Deliver Authentic Value and Grow Your Business

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July 11th was the international release date for the new Apple iPhone 3G.  Stores around the world opened their doors and proceeded to sell out of every phone they had.

Here in St. Louis the line was so long you would have had to wait 5 hours to buy and activate a phone.  While I chose not to wait I did decide to hang out a bit and chat with some of the people who were waiting.  It was mid-day and shortly I saw someone from California Pizza Kitchen arrive.  CPK is located in the mall and has excellent pizza.

The woman began to go down the long line of people who were waiting and asked if anyone wanted to order pizza for lunch.  Before long she was running back with her orders, coming back for more orders and then running back to start delivering the pizzas from the first round of orders.  I’m sure that CPK had a great day of sales as they had their normal restaurant business as well as so many of the people who were waiting in line.

Someone at CPK must have noticed the line and thought, “Those people could use some food.” Other than the occasional Powerbar no one had brought anything to eat.  CPK saw a need and then went about filling it.  They delivered value for everyone who was stuck in line and getting hungry.

To grow our business we must be accountable to deliver authentic value.  Our business model is based on the value we deliver, who we best deliver it to and how we deliver it.  Authentic value represents the value that the client really needs.  It is not about the value we think they need or the value the client thinks they need, although that is important.  Truly successful companies deliver authentic value. People waiting in that line really needed something to eat, something that was brought right to them and something that was easy to purchase and consume.

How much time do you spend thinking about your clients, talking to your clients and evaluating the value they need?  What is it that will make their job easier, remove stress, add enjoyment to their life, enable them to achieve their goals?  The answer to these questions applied to the services you provide and the products you sell will help you create authentic value.  Be accountable to regularly evaluate your clients and your capabilities.  Strive to deliver authentic value– you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz.

Create New Value For Your Clients

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Apple Computer, Inc. opened their application store in iTunes today.  The App Store has hundreds and soon to be thousands of applications that you can download and easily install on an iPhone.  Some of the applications are free.  Others are for sale.  Most of the applications being sold are priced from $.99 to $9.99.

Need a little app to keep track of all the tasks you need to complete?  Maybe you want an app to manage your finances?  How about an app that detects where you are and then lists all of the theatres nearby showing a specific movie you want to see?

One of my favorites is Moo.  When you turn your phone over it makes the sound of a cow just like the toy from years ago.  Another favorite is Rotary Dialer.  This app gives you the picture of an old fashioned rotary phone and you can dial your friends like they did way back in the 70s.

So, why am I sharing all this with you?  Simple.  What Apple has achieved is simply genius.  They have taken a product that is manufactured by many companies and available at many price points and turned it into a completely new industry.  Apple will sell millions of these phones.  Then they will sell millions of dollars of applications that we can all use to customize our phone.  Apple is using their App Store to deliver new value to their existing customers and to attract new ones.

What are you doing in your business that brings new value to your clients?  Is there some way to add value, create value or redefine the value you deliver to your clients?

Differentiation is a key way to build a competitive advantage in an industry.  Most companies continue on about their business.  If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.  Apple Computer doesn’t fix it.  They don’t even break it.  They throw it out and create an entirely new solution to fill a need, a need that many times people don’t even know they have.

Apple ups the value equation.  They deliver what others may have unsuccessfully attempted but also what others haven’t ever thought of.  They do so in a way that is cool and fun.  Apple understands that the experience of doing business is almost as important as the additional value they deliver.

Create more value for your clients.  Break out of your traditional mold.  Engage your clients in a way that is fun, unique and leaves a lasting impression — you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz.

Making Powerful Choices

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We become what we become because of the choices that we make over time and the accountability we have to our choices.  Some choices are easy like, “What do I have for breakfast?”  Others are hard such as, “How are we going to grow our sales by 35% this year?”

Many times, we are so frustrated or confused that we don’t make a choice.  Not making a choice is a choice.

Life and business are simply a series of choices stacked upon one another. Over time these choices lead us to our desired results.  Make great choices and you can get great results.  Make poor choices and you could lose millions.  Though it’s simple on the surface, the ramifications are significant.

Successful people know in which areas of business and life to spend their time making choices.  They realize that it is important to identify key issues and to proactively deal with them.

Less successful individuals wait for things to happen and then spend their time putting out fires.  It is always easier to make a choice when you are relaxed.  Under pressure, decisions become filled with emotion and are much more difficult to make.

Obviously, proactive choices are easier to make, and they play a major part in building your business.  So, how do you best organize your thinking to make great choices?

I believe that you make your best choices when it comes from your “core.”  I call this decision making process, “CORE2.”  Here’s how it works.

 

Current Situation

What is your current situation?  Where are you now?  What issues are at hand?  Are you dealing with a current problem or thinking strategically?  What are all of the facts that surround the situation?  What is working?  What isn’t working?

You need to be able to accurately answer all of these questions and more!  It is critical that you know where you are coming from, the issues at hand, and any strengths and weaknesses that might affect your situation and choices.

I define success as, “closing the gap between where you are now, and your vision of the future.”  People often spend their time goal setting, and looking towards the future.  Although, I’m a big advocate of setting goals, I also believe that it’s only half of the equation.

We all must have a very clear vision of where we are going, but it is absolutely necessary to be clear about where we are today.

If I invited you over to my house for dinner, you might phone me and ask for directions to my home.  My reply would be, “Where are you coming from?”   When you know where you’re coming from, then you can determine how to get to where you want to go.

Once we fully understand our current situation, we are then in a position to strategically and tactically plan out what we envision for ourselves.

 

Outcome Desired

Do you have a vision of the future?  Do you know where you are coming from and where you are going?

What do you want to achieve?  In the big picture, this is “goal setting” or “vision clarification.”  On a day-to-day basis, it is knowing where you want to stand tall when making decisions on issues that range from what color you should paint your office, to the information you have on your business card, to the adjustments that you might make to sales and marketing procedures.

You must be clear in your mind about the end result you desire.  And, if you achieve that end result, what will it mean to you and your business?  What are it’s side effects?  How will this success affect your business?  What are the consequences for your employees and your customers?

Each time you achieve a goal there are ripple effects.  It’s not enough to want to move in a certain direction to capture a specific outcome.  You must spend time understanding how this success will impact other areas of your business.

 

Roads You Can Take

When I speak at a convention or an annual company meeting, I will often tell my audience that there are many roads to success.  If five people are given a specific challenge, it’s possible that each person will come up with a plan that is different from the others in order to achieve their goal.

When my son was in the Cub Scouts, he came home with a project.  He had a box.  In it was a block of wood, four nails, and four plastic tires.  That’s right, it was Pine Wood Derby time.

My son’s goal was to make a car that looked good and went fast.  I have to tell you, at the race there were some really fast cars, and they all looked different.  Each boy found a different solution to the same problem.

When making a choice, you too are faced with options.  Brainstorm.  Make a list of each possible way that would achieve your desired outcome.  Don’t pass judgment on your ideas.  Just write them down.  The more possible solutions, or roads you can take, the better.

Sometimes, you will come up with one idea that is based on others that you’ve had.  This type of synergistic thinking is very powerful.  If you have a Mastermind Group, take your challenges to them and brainstorm together.  In a group setting, you will naturally build on each other’s ideas and create possible solutions that you would never have created yourself.

I attribute most of the great business choices I’ve made to the collective thinking of my Mastermind Group.  It is very powerful to have six other people concerned with my success.

 

Examine and Execute

Now, examine each possible, “road to success.”  Look at the advantages, drawbacks, side effects, and any other related issues.

Although several options are on your list, many times a couple of them will stand out immediately.

Is there a very best idea?  Maybe there is a clear winner.  If not, you will need to weigh the “upside” against the “downside.”  In other words, do the potential gains justify the potential risks?

Sometimes, it is wiser to work towards a more modest goal to greatly reduce your risk of loss.  Then, once you’ve achieved your goal, you can take the next step and move the risk factor up a notch.

When the best alternative is determined, don’t wait; just do it!  Many times, a choice is a good choice today, but may have less value tomorrow.  Conditions can change quickly.  Your competition may adjust or move in a different direction.

Don’t be in a rush, but once you’ve made the best possible choice, don’t procrastinate either.

Effective business professionals spend time analyzing all of their alternatives.  Then, when making a final decision, they move immediately and implement a plan to achieve desired results.

Making effective choices is time consuming and mentally challenging.  Achievement is based on series of consistently good and well thought out choices.  Once you make your choice you must be accountable for it.  Great choices combined with accountability equals great results over time.

Work from your CORE, make great choices, and you will be on the road to Build a Better Biz!

Give Them a Chance to Buy

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I recently registered a new URL.  (It is http://www.samstips.com for those of you who are curious.)  I used DomainBuddys.com to handle the transaction.  When I purchased the URL, a screen came up that asked if I would like more information on tools that would add value to my new URL.  I had the option of saying yes or saying no.

Right before hitting the final submit button there was a “special customer” offer that made one of their services available at greatly reduced prices.  After the transaction was completed I was taken to a thank you screen where another offer appeared.  This screen thanked me for the order and offered a special “Thank You” discount of 30% off of select additional services if ordered within the next 30 minutes.

There was no pressure.  The offers were real, legitimate, and beneficial to me.  I ordered two items and then went about my business.  They turned a $9.00 sale into a $39.00 sale.  Let’s see, that’s a 435% increase in business.

What did they do?  They researched my needs.  They knew, based on  my original purchase that I probably had additional needs based on their prior experiences with other clients.  They made offers to me that were very appealing.  They let me choose between several offers.  The choice presented to me wasn’t “do you want to buy or not” the question instead was “which items would you like to buy”?  They gave me a reason to buy, the discount.  And, they gave me a reason to buy now, the 30-minute promotion.

These guys are great at what they do.  Are you?

In sales, if you are not in front of a customer, then you are unemployed.  And, if you are not asking for the order, you are not doing your job.  It’s basic, it’s simple, and these are the facts.

Look at your business.  What possible add-ons could you offer to your clients?  The first sale is the hardest.  After that, you have a relationship with your clients and they will be willing and most likely eager to make additional purchases from you.  You are not required to wait a long time before asking for the up-sell or to sell additional services and products.

Do you really know your clients needs?  Great organizations know their clients current needs based on past experience, and because they go to the trouble to ask their clients.  Don’t think you know everything.  Once a year, ask your clients in a formal survey what their needs are, and you will be amazed.

Predict the future and you’ll most certainly be rich.  If you know your industry and your clients, then work to understanding what their future needs might be.  The better you can anticipate those needs, the better you will be able to beat your competition, take market share, and grow the value of your existing clients.

Know what your clients and potential clients need and desire, work to filling those needs, and ask for the order — you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz.

Expanding Your Center of Influence

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I was in the backyard playing with my two youngest daughters.  It was late in the day, and the sun was low on the horizon.  The night air was cool and our shadows were long on the driveway.  My youngest daughter, Allison, walked up and stood right at the end of my shadow and said,  “Look how big you are daddy.”

When you added Allison’s shadow to mine I did look very tall.  I certainly covered more ground.  Building your center of influence is quite the same thing.  You as an individual can only cover so much ground.  You can only meet so many people.  You can only create so many business opportunities.

If you are the only champion of your cause then you will limit your success.  By growing your center of influence and having others talk about you, refer clients to you, and be thinking about your well being you can cover more ground.  Having Champions on your team will extend the ground you cover and the results you achieve.

Successful professionals are constantly extending their center of influence.  They seek out and create champions that will help them achieve their goals.  Here is how to organize your thinking and actions to grow your team of Champions.

Think of your Champions as two groups: the first is your Inner Sphere, and the second, your Outer Sphere.  Your Inner Sphere contains those people who you have developed a good relationship with.  They know what value you offer and they believe in what you do.  They trust that you will deliver a high level of service and quality product if they recommend you to one of their peers.

In order to develop deep, meaningful relationships with your Inner Sphere of Champions you should contact them on a monthly basis.  Maybe you call one month, or send them an email, or clip an article and mail it to them.  Whatever the action might be, staying in contact on a monthly basis will help you maintain a top-of-mind awareness.  These Inner Sphere Champions like you and believe in you, and because of this they want to see you succeed.

Take a sheet of paper and list those individuals who might fit into your Inner Sphere of Champions.  Go for eight names.  I call this your Great Eight.  Once you identify these people, begin a monthly program to stay in touch with them.  Remember to deliver value first before ever asking for anything.  If you are an asset to them, then over time they will be come an even greater asset to you.

It is also critical that you have already developed a super Memorable Marketing Message before connecting with them.  By its definition you must be able to communicate in under ten seconds the value you deliver, and who you will best deliver that value to.  If you have this powerful but simple statement developed, then you can make sure your Champions know it and can repeat it to others who could use your products and services.

Now think about your Outer Sphere of Champions.  Write down fifteen names. I call these your Future Fifteen.  This is like your minor league system for your Great Eight.  You should touch base with your Outer Sphere of Champions quarterly.  These are people that you may have a loose relationship with or someone that you want to meet and get to know.  These people over time have the potential to expand your center of influence as you get better acquainted and move them into your Great Eight.

Every day you should be thinking about who should be added to either your Inner or Outer Sphere’s of Influence.  You should always be on the lookout for a great idea to contact them with.  Maybe one month you purchase a relevant book, write a little note in each one, and mail those books to your Great Eight.  Get the picture?

Expanding your center of influence in an ongoing project that, over time, will pay big rewards.  Begin the process today and don’t let a day go by where you don’t think about expanding your center of influence.  Follow this ritual, and you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz! 

No Rain Delays

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The Masters golf tournament I was watching was delayed by rain. A baseball game I went to last year was delayed by rain. And, my daughter’s soccer game last week was delayed by rain. Rain may delay the games we play, but in life there are no rain delays. Every second of every hour of every day we’re in the game! There are no timeouts, no substitutions allowed, and no rain delays.

We get up each morning and have a seemingly endless list of things that need to get done. Along the way our phone rings, we receive email, and people filter through our lives. There is so much we want to accomplish, so little time, and so many distractions. No matter how we feel or what is going on in the world, everything stays in motion, and we need to be able to anticipate or react where it is necessary. Time marches on, and you’ll get left behind if you are not prepared to take on both the challenges at hand, and the surprises that life will undoubtedly throw at you.

Here are three things you should constantly be involved with if you want to make sure you are prepared for almost anything.

1. Study

Research has shown that less than 5% of Americans have read a non-fiction book since the last day of their formal education. The world is constantly changing. How many of you would have been reading this ezine 15 years ago? Probably none! If you don’t continue to study and learn, you will not keep up with new ideas, technology, and methodology. Your competition is changing. Studying and learning are critical in order to be able to adapt to both your competitions new initiatives as well as creating new direction for you.

Here’s a simple exercise. Look at your business and decide what you would like it to look like in two years. Now ask yourself, “What do I need to learn to be able to create the company I see in my future?”

Do you need to learn more about marketing, sales, leadership, communication, or management? What tools do you need to make your vision a reality? You can look at your life the same way. Maybe you want to be a better parent. What skills do you need to hone? Get the idea?

Your education should not stop when you finish school. Actually, that is when your education really begins!

2. Exercise

It is not enough to just feed your mind. You must take care of your body as well. Being in shape means that you can move at a faster pace, that you are not constantly running out of energy, and that you feel your best.

You don’t have to run marathons, but regular exercise is important to stay strong and to help keep mentally sharp. Always consult a doctor before changing your exercise habits, but I find that I think with more creativity and with better reasoning when I’ve been exercising regularly.

Start off small. Even five to ten minutes of exercise will make a difference. A brisk 45-minute walk five times a week will leave you ready to take on the world.

3. Build Relationships

If you’re like me, you have a vision of your future. You have goals set for yourself both personally and professionally. There are doors you want to pass through. Most of those doors have locks on them. What I have found is that the key to the doors we want to passage through exist on someone else’s key ring.

Networking and building relations ships is critical to expanding your opportunities and building your business. The more people you meet and get to know, the more chances that you will build a bridge that will take you where you are looking to go.

Business partnerships come from business relationships. Sales, referrals, and even helpful advice all flow to the individuals you meet and develop relationships with.

I used to try and live life in a vacuum. I had my issues to deal with, my business to build, and my family to take care of. I was “too busy” to worry about meeting a lot of “new” friends and associates. Well, what I found out was that the new people that I met provided rewarding experiences, had information to share, ideas I could use, and ultimately helped me build my business and have even more time for my family.

Who are you meeting? What opportunities are you putting on your calendar so that you can network and build relationships? How do you follow up with someone after the initial contact? Your keys are out there to take and use to open those doors of opportunity. Go find them!

Live a life of continuous learning, exercise for better health, and build new and deeper relationships, and you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz!

7 Habits Of Incredibly Unsuccessful Business Professionals – Part II

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We’ve heard over and over what to do to be more successful. In the first part of this article I told you four bad habits not to do.

Below I will discuss the other three bad habits that you must eliminate if you are to sell more, build your business, and increase your income this year.

It’s very simple. If you can eliminate all seven habits you will find your business growing, expanding and prospering.

5. Spend It All Today, There Will Be More Tomorrow

You see this everyday. Many times you don’t even know that you’re looking at a prime example of this bad habit.

I know several people that drive fancy new cars, live in very big homes with swimming pools, and send their kids to the finest private schools.

They are always buying toys; new computers, the latest digital cameras, new stereo equipment, and of course the “can’t do without” home theatre complete with super deluxe ultra-realistic surround sound, 35 speakers, and 750 watts of ear busting power!

Whether they are doctors, sales professionals, entrepreneurs, small business owners, or managers at Exxon, it’s all the same issue. You can’t continue to spend more than what you are taking in.

No matter how hot it is outside, or how clear the sky, is I know that sooner or later it will rain. In business you will run into slow times. Do you have money put away for those times? In your personal life you will run into unexpected financial pressures. Are you saving money on a regular basis?

Plan a budget. In your budget, start off at the bottom not the top. The bottom line is the amount you want to save this year. You will need to save for future expenses, such as retirement, money for college for your children, a new home, and anything else you wish to be able to afford.

Upwards from the bottom line, you need to list all of the purchases you will be making. Include house payment, cars, food, and the usual everyday expenses. Also include vacation costs, presents, and anything else you would like to purchase.

Add all of this together. This is the amount of money you will need to have after you pay your taxes.

Now we need to figure what we will need to pay Uncle Sam. Multiply this amount by (1 – your tax rate). If you are paying 30% taxes then divide the amount of money you added up above by (1 -.30) or .70.

This is what you will need to earn to be able to live the life you desire and save the amount of money you will need to meet future expenses.

6. Neglect Seeking Change

This is an easy trap to fall into. You work very hard to achieve what you have. It’s hard to take the time to think about building to even higher levels.

There is an old expression; “If you do today what you did yesterday, you’ll get tomorrow what you got today.”

I don’t think this holds water. You see, the world is changing around us. New businesses are forming, the internet is more robust, and people are more educated then ever before. We must change just to keep up.

If you want to get ahead it is critical to look at two areas for possible changes.

What changes have you been resisting? This is the first area to examine. Have you been holding back from putting your business on line? Have you been using old systems in your office? Is there a software change you need to consider?

First, embrace the things you have been fighting.

Now ask yourself, “What can I change to be better than my competition?” This is proactive change. Can you improve your customer service? Can you add additional value to your sales process? Are there needs that your clients have that could be better addressed or served? Could you be more productive if you added an assistant?

There are so many things that you could evaluate for change. Start small but think big. And, even though all good things come from change, not all change is good.

Only by considering change and looking for ways to proactively change can you then grow and outpace your competition.

7. Fail To Say “Thank You”

Sometimes we get so busy that we forget to thank everyone who has helped us.

It’s quite simple. We could not do what we do alone. Our assistants, our suppliers, our clients, our family, the community in which we live, and even the UPS driver all play a part in our success.

As a frequent flyer, the airline I use most often sent me coupons to give to their employees when I, “catch” them doing a great job. The employees could turn the coupons in for awards and time off.

I put the coupons in my briefcase and forgot about them. One day I was at the airport early and wanted to take a different flight than the one I was scheduled on. I went to the service counter and asked for assistance.

The customer service person probably shouldn’t have changed the ticket, and if she did there probably should have been one of those ridiculous “penalty” fees. Well guess what? She put me on the earlier flight and bumped me up to first class!

I remembered the coupons in my briefcase and offered her one. She resisted. “I was just doing my job,” she said. I insisted, signed the coupon and gave it to her. She just grinned.

As I walked off, she was feeling great. I was feeling great too because I felt good about doing something positive for her. But guess what? The next person that came up to the counter probably received even better service because she was in such a great mood.

My actions, and saying “thank you” went beyond the person I thanked. My actions also extended to others that she came into contact with.

Thank the people around you for everything; for a great job, for working so hard, for letting you present your product to them, and for delivering your mail. You get the idea. If you thank enough people on a regular basis, then someone will be there to thank you on one of those days that you need a little pick-me-up.

Saying “thank you” creates allegiances. If you want loyal customers, loyal employees, and loyal supporters just remember to say “thanks.”

These 7 bad habits will hold you back. Eliminate them now. Focus on your success — you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz!

7 Habits Of Incredibly Unsuccessful Business Professionals – Part I

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We’ve all heard the rhetoric: “Do this and this and this and you’ll be successful.” Over the years, my observations in the field of high performing business professionals has led me to discover seven bad habits that characterize the real losers.

Sure we can all fall into some of these traps from time to time. Successful business professionals recognize their shortcomings and make the appropriate changes necessary to get back on the right track.

Below are seven bad habits that you need to make sure you are not doing.

1. Procrastination

I know you’re cringing as you read this. Most people procrastinate at one time or another. The question is, can you eliminate or minimize the number of times that you procrastinate?

In life, we are either moving towards something or away from something. We are either trying to make something happen or keep something from happening. We tend to procrastinate because we don’t want a possible negative result of a particular activity.

We don’t call that prospect back because we don’t want to be rejected. We think, “If we don’t tackle the project, we can’t fail.” Procrastination is simply a manifestation of the fear of failure.

Additionally, procrastination can come from poor time management. We tackle the easy tasks on our to-do list first rather than doing the most important items. The end of the day arrives and we still haven’t completed those tasks that really have the opportunity to produce bottom line results.

At the beginning of the day, take five minutes and determine what three to five things must happen today for your time to be well spent, and for you to be happy with the way your day went. Then, do those items first!

2. Sell At Low Margins Just To Get The Business

We’ve all run into the client that negotiates like Attila the Hun. They simply, “don’t pay full price.” Maybe you don’t want to pass up the business, or maybe you just can’t stand the thought of your competition beating you out and getting the order, but we all run into tough customers at some time.

If you lose money on the sale you can’t make it up on volume! Remember, you have costs associated with every transaction. Your time, your assistant’s time, company resources, equipment, manufacturing capacity, and other overhead must be considered in your costs.

Determine in advance what is the lowest possible margin you can work on. Don’t get sucked into the emotion of the moment. When faced with an opportunity that goes below your predetermined minimum margin, either come up with a creative way to up the margin, or pass on the business.

Remember, when you pass on this low margin job and your competition takes it, they will not be in a position to take the next big job that comes along and it will be yours!

3. Don’t Make Time For Strategic Planning

I’ve had clients come to me for mentoring that say, “Basically, I’m doing just as much business as I did five years ago. What am I doing wrong?”

My first thought is to investigate the amount of time that they spend each year strategically planning.

If you don’t spend time planning your assault on success, then it’s highly unlikely that you will ever improve your current situation. Growth rarely happens by chance. Advancement comes as a result of a planned campaign.

Each month you should set aside a specific amount of time for strategic planning. Additionally, each year I recommend my clients plan a strategic retreat, or join one of mine. You would be amazed at what two days of intense strategic planning will do for your yearly achievement.

On a weekly basis, take thirty minutes and evaluate your monthly progress. Don’t let a complete month go by without results. Before you know it, three months have gone by and you still haven’t improved your situation.

Strategically plan on a yearly basis. Adjust and modify those plans on a monthly basis. Then, monitor your progress on a weekly basis.

4. Try To Be Everything To Everyone

This is the bane of most business professionals that I see wallowing in the mire. They want to sell everyone. They want to provide all possible products. They must offer everything in every color imaginable.

If you have heart problems, do you go and see a general practitioner? Not me! I want to see a specialist.

I saw flashing lights recently. My eye doctor sent me to a retina specialist. I felt much more confident that the specialist’s opinion was accurate, and that he could do what was necessary to solve my problem. I didn’t want just anyone using a laser on my eye.

Your clients are the same way. If you try and promote yourself to be knowledgeable in everything, then they will probably see you as an expert in nothing.

For those of you who have been long time subscribers of this newsletter, you know I am passionate about focus. In particular, you must be laser like focused on the value that you deliver, and who you deliver that value to.

It is difficult to commit to focusing. It can mean the possible loss of not selling those other products, services, or clients.

What you are not able to calculate is exactly how much your business will grow because you are focused on specific markets, and your clients trust you more and give you more business, and then your referral rate goes up.

Your closing rate will also increase, as prospective clients will be more comfortable doing business with you, the expert.

After you learn how to focus your thinking, it is time to then create a memorable marketing message that specifically states the value you deliver, and who you deliver that value to. You will be a more effective marketer, and your clients will use this same simple statement to market to others on your behalf.

Part II to follow.

Focus Your Business For Success

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My plane arrived at the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport at 4:00 in the afternoon. It was hot and sunny. I forgot to bring my sunglasses for the ninety-minute drive to Tyler. Luckily, I was headed east.

I was in Tyler for a business development seminar. It was my forth program in five days. I was hot, tired, and hungry. I decided that I needed a treat for dinner, so I opened up the yellow pages and started searching for something tasty.

It was only a minute when something caught my eye; Unk’s Shrimp Shack. Since I love seafood, this looked perfect. I called them up and got directions from my hotel.

I followed the directions the person on the phone had given me. After driving out of town and onto a back road, I wondered if I was lost. Surely there couldn’t be a restaurant way out here. The drive seemed to go on forever. How cold anything be a twenty-five minute drive in a small town I wondered?

Just when I was about to pack it in, I rounded a corner and saw a wooden building. The sign on top said, “Unk’s Shrimp Shack.”

As I entered “the shack,” the cash register and order counter were on my right. On my left was a clean dining room with lots of tables. Each table was covered with a clean plaid tablecloth. Across the room was a small salad bar. A middle-aged gentleman was behind the counter. I figured it was Unk.

Unk’s menu was on the wall behind the counter. As I looked it over I realized that everything on the menu was seafood with one exception, he had chicken strips for the kids.

I ordered a dozen fried shrimp and some fried clams. They had sweet tea which is my favorite. I went to the salad bar for my coleslaw and took a seat at an open table.

Within a few minutes Unk brought me my dinner and I began to feast. There were lots of people in the restaurant, and a steady flow of patrons came and left as I sat and ate my dinner. I was amazed that a place could prosper so well out in the middle of nowhere.

After dinner I had a chat with Unk. His real name turned out to be Dan. I asked Dan a few questions, and he shared some very valuable information with me. Dan had actually bought the land for the restaurant, cleared wild plum trees, designed and then built the “shack” himself. The restaurant had character. I’m sure it stemmed from Dan.

Dan told me that the first time his son saw the place he almost fainted. Dan told me his son said, “Dad! In the restaurant business it’s location, location, location. You just struck out!”

Well, several years later Unk’s is still there. And, I can tell you that they serve great seafood.

I asked Dan why he was so successful and he said, “We serve high quality seafood every time.” He went on to say, “Our focus is seafood. That’s it!”

The key to Dan’s success is focus. Focus was in his ad in the yellow pages that caught my eye, and it was in the design of his building. Focus was reflected in his menu. And, he brought it home with a great product.

Do you have focus in your business? Does the name of your company tell what you do? Do you try to be all things to all people and end up being nothing to no one?

Most of the professionals I work with fall into this trap. They just don’t want to take the chance that they’re passing up business, so they don’t focus. You’ve got to know your market. You must be highly knowledgeable about who you serve and the value you deliver. You will also find that when you commit to being focused the distractions go away, and you become very comfortable with what you do.

Ultimately you have to be able to articulate this information in eight to ten seconds to anyone you come in contact with.

Here is how to refine your focus.

1. Look at you past history. Who have you sold? What is common about your best, easiest, or largest sales. Can you draw a picture of who you best serve?

2. Now, look at those clients who have wasted much of your time. You know, the clients that you spend hours on and maybe never get the sale, or if you do, they always demand a price so low you probably lose money on them. Can you list the common identifiers of those types of clients?

3. Ask your best clients what they really receive when they invest in your products or services. Determine the true value you deliver. Sure, you may sell a car, but the real value you deliver may be dependable transportation, or maybe it’s satisfying an ego if they’re luxury cars. You don’t sell houses. You sell places where families grow together. If you’re in the insurance business you deal with security, peace of mind, and value appreciation.

Spend your time focused on those clients that are the most profitable and have the most potential for bringing you the greatest success.

Challenge yourself to avoid those clients that drain your time and energy and keep you from your goals.

And, tell everyone you come in contact with about the true “value” of what you deliver and who you deliver it to. Create a message that you can deliver in eight to ten seconds that will enhance your networking ability.

Learn to focus your thoughts, actions, and words — you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz.

The Law of Fractional Advantage

Sam Articles 0 Comments

I was watching a basketball game this past week and the winning team missed almost two out of every three shots they took. How can you win a game shooting only 35.9%? The opposing team only shot 28.9%!

Later, I decided to look into what was going on in the world of golf. You don’t have to be a big golf fan to know about Tiger Woods. He is the top rated golfer in the world. His scoring average is 67.91. In other words his average score is less then 68 shots a round of golf.

What I saw next really amazed me. The second rated golfer on the top scorer list is Mike Weir. He had a scoring average of 68.56. As good as Tiger is, and as dominant as he has been, the only difference between he and the number two player on the scoring list is 65 hundredths of a point.

Can such a small advantage make such a large difference in results? The answer is yes. This phenomenon is called “The Law of Fractional Advantage.”

Simply put “The Law of Fractional Advantage” states that all you need to do to win at anything is to be slightly better than your competition.

Think about it. In baseball are you rewarded more if you win 15-0 rather then 1-0? In the one hundred meter race, the winner is usually only a few hundredths of a second ahead of second place. It would not matter if you won by three minutes. A win is a win.

In business it is very much the same. You need to out perform your competition, but many times we want to achieve something so big or so grand that we choke on it. We try to achieve greatness all at once rather than over time.

The “Law of Fractional Advantage” goes on to mandate that you take the long view to business. It is not about a home run today. The only get-rich-quick techniques I know about are to win the lottery or rob a bank, and the latter has some grave consequences.

If you can put yourself in one additional networking opportunity a week, that would translate into fifty opportunities a year. If at each meeting you met two new people, then you would grow your prospect list by one hundred people a year. Get the picture? Time works to your advantage when you are looking for small gains and consistent performance.

There are several areas in your business that you can look to improve your performance and achieve fractional advantages. The greater the number of these disciplines of business in which you can generate fractional advantages, the greater growth you will achieve.

Marketing:

How do you generate leads?
What is the quality of your leads?
Is your company getting the market exposure you need?
Do you have a memorable marketing message that appears in everything you do?

Sales:

Do you use a proven sales system?
Do you track your closing ratio and other important numbers?
Are you getting the referral business that you should?
Have you completed a self assessment of your sales strengths and weaknesses?
Do you get additional sales training on an annual basis?

Customer Service:

How do your customers view your customer service?
Are your systems designed to solve problems or keep them from occurring in the first place?
How long does it take someone to reach a live person when they call your company?
Do you return all of your phone calls in under two hours?

Products/Services:

Are your products/services unique from your competitors?
How do you package your products/services?
Do you use unique warranties and services to differentiate yourself?
Does the way your customers interact with your company enhance the value you deliver?

Management:

Do you have a strategic plan?
Does everyone in your organization know what the company goals are?
If you are a small company do you have a board of directors?
Are you a part of a Mastermind Group?
Is your business designed to operate in your absence?

Evaluate each of these areas. Brainstorm ways that you can create an improvement. Remember, you are looking to create a fractional advantage. If you can do so in each of these areas the total advantage and bottom line growth will be significant.

Then, start implementing the ideas you just created. Do so one at a time. You will see small improvements at first, then greater ones.

Sometimes a small improvement will become a larger one when a secondary enhancement is also made. Some of the changes will be synergistic. The long view of business will help you remain patient as you let time magnify your improvements.

“The Law of Fractional Advantage” says you only need to win by a little to finish first, and that you must take the long view of business in order to build the strongest organization.

Apply this concept — you will be on your way to Building a Better Biz!