Turning Business Building Obstacles Into Opportunities

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 Turning Business Building Obstacles Into Opportunities

Anyone who has ever worked on building a business knows there are always obstacles to achieving success in their business. Working to overcome these obstacles can be some of the most challenging, yet also some of the most rewarding experiences you'll have in building your business. Since each of us is unique, in both our personalities and circumstances, each of us struggles with different obstacles. Some people may have a harder time finding people who are interested, while others may struggle with getting people to commit to purchase a product, while others may struggle with getting those who have purchased to purchase again.
Over the years, we have heard of several business building challenges that seem to be fairly common. These questions include:
We recently sent out a survey to our customers—many of whom have had great success in overcoming these obstacles while building their own successful businesses—asking what advice they would give to those struggling with these obstacles. Below are some of their best answers, as well as some insights from our own resident marketing guy.

 I've sent out a lot of packets, samples, and other information lately, but it seems like people are more interested in getting more free information or samples, but aren't interested in purchasing oils or becoming a member. How can I change this?
Abundant Health's Marketing Insights:
The key here is to find a way to determine who is truly interested in learning more, and who is only interested in receiving more “free stuff”, then making an effort to truly care about those who are interested in learning more.

I recall several years ago sitting in a college course on advertising, listening to a guest lecturer tell us about a successful business owner who ran a high-end summer camp for kids. This camp cost several thousands of dollars to attend, yet the camp was at capacity every year. When the business owner went into people's homes to tell them about the camp during the off-season, the parents would sign-up one or more of their children for the camp approximately 95% of the time! So what was the secret of this business owner's amazing success? Simply stated, he used his least expensive marketing tools to reach a broad audience, then saved his more expensive tools and efforts for those who were interested enough to invest a little to learn more. In this case, he would send out mailings, or hand out small fliers at conventions and trade shows to reach a lot of new people as inexpensively as possible. In these initial fliers would be a way that people could invest a little effort to submit their contact information to receive a packet of information about the camp. For those that responded and received the packet of information, included in the packet was an option to send in a coupon, along with a dollar or two to cover shipping, to receive a video with more information about some of the camp programs. For those who responded and received the video, at the end of the video was information on how people could schedule a time for the owner of the camp to come and personally visit them in their home for an hour or two to talk about any questions they still had about the camp.

By requiring that people invest a little time or effort to receive more information, this business owner was able to contact a broad audience with his least expensive tools, and save his more expensive marketing tools and efforts for those who really were interested in the possibility of having their child attend the camp, and not just those who were interested in getting “free stuff”. By gradually increasing what was required of people to invest to learn more (a few minutes to submit their contact information, then a dollar or two and a few minutes to fill out a card, then setting aside an hour or two of their time), by the time he visited people in their homes, this business owner knew the people he was visiting were very interested in what he had to offer, and he could afford to take enough time to really get to know the people, listen to any questions or concerns they had, and to personally answer their questions and resolve any concerns.

In an essential oils business, there are many different ways to do something similar. Some inexpensive ways to reach out to a large number of people include sending out an email, mailing postcards, giving away newspapers or brochures, or simply talking to everyone you meet. Through this initial contact, you could invite people to contact you to receive a brochure or booklet with some ways some of the more popular oils can be used, or to receive a packet with more information about essential oils. For those who receive more information, you could then invite them to attend a class or meeting, or to select two or three oils they would be interested in sampling for a week, followed by an appointment to discuss their experience using these oils and answer any questions they might have.
Our Contributing Experts' Advice:
  • "First of all, look at the positive and dwell on it. Then, realize that if you are doing your  job promptly and orderly and personally (like a quick personal note with a card) you should get a purchase for every 5 you send out. And in the long run that with word of mouth should bring more."
  • "Use the oils yourself. Let people know of your personal experiences with "pure" oils. Only give samples to very interested people. Buy or print off information. Get their mailing address. Send things in the mail. People always make time to read the mail. When people do buy, then give them a sample of something else in the same realm of what they are using."
  • "Getting to know people personally is the best way. You listen a lot, then find out what their needs are and fill in the gaps with answers to their questions with your knowledge of which products you know will benefit them. I find that telling them personal stories of healings I and my family and friends have had encourages them to try the products that fit their needs. I also encourage anyone interested in learning about essential oils to buy a copy of the Essential Oil Desk Reference and show them my copy. They can then look up different issues they have and see how to treat them.  By purchasing their own EODR, they can then learn at their own pace and treat themselves and their families. Staying in touch with each person and offering to help or answer any questions helps them to trust you and come to you with problems that essential oils can be the answer to. Without being "pushy" and also being sensitive to the timing of when they are ready, you can ask them if they would like to purchase these products at wholesale by becoming a distributor."
  • "I find that the best way to introduce people to the Young Living products is to make a one on one appointment with them or to invite them to a workshop or event. It is much more effective than mailing out samples or brochures."
  • "First, you have to be truly diligent about using the oils in order to experience the immediate and remarkable results that they yield.  As your level of wellness continues to grow, so will your overall passion for using essential oils and sharing your experiences with others.  Next, you have to truly care about people and take the time to work with each individual on a personal basis. Ask questions, learn about his/her health concerns and create a plan that suits each individual.  Do the initial research for your prospects and create a personal wish list based on the recommendations from reference books and testimonials that you have found via your research. Thirdly, invite your prospects to listen in on conference calls that offer the opportunity to learn about how the oils work and encourage them to ask questions based on personal needs. Lastly, do not put pressure on your prospects. Plant seeds with fervor, and when it is in the highest good timing wise for your prospect, he/she will return to you. Be genuine and generous in giving of your time and your samples. The rewards will come back to you in abundance."
  • "First of all, don't send out free samples to people unless you have qualified them as a really serious prospect. And then, only send them one thing.  Sometimes we try so hard to get people interested by sending them free samples and they never buy anything. It's better to send them free information about why they would want your products. Spend some time researching your products and make documents that explain the benefits they would receive by using the products. You must get across to them the value of your product to them specifically. Find out more about them, what kind of issues they have and educate them as to what products you have that could be of help. Build relationships with people and educate them, and they will want what you are offering because you have invested in them with your knowledge and showed that you care about helping them. Yes, it will take time on your part to individually cater to each and every person you deal with; but in so doing, you will become an expert on your products and people will respect and trust what you are telling them because it will be offered to them in an effort to help them, rather than to sell them something."

 I've introduced people to essential oils, but then they purchase the oils from another source. How can I get these people to purchase through me?
Abundant Health's Marketing Insights:
Everyone wants a great deal. But offering your customers a great deal doesn't mean you necessarily have to offer the lowest price. For instance, I recall talking at different times with two different individuals who both told me about how pleased they were with the “great deal” they had gotten on a new car they had recently purchased. Interestingly, while one “great deal” cost around $10,000, the other “great deal” cost around $30,000. In the end, both cars seemed to perform their basic function well (getting their owners from point A to point B), yet the owner of the $30,000 car truly felt that their car included extra features that were worth more than the extra $20,000 it had cost. If your oil isn't the least expensive brand out there, help others understand why your essential oil is well worth any extra cost.
Marketing people often talk about “added value”. What this typically refers to is including a service, additional accessory, or extra feature that may not cost very much to add, but that makes the product, or the business selling it, worth intrinsically more to the customer. A few simple ways to add value to your business could include being available and able to answer questions, being friendly and serviceable, offering to help someone place an order, including a free brochure, booklet or sample with an order, personally delivering orders, or holding free classes or workshops for customers. By offering something of value that no one else is offering, it highly increases the likelihood that someone will come back to you to make their purchases.
Another key is to continue to follow up periodically with people you have contacted. This will help keep your name fresh in their mind so when they are ready to purchase, yours is the first name they consider.
Our Contributing Experts' Advice:
  • "Make it so easy to purchase from you that they don't want to go somewhere else. Be sure they know how important it is to use only...therapeutic grade oils. Have them compare the other oils to your oils and if they like yours better, offer to buy the 'off' brand if they order yours. Do GREAT follow-up."
  • "First, carry the best oils you can. Second, believe in and be educated about your oils. Third keep your prices competitive with those in your area. Fourth, make friends and be friendly and positive with every one you meet. Friends buy from their friends."
  • "You must follow through when you introduce someone to the essential oils. Develop a relationship with that person. Get to know them and research which oils specifically would be beneficial to them. If you don't have a newsletter or weekly or at least monthly info-email about the oils, then develop one.  Become the expert on the oils by learning all you can about them. People want to buy from someone who really knows what they are talking about. If you don't follow through and show you are interested in them, they will find someone who is. If you are knowledgeable about the products and show that you will support that person if they purchase from you, then they are more likely to do so."
  • "Catch them in their excitement. Show them that you will take good care of them and that you are interested in their feeling good. Ask them if you should make an order for them. If they walk away or if they have to do their first order by themselves they will go to someone else."

 It seems like my customers purchase essential oils once, then they don't purchase any more for a long time. How can I get past customers to make repeat purchases on a more regular basis?
Abundant Health's Marketing Insights:
The key here is to keep yourself and your products in your customer's mind. This doesn't mean you are pestering them every day, but every 2-4 weeks, you could send out an email highlighting a new way to use an oil, or to share a new tip or news with them. You could send them a card on a holiday, or give them a call or email a few weeks after their initial purchase to follow up with them to see if they have any questions about using the oil they initially purchased. You could also hold regular classes or meetings that you invite new customers to attend.

Our Contributing Experts' Advice:
  • "I learned long ago that it is much easier to keep a customer close than it is to always be attracting new customers. And, a good rule of thumb is to stay in touch with customers at least 33x/year (approx. 2.5 times a month). So, as soon as one of my customers makes their first purchase (and each additional purchase), I write a 'thank you' or I call them to thank them and I offer a tip on how to use the oil. Then, I periodically check back with them to see if the oil is still working for them or if they have any new challenges in their life. During these calls, I do not 'sell' them on any oils, I am truly taking the time to hear how they are. However, in many cases, they ask me about oils for other conditions and these conversations do lead to new purchases. I also let my customers know whenever I learn of a discount, a bonus offer, or some other value available for a limited time. And, I make sure to send birthday cards and other personal acknowledgments to each of my customers so that they know I care about them in between their purchases. I call this my 'Love, Love, Love My Customers' process. I also organize free events for my customers, called 'Mix and Mingle' gatherings focused on a particular subject, such as 'How To Create Your Personal Oil Blend.' I provide the glass vials and the use of my oils, as well as instruction on how to blend the oils. I've learned that when my customers feel comfortable in using a variety of oils, and they see others also enjoying the oils, they tend to make more purchases more often."
  • "1. Have great oils. 2. Be their friends. 3. Keep in touch—a note in the mail or post card or a special—just something to keep in touch. Because out of sight out of mind. So stay in the mind."
  • "It's all about relationships and follow-up. Do outstanding follow-up! Give customers and prospects regular suggestions about ways to use oils."
  • "Keeping in close touch with your customers and finding out what their needs are is vital. This business is about relationships and helping people. So making yourself available to listen to them to know what products will benefit them will show them that you care and are not just trying to "sell" something to them. It is also very important to learn all you can about all the products and what they can do so that you can properly inform your customers."
  • "Send out fun notes and find out if they are interested in joining a class. Know your product!"

 I don't seem to be cut out for sales. I keep talking to people, and they seem interested in all the information I give them, but no one ever orders any oils. Is there a way I can change this?

Abundant Health's Marketing Insights:

In a recently published study, researchers found that when people were able to pick up and hold a certain product, rather than just being able to see the product, they were much more likely to purchase the product. Interestingly, researchers also found that if people who saw the product were asked to visualize themselves holding the product, without actually holding it, they were nearly as likely to purchase the product as if they had actually held the product.

One question to ask yourself is how well do you help others pick up and experience an essential oil—or at least help them visualize the benefits they can receive if they do use the oil.
A second question to ask yourself is, have you taken the time to find out what kind of benefits they might be interested in at that time? A person with a headache probably isn't that interested in visualizing or experiencing how something can help with a sunburn. Learning to really have a conversation with someone and listening and caring about what they have to say can be a great way to learn what kind of benefits they might be interested in discovering. Of course, this also means that the more knowledge and experience you have, the more you'll be able to share, so take time to learn and to experience the benefits yourself.
Our Contributing Experts' Advice:
  • "Being in sales is a difficult thing. But when you change your mindset from being a salesman to an educator, you free yourself from the need-to-make-money way of thinking. Let your essential oil income be a supplemental income. Then should it become a more primary income, have flexibility to change."
  • "Yes! Stop doing all of the talking and start listening. Remember sharing something as important as health issues is about them. Ask them if you could share some information and get to the point within two minutes. Keep your chatter short and your listening ears open."
  • "Facts tell, stories sell.  Develop relationship with your prospect, find out what health issues they may have, or what is going on in their lives - do this in a way that is conversational, no prying. If you show interest in people, they will tell you all about themselves! Then, if you have testimonials that would be pertinent to this person's experience, share real-life testimonials (best if they are your own, but if you must use someone else's be sure you get their permission)."
  • "I also am not cut out for sales, but what I am is a big mouth.  If I am in a grocery line and hear someone say they are hurting, I say 'I don't mean to eavesdrop, but I also have pain like that and I found something through a wholesale club that cuts the pain in 42 seconds for me,' (and it surely does, I love PanAway), 'I have some here, do you want to rub some on and see if it works?' They usually do.  I then have an idle conversation with them for about 5 mins about the store, new dresses, etc. Then I ask, "Oh by the way, how is your pain?" They look shocked when they realize it is gone. I hand them my card and say, call me if you want to get some of this. Take their number or email too. Don't be pushy, be helpful. That is the only reason to be in Young Living, to help others help themselves."

 I'd like to grow my business, but it just isn't happening with the way the economy is right now. What should I do?
Abundant Health's Marketing Insights:
Often, times of economic recession can be times of great opportunities for those willing to try things that are a little bit different. Several companies found great success during the recession of the 1970's when they introduced a new “home party” method of marketing. Now may be the perfect time to try out a new way of contacting or working with people that you have been considering trying.
Recent news has indicated that many people with full-time jobs who weren't interested, or were “too busy” to try network marketing before are now joining various network marketing companies in order to supplement their income. If you are working on building an organization, now may be the perfect time to reach out to those who indicated they were “too busy” to get involved before.
During the time of rationing during World War II, a small butter company decided that they would continue to advertise their brand of butter in the United Kingdom, even though they were not allowed to sell their butter in stores. Everyone thought they were crazy to spend on advertising at the time, but when the war ended, and butter could be sold again, this small company was suddenly the number one brand in the nation. Even if your present efforts at sharing with some people aren't meeting with much success now because they say they can't afford to purchase anything at this time, keeping in contact with these people, and continuing to share with them will ensure that when things turn around again for them, you will be one of the first things to pop up in their mind.
Our Contributing Experts' Advice:
  • "Use the word 'wholesale'. Develop a business plan. Hold household parties. We are back into the 70's lifestyle again, and Tupperware and Home Interior made it big in home-based parties. If you have even one person under you, you are a leader. Act like it and you will get the results to your business. Your down-line's success, is your success."
  • "It doesn't matter what the economy is like—if you develop relationships with people, learn all about them, show them you care, and then show people the value in your products, they will find a way to buy them—if you can demonstrate (by knowledge & testimonials) how your product will make their life better.  And if you are talking to someone who does not have expendable income for their health and wellness, maybe the best approach is to show them how they might be able to earn enough to pay for their products by becoming a distributor on your team. Then support them and teach them how to be successful. Don't just sign them up and forget about them."
  • "First, never underestimate what your client has in his or her pocket, regardless of the economy. Listen to what they have to say and find a need for them. There has to be something that will turn on the lights. Do they have trouble sleeping? Or with their mate? Maybe a pet who is scared of thunderstorms now that it is a likely season for afternoon storms. Be a good listener, know and believe in your products. Sometimes it pays off better to listen than to oversell the products."
  • "Change your way of thinking. Now more than ever—with stress and expenses the way that they are—we all have needs. Recently, I saved a family a trip to the doctors office by sharing the results I had by using clove oil on my Plantar's warts. For $15.00, they treated two of their sons and were successful removing their Plantar's warts. Think about opportunities because of the economy.  The good news is that with a positive attitude, you are making a difference by sharing and helping others."

 I haven't had much success in building my business because I work full-time at another job, and I don't have the time to work on my own business. Is there anything I can do with just a limited amount of time?

Abundant Health's Marketing Insights:
Even without a full-time job, there are a great number of things that compete for our time. If you really do have a desire to build your business, though, you should commit to investing some time each day doing something to build your business. It is amazing what you can accomplish over time if you commit to invest even just 15-30 minutes per day working on building your business. A few things you can do in this amount of time include:
  • Sending an email to past customers letting them know about a special, or something new to try.
  • Calling someone you contacted earlier to see if they have any questions.
  • Writing a personal note or card to a customer, asking how they are doing, or thanking them for an order.
  • Talking with a co-worker or someone new you meet to see if they have any interest or needs that you can help with.
  • Visiting a local business to see if they will allow you to leave brochures or newspapers (with your contact information on them) on their counter for their customers to see and take.
  • Contacting someone in your organization to see if they need any help or ideas.
Another great way to leverage your time is to divide responsibilities with a partner, group of partners, or members of your organization. This works especially well if you can find find someone who shares your level of dedication, and is able to compliment your strengths with theirs, allowing each of you to spend the limited time you have doing what you do best.
Our Contributing Experts' Advice:
  • "Just enjoy the essential oils for what they are meant to do for you personally. Maintain a blog and tell others about your experiences. People will find you. Invite them to join you on the blog...it's a great way to reach out, be personal, and talk about what you love."
  • "Become more efficient with your time. Write out your goals, get a calendar and block out times for tasks then focus on those tasks.  Learn to incorporate others. Start a team building group, be a leader and provide others with the tools they need to work for you—think 'team' and remember that there is no 'I' in 'team'."
  • "Yes, any time you hear one of your co-workers complain about having a headache, or not sleeping well, having a cold, or experiencing back pain, etc. give them a sample of an oil that will help that situation. This is what I did and my business kept growing because each time a co-worker experienced relief as a result of using an oil, they told everyone around them about it. I also make pitchers of Lemon and Peppermint water and offer my co-workers 'shots' in the afternoon as a 'pick-me-up' when they are feeling tired. I sell lots of Peppermint, Thieves, RC and Lemon oils."
  • "Yes, on week ends or down time, do newspaper ads and fax them in. Also, fill out postcards and mail on your way to work. Be sure your cell phone is on the cards and your address for orders. Use evenings and weekends to promptly fill all orders and return all calls. Be friendly and smile, even on the phone—they will know."

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