How to use LinkedIn to generate Sales Leads

How to use LinkedIn to generate Sales Leads

In the last 3-4 months I’ve generated more than 50k’s worth of direct business from my personal LinkedIn account. I spend around 2-3 hours a week on the website and I have a set process for how to get the most from it. At Optix, we spend a fair bit of time training our clients on the effective use of this tool. I recently headed to London to help a 12 man sales team optimise their usage of it so I thought I’d share a few of the key points from that session with you today.

The Basics
For those that don’t know, LinkedIn is a social media platform which started back in 2003. Boasting 300+ million members worldwide (of which 60+ million are in Europe), there are 15+ million users in the UK and roughly 187 monthly unique visits.

Getting Set Up
The more time and effort you put into your profile, the better the results, and if you want to generate the best return then you have to actively engage. If you treat it as a giant Rolodex of contacts then nothing is going to happen.

Populate your profile with relevant information but don’t just create a CV about yourself – no one wants to read that. Tell me how you can solve my problems. Connect with people that you know and observe how they interact with others. You definitely need a profile picture, so choose one where you look suitably professional.

Etiquette
Recognise that connections are currency but you need strong ones. You absolutely cannot try the hard sell on LinkedIn; use it simply as a tool for establishing and nurturing genuine business relationships. LinkedIn is not a place to pick up friends (like Facebook or Twitter); it’s your boardroom of connections. Be interested in others, rather than bombarding them with information about you. When you add connections it’s a good idea to send them a polite message reminding them where you’ve met rather than leaving that terrible message that the site writes for you.

Maintenance
Maintaining your profile is an important job and must be prioritised if you want to generate sales. It’s the first thing that people are going to look at when you’ve reached out to them. Put together a daily/weekly/monthly plan and diarise this so it doesn’t get forgotten. LinkedIn is a long-term investment; you are building your personal brand and you’ll carry this with you for life – so make it count.

Results
There are lots of short-term wins (a favourite of mine is to message people who’ve taken the time to look at my profile) and longer term wins (such as establishing yourself as an authority in your field by authoring posts). The key to it all is proactivity. Are you asking for introductions to key prospects? Have you set-up saved searches to send you weekly emails of targets? What’s your process when you get that email saying one of your connections has moved jobs?

The groups section offers you the chance to position yourself as a thought leader but consider hanging out where your prospects are, not just in that industry group you joined in those first few months on the site (don’t worry we all did it ;).

LinkedIn can’t create sales itself but it can help you create opportunities for conversations and that’s all good sales people need. Once you have those opportunities its up to you to convert. Once you’ve been active for a while (this probably took years for me rather than months) you’ll find that you start getting referrals from current customers who point their connections at your profile.

While I’ve covered a few of the main points here, there is far more to be said about this website so read up about it, make it part of your prospecting activity and be consistent.

So where did my 50k come from? Two well crafted status updates and sending a contact that had moved a quick message of congratulations. Ten years ago none of this existed, it was hard graft, knocking on doors and cold calling. Any savvy sales person should now be thanking the stars for tools like this.

I don’t write these posts to sell but if you are interested in us hosting a training session for your organisation then drop me a line and I’ll send you some details.

Good luck and let me know the minute you make that first sale.

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Got any LinkedIn sales tips you want to share? Pop them in the comments below.

Photo courtesy of: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sheilascarborough/

How to be a great salesman – A few tips I’ve learnt along the way

How to be a great salesman – A few tips I’ve learnt along the way

Sales can be a dirty word to a lot of people. For me, it’s the life blood of any company, after all without sales, you have no work and without work you have no money. SO I’m sorry folks, if you were thinking of starting your own business and thought you could side step this one, you’re going to need to be incredibly lucky or have invented the next big widget that everyone wants!

I’ve been selling for 13 years. I started when I was just 19, in Exeter (UK) in a world that was dominated predominately by guys that were 40+ and had been in business as long as I’d been on this earth! A scary place and one that I made lots of mistakes in. Here are a few tips I’ve learnt along the way.

1). Qualify, qualify, qualify

When you get to that wonderful point where people start making enquiries, you need to qualify whether they are a fit for your business. The gut reaction is always to take anything that comes your way (especially when you start out). The truth is this leads to lots of unnecessary running around for nothing, dealing with people who don’t respect you and bad business. It may well be that you need to pay the bills but my honest feeling is that if I had my time again, I’d have spent a significant amount of time working out who to target and going for them rather than the scatter gun approach I used back in the early days. Does your sales process include a qualifying step?

2). Make friends

It’s a cliché to say that people buy from people. That said, it’s completely true. If you can’t bond with a prospect within 10 mins of meeting you’re going to struggle. No one wants the sleezy sales person with all the answers (did we ever want that?). We want someone human that understands our needs, our problems and then demonstrates knowledge and the skills to help us with both. Quick tip: When you first go into someone’s office, take a look around the walls for things you might share in common; pictures showing a certain sports persuasion, certain types of books, posters or pictures. Don’t go overboard or change the lifelong football team you’ve supported to that of theirs – it may just be that when the time is right you can bring something less sales related into the conversation and take the pressure off the meeting.

3). Talk openly about money

How many times have I sat there talking to someone I thought needed a website and in my head I know this project is 10k but after two meetings and a proposal I’ve found out they only have a budget of 2k? Too many to embarrassingly mention! How about using a line like this to get you started (yes in your first conversation). “So John, I just want to make sure we’re on the same page here. Our ecommerce sites start at around the 10k mark. There are cheaper alternative options which certainly have their place in the market. Before we meet to discuss all the exciting functionality, how does that sit with you as I know neither of us would want to waste the time of the other?”. You need to work on delivering this in a nurturing way but it can be done and it will save you days and days of wasted time.

4). Build relationships

There are lots of quotes about how much easier it is to sell to current clients than it is to secure new business. Some say 5x, some say 7. Whatever the true number is, you need to work out a strategy for building your client base and selling within it. I tell you one great way of keeping clients loyal – look after them. Amazing isn’t it! Don’t look for the quick buck, keep an eye on their needs using social media sites, be there to help them when they need it. Try and hook them up with your other clients, try and find them sales without the expectation of getting something back in return. Don’t allow yourself to get so blinkered that all you do is look for that next new sale or you’ll make really hard work for yourself.

5). Connect

In this day and age, my clients and prospects can connect with me in many different ways and where possible I always do my very best to respond quickly. They can get me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Email, Google+, my mobile and a number of other places if they want. I don’t turn off at 5:30pm (maybe a bad thing in some people’s books). I’m available because I want the edge and if that edge is helping someone after hours because I can then I’m there.

6). Become a student

…of your industry. Sales these days is about positioning yourself and becoming a trusted advisor for your clients. If you’re the goto guy for something (a product/service etc) because you know the most about it and how it can be used to solve your client’s challenges then you’re going to make sales. If you simply turn upto work, make a few cold calls and go home at 5:30 then good luck to you, I’ve got a felling you’ll be looking for work elsewhere soon.

I’m interested, do you consider sales a dirty word? What are your experiences of selling and can you add any more tips to this list which will help the people reading this?

 

Photo Credit: Lacey_and_Cielle via Compfight cc

A case for failing

A case for failing

Today I have a guest post from a guy that I consider a close confidant to my business and me personally. I’ve worked with Andy for over two years now in the areas of sales and management. He’s delievered huge value to my business as a coach and trainer. Andy is, in my view, the sales and management guru in the South West. In this great post he talks about a particular favourite topic of mine, failing! Take it away Andy.

When was the last time you failed, didn’t complete an important project on schedule, fell short of achieving a meaningful goal or simply didn’t accomplish what you set out to do?

If you haven’t failed lately, that’s unfortunate.  Because accompanying every failing experience is an opportunity to learn and to grow.  People who never fail are, for the most part, people who never take chances.  They typically don’t set goals, or if they do, they are ones which are easily achieved or within their capabilities. Those people rarely suffer major disappointments but at the same time, they rarely accomplish anything great.

Life is richer and work more fulfilling when you set goals that take you out of your comfort zone – when you have something challenging to aim for each day.

But you can’t set goals, especially stretching goals unless you’re willing to risk failure.

Why?

Because you won’t succeed at everything you set out to accomplish, even after several attempts.  But don’t let that scare you – a valuable lesson will have been learnt.

If you’ve been afraid to take risks, afraid to fail….STOP.  Think about what you’d like to accomplish in life, what you’d like to be known for, where you’d like to go and the relationships you’d like to have.  Take time to let the idea of moving your life to another level sink in.

Identify the steps or tasks necessary to accomplish each of your goals.  This gives you a sense of control over the outcomes and allows you to work steadily towards success.

Challenging goals can make the difference between a mundane life and an exhilarating one…but only if you’re willing to risk failing.  Are you?

You can find out more about Andy here.

Photo by fireflythegreat

 

Luck or Hard Work?

Luck or Hard Work?

A few days ago I was talking to a potential supplier for my wedding next year. Somehow conversation turned to their website and we got chatting about their overall, online presence. Conversation then turned to the challenges  they have (needing more traffic, spending too much on adwords, no way of emailing their database easily) I offered up a bit of free advice and naturally this lead on to what I did for a living (they didn’t know until this point). It transpired that they’d been wondering what to do about their site for some time now, so applying the ‘don’t ask, don’t get principal’ I asked if we could perhaps quote for their digital work. They said they’d be delighted for us to do so.

My partner and I have a bit of a running joke that I somehow manage to turn normal conversations with people in my personal life into work related ones, which in turn, often end up with opportunities for my business. She turned to me on this occasion as we got back into the car, and said ‘you really are so lucky‘.

Now I have a strong belief that this isn’t luck. Why? I believe that as a business owner/entrepreneur/salesperson/whatever you want to call yourself, you constantly have to have your antenna up, open to opportunities. If you’re doing this regularly enough then its merely a matter of time before one of these opportunities comes off. Some might even call it a game of numbers!

So the old adage, ‘you make your own luck’ is, in my opinion, a very true one.

New to business? In Sales? Consistently put yourself in situations where opportunities arise and when they do, grasp them with all you’ve got. I can promise you it works, I practice what I preach :)

Now Your Thoughts

  • Got any stories which felt a little bit like fate/right place-right time?

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The No 1. Trait I want from my staff

Someone asked me today, “Alastair, what’s the number one trait you expect or want from your staff”. Hmm interesting – this made me think very hard. Some of the obvious ones sprang to mind immediately:

  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Skilled
  • Motivated
  • Hard Working

They all came close.

Do you know what I ended up answering and on reflection still consider up there at the top? (enough to write a post about it! at least!)

Someone who ‘Accepts Responsibility’

What do I mean by this?

This person never blames anyone else, they accept responsibility themselves in a positive way and offer a solution which they learn from and better themselves with. In sales especially this is very important and easy to explain using the following example:

Sales person A returns from a pitch, and say’s the following: “Boss we didn’t get it because the customer doesn’t have the money just now – times have been tight because of the recession and the chips are down – it’s hard out there right now.”

Sales person B returns from the same pitch and say’s, “Boss I didn’t get the pitch for these two reasons – I didn’t qualify the person hard enough, so hadn’t realised they didn’t have the right budget for our product and I didn’t build a good enough relationship with the decision maker. I tell you what though, I’m not going to make the same mistakes again and I’ll nail the next one Boss.”

Who accepted responsibility in that scenario? Who would you rather have working for you? Yes of course, the second guy right?

This doesn’t just apply in sales, it happens in all areas of business and I personally want to surround myself with people who have the ability to accept responsibility. If someone comes to me and says they made a mistake but they’ve learnt or they know how to fix it then that’s a HUGE tick in the box. If they come to me blaming someone else or some external factor then it has the opposite effect.

There is a great article on the Livestrong Blog which goes into far more detail about the topic and is well worth a read if you agree with my points above: http://www.livestrong.com/article/14698-accepting-personal-responsibility/

Now Your Thoughts

  • Don’t forget that when you employ people, you are looking for things like this from an early stage – what sort of questioning could you use to coax this kind of personality trait out of someone?
  • What would you say the No1 trait you look for in your staff is?

From a stable job to a start-up business

This week I spent some time interviewing friend and now supplier of my firms book-keeping services, Ben Didier about starting his own business earlier this year.

Why did you choose to go it alone?

I have always wanted my own business, ever since I was young.  For me it was the plan from the start – College then Uni then business and management experience – then my own business!  It has been far from plain sailing but that is near enough the route I have taken.  I actually wrote down the reasons for taking the step when I started, as I knew there would be tough days ahead and I needed to be clear about why I was doing it. Here they are:

1.       Create something of my own that I can build and develop.  I get a real sense of achievement from that and hopefully, eventually it will produce a strong income.

2.       Set my own terms of working.  I want the freedom to choose my own projects and working methods.  On the other side the responsibility and risk that comes with this it is not for everyone and not all circumstances – sometimes you can’t afford to take the risk.

3.       Direct risk and reward.  I want to get the direct benefit of my actions and decisions, and am also prepared to accept the consequences of those when it doesn’t work out.  Employment can shield you from both sides of this, to an extent.

What attitude do you think you need to go it alone?

The single most important part of starting out on your own is – Wanting itResilience is the first quality of business – because if you give up before you have had chance to make it – then you wont.   People outside of business often focus on their service or product when thinking about starting up, rather than about winning work.  This can prove a shock when starting out, as business is primarily driven by winning customers – and looking after them!  Winning the work requires determination as it takes time, people aren’t always ready for what you offer at the time you offer it, and there are always many set-backs.  If you can’t get beyond those mentally, then business may not be for you.  As a bookkeeper I would always say you need to be interested enough in the figures to ensure that more money is coming in then going out!

What was the scariest thing about doing it?

The unknown market –“ is there the appetite for the services I want to provide in the area?”  You never really know until you actually start.  I had planned to get a part time job if the clients did not materialise quickly enough, and had cut my personal outgoings to the bone, so I had considered the risks carefully.  I knew sales may takes some time and wanted to survive long enough to be able to build a reputation and client base – the low overheads were crucial to this.

How you are getting on?

Fantastically!  Having started in January this year, after 8 months I now have 8 clients I provide services for every month and have worked on some other interesting projects.  I am independent and self-sufficient which is great.  One good thing about bookkeeping is the regularity of the work, this reduces pressure to get new sales all the time, so I can focus more on looking after the clients I have.  A commercial perspective on internal finance in producing the figures is really helping the owners I work with to make more informed decisions – so there the feeling of delivering something of value which I also get a great deal out of.

Now Your Thoughts

Have you made the leap from a stable job to a startup? Want to add anything to the post that you’ve learnt along the way?

You can find out more about Ben and his services on his website: http://www.bookkeepingssw.co.uk/ or follow him on Twitter: @bookkeepingben – I can’t recommend him highly enough :)

The Sale ain’t made ’til the bill is paid!

The Sale ain’t made ’til the bill is paid!

It’s funny, almost every one of us would celebrate making a sale – and so we should, it’s a big thing, but it’s not the whole deal and never forget that!!! Strong opening statement? It’s probably not strong enough…

You only have a complete deal when you’ve made a sale, done the work and then collected the readies. Don’t disillusion yourself into thinking that you’re doing amazingly well just because sales are being made – getting the money in the other end is just as critical and sometimes just as tricky :)

Its very easy when you’re new to business to let your clients get away with not paying you very quickly – don’t worry I’ve been there and done it myself. This, however is not a good strategy and will only leads to problems, here are just a few of them:

  • The time you’ll waste chasing debts can become ridiculous – taking you away from your day to day work
  • Clients can begin to ‘expect’ better terms
  • Many companies have a ‘don’t pay until questioned’ policy – if you don’t ask, you simply won’t get
  • As you get more established, older clients that have been with you since the early days will continue to pay you on the old terms you let them get away with – this is very hard to change down the line
  • Clients will know those suppliers that are less likely to cause them problems when it comes to asking for money – you’ll be further down their priority payment list
  • An aged debt is more likely to turn into a bad debt

If you’re about to start a business or are still fairly new to it all, make a strict policy for how you’re going to deal with the collecting of monies and stick to it.

Here are a few quick suggestions:

  • Create regular statements – At least once a month – send your statement in the middle of the month when most other companies send theirs at the beginning or end, it’s more likely to get noticed.
  • Try and make your statement stand out – We have a stamp with a picture of a man crying, saying ‘please pay this, it’s overdue’
  • Keep a close eye on your aged-debtors list – At least  once a month
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for the money – after all, you did the job, you deserve it
  • Have a process in place for chasing debts that are older than your terms
  • Consider if you can minimise your risk of bad debts and cashflow issues by putting in place deposits or at least stage payments
  • If the debt gets really old, don’t be afraid of losing a customer by passing it to a collector, are they really worth having as a customer if they are putting you through this? I hear you thinking, ‘but yes Al that’s fine but they are so important to my company, I can cut them a bit of slack can’t I?’
    NO
    Seriously, it’s not worth the agro – get yourself a policy and make sure you stick to it religiously, whatever the size or importance of your client. No exceptions.

One last tip, if you employ sales people who are have any sort of commission, make it a condition of that commission that’s its only paid when the money owed from the client is in the bank. Give them the responsibility of getting the money in – this will make your life easier in keeping on top of aged debts.

How have you found getting money in? Do you have any further tips for business owners regarding this tricky issue?

p.s. If you like what you’ve read here then you should sign up to my RSS feed and every time I update this site the post will be sent to your reader automatically

5 traits successful business people have – do you have these?

5 traits successful business people have – do you have these?

Missed a week due to travel folks so firstly apologies for that – clearly my first trait should be the inability to keep an appointment with ones blog :)

OK so there are probably hundreds of things you need to be successful in business but I’ve been day dreaming this last week and working out my top 5 – I love a top 5 as you know :)

So here they are in no particular order

1). Passion – In bucketfuls. I spend an awful lot of my time with other businessmen and women. In my working life, networking constitutes at least half my time. It’s one of the key ways we build our brand and get our company noticed. From there, when people want a job done, we’re at least in with a chance. One trait of seriously successful businessmen and women I’ve met over the years is passion for what they do. Passion is catching; you know when you’ve met someone who is passionate about their business – you come away feeling good about yourself. Without this trait you’re going to start off on the back foot. If can’t get passionate about your business is it the right business for you? Think on that for a while.

2). Sales skills – Every start-up business needs to bring in sales. If you’re on your own then that’s you pal :) If you’re not and you don’t like selling you better hope you’re in partnership with someone that does. You could have the best product or service in the country but if no-one knows about it then you may as well give up now. Sale’s doesn’t need to be cheesy, it doesn’t need to be immoral, it doesn’t need to feel dirty! Much of good quality sales is about building relationships and making the customer want to buy (not be sold). I strongly suggest reading the book below (affiliate link) which will, without a doubt, help with your sales process. In fact, even if you’re not in sales or running a business, read it anyway because its awesome.

The Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness – You can buy it from Amazon here.

3). A good product or service – Not technically a trait, but the ability to either come up with or be involved in selling a good product or service is a trait that I see all the time in successful people. You make your own luck, you earn it. These people have a sixth sense for getting involved with projects that do well. They fail a lot as well but the difference is the ones that work, really work. I know there are an awful lot of people out there selling sub standard products and services in their business – forget that – it’s a short-term attitude if you ask me. It won’t be long before you’re found out and the churn rate on customers will be huge meaning you never build relationships with people, you continually need new prospects poured in the top of your sales funnel. If you ask me, without a good product or service that you truly believe in, just don’t bother. You need to believe that your customer is truly better off by choosing you over your competitors.

4). A head for numbers and in particular cashflow – Since I started this blog almost exactly a year ago I know for a fact the most blogged about topic has been cashflow. There is a good reason for this – because it’s so damn important :) Without cashflow you have no business. I’m not going to go over old ground again on this. I wrote quite a lengthy post about cashflow here and even gave a step by step guide on how to write a cash flow forecast – you have no excuse :)

5). The ability to accept help and support – Business is a lonely place sometimes, help and support is essential but how often have I seen business owners that think they know it all and therefore are not prepared to accept it fail – Too many is the answer!!! Friends and family without their own business may not understand quite what it takes to run a business and unless they ever do it themselves they may never understand. This doesn’t mean you don’t listen to these people or dismiss their input – it can be just as valuable. It’s important to build a network of support around you that you can bounce ideas off. I’m lucky to have a great business partner at Optix Solutions who I bounce ideas off and chat with about strategy regularly. We also have a couple of mentor figures who consult us on the business regularly and keep us on track. We also have supportive families and friends – all of which make the days when it’s not so fun, easier to deal with. The successful businessman or woman doesn’t know it all and is willing to listen to others…do you?

So what are your top 5? Maybe you just want to add in a couple? I’m keen to hear from you

Time for Reflection

Time for Reflection

As a small business owner it’s all to easy to get completely consumed by your business. I didn’t take a single holiday for at least the first five years, I worked through weekends and spent every hour I could in the office during the week just to keep things going. It’s what you do when you’re a start-up. If you’re about to start your own company and don’t like the sound of that, forget it – you’re not right for this – go and get a nice 9-5 somewhere.

There is, however, a problem with this strategy when in start-up mode – it gives you no time for reflection, and reflection is essential. This is the time you need to step back from the business and take stock of everything. You’re too close to things on a daily basis to reflect and plan properly.

So this weekend, while you have some time off here is my suggestion:

Reflect on your overall business

Reflect on your sales and sales processes

Reflect on your company’s relationships with customers

Reflect on your brand

Reflect on your staff & what they do for you

Reflect on your finances and how you can improve them

Reflect on your internal processes for getting work done / products delivered

Reflect on yourself – are you working efficiently? What could you do differently?

I find it useful when doing this kind of exercise to write things down. The danger, if you don’t, is that the ideas you have get lost again as you get busy. Mind mapping is a very useful technique to learn for visualising this kind of information.

Now here’s the thing – When you’ve done all this and you go back to work on Tuesday – action some of the things you’ve reflected on. Don’t let this list form part of your ‘never read’ pile. Make sure it’s somewhere you can see regularly and ask yourself whether you’re making the changes and trying the new things at least once a week.

Good luck and have a great Easter

5 Excellent Experiences

Not enough people write/talk about excellent experiences in my opinion. It seems its much easier to write negatively about poor quality & service than it is to praise people. This is such a shame – if you read and hear negative comments everywhere then its going to have a negative impact on your own attitude. Today, I want to tell you about 5 excellent experiences I’ve had recently – perhaps you and your business can learn from these and maybe even implement some changes which will see real positive impact for you.

1). Apple Shop – Exeter – Ok so it doesn’t need to be Exeter but that’s the one I go to regularly. From the moment you walk in the door you are greeted by two members of staff, this makes you feel welcome and in the mood for buying…how easy is that for a retail business!  Then, if you’ve not been to a store before, on your first purchase, you find that you can pay for your goods with any of the roving shop assistants – yes you don’t even have to walk to a till anymore (and they email you your receipt)! I’d urge anyone that’s not been to an Apple shop, even if you’re not an apple fan to go in and experience the whole model – I believe that any business owner can learn a lot from Apple and the store model is really quite something.

2). Reiss – Exeter – I popped into Reiss the other day to look around. Admittedly there were only a few people in the store but the member of staff gave me his full attention and rather than the boring, typical, ‘are you ok there’ and getting the just as typical ‘yeah I’m just looking’ response he started to suggest what might look good on me and what goes with other things I’d shown an interest in. He asked what sort of thing I was looking for and then helped me with suggestions – needless to say, he made a sale! It constantly amazes me how many staff in retail shops are from the same mold – if you want to make sales, differentiate yourself and watch your numbers go sky high. In this case, I was so impressed with this guy that I purposely asked for the manager of the store and told her about how well treated I’d been and how good a member of staff that guy was – I just hope it made it back to him.

3). Appliance Care – Exeter – Some say that if you take your broken TV to a centre like this then you expect to have it repaired :) Yes, I agree, but it was the circumstances around this visit that amazed me. Samsung suggested I used this independent company. They didn’t know I was turning up. I arrived at about 9:30am on a busy Monday morning and they asked me to leave the TV with them. To be honest I thought it was likely to be gone a day or two but at 11am I had a phone call saying, ‘Mr Banks, your TV is ready’ – Awesome.

4). The Georgian Townhouse – Newark – When I’m travelling on business I’m not fussy about where I stay – generally I’ll get to my destination late, be up early and off again. All I need is a clean place to put my head with breakfast in the morning and decent parking. I travelled up to Newark this week to see a client near Nottingham and Linda, my PA, booked me into a Georgian townhouse. It was absolutely lovely! All the little details had been thought of: outstanding quality beds, amazing linen, spotless/minimalist decor, a breakfast fit for a king with a choice of everything you could imagine, a communal room for working/reading in (which I used in the morning), bottles of mineral water in the room when you arrived, good quality soaps and shampoos (not that cheap tat you often get) and lovely hosts. That night (B & B) cost me just £65! I will now tell everyone I know going to Nottingham/Newark to stay there and all because of the small details….look out for them in your business, they can mean the difference between someone passing your name on or not.

5). Giraffe – Exeter (and other outlets) I enjoy dining at Giraffe in Exeter – Its one of my favourite choices for coffee if meeting people and the food is great if you want to eat as well. However, its not so much the experience of the outlet I want to mention today – its the experience of the marketing that Giraffe’s (obviously clued up team) carry out. They have embraced the power of the web for one – They have a great website and twitter feed (where they actually engage with their customer base). They understand the power of email marketing, regularly sending out offers for dining – two for ones are not uncommon. Most of the guys in my office subscribe to these updates and when the offers come in, the guys are out the door and down to the local outlet for a spot of lunch – that’s what its all about. I tell you what, there are not very many places doing this kind of thing out there, lets hope more wise up to this clever and cost effective marketing soon. Well done Giraffe :)

I hope you’ve found my top 5 excellent experiences fun and useful – I would strongly suggest that you see if any of these ideas can be rolled out in your business and one day, someone like me, might just blog about you – After all, if you have a website you want to get listed in the search engines, you’ll know its all about the link juice baby! :)