Micro-Consulting and Using Text Messages for Scheduling

The other day, I was speaking with a financial planner and consultant, and she indicated to me that many of her clients merely send her a text message. She then scans her text messages, finds the information which is needed, and then calls them back when she has a ready. She also uses the text messages she receives for her business as a “to do list” and for doing her scheduling. In other words, it’s very similar as to a consumer inside of a deli, or ice cream shop;

“Please take a number and you will be served in the order received.”

About four months ago, I talked to another young lady who is a coach. She has many clients and they are able to contact her by phone so many times per quarter, and send her e-mails, which she will then reply to. It would seem to me that if she used “Text Messages for Scheduling” in a similar way as the financial planner did, it would fit very nicely with her micro-consulting coaching profession.

Taking this one step further, it might also be good for a social networking system such as Google Plus, to allow people to send tweets, or text messages to various industry professionals so they could get advice. Leaders and experts in the industry could offer micro-consulting services using those text messages or tweets – or whatever Google+ decides to call them – in a similar way to schedule whom they will serve in what order.

Now then, whereas someone designing such a system might play around with it a bit to figure out the best combination, I think any micro-consultant, or coach should consider this. First of all the methodology is simple, it works, it’s easy to keep track of just as if you were to write a To Do List. In this case it’s only a modern version of that, and it helps the user stay organized. It also ensures that the people leaving the text messages will get called back on a timely basis.

Further, it offers a lot of freedom because if you are running your micro-consulting business this way you could run your normal errands around town, go to Starbucks, go to lunch, and service your micro-consulting clients as time permitted between activities. Therefore this mobile technology would give you more freedom, which is indeed its purpose. It also puts you in control of your clients, and makes you more efficient in doing so. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.

Shorten the Sales Cycle With a Consultative Selling Method

Shortening the sales cycle to increase sales is high on the list of sales management in the current times. A consultative selling method helps the buying committee, (which may be one person), create a vision of a solution based on value. With higher value, faster decisions can be made.

Imagine working on a project for numerous months to get to the end where the customer says, “I just don’t see enough value to take on the additional risks”. In addition, studies are showing sales cycles are getting longer and customers are buying less.

Many companies embrace the belief, “bad news early is good news” to help sales work on those projects which have a higher likelihood of leading to a win-win with their customers. This is the “What and Why”, let’s review the “How and When” to accomplish this.

From a 30,000 foot view, the first step is to break down the buying cycle into 3 main phases. We use the buying phases from one of the largest studies done on buyers in the past by Xerox.

NOTE: Think of “decision makers”, not procurement, when reading the word “buyers”.

1. The first phase in the buying process is discovery and the buyer is focused on the people who can help them discover their compelling needs and assist in developing a vision of a solution. During the discovery phase the main buyer concerns established in the study were needs and a solution.

A consultative selling method allows the sales team to have a business conversation and help the buyer during the discovery phase identify their needs. As the needs are defined, the reasons which are preventing the company from achieving their needs can be explored and the appropriate cost with each reason. In addition, the product and service capabilities, (not feature statements), can be lined up with the associated reasons.

At this point the buyer can begin to form a vision of a solution based on value in their mind, (not the sellers). Our clients have sales document the value back to the customer in writing. This allows the creation of one of the first gates around “bad news early”. If the value is too low to justify an investment, the interest in pursuing a project should be low for both the buyer and the seller.

The written document allows a second conversation to occur around whether the value is sufficient to continue evaluating the products and services being discussed.

2. During the second buying phase, evaluation, the focus shifts from the people who can help them to the products and services offered. The buyer is now interested in proof the products and services being discussed can help them achieve their needs. They are also interested in how difficult it will be to transition to the new products and services for their company.

The curse of knowledge says, “The customer knows how to evaluate products and services”. However, if you are selling difficult to understand products and services, this is rarely a true statement. Especially if your company offers unique capabilities. Using a consultative approach, a mutually acceptable buying evaluation plan is prepared between the seller and the buying committee, (which may be one person).

A properly created buying evaluation plan will help the customer make better and faster decisions working towards a time line they have agreed upon during the creation of the written evaluation plan. Having a plan in place also allows sales, as well as the buying committee, to question when milestones are being delayed. Numerous delays begin to paint a picture around other priorities and the potential of “bad news early”.

3. The final buying phase, commitment, may naturally occur providing there is sufficient value to proceed. It is not uncommon for our clients to tell us they have large projects which proceed with no price concessions at the end. If negotiation comes up, using consultative selling skills around negotiation and proper training, sales goes in prepared with “give-gets” to provide an overall “win-win” outcome. Avoiding heaving price negotiations, or in some cases, “bad news early” if the customer is not reasonable.

Based on our clients successes, shortening the sales cycle can be achieved using a consultative sales cycle lined up with the buying cycle. This helps increase sales by focusing on those opportunities with the best value and leads to better and faster buying decisions. The out come is shorter sales cycles overall.

About The Vision Group: The best of breed in effective sales organizations are utilizing a common sales method and their personnel understand both the “what” to do as well as the “how”.

Effective Sales

Our clients use consultative based sales and marketing aligned with how their customers buy. Focused on the shifting concerns of how individuals make buying decisions to transition from “how we sell” to “how they buy our products and services”.

Hiring an Environmental Consultant Makes Good Business Sense

If you are a business owner – whether your business is a small, local mom and pop type of enterprise or a huge, multinational corporation – you must be in compliance with the multitude of environmental regulations that have been formulated over the past decades.

And it actually does not matter one iota whether or not you are personally concerned about the environment. The reality is that you must be in compliance with the law or your company and your livelihood will face potentially stiff penalties.

Consequently, in today’s world of ever-increasing rules and regulations, it is absolutely necessary that you hire an environmental consultant.

That’s because environmental consultants will save you money and time. They will make sure that your company follows the law and that it does not take any unnecessary risks with your land, your production, your facility acquisitions or even how you store your products.

Realistically, as a business person your main responsibility is running your business successfully. So do you really have the time to constantly research the latest regulations and then figure out if they apply to your industry and, if they do, whether or not your company complies with them?

Therefore, before investing in any property or building any type of a structure, you will have to ensure that you will not be taking on any of the previous owners or occupants liabilities that are related to the property.

If you are contemplating investing in any property it is imperative that you pay particular attention to any pollutants that may be present.

To facilitate this you will need to hire a qualified environmental consultant who can perform an assessment. He or she will be able to first ascertain if there may be any contaminants and then perform the proper tests to determine if any of these contaminants are likely to be present.

It’s important to keep current with the law and consultants can help you to do that. New environmental requirements seem to surface every day and laws change on a relatively regular basis. There usually aren’t enough changes to warrant hiring a full time employee, but professional environmental consultants should be able to keep you up to date and out of trouble with city, state and federal regulators.

Keep in mind that not every environmental consultant is the same. So, before your contract anyone check their experience and their credentials. Their qualifications and levels of expertise vary. They may be either a state licensed professional engineer, or a technician who is only qualified to run various tests, or something in between.

Realize that you may not need to spend the extra money required to hire an engineer for a small project. But if you have a significant project then you won’t want to try to cut any corners, and getting an engineer’s approval should be part of your business plan.

In any case, you will always want to make sure that you are doing things safely and that you will not do anything that will cost you a lot more money down the line. It just makes good business sense.

Social Media Consultant: Why You Need to Hire One

Small business owners all over are hiring social networking/media consultants, have you? Everyone’s noticed the popularity of social networking sites for businesses. Most businesses have created an account, yet they don’t know what, when, where, why or who they are connecting with. Most of them fail to set up their social networking presence to connect with their present and future customers!

Right now, as you read this, many of your customers are cruising the international super highway we call the internet. They are reading and writing reviews, articles, comments and opinions on your business. They’re checking in and posting to their friends (and to the rest of the social networking world) about their latest visit, experience, and even about you or your employees.

With social networking sites, the world is your oyster. While most of you have already jumped on the social networking super highway, you are stuck in the slow lane, too afraid to merge into traffic. Social networking sites are a way for you to find out what your customers are saying, effectively converse back with them, hear first hand about their experiences, and provide customer service to them after they leave.

If you’re not already on social networking sites, there is no excuse! To continually grow your business and be successful every year, then you need to get social. Most importantly, you need to have a strategic plan so your competitors don’t leave you behind!

Still don’t think you need a social networking/media consultant, here are the five most important reason you do:

1. Contrary to popular belief, just because your 14 year old has a Facebook account that doesn’t that doesn’t mean they should manage yourbusiness’ fan page. Hire a professional, if your 14 year old could balance a checkbook, would you hire them to do your books? Probably not, so why would you hire them to manage your social network/media? Your goal should be to have a better website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, et cetera than your competitors. Since social networking is constantly evolving hiring a professional with extensive knowledge will keep you up to speed with the latest tools, platforms, & strategies will benefit your business enormously.

2. You must have a well thought out social networking/media strategy if you want to succeed. Zig Ziglar once said, “People often complain about lack of time when the lack of direction is the real problem.” Much like a business plan, a social networking/media plan will provide you with a much-needed road map for you so you don’t get lost along the way. It’s good to review your plan every 18 to 24 months, social media changes, so should your plan. Your plan should address consistency in content and most importantly, making sure your content is *valuable*.

3. Just because your already on social networking/media platforms, that doesn’t mean you are using them correctly. Most businesses have a Facebook account; however, way too many of them unknowingly violate Facebook’s terms of service and have a profile, not a fan page. A social networking/media consultant will know how to fix the situation without losing your friends or your profile information. What’s worse than having they wrong type of account? We’ve all seen Facebook and Twitter accounts that go months without any activity, have irrelevant posts and go unresponsive. It’s because business owners update Facebook and Twitter “every now and then” when they find the time… A BIG NO-NO in the world of social media. Having a social network and NOT using it consistently or effectively is just as bad as not having one at all.

4. You need someone to remind you -NOT- to just post. With the click of the mouse someone can “hide,” “unlike” or “un friend” you on Facebook or “unfollow” you on Twitter. The goal is to add more fans and followers not lose them. Unlike the businesses that posts when they have time, some businesses post too much. You wouldn’t run just any TV, radio or newspaper ad for your business. Likewise, you shouldn’t post anything on social media just to post something. It’s called social media for a reason. A well thought out and developed strategy that provides engaging and valuable content is important. When you have a good strategy your media helps you network with people by getting them to reading and share your posts and feel comfortable enough to join in on the conversation. All of the sudden, your customers become fans, and your fans become long time loyal friends.

5. Having a social networking/media manager saves you, the business owner, time -your most valuable and rarest asset. Creating and maintaining a solid social networking/media presence takes significant time and energy away from day-to-day operations that most small business owners just don’t have to give. While having a social networking/media consultant won’t leave you hands off, it will undoubtedly save you time. A social networking/media consultant will work with you to provide a road map and content strategy that should make it easy for you to distinguish what is considered good and bad content. They also should manage comments and update content regularly on all platforms take away the burden of you having to log onto your computer when you have time. A good social networking/media consultant should do all that for you, and more leaving you more time to concentrate on your livelihood… your business!

While many companies have ventured into the world of social networking/media, many still haven’t. If you’ve already hopped on the social superhighway, did you do it right? Do you have a plan? Are you getting what you expected? If you haven’t jumped in yet, what’s stopping you & what are you waiting for?

Michael Babowal, is the President and CEO of ROICOM Consulting, LLC. He has a BA in Political Science and brings over a decade of experience in public and government relations to ROICOM. Michael’s career accomplishments include being a Chief of Staff and a Field Representative for California State Assembly Members and Director of Government Affairs for California’s 10th largest chamber of commerce. He is a veteran of several campaigns ranging from statewide races such as Gubernatorial and Attorney General races to Congressional, state Senate and Assembly races, local candidate and ballot initiatives. He has done social networking management for political campaigns and corporate clients since 2007. Michael provides a plethora of knowledge and experience in public affairs, public/community relations, grassroots advocacy, campaign management and has extensive contacts with government officials, their staff and agencies.

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