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Why You Should Be Using a Subcontractor Agreement

Many restoration contractors rely on subcontractors (Subs) to complete much of the work on their jobs. Without a doubt, they play a vital role in the disaster restoration industry. Because many restorers have long-standing relationships with their Subs, they fail to use Subcontractor Agreements because they feel comfortable with these small businesses. This means that they could be exposing themselves to a great deal of risk and liability.

Simply put, a Subcontractor Agreement is a risk control strategy which shifts risk from one party to another. With such an agreement, the restoration contractor is protecting themselves from risk derived from the work of their Subs.

Why risk transfer is important

Taking on your Sub’s liability can cost you tens of thousands of dollars. Without a Subcontractor Agreement, if your Sub does poor work on a job that results in loss, you could be held legally and financially liable for their work; thus, the much wiser decision would be to go with a formal written agreement. A Subcontractor Agreement has many benefits:

  • It can help control the type and the impact of the liabilities a restorer could face.
  • It can generate additional profit by lowering overall costs.
  • It can save money on insurance workers’ comp audits. Certificates of Insurance aren’t always enough.

Since a Subcontractor Agreement is designed to protect contractors from the intentional or negligent acts of their Subs, most attorneys recommend that the agreement should have language that resembles the following:

  • “Subcontractor, agrees to defend and indemnify the contractor (and others if applicable) against any claims, lawsuits, and damages arising out of the subcontractor’s negligence or intentional acts.”

Furthermore, language about the Sub’s agreement to defend and indemnify the contractor for any misrepresentations (made knowingly or unknowingly) regarding the Sub’s licensing, corporate status, or other relevant issues should be included.

A restorer can really help themselves and avoid liability with a well-written Subcontractor Agreement. Even though you may have a long-standing relationship with a Sub, the situation could get very sticky should something go wrong, so it would be a good idea to let your Subs know that these agreements will be required if they want to work on your job sites.  It’s a good idea to have someone like an attorney or your insurance agent look over or provide you with a solid Subcontractor Agreement.

Ground rules for subs

I have observed that my successful clients that are using Subs to produce the majority of their work have created and communicated the ground rules required to work with their businesses. You should negotiate a written agreement with each Sub on a yearly basis.  

The Subcontractor Agreement needs to list the requirements necessary to work with your company. These should spell out any areas in which disagreements could occur, which could include, but are not limited to:

  • Is a job site visit required before a price is given?
  • Who will pay for job clean-up and trash removal?
  • How will Subs’ invoices be submitted and when?
  • What payment terms are agreed on?
  • Can the Sub do side work for the customer?
  • How will change orders be handled?
  • Who will purchase the materials for the job?
  • What warranty will the Sub provide?
  • What are the license and insurance requirements?
  • What agreement has been made on the job schedule?

Your Subcontractor Agreement should include at a minimum:

  • A firm and fixed price quote for each job. No Cost Plus or T&M quotes for work to be done.
  • Proof of all required licenses and insurance.
  • Proof of financial competency when a requirement of the job.
  • Showing up at the job site on the agreed-upon date and time.
  • Following the same work and safety rules that you expect of your own employees.
  • Keeping the job site clean and orderly.
  • No use of loud radios, drugs, smoking, or alcoholic drinks on the job site.
  • No agreement to do side work for the customer without prior approval from your company.

What to do now?

Look at your Subcontractor Agreements that you currently use and make sure they are effective in your day-to-day operations. If you do not have or do not use these agreements, I recommend that you immediately contract your attorney to create one. Be proactive and eliminate potential problems with your Subs.

My mission is to serve small business owners that suffer from sleepless nights, making little to no money, and having people problems. I help them increase year-over-year performance and profits, build high-performing teams, and get some time back for themselves.

At BDA, we believe that every restoration business owner has the right to expect that their business can deliver for them what they want out of life (freedom) and to create wealth.

Make it a prosperous month!  See you on the next blog.

John Capponi, CR

Operations and Management Consultant

Business Development Associates, Inc.

john@gobda.com

Cell: 407-745-7698

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How to Become Someone Your Clients Know, Like and Trust

Part of our services to our clients is going to their market and doing ride-alongs with business development reps to help them get a running start as they implement the proprietary programs we teach them.

Sometimes these are industry newbies; sometimes newbies to outside sales and sometimes they are BDRs that have had long experience in their market and with their company who are now implementing a new and/or improved value proposition.

The ultimate goal for a BDR is to become someone that clients know, like and trust.

Why?

Because people do business with people they know, like and trust. In fact, this is a maxim in the sales business coined maybe by Dale Carnegie or Zig Ziglar or maybe even Henry Ford.

But regardless who said it, this is the ultimate goal: to have a personal relationship with your clients who trust you as an expert, as a friend that won’t let them down, as a resource that has expertise and the ability to help them solve fundamental business challenges and problems that they face or may face.

I had the pleasure of riding with a well-established BDR over the last two days. She has invested 10 years in the building of her book of business. She has been to countless association meetings, served on committees, on boards, has a near photographic memory of her client’s properties, past losses and their personal lives.

And as I observed her working her magic in the field this week I had an insight about becoming trusted that I wanted to share.

Some years back I read a book about having successful romantic relationships and the author had a neat little trick where he broke down the word intimacy into, “Into me you see”. In other words, intimacy comes from authenticity, from letting other people see who you really are as a person.

So many salespeople get caught up in the idea of some “Joe Salesman” persona that just comes across as phony and inauthentic. People can smell this out a mile away and it tends to generate the opposite of trust!

Now, I’m not saying that BDRs should just walk into every account and bare their souls about every trial and tribulation that they are facing. There is such a thing as over-sharing!

But at the same time, the people that you are doing business with are people just like you. They face marital problems, illnesses, deaths, difficult children, job struggles and career challenges just like every other person.

Being authentic is recognizing that they are people just like you and that as highly social creatures we seek connection. In fact, the salesperson I rode with this week told me words to the effect that, “Even though I’m there to try and get restoration work, I feel that the underlying work is to connect with people on a human level and that there is some divine purpose underlying all this that I don’t understand and don’t need to.”

Another great mentor of mine, Nick Paolella told me many years ago, “Timmy, don’t sell to your friends. Make friends out of the people that you sell to.”

So it is worth considering how you can reveal yourself to your clients in ways that let them see you as a real person. How do you let them “see into you” and connect with you on a different level than simply as a vendor providing services they need from time to time?

This doesn’t mean you don’t have to develop expertise, make sure you and your company deliver on your promises and deliver real value added to differentiate you and your company from the competition.

But to get to the highest level of trusted advisor and resource, you have to be real.

All the best!

Tim

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Is Cold Calling Dead? Not Hardly!

Even though I spend the majority of my time on sales development I’ve been primarily a marketing guy my entire career. And that’s not really surprising because marketing and sales are really two sides of the same coin.

Another broad way to think about it is that marketing decides what and sometimes how something will be sold and sales then goes out and sells it.

In my experience, marketing is a fad driven industry. If you’ve clicked on any marketing related email or website during the last few years then your inbox is probably crammed full of offers to provide you with information on the latest and greatest marketing innovation. Some of the most recent are inside sales, inbound marketing and lead generation services.

Now, I am a total fan of inbound marketing and lead generation and inside sales programs.

The problem I have is that they are marketed as a replacement to cold calling—as if cold calling was dead (they often say just that in the email!)

As if cold calling no longer works.

As if millions of years of the ways that humans communicate and create relationships has suddenly been erased with the advent of the latest and greatest software and data mining technology.

Let me state with clarity that cold calling is dead if you don’t know how to do it!

If you don’t know how to do it then it is a huge time and money waster, an absolutely demoralizing activity to put your salespeople through and the results may have you searching for the magic bullet only to find websites that confirm what you are already thinking:

  • It’s not that my salespeople are ineffective.
  • It’s not that I don’t have a clear differentiation strategy from my competition.
  • It’s not that I don’t have solid, proven scripts and processes.
  • It’s not that my salespeople don’t role play or are not coached as they go through the process.
  • It’s not that my products or services are commoditized and I haven’t taken the time to reframe them as solutions to different, more important problems.
  • It’s not that I’m calling the wrong people.
  • It’s not that I don’t have a prospecting sequence to follow and instead do the same thing over and over and expect different results.

Nah! It’s that cold calling is dead. I knew it! And see, this website hawking the latest and greatest technology said so—it must be true!

Cold calling, which includes cold calling by phone as well as face-to-face (F2F) is still (and likely always will) be an important part of the skills that true salespeople bring to their profession.

When done correctly it is a very powerful and fast way to build a territory, to get things moving, to get traction, to start setting the meetings that are necessary to move prospects through the pipeline from suspect to client or customer.

Watch this space as we break down critical elements of successful cold calling over my next several blog posts!

All the best!

Tim

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A New Way for Restorers to Prosper

Every once in a while something new comes along that can be a game changer. I don’t mean a massive industry shift but a way to do things better, more profitably or that can open up new sales opportunities that didn’t exist before.

And given how tough the restoration industry is, we could all use an extra edge, couldn’t we?

I’m using this post to tell you about something that I have discovered that might be a good fit for you in your restoration business. There are a lot of applications for this product but for restorers it has some really amazing benefits:

  • You can pre-treat and/or post-treat Category 3 water losses for an extra layer of protection for you and the building occupants,
  • You can be 100% confident that your “no smoke odor guarantee” will be something you won’t get call backs on,
  • You’ll be able to dramatically increase profits on mold remediation projects because you can eliminate most productivity sucking PPE,
  • You’ll also dramatically reduce HEPA vacuuming as part of your mold remediation process,
  • Imagine never failing a mold clearance test again,
  • You can treat the nastiest trauma scene to destroy micro-organisms, the death stench and even Blow Flies and Bottle Flies before you start work (and post-treat to make sure you have taken care of all the nasty stuff),

Now, before I give you a link to check this stuff out, let me give you a little background on why I am staking my reputation on sharing this with you.

First of all, this is my buddy Craig Jasper’s company. I’ve known Craig for 30 years and I’ve been amazed that he has lived his life by a simple credo, “If you help enough people get what they want, you’ll get what you want.”

I have done business with Craig and I know him to be a man of his word who does what he promises, even if it hurts—when most people would just disappear.

But even with my confidence in Craig, I really wanted to make sure that what he was onto was the real thing. That’s why I interviewed the people that make this stuff, spoke to mold remediation companies that had used this product for 14 years and NEVER FAILED A SINGLE CLEARANCE TEST and really made sure that I understood how this stuff worked and that it did work.

I am convinced that this product can do the things that I listed above and therefore can make a real and positive impact on your restoration business right now. Check out the details at https://nc191.isrefer.com/go/remediation/tm/

And, I am also convinced that restorers need to start diversifying their sources of revenue as our market matures. This product opens to doors to a host of new opportunities that are easy to market, simple to service and that are new and highly profitable. Craig’s program will give you everything you need to get started and he has a team of experts to hold your hand as long as you need them to.

Again, I strongly urge you to check out the website at the above link. Fill out your first name and email address on the web page and read the information they send you.

And if you decide to give it a try when Craig says there is a money-back guarantee you can take that to the bank!

All the best!

Tim

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Is Your Company on Financial Life Support?

Every business is going to struggle financially at some point in its life. In fact, you will likely experience it several times on your journey to building a successful restoration company. However, there is a difference between financial struggle and feeling stuck. There is a difference between having a simple plan you are following to improve your profitability and cash flow… and feeling overwhelmed and without a strategy.

The problem today is many restorers are feeling more like passengers than drivers in their businesses. They are careening along on the highway of business out of alignment and have sleepless nights and anxiety during the day wondering where they will end up financially. A common concern is “How will I make payroll this week?”

What if you had a sensible plan, a roadmap, you could follow that would guide you on your path to building a strong, wealth generating business? You would have the clarity of knowing what your next steps are. You would have the confidence that comes from having a simple system to follow. Your focus would shift to profitably scaling your business and working on your business rather than always cashing the money.

There is light at the end of the tunnel and this blog is about helping you get unstuck. I will share with you a Three Phase Plan for breathing life back into the financial side of your business. You’ll learn a simple system you can implement in baby steps. A system that will help you move faster toward financial health, wealth, and freedom.

Phase 1: Meet Your Financial Reality Head-on

This phase is about assessing, then improving, the financial health of your business. Confronting the reality of your financial situation is vital to your profitable growth.

  • Step 1: build your cash balance to 1 month of expenses as quickly as possible.
    If you have less than one month of operating expenses in the bank, you are probably experiencing unnecessary stress, angering your vendors, irritating your employees, ignoring the financial reality of your business, and generally making your life harder than it needs to be. Maintaining a very small bank balance in business turns otherwise simple decisions and processes into complicated and time consuming hassles.
  • Step 2: put aside enough cash to pay your income taxes.
    Taxes should be set aside during the year, not at the end of the year. The government yields way too big a stick to make a mistake when it comes to paying your income taxes. This is one of those “unforced errors” that plagues small businesses more so than larger ones. Income tax payments should never be a surprise.
  • Step 3: diagnose your profitability and cash flow weaknesses – then fix them.
    Financial struggle in business has its roots in profitability challenges and the way in which you monitor and manage your cash flow.
  • Step 4: create a reliable financial forecast for the next 6 to 18 months.
    One of the most powerful tools in for a restoration business is a reliable financial forecast. It provides the view through the financial windshield of your business. It helps you define where your business is going financially. It shines a light on the dangers and opportunities that lie ahead of you on your journey to creating a bigger and brighter financial future.

Phase 2: Create a Financial Safety Net

A financial safety net is created by having some cash in the bank and less debt. It provides you with two benefits:

  1. It protects you when financial surprises hit.
    • A sudden loss of a key account (insurance carrier) because they decided to change to a TPA or a national account.
    • A mortgage company decides to hold your money.
  2. It allows you to take measured risks to grow your company.
    • You can hire a marketer that could land you additional business.
    • Purchase additional equipment or vehicles to increase your production capacity.

There are three steps in Phase 2 that will help you build a financial safety net in your business:

  • Step 1: pay your bank line of credit down to zero even if temporary.
    A revolving line of credit is meant to revolve. You may borrow on the line to meet seasonal demands or address other short-term cash needs. Then the bank line should be paid back down to zero.
  • Step 2: reduce your personal guarantees.
    When you first started your business, it may have been difficult to avoid personal guarantees.  As you grow and become more successful you have more leverage and more reason to intentionally reduce your personal guarantees.
  • Step 3: build your cash balance to three months of operating expenses.
    Building your bank account to three months of operating expenses creates a cash cushion against surprises. Most importantly, the fact that you have a healthy cash balance will help you sleep well at night.

Phase 3: Grow and Enjoy Financial Success

Profitably growing your restoration business is much harder than most people realize. There is a small number of people that have the unique talents and drive to build and manage a company through the many ups and downs inherent in business.

The following three steps in this process help you set the stage for a future that is even bigger and brighter than you have seen in the past:

  • Step 1: use existing cash flow for capital expenditures and growth capital.
    Capital expenditures generally take two forms:

    • maintenance capital expenditures – these are expenditures, or investments, that maintain your existing fixed asset base.
    • growth related capital expenditures – these are meant to add new income producing assets and are designed to add to your ability to serve more customers and drive revenues.
  • Step 2: pay down your remaining debt on an accelerated schedule.
    Debt can be a valuable tool in helping you build your business. Debt can become bondage and success comes when you practice constraint and pay your debt down on an accelerated schedule. Use a portion of your existing cash flow and allocate it to a more aggressive payment plan.
  • Step 3: reward yourself with cash.
    The ultimate prize for a restoration business owner is receiving healthy distributions of the company’s excess cash. It’s your reward for building a successful company. It’s cash you can invest in other assets or ventures as part of building a sizeable net worth for you and your family.

Your Next Step

Struggling financially in your business is a sign that something has gone wrong. It’s your business sending a flare into the air to get your attention? You can ignore the signals and keep on trucking. It is not a good idea to be an Ostridge and bury your head in the sand and believe that if you wait along enough the slow cash flow will fix itself.

When you have a step-by-step plan to follow you’ll find that identifying the problem and fixing it becomes so much easier. No more worrying and wondering what’s causing the problem. No more sleepless nights wondering whether the problem is about to get even worse.

Act today and contact our office to schedule a FREE Profit Strategy Session to discuss your unique cash flow issues.

My mission is to serve business owners and corporate executives that suffer from sleepless nights, making little to no money, and having people problems. I help them increase year-over-year performance and profits, build high-performing teams, and get some time back for themselves.

Make it a prosperous month!  See you on the next blog.

John Capponi, CR

Operations and Management Consultant

Business Development Associates, Inc.

john@gobda.com

Cell: 407-745-7698

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Creating a Culture of Sales Accountability

When it comes to salespeople and accountability there are a number of factors that must be balanced (and sometimes it’s a delicate balance!)

First, it is a huge mistake to just let salespeople “do their thing” without “inspecting what you expect”. This assumes that you have a specific, proven process for salespeople to be successful within your organization that you train them to.  Not inspecting that they are doing what they have been trained to do almost guarantees that they aren’t doing it!

This is not necessarily because they don’t care or don’t want to but because learning new sales processes (and sometimes a new industry) isn’t easy and takes a lot of repetition and review over time.

And, you want to not just measure sales activity totals because these can be misleading by themselves because unless those activities are in service of your sales process you may find a lot of wasted effort.

In other words, if your sales process calls for a F2F visit, then a follow-up call, then an email, then a letter, then another phone call and so on, you need to know whether or not that sequence is being executed. Otherwise, you could have prospects that have been dropped in on once a month ago and no follow up ever done. This could be hidden by a straight activities only report. For this reason you want to look at a sales sequence report as well as a sales activity totals report.

And, sometimes your salesperson is at the bar, the racetrack, sleeping in their car, almost anything but doing what you paid them to do.

So, I recommend that every salesperson understands that there will be accountability when it comes to conducting the fundamental sales activities they are required to execute such as phone calls, emails, letters, networking events, etc. and that all these activities may be verified by GPS.

I don’t recommend that you spend your days scrutinizing GPS reports and asking them why they took 40 minutes for lunch either! You should however, verify their activity using GPS in the very beginning to make sure you haven’t hired a bleep-head who is stealing from you by not working. It is also very useful when performance flags and something just seems “off” to identify a problem in the early stages.

One of my favorite GPS stories is about a client who had concerns that a salesperson was going “south”. The GPS said he was in a bar (during work hours) not far from where my client happened to be. You can imagine the look on the rep’s face and the stream of excuses that started pouring out when the company owner sat down next to the rep at the bar.

Second, and this is tricky, salespeople earn leeway by generating results. One of my clients has a great salesperson who consistently brings in $2 million in referrals every year. She likes nice clothes and if you checked her GPS report you might find her at a particular boutique for an hour during the business day every so often. Who cares? She has earned the right to more leeway.

For your salespeople to be really effective, you must create an atmosphere that encourages them to excel and holds them accountable for their selling behavior and rewards outstanding performance. Be certain they have a clear understanding of what is expected and how you will measure their progress. Salespeople must understand their responsibility to do whatever it takes to be successful.

There are four basic steps to accountability that you can use when managing your salespeople:

See It: Acknowledge the Problem

Own It: Take Responsibility for It

Solve It: Determine What I Can Do

Do It: Take Action

All the best!

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The Cure for Prospecting Constipation!

My Mom likes to tell the embarrassing story that when I was old enough to eat solid food in my high chair I would start each meal by grabbing a fistful of food and holding it tightly in my left hand. I would then eat my food using my right hand and only when it was all gone would I then open my left hand and eat that too.

Now, this might explain the extra 50 pounds I’m carrying J but it also serves as a very effective metaphor for a condition that afflicts many salespeople and that is the idea that holding prospects tightly in one hand, i.e. having prospects “in the pipeline” is the same as making progress.

Now, to be clear, prospects need to move through your pipeline. The equivalent of holding on to them tightly in one hand looks like any of the following:

  1. Contacting them once and waiting for weeks or months for them to return your call or to make a second call,
  2. Putting them through a sequence of activities but allowing the time between activities to go so long that the prospect has no sense of a rhythm of contacts and never hears any compelling reasons to speak with you, or,
  3. Making a series of contacts (ideally 8 within a 2 ½ week period) and getting “crickets” and leaving them as active prospects that you will “continue to work on”.

To continue with food and digestion metaphors when you are working a territory you can think of your pipeline much like your intestines. (I know, I’m sorry!) If you don’t remember from High School that food moves through your gut by peristaltic action, Google it when you’re bored someday.

The comparison is that each time you conduct a prospecting activity on the same prospect it’s like a squeeze as food goes through the gut, moving it further along until a conclusion. Some food provides much needed nutrition to your body as it goes through the gut, some passes through inertly like fiber and some is just waste to be disposed of at the end of the process.

Simply having a bunch of prospects stuck in your pipeline is like being constipated! You prevent a healthy flow through the body. And, you expend more and more effort trying to wring some value out of low percentage prospects, sometimes because they don’t see the value in your offer (crickets) or because you haven’t done a good job of getting them to hear you message in the first place.

The cure for prospect constipation is as follows:

  1. You need a prospecting sequence of activities that you will take each prospect through until they speak to you and give you a meeting, speak to you and tell you to quit stalking them or never speak to you within a defined number of prospecting activities (see item 2 below).
  1. You need to execute your prospecting sequence with the understanding that there is momentum to all sales activities but especially prospecting. Set a number of days between each activity and stick to it! Create a series of activities that utilize different contact methods (phone, email, Social Media, letter, bulky item, etc.) and try to conduct about 8 touches in your sequence within a 2-3 week period—no longer.
  1. When you come to the end of your prospecting sequence you really only have two choices. “Throw them back” into your overall database (stop working them!) or choose extended prospecting. Extended prospecting should only be for really high value targets or whales that realistically need more prospecting time and are ultimately worth the effort. You should have no more than 5-10 prospects in extended prospecting lest you fall into the constipation trap again.
  1. As you move prospects through and out of your pipeline grab a new group and put them through the process.

While some salespeople find this discouraging (I guess this is why they want to hold onto the familiar but unproductive prospects they are already working) I think about it a different way.

Let’s assume that for every group of 20 prospects there are 2 meetings to be had. Let’s further assume that you work a group of 20 and get a couple of meetings but are hanging onto the rest for the reasons outlined above. Here’s the problem: You’ve already gleaned the two meetings that were to be had!

It is much better to grab a new bunch of prospects where the opportunity is still ripe for the picking.

To find out more about a unique way of prospecting and selling developed exclusively for the restoration industry, contact us for a free consultation.

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Committing to the Sales Process During the Hunt

In sales, it’s critical to commit to your sales process and see it all the way through to the end. This commitment will not only increase your effectiveness and efficiency in your everyday sales activities, but also result in the most important part—more sales!

Many sales reps (for the sake of this discussion, we are referring to full-time business development reps) fail because of their lack of commitment to their sales process at one or multiple steps, from prospecting to the actual sale itself and so on.

In fact, many reps fail right from the start, lacking an actual sales process to work from. Typically, 90% of reps have absolutely no defined approach to their sales approach and spend each day feeling around in the dark through low-impact sales activities, lack of planning and not performing to their maximum potential, which is highly inefficient and at the same time, highly ineffective. A few will have a process, but will keep repeating the same methodology that leads them to little or no sales, leading further to overall subpar sales performance (Sounding like the definition of insanity? That’s because it is!)

Fully committing to a sales process actually has several components:

  • Developing and implementing a sales methodology
  • Setting goals, both short-term and long-term
  • Consistently executing that process
  • Getting to the decision maker
  • And, getting them to make a commitment to you!

In hunting, the lack of commitment varies from rep to rep, but one common example is giving up too early in their attempts to reach the prospect. During the sale, there are many ways to veer off the course of the sales process, exampled by a rep finally reaching the prospect, but not using their skills to navigate the sale all the way through to a definitive “yes” or “no”.

By not fully committing to the sales process, you could be leaving money on the table! By working an established prospecting plan and knowing where you’re going from the initial prospecting step, all the way through the final commitment step, you should begin to see different and more profitable results due to your commitment to your sales process, both in hunting and during the sale itself.  Let’s look at what it means to commit to your sales process “During the Hunt.”

Committing to Your Goals

A great starting place for your newly found commitment to implementing and executing a well-oiled sales process is to establish daily sales metrics for yourself, and of course, long-term goals such as how much sales volume you want to bring in. This includes the number of sales activities you will make today in order to reach a decision maker so you can begin the actual sale itself.

This daily commitment can be particularly challenging, as we get pulled into several directions, become distracted by other (usually less important) tasks or might be experiencing days where banging your head into a wall sounds more enticing than calling or seeing a prospect.

But, by committing to all your sales activity each day, you’ll be pushing more activity into your sales funnel. And what happens at the other end of the funnel? More activity equals more sales of course!

To further ensure your new dedication to performing your daily sales activities is carried out, think about when you “peak” during your day. This will be the time period when you are at peak performance, meaning you have the most energy and focus during your day—this is the time you should be feeling the mental mindset of “game on!”, and you can conquer tasks that are particularly difficult or undesirable.

Save your most challenging or highly focused sales activities for your peak time. Don’t particularly enjoy making phone calls? Make the calls during your peak time—they will become that much easier to do given the right energy and mind frame. Save the easier tasks, such as database management and sending emails for the times when you know you’ll feel more sluggish or don’t require a higher level of energy and concentration.

During the hunt, you must also make sure you are reaching out to your prospect on a regular, frequent basis. If you’re going to call them once a week, stick to that frequency and set your tasks to reach out to that prospect in your calendar. If you’re an owner or have to wear another hat in the organization, finding and setting aside time consistently every day is difficult. But, devoting even one or two mornings a week where your sole focus is sales can start to yield some more favorable results.

Committing to your sales activity metrics every day in order to keep your commitment to your overall sales process is critical to keeping a healthy sales pipeline full of activity and the sales momentum charging forward.

Hearing Crickets?

Many times, you won’t be able to make it to the decision maker. You call, you visit, you send emails, but never get a response from them. You’ve even done your part in committing to your sales process and contacted them on a regular basis.

Their response to you? Silence. Crickets chirping. A mental image of tumbleweed blowing down a dusty road start to form in your mind. Now what? There’s a couple of ways to approach this.

The first choice is to throw up your hands and say “well that was a waste of time.” Many reps go this route, essentially giving up too quickly on their first go-around, and usually on the first sales “touch” to that prospect, let alone multiple touches. Is giving up this easy committing to your sales process of seeing it through all the way to the end?

Remember, you have NOT gotten to a decision maker, and you have definitely not gotten to a definitive answer one way or the other of whether they will use your services or not.  You still have a ways to go in your efforts to fully committing to your sales process. Here’s choice two in the situation of “crickets chirping” after reaching out to a prospect.

Instead of giving up, you should continue to pursue the lead until you get in front of them and put them through your entire sales process all the way to the end. How much sales activity you continue to put into place on a particular prospect will depend on a number of things and their importance in your sales funnel.

Remember, just because you feel like your prospecting attempts are going into the netherworld of email inboxes and voicemail doesn’t mean the hunt is over. People are busy! And, they are getting bombarded by thousands of messages and multiple people a day. Stay true to your process, and don’t give up after your first attempts!

So, what if you did you end up reaching the decision maker? In our next article we’ll discuss how to better commit to your sales process “During the Sale.”

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What Is a Strategic Plan and Why Does Your Business Need One?

News flash – a plan of action that resides only in your head may work for a little while, but being a profitable and growing company involves collaborating with others. You must do so if you want to bring your business growth strategy to reality as you grow you will see the rewards of becoming a strategic thinker.

As a business coach and advisor serving the disaster restoration industry for several decades, I have found from working with small to medium-size companies that the owners that have some sort of formalized strategic plan in place, and are implementing it well, usually perform at a higher level than companies that do not have a plan.

Many business owners do not know where they are going and do not spend much time planning for their company’s success. They are running as fast as they can and are “fire fighters” trying to fix problems that occur daily. The biggest reason is that they are not aware of how easy it can be to successfully guide their businesses to success. Most owners, when they hear the words “Strategic Planning or Business Planning”, get a glazed-eyed look on their faces.

If you are familiar with the Alice in Wonderland books written by Lewis Carroll you may recognize this conversation between Alice and the Cat:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” – said Alice.

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where” – said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

All roads lead somewhere – sometimes somewhere is just another kind of nowhere. In business, clear vision and goals matter.

What Is a Strategic Plan?

Your strategic plan is more than just a lens to look through into the future. It does more than just focus your attention. It’s also essential for communicating your vision to your customers, insurance companies, suppliers, managers, and employees. It illustrates the process by which your vision will be made real.

The strategic planning process lights the way, and it’s easy to see why. A clear set of goals, when combined with an honest assessment of the company’s strengths and weaknesses, shows you what’s important, what’s relevant, and what’s actionable in your business environment.

You need to constantly be looking forward into the near future to make educated and informed strategic moves to stay relevant and memorable. The disaster restoration industry is constantly changing, and faster than ever before. New government regulations, changing workforce demographics, insurance carriers reinventing themselves, rise of TPAs and franchises, advancing technology, and economic uncertainty are continually causing chaos.

What’s In It For you?

There are 5 major problems or symptoms that suggest that there is a need for strategic planning. If your company shows one or more of these symptoms, then it is time to consider strategic planning:

  1. you are stressed and working longer hours and not seeing results you want
  2. employees are working independently and not as a team
  3. management and front-line employees are stressed
  4. work is no longer fun, exciting, or inspiring
  5. customers are complaining that problems are not getting resolved.

You might ask, “What should I do if my team displays any of the above symptoms”? It has been my experience that you cannot just use pre-designed templates and forms that are generally designed for large corporations to solve these types of problems. What you need is a powerful and simple yet practical strategic planning process that is built on a participative approach to developing a common vision and set of values. You can accomplish this by using a team-based strategic planning process, one that strips away jargon and creates a picture of the future that everyone in your company can relate and implement.

  • one that excites your team about their common future
  • one that encourages them to support one another on an inspiring journey
  • one that provides direction, meaning, and success.

How Is It Done?

Through the strategic planning process, you’ll create a written document that clearly details the future and goals of your company. Your employees and customers won’t have questions about how they fit in, and they won’t be confused about how they can help you achieve your vision. The strategic planning process ensures that everyone is on the same page.

Why Is a Strategic Plan Important?

I have found that restoration businesses that struggle usually have no plan in place and seem to flounder in their attempts to be successful. Arguably, the leading cause of business failure is not having a strategic plan in place that is implemented effectively. If your company has little idea where it is headed, it will wander aimlessly with priorities changing constantly and employees confused about the purpose of their jobs

For your company to be successful, there needs to be a road map for success. Without that road map provided by a solid strategic plan, decisions are made in a vacuum and/or there is considerable confusion and inconsistency evident within your company.

At a minimum, a well-developed strategic plan:

  • establishes clear and specific goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics
  • defines strategy that allows the company to gain competitive advantages and enhance sales and profits
  • provides clear direction and focus for all employees
  • allows the company to align employees, teams, departments, divisions, etc. with a common plan and focus so that everyone can be working toward the same goals and objectives
  • enhances productivity, morale, communication, efficiency, sales, and profits
  • defines specific tasks and establishes an action plan for effective implementation.

At BDA, we believe that every restoration business owner has the right to expect that their business can deliver for them what they want out of life and to create wealth. A written strategic plan, when done well, is both the forward path and the map itself. It’s the basis for any business owner to achieve their vision.

Call me and give me some feedback. Make it a prosperous month! See you on the next blog.

John Capponi, CR

Business Development Associates, Inc.

Operations and Management Consultant

john@gobda.com

Cell: 407-745-7698

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How to Improve Sales Communication with Stories

At the heart of it, sales (and marketing) are about effective communication. I have long said that sales technique is about lowering barriers to effective communication. That’s it.

That’s because modern sales is about determining whether or not your prospect has a problem that you can solve. And the only way to do that is to get people to lower their natural defensiveness in a sales situation and have an effective communication, which ought to look a lot like a conversation (even if a presentation is involved.)

Another way of saying this is that the sales process is about determining whether or not there is a mutually beneficial reason for you and your company to do business with the prospect and their organization.

Now, this sounds easy! Just communicate effectively. As anyone who has ever been in a relationship knows, that’s easier said than done.

In this article I want to explore one of the most important elements of effective communication: storytelling.

Human beings are first and foremost story-telling and story loving creatures. If you have kids you can see that one of their earliest joys is being read to and then (hopefully!) reading themselves.

On their birthdays they relish the story of their birth.

Our entertainment is essentially story telling. News is in a way telling the story of what is going on in the world. And before there was electricity, we sat around the fire telling stories that transferred our tribe’s body of knowledge, mythology and culture from one generation to the next.

We are uniquely wired to tell and listen to and respond to and learn from stories.

Now, the types of stories you tell are also incredibly important. Some ham handed salespeople feel that they should make the prospect the star of the story. This comes across as “in their face” and confrontational and shuts down communication rather than lowering barriers.

The most powerful stories are “other guy stories” about people like them, people in jobs like theirs, people that they can relate to. This allows them to process the information without feeling the need to protect their ego by being defensive and pushing back.

For example, if you say to an insurance agent, “So, Pete how are you dealing with your policyholder retention problems?” you may get strong pushback along the lines of, “I’m not sure what you’re talking about. We’re doing just fine.”

The other guys story sounds like this: “Pete, we work with a lot of agents in this market and one of the things they tell us that they are challenged by is policyholder retention. They’re seeing their retention numbers fall off and are very concerned about finding ways to reverse that trend. Is any of that going on for you?”

At this point Pete may tentatively acknowledge that his agency is facing this issue: “Well, retention is an area we’re focused on.”

Now, if you have good sales stories here is the perfect place to tell one: “I was talking to the principle of a State Farm agency the other day and he told me that he has been tracking his retention for the past ten years and that over the past three years his numbers have fallen off a cliff. He’s got two kids in college and is working harder than he has in years to generate new business to replace what he’s losing.

“He thinks that it’s the Internet insurance providers that are hurting him and that selling insurance has become all about price these days. What are your thoughts?”

This kind of a sales story is non-threatening because it’s about somebody else! It also allows Pete to feel a little better about owning up to the problem and opening up to you because there is safety in numbers but also because if you, as the salesperson, are talking about this issue, maybe you have some ideas for how to help.

Another important aspect of human nature is that we learn new information best in terms of information we already know. The best example of this that I have seen is the way they pitch movies to studio executives. “It’s like a combination of “Pretty Woman” and “E.T.”.” What you immediately know is there’s going to be a hooker with a heart of gold and aliens, right?

This is another argument for using “other guy” stories but even more powerfully for using analogies to communicate. Given that I spend a huge amount of my time training and coaching salespeople I use dating metaphors all the time.

These are powerful because everyone has dating experiences and these tend to be seared into our memory and consciousness. People can usually instantly relate.

For example, if I am talking about maintaining momentum during the prospecting sequence I tell a salesperson I’m coaching, “It’s like if you go out on a date and things go well but then you don’t call her for two weeks. You can forget about date number two, right?” (This is easily modified if speaking to a female salesperson.)

The point I am trying to make is much more easily made when it connects to something that they already know—their dating experience.

One of the great advantages of working in an industry for a long period of time is that you get to collect a huge amount of sales stories! But this starts early on in a rep’s tenure is they listen carefully, ask good questions and understand the power of these stories and therefore collect them!

Start thinking in terms of sales stories and see if your results don’t improve!

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