“I’m a small business, what do I do about sales people who keep calling?”

sales, person, sales person, salesman

Sales person

As you grow or want to grow you’ll be dealing with a few sales people…quite a few. Especially if you’re good at what you do. After awhile it can be annoying, and you can start to get rude with the people calling you every day. DON’T!

There’s a stat floating around that 80% of the workforce is in sales in one way shape or form. I’m a believer that we’re all in sales, after all how did you sell yourself in the interview to get the job you have today? Or how did you get the public to consume your product no matter what it is?

I understand you can’t give everyone a piece of your time. As a small business owner, you’re extremely strapped for time. Here are some things to keep in mind from a guy who’s been, and continues to be, on both sides of the coin:

1) Sales people are people too. This is how they support themselves and / or their family. Remember when you were starting out, and you wished people would give you a speckle of their time? That’s the same thing with sales folks. They just want a bit of your time to prove they are worthy of yours. Some sales people are better at it then others, but don’t let the bad ones sour your mood.

2) Get a gatekeeper, but ensure everything gets filtered to you. Your gatekeeper is probably not REALLY invested in your business. They are there to get a pay check, and at the end of the day, if they’re passing up amazing opportunities on your behalf, they’re only hurting you, and your profits (I’ve seen this on numerous occasions due to the gatekeeper being lazy). Not to mention – if your business fails, no sweat off their back – they’ll be able to do the same thing somewhere else while you’re left holding the bag.

3) Sales people are consumers, and there’s lots of sales people, so there’s plenty of opportunities for you to impress. When a sales person gets through to you think of it in two ways A) It’s an opportunity for you to grow your business. B) It’s an opportunity to SELL your business to that sales person. I can’t tell you how many rude people I’ve encountered who are business owners. And guess what – their businesses aren’t doing so well. The most successful owners I’ve seen are almost always willing to hear a pitch. Even if it’s only for 5 minutes over the phone. These owners are also respectful of the sales person, and THEIR time.

Let me elaborate some more on the last point. If you piss off a sales person, think about how connected they are. They know other business owners, they have family, friends, etc… It’s been said that one person can influence 150, so effectively if you’ve pissed off 10 sales people in a day – you’ve effectively soured 1500 people on your business. Not a very smart business plan if you ask me.

All in all, don’t be rude. It looks bad on you, your business, and your employees. I’m always willing to give someone trying to hock something a bit of their time because you never know. Think about how many people Mark Zuckerberg tried to get in front of, and how many times he was rejected because he was trying to sell something. I bet the people who wouldn’t even give him their time are kicking themselves now.

Is every sales person going to come at you with an amazing idea? In one word, “No,” but the WORST thing you can do is come off as an arrogant ass who doesn’t think the sales person is worthy of your time. I can’t predict the future, but I know what’s happened in the past. If you’re an ass to the sales people who call you day in and day out – you’re probably an ass to your customers, and your employees. When you’re an ass to all of these people, you’ll be one lonely ass out on the street looking for work.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

“I’m a small business, what should I do about the non-believers?”

non-believer, marketing, blog

Okay, this isn’t a question that comes up very often, but if you own a business, hell if you have parents, you’ll get what’s coming next.

In life, and in business, there’s always going to be believers, and non-believers. For example – I’ve recently been working with a startup who’s going into a fairly competitive space. The owner was chatting with another owner in a similar field, and the conversation went cold. This other owner was a non-believer. This could be crippling to you, but it doesn’t have to be.

For whatever reason – we’re programmed to always remember the bad opposed to the good. In a day you could have 95 positive experiences, but when you lay your head down at night you mull over the 1 negative experience. Think about it – it’s always the terrible customers you run into that stick with you. It goes the other way around too. As a consumer, you always remember the negative experiences you’ve had with a company, and you’ll be the first to write a negative review. On the other hand, as a consumer, you rarely champion the positive experiences. I can think of numerous cases of poor customer service, etc…And yet, I can only remember a handful of positive cases. Although the positive outweigh the poor, I only remember the poor.

So what can you do?

I’ve found numerous ways to combat this negativity from non-believers. The first is to go at it head on. You can challenge the non-believer, and ask him / her about why he / she feels the way he / she does. Sometimes they’ll respond, sometimes they won’t. If they don’t…get them out of your life immediately. You can’t please everyone.

The second is to use it as motivation. I recently ran into a non-believer when starting a new venture. The funny thing is – the other people I’ve reached out to are 100% behind me, and think my latest venture is a GREAT idea. However, there’s always going to be sceptics. And sceptics are good – they keep you honest, but when the believers grossly outweigh the non-believers – stick with the believers.

This guy basically tore down my idea, and ripped my confidence. It literally ruined my day – I couldn’t function. So, I got up the next day, put an image of him in my mind, and said, “I’m going to prove this guy wrong.” This dude is now my one of my main motivations to be successful in my latest venture. In a way, I should probably be thanking him.

Conversely, if the non-believers outweigh the believers, than you should maybe find something else to do. The biggest key is to surround yourself with people you trust, and ask them about your idea. I’ve been lucky enough to find people who can keep me honest, and not sugar coat things.

Think about your parents for second. How many times have they not believed in something you’ve wanted to do? Think about the motivation it gave you to do it. “Honey! Don’t stand so close to the pool!” Screw you, I’m going to tip-toe on the side MOM! I’m a big boy!

As you get older, and your business grows the non-believers will grow. Forget about them or use them as motivation, and flip your psychology to think about the 97% in the believer column. One trick – at the end of the day – look back and think about a positive experience you had, then think about a negative one. Smile, and let the negative one go, and take a mental snapshot of the positive experience. Or literally take a picture of your customer, and post it in your store or office. That way, every day when you walk in, you’ll have the faces of great customers smiling back at you.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

“I’m a small business, how do I take it to the next level?”

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It’s the climb…

It’s one of the questions I get all the time when I’m speaking with small business owners, “How do I get to the next level?” The ‘next level’ is a pretty vague statement, but let’s work with it a bit.

As an owner, there are thousands of thoughts clouding your head on a daily basis of what to do next. “Should I expand the warehouse, purchase a new facility, bring in another line of product, hire a marketing person,” etc…etc…

There is no wrong answer in this scenario, but whatever you choose to do, you have to do it full on, and be prepared for what happens if it fails.

One of the best ways to figure out what to do next is to do the ‘Force Field Analysis.’ Take a piece of paper, and draw a horizontal line. Mark it as “Day 1.” Then draw three arrows going up from that line, and draw another line. Label it “Today.” Then ask yourself, “What are three things that took me from Day 1 to where I am today?”

Then draw another horizontal line above the “Today” line, and label it “Next Level.” Draw three arrows down from this line, then ask yourself, “What are three things preventing me from getting to the next level?”

This will clear your mind, and allow you to focus in on what’s really important. Then circle one of those items, and devote your time to it. The ‘Force Field Analysis’ may not be the right thing for you, but I’ve found it to work time, and time again. Google ‘Force Field Analysis’ to see what I’m talking about. This is a great exercise to curb ‘analysis paralysis.’

If you’re still having a difficult time figuring out what to do next, ask an employee or someone who you trust to give you open, honest feedback.

If all else fails, you can always ask a mentor of yours (more on that here) or call up a business you respect, and ask them what they would do in your situation.

Or you could always shoot me an email at effumarketing@gmail.com. I read every message, and I’d be happy to help, as long as you aren’t an asshole.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

PS. I think this post sets the record for most quotation marks in an article under 500 words.

I’m a small business, where do I go for help?

Help, I need help, small business help

HELP!

80% of businesses will close their doors within the first five years. I heard this stat yesterday, and I’m not going to take the time to Google it right now.

I don’t know the main cause for the above, but I can almost guarantee it has to do with ego. If you’re running a business, you think you’re the best, you can do no wrong, etc… etc… Unfortunately, the general public doesn’t think about you in this way.

It’s similar in the technology startup world. “Dude, did you hear about what we’re doing? Ya, we’re going to change the world!” When in reality, only 1 in 10 statups ever take off, and out of those, very few will ‘change the world.’ It doesn’t matter if you went to an Ivy League school, or you have this crazy business acumen, 1 in 10 will be successful past a few years.

When I was starting out, I thought I knew it all, and I didn’t need help. Wow! Was I ever wrong. The world slapped me in the face on numerous occasions. Then, I checked my ego, and started to ask for help.

There are many routes you can go to find help. I’m not going to list all of them here, but the below items are what I’ve found to be the most powerful for myself, and others I’ve spoken with.

1) Find someone you know who currently runs a successful business, and ask to ‘pick their brain.’ Even if you don’t know this person, pick up the phone, shoot them an email, or connect with them through social media. Mention you’re a business owner, and you’re looking for help. This person could be a mentor for you. Once you have one mentor, don’t be afraid to ask for another. And don’t be afraid to ask someone who’s in a similar business to yours.

Quick anecdote – I recently was working with a startup, and found a direct competitor in their lane of business. I said we should reach out to this competitor to get an idea of the challenges, opportunities, etc… Of course, there was resistance from this startup. “They’re our competitor, why would they help us?” #1 – people like being asked for advice. #2 – you’re trying to grow the market, and I’m positive they’d like to grow their market / revenues just as you would. So, we reached out, and within 15 minutes we had a response, and set up a Skype chat.

2) Read – this has been the most effective for me. I usually comb through my feeds every morning, and read every night before I go to bed. If I find an interesting article or book – I usually try to reach out to its author to again, ‘pick their brain.’

By the way, if you’re looking for a decent script to reach out to just about anyone – feel free to shoot me an email at effUmarketing@gmail.com.

3) Do the things you don’t like doing. This was the pitfall with my dad. He has his own business, but he had to shut down his storefront due to numerous reasons, but mainly due to his stubbornness in only doing what he wanted to do. He didn’t like the accounting aspect, so he let it slide; therefore cash flow started to hurt, and BAM! CREDITORS! If you don’t like accounting, find an accountant, if you don’t like selling, find a salesperson, if you can’t afford the aforementioned, suck it up, and DO IT!

Finally, I’ve also found this site to be very helpful when it comes to the areas of any / all small businesses. It’s small business owners, helping small business owners. Check it out at www.businessingmag.com.

As always, you can reach out to me on Twitter, LinkedIn or email at effUmarketing@gmail.com. I read every message.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

I’m a small business, how do I get publicity?

publicity, effUmarketing

Getting stuff for free or close to free is always tough. Working in / with the media industry for as long as I have, I can tell you right away, you’ll need to offer some VALUE in order to get publicity.

#1 thing to keep in mind – you’ll have to offer a media company something whether it’s your product, or a small chunk of change in order to be seen / heard.

Who to call or reach out to

You may be inclined to speak with a sales person or management when it comes to getting publicity. DON’T! Try to go to the bottom of the totem poll first as these people are usually underpaid, and under appreciated. If you fluff them with some of your product they’ll probably be willing to go the extra mile for you. Management, and some of the more senior personalities are more prone to turn you down, because throughout their career they’ve caught on to how the game works.

Here are some ways to get the word out about your product / service for next to nothing:

  • Connect with a radio, TV or journalist by calling them, emailing them or reaching out to them through social media. Say you listen to them, watch them or read them on a regular basis (you probably should know a little bit about them before you reach out).
  • Once you’ve connected, offer to drop off your product or meet in person to discuss your service. DO THIS IN PERSON. I can’t tell you how many meaningless press releases media companies get on a daily basis. Very rarely do companies show up in person to showcase their product / service. DON’T BE LAZY.
  • If there is some resistance from the on-air personality, try contacting the promotions or marketing department. They may be able to help you out. You’ll probably have to throw something their way like a free dinner, or a night out to the movies (have something on hand of VALUE).
  • Try asking about contesting whether it’s over the air (very unlikely), on the website (getting warmer) or through the media companies social media platforms (Bingo!). I can guarantee you the media company has a way stronger following on their social media platforms, their app, and / or website than you do. Try to leverage this by giving the promotions or marketing department the opportunity to giveaway your product or service online.
  • PROVIDE SOMETHING OF VALUE. 10% off is not value. A free dinner when you bring a friend, and spend more than $40 is not value. If you’re going to give something away. MAKE IT BIG! Stop thinking about how you need to make money off of your offer right away. Make your giveaway meaningful, like haircuts for a year or a dinner for two up to $100 (or however much it costs to get an appetizer, two entree’s, dessert, and a couple drinks).

Yes, this will cost you some product / service. Yes, it may cost you a small media buy, but it’s worth it. Think about the amount of people you’ll reach by getting the publicity.

My favourite way of getting publicity

Go after a known brand (stick your stake in the sand – more on that here). If you’re a new restaurant, why not take on a chain, and say you’re against them. If you source your product locally, go after the ‘big guys’ and get the conversation started with your consumers, “Where do you think they get their food from?” A good example of this is Chipotle in the US. They started out attacking the ‘big guys’ in a non-direct way about food, and where it comes from (now, Chipotle is one of the ‘big guys’). You will probably piss some people off by doing this, but that’s okay. You need to stand for something.

Another alternative

You can’t forget digital, and social media. Although most of you lack Facebook fans, have limited followers, etc… You can still make an impact.

First – FIND SOMEONE who is an influencer or has already been in the media discussing your product or something similar. For example – if you’re starting up a business that accepts Bitcoin, then ‘Google’ Bitcoin, and see all the names that come up. I would reach out to each one of those individuals that come up (Winklevoss twins) or tag them in your post on social media. This way, they could do the work for you because they want to see Bitcoin succeed, and the more businesses accepting Bitcoin the better off they are.

Stay relevent

One of the easiest ways to stay in the public eye – is to stay relevant. Can you do something special around the holidays (Xmas, New Years, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc…)? If you can, then do it, and make sure you tell people. I’m not talking about a sale, I’m talking about a $3 burrito if you come into your store dressed in a costume on Halloween or partner up with a local Easter Egg Hunt. Think fun, and your fans will follow.

Getting publicity is tough, and it requires a bit of work on your end, but it’s totally worth it. Try out a couple of the items above, and let me know how it goes.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

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