This week on the Modern Direct Seller Podcast, we’re kicking off 2023 by talking time management and productivity! We were joined by Tamara Klinger, CEO of The Align Mentor Company, who has endless insight into investing your time and energy wisely when it comes to customer relationships, sales, and marketing—as well as recommendations for tools to help streamline your processes. Listen in to learn how to start the new year in the right mindset!
Connect with Tamara on Facebook and Instagram so that you don’t miss any of her coaching!
Time based notes:
- 1:58 Tamara Klinger intro
- 4:19 Investing vs. spending time
- 8:14 Investing in a client contact roadmap
- 11:16 Customer lifetime value
- 15:00 Investing in social media theme days
- 17:48 Posting with intentionality
- 21:03 Investing in testimonials
- 22:48 Testimonial example questions
- 27:42 Tools and apps for your business
Using Your Energy Efficiently in the New Year
This week on the Modern Direct Seller Podcast, we kicked off 2023 by talking time management and productivity! We were joined by Tamara Klinger, CEO of The Align Mentor Company, who has endless insight into investing your time and energy wisely when it comes to customer relationships, sales, and marketing. Read on to learn how to start the new year in the right mindset!
Why don’t you introduce yourself to our listeners a little bit? Let us know your background, a little bit about your company, who you serve, what you’re all about?
Sure. So, I’m the CEO of the Align Mentor. And, we’re a company that serves solopreneurs and small businesses by teaching them the skill sets needed to plan, create, and deliver engaging course curriculum, using the best practices of teachers, so that you’re delivering the results you’ve promised your clients. But, what’s most important to us is also being in alignment with your core values and the resources you have on hand. And so, really, our mission is to empower entrepreneurs. We want you to embrace your creative genius. You’re the subject matter expert; you’re the expert on your product, on your service, and we want you to be sharing it in a way that’s educationally sound.
I am a full-time teacher. So, like most of your audience, I work a full-time job, and I’ve got a side gig. And, I’ve had to dive into the area of time management and productivity to bring my two worlds together. That’s really what the Align Mentor is about, is bringing the strategic actions that you all need in your business into alignment with that energy and mindset and lifestyle piece to create that harmony, but also so you can show up feeling fully embodied.
We had such a great conversation over in our Modern Direct Seller Academy all about productivity and time management. And, I think you’re right that most of our listeners are working a full-time job and have other things going on on the side. So, I’d love to continue that conversation all around efficiency, but also investing versus spending your time. Can I ask you to give the Cliffnotes version of what we chatted about?
I really want to dig into this “invest versus spend” idea, because to me, this is mindset. Once you master this mindset piece, it can change everything around time management and productivity for you. And so, when we think about the types of actions we’re taking in our business and the work that we’re doing, especially when you don’t have full-time hours to do this work, you have to be really mindful and really strategic, because everything you’re doing, you’re looking to get a payoff from. You want to make sure that the things you’re doing are actually an investment of that time.
So, when you think about money, you can go out and spend it on something consumable, or you can invest that money knowing that you’re getting something back later. And, we want to think about our resources and our time in the same way.
The reality is that we all have a million things going on, and how we spend that time really does kind of make or break your business. So, when it comes to refocusing on the ways we use our time and how to get the biggest return on investment, can you give us an example what that might look like in real life?
So, I want you to think first about what spending looks like. When you’re spending your time, it’s those one-off things that you’re doing. “I’m throwing spaghetti against the wall hoping that it’s going to stick.” And, that is going to lead you to overwhelm and stress and burnout, which is exactly what we don’t want, especially when we’ve got a full-time job and a side hustle. That is not going to bring us into harmony.
So, an example of spending might be, “I’m gonna grab takeout on the way home, even though I’ve made a commitment to eating healthy.” You just spent that. There’s not going to be an investment in the future on that takeout. You’re reacting instead of planning. These one-offs are band-aid fixes that, yes, sometimes we need to put on something, but they’re not necessarily going to get you to your end goal. That’s where I want you to start thinking about investing. Is this going to get you to that end goal? Is it actually beginning to move that needle forward? So, look at this through the lens of your time, your energy, and your focus, because these are non-renewable resources. These are the things that, when we’re taking action, if we keep this in mind, and we pause and say, “Am I investing, or am I spending?” This is where the magic starts to happen.
Now, I want to talk investing in three primary areas of business, and I’m going to start with client care, because I think the relationship that we’re building with our clients—especially in direct sales—is the make-it-or-break-it piece. You want to start off on the right foot, and you’re also gaining your clients’ trust.
One tip that I think is really easy to implement is to create a client contact roadmap. A lot of times in direct sales, we may not have email lists, and if we don’t, we’re direct messaging people, we’re texting them, we’re in communication. All of that can feel like a one-off. Wouldn’t it be easier and make more sense if you outlined the four or seven or ten messages that you’re going to send to people? I don’t mean prewrite them. What I mean is, I know that my first point of contact is, “Hey, I’m so happy that you’re a part of this experience, that you’ve bought my product or service.” Then, maybe the second message is, “Hey, I’m following up. How’s it going? How’s that working for you?” Maybe the third message is, “Hey, did you have any questions? I’m just checking back in. I wanted to share this other piece of information I thought you might like based on our conversation.”
You’re already doing this contact with your clients anyway. So, if you create a roadmap like this, now what do we have? Well, you don’t have time loss trying to figure out, “What should I message this person that I know I need to reach out to?” You’re not stressing and losing energy, wondering what’s next, how frequently should you reach out, because you’ve already set up a system. Most importantly, now you know what to focus on in your messaging to them. You know what’s most important for you to be sharing. No one’s going to slip through the cracks.
I’m kind of an over-organizer, so I have an Excel spreadsheet, and I can literally track where someone’s at in that process so that I’m not falling short. This is about building that client relationship. But also, I want your business to be easy. And, it’s an investment to set up this system, but it’ll probably take you just 10 or 15 minutes to think through, “What are the contact points?” Everything still gets to be individualized and customized to that client, but you know where you’re headed now, and now it’s mindful. Now, it’s strategic.
We know that sending those little follow-up messages are kind of a pain in the booty, but we also know that if we do a good job at that, it’s not just about that one order that a client placed, but it’s the lifetime value of that customer over time. And, you really can streamline this and make it a system, right? I mean, of course we want to personalize it, but you’re essentially sending the same type of messages, using the same roadmap, using the same flow for every customer that is going through that experience with you and your brand.
Early last fall, I used this exact idea in some of my training. So, it took me only once to write down my scripting, but I reused that across over 100 people that messaged me, and it was a little time-consuming, but it fostered a lot of great conversations. And once you get started, you can kind of create a workflow anticipating what those responses are going to be, which I think is huge.
And, that’s is the point, right? How much more time, generally speaking, do you have to do the other things in your business because you’re not pausing and worrying about, “What is the message I need to send to each and every one of those 100 customers?” You have a plan. And, because you can predict, you also get a lot of good customer information if you predict wrong, or you get those outliers, because now we know who might need that extra support, who might need that extra touchpoint, which is the stuff we don’t want lost in the cracks of our business.
I love this one. What else do we have? What other tips? Let’s move on to the next one.
So, the next area is marketing and sales. Because, we know we need to put ourselves out there. We know that we’re showing up on social media, whether we’re posting or going live. So, because I like to know where I’m going with things, I really like designating theme days for posting. For example, I know I’m going to post stuff about Money Mindset on Mondays. Why? Because I want to batch content. That works best for me. So, if I know, “Okay, every Monday I’m going to talk about Mindset. There are four Mondays in January, four Mondays in February, four Mondays in March…” You get the idea. I can more easily plan ahead.
When I think about the piece that couples with this, I think about Instagram. We know people love to curate their feeds on Instagram. So, I create templates; I have a template for every day of the week that I get to reuse, so it looks very nice in my feed, and I’m freeing up that decision-making process. If you’ve already made decisions on what things look like, on when things get posted, now it’s just bringing in that content piece. Everything becomes more streamlined. And then, when you add in a focus on posting things you believe in and feel confident about, your audience is going to respond. It brings everything into alignment.
So, I’m hearing this theme of intentionality, right? “I know what I’m posting, I know when I’m posting, and I’m being very intentional about it.”
I used to try to batch-post an entire month at a time, but this idea of theme days, to me, is a lot easier. If I’m already in that Money Mindset, or that Motivational Monday, or whatever your theme is for Monday, you can batch out all of your Mondays for the next three months. And, when you’re in that mode, it’s so much easier to get the creative juices flowing, because you’re already writing content on that. It’s easy to wrap my head around thinking, “What are all of the posts that I can make on that specific topic before I move on to the next day?” And then, once Monday is done, move on and batch out your Tuesday posts.
It personally works better for me, because I really like to be in flow. And, when I’ve got those creative juices flowing on a topic, I want to roll with that. That’s what I’m working on right now, is finishing up the batching for this first quarter, so that I know that that’s done, and I can start shifting gears to, “Okay, where am I headed next? What do people need in the second quarter, after their New Year’s resolutions have either taken off or they need to adjust?”
I love that. Okay, let’s jump to the third area of focus here.
I’m going to be honest, I geeked out about this one, because this is something people don’t typically talk about: In direct sales, we want testimonials. So, even though we know that we want those personal testimonials, a lot of people fall back on, “I’m just going to post a screenshot of the text I got about how great the product or service is.” There’s nothing wrong with that, but I have another thought.
I do all of my testimonials now through Google Forms. And, here’s the magic that happens: You can send someone a link—and again, this could be part of your direct message sequencing that we already talked about. “Hey, I’d love to get some feedback from you. I’d love to get a testimonial. Could you share your experience?” Then, you get to designate the questions. You get to ask them right there, “Is there a picture you want me to use?” They can attach that. And, when they complete that Google Form, like magic, it creates an Excel spreadsheet. Everyone who completes that Form is on the same spreadsheet, with the answers in columns to every question. It’s so efficient, and so effective for managing your time, because you’re not fumbling to find the information you need.
I’ll give you some examples of what I’ve asked and why I ask these questions, because this is such a great opportunity as a seller to guide and direct your clients. Whether you use a Google Form or not, a testimonial form is your chance to think about the questions to ask to guide the feedback you want.
For example, I like to ask, “What problem was solved through our work together? What problem did you overcome through this product or service?” So, now you have a testimonial that’s amping up the product. Also, you can actually start tracking the problems that your clients are consistently experiencing. It’s going to help you get to know your client avatar much better. And, when someone has to say, “This is what you did for me,” it reminds them that you helped them solve a problem. You’re aligning their energy with your brand and your services.
The second question that I like to ask is, “What did you like about this approach/service/delivery?” Why? Because, now they’re telling me how I’m unique, how I’m different than what they’re already seeing out there in the marketplace.
A third question that I like to ask is, “Would you recommend this, and if so, to whom?” And here’s what’s cool about this one: I’ve asked this question, and I really thought that they would give me names. But, what I actually get is, “I think anyone who is experiencing X, Y, or Z should do this.” And so, it gives you additional perspective into a client base that you might not have realized before is someone that wants that product or service from you. So, it’s helping with your branding. It’s helping with referrals. It’s helping with your avatars. It’s all coming to one place. It’s easy to copy and paste into a post.
And again, when we think back to time, energy, and focus, this investment of creating a form comes back to, first of all, you’re far more likely to get a testimonial. But, it also creates so much more ease, so much more simplicity. Now, you can have a Testimonial Tuesday, if that’s what you want on Tuesdays, because you’ve asked maybe four or five or six questions on your form; you have four or five or six soundbites to pull from. You don’t have one testimonial from someone; you have five or six testimonial soundbites from one person. They stretch farther. So, it’s kind of a small thing, but it’s not small at all.
And timing-wise, it’s great to do that here at the start of the year, too. You just had a lot of customers shop with you over the holiday season. You’re checking in on their orders, making sure that they’re loving everything with your roadmap, and working a testimonial into that process is huge. This would be a great time to buckle down on those systems, to get that flowing in the background for you, and I think on Google Forms, it’ll even email you when somebody sends a response in, and it feels good when a testimonial pops into your inbox.
It feels good when they talk about the relationship they have with you, too, and they talk about the relationship with the product. You really get to be like, “Wow, I had no idea how much I helped.” So, it’s also an energetic boost for you. It really can reinvigorate and re-inspire you. And, here we are at the start of the year, and that’s the energy we’re in anyway, right? That “I’m ready to go. I want to hit the ground running.” And, this is an easy way to keep reconnecting to that energy over and over and over again throughout your year.
Cheers to 2023! I am so excited to kick off the year with you, and I can’t wait for you all to report back on how you’re focusing on investing your time and not just spending it.
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Take Action: How can you manage your time more efficiently in 2023?