Category: Consultancy (page 1 of 5)

Make yourself scarce

Exit signMake yourself scarce

No, I don’t mean go away. I mean make what you do or who you are a scarce resource and see what happens next.

It works for me. Too many times in the past I have made myself a commodity and then wondered why no one was prepared to pay a premium. If I delivered copy writing it generated little in terms of value. If I delivered marketing advice it had the same impact. Why? Because they were generic and there are so many others out there promoting a similar service.

I like it rare

So I changed my offering that reflects who I am and what I want to be. My personality, background, training, education, experiences all add up to make me unique. And that uniqueness is where the value is. Because what people buy in the coaching, mentoring, knowledge industry is a point of view. One that is interesting, insightful, worth hearing.

By focusing my offering on my uniqueness I am being authentic and in doing so make it easier to be found by those people who value my point of view.

Slow down a moment

Before you go finding out what makes you unique in the hope of making a fortune there is another part of the puzzle to solve. Uniqueness or scarcity is not enough. If I were an underwater basket weaver I will most likely be alone in my skills sets. But I will not justify high fees because there is no need for this service, no matter how good I am at it. (If I am wrong, let me know and I will start the training to become one.)
The other factor that determines value is the ability to make a positive difference. If your uniqueness makes a real difference in another’s life then they will pay for it. The bigger the difference the higher the premium.

Compare and contrast these two offerings.

One is the ability to rework the formula in a spreadsheet so that it is error free. That is worth paying for if it matters to the person who owns the spreadsheet.

The second offering is the ability to negotiate the best exit strategy for a CEO of a multi-million pound company. This too is worth paying for.

The question is – who gets more? I suggest that it is the latter who gets the bigger paycheck.

So make yourself scarce and make a positive difference and then see what happens next.

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.

Coach, Consultant, Mentor, Advisor – what’s the difference?

How to choose the best coach for you.

How to get the best support to help you to resolve your dilemma.

Executive coaching and sales mentoring BristolA question we are often posed here at the Business CoPilot. But the question is usually posed in a slightly different way. It’s usually more subtle.

“What can you do for me?” or  “How can you help me?” might be the way the question is framed, but the underlying question is actually something like this.

“I am not sure what I want and am equally unsure how you can help. The terms coach, consultant, mentor, advisor don’t help clarify the situation for me. What can I do to resolve this uncertainty?”

Given that you have a specific problem, here is my take on the differences between these terms.

  • Coach – helps you to do it for yourself
  • Consultant – does it for you
  • Mentor –  shows you how to do it, as they have done it before
  • Advisor – gives you advice specific to the problem

Imagine then you have a specific problem with say improving sales.

As a coach I would help you to define the problem, work with you to develop possible solutions that work for you, help you to decide which solution you want to take and then work with you to make it happen. It doesn’t really matter that I have sales experience (which I have), it is more important that I have coaching experience.

As a consultant I would work with you to determine the problem, define a solution and then implement all or part of the solution.

As a mentor I would help you to define the problem, then using my experience in managing complex sales teams, I would suggest ways ahead, obstacles that would be faced and how to get around them.

As a sales advisor, I would offer advice as to how to go about solving the dilemma but would not get involved with the implementation.

So long as the problem is about sales these answers above are relevant. But not in all situations. If the problem was about the impact on the balance sheet of a certain course of action, or about the best way of implementing a tax efficient benefits package, I could coach but not act in any other capacity.

The answer to the question then might be something like this. The it being the problem.

“I want to sort it out myself with some support.” – you need a coach.

“I want to get someone else to sort it out but want it to be right.” – you need a consultant.

“I want to be shown how to do it by someone who has been there before.” – you need a mentor.

“I want to understand what is required to sort it and will do the rest myself.” – you need an advisor.

Hope that helps. What is your take on it?

Click here to go back to read more on executive coaching and sales mentoring in Bristol

 

 

Writing a plan – what is the point?

Writing a plan – what is the point?

By the time you have written the plan everything has probably moved on and it is already out of date. Or the process of writing the plan has left you in no fit state to carry on the day job.

Executive coaching BristolOK, a plan will give you something to focus on, if you find yourself with time on your hands. It will also help you to work towards an objective or goal. But with so many areas to consider, so many scenarios to incorporate into the plan to make it worthwhile, one has to ask the question – is it all worth it?

My suggestion. Why not write down a completed actions list?

That is one way I have found of capturing activity to reflect if it is going in the right direction. I know in my own mind what i am heading towards, i did that heavy lifting months ago. All I want to see is how I am progressing towards that goal, not how much still lies ahead.

By writing down the work done and the time, I can then look back with a sense of pride about what has been achieved. I can also change direction much quicker if my goals have changed.

So what do you do – do you take the adage that failing to plan is planning to fail? Or do you record activity and let the future take care of itself?

Let me know.

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

The ONE Thing book review

I cannot recall how many times I have started my blog posts with something along the lines of “Being in business is hard” or “Being successful in business demands intense focus”. So I was intrigued when I come across a book that promises to help.

The One ThingIt is the One Thing by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan that has the expansive text on the front cover “The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results”.

In essence I liked the book, it is easy to read and has some nuggets to take away. It uses a formula based on what they call the Focusing Question. Using solid theory such as the Pareto Principle or 80/20 Rule, they expound how to make the most of your time. Good stuff.

But I was left feeling a little underwhelmed. I reflected and concluded that it ultimately doesn’t work, not because there is anything wrong with the initial premise, the logical thought processes etc, but it doesn’t  work as it starts with an incorrect assumption. The assumption they make is that by knowing what I need to focus on as single mindedly as they make out, I can then JDI – just do it. If I was an automaton, then fine, but I am not. I am a fallible, inconsistent, unpredictable human being and this kind of artificially induced rigour doesn’t work as a game changing model of behaviour.

I did pick up some useful titbits and a few insights but to boil all the complexity of being a human in the complex environment we call business into ONE Thing just leaves me cold.

What do you think?

Social media in a B2B setting doesn’t work

Social media - is there any point?Let me clarify. B2B is business to business where one firm is looking to sell to another firm. B2C is business to consumer where the firm is seeking to engage with a consumer directly.

Social media is any on line promotional platform whereby firms seek to engage with other firms via platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn etc.

The goal in social media is to engage more with the personality than with products or services. It’s all about personal branding, ego and demonstrating who you are and not what you do or the benefit that you offer.

Social media in a B2B setting does not work

Why? Because businesses buy products or services. They are not interested in personality, personal branding or ego. They just want to buy a solution to a problem, to scratch their itch. They seek solutions by looking for the closest thing they can to a solution and then fine tune it when they have a few options. But they certainly wont be buying based on an on line personality.

Only the very smallest firms might buy through social media connections, and one could argue that is more a B2C transaction as they are in essence buying for themselves and not as an officer of the company.

4psSo my view is that if you want to sell to established businesses, focus more promoting what you do in terms that your audience understands. Make it clear what you are selling, the benefit the users get from using you and the process that you will use to make it happen.

Any thoughts?

 

A business succeeds only when customers buy

Business CoPilot top brandsNo matter what the size of the organisation, no matter what it makes, no matter what – it will only succeed if customers buy from them. It is that vital transaction that determines success or failure.

No one is immune. Coca Cola, Nokia, Kit Kat, Ford, Apple. As soon as sales drop then alarm bells ring.

OK, I do accept that products and services need to be developed and innovated, that the support services are in place to delight the customer and yes marketing needs to be done to build awareness. But without customers buying then anything that the company does is not worthwhile. Put another way without sales it all fails

The problem is that many senior business people do not understand what selling actually means. Smarmy hair cuts, sharp suits, gift of the gab, morals of an alley cat are stereotypical traits of how sales people are viewed.

What traits do you think should be exhibited by a top line sales person? Here are a few starters:

  • Persuasive – able to lead a discussion
  • Knowledgeable – understands the nuances of the market
  • Intelligent – can demonstrate business acumen and business learning
  • Social – able to mix at all levels and speak fluently

What are your traits? Do let me know

Start with Why

In Start With Why, Simon Sinek say that good business leaders start with ‘why’.

Start with Why

Most of us start with what we do. The service we offer, the products we promote.We spend time polishing it to make it shine brighter in the hope that in doing so it will attract more attention.  We seek external validation via testimonials, likes and so on.

We have to do that. Enhancing the offering is essential. But only after the question why has been answered.

Why why?

Because until we can find why, we are at risk of missing the point. For instance, if train companies understood why people travelled on their trains, they would have understood that there were rivals in the wings. Literally. Planes and cars would change the travel industry for ever. But the train companies saw their mission as selling seats on trains. Most people wanted to get to the their destination quickly.

Top tips

Here are a few questions to get you thinking:

  1. Why do people buy from me
  2. Why do people buy from my competitors
  3. Why don’t people buy more from me
  4. Why are they not willing to pay more for what we do

Have a go.

Ask yourself why do you do what you do and why do they do what they do. It might show a rich stream of innovative thought and release the creative pressure to inspire others.

Vision must be embedded in the day to day of doing business

“Here is our vision”. I looked at it and was impressed. Partly because they had gone to the trouble of actually thinking about it and then writing it down and because it was very strong. It had many of the components that a vision should have. It had direction, values, core competency, target audience and a clear definition of the services offered. it was aspirational and practical. Great stuff.

flightplan

But what I noticed when I talked to them was that the vision was not actually the guiding light it was intended to be. Whilst looking at new avenues for growth or to assess performance, they didn’t go back to the flight plan or the vision.

It seemed to me that they did the vision statement but then left it. Job done move on.

I am now working with companies to make sure they embed the vision in the business. To somehow insert the vision statement into the business metrics or the performance stats. Even when they do strategic interventions or look at new ideas I am looking at ways to ensure they consistently revisit the vision statement.

My one way is to make sure that the sales stats reflect the target audience in the vision statement. That way they have to go back and check to see if they are within the plan or to assess if the vision needs updating.

Where would you ensure that the vision was embedded in the day-to-day running of the business?

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