Category Archives: Sales and marketing

How to Accelerate the 3 Stages of Business Growth

For the last several months, I’ve been constructing a model for building a highly successful business.  Based on what I’ve done to build mine over the years and harvesting the wisdom of brilliant mentors I’ve studied with, I’ve outlined a comprehensive, yet simple model for success.

The model extends well past theory and includes 7 practical steps business owners must take if they want to thrive and enjoy life rather than being consumed by the ‘job’ they’ve created for themselves.

Today, using the metaphor of how bamboo grows, I’ll share with you the 3 stages you must master to enjoy massive business growth.

Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on the planet, spurting at times, almost 4 feet in a single 24-hour period!  At the beginning though, it appears to be growing (on the surface) quite slowly.

There are 3 stages of bamboo (and business) growth: sleep, creep and leap.

1. Sleep
During the first year of a young bamboo plant’s life, most of its energy is devoted to

laying a strong foundation via the root structure.  Plant shoots peak out above the ground and underground rhizomes shoot out horizontally.

2. Creep
As the foundation builds, the plants continue to grow but most of the ‘work’ is still being done underground.  The roots branch and spread even further.  They provide water to the leaves and the leaves use sunlight to produce food that the roots need to expand further and stock up on energy for next year’s shoots.

3.  Leap
Once the foundation has developed (and this may take years) the above-ground plants grow rapidly.  Each year, as the stand of plants matures, the diameter of each new cane that develops, is generally larger than those that were ‘born’ last year.

So, as with your business, the huge bamboo stand of plants isn’t built in a single year.   But once the foundation is laid, growth seems almost miraculous.

Here are a few of the steps you must take to enjoy miraculous business growth.

In the Sleep phase, you dream.  You envision and clarify your ideal clients, your ideal work day and your overall ideal day.  Without this step, you’ll feel unfocused, frustrated and stressed.

You also clarify what you’ll be offering to the market place and how to best distinguish you and your business from all of the other vendors with similar offers.  You work on branding and understanding exactly how people or companies benefit from working with you.

You define your ‘product mix’, create revenue goals, set prices, deterimine sales channels and schedule your major marketing activities.

In the Creep phase, you launch your marketing efforts in a focused and aggressive manner.  You identify what you need to run a successful business from an internal perspective and from an external marketing perspective.  You implement your marketing plans and measure your success.  If you skip this step or do it poorly, you’ll feel scattered and leave money on the table because you miss opportunities that are right there in front of you.  You’ll use the wrong approaches and waste precious time and money.

In the Leap phase, you work on leveraging your success. You work ON your business not just IN it.  The focus here is on time mangement, automating and systemitizing. You document and delegate, work to continually delight your customers and build internal financial metrics and controls.

You also start to convert your ‘secret sauce’ into products that you can use to build revenue that is not dependent on you actively working with clients.  You build raving fans, referrals, affiliates and perhaps joint venture partners. You enhance and expand your online marketing efforts. NOw that you’ve got your systems in place, you aggressively drive traffic to your website to generate qualified leads.

During this phase, you’ll probably encounter more leadership challenges so you’ll also work on improving yourself while managing the issues of leading a team of employees or contractors.  You may even decide to pursue bigger, better and more well-heeled clientele.

If you don’t Leap successfully, you’ll survive but miss out on the mega-growth that you probably dreamed of when you first launched your burgeoning empire.

While I’ve laid out these 3 stages sequentially, you’re almost always working on some aspects of each of them.  At various phases of your own evolution, you make focus on different aspects of this model. You may elect to restart the process at stage 1 if you decide to revamp your business.  You may jump in at Stage 2 if you love the clients you have and the work you do, but the model isn’t generating enough cash.

And as you grow, you’ll need to work on Stage 3 to Leap into an even more prosperous future and create the lifestyle of your dreams.

7 Steps to an Endless Stream of Prospects and Clients

1.  Create long-term and short-term goals
It’s important to know the big picture of where you’re trying to take your life and business.  Without that, you’ll lack the motivation to get through the tough spots and do the things that scare you the most. You also need to know the NEXT STEPS you need to do RIGHT NOW to make progress toward that big goal.

2.  Determine where you’re leaving money on the table
If you don’t know why you’re not raking in the dough, you have to analyze your business sales process and figure out what the problem is. Do you not have enough people to talk to?  Are you not reaching out to the ones you know? Are they not willing to talk to you? When you do speak with them, do they say “No” or worse yet, put off  the decision to do business with you? If you don’t know the problem, the solutions you come up with probably won’t work.

3.  Identify the most effective marketing strategies for you to capture that money

There are tons of ways to marketing your business. If you try to do all of them, you’ll end up feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.  Pick a few (three or four) to focus on over a short, concentrated time frame.  They might include networking, speaking or blogging. These will get you visibility with your target audience if you select the right venues or platforms.

4.  Develop a concise list of actions to take to promote your business and take them
Nothing beats planning like taking action. Analysis and planning have their place, but in order to make progress, you have to DO SOMETHING. Consistently. Even when you’re afraid.

5.  Create the tools you have been missing that prevent you for effectively marketing yourself
You probably have legitimate ‘excuses’ for why you’re not taking action.  Perhaps you can’t follow up with people because it seems like too much work and you’re not organized enough to pull it off.  If that’s the case, you might need a follow up system to help.  This might require starting a database of the people you come in contact with that you want to and having preset messages you can customize and send to them.  This will make it infinitely easier for you and you won’t feel like you’re starting from scratch every time.

6.  Track your results
Most people don’t do this but it’s critical.  You have to be able to look back and see how productive you really are.  How many prospect/sales calls did you make yesterday?  You’ve probably heard the expression, ‘What gets measured, gets managed. What gets managed, improves.’  So start measuring and tracking your actions.

7.  Get support to stay on track
When you’re in business for yourself, there is generally no one holding you accountable for growing your business.  Your customers are holding you accountable, but it’s for their benefit in making sure you deliver on what you promised them.  If you have a team, you should definitely include them in the planning process and keep lines of communication open during service delivery.  But if you’re the boss, few of them will have the courage to manage you since you hold the purse strings to their future. Plus, you’ll probably not want to reveal to your employees all of your fears, concerns and trepidations. So find someone outside of your organization who will support you in staying on track.  This could include a mastermind group, a mentor, coach or consultant of some kind who understands enough of where you’re going and what you’re doing to provide some insight and prodding when you most need it.

When you implement these 7 steps on a consistent basis, you’ll find that you attract the right opportunities and take the actions necessary to seize them and succeed.

4 Quick Questions that Generate Sales

Most service professionals I know struggle with holding productive sales conversations.  They either avoid them altogether and never get close to the sale or blab so much about what they offer, that they turn people off and lose the deal anyway.

The key is to get your prospects talking so they convince themselves that you are the perfect solution to their problems. And the way to get them talking is by asking them questions designed to reveal their hopes and dreams and obstacles to their success. It is through skillful questioning that many a fortune are made.

My friend Lynn Hennessy, owner of a highly successful insurance agency, has her team using 4 simple questions with great success.  Lynn learned them from Marvelous Marvin LeBlanc, The Cajun Trainavator.

They are similar to the questions I use, but so short and crisp, I had to ask if I could share them with you, so here they are!

1.  When it comes to (insert your product or service), what do you currently have?

2.  What do you like about it?

3.  What do you dislike?

4.  What do you want instead?

Your prospect has now just laid out a roadmap for you to engage them in a conversation that is relevant for them about what you have to offer and how it can address their needs (only if it legitimately does, of course).

Leading with these questions won’t guarantee you close the sale, but I’ll bet your closing ratio will go up.  So try them out and let me know.