Let me start this off by saying that I am a sales guy, not a tech guy. Nor social media guy. That said, I assumed both could help me build my promo business but had no clue how to go about implementing them. Or for that matter, even figuring out which technologies and social media outlets were the best to use.
And I had one other huge problem… I was deathly afraid to have to learn something new. And possibly add to my already overloaded plate of things to do.
So, I figured I would find someone who could DO the work for me. I remember meeting with an entrepreneur friend of mine with a successful tech startup and asked him … “Mike, do you know anyone I can hire to help me implement some ways to get my clients to buy online and generate internet leads for my business”?
You see, while I was afraid of technology and social media, I was even more afraid of being “left behind”. In Washington, DC (where I am based), I watched all of these businesses around me growing much faster, online, and I was stuck doing business offline, in an “old school” way. I knew if I wanted to position my swag biz for the 21st century, I needed to incorporate technology into my strategy.
So back to my friend Mike … here’s what he said … “Josh, I know a ton of people who can help but I wouldn’t hire anyone until you learn the technology yourself. How can you hire and manage someone else when you don’t know how to use it yourself”?
Wow, did THAT get me thinking. You see, my approach is all about finding best-in-class people to help me grow my business. And then outsourcing to them. Ultimately I don’t want to DO anything I don’t want to do. But to get to that stage, I actually, like a true entrepreneur and small business owner, need to KNOW how to do everything.
So I dug my heels in deep. Real deep. And starting learning the very basics of social media sites like LinkedIn, as well as incorporating technologies into my own business like HubSpot (inbound marketing). Albeit timely, and sometimes painful, I began to build an online presence that I could use to then drive my own buyers, and prospects, back to my own distributor website.
And the results … you tell me if you think it works:
10 new leads per week, closing 50% of these buyers we had no relationship with.
$100K in new sales last year from our efforts with potential to now take these relationships off line, and build them, and turn them into over $500K of business.
I am sure you already use technology and social media to make your job easier and promote your business to your clients and on the web right? But the question is … how do you utilize it to make your client’s job that much easier? And get them to buy over and over from you? Here are my 5 best practices for doing just that…
Top 5 Ways I Leverage Technology to Make Ordering Easier for our Buyers
- My Clients & Prospects Can Order Through Our Website with an “Amazon.com–like” experience … I don’t call factories (other than to negotiate better pricing), I don’t collect past due accounts and I don’t deal with proofs/tracking/etc. I meet with clients and prospects, network, volunteer, and socialize in circles that can connect me to business and sale opportunities.
- My Clients & Prospects Can Re-Order at The Click of a Button – I use Drop Box to keep my client files organized so I know what they have ordered in the past, what I have proposed or priced before and where things are so I can quickly and easily make sales.
- My Clients & Prospects Can Order Free Samples Through Our Website – I created a weekly calendar which breaks down what I am doing every single day, in hourly chunks. And ties directly into my goals. This helps me focus and get back on track when I lose focus. It tells me what I should be doing from a sales activity standpoint and who my targets are. I set goals and review them constantly. Sales, gross profits, # of meetings with decision makers, proposal pipelines and more. Again, this helps me track my own progress and stay focused, and motivated.
- My Clients Receive Personalized, Automatic Follow Up Thank You Emails Once Their Order is Delivered – I choose a target market (or 2), learn the buzz words for that industry and then I sell myself as an expert in that space. I am not offering everything to everybody. I am a pro and present myself as a marketing partner who can help my clients do their job better, faster, more effectively, because I KNOW their market.
- My Clients Receive Personalized, Automated Referral Request Emails which Generate Leads for My Business – I get LinkedIn with my top clients and contacts, and then ask them for referrals to their networks. I share what’s going on with my own business and life to make it more than just about asking for business. And I share my goals on line so my network can help me achieve them. Don’t believe me – check out my LinkedIn page and you will see what I am talking about.
While we ended up developing our own technology platform, and plugging it into other technologies like HubSpot, the reality is we simply took industry “best practices” and automated them with technology.
Always happy to share more on this topic, from a sales (not techy) perspective, if interested.
Thanks for taking the time to read this coaching point from The Swag Coach®
If I can be a resource for any of this, or if you’d like to schedule a call to learn more about me and the benefits of The Swag Coach® Program in more detail, I am always available at firstname.lastname@example.org