Tag Archives: business development tactics

The 7 Essential Lists Successful Businesses Must Have

Running a successful business requires more than a good idea.  It requires structure and processes to keep things and money flowing.

1. Long-term goals list
If you’ve been following me for any time, you’ll undoubtedly heard me talk about the importance of goals.  Goals that stretch beyond today or this week, will help you prioritize your time in the most productive manner possible.  They will motivate you and your staff.  They will keep on focused on what’s truly important.

2. Daily to-do action items list
Just as important as knowing where you’re going long term, is knowing (and doing) what’s most important RIGHT NOW.  Sometimes unforseen emergencies have to be dealt with.  But more importantly, you need to decide each day what the most productive use of your time will be.

I always have a to-do list and never get through everything on the list on any given day.  I do always decide what the priorities are for the day and then get to work on them.  Last week, I lost my list and I was lost without it!  Thank God I found it a couple of days later.  I remembered some of the critical items, but had forgotten one that needed to be addressed.

3. Prospect list
This is one of the biggest mistakes business owners make.  If you don’t have a list of potential prospects, you’re definitely leaving money on the table.  If you’re a retail establishment, people make a purchase the very first time they discover you.  However, if you don’t and you haven’t captured their contact info, you may never hear from them again.

You’ll increase your chances of doing business with them if you’re able to proactively reach out and remind them that you exist.  So if you aren’t already capturing either a physical address or email address from your store or website visitors, start that now! You’ll probably need to give them some sort of incentive (not just an offer for your newsletter) in order for them to part with their contact info. But capturing that valuable data must be your goal.

4. Customer list
Just as important as a prospect list is a list of your customers. These are people who have demonstrated interest in your product or service by making a purchase.  It takes more time and energy to make a sale to a stranger or prospect than to someone who has already bought from you and been satisfied.  Treat these people well, but don’t neglect offering them the next thing you offer that can help solve their problems.

5. Process list
Every business needs a set of processes that help the business run efficiently.  You probably have them even if they aren’t documented. You need to document them.

Start by making a list of all of the “Here’s how we do things around here” topics in a variety of areas such as answering the phone, identifying prospects, converting prospects to clients, taking on a new client, invoicing clients, processing payments, asking for a referral, publishing our newsletter, paying the bills, making minor changes to your website, etc. Then write out the steps involved in each process.

This compilation will be an invaluable tool in defining roles and responsibilities, delegating tasks and training new employees.

6. Resource list
This list includes the tools and systems you use to run your business and make your life easier.  It’s slightly different than the Process List which may reference certain resources: things like your accounting system, your website host, tools on your blog, new tools you plan to invest in, an employment agency or temp service, online portals for which you have memberships or accounts.

Having a list in a binder along with a brief description and access (login) or contact info will save you countless hours of trying find the information when you desperately need it.

7. Diversions list
After all of this work, you must take time to relax and enjoy life.  It’s challenging for some business owners to ‘work in’ time for play, but this list is essential as well.

Your list should include things you enjoy doing, that bring you peace of mind, that obliterate your stress.  Possible candidates are listening to a certain kind of music, playing music, painting, playing with your pets, children, spouse and friends.

Make sure you know which kind of ‘play’ you thirst for.  Is it board games, exercise, meditation, video games, outdoor sports, movies, ballet, opera, cards, TV, dancing, vacations, weekend getaways?

Whatever ‘floats you boat’, schedule it. That may sound weird but if these activities aren’t on your calendar or at least on a list you review regularly, they will get trumped by those emergencies and daily tasks.

Creating and using these lists will improve your productivity, keep your business soaring and maintain your sanity.

How to Distinguish Yourself in a Crowded Marketplace So You Win More Sales

If you want your business to grow, it’s critical that you set yourself apart from the competition. Many companies struggle with that idea but it’s not too difficult if you know the steps you must take.

If you fail at distinguishing yourself, you could end up having lots of conversations with prospects that end up going nowhere.  You’ll waste money on advertising that won’t get noticed and time on networking that doesn’t lead to presentations and therefore sales.

Let’s face it, unless you have a product or service that is truly unique, other entries in your industry will make the same client claims that you make.  And your prospects will either hire the person they like the best or the one who gives them the cheapest price.

So what’s a Biz Dev person to do?

Here are the 5 MUST DOs that will allow you to eradicate the competition and win more sales.

1. Define how you exceed market expectations
Everyone says they deliver exceptional customer service. That won’t distinguish you. Saying you focus on the customer is a big yawner as well.  If you’re a printer, on-time delivery is an expectation every client has.  If you’re able to design and print faster than anyone else, simplify the review/approval process, customize publications at a cost-effective price or deliver products to worldwide locations in a snap, you might have an edge.

2. Assess your past engagements
Make a list of your biggest success stories.  Notice what they had in common.  Were they all from particular or related industries? Did you sell or service them in a similar fashion? What made them so successful?

3. Identify your process
Determine what it is that you do with each of your clients.  Even if you think there isn’t a process you follow, I challenge you to discover it.  It’s there.  What’s the first thing you do?  Is it an assessment?  Do you ask them a series of questions followed by some recommendation(s)?  Do you have them do certain things?  You may have a number of processes you do under different circumstances.

4. Name It & Claim It
Once you’ve defined the steps you take, claim them and NAME them.  Acronyms are great but not necessary. For example, the steps I take clients through who are looking for more balance and joy in their life is RENEW.  Release, Elect, Nurture, Eject and Win.  While there are a lot of coaches who help people gain a stronger feeling of control over and balance in their lives, how many have a SYSTEM like the RENEW System?

5.  Tell your hero’s story
Share with your prospects and clients how you got where you are today.  Perhaps it’s the story of how you developed the system or how you grew up and led you to the life you have.  Your story is your own.  No one else can tell your story.  That makes your story a key ingredient in distinguishing yourself and your business from the rest of the world

I heard a marketing consultant/speaker share what it was like growing up the ‘baby’ in a family of 8 children.  His slogan was “Being heard above the noise”.  He tells his audience what it took for him to get heard above the noise of his children and helps business owners come up with their own stories so they can get heard above the noise.

You have everything you need to set yourself apart. You just need to look at who you are, how you got where you are, what you do that’s unique for your clients and the results you help them produce. This will distinguish you and help you win more sales.

How to Create a High Quality, Targeted Lead-Generation Machine

Lead-generation is one of the steps in the sales process many businesses struggle with. Here are some effective and not-so-effective ways to pull prospects into your business.

List brokers are helpful but not all brokers are created equal. Not all lists are equal.

Some brokers sell information that is not useful.  They give you what you ask for but it’s old and out of date.  Or they may sell you information for which they are paid the highest commission from the company that actually owns the list.

There are three types of lists
1. Compiled lists – based on attributes (Demographics like age, zip code, marital status, mortgage amount). These are the least expensive but they are also the least responsive.

2. Response lists – purchasers of similar services/products. These lists include actual buyers.  If you’ve ever purchased products from a catalog, you’ve probably noticed that you started receiving catalogs from other, similar companies. Someone sold your name because you demonstrated that you spend money in certain areas. It indicates you’re likely to do it again.

These lists are more responsive to related offers and therefore are more expensive to buy.

The downside with these types of lists is that they are generally sold as one-time-mailing lists. The brokers embed a few “test” people with addresses that secretly go to them. So if you try to use the lists again, the brokers will know and likely charge you a penalty.

3. House lists
The best list is one you have compiled from your own customers, prospects, certain contacts in your social networks, visitors to your website.

The key here is that you must COLLECT these contacts and compile them into a list so you can follow up with them.  It’s rare that people plunk down a substantial amount of money on your table the very first time they encounter you.

However, When you cultivate the relationship by consistently offering value and staying top of mind, they are more likely to purchase from you rather than your competition when they are ready.

This is where the machine kicks in.
1. Drive traffic to your website or blog. Use SEO or create organic (FREE) traffic through article and video marketing.

2. Have a COMPELLING way to collect the contact information from your visitors.

3. Create an automated follow-up system for these visitors as well as people you’ve met through other venues (so long as they’ve agreed)

4. Use your follow up system to build credibility, trust and create relationship with them. Then periodically and over time, introduce them to and give them opportunities to buy from you.

When you automate your process, you’ll create a lead generation machine.  When you focus on creating value with those leads, helping them solve problems and demonstrating your expertise, you’ll be able to convert your leads into sales.

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.

How to Gain More Sales Through Referrals

I’ve been coaching a lot of financial advisors lately on building their book of business by leveraging the power of referrals.  Referred prospects make faster decisions and do more business than prospects through any other marketing strategy.

I LOVE referrals…and I get a lot of them.

The problem for most business owners is that they’re afraid to ask for fear of seeming pushy or needy.  Colleagues are afraid to provide them because they don’t trust you enough to not jeopardize their relationships in their network.

So what’s a business owner to do?

When we’re in a slow economy, people are naturally hesitant and leery of making major investments.  If you’ve found yourself making lots of offers but getting few of them accepted, you’re not alone. The problem may not be that what you have to offer isn’t valuable.

It may be that your approach is off.

Referrals could be the key to your recovery.  Referred sales take less work. They close faster. They bring in more money.  And if you know the secret to leveraging them, they can pull you right out of this financial doldrum most of the world is trapped in.

Here are the 5 steps, R.E.F.E.R. to getting all the referrals you can muster.

1. Recruit
It’s important to identify the right referral partners.  These might be good clients or colleagues who sell non-competing products or services to your target market.

2. Educate
In order to alleviate that “I’m-not-sure-I-want-to-endorse-you” hesitation, you have to properly orient your referral partners.  They need to know not only what products and services you offer but how you’re going to treat their colleagues when you meet them. They have to feel confident that you’re not going to embarrass them or irritate the person they’re connecting you with.

3. Facilitate
Many people believe that giving you the name, phone number and email of a prospect is all that it takes.  In fact, that’s the weakest kind of referral you can ever get.  It’s better than a cold call for sure, but not strong enough to oversome the reluctance people have to meeting unknown sales people.

You want your colleague to talk to the prospect on your behalf and ‘grease the  slide’ for you before  you ever contact them.

4. Engage
Meeting your new prospect for the first time is a sensitive and delicate ocassion.  If you blow it, the relationship could be over for good. And you could be jeopardizing your relationship with the person you already know. You have to make sure your new prospect is comfortable meeting with you and minimize their discomfort and fear that you’re going to take advantage of them.

5. Reward
Once you’ve met with the prospect, whether or not they buy from you, it’s important to properly thank the person who made the introduction. Thanking them can take many forms.  The choice of how you show your appreciation should be commensurate with the business opportunity you had.  It should also be personal enough that your friend or colleague knows that you gave this gratitude process some thought and didn’t just send them the exact same thing you’d give to everyone.

Sure, you can have a canned referral program but unless your standard gifts are whopper, super-duper items, they won’t have long lasting motivational impact.  Gifts don’t have to be expensive, just tailored and thoughtful.

Follow this 5-part system consistently and you’re pipeline will be packed with prospects clamoring to do business with you.