The 5 Rules of Megavalue Selling Help Differentiate Your Offerings

The 5 Rules of Megavalue Selling Help Differentiate Your Offerings

The 5 Rules of Megavalue Selling Help Differentiate Your OfferingsThe 5 Rules of Megavalue Selling: How to Communicate Customer Value and Differentiate From Competitors was written for the modern sales professional who can’t rely on slick sales presentations or pricing discounts to get the sale. In a world where customers (and competitors) have access to more options than ever, these old-school tactics won’t work. There is always a competitor that will beat you on price or features. The one thing that will distinguish your business is value. The 5 Rules of Megavalue Selling shows readers how they can maximize their value so they can get the sale.

What is The 5 Rules of Megavalue Selling About?

The 5 Rules of Megavalue Selling was written to help sales professionals shift their orientation from features to client value.

Sales professionals have been taught that clients focus on features. As a result, businesses have focused on elaborate sales presentations and slick advertisements that detail how their products’ features are better, faster or cheaper. While this tactic can still work, it’s working less and less. Why? The marketplace is getting more crowded. There are more competitors than ever. These competitors are able to duplicate your services and products at an incredible rate.

The customer has changed too. Customers take a more proactive role in the selling process. They can research your business and competitors within seconds. This gives customers a lot of leverage.

This leaves businesses only one key asset to win their customer’s money, value.

The 5 Rules of Megavalue Selling helps readers understand how they can maximize that value through five simple principles. These principles are shared through the fictional story of Mary Minor, a sales professional who is facing a crisis. Mary was a sales superstar until she transitioned into a new industry. Because of her declining performance, Mary was given an ultimatum: Do better or lose your job in 60 days. Mary Minor turns to her father, a veteran sales professional, for help. Mary’s father responds with a book (“The Book of Reminders”) containing his collected wisdom. Mary uses the book and her father’s instructions to turn her career around. From that point, she becomes unstoppable, ending up in a role better than she could have imagined.

Author Mark Holmes is a sales trainer, sales coach and President of Consultant Board, Inc. with expertise in B2B sales. Holmes has worked in several positions at the executive level in several roles but ultimately decided to start his own sales consulting and training company. From that point, he has never looked back.

What Was Best About The 5 Rules of Megavalue Selling?

The 5 Rules of Megavalue Selling revolves around a central concept to which sales professionals pay lip service but fail to follow through on. That concept is “value”. Sales professionals assume that customers will see the value of their products or services if they simply demonstrate it. Try again! The 5 Rules of Megavalue Selling uses a simple story to dismantle these assumptions. In its place, the book offers a simple, but powerful, set of core principles to help sales professionals.

What Could Have Been Done Differently?

The 5 Rules of Megavalue Selling is great at outlining the principles behind a values-focused sales approach. It presents a relatable and engaging story. The story, however, only focuses on one of Mary Minor’s sales victories. Mary Minor was required to get sales from three companies. The book only talks about the first company. Did she encounter any new problems in her career? The book ends on a “happily ever after” note, but it also leaves out some details about the struggles Mary faced on the road to final success.

Why Read The 5 Rules of Megavalue Selling?

The 5 Rules of Megavalue Selling is especially recommended for B2B sales professionals but the overall principles apply to any person or business needing to sell a product, idea or anything else. The book features a story of a B2B salesperson but the principles are broad enough to cover every sales situation.

Even though readers might suspect how the fictional story of Mary Minor will end, the book is still an engaging read because of the lessons. Mary Minor becomes a different salesperson because of the lessons she learns. And readers in turn learn from her experience. These lessons are very simple (i.e. “Ask your customers questions”) but feature a slight nuance based on the author’s expertise. Holmes shares the kinds of questions a sales professional should ask and then demonstrates how the process would look through the fictional story of Mary Minor.

This article, “The 5 Rules of Megavalue Selling Help Differentiate Your Offerings” was first published on Small Business Trends

7 Ways to Keep Your Small Business Afloat in Any Financial Climate

You don’t have to do much digging to find countless business headlines claiming an economic downturn is looming on the horizon.

These reports sound the alarm about ballooning corporate debt and slow growth in corporate earnings. Generally, the ratio of debt to corporate earnings rises during an economic downturn. In fact, S&P Global Ratings officials recently noted that the current levels have exceeded those the U.S. experienced just before the Great Recession, indicating companies are “as vulnerable to downgrades and defaults as they were in the run-up to the 2007-2008 global financial crisis.”

Elsewhere, consumer debt is hovering at similar levels to the financial crisis while housing prices have hit an all-time high. Taken together, this seems to paint a somewhat bleak picture. But as with anything, it’s important to consider these factors in a broader context – particularly for small business owners worried about their prospects should the economy slump into a recession.

Seizing success in any economic scenario

For starters, most people have misconceptions about debt. They see debt in a negative light, even though it can be incredibly beneficial. When debt allows a company to develop and deliver a new product or service to consumers, for example, it’s certainly not a bad thing.

Many small business owners see massive corporations taking on billions of dollars in debt, and they assume those companies are struggling to survive. In truth, they’re typically using that money to grow their operations.

The trick with debt is only taking on as much as you will be able to pay back in a timely manner, which is something many small businesses find difficult. Smaller businesses don’t have the same backing or deep pockets as their large counterparts, so they need to be cautious about racking up more debt than they can handle.

This misunderstanding of basic financial principles can cause people to misinterpret economic indicators. Despite some discouraging signs, the economy is fundamentally in a strong place. Employment rates, wages and the stock market have remained in a healthy place since the 2016 election. Average hourly wages have risen by 2.8 percent since last November, and unemployment has fallen to 4.1 percent – a 17-year low.

For the average small business owner, prudent practices can keep things humming along in every economic condition. Here are seven pointers to help your small business remain viable:

  1. Take care of your cash flow.

    Expenses are a constant, but the amount of cash flowing into your business isn’t a certainty. The best way to protect your cash flow is to promptly send out invoices and regularly review your receivables. In doing so, you might notice that some clients consistently make late payments or are flagrantly overdue. Resolve these issues before they become lingering problems.
     

  2. Double check your inventory management processes.

    Doing things the same way for years on end might seem convenient, but it isn’t necessarily cost-efficient. While you’re reviewing your receivables, spend time examining your inventory practices. Are you ordering excessive quantities of certain items? Could you perhaps buy certain products at a better price from different vendors? There are plenty of ways to cut costs, so don’t get caught up doing things one way because it’s what you’re used to.
     

  3. Master your core competencies.

    It’s never a bad idea to diversify your small business, but simply adding products or services for the sake of doing something new is not the best strategy. Even during an economic boom, attempts to break into new sectors can damage your core operation by siphoning away valuable time and money. Instead of potentially damaging your company by veering away from your core competencies, focus on being the absolute best at what your business already does well.
     

  4. Capitalize on your current customers.

    Talking to your customers is a great way to size up your competitors and potentially increase sales. Existing customers are familiar with your company, and some of your loyal clients are likely more open to upsells.

    It’s also significantly cheaper to market to people who are already aware of your company and product offerings. Instead of traditional marketing avenues, you can simply offer these users access to perks, such as early access to new items or special discounts. As long as you show your customers how much you value them, they’ll keep coming back for more (and tell their friends to do the same).
     

  5. Get a leg up on the competition.

    Once you’ve secured your existing clientele, recession-proofing is all about finding ways to expand your customer base. Whether you’re in a niche or mainstream market, that means taking customers away from your competitors.

    If you aren’t familiar with other companies in your industry, it’s time to do some research. Watch their ads, sign up for their email lists, visit their brick-and-mortar stores, and visit their social media pages to keep tabs on everything they do. Watch for qualities that separate your business from theirs, and do your best to offer something unique that nobody else can match.
     

  6. Never stop marketing your business.

    Regardless of the economy, never stop marketing your business. If consumers don’t know about your company, they can’t do business with you. A lean market provides you with an opportunity to distinguish yourself from other businesses by emphasizing your superior product or outstanding customer service.

    Explore paid marketing efforts as well as less expensive routes – particularly social media. A well-crafted Twitter account, an active Facebook page, and an eye-catching Instagram profile offer excellent ways to draw consumer attention without breaking the bank.
     

  7. Keep your personal credit in great shape.

    You might do everything right and still end up in trouble because of unexpected financial twists and turns. This could require you to take out loans to keep your company in business, which is much easier when you have a stellar credit score.

    A tough economy makes it more difficult to secure capital, and small business loans are traditionally among the first funding sources to disappear. If you have great personal credit, however, it’s far more likely that you will be able to borrow any funds necessary to keep your business afloat. Watch your credit score like a hawk, and do whatever you can to keep it in excellent shape.

Some experts anticipate an economic downturn in the near future, though it’s impossible to say exactly what will happen. Regardless of the state of the economy, it’s important to prepare your small business to weather any storm. Prudent financial practices not only provide the foundation for a successful business, but they also afford assurance that your small business will remain viable in a bear market, as well as a bull market.

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GTA Online Guide – How to Make Money with Import / Export DLC

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10 Lessons to Learn So You Make Fewer Business Mistakes

5 Big Small Business Mistakes -- And How to Correct Them

Making mistakes is part of running a business. But some mistakes can be avoided if you’re willing to learn from others who have been there before, like members of the online small business community. Here are some lessons you can learn based on mistakes other entrepreneurs have made through the years.

Improve Your Data Quality Metrics

Whether you use data for recruiting or any other aspect of running your business, the quality of those metrics can be just as important as the quantity. In this Jobscience post, Joel Dipietro offers three ways you can improve your own data quality.

Avoid These Email and Social Media Marketing Pitfalls

Email and social media have been popular marketing techniques for years, meaning businesses have had plenty of time to make mistakes with these methods. If you want to avoid some of the most common pitfalls, check out this Basic Blog Tips post by Kevin Ocasio.

Learn the New Rules of Writing for the Web

Lots of entrepreneurs who have strong writing skills still don’t understand how to put together content for the web. There’s a new set of rules you need to abide by, as Rachel Strella of Strella Social Media explains. BizSugar members also shared commentary on the post.

Use These Local Search Tactics Your Competitors Aren’t Using

Lots of local businesses tend to use the same marketing methods as their competitors. But it’s hard to stand out that way. Instead, take a look at the local search tactics listed in a recent Search Engine Land post by Sherry Bonelli for some more original ideas.

Don’t Forget the Little Things When Testing

Running tests can help you gain valuable insights about your target customers. And you don’t have to get very complicated with your testing in order to benefit your business. In this Target Marketing post, Chuck McLeester discusses the importance of details when it comes to testing.

Keep an Eye on These Social Media Trends for 2018

It’s easy to fall into a rut when it comes to social media marketing. You might have found some tactics have worked for your business in the past. But that doesn’t mean they’ll continue to be effective as trends change. To keep up, see some of the upcoming social media trends in this Prepare 1 post by Blair Evan Ball.

Monitor These Web Design Trends

By that same token, it’s also important to keep an eye on trends in web design so you can update your own site accordingly. Learn some of the biggest trends for 2018 in a decent Crowdspring post by Amanda Bowman.

Help Your SEO Strategy by Avoiding These Website Mistakes

SEO is constantly changing. So it can be easy for entrepreneurs to make missteps in their own websites that can negatively impact search engine rankings. To avoid some of the biggest pitfalls, check out the advice from Neil Patel here.

Don’t Hire SEO Experts Who Tell You These Five Things

In order to help your SEO strategy, you might even consider hiring an SEO expert. But beware! Some SEO strategists are better than others. There are five claims in particular you should treat with extreme skepticism, according to Hilary Young in a recent Digital Success Post. You can also see what members of the BizSugar community had to say about the post.

Use Social Media to Your Advantage

Lots of businesses use social media. But it can be easy to just go through the motions rather than having a plan that’s actually effective. Instead, learn how to use social media in a way that actually benefits your business in this Noobpreneur post by Ivan Widjaya.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to: sbtips@gmail.com.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “10 Lessons to Learn So You Make Fewer Business Mistakes” was first published on Small Business Trends

How to Work Toward Retirement From Your Small Business

The key is to gaining financial freedom in your future is starting early.

Hola: Una infografía con 9 consejos para destacar y ser visible en LinkedIn. V…

Hola: Una infografía con 9 consejos para destacar y ser visible en LinkedIn. Vía Un saludo Source by menachomauricio HQ Biz In a Box Monthly Start cashing in huge selling a …

The post Hola: Una infografía con 9 consejos para destacar y ser visible en LinkedIn. V… appeared first on Newline Marketing.

4 Common Office Design Mistakes to Avoid

Office design plays an important role in employee productivity and a brand’s image.

Learn How to Close Deals Faster at This Upcoming Webinar

Actionable Tips for Marketing Webinars

So you’ve arranged a deal with a new client. Now what?

Closing big deals is an important part of running a business. But it’s easier said than done. There are a lot of potential roadblocks that can get in the way. So you need to find ways to speed up the process wherever possible.

An upcoming webinar, sponsored by DocuSign, aims to help you do just that. Make it Rain Money: How to Close Deals Faster and Speed Up Collections is scheduled for January 17. You can learn more about the event and how to sign up in the Featured Events Section.

And that’s just one of the upcoming webinars and events that could help your small business grow in 2018. Check out even more opportunities in the list below.

To see a full list or to submit your own event, contest or award listing, visit the Small Business Events Calendar.



Featured Events, Contests and Awards

Make it Rain Money: How to Close Deals Faster and Speed Up CollectionsMake it Rain Money: How to Close Deals Faster and Speed Up Collections
January 17, 2018, Online

Would you like to bring revenue in the door faster? Do you want every edge possible to get paid fast? In this webinar, learn how other small businesses are eliminating their pain points in the contract and invoicing process, through use of electronic signature and invoicing apps. You’ll hear the results of exclusive DocuSign research about where other small businesses encounter the biggest challenges, and how to solve them. Today’s tools minimize manual steps and mistakes. Digital automation streamlines activities, tracks status and follows up for you — freeing up staff for other activities. Register today!

And most importantly, these tools get you paid faster, improving your cash flow.

At the end of this webinar, you’ll walk away with concrete tips for how to get contracts signed and invoices paid — much faster. Plus, you get access to DocuSign research and two concise whitepapers with insights and actionable ideas for how to improve YOUR company’s systems. So you get paid faster.

Sponsored by DocuSign.


WEBINAR: 5 Trends that Will Drive Your Profitability and Growth in 2018WEBINAR: 5 Trends that Will Drive Your Profitability and Growth in 2018
January 24, 2018, Online

Customer habits and perceptions are rapidly evolving as new technologies such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things go mainstream. New opportunities are opening up – but at the same time businesses of all sizes are under intense pressure to meet changing customer expectations. In this webinar on Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at 2:00 pm ET, you will learn five key trends that will drive profitability and growth in 2018, if businesses quickly leverage them and adapt to them, including: The Automation Revolution, Rise of Amazon, Expectations, The Instant Customer Service Trend, The DIY Dichotomy, Always-On Operations. Get ahead of the curve and lead in your marketplace, by understanding how to use these trends for growth and profit. Register today!


LEAP HR: Retail Conference, Nashville 2018LEAP HR: Retail Conference, Nashville 2018
February 27, 2018, Nashville, Tenn.

LEAP HR: Retail 2018 will once again dig deeper into the innovative people leaps helping digital-native and established retailers succeed in a rapidly transforming industry. With new speakers, fresh case studies, and a pre-conference ‘Boot Camp’ day dedicated to what the next-generation retail workforce really looks like, LEAP HR Retail 2018 remains the unique opportunity for senior people leaders in this industry to really challenge and get creative around how we do HR in retail.


More Events

More Contests

This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends and SmallBizTechnology.

Photo Via Shutterstock

This article, “Learn How to Close Deals Faster at This Upcoming Webinar” was first published on Small Business Trends

Work From Home Sales Jobs Opportunities

Looking for a legitimate work from home sales job? Go to http://BeFound.marketing/jobs/. BeFound.marketing may be the perfect at home sales job opportunity for you. Watch through the video, comment, like, …

The post Work From Home Sales Jobs Opportunities appeared first on Newline Marketing.

Should You make $300,000 with E commerce or Affiliate Marketing Info Product 🔑🔑

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How Performance Management Can Turn Managers Into Leaders

Performance management is about a whole lot more than inspiring employees to improve and progress. While many articles on performance management focus on how to encourage higher performance among employees, effective performance management can also promote great leadership. In turn, this will have a beneficial impact on employee engagement, morale and retention.

Specifically, performance management can help to transform managers into leaders, which is something we should all want for our organizations. After all, real leaders are inspirational, they’re visionaries, they are willing to take risks, they know how to build relationships, and they’re aware of and willing to work on their weaknesses. Managers, on the other hand, are simply authoritarians who are one of the leading causes of voluntary employee turnover.

Below are just a few ways performance management can create motivational leaders.

1. Improving leadership communication

When an employee gets promoted to a managerial position, we can’t just assume they will have all the skills necessary to effectively communicate with and inspire their team. A carefully thought-out performance management system will have training in place to ensure managers deliver constructive feedback, engage in meaningful performance discussions, and ask the right questions at the right times.

Certain employee performance management tools, such as regular performance discussions, can go a long way in strengthening a manager’s communication skills. Frequent communication means managers become more familiar with their team and better able to detect behavioral changes that could affect performance. This increased trust between employee and manager can turn an average manager into a motivational leader. 

2. Increasing authenticity and transparency 

Is transparency a respected and encouraged quality in your organization? If you require honesty and authenticity from your employees, you need to return the favor and ensure your business is an open book. As Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh says, all companies should be concerned with building “open and honest relationships with communication,” as increased transparency eliminates divisions in a company and improves collaboration.

If you’ve always operated under the belief that employees only need to know about issues that directly relate to them, it can be hard to get out of this mindset. However, certain performance management tools and processes can help you turn things around. 

Firstly, during your regular one-on-ones, be sure to give your employees context. Discuss the company’s direction, the struggles it is facing, and how each employee can help in their own way. This will empower your employees and give them the incentive to work harder.

Secondly, frequent performance discussions allow manager and employee to relax around each other and discuss performance issues in a more informal manner. Employees will get a deeper understanding of who their leader is and what they stand for. This will encourage feelings of respect and support, which will inspire an atmosphere of teamwork.

Finally, when creating SMART objectives, rather than using the old-fashioned performance management approach of cascading objectives downward, you should encourage employees to align their goals upward. This means they need to know all about the company’s goals so they can decide what they can do in their role to support these goals and set their own objectives accordingly. This transparency will give employees a greater understanding of their roles in the company.

3. Encouraging feedback

There is no space for fragile egos in business. If an employee feels that improvements can be made in an existing process or in the way a manager interacts with employees, they should feel comfortable giving this feedback. Just as importantly, managers should welcome and embrace this feedback. This is a quality that turns a manager into a leader.

In each performance management discussion, managers should make it a point to ask employees for feedback. This demonstrates to your workforce that their input is valued, and it will also vastly improve your business. The more open managers and employees are on the topic of feedback, the more it will become a part of your company culture. 

4. Fostering humility

One of the hallmarks of leadership is understanding that every member of your team is as valuable as the next – and that includes you. As a leader, you are no more important than the people you lead. With the right processes in place, managers can be encouraged to set aside their own pride while embracing team achievements. Everyone’s contributions matter to the bottom line, which is why employee recognition is so important. Consider setting up a recognition program to make sure employees feel appreciated for their efforts and achievements. 

Encouraging greater autonomy within your performance management system can also have a huge impact on leadership humility. It will demonstrate to managers that there is more than one right way to do things and that their way isn’t necessarily the best approach for everyone.

It can take a long time to develop great leaders, but it all starts with your performance management system. With enough effort, the results can be staggering, and you will be left with fully engaged, ambitious employees who remain loyal to your company for years to come.

 

A Guide to Foreign Business Entities and Their U.S. Tax Classification

For U.S. owners of foreign businesses, the choice of legal entity is an essential part of operating efficiently overseas. Most jurisdictions have a variety of entity options (for example, corporation, partnership, trust, etc.) that can offer business owners the desired combination of legal and economic attributes.

A U.S. owner of a foreign business, whether he or she lives within or outside of the United States, faces the additional challenge of properly applying the U.S. tax rules, both in terms of substance and in terms of compliance, to a non-U.S. entity.

A chief misconception in this regard is that the classification of a foreign business entity for U.S. tax purposes should follow the classification given under the legal or tax rules of the local jurisdiction. While this seems intuitive, and, in fact, does have some relevance in certain areas of U.S. tax law, the general rule is that the U.S. Internal Revenue Code and Treasury Regulations essentially ignore local law and apply a very specific set of rules to determine the entity’s classification for U.S. tax purposes.

The fallout from this discrepancy can be that a foreign company has one classification for foreign legal and tax purposes and a completely different classification for U.S. tax purposes.

The relevance of tax classification

A foreign entity on its own generally should not be impacted by the U.S. tax rules, except mainly in the following two cases:

  1. The foreign entity has U.S. concerns, such as certain U.S. source income or activities within the U.S. that rise to the level of a U.S. trade or business under the U.S. tax rules; or

  2. The foreign entity has a U.S. owner (or member or partner, depending on the type of entity) and such ownership triggers the application of the U.S. tax rules.

If either of these cases is true, then determining the U.S. tax classification of the foreign entity becomes essential in understanding how the U.S. tax rules should apply to the entity and/or its U.S. owners.

Practical ramifications

In more practical terms, the tax classification of the foreign entity can have a number of important ramifications, including, for example:

  1. The rate of taxation (which may be higher or lower depending on the company’s classification);

  2. The timing of taxation (a company, for example, treated as a partnership will see its income flow-through currently to its partners);

  3. The application of tax deferral regimes, such as controlled foreign corporation and a passive foreign investment company regimes (which can impose harsh rules in the case of foreign entities classified as corporation for U.S. tax purposes); and

  4. The extent and breadth of compliance or reporting obligations (additional forms may need to be filed with the IRS or the Treasury Department depending upon the foreign entity’s classification for U.S. tax purposes).

The tax ramifications of a foreign entity’s classification can be particularly tricky when, as described above, the entity has one classification for U.S. tax purposes and another for local foreign tax purposes. In the case of such a so-called “hybrid” entity, the U.S. and foreign tax rules need to be carefully navigated to prevent double taxation or other potentially tax adverse outcomes.

Starting point for tax classification

While the U.S. tax classification rules are best applied on a case-by-case basis, there are some general concepts that permeate throughout the more specific regulatory provisions. In order to determine a foreign entity’s foreign classification, one can follow this three-step process:

First, and most fundamentally, if your business venture involves a co-party, it should be determined whether or not the arrangement between you and the co-party rises to the level of a foreign “entity” (as opposed to just a contractual or co-ownership arrangement).

Second, assuming “entity” status, you should consider whether the foreign entity should be treated as a trust for tax purposes as opposed to a business entity. In very general terms, Treasury Regulation Section 301.7701-4 describes a trust as an entity the purpose of which generally is to vest in trustees the responsibility for the protection and conservation of property for beneficiaries.

Third, assuming “business entity” status, a final set of technical rules are employed to determine whether such entity has the status of a: (i) corporation, (ii) partnership, or (iii) a disregarded entity. While a corporation is generally subject to an additional layer of taxation (i.e., taxation at the entity and shareholder levels), the income of a partnership and disregarded entity generally “passes” or “flows” through currently to its partners or members for tax purposes (i.e., taxation only at the partner or member level).

The classification rules in a nutshell

The U.S. Treasury regulations contain a set of default classification rules for foreign business entities under Treasury Regulation Section 301.7701-3. A foreign business entity is classified as an association/corporation if all of its members have limited liability, and it is classified as a partnership if it has two or more members and at least one member does not have limited liability. If the foreign business entity has a single owner and that owner does not have limited liability with respect to the entity, then the entity is classified as a disregarded entity for U.S. tax purposes.

Under the classification regulations, a so-called “eligible entity” is allowed to elect its tax classification. This election, which is often referred to as “check the box” election (by virtue of checking the box next to the desired classification on the election Form 8832), cannot take effect more than 75 days before the date the election is filed with the IRS, nor can it take effect later than 12 months after the date of the filing. Non-eligible entities are those listed in the regulations that cannot elect out of corporation status.

The ability to choose the tax classification of a foreign business entity offers owners quite a bit of flexibility in terms of structuring foreign business operations in a tax efficient manner. It’s important to note, however, that if an election effective date is after the foreign entity’s incorporation or creation date, adverse U.S. tax implications may arise. In such case, a tax advisor should be consulted to understand the full tax ramifications of the election both currently and moving forward.

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How to Use Surveys and Interviews to Generate More Money for Your Business

Businesses are at the mercy of their customers.

The customer determines whether a company thrives, survives, or fails.

That’s why you’re spending so much time, effort, and money on various marketing campaigns.

Targeting new customers.

Trying to retain existing customers.

Figuring out how to squeeze some additional profits from your best customers.

It may be exhausting, but it’s absolutely necessary.

All of these efforts can be summarized with two questions:

  1. What does the customer want and need?
  2. How can I provide them with those wants and needs?

That’s what it all comes down to.

What’s the most inexpensive and reliable way to get inside the minds of your customers?

Just ask them.

That’s right.

Asking your customers for feedback directly can allow you to make the necessary adjustments to accommodate their requests.

As a result, you can make more money.

Surveys and interviews are the best tools to help you get accurate comments, concerns, praise, or criticism.

Plus, it shows your customers you care about their opinions.

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When customers don’t think you care about them, they’ll stop buying your products and services.

Based on the study above, we can see it’s by far the number one reason on that list.

Surveys and interviews are a great way to kill two birds with one stone.

You get valuable information that can make you more money, and it reinforces the message that you care about your customers.

It’s a win-win scenario, and everyone’s happy.

If you’ve never created a customer survey or conducted an interview with one of your clients, don’t be intimidated.

Believe it or not, it’s actually pretty simple.

I’ll tell you exactly what you need to know to get started.

How to create a customer survey

Before we go any further, let’s start with the basics.

You can’t distribute a survey until you create one first.

Once the survey gets built, you can distribute it on all of your marketing channels and communication networks.

But we’ll get to that soon.

For now, I’ll show you the best way to make a survey on a platform that is free and easy to use.

Building a survey with SurveyMonkey

SurveyMonkey is one of the most popular platforms to create a survey on the Internet.

The fact that they have a free option makes it easy to try it.

Step #1: Create a new survey

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The first thing you need to do is create an account.

It’s quick, and you can even sign in with your Facebook or Google profile to make it even easier.

After that, navigate to the “My Surveys” tab at the top of the screen.

Just type in the name of your survey, and click “Create Survey” to continue.

Step #2: Choose a template

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SurveyMonkey lets you build a template from scratch.

You can do it, but I think it’s way easier to just go with one of their existing templates.

In fact, it’s one of the reasons why their platform is my favorite choice.

For our purposes, we’ll navigate to the “Customer Feedback” templates.

I’ve selected the “Customer Satisfaction Survey Template” because it will work well for us.

Feel free to browse the other options to see which one fits best with the kind of information you’re trying to gather.

For example, if you’re looking for feedback about your website, there’s a separate template for that.

Step #3: Add questions

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Each template will come preset with a bunch of questions based on the category.

But you can change the order, modify the questions, or create custom ones by using the question bank.

Your questions should be simple and easy to understand.

The questions should also be related to one another.

Find out exactly what kind of results you want to get from this survey.

I’ll discuss that in greater detail shortly.

Step #4: Distribute the survey to your customers

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Now that the survey is created, you need to get it to your customers.

This is another reason why SurveyMonkey is a great option.

You have many different methods of distribution.

Sure, you can build a survey on Facebook and share it with your friends.

Or use your email marketing software to create a survey and send it to your subscribers.

But why do that when you can build one here, and it’s compatible with all your platforms?

This will save you a ton of time and make it way easier to analyze the results.

Step #5: Analyze the results

It’s not quite time to make any drastic changes to your business yet.

For now, you need to get organized.

Wait until you think there are enough responses before you do this.

Don’t try to figure out what your customers want if it’s been only 12 hours since you created the survey.

Give it some time.

While your company is obviously a top priority for you, taking this survey won’t be at the top of everyone’s to-do lists.

Give your customers an incentive to provide feedback

As I was just saying, this won’t be a priority for all your customers.

Can you blame them?

Sure, responding to a survey or interview may ultimately improve their experience, but not everyone will see it that way.

Some customers will see it as a demand on their valuable time that could be spent doing something else.

Sometimes, a little motivation can get them to respond.

Take a look at how Jack Spade does this with a survey distributed to their email subscribers:

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Getting a 20% discount for taking a survey is definitely more appealing to a customer than a solo plea “Please take our survey.”

Do you notice anything else about this pitch that’s appealing?

Quick.

As I said before, your customers don’t want to waste their time.

Acknowledge their time as valuable, and make sure the incentive is worth their trouble.

For example, offering a 10% discount for an interview that’s going to last hours and involve the customer testing out new products isn’t something you can reasonably ask.

On the other hand, giving out $100 gift cards for a quick survey that will take only two minutes to finish doesn’t make much sense either.

The key is finding that middle ground.

I’d say offer a minimum of a 20% discount for any survey the customer can take online in less than five minutes.

For in-depth interviews that happen in person or over the phone, offer an incentive that’s more valuable, like free products or gift cards.

It’s worth it to you to give stuff away to get more survey results.

Ensuring you get as many responses as possible will give you the most accurate results.

If only 20 people fill out your survey, they can’t speak for your entire customer base.

Set an objective, and stick to it

Let’s re-visit the point I was starting to make earlier when discussing the questions on your survey.

Your questions should be related to one another as well as your goal.

What is your survey or interview trying to accomplish?

Here’s an example from Barkbox:

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This survey is super specific.

It was only sent to customers who ordered the October box.

All the questions will be worded accordingly.

But what’s the objective?

Let’s say they want to improve the overall quality of future delivery items.

The questions would focus on which products the customer would like to see again and which products they could live without.

Another objective could be about ways to generate more money. The questions could be then about the order frequency.

Is the customer happy with getting a box delivered once per month?

Maybe they would prefer getting weekly deliveries.

Each box would have fewer items and cost less, but the company would make more money over time.

Or they could deliver boxes every three months for even more money and cut down on shipping costs.

Either way, the questions would still center around the specific objective.

If it’s a simple survey, you may not even need to send an external link to the customer.

You can embed the survey directly in the interactive email, just like Expedia does with this one-question survey:

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The primary objective for a goal like this could be PR.

They want to be able to say “X” number of customers or “X” percent of people had a good flight.

But at the same time, they’re still letting the customer know they value their feedback.

Establish a comfortable rapport with customers during an interview

Interviews can be tricky.

While surveys are often cut and dry with multiple choice responses or something of similar nature, interviews are typically in-depth.

It’s best to use interviews when you want to get a response that’s more thorough and open-ended.

A simple “satisfied” or “unsatisfied” survey response won’t do the trick here.

I recommend interviews for companies who have brick and mortar storefronts.

That way, you can see the customer in person.

It also increases the chances that the customer will be open to the interview.

In fact, a recent study by the Harvard Business Review suggests face-to-face inquiries are 34 times more likely to get a response than email questionnaires.

When a customer is in your store, politely ask them if they have five or ten minutes to get interviewed.

You want the customer to feel as comfortable as possible during the interview.

That way you’ll get accurate answers.

One of the main problems with face-to-face interviews is that you may need to take some of the responses with a grain of salt.

I’m referring to the psychological tendency that’s referred to as the social desirability bias.

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Here’s what I mean.

The customer you’re interviewing may not be thrilled about every single aspect of your business.

But they’re happy enough to continue shopping at your store.

When you ask them questions about their satisfaction, their response may not be 100% truthful.

They are more likely to tell you what you want to hear as opposed to how they really feel.

This customer knows they are going to keep seeing you, and they don’t want to make things awkward by saying they think a certain product is bad.

Instead, they could avoid confrontation and just focus on the aspects they’re happy with.

This is no good.

You need the interviewee to feel comfortable enough to tell you how they really feel.

That’s the only way you’ll be able to make the right improvements.

Let them know as soon as the interview starts that you value their opinion and want to hear criticism.

You won’t be offended or upset if you hear something negative.

If you can’t establish this rapport with your customers, the interview results may be skewed.

Conclusion

If you want to generate more money for your business, you need to figure out what the customers want.

How do you find that out?

It’s easy.

Just ask them.

Use tools like surveys and interviews to get constructive feedback from your customers.

You can find out what you’re doing well and what you need to improve.

Conducting surveys and interviews regularly will show your customers you care about them, increasing their loyalty to your brand.

To get as many responses as possible, offer your customers an incentive for taking the time out of their day to complete a survey.

Each survey and interview should focus on one particular objective centered around a specific goal for your company.

Any time you’re interviewing a customer in person, make them feel as comfortable as possible.

This will help you get the most accurate responses.

Combining these tactics will generate more money for your company.

Does your business prefer to use surveys or interviews to get valuable feedback from your customers?

Did You Give Up?? 😐😐

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJPTX8rAVps&w=640&h=360]

Learn How to Close Deals Faster at This Upcoming Webinar

Actionable Tips for Marketing Webinars

So you’ve arranged a deal with a new client. Now what?

Closing big deals is an important part of running a business. But it’s easier said than done. There are a lot of potential roadblocks that can get in the way. So you need to find ways to speed up the process wherever possible.

An upcoming webinar, sponsored by DocuSign, aims to help you do just that. Make it Rain Money: How to Close Deals Faster and Speed Up Collections is scheduled for January 17. You can learn more about the event and how to sign up in the Featured Events Section.

And that’s just one of the upcoming webinars and events that could help your small business grow in 2018. Check out even more opportunities in the list below.

To see a full list or to submit your own event, contest or award listing, visit the Small Business Events Calendar.



Featured Events, Contests and Awards

Make it Rain Money: How to Close Deals Faster and Speed Up CollectionsMake it Rain Money: How to Close Deals Faster and Speed Up Collections
January 17, 2018, Online

Would you like to bring revenue in the door faster? Do you want every edge possible to get paid fast? In this webinar, learn how other small businesses are eliminating their pain points in the contract and invoicing process, through use of electronic signature and invoicing apps. You’ll hear the results of exclusive DocuSign research about where other small businesses encounter the biggest challenges, and how to solve them. Today’s tools minimize manual steps and mistakes. Digital automation streamlines activities, tracks status and follows up for you — freeing up staff for other activities. Register today!

And most importantly, these tools get you paid faster, improving your cash flow.

At the end of this webinar, you’ll walk away with concrete tips for how to get contracts signed and invoices paid — much faster. Plus, you get access to DocuSign research and two concise whitepapers with insights and actionable ideas for how to improve YOUR company’s systems. So you get paid faster.

Sponsored by DocuSign.


WEBINAR: 5 Trends that Will Drive Your Profitability and Growth in 2018WEBINAR: 5 Trends that Will Drive Your Profitability and Growth in 2018
January 24, 2018, Online

Customer habits and perceptions are rapidly evolving as new technologies such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things go mainstream. New opportunities are opening up – but at the same time businesses of all sizes are under intense pressure to meet changing customer expectations. In this webinar on Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at 2:00 pm ET, you will learn five key trends that will drive profitability and growth in 2018, if businesses quickly leverage them and adapt to them, including: The Automation Revolution, Rise of Amazon, Expectations, The Instant Customer Service Trend, The DIY Dichotomy, Always-On Operations. Get ahead of the curve and lead in your marketplace, by understanding how to use these trends for growth and profit. Register today!


LEAP HR: Retail Conference, Nashville 2018LEAP HR: Retail Conference, Nashville 2018
February 27, 2018, Nashville, Tenn.

LEAP HR: Retail 2018 will once again dig deeper into the innovative people leaps helping digital-native and established retailers succeed in a rapidly transforming industry. With new speakers, fresh case studies, and a pre-conference ‘Boot Camp’ day dedicated to what the next-generation retail workforce really looks like, LEAP HR Retail 2018 remains the unique opportunity for senior people leaders in this industry to really challenge and get creative around how we do HR in retail.


More Events

More Contests

This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends and SmallBizTechnology.

Photo Via Shutterstock

This article, “Learn How to Close Deals Faster at This Upcoming Webinar” was first published on Small Business Trends

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