Your Pipeline Equals Your Profits (The ‘P’ Series)

Another double ‘P’ here, Pipeline + Profits. Let’s get into it.

A sales pipeline is simple. It’s a list or chart or different color Post-it’s if you like, of your prospective clients and where they are in the sales process.

A sample entry might look like this:

Jane Doe – met at networking mixer – hot lead – sent email about strategy call – follow up on Monday.

Entering, analyzing and using this information with every single lead you have is how you make a profit. Staying on top of your prospects and making sure your pipeline is not only filled, but flowing, is the answer.

A sales pipeline allows you to accurately forecast your next month, quarter or even year.

Using a CRM system, along with automation, is the best way to keep your pipeline flowing. This is a luxury you should appreciate, back in my early years in sales and running a business I would use index cards and sort them by month so I knew when to be working my pipeline.
If every time you meet someone you have to craft a new introductory email, you are wasting time and energy. Have an email ready to go in your CRM system for initial meetings. You can always pop in to add a little personalization, but automating the process will help you actually follow through.

Also make sure your system is setup to remind you when and how to follow-up. Day 1 an email, Day 3 a phone call, Day 5 another phone call, etc.

I’ve grown my businesses to 6 figures + by consistently filling and working my pipeline. I always know who I need to contact and what I need to say. A closed deal happens because a relationship was formed, a connection was made and follow-up was done properly.

If you don’t have a CRM system in place, research what is out there and what works for you or your organization.

There are systems for a solo entrepreneur to use, all the way up to extremely robust applications for a huge corporation. Some systems even allow you to connect social media correspondence, along with email and phone records, so every point of contact you have with a prospect is entered and catalogued.

If you want to talk about how to start filling your pipeline and how to work it to get to the profit, let’s have a conversation. Email me at support@slatersuccesscoaching.com and let me know a good time to chat.

I’m calling you out

You said you were going to grow your revenue by 40%…

You said your company was going to expand to a new location…

You said you’d hire three new members to the sales team…

Did you do it?

I’m calling you out, in a good way. Holding people accountable to their words, gets them to their dreams.

We hear the word ‘strategic plan’ all the time. But what about ‘actionable steps?’ This is where we tend to get stopped, tripped up and the steps end up on the to do list, and not getting done.

Planning is great. Now, how do you break it down to executable actions? The answer might lie in working with a coach or a mentor.

In my business, I coach around the plan and through the strategy. I help my clients create a plan, but I also help them adapt, take action and achieve one. I was talking with a CEO during my time away this past week, and she was so busy working on the vision, the plan was being delayed and the action was stagnant.
Day-to-day business is ever-changing. Deadlines, schedules, finances, emails, client relations, team members. It’s tough enough to handle the everyday than think about the someday.

But that someday could be right around the corner. The greatest thing about building a business is the creative ideas that disrupt the regular schedule. YES, I am saying I welcome disruption. If you are scratching your head, understand disruption is where creativity sits. In the creativity is where you break through the common things of day to day business and own uniqueness, that sets you apart in the market place.
If creative ideas are floating around in your organization, now is the time to embrace them. We’re coming up on a new year, possibilities are endless.

Think about the planning process and where it needs a push. Then do it!

If you need to hire a consultant, do it.

If you need to hire more team members, do it.

I had a plan many years ago to start a coaching business. With no experience in the field and no clue where to start, the first thing I did was create a strategic plan. And I broke that plan down into steps, which I took, day by day, month by month, year by year to create a multi-six figure business. We are about to approach our 10th year in business in January, and I am living the life I created for myself filled with clients I adore, travel that brings me to the west coast where my son lives and a ton of JOY!

I’ve lived it and I now I teach it.

If your organization is ready to talk about growth and plans for 2018, get on my calendar.

Software doesn’t solve the problem…but this does

My team and I were discussing a software we might utilize in advance of a new project we’re working on (details on that exciting announcement very soon) and one of my team members said, “You know, software doesn’t really solve the problem.”

The problem in this case was that I needed to perform a step BEFORE the software could do its job.

And then of course my copywriter said, “I think this is a blog topic.”

And here we are…

You have probably used some sort of software or app in your business. There are various ones out there, either paid or free, for things like contact management, scheduling, budgeting, team tasks, etc.

They really can be useful and lead to bigger business growth. BUT, they only work when you and your team put the information into it.

Software doesn’t solve the problem.
People do.

It’s not about finding the software or the app, it’s about the team and the process behind it.

My team and I spent a few minutes talking about who would do what and when, if we did get a software like the one we were looking at and everything started to sound a lot more sensible and doable.

If you’re in a corporate environment, you may be working with dozens of other people on a team. One of the main reasons teams fail is lack of communication.

Always speak up if you aren’t sure how a process will work OR if you have a better idea on how it could work.

My team and I love Slack. It’s a free app and it’s instant messages sorted by channel discussions. We have found this to be very effective in keeping project deadlines and following up.

There have been other applications that did NOT work for us and we moved on.

Find software or an app that works, but don’t forget to connect the people and the process with that software.

If you are feeling a disconnect about anything in your business or on your team, reach out to support@slatersuccesscoaching.com

I want my Starbucks and I don’t care who knows it

There we were, getting our son Bryce moved into his new apartment in California and exhaustion from travel was starting to set in.

I needed coffee. And I needed it fast.

My husband said he saw a few coffee shops in the area and started to look on his phone for options when I quickly stopped him.
image
“I need coffee, but more importantly, I need Starbucks,” I told him.

He glanced over at with me a small smirk as I pulled out my phone and opened the Starbucks app.

I simply knew what I wanted and that was Starbucks non-fat latte, extra hot. I’m not just a casual visitor at Starbucks, I’m a lifelong customer.

When you’re dealing with clients, you don’t want the client that comes in for a quick visit and never returns.

You want the client that continues to come to your organization for their business needs. You want to build a loyal and trusting relationship. You want to be the ‘go to.”

You can do that by being present, available, helpful and consistent.

I know when I walk into Starbucks and order my drink, it’s going to be exactly what I want and what I need.

Make sure your clients see your organization as a resource they need in their life.

Be present: Follow-up and say hello. A phone call goes a long way. Your sales team should be making these calls often.

Be available: Lend a hand, help with a promotion, sponsor a trade show. Do what you can as an organization to show your support.

Be helpful: Connect clients with other contacts and get them business. It’s a win-win all around.

Be consistent: Ensure you and your team are doing good work that makes an impact. It’s easy to sell something people already want.

Going back to our women in leadership series, Starbucks has quite a few women at the top.

In fact, a quick check of their website and I counted 19 women in senior Vice President, executive Vice President and other leadership roles, covering everything from creative development, to marketing and finance.

Starbucks has also stated that male and female employees doing the same job are paid within 99.7% of one another.

What fantastic news and a great example of a company working to stop the gender
wage gap.

So, next time you stop into my office for a visit, if you want to bring me my grande latte, (remember non-fat and extra hot), that would be pretty awesome.

If you want to talk about building and nurturing relationships, please reach out to support@slatersuccesscoaching.com

Know Your P’s

I was talking to a client just the other day who had over 6 figures out in proposals, yet wasn’t clear on where everyone was in the sales pipeline. She was worried about current cash flow in the business, because so much money was tied up in her proposals.

This is a great lesson for making sure you are identifying where each potential client is in the pipeline and taking steps to close them.

Proposals are great. Closed business is better.

  1. Don’t send a proposal blind, via email. Schedule a call or an in person meeting to review the proposal. By setting up a follow-up automatically, you’ve already made a huge step in closing the sale. You can answer questions and eliminate worry on the other end by talking it through right away.
  2. Get on the phone and find out where a prospect is in their decision making. Is it a yes, a no or a not right now. They will be happy you called. We are all busy and someone not returning your call is not a sign that they aren’t interested, it’s just a sign that they have a great business and they are busy closing their own sales. Calling shows you are being of service. Emails get lost and are impersonal.

My client contacted many of her outstanding prospects and the results were fantastic. They were happy that she took the time to touch base, because they really needed to talk to her.

I know picking up the phone seems scary at times. We feel like we are bothering someone or surprising them. That is not the case at all. Filtering through dozens of back and forth emails is a lot more bothersome than spending 30 minutes on a call. Plus, tone over email can be taken in different ways, whereas a phone call is direct and clear communication.

And that communication is key in booking business. Even though email is a necessity in this day and age, using the old fashioned phone is a real differentiator. You will see a direct effect on your sales, when you start dialing, instead of typing.

Work your pipeline consistently to create a full load of clients and a consistent cash flow. Find a few moments out of every day to reach out, say help, connect, stay top of mind.

If you want to talk your P’s, reach out to me at support@slatersuccesscoaching.com.

Backup is Key

I am going to be clear and consistent on this. You must have backup in running a business.

It’s fantastic if you have a support team around you. I commend you for asking for help and getting support. But what happens when a team member needs time off? Do you have people cross trained?

You need backup for your backup.

This is the difference between building a company or working for clients with limited resources, unable to grow. What is the vision for your company? Where are you going?

Are you training your team on various skills?
Or are you totally vulnerable and leaving important tasks to one person alone?

For instance, I want everyone on my team to have some knowledge of Infusionsoft. Why? Because when Liz, who normally schedules the newsletter to go out, is traveling, she shouldn’t have to worry or feel pressure to get something done when she’s not in town and I shouldn’t have to worry about it, either.

Backup steps in. Backup steps up.

My daughter, Alex, is seeing this firsthand. She is a new manager and is leaving for a few days to travel with me to San Francisco next week where I’m speaking. She is realizing she needs people to cover her role, in her corporate job. There’s no scrambling in her absence, just business as usual.

Everyone needs time off. Everyone needs a vacation. Everyone needs days to travel, sick days, mental health days. You name it.

You should be able to take the days off you need and your team should, too.

Train your team up and watch the support grow to new levels. This is important whether you run a small business with a handful of employees or a corporation with specific departments.

Each department is a small business and there should be members that can backup any other member. When pressure is low, productivity is high. Making someone feel like they are the only person who can handle a certain task is not fair. Not for the business owner or the support member.

Just the other morning, I was submitting an application for a speaking engagement, and everything was sent in by the due date. But they came back to me, asking for additional information and a VIDEO.

I was literally in bed, after a night of celebrating with family members, (my niece got engaged!) and had no makeup on and thought, how am I going to get this all done? I can shoot the video, but I don’t have time to submit the additional answers they need in the document.

One of my team members (on a Sunday, mind you) stepped up to help me get everything sent in before day’s end.

Backup steps in. Backup steps up.

I am so thankful for my team and I want them to feel just as supported as I do. If they need a day, they get a day!

How do you train your team so no one feels added or unnecessary pressure? Share with me on the SSC Facebook page.

If you want to talk further, reach out to support@slatersuccesscoaching.com and let’s have a conversation.

Reflection Exercise

Reflections__free_photos___1402132_-_FreeImages_comI did some pretty amazing things in 2016 and I KNOW you did, too! During my time off last week, I took some quiet moments to really reflect and I encourage you to do the same.

We are coming into the last month of the year and I have a short exercise for you to do to help facilitate your reflection and give you action steps to move forward.

Take out a notepad and write these answers out, if you’re old school like me. Or type your answers. Whatever fits you best.

  1. What have I accomplished this year? List your top three.
  1. What was my biggest financial accomplishment?

For example: did you sign the biggest contract ever or meet a new revenue goal?

  1. What milestones did you reach in your business AND in your life?

For example: did you hire a support team member or pay in full for that family vacation?

  1. What event did you attend or hold that really worked, reaped the most benefits?

Now look at your answers.

#1 – How did you make those accomplishments happen? What actions did you take to reach those goals? Can you do the same things in 2017 and can you do them even better? For example: if you spent more time on social media and found you added new clients using that strategy, make sure your plans for 2017 include an even bigger online presence. If you found you speaking as a tool to move high quality clients through your pipeline, set up those speaking engagements for 2017. Find out what else you can be doing and decide who can help you.

#2 – Why was this your biggest financial accomplishment? Did you raise your prices? Did you ask for a retainer rather than an hourly fee? Was the client a more ideal one and it just worked better? How can you model all of your packages and pricing after this one for 2017? Review your current contracts and prices. What needs updated for the coming year? What action steps can you take to find more clients and more projects like this one? Use it as a model.

#3 – Celebrate!!! You know I’m big on this. Give yourself a break and get out there and enjoy this fantastic life you’ve created. It will pump you up for an even bigger 2017. If you hired your first support team member or your tenth, you deserve to celebrate that. Let everyone cut out of work early on a Friday and take them out for dinner before year-end and buy that pair of shoes you’ve been wanting. Celebrate the life milestones, too. Did you send your child off to college? Or finally get that in-ground pool put in? These moments happened because you worked hard to secure that income. Part of growth is realizing how far you’ve come in a year and letting that confidence and inspiration propel you to even greater heights.

#4 – Make sure you get this event on your calendar for 2017. Don’t just look at the first quarter and fill in where you want to be. Look at the entire year and make sure the time is set aside to attend training, workshops, retreats, masterminds, speaking engagements. And also schedule time for your own events. If you know the date NOW, you are way ahead of the game.

Another bonus question would be what didn’t work? Don’t focus on the negative. Use the experiences to move forward.

Reflect.

Get those calendars out and after you’ve added in the work events, get those family and vacation events on there. If you do all of this before the calendar turns to Jan. 1, you just set yourself up for one amazing new year.

If you want to share any of your answers on the SSC Facebook or LinkedIn pages, please do! I want to know how your year went and what you’re ready to accomplish in 2017. If you want to chat with me further, you can always reach out to support@slatersuccesscoaching.com

Will it be big or small?

IMG_6017It’s our wedding anniversary tomorrow and as we talked about what we were going to do this year to celebrate, it got me thinking about presents.  

You might find this strange, but it brought up the image of a slide I use when I teach about packages and pricing. Business on the brain all the time, I guess!

The slide shows different size boxes, representing different types of packages.  

I have no idea what size box I will receive as a gift, it might be small it might be big.

Honestly, I will be happy with any box that is filled with VALUE.

That is the key to packaging and pricing.

Your packages need to be the right fit for your client. Some clients want that big package filled with information, access to you, feedback, worksheets, etc.

While others, want something small. One training, one report, one course.

It doesn’t matter if one package compared to the other includes more. What matters are the client needs and what level investment they want to make.

Get out of your own head and into your clients when developing packages. Listen to them. Hear their pain points and create a list of ways you can help or support those pain points. Then get to work on package options.

I suggest thinking of three packages: small, medium and large. Every single one has value and meets the client where they are.

Understand that packages can and will overlap. It makes total sense that they do.

If you want to learn more about creating packages, you can watch a video I made on it here.

If you want to know what I will be doing to celebrate my anniversary, stay tuned to the SSC Facebook page and LinkedIn page for updates!

My Vegas Trip and Lessons Learned

Vegas Trip & Lessons LearnedVegas. You get an automatic picture in your brain as soon as you read that word. Bright lights, crowded streets, casinos on every corner, amazing live shows, fine dining. And the feeling that often surrounds Vegas is excitement! It’s a place you go to have fun, walk on the wild side and if you’re like my family, try your hand at a little gambling.

There are games of pure luck, like the roulette wheel and the slot machines. Then there are games that require a little more skill, like Blackjack and Poker.

In Blackjack, for example, there are some rules that you ‘should’ follow. Rules that aren’t technically required, but if you don’t follow them, and you’re sitting at a table of seasoned players, you might get an annoyed sigh or a glance in your direction.

For instance, when you hit instead of stay because “you might get a low card” or you don’t stay on a lower hand even though the cards the dealer are showing makes for good odds that they will bust.

Strategy comes into play. Yes, luck is always there. You might hit and you might get a lower card and you might stay and the dealer still might win. If you know what I am talking about or if you are not a card player let’s talk the facts about what is important here, knowing the risks and calculating them, is the best way to win the game, be it Blackjack or business.

In business, we evaluate the risks and create our strategy. You might be deciding if you are ready to open that business you have talked about. You might be ready to stop running your business as if it is a hobby and instead become a CEO of your business and run it with a financial plan and solid strategy. Maybe you are ready to expand or reevaluate your marketing efforts. Sometimes you need to hit. You need to go for it. You need to take the action. It’s scary, but it’s worth it. And sometimes, you need to stay. Maybe it’s not the right time. You need to get a support team in place. You need to do further research. Look at the risks and make the plan.

blackjackAt a Blackjack table, you have mere seconds to make a decision. In business, you have more time, which can make you slow down and lose focus. I’ve always said, “what CAN you do today.” Take some kind of action.

And if you need help, ask! Even at a Blackjack table, the support is evident. At the tables, I was not sure if I should or should not split 6’s. I asked the dealer for her advice and with a lovely smile she told me should would recommend splitting according to the rules of the game. They are there to guide the table and I personally have always found them to be incredibly helpful. As  you know, I also believe in asking for help in my business when I know it will help me move forward. I ask a mentor, a coach, a colleague or my team.

Your support team wants you to do well. They want success for you. Your success directly affects theirs. You are a team and you all want to walk away winners.

Look at your business today. Are you using strategy or taking risks without research? Are you asking for help when you need it? Are you taking action or staying stagnant?

If you want to talk about this, let’s chat. Send me an email to support@slatersuccesscoaching.com and we will figure it out together.

My “A” team, My Mom

This past weekend we celebrated some wonderful events in my family. A wedding and my Mom’s birthday. InterestinglyIMG_6090 enough, I was at a meeting last week and when a comment came up of who is on my “A” team, I realized my mom made the list.

An “A” team is key people in your business that you go to to discuss new ideas, help navigate

a problem or situation, run strategy across, or help you think outside the box.

I use my “A” team…

~ when I develop new business ideas and need to know if they bring value

~ when I’m unsure if an idea is good or it’s derailing me from my primary objective

~ as a resource when I make a big decision and want to run pros and cons to evaluate

my best course of action

~when I can’t get out of my own way

~when I want to brainstorm

The list goes on and on.

The important question is do you have an “A” team and are you using it?

Let’s circle back and I’ll explain why my mom is on my “A” team and tell you who else makes the list.

My mom was a business owner and manager and is a great numbers person. In her retirement, she did all my bookkeeping and accounting in my printing business to keep busy. She knows how to look at the numbers in a business and look at a strategy. She also comes with X years of experience in life. I am a smart daughter who is not going to share what birthday she just celebrated.

She is on my “A” team because I frankly got tired of going outside and looking for input, sharing it with her and then her saying to me, “Yes, Ivy, I told you that several months ago, glad you decided to listen.”

The rest of my “A” team consists of my coach and a couple of key colleagues who we have been in the journey of building our businesses together for the last several years. If you call 5 to 15 years several.

To develop your “A” team look for people who are objective, non-judgmental and have your best interests at heart for your business.  

I like my “A” team to be


~smart

~have a heart

~know and respect giving me straightforward and honest answer

~know and understand my short and long term goals

~be the ones I can reach out to and when I communicate my exact needs they respect them and respond promptly based on the importance and the time frame of the question

To gather your “A” team, look for a great colleague, coach, leader, mentor and/ or mom – whomever fits!

Share your “A” team with me on FB or LinkedIn. If you are unclear about who belongs on your “A” team and want some feedback or strategy around it, reach out to support@slatersuccesscoaching.com.

P.S. Wanted to share a recent podcast I did on Smashing the Plateau with David Shriner-Cahn! I talk about believing in your goals, overcoming self-doubt, the importance of team and so much more!

Listen in and let me know your #1 takeaway. http://www.tendstrategicpartners.com/episode-214/

Cheers to your Success,

Ivy