As I spend most of my time speaking to small, local business owners I have found that many of them feel overwhelmed from the technological advances that are being made; actually they may just have gotten a website up only to find, it's not well optimized for SEO, the nav is poor and the look does not portray their business well--and now there's blogging, Facebook, Google Analytics, Twitter etc...seems like a lot, and what should be done to increase my exposure? One question in this slower economy looms for small business owners, and that's "what can I do right now to help me close more business?" In offering what I will call a "Small Business Lifeline" here are 5 quick things that just about any small business owner can do right now:
1. If you advertise in the yellow pages, make absolutely sure that a link to your website appears at the bottom of your Superpages etc. space. So many local businesses ignore this, making them all but invisible to potential customers; if your competition has a link and you don't, you've already lost the business.
2. If you still advertise in print or on local tv, get your domain (www...) into the advertisement. This will increase your site traffic, and enhance your ability to win new customers.
3. Get your domain on EVERYTHING. We had a customer in Pittsburgh who put his domain on his trucks, and he gets calls from potential customers who viewed his website all because they saw his website address as he drove down the street!
4. Google your competition. Sun Tzu..."know your enemy." Enough said.
5. Most importantly: Ask for the order!
Most businesspeople don't realize that they are in sales, guess again. Unfortunately most of us would rather not risk the "no" than asking at all. In this economy getting business is a slug fest, so don't be afraid to just ask, the worst they can do is say no.
More to come on the "Small Business Lifeline."
Thanks for reading my rant. Preston Ehrler
The Bramlett Agency had a very confusing site that was difficult to navigate and did not convey what exactly they did--they needed a redesigned website that was clear and concise.
Erythromycin Dosage, Webvantix recently did a complete redo of our website. Working with Preston and the Webvantix team was a great experience, from the quick turn-around of site development to the precise candidate interaction with the team. The result was a much more aesthetically pleasing and user friendly site.
--Kathy Hattansty, Director of Marketing, The Bramlett Agency, Ardmore, Oklahoma
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Over the weekend I was discussing sales prospecting with a friend who owns a local real estate agency. We were discussing how the relative "easy" time of showing houses and making a sale were over, and that true "prospecting" now had to be incorporated into every agent's/salesperson's day. Although Webvantix creates and designs websites, I believe at the heart of Webvantix, and every business, a sale must be made. Just as Webvantix must illustrate to a prospective customer that an investment in a "professional" website is actually an investment that will yield long-term positive results, any business, whether they are a roofer, carpenter, Real Estate Agent or Dog Kennel, must follow the basic tenet that before someone utilizes your product or service, they must comprehend the specific advantages you offer--therefore, regardless, you are at the very core of your business, a salesperson.
That being said, and to the heart of this post, I have found it extremely helpful to "track" my sales efforts, and have developed a tracking system that looks at my daily, weekly, monthly and annual efforts. This program essentially tracks the result of each outgoing and incoming call. The reports are in no way perfect, as they are constantly being tweaked, but it's much better than most of what's out there, and it enables me to honestly assess my work--the harder I see the outgoing effort, the better the results. Essentially, the harder I work, the luckier I get. Now, please understand, I did not mean to insinuate that I invented sales tracking or its benefits, I actually got the idea from a sales book "How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success In Selling" by Frank Bettger--the author was inspired by Dale Carnegie (the author of "How to Win Friends and Influence People.") In his book, Bettger was failing at sales and decided to begin to track his efforts, thus leading to much greater success. Even though the book was published in 1947, I still found it very helpful!
If you're interested in my tracking system (which is several Excel spreadsheets, please email me and I'll forward them to you--free). email@example.com
Good luck in this tough environment, and thanks for reading my rant...more to come soon.