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Help Your Sales Team Succeed

codesign is a simple but powerful tool in it’s ability to input items (products and labor) and then start building groups and packages from those items with great detail. But, what if you already have a proposal software or packages that you’re happy with? Is there a way that can still help you streamline the sales process? The answer is absolutely. 

As a Tool for Sales

Although codesign affords you a deeper level of control, one way to use codesign is as a simple budgeting tool for clients. Let’s say your current strategy is for your salesman to meet with a customer, go over the options and needs, and then inform the customer that you’ll be back in touch with a proposal once your system designer has created it.

This means you’re doing three things wrong. One, you’re letting the customer walk away and possibly off to get another price. Two, you’re using your system designer’s time for doing spec work instead of actual design. And three, you’re creating another breaking point in the chain of communication between the client, the salesman, and the designer. This creates frustration for everyone. The client’s frustrated because the salesman has no power to give him what he needs. The salesman is frustrated because he’s waiting on the system designer. And, the designer is really frustrated because he already has 2 other salesmen waiting on him for proposals (to spend his time designing something that’ll probably never happen anyway).  

It would benefit you to have a way for your sales team to build an estimate without having to tie up the system designer for jobs that you may not get. And, it would benefit your salesman in his ability to get a budget price nailed down and an agreement before it’s turned over to the system designer. Here’s how that works in codesign…

Enter your packages into codesign

Have your system designer pre-engineer basic packages for each of the types of systems that you sell, broken down into home theater, audio, video, lighting, etc. Each of these basic systems has a name and a “sku”. Then, create upgrade options for each of the systems that can easily be added or deleted, depending on the client’s desires and budget. 

Ex: You create an item in codesign called “HomeTheater.Basic”, which includes your standard receiver, standard Blu-Ray, control system, affordable speakers, programming, etc, with a price of $9,999. Then you create items for each of the upgrades: something like “Upgrade.7.1+” for an upgrade in speaker quality. The price of these items is the “difference” each of these upgrades adds to the basic package. So adding “Upgrade.7.1+” to an estimate adds $1500 to the total budget for the client and tells the system designer that the basic affordable speakers should be switched out to whatever speakers you classified as the upgrade. 

Now, your salesman has the power to configure a system with a client in the way that they would add or subtract options on a vehicle. More importantly, you’re letting the client spend his own money and see instantly how his requests affect the budget. Once the budget estimate is agreed on by the client, the salesman can then set the status of the estimate to “approved” and decide if he/she wants to hand the client a contract to sign and/or collect a percentage for the project to start.

Using codesign for Everything

It wouldn’t be complete with the ability to do all of this inside of codesign itself, without the help of an expensive proposal software. Once you have your products and labor items in codesign (either individually or by csv import), you can begin building your item groups and pre-engineered packages right there in codesign. 

Establishing a group price

As items are added to a group, the price of those items gets summed. codesign allows you to either leave the price of the group as the summed total, or, a group price can be established.

Ex. The total price of a group (excluding sales tax) is $523.00. For marketing purposes, you may want to establish a simple price of $499.00 for the group. codesign will discount all items in the group to reach the desired price of $499.00.

Adding groups to groups

codesign allows unlimited nesting of groups. As you create packages (which are just larger groups), you may find that you would like to add a group to another group. codesign allows for multiple nesting of groups into other groups and retains the ability create a group price at each level.

Ex. A group above was built and the individual group price was established at $499.00 (instead of the $523.00 subtotal). This group will now be added to a new group. codesign will use the subtotal price of the existing group (instead of the discounted price). Doing this will ensure that if the final group is discounted, you are not adding multiple discounts to the initial group.

Either Way, It’s Up to You

Power users can use codesign from start to finish, entering items, then creating groups, then creating packages and upgrades. But, if you just want to get started making sales, codesign is the easiest and most affordable way to get your sales team going with little or no training. 

It’s web-based, so everyone is always working from the same database. There’s no software to install, upgrades to buy, or server costs. 

And, with a 3G iPad, WiFi hotspot, or 3G antenna for a laptop, you’re free to meet your clients anywhere. 

 

3 Things That Really Matter Now for Your Business to Grow

I think we all often find ourselves chasing a hundred different strategies, fifty different ideas, and maybe even more “opportunities”. The entrepreneur in us sometimes gets in the way of the things that really matter in creating a stable, scalable business. Here are 3 things that are really important right now to get right.

1. Simplicity in everything (from products to processes).

Why are internet sales killing you right now? It’s not necessarily because people enjoy buying online. It’s because e-commerce has removed so many of the barriers that hinder people from buying from you, how can you compete with that? 

You: “Here is our price for x product. I can order it for you. No, we don’t match prices.”

Online: Here’s our price, plus the prices of our top 5 competitors.

You: “We’ll get back to you in a few days with a proposal”.

Online: Configure it the way you want. Add it all to the shopping cart. Free shipping!

You: “We carry x manufacturer because it’s the best.”

Online: Here are 5 brands in your price range. Compare their specs. Buy Now.

The point here is that the process of buying a product online is so convenient and simple, that there’s no possible way you can compete with it. And that’s okay. We’re all the same. We humans are almost always going to follow the path of least resistance. Complain about internet sales and prices all you want, but the first place you go to book a vacation now is online…not across town to the travel agent who takes 3 hours of your time trying to upsell you every option. So, what you should be doing is studying the processes of how your customers buy other similar items, and do everything you can to mimic that experience.

That’s one of the main reasons I created “pre-engineered” systems. It was the only way I knew that I could replicate the experience of buying something in the same price category. $15,000 for the Civic, $25,000 for the Accord, $45,000 for the Lexus. Now they get it. Want to go from cloth to leather? Add an upgrade for a fixed price. Will you customize it for them? Absolutely. After they picked the package and pay the deposit (because now they’re a client). 

If you ever need help with this, look at Apple. The success of Apple has been as much about the simple buying experience as it has been the product itself. Limited selection and limited choices give less friction in the sales funnel. Would Apple have the same success with killer products but a site that boasts “we have 40 options to choose from”? Probably not. People would get stuck on option #2. 

2. Personal identity (replacing brand identity).

For the last 10 years I’ve been trying to establish my business as a local/regional brand. With a fancy name, logo, marketing materials, and matching colors. All those things can be important. Especially if you trying to reach millions of customers. Mine is:

Enhanced Living Systems - Enhancing the way you work, live, and play.

You know how I actually get almost 100% of my business? Someone says, “call Ryan, here’s his cell number”. I would give anything to have the hours back that I spent trying to create all that stuff.

Oddly enough it seems that builders, interior decorators, and designers may have known something we didn’t. Most of them use their own name as the business. Open any copy of the CEDIA awards showcase and look at the contributors to each project. I’ll be willing to bet that most of the builders and designers have their name in the business, yet we AV companies have something fancy. And I think we can all agree that we WISH we had the power that decorators have to spend their client’s money. 

The web and social media have taken this and strapped it to a rocket. It doesn’t matter if you’re a large company of 20 or a small company of 2, someone (if not everyone) in your business needs to be utilizing their social networks to give your company a personality, not just a brand. Even the largest companies today have a person that stands as the real identity of the company. I think we can all agree we just recently lost the greatest personal identity of our time in Steve Jobs. 

3. Focus.

This is something I’ve really struggled with. The ability to focus on a few things, and not do everything, sometimes goes against every natural bone in my body. And, some may argue that considering every option to bring in revenue is a good thing. With all the articles and webinars on “How to sell …” or “Making money with…” we start believing that if we add other disciplines to our business, then that much more money will come in. I disagree.

Let’s use a simple example from a website that sells a single product. 

Let’s say you consistently have 1000 visitors a month to a site that sells a single product for $40, and you’re conversion rate is 1%. That means every month you’ll sell a quantity of 10 and your revenue is $400. Now, how do you double your income? 

There are really only 3 ways in this scenario to double your income. One, double the number of visitors (or leads). Two, double the price of the product (sometimes a good idea). Or, three, double your conversions. Think about that in your head for a minute.

I think your natural inclination (and the webinar you just watched) is to think, if I only had two products to sell instead of one. Or maybe even, if we only had more leads. But the truth is that the easiest way to double your income is to simply increase your conversion rate. Going from 1% to 2% conversion of 1000 visitors will perform the same as getting 2000 visitors and not improving your conversion rate above 1%. And you have to know that doubling your 1000 existing visitors is way harder than going from 1% to 2% on conversions. 

Not to beat a dead horse here, but also adding a second product means that you’re doubling the products to manage, doubling the promotion, doubling the support, and doubling the knowledge required. And if your conversion rate is still 1%, you’ve actually gone backwards. You’ve doubled your overhead, but your revenue is still the same. It adds way more risk.

Now if you take that simple example and apply it to the scenario of a service-based business, you can easily see how doing everything for anybody will get you in trouble fast - and it definitely doesn’t increase your income (at least worth the risk).

So, before you consider taking on any new idea or “opportunity”, always focus every ounce of energy you have into converting more sales of your existing products first.

And, I guess the big question is “how do you increase your conversion rates?”

Well, you might consider codesignapp.com as a tool that helps you get an estimate in the client’s hand as soon as possible. You could go to businessofav.com and listen to other dealers tell their stories about what they’ve done to increase sales. 

Regardless, you should at least go back and start working on numbers 1 and 2.

 

3 Things That Really Matter Now for Your Business to Grow

I think we all often find ourselves chasing a hundred different strategies, fifty different ideas, and maybe even more “opportunities”. The entrepreneur in us sometimes gets in the way of the things that really matter in creating a stable, scalable business. Here are 3 things that are really important right now to get right.

1. Simplicity in everything (from products to processes).

Why are internet sales killing you right now? It’s not necessarily because people enjoy buying online. It’s because e-commerce has removed so many of the barriers that hinder people from buying from you, how can you compete with that? 

You: “Here is our price for x product. I can order it for you. No, we don’t match prices.”

Online: Here’s our price, plus the prices of our top 5 competitors.

You: “We’ll get back to you in a few days with a proposal”.

Online: Configure it the way you want. Add it all to the shopping cart. Free shipping!

You: “We carry x manufacturer because it’s the best.”

Online: Here are 5 brands in your price range. Compare their specs. Buy Now.

The point here is that the process of buying a product online is so convenient and simple, that there’s no possible way you can compete with it. And that’s okay. We’re all the same. We humans are almost always going to follow the path of least resistance. Complain about internet sales and prices all you want, but the first place you go to book a vacation now is online…not across town to the travel agent who takes 3 hours of your time trying to upsell you every option. So, what you should be doing is studying the processes of how your customers buy other similar items, and do everything you can to mimic that experience.

That’s one of the main reasons I created “pre-engineered” systems. It was the only way I knew that I could replicate the experience of buying something in the same price category. $15,000 for the Civic, $25,000 for the Accord, $45,000 for the Lexus. Now they get it. Want to go from cloth to leather? Add an upgrade for a fixed price. Will you customize it for them? Absolutely. After they picked the package and pay the deposit (because now they’re a client). 

If you ever need help with this, look at Apple. The success of Apple has been as much about the simple buying experience as it has been the product itself. Limited selection and limited choices give less friction in the sales funnel. Would Apple have the same success with killer products but a site that boasts “we have 40 options to choose from”? Probably not. People would get stuck on option #2. 

2. Personal identity (replacing brand identity).

For the last 10 years I’ve been trying to establish my business as a local/regional brand. With a fancy name, logo, marketing materials, and matching colors. All those things can be important. Especially if you trying to reach millions of customers. Mine is:

Enhanced Living Systems - Enhancing the way you work, live, and play.

You know how I actually get almost 100% of my business? Someone says, “call Ryan, here’s his cell number”. I would give anything to have the hours back that I spent trying to create all that stuff.

Oddly enough it seems that builders, interior decorators, and designers may have known something we didn’t. Most of them use their own name as the business. Open any copy of the CEDIA awards showcase and look at the contributors to each project. I’ll be willing to bet that most of the builders and designers have their name in the business, yet we AV companies have something fancy. And I think we can all agree that we WISH we had the power that decorators have to spend their client’s money. 

The web and social media have taken this and strapped it to a rocket. It doesn’t matter if you’re a large company of 20 or a small company of 2, someone (if not everyone) in your business needs to be utilizing their social networks to give your company a personality, not just a brand. Even the largest companies today have a person that stands as the real identity of the company. I think we can all agree we just recently lost the greatest personal identity of our time in Steve Jobs. 

3. Focus.

This is something I’ve really struggled with. The ability to focus on a few things, and not do everything, sometimes goes against every natural bone in my body. And, some may argue that considering every option to bring in revenue is a good thing. With all the articles and webinars on “How to sell …” or “Making money with…” we start believing that if we add other disciplines to our business, then that much more money will come in. I disagree.

Let’s use a simple example from a website that sells a single product. 

Let’s say you consistently have 1000 visitors a month to a site that sells a single product for $40, and you’re conversion rate is 1%. That means every month you’ll sell a quantity of 10 and your revenue is $400. Now, how do you double your income? 

There are really only 3 ways in this scenario to double your income. One, double the number of visitors (or leads). Two, double the price of the product (sometimes a good idea). Or, three, double your conversions. Think about that in your head for a minute.

I think your natural inclination (and the webinar you just watched) is to think, if I only had two products to sell instead of one. Or maybe even, if we only had more leads. But the truth is that the easiest way to double your income is to simply increase your conversion rate. Going from 1% to 2% conversion of 1000 visitors will perform the same as getting 2000 visitors and not improving your conversion rate above 1%. And you have to know that doubling your 1000 existing visitors is way harder than going from 1% to 2% on conversions. 

Not to beat a dead horse here, but also adding a second product means that you’re doubling the products to manage, doubling the promotion, doubling the support, and doubling the knowledge required. And if your conversion rate is still 1%, you’ve actually gone backwards. You’ve doubled your overhead, but your revenue is still the same. It adds way more risk.

Now if you take that simple example and apply it to the scenario of a service-based business, you can easily see how doing everything for anybody will get you in trouble fast - and it definitely doesn’t increase your income (at least worth the risk).

So, before you consider taking on any new idea or “opportunity”, always focus every ounce of energy you have into converting more sales of your existing products first.

And, I guess the big question is “how do you increase your conversion rates?”

Well, you might consider codesignapp.com as a tool that helps you get an estimate in the client’s hand as soon as possible. You could go to businessofav.com and listen to other dealers tell their stories about what they’ve done to increase sales. 

Regardless, you should at least go back and start working on numbers 1 and 2.

Why discovering codesign today is better than yesterday.

This past Sunday at approximately 4pm, I pushed the save button that rolled over the dns info and made codesignapp.com live to all. It’s actually been live at another domain for about 2 weeks as a few early invitees have been giving it a run. 

The consensus has been great so far and I’m really excited to finally say we’ve launched, even though it was a little under the radar (without the fireworks and release party).   

I once heard about Google’s release strategy in the earlier days and why they released many of their products without any marketing fanfare. The summation was that they knew their products would continually get better with age and use. So, if someone discovered a product tomorrow it would be that much better than it is today, which is better than yesterday. Here’s the actual quote:

“We knew that Google was going to get better every single day as we worked on it. So our feeling was that the later you tried it, the better it was for us because we’d make a better impression with better technology. So we are never in a big hurry to get you to use it today. Tomorrow would be better.”

Sergey Brin, co founder of Google.

Seems like their strategy has paid off for them.

The wonderful thing about building software is that it can be a continual process of meeting the needs of it’s users, getting better with every user that gives feedback, shares a need, and spreads the word to another user.

So, if you discovered codesign today, expect that it’s that much better today than it was yesterday. As an added bonus, if you sign up today, you’ll get a better product tomorrow at no extra charge. 

Managing people’s expectations

Don’t expect people to:

wait around

understand (your words and/or your reasons)

figure it out

already know

believe you

want the same things you do

buy for the same reasons you do

Do expect people to: 

follow patterns

take the path of least resistance

be emotional

be influenced by passion

have pre-conceived notions

develop trust

buy when you least expect it

People behave generally the same way you do about decisions. The trick is to view your customer’s interactions with you and your business processes with the same outlook, frustrations, likes, and view that you have toward other interactions.