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How to Get Past Attila the Hun’s Sister Sitting At The Front Desk of Your Best Prospect.

A good gatekeeper is vital for most businesses to keep unwanted salespeople off the lines of the decision makers of a business. There is a bit of a game between salespeople and gatekeepers. A salesperson job is to get to the decision maker. The gatekeepers job is to run defense for the company allowing only necessary traffic to get through.

The best gatekeepers have the attitude that is two parts direct descendants of Attila the Hun and one part NFL defensive line. They inspire fear in intruders and confidence for the company quarterback, your decision maker. They can be brutally direct and allow no BS to pass by them. Yet, you as a salesperson have to get through to the decision maker some how, so game on!

Cold call kits are one of the simplest tools you can use to warm even the coldest of heart gatekeepers. Basically, a cold call kit is two notepads, shrink-wrapped together with your business card and a pen. Walk in the front door with your business card and brochure and be sent packing or you can hand the gatekeeper a cold call pack and instantly win her over or at least get the name of the decision maker and the best time to call him.

The custom-printed notepads in the cold call kits provide a branding opportunity for your business on every page, and they are also a very useful giveaway item that will be used again and again.

Click Here for Cold Call Kit Pricing

Notepads are available in an endless variety of shapes and sizes. Here are a few examples of customized notepads your customers will love:

  • Consider adding a sticky backing to your notepad to increase convenience and your giveaway’s sticking power.
  • Create a useful notepad for shopping, to-do lists, or grocery lists.
  • Choose a die-cut shape for added impact, ranging from simple rounded edges to distinctive shapes that relate to your business. For example, a dentist office could distribute notepads in the shape of a tooth.
  • Phone notepads cause your company name to end up in front of every person in the company.
  • Full-sized or legal memo notepads are a useful tool to distribute in business meetings, conferences, and seminars. Consider adding distinctive details, such as 3-hole drilling, for easy organization.
  • For an extra marketing touch and lasting impact, consider distributing notepads with a matching-logo pen or customized note dispenser.
  • Add a professional photo of yourself to your notepad. This will not only add a personalized touch, but will also help people put a face with your name and remember who you are.
  • Cold call kits can also be used as a new customer welcome kit. Give them to new customers.

Cold call kits are inexpensive and will help your sales team make a good impression. When making a sales call, do not go in the door unprepared—go in armed and ready with a custom design cold call pack.

©2005-2015 Mark Hale, All Rights Reserved.

8 Ways To Save Money On Invoices And Estimate Forms For HVAC Business

Carbonless forms are a staple of many business environments. None more vital than in the HVAC business where job carbonless estimate forms and invoices printed on NCR paper are a mainstay of professionalism.

Let me define the two terms I just used. Carbonless and NCR mean the same thing, they are special paper used to print business forms. NCR is just a brand name and I use it here for convenience.

Sure carbonless, or NCR forms, are a low-tech solution in a high-tech world. But when your techs are crawling around in an attic installing an air handler, the low-tech of NCR estimate forms is the affordable option.

NCR forms provide a simple and effective way to record transactions, or in the HVAC and Home Services industries a simple means of providing invoices, estimates and warranties. Your custom NCR estimate forms and invoices can be branded to your business, designed for efficiency and will leave your customer with a clean and professional looking document, that provides legal protection for you.

What Is The Easiest Way To Save Money On Your Carbonless Or NRC Forms?

  1. Decide how many copies you actually need? Who needs a copy? What is the purpose for each copy? Who gets it? What is done with it when they get it? The more copies you have the more the cost will be. Print exactly the number of copies you need.
  2. How big does your job estimate form or invoice need to be? The size should be just large enough to record all the information you need no bigger.
  3. The standard sizes for NCR forms are 8.5 x 11 or 5.5 x 8.5. Sticking with standard sizes forms allows for the least amount of wasted paper and will save you money.
  4. Have a graphic designer design and layout your form. Professional designers use special design programs that allow them to condense size and still allow for functionality and readability.
  5. Do you need full color business forms or will black & white business forms due? Full color printing is more expensive than B&W printing. So if the form will work printed in B&W you will save money.
  6. Lose the tabs and perforations, if possible. Forms with tabbed perforation take up more paper and tend to cost more. If there is no reason to have a perforation or a tab leave it off and save money.
  7. Only number your forms if you absolutely use the numbers for tracking and invoicing. Numbering is an additional step in the production process and will add to your cost.
  8. Do your business forms need to be printed on one side or two sides? Forms that are printed on one side are less expensive than double-sided business forms. This is where a graphic designer can help you condense the contents of your forms and save you money.

Click Here for Invoice & Estimate Form Pricing

Custom made carbonless NCR forms for invoices, estimates, contracts, agreements and warranties are vital tools and will make your business look more professional. We have created thousands of forms for the HVAC and Home Services industries and can help you create the perfect form for your business.

©2005-2015 Mark Hale, All Rights Reserved.

Six Vital Tools Your Sales Team Needs to Make More Sales

Sales and selling is a vital activity for all businesses, small and large. There are several elements to a successful sales call and generating more sales.

First of all, what does it mean to have a “successful sales call”? It can mean several things, but simply a successful sales call is defined as one of two things: one, closing the prospect on doing business with your company; or two, moving the customer closer in the direction of doing business with you. Ideally, the goal is to shorten the time distance between contacting and closing the prospect.

If growing your small business means selling in an ever-widening circle, the tools you employ to help your salespeople in selling your products and services are a combination of two parts marketing, two parts enlightenment and one part sales technique.

My question is what tools are you equipping your sales team with to help them make a sale?

The following is a list of the basic tools you need to close more sales:

  1. Needs survey. Every business is different, but the basic element to a needs survey are the same. What problems do they have? How is the problem affecting their life? How important is it to solve the problem?
  2. Full color brochures and sell sheets that demonstrate the solutions to the problems. Important tip, avoid the urge to create brochures and sell sheets where you include a laundry list of products and services you sell. To be effective, sell sheets should be targeted to no more than one product or service.
  3. Bio-sheets for each salesperson. This helps them become known by the prospect and also helps build credibility. Have fun with the bio sheets and resist the urge to become to stiff and boring. This tool should be relaxed and very human.
  4. Testimonial and success story sheets. Success story sheets are a vital tool to help your salespeople handle objections and build confidence in your business.
  5. Presentation Tabbed File Folder. These folders are designed to separate your business from your competition. They help to make your salesperson and your business look professional. These folders are a hot new trend that is professional and inexpensive.
  6. Consider training. Be honest with yourself about sales teams skills and efficiency. Invest time drilling and training your salespeople, especially on how to approach the prospect, doing a needs survey and how to close interested prospects, will pay dividends of 10x to you.

All of the tools you provide your sales team should be designed and tied together with a common look and theme.

In recent years many businesses have switched to sending information via electronic in an effort to cut costs. This is okay, but the problem is a question of effectiveness. Surveys have shown that people do not fully read product brochures and PDFs emailed to them. Your prospects are overrun and brain fried by the amount of information sent to them on their computers. Their attention span is short and it is more difficult, if not impossible, to capture their attention on their computer screen. Prospects are more likely to read materials that are printed and given to them or mailed to them. Professionally design and printed marketing literature gets noticed, gets read and is more effective.

Want to make your sales materials more effective for your salespeople? Click the button below and tell us about what you need!

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If you want to separate your business from your competition you have to invest in professionally designed and printed materials for you salespeople. The cost of full color printed materials has come way down in the last few years, mostly due to digital printing techniques. You can also order smaller quantities now and get a great price.

©2005-2015 Mark Hale, All Rights Reserved.

What Is The Response Rate For Direct Mail Today?

Target Audience words on signs with customers gathered around in demographic groups of consumers, buyers, clients or prospects

10 Ways You Can Dramatically Increase Your Response Rates!

This is a question that is asked by many? You hear many numbers thrown about, but the most common number is 2%-5%. When in fact, it is impossible for anyone to tell you that you will get any percentage response from direct mail. The reason why is because there are too many factors involved. For example:

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  • The mailing list you are using. How good is it? Is it old and outdated? Is the list wrongly targeted?
  • How many people on the mailing list you have are ready to buy what you sell at the time when you mail? This is an unknown variable. There might be 300 people or 3 people—there is no way to know.
  • How competitive is your offer? Can they get a better deal from your competitor? Is the offer something the prospect finds important and valuable?
  • How well known is your business to the prospects on the mailing list you use? People will always buy from a business they are familiar with over someone they just received a postcard from.

Now don’t get discouraged. The fact is you have a better chance of making a profit off a direct mailer than almost any other form of advertising you do. Why? Because direct mail marketing puts something directly in the hands of a prospect.

  1. Do your homework.
  2. Know who the best prospects are for your products or services, and why they buy what you sell.
  3. Know what your competitors are promoting.
  4. Know that it is impossible to time the market. The only way to make money from any advertising is to be consistent. The more familiar people are with your business, the more willing they will be to call you. You will usually always get more calls after 3 or 4 mailings to a list than you did the first time you mailed.
  5. Know what a new customer is worth to your business. Knowing this will help you to pinpoint exactly how many responses you need to get from the mailer. Setting realistic goals is important and will help you know how well the mailer is working.
  6. Use a type of mailer that is best suited for your product and has the best chances of getting through to your prospect.

The Customer Service Target Market Support Assistance ConceptDo not send a postcard out just because it is cheaper and you saw an ad for cheap postcards. Getting your prospects attention may require something different such as a note card, check mailer or some other unique mailer.

  1. Make sure you are not skimping on the number of pieces you are sending out. The decision will be easier if you have calculated what a new customer is worth. Also we can stagger your mail dates to make it easier on your budget.
  2. Have an offer that is competitive. Direct mail is not an image type of medium. Direct mail is a direct response medium. You have to give them a compelling incentive to respond.
  3. And finally do not forget the call to action. Make sure they can quickly and easily see how to get in touch with you.

Most people who receive a postcard or other direct mail piece from you, who have an interest in your service will almost always go to your website to check out your business. It is also helpful to make sure you have Google Analytics active on your website. This will let you see how many people went directly to your website and you will usually see a spike in your direct traffic shortly after a mailer goes out.

Click Here for Pricing on Direct Mail Marketing

The more targeted your direct mail ad is to the end user the more actual buyers you will get and random inquiries you will get. Many people confuse response with results. If you get 300 responses to you direct mailer and only 1 person is qualified to buy that is not good. You would have felt good about all the calls, but at the bottom of it all you have to make sales from the mailer. So a well-designed postcard, which is sent to a targeted mailing list that generates 25 response and 10 new customers who buy something is a good. Do not compare response with results. You want results not response.

©2005-2015 Mark Hale, All Rights Reserved.

Is Direct Mail Marketing Dead? What is The Response Rate For Direct Mail Today?

Direct Mail words in 3d letters coming out of a green metal mailbox advertising

Is direct mail marketing for small business dead? Some would say yes. The naysayers say the Internet and high postage rates have killed direct mail marketing. Yet the facts are that direct mail marketing is alive and works better in today’s over-advertised society than most other advertising mediums.

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Does Direct Mail Work Better?

The most basic illustration I can give you that direct mail works is as follows:

  1. 99.999% of all people living in the United States have an address where the United States Post Office delivers their mail to them on a daily basis.
  2. The United States Post Office through rain, snow or shine delivers the mail regularly and reliably.
  3. People receive and go through their mail everyday. This means your message is delivered DIRECTLY to the recipient more effectively than any other advertising medium you have available to you today.
  4. Because of this direct mail is a direct communication between you and your best prospects.

Don’t believe me? Well, name one medium that does it more direct or better!

TV? Right! There are over 300 cable channels on TV, and with TiVo and other digital recording devices people don’t have to watch commercials. Besides, when was the last time you sat through a 10-15 commercial break? And you are spending how much to produce a commercial?

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Radio? Ok! Similar to TV, but it is more personal. People tend to have a relationship with their favorite radio station. Still with iPods, smartphones and other digital devices many people do not listen to radio as much as they used to.

Newspaper? Really, you are reaching now. Newspaper has gone the way of the dinosaurs. It is basically extinct and the corpses are rotting in the field. The Sunday paper still works for selling cars, but everything else is hit or miss. Besides, the Internet has really replaced newspapers and the yellow page directories.

What about Internet marketing? Everyone is on the Internet! True and Internet marketing certainly has its place. The fact is the Internet is a 1000 lane-marketing highway. There is so much competition on the Internet that there is no certainty that people will find you. You have to put up a site, optimize weekly so people will find you, create back links to your website, structure web pages so you can capture leads from it. (By the way, direct mail is a great tool to drive DIRECT traffic to your website. We do have a program that is effective at driving traffic to your website.)

What about email marketing? Delivery rates with email marketing are lower than ever, and open rates even lower. The spammers have almost killed email marketing. Having said that it still works if you do it properly. Mostly is effective for marketing to existing customer or people who already have a relationship with you.

So here, finally is my point. Direct mail puts your message directly in the hands of your best prospect, bang, boom, and end of story! No vias. It’s personally delivered. It’s personally read by your prospect. Well! People do still get their mail. You send it and they will receive it!

But why then did you get poor results the last time you mailed out a postcard?

Direct mail, like anything else you do, can succeed or fail. The good thing is the reasons why your direct mailer fails lie solely in your control. There are only at the most four things that can go wrong when your direct mail piece fails to pull a response and all of the reasons you can control and fix:

  1. The mailing list.

Up to 40% percent of your direct mail results is contingent on the quality of your mailing list. Be sure to order your direct mailing list from a reputable company, like Wilson Printing USA. Avoid trying to pull together a list on your own from various sources. The money you save on a mailing list will be wasted 5x over when your mailer misses the target.

  1. Poor message and/or design:

Design is arguably the most important part of your campaign because it is where your direct mail program gets traction. Three most important areas to consider for your design are:

a) Your Offer.

A weak or no offer will get a yawn while the piece is headed to the trashcan. In fact, the offer is more important than the overall design and aesthetics of the piece. I have seen absolutely ugly and amateur looking designed postcards generate 10% returns because solely of a strong offer prominently displayed. Make no bones about it when you are advertising you are buying customers. How much you buy them for depends on your business type and your market. Also keep in mind that if the prospect can buy what you are offering across town for half the price chances are they will not call you. This is where the old newspaper advertising term, lost leader comes into play.

b) Poor design, copy and printing

Right behind the offer in importance is the design of the piece. A strong offer combined with a well-designed piece will generate a response. You should hire someone who knows about marketing, as well as someone who can design something that looks good. There are a lot of graphic designers who are experts in InDesign or Photoshop but do not understand the basic principles of marketing and promoting.

c) Don’t forget the call to action.

You have to tell them how to respond clearly and often in the piece. Leave this part out and you will get no calls of traffic for sure.

  1. Too low a volume of pieces sent out.

Resist the urge to skimp on the volume. You have to print and mail enough postcards to reach enough people to generate a healthy response. Which do you think has the potential to generate more leads—a mailing of 500 postcards or a mailing of 2500, 5000 or 10,000 postcards?

The good news is that you can save money as you print and mail in volume. Bulk postage is cheaper and offset printing becomes considerably cheaper as you print higher volumes. This isn’t to say you should spend more than you can afford; but it does mean you should send as many postcards per campaign as fits within your budget.

  1. Low or NO repetition

Repetition is key to long-term direct-mail marketing success. This one is a hard one for some business owners to swallow. They want to “test” the waters and see what they will get from one mailing before they commit to mailing more. The big mystery here is that there is no way to tell how many people will be in the market for what you sell at the moment in time when you first mail. This is a very similar concept to trying to time the market in the stock market. When you send out one mail piece to a list to see how it works, you are essentially hoping and praying that enough people will be in the market to buy what you sell today. You fail to take into consideration, competitive influences and the fact that most people who are ready to buy today have been thinking about and planning their purchase for a while. This does not consider the number of people on the mailing list who will be in the market to buy what you sell next month or the month after that. They will forget about you if you only reached them once.

For tips on how to calculate a marketing budget see Breaking Past the Budget Barrier and What a Customer is Worth to You.

©2005-2015 Mark Hale, All Rights Reserved.

Why Should I Market If My Dental Practice Is Already Busy?

Two words, patient attrition. You may be busy today, but a minimum of 15% – 20% of your current patients will not be with you in 12 months due to no fault of yours. Patients will move out of your marketing area; patients change jobs and find a dentist closer to where they work; patients will even die; patients will get lured to another dental office. Not to mention, patients you lose due to an employee who is having a bad day and forgot their manners at the doorstep.

Depressed Businessman Leaning His Head Below a Bad Stock Market Chart

To stay ahead of patient attrition you have to think in futures. It is not as much about the patients you are treating today, as it is about the patients you will be seeing in the future.

You have to have in place an external new patient marketing program that will keep your practice ahead of the natural patient attrition, regardless of how busy you are today. Our automated new patient program is affordable, targets your best patient prospects, customized to your practice and is completely turnkey.

One of the biggest reasons that patients leave your practice is because you didn’t stay in touch with them between visits and to give them a reason to stay loyal to you. A good internal relationship-marketing program, like a newsletter, helps to maintain the relationship between visits. Also having an effective patient recall program will help you to hang on to patients. Once again, Wilson Printing USA has developed effective internal relationship marketing programs, such as turnkey dental newsletters and patient recall mailers, which will help you hang on to your existing patients.

A new patient program combined with an existing patient relationship-marketing program will help keep your practice from eroding out from under you—doing damage that you may not notice for a year or two, and possibly too late to get the momentum back.

Whether you realize it or not, your practice is standing in quicksand, it may be really thick quicksand that takes time for you to feel that you are sinking or it may be really soupy quicksand where you know instantly that you are sinking. Either way, we have the turnkey programs that provide a strong foundation to grow your dental practice on.

Can we help you? Call us and we will show you the programs we have.

Click Here For New Patient Program Pricing

©2005-2015 Mark Hale, All Rights Reserved.

How Will a Company Newsletter Improve Customer Retention

Publishing a company newsletter is a double-edged sword for many businesses people. On one hand, they would love send a company newsletter out to their customers and on the other hand who has time to pull one together, and what about the costs, ugh! Where do I start?

That’s why you hire a guy like me! Studies have shown that a well-written, interesting newsletter establishes credibility as well as being a catalyst for customer retention and improving word of mouth referrals for a business.

Think about it like this, if the only communication your customers get from you is sales literature, postcards or a sales call, wouldn’t you start to feel a little unappreciated.

Where do I start on my company newsletter?

Rule #1: A good newsletter should be 65% – 75% fluff and 15% – 35% product and or technical information.

Rule #2: The product content of a newsletter should to be focused on the interests and needs of the customer and how your product or services make life easier or solves a problem for the customer.

Rule #3: Do not ever talk “at” your reader or over the head of your reader. A newsletter is not a place to show-off how smart you are by using big words or industry specific jargon. If you have to use industry jargon always define your terms and what it means to the reader.

Rule #4: Hire a guy like me to write and pull together the content. You are busy and the money invested will be worth it. Besides, design, editing, printing and publishing is my business.

Rule #5: If you create a newsletter for your business you have to PRINT IT and MAIL IT OUT. I know that should go without saying, but some people today think it is enough to email their newsletter out. This is okay to do, but should not be the entirety of your delivery. The fact today is that most emails are not opened and the ones that are opened tend to be scanned quickly. A printed newsletter, if properly designed will be read and stays around longer. Which means it will help you build your brand more effectively and also sell your products and services better.

Customer Retention on Direction Sign - Green Arrow on a Grey Background.

How often should you send a newsletter out?

This really depends on your business type and who your customers are. Basic rule is not less than every eight weeks and ideally once a month. The more often you are in front of your customers the better. A newsletter is a nice soft touch, but an intrusive means of getting your message to your customers.

What type of content should a company newsletter have in it?

Here are some tried and true newsletter do’s and don’ts:

People Like:

  • Interesting subjects
  • Short articles
  • Good visuals with lots of graphics
  • Easy-to-skim designs
  • Bullet point lists
  • Content telling how to make money, save time or improve some area of their lives.
  • Clear organization of information
  • Calendars
  • Offers, benefits

People Don’t Like:

  • Intimidating pages full of copy with little or no graphic will end up in the trash, quickly.
  • Disorganized information and a clutter appearance.
  • Long, continuing articles. Always error on the side of brevity.
  • Impersonal tone
  • Chaotic page design
  • Too many pages. Usually a four-page newsletter is a good level.

Click Here for Newsletter Pricing

If you’re looking for unique ideas or expert advice on how to create a newsletter, or simply spice up your current newsletter, call us. Not only can we provide you with inspiring ideas and printed examples, we can also help you create a powerful newsletter that will boost sales and stay within your company’s budget.

©2005-2015 Mark Hale, All Rights Reserved.

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