The sales strategy secrets that drive sustainable, profitable sales

A key part of any business development goal is creating an efficient sales strategy that gets your products or services in front of the right people and invites them to make a purchase.

Successful business leaders understand that the sales process is the lifeblood of the company. Without an efficient, productive means of making sales, even brilliant ideas will fail, so it’s vital for every business owner to find the sales process that work bests for their company.

The quicker you can do this, the better your chances of growing your business, and the more likely you are to succeed. With so much at stake, William Buist reveals the sales strategy secrets that will help you make sustainable sales.

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How to grow referrals with Strategic Alliances – And 5 features that make for fruitful partners

In the world of marketing, Word of Mouth has great, well … word of mouth.

According to WOMMA (the Word of Mouth Marketing Association), word of mouth marketing is considered to be more effective than traditional marketing by 64% of marketers.

You may be thinking they would say that, wouldn’t they, but their survey is backed up by research from Nielsen that revealed 84% of us trust recommendations from people we know; and research from Market Share that found marketing impact can be increased by up to 54% by social voice (i.e. online & offline word of mouth).

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How winning an award can get your business noticed, PLUS 5 ways to reap your prize’s full potential

One of the time-tested ways of establishing yourself as a standard in your industry is to win an award. An industry-recognised award serves as an independent endorsement of your company’s quality. And more importantly it’s an evaluation that potential customers are more likely to trust, than any marketing material you can produce.

We know that social proof is one of the most influential factors in a consumer’s decision making. In a survey by Zendesk, 88% of participants were influenced by an online customer service review and consumer reviews are nearly 12 times more trusted than descriptions that come from manufacturers.

Awards are like the ultimate review or testimonial. Usually, they come through from a trusted, independent authority with the expertise to give a well-informed judgement on your business, so your customers and the wider marketplace are going to see that as proof that your business can be trusted.

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Why skilled negotiators don’t look to ‘win’ a negotiation but are driven by ‘profit maximisation’

Negotiating is a fundamental part of how business gets done and takes place millions of times a day around the world. But that doesn’t stop many business owners from avoiding it.

If you can take control of yourself, your values and prejudices, your need for fairness, and your ego, you can start achieving the best possible outcomes in your negotiations. However, the first challenge to overcome is changing the way you think about negotiations and yourself. (more…)

How to use Facebook to grow your small business

Facebook is the second biggest site in the world, with us Brits being some of its most prolific users. 59% of UK residents use Social Media on a daily basis; which means that Facebook presents some great marketing opportunities for businesses.

If you can get your users to share information about your products and services in their feeds, you can reach a massive audience of consumers – at a time when they are relaxed and receptive to marketing messages.

If you are a start-up or small businesses, the low-cost and high-potential make Facebook a very attractive option to promote and grow your venture, but how do you do this effectively? (more…)

Write the right book to help promote your business

Writing a book can be an extremely useful tool to help you promote your business or new start-up. Being a book author, immediately gives you kudos and extra authority, but only if your book is produced properly.

In most areas of business, winging it is rarely (if ever) a good idea. Each aspect of your business – be it recruitment, or marketing, or cash flow – requires a strong strategy. You need to know what you want to achieve before you can plan how that goal will be attained.

Publishing a book to support the growth of your business is no different. It may seem a bit more showbizzy – and it does involve a large amount of creativity – but it must never be a vanity project; there needs to be a valid business case for it. (more…)

Five ways publishing a book can help increase your start-up profits

Many entrepreneurs are aware of the benefits of becoming a published author. But only a very small percentage of business owners ever get around to writing a book.

This is a big lost opportunity for those who don’t put pen to paper, according to Sue Richardson, who outlines five ways that writing and publishing a book can help your start-up to take off;
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Why the humble telephone is still an important business tool in a digital world

Many small business owners now focus a lot of time and effort on their website and on how their customers are interacting with them online. We live in an increasingly digital world, so this is understandable, but the humble telephone call can still be a very valuable business tool.

Calls coming into your business convert more often and more quickly than online leads, ultimately making you more money. Not only that, but tracking your phone calls can give you useful data which you can use to improve the efficiency of your promotional efforts.
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Boiler Room Basics: The 7 must-do’s every service business needs to get right

For every service business, ensuring your customers have a great experience is paramount. Whether you’re a small start-up cafe or a global hotel chain, customer satisfaction needs to be a top priority if you are to succeed.

To help you put in place the foundations for a thriving service business, we asked Michael Heppell, the author of, “5 Star Service – How to deliver exceptional customer service”, to reveal the key issues you need to get right, before you can start wowing your customers; (more…)

7 Mistakes you could be making with your website

It’s estimated that almost one in every three small businesses maintain their own website, and with that comes a whole host of potential challenges to overcome.

Alongside the usual cost of building a new website, getting the right designer and managing your hosting prices, there are other factors which many small business owners do not consider when managing or monitoring their website.

In fact, there are a number of common mistakes which SMEs often make, but which are easy enough to overcome.

Here are the seven errors we most often see with websites designed for startups and small businesses.
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Sealing the deal – How to close a sale

The path from initial interest to confirmed sale hardly ever runs smoothly, especially in today’s tough marketplace.

When sales targets are high and prospects are scarce, it’s essential for salespeople to hone their skills and fine tune their approach for a successful close.

There are many organisational challenges facing salespeople, but most of these can be whittled down to three main root causes;

  1. A lack of sales staff motivation,
  2. Failure to maximise sales capability, and
  3. Inefficient management of the sales pipeline.

To help you close that sought-after sale, here are three key areas to focus on; (more…)

6 ways to protect your brand and grow your business reputation in a social world

It’s fair to say that the digital landscape has given us all a platform to air every thought that warrants sharing, and also many that don’t!

Unfortunately for businesses, customers will often bypass customer services and immediately go online to air their views. While channels such as Facebook allow you to brush criticism under the carpet (not advised, angry customers will usually respond), reviews on sites such as Trip Advisor and Google can blemish your name on a longer-term basis.

While your customers will always have scope to poorly portray your business online, there are some simple ways to monitor and respond to criticism in a proactive and timely manner.

Here are 6 things you can do to protect your brand and enhance your business reputation on social media; (more…)

How to turn your customers into your best sales force

If you’re starting a business then chances are money is tight – so anything you can do to increase sales without spending a fortune is worth looking at.

It’s easy to imagine that you need to employ a crack sales team – but the truth is, if you’ve made one sale, then you already have one sales person – that customer. And more often than not, the best people to sell your products and services are your customers.

Customers have already gained benefit from you and because they are impartial, they can provide legitimate social proof. So how do you get your customers selling for you? (more…)

Choosing a PR agency for your small business

Selecting the right public relations agency is an important decision for any business, but is particularly crucial for a small organisation with a limited budget. Chris Hewitt, CEO of Berkeley PR gives businesses some food for thought when it comes choosing an agency.
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6 techniques to help you overcome cold calling anxiety

If you’re launching a new business, or looking to grow your existing business, then the chances are you’ll need to do some cold calling at some stage.

However, despite its importance within their business and the doors it can open, many business owners shy away from cold calling and find it extremely stressful.  To help you overcome such cold-calling anxieties, here are six techniques that can help you become a more confident, far less stressed, and much more effective cold caller:

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The best way to make business networking work for you

Most small business owners have an opinion on networking. For every person who enjoys and values it – you’ll find another who visibly shudders at the mere mention of the word.

But why does networking seem to polarise small business owners? Is it a massive untapped opportunity, or is it an uncomfortable evening in the company of strangers and cocktail sausages?
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The risks and rewards of being a unique business

Apple, Netflix, Nike. Leaders in very different industries. They didn’t get there by doing what everyone else was doing.

Apple adds crafted design to desirable functionality and makes it fashionable. Netflix goes beyond being a digital LoveFilm and creates high quality, polished, original programming that goes toe-to-toe with Game of Thrones and Mad Men at the Emmys. Nike’s sponsorship deals are with athletes even your gran has heard of.

However doing something unique in an industry comes with risks: (more…)

How to structure your press release to grab attention and get free press coverage

Good public relations are essential for any business, but especially so, for small and start-up businesses. If you can persuade editors to run a story about your business, it’s worth a dozen adverts or mailshots. And there’s also the huge added benefit of it not costing you anything!

However, writing a press release isn’t as simple as dashing off a letter to the editor of your local paper. For it to work, your release needs to be carefully crafted and put together.

Here we look at how you should structure your press releases to grab editors’ attention and maximise your chances of getting that elusive, but highly-prized free press coverage.
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The 3 big mistakes that stop your press release from being published

When you’re starting or running your own small business, you have an endless list of jobs to do. One of the most crucial is generating interest in your business and creating awareness of your products and services.

Big companies can have a team of people to do this and hire a PR agency but as a small business you will probably need to do all your PR yourself. There’s nothing more demotivating when you’re doing your own PR than spending hours getting the perfect press release put together… only for it to be completely ignored by all the journalists you’ve sent it to.

But don’t take it personally, it’s a very common occurrence. And when you hear that 99% of all press releases sent to the media end up in the bin you realise it happens a lot more often than you think.
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5 networking secrets to help you make the most out of networking events

No matter what business problem you have to solve right now, there’s a powerful way of finding the answer quickly and efficiently… and it’s called networking.

That’s a word that makes many people’s hearts beat faster. The idea of getting out to events and meeting a bunch of strangers is not something that seems natural!

Yet networking is a powerful marketing and business tool.
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Preparing for meetings with clients – 3 steps to building fruitful, long-term partnerships

how to properly prepare for a meeting with a client

Any business owner is familiar with the challenge of attracting new clients and protecting relationships with existing ones.

Fierce competition within many industries gives clients a wide choice of suppliers to choose from, and to make things even more difficult, some clients feel the need to change vendors periodically to avoid the common phenomenon of supplier complacency.

If your ambition is to do long-term business with a new or existing client you will need ensure that you engage as a serious partner: Well prepared, well informed, and far from complacent.
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How to communicate effectively with your website designer

Good communication is often essential for success on any project. In fact, lack of communication is probably the single most common problem affecting any website development.

But communicating your desires and goals to a designer for a new website, or with regards to any amendments to your current site, can often be a challenging task. You’re focused on what works for your business, and designers are focused on creating something that looks great in their eyes.

It’s understandable that problems can and do develop.

Follow these 9 tips however, and you’ll be well on your way to being understood by your web development company, and will hopefully be able to enjoy good communication and a pain free process!
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How to make the most out of networking events

So, once you’ve found a networking event, how do you get the most out of it? There are many networking “experts” who can teach you the finer points of generating business from a room of people. But the general rules seem to be very simple;

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How start-ups can win the eyes and ears of the local media

If you’ve just started your own business, you might be making the mistake of overestimating the scope of publicity you wish to achieve.

Chances are, if you haven’t got a unique business idea that’s going to revolutionise the world, then you’re probably wasting valuable time dealing with national media outlets, especially when you can reap the rewards and credibility of local media instead.

Although it might seem like you are downplaying opportunities when targeting your local area, what needs to be remembered is you are only competing for coverage with other local businesses which ultimately presents a far greater chance of your story succeeding.
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Lessons in steering your business to export success – The Brompton Bicycle

The Brompton Bicycle is a great example of how a simple idea can be transformed into a global business. Today, the company behind the bike is a well-known British business success story, but it wasn’t always the case.

Back in the 1970s, having looked at the folding bike designs already on the market, Brompton founder Andrew Ritchie, decided he could do something better.
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How One-to-One marketing can help start-ups to promote, pitch and sell more effectively

As a start-up, you often don’t know the best ways to market your new business, or what works and what doesn’t.

The good news is; whether you’re selling to a market of ten or ten million, one of the most effective ways to learn how to improve your marketing is to talk with a single person and sell something to them.

Here’s how you can develop stronger sales messages, build your customer base and grow your new business by harnessing the power of one-to-one marketing.
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5 ways to get the most out of offline marketing

When it comes to promoting your business, the focus these days seems to be almost exclusively on online marketing. Of course, since the social revolution it’s important for businesses to have a strong ‘digital footprint’ but what about the traditional offline marketing methods?

Does the proliferation of Twitter, Facebook and co. mean that you should stop all forms of offline marketing? Of course not, particularly if your business is B2C (Business to Consumer) and especially if you have a clearly defined geographical reach.

They might seem low-tech, but traditional methods of marketing your company such as, leaflets, targeted advertising, local PR and local awareness campaigns can have great impact.
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The 10 business development truths that will give you an edge over your competitors

Business development is much more than just about marketing, sales, pitching, online wizardry, mailings, advertising, branding, social media strategies, glossy brochures, discount deals, promotional gimmicks or special events.

Every single thing a business does has a potential impact on how your business performs. Following these 10 business development truths, will help your business to grow and give you an edge over your competitors.
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Wisdom of Crowds: 4 ways customers can improve your company

The development of a strong relationship between consumers and your company is one of the keys to achieving a good level of customer retention.

Now, with the increasing possibilities offered by digitalisation, it is even possible to make the customer a part of the company, allowing them to play an active role in its activities and build a genuine emotional connection through the four following options (more…)

21 killer ideas to get free publicity for your small business

Free publicity is a great way to spread the word about your business. If you can get your business featured regularly in the newspapers and magazines your target audience reads, it brings your business to the attention of potential customers, and at no cost.

Another advantage of being featured in articles written about your business is that editorial coverage gives you a huge amount of credibility. It’s an independent trusted person talking about your business – the total opposite of an advert, where you are delivering your message.

The good news is that getting media coverage for your small business isn’t difficult if you know what you’re doing. (more…)

How to get your customers talking online

As long as brands have existed, consumers have loved to talk about them. While 90% of conversations about brands are happening offline, today millions of people talk about companies on social media, and these online conversations now offer a new dimension in marketing.

Whether consumers are aware of it or not, these branded conversations are increasingly being watched by businesses.

Being faced with so many conversations happening in real time can be a daunting prospect, particularly for small businesses, but ignoring them can be a huge missed opportunity to influence how the world sees your brand.
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5 ways to maximise your business with social media

In recent years, the number of businesses embracing social media has grown rapidly, and this trend is set to continue in the coming years.

The businesses that are successfully using social media as a promotional tool have recognised the importance of delivering valuable content on a regular basis, and the value of stimulating, and engaging with online conversations around their brand.

With the opportunity to connect with such a vast online audience, social media integration is no longer a choice for business owners but indeed a necessity. To help you on the way, here are 5 tips to help your business succeed with social media;
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