Archive for the ‘sales’ Category

WTH are you doing? Overcoming lost self-confidence in business

June 3, 2014

feeling disappointedA small business owner on Facebook recently posted a cry for help.  She said she was wondering “WTH am I doing?”.

Many business owners get the WTH “what the heck” am I doing feeling from time to time.  This probably occurs most frequently after getting rejected and the feelings of disappointment that follow.  You may lose some of your confidence.  It’s ok.  The bottom line is that it is a signal to stop, reflect, plan a strategy, and implement a strategy.

To overcome the feelings of lost self-confidence and anxiety, here is a simple five (5) step plan:

  1. Start by writing down your statement of purpose – Always begin with seeking clarity and with having a clear mission in mind. Reflect on your career and your life and ask write down the answer to this question: “What are you passionate about?”
  2. Next, do a Self SWOT to list your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  This will give you a quick Strategic Plan outlook.

Read more

By Clovia Hamilton, MBA JD – President

Lemongrass Consulting

(c) 2014. All Rights Reserved. Lemongrass Consulting, Inc

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Sales Pipeline Lesson from Mad Men

September 4, 2013

sales pipeline management, mad men season, sales account managerMad Men is one of my favorite shows since it depicts a real start up business in motion.  One lesson I have put into practice is a good old fashioned way of seeing deals go from

See the photos from the Mad Men show where the firm lost a big tobacco account in a 2010 episode.  So, they regrouped to see what they had in their sales pipeline.  The account men and leadership used a good old fashioned chalk board to split their deals into 4 categories:

(1) Existing

(2) Likely

(3) Maybe

(4) Longshot

sales pipeline management, mad men season, sales account managerI used this to develop my own little visual tool that I have on a white board in front of my desk and in an Excel spreadsheet … read more

Don’t get Hung Hanging Out

August 14, 2013

Women in business, small business, business development, business travel, federal government contractingYears ago, a mentor told me that to be successful in business you have to be willing to simply hang out with folks.  You really do!

I started making deals once I started hanging out at:

  • prebid meetings
  • small business conferences
  • chamber meetings

… and just plain old-fashioned asking for face to face appointments and scheduling phone chats.

However, what start-up business owners are not told is to watch your expenses.

Trade dues, chamber memberships, parking and lunches can get expensive.   One year I spent $10,000 in trade dues and membership directory ads.

I recently talked to a small business specialist in a federal government agency.  Read more…

10 Tips for Professional Speakers – 50 heads is better than one!

May 30, 2013

brainstorming techniques, brainstorming ideas, using linkedinI conduct training seminars.  It can be ebb and flow.  I reached ebb and decided to reach out to my Linkedin connections and forge a massive brain storm.  Well, as great fortune would have it, I am connected to some of the most awesome, brightest minds in the world!  Out of 1,500 of my Linkedin connections, 50 had very dynamic ideas for me to try.  The response is not bad given the Memorial Day weekend.  Reaching out to your Linkedin network for ideas is a great brainstorming technique!

Although feedback is still coming in, so far, I have developed a 10 page checklist of organizations to connect with; people to contact; and things to do.  It’s very exciting!

My daughter complains that I am always looking for things to get into.   She says I am very, very good at creating work for us all.  Well, if you are like me and want to stir things up, just reach out to folks in your network for ideas and tips for business.

Here is an overview of my 10 pages of notes.  Many of these things I already do.  Some, I have to work on.   Here are 10 Tips for Professional Speakers:

  1. Have both a Speaker One Sheet document and a Speaker web page that is easy to view from mobile devices.   Be sure to showcase yourself as a really dynamic, entertaining speaker!
  2. Even if you can teach a variety of topics, develop an overall theme.  People like to categorize speakers into niches.
  3. Be ready to share video links of past speaking engagements.
  4. Join speakers’ bureaus and speakers’ associations.

Read more

By Clovia Hamilton, President

Lemongrass Consulting Inc.

25 Free Small Business Lessons

May 17, 2013

If you are seeking training for your existing business; or if you intend to launch a business, this article should prove helpful.

Here are 25 pillar small business development lessons I learned during the first five (5) years after launching my consulting firm Lemongrass:

1. Lift as you Climb and Stay Uplifted

You need balance.  Do not get so involved with volunteering to get your foot in doors that you neglect your cash flow.  Also, as you help others, be sure to do what it takes to stay positive, smiling and uplifted in spirit.

 2. “The more you reason, the less you create” – Raymond Chandler

Be sure that you are not spending your days with busy work.  For example, do not spend most of your time on filing, direct mail tasks, or social media marketing.  Automate and outsource.  Be sure that the bulk of your day is on serving customers and bringing in new business.  This means cold calls, emails, schedule visits, attending events, etc.

 3. You need to have Gumption! 

You need ready, quick willingness to take initiative and shrewd common sense.

4. Get away from dysfunctional people.  Surround yourself with supportive people.

5. Don’t go day by day. 

You need vision to see the week, month, year, and years at a glance.  List the goals that you want accomplished by the end of the week.  Envision yourself getting a nice reward for getting it all done.  This could be a nice fine dining experience and a spa treatment.  You can also vision checks coming in and bills getting paid.

Read more at: http://lemongrassplanning.com/25-free-small-business-lessons/

By Clovia Hamilton, President

Lemongrass Consulting Inc

Training on Sales

May 8, 2013

I am in an Executive MBA program at Wesleyan College.   I am amazed at how many business schools do not teach sales.  Regardless of whether or not we are in business, we all sell.  We sell ideas, knowledge, skills, abilities, products, services, etc.  Yet, I rarely come across business degree programs that include sales training.  There are MBAs and MBA students that cannot sell themselves well enough to get work – – how ironic!

I did a cursory search and found a class in Salesmanship at Devry.  Also, Ball State University has a Center for Professional Selling and offers a major in sales.  The classes and programs are few and far between.

There is also a shortage of free or affordable sales training offered by the SBA Small Business Development Centers and Department of Defense funded Procurement Technical Assistance Centers.  Many of the training and coaching programs offered by business trade organizations do not include sales training.

Read More and Join the conversation!

 

Approaching Sales with Positivity – Building a 10 Step Sales System

February 12, 2012

If you have been following my online posts over the years, you know that my least favorite thing to do in business is sales. My favorite tasks are marketing, research, writing, and customer service. But, there’s one thing we all know for sure. Without sales, there is no business.

Another thing I know for sure is that if we keep telling ourselves how much we dislike something, we will never learn how to do it and we will never see the good in it. So, this year I have a new mantra. This year, I am determined to be a better sales person. My focus is shifting because I am reminding myself that:

  • Sales is a way to connect with great folks and build great, long lasting relationships!
  •  These folks have needs that our products and services can meet!
  • Sales-Time is Fun-Time! Rah Rah!

The key for me is to make it a fun, social activity rather than drudgery.  This takes me back to when I was a kid and helped with a political campaign for a Chicago alderman.  I worked the phones.  I mailed things out.  What I enjoyed most was the whirl of activity and positive energy. So, I create a whirl of activity much like a political campaign room. Here’s how I do it:

  • First, I start with my contacts list.
  • Second, I visit the person’s website to see where we have synergy. I ask myself what products and services my firm offers that might help this person out.
  • Third, if I am connected with the person online in Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter, I reach out to them for an appointment.
  • Fourth, if I am not connected with the person online, I send them a friend request on Facebook, an invitation on Linkedin, and/or follow them on Twitter …and then, ask for an appointment.

Where’s the fun in this? The challenge is to “get in there”. Social media provides valuable access and a peep into my new friend’s world.

  • Fifth, I schedule two mailings. On this day, I mail out a post card. I also print a customized cover letter, relevant flyers, a brochure, and business card to mail out 2 days following the post card. I prepare it and lay it in my desk calendar on the day that it needs to get mailed. I use a desk calendar that has loose daily sheets in a 3 ring binder.

So far, I have completed about 3 touches with this person.

  • Sixth, I schedule a phone call for one (1) week out. The key for me is the scheduling. I use a form and list the folks that I need to call.
  • Seventh, if I have not talked to the person yet, I make the scheduled call. Yes, it’s a sales call. But, no – it’s not a “cold call”. Now, it’s a “warm call”. Now, I feel ok about it because we know a bit about each other. I’m getting further in there!
  • Eighth, I visit the person if they are local. I either meet them at their office or join them at a restaurant. I bring another packet of information and a promotional gift.
  • Ninth, I send a thank you note card.

Now, I have completed 6 touches with this person.

I keep the system physically very organized. I have a long sales table in my office. It contains a contacts binder with my contact list. My table contains address labels, envelopes, presentation folders, stamps, post cards, brochures, flyers, thank you note cards, business cards, and promotional items (small candy filled jars, tea lite candles, mini-calendars). I’m ready to crank it out!

  • Tenth, I send a retainer agreement. This is the 7th touch. I let them know that there is no obligation or pressure, but I would love to help them out. I list the products and services that are relevant to what we discussed.

My contacts database has about 7500 people and it grows whenever I attend trade meetings and other events. It also grows when I work on a sales campaign idea and build or buy a list of contacts that are ideal to pitch to. The key for me is to not feel overwhelmed by the numbers. I spend a few hours each morning on sales. I am usually up at 3am. I will buzz about, have fun, and plow through my list until coffee time at 6am. I do not really have a numbers goal. I just do as much as I can in 3 hours – which is pretty substantial.

The old saying is customers first, then sales first, then marketing. I am most energetic first thing in the morning. So, I do sales first. I reserve the 9 to 5 for work. Most of my marketing is online using social media and I do that at night from my bed. I write all of the government contracting bid proposals that are due the upcoming week on the weekend. I pick 3 to 5 to submit each week. Know your biorhythm and implement routines that work best for you and your lifestyle. But, be consistent and work on it every day. Having a sales system in place is also critical if you want to scale and grow. Now, you can easily train others to pitch in, follow your system, and help you with your firm’s sales.

What is your sales routine?

By Clovia Hamilton, President, Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.

Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with nearly 30 years of government work experience and has served as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including organizational assessments, government contracting strategic marketing plans, intellectual property, social media marketing strategic plans, and other services.

Contact Clovia at:
■ Web: http://www.lemongrassplanning.com/
■ Follow us on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/company/lemongrass-consulting-inc.
■ Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/lemongrassplans

■ LIKE us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LemongrassConsultingInc

You Feeling Something – That’s what Sells

September 26, 2011

One of my favorite TV shows is Mad Men. Small business owners or other leaders can learn a lot about advertising their organizations by watching Mad Men. There is a line in one rerun episode that I jotted down recently. The advertising firm leader said to his protégé copy writer:

“You are the product. You feeling something – that’s what sells”. She replied that sex sells. He corrected her and said that the people who believe sex sells think that monkeys can do advertising. He also added that just because there is sentiment does not mean an advertisement is sentimental.

Well, how does this apply to low budget social media marketing? It is all very relevant. The bottom line is that when we market and advertise our products and services, we need to feel something. In my mind’s eye, that means feeling what the ideal customer needs and can relate to. It is simply about putting yourself in the customer’s shoes.

Where does sentiment come in? Well, buying is emotional. For example, I am drawn toward traditional furniture and classic clothes because that is what my mother enjoyed. She wore the classics. She looked very 1950s and 1960s. I love this era because emotionally it reminds me of my mom. So, when we sell our products and services, we should give some thought to what emotions or feelings will resonate with our prospects.

The age old business lesson is to tap into our prospect’s pain. That works; but so does nostalgia. When I started my firm and made my routine rounds to visit prospects, many told me that lemongrass resonated with them – their tea, Zen teachings, candles, aromatic distillers, oils, and perhaps Thai dishes. All of these things provoked a “feel good” experience. People want to or should want to feel better and be happy. To be sentimental, we have to appeal to tender emotions and feelings such as what our prospects need, love and yearn for. It is about giving the customers and prospects an experience. This is all the rave right now! Businesses coaches are teaching – give them an experience. Many small businesses are thinking – yeah, well, how? How would you go about it?

By Clovia Hamilton, President, Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.

Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with nearly 30 years of government work experience and serves as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including government contracting strategic marketing plans, intellectual property, social media marketing strategic plans, and other services. Contact Clovia at:
■ Web: http://www.lemongrassplanning.com/
■ Blog: https://cloviahamilton.wordpress.com/
■ LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/cloviahamilton
■ Twitter: http://twitter.com/lemongrassplans
■ Email: chamilton@lemongrassplanning.com

15 Lead Scoring Points to Use

September 4, 2011

via Google Images

We are in the process of revamping our contacts database to include a new Lead Scoring system. It’s “very” time consuming. But, we are certain it will pay off in the end. I have read quite a bit about various lead scoring systems. I am convinced that it is a must do for organizations.

The idea is that you give folks a point for various activities and facts that you value about them. Folks with higher scores should get more of your attention with respect to prospecting for sales; and promotional and other outreach. I am tickled by the concept because many, many years ago my brother had a scoring system for his personal contacts. He was an accountant and he kept an accounting ledger about people. He gave folks points for helping him out, remembering his birthday, hanging out with him, etc. One year he bought me a new tv set because I was so good to him. I thought it was weird to be so anal. But, you really should treat your advocates best.

We are painstakingly checking out every single one of our contacts online. So much changes over time – and especially due to the down economy. Some folks have moved on to new positions. So far, two of our contacts got in trouble with the law. Yikes! So, needless to say, they were removed from our list!

Here are 15 items that get points in our lead scoring system:

1. Connected on Linked
2. Connected on Twitter
3. Connected on Facebook
4. Has LIKED our Facebook business page
5. Located in our Target geographic markets
6. An INC 1000 firm
7. Opened our emails
8. Luv’d our business on Intuit’s LUV a business page
9. Commented on our wordpress blog
10. Subscribes to our wordpress blog
11. We have talked or corresponded online
12. Registered for a Seminar
13. Downloaded our ebook or other documents from our website
14. Subscribes to our Newsletter
15. Current or past customer

As you can see, conversation and dialogue is very important to what we do. Social interaction expands our scope and reach.

What items would you add to the list?

 

By Clovia Hamilton, President, Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.
Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with nearly 30 years of government work experience and serves as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including government contracting strategic marketing plans, intellectual property, social media marketing strategic plans, and other services. Contact Clovia at:
■ Web: http://www.lemongrassplanning.com/
■ Blog: https://cloviahamilton.wordpress.com/
■ LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/cloviahamilton
■ Twitter: http://twitter.com/lemongrassplans
■ Email: chamilton@lemongrassplanning.com

3 Ways to Empower your Brand Advocates

August 10, 2011

I recently read social media guru Lisa Barone’s article 5 Reasons to Engage Brand Advocates. I thought I’d take the time to share some ideas about how to implement the sharing of your content among your online connections.

Lisa wrote that “[b]y connecting with [brand advocates] and empowering them to share your blog posts, your eBooks, Facebook content, etc, you strengthen their voice and get them excited about the opportunity to share insight from the front lines”. So, here are some ideas on how to implement this in practice:

1. Your Blog Posts

I use hootesuite and ping fm to distribute micro blog posts of 140 characters or less (Twitter requirement). My micro blog posts are distributed automatically to several social media pages. So, I ask folks to read, leave comments, and share my wordpress blog post. I also have my wordpress blog post tied to linkedin and it appears on my linkedin profile. In addition, I post my blog in my relevant linkedin and facebook groups. My next move is to join some yahoo groups.

2. Your Ebooks

Whenever I get a new facebook friend, linkedin connection, or twitter follower, I send them the url to our fan page where they can download a free ebook. Many ask me if they can share my the free ebook. I always encourage them to share the url. The goal is to increase traffic to our website.

I also send new connections two more calls to action. I ask them to LIKE our facebook business page; and to read and share our wordpress blog post.

3. Your Facebook Content

I am pretty engaged on Facebook. I usually read posts early in the morning. I share articles and famous quotes and tell folks what I have been up to. Folks have naturally clicked on their like button or posted feedback as a comment if they want to participate. So, I rarely have to ask folks to share the content. But, I have asked questions and that is a great way to stimulate the conversations. Also, on my firm’s Facebook business page, whenever I share web links to videos or articles, our fans can reshare the links with others. So, you can have a call to action to “Reshare”.

What strategies do you use?

By Clovia Hamilton, President, Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.

Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with nearly 30 years of government work experience and serves as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including government contracting strategic marketing plans, intellectual property, social media marketing strategic plans, and other services. Contact Clovia at:
■ Web: http://www.lemongrassplanning.com/
■ Blog: https://cloviahamilton.wordpress.com/
■ LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/cloviahamilton
■ Twitter: http://twitter.com/lemongrassplans
■ Email: chamilton@lemongrassplanning.com