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Sales and Marketing Tips

Benefits of a Business Advisory Board

MentorAs a small-business owner, you may not have deep experience in every area of business. By establishing good procedures for things like financial analysis, recruiting and retention… your success on these tasks can benefit from highly focused professionals in those areas of business.  Even the hurdles of what and how they should perform and measure marketing and sales strategies is crucial to future business.

An advisory board helps supplement the gaps in knowledge and experience of business ownership, providing a safe place for discusses sensitive and complicated strategic decisions.  It makes the management team evaluate all the challenges and opportunities in front of them. 

Many times, experienced advisory members can help you to avoid the same old mistakes. As your business grows and expands, having an advisory board who've had similar problems to yours, can reduce your stress when it comes to how you approach growth challenges. Sometimes it’s the difference between success and failure.

Faced with a business dilemma, your problem involves all your emotional and passionate concerns. However, your advisory members provide a great simplification tool. Often, just explaining the business challenge to your advisory board can create the kind of revolution in which the remedy becomes apparent to all.

Here are a few advantages to having an advisory board: 

1. Refining a product idea or business plan:

 Every entrepreneur needs to perfect his or her concept or business plan. Advisors are likely to have greater industry expertise, and an enhanced sense of what will and won't work.

2. Understanding your competitors:

A lot of entrepreneurs do the classic dumb thing which is to claim that they don't have any competitors. Advisors can help you gain a better view of the marketplace and see what companies yours will wind up competing with, by asking the really hard questions.   An advisor can also provide introductions to key customers for a B2B relationships. 

we are3. Credibility and Authority:

If your service or your company is largely unknown, one of the fastest ways to prove you're for real is to get a top name in your industry onto your board of advisors. 

Utilizing your Advisory Board effectively:

Recruit doubters. No entrepreneur needs yes men disguised as advisory board members. The most ideal advisors have the entrepreneur’s best interests at heart and are not afraid to give advice -- even if it contradicts the thinking of the entrepreneur. Because the feedback can be brutally honest, don’t pick advisors who are close friends or family members.

 Leverage the network. Initially, identifying potential advisors can seem like a daunting task. Your best approach is to identify people within your personal or professional network with the necessary skills and experience. These individuals are familiar with the owner and may be willing to serve as advisors.

Write it down.  While advisory boards are less formal than governing boards, the entrepreneur should protect his business. Advisors will be privy to highly confidential information about business plans, intellectual property and trade secrets. Each advisor should complete nondisclosure and conflict of interest agreements. 

Sales FacesTime is money. Advisory members are not contributing their valuable time for money. They become involved because of their desire to help the entrepreneur -- and perhaps feel good about mentoring someone. It is good form to provide some type of modest compensation, depending on the financial ability of the business. Compensation could include meals, travel expenses or a small stipend. Advisors who feel appreciated will put forth their best effort.

Keep it intimate. The value of an advisory board is determined by its members -- not its size. Entrepreneurs should get three to five advisors with the skills needed to meet the current challenges.  As your business changes over time, you can seek new advisors with the needed skills. Set term limits for advisors, since asking advisors to step down is not easy. 

Advisory meetings can be a vital company asset, and advisors can provide valuable feedback and recommendations – when prepared before meetings. Relevant data such as business plans, financial statements and other reports should go to advisors well in advance of board meetings. Since boards tend to meet once per quarter, have all the meeting details well planned out.

Author:  Dick Wagner

Personality Traits that Make a Good Salesperson

Every year, 50,000 people begin a career in sales in the United States. Working in the disaster restoration industry has made me keenly aware of how weak and unskilled most of them are. Certainly, it’s no secret that working as a salesperson is very challenging and can be extremely rewarding. Sadly, most hiring managers (or restoration owners) fail to hire correctly, and even worse, fail to train them the way they can be successful in this new time of dramatic culture and societal changes.  With proper training (the way buyers think since about 2010), good coaching, and the right attitude, restoration sales people can improve their sales skills. 

Book StackFrom experience with several of my clients, having candidates take a pre-employment test to measure This assessment measures talent, personality, and intelligence, and even provides excellent face to face interview questions. We all know that certain personality traits are advantageous in a selling career, (and we often mistake “people person” as one of those). If you are a hiring manager, be sure to look for these traits in potential employees, and don’t fall for “outgoing, people friendly types.

Honesty: Great salespeople act with integrity. Their customers trust them, and so do their coworkers. They know building trust and providing accurate information to customers results in years of return business and referrals. An honest approach to business always gives a positive first impression, which is essential to a salesperson’s success.  When you try to be “sneaky,” the prospect can sense it.     

Energy:  Successful salespeople thrive in a fast-paced atmosphere. Commission-based salaries necessitate efficient use of time and competitive sales goals. In many businesses, the most successful salesperson is the one who maintains high energy levels throughout the day, adding life to the workplace and excitement to their customer base. Coworkers and customers are glad to see them, because they make the environment more fun for everyone.    

Excels at Difficult Jobs: People who enjoy working hard will likely continue working hard as a dedicated member of a sales team. If you enjoy working under pressure and rising to the challenge, you have the potential to be a sales superstar. 

Self-motivated: Sales managers are busy, and salespeople must earn their own commissions, so a successful seller must be able to motivate themselves to work productively throughout the entire day. They must juggle new customers, long-time customers, emails, and phone calls while providing accurate information and exceptional customer service to each individual client. New salespeople must effectively network and build a customer base while keeping up with the company’s standards and goals.  Also, people who enjoy working hard will likely continue working hard as a dedicated member of a sales team. If you enjoy working under pressure and rising to the challenge, you have the potential to be a sales superstar. 

Work HardLikable and Persistent: Salespeople must remain positive and friendly even when customers are not receptive right away. Success in sales requires charisma. The ability to maintain a positive, upbeat attitude for several hours at a time is a tool that all salespeople need.  Knowing that you are going to hear many “No’s” throughout the day should be expected, and you must maintain that always up-beat attitude.

 Strategic Listening Skills:  Successful salespeople find customers anywhere, and often they can transform any customer interaction into a sale. Your next sale might come from a neighbor, a friend, a stranger at the grocery store, or even a customer that has come in to your workplace to complain. Great salespeople love to talk about their job and how their company is the best team around. They always carry business cards, and they specialize at sparking the interests of others in the products or services they sell. 

Goes the Extra Mile: Successful salespeople must find a balance between seeing every person as a potential customer and seeing every customer as a unique person. The best salespeople take the time to chat with their customers and invest in their business relationships. There are numerous ways to grow relationships with customers, including: 

  • Memorizing customer’s names
  • Remembering a personal fact about customers (favorite sports team, hobbies, etc.)
  • Do homework and research on the client AND their industry
  • Sending a text periodically to “check in” and offer any assistance
  • Asking customers to refer you to friends and family

Social Media Presence: Salespeople must be comfortable interacting with customers on social media. When potential customers are looking for products and services, they will most likely find you on social media first, read your reviews, look for vital information such as location and hours of business, and message you to ask specific questions. Salespeople must maintain an active and positive social media presence by keeping information current, sharing links and articles that might be of interest, and responding to customer messages rapidly. You must constantly be aware that your social media presence is being watched. 

A career in sales can be exciting and rewarding if salespeople prepare themselves for the demands and rigors of the job. Many new salespeople may only have a couple of the traits listed, but with dedication and practice they can master their craft. Someone who is highly self-motivated and excels at social networking can master sales techniques over time. Likewise, natural salespeople can learn how to use Facebook effectively and improve their time management skills with experience. A person who is highly motivated, friendly, and energetic, will thrive in a sales career with the right training and a desire to succeed. 

Author:  Dick Wagner, National Sales Coach

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