Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hostess Tracking

Good evening readers! How is everyone's week so far? Today I want to talk about a really important subject that's related to hostess coaching: hostess tracking.
    I spoke in an earlier post about layering your prospects and I have to say, that since that post, my number of prospects have been too great to "layer" in the traditional sense. I just haven't had the time to put every new person into a chart and track their process through my company. SO I have put my focus in to two different tracking sheets: hostess tracking and team member tracking. Today we will talk about hostess tracking.
    I just finished updating my new hostess tracking sheet and I'm excited to share the benefits with you. The idea of this tracking sheet is to easily be able to see where you are with your hostess coaching. Each column in the chart is for a different stage of hostess coaching. For example, one column can be for when the hostess gets her hostess packet from you, so in that column (in the row for that hostess' name) you will put the date the received their hostess packet from you. You can do this for their initial email, follow up calls, guest list, and more. By putting in an actual date, instead of just a check mark, you can keep track of where you are in the process.
    Another reason that tracking your hostesses can help you is because it lets you see your own numbers. You can easily go back and see who was a hostess, how well their party went, and how well you did with follow ups and coaching. A tracking sheet not only tracks the progress of the show, but how much work you put into the preparation of the show. You can see where there are holes in your coaching and make improvements as needed.
    So, now you can see how I've been tracking my hostess coaching. I would love to see some feedback or more ideas! :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Climb Out of a Booking Rut!

  Hello Readers! I'm back and I'm excited to share some tips and ideas with you! Today's post is all about pulling yourself out of a booking rut. Maybe you've had a recent rash of cancellations, or maybe you're living in a new place, either way you MUST have bookings to keep your business humming. So, what are some ways to pull yourself out of a blank calendar?
   My favorite, and probably most effective way, to get at least one new booking is to do a party swap. Now, I know that I've touched on this before, but I cannot stress enough to you how effective it is! My friend Kathy Jo Henson approached me several months ago about doing a swap and it is STILL giving me bookings and new customers. We have even joined up for other events. It was like a shot of steroids to my business because we also bounce ideas off of each other like power partners. Find someone in your area that runs a small business that is in no way connected to yours. For example, Kathy sells wick-less candles and I sell jewelry; apples to roses, completely different! I held a party for her and she held one for me. Another benefit of doing this is that other business people are more likely to take the booking seriously, and make a real effort to get guests to their show. If you're new to an area and have not made friends yet, you could do an online show or make a promise to return the favor to that person once you've met some new people.
    Another way that I've talked about before is to do a booth. If you're living in the States there are always festivals, conferences, expos, and events that you can get involved in. Think about where your product could best fit: a wedding expo, home expo, craft fair, or even a baby expo. You can keep track of these online and you MUST jump on it when you can because these are very popular. These can require some investment for the booth so make sure you do your research first. Also, if you're military, consider pairing up with your local Spouses club to create the ideal event for your business. This can be fun and it's a great way to meet new people!
    What are some of the ways you pull yourself out of a rut?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Coming Soon...

Hi there Loyal Readers! I hope your Thanksgiving was as incredible as mine was. I am so blessed in so many ways, and it was fantastic to have my husband home this year. I just wanted to let you all know that I will be back on Monday with some amazing things to come, like: interviews with companies' top earners, ideas about implementing a referral program, booth success, and so much more! So stay tuned to this blog for your up and coming business ideas!! :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

What do YOU want?

   Hi readers! I had originally planned to talk about strengthening and implementing your business systems, but, instead, I decided to ask you what you would like to see on this blog. I want to know what kind of tips you want to see on here; do you need more networking tips? Do you need more booking ideas? What would you like to get out of this blog?
   I write this because I have a passion for direct sales and I truly believe in this business industry. I share my ideas, and the ideas of others, to help you, the reader, improve on your businesses. In order for me to provide quality content and posts for you, I need to know what you want to see. So please send me an email, or a comment and tell me what you want to know.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Holdiay Booking Blitzes

     Here's another idea for you to boost your holiday sales and bookings. Hold a holiday booking blitz! If you are not familiar with the booking blitz, please check out my blog post titled Booking Blitzes. Offer a new kind of show/party to your customers for the busy holiday season like a Holiday Coffee.
    A Holiday Coffee is a show that is more relaxed and the focus is great gift ideas you can offer customers. A hostess provides coffee and light refreshments and people relax as you show them the great deals and ideas you offer as holiday gifts. Some hostesses even prefer to set this up as an open house where they slot the show for a 2 to 3 hour time period and people just stop by as they can. This tactic works well when you are dealing with a group of busy people.
    Create your new holiday show ideas and then set aside your time to do a booking blitz to all of your customers and contacts that haven't had their holiday show yet. Remember to really buckle down during this blitz and try to create an environment with very little distractions. This can be a great way to get some holiday bookings and new customers!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Great Business Book!

    I have recently finished a great business book that I wanted to share today. It's called Endless Referrals by Bob Burg. It provides some really great networking ideas and strategies. I found it to be a really unique book with a system that seems relatively easy to master. I got a lot out if it and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to grow a small business or who is having trouble getting new customers! Check it out on Amazon!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Getting Help/Assistants

   At some point, once your business is well established, you might start to notice that you need help in your office. So, at what point do you get help, and how much do you need?
    Obviously every business is different but here's some points to keep in mind. When you have a steady customer base, steady bookings, and have started building a team your time will be best spend on your Income Producing Activities. Labeling, mailing, organizing your office, and entering customers might not be the best use of your time. Consider this: if you spend an hour of your time labeling catalogs instead of booking calls, your time spent labeling just cost you the amount you would have made if you had done your booking calls. At some point you will find that these simple tasks (non-IPAs) are holding you back and you may want to hire someone to do them for you. I would suggest, for simple office tasks, a teenager that could use some extra money would be a good fit in your office. They can set up your mailers, label catalogs/products, enter new customers into your database, and more if you have the means.
     You might also notice that most of the "higher ranking" individuals in your company have more than one assistant. They probably hired them once they achieved a larger team and needed help to maintain balance. I had the privilege of working for an extremely successful Sales Director, Kristin Rogers, in her office and I saw the benefit of having steady help in your business. She had an assistant for her personal and household management, as well as an assistant that managed her office. The office assistant did things like answer phones, take and fill online orders, answered team member questions (if possible), managed her schedule, plus all of the previous mentioned tasks. Her home assistant ran personal errands, took care of laundry and dishes, and even did the grocery shopping. What I'm getting at here is that her assistants, her help, allowed her to better prioritize her life. She was able to focus on the IPA's that made her business successful instead of getting swallowed by all of her tasks.
    Maybe it's too early to consider getting help with your business but keep it in your mind. Even help around your home may help you prioritize your life and your business.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Husbands and Your Business

                                                      This is my hero and my husband...

Hello readers! After a week's hiatus, due to illness, I am back with some more thoughts on how to grow your direct sales business. Let's talk about family...
    Getting your family on board with your business can be a challenge, especially if your family members are already skeptics about the industry. But, getting family support, can be the difference between a mediocre business and an incredible business. Since my readers are mostly women, I will refer to the spouse as a husband, not a wife.
   It has been said by many wise women (Connie Kittson, for example) that your husband is your first sale in your direct sales business. You want to show him the potential provided by your company and how you intend to achieve your business goals. Husbands want to know the numbers of your business, they are usually very concerned about the cost aspect of your business, so lay it out in clear terms. Some larger companies may even provide a facts and figures sheet specifically made with husbands in mind. Recruit your husband. Show him the same DVDs and compensation information as you would a potential team member. Understand that most husbands are only skeptical because they want to protect you and your money, so try not to get frustrated when they don't understand.
   If all else fails, prove it to them! Show your skeptics the real money and potential that can be found in a direct sales business. Sometimes it takes your success to shine a more positive light on this sometimes misunderstood business. This goes not only for husbands, but also for the other skeptics that you love.
   Don't give up on your business just because someone else had a bad experience or seriously misunderstands it. After you convince them of the validity and potential of your business, you can learn how to get your family involved in your direct sales business, which is a topic coming soon to a blog near you!! :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Get those IPA's!!

    Before I begin this super important blog post, I want to first say that the IPA's I'm writing about are not my idea. I was first introduced to this concept when I was a consultant for a large direct sales company. My director at that time, Kristin Rogers, taught me about this and I wanted to share it because it's critical  for your business. So, again, these are the concepts taught to me by others from a different company than who I'm currently with.
     So, with my mini-disclaimer out of the way, lets talk about Income Producing Activities or IPA's! An IPA is a business activity that will actually lead to money in your pocket. Some examples of IPA's are booking, shows/parties, bringing guests to company or unit level events, team building interviews, or one-on-one product presentations. IPA's are what keeps your business humming along making you money and it's important to track your IPA's. If you're company does not participate in this idea you can create a tracking sheet on your own. First you need to determine how many IPA's you should be accomplishing per week to meet your business goals. The best way to figure this number out is to talk to a person in the position you want to be next. So find someone who currently holds the leadership or sales postion you want (successfully holds it; not struggling to keep that position) and ask them how may bookings they get per week, how many shows they hold per week, how many team building interviews they do, and so on. That should be your goal.
    Next, make a tracking sheet where you can check off your IPA's according to the critical levels of a direct selling business: booking, selling, and recruiting, and if you're already in leadership add training to your list of categories. On your tracking sheet, mark what your goals are for that week in each of those categories and track them accordingly. For example, if you got 2 bookings over the phone last night (way to go!) and then 1 at your show this morning, you would mark 3 down in the bookings category. If you had a $500 show this morning, and a separate sale over the phone this afternoon that was $160, you would mark $660 in the category for sales. Get the picture?
     Income Producing Activities means that there will be a monetary result from your work. Organizing your office is NOT an IPA! Labeling your products or catalogs don't physically bring you money, so if you find yourself spending a lot of time on these things consider getting an assistant! And that's another topic for another day...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Don't Take it Personally...

   They will happen if you've been in this industry for more than 30 seconds and, let me tell you, it can hurt. How far your business will go is reflected in how you handle the cancellations that come your way.
   The best method that I've ever hear for getting over the cancellations is to use that time slot for your business at home. For example, if you had a Tuesday 7:00pm show that canceled, you would use that whole time slot to do other business related things like bookings, follow ups, and some administrative activities. If you use that time for income producing activities (like bookings or follow up) you will not be moving backwards due to that one cancellation. If you are warned far enough in advance, you can try to put another booking in that time slot. I might even offer a very special incentive for anyone who books in that spot, so you know you can get it secured.
   The most important thing is to try not to let your emotions get away from you; 99.9% of the time it's nothing personal, and sometimes it can even be rescheduled for a better date. Don't forget that this business is all a numbers game and, if you plan right, all of your shows will even out with the industry percentages. Ask anyone that's been doing this for a while, you will have lots of cancellations during the time that you running your business, sometimes they even be yours. Stuff happens. Stand up. Dust yourself off, and keep going!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Communicating with Your Customers

       It's a brand new month, have you sent out a business newsletter to your customers? It's so important to keep in touch with your clients even after they have purchased from you because it builds your relationship, and therefore their loyalty to you. You don't want to smother them, or come off as pushy, but keeping your product at the front of your clients' minds will certainly pay off.
      I keep in touch with my customers mainly by a monthly newsletter. Most direct selling companies provide marketing tools for you to utilize and stay in touch with your customers in a meaningful, professional way. If they don't provide a newsletter option for you create your own. PC users can use Microsoft Publisher to make nice newsletters that can be emailed or snail-mailed. You can also create a simple newsletter in your word application. You want to proved useful information to your clients but not just sales information. For example, if you sell kitchen supplies you may want to include cooking tips and recipes, if you sell wick-less candles you want to give tips on how to make the fragrance last longer, make-up sellers might give beauty tips, and so on. You want to give your customers more than just a sales pitch, you want to add value to their everyday lives!
      I send out a newsletter once a month that includes new products, monthly specials, and tips. If something changes throughout that month I may send one more email but I try to limit it to two emails. I don't want to bombard them with my business. That's how I communicate with my customers but your business may be different. If you have weekly specials, then one email a week can be really important.
      Even if some of your customers haven't ordered in a while, stay consistent with your communication. You never know when they were already thinking about your product and then your email promotes them to give you a call, or place an order!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Networking with Other Businesses!

    Networking for your business can be an intimidating concept, but it's absolutely essential if you plan on working your business like a business. You want to network not only for customers and team members but also for business friends! So, I want to take a minute to talk about networking with other direct sellers.
    Some people are hesitant to network with "competitors" but keep in mind that if you're working your business with integrity, and treating your customers and team like gold, there is no competition to worry about. Meeting and befriending (and no I don't just mean on Facebook) other direct sellers can lead to more customers, more ideas, and great friendships. You can help each other out and boost the image of the direct selling industry, which pays off for all of us.
   One way to get started on your networking is to do a party swap. This is an idea my friend Kathy brought to me and it has paid off big time! Find a businesswoman doing business in a company that's products are not at all related to yours and ask her if she is willing to do a party swap with you. When she says yes treat it like a normal booking on your calendar and you get to be a hostess for her also. You will meet her friends and customers and she will meet yours. The best part is that its fun and you can make some great friends in the process.
   So get a party going and get to know some of your colleagues! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Quick Holiday Sales Idea

          Hi everyone! I wanted to give you a quick holiday sales idea that has had some success with people in my company. It's kind of reiterating on a point I made in a previous post about wish lists but it's a really good idea. People in my unit are having their customers fill out a special wish list with their top 10 most wanted items in the catalog. Next the consultant contacts that person's husband and allows them to purchase whatever they want from that list; it could be just one item, or it could be the whole list! The consultant wraps the gifts and delivers them to the husband so that they can put it under the tree. The great thing about this is that while the customer may know that they're getting something from your company, she won't know what her husband picked from the list, so it's still a surprise! Pretty great huh? I'm calling it the Holiday's 10 Most Wanted List! Give it a try with your customers that love your product and say Hello to holiday sales!

For more information about wish lists see my post titled "The Power of the Wish List".

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

There's Still Time!

    After a lovely mini-break, I am back and ready to work. I hope everyone was able to accomplish their October goals and finish up October strong. November means the start of the busiest time of the year so make sure you're organized, and have your goals clearly set. My October did not go as I planned, but that is life (especially in the Army). So I'm dusting myself off and hitting the ground running this morning!
   I know that the holiday season can be an overwhelming time for you personally and professionally, but remember that it's not too late to make it an incredible holiday season for your business! Don't look at your numbers and think 'oh well, I'll start fresh at the New Year'. Start today! Don't miss out on all the opportunities that this season can bring to your business. Attend your company meetings (i.e. Unit Meetings, Sales Meetings, whatever they're called for you) and get some ideas on how to start right NOW. You can still pull this off, no matter what your goals are! Do you need an extra $1000 so your family can provide a great Christmas? Do you need extra money to go see family? Don't give up! There's still time for you to reach some big goals.
    The important thing is to make sure your goals are clear. What do you really want to accomplish this season? Your goal should be big enough to scare you but not out-of-this-world big! You want your goal to push you forward and not make you feel depleted, or discouraged. Today, I want you to think about what your goal will be to finish before the end of this year. Write it down! Make it big!

I would love it if you posted some of your goals here or on my new Facebook fan page!
Happy Goal Setting!