Predictable Revenue

Predictable Revenue

I’m in sales. I love sales. If you were to ask me what I do, I’d say I’m a sales person. I’ve always been proud to be in sales. When I worked in corporate America the salespeople were the people that made the money. Of course at that point in my life I was very green and young and the idea of driving a BMW was awe inspiring. It never occurred to me that people didn’t want to be identified as a salesperson until as an employer I had employees tell me that they hated the idea of being a salesperson. At that moment I questioned my heritage in sales and wondered if I should be ashamed, but only for a moment and then I moved on and resumed my love for my trade.

When something comes up that I find interesting in sales I always jump on it. One of my favorite podcasts Eventual Millionaire had a guest on recently- Steli Efti of Close.io which is a CRM (Customer Relationship Management Software) During his interview he hit my sales core. He knew sales, really understood sales and told stories of following up with people consistently for years before they committed to buy. I loved what he said. He offered a free e-book at the end of his interview so I jumped on it. Truth told, I’m only about half way through his book and this is why. He talked about an email sales strategy that I’d never considered and recommended the book Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross & Marylou Tyler. I pick up that book and I’ve been digesting its contents since.

I’m an old school sales person. I was trained by some of the best and they were trained by some of the best from 1950. Consequently I sell in the school way. This is my model.

  1. Prospect
  2. Make LOTS of cold phone calls
  3. Make more cold phone calls
  4. Walk into businesses and cold call
  5. Form relationships
  6. Sell

This model has been my life and works very well. I’m not afraid to cold call because in essence that’s what I’ve done for my entire career- cold call. Turns out you do get good at it and used to it after 10+ years. However, this book turned me on my head a bit and I’d like to share some of the concepts I learned and will by applying in my businesses.

1. Have someone dedicated to prospecting.

Many of you are solopreneurs (as I currently am) and having a single person committed to prospecting isn’t an option. However, the idea of having a dedicated person or dedicated time to prospecting is huge. You can’t succeed in selling a product if you don’t have prospects. Make the job of prospecting important, but more importantly make the job of find qualified prospects your top job. If you can find qualified prospects the sales process is much easier.

2. Send out 50-100 cold emails per day 4 days a week and monitor open and bounce rate.

This allows you to see what is working. If you know that someone is opening your emails or that your bounce rate is low you can be satisfied that what you are sending is being seen and heard. If your bounce rate is high, or your emails aren’t getting opened you can consider why. Do you have a bad subject line? Does your opener not pull them in?

3. Consider your subject line.

This is the most important part of the email. If your subject line isn’t spot on people won’t read your email. I’ve heard it said that using a person’s name in the subject line is a great way to get their attention and increases open rate. I’ve been experimenting and it does seem to be working.

4. Do NOT be overly sales or verbose in your emails.

People don’t like to get unsolicited emails, do you? My guess is no. I always try to think about it from the other person’s perspective. If I get an unsolicited email, I open it up and it’s a book about them, I delete it straight away. If you get an unsolicited email with just a line or two of text, it feels more sincere and you’re more apt to read it. You’re also more apt to respond. I’ve been using this tactic and it’s worked.

5. Track that things that really matter.

I’ve been tracking number of calls for years. This book contends that call tracking is not the metric we should be after but instead recommends tracking these five things:

    • New leads created per month
    • Conversion rate of leads to opportunities
    • Number of qualified opportunities generated each month
    • Conversion rate of opportunity conversations to close deals
    • Booked revenue in: new business, add-on business and renewal business

You should review your core metrics weekly.

6. And last, but not least is set 3 clear goals per day.

Ask yourself if I don’t get anything else, but these three things done today what will they be.

The Power of People

The Power of People

I would not be where I’m at in business or in life without relationships.

They are so valuable. I’ve found that so many people are very intimidated by the idea of forming relationships. The few who are salesy, and spammy and just not fun to be around destroy it for the rest of us. None of us want to be “that person.” This fear keeps people closed up when the best thing they could do for their business and often their lives is to get out there and meet people. We also get hung up on meeting the “right” people. We focus so intently on the people that will advance our company’s growth that we sometimes miss great opportunities because they don’t look like we think they should look. I was in a Podcasting Forum just the other day and someone asked is it okay to call or email people and to interview them for my podcast. Questions like these leave me dumbfounded. Of course it’s okay. And not only is it okay, if you want to interview people on your podcast in imperative.

Here are some tips for building strong relationships.

Put yourself out there.

You have to go to places where you can meet people. These will include business networking functions, online forums and mastermind groups. You aren’t going to meet anyone sitting in your home or office. Get out there be it in person or online!

Be of service.

People are turned off by the a person when they believe that person is simply trying to get something. If you are trying to give something people are a lot more open. In every interaction you have think- how can I be of service to this person? How can you make their lives and businesses better. Starting an approach with that in mind will put you in a giving place. Please let to receive and if they find that in each conversation or interaction they have with you that you’re providing value that will result in their valuing of you.

Be genuine.

People want you to be yourself. They aren’t looking for a super polished, perfect business owner. They are looking for honesty. Express your true enthusiasm for your business and for the person you’re interacting with. This genuine excitement and likability will translate into powerful relationships.

Seek first to understand and then be understood.

This is one of my favorites from Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. We need to listen first. Talk to the other person about themselves first! If we are trying to understand the other person, we are more likely to build strong relationships. I’ve found that when I meet someone I want to form a relationship with when I start with their dreams, goals, path it flows over into my mission as well. If the person you’re talking with is worth forming a relationship with they will ask you about you and your business. If they never do chances are they aren’t someone you want to form a powerful relationship with. TALK less about yourself, and more about the other person.

Go deeper with the relationship.

If you find someone that you connect with deepen the relationship by requesting one on one time with that person. It might be a coffee date or a Skype chat. Ask them how you could be of service to them? Ask them what types of clients they want and how you can help them find those clients. (Secret tip: and then deliver. If you are able to offer that person a referral or two that will go a long way in solidifying your relationship)

You need powerful relationships because we all need people to help our businesses grow. You never know who you are talking too and how they can help you get to where you’d like to be. As you grow as a business owner be willing to help others just as much as you receive help. Giving is the cornerstone of powerful relationships.

Moving Out of Your Home Office

Moving Out of Your Home Office

Working at home sounds so wonderful, doesn’t it?

You can roll out of bed and be at work. Your commute time, none existent. You can get odd jobs done around the house while you work and if you are a parent you can care for your children and work at the same time. This is the dream of so many.

When I started my trade show production company I worked from home for a short while and when I was starting my online coaching program working from home sounded like a good plan. If you do have children it’s nice to be able to care for them and not have the need to put them in childcare. My reasons for working out of my home included, convenience, cost and I wasn’t planning to work full time so I didn’t see the need for any office. I just planned to work when I wanted and then shift gears and take care of the house and children. This worked well for about a year and half, but I’m done working at home. I’m ready to move into a real office building. Here’s why:

Focus.

I have a really hard time focusing on work at home. There are so many distractions. Obviously, caring for the children is at the top of the list so while they are at home you must prioritize their care and nurturing. I’ve found as a mom that even if my husband is at home and I’m “working” I still get called on to help find a lost item, grab a drink for a small child not able to manage alone and for handling meltdown situations. The overall cleanliness of the house is also a major distraction for me. I can’t sit down to work if I don’t have a clean space to work in. So inevitably I find myself cleaning the house before I get to work. I just have a hard time focusing.

Lack of space.

I’m fortunate to live in a very cute little beach house. I love it so much. However, it is a little beach house and I don’t have a dedicated office space at home. For a while I was working out of my bedroom on a desk that I very much liked. I had a great view of my backyard and the birds that came and went throughout the day. It was good, but then my husband’s online business needed a space and he slowly crept in. It’s hard to run a business with your spouse and sharing a desk was out of the question. Next, I turned to a walk in closet and created an efficient albeit small office that was all my own. It had a door I could close. It had a desk, printer, and wi-fi. What else would I need?? It turns out cell reception. Because this space was a closet, with no windows the cell reception was bad and when you’re a phone coach that doesn’t really work out. The dining room table and standing height counter (that I might add I’ve become quite fond of) have become my areas to work. And while they work, they are smack dab in the center of the household action.

Escape.

I need an escape from my house. I’ve found that when you are in the same place day after day you become stir crazy. I need to get out of the house. I need to talk face to face with other adult humans. I need to have a change of scenery. I’ve tried coffee shops and the library but the issue with these venues is the set up time. At a coffee shop there is the chore of standing in line and waiting to order. As well as the unknown of finding a table and an outlet for my computer. The library is better, but I find I spend time concerning myself with those around me. These spaces also do not allow for real conversations with customers, clients, strategic partners or podcast recordings or interviews. They work okay if you will be doing nonverbal work, but I’m a very verbal person. I need an escape and the question is where do I escape too?

A place of my own.

One of my big goals as a location independent entrepreneur is to keep the items I have to have to run my business as minimal as possible. The items I need to work currently include: my phone, my laptop and my mic. A pair of headphones are wonderful, but not entirely necessary. I don’t want to need anything else. Of course I have many books, and binders; things I refer to, but my goal is to need as few items as possible so that in the event that I want to travel as my children age, or if I want to go somewhere for the day or weekend and work I can very easily. My favorite tool is Google Docs and one of my hopes is that through the use of Dropbox and Google Docs I can have everything I need online as well so that in the event of a computer crash or in a pinch I’m able to use another computer to perform my work. That being said, I want a place of my own. As a wife and mother when I set something down there is no telling if I will see that item again. Finding that item in the same place I left it is a 50/50 gamble. As a business owner I’ve always had partners. For the first time I do not have partners and truth told I’m looking forward to having a space that I can design, arrange and create for myself.

For those reasons I’ve decided that now is the time to get an office space outside of my home. I’ll be moving into my space this Saturday. Here’s how I was able to get a space that makes sense for me.

1. I didn’t rent an entire office building.

I can’t afford to rent an office and it’s not just the money. I don’t want a big space that I would need to fill. That wouldn’t solve my problem. I wanted to sublet a space and that’s what I did.

2. How to find an office to share or sublet.

There are these amazing places popping up all over called co-working spaces. These are offices that have been created for people who don’t need or can’t afford an office space. Options for co-working spaces vary. All provide a place to work, wi-fi and restroom facilities. Many provide a space that is your own, a conference room and beverage bar. These spaces are great. I looked at a couple, but both were about 30 minutes from my house and I didn’t want and don’t have time for an hour commute each day. The other option is to sublet from a current business. I live in a small town and though I scoured Craigslist I wasn’t able to find an office to sublet so I went door to door. I literally walked from business to business and asked them if they had an extra space they might want to sublet. And after an afternoon going door to door I found two spaces willing to sublet. One was even willing to sublet an office space in exchange of business coaching.

3. My financial commitment is important.

I am committing to $200 flat each month for my office space, including wi-fi. This will allow me to keep my expenses low and to have the space I need. What I want and what I’ve got are two different things. What I want is a large loft type artsy, trendy office with big windows, modern furniture and great coffee. What I’m getting is a small space in a hippie hangout. I’ll be taking a small desk from home and have committed to not spending money on office furniture until I am able to rent an office of my choice. And when I’m ready to rent the office of my choice I will create the exact space I want. It will be a beautiful thing. This is a big motivation for me. I was tempted to buy a new desk and chair and floor mat, but decided that they wouldn’t serve me. I’d much rather have the dream of something bigger, a carrot and a goal to shoot for.

I’m super excited to be moving into an office space. I’m excited to leave the house at 8am and head to “work” and when I get there, I won’t do dishes, or fold laundry. I won’t be called upon to find a lost toy or to right a wrong in a dispute among siblings. I won’t have to stand in line and hope for a table that is somewhat ergonomically correct, but really just way to high to type at. I won’t have the distraction of conversations around me at the library. I’ll have space to focus. I’ll also have time with my children. I’ll be able to drop them off at school and pick them up. I’ll be able to volunteer on the PTA and take them to their activities. I’ll be there for dinner time, homework and bedtime. I won’t have it all because I believe that’s just not possible, but I will have a lot of what I want, and I’m looking forward to it.

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