Posts Tagged ‘Sales’

Times are Changing – Are You?

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

Nature has trained us to accept the changing of the seasons, and you don’t hear too many people exclaiming, “Oh no! What’s gone wrong? Another Winter!” And yet, while every market, including yours, is a broader part of Nature and so breathes in and out with a rhythm resembling the seasons, you’ll still hear plenty of people exclaiming, at the next contraction, “Oh no! What’s gone wrong? Another Recession!”

Surprise, surprise! Did they expect that unlike anything else in their experience, markets in general would just continue to breathe in – and expand forever? Come on! If it did that, the logical result is pretty obvious, isn’t it?

So, if and when the market, like the seasons, has contracted, how do we go about being smart – adjust our behavior to harmonize with it – or wear the consequences.

Change is Hard

From the outset, it’s smart to accept that changing behavior is hard for most people, and even harder for most groups of people – and most businesses are a “group of people”.

So just how hard is Change?

On a scale ranging from one (easy) to 100 (impossible), I see a strong case that Change is perhaps an 89 in difficulty.

Why?

Because for every 100 people diagnosed with heart disease and scheduled for bypass surgery, only 11 will make the changes to their diet, exercise and weight loss recommended to extend their chances of survival. The other 89, while clearly appreciating their need to change to avoid a significantly increased risk of death, fail to do so – because Change is hard!

So, before we get into the “What change do we need to make to meet our changing market?” a better question might be, “What will I have to do so that I and those I work with, can change?”

I’m going to leave the answer to that one – the $64,000 question if you like – to the end, and begin with what changes are indicated.

What Changes Are Needed?

Space dictates one take a narrow approach here, so we’ll address the question of, “What changes to the selling processes would be wise in a softening market?”
1. Don’t do knee jerk cuts. Don’t cut sales budgets or staff without first analyzing the likely effect of doing so. A 10% cut in sales staff or resources projected to result in an 8% drop in sales might sound tolerable, but if the bottom line effect is 12% less profit, it’s illogical to cut.
2. Think counter-intuitively. If your competition is cutting staff, then their market coverage, contact frequency and standards of services must generally suffer. That may also mean that some good sales people who were previously inaccessible to you are now on the market, enabling you to top-grade your own team and to step up coverage, contact frequency and service levels to clients who are still out there needing to buy. Don’t underestimate the power of the positive message you generate into your marketplace with this move, and be aware that a nervous market will gravitate towards strength and certainty in uncertain times.
3. Look for Savings, Then Spend. If the market is softening, and you have managed your cash flow well in the past so as to provide a capital reserve, you are going to get more bang for your buck on any purchases in a soft market as people compete keenly for your business. This could be an excellent time to embark on a project that could cost a lot more in a stronger market. The “strength message” applies again.
4. Be flexible. You could just cut 10% of your sales staff. Or, you could ask all of your sales team to take a 10% cut so that you can keep them all. The actual financial cost to them will be less than 10% due to the effect of marginal tax, and the effect on morale and esprit de corps is likely to be huge. If things tighten further, consider asking your sales team to take one day in ten off (say, every second Friday) – that saves another 10%, is likely to add positively to their work/life balance and keeps the team together so that you are at full strength if the market surges momentarily, or recovers fully.

Notice, thinking differently from the herd, can be the best route – even when it’s not obvious.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Begin here to accelerate your success: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Customer Satisfaction – the New CXO

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Everything starts with intention…. we intend to carry through on our projects, plans, and goals. Otherwise, we wouldn’t set them, right?

But how many of us actually put our intentions into practice? This is where knowing exactly what to do really matters. It’s like anything else… losing weight, assembling a product, learning a new skill. You have to know what you are doing in order to save time, money, and frustration.

As a Business Owner or Executive your time is valuable. When you are spending time with your customers and discovering what it is that they want you to deliver, you are hopefully tracking and making plans to deliver these. If you don’t follow through, everyone’s time is wasted… yours, the customer’s, your team’s.

However, you need to take the next step moving from from intention toward implementation.

The ultimate Customer Experience doesn’t just happen. It takes some planning to design service into your processes. So who is responsible within your organization to ensure that the plans and ideas you have don’t languish without implementation? When there is a leader for who is responsible and accountable for these plans, the likelihood of success increases all around.

Your Customer Satisfaction Officer should be the one to help keep your operations focused on the customer and to ensure that all customer centric projects are kept on track. This person will also ideally have the authority to assist in any way possible and/or obtain the resources necessary to accomplish your goals.

They would also be the one to address the area of customer centricity during your team meetings. Customer issues, service, satisfaction and training need to be an integral part of your team meetings. This can best achieved by beginning your meetings spending 10-15 minutes on the Customer Experience.

Customer satisfaction, often overlooked, can be an integral element to maximizing your profitability and success. More thoughts to come on giving it the attention it deserves.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

© Rich Kohler 2014. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Attracting Your Ideal Customer

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

You’ve probably already determined that the “wrong” customers can make you broke. They are the ones that want top quality at the lowest price. These people are not interested in working with you for your mutual benefit; they’d probably be happier if slavery were re-introduced and if you were their first body.

So how do you find a sufficient number of good customers to build yourself a strong and profitable business in which it’s a joy to work?

The first step in the process may sound a bit simple, but it is as easy as drawing up a list of the characteristics that your present (and past) best customers have in common.

Here’s a simple step-by-step process for winning great customers whenever you want them:

1. Define the essential common attributes of the very best customers in your industry. Those may include:

* Annual sales value

* Number of employees

* Corporate structure (private or public company, Government body, etc.

* Management mindset (progressive, oriented towards investing in their people, etc)

* Location

* Market sector

2. Where do they gather:

* Do they frequent certain associations, events, conventions or clubs?

* Do your ideal clients tend to locate their businesses in certain locations?

* Where might your advertising or promotions be more likely to be seen by your ideal client base?

3. What do they read or watch:

* Magazines, newspapers, blogs, eNewsletters

* Certain TV or video channels or sites

4. Survey candidates to discover what they are looking for in an ideal supplier:

* Once you have identified your ideal client, select the cream of the crop, put together the 10 most important questions you could ever ask them, and survey a sample of them. You’ll probably get some “bites” in the process, as well as some invaluable data on what type of information, products or service you should be promoting to these folks.

* Resolve to advertise in the media that your ideal client is most likely to use – and nowhere else!

5. Create a contact system that is low effort, easy to maintain:

* In this age of information overload you don’t gain “mindshare” for your brand or product until you have had at least 7 varied contacts with an individual person. You also need to establish a process whereby your best prospects will be contacted by you on a regular and varied basis, so that when they are actually ready to buy (or consider buying), you are there in their field of attention?

* If you find your target is not ready to buy, a follow-up frequency or sequence should be established and not exceed every 10-12 weeks.

6. Create a fast response system:

* No point in creating a great contact system if you the blow the opportunity when someone responds.

* Define what to do and say before you get your first response then make sure that anyone else in the business that is likely to take an incoming response, knows what this is to heighten the likelihood of success for both you and your new client.

7. Keep your promises!

* Last but not least: Make sure that whatever experience, service, outcome or feeling you promised during your marketing and promotional phase, is delivered intact, perfectly and completely. You might read this and say to yourself, “Yep, that sounds right, but who’s got the time to do all of this?” The answer is simple: Those business owners or executives who have realized that working for the wrong customers just keeps you busy and broke, and have decided to do something differently will make the time to create the type of process I’ve outlined here; and then make the resolution to apply it.

If you choose to become one of those, stand by for a whole different customer experience!

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

© Rich Kohler 2014. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.