to try and master. There really is not a whole lot to it.
While the best way to prospect for customers is to pick up a phone and get them on the line and engaged in the sales process, more and more people only want to communicate over email. Email has definitely become the primary method of business communication You need to be sending every customer that try and get ahold of an email. It should short and to the point. It should also give them some reason to compel them to get back in touch with you.
I personally don’t like to spend a lot of time crafting a case by case basis email for a customer. It takes forever, and they don’t get much of a better response than if you’d just sent them a well written template email. The template should be similar to what you’d say if you were leaving your prospect a voicemail.
Emailing a Prospect
If you are prospecting for a new customer from cold dead leads, or from scratch, email is a good way to let them know that you exist. In this case you are really just looking for buyers and most of your prospects are never going to look at your email anyway. A good rule of thumb is when you are reaching out to someone who you’ve never spoken with and isn’t expecting to hear from you. You should be using templates. Very few potential clients are worthy of a personalized email during the prospecting stage. It keeps you from getting your hands on more leads. Here is what a good template may look like:
This is Jay with RBC Holdings. I am the representative assigned to your account. We wanted to get in touch with you regarding your interest in XYZ. We have competitive prices in the industry for your TPS report filing, but it really is our customer service that sets us apart.
I would love to speak with you at a time that works for you. If I don’t hear from you I’ll call you next week. Have a great day.
That’s it. Get in and get out. Most prospects are not going to read a novel. You want to generate interest without getting to specific. You certainly don’t want to be hitting them with any sort of pricing or super specifics. You are the sales rep. You’re looking to get an appointment here. You can get specific then.
Please note that at the end of the email I mentioned that I would follow up with them again over the phone if I didn’t hear back from them. This is a great call to action that works. Just make sure that you follow through with it. I’ve left a prospect a voicemail and email, and followed up the next week. The potential customer is going to open the call in one of two ways:
They are going to give you a hard time for calling to much. This rarely happens, because if the customer was ducking you, they’d just keep ducking you and not pick up.
They are going to be apologetic for being so difficult to get ahold of. When I hear that apology I know that I’m speaking with a potential buyer already.
You’ll need to make a good template for you and your business. Make sure you hit these points.
Who you are and who you are with.
Why you are contacting them.
Something that sets you apart from the 20 other emails they have gotten from your competition.
Contact information: Don’t assume that everyone is smart enough to hit reply. Some people will need to write your email address down and write later. God as my witness I have seen this happen.
Thoughts on Email and Warm Leads
First let’s get this out of the way. By warm prospect I mean someone who has reached out and expressed some sort of interest in your product/service. Your company has than assigned this customer to you and you were unsuccessful getting them on the phone. You should always call a warm lead as long as it seems appropriate. Email may be the driving force behind much modern business, but the phone is still the way that deals get done.
I’m a big believer in looking for buyers. Many of the best sales we get are from people that were going to buy the whole time. Sending out the proper email will insure that you are maximizing your incoming warm buyers.