What Bowerbirds Can Teach You About Sales & Running Your Business
Nature is remarkable. Not every animal is equipped with the power, capability and sheer mass that it needs to triumph over any situation BUT many creatures can act as if they have all that they’re lacking - and this in turn allows them to get what they want.
The Bowerbird (male) for example, stages “scenes” made out of pebbles and sticks so they can appear bigger to potential mates. How can this be a lesson to you? Whether or not that lead will convert into a sale is weighted on how you present yourself to your customer. Depending on what your customers are looking for, i.e. excellent customer service, security and quick turn around time, then it could advantageous to appear bigger than you actually are. A bigger company will be perceived to have the resources to take care of all customer service issues. On top of that, an established company seems more professional, streamlined and efficient.
We're not denying that a small company has their own advantages. In fact, your situation could be that your customers are attracted to your service because it offers them a local, unique and boutique experience. The thing is, if you plan on scaling your business so you can compete with the "big dogs," it makes sense to appear "big" even when you're still starting up. Like the Bowerbird female, your customer may be shopping around and reviewing your competitors. If they're used to buying from a large company, you should consider offering them all the advantages of working with a formidable enterprise...even if you're really just a lemonade stand.
Here are key tips on how to "look big" while being small:
1. Set up a phone system with multiple extensions
This is the usual situation: you’re a sole proprietor and you’re working out of one phone line. Whatever the set up is, you really need to have more than one extension if customers are calling you about your business (Ex: press 1 for customer service, press 2 for billing, press 3 to leave a voicemail etc.). The good news is that you can set up a phone line with multiple extensions pretty cheaply with VoIP services like Grasshopper, Toktumi and you’ll be paying about $10-15 bucks a month. With Grasshopper you can even set up a toll free “1-800” custom number which we think is pretty cool and it gives the illusion that your customers are calling an established company.
2. Card It
When it comes to networking for your business, you really need to make stellar first impressions. It’s superficial but people WILL always judge your company on how you present yourself so pretty please don’t settle for those DIY business cards with the perforated edges. Spend a few extra bucks and get actual business cards printed out at a copier. If you want to make a lasting impression, opt for heavier card stock, matte finish over glossy and think of a conversation-inspiring look and tagline. Make sure you include your title; even if you’re the only one working in your company, having a title creates the illusion that you have many working on your team with different roles.
3. Jeez, get online already
About 13% of small businesses do not have a website or do not plan to have some type of web presence in the next 12 months. That’s...seriously unbelievable. 13% may seem small, but considering that the first thing that people do when they’re looking up information is to jump on the internet, it’s a missed marketing and sales opportunity for any business to go without an online presence. If you want to appear bigger than you actually are, then get a robust and comprehensive website. A website is a key marketing tool, it can go from bringing in more local customers to providing a way for your business to be scalable on a national scale.
4. Treat your first customers exceptionally well and get testimonials
Starting small is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, when your business is small you’ll have the time and capacity to forge relationships with your initial customers. This time provides you a unique opportunity; you’re coalescing a new brand and reputation so start out on the right foot! What does that mean? It means going the extra mile and rolling out the red carpet for your newbie clients. Call your customers when they have customer service questions; let them know that you’re willing to focus on their issues one on one. When your happy customers refer your business to others, reward your “fan base” with discounts and small perks. It’s been proven that people will depend on a peer’s opinion over the crafted guise of an advertisement so be sure to treat your initial customers well and they’ll be happy to recommend your service. Take advantage of being “small” now, it’s a great strategy to grow bigger.
5. Have a strong executive team who can wear many, many hats
Small companies have limited resources: less money, less people and less capacity. Don’t worry though, many startups run effectively with only a handful of people. A small and closely knit team can be just as effective as a large employee force. Recruit talent who are skilled at more than one thing, for example: if you’re just starting out, your “Marketing Manager” can also field customer service emails. The CEO can also wear the hat of “HR Head” and interns can be responsible for anything from daily admin tasks to minor web testing (when properly trained). We don’t recommend pushing vital assignments onto interns but we do sing the praises of a startup team that can multitask, work together, communicate often and appear “large” even when it’s just a few friends in a basement.