Thank you for calling XYZ Company. Your call is important to us but not important enough for us to answer it. Please hold for eternity or leave a message and a representative will contact you as soon as it is convenient for us.
If youve ever used the telephone to contact a business you can relate to the frustration that can result from voice mail or automated answering services. Undoubtedly, when they first became the way to do business it was extremely annoying; however, times are changing, folks are automating and imprudent business practices such as this are gaining acceptance (or at least tolerance).
Of course the ole time principles of customer services such as answering the phone before the third ring, avoiding putting a customer on hold if at all possible, and providing personal service are still superb solutions to customer satisfaction. But, in our automated world, it is vital to recognize the importance of responding to customers quickly and appropriately, especially if they have been forced to listen to a long recording and traipse through a jungle of push buttons in order to leave a message for you instead of being afforded the luxury of speaking to a warm-blooded human.
Whether a customer makes contact in person, via telephone or through email, businesses should strive to provide a timely, if not an immediate response. Customer satisfaction is reliant on responsiveness.
So, you may ask, What is a timely response?
Honestly, the definition of a timely response really depends on the customers perception. The urgency of their need may play into the mix or their idea of a timely response may be linked to their expectations.
For some reason there is a perception amongst business people that a 24 hour response to a customer inquiry is sufficient. From the customers perspective; however, having to wait 24 hours for a quick answer to a simple question or a viable solution to a serious problem is ridiculously aggravating and neglectful on the part of the business.
When customers have a bad experience, from the customers perspective, they are sure to seek other options for fulfilling their needs. Plain and simple poor customer service results in lost business.
Regardless of the type of business you are in and whether you receive customer inquiries via telephone, email or a website contact form, it is absolutely critical that you get back to your customers right away. Placing responsiveness at the top of your customer service objectives is the simplest solution to gaining a competitive advantage, producing satisfied customers, maintaining your customers through repeat business, and building your market share through client referrals. Responsiveness is the single most important factor to enhancing customer satisfaction.
Direct Mail Advertising: How I made $47,325 in 30 days by mailing 2,200 letters
How do you create a direct mail advertising campaign that gets results?
The following tips on creating a direct mail advertising campaign have been street-tested and will bring you huge returns in a short period of time.
In Fact, these tips enabled me to generate over $47,000 in mortgage commissions in less than 30 days! Keep reading and I will share 3 key elements to creating an effective direct mail advertising campaign:
Key Element #1: The prospect list – Mail to a targeted list of prospects
Here are a couple of ways to find targeted prospect mailing lists in your niche:
Look in your industry trade publications. I found great list providers for my direct mail advertising campaigns in the back of Mortgage Originator Magazine A popular mortgage industry publication.
Or, search Google.com for: your industry + mailing lists. For example, I am a mortgage lender so my search would be: mortgage + mailing lists in Google.com.
By the way, when purchasing a prospect list for your direct mail advertising, be sure to get some kind of personal information about your prospect to use in your campaign.
Here is an example of personal information I use in my direct mail advertising campaigns:
The prospects current mortgage company
The prospects original loan amount
Key Element #2: The Envelope How to get your letter opened
The envelope must entice your prospects into opening and reading the enclosed letter.
Here are some ideas for getting your envelope opened:
1. Insert a personalized RE: line above your prospects name in a window envelope.
I found that the original lenders name works well in my campaigns:
RE: ABC Mortgage
123 N Main St.
City, State Zip
2. Use this text with your return address in the upper left corner of the envelope:
1234 South Broadway Pkwy.
City, State Zip
Personal and Confidential
Key Element #3: The direct mail advertising mail piece Get your desired result
The purpose of your direct mail advertising mail piece is to get your prospect to take a desired action. For me, that action is picking up the phone and calling me for a loan.
Here are some tips to help you get your desired result from your direct mail advertising mail piece:
1. Personalize the mail piece
If possible disclose small pieces of personal information about your prospect to get their attention and build rapport.
Here are some examples of personalized text I use in my direct mail advertising campaigns:
Based on your original loan with ABC Mortgage in the amount of $250,000 your new payment would be $924.05.
Based on our calculations, this loan program may save you $32,841 in interest charges over the next 5 years and $197,046 over the life of your mortgage!
2. Include a few bio lines under your signature. Tell them a little bit about who you are.
Here are the bio lines I use:
To your financial success,
Hartley W. Pinn, Jr
Senior Mortgage Planner
10 Years Mortgage Experience
Licensed Financial Planner
Married with 3 children
3. Offer a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) in your mail piece
If you dont currently have a unique selling proposition for your direct mail advertising campaign Find one. What makes you different from your competitors? What makes you better? Why should a prospect use you over a competitor? Answer these questions and you will have your unique selling proposition.
Here are some sample USP lines that work well in my direct mail advertising campaigns:
No House Payment Until April 2006!!! Imagine what you could do by skipping your February and March house payments.
Additionally, we specialize in loan programs with No Points. We can pay this customary closing cost because we are paid directly from the new lender.
4. The call to action
Ask them to take your desired action:
Call now and ask for me personally so we can discuss your individual needs and goals.
Well, thats it! I wish you all the best with your next direct mail advertising campaign. The only thing left for you to decide is how much money you would like to make over the next 30 days? Mail more letters and you will generate more sales!
If you have been running a web-based business successfully without the use of a merchant account, you may wonder why it is necessary to have a merchant account and all. After all, you can accept checks or money orders via snail mail; therefore, you may ask yourself, Why should I bother with the hassles of signing up for a merchant account? Nevertheless, you would be surprised to find that there are myriad benefits in having a merchant account; in fact, making more money through your Internet business is just one of them.
First, in not having a merchant account, you are severely limiting the amount of income that you can make from your online business. For example, with a merchant account you can accept MasterCard, Visa, Discover, and American Express once your initial application is approved. In the case of the latter, you will be required to fill out a separate application for American Express approval.
The approval process for a merchant account is usually five to seven days and the wait is well worth it; once you are approved immediately increase the type of payments you can receive and therefore increase the number of clients who were willing to buy your products online.
The most obvious place to get a merchant account is from your local bank. Simply stop and your local bank or visit the bank where you hold a checking or savings account and speak to one of the bank representatives about their merchant accounts. Conversely, your local bank will probably be more than willing to send you brochures or pamphlets that describe their merchant account programs in great detail.
When you are looking to apply for a merchant account with a local bank it is a good idea to ear in mind that if you already have an existing account with a bank, that bank will probably be more willing to provide you with a merchant account based on their experience with you as an existing customer. If you have exhibited responsible behavior with an existing checking account of loan with an institution, the bank is quite liable to take such information into consideration when determining your eligibility for a merchant account.
Having a merchant account also keeps you at an even keel with your competitors. By simply researching the competition, you will soon find that many of your competitors have merchant accounts as a payment method for customers. The reason that your competitors maintain a merchant account is to primarily provide an added convenience for customers desire to pay by credit card. Not only is the authorization process fast, but allows the customer to place their order in the fashion that they’ve grown accustomed to while paying for their purchases.
Another added benefit derived from having a merchant pertains to this simplification of record-keeping. Let’s face it, when it comes to paying taxes no one considers it a good time. Nevertheless, paying taxes a necessary evil and it pays to be well organized when tax season comes around. With the detailed monthly statements that you receive with a merchant account, you can access your expense records quickly and easily.
Many merchant account suppliers offer software applications with their merchant account program that will allow you to improve the look of your website. For example, you can add a shopping cart to website or the ever popular buy now buttons. Such graphics give your website professionally designed to look and help your website appear easy to navigate and user-friendly: if customers find your website user-friendly they’re more likely to return again and again.
As a child I can remember going through the tunnel that connects East Boston with Boston holding my breath. Absurd behavior? Sure, but in my mind I was preparing for the time when the tunnel would run out of air.
A friend told me that as a child he taught himself to write with his left hand even though he was right handed. His reason was that he wanted to be sure he could write even if something happened to his right hand.
Emergency planning, disaster recovery these topics have been in the news a lot lately in the United States. Inadvertently I did it as a kid but it isnt a subject that as an adult I like to think about. In fact I avoid it!!
As an account executive at AT&T one of my responsibilities was to be sure my customers had disaster recovery plans. Everyone wants their telephone to work no matter what happens. And yet even so it wasnt something my clients wanted to address. Many thought the possibility too remote. Others had too many other projects on the table that they said took priority.
It is hard for an estate planning attorney to convince someone he or she needs a will. It is only when something happens in a persons life like a serious illness or death that suddenly what was on the back burner comes to the forefront.
It is only when something dreadful happens that suddenly we wake up to the fact that planning for an emergency is important. When Terry Schiavo was in the news many who didnt have health care proxies took the opportunity to sign one. After Hurricane Katrina suddenly people are now looking at contingency planning.
Governments too have been challenged where contingency planning is concerned. If there are disaster recovery plans my guess is that few thought about the possibility of everyone having to evacuate their homes. If there were evacuation plans at all then most likely they would have ended by everyone going to a public building. Who would have considered busing people away from the area entirely?
Katrina has been a horrific event for us all. Looking at the lessons though and making our plans accordingly is extremely important.
So one lesson I know I have learned is that I want to be sure that federal, state and local governments have a really clear plans that are coordinated with each other. I want to know about these plans too because I have a responsibility for myself, my family and my business.
As I think about this however I am uncomfortable about my own planning. What do I do in the event of a disaster? I can feel my own resistance in even thinking about it!
Several months ago my mastermind group was talking about backing up their computer files. One member of the group actually took his back up disc to another location to be sure that if a fire or flood hit his office he would still have his files. I was really impressed by that and started to think about it for myself. The possibility seemed remote then but certainly now I do see the point.
What are your plans for your business, yourself and your loved ones? Start to put your own disaster plan together now.
1. The SBA has an excellent website for preparing for a disaster in your business. Check it out
3. Make a list of the people who must know this plan and review it with them.
How frequently should it be reviewed? Select a date or dates and put them on your calendar.
The Worst Small Business Financing Strategy Ever?
Depending on whose stats you pay attention to, approximately 80% of small businesses fail within their first 5 years of operation.
In many cases, its not that a particular business could not succeed; there just wasn’t sufficient time to figure out how to succeed.
Which brings us to the worst small business financing strategy ever.
Here’s how it work.
The would be entrepreneur develops what they believe to be a sure fire business plan that can’t fail.
Unable to locate any form of start up capital, they start their business with credit cards as the only source of financing, and an expectation of sustainable business results within 3 to 6 months.
If everything goes well, the debt will be retired within a year and funds will start building in the bank account.
Sounds Good, right?
I mean the thinking lines up perfectly with all the get rich quick business opportunities that exist on and off the internet today where some of them even try to convince you to use your credit cards because the opportunity is soooooooo good and can’t miss.
The problem is that every business can miss.
Every single one.
And the vast majority do fail.
Have you ever spoken to someone who runs a successful small business; perhaps one that’s been around for 10 to 20 years?
If you take the time to ask one of these entrepreneurs about their start up period, what you learn may shock you.
Even some of the most successful small and medium sized businesses out there today had some hairy moments making a go of it in the early years.
And some times the difficult early years lasted for several years.
The point here is simply this.
The process of getting a business operating and successful can take many unexpected twists and turns, no matter how diligent you are in creating a thorough business plan and business financing strategy.
Therefore, to increase your probability for success you need to allow for the unknown, the unplanned, and the unfair.
A business financing strategy that cannot accommodate unforeseen events is not much of a strategy.
A business financing strategy that is based on high interest credit cards that can destroy both your cash flow and your personal credit is also not much of a strategy.
To improve your odds of small business success, here are some tips for developing a solid business financing strategy.
>>> Invest Your Own Cash
If you have some of your own cash penciled into your business financing strategy, it will immediately increase your likelihood of getting some sort of start up loan.
The more “skin” you have in the game, the more interested a lender will be in approving your loan request.
There is also something to be said about the psychological incentive of losing your own money and the motivation it creates for you to work harder to keep it.
>>> Create Contingencies in Your Cash Flow
Whatever you estimate your working capital requirement to be, double it. At least increase it by a factor larger than 1.
Things can and will go wrong, so give yourself a fighting chance and develop a business financing strategy that allows for less than perfect results.
>>> Use Credit Cards Wisely
Used properly, credit cards can be the cheapest form of working capital that you have at your disposal.
Some business credit cards provide 40 days of interest free financing. If you pay off the entire balance every month, you have an extremely low cost of working capital financing.
But if you start carrying large balances without paying them down monthly, you will go from the cheapest source of working capital to one of the most expensive, and you will likely also destroy your credit rating in the process.
>>> Make Timely Government Remittances
Small businesses are by default tax collectors. And the taxes collected can sometimes wind up funding the business for longer periods of time than they were ever intended.
Using government remittances as a business financing strategy is basically a bad idea.
Government agencies that are assigned to collect from you have large budgets and enough broad sweeping authority to create plenty of grief for you if you are too slow in paying.
If you apply for a business loan while you have an overdue balance with a government tax agency, your loan request will likely be declined.
Even after the balance is paid up, you may have burned your bridge with the lender as a history of overdue government remittances can brand you as a bad credit risk.
>>> Watch Spending Closely At Startup
One of the things you can control early on is how much you spend and what you spend it on.
This is going to change in time, but if you can spend wisely in the beginning you may be able to avoid a cost cutting exercise further down the line.
While its normally true that you have to spend money to make money, you can still be smart about the spending process.
Three Reasons Why People Wont Buy And Three Ways To Fix It!
Most of us at some point in our career have experienced the frustration of being unable to close the deal! Weve walked away wondering what else could have been said, shown or done in order to GTC (Get The Check).
Well, Im here to suggest to you that sometimes its simply not the right time for the prospect to get in, do the deal or sign up. For some unknown (or known) reason, the timing just doesnt seem to fit their lifestyle right now. Weve all heard the expression, No doesnt mean NO it just means, not right now!
I submit to you that people dont care how much you know, until they know how much you care! It is up to you (the seller) to communicate to your prospect with every means of communication you have, to become their friend. Thats right their friend!! No one wants to buy from a stranger; everyone prefers to buy from someone they know, someone they feel they can trust. Its our job to get from stranger to friend as quickly as possible.
Three reasons why people wont buy:
1 No Money
2 No Need
3 No Trust
When responding to someones interest, we must first determine at what level his or her interest lies. Simply put, theres a big difference in someone who is just interested as opposed to someone who is committed .If you are working over the phone or through email, the following three questions may help you in determining a persons interest level and assist you with qualifying your prospect.
You may open up your memo or conversation with Im responding to your request for more information about the ecommerce opportunity found on our website.
1 What kind of work are you in now?
You are wanting them to say (or write) something to the effect of they are tired of what they are doing or looking for some sort of change Most likely if they are not unhappy with what they are presenting involved in, there may not be enough motivation to commit to another opportunity. They at least need to want to supplement what they are currently doing with an additional plan.
2 Are you looking for something full-time or part-time?
This will give you a good idea of their commitment level (if any). Everyone has his or her own definition of what part-time means as opposed to full-time. Most would agree that full-time is anything over forty hours in a single week. However, keep in mind that a great number of individuals wind up treating a part-time position as a hobby and therefore, getting paid as if it were a hobby! Someone who is truly hungry for a change in his or her lifestyle may need to under go a complete paradigm shift.
3 What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
Listen to their answer, it may be a bit undefined but you will sense in their story whether or not theres a fit for them in your business.
Begin to tell them a little bit about your business. Give them the sizzle message about whats hot with your deal and why they need to be a part of the team. Include several buzz words to describe your opportunity and allow them to feel your excitement and level of energy!
Most important! Ask them a direct YES or NO question. Preferably a call to action of some sort, that will enable you to take them to the next step of your system and lock them into a commitment. A question such as Does that sound like something you would like to hear (or receive) more information about?
A lot of times people want YOU to answer more questions at this time. They may ask you things like:
1 – How much is it?
2 What do I have to do?
My suggestion is to plug them into a system and let the system answer their questions. Even if you know the answers, its still better to let the system do the work for you. Why? Simply put its duplicatable! You may be a super savvy salesperson but your prospect may not have your talent or skill level. Therefore, they think they have to be like you in order to make things work for them. If you have a system, everyone can do it!! Its the old KISS method, (Keep It Simple Sweetheart).
Become their friend and service them again!
See ya sometime