As small business owners, we don’t always have the budget to do all the things we love. We made the decision early in our relationship that we would live within our means. For us that means we run our life and our business, Vision Quest Virtual Tours, on a cash only basis - no credit cards or loans. We reinvest most of our profit back into our business so how is it that we have stayed in villas and luxurious bed and breakfasts and mountain top cabins and flown in acrobatic bi-planes and eaten in fine restaurants and gotten massages?
It’s called bartering and IT ROCKS!!!
I remember when I got my first big screen high definition television. It was right before the Master's golf tournament and I understood the hype about that particular golf course for the first time. I watched the Master's every year with a golfer who had played Augusta National many times and had told me about how difficult the course was. Watching the tournament on a normal TV, I couldn't understand what the big deal was but when I watched it in high definition, I could suddenly see all the undulations and variations in the greens and even though I don't golf, I got it! Earlier that year, I had watched the Super Bowl in high definition and was amazed that you could see the swear dripping from the faces of the players.
A similar change has recently come about with our virtual tour business. We began shooting our images using High Dynamic Range photography and the difference is unbelievable!
In 1983, researchers James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente presented the Stages of Change Model (or Transtheoretical Model of Change) which examined the decision making process that individuals go through when they quit smoking. Their Stages of Change Model, SCM, has become widely accepted as a tool for understanding how people move through the decision making process associated with weight loss, addiction, or other physical and mental health issues. Virtual Tours can be invaluable tools as someone moves through the Stages of Change towards choosing a behavioral health program.
There’s a saying that you can have the biggest house on the block by building yours higher or by tearing everyone else’s down. The same can be said for businesses. Very few companies have the luxury of a monopoly on their field so at some point you have to figure out how to deal with your competition.
When we started our North Georgia virtual tour business, I did extensive research on our market and found that there was one major competitor who we would be sharing our regional market with. They had great market saturation with the Realtors and offered a quality product at a good value. Our product and photography can go head to head with anyone anywhere but I saw no reason to go head to head. We chose a different niche and focused our efforts more on marketing to businesses than Realtors and have enjoyed great success.
Last night I gave a presentation on sales to over 100 RTV virtual tour providers. After telling our success story, I was so pumped up that I couldn’t sleep. HOWEVER, this morning, sleeping was all I wanted to do. I really, really, really didn’t want to get up and make calls but today was a phone day for me so I got up anyway. I was reminded of a quote by Robert Ringer...”Success is a matter of understanding and religiously practicing specific, simple habits that always lead to success.”
I shared last night about how we are living our dream life. Vision Quest Virtual Tours allows us to travel all over the country photographing healthcare virtual tours. We love what we do and are successful in our business because we understand those specific, simple habits that always lead to success. But today, I didn’t feeeeeeeeel like getting on the phones.
Tomorrow night I am giving a presentation to other virtual tour providers entitled “The Elegant Art of Sales”. I have logged hundreds of hours training literally thousands of salespeople all over the country. I am well qualified to speak on the art of sales but I did not choose the title of the presentation. Had I chosen the title, the presentation would have been called, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”
I learned sales from someone who was a Master in the art. In fact, he was so good at selling that I never could tell when it was that he actually made the sale. I learned more from him about life and business than I have from anyone in my life but he made it look so easy that I really thought that I could never do what he did. It wasn’t until I went on several training appointments with the WORST salesperson in the world that I was able to understand the components of the sale. By seeing WHAT NOT TO DO, I was better able to understand the process of making sales in any business.
The key question I have to ask myself every day is simple...Is what I am doing the best use of my time right now? Notice the question was not, is this important but is this the best use of this particular moment in time. In sales, not every moment in time has the same value.
Our virtual tour business is aimed at providing high quality 360º virtual tours for businesses. Business owners have a strange tendency to be available during business hours so that means that my sweet spot for catching a decision maker is somewhere between 10:00 and 3:00. I may get a few people earlier but chances they are doing their morning running around just like me. I may get some people after 3:00 but I have found that late afternoons generally find people running around to finish before the end of the day. With a finite set of prime hours, I have to make sure that I am doing the activities during those hours that will yield the greatest results/income.
Our website www.VisionQuestVirtualTours.com has just hit 1,000 visitors for the past 30 days! When we began our North Georgia virtual tour business and launched our website, we were excited if we got 30 hits for the entire month but currently we are averaging between 30 and 50 visitors every day.
We have an iPhone app called Quicklytics that allows us instant updates of how many people have been on our website in a given day, week, month or custom period. We watch our hit stats the way a stockbroker watches a market ticker. The reason we track this information so intently is because we have found that there is a direct correlation to the growth of our business.
In the classic book, Think and Grow Rich, Napolean Hill says , “When riches begin to come they come so quickly and with such great abundance that one wonders where they have been hiding during all those lean years.” Most successful businesses can look back and see when the business finally took off but rarely can they point to one specific event or decision that caused the spike. While we wouldn’t say our riches have arrived quite yet, our business has experienced exponential growth.
We remodeled a house last year and learned a valuable lesson. Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. For example, we painted our house, inside and out and in doing so, we realized that there are some things that are better left to a professional. Sure, we got the job done and it looked fine if you didn’t look too close but the time and effort it took to “save money” really wasn’t worth the end result.
One of the objections I sometimes hear from prospective customers is that they aren’t interested in paying Vision Quest to create their virtual tours because they can do it themselves. Just as we can paint our own homes and change our own oil and cut our own hair, it’s absolutely true that you CAN do it yourself. The question is...should you?
Many people who begin a career in sales get to the point where they dread hearing the word NO. In fact, many new salespeople get so discouraged from being told NO that they quit trying and ultimately fail. If you hear a hundred NO's without hearing a YES, you may be tempted to give up. The metric used to measure success in sales is the "closing ratio". In the most basic form, a closing ratio is how many people you have to talk to in order to make one sale. But in actuality, a closing ratio is better measured as how many prospective customers ultimately tell you YES in comparison to how many ultimately tell you NO.
The key to success in sales is figuring out what to do after you hear the word NO. Even the best salesperson hears NO a great deal of the time. But the fact is that 90% of YES's come after a prospective customer has said NO.