Category: Business Growth (page 1 of 6)

Get More Clients – How To Get Clients To Come To You

Sharon GaskinI am indebted to Sharon Gaskin for this post – Get more clients. Sharon is the MD of The Trainers Training Company – Helping Freelance Trainers Create Successful Businesses. This post ticks lots of boxes for me and the clients I would like to work with hence it’s inclusion into our blog roll. Than you Sharon.

A recurring theme for me this week has been the value of getting clients to come to you rather than you having to continually chase business. I remembered the first time this happened to me. The morning after one of my live Webcasts I had a call from an organisation asking me to go and run a Workshop for their members.
So how do you do it? How do you get clients to seek you out, call you and say they want you and must have you!!

Get more clients

1. Be brave – be different – make sure you stand out! Have a look at your business card, for example. If you gave it to someone at a Networking Event would it be a talking point? Would people remember it? What makes your card different from all the rest of the freelance trainers out there?

2. Get known for doing one thing, do it consistently and really well. The most successful freelance trainers I know are the ones who specialise in ONE area. Someone said to me the other day, does anyone ever ask you if you know a really good generalist? The answer is No!

3. Position yourself as an expert. That’s why it’s vitally important to specialise. You can’t be an expert in hundreds of different areas.

4. Be visible. Get out there – both on and off line.
Be consistent with your networking activity. 10 minutes a day on Twitter, Linked In or Facebook is better than 1 full day once a month. By doing this both your name and what you do slowly drip feed into people’s consciousness.

5. Be authentic. Be yourself. Accept that some people may not like you, but hopefully most will. People buy from people who they know, like and trust. People are also attracted to people who they feel resonate with them, who are genuine and clear about what they stand for.

6. Build up a following and an army of fans! If you are doing all of the above this will happen naturally and before you know it more and more people will be ringing you and asking you to do do business with them!

Sharon Gaskin is the Founder of The Trainers Training Company helping freelance trainers to create successful and profitable training businesses.

Agreeing on the problem – Seth Godin

Seth GodinSeth Godin is a prolific author churning out reams and reams of high value content.

I read this and just wanted to share it with the people who read my blog. I take no credit whatsoever for it as all of that goes to Seth himself

Agreeing on the problem

Please don’t tell us it’s complicated.

Organizations, scientists and individuals always do better in solving problems that are clearly stated. The solution might be complicated, the system might be complex, but if we don’t agree on the problem, it’s hard to find the resources and the will to seek out a solution.

For a business, the problem might be that:

  • there aren’t enough customers
  • gross margins are too low
  • word of mouth is poor
  • hiring sufficiently talented people is too difficult
  • competition just moved in next door
  • production quality is off.

Identify and agree on any of these and we can get to work. Denying the problem doesn’t increase the chances it will go away.

This is the political/lobbied challenge facing our stalled response to the melting icecaps. There are a variety of possible problem-denials along with one simple statement that actually opens the door to progress:

  1. The world isn’t getting hotter, the data is wrong.
  2. The world is getting hotter, and that’s okay.
  3. The world is getting hotter, but it’s not caused by us, and anyway, we can’t do anything at all about it.
  4. The world is getting hotter, it’s urgent, we need to hurry, and dealing with it is a difficult technical and political problem.

Which category are you in at work? What about the people you vote for and work for?

Often, the reason people don’t want to agree on a problem is that it’s frightening to acknowledge a problem if we don’t know that there’s a solution, as if saying the problem out loud makes it more real, more likely to undermine our lives.

The irony, of course, is that fear of the problem makes it far more likely that the problem itself will hurt us.

Words make big things small

Words make big things small

 

“How do I know what I am thinking until I’ve said it” said a very good friend of mine during a coaching session. She was coaching me and I asked her how she felt about something I had said.

 

Words matter

 

And that is the one point from this blog. That words are the very essence of thought. And if you don’t have the opportunity to say them or write them down, then you are at risk of losing the value of any given thought.

 

Loneliness is such a drag*

 

In any business role we are lonely. Whether it is the CEO or the admin clerk. Loneliness in the business sense is tangible. It has an impact. That feeling of loneliness can bring with it a whole heap of issues. We become anxious about what others think, what they are saying about us and our abilities.

 

Coaching culture

 

The answer is straightforward – develop a coaching culture where people can speak out their thoughts. An open, free ranging, time to talk and listen.

Productivity will increase, engagement will increase and well being will soar.

 

Call us 

 

If you dont know how to set up a coaching culture give me a call on 0117 317 8147

*Jimi Hendrix – Burning the midlight lamp

The Ditch List – making room to expand

Executive coaching and sales mentoring BristolHow many hours do you work a day, a week, a month? Loads is probably the answer.

So when someone suggests that you need to take on additional tasks – you groan.

But these new tasks might be the ones that will change things around for you or your business. Time to get the strategic direction right, sort out the offices, resolve that nagging IT issue, reflect on an investment plan. How about those people tasks? Done well you could change the initials HR from Human Remains to Human Resources.

“But” you cry, ” I simply don’t have the time to add to my list”.

Well, that might be true now, but what if you listed all the tasks on to a spreadsheet. Then, allocate a time per day, week, month you spend on them . Using the data sort button, sort them on the basis of time spent, with the largest at the top. Then add a new column. Use the formula to incrementally add the totals, which is the cumulative total. I hope that makes sense.

Now look down the list. And when you get to say 30 hours, stop. Anything below that line needs to be either delegated, ditched or deferred. Play around with it for a day or so, but then take control of your time. It is perishable and can only be used once. Use it wisely.

Hope this helps. Any ideas as to how to maximise time would be gratefully received

Business CoPIlot – Executive coaching and sales mentoring to help keep them on the business flight plan

Create a compelling vision

Getting your business to fly in formation

Time can only be used once. Ensure you spend it wisely.

To build a truly successful business, you first need a vision – one that will set you alight with excitement, and give those around you something tangible that will capture their imagination.

Your vision will excite and inspire people to follow you – and will be at the core of everything in your business. Your vision will generate extra commitment and effort. It will translate directly into greater profitability and increase the capital value of the business. In addition, it will lay the foundations on which others can build.

Why is this important? Well, as the team around you take ownership of the goal, the goal takes on a life of its own, opening the way for you to focus on other business priorities, build profits and maybe even for you to have the time to have… a life!

Do you have that inspiring vision?

Do you have in mind a destination that you and your business are heading for? If not, then as that old saying goes “If you don’t know where you are going any road will do”.

What is a vision statement?

There are numerous definitions of what a vision statement should be and what it should include. At its simplest a vision statement should answer the following questions:

  1. What does our company do?
  2. Who are our ideal clients?
  3. What service or product do they want to purchase from us?
  4. How will we measure success?

If you can answer those questions then you should have a single message that you can communicate across every channel. It should be built in to your company’s operations and culture so everyone lives and works by it in every aspect of their role.

Where to start?

You start by simply daydreaming. It may be hazy and nebulous at first, but work at it – wafting away the mist to reach the core idea, the spirit of your vision. It may take days, even weeks. The nice thing about this constructive daydreaming is that it doesn’t stop you working while you are doing it. However, beware of thinking, as you dream your dream: ‘Oh we couldn’t do that! It’s just wishful thinking.’ It’s even easier to get lost in the how-to of it all. Don’t be held back by what you think is possible, or you will end up limiting your vision. The moment you catch yourself starting to think of how you will achieve your dream, stop, and go back to the what – the big picture. Right now, you do not need to burden yourself with reality.

 What does a vision do?

There are many advantages of having a clear view of what the business is designed to realise. A good one does several things.

Your vision will ensure that everybody in the company knows what the business is striving to achieve. As a result it allows them to focus their efforts on the things that make a difference and in so doing it motivates them to deliver the results over the long term.

If you define a clear vision you will have included in it some aspect that will differentiate you from your competitors. As you grow you will need to demonstrate that you are offering something that is different and better, and so ensure potential clients select you in preference to your competitors.

Finally it is also a unifying factor in holding an organisation together. The best example we have come across is a company called Spencer du Bois. Their vision is to work with clients whose ambitions go beyond the bottom line, to make a real difference. So they primarily work with charities, educational and cultural institutions and ‘ethically enlightened’ companies. That means that their employees know that they will work on projects that mean something to them, the clients know that they will work with people that share the same values. It all adds up to building an excellent reputation that will attract the right sort of work and will enable them to repel the sort of work that they don’t want to get involved with.

In short, your vision will excite and inspire people to follow you – and it will be at the core of everything in your business. More importantly, it will lay the foundations on which others can build, and so allow you to escape from your business. After all, Kennedy acted like any good business leader – he didn’t build the rocket or choose the astronauts: he just set out the vision and persuaded people that it was one worth pursuing.

We can summarise the benefits of you having a vision statement as follows.

It will:

  • Paint a picture of an aspirational, desired but realistic future;
  • Be distinctive, credible, memorable, and command attention;
  • Inspire and liberate;
  • Be succinct and context free;
  • Be ambitious but achievable;
  • Create ‘clear blue water’ differentiation.
  • Attract the sort of business you want to be involved in
  • Repel the sort of business you do not want to be involved in

It works for Richard Branson

How does it work in practice? Richard Branson has a clear vision of the kinds of people who will work for him. As far as he’s concerned, Virgin people are easy to spot. ‘They act in unusual ways, as it’s the only way they know how. But it’s not forced – it’s natural. They are honest, cheeky, questioning, amusing, disruptive, intelligent and restless… Virgin people are smart.

‘There are certain attributes that we look for future employees to possess. A Virgin person would typically:

  • Have a passion for new ideas;
  • Think “differently”;
  • Have signs of creativity;
  • Smell new business opportunities;
  • Always listen to customers.’

‘I joined Virgin because I wanted rock ‘n’ roll. I wanted the big challenge, the big job, the big car, but I wanted rock ‘n’ roll as well’ – and that came from a stuffy old Finance Director!

How to create your vision

Coming up with a vision begins with thinking about what it is that you are trying to build. Start by writing down what your business will look like at some point in the future.

Imagine yourself arriving at your office in five years’ time and describe what you see.

What sort of business is it? What will you deliver to your prospective clients? How big? What kinds of people do you have working for you… and what about the customers? How would you describe the ideal client? Are they corporates, global players or local shopkeepers? There is no right answer at this stage, only an image of what you want them to look like. After all it is this group of people that holds the key to your long-term future. What do they want from you? More importantly how will they derive value from using you? How do people behave towards you, each other, your suppliers… your clients? What is the culture or set of values that binds you all together?

Keep imagining what it will look like. Add anything in that you feel will shape the company’s identity. Brainstorm with other people; get loads of feedback from past and current clients, colleagues, acquaintances, friends and family about how they would describe you.

If you prefer pictures to words, we suggest that you use a mood board. Get a decent size piece of card and stick images on it that reflect what it is that you want it to be. Take off the “horizon limiter” during these sessions. Think about what it could look like. If it helps, have a drop of wine or similar to get the creative juices flowing.

Things you might consider

What goes into your vision is entirely down to you, the type of business you are in and where you are on the growth curve. The only check that can be applied to see if it works is – “Are we still heading towards it?” The basic elements of your vision might include:

  • The purpose of your business (which isn’t to make money – that’s just a by-product).

For example, ours is: ‘To help ambitious business leaders achieve profitable and sustainable business growth.’ This clear purpose underpins everything we do.

  • What products and services you offer in their totality or described in terms of the value they create. Be creative; expand on the value the clients get, rather than what it is that you do. For instance we could argue that all lawyers offer legal services, all of them are competent, all of them are qualified, and all of them say that they are personable. If you look at their vision statements it will probably contain one or more of these. If you were a lawyer, your vision statement might want to capture some other aspect of the benefit of using you. You might want to include something that you do really well such as speedier, on line, 24-hour access and so on. Each of these describes ways of achieving a difference.
  •  Who will buy from you? It is unlikely that everyone or anyone will be your target market. You will need to cut it up into smaller pieces and select one to focus on. How will you cut up or segment the market? What are the similarities between them and is the segment big enough for you in the future. You might look at the way your customers feel about the business.
  • What you compete on and what makes people seek you out above all your competitors
  • The feel of the business – what it looks like physically, how it acts, what kind of equipment you use, how your employees feel towards each other, their customers and yourself
  • Your geographic scope – where you are located, where your markets are
  • Finally, you should include some financial metrics to ensure that you keep the business side of things in focus. No business will succeed in the long term if it does not make a profit. What should that profit be? It depends on a whole raft of things. Ultimately it is down to you to decide. You might want to include some or all of the following: the size of your business in terms of turnover, profit level, and annual growth. Insert them at the end of the vision, as you might not want your suppliers to see these!

Remember, vision, differentiation and communication can move mountains! They certainly got a man to the moon.

Turning it into reality

Having gone to the trouble of drafting the vision statement, you then need to ensure that it is used as the basis for everything that you do. Turning it into reality means:

  • Allocating roles and responsibilities. Spell out to everyone what they are expected to do towards delivering to the vision statement. If we return to Kennedy for a moment, there is a famous anecdote to demonstrate the extent to which the vision captured the imaginations of everyone. On arriving at the space centre a visiting congressman asked the car park attendant what he did. “I’m putting a man on the moon, sir” was the reply.
  • Keeping it alive in hearts and minds of employees. Be creative here too. Before every meeting, place a copy of it and read through it. Ask everyone to yell out if the conversation is moving away from the agreed vision.
  • Connecting it to strategy and action programmes. Keep asking yourself – is what we are doing or planning to do going to get us closer to where we said we wanted to go?
  • Identifying critical success factors. Set out a few milestones along the way and most importantly celebrate when they are met. A sincere well done is a huge motivator.

However, your vision will die a slow, lingering death if:

  • Employees are rewarded and remunerated to do something else.
  • Employees are not empowered or equipped with skills to do what is necessary.
  • It isn’t constantly communicated and reinforced.
  • It isn’t based in reality (as well as being achievable and flexible).

Having developed the vision, you then need to communicate it. It is at this stage that things usually start to go wrong. Our experience is that it will only work if it remains visible and out of the business plan/lone sock drawer. Have it drawn up and framed to hang at the most visible part of the building. Have lots of them; support them all with examples of success.

Summary

You need a vision statement to ensure that you focus all your resources on things that matter and make a difference. Long-term sustainable growth, which is the hallmark of a successful business, comes about through leadership, careful planning and the allocation of skills, talents and knowledge to deliver benefits to clients that generates long-term profits.

The final thought on having a vision goes to Peter Drucker, a wise old bird who has given so much to business over the years:

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

Wishing you every success in accelerating business growth.

Robert M. Hook

The Business CoPilot

Brand loyalty – mistakes that are frequently made

Here below is a synopsis of an excellent blog post by Randy Bowden. He argues that most business owners miss the point when it comes to building brand loyalty

“Customers want a business they can come back to again and again for the things they need, that they feel comfortable purchasing those items, knowing they are getting the right items. It is, however, easy to make mistakes when building brand loyalty that may haunt a business the rest of its days.

1. Forgetting What The Customer Wants

It is important to keep what the customer wants in mind as a business owner builds loyalty. Business owners need the loyalty to go deeper below the surface.

2. All Hype, No Substance

It is easy to think about customers are object you are trying to attract them and forget they are people. So, avoid making claims about the business without the substance to back it up.

3. All Sell

One of the worst things a business can do when building brand loyalty is focusing on the next sale. It is like being bombarded by telemarketers. No customer likes that.

4. No Engagement

Engagement can simply mean a conversation or acknowledgement that the business heard their words and will take the appropriate action. The strong emotions, such as humour, connects them to your brand and encourages loyalty.

5. Poor Customer Service

No matter how well you do everything else, how those behind the counter treat the customer is still one of the best ways to build customer loyalty. So, never forget that your brand extends beyond the physical.”

As the saying goes, there is no second chance to make first impression. Working hard on ensuring that the client or customer has a smooth path through the purchase is probably the best way to build brand loyalty.

Jettison the ballast and soar!

“I haven’t got the time, Rob!”.

“In your dreams, Rob”.

“When am I supposed to do this? I am working 10 hour days”

What would your response be if you had to increase your workload by 20%. Would you tut and go back to the day job? Would you reflect longingly at what life would look like if you could increase the time at work? Or would you do the following?

The Ditch List – jettison the ballast

Business coaching Bristol Bath and South WestWrite down on a set of Post It notes everything you spend your time on. Get it all down first, we will work on it later. Then add in the non-work commitments.

Once you have emptied your brain, take a break and enjoy a hot beverage or glass of wine because now comes the hard bit. Put all the notes in a long vertical line, the most important things you spend your time on at the top and the lesser items at the bottom. You can do the next bit weekly or monthly, it is up to you. But what you need to do is to calculate how much time you spend on each activity.

Add up the time per task as you go down the list until you reach 80% of the time you want to work. Anything below that should be outsourced, discontinued or delegated. Be ruthless!.

Why do this exercise?

Because you need a minimum of 20% of your working time to run the business. That’s right at least 20% or one day per week of quality time to ensure the business vision, goals and objectives are being met. All too frequently we find as business coaches that senior business leaders spend too long on non essential tasks to the detriment of their business.

So what would you jettison if you had the time?

Business CoPilot Announcements

Hi,   
We have some announcements to make!!

The Business CoPilot is broadening it’s offering.

We are adding strategic sales management to the business and executive coaching portfolio.
The simple reason being that  our clients tell us that sales and sales strategy is at the uppermost of peoples minds when growing the business. And we can help them through that journey.
Rob was recently awarded Fellow status of the Institute of Sales and Marketing Managers underpinning our credentials in sales strategy.
Our existing clients will see no change in the relationship and no change in the current arrangements. Just that the future Business CoPilot marketing material will be aimed more at bringing in new clients that are seeking support on their sales strategy.
More to follow…
Have a business issue to resolve?
If you’d like to come and meet us to talk through your sales strategy, or if you’d like more information, please call us on 0117 317 8147 or email robh@businesscopilot.co.uk.
Best wishes,
Rob and Nick

Strategic Sales Management

Strategic sales management is the management task of designing, implementing and measuring the organisations sales capability. It covers a myriad of aspects of business including customer acquisition, customer satisfaction, customer retention and managing the interlock with the marketing process.

What I have found is that many organisations, large or small,do well in many areas of sales such as developing a customer pathway, managing the clients expectations and doing what they think needs to be done to generate customer loyalty.

But where most seem to fall down is in not having the deep understanding of their clients needs and wants. They don’t have in place the relationships with their customers with their equivalent senior management team, their peers or subordinates that generates that deep understanding of what makes them tick. Perhaps it is understandable as it takes time and a level of skill to generate the information and an efficient CRM process to store it.

But if it is done well, then these deeper and stronger relationship bonds will add real value in developing increased sales opportunities and in times of need when things go pop.

Get to know your customers, record the information and use it and see the benefits flow over time. What do you think?

Strategic Sales Management = understand your audience

Go deep – find your intrinsic motivators

What you’re really meant to do

Strategic Sales Management Training CourseMotivation is a huge topic right now. In a business setting getting it right can pay huge dividends, getting it wrong can play havoc with the bottom line. A motivated team will go that extra mile, think bigger and more creatively, seek to make a difference. An unmotivated team will sap morale, watch the clock and save their best for elsewhere.

Something has to be done you say. And you are right. Most businesses focus on tackling the extrinsic aspects of motivation – those that can be manifested visibly. An obvious one is money. The more money you can get access to the higher the motivation and the greater the benefit. Status is another. Hitch up the job title another notch, the bigger desk, the cooler office location. The list goes on. Power, authority, bonuses. If we can tackle the tangible then the intangible will occur. Right?

Well maybe. But another way of looking at the issue is to seek to enhance engagement through the intrinsic motivators. These are the things that motivate us internally. For instance you may be passionate about your business’ culture , the unique way things get done. Or you might seek to engage and relate with work on an intellectual stimulation basis. You love the challenge of a difficult problem to grapple with and receive thanks for the efforts. Some might seek to forge strong bonds with others and create a team spirit that delivers.

The problem as you can see immediately is that extrinsic is easy to see and manage and can be effected corporately, whilst intrinsic focuses on what cannot be seen and is centred on the individual.

But it’s worth the effort. Break the mould of stereotypical views of success by measuring it through benchmarking, goals, objectives, all forms of visible milestones. Seek instead to motivate by digging deep and uncovering what really motivates us – our values. By doing so you release untapped potential.

How? Take the time to ask the team members what it is that they value and how they can make that happen at the workplace. I met a business owner who values where he works. He is hard working, diligent, creative and resourceful. But he likes to work in a variety of settings. Placing him in an office would stifle his energy and eventually lead to him either leaving or working sub-optimally. Another loved to walk and talk. The place and the pace were the key to him achieving his inner or intrinsic motivational platform.

Insanely simple and yet difficult to make happen. Which is why most organisations prefer extrinsic measures. Why not break through the outer hard shell and engage with the living person beneath. It might surprise you.

Let me know how you get on.

What youre really meant to doPS – the inspiration for this blog came from reading this book – “What you’re really meant to do.” by Robert S. Kaplan

 

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