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Steve Marr's Blog

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Jul 04
2019

Follow Up Leads

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Sometimes when I step in to see a prospective customer or make an initial phone call, the business is closed.  If I don’t follow up, I’ve lost a potential customer. What I have learned over the years about following up leads, I now use in a damage restoration business I have an interest in.  When a customer calls because a pipe break caused their living room ceiling to collapse, they’re usually anxious to sign the work order and have our company immediately mitigate the problem. Unfortunately, it’s not always as simple as that. It requires working with property managers, insurance agents, and sometimes referred businesses.

Jul 01
2019

Setting Goals

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When I talk goal setting, I often introduce the concept with this analogy.  I explain that there are two kinds of people.  There are the ones who paint a target on their barn and then shoot the arrow, hoping for the bull’s-eye. They may not always hit the center of the target; but they discover that the clearer the target; the better the result.  Then, there are people who shoot the arrow at the barn and then paint the target to impress people with their self-adjusted accuracy.  

Three simple questions will help a leader stay focused: 

Jun 26
2019

Analyze Customer Needs

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Most salespeople talk too much. They tend to launch into a sales pitch before understanding what the customer needs. King Solomon understood this when he wrote “To answer before listening-- that is folly and shame.” (Proverbs 18:13, NIV) Making your sales pitch before listening to the customer is the same kind of “folly.”

We need to keep in mind that for almost every product or service there are multiple reasons a customer may buy. When we start with the sales pitch, we may or may not hit the mark. A better tactic is to conduct a needs analysis. This is a process were the salesperson endeavors to understand what is important to the customer.

Jun 21
2019

My Summer Intern

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This summer I hired a high school student as a summer intern to work in the damage restoration business with which I am involved. Before making a commitment, we agreed on basic compensation, work hours and days, and what work the intern’s exact duties were.

On some days the intern will join me for sales calls even though I will ask him to remain in the car:  Other times, at my discretion, we will visit the customer together. Part of the benefit to the intern is to gain experience in sales visits to decide if this is the type of work he wants to do in the future. The intern will also participate in presentations I make and will experience some of the give-and-take that occurs in the question and answer times.

Jun 17
2019

Cash Not Accepted

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The Associated Press recently ran an article that several retail establishments were no longer accepting cash, only credit and debit cards or Apple Pay.  I realize how some stores may benefit by not taking cash. It requires less time and trouble for the clerk and lowers concern over cash theft.  It also makes accounting easier because transactions fall easily into an automated system. There are no federal laws requiring business to accept cash.  Most state and local municipalities don’t have such regulations in place, either.

In my business career I have adopted a simple rule when somebody wants to put money in your hand: close your hand. For business transactions, I prefer that every customer pay me with a bank transfer. It places the cash immediately into my account with little transaction cost. However, if I insisted customers do business on my terms; I would have fewer customers, which is why I will accept cash, credit and debit cards, checks and any other payment method. Although, I won’t take chickens the way people used to. I want to make payment for services as easy as possible for my customer. I can run a credit card immediately on a mobile device, email an invoice, or text a customer so that they can simply click and pay.  Or they could write a check and stick it in the mail. The important part is making payment as easy as possible for your customer, on their terms.

Many years ago, stores started granting credit cards as a way of increasing sales. A store knew that even though there was a cost to maintaining a credit card system and an occasional bad debt write-off, the increased sales more than offset the cost of offering these cards. Today most businesses pay between 2% and 3% on credit card transactions. I would rather not pay the credit card fee in my business, however; I would rather pay the fee than lose the customer.