What I’m working on this week (Jan. 30 – Feb. 4)

I’m glad January is nearly over. I’m usually a pretty positive guy but January was rough. I wasn’t in good health, I struggled to reach some personal and business goals I had set, and I’m sure winter had an effect, too. This past weekend, though, marked a new change for me: I’m feeling better and I started to hit my goals again. So I’m calling January a “mulligan” and I’m starting the new year right now. Happy New Year! :)

Here are a few things I’m working on this week…

  • Biggest priority: Catching up on several client projects that were delayed last month
  • Writing several reports about some publicly traded companies in the junior resource space
  • Working on a couple of joint ventures that I’m starting up with some business partners
  • I’m also doing a slight business reorganization to help me focus on the most important things

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How to solve the biggest problem you face in your financial or real estate business

What is the biggest challenge or problem you face in your business?

What do you feel is keeping you from reaching the next level?

What is the one thing that, if you could eliminate it, would break the chain and truly unleash you?

Hopefully you can think of one thing that you feel is really dogging you. (If you can’t decide between several potential problems, just pick one, follow the steps in this blog post, and come back again in the future to handle another one).

Maybe it’s cold-calling, maybe it’s asking for the order, maybe it’s asking for referrals, maybe it’s organizing your time, maybe it’s getting motivated. Those are the big ones I’ve found either in my own business or working with others.

We tend to identify this one thing (whatever it is) as a huge anchor… but we really don’t do a lot to break that chain and unleash ourselves to reach our true potential.

When was the last time you did something to break that chain? Now’s your chance!

BREAK THE ONE THING THAT IS HOLDING YOU BACK

  1. Articulate it. Write it down. Describe it in detail. Break the topic down into granular points and figure out what parts you can do, what parts you can’t do, what parts you like, what parts you don’t. (You might discover that by describing it, you realize that only part of it is a problem rather than the whole thing. For example, maybe you don’t hate cold-calling but only the rejection).
  2. Write down your vision of what life would be like once you have mastered it. Take time daily to imagine yourself living out your vision.
  3. Write down a measurable goal (with steps) to achieve your vision. If you don’t know all the steps to reach your goal, do as much as you can but leave the rest blank… you’ll fill them in as you go.
  4. Mindmap what you know about the topic. As you learn, fill in what you don’t know.
  5. Find the top blogs on the topic, bookmark them, and schedule time to read them daily.
  6. Schedule time each day to do whatever it this thing is… and plan to do it consistently (more than usual) for at least a month. You might hate it at first but the mandatory routine will help. Also, if it is something that is truly holding you back, you should see some reward for your effort after a month.
  7. Find books about the topic and read them.
  8. Find a mentor who is an expert in the area and ask them to help you.
  9. Start your own blog (on Blogger.com or Posterous.com) to chart your progress. If you want, keep it anonymous so that other people don’t know that it’s you going through the same thing (although people will probably appreciate that you’re so open to sharing your journey).
  10. Learn everything you can about the topic with the goal of teaching someone else to become successful at it.
  11. Become an expert on the topic. Yes, an expert. Not just a mediocre “I-know-some-of-it” wannabe but an honest-to-goodness world-class expert who other people call because they’re desperate for the same solution.
  12. See if you can automate or outsource some of it.
  13. Create a checklist (or some other tool) and sit down and do that checklist every single day
  14. This one may sound crazy but it’s really not: Find joy in the challenge. Figure out how to thrive and get energized by doing whatever it is that you once feared or struggled at. For me, I used to hate cold-calling… until I discovered that I loved to cross things off of a list with a big stinky Sharpie marker. (Yeah, I’m weird that way). Since then, whenever I needed to make cold calls, I would list 1 through 25 on a piece of paper and then pick up the phone and start calling, looking forward to crossing things off with my Sharpie!

6 quick sales funnel tips to make more money today

6 quick sales funnel tips to make more money todayRunning a business means managing a sales funnel. Sometimes you need to roll up your sleeves and do some serious work in your sales funnel to fix things that are broken or to optimize it for more profit. But other times, you just need to make minor tweaks to get a quick “pop” in you business.

Here are six quick ideas to get more money out of your sales funnel today

1. Draw out your sales funnel

You’ll gain such a clear understanding of how essential your sales funnel is to your business, plus I usually find that just drawing it out reveals some great opportunities.

2. Create just one clear call to action in your site

It’s easy and tempting to put in all kinds of calls to action — “Contact us” or “download this” or “subscribe here” — but if you have one offering, make it the front-and-center action that website visitors should take.

(Disclaimer: I’m not saying that you should take the other stuff off of your site. Just make one of those things the primary action).

3. Offer a dramatic one-day bonus

Create some short-term urgency by releasing a huge bonus product or service with the purchase of a a popular product or service you already have. Keep it short-term (a 24 hour period is good). See what kind of response you get. Find out if more people are being because they want the free bonus or because it’s a great deal.

4. Announce that you are about to raise your prices

Hey, we all need to raise our prices at some point and most business owners silently raise their prices and hope that there isn’t a lot of backlash. Work this to your advantage by announcing — via press releases and social media — that prices are going to rise on a specific date. (If you sell services, make sure you let people know that they can buy now at the lower rate but receive the service after the price increase).

5. Get back in touch with old buyers

Confession: I find it pretty easy and fun to go after new business so it’s really easy for me to finish a project and then not get back in touch with previous clients. I know I’m not alone here. Lots of entrepreneurs let old customers dry up. Spend some time today combing through your past few years of business and getting in touch with your top ten customers from there. Let them know that you have some availability or extra products and would love the chance to serve them again.

6. Double your lead-generation efforts today

The more leads we generate, the more prospects we end up with and the more customers we can convert those prospects into. But sometimes, lead generation becomes a big strategic endeavor when really just a few extra minutes or hours of effort can have a dramatic, positive impact. Don’t think long-term, just go out and try to double the amount of leads TODAY.

How to find more leads for your real estate or financial business

Real estate leads, Financial leads

In this business, your success is entirely dependent on leads. The more leads you have, the better. So where do you find these leads?

HOW TO FIND LEADS

First, start with you.
List you all the different places in life where you interact with other people. These are called your “spheres of influence“. List as many spheres of influence that you have. (By the way, you probably have more than you realize).

Some common spheres of influence include:

  • Immediate family
  • Extended family (don’t ignore family who may not live nearby!)
  • Close friends
  • Friends
  • Acquaintances
  • Current co-workers
  • Previous co-workers (list all of your previous jobs)
  • Alumni (college and high school)
  • Church (past and present religious affiliations)
  • Charity connections
  • Other organizations (Toastmasters, etc.)
  • Online connections (Twitter followers, Facebook friends, people you frequently talk to in forums)
  • People you do business with (accountant, dry cleaner, mechanic, dentist, etc.)
  • Current clients
  • Past clients (past clients at your current job and past clients at your previous job… Just make sure that you are complying with any non-compete clauses if your are still in the same industry)

Second, list names
List all of the people by name in each sphere. Yes it will take a long time but the more time you spend being thorough right now, the more successful you will be later.

Third, gather contact information
Figure out how to get in touch with the people. If you know their number or email address or postal address, great! Collect it all into one place. I suggest a database of some kind.

Fourth, identify how you can help them
This step is optional but I think it helpful. Figure out how you can help them. If you’re a real estate professional and they are renters, you’ll likely be able to help them buy their first home. If you’re a financial advisor and they are near to retirement, you’ll likely be able to help them transition their portfolio into safer, income-producing investments while minimizing tax consequences.

If you really want to improve your odds, check out this blog post: 6 sales funnel tips for real estate professionals (it applies to financial professionals, too!)

Fifth, get in touch with them
Using whatever method you have identified (face-to-face, phone, email, or postal mail), get in touch with your contact and let them know what you do and make a recommendation about how you’d like to help them.

Chances are, one of the following things will happen:

  • They will become your client
  • They will hedge a little; they won’t commit, and they’ll tell you that they’ll think about it
  • They will tell you no
  • You won’t reach them or they won’t respond

If they become your client, that’s great. Congratulations! However, most people will fall into the second category and some people will fall into the third category. In those situations, thank them and let them know that if anything changes, you’d love to help them. Ask them for permission to stay in touch and collect any contact information you don’t have (so you can email or mail them something). Don’t delete the ones who never responded; just keep them on file and from time to time reach out to them.

GET EVEN MORE LEADS

Now that you have this list started, it’s time to generate even more leads. Here are three ways:

  • Add another sphere of influence. Join a group, join the gym, get involved in a new organization, volunteer for a charity, etc.
  • For each of your leads (yes, that big list you just created earlier in this blog post), do the same exercise and write down THEIR spheres of influence. Sure, you might not know their names but just get down the spheres of influence first. Then create a strategy to approach those people and make a request like: “Can you put up my business card on the bulletin board at your work?” or “can I put on a presentation about insurance in the lunch room at your office?” Make sure to keep the request easy for them to do. Remember: They won’t agree to anything that makes them uncomfortable!
  • You probably already have a website that is geared to people who are ready to become clients. (Most real estate and financial professionals have a site like this). Move up your sales funnel and create content that is geared toward lead generation instead of prospect conversion. For example, a real estate professional might want to create content that answers some earlier stage questions like “should I buy a home right now?”. You can do this on your own site, or start another site, or use internet marketing (like articles and press releases and social media) to help you drive traffic to your website.

Your sales funnel is the most important part of your business

Your sales funnel is the relationship your business has with potential buyers.

Most people think of a sales funnel as a “nice-to-know” concept that doesn’t really have an impact on their day-to-day operations.

sales funnel tree pictureBut I think a sales funnel is a strategic tool that every business needs to focus on and optimize. It’s like the foundation of a building or the trunk of a tree — it’s the main part from which every other part of the business grows.

 

Every business has a sales funnel (whether or not you choose to focus on it).

And businesses that DO focus on their sales funnel — making it run faster and smoother and with more people flowing through — will operate a more profitable, growing business than those who do not focus on it.

  • Are you focusing on your sales funnel? (Download this Sales Funnel Quick Reference PDF to get a fast start on your sales funnel)
  • Can you draw your sales funnel? (Download this Sales Funnel Worksheet PDF to help you)
  • Do you know how much each part of your sales funnel costs you to operate?
  • Do you have a list of opportunities that you intend to pursue this year to grow your sales funnel?

[Image credit: Jan-Willem]