The 3 Deadbeats Working in Your Home Office – Part 3: Connie

connieWelcome, entrepreneur/freelancer/go-getter.

You’ve met Farley and Patty, and you’re already feeling cheated by their unproductive ways. But I’ve saved the worst for last. She’s a big, crunchy, salty potato chip, and you can never stop at one. It’s practically impossible.

Strap in for Part 3.


Meet Connie, the Connected Employee

Connie likes to keep multiple tabs open in her browser. Some are articles she plans to read when she finds the time, a couple are client related, but her favorites are Facebook and Twitter. You rarely check on her, so Connie checks her Facebook friends’ posts whenever she feels like it.

Oh, she posts some clever responses!

Connie also checks email regularly because she wants to respond quickly to clients … but will follow a funny video link first. Or check out the deals from her favorite shopping sites. Or take several minutes to respond to a non-essential message from a friend who hates this or that. Connie’s constantly conning you out of your bread and butter.

Sucks that Connie is just another of your many personas.

Close the Facebook tab and save the non-essential emails for lunchtime or closing time. Social media can wait – as can so many other digital deliveries to your desktop. Take control of your time, and kick Connie to the curb.

If you started your own business thinking you’d enjoy more freedom and time to do what you want, you can have those things. They’re the result of hard work, dedication, efficiency and accountability. Those precious few hours from the time you wake until dinner time will make or break your success as an entrepreneur.

At the end of the day (or week, or month), you can enjoy the freelance life for all it represents: Freedom, career satisfaction, financial rewards and more.

Best of all, you can do it all with a staff of one.

What good could come from offering your customers a guarantee?

“Offer a guarantee? Everyone will want to use it!”

Put your guarantee in writing.

Who needs a guarantee? My WORD is your guarantee!

Companies lack written guarantees for all sorts of reasons, but the most irrational of all is the fear that a customer will use it.

If that rings familiar, I’m going to sound the wake-up call. Because what you’re really saying is your product or service is crap, and if that’s true, you need to seriously address some quality issues. Today.

With so many businesses vying for your customer base, your product must be so unbelievably excellent, you honestly believe it’s among the best out there. And if it is, who would return it?

Studies from a gazillion marketing think tanks prove – Number One – a guarantee boosts sales, and – Two – almost nobody takes advantage of a guarantee unless the product or service turns out to be garbage. If your product is amazing, guarantee it!

Still afraid to stand behind your goods? Here are three reasons guaranteed to change your mind, or I will refund your purchase of this advice:

A guarantee…

  • Removes one of the biggest barriers to a purchase: fear of buyer’s remorse.
  • Differentiates you. Is your competition offering a guarantee? Whose sounds better?
  • Stands for quality. If it’s worthy of a guarantee, it must be good.
  • Is a technicality. Face it, if customers demand a refund and they have good reason to do so, you often have no choice. What better reason to be proactive?

Willing to give it a try? Here are three essentials to do it right.

Make your guarantee clear. Rather than, “Satisfaction guaranteed,” try instead, “You must absolutely love this product, or we will refund your entire purchase price.”

Put it out front. Let your customers know how strongly you believe in your product’s quality by calling attention to your guarantee in your advertising and prominently on the labeling.

Make it easy. Avoid creating a series of hoops to jump through in order to take advantage of your guarantee. Lest you believe that it will make fewer people return your product, it may actually raise red flags that steer people away from purchasing it in the first place.

You’re all set to boost buyer confidence and sell more. Let me know how it goes!

The 3 Deadbeats Working in Your Home Office – Part 2: Patty

pattyGreetings, self-employed (or self-driven employed-by-someone-else) friend.

Now that you’ve met your secret employee, Farley (you did read Part 1, right?), you truly need to get acquainted with Patty. Where Farley encourages you to embrace distractions during your workday, Patty is a nut about efficiency and practicality. She gets things DONE. Sound like you?

This is the continuing saga of pesky multiple personalities – our multiple personalities. They rule our days, justify behavior we actually abhor and cleverly divert money from our paychecks.

Ready for Part 2?

Meet Patty, the Practical Employee

Did you know that if you shop for groceries early in the day, you beat the crowds? Patty does, and she’ll encourage you to do that – as well as take your car in for an oil change and do the dishes (your spouse will really love that). Hey, let’s paint the kitchen!

As far as Patty’s concerned, these things have to get done anyway. Go ahead and leverage all this freedom you have. You’ll feel like you accomplished a lot when 5:00 rolls around, even if you barely saw your computer. And Patty will feel that she truly earned the money she slipped out of your wallet. Notice how you and Patty seem to be at odds?

Rather than busy yourself with non-income building activities, do those things when “regular employed” people do them – in the evening or on the weekend. And show Patty the door.

Excited about meeting your third secret employee? Heeeeere’s Connie!

Why Yes, I DO Like Money

Yes, I like moneyEver hear that ancient sales advice on getting your prospects to repeatedly say “yes” throughout your presentation? The thinking is, if they’re constantly saying “yes,” they’ll be conditioned to do so at the point you ask them to scribble some ink on the purchase agreement.

Oh, those old sales tricks.

Know what advice I’d give you today? I’d say, “That’s a great trick – do it!”

See, sales is at least partly a game. Most of us savvy consumers know this when we enter the “sales parlor,” be it in front of our computer monitor or inside a retail showroom.

We go in, defenses up, looking for the traps, running alternate scenarios through our minds, and always prepared to bolt like a deer in the woods if we sense a threat to our safety (or the safety of our wallet).

So, our mission as persuasive communicators is to coax out these yesses in subtle but purposeful ways.

Master salesman Harvey Mackay refers to these yesses as “sales tie-downs.” You know what a tie-down is … a strap, rope or bungee you might use to hold down that new armoire you just loaded into the back of your pickup truck. The more tie-downs, the more likely you’re going to make it home with your new prized possession in one piece.

Mackay suggests applying tie-downs throughout the consultation with your prospect. They can be little phrases or suggestive questions, like:

“Would you agree?”

“And you said you can appreciate a good deal, right?”

“Is reliability important to you?”

“Does that make sense?”

“Is that your dollar on the floor?”

Okay, I made that last one up. The others are classic examples, and the best part is, they are natural parts of a conversation. Used in the right frequency, they will go unnoticed by your prospect. Of course, the conditioning toward a final yes – the big, fat, sign-here-and-put-food-on-my-table yes – is taking place. That final yes is practically inevitable.

The double bonus is that, if your prospect answers no, you can change course. You are taking the pulse of the conversation in real time. If the person says, “No, I don’t agree,” or, “No, that’s not a priority for me,” you have the opportunity to stop and search for the yes to that particular objection. The more doubt a prospect has, the less chance you will get a sale.

The triple bonus is that your close will be much more relaxed. You’ve got those prospects right where you want them. You know where their hot buttons are. You might literally be able to ask, “Would you like to sign in black ink or blue?” Though, I rarely recommend a cocky sales close.

Practice your sales tie-downs on a friend or spouse. Then get out there and start using them. Do you like making sales? You like money, right? Would you agree that breathing air is awesome?

Gotcha!

What’s Your Business GPA?

What's Your Business GPA?Did you think high school was the last time you’d have to worry about your GPA? If you’re in business, you’re still chasing that 4.0.

I call it your Business GPA.

Customers get to see it all the time. So does your boss (if you have one). Wondering why you haven’t discovered it yourself? The odd thing about the Business GPA is that you’re the last person to see it.

This all-important score is relative to the people it affects most. The people you work for, the ones who make the decision to pay you in exchange for value. It’s based on their perceptions – how you stand out from others like you, the quality of the work you produce – and the things you do each day to be the best you can be.

So, while you may never see your score yourself, it’s a good thing you know about it. That’s Step 1 – understanding that it exists. The next step is to understand how to earn a score that’s judged by others … and what to do to get it to a 4.0, even if you never see it yourself.

Here’s a quick article that should inspire you.

Keep Your Reader Engaged

Professional salespeople have a clever rule while engaged with a prospect.

Every so often, they ask questions like:

  • “Are you with me so far?”
  • “Does this sound good to you?”
  • “Am I on the right track?”

Pure genius! If the prospect says yes, the salesperson scores a win, he has permission to continue. And more importantly, he knows he’s moving in the right direction. If he hears a “no,” he wins again – because he doesn’t waste his or his prospect’s time, and he can hang a left or bank to the right.

Are you with me so far?

In writing articles, blogs and similar fare, we typically avoid stopping to ask if we’re on the right track. That would be weird.

What’s the solution?

First, stand in the readers’ shoes. Read your post as though it’s brand new to you. It takes a little bending of the mind, but you can do it.

Next, lean on your colleagues and friends. Send your draft to one or two of them and ask if it makes sense to them. More importantly, ask if they felt compelled to click your target button or link. Promise them some reward, like a mention in the article itself.

And finally, walk away. Take a few hours to work on something else; if you have the time, abandon the project for a day or two. Your brain gets a chance to reset itself, and you will almost always find a word or 20 to replace with something more powerful. The goal is to guide the visitor to a link, a button, a form, etc.

Remember, your client (and that might be you) wants sales. When the medium is written, do all you can to keep your prospect “with you” all the way to the “click.”

———–

Looking for Madison Avenue marketing impact on a Shady Lane budget? Me too. But until one of us finds it, Kendall Avenue will have to do. That’s where the writers of Bold Copy throw darts at pictures of $2-a-day content providers while patiently awaiting the opportunity to serve you.

Do Not Write Not

Huh? Do NOT write not?

Either it’s one of those existentialistic word traps (I eat, therefore I burp) or else this author is pulling off one of those contradictory grammar lessons (never say never).

Lucky for you, it’s the latter. Lucky because the lesson is far more valuable. Though I am simultaneously pondering the wild ride we could go on if taking the other direction. Maybe some other time.

The question of the day: How often do you use the word “not” — or forms thereof?

“Don’t forget to come.”

“You can’t have the blue one.”

“It’s not brain surgery.”

“Do not touch this.”

In his book, Remember the Ice, author Bob Nicoll reveals what I consider to be one of the greatest rules in all of the communication arts: tell a person what TO do. Whenever you tell a person what NOT to do, you accomplish two things. First, you get the person to think mostly about the thing they are to avoid. And second, you create another kind of chaos, that is, the concept of doing nothing.

Think about it. I say to you, “Don’t think of the color blue.” Two problems emerge. First, you think of the color blue. Second, your mind grapples with how to act upon the concept of not acting. In fact, there’s a third problem. What would you have me do instead? Don’t walk … does that mean stand still? Run? Knit a sweater?

Tell people what you want them to do and they are more likely to do just that. Here’s a fun exercise … let’s reconstruct those samples above:

“Remember to come.”

“You can have the red one.”

“It’s actually quite easy.”

“Keep your hands at your sides,” or, “You may touch anything but this.”

Wow … wow.

So, fellow communicator. Want more bang out of your writing? Every time you write the word not (or its n’t forms), reword the sentence to say what you really mean. You’d be surprised what it can do to your conversion rate.