How full is your pipeline? How to get more.

Keeping your pipeline full is one of the best ways to build and maintain a thriving business. The problem is that people are often clueless about how to stuff their pipeline and keep it that way.

Quite often, they alternate between heavy periods of marketing followed by having tons of work to do during which time, they stop marketing.  Then when the client work is all done and they can breathe again, they gasp because there’s no one waiting in the wings ready to do business.
Sound familiar?

There are a variety of activities that can raise your visibility, awareness and credibility for you and what you offer.  We’ll cover a four key suggestions today.

1. Attend networking events
Be selective here though because you could literally spend all day, everyday driving from one event to the next.  Ask for recommendations from people whose opinion you trust.  But decide for yourself if the group is a good fit for you.  The key is to attend events filled with people in your target market but resist the urge to try to sell them on the spot.  Build relationships and over time, your sales will grow. Also, join groups where you’re in the minority.  If you sell primarily to people over 50, think of hobbies they might enjoy and join those groups.

2. Get more active online
Start a blog.  It doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s the beauty of blogs.  They’re informal rantings about issues you consider important.  You’ll attract other people who think those issues are important too.  Make sure you visit other people’s blogs and get involved in the discussions at their sites.

3.  Volunteer with one or two key business groups
This is a great way to build credibilty and make invaluable connections.  You can gain so much by attending a networking event.  Your benefit magnifies dramatically when you take on a leadership role. People will see your skills in action in ways they wouldn’t notice if you are just hob-nobbing and passing out cards like everyone else.

4.  Get your name in print
One of my clients is very active in the community. The company made a big donation to a local nonprofit but they missed out on an opportunity for media attention for their good deed.  It’s great to be civic minded.  But it’s just as ok to leverage your generosity to bring attention to yourself and your favorite ’cause’.

Dealing with Downsizing

We are bombarded by bad news regarding the economy.  People are using the “R” and even the “D” word.  If you listen to the news a lot, it could be just plain depressing.  It’s critical to keep your wits about you and not succumb to all the bad news.

Here are the three biggest areas where downsizing is occurring: people, budgets and even customers.

1.  Downsized staff

You may be working for a firm that has reduced its staff in order to stay competitive. If that’s the case, you might have mixed feelings about still having your job.  While you’re grateful you have a steady salary, you might be dealing with feelings of guilt because someone you care about lost their job.  You might even feel some resentment for the increase in your workload.

2.  Downsized budgets

Companies and individuals are being more cautious with their financial resources.  More scrutiny is being applied to the way money is spent and invested.  Budgets are being slashed.  You may find yourself having to deal with more budget constraints than ever before.

3.  Downsized customers

Some unfortunate customers might be out of the market altogether.  If they’re lucky, wise or well financed, they’re still in business.  It’s likely though that their budgets are constrained.  They are also being more judicious in their spending habits and you know what that means for you.  Perhaps you’re feeling that squeeze as well.

As I said at the beginning, it’s tempting to fall victim to to the doom and gloom, but that would be a mistake.  Let me share with you 3 specific things you can do to counteract the naysayers.

1. Dealing with downsized staff

If you’re the boss of a reduced group, one of the best things you can do is communicate with them.  Overcommunicate if possible.  Keep them informed of what’s happening with the business.  Get them involved in creating cost-saving ideas.  Show your appreciation to keep them motivated.

If you’re part of a downsized staff, stay focused on productive activities.  Give yourself permission to have mixed feeling about your situation.  However, avoid spending too much time with whiners.  They’ll just drag you down.  Make suggestions to your boss about how things could be done more efficiently.  Don’t forget to highlight the contributions you’re making to the team and the company – and quantify them if you can.

2. Dealing with downsized budgets

Resources are scarce now so make sure you’re deploying them wisely.  Set criteria for how you’ll decide when and how you’ll invest – or not.  If you’re having to lobby others for budget approval, make sure you can demonstrate a solid return on investment.  If you’re selling and attempting to get others to part with their money, make sure you talk about the value your product or service provides.   Forget features; talk about results your customers can expect.

3.  Dealing with downsized customers

Recognize that your customers are probably going through all of these same challenges.  There are fewer people in the market these days.  They’re laying low, conserving their cash.  Now more than ever, it’s critical that you understand what your customers need.  People and companies are still spending money.  Your challenge is to offer them something they really need to make their lives and businesses better.

When you implement these simple steps, you’ll be better positioned to weather this financial storm.  Keep in mind…this too shall pass.

3 Tips to Make It All Work & Grow Your Business with Grace & Ease

If you’re anything like me (which I’ve noticed many entrepreneurs are), you’re full of ideas, projects and opportunities to pursue.  There is more to do than can be done in a day, week, month…heck, it seems, often more than can be done in even a year!

I was talking with one of my assistants the other day about a conversation she’d had with another team member about the never-ending to-do list we live with. She asked if it bothered me to always have such a long list.

“Not at all!”, I expressed.  It makes me feel quite alive.  I think it adds to the sense of purpose for my life.  Clearly, my life isn’t entirely about completing projects, but being a person who values accomplishment, crossing things off my list brings me great joy!

I must admit though, last week, it did begin to feel like I didn’t really have my arms wrapped around all of my compelling ideas.  You see, they come to me in the middle of the night, first thing in the morning, while driving and while working.

In addition, there are all the great ideas I get exposed to in my coaching sessions and the seminars, mastermind groups and retreats I attend.

So they often end up on separate pieces of paper (kept by the bed for the middle-of-the-night epiphanies) or in notebooks and on handouts from the meetings & seminars.  So this weekend, I reread all my notes and lists and even listened to some audio CDs  had purcased.

So what process did I use to get focused and fired up?

Let me explain with these three simple tips…

1. List and organize your ‘intellectual capital’ – that expertise that sets you apart

This process alone will make your marketing efforts so much more simple.  It’s critical that you understand your expertise because without that, you’re message will be muddy and people won’t know how or why they should use you.

Even if you have many areas of expertise, create 3 – 5 big categories and ‘bucket’ everything in those categories.  You’ll be able to describe what you do with clarity and confidence.   Your prospective clients will understand more clearly what you have to offer.  And you’ll be able to target and package your offers in more compelling ways.

2.  Decide on the specific revenue streams you want to fuel

This is critical on a few levels.  Once you decide where and how you want revenue to come to you, you can more easily design activities that will generate that revenue.   State how much revenue you want from each stream.  This will guide the strategies you use and help you uncover and recognize opportunities to pursue and distinguish those you will leave alone.

Just to give you an example, my  revenue streams include coaching, speaking, products and consulting.  Once you know yours, set targets for each category and list specific ways intend to reach your goals.

3.  Identify the strategies and actions that will allow you to fulfill on your desired revenue streams

Now that you know how you want money to flow your way and from which venues, make a list of the actions you need to take to make those things happen.  They might include things like identifying joint venture partners, speaking venues or ways you’ll sell your wares.

Then get to work!

As I mentioned in my Fox10 interview last month, ‘calendarize’ your plans.  Decide products and offers what you’ll roll out and when.  identify the specific steps you need to execute to reach your revenue goals.

Lightning Fast Leadership Lessons

It seems everyone is moving at the speed of light these days (except unfortunately our economy).  In the midst of the hectic lives we lead, we sometimes neglect the simple things that could help us get where we want to go.

1.  Find out what other people want

You can inspire and motivate people more easily if you know what turns them on, what lights their fire, what keeps them awake at night.  Don’t be so frantic that you forget this ‘niceties’ in dealing with others.

2.  Explain the ‘why’

It’s important for people to understand why you’ve asked them to do something.  Some managers are guilty of just barking orders. But that leaves people feeling like peons or cogs in a wheel.  You’ll get more commitment to producing quality work when people know that what they’re doing matters and why.

3.  Take good care of yourself

It’s tempting to keep your nose to the grindstone when there is so much work to be done.  However, it’s critical that you ‘invest’ time in taking care of yourself.  Make sure you get enough rest, schedule time to workout, spend time with the family, reward yourself when you’ve completed something big.

Even if you’re short on cash, do something inexpensive to reward yourself.  Enjoy an ice cream cone, watch your favorite DVD movie, exchange back rubs with a friend or partner. Restore your spirit.

Take these lessons to heart and take the struggle out of right from the start!