sales

track yo’ time

I’ve been in business for almost 11 years now. A lot of smarter people than me have always said, “you’re a consultant, track your time”.

Why?

So you can charge accordingly. Every business owner grapples with the age-old question, “How much should I charge?”. Hopefully, you have carefully mapped out how much time you spend on your services and/or packages that you sell to your clients. But if you don’t track your time, how will you really know?

Confession: I hate tracking time. I find it to be a burden. A long time ago, the best way was to log your time on a (ack) piece of paper or in an excel spreadsheet.

Screw that. So I rarely (almost never) did it. I estimated.

I’ve tried a few apps and have never stuck with them. Some were so complicated that it took more time to initiate the tracking. Until now.

I present to you: Toggl

If I would cheat on Apple and Google, it would be an online affair with Toggl, a super simple way to track your time! Here are the highlights:

  • It’s free (one of my favorite four-letter words). However, if you have a big team, there is a very inexpensive pro version.
  • It’s on my iPhone and Computer.
  • You can list all your clients and then sub categories after that. So for instance, our team does it like this:
    • Client Name
      • Account Management
      • Event Day
      • Budget
      • Planning Meeting
      • Vendor Management
  • You can add tags. So if I click to track Account Management as a project, then I can add specific tags to that project so I can later run reports.
  • If you charge by the hour and want to invoice your clients, you can do that with Toggl.
  • If you forget to turn off the timer, it will send you an email the next morning to remind you. Holla!
  • You can easily add time “after” the fact. And you know this will happen. Like, all the time.
  • The interface is pleasant with nice font. That makes me happy and want to come back.
  • If you have a question, a real human will get back with you, pronto!
  • It integrates with Chrome and Basecamp, and will REMIND you to time track.
  • If you tweet about them, they will send you awesome gifts, or maybe it was just me.

saundrahadley (1)

saundrahadley (2)

It’s been an eye opening experience to see how much time it really takes per event. Recently we landed a corporate gig and realized (after the fact) that we internally spent too much time in one area. Next time when a similar client/event presents itself, I will be outsourcing instead of wasting our team’s time. Clients will still get the same level of service and we won’t be spinning our wheels.

Transparency: I am no endorsing this product because of their bitchin’ bag/gifts, but because I really do think it’s the bomb. Try it out and please, let me know how you like it.

happy selling!

my latest sales experience…

I have a sales experience to share with you. No, I was not the person selling. I was the customer/client. Sometimes it’s in these situations I learn the best sales tidbits. I watch/listen/and take mental notes. This was an experience on how to position the cost of service to a client.

background to the story:

We have a family rate plan with AT&T for our mobile phones. Recently the plans changed to make it way more affordable to add iPhones for my husband and son, so we did. I also have my Mom’s cell phone on our family plan. She has a flip phone and uses it about 5 minutes a month. It’s strictly for emergencies.

With our new plan, it became a no brainer for us and our smart phones. However, because my Mom’s phone is NOT a smart phone, she is getting penalized. Her monthly phone bill is $30/mo as opposed to the $10/mo it was before. It’s kinda ridiculous considering how she uses her phone. And we’re stuck in a 10 month contract with her.

at the at&t store:

So today I happened to be in their store getting my new iPhone activated (my old one dived into a clean toilet at 7:30pm during a wedding reception on Saturday). I asked the customer service rep what we could do about these additional charges for my Mom. I want some options. How many of our clients ask us the same thing?

To speed this story up, the first thing she did was to not give me any options to remove the phone, but instead to make sure that I understood what a good deal I was getting for the collective four phones. She whipped out her calculator to review what the old existing plan would of cost and compared it to what we are now paying. I should be thrilled that ACTUALLY, we are paying $20 less per month on this new plan for all four phones.

I smiled. Someone’s trained her well.

You see she “marketed” to me what my monthly investment is and how I am, at this very moment, saving money. Of course, I’m thinking I’m still out an additional $20/mo ($240 a year) for my Mom’s un-smart phone, a rate that should not have increased.

How do you respond to your clients when they begin to pick apart your cost in each little category. Do you reply by focusing on the larger picture to show them the benefits that they are receiving and the value of everything they are investing with you?

When you start to focus on too much on the cost of the minutia (the price of each stem of flower or extra page in your wedding album) you lose vision of the overall investment. Besides, if someone wants to go ala carte, then it’s ALWAYS more expensive than a package deal.

how did it end?

My options were: I leave it the way it is. I can donate $98 to the AT&T church to get out of my Mom’s contract. Switch to a AT&T GoPhone Prepaid Cell phone service. Or leave them entirely and go with another carrier.

I left. I had my new phone to sync.

ps. I miss you guys.

happy selling!

#sales411 tweets coming up!

Starting on Monday, August 20th and for the next 5 weeks (yeah baby, I’m back) I’ll be posting a #sales411 tweet every week day at 7:30am CST. 

What the heck is that?

Well first, you need to be on twitter. Where have you been?

Follow me: @saundrahadley Then enjoy the tweets. If you aren’t on twitter (gasp), then you can look on the side bar and see the tweets. Or you can search twitter through your web application for the hashtag: #sales411

Little tid-bits of sales advice and encouragement. Once a week day. Please feel to Retweet them or save them. Be sure to respond if you agree or disagree or have an additional comment to add.

We all learn from each other.

happy selling!

what’s on your sales playlist?

I talk about this all the time at my live events. Music is something that is super powerful. It can be make you sad. It can make you dance. It can make you feel like your ten feet tall.

So I have a bad ass playlist that I play “on the way’ to a sales consult. I love all genres of music, from mild gangsta rap to country, so my entire sales playlist reflects my tastes. People ask me all the time what I play. Sometimes it’s just songs that make me smile. Some songs make me bang on the steering wheel and throw my other hand in the air. Whatever. I just want the swagger when I walk into the consult.

Here’s a glimpse of my playlist:

 

Don’t be hatin on any songs that may offend you. I didn’t name them, nor are they g-rated. That’s how it goes sometimes and I keep it real.

What’s on your playlist?

happy selling!

update: I had a really good friend that tell me that one of the songs that was listed here was kinda sad/offensive. I think it was the ugly word right THERE on the screen. I didn’t mean any offense to ANYONE and made an adjustment to the photo. However, I still love that song and won’t apologize for that.

stop stealing wedding vendor’s shit

Oh, do I have your attention? Yes, I believe I do.

We all know it happens. The wedding vendor community is uber small. Put your index finger and your thumb and squeeze them together and try to peek through, it’s THAT small. We look out for each other. We monitor other vendors. And we tattle.

I’m not talking about looking at other vendor’s stuff to get inspiration. We all do this, even if you won’t admit to it. This is normal.

From my event planning website, I have had a blog post completely stolen from my website.  Every single word, comma, and period was copy and pasted on a reputable online newspaper website (across the country), with the thief’s name as the “author”. A planner brought it to my attention and the person that stole my post, was fired. Ridiculous to think that the WWW was so small that it would not be found.

Blatantly taking another vendor’s proprietary and creative product and calling it your own work is so very, very wrong. This INCLUDES (and not limited to): sales collateral, videos, images, business concepts, company name, logo’s and anything else that you can think of lifting from them. It’s not cool. It’s not reputable. It’s slim shady and it’s wrong. It’s lying to your prospective clients who think they are looking at work you have produced.

In the recent months I have witnessed, first or second hand:

Business Concepts: Vendor A tells Vendor B a great business idea about adding to their current repertoire of services. A few months go by and Vendor B starts to promote the very same, unique idea. When Vendor A casually inquires to Vendor B about this unique idea, Vendor B responds that they had this idea in the works for sometime. Really? Then why wasn’t this disclosed during the initial conversation?

Business Names: I have a personal friend who had to go through this disaster. She built a brand that was absolutely unique. When I say unique, I mean, straight up developed a “word” for her company name that was created and cannot be found in the dictionary. She spent countless hours and expense branding her incredibly unique business name, only to have it stolen from someone across the country. She has re-branded again, only to find that yet another, uncreative business person (who is technically out of the country, but still in the North America continent) take the EXACT SAME name and creative logo. Seriously?

Images/Video: This is probably the MOST frequently stolen items from other vendors. New photographer “lifts” (a gentle term for straight out, gangsta stealin’) photos from another photograher’s website and plops it on their site as if they are images that they have shot. The thieves THINK they are being smart by taking images from a photographer that is out of the country. Like that makes ANY difference? My favorite part of this scenario is when confronted, the website designer always gets blamed. Riiiiiiight.

Sales Pitches/Collateral: A vendor shops another vendor in their own category pretending to be a bride. They listen to the vendor’s sales pitch, greedily take their proposals/agreements and then copy/paste with their own company name/logo. You would initially think that this would be only new vendors, alas, you would be wrong.

What’s a new vendor to do?

For one, find your own voice and style. It’s hard, it’s taken me YEARS to find mine and the courage to be able to be bold and stand on my own (see this blog post’s title for validation of this fact). If you do not have a portfolio, then do some pro bono work to build one. It’s that easy. Well, really, meticulously downloading and cropping out other vendor’s property to plop on your website is “easier”, but won’t get you far… you’ll be found out.

Believe in yourself and sell YOU!  

This blog post is getting long, so I will wrap it up. Quit the shenanigans. Some vendors won’t play around when it comes to stealing. They have support and funds to sue you. It’s not worth it.

happy selling!

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