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Beware: The Quick Quote

Quick quotes are better in Xero, MYOB or QuickBooks to collect prospect customers contact details

Don’t get the details and say goodbye to even more money!

Quick quotes are better in Xero, MYOB or QuickBooks to collect prospect customers contact detailsIN THE PAST I wrote a blog titled Three Mistakes That Will Cost Your Business Thousands in Lost Revenue. Here I explored the importance of timeliness when it comes to quoting for work. However, there’s a difference between timeliness and a quick quote.

A painter I know was asked to give a quick price on how much it would cost to paint a room the same size as one he was currently working on. He said it would cost around $300, and that was that. The problem?

He didn’t get their details!

As I’ve mentioned in three Mistakes That Will Cost Your Business Thousands in Lost Revenue, you must always get a prospect’s name and contact details, so you can follow up on their interest in working with you.

Don’t assume that they’ll contact you if they want the work done. Sometimes they might, but most of the time the person will wait for YOU to close the sale. If you don’t, they’ll simply assume you’re not interested or too busy, and they’ll go find someone who is more interested.

Don’t know the job specifics?

Then ask for information on the following:

  • Where is the job located?
  • What’s the condition of the room?
  • Does it have ornate ceilings, picture rails or skirting boards that complicate the job?

Even if our case study example; in this instance, the painter, was going to give a quick quote; he should be sure to make clear that it’s a rough quote that may change depending on those things.

Does the quote include paint?

Selling Academy Sales Training Courses logoUsually, the answer to this question is no. But the painter should make this clear. Often the cost of paint is the most expensive part of the job, and that $300 paint job might just be closer to double, depending on the type of paint used. Remember, people all too often confuse pricing a little on the low side, with winning work (and then making it work for you). In reality, this is usually mistake.

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Our EzyStartup Course will you teach you about pricing your services, business planning, marketing, and running your small business efficiently. Visit our website for more information or to enrol — OR stay tuned by subscribing to our blog.  Remember too: right now, for every student that enrols, you become part of our Lifelong Learning Hub where you can access our Selling Academy Sales Success Training Course absolutely FREE. 

 

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Sometimes “Real World” Marketing, Not Digital, is More Appropriate

start your own business
It’s not unusual to obtain new work because people in need of your services spot you working on your current job. But chance is one thing – how can you improve the odds of making this happen?

IF YOU’RE A TRADIE, working as a plumber, builder or carpenter, handyman, gardener or electrician, then you probably already know that some of the best jobs come by referral.

Identify “real world” marketing opportunities

During my recent renovation of an investment property in Newcastle, most of the good tradies would tell me, “Someone you’re working on a job with on Monday will ask you to do a job for them somewhere else on Friday, or a neighbour of a client will ask you to do some work for them.” I soon saw from other tradespeople how “work can come to you just because someone happens to be walking by while you’re on the job” — gardeners get a lot of work this way, for example.

The important thing in this scenario is to act efficiently in finding out what the potential client needs, finding out what else is important, and then selling them on your services. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Kristine Seymour, an experienced sales person and business builder, for the Sales Training Course at the Australian Small Business Centre (ASBC). She spoke in detail about how to act when your future income depends on how well you can sell. This Sales Training Course is available on the EzyLearn LMS.

Take advantage of business opportunities

This course is also available to new licencees for the National Bookkeeping Business Opportunity. The key to getting new clients is to be proactive and take advantage of these on-the-spot business opportunities by using some “real world” marketing tactics. These skills can be used even if you are just looking for part-time clients or doing bookkeeping or marketing as a side hustle — more on side hustles in a forthcoming blog. 

Some “real-world marketing” examples

Another good example of a real-world marketing tactic is to conduct a letterbox drop in the local area where you’ve just started work. Clearly, this lets residents in the area know you’re working there, what you do, and that you are available.

This alone may lead to thousands of dollars in additional revenue if even just a few people get in touch. But always, it’s vital to keep track of what marketing you do and where leads are coming from. It’s vital to schedule quotes and start dates for work and so forth, and have a handle on Office Productivity Software like Microsoft Office or Google G Suite. These will not only help you organise your workload, but you’ll also appear organised and professional to your clients.

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Learn more about both digital and face-to-face (networking) marketing in our EzyStartup Training Course. Visit our website for more information or to enrol.


learn online training Xero courses videos for less

Our Xero online training courses include EVERYTHING for ONE LOW PRICE. Furthermore, if you select our Lifetime Membership option, you’ll have LIFETIME access to our ongoing course updates. All EzyLearn courses are accredited by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses.


REF #688

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Don’t Wing It With Customer Service – Plan It

Great customer service doesn’t just happen.

learn online training videos about small business customer service
If you’re unsure about what makes up the kind of customer service people rave about, then perhaps you should look into our EzyStartUp Course.

HOW TO PROVIDE REALLY exceptional customer service is just one of the modules covered in our EzyStartUp Course which teaches you all about how to start up your own business.

We handpicked this inclusion as our experience is that, time and time again, good, nay excellent customer service goes a long way to ensuring a business has longevity.

We’ve mentioned in a previous post the issues inherent with Zoho’s customer service, which wasn’t bad as much as it was hampered by geographical differences and the strength of Aussie customers dealing with Aussie customer service workers and telephone operators.

Defying customer expectations

For many, good customer service is something many of us have come not to expect. Most of the time when you go into shops to buy something, you come prepared – you’ve already researched the kind of TV you want online and why, and you know the sales girl will never tell you if your butt looks big in those jeans.

Is there too much churn and burn?

Is churn and burn a problem with the quality of customer service? Certainly in many chain or department stores now, where there’s a huge turnover of staff, many employers seem to have given up on trying to teach their staff the art of customer service.

And the ambivalence toward customer service has slowly crept into other areas of business, as companies downsize, move online, or shift jobs offshore.

As a business owner, I have always prided myself on providing the very best customer service possible. When I moved EzyLearn online, one of my major concerns was how would I manage the customer service side of the business, now that my customer service resources had shrunk?

Using a ticketing support system

That’s when I decided to use the Zen Desk ticketing support system to manage all of my online customer enquiries. Zen Desk does this in a way that’s professional for my customers and also easy for me and my team to use.

Incidentally, Zoho also offers a similar support ticketing service and, like most of the Zoho products, the most basic offering is free to use forever. But even if your business decides to use a ticketing support system like Zen Desk or Zoho, remember: It’s only as good as the customer service processes you implement for your business.

Good customer service is structured

Fantastic customer service — the kind that makes people tell their friends and keep coming back to you for their purchases — doesn’t just happen. This is why we cover customer service in our EzyStartUp Course. Most people don’t realise that, like everything else in business, you have to plan to deliver good customer service. And as the business changes, your strategy can adapt and change too.

This might take the shape of a policy which outlines things such as ensuring phone calls aren’t answered before the third ring (so as to not startle or fluster callers), replying to emails within a few working hours (even if it’s just to say you’re looking into the issue), or following up on sales enquiries with a phone call (which increases conversion rates).

Definitely use tools like Zen Desk to help you fine tune your customer service policies, but remember that good customer service starts with you. Develop your customer service strategy (our EzyStartUp Course can help you) and commit to it.

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Planning how you’ll provide great customer service — that’s what’ll give you the edge over other businesses. Good customer service is so rare these days that when people find it, they flock to it. So find your flock, and if you need help, take our EzyStartUp Course.


learn online training Xero courses videos for less

Our Xero online training courses include EVERYTHING for ONE LOW PRICE. Furthermore, if you select our Lifetime Membership option, you’ll have LIFETIME access to our ongoing course updates. All EzyLearn courses are accredited by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses. 


 

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Present Your Sales Process on Your Website

Use PPT to “teach” your clients how you do business

show sales process with powerpoint
Powerpoint slides are a great way of presenting sometimes complex information very simply.

PowerPoint has many different uses, chief among them being a sales presentation for prospects. Another excellent use for PowerPoint is to illustrate your sales process, and then add it to your website.

If you’re a bookkeeper or real estate agent or someone else who sells professional services, rather than products, providing valuable information about your business or explaining the way it operates can help convert more visitors into customers.

People scan for valuable information

Most of the time, when someone comes to your website for the first time, they’re scanning it to see if you meet a certain criteria they have for a potential supplier.

This could be based on price, services, turnaround times, or something else. If they can’t find this information quickly and easily, they’ll generally move on somewhere else.

Use PowerPoint to convert visitors

Creating a PowerPoint presentation that contains this information, which you can upload slide-at-a-time, or altogether as a video, is an excellent way to present this information to visitors of your website.

How you determine what to include in your presentation depends on how well you’ve identified your ideal customer.

Explain how your business operates

This is very useful for bookkeepers and other businesses that have a particular way of working with their clients. Take prospects step-by-step through your process, so they know exactly how your operate and what to expect before they even contact you.

This helps demystify the process, which makes people feel more at ease with the practice of hiring you, and also shows you’re transparent about process, and that makes you trustworthy.

The fewer questions prospects have about you and your business, the more comfortable they will feel about contact and hiring you.

You can use PowerPoint to explain any of your business’s processes that involve the customer, whether it’s your returns or refund policy, setup procedures, or technical support.


learn PowerPoint online training course

Our PowerPoint training courses will teach you how to create persuasive PowerPoint presentations that will convert visitors. Alternatively, our sales training courses will show you how to identify and target your business’s ideal customer. 


 

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Do you have tender writing and advanced Microsoft Word skills?

Tenders help building and contractor companies win new clients

Mat from Ultraflow talking about tendering for work for small business sales and marketing coursesThe sales stages for wining new business in the building and construction industry can be a lengthy process that starts with specification and design. An architect will create a design from meetings with clients and gradually this design will turn into a multi-million dollar building that functions perfectly but how does the builder find the right team and resources? By tendering out the work.

Is tendering a sales, marketing or procurement process?

sales training - tendering process to win new clients and businessI was speaking with Mat, the Managing Director of UltraFlow Siphonics for our Small Business Marketing and Small Business Sales Courses and he mentioned to me that they could literally be doing tenders every hour of every day. He mentioned that there are many different tendering portals where small (or larger) businesses can register and tender for the work that is available and that the key to a successful tender strategy is to narrow down the tenders you go for to one where your business is suited.

When a retailer sells a widget in a shop, that widget is clearly defined and the buying process is often quick and even impulsive but larger works use the tender process to clearly define what they are looking for and try to flush out as many bidders as possible. When the bidders are identified the goal for the organisation offering the tender is to get the best possible result at the cheapest possible price – weighing every aspect of the tender of course.

Go for tenders that meet the sweet spot criteria for your companies capabilities so you can perform them efficiently and profitably

Strong Microsoft Word skills are important

It is important to have excellent Microsoft Word skills if you are a tender writer because tender documents are long and often very detailed. Sometimes the tender documents are provided by the offerer and it’s important to be able to move around the tender document swiftly. Our Microsoft Word course includes every skill level from Beginners to Advanced so unlike some training companies which make you choose between one course or another we include everything.

Common Microsoft Word tools used in long and detailed documents are

  • Styles (covered in our Microsoft Word Advanced Course) – enable you to format areas of text quickly and keep that formatting consistent through the document. Much like the headings on our website pages and in our workbooks.
  • Table of Contents (Advanced Word Course) – enables you to quickly insert a table of contents based on heading styles that can automatically update the pages.
  • Document Map – enables you to quickly navigate long documents using heading styles
  • Sections and Breaks – ensure that main headings are on new pages and enable you to have selected pages print in landscape rather than portrait.

Australian Government resources for tendering

Here are some sites that have information about the tendering process to win government work:

Federal Government

Tenders Website

Commonwealth Contracting Suite

State Governments

New South Wales: Small to Medium Business Suppliers

Victoria: supplying to Victorian Government

Queensland: Tips for writing successful tender bids for Qld Government

South Australia: Standard Tender and Contract Documents for SA

Are you an experienced tender writer?

If you have experience writing tender documents for companies to win business we’d like to hear from you to get your perspective. I’m currently working on interviews with successful business owners for our small business courses and if you are Sydney-based there is an opportunity to contribute to our course and build your online profile at the same time. If you fit the description send an email to support@ezylearn.com.au (you MUST be Australian based and ideally from Sydney).

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What to do at a networking event

Networking Event Tasks: Step 1 – Let people like you

networking2
Once you start networking it becomes easier and more natural.

Whether you’re starting a new business or hoping to expand your existing one, networking can be your life support. Successful networking helps you to find and connect with like-minded individuals, with whom you can share your experiences as a new (or established) business owner, and gain valuable insights on the ways you can grow and develop your own business.

I’ve written about networking before, because I think it’s something every business owner should engage in regularly to complement their current marketing strategies. Networking with other business owners not only gives you access to a great brains trust to provide you with tips and advice, but it’s also a great opportunity to use referral marketing to grow your business.

What is networking exactly?

Many people think networking events and groups are places people go to sell their products or services to other attendees, but that’s not actually what a networking group or event are about at all.

[quote]The true definition of networking is ‘the process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts’.[/quote]

That being said, as a business owner, you should always look for new or potential business opportunities in everything you do. This is how you can help to grow and expand your business. But, where discussing your business might not always be appropriate in typical social settings, at a networking group it’s more than welcome; it’s encouraged.

Networking is a balancing act of meeting people and being social, while also looking for opportunities that will help take your business to the next level. To achieve this balance and make meaningful connections with other business owners that will prove beneficial to your business requires planning beforehand.

How can networking help your business?

If you run a home-based business, it’s not uncommon to find that you can go entire days and weeks without interacting with another person on a professional level. This lack of interaction is not only isolating, but it can prove detrimental to your productivity and the continued growth of your business.

Your business needs new, fresh ideas and perspectives to thrive, and networking groups and events can help to connect you with people who can provide you with those ideas. They also give you the opportunity to do the same for other business owners, which is what makes the arrangement so mutually beneficial.

Take the following real-life example, for instance:

A home-based bookkeeper was looking for advice about her website and how she could increase her search engine rankings and traffic to her website. She’d previously enlisted the help of SEO experts and web developers and funnelled a lot of money into her website, but she felt it still wasn’t performing well – it wasn’t mobile, for instance, and she felt the copy could read better. The bookkeeper decided to go to a networking group of small business owners who were meeting to discuss online marketing, in the hope that someone might have some advice for her or could refer someone who could help. There she met another small business owner, who operated a content marketing agency and who advised her on how to increase her web presence by blogging, creating shareable content, and optimising her Google My Business page; the agency also had an in-house web designer and developer. The bookkeeper was so impressed with the content marketing advice she received, particularly the tips on Google My Business, that she hired the content marketing agency to manage all of her content marketing, including updating her website so it was mobile; they, in turn, referred a number of fairly big clients to the bookkeeper.

Five ways to succeed at networking

The key takeaway from the above example was that the bookkeeper went to a particular networking group with a goal in mind: to solve her online marketing issues. She was seeking qualified advice from other business owners who could empathise with her situation and perhaps recommend a course of action or someone qualified to help. She received both. At the networking group, she met a person who was willing to give her advice that she could implement at herself. Because she’d received useful advice before that worked, she felt safe in her decision to trust the agency to manage all of her content marketing.

So what are the five main things you can do to ensure the next networking group or event you attend is successful? Well, it starts with goal setting.

  1. Network with a purpose:

Like our bookkeeper in the example above, you need to determine what your needs are and why you’re going to a networking group or event, in the first place. If it’s to find advice on how to improve your web presence, select networking groups with a focus on operating a business in the online world; if it’s merely to share the experience of operating a small business with other business owners in your local community, choose one in your area with that focus.

  1. Research:

Now that you’ve established your networking goals, it’s time to find the networking group or event that will deliver them. Check out the attendees and members of some networking events or groups to see which ones are most suited to your business and your networking goals. Once you’ve identified some people you think are worth pursuing at a glance, research them online. Check our their LinkedIn profile, website and other social media. This’ll not only help you to further refine your list of people to connect with at each networking group, but it’ll also help you to find some common interests to discuss with them when you do meet.

  1. Brainstorm some questions:

Before you attend any networking event, think of some questions that you’d like to ask the group or any individual member. It may seem like a waste of time, but it will help to ensure that, even if the other attendees are unprepared, at least you’re going to come away one step closer to reach the goals you set out for your business in the first place. Having targeted questions also helps to show the other attendees that you’re interested and engaged, rather than just there to kill time.

  1. Establish your presence:

Show the group that you’re somebody worth knowing and that your contribution to the group is as valuable as everyone else’s. It’s worthwhile remembering that some groups only allow one member from one profession only, to ensure there’s meaningful business opportunities for everyone attending, so you need to show that you’re worthwhile keeping around on a regular basis. Listen, be attentive, show you’re there to help other’s problem-solve just as you are there to problem-solve for yourself. Always be willing to share and contribute ideas, but know when to back off so as not to be the guy who hogs the conversation and makes the group all about him.

  1. Establish connections and follow-up:

Don’t just hand out and collect business cards willy-nilly. Your goal should be to establish a real connection with people that you’d like to add to your professional network of contacts and, in turn, be that person to them too. Exchange business cards, email addresses or other contact information and try to make a plan to meet-up outside of the networking group. After each event or meet-up, follow-up with each person you’ve exchanged details with. It’s probably taking to too far to call, unless you’ve made an arrangement to meet already, but otherwise sending an email or connecting on social media like LinkedIn is a good place to start.

Follow these five steps each time you attend a networking group or event, and you’re unlikely to go wrong. If you’d like to read more about networking and how you can make it work for your business, continue reading our blog. Otherwise, it’s time to get out there!