Archives for business development strategy

Business Advice UK | Business Grants

I found out today from Andrew Grey of k&h Accountants about a little-known grant that is available to SMEs who want to buy new capital equipment using finance.

The grant comes from a company called Regional Growth Fund (RGF), which pays 20% of the cost of assets bought using HP, as long as the assets are used to ‘increase or sustain employment’. In other words, you can’t use the equipment to replace people!

The assets bought must cost more than £25,000 (including VAT) and you must pay at least 10% up front, and the grant will pay 20%. The 70% balance is paid with interest at the bank’s usual rates (APRs of 7-8% are typical) over the period that you agree. It may be possible to re-finance existing assets as well.

A few asset classes (including cars) are excluded and there are various other conditions, but if you are considering investing in the near future – for example, to benefit from the extra tax allowances that you can get up to April (see our blog on annual investment allowance) – then I recommend that you find out more.

Thanks to Giles Winter and Katie Lawrance of RBS/Lombard for making me aware of this.  Please email Katie or contact Andrew if you’d like to know more.

Internet Marketing Training Berkshire

Marketing Advice UK

It is not that often that I recommend other people’s products, but I am making an exception!

Firstly, Lee Gilbert is a friend of mine who is also one of the UK’s leading experts on Internet Marketing.  He has a set of four fantastic Internet Marketing CD’s and he has reduced the price by 50% to only £49.99.  I strongly recommend buying this if you need to improve your internet marketing.

Secondly, Jackie Jarvis, who has also become a good friend and is the author of several great marketing products including a CD based Marketing Programme called ‘The Sales FastTrack Programme’.  In this 9 CD and workbook programme Jackie covers everything you need to know about marketing your small business.

And last, but by no means least – If you want to win more referral leads you might want to take a look at my 6 CD Audio Programme called ‘Grow your Business With Referral’

All can be found by clicking the link below;

Marketing Advice UK

Sales Training Berkshire | Essential to all businesses in 2012

Today in business every potential sale matters.  Sales & Marketing specialist Steve Mills states “if you are only converting 40% of your leads into business, then you are wasting 60% of your marketing budget”.  Steve reveals that every salesperson, regardless of the industry, product, or skill level, makes mistakes. Here are some basic sales mistakes to avoid and some tips for selling more and having happier customers.

Number 1

Not listening. Do not just listen to what the customer is asking for; look past that to find out what they need. Too often salespeople sing the praises of a product without hearing what the customer wants. You cannot sell to someone if you do not know what they want. Listen to your customers, identify the need, and fill it.

Number 2

Not being up to date. Would you hire a doctor who told you they had not done any training since medical school 25 years ago?  No!  Why?  Because there have been so many advances in the world of medicine and the doctor would not be well trained and so it is in the world of sales training.   You must keep up to date in order to keep your conversions as high as possible.  For details of how to do this click here.

Number 3

Being unprepared. Whether you are making a sale in a showroom, a board room, or on the phone, you need to know the details about what you are selling and be able to answer all pertinent questions. Be prepared. If you are prospecting for new business, know what you are going to say and be ready for questions you may be asked.

Number 4

Jumping straight to the sale. In any type of sales business, you need to establish a relationship. Even on the Web you need to have landing pages to provide information about your products or services before jumping to the shopping cart. Do not rush to the sale. Take the time to educate your customers, and they will reward you with sales.

Number 5

Not closing the sale. This is the flipside of the mistake above. Once you have provided your customer with the information he or she needs, ask if the customer is ready to make a purchase. It may seem unnecessary, but sometimes asking for the sale can be the nudge your customer needs to make a final decision.

Number 6

Going off topic. Some salespeople overdo the need for a “relationship” with excessive chatter. Others continue to talk about the product or service, but spend an inordinate amount of time on irrelevant information. While you do want to build a relationship and make your customer comfortable, the goal is to make the sale. If the sale is the topic, don’t veer too far off on tangents.

Number 7

Not researching your customer. If you are trying to sell to a specific client at a meeting, you need to know what he or she is all about. Do some research before the sales meeting and get a good idea of the prospects likes, dislikes, interests, and manner of doing business. The same holds true for consumers. Get to know who makes up your target audience.

Number 8

Judging books by their covers. Salespeople routinely miss sales because they prejudge their customers. Do not let race, creed, gender, ethnicity, age or appearance stand in the way of making a sale.

Number 9

Not following up on leads. Just because someone does not buy immediately does not mean they will not be interested later — particularly if they requested information. Follow-up is a critical aspect of sales that is often neglected.

Number 10

Failing to prospect for new customers. Even when sales are at their peak, you need to devote time to looking for more customers. No company can survive without a constant influx of new customers, so no business can afford not to prospect for them.

For further details of the sales, or marketing training provided by Steve call him on 0118 930 5700, or go to training link

Marketing Consultant | Keeping Currnt Clients

Creating Raving Fans

  1. Under Promise – Only make promises that you are sure you can keep. Allow plenty of time to complete assignments so that they are completed early. That way clients will be impressed rather than disappointed.
  1. Over Deliver – For new clients you need to ensure that you over deliver to gain trust and to establish the relationship.
  1. Website – Ensure your website is always up to date and that information is easy to find. Ask a few different people to check it for content, clarity and navigation.
  1. Gather Feedback – Log any feedback from clients and by acting on these issues, you will improve your relationship with your clients.
  1. Know your clients – Install CRM software so that every member of your team can see every detail about clients and they can view correspondence and notes. This will ensure they know any history when a client calls.
  1. Emails – Reply instantly to the client acknowledging receipt of the email and giving details of what will happen next (when they will be contacted, how, who by etc). Then solve the query as soon as possible but keep the client informed.
  1. Internal Training – Train your staff so they know your business inside out. Whoever speaks to clients needs to know what they are talking about and where to direct any calls. The competency of your staff will be clear to your clients.
  1. Telephone Manner – Write a script for answering the telephone to ensure that everyone answers in exactly the same way every time.
  1. Hire the right people – Make sure you find the right person for the job and then train them in your firm’s procedures.
  1. Go one step further – Encourage your team to create “Raving Fans” and not just satisfied clients. Reward them for thinking constantly of ways to improve the service and relationship to clients.

Steve Jobs on success

You need a lot of passion for what you’re doing because its so hard. Without passion, any rational person would give up.
So if you’re not having fun doing it, if you don’t absolutely love it, youre going to give up. And thats what happens to most people, actually.
If you look at the ones that ended up being successful in the eyes of society, often times its the ones who love what they do, so they could persevere when it got really tough. And the ones that didnt love it, quit. Because theyre sane, right?
Who would put up with this stuff if you dont love it?

So its a lot of hard work and its a lot of worrying constantly.  If you don’t love it, you’re going to fail.

Marketing Consultant | Networking Tips

Speak up for yourself

Over the last few years I have attended and spoken at many events and conferences. I have always noticed how speaking positions you well, and how often people are keen to ask questions afterwards.

On each occasion I have enjoyed networking with others over a sandwich and cup of coffee. There have even been times when I was interested enough to follow up with several speakers and sometimes I purchased services from them and had services purchased from me. So in a way I am proof that the strategy I am about to tell you about actually works. But only for some people! In many cases people network, but they don’t do it with any form of plan, or targets. They don’t know what to say and they simply ‘wing it’. But as Natwest say “there is another way”

Who can use seminars?

Promotional seminars can be used by a whole variety of industries ranging from marketing companies to accountants, HR specialists to IT companies. In fact to anyone who has got something interesting to say. And herein lies the key to success! Most business people who get up to speak at promotional seminars make the mistake of trying to promote themselves when what they should be doing is helping delegates.

So the keys are to put on a great, or even an outstanding performance (by the way if you need help with this, MAX Marketing’s Jim Ewan is the former President of the Professional Speakers Association and he would be very pleased to talk to you about presentation skills).  You then need to ensure your talk is geared towards helping people and not just saying how wonderful you are. You need to give them something free. Then you need to ask people to take action and to do something as a result of your talk.

Approach an organisation

Before you start running and marketing your own seminars try to get someone else to run one for you. You might even want to organise one in partnership with another organisation, maybe a bank, accountant, industry body or solicitor. But the best way is to speak at other organisations’ seminars. So contact Chambers of Commerce, IoD, FBS, your own local business clubs, breakfast networking groups, Women’s Institutes, conference organisers and industry specific conferences or seminars.

But what am i going to say?

One of the keys is to attract sufficient numbers of the right type of people to the seminar. Therefore the headline of your talk is vital to the success of the seminar and to your aim of winning some business by speaking.

The Venue

Holding the seminar at an interesting venue is essential. It may surprise you, but not everyone is there to listen to you! I held one of my Marketing without Money seminars at Gleneagles last year and I found out that 65% of the people attending this lunch time session had either played Golf in the morning, or were doing so after my talk. I also held one at the Manchester United FC ground at ‘Old Trafford’ and you will be shocked to read that everyone at the seminar was a MUFC fan. The point is that the venue can be a draw to your seminar and that is what you want, to put ‘bums on seats’.


When should you hold your seminar? The bottom line is it does not matter whether it is a breakfast, lunch or evening seminar, there will always be people who can’t make the time you arrange for a variety of reasons. Avoiding Monday is always a good idea!

Should you charge for your talk? There are three reasons why you should charge. Firstly, something that is free is not necessarily valued. Secondly, you are professional and your time is valuable. Thirdly, the organisation you are speaking for will generally charge their guests.

How long?

The talk at a promotional seminar should last no more than 30 to 45 minutes. Your aim is to create interest by giving away a small amount of advice, not to give away everything.

Position yourself correctly

The chairman or organiser must position you as well as possible, therefore you must have a written introduction for them to follow. If you don’t have this then they will just ‘wing’ the intro and you may not be properly positioned.

Conversion rates

At Steve Mills Marketing we often gain new business as a result of seminars we have run. Why? Because ‘people buy from people’ and they also buy from people they know, like and trust. So in 45 minutes your job is to get people to feel as though they know, like and trust you, or have at least started down the path of doing so enough to want to meet you again.

Follow up

Mingle as much as possible with your delegates, especially afterwards. I recently did a talk for the Association of Accounting Technicians. The talk was from 7pm to 7.45pm. I left the building at 10.35pm. Why? Because people wanted to speak to me! And I left with an enquiry which has resulted in a £12,000+ sale. I tell you this, not to impress you, but to impress upon you that promotional seminars work.

Get a list of all those who attended, or hold a prize draw for something and get everyone to put their business card into a hat so that you can call them afterwards.

Networking works for lots of organisations

The question is do they work for you? If not our team at Steve Mills Marketing can help. Whether you need help publicising your event, event managing it, or you want some training in public speaking we can help, so call us on 0118 930 5700.

FREE LinkedIn Training Webinar on 12th January 2012

I wondered if you might be interested in joining me as I am interviewed by Jackie Jarvis of MarketingCo? You will find out all about how you can generate really good leads from Linkedin.

  • We are going to be covering:
  • Why Linkedin is such a powerful business to business social media tool
  • What the best opportunities to use Linkedin are
  • How by doing a few simple things you can get to a great position on google
  • How easy it is to get recommended and build your profile
  • How to use groups to generate leads
  • Plus lots of extra tips and the opportunity to ask questions
  • I will also he telling you all about my new Linkedin webinar and online coaching programme starting on the 18th January. A fantastic opportunity to learn and build your business effectively through Linkedin!

So if you want to join us at 4.30pm to 5.30pm you are very welcome!

Book your place call me on 0118 930 5700.


Marketing Consultant | Our client

One of our clients Beard & Coles who attends our Business Accelerator Programme was pleased to announce that they had got 48 leads just from other members of the programme during 2011.

Well done to them and to al those who gave them leads.

Marketing Consultant | The 3% theory

If you take your Sales process and improve it by only 3% each week, within a year that is a 150% improvement. And a 3% improvement is very reasonable, but it is the cumulative impact that each week, you add another 3% improvement.

So the question every business owner needs to answer is what can I do to achieve this?  And then do the same in other areas of their business…

Mmmmm – something to think about?

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