One of the biggest stumbling blocks business owners have is time. Between client demands, marketing the business, family (and maybe your day-job), most businesses are *more* than full-time jobs.
Lack of time makes it hard to invest resources into growing and scaling. Yet, growth is what helps you get to the point where you are making enough money in your business to hire more people, buy more services, etc.
Would you like to have more time in your business?
If you are the ONLY person working in your business or if you have a really small team… YOU are your most valuable asset. Taking care of business means taking care of yourself…
Here are 5 quick tips to help you save time in your business so you have more YOU time.
Fire your worst client
In the past 10 years of working with clients, I’ve learned that 10% of your clients bring you 90% of your business-related stress. If things constantly feel tense with your client, if they don’t pay you, or don’t respect your boundaries, fire them. The few times I’ve had to do this, new work quickly replaced the lost income. And, what’s more, I’ve ended up becoming friends with the former clients. (I had one even thank me for her letting her go because it was a wake-up call that allowed her to get clarity on her business direction).
Upsell an existing client to more services
People buy from people they know like and trust. Your current clients fall into that category. And, you can look like a hero by thinking about their business and how you can help make it grow. Making suggestions for additional ways for you to help elevates you from vendor to partner. It is also one of the fastest ways to add new revenue to your business.
Create an SOP for one business process so you can outsource it
SOPs or standard operating procedures are a great timesaver (even if you never end up outsourcing the process). Taking the time to outline the process into a checklist and getting all the links and materials in one place will cut completion time again and again. Outsourcing is also a big time saver and you can start small. Think of the task you like least in your business and a find a pro to help you with it. Likely, they’ll be able to do it faster (and better) than you can. And, you’ll have extra time to work with clients or just to relax.
Commit to fixing the one thing you like least about your business
We all have that one tiny thing… You know, the process that you know could work smoother, the Facebook page that you don’t ever update, your LinkedIn profile that doesn’t have your current company on it. How much time are you spending thinking about that thing… How much time would it take to complete it? Make a commitment to get it done this month.
Let someone clear the path for you
A few years ago, we interviewed over 100 entrepreneurs as part of the Paycheck to Passion podcast. The successful guests on our show had two things in common – patience (growing a business is not instant) and having a mentor to show them the ropes. Not having to guess at “how” exactly to get things done can be a huge timesaver. You can follow your mentors path and learn from their missteps. This is why people pay big money for coaching. (You don’t have to – there are plenty of great affordable options out there – including our new coaching program).
You were a sparkling, new month, kicking off a brand new year full of infinite possibility. You and I – we were so sure that 2019 was going to be *the* year… It was time to break through..
As I flip through the calendar looking at all the goals from all the years past, I realize they are largely the same. I always want to lose weight and find money. I’ve begun to realize that the goal setting process is less about hitting a target than celebrating progress toward “consistent improvement”.
Well… now it’s November and 2019 was a good year… and there is a tendency to sort of “give up” about now and coast on in to 2020.
This Could Go One of Two Ways…
How do you want to feel on December 31? Do you want to be happy with what you’ve done and how you’ve progressed – or have you resigned yourself to starting over next year?
Let’s Try Something New…
Instead of either celebrating or being disappointed, let’s reset. It is NOT too late to set business goals for 2019… In fact, two months is a great amount of time to get something done that will make a big difference to you and your business in 2020 and beyond…
In two months you could:
For me, this year has been a bit of a mixed bag… some amazing things have happened in my life and business AND I’ve had a few interesting missed turns… What I’ve learned is that the quickest way to get back on track is to have a map!
Jasper and I have been working on our business content and offers map for the past week or so. Did you catch yesterday’s Facebook live (link to FB live) where we gave you a sneak peek of part of our process.
The whole plan just took a little over 2 hours and I feel more clarity in my business than I have had for a while. I’m excited for what’s on tap for 2020!
We used the marketing map template we taught last summer. After spending a few hours planning for next year, we agreed that we should host another marketing map intensive for you before the new year starts.
So, we’ll be doing that on Thursday, December 19 starting at 11am Mountain time.
We’ll be covering:
When you sign up , you’ll get the virtual day recordings (lifetime access) as well as the bonus templates and planners. You’ll be able to use this course year after year to keep your business on track and growing!
Let’s do this!
Are you ready to hang out your shingle as an online business owner?
One of the first things you need to put in place is a mechanism for selling your service or product. Here’s a “shopping list” of what you need to get started (or to uplevel).
Your Sales Funnel
Entire books have been written about sales funnels, but here’s how a funnel traditionally works:
Your sales funnel begins with your free offers—your blog, social media updates, YouTube videos, etc. These are the things that anyone online can access at zero cost and will help people find you, get to know you.
Following that, are your free items that require an opt-in. The cost of access isn’t money, but rather an email address. These include checklists, worksheets, video training, small reports, resource guides, etc.
Below that in your funnel are low-cost items. Depending on your market, low cost might be $7 or it might be $70. Only you can determine what your “entry-level” rate is.
Next are your mid-range products, followed by those top-end, elite coaching offers, or for products, it is what Ryan Deiss calls the Profit Maximizer – eg. the $800 coffee maker sold in Starbucks.
Ideally, your sales funnel will work in conjunction with your social media, your blog, and your email autoresponders to move people from the entry level to the top products over a period of time. If you find that people opt-in for your free offer, buy your low-cost items, but don’t purchase your higher-end products consistently, you have what’s called a leaky funnel. It simply means that buyers are “escaping” your funnel at some point. Identify where your trouble spots are, and you’ll be closer to your earning potential.
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make with sales funnels is overthinking the funnel. When your list is small there just aren’t enough people in the funnel to justify something really complicated.
When you are just starting out, you can start with a simple funnel – that looks a bit like this
Awareness (Traffic) -> Freebie (simple lead magnet or video) -> Phone Call -> Service.
It is much easier to get one or two people to buy a service at a higher price than to sell 100 ebooks to a list of 50 people. Keep your funnel as simple as possible for as long as you can.
Your Turn: Take a minute to draw out your funnel – what do you still need to put in place to have it working for you automatically?
Upsells and Downsells – What else you got?
When a visitor lands in your cart, your relationship with her has reached a new level. If she buys, you’re in the perfect position to offer more in terms of an upsell, cross-sell, or one-time-offer.
You’ll see this in action whenever you buy from places like Amazon or Wal-Mart. Before you click the “buy” button, you’ll often see a row of items with the heading, “Customer who bought this item also bought…”
This encourages buyers to explore other, related items, and ultimately increases the average sale amount. If you have another product ready, adding an upsell or downsell is a great way to quickly add profit to each sale. A good example is when buying a camera – do you need a camera bag with that? A tripod maybe?
Our favorite shopping cart, ThriveCart has a robust system for adding upsells, downsells and even a quick “bump” offer.
But what if a customer lands in your cart and doesn’t buy? Perhaps she decided the cost was too high, or that she’s not quite ready for this product – or more likely, wants to check out the competition first. That’s the perfect opportunity to offer a downsell—a lower-priced item in the same category. Your downsell might be a “lite” version of the item she almost bought, or a self-study course rather than live training, or even an ebook instead of an on-site workshop.
The point with a downsell is to turn a “no” into a sale, even if the sale is of your lowest priced product. It’s much easier to sell to a customer than to sell to a visitor, so if your downsell converts, it’s a powerful tool.
Consider all of your products, and where it makes sense, add a downsell. Then track your cart abandonment rates and see if they improve. ThriveCart also lets you easily track cart abandonment and send prospects a series of emails through Active Campaign (or your favorite autoresponder).
The cart you choose and the method of product delivery can mean the difference between making a sale and not. While a PayPal button is really all it takes to collect payment online, it might not be enough to instill confidence in your audience.
If your ideal client is older or is used to doing business offline, she might not be comfortable with just PayPal as an option. Consider upgrading to a cart that offers credit card payments as well, so she’ll feel better about security.
ThriveCart lets you easily customize your cart color scheme for that professional, confidence, inspiring shopping experience (with more template options on the way.
Product delivery is best when handled automatically – not only for you, but for your clients as well. Imagine if you make a purchase at 8pm on a Friday evening and have to wait until Monday morning for the product to be scheduled for delivery because the seller is offline for the weekend. You won’t be thrilled with the experience, and neither will your buyers, so be sure whichever cart you choose has the capability to deliver products automatically, within minutes of purchase.
Your cart should also handle refunds, coupons, bundles and other ecommerce components with ease. Sophisticated buyers have come to expect this of the merchants they buy from, and if you don’t offer such things, you’ll very likely be passed over in favor of someone who does.
Take a look at your shopping cart setup. Does it need updating? Is it still serving you and your clients well? How could you make it better?
From the moment of purchase onward (and really, even before!) your clients and customers deserve the best support you can offer them. It begins with product delivery, which we’ve already covered, continues with follow-up and encouragement, your help desk, product updates and more.
Begin by incorporating a series of emails that encourage clients to both use the products they’ve purchased, but also participate in any groups or other live training available to them.
You can offer encouragement to your buyers whether your program runs live or is a self-study plan. Simply set up your emails in an autoresponder to go out on a regular schedule, and your clients and customers will be much more likely to not only complete your program, but to purchase others from you as well.
We email clients once they’ve purchased, but then follow up with weekly emails highlighting some of the course material. We also have an interactive membership site using Access Ally which allows customers to complete homework and get feedback from us.
Your help desk is an important part of your customer support system as well. By providing fast, courteous help, you’ll build a loyal fan base that will happily sing your praises and refer new clients to you as well.
Whether you maintain your help desk via email or with a dedicated app such as Zendesk or Help Scout, take the time to set up a FAQ page. This will help your buyers find the answers they need without you having to spend time responding to easily answered queries. For those questions that do require an answer from your team, canned responses can easily take care of 80% or more of the tickets you receive. Not only that, but you can (and should) craft your responses to gently nudge your readers more deeply into your funnel.
Those are the three main parts of the sales system. What do you need to add in order to see more sales?
I want to rant a bit here. I have been to six networking events in the past month and when I tell people about Solo Biz Hacker and that we help people use marketing automation to build online businesses… I get asked the question…
So… Meredith, what autoresponder should I choose?
And, although I want to be helpful and recommend Active Campaign (of course – I’m a certified partner) – I know in my heart of hearts they are asking the wrong question to start out. I hate to say this (since I LOVE playing with email services) – but here’s the truth of the matter…
If you have an audience, the email service you choose really doesn’t matter.
There are many many services out there and, frankly, 85% of them will meet your needs. As long as the service allows you to segment your list, and it delivers your email, you are golden (honest!). If you outgrow what you start with – you can always move up. Do not let this stop you from getting started. (The majority of people I know with great ideas who never launch get stuck in this early tech-deciding phase. Just remember – content and consistency are what drive success. Most tools will work.
But what if I don’t have an audience?
The important thing to understand with autoresponders is that they are an opt-in technology. This means that the person you are emailing has to have agreed (opted in), to receive your emails. If they haven’t then it is spam. And nobody likes a spammer, right?
If you don’t have an audience then you need to build one – ie. get people to opt in, usually by offering something in return (see below). However, you can still email people personally – one-on-one – even if they haven’t opted in to receive them – that’s “personal” email. There are services that will allow you to mass email people (cold email), that makes it appear to be a personal email – just don’t use your regular email to do it!
That is a way to get started if you have no other connection with a prospective client or customer. But your aim should be to get people to opt-in to a legitimate service as soon as possible – and there is no reason why they shouldn’t, IF you have something they really want. That is why messaging the right person is key. Sending messages to people who are not interested in your product or services is not only a waste of your time, but it is also going to harm your reputation, especially with your autoresponder company as your lousy results are going to impact theirs – and that they cannot allow! The more time you put into finding the right prospects to message the better your results will be.
So – Here’s what you SHOULD really be asking?
Before you start worrying about which autoresponder to use to send your messages, you need to know the answers to the following questions:
Once you’ve answered these questions, you are ready to start building your list. The key to building a healthy list is consistent action. Day after day taking small steps to make your list grow. You can get these steps for free on the Solo Biz Bites Email Challenge Podcast available on Anchor or your favorite podcast client.
It is not just email
Remember, the advice above does not just apply to email. For sure, email is the best way to reach a prospective customer because it is almost guaranteed that the prospect will see it in their inbox (Note: deliverability is an important factor in choosing an autoresponder – and is why all good one’s are very concerned how you get your list, how many unsubscribes you get and how many people open your emails). But your email inbox is the one place everyone goes, every day – if not several times a day. If you want to get your message across then email is by far the best method for doing so.
However, the same principles apply to any technology you use to try to connect and build a relationship with prospective customers, whether it is messaging someone through LinkedIn or Facebook Messenger, DMing someone on Twitter etc etc. It is about building relationships – building that all important ‘know, like & trust’ – over time and with the right people – ie. people who have a problem to which you have the solution.
What does email have to do with website traffic anyway?
They seem like two separate parts of the funnel. You blog on your website to get people to your email list - from there you use email to get them back to your site to push the buy button on your sales page. Once you have people on the list - they don't need to go back to the blog... or do they?
Email is a Powerful Driver of Web Traffic
Actually, email can be a powerful driver of traffic to your website. Email is second only to organic search in driving traffic to your website. In fact, according to this research, 51% of people discover new websites through email marketing. But, beyond helping your community discover new resources, there are some definite advantages to having your community visit your website regularly.
Adding Value, Building Trust...
A typical sales funnel starts with content and ends with a sale. A good funnel is not that linear - customers are moving back and forth between your offers and content. Customers buy from people they know, like and trust. Providing consistent value to your community through your blog is an excellent way to build that trust. You can also use your content to help segment your audience. Finally, sending your audience to content is training them to click your links and take action (even if that action is not always buying something new from you.
Crowdsource Your SEO
Other than just sending traffic to your site, encouraging your list to visit your content also helps your SEO in two important ways:
Creating Your Boomerang
The easiest way to create your email - website traffic boomerang is to start sending messages with content links to your audience. I've included some sample sequences for you to download in the box below.
Here are three times to use these sequences to send content:
Do you let your subscribers know when you’ve posted something new? Use simple two-email sequence to use to send traffic to your most important new blog posts and other content.
An easy way to get traffic to a website is to offer a free download for your current subscribers. You can do that as part of a blog post - or also just by using an existing opt-in and giving the download page link in the email (your people don’t need to resubscribe - they are already on your list. If you use Active Campaign or another autoresponder that supports tagging, you can add a tag when your subscriber clicks the link to the resource to further segment them.
Using emails with links to posts or resources about different topics is a great way to both get a feel for what your list is interested in while at the same time segmenting your list so that you can send your subscribers offers that are targeted straight to them. Here are templates to use with current members, new subscribers and people who haven’t opened one of your emails in a while.
Are you looking for a funnel that goes “all the way
So without further ado… here’s some information about the Value Ladder Funnel.
The Value Ladder Funnel consists of 4 products, starting with a free product (opt-in) and proceeding with paid products ordered from cheapest to most expensive. Products 3 and 4 are upsells in the main funnel. So, the email return-path for each of those products lead into their own sales funnel starting with that product.
Let’s break it down…
An opt-in page is where you offer something of value (usually a digital product) for free in exchange for the visitor’s contact information. Typically, an opt-in page will ask the visitors for a first name and email address but you can require other information in your form such as: last name, phone number and so on. Just keep in mind that the longer the form is, the less likely visitors are to convert.
The opt-in page asks for an email address so that the free digital product (lead magnet) can be delivered. This is a very simple email containing a link to the lead magnet and few words to tell the recipient what the email is about.
The reason for delivering the lead magnet via email instead of on the very next page of the funnel is because the second page of the funnel in this plan will present the next product in our value ladder in the form of a sales page.
The sales page will present our second product. In this case, it will be the very first product we charge money for. The purpose of this low-cost product (also known as a trip-wire) is to get the visitor make a financial transaction. However… that will not happen on this page directly. The purpose of a sales page is to present the product information only. The buttons on the sales page will bring the visitor to the order page where the transaction is made.
The order page is where the money starts changing hands. It’s normally a very simple page consisting of the form fields needed to collect payment information (and shipping information, if necessary). It’s best if you can add some trust indicators here like: a company support contact information, testimonials, guarantee reminders and so on.
Upsell pages give you an opportunity to sell the next 2 products in your value ladder. One product is offered on each page and the customer can now add a product with the click of just one button, without needing to re-enter any payment information. Often, upsell pages contain very limited time offers (some even expire upon saying no to that offer and include a timer). These offers are also known as one-time-offers or OTOs.
The order confirmation page content is usually dynamically generated to show the purchase details at the end of the funnel, like an order receipt. This marks the end of the main funnel but there is still opportunity to sell the upsell products through an email return-path.
If your contacts did not purchase every product in the value ladder, you may wish to try again through email. The only issue is that you cannot link your contacts to the upsell pages in your main funnel because they will need to re-enter their credit card info in order to make any purchases (they left the main funnel and their cart has been closed). At the very least, you will need a new order page. It makes sense to use a new sales page in front of that too. Basically, your email return-path will be running traffic from your list into an entirely new funnel. This will happen twice (products 3 and 4) in this Value Ladder Funnel.
As you can see, there are many moving parts
Did your webinar not make as many sales as you expected? Putting on a webinar is hard work… from promoting the webinar, to creating your sales page, and then all of the tech involved in actually presenting your topic.
It can feel a bit
Why You Don’t Make Sales On Your Webinar
When you put
“The good news is – the reason you are not selling on your webinar – is usually not because of the webinar itself.”
Three Ways People Leave Money on the Table with Webinars
People leave money on the table with webinars in three main ways. If you can plug these holes in your funnel – you are likely to see your webinar revenue go up.
Need to to know which emails to write? We’ve made that easy for you… Click here to get starter copy for 5 emails that will easily double your webinar sales.
When it comes to your business knowing your numbers is what is going to give you control over your business. It can show where to concentrate your efforts (ie. where the money is), and it can show you where not to waste those efforts.
Knowing your numbers is at the heart of any sales training. And sales is the heart of any business.
If you need to make 4 sales per week and your closing rate is 20%, then you know you need to talk to 20 people to make those 4 sales. That’s 4 people a day. There’s your goal – and your plan is based on how to get those 4 phone calls a day. All businesses come down to that principle in the end. You might do better one week than another – you might work to improve your close rate – but at least you will have a target to aim for.
So getting those phone calls is where the funnel comes in – and a funnel is everything about the numbers – because it is about getting people who don’t know you to a sale. As the diagram above illustrates, only 3% of prospects are ready to but right now, and only another 7% are open to the possibility. That’s 1 in 10. The rest need careful nurturing over time.
There are 4 stages to the funnel – Awareness > Capture > Nurture > Sale
Awareness – very often in an online business that means Facebook ads (but can include content marketing, social media, messaging campaigns, etc) .
Capture – is the freebie you get them to sign up for in exchange for their email address. This is where the marketing truly begins.
Nurture – the email drip campaign that educates and nurtures people towards >
The Sale – either via a phone call or ecommerce click
Using the 80/20 rule you can estimate how many calls you can generate in our analogy above – so –
1000 people see your Facebook Ad (Awareness)
20% sign up = 200 (Capture)
20% are nurtured towards a sale = 40 people buy the VIP Day
20% who come to the VIP Day go on to by the Annual Coaching Program = 8
Knowing these numbers gives you the power and direction. It is no longer guesswork. It becomes predictable. You know that if you pay $XX in Facebooks ads you will get 1000 views = 200 signup = 40 VIP sales = 8 Program sales.
This is a good benchmark – but in order to know what YOUR numbers are you need to actually run some promotions to find out. Do you get more than 20% – do you get less? What income is generated when compared to the costs of getting those sales?
Test it – track the results – see what can be improved to get better results next time. See what doesn’t work and that you can drop. You don’t start off with this knowledge. It is only through trying things out that you find out what works and what doesn’t. But when you find out those numbrs you re golden, because then you know that if you spend $XX you will get $XXX in return. It is predictable.
Facebook ads are a good analogy. You don’t just throw a lot of money at an ad you think is going to work. You try 4 different ads, test them all with a little money, see which one delivers, and only then do you put the big money into the winning ad.
It is exactly the same with your funnel and your sales process.
The ultimate goal in any business is to have a predictable income, and you can only do that by knowing your numbers. Why do so many people abandon their business and go back to a job? Predictability. With a wage you know how much is coming in – each and every week. But you can do that in your business as well – eventually.
Of course, circumstances change. What worked last year might not work this year. But if you are tracking your numbers you will see precisely where there is a problem – sometimes even down to a particular email. Knowing there is a problem allows you to take action to fix it before any lasting damage is done, and improv the process towards predictability.
If your goal is to make $100K then how many customers is that – per year – per month – per week? Where are those customers going to come from? How much does it cost to acquire a customer? What is the average lifetime value of that customer?
Knowledge is power. Knowing your numbers puts you in control of your business. You won’t know when you start out, but going into each promotion with numbers in mind will allow you to build on each new funnel you try, building on what works, discarding what doesn’t. Knowing where you are in terms of the goal you are trying to reach.
Knowing your numbers will set you free!