Category Archives: Small Business Success

7 Steps to a (Clear, Easy, Effective) Sales Process

Photo Credit: Franck Michel on Flickr

Ordering a meal – in Asheville – is exhausting.

As a cultural hub for all things alternative, the restaurants there are particularly creative, and getting through the ordering process is an experience.

Would you prefer soy or almond milk? Gluten free? Vegan or vegetarian? You want beef? Of course. We serve local, grass-fed beef, with organic veggies on the side. How about a craft beer with that?

Oh my gosh, I think. Maybe I should just grab a granola bar….

And that experience is exactly why you need a clear sales process.

Without it, things get off track. Your customers get overwhelmed and confused. You’ll stumble through your offer, or worse – avoid making any offer at all.

And when that happens, you’re not making any money, and you’re not serving your peeps.

I get why this is hard. My students want to help, not sell. And yet, selling is what fuels your business –  and pays your mortgage. :)

As uncomfortable as it may be, learning how to sell is one of your most important skills as a business owner.

It helps if you map out the process in advance. I teach my clients to create a specific sales flow that they can follow every time, so they’ll know exactly what to do from the first contact with a prospect, through the moment that person decides to buy (or not – but more about that in a moment.)

Don’t get me wrong. This is not a simple thing. Learning to sell is a complex skill that requires the right mindset, and the right strategy, to connect with the right prospects.

But with time, experience, and a little messy trial and error, it is something you can learn.

These steps will get you started.

1. Lead with structure.

Your people are looking to you for guidance. When you lead the conversation with a clear structure, you ease their overwhelm.

“I’m happy to talk to you about this, of course. Let me tell you how this works. We’ll start with a brief call, then I’ll send you some our next steps. I can talk at noon on Friday – will that work for you?”

2. Engage early.

Get them excited before your first conversation. Design a simple prep exercise to get them thinking about the results they could get if they work with you. Be sure to include materials that position you as the expert you are.

3. Follow a script.

Write out what you want to say, and lead them through a conversation that helps them identify the problem, imagine what is possible, and includes your offer.

I know – the thought of following a script feels impersonal. But in fact, writing it out does just the opposite.

I teach my clients a really simple 5-step process that is easy to remember, and easy to implement. And it ensures a clear, predictable process that helps them serve their peeps at the highest level.

4. Speak to their hearts.

Many sales courses tell you to work with emotion, but that feels like manipulation or coercion. And that’s totally the wrong energy for someone who sells out of service.

Instead, I want you to touch their hearts because that is where their vision lies. That’s also where they’re more than likely getting in their own way. It is only by helping them see what could be that you can call them forward to something better.

5. Make an offer.

And keep it simple! Don’t give them more than 2 choices, 3 at at the most. There’s a reason fast food outlets began offering combos. It cut down on the number of decisions we had to make, and eased our overwhelm.

And be specific. For heaven’s sake, don’t waffle out of it with a casual “if you need anything, just give me a call!” Ask instead: ”Which of these would work best for you?”

6. Guide them to a decision.


Allowing them to disappear with a “maybe” leaves an open loop of energy that doesn’t help them, or you. Instead, lead them towards a decision – even if it’s a ‘no’.

“This is a big decision, I know, so I’d like to give you some time to think about it. I’ll call you in a couple of days to see what you’ve decided. Would Tuesday at 1 work?”

7. Expect a ‘yes’.

Oh – and when you do, expect a yes. When your energy is clear, you’re more likely to attract those who are just right for what you do. If your energy is wobbly, your offer will be too.

My clients find that learning to sell as a structured, practiced, skill with the energy of service feels much better than they expected.

And it works. :)

How about you?  Do you have a sales process? If not, what’s getting in the way? Tell me about it in the comments below!

How to Hire the Right Help for Your Team

“All I can say is, she’s a godsend…”

I was talking with a real estate broker who leads a growing team of agents in her small but bustling firm. Perfectly poised to break through in a powerful way in her particular market, things are hopping,

And it’s intense.

But about a month ago, she hired a new assistant who has made a tremendous difference in the day to day management of the firm. For the first time in a decades long career, she’d finally hired someone who was exactly what she wanted.

And she was gushing.

“I don’t know what I’d do without her! She’s looking out for me every minute that she’s here… she’s made such a difference, I can hardly believe it.”

That’s what it’s like when you hire the right person for your team: they look out for you.

But how do you find people like that?

In this post, I’m going to tell you exactly how.

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Minding Your Money: Key Points You Should Know

Photo courtesy of ptmoney.com on Flickr

“Can I just send you $1,000 now, and start paying ahead for next time?”

Our coaching relationship was ending in a few months, but she’d already decided to renew. She’d come a long way from where she started, and she had no intention of stopping now.

I’m no longer surprised when clients choose to continue. Their growth is real, and they are a stubborn, strong-willed, committed bunch.

But paying ahead? That was new.

And it threw me just a bit. :)

So I told her she was messing up my system – only half joking.

“Now, Wendy, you’re the first person I’ve ever heard complain because I was paying ahead,” she said – and laughed.

It was pretty funny.

But I wasn’t complaining. I was just thinking about how this would effect the procedures I have in place around payment.

When you start a business, you’re going to be paid for what you do. (You are being paid, right?)

And when you get paid, you need a system in place to manage that process.

Because so many of my clients are heart-centered creatives, it’s not unusual to find that they have almost no plan at all for how this happens. Or if they do, it’s pretty loose.  

But without clear procedures that tell your money what to do, you can get yourself in trouble. I myself lost thousands of dollars when I started out, all because of fuzzy financial systems.

But you’re not pouring your heart and soul into this only to let money wash away through messy management. Right? Of course not.

But where do you start? And what do you really need?

Essentially, you need systems for how you ask for, collect, process, manage, spend and save the money that moves through your business.

Below, I’ve listed things to think about under each of those areas. Don’t worry if you don’t have all of this; just use this as a guide as you move towards better and clearer financial management.

ASKING

  • Do you have a way of asking for someone’s business, a sales process? What steps do you follow when you make an offer? If you’re not asking for the business, you’re probably leaving money on the table.
  • Once someone says yes to working with you, how do they get started? Are there procedures set up to run automatically? Or do you have to get things going?  

COLLECTING

  • What payment options do you have in place? Do you require payment in advance? Or when the work is done? Do you require payment in full, or do you offer payment plans? What about packages? (Packages can totally transform your business.)
  • How easy is it for people to pay you? What payment methods can you accept? Can people pay you with more than one credit card if needed?
  • What policies do you have in place to address problem areas like late cancels or no shows? What about those who don’t follow through with promised payment, drop out of your program, or break their contract?
  • Do you ever turn an account over to collections? if so, do you have a procedure in place that informs your client and gives them adequate opportunity to pay their bill?
  • How clearly do you explain policies to your customers up front?

PROCESSING

  • If someone pays with cash, do you have a safe place to keep that cash, and a way to document that payment?
  • Do you have proper signed permission in place that allows you to process cards or electronic payments?
  • How are you protecting the financial privacy and safety of your customers?
  • Do you have a merchant account set up for business?  Do you have the ability to set up recurring billing for payment plans?

MANAGING

  • Do you have a separate business account for checking and savings? If so, are you careful about keeping personal and business monies separate?
  • Do you offer a guarantee to your clients? If so, do you have a system in place for honoring that guarantee?
  • Do you have a CPA who understands small business, and can help you with taxes?
  • Do you have a bookkeeper who helps you track revenues, and business expenses?
  • Do they understand you and your business? Are they patient as you learn to “know your numbers”?
  • How are you handling accounts receivable?
  • If you’re in the U.S., are you paying your quarterly taxes?
  • Are you keeping business receipts? What about tracking your mileage?

SPENDING

  • Do you have a business budget, and if so, do you follow it?
  • Are you paying yourself a regular salary? (Make this an early habit – even if it’s small!)

SAVING

  • Are you setting aside money for taxes?
  • Are you setting aside money for the inevitable ups and downs that come in any business?
  • Can you pay your own salary even when revenues dip a little?

I am not a financial expert – far from it. Those who know me will laugh that I’m even writing an article like this.

But I’ve been in business long enough to learn – usually the hard way – that every single one of these questions needs an answer.

How about you? Do you have these systems in place? Or could your money use a little help?

The One Thing You Must Protect – No Matter What

“I told my friend what you said…”

Uh oh. I always hold my breath when a client says something like this. What did I say this time?

“I told her about my new packages, and how you said I need to raise my rates.”

Oh. That. Well then.

“She didn’t think that was such a good idea…”

Of course she didn’t, I thought to myself. That’s why she’s not your coach.

And I set about working to repair the damage to my client’s confidence.
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Is Your Business Calling You to Grow?

Oh that’s B.S., and you know it!” my friend exclaimed.

Her lips were tight. Her voice tense. And there was a fierceness in her eyes that startled me.

I have a lot of friends who speak their minds, and I’m used to them coming from the blunt end of the interpersonal spectrum.

But this was different. I knew she was speaking from love – but for a second, I thought she was mad.

She wasn’t.

She was frustrated – and determined; determined to get me to see something I just couldn’t see.
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