Category Archives: Sales & markeing

In a Rut? 7 Rules for Rooting Your Rut

Most of us live inside our comfort zone. We can’t help it.  Our minds and instincts are designed to ensure our survival so they work hard at protecting us from taking risks and ending our lives, relationships or careers.

We sometimes fall victim to our routines and find ourselves in a rut.

Watch this video for details on these 7 Rules to Root Your Rut

7 Rut-o-Rooter Rules
1.  Take time to dream
2. Try something different
3.  Ask for help
4. Have a backup plan
5. Complete a project
6. Root your rut
7. Take action on something specific to your rut

Top 10 Tips to Make Next Year Better than This One

Every year, about this time, I clear off my calendar and get out of working in my business so I can work on my business.

I took some time last Friday and a bit over the weekend to contemplate the Dream Destination for my business and assess the various vehicles I’m ‘driving’ to achieve my goals.

2008 was my best year ever allowing me to create and enjoy a thriving 6-figure business! That felt really good!

This year has been a challenge for my clients and consequently for me as well.  I don’t know about you, but it’s felt like I had to work so much harder this year.  At the same time, some amazing doors and  windows of opportunity opened up.  So I used this time to evaluate the opportunities and challenges and devise ways to leverage the opportunities and overcome the challenges.

I poured over my financials and realized that the bulk of my revenue now comes from speaking and training.  I also realized, thankfully, that this is what I most enjoy doing.

I learned a lot during this strategic review using the Strategic Planning Toolkit and fashioned them into 10 simple tips that you can benefit from.

10.  Revenue Creation

Identify the services or products that generate the most revenue for you that you enjoy providing to your clients.

9.   Profit Creation

Identify the services or products that create the most profit for you  (this might surprise you).   Again make sure that you enjoy providing these products and services). Package them into various size bundles for the price-conscious and luxury-oriented consumer.

8. Time Utilization

Evaluate where you spend the bulk of your time. (Hint: if it’s not creating more of #10 and #9, you’re leaving some serious money on the table.) Make a commitment to re-prioritize your time investment.

7.  Team Evaluation

Make a rigorous review of your team.  Make sure each person is well-suited to the role they play and that you’re not tolerating poor performance from anyone.

6.  Systems

Document repetitive processes.  Automate where possible.  Use your website or other technology to handle appointment scheduling and automate your sales process.

5.  Delegation

Once your team and systems are in place, turn over as many of your current ‘duties’ to your team or the  system.  Free up your time for creation of more #10 & #9.

4.  Client Definition

Narrow your marketing and product/service creation to focus the clients you are best equipped to serve.

3.  Client Problem Definition

Get crystal clear about the problems your target clients suffer from that you can help them solve.

2.  Capability Statement

Write down specific skills, resources, tools, and experiences you have in solving the client problems you just named. Make sure you would be happy using these capabilities to deliver the products or services.  If the thought of spending your time on these activities puts a know in your stomach, start this process over.

1.  Client Acquisition

You won’t make money if you don’t have paying clients!  Figure out where they hang out.  Understand which marketing strategies are most effective in reaching them.  Gather testimonials from happy clients to validate your assertions. Put them on your website and in your marketing materials.  Get on the phone and talk with people.  Direct contact is THE best way to land new clients.

Implement these top 10 tips and you will have a better year next year!

Why Big Companies Don’t Do Business with You: 7 Steps for Fixing That

This article was contributed by Barbara Weaver Smith, The Whale Hunters

The Whale Hunters like to talk about the “aperture of perception” – that lens through which you focus your prospects’ attention and govern what they see and experience.

Everything that touches the whale (big company prospects) contributes to the buyers’ overall perception of you-for example:

* Telephone answering
* Website
* Location
* Communications
* Print materials and proposals
* D&B profile
* Testimonials

Whales are afraid of smaller companies; they feel safer with other big companies, like themselves. Yet they want the advantages that a small company can offer-undivided attention, innovation, agility, speed of decision-making. Trouble is, they won’t buy advantage when they’re fearful. So the key is to allay their fears by controlling the aperture of perception. Show them many signs that look like, sound like, and feel like “large.”

Here are seven steps to looking larger:

1. Brand

Brand your product or service, not your key person or people. The founding entrepreneur often starts our selling, delivering, and managing-especially in a professional services company. The sooner you can shift the customer’s focus from an individual to a service brand, the faster you will be able to grow and the larger you will appear.

2. Team

Even whales may have bios of their leadership team on the website. But these are professional and objective. On your website and in your literature, eliminate any references to hobbies, pets, and other folksy traits; use uniform head-shot or business casual photos

3. Location

If you are based in a small city or town and want to do business with big-city whales in other states, establish a big city presence in one or more of your target areas. This can be as simple as a virtual location through an executive center or other shared office space arrangement. A professional receptionist, find-me phone service, and local address will send the message.

4. Website

Make your website all about the buyers, not you about you. Who are you trying to attract and what will they be looking for? Some good whale websites are organized according to the size of the customer who is visiting – i.e. consumer services, small business services, enterprise services. Consider how your this kind of distinction could help your website achieve the right tone for both whales and non-whale customers.

5. Niche

Be careful how you present your niche in digital and print materials. WBE/MBE designations are a good example. They position you as a subcontractor and/or a company competing for set-aside projects. If that is the position you intend to occupy, then go for it. But if you also want to be a prime contractor and compete on an equal footing with bigger companies, you will find it extremely difficult to change a whale’s mindset about that pigeonhole in which they’ve placed you. In fact, it could be a reason to have completely separate divisions or companies, one marketed as a WBE/MBE and the other not.

6. Media/News Page

Write a press release each time you sign a new customer, receive an award, achieve a revenue milestone, appoint a new employee or give a raise. Post the releases on your website and maintain a news page with links to each. These press releases have little news value except to you, but they send a message that you are a company that sees itself as newsworthy. On your media page, offer contact information for how media people should reach your PR team-even if that is through your primary phone number and a email address.

7. Product/Service White Papers

Invest in preparing white papers to supplement your marketing copy. A white paper is a report that makes a business case or explains technical details. It places your products/services in a broader business and technical context. Promote these as free downloads on your website and include them as appropriate during a sale. The white paper is not primarily about your product or service but about what it helps the buyer to accomplish and /or how it works. Consider including industry white papers, written by others, on your website to help educate your prospects.

Focus on the Next Best Thing & Rise Above the ‘Bad’ Times

I heard recently that one of the keys to surviving a downturn in the economy is to focus on the “next best thing”. You may be experiencing a slow down in your sales efforts and, consequently, your service delivery, so take advantage of the break from the mania of the past.

How do you know what that next hot thing will be?

1. You do research.
Read industry magazines. Surf the internet.  Create ‘Google alerts for topics you’re interested in and you’ll be notified any time an article appears on the internet about that topic.  Attend conferences, interview thought leaders. Follow them on Twitter. Scan the horizon for themes.  Study trends.  Then use your imagination.

2.  Train your staff
Once you’ve filtered through the noise and have focused on some up-and-coming ideas, train your staff on them.  (See last week’s article on Maximizing Training’s ROI.)  The more your employees know about the next best thing and the more you encourage innovation, the more likely you are to be able to take advantage of the rising tide by tailoring your existing products and services to meet the new opportunities being created.  You might even be able to create new products and services in the emerging field.

3.  Refine your sales & marketing efforts

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, ‘The early bird catches the worm’.  Use your insight into the new trends to re-brand and re-position your company in the industry.  Tailor your messages, update your language to demonstrate that you and your company are learning and moving forward.  Position yourself as living on the cutting-edge.  Your prospects and clients will notice, will see you as the expert and a thought leader and want to learn (and buy) more from you.

What ever you do, don’t waste this opportunity.  Study, learn, create and implement.  Those are the keys to rising above the circumstances; creating and living your dreams.

How to Make Your Business Fly: 3 Secrets to Revenue Resilience

Why do ducks walk when they can fly? Indeed, why do we?

I’ve never asked one, but I would guess that flying, especially the lift off, is hard work.

Yolanda Adams so soulfully sang, I Believe I Can Fly. If you haven’t heard it or just need a boost right now, check this out. It’s spine-tinglingly incredible.

Over the weekend, I heard someone say ‘We were born to win but we’re conditioned to lose”.

That may not always be true for everyone, but most of us suffered some ‘incident’ (or series of incidents) as children that limited the limitless potential into which we were born. Someone said or did something that shut us down and because we were little, young, inexperienced and/or trusting, we thought what they said was true.

We took on those limiting beliefs and, because we’re human, today as adults, we’re still dealing with, working around or succumbing to their impact.  Even if things are going well, we’re still shaped  by conclusions we drew when we were young and had less perspective and understanding of the way the world works.

It’s easy to fall victim to the doom and gloom of the economy.  It’s harder to go against the drift of conventional ‘wisdom’.  But just like flying, once you get started, it isn’t so bad.

You’ve probably heard people say “under the circumstances…” and then use that to explain or justify their current condition.

Here’s the first secret…

Don’t live under the circumstances!  Yes, we all have circumstances, but we have full choice about how to respond to them!

I don’t mean to sound completely non empathetic. Certainly losing a loved one can be traumatic: grieving is a process that takes time to unfold.

Yet, still we choose.

So how does this apply to your business and what are those secrets?

1.  Keep your big goal in front of you.
2.  Ask people what they need.
3.  Stay out of your comfort zone.

Here’s what I mean

1.  Keep your big goal in front of you.

No matter if the economy is flourishing or stagnating, you must have at least one big goal and you must constantly remind yourself what it is and why it’s important.  You must talk about it to everyone around you who is supportive and not a nay-sayer.

By keeping it front of mind and talking about it constantly, you’ll put your subconscious mind to work.  It will begin devising ways to make the goal a reality.  Your conscious mind will start noticing opportunities it might have overlooked previously.

You’ll stay motivated and focussed.  A client of mine once shared that, in her marriage to her business partner husband, she was the big goal thinker.  He was more, shall we say, grounded.  She likened it to a river rafting trip through surging rapids.

She thought about the calm stream they would eventually reach; he focussed on all the boulders along the way.  You need to pay attention to both, but forgetting that there is a big goal out there and only noticing the boulders, will depress you.

2.  Ask people what they need.

No matter what, you should always be sensitive to what your target market, clients and prospects need.  And don’t rely on your own judgment.  Ask them.

Perhaps you could tailor something you’re already doing to more clearly solve one of their current gnawing problems.  The more you are aware of what’s missing in your industry, the more likely you’ll offer something it needs.

Also, the more clear you are about people’s concerns, the more targeted your marketing efforts will be making it easier for people to say ‘yes’ to you.

3.  Stay out of your comfort zone.

We get lulled into complacency when times are good.  Almost anything we do works out.  When times are tight, it’s critical to branch out.  Try new things.   Don’t rely on what’s always worked in the past.  Learn new skills.

Reach out and touch more people.  Pick up the phone.  Call people.  Build relationships.  See how they’re doing.  Let them know what you’re up to.

Force yourself to do things you’re frightened mind tells you to do later.  DO THEM NOW! Stretch the limits of who you think you are. You’ll discover your own resilience.  You’re discover  the depths of your own strength.

You’ll uncover opportunities that weren’t there until you spoke up.  You’ll remind people you’re around and they’ll remember you when someone asks them ‘Who do you know who…?

So, that’s it.  Think big, do research, stretch out.  Those keys will keep revenue ‘flying’ toward you and your business.