Value Propositions, Closing & Negotiation For Sales People

VALUE PROPOSITIONS

Once we understand the importance of asking the right questions we can start the process of finding out what our clients needs are.

This is when we – offer them a solution (benefit that they will gain through purchasing our product or using our service over that of our competitors to ease their pain.

 

Value Propositions are:

 

A clear statement of the tangible business outcomes that a customer gets from using your product, service or solutions.

 

The very best value propositions are customer-centric and include numbers that talk to your customer’s business.  A good value proposition has three elements: business driver; change; metrics.

 

"Outsourcing IT infrastructure (business driver) can reduce costs (change) by 20% (metric)”.

 

x      Value propositions are expressed in numbers

x     What’s the client’s time expectation?

x      No guessing and no assumption

x      Value propositions use the client’s numbers not yours

x      A strong client value proposition should include as many as possible of:

 

Increased profitability, Increased revenues, Improved cash flow, Reduced costs – this can include costs reduced or eliminated and costs avoided

        Other qualitative benefits – increase in customer satisfaction, market share.

        Return on investment should be the summary of your value proposition

        A strong value proposition enables you to hold pricing better

 

Value propositions are expressed in numbers

 

A good value proposition will be able to project actual numbers that will result when the client follows the course of action you’re proposing. 

The whole point of the questioning phase of your sales campaign is to dig down into the client’s business to understand what’s going on in their organisation and the financial impacts resulting.

As you question, you’re looking for things you can measure.  They can be a host of things – but the most common by far are profitability, revenues and costs.  When you’ve found your problem, you need to understand what the metrics are now and what the client thinks they could be if the problem you’re talking about were to be resolved.

The second stage is as important as the first.  You need the client’s view of “What is it now” and if the problem were to be solved, “What could it be?”

 

What’s the client’s time span?

 

An important dimension of this is to gain an understanding of the client’s time frame.  Do they think in terms of this year, a three year plan, or something else?

The reason for this is you need to be able to state your value proposition over a time frame that’s meaningful to them.  If you talk about value over five years and their furthest horizon is three years, you’ve a problem.

As you work through your notes from your client meeting and start building what your value proposition might look like, it’s almost certain you’ll find gaps in your knowledge. When that happens, it’s very tempting to make some assumptions or even to guess at what the missing data might be. The moment you do that, you’ve destroyed the credibility of your value proposition.  The far better approach is to pick up the phone to the client and ask.  Assuming you’ve had a reasonable meeting that got you to some figures, why wouldn’t they want to help you make the financial arguments better and more robust?

 

Value propositions use the client’s numbers not yours

 

As you are originally gathering your data with your client, be sure to summarise it and get the client’s agreement at the time.  Then when you send an email summarising the meeting, include whatever metrics you discussed and agreed. This is critical.  You need the client to recognise their numbers in the value proposition you ultimately present.  If they feel you’ve made the numbers up, it’s your value proposition and it’s worthless.  If they feel the numbers are theirs, then it becomes their value proposition and that’s a good place to be.

The final part of your value proposition should join up the financial benefits you have identified with the investment required to purchase your solution to show the return on investment.

Taken as a whole, your value proposition becomes the financial summary of the customer’s problem, the benefits they agree they’ll get, the investment required to solve the problem and the return they’ll get by doing so.

That summary is of course perfect for the executive summary in your sales proposal or presentation.

 

A strong value proposition enables you to hold pricing better

 

A strong value proposition the client agrees with is probably the strongest tool you can have to win more sales.

But there’s a very important secondary benefit.  Every significant sale will go through a phase when the client will want to negotiate the price.  If you enter this phase of the sale with a totally compelling value proposition, the pressure to discount is usually significantly reduced.

 

CLOSING

 

After the value proposition we have to ask for the business.

 

‘If you do decide to award the contract to (our company) how long would it take to get all the approvals and the signatures on the contract?’

 

 or


’If you do award the contract to us, when would you notify the existing company?’

 

Yes Staircase:

 

‘So if we can reduce your ……….. in …………….. which is currently at a cost of this………………. With the product/service I have described to you then you will be happy to move forward/go ahead with a purchase?’

 

Buying close:

 

‘So what would be the next step in your buying process to move closer to a decision being made on the installation of the ……………………?’

 

Summary Close :

 

‘So if you take this and this you also get the free warranty I talked about and in service training. , That comes to €710 please. How would you like to pay?’

 

Assumptive Close:

 

‘Ten boxes or twenty?’

‘Tuesday or Thursday delivery?’

 

Negotiation

 

1. Find compromises that are reasonable and commercially acceptable

2. Develop outcomes that increase value for both the customer and you

3. Apply a negotiation process built on collaboration and trust

 

Bottom Line

Every € $ or £ goes straight to the bottom line

 

Bargaining

Recognise bargaining means you’re in a good place

Just because someone is bargaining does not mean you have to give.

They ask for something then you ask for something in return

To negotiate with something, it has to have value to the buyer

‘Great quality’ or ‘Amazing service’ are abstract and have no value

 

Your challenge :

 

Make the pie bigger

Bring more factors to the discussion beyond price

Convenience, speed, and many other factors can have value

 

Solution Value & Risk

Look for mismatches between cost and value

Think about risks

 

What Else Has Value?

Look for low cost to you but high value to the customer

 

Listen

Don’t assume knowledge on their part

Deal with the easy points first

No might mean not now

Continue to peel the onion even in the negotiation stage to understand No or not now and the reasons behind it.

 

 

 

 

 

Daxi Business Awards - January 28th 2015.

Celebrating the success of businesses, charities and individuals in Eastern Cyprus. Over 800 people attended this event! Next Awards scheduled for January 2017.

Daxi Business Awards - January 28th 2015

 

Eastern Cyprus Daxi Business Awards 2014

Video Above - Highlights Video from The 2012 Daxi Business Awards.

 

The Daxi Business Awards were founded in 2011 as a way of giving recognition to small to medium size businesses originally in the Famagusta region.

 

After two successful awards events, the scheme has now been extended to include businesses from the Larnaca region also, bringing together the people & businesses of the Eastern Cyprus community. This promises to be the biggest Awards event ever seen in Cyprus!

 

Initially the public will have the opportunity to nominate businesses for various categories who they feel are worthy of recognition in relation to each award criteria. Any legitimate business within Eastern Cyprus can be nominated whether they have many staff or are a ‘one man band’. Businesses DO NOT have to be Daxi advertisers or have any business relationship with a panel member to be eligible for nomination, this is purely the choice of the general public.

 

A panel of experts will then research all nominated companies in relation to their various award categories & each business will have a one to one interview on their premises with a member of the Business Awards Panel.

 

Panel members are selected for their knowledge experience & expertise in dealing with a large variety of businesses in various fields. Where possible panel members will interview businesses they have little or no knowledge of to give an impartial view on each business & their eligibility for the award. This years panel will be announced over the coming weeks.

 

The panel will meet after all interviews & research has been carried out to discuss each award category, the nominees & the results & findings. The panel will then debate each award until a unanimous decision is made in relation to the winner of each category. All category winners will receive a hand made Award & a framed certificate. Business Of The year will receive over €3,000 worth of business prizes including €2,000 advertising in Daxi Magazine, €700 cash & 1 Years Gold advertising membership on Cyprus Eastern Forum. The winner of the Outstanding Contribution To The Community Award will receive a €500 donation towards their charity or organisation from Daxi Magazine.

 

The winners are then a closely guarded secret of the panel until the awards evening itself. This year the Eastern Cyprus Daxi Business Awards will be held on 31st January 2015 at The Zappion Palace in Paralimni. A bus service will be arranged for those traveling from the Larnaca area.

 

Nominated businesses along with groups, associations & members of the general public are able to purchase tickets & join in with this prestigious event, designed to bring a community together in celebration of the businesses & non profit organisations within the Eastern Cyprus region.

 

This years categories are as follows:

 

Best Newcomer - For businesses aged 12 - 24 months at the time of nomination.

Innovation - For businesses demonstrating innovation in their products &/or services

Outstanding Customer Service - For those businesses that have gone over & above for their customers.

Outstanding Achievement - For businesses 24 months old or over who have demonstrated Outstanding Achievement.

Employer Of The Year - Ideally nominated by their employees for demonstrating outstanding commitment to training, working conditions & rewards & recognition structure towards their employees.

Lifetime Achievement Award - For companies established 20 Years or more.

Investment In People Award - For companies who demonstrate exceptional investment in the progress, training development & rewarding & recognition of people.

Commitment To Tourism - For active businesses that promote and serve the tourism industry in Eastern Cyprus.

Heart Of Gold Award - This award is unrelated to business. This will be someone who gives selflessly to others for no personal gain or gratification & who will most probably be unaware of the magnitude of their contribution.

 

Each award will be sponsored by one specific company... Sponsors will be announced very soon! There are still 4 sponsorship places left. If you are a business owner & wish to be considered for sponsorship please contact Natalie on : 99019608.

 

There will be two other awards both sponsored by Daxi Magazine:

 

The Peoples Choice Award/Outstanding Contribution To The Community - Public vote award for charities/non profit organisations only.

Business Of The Year 2014 - Overall winning business 2014

 

Instructions on how to nominate (or vote in the case of the charity award) will be detailed in the September Daxi Magazine as well as on our website www.daximagazine.com & on various other websites from mid August, ready for nominations categories to open on 1st September .

 

Tickets will also go on sale on 1st September although companies, groups or organisations can pre-book tables (12 people per table) by calling: 99019608 or e-mailing: info@daximagazine.com.

 

 

Tickets are €35 & include:

 

Banquet Dinner

Unlimited local beers & wines as well as soft drinks, coffee, tea & water. (Spirits can be purchased separately at the bar)

Awards Ceremony

Live Entertainment with Chris Andre

Disco with DJ John Lime

 

The dress code is STRICTLY FORMAL.

NO JEANS, TRAINERS OR TEE SHIRTS.

Gentlemen: Shirt, tie & Trousers or a suit or tuxedo.

Ladies: Evening or cocktail dresses.

 

A professional video & photographs from the night will be available for purchase after the event.

 

Whats My Price?

What’s My Price?



The price of your product should be determined by several factors:

Do your market research. Check out other companies in person or research online to see the current price point of products/services. Ask existing customers about products & pricing by using surveys, customer feedback forms etc.

 
Perceived value:

 
Is this a product easily accessible everywhere – if so pricing must allow you to still make a reasonable margin when marketing the product at a price similar to other places stocking the same thing. But your perceived value may be higher. For example: If a lotion is sold in a 5* spa it may be perceived by the consumer to be of higher value than the very same product sold on a supermarket shelf. If it is a service, maybe your after service or technical support for example is far superior so therefore the ‘value’ to the customer is greater. As a business owner or sales person it is our job to show the ‘value’ of the product or service to our client. Fashion is a good example if suddenly an item becomes a ‘must have’ because it is seen being worn be a celebrity then the price rockets.

 Costs

 
Your price is also determined by your costs: rent, wages, production, petrol, packaging, cost of production, marketing etc. More production means buying or producing more volume, which brings costs down. The more a customer buys the more discount he should attract so if you buy & sell products in business you should work with your supplier on an 'economy of scale' discount system.

 
Alignment


 
Anybody buying anything needs to perceive the price they pay is in line with the value they will obtain.  Maybe that’s not a conscious decision but it’s always there. If the price is greater than their perception of value, it’s too high. Notice: ‘their perception of value’ , not yours. Simplistically you have to align your price with the value your customer thinks they will obtain.
 
Establish the value

 
Very often you can’t control the price, but you can control the value. That makes the challenge to ensure your customer or client appreciates exactly how your product, service or solution fits their situation.

You get there by understanding the impacts your solution will deliver & working with your client to establish the financial benefits they will enjoy.

It’s then a fairly straightforward step to building a return on investment (ROI) case with your client & the value is proved.

 Economics

 
The problem is people get hooked up on the ‘price’. In my experience stating the price alone frequently results in the ‘way too expensive’ response.  The secret is to express the price in the context of its ‘Return on Investment’ & not allow the two to become separated. Shift your thinking from ‘presenting the pricing’ to ‘presenting the economics’.

For example: A product with a five year parts & labour guarantee commands a much higher ‘perceived value’. In other words, people expect to pay more initially for the ‘value of’ not having to pay out several times in years to come if the product breaks down. ‘You Pay For What You Get’.

The same goes the other way round when we ourselves become the customer. As businesses we all use services & no matter how ‘cheap’ a service appears to be, whether it be your accountant, solicitor ,advertising or staff, if that service does not meet a high standard in bringing results or adding to efficiency or saving you money then you have still wasted money & time & will still not have received the service or the benefits from the service you required. You may therefore conclude it is better to spend more initially for a service that is clearly superior & get a better, more professional service sooner.‘Speculate to accumulate’.




 

Whats My Price?
 

 

You can find articles like this in www.daximagazine.com

 

Business Services


The saying goes...’Your business is only as professional as the people & services you employ’.
What this means to most business owners is that choosing the right service providers for your business is key to it’s success. Unless you have a very large company that has a vast number of people working for it with departments for every area of your business you will need to source the skills & ‘know how’ of a professional in certain areas:


Accountancy
A good accountant is worth their weight in gold when it comes to the finite detail of tax & VAT systems, especially here in Cyprus where most legal accounting forms are written in Greek. A good accountant can do everything from compiling your accounts, calculating & submitting your social insurance & VAT to auditing & producing final accounts for submission to the tax office. They can also give you good advice on how to legally save money & minimise overheads.

Legal Services
Most businesses operating in Cyprus require a license of some sort. In the hospitality industry particularly there are various licences & due diligence to consider. A goo Lawyer will ensure that you are covered legally with all the appropriate legal requirements to professionally & legally run your business in it’s specific market.

Marketing
Employing the services of a good design & marketing company will help you create a professional identity & brand for your product or service. Your designer should also be able to provide you with ideas & marketing techniques to attract more potential customers/clients.

Technology
In this day & age it is expected that every serious, professional company will have a website which provides an insight into the products & services on offer. A good web designer can work with your existing brand to create a tailor made website which best promotes & reflects your company & its products & services.
In addition hosting social media sites & actively promoting your business using the internet is of great importance as is the right accounting & data management systems.

Training & Product Knowledge
A good company should know its products & services well. If your company has a large product range usually suppliers are happy to come in & train & educate your staff as to the products they supply & their features & benefits. Having good product knowledge is essential to generate repeat sales with customers. In addition many companies do not train their staff in core areas like sales, customer service or team management, they expect the people who work for them to ‘know’ how to represent the company in these areas. Leaving employee skills to chance based on reluctance to invest in training or based on employees previous jobs or experience is a risky business that could easily backfire. Remember your front line people (the people who have direct contact with the customer) give the first impression of your business. Employing an experienced, proven training company to teach core skills made bespoke to your business environment is one of the best investments you could ever make.

In Summary
The most important thing to consider is that you should remain focussed on what you are good at & the skills you bring to your product or service & let these experts focus on the things that they are best at. Together, with the right people in place you can have a winning combination which will have a dramatic & positive impact on your business.
 

Customer Service Workshop - Cyprus Business Network

On 19th February, Inspire facilitated a Customer Service workshop for around 30 members of The Cyprus Business Network - Famagusta. There was some very positive feedback including:

 

Natalie
 
Just a note to say what a good job you did last night with the presentation.
 
It is an area that a lot of people fall down on - me included - so it is very good to get a kick up the backside as a reminder.
 
Well done.
 
See you soon
 
Kind regards
 
Chris Parry
Consultant

3D Global

 

Excercise - The art of effective communication.

Members worked in groups to identify the importance of different areas of Customer Service.

 

The Importance of Keeping a Positive Attitude in Business

How can you develop & keep a positive outlook about your future amidst the overwhelming tide of negativity that's flooding our island? It's a daunting challenge when you look around & all you see is the troubled economy, high unemployment, & the forecast of slow growth.

Well, I believe it's entirely possible to have a realistic, yet optimistic picture of your future. If you make a conscious choice to develop & keep a positive attitude, you can accelerate yourself on the highway to true success no matter what circumstances you face.

Tips On Developing And Keeping A Positive Attitude That Leads To Success:

1. Recognise that forming a positive attitude is the cornerstone for building success. Without developing & keeping a positive attitude it will be very difficult to construct any resolve to obtain consistent & long-lasting success.
Abraham Lincoln said, "Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other." Surely he knew a thing or two about staying positive in discouraging circumstances.


2. Understand that your attitude is shaped by the thoughts, ideas, & opinions you allow into your thought process. You create your own reality! You must choose to become very selective in what you listen to, watch, & read.


3. Believe that you can change your attitude by choosing to look forward, be positive & look at all of the opportunities that could be available to you.


4. Take action towards developing a positive attitude.


5. Become accountable to someone who can support you in taking action in developing & keeping a positive attitude. Ask them to ‘keep you honest’ in your pursuit of making positive changes.

Take a moment out of your schedule today to think about your attitude. Could it use an injection of positivity? Could you do with a ‘Check up from the neck up’?
In my own personal experience, things out of our control happen to all of us in business at some time or other but it is not what happens to us it is how we react to what happens to us that makes the difference.

Seek out positive people, refuse to be drawn in to negative conversations, don’t be against recession be pro boom. Little adjustments to our attitude can make all the difference. I tend to visualise the outcomes I want to see in my business, a method used by professional athletes all the time in training.

Remember... ‘What the mind can conceive man can achieve’ or in more simple terms.. ‘What you think about.. You bring about’

I recommend you read the book or watch the video ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne to help you on your way.

Tips To Recession Proof Your Small Business

If you are tired of hearing about the recession or the potential for many small businesses to fail as a result, then think again, there are ways to prepare & protect your business from the many pitfalls:

1) Keep marketing. Do not be tempted to cut or eliminate marketing activities. This is no time to cut back on marketing. If you can’t afford a full-blown marketing campaign, pursue low-cost options such as social media marketing, webinars, news releases, e-mail blasts, blogging, online newsletters or small local advertising. Be sure to keep your marketing activities going at least six months so that you can track your rate of return.

2) Develop 30-day sales goals. Do not focus on sales activities beyond 30 days. You should break down how many sales you need to close each month to meet your revenue goals.  Determine how many meetings, calls, emails & blog posts you need to have, make, send or write to generate your target sales. You must keep the sales engine rolling in your business. You should be doing at least 60 minutes of sales cultivation activities per day.

3) Cut expenses & track cash carefully. It is extremely important for you to understand your monthly burn rate & your cash position.  Determine where you can cut costs & make sure on a weekly basis that you understand what money is coming in. As you cut costs use this formula, for every €2 you utilise in business expenses, invest €1 into your marketing efforts.

4) Collect payment up front or immediately after the job/project is complete. The days of waiting 30-45 days for payments are over. You need your money now. Once a client gets to 7 days past due, get on the phone & track down the accounts payable manager for an update. Be sure you are set up to take credit cards, you may get paid a lot faster.

5) Under Promise & Over Deliver.  Excellent customer service is the number one way to beat the recession. If you do a great job & your customers love working with you, your customers will become an unpaid sales force for your business. Do great work, be highly responsive, make follow-up calls, send thank you cards, throw in little extras all that shows you care. It’s also the best way to encourage your customers to refer you to more business. Be known for delivering great products & services.

6) In a recession even some of the most highly qualified or experienced people can be looking for work. Look to out source people/companies who you can pay to do work for you on a monthly basis or who are paid on results only. You will not be tied to contracts of employment or long notice periods & may often find by looking further afield that you can cut costs whilst finding a person or a company who can do the job as well or better than the system you had in place prior

7) Pay Your Suppliers & Your staff First - Word soon gets around if you don't pay your main suppliers & staff. This can kill a businesses reputation & word will spread quickly. People who think a business is in trouble will steer well clear.

8) Network, network, network online & offline. People do business with people they like, know & trust. You need to make sure people know who you are, what you do & how to do business with you. You want to be the first person on someone’s mind when an opportunity presents itself.  One of the best ways to achieve this is by using social media. You can network online without being considered spam. Use Twitter & Facebook Fan Pages to give out helpful advice. Consider updating your LinkedIn profile regularly with updates on your business &/or any signature content such as blog posts.  When you meet a new contact, online or in person think solutions for them first. Successful networking is all about give to get.
 

Purchasing A Business

Purchasing A Business - NDA. (Non Disclosure Agreement)

There are some steps in the business for sale process that benefit both the seller and you, the buyer. These steps protect the seller from “time-wasting” buyers, & the buyer from acquiring ‘lemons’. One of the most important questions when buying a business is “Can I see your financial statements?” Numbers provide vital information to help you decide if you should buy a business. Even if a seller has placed the business on the market, he or she remains reluctant to share highly confidential & sensitive records to any potential buyer. If the seller thinks you are a credible prospective buyer, he or she will let you sign a business non-disclosure agreement before the company’s proprietary information will be opened to you.

What is a Non Disclosure Agreement?
This is a standard legal agreement presented by the seller to the buyer to protect the former’s business if a potential sales deal falls through. This agreement gives both parties room for an open & honest atmosphere that may lead to a successful transfer of ownership of the business. The NDA is solely for the purpose of selling & buying a business, respectively.

The potential buyer cannot talk about the business to anyone, except to the parties included in the NDA, use gathered information, steal customers & employees of the business, nor use the information for commercial advantage. The seller can control the flow of information & protect its confidentiality.

What are the Benefits of a NDA to the Seller?
The seller avoids sharing operating & financial data with any potential buyer. Without a NDA, anyone, particularly a competitor, may use the information such as pricing, strategies & projections, employees’ data, etc. to his or her benefit. The seller does not want private business information to fall into the hands of those who may cause damage to the company.
With some level of comfort, the seller, after ascertaining that you have the financial capability to make the purchase, will show you the records after you sign the business confidentiality agreement. If, for some reason, you violated this agreement, the seller is entitled to relief, claims & damages for lost profit & harm incurred by the business.

What are the Benefits of a NDA to the Buyer?
By signing the NDA, you can study the business – review what has happened to the business, why it happened & what the future holds for it. Through the financial & company records, you can make a realistic assessment of the strengths & weaknesses of the business in both quantitative & qualitative terms. You can also determine if the seller’s asking price for the business is reasonable.
If you feel that the seller is not forthright in supplying the information you need, you may terminate efforts to buy the business or move forward at your own risk. The seller may be hiding information that should ring warning bells about the viability of the business.

What is included in the Business NDA?

The name, nature & location of the business.
How long the NDA will be in effect – usually several years.
The parties to the agreement – aside from the buyer, the advisers – the business appraiser, accountant, lawyer or consultant – are usually parties to this agreement although typically only the buyer signs the agreement.


What information should not be disclosed in the document – trade secrets; business strategies & plans; contact information of employees, customers & suppliers; financial statements; cash flow records; contracts & agreements with employees, creditors, financial institutions, & suppliers; liabilities; & other important data.


Where & when the information will be supplied or where due diligence will be conducted.

The schedule & venue, usually for a number of weeks in the seller’s business office, should be specified. All documents usually stay in the seller’s office, & neither you nor your advisers can take these documents with you.

The NDA is a legally binding contract between the seller & the potential buyer. The buyer who refuses to sign the NDA is considered a difficult or non-serious purchaser. It is best for the seller to avoid these “buyers”. In the same vain, the seller has to be forthcoming. Not providing information may result in failure to sell the business. If you are serious about buying a business, you need be ready to sign a NDA.

Training

Many business owners do not understand the value of training & the impact it can have on their business.
Through training you can give both yourself & your employees new skills whether that be for a Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Manufacturing, Technical, Financial, Administrative, Logistical or Management Role.
Training builds a stronger competitive edge for your company, by increasing your teams skills the rewards will lead to an improved bottom line & better customer experiences.

Statistics show that organisations who make investments in training people typically have lower employee turnover, this is associated with higher customer satisfaction & in turn is a driver of profitability. A second driver is Manager proficiency, good Managers determine if people stay or go, this is also influenced by training & development.
In fact employee/business owner education & training is one of the most significant predictors of a company’s success in today’s business climate.

What Type Of Training?

Identify areas in which your business could improve. Do you need more sales, a better product or to improve logistics or customer service? Maybe your technology, branding, due diligence or cash flow are letting you down. Once you have identified areas in which you can improve.. you are half way there.
Regardless of what type of training you are looking to invest in for yourself or your team, it is important to find a recommended training company or body that delivers professional, tailor made training for your specific business needs using a variety of methods such as:

Worksheets
Group Discussion
Video/Audio
Role Play
On The Job Training

Using a variety of methods & resources ensures maximum learning potential as different people take on different information in different ways.
Check out a training company before making a decision. Ask for testimonials from other businesses local to you relating to their personal experience of receiving training from this company. What impact did it have on their business?

Isn’t Training Just For Big Companies?

This is a widely believed myth of small business owners. If you can see something you would like to improve in your business, then training can help you. If you are a ‘one man band’ then identify your own personal strengths & weaknesses, be honest with yourself & then invest in yourself.
If you have people who work with/for you, they will be delighted to know you think enough of them to invest in them personally, not just for the benefit of your own business but also the long term benefits to them personally. Remember, you are never the finished article until you draw your last breath!

But I can’t Justify Spending Money On Something I Cannot Quantify!

If you could gain 20 more customers per year, for example, what would that be worth to your company & more importantly your bottom line? Of course every customer would probably spend differently but all of those new customers would certainly increase revenue. This is the sort of impact training in sales & marketing can have on your business for example. Sometimes we are not gaining new customers, not because of a poor product or service but because we do not have the skills or in some cases the confidence to get our message out there. What if by making a small investment in training we could change all that & bring in those badly needed customers who once they saw our fantastic product & service would be with us over many years bringing in repeat revenue throughout that time? How much is that worth? Or to put it another way.. How much potential revenue are you losing through not having these skills in place?

What Benefits Will Investing In Training Give My Business?

Remember that training is not a ‘one off’ thing. It is important to refresh on training at least once a year to keep your focus & be aware of changes to specific areas of business. If you implement consistent, professional training you & your employees:

*     Will be more productive, confident, efficient & committed to the business & workplace.
*     Will show increased motivation toward skills development, giving improved customer service &    achieving measurable results.
*     Will have better awareness of career pathways/business development & opportunities for improvement.
 

Goal Setting

Have you ever wondered why some people in business seem to be achieving so much at a rapid pace while you feel stagnant & are only just making ends meet?

Ok, so it could be because the company has good financial backing or was already well established etc OR it could be that the company in question & more specifically the people in the company have set goals that they are working towards.

A goal is not something created by David Beckham’s right foot or left foot for that matter although the theory is the same. If there is something you want to achieve in your business or personal life, setting goals & making a plan to work towards those goals is what will set you apart from the rest & help you measure progress towards personal & business growth & achievement.


If you are an employer, it is also a good idea to encourage your staff to set goals & help them monitor their progress. In corporate business this is usually done through targets or K.P.I.’s (Key Performance Indicators) which are usually reviewed on a monthly basis & in staff appraisals which usually occur once every three months.

How Do I Set Goals?

The best method for setting goals is to write them down, committing things to paper helps the brain absorb the information. I usually set my personal & business goals on New Years Day every year. Some people do this with New Years Resolutions which are all too often forgotten or broken early on in the year however, if you are serious about moving your business forward & you break down the activity required into bite size chunks then anything is achievable.

Lets look at some  examples of goals you might set:

Goal: To expand into new premises by the third quarter of the year.
Goal: To introduce three new products by July 2013.
Goal: To gain 3 new annual contracts by the end of 2013.
Goal: To increase annual turnover by 10% during 2013.

Get Specific.

Goal: To gain an additional 48 customers this year.

Now lets break that number down. 48 customers divided by 12 months = 4 new customers per month OR one new customer a week. Now that feels more achievable already!

So how are we going to achieve that? What methods can be put in place to attract more customers?
It may be as simple as advertising every month in a local magazine, paper or on the local radio, depending on your budget. Or you may start an e-mail or Facebook campaign targeting new customers or maybe a new product range or service. In relation to your type of business you will have to determine the best way to monitor your progress. You will also need to ask people how they found out about you, whatever is working... do more of that!

Don’t be disheartened if some weeks you don’t get any new customers, if you continue to monitor your progress & continue to actively do things to make the goal achievable, over a period of time the numbers will balance out.

The most important thing about setting Goals is to make them S.M.A.R.T.

Specific - 48 New customers
Measurable- Use a chart or just an exercise book to chart your progress on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
Achievable/Aggressive - Make sure the goal is credible or believable. Making a million Euros in three months is highly unlikely unless you win the lottery but at the same time make the goal push you, one new customer this year is not exactly a challenge!
Relative - Make your goal relative to your type of business & what you want to achieve. There is no point in targeting new Russian customers for example if you are selling Union Jacks!
Timed: Set a time frame to achieve your goal, in this example we have given a 12 month period.

Stand Out From The Crowd



So there is more than one business locally providing the same product or service as you? This should come as no surprise, in fact competition is good. Competition pushes you forward & generally prevents you from becoming stagnant in your field.
The best way to overcome competition is to stand out from the crowd. There are many ways to do whilst remaining professional & proactive, here are a few:

Features & Benefits

Understanding your product or service & it’s features & benefits is one of the keys to successful sales.

A Feature: Is a special or important part of your product or service.
A Benefit: Is a way in which that feature can benefit your customer, gives advantage, improves quality or helps in some way.

When talking to customers or clients using features & benefits can greatly improve the appeal of your product or service & in many cases give you a  point of difference to your competitors.

Lets look at an example:

Feature: This product comes with a two year parts & labour warranty.
Benefit: The customer has peace of mind over the coming two years in the knowledge that they will not incur any extra costs in relation to this product should a problem occur.

Make a list of your company service or product features & the benefits to your customers. Each sentence should read:
The feature of this product or service is......... & the benefit to our customer is................................
You may have some of the same features & benefits as your competitors but do your competitors know their own, do they explain them to the customer? This alone can make all the difference.

Be Proactive NOT Reactive

One of the great things about being in a competitive market is the need to continually think of new ideas, products or services to continue to develop your company brand. Don’t focus on what your competitors are doing too much. Whilst it is important to have awareness of what is happening in the market place, too much time reacting to your competitors activity is negative wasted energy. Try to think of new ideas that have not been done yet, new ways in which you can stand out from the crowd. Get your positive, creative energy flowing & remember why you started in this business in the first place. If your competitors are way ahead of you or you are losing a lot of business to them.... look in the mirror, find out what people are getting from them that they are not getting from you & ultimately improve your product or service until you are giving your customers what they want.
The same applies to your pricing strategy. Don’t be greedy & price yourself out of the market but at the same time don’t create huge, rash discounts out of panic through low trade. All this will demonstrate to your customers is that you are desperate, which is never a good thing in business. By all means do deals or structured discounts but base them on customer loyalty & get something from your customer with every extra you give so that you both benefit.

Remain Professional At All Times

Do not talk negatively about your competition to/with your customers, regardless of how they or your competitors may conduct themselves. This will not serve you, it will only demonstrate that you are unprofessional & may deter the customer from doing business with you in the future regardless of if your product or services exceeds that of your competitor.

Never make promises you cannot keep. If you cannot forfill the customers need, then tell them this, they will have a lot more respect for you than if you lie & then don’t deliver on your promise. If you say you will be somewhere at a certain time, or you will do something for a certain customer make sure you keep your word. People buy from people first & foremost.

Finally.....

Remember, you started in this business because you saw a gap in the market or an opportunity that other people in the industry maybe could not see. It is always a challenge running your own business but be true to yourself, your product or service & your vision. Forget what the competition are doing, what did you come here to do?
 

Working From Home

There are many advantages & disadvantages to working from home. Some people are more disciplined than others & find it easy to conduct a fully professional business from their home, but with every positive aspect of this flexible working environment comes challenges that need to be addressed if its going to work for you.

So you get up, start the day with a coffee & disciplined you goes straight up to the office to errrr... Check your Facebook! Okay so a quick glance at Facebook & your off working solid all day between, coffee breaks, breaks to allow time to put the washing in, walk the dogs, phone your mum, play solitaire & check all those other important Social networks. Before you know it you have been in your home office for eight hours & aside from a couple of e-mails & one half finished letter or proposal your only other achievement for the day is the highest score on Facebook Bingo! If you are laughing at this it is probably because some of it rings true.. We are all guilty of being sidetracked at times.

Advantages Of Working From Home

Saves on overhead costs, as you do not need premises
Avoids becoming tied into long tenancy agreements
You can arrange work around family commitments
Saves on time & money spent traveling to work
Avoids the noise & distractions of the workplace
Flexible dress code when non customer facing
No work rules relating to break times, smoking, eating or listening to music whilst working etc.

Disadvantages Of Working From Home

Separating home & work life
The initial expense of setting up
Domestic distractions & interruptions
Isolation/loneliness
Lack of work discipline

Work From Home Effectively

Try to allocate specific space in your home for your work environment which is completely separate from your day to day living environment. A separate room that you can shut off to the rest of your home is ideal.

Dressing appropriately for work can assist you in getting more done & having the right attitude for work. Sitting in your ‘scruffs’ or nightwear all day because no one can see you may affect your attitude & professionalism.

Set specific work times & stick to them. These can be as flexible as you like but stick to a structure for example: Work 9am - 11am then take a long break for ½ hour where you can have a snack, put your washing out or attend to personal chores, or phone calls or even play on Solitaire! Back to work 11.30 until 1.30pm, then if you like take a two hour lunch break to do your shopping or tidy the house or tend to other responsibilities. Only you know what time you can allow yourself ‘off’ each day but whatever that time is make sure it is structured & you have a routine in place.

Make sure family & friends know your schedule & in the hours that you specifically set that you are ‘at work’ you  will not be accepting social calls either by phone or in person.

The other side to the coin is that you feel like you are working all the time. If you are in ‘non work’ time, do not be tempted to go do some work because your office is there. If you were working from a premises you would not drive to work at 2am & this should be no different. Your work/life balance is really important for both you & your family!
 

Customer Service - The Key To A Successful Business.

Good customer service is absolutely vital for building lasting, profitable customer relationships, especially in the current economic climate. Companies need to work harder than ever to engage customers to persuade them to stay loyal in a competitive environment. So if you’re a small business & are unsure where to start, here are a few suggestions:

What’s Your Point Of Difference?


Being ‘cheapest"’as a point of difference can work for some, but for many it can be commercial suicide. Businesses need some margin to turn a profit. Firstly, you need a fantastic understanding of your customer base & research here is worth its weight in gold. Use the information you gain from thorough research & refine your product/service without falling into the trap of trying to be all things to all people.
Money may be tight, but people are still spending on things they value where they can, it is easy during challenging times to be tempted to give dramatic discounts, effectively ‘buying customers’ but this will only come back to bite you later & can often de-value your product or service in the customers eyes. Instead, reward loyalty & commitment, give the best deals or rewards to those who deserve it. At times, this may be more of a struggle than others; but if your business allows, investigate hire-purchase, subscription, & lease purchase options as well as long term contracts or loyalty cards/discounts.

Relationship Building


Running a small businesses, most people rapidly realise that everything is your responsibility. It’s too easy to get bogged down in the daily operations of the business & you suddenly find it’s been weeks since you last spoke to a customer.  Small business growth is underpinned by word of mouth & failing to speak to your customers directly will be detrimental to business growth in the long run. Of course, technology can assist this process but long term relationships with your customers are built on communication & interaction & not in ordering stock & doing the accounts. Try & manage your time for all tasks as a ratio in relation to how ‘customer focused’ & ultimately how ‘income producing’ they are.

Get Your Systems Right


The only way to keep tabs on a growing customer base, is to have the right systems in place. Less than a third of small businesses (30 per cent) have an up-to-date customer database & around one in ten have no database at all! Trying to keep everything under control with manual ledgers & spreadsheets when your competitors are paying attention to what customers are saying on Facebook will put you at a significant disadvantage.


Co-creation & Customer Feedback


Again, thanks to the advent of social media, it’s possible to engage with customers from the outset of the product/service development process. If you’re a local café & you found you were selling out of soup one day & not the next, you could engage with your customers in store or online about what they liked about one soup or another & evolve your menu accordingly. If you provide products or services to parents, you could engage with your customers on parenting forums to discuss specific areas of development or improvement & so on...... Wherever possible gather customer testimonials, there is nothing more effective in gaining new customers than the endorsement of an existing one!

Think Out Of The Box


Coming up with new ways to add value, solve problems, make people’s lives a little easier & sometimes even surprising them, can have a huge impact on how people see you & your brand. You don’t have to be the cheapest to stay in business even through a recession, but you do need to be practical, memorable, reliable & professional to stand the test of time!

Setting Up a Small Business In Cyprus

There are three critical steps for setting up a small business for success.  Keep in mind that your success is not a matter of luck. It’s a question of design.

When I opened my first business in Cyprus several years ago, I had no idea of what to do.  I didn’t know how to set up my business legally or what systems I’d have to put in place. All I had was a burning desire to never work for anyone else again!

I, like most have made many mistakes in the process but am still around to tell the tale & in this case offer a bit of learned advice to those of you thinking of setting up a small business here.

1. The Plan - If You Fail To Plan You Plan To Fail!

The first part of your plan has to be your type of business. Are you starting from scratch or will you purchase an existing business? The benefits of purchasing an established business in a country that you may not have lived in long is obviously the ‘good will’ the brand name, the premises & the regular customer base that is already in place. These sort of things can take years to build up & in essence this is what you are paying for over & above stock or equipment in the purchase price. You can alternatively start from scratch on your own, this will require a lot more planning & preparation including your most important decision; what sort of service or product will you be offering?

Do your research, how many other companies in the area provide a similar product or service & how does yours differ from theirs? Many professions in Cyprus are highly saturated so you will have to have a very distinct point of difference to stand out from the crowd. It is always best to stick to your strengths. If you have done a certain type of job or business before then try to work your business around those skills as opposed to trying to do something completely new, after all there is no substitute for experience.

Decide who your target market will be. Will it be tourists, holiday makers, locals, nationals or a mix of anyone from any nationality anywhere? Remember, you are in Cyprus so things may be different in your type of business here as opposed to back in the UK for example. Get good advice & research companies already doing what you want to do. Lack of cultural knowledge or the way in which things are expected to be done/business is conducted in Cyprus could cost you your business if you are not careful.

Be very meticulous about all the variables, but accept the fact that you can’t know everything & you can’t anticipate all the outcomes. Once you have decided on your product/service you will need a marketing plan. This is an idea of how you are going to get your product or service known. This could be through flyers, advertising, special promotions an official opening, website, Facebook etc. You will also need to think about expenses: advertising, staff, equipment, premises, setting up a website, setting up a legal company with a Solicitor/Accountant, company bank account, social insurance payments & any licenses you may need to hold..... Cyprus has many so do your homework & get professional legal advice before you begin trading.

2. Working Capital

Anticipate how much money you’ll need to fund your business & your family for six to twelve months. Make sure you have enough working capital & start-up capital for your small business to keep both going for at least six months…but don’t stop there.  Is it reasonable to assume that your business will generate enough profit to carry itself & your family by the time you run out of working capital?

It is also important to remember that Cyprus can be very seasonal with trade dropping quite dramatically in Winter not only due to the lack of Tourists but also due to the vast number of residents who are unemployed in the Winter with little to no income & also due to a large number of residents flying back to their home countries during this time of year.

3. Plan ‘B’

When I started my own business I knew that I never wanted to go back to work for anybody…but I knew I could if I had to. This was important. It reduced the stakes a little.

If you support others, you have a responsibility. This doesn’t have to stop you from starting your own business. Just think about your fallback position.  Know at what point you’ll have to fall back to it.  Most importantly, stick to your time frame. Don’t allow things to drag on if they aren’t working.

Finally, there will be times when the pressure & responsibility of running your own company weigh heavy & you will wonder if you will ever see a light at the end of the tunnel. Equally there will be times when you feel focused, driven, excited & fit to burst, these are the times to remember.... this is what will keep you going.
Be courageous, honest & professional, embrace competition along with obstacles & challenges. Enjoy the journey!

Advertising Your Business

Most people in business realise it is essential to advertise their product or service to let people know who they are & what they offer.
But how do you get your message across?


Where Shall I Advertise?
Firstly, you need to decide what method of advertising is likely to get your business the best result. It may be that you need to use more than one method including local magazines, national papers/radio, local radio, the internet, flyers or even billboards. Your choice of advertising medium should be based on your target market. For example: If you are a local business, dealing with local people, advertising in a national paper or magazine is not going to specifically target your area so may be a waste of money with little to no results.

Ask Your Customers
The best way to decide which method is right for you is to ask your customers. Ask them which magazines/papers they read or go to when looking for information on local or national products or services. Ask them if they respond to flyers in their po box/letter box. Have they ever responded to an advert on the local radio? If you are a new business & do not yet have customers, then ask local people & local businesses the same sort of questions to help you decide.

Budget
The advertising medium you choose will also be linked to your advertising or marketing budget. Beware of choosing an advertising medium purely because of its price. What may seem like a really cost effective way of promoting your business may cost more in the long run if it brings no results!

Branding
Any form of advertising should include your company logo/brand image. Your company name & logo, colours & slogan should appear on all of your marketing material including all advertising. This sends out a consistent message & over time will imprint your company & its image into peoples minds. Obviously if you are advertising on the radio it is impossible to show your brand, logo & company colours but, if you have a company slogan ‘Have A Break, Have A Kit Kat’, then you would want to ensure that this is included. If you do not yet have company branding then it is advisable to employ the services of a good designer. It may be tempting to design your company logo yourself or even your adverts but it is wise to remember that the brand image or advert created is a direct reflection of your business & if the branding or advert does not look very professional, then people will assume that neither is your company! Stick to your strengths  & get a professional in for areas you are not qualified or experienced in.You would not employ a bricklayer to do a plumbers job now would you?

Less Is More
Many people think that an advert should be used to tell everyone everything about their business. This is NOT the best use of advertising.
Advertising is a way to get people through the door of your premises or to get your phone ringing or to get people to visit the company website. Products or services that these customers then go on to buy are down to you, your sales staff, your pricing, your product & many other factors. Keep wording of your advert to a minimum, use bullet points or short statements as opposed to long sentences. Make sure the advert states clearly what you do, for example: Ron’s Painting & Decorating or Bouquets Flower Shop. Do not try & cram a lot of information into a small advertising space or a short period of time if advertising on the radio. Overcrowding your advert is confusing to potential customers. Research shows that 94% of people will ignore a printed advert all together if it is highly condensed. This is especially so if the text is small & more difficult to read. The same rule applies when people are listening to an advert. Too much information confuses the message.

 

Images
A picture can paint a thousand words. One clear image can say what it may takes 5 sentences of text to say. Images break up the text in an advert giving it balance & making it easier to read. Images should be high resolution to look professional & clear in print. There are many online website’s where you can buy high resolution images very cheaply, these images are professional & come with the copyright to use them for advertising purposes. Do not ‘borrow’ images from on the internet, these are low resolution, so they will appear low quality & fuzzy when printed. It is also illegal to use other peoples images or clipart for advertising in publications or on flyers & billboards without the express permission of the owner or the legal copyright.

AIDA
AIDA is a method used to make sure your advertising does everything it is intended to do.

Attention - Does your advert get peoples attention, this could be bright colours, professional branding or attractive pictures.
Interest - Does your advert get them interested in your product/service? A way to do this may be to point out unique features of your company or product using words like: The ONLY COMPANY IN CYPRUS or FULLY INSURED & GUARANTEED. Make sure what you claim in your advert is true!
Desire - Your advert should create desire. A way to do this may be to ask a question for example: Would you like to save money on your..........?
Action: Ultimately we want our advert to make the potential customer take action. The action we are always looking for is to get the customer to call us, visit our website or come to our business premises. In our advertising giving discounts off or stating that people need to hurry as there are only so many of a product in stock is a good way to get people to act now.
 

Customer Service Training - Retail

Customer Service Training - March 7th 2012 - Garden Plus, Dherynia

Module - It's A Piece Of Cake!

 

Customer Service Training Retail, Garden Plus, Dherynia

Module - Best Practice Customer Service - Role Play

 

Customer Service Training Retail, Garden Plus, Dherynia

Module - Best Practice Customer Service - Role Play

 

Customer Service Training Retail, Garden Plus, Dherynia

Module - Best Practice Customer Service - Role Play

 

Customer Service Training Retail, Garden Plus, Dherynia

Module -  Body Language

 

Customer Service Training Retail, Garden Plus, Dherynia

Module - Body Language

 

Customer Service Training Retail, Garden Plus, Dherynia

Module - Listening & Communicating.

 

Customer Service Training Retail, Garden Plus, Dherynia

Certificate Presentation

 

Daxi Business Awards

I have dedicated most of my working life to helping others to develop both themselves and their businesses. It was with this in mind that 5 months ago I began to plan a business awards event for the Famagusta community in Cyprus to recognise businesses, charities & organisations.

Being the boss means making all the decisions, it also means shouldering all the responsibility. Rarely are we given praise, recognition or thanks for our efforts.

The business awards brought together around 400 people to celebrate the business community of Famagusta and to give the praise and recognition so lacking. Congratulations to all those businesses nominated and of course to the winners an example to us all of professionalism, dedication and commitment.

As a result of such a successful event the demand is high to make this an annual celebration, next years date now being fixed as Saturday 2nd February 2013.

Category Winners:

Best Newcomer- The Auction Room, Dherynia

Outstanding Customer Service - Tasos Vets, Paralimni

Oustanding Contribution To The Community (The Peoples Choice Award) - Eastern Cyprus Ladies

Innovation Award - Petra House Interiors, Dherynia

Outstanding Achievement - Essential Consulting, Paralimni

Lifetime Achievement - Blueberries Restaurant, Ayia Napa

Business Of The Year - Thimonia Bakery, Dherynia

Heart Of Gold Award - Christiana Dipli

Congratulations to you all, I hope that the prestige & publicity of receiving this award will drive your business forward in its name.

 

 

 

 

Daxi Business Awards 2011

 

Inspire Training

Having been involved in training for over 10 years now I decided to re-launch my skills in Cyprus to help a variety of businesses with their sales and marketing strategy. Generally not enough emphasis is placed on training in companies as most people believe it is very difficult to quantify results.

Sales training particularly can show immediate and long term results especially with new customer or new account acquisition an area which I focus on heavily when training sales people. It is one thing to be an Account Manager and look after existing accounts but to increase the average spend of existing customers or to acquire new customers is a different story. Business growth relies on exceptional customer service, link selling & selling up to existing customers and a high percentage of new account or customer acquisition.

Its Just A Numbers Game

The biggest fear for most sales people is that of rejection yet sales is merely a numbers game.
Imagine you are having a few friends over and you offered them all a cup of coffee, out of 10 friends maybe only 3 would take you up on the offer preferring a different beverage. Would you get upset or feel rejected by all those friends who said no? I think not. The positive of this example is that for every 10 people on average 3 people or 30 % said yes to you. So based on average figures to get 15 Yes answers you just need to ask 50. The sooner you ask the 50, knowing that 3 out of 10 will say yes, the sooner you have your new clients or in this case coffee drinkers!

Of course there a different skill variables to increase the percentage of people who say yes, but even if you are up against the most successful and experienced sales person in the world, ask more people than him or her and you will achieve more!

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