Tired of competing over the same clients with your competitors? Tove Rasmussen, with Partners for Creating Wealth, provides some great tips on how you can generate significant sales growth in your local business on the PME 360 Powering Business Growth Show.
Tove will reveal in this webinar:
- What really separates your local business from the rest of your competitors
- Who your company’s best prospects are…really…
- COMPELLING messages that capture your prospects interest
- WHERE to find your company’s best prospects
- A sales process that moves prospects efficiently and effectively through the final purchase
A great show and well worth watching and learning a few things from one the smartest business consultants I know.
Watch the Webinar –
5 Steps to Leading Significant Sales Growth
Listen to the Audio/Podcast
Read the Transcript
5 Steps to Leading Significant Sales Growth in Your Local Business – Webinar with Tove Rasmussen
Ron: Good morning!
Welcome to the PME360 Powering Business Growth Show where each week we talk about the issues and offer advice on how to power growth for your local business.
I’m your host Ron Rodi, Jr. With me today, we have Kurt Milligan, PME360 Digital Marketing Specialist.
Kurt, good morning! How are you?
Kurt: I’m doing well. Thank you.
Ron: And of course, with me as always, my main man, the man with the plan, the marketing man, our CEO, Mr. Ryan Paul Adams.
Ryan, good morning to you.
Ryan: Good morning, Ron. Happy Friday!
Ron: Happy Friday to you as well.
Excited to have with us this morning, Tove Rasmussen.
Tove Rasmussen has a particular passion and strength for growing revenues and profits of small companies and medium-sized businesses. She is bringing this experience to mentoring and counseling with businesses and help them grow both revenues and profits.
Tove Rasmussen has strong expertise in all facets of business including leading, marketing, referrals, regulatory, research and development in technical, manufacturing and operations. She also holds a certified management accounting designation.
Each organization, over her 20 years of business experience, Ms. Rasmussen has taken special pride in effectively mentoring and developing both colleagues and staff.
Tove has a BA, Major in Political Science, Minor in African Studies from University of Toronto. As well as, an MBA from Richard Ivey School of Business.
Tove has completed an extensive coaching program grounded in effective listening, as well as proactive coaching fundamentals from the Coaches Training Institute in Washington, DC.
Tove lives near the coast of Northern England enjoying hiking in the summer, skiing in the winter and the ocean all year round.
Warm welcome and good morning to Tove Rasmussen.
Tove, how are you?
Tove: Good! Good morning, Ron. And thanks for the wonderful introduction.
Ron: I’d guess that you had good snow to ski this winter.
Tove: There was some good snow to skip up here. Fabulous days! But now we’re headed into spring. We’d get to go canoeing and hiking. So looking forward to that.
Ryan: I’m looking forward to it.
Tove: I think we all are.
We can just look at here – what we’re going to be covering today. Really help your sales grow significantly. That’s the key. And you’ll see on the slide, the 5 steps that we’ve got. The key things that the company needs to do really in order to get significant sales growth.
Although I’ve chosen this order for the 5 steps, if you’re looking for competitive advantage and you haven’t figured that out yet, you may want to start with he second item, which is figuring out your target market before you get to the competitive advantage.
Because you want to understand what the key needs are, what the unmet needs are in order to figure that out. So the order of the steps is really based on what the company needs to accomplish.
Another thing to pay attention to as well is that all the steps are related. So insights into the competitive advantage can then give you, can shift the direction for your best target market which then will affect where you want to promote.
It’s not as simple as 1-2-3. But I have tried to simplify it and tear it down and get it to key points for you today.
So competitive advantage is what separates you from the competition. That’s critical to know because it is what will drive your increase in sales. Companies need competitive advantage to drive growth. So what is it?
It is where you are better than competition. And it has to be something that customers care about in order to actually drive the sales.
So do you know what your competitive advantage is?
I’ve got some examples for you. And one example in particular that kind of highlights what this is. It’s the example of an organic spirit company.
A woman named Allison Evanow out of California has an experience in the restaurant market. And she knows that serious chefs were moving from flavors in the garden combined in unexpected ways. We’ve seen this in restaurants.
And she thought you can translate this into alcohol like vodka. And that would really opened up territory for great cocktails. So she started out Square 1 Organic Vodka. It debuted in 2006.
She used high quality ingredients and unique processes. So people actually sip vodka. It actually tastes good. It’s not just something where you put in a flavor and then it tastes good. It tastes good on its own.
And Square 1 reached a million in sales in 2011 with this advantage. So how does this apply to you? How do you know that you actually have the advantage over the competition?
Well, a lot of us rely a lot on internal company knowledge. But it can be very faulty. There is a natural bias for a company to think that it’s better than it is. Say for example in customer service, we all think we are great. But is this true?
It could be true. Actually, you want to back this internal view up with objective outside information.
This information can be from customer service. It can be from sales. It can be from sales call. But you also want to balance this by third-party research. Third-party market research is unbiased.
People from the company call customers or call prospects and talk to them and the responses can be biased. Most people try to be polite.
It may not seem like it but people do try to be polite. And this can skew the results. The results can be further skewed if there’s a prize or an incentive for people to respond.
So it’s very important to have the sales call information. But it’s also important to balance that with third-party objective information.
Ron: I normally put a little something in my vodka so it’s interesting to drink vodka by itself.
Tove: Have you tried to sip it?
Ron: I probably should.
Tove: If it’s Square 1 Organic Vodka. And I think there’s a few out there now that’s sold apparently. But vodka is not really my drink.
So, how do you know that the advantage that you have such as organic vodka matters to your target market? Well, ask them.
And don’t just accept the first quick response. I mean, people will say cost or speed. They want the service faster, they want a lower cost.
But if they say cost, take a look at what percentage of their cost your product is. How important is it to them. And if it is, are there ways to reduce their overall costs say telecommunication cost without having to lower your price?
Look at the whole picture, not just your little piece of the pie. Perhaps there is a way to reduce that overall cost. Or perhaps they’ll say they need a faster response. But why do they? Is it going to save them labor? Is this going to allow them to process or sell more goods?
And how is that faster response going to fit in their workflow? If you increase the speed form 2 hours to 1 hour, is that really going to make a difference to them? Are they going to pick up on email faster?
So, really, take a look at what’s going to have an impact. And if you deliver cost savings or a sales increase, then that’s the value to the customers which you deliver. That will factor to the price they’re willing to pay.
So how much do these things matter to your target market? How much does your target market care whether the vodka has flavored or not?
Well, you can find out the top 3 items from the customers when they are purchasing your product or service. Again, you can do surveys. You can talk to them. Pull that information together or it’s good to have them from different sources. And then, try to figure out, is the first issue, say service, is that way ahead from the second issue, say that’s the consistent quality.
Are the two really close together? What’s the relationship between them? Why is one much more important than the other? Because this will help you understand where to focus on unmet needs and really gain an important competitive advantage in your market place.
So, here I’ve got a tool that you can use to be able to rank your sales and your competitors based on the requirements of your particular target market segments.
In the vodka example here – this is a fictitious example, the first requirement is organic. The second requirement is flavor. And the third is the ability to sell direct to customers as supposed to through distributors.
So in this example, I’ve assumed that Square 1 is the first one in the market and the others are catching up. So you see here that Source 1 is doing really well in all segment requirements.
They’ve got a competitor. A couple that are good in the organic end of things but not so good in the flavor and they have not really figured out that direct to customer piece.
So that’s an excellent scenario. That’s where a company really has a competitive advantage and can really gain a share in the market.
However, there is another scenario to where perhaps competitors have caught up. And perhaps, they’re good or as good in most of these parameters.
Then, it’s a matter of figuring out other unmet customer needs on which to excel or figure out how to excel even further on these particular elements.
So having a true representation of where you are versus your competitors on achieving target market really helps you drive strategy that’s going to be effective.
Ron: What it is, is very similar to a SWOT analysis. Really understanding your standing, your strengths and weaknesses of competition, is it not?
Tove: Yes, it is, a SWOT analysis.
You look at the strengths and weaknesses of yourself and competitors. And this is tying it all to what is important to your target market.
So I mean, if you’re really good at something that your customers don’t care about, then it’s really not going to drive growth.
It’s really important to understand and look at what is important to the target market. Understand that in a lot of details.
Now that you’ve figured out the competitive advantage, we then look at the target market itself. And these are your company’s best prospects. This is where you’re getting your business from.
I often hear business owners say that their market is everyone.
However, there are a number of reasons to avoid this approach. First of all, trying to appeal to everyone waters down the message so much. It becomes meaningless.
Second, the business trying to please everyone will use a lot of resources and will likely not please any of them particularly well. Because it’s very difficult to do everything well.
And third, trying to promote to everyone makes it very expensive. It’s so much cheaper to focus on a smaller market niche. Gain a foothold there and then expand.
Then, finally, usually a company has specific expertise and advantages in a particular area – so leverage those first and build on that.
It’s a lot cheaper in terms of strategy. So the more focus the business is, the more effective it is.
Ron: We’ve seen this day in and day out. I think you bring up a great point there. Really understand your niche. Really understand how to talk to them. Master that and then move on to the next.
Tove: Yes. It is a lot cheaper as not everybody has the budget of Coca Cola.
But then, you take a look at who you sell to. That’s the first thing, and one way to break it down is to say, “Am I selling to consumers like Coca Cola does or am I selling to business?”
Or as what I’ve done here, you can break it down to industry segments: different industries, different professions, different demographics (age, gender and so on).
So I put some examples of broad potential markets here.
When you look at your broader market, say for example contractors. Certain ones are more likely want your services more than others? So in this case, we can make your business, say online local marketing services.
Contractors who want more sales are open to online marketing and who will pay for online marketing will be the target market.
In this case, if you look at the slide here. In terms of customer needs, you are looking for customers who have a need for more customer sales. You are looking for customers who have the characteristics of openness to online marketing and also the characteristic of either breakeven or profit or have the cash to pay for the online marketing service.
Another example here is the telecommunications market. You can say to somebody who runs a telecommunications company, “Who’s your market?”
First answer would be, everybody who owns a phone. But everybody who uses the phone, that could just be somebody who has one or two lines. This company who is managing the telecommunication could be to hard make money when they’re managing such a small telecommunication system.
So, the second answer that person would come up with after thinking about it a little bit could be, “Well, they would need 50 lines or more to be profitable for us.”
Looking at product usage, how much does the customer use your product? It is often an important factor in market segments. Then after that, they get to think a little bit more.
They’ll think, some customers have 50 lines and they’re quite happy to put together a telecommunications department to manage a few lines.
But other customers want to outsource non-core functions like telecommunications. And those are the target segments.
The ones that have those 50 lines. And ones that are open to outsourcing. Because some companies like to control everything and make sure it’s exactly how their company runs it.
Other companies want to focus on what they’re really good at. And outsource the rest of it. So that’s really customer needs that’s based on strategy.
Ron: And being able to reveal the third answer, on the customer end and your prospect’s end, that’s really key.
So if you’re talking to a company that use the phone, has 50 lines or more but if they’re not willing to outsource then you really need to do your homework prior to going after that target. That third answer is very important.
Tove: Yes it is.
Then you get into the ones that aren’t focused on outsourcing now but perhaps they’d be open to it in the future. But the easier ones are those who have outsourcing as part of their strategy.
That can be researched or can be covered in one of the initial conversations, depending on the information that is out there.
It could be easier to figure out if they have 50 lines, often on a company website or a news article about the company. They will talk about things like that often.
So you’ve figured out the target market segments and you want to know if it’s a good segment.
It is possible to try to target everyone. It’s also possible to come up with a target market, which has so small revenue potential that it’s not going to be enough for the company.
It’s really important to understand the target market, the total market annual revenue, the annual market dollars in that segment.
And don’t assume that the company is going to get a 100% share. I mean, some companies won’t buy. They will do other things, and then there are usually competitors. It’s a fact of life. Factor that in as well. Take a look at the market size.
Do that extra step and make sure that there’s enough in there for you – and a few others probably.
But, if you got a good market then you don’t need much.
Ron: That’s right.
Tove: The other thing, too, when you’re looking at market segments is you want to make sure they’re different from each other so that A is different in an important way from the other two segments.
For example, going back to the vodka, the organic – that’s one segment. Then, another segment is “go with mixes”.
So just make sure that they’re distinct. And, finally, this is something we’re going to cover later on.
Of course, you want to make sure that you can reach the target market. If you’re in the Northeast US and your target market is going to be in Timbuktu, how are you going to get there?
You want to make sure or even if it’s located there, that you’ve got a way to actually meet people in that particular market segment. You’d want to figure that out. But, we will cover that later.
Just make sure that you have access to that market.
Now you’ve got your target market. There are certain requirements that market has, how well do you meet them? Do you have the right products, the image, the technical skills, the capacity?
Also, if your company is known in that segment. And how large is you market share in that segment?
It’s really important to be close to the market. To understand what those markets need. And to be able to adapt to those changes in the segments.
Markets, especially now, are changing all the time. These changes include market needs, electronic changes, global changes, economic changes and so on,
It’s important to look ahead and think about what are these changes that are happening. Is the company ready? Does the company have the right skills in place to be able to address these things when they occur?
That also fits with the company growing. So the company is bringing in a certain amount of revenue now. You want to grow it. What do you need in place for that?
Are you putting the pieces for that? Have you thought about how to grow from contractors to employees? Where are you going to find employees? Which skills you need?
So this is where the whole strategic planning comes really to play. Looking 5 years out, figuring out what you need. It’s not going to be a crystal ball. You’re not going to know exactly what’s going on in 5 years. But it helps you to be ready for what’s going on. And to make sure that you are moving in the right direction, that you have the right things in place to be able to grow.
One final note on target markets, take time to better understand your competitive advantage in the market and confirm the market needs with prospect call and market research.
The two right there are iterative. If you find out more in the target market, the needs for that market then that modifies the insights of what the competitive advantage should be.
The two will go back and forth. You will gain insight into the target market which will gain insights into competitive advantage.
It’s not a straight line process. Not quite like baking a cake.
So we move on to a message. You know where your company excels now. You know who your target market is. Now you’ve got to create a compelling message for your prospects. This is where I’ve done a great work.
I thought I would leverage some of the work by Eppler and Bischof. I’ve also got some investor and customer pitch template if you’re interested. Just email me, let me know and I could get that to you.
So they use message, which is called CLEA0052 – which is what we are trying to be here. And it starts with context. So set the stage.
The people you’re talking to have not been thinking of business for months and months. It’s not on their minds everyday. You need to get their attention. And you need them to get thinking about your business.
And then of course, make sure that your pitch has a logical structure. A jumbled mass of thoughts is going to lose your audience. It will be difficult to understand.
What you want is a clear, crisp presentation of your business – why it is better than competition. Include the potentials: the revenue potential, the management team potential, what’s been done so far that gives you a lot of credibility.
Include any action or request of what you want them to do. And stick to the key elements – the main message.
Know the main message and only include the items that strengthen the message. And that could be very difficult to do because there are always good stories and there are always other things to say,
You don’t want to be completely dry. But make sure it’s relevant and easy to understand.
It is the first time your audience has heard this. And they’re trying to take it in. so help them with that.
There is a tool for readability that you can use. There’s a readability test tool that can help you with just how readable it is. You can write it out.
By writing it out, you can take a look using the readability tools. You can also take a look at the words. Make sure they are known. Stay away from acronyms. They lose so many people.
Ryan: There are a lot of them out there.
Tove: There are so many. And we are so used to them, we forget that were saying them. There are people who use them everybody. Different companies use different use different acronyms.
Ryan: I’ll be talking up clients and prospects, I’ll be throwing around all kinds of acronyms. And they’d be like, “Ahhh…No idea of what you’re talking about.”
Sometimes, I’d slow down and be like, “That’s right, I live and breathe this way everyday. This isn’t your thing.”
I get to talk and this is a whole different language.
Tove: Yeah. You’ve got to meet where they are pretty much.
Ron: You’re so entrenched on it, day in and day out that the other person is not. The last thing you do is glossed them over and be really above their heads.
Tove: It happens so much. There is also the ambiguity and ambiguous terms.
There are actual tables of ambiguous terms to stay away from. And I have copied one on here for anybody who is interested.
Ron: That’s very helpful.
Tove: Yeah. I hope so
And then finally, I think most importantly, not only don’t you want not to lose your audience, you want them to understand.
You also want to feel it. You want what you’re saying to resonate with your audience.
And this is where you want to appeal to their pains, their needs, what’s in it for them. And, use their words.
If you’re saying it and they come back with different words and you hear that a few times. Then that’s probably the words to use. You want it to be their message and be something that they can relate to.
And then you may think you’re done. You’ve written it all out, it’s not ambiguous, it’s clear. Then try it out.
See how people respond. Does it capture their interest? Are they half-asleep? Or are they lost? What questions do you get? If you get good questions, they’re probably interested.
And again, listen to what they say. Listen to what they ask. It can all help you. It’s kind of a living, breathing thing. There’s the ideal of getting to a point where it’s final. But you know, you’ll get better at it.
But there’s nothing like trying to get it out to people and getting a response – how it really works.
So now you have a compelling message. Where are you going to use this compelling message to promote your product or your service?
It’s really very simple. You just promote wherever your prospects are, wherever they hang out. So how do you do that?
Well, that gets to be more complicated. There are a lot of places. You want to know where they look when they’re buying. You want to know how they buy, who they talk to, what they read, the websites they go to, the associations they belong to, conferences, the social media that they use.
All these things because this is where they are. Some of this, you may already know from being in the market. And you can find out more by asking, either in conversations or part of your formal market research.
And you want specifics. You don’t want people to say, “I go to a couple of conferences. I belong to a couple of associations.”
You need to know which one in order to actually go to them and promote to them or be there.
I put together a quick format for you to be able to use and it has the website, social media, associations, conference, Google searches if you want to promote over Google, and there’s a variety of other things.
Then just list them down. Then prioritize when they respond – who’s saying it, if it’s the right target market, how many times are you hearing it, which ones are the closest to be at.
And people will tell you. You will find out.
The important thing, too, in promotion is not just to promote but to monitor the results. Did you get additional leads? Did you get additional meetings? Did you get additional sales? What did come out of it?
Ron: Sure, track your efforts.
Tove: If you don’t get sales, people can say, “At least we get branding, it can help with visibility too“
But of course, it’s important to get sales, too.
Ryan: Yeah, for sure.
Tove: Speaking of sales. That moves us on to the sales process. And what you want is one that moves prospects to the final purchase.
People often look at sales as a magic function. We’ve all heard of sales people who can sell anything to people who don’t actually need them.
I’m sure that happens. But really, I kind of like to sell to people who need them.
There is the art of gaining sales and gaining prospects’ trust through credibility but a lot of it comes with knowing what you’re selling and having a passion for what you’re selling.
So there’s the art piece of it. There’s also the science piece of it where it is a process. And prospects are transformed into customers so they move down this sales funnel to the close.
And it can be tracked, through these different steps.
Your steps could look a little different, depending on what your sales process is. And certain products, if you’re selling airplanes, it will have a longer selling cycle than when you’re selling staplers. It’s different for different products. But it’s still a process with 5 steps.
And it’s possible to track the number to each of this step. And to see where things are leaking out of the funnel.
In the beginning, the idea is to have a lot of leads. And then the number will drop as those leaks are qualified. Maybe they’re not in your target market or the timing isn’t right. Whatever the issue, they need to be qualified. So that’s fine to have leakage between generating leads and qualifying them.
But you’d definitely want to generate more leads that are qualified. That can be the area to look out for.
But the thing is, as you move down the funnel, you spend time with the prospects, then it gets more expensive.
So you would want to be more efficient with those steps that come later in the process. It costs more to lose people as it moves down the funnel.
Tove: It’s a matter of taking a look at the different steps. And where the prospects are getting lost and not moving to the end.
It’s critical to understand what’s the issue. Is it the wrong prospect? Is it that they didn’t fully understand the benefit of what your product or service offers? What are the reasons? And what can change to make that process more efficient to have those leads go straight through the close and to lose less of them through leaking out of that funnel.
Ron: it’s a good slide. And I think, it has lots to do with my experience really not having that mutual mystification, really understanding clearly what the agenda is.
If you’re going to be taking meetings, if it’s closer and closer to close, really getting that understanding of specifically this is what were going to be discussing in the day and making sure that it’s clearly defined. Not just showing up. Really having a clearly defined agenda and a clearly defined goal for that particular meeting. That’s really important.
Tove: That’s an excellent point because often, you can just be excited about having a meeting. But if there’s no an understanding of the goal of that meeting, then it can also be a waste of time as well.
And understanding the agenda for that meeting, understanding what the prospect wants to get out of it, understanding what their motivations are, etc – those are very important.
There are some good sales tools and sales training that really goes into some of those things as well that can help a lot. That can be part of it.
It can be the selling, it can be the listening, it can be the product, it can be the clarification or the talking about the benefit part or it can just be the qualification.
Maybe there’s another element that needs to be qualified. So that there are just as many prospects that go through and are spent time on but don’t end up buying,
But just to take time and look at that – the ethereal sales process that just occurred. It is something that can be analyzed.
Tove: So that’s pretty much what I have here today. Those are the 5 steps to increasing your sales significantly. Focusing on the those steps will really help your company to increase sales and if you want to get into any of those points in depth, in terms of what your customers need, feel free to give me a call or get in touch. I’d love to talk to you further about it,
Ron: Very good, Tove!
We really appreciate you coming on.
And questions or resources that you want to share, Tove would be very happy to do that.
Again, we appreciate your time this morning. Enjoy the rest of your Friday! Certainly enjoy spring.
And we hope to be in touch down the road.
Thanks a lot Ron. Thank you Ryan. It was so good catching up with all of you.
Ryan: Yeah, thank you for doing this! I appreciate it very much.
Tove: Looking forward to keeping in touch.
Ron: Thank you! Take care now. Bye!