Elaine Atherton - Finding your ideal customer, honing your offer, the dangers of too much activity

The excellent Elaine Atherton is a sales coach with vast experience in sales and encouraging people.




Tony Radford 0:05

Welcome to the Small Business heroes podcast where small business owners tell their story so we can learn from their experience. My name is Tony Radford. I hope you enjoyed this episode. But good morning everybody. Today's guest is Elaine Atherton from 2SummitUp.com. That's the number two, summitup dot com.

Elaine, how are you today?

Elaine Atherton 0:31

I'm really well actually really good. Yes. Thank you. How are you doing?

Tony Radford 0:35

I'm very good. Yep, I'm enjoying the weather. And I'm looking forward to the lockdown ending and life returning to normal.

Elaine Atherton 0:44

Yeah, no, it's getting that way. Now is that what will normally be like will be exactly it'll be a new normal, won't it? I'm guessing.

Tony Radford 0:51

Yeah, absolutely. No, I don't know what it's going to be like but yeah, anyway, let's keep our fingers crossed for civilization to return.

Elaine Atherton 1:00

Like, oh, yeah, I'm with you on that one.

Tony Radford 1:02

Yeah. So I was just wondering if you could tell us about your business?

Elaine Atherton 1:07

Yes, your Um, so I am a sales coach, which is a very grand way of saying I help people generate sales and and I do that in a couple of ways. One is to help people have started their journey. So, you know, when you start a business, you, you started because you're an expert in your field, but you don't necessarily start it at all because you're a salesperson or you want to be a salesperson, and sales can feel really quite overwhelming for people. A lot of times I hear people say, Oh, I don't, I don't want to be salesy. That's great news because your customers don't want you to be salesy either.

So I help people in that way and I help them with a program that I've launched which is called 10 minutes, 10 days 10 actions, which is accessible via my website. Really simple. does what it says on the tin. It helps you 10 minutes for 10 days with 10 actions and it helps you in all the different Part of the things you need to consider when you're looking at your sales processes and how to engage with the customer, so does all of that. And then I help people with an accountability program which is called make it happen. And it's, it's all about that we know what we want to do what's somewhere along the way.

We're actually not doing it. It's when it's our own business of course, the only person we're accountable to is ourselves which can be a challenge in itself. Yeah, or it could just be this innocent lack of knowledge it there could be numerous reasons. And so so I've recently launched that going live at start next week, which I'm very excited about so because it just felt it was a bit that you know, some people were just struggling with massively so so I get to do all those things with the joy of it all is of course within that I just get to hear about people's businesses. And you know, which I love fascinating, some great stories as you can imagine around that one.

Tony Radford 2:56

Yeah, I can imagine. I mean many small businesses. Small business owners they, they've started their business, and they're really focusing on their product or their service delivery. That's the main thing for them. They wouldn't necessarily be would consider themselves salespeople. In fact, some of them don't even like the idea of selling. So how would a small business owner sort of develops that sales focus? What would be some steps that they could take?

Elaine Atherton 3:22

Yeah, sure. Great question. And it all starts really First of all, some of its This is a, you know, a bit of a mind blocker really, by using the word sales like that can feel quite daunting for people. So I get people to reframe that word. It's like, you know, what do you love doing? Well, it starts with physics, I love to help people is the majority people say. So reframing that Well, actually, that's great news that you're helping people because that's what you want to do. your ideal customer wants you to help them.

But the key is, of course, is really understanding who it is you're helping and the outcomes that you're providing is really crucial. And also with that, you know, ad hoc does not work when you're running a business, we've got to have some systems and some processes, and things that we do regularly. And customer service as well. Big, big one for me, they've all got to be part of getting this together in the right way to make your business work.

As I said, other ad hoc doesn't work, which, of course, was one of the, you know, we wept and reviva that through proactive, you know, that's fantastic for keeping people on track. So I could go on about it for ages. But in a nutshell, that's that's sort of where I start with people.

Tony Radford 4:37

Right? So the advice you gave was to consider consider yourself not selling but helping people.

Elaine Atherton 4:45

Yeah, helping people but you've got to have some processes around that help. Yeah, you know, we could all in a very lovely way Sally, I want to help everybody. But actually, you know, what, what processes and what? systematically how do you do that? You know, because helping people is not just, I've delivered a great product, it's actually finding the people. All of that has got to come into, you know, the infrastructure of the sale. As I always say there is so much most of the sale of them the final transaction. Yeah,

Tony Radford 5:16

no, that's great. That's really good advice. Thank you very much for that. Could you tell us about some of your, you know, your biggest business challenges?

Elaine Atherton 5:23

I can certainly one springs to mind, and it's something that I really talk about with my clients on a regular basis. It's the trying to do too many things and be too many things to too many people. It's really challenging, isn't it at the outset, because we've got so many skills and so many different things. We could offer people, but actually, we can't do everything.

And we're not going to be right for everybody either. Which is absolutely fine. The challenge is when you're offering too many things and you're offering it to too many people. It's very hard for people to find you and actually be able to relate to you as you being the person that can help them. So being really clear, is very important.

And of course, you know, the temptation is when you start a business you want to be, oh, I can help those, I can help those people. And but you're not known for, particularly what you specialize in, or who you can actually help. And it's a lot harder, putting yourself out there and promoting your business when you're not clear who it is that you're helping.

So I certainly did a bit of that at the outset, I managed to overcome that with some help. And actually a bit of being a bit brave, actually, in saying that is not for me. That's not my best place to give value to people and actually making those decisions and reshaping what I did.

Tony Radford 6:42

That's really good. Yeah, that process of honing down your offer can be really difficult. Because you're kind of thinking in the back of your mind, if I cut this off, I might miss that person. I mean, if I were facing that challenge me What would your advice to me be?

Elaine Atherton 6:57

Well, my advice would be is it When you're running your own business, there's two things that you need to think about in respect of, how do you hone into. One is, where do you bring the best value? Where does your expertise lie? So if it's a service based business, and you know that actually when you deliver that course, or you deliver that training, or you deliver that program, you know, that that, you know, people absolutely love it, it great feedback, and all of that, so, so you know, it's a strength of yours.

And actually, then you look at that look into it further. And which demographic of people are you appealing to? And so dig into into the detail and look at who's doing what with you, because sometimes who we think is our ideal client is not necessarily the client that we end up with. And this is all a learning thing at the start. So you know, nobody gets 100% right at the start tools, so it's not right or wrong.

It's just the fact that that's the way it is. And equally, the second thing I would say is what do you enjoy doing? You know, what is it? We can be great things? But actually, do we want to do it for a living?

No, not necessarily, you know, so which bits you really enjoy. Now, and I'm not saying every day is going to be a wonderful day and a fun day. But actually, what would you choose to do within your business that excites you? And actually, you know, there's a there's a mark for as well.

Tony Radford 8:21

Right now, that's really great. And you know, as part of your services, you can help small business owners with that issue, can you?

Elaine Atherton 8:27

Absolutely, yeah, absolutely. And it's all part of coaching is, it's not having all the answers. It's just asking great questions. And that's what a good coach does, it really helps you get underneath the whys, the whats, and if something hasn't happened, why hasn't it happened and it's not a shaking thing. The thing is, it's helping you unravel that, you know, the ball of string sometimes that you think, yeah, that's so true. I want to do that and actually, I'm not doing it. And within that, I can guarantee I will find what it is. That is stopping you.

Tony Radford 9:01

That's great. Thank you. What is one thing you wish someone had told you when you were starting out?

Elaine Atherton 9:08

I think it's really being you know, mindful of where you're spending your time and measure that. In the early stages, you can be running around doing a bit of this and a bit of that. Yeah, in the things that you think you'll do, because you're more comfortable doing them the things that are outside your comfort zone. And so I think for me, I did have some great support in previous roles from a person who was really asked me lots of questions about where I was spending my time. I don't think you know, a whole lot with me, I really wish wish you'd have been there at the start of this really, because I have to really work on that of it.

If there's a difference between trying something once I'm thinking that's not worth moving on, but they're equally we have to look at something that was Doing regularly and it's not working. So there has to be a, you know, some line that we decide actually haven't tried it long enough and is it working? Or have I not given it enough enough time? Or is it or it just isn't working? It's just not right for my business. So it's spending the time in the right places. Really?

Tony Radford 10:20

Yeah, focus is really important. I mean, in practice, that's, you know, big emphasis really, personally, I found that it's foundational to any achievement in any area of your life that's focusing on the right things and being committed to them. That's really good.

Elaine Atherton 10:37

And we can kid ourselves can't mean to be perfectly honest, we can we can trick ourselves as well, because we think oh, yeah, you know, this is really bringing value to my business. And actually, you know, we do measure it as in, you know, using something like proactive is brilliant because you can really nail down then what is working and what isn't not what we think is working because actually when we put some tangible results against Is it working? Or is it just something we actually like to do?

Tony Radford 11:04

Yeah, no, very good. If somebody gave you 500 pounds to spend on marketing, how would you spend it?

Elaine Atherton 11:12

Yeah, I'm a bit of a don't put your all your eggs in one basket person. So I wouldn't throw it all at one thing. I would spread it across different things. I as I've just said it to the previous question is we try to we try things given some time, we don't actually know what works. So I would look at the different platforms that I would maybe want to try that I don't try now, or something that you think well, what what is it if I boosted things on certain platforms I use already, and I tried it over the next three months, I would spread it across things really, you know, there's obviously things that work for small business owners more than others, and we're not all Same platform, but not all right for the same platform. It's different. But one of the ones that haven't looked at yet is Pinterest. And I'm quite intrigued with that. So I would definitely put some of that 500 pound there. Right be my Elsa.

Tony Radford 12:15

Because you can do advertising. Can you on Pinterest?

Elaine Atherton 12:18

Yes, you can. And Pinterest quite a fascinating one really, I, I always work on the basis I've got something if I'm sitting on the sideline that I have a little look at. So it's almost like my quiet time that I think might have a little do a bit of research into it. And I'm just at that stage with it. Most people would say, oh, but why would you use Pinterest with a service like yours? But actually, it's it's growing massively for people with services like mine and other types of services at one time you people just stay with it for great recipes, which I have hundreds of great recipes. I've gotten Pinterest them so I am a user of it. And I just I just find it a real sort of quite a friendly platform, but obviously, in business, you've got to think more. What is it going to give me? So that's where I'm looking at the moment. Yeah, I'm interested in that one. Really?

Tony Radford 13:09

Yeah. It's interesting. It's not a platform I'd ever consider. I think I think about four years ago, I put some photographs of Romania on. Maybe, you know, in three months, you could tell us come back and tell us how you got on with Pinterest. And

Elaine Atherton 13:24

I would love to Yeah, definitely.

Elaine Atherton 13:29

Well, it'll be that good. But yeah, well,

Tony Radford 13:31

fingers crossed. What about a business mentor support group? Do you have one?

Elaine Atherton 13:38

I do. And it's interesting, isn't it that if we were listening to this, in America, or we were living in America, the majority of business owners, or a huge number should I say not majority necessarily have coaches and it's and they have more than one case, and what we're not really the same in this country with coaches. We were Don't necessarily look at it the same way. And actually, I'm a big believer in it. Because from a personal point of view, I'm quite a creative thinker, and which is absolutely brilliant. But I need to sound my ideas out with other people, I need that sort of support network. I think we all need some sort of network. And it varies on who we are what that looks like. But it took me a good time, really, I was good to 12 months into my business before I found the people that I could go to, and either, you know, talk about some ideas with, or actually people who would meet me accountable for the things I do in a really positive way. I think it's so it's so important because it can be quite lonely in business. And well, you know, when you're the sole trader, only answerable to yourself, you ask the questions and you answer them as well. It's not always ideal is it? So for me, it's support network is is absolutely vital. I have, I'd say four people that I can go to, and they don't necessarily give me the same thing. But they are there to support me, which I find, you know, hugely beneficial.

Tony Radford 15:17

Yeah, no. So that's really, really great advice. I find a question. Can you give us one actionable

Elaine Atherton 15:24

sales tip? Can I give you on all others? A toughy? Really, or one on many? Yeah.

Elaine Atherton 15:32

I think that they sum it up. answer is, think like your buyer often. It's so important. We, we talk all the time, it doesn't matter what we've got, whether we're service based business or product, we've all got a potential bias in there. And what we don't do often enough is look at it through their eyes and in their world. And again, one of the things I talked about in my program And those initial stages, is, whatever you're looking at whatever you're putting together, look at it through your eyes, and then flip it around and look at it through the eyes of the buyer. What does their journey look like? What would be the reasons? They would say? No, we often look at the reasons why people buy, but actually, do we know why they're saying no, because it'd be understood that we'd get more yeses. Um, so that's a big, big thing for me, and we go on the hell I don't think most people spend enough time there.

Tony Radford 16:30

Right. Okay. Well, it's a great piece of advice. Thank you very much. Well, that's great. Elaine, thank you very much for your time. So what's the best way that people can get in touch with you?

Elaine Atherton 16:42

Yeah, sure. Well, I'm on you know, most of the platforms are but not Pinterest at the moment, but you know, to be soon I'm sure. So I'm on Facebook with my to summit on Facebook page. I'm got a website as well. So that's www summit calm. You'll find me is Elaine albertan on LinkedIn too? And I am also on Instagram, which is Elaine. Dr. summit up so yeah, you can pretty much find me in in most places Really? Right.

Elaine Atherton 17:14

Yeah, dividend album all.

Tony Radford 17:16

Okay, thank you very much. speak to you again soon.

Elaine Atherton 17:19

As Tony Great to be here thank you.

Tony Radford 17:22

Part of the secret to achieving true success in business is in focusing on the specific things that result in sales and revenue generation. If you are a small business owner or Freelancer and you would like to break through overwhelm, gain focus and grow your business, visit my practice business.com

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Published: 15/01/2022 | Last updated: 15/01/2022

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