April Favourites | 2016

We can’t believe April is drawing to a close, and we have another Bank Holiday Weekend ahead of us – hurrah! Here’s a round-up of some events that caught our eye in the Local Areas where our Little Blue Book is delivered.

Family Fun

Chew Valley Country Farm is a family run business and a licensed zoo! Take the kids to visit the amazing collection of animals, you can even play a round of crazy golf too. Sounds like a great family day out to us!

Get Arty

This weekend (30th April – 2nd May 2016) is the Cheddar Arts Fringe Festival, which promises to be bigger and better than last year! The exhibitions will include paintings, sculpture, textiles, fused glass, ceramics, calligraphic art, jewellery, music and poetry. There’s also entertainment for the kids too, and walking tours around Cheddar.

Food

The Somerset Farmers Markets are a great place to pick up something special and locally produced for the weekend. Perfect for all you foodies out there! They run in lots of towns in the area, and on different dates so be sure to check out the link below for your closest one. We’re hungry already!

april vegetables

Festival Fever

This weekend marks the launch of the Wye Valley River Festival. The Festival is an artistic outpouring of song, story and spectacle celebrating the River Wye and its connections to rivers and people around the world. The launch in Hereford on Saturday (30th April) promises a procession to herald the arrival of a Giant Samovar, plus performances involving water and fire. Sounds incredible!

Georgian Times

Last, but by no means least, Coleridge Cottage is holding a Dress Like a Georgian Day on Saturday 30th April. Dress up and completely immerse yourself in the life and times of Coleridge. There’s no need to book and children are welcome too.

If you don’t fancy dressing up, the Cottage is open the rest of the weekend too, why not pop in and explore the gardens?

april green

What are your plans for the Bank Holiday Weekend? We would love to hear from you! Please let us know if there’s an event in your Local Area we should be taking about – we would hate to miss out!

 

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Why Bother With A Sales Process

If you put the phrase “sales process” into the source of all wisdom which is Google, you will get a whole load of smartly titled materials pop up. Anything from the 7 steps of the sales process explained, 5 crucial sales process step to a bunch of serious looking diagrams. When you look it up on Wikipedia it throws this smart sounding sentence at you: “A sales process is an approach to selling a product or service. The sales process has been approached from the point of view of an engineering discipline”.

Whilst I do not doubt that reading many of these articles, examples, case studies and e-books will help improve your sales revenue I doubt that you have the time or inclination to do so. After all sales just happen don’t they? It’s all about common sense, a good product, sound reputation and a bit of luck, isn’t it?

I agree that many of the above elements are important to make sales happen (not so sure about the luck bit though). However, having a sales process can really help make sure that you keep repeating all these good strategies that help you win business and take out elements that have not worked in the past. In fact here is a whole list of things for which it can be useful:

  • It can help you train new team members faster
  • Measuring results become a lot easier
  • Productivity can be improved by cutting out unnecessary fluff
  • Additional touches can be added to improve conversion rate
  • It can really improve your customer retention

So the reason you should bother with a sales process is that it takes away the trial and error element of sales and helps you systemise all that in your experience has brought in sales in the past to make sure they happen more often.

Even more important is the potential to improve your customer retention. As most customers leave due to indifference, not ensuring that you demonstrate the value you offer leaves them to decide on price alone. Couple this with the fact that up selling is much easier than selling to a new prospect and you can see how important it is to have an after sale plan.

To get your sales process up and running consider the following:

  • Write down all steps you take between first engaging with a prospect to making a sale and ongoing communication with your clients
  • Emphasise the actions you take and consider writing scripts, list of actions and written communications which can be repeated
  • Write it with another, new member of your team point of view in mind
  • Get someone else to read through and comment on how easy it is to follow

So, to summarise, developing as sales process for your business is well worth the effort as it will definitely make a difference to your conversion and retention rates. Follow my suggested steps to help you make a start and develop it further based on your unique process. Most importantly, make sure you and your team follow the process once designed consistently to see the benefit.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for your business in terms of sales process?

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Why all businesses need a website in 2016

How many times a day do you go on the internet? We bet that the amount of time you spend online has significantly increased over the past few years, right? The explosion of the online world has been felt across all industries and now almost everyone has a smartphone, tablet or some form of device that enables them to access the internet at any time, in any location. The internet is full of huge opportunities, but it also opens up the market to a high number of competitors for the services you provide. You need to be on top form to fight off the competition, but even with these technological advances, a lot of business still DON’T have the number one tool; a website which delivers results.

Does your business have a great website? If not, why not? We commonly hear the excuse that a business “doesn’t think it’s a worthwhile investment” or that it’s simply not worth the money. Well then here are our top reasons as to why it could be the best investment your business will make.

  1. Do you want to attract new customers and increase sales?
    If you are trying to run a successful business, then we hope the answer to this question is a loud YES. To do this you need somewhere to direct potential customers to and a container to hold all of the information about your products/ services. Think of it as an online brochure with the ability to reach a global audience without the hard work of manually posting one through every door! Without a decent website that appeals to your target market, they will simply move onto one of your competitors.
  1. How do you market your business?
    The internet isn’t all about having your own website, of course this is the first (and biggest) step, but you need to get out there and promote it online. Social media, email marketing, blog there’s a vast variety of online marketing tools available out there, but these all need to point back to a website. There’s no point tweeting about your fantastic new product, if you can’t include a link for someone to read more information about it.
  2. Who are you?
    We all know that the best way of securing new business is via word of mouth, but since the internet became such a huge thing, an extra step was added to this; Google. It’s pretty common for someone to Google a company name to check them out before deciding whether to make contact or not. If you haven’t got a website, how will they find you or how to contact you?

Convinced yet? If not, just try Googling some of your products or services and see just how many of your competitors have a website.

Websites don’t have to be a burden to your business, with the right website developer; it can be a simple and stress-free process that leaves you with an efficient, appealing online sales tool that helps to drive your business development.

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Keeping Your Data Up-To-Date

The Importance of Data

Data is the driver of so much in this day and age but businesses often struggle to know where to start with data collection, management and usage. Done well, it leads to significant increases in revenue, profit and customer retention. Let’s take a look at some examples of where data can make a big difference to a small business.

Car Garage

A customer brings their car in to a small local garage for 2 new tyres because they have seen a deal advertised in the local paper which is what they typically rely on for generating business but its low margin being so competitive.

When will that garage contact that customer next and about what? Often the answer is never because the data that will drive contact with that customer has not been captured anywhere electronically. For example, capturing when is their MOT and service is next due along with a mobile number and email address (customer name and address are a given!) would allow them to go for that work when the time comes and in a cost effective manner by text / email (or mail). Collecting this simple data allows that garage to better influence that customer’s decision on where to get the work done therefore increasing their revenue and profit, meaning their advertisement to capture new customers generates so much more than just one job.

Gardening Business

I was recently talking to a friend that runs gardening business and he said he was doing another flyer drop in the local area, he said his work had dried up. I asked him about the customers he had done work for in the past and when he last spoke to them about whether they would like any work doing. The challenge was, he had very little data. He had some names and phone numbers in his mobile amongst all his other contacts but couldn’t show me a list of customers, what work he had done for them and when. Keeping a simple spreadsheet or even paper diary with a record of each job carried out, for which customer and the date, perhaps with the cost of the work would have made the world of difference to him. It would have allowed him to generate work from an existing customer base by targeting those that had work this time last year or had not had any work done for a while rather than having to go for new customers which is costly and time consuming.

Top 10 Tips

  1. Make some time to decide what data will be of use to you e.g. last job date, next contact date
  2. Don’t put it off – the sooner you start capturing data it the sooner you can use it to your advantage
  3. Review any existing data capture processes what quantity and quality of data are your staff capturing
  4. Measure success regularly daily, weekly or monthly
  5. Set out a plan for how and when you will contact current customers, previous customers and prospective customers
  6. Ensure data you capture allows you to follow the plan
  7. Follow through on the plan and measure success
  8. Find a method that keeps it simple manual diary, spreadsheet, other software.
  9. There are lots of very cost effective and sometimes free solutions which are ready made, search the internet
  10. Get some help if it all seems too much.
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Turning Social Media Into Lead Generation

Put your hand up if you like being bored by what you see, hear & read?? No of course not! None of us want to log on to Twitter or Facebook or wherever and find it as dull as watching paint dry. Noooooo we want excitement and thrills. We want laughs and crys. Ooohhh’s and ahhhhh’s. When our minds are being intellectually challenged and our hearts are being stroked with human stories of kindness and gratitude and love, guess what happens? We fall in love! OK, so not quite but you get the idea. We form an emotional attachment and fondness for these people/brands/businesses that make us feel: Happy, understood, cared for, confident, humoured and so on. This is where social media comes in.

When you can make someone FEEL something positive and good from their experience with you, even when that experience just means them retweeting you or commenting on your post or repinning your pin, you are starting a meaningful connection. Their experience doesn’t have to be a face to face one or something lengthy over a period of time with many backwards and forwards communications. In today’s society we’re all busy and we do things faster and we want things done with speed. Quick
brief nuggets of conversations spattered about here and there are what’s expected and what is the norm. The important factor is to ensure these nuggets make people feel good!

What I’ve been talking about here is: Stimulation. In order to for your social media activity to channel through into new customers and repeat customers (as these are very important too & mustn’t be forgotten) the key element for success is keeping your readers stimulated! However much you love joining in Twitter Chats and sharing your thoughts on a discussion thread on LinkedIn you are not solely doing this for the pure joy of it. Or are you?? Well, for most of us our strategy is to build our network, our connections and our business reputation to as many of the right people as possible to propel our businesses forward for bigger profitability and business growth. And for this we need.. Dah dah dah SALES!! We need to generate quality leads by using this wonderful thing called social media!

You might be interested to know that the definition of “lead generation” is: The marketing process of stimulating and capturing interest in a product or service for the purpose of developing a sales pipeline. (https://www.marketo.com)

There are two significant words here: Stimulating (yep think I’ve got my point across about this!) and Capturing.

It is a complete waste of time if you’re spending your precious energy creating incredibly amazing content for your social media campaigns that is highly stimulating, engaging and useful, if you are then not capturing your reader’s interest. Otherwise you’ve just let them slip through the net to swim off to a competitor of yours. I’m not implying you should be asking people for their email address and phone number at every opportunity but you do need to have a capturing method in place with a plan and a structure, so that when appropriate you are obtaining contact information and you are using it wisely! By wisely, I mean storing in a CRM system that easily and smoothly allows you to communicate effectively with your audience to keep them stimulated!

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