Planning a New Business – Create a Sales and Marketing Process

Most folks that I talk to that want to start a new business are thinking a lot about the actual products and services that they plan to offer. They spend a small about of time thinking about how they are going to actually get customers to purchase. Even if you are planning to run a website that allows people to purchase items you still need to think about this part of the puzzle of building a business. New customers (which is all a new business has) need information and trust established to be willing to purchase.

So we need to take a step back and look at the very practical side of this with the creation of a Sales Funnel. The Funnel, like all things at this point in a business, is likely to change from the start of the business as information is learned and the School of Hard Knocks teaches its lessons. But just like any other part of the Business Plan, it is better to have and change than to have none at all.

You can find plenty of pictures of a Sales Funnel online and they all have to essential points of commonality. There are Leads that enter the top of the Funnel and customers that exit the bottom. The Leads that don’t exit out re-enter the top at some point as new Leads. The percentage of Leads that become customers is known as the Conversion Rate. You should also be able to imagine that numbers like Cost per Lead ($ spent on Marketing/Number of Leads) and Cost per Customer ($ spent on Sales+Marketing/Number of Customers) can be determined.

This leads us back to our Ideal Client – who is someone we will meet regularly along the way. The questions you should be asking are:

– Where does my Ideal Client look for my type of Products and Services? This will help you think about where and how you advertise your products. Even just a sign on your door is a form of advertising. You need to think broadly about this topic.

– What will my Ideal Client value from my Products and Services? This will help you understand your Brand and the inform Ideal Client about your value. This messaging should be added to your marketing materials. Remember, think through the eyes of the customer.

– Once an Ideal Client becomes a Lead, how do I want to convert him or her to a Customer? This will be the outline of the steps in your Sales Process. Each step along the way creates a conversion rate from step to step of through the process.

 

This Outline will generally contain multiple steps. Some of them may be small, like setting an appointment. But being clear about this helps create a thoughtful way of thinking through the information that will be needed in the Sales Process. Hopefully as well, some holes or challenges might be identified clearly . Finally, the use of a process allows measurement of different points of the process. Set goals for the measurements and adjustments can be made, making the process more efficient.

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
http://www.jimsackman.focalpointcoaching.com/
Change Your Business – Change Your Life!
Business Coaching, Sales Training, Web Marketing, Behavioral Assessments, Financial Analysis

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Net Neutrality Friday

Time to discuss the Nuclear Option. Okay, I love rhetoric but come on Title II is a regulatory change not a bomb that kills lots of people.

So, what does this mean. Title II is a part of the Telecom Act that regulates telephone companies for common carriage. Right now Internet Service is not regulated under that part of the act. To put Neutrality rules in place, today Title II is likely to only real answer. The reason I say that is that all attempts to regulate Internet Service to date have been bounced back over the fact that Internet Service is regulated as an Information Service.

The FCC can change course any day and regulate ISPs via Title II. They have not done so to date because the Internet has grown in strange and fascinating ways without heavy handed regulation. The FCC is concerned that if the regulatory paradigm shifts greatly it might impact the innovation that has happened over the last 20 years. I want to say that this seems like a reasonable concern. Phone service changed very slowly over the almost 150 years of service. Nobody would be happy if that rate of innovation was applied to the Internet.

There is one other roadblock that stands in the way of Title II. That is peering. In the phone network, the equivalent of peering exists and money exchanges hands when phone calls are made. In the real world, most of that money balanced out and little real money actually changed hands. It is not clear to me that the equivalent of what we used to call Long Distance Service (aka Internet Backbone Providers) could be excluded from Title II. If these companies are included, then the transmission of asymmetrical traffic might end up costing someone a lot of money. Today, that would be Netflix.

Yes, what I am saying is the way that most people want to fix “Net Neutrality Fast Lanes” might actually cause the charging of Netflix that I think won’t happen otherwise. You saw me and Dan Grossman debate our points of view a bit last week. But if you understand mine, the whole Fast Lane idea buys Netflix nothing so they won’t use it. I use both Netflix and Comcast today and have had no issue with either service over the past 18 months. During that time, Netflix was supposedly hampered by Comcast. I didn’t see it, so I can’t tell you that it happened for me.

Anyway have a great weekend and for those that just read this part of my blog, I might post on the 3rd but don’t count on it!

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
http://www.jimsackman.focalpointcoaching.com/
Change Your Business – Change Your Life!
Business Coaching, Sales Training, Web Marketing, Behavioral Assessments, Financial Analysis

Sonoma County: News and Notes

I want to remind everyone about my Webinar for June 26th at 9AM. This webinar is titled “Marketing in the Digital Age“. The event is free and even if you can not attend I will forward out a copy of the recorded webinar to those that signed up. Feel free to forward this blog post as an open invitation to anyone that you think might benefit from it.

The second thing I want to remind you about today is the start of a Series Google Hangouts called Profit Levers being delivered by Brian Tracy. Some of you may know that Brian is the founder of Focal Point. He is also an author and lecturer on topics of Business and Personal Achievement. The first of the series is called “How to Find More Customers” and the link to the event registration is above. This event is free as well and I will be listening to it on June 25th from 10:30 to noon.

Monday’s post that was about branding got a lot of folks reading it and liking it. I thought I would put that in context for us locally. The way I would like folks to think about it is the comparison between Sonoma County and Napa County in terms of national and international image. I live in Santa Rosa. Lots of people I talk to outside the area do not know where that is. I tell them, “North of San Francisco in the Wine Country.” Many people then ask, “So you are in Napa?” I don’t think that I can describe branding any better. People know about premium California Wines and immediately associate them with Napa. The folks in Napa County spend a lot of time and money to make sure that this is the way things are viewed. In Sonoma County, we have not spent the 20 years or all of the effort required to match Napa. Of course my answer to folks who ask if I live in Napa is, “No. Sonoma is for wine. Napa is for Auto Parts.”

Finally, I have a request. I am looking for a good contact with someone involved with Go Local! I want to understand the group a bit better and feel like it would be good to speak someone first. So please forward me a good contact. Thanks in advance!

Have a great week.

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
http://www.jimsackman.focalpointcoaching.com/
Change Your Business – Change Your Life!
Business Coaching, Sales Training, Web Marketing, Behavioral Assessments, Financial Analysis

Planning a New Business – Branding

One of the larger conversations that happens when we talk about companies is the Brand associated with the company. Branding is an interesting topic. Marketing people are bent on the creation of a premium Brand. The challenge is that they can’t do it on their own, even though they think they can.

Most people inherently understand what a Brand is when someone invokes the name of a premium Brand like Coca-Cola. The thing is that most people then associate it further with some catch phrase or tag line. The reality is that it is not that at all. What happens is that a premium Brand gets associated with a memory of some sort. That memory might be a feeling or an emotion or a place or a time.

When you are starting a new business, you simply don’t have a premium Brand. On top of that, no money you spend of marketing will provide you with one. Premium Brands are crafted over time. You can’t start out with one.

What you can do is start down the path of creating a Brand that people recognize. There are lots of ways to do that, but the first step is to think about what your Brand will be. This is very close to a Mission Statement or a Vision Statement. The thing I want you to change is perspective. Think of Brand as your Mission in the eyes of your customer. This is very much the start of the Sales Process.

Wait, hold on Branding is part of Sales? Well, yes. What I am asking you to do is think about a few items and juggle them in your head. These items are:

– Your Ideal Client
– Your Products and Services
– Your Unique Selling Proposition

Now as you mull those items over, you need to think about it in terms of your Ideal Client. What about you and the way you bring your services to your Ideal Client makes you the best choice for them. Let me use myself as an example. My tag line is quite simple: “Change Your Business – Change Your Life!” It tells my Ideal Client that I am an agent of Change. If somebody is completely happy with what they are doing and the trajectory they are on, then the probably are not going to hire me. But I want to point out the juxtaposition of Business and Life. That is the point to my Ideal Client. They are in Business for a reason. That reason lies outside their Business and my goal is to make their Business help them to meeting their Life Goal.

I use my branding message in all my communications. But the reality is unless I deliver to the promise of my Brand then it means nothing. Premium Brands have delivered on their great messages over time. Start with getting your Brand started!

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
http://www.jimsackman.focalpointcoaching.com/
Change Your Business – Change Your Life!
Business Coaching, Sales Training, Web Marketing, Behavioral Assessments, Financial Analysis

Net Neutrality Friday

Up unto this point, I have not interjected what I think very much. Because of that, I suspect that nobody has a clue of what I think. Here we go….I think that implementing services that have specialized traffic management for consumer services will drive ISPs out of business if they are done.

So, wait a minute I think you are saying. I thought the whole “Fast Lane” thing was going to be bad for the content folks. I think a broad implementation for this will be bad for the carriers. I have a lot of reasons for this and I will outline them here.

When I first got out of college, I worked for a company named Racal-Milgo. Milgo’s primary product was Leased Line Modems. These were used in IBM mainframe computer networks at places like Banks, Airlines, and Financial Services companies. To maximize the throughput of these networks, our customers used to get what were called “Conditioned Lines” from telcos. One of the big selling features for our products at Milgo was that we could measure whether the carriers were actually providing the service that the customer had ordered as a “Conditioned Line”. If the telco was not, the company got a refund.

If you are going to “sell” improved network performance, it is going to come with a Service Level Agreement (SLA). A company like Netflix is going to measure your network performance and want to get its extra money refunded if the SLA is not met. You can see Netflix already measuring and reporting problems in the Verizon Cease and Desist Letter.

In the consumer world, there are exactly 2 networks of scale: The Phone Network and The Internet. These two networks use the simplest forms of traffic management. Nobody has ever built a network that can run 10s of Millions of Endpoints with any other behavior. I don’t believe that a network can be implemented with very complex traffic management at that scale. Maybe such a network can be built in the distant future, but not today and not for a long time. It is not just a matter of compute power, it is a problem of network design.

Now to try to make a network that might be able to run the kind of service that a Netflix might buy into will require a substantial change in the equipment deployed throughout all layers of the network. This will cost a LOT more money than the current network AND the network will have to be deployed before a single dollar can be gained from a single potential customer. Between that and the way around dispute resolution, I think this is a game that can’t be won by the carriers.

So if this is TL:DR for you here are my arguments summarized:
– Specialized Connections have been around for over 30 years
– Even 30 years ago, Companies measured to make sure they were getting what they paid for
– Telcos failed to deliver even on the 1000s of such circuits that were static back then
– Companies were reimbursed for failure to meet contracts even then
– Why does anyone think that Telcos and Cablecos can now do this at the scale of 10s of Millons?

I think that people will find that this topic gets explored and never implemented once an actual conversation around an actual service and an actual SLA happens.

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
http://www.jimsackman.focalpointcoaching.com/
Change Your Business – Change Your Life!
Business Coaching, Sales Training, Web Marketing, Behavioral Assessments, Financial Analysis

Sonoma County: News and Notes

I want to remind everyone about my Webinar for June 26th at 9AM. This webinar is titled “Marketing in the Digital Age”. The event is free and even if you can not attend I will forward out a copy of the recorded webinar to those that signed up. Feel free to forward this blog post as an open invitation to anyone that you think might benefit from it. LinkedIn has a glitch today with hyperlinks today so I am posting all click through links at the bottom just above my signature.

The second thing I want to post about today is the start of a Series Google Hangouts called Profit Levers being delivered by Brian Tracy. Some of you may know that Brian is the founder of Focal Point. He is also an author and lecturer on topics of Business and Personal Achievement. The first of the series is called “How to Find More Customers” and the link to the event registration is below. This event is free as well and I will be listening to it on June 25th from 10:30 to noon.

Today, I want to circle back to one of the issues in our local economy that I talked about earlier this year. Water is the lifeblood of not just the people of Sonoma County, but its business as well. Vineyards, Wineries, Breweries, Distilleries and Food Manufacturers depend on water to be able to exist. Taken together these represent a huge percentage of Sonoma County’s Economy. Add in the Hospitality that derives from these businesses as well.

I want you to think critically about this and know that Napa is far ahead of us in this regard. We are in danger of becoming monolithic as an economy. I know everyone does not work in the wine business. But I want you to think about what would happen if it goes away. On top of that, we are essentially a cash crop export economy. When you want an example of this in American History, just go back to antebellum Deep South. Something to think about.

Now back to my concern of being monolithic. I grew up outside a small mill town in Upstate New York called Schuylerville. None of you have heard of it, but it is the place the General Burgoyne surrendered after the Battles of Saratoga in the American Revolution. The local economy was based primarily around farming (mostly Dairy) and mills (mostly paper). In the 70s, New York changed some regulations and within a few years the mills disappeared.

Many of the folks that I knew lost their jobs and the local economy went into free fall. A New York Times Author (James Howard Kunstler) wrote a piece about the town called “Schuylerville Stands Still”. I have seen the results of an economy gone bad, and I think we all need to be thoughtful about this. Folks taking advantage of our local climate and natural beauty to build a living is a good thing. But I think we a mix of businesses to make our community work.

Have a great week! Now for Links:

Schuylerville Stands Still – http://www.nytimes.com/1990/03/25/magazine/schuylerville-stands-still.html

Marketing in the Digital Age – http://www.eventbrite.com/e/marketing-in-the-digital-age-a-webinar-tickets-11777840839

Brian Tracy’s Profit Levers – http://www.focalpointcoaching.com/webform/profit-levels-series-google-hangout-brian-tracy

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
http://www.jimsackman.focalpointcoaching.com/
Change Your Business – Change Your Life!
Business Coaching, Sales Training, Web Marketing, Behavioral Assessments, Financial Analysis