Business Strategy

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Going Around the Mountain | Extraordinary Business

Taking the Indirect Route to Increase Business Development Performance

imageIf you can think differently about how to get your sales and can do it consistently, you will probably find that you can fill your sales funnel, consistently.

Business and consumers are constantly being bombarded by offers to purchase goods or services that they may or may not need.  Regardless, many business leaders focus on the direct sales approach – going directly to the end user and trying to pitch those goods or services and are often pleased with very low turnover rates.  This might be through direct emailing, advertising, networking or leveraging social media.

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Elevate Your Game | Extraordinary Business

Elevate Your Game Have you ever been to a store or worked with a business owner or a business that seemed to have a “think-small” or “scarcity” mentality.  What I mean by that is that there are certain business owners who spend so much energy simply trying to survive that they never get anywhere.  It is as though they have a boat with a hole in the bottom and instead of investing in repairing the hole, they focus all of their energies on bailing water out of the boat.  What they often miss out on is the fact that even if they don’t immediately have the resources to repair the hole, completely, if they are the only one bailing, there is no one sailing the ship.

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Business Development | Extraordinary Business

How to get and manage more customer relationships

One of the greatest challenge many business owners face is in business development.  Time and time again, business opportunities are simply lost as a result of having poor or no business development processes in place.  Those business that expect to have staying power in the marketplace must have those systems in place, and they must be updated and tweaked, continually.

The center of this process is typically around some method of customer relationship management.  A customer relationship management tool is one that allows you to keep track of people that you meet, some of whom may move through a series of steps that will look something like:Grancesco Marino graphic

  • Lead – A person that may or may not have the potential to do business with you.  They seem to fit into your target market and could potentially be someone with whom you could do business.  Leads often fall into two or three categories:
    • Cold lead – They’ve never heard of you, nor have you gotten an introduction to them
    • Warm lead – They’ve heard of you, possibly through an introduction, but don’t know enough about you to make a purchase decision
    • Hot lead – someone who knows you and or your business, and is open to purchasing from you.
  • Prospect
    • A prospect is a confirmed lead – someone who has a need you can fill, has taken an interest in filling that need, and has the resources to purchase from you.  The key, here, is that they understand what you and your company have to offer
    • There are a number of steps you’ll want to follow (and, perhaps customize, based on your industry and target market) in order to get them to the phase of client:
      • Interview them – learn more about their needs, concerns, challenges and/or interests
      • Analyze needs – determine how you can best fulfill their needs
      • Present – present your solution or solutions set
      • Negotiate – work around any objections
      • Close the Deal – get the contract and money in hand!
  • Client – you have fulfilled their needs in exchange for money or another medium of exchange
  • Repeat client & referral partner – getting them to purchase more from you and (not or) get them to refer other people to you.  This will be your least expensive form of marketing, since these people know you and your business and hopefully, enjoyed the experience.

The challenge many business owners find is that without having developed a strategy to manage all of this, money is left on the table and clients slip through the cracks.  Even those that put money into a CRM system, such as salesforce.com, Maximizer and Act! will quickly find that the software does not automate itself; you’ve got to invest the time and energy into learning it and making it work for you and your business.  Data entry and update is not a quick process.  However, it will pay off.

The best recommendation from industry professionals (CRM) is to work with an industry professional who can get a good understanding of your business, your sales processes, your current lead generation tactics and other nuances of the sales process and have assist you with choosing, implementing and training you on how to get the greatest return on your investment.  Like anything else in life, you are limited by what you know or have capacity to learn.  Working with an experienced professional will likely save you time and money and get your CRM solution running on the right foot.

Customer relationship management can be the difference between growing an extraordinary business and going out of business.

Grow extraordinary.  Try CRM.

Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is an Operations Management and Business Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses.

We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Specialty Consumer Services.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.

If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].
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Business Development | Extraordinary Business

How to get and manage more customer relationships

One of the greatest challenge many business owners face is in business development.  Time and time again, business opportunities are simply lost as a result of having poor or no business development processes in place.  Those business that expect to have staying power in the marketplace must have those systems in place, and they must be updated and tweaked, continually.
The center of this process is typically around some method of customer relationship management.  A customer relationship management tool is one that allows you to keep track of people that you meet, some of whom may move through a series of steps that will look something like:Grancesco Marino graphic

  • Lead – A person that may or may not have the potential to do business with you.  They seem to fit into your target market and could potentially be someone with whom you could do business.  Leads often fall into two or three categories:
    • Cold lead – They’ve never heard of you, nor have you gotten an introduction to them
    • Warm lead – They’ve heard of you, possibly through an introduction, but don’t know enough about you to make a purchase decision
    • Hot lead – someone who knows you and or your business, and is open to purchasing from you.
  • Prospect
    • A prospect is a confirmed lead – someone who has a need you can fill, has taken an interest in filling that need, and has the resources to purchase from you.  The key, here, is that they understand what you and your company have to offer
    • There are a number of steps you’ll want to follow (and, perhaps customize, based on your industry and target market) in order to get them to the phase of client:
      • Interview them – learn more about their needs, concerns, challenges and/or interests
      • Analyze needs – determine how you can best fulfill their needs
      • Present – present your solution or solutions set
      • Negotiate – work around any objections
      • Close the Deal – get the contract and money in hand!
  • Client – you have fulfilled their needs in exchange for money or another medium of exchange
  • Repeat client & referral partner – getting them to purchase more from you and (not or) get them to refer other people to you.  This will be your least expensive form of marketing, since these people know you and your business and hopefully, enjoyed the experience.

The challenge many business owners find is that without having developed a strategy to manage all of this, money is left on the table and clients slip through the cracks.  Even those that put money into a CRM system, such as salesforce.com, Maximizer and Act! will quickly find that the software does not automate itself; you’ve got to invest the time and energy into learning it and making it work for you and your business.  Data entry and update is not a quick process.  However, it will pay off.
The best recommendation from industry professionals (CRM) is to work with an industry professional who can get a good understanding of your business, your sales processes, your current lead generation tactics and other nuances of the sales process and have assist you with choosing, implementing and training you on how to get the greatest return on your investment.  Like anything else in life, you are limited by what you know or have capacity to learn.  Working with an experienced professional will likely save you time and money and get your CRM solution running on the right foot.
Customer relationship management can be the difference between growing an extraordinary business and going out of business.
Grow extraordinary.  Try CRM.
Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is an Operations Management and Business Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses.
We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Specialty Consumer Services.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.
If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].
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Born Running | Extraordinary Business

As a business leader, when you started your business, you were born running.  It was easy to get up every day and simply make things happen.  You had a vision for where you wanted your business to go, who you wanted to serve and what you expected to happen as a result of your business’s existence.

As reality hit, as the economy shifts, you’ve discovered that things aren’t as you had dreamed.  The work is a little harder and longer, the business consumes more and more of your life, the world is less friendly and getting people to do more than talk about your products or services is a bit more complicated than you anticipated.image

But you know that you cannot stop running.  Like an athlete, you know that if you don’t keep running, you cannot finish the race – even those in last place do finish.  That is not so for those who quit.

Consider, for a moment, what it takes to be a great athlete.  It takes clear focus, training, understanding of what it takes to win, clear goals on how to get there and people around you to help keep you on track.  You recognize the rules and guidelines and make a choice whether or not to obey them.  You get the proper resources and make sure that they are maintained in order for you to keep running.  You have a coach – someone to point out ways for you to do what it is you do a little better.

As a business leader, it is no different.  Clear direction, training, conditioning, people and a coach are not just nice to have, but requirements for you to be able to run the race for the long haul.  As you scan the environment – your industry and your marketplace, at least, you will see businesses that could not make it – that had to quit as a result of any number of effectors.  You must consider to yourself what will keep you out of that haphazard heap of corpses.

While it is no easy feat, you’ve got to keep running.  If you trip and fall, you’ve got to get up and do it, again.  As an extraordinary leader, quitting is not an option.  Though you may change your course or your perspective, you don’t quit.  Be extraordinary.  Keep running!

Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Healthcare Services.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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Technorati Tags: Extraordinary Business,Extraordinary Leader,Focus,Determination,Vision,Goals,Coach
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Born Running | Extraordinary Business

As a business leader, when you started your business, you were born running.  It was easy to get up every day and simply make things happen.  You had a vision for where you wanted your business to go, who you wanted to serve and what you expected to happen as a result of your business’s existence.

As reality hit, as the economy shifts, you’ve discovered that things aren’t as you had dreamed.  The work is a little harder and longer, the business consumes more and more of your life, the world is less friendly and getting people to do more than talk about your products or services is a bit more complicated than you anticipated.image

But you know that you cannot stop running.  Like an athlete, you know that if you don’t keep running, you cannot finish the race – even those in last place do finish.  That is not so for those who quit.

Consider, for a moment, what it takes to be a great athlete.  It takes clear focus, training, understanding of what it takes to win, clear goals on how to get there and people around you to help keep you on track.  You recognize the rules and guidelines and make a choice whether or not to obey them.  You get the proper resources and make sure that they are maintained in order for you to keep running.  You have a coach – someone to point out ways for you to do what it is you do a little better.

As a business leader, it is no different.  Clear direction, training, conditioning, people and a coach are not just nice to have, but requirements for you to be able to run the race for the long haul.  As you scan the environment – your industry and your marketplace, at least, you will see businesses that could not make it – that had to quit as a result of any number of effectors.  You must consider to yourself what will keep you out of that haphazard heap of corpses.

While it is no easy feat, you’ve got to keep running.  If you trip and fall, you’ve got to get up and do it, again.  As an extraordinary leader, quitting is not an option.  Though you may change your course or your perspective, you don’t quit.  Be extraordinary.  Keep running!

Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Healthcare Services.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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Technorati Tags: Extraordinary Business,Extraordinary Leader,Focus,Determination,Vision,Goals,Coach
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Extraordinary Business: Just Eat It!!

When someone presents a three year old with fresh vegetables, many times, the child will push it around the plate, play with it and perhaps even mash it up.  But more than likely, it won’t make it down the passageway behind the teeth.  Parents, who (typically) understand the nutritional needs of a three year old, have been known to launch into the battle, ultimately telling that three-year-old, “Just Eat It!!”image

Many business leaders take on the same mentality when dealing with their customers and clients.  This could be in customer service, product or service delivery, branding, marketing, networking, etc..  Whatever process is required is created without consideration for the end user, other than having and understanding (or a feeling) that they should buy it, use it, love it, and tell five people.

Obviously, this is not smart business.  As a matter of fact, just the opposite is true.  J. D. Power III, Consumer Reports and other companies have built successful businesses out of helping consumers choose the best product or service for their money.  While many goods and services do fly below their radar, it often takes one bad review to damage a company brand.

Consider this: typical consumers are not screaming three-year-olds – who many parents often give in to.  No matter how much your tell them to “Just Eat It!!” you are fighting a losing battle.

Build an Extraordinary company: Listen to your consumers.

Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Healthcare Services.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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Technorati Tags: Extraordinary Business,Customer Satisfaction,Consumers,Listen
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Extraordinary Business: Sell Happiness

In this week’s Business week, there was a story that centered around Apple called, “They Still Believe in Steve.”  The gist of the article centered around the Apple brand and the fact that despite “Antenna-gate,” the company reported profits of $3.25 billion on $15.7 billion is sales.  According to the article, COO Tim Cook said that Apple is, “selling every unit [they] can make.”

Consider, for a moment, what kind of brand power this company has.  “’For many people in this economy, Apple is what makes them happy,’ says Kaufman Brothers senior analyst Shaw Wu.”  This is the emotional response brand experts strive for when they work on a branding campaign with a company.

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Extraordinary Business: When Opportunity Knocketh

How do you know when opportunity is knocking?

How do you know when it is the right opportunity?

How do you know when it is the right opportunity for you?

As a business leader, you are probably aware of the old adage that says, “It takes money to make money.”  Practically, this means that typically, in order to grow your business, or take your business to the next level, there is going to be some cost involved.

Think about it: when you advertise, while you would love it if for every post card you sent out to get a response right away, you probably realize that your response rate might be about 10% and your conversion rate, about 10% of that – typically after several mailings.  

There is a real cost associated with the mailings and an unpredictable return on the investment.  However, if you did not do the advertising, your return, your company would not benefit from the additional clients and resulting revenues.

The same could be said of investing in new employees, equipment, software, vehicles, etc.  While there is some risk and perhaps some pain involved, evaluating  any opportunity is vital to determining whether it is right for your company.

When evaluating an opportunity, you’ll want to have a process and a set of criteria set up ahead of time, so that evaluation and implementation or discard of any opportunity can be done as efficiently as possible.  There are six things that need to be done:

  1. Determine how the opportunity would impact the company
  2. Decide if it fits within the company’s beliefs: its mission or purpose, its vision and its values
  3. Decide what resources will be required to take advantage of the opportunity.
  4. Learn what results or outcome of the opportunity should be.  Understand both the best and worse case scenarios.
  5. Evaluate the risk and if you are willing to lose what you’ve invested and possibly more as a result of a worse case scenario
  6. Determine what the timeline will be required in order to implement the opportunity, including time to gather resources and considering what other projects your company has under way.
  7. Make your informed decision.

As the leader of the organization, your team is depending upon you to make good decision.  There will be cases where it might be beneficial to include them in the process.  In other cases, it will not be appropriate.  Nonetheless, your team will need your guidance.

Be extraordinary.  Pursue extraordinary opportunities.  If you keep doing the same old thing the same old way, you’ll get the same results…until something changes.

Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Healthcare Services.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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Technorati Tags: Extraordinary Business,Opportunity,Leadership,Management,Innovation,Process Engineering

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