7 Habits Of Incredibly Unsuccessful Business Professionals – Part II

Sam Articles 0 Comments

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

Sam Articles 1 Comment

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

Sam Articles 0 Comments

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!

G-8 Level Communication

Sam Articles 0 Comments

In a recent G-8 economic summit a large concern for the group of major world leaders was the proliferation of nuclear arms in Iran and North Korea. Additionally, the peace process in the Middle East between Israel and the Palestinians seems to take two steps back for every step forward.

Most world problems over the centuries have been related to communication issues. Many times it’s been the lack of communication or ineffective communication.

In business, communications is critical as well. How you communicate as a business professional may very well determine your success or failure. Internally within your organization it’s important that you have good communication with your peers, with those above and below you on the company ladder, and all people in the organization in which you come in contact.

External to your organization, your communication in the sales, marketing, and customer service arenas will determine your success not only today but as you move forward.

When it comes to marketing communication it’s critical that you have a clear concise message, that you’re able to convey what you do and who you do it for.

By conveying this message, an individual is able to immediately determine whether or not they can use your goods or services.

Are you capable of delivering a memorable marketing message in a clear and concise manor and in a very short period of time? My memorable marketing message is delivered in 8.5 seconds!

My prospects know right away whether or not I’m addressing their needs and wants. And, if I do, based on my memorable marketing message they will ask me for more information. That’s just what I want!

Now they are inviting me to:

Give them a sales presentation
Tell them more about the services I offer
Engage them at a deeper level
Probe and ask questions about their specific needs
Discuss their problems and where I may be of service

Your memorable marketing message comes from your business model. Your business model is a triangle with three sides. The sides are:

What do you do?
Who do you do it for?
How do you do it?

Your memorable marketing message contains just the who and the what?

Once you have your memorable marketing message you are able to move from the marketing phase of business to the sales phase of business.

Selling is really nothing more then discovering the needs and wants of your prospect and then providing a solution for those needs based on the products and services you offer.

It’s not about your products and services. It’s about the needs of your potential clients. Many times professional sales people are focused on the wrong issues. They inadvertently focus on:

A product presentation
The products features
How long the company has been in business
Past success

And while all of these elements may be relevant, they are only important at the right time. The real critical issues is how can you solve someone’s needs. Your customer is not buying the features of your product. They are buying the benefits that they will receive after they own your product.

Are you product focused? Or, are you customer need focused? The sales pros that I’ve worked with in the past that have been the most successful have always been customer need focused.

By delving in and finding out the needs and specific interests of your customers and then focusing the products and services you offer to provide benefits and solutions, you put yourself in a position to make the sale.

Quality communication is imperative for you to build a better business. Work on your communication skills. Be able to define and deliver a memorable message to your clients in under fifteen seconds. When you move into the sales arena, understand what your prospect’s needs are. Then communicate to them exactly how you’ll fulfill their needs and help them be more successful in their business or in their life.

The G-8 meeting brought leaders together and helped facilitate better communication. Improving the way you communicate and the content of those communications with your market and your customers will ultimately lead you to Build a Better Biz!

Too Much Lost Business

Sam Articles 0 Comments

Last week was an interesting week. Three sales people didn’t call me back, and it was only Wednesday.

Monday I spoke with a hotel sales representative, a web services company, and a bank Vice-President. They all said they would call back that day. I must have moved, because I am still waiting for
their calls.

Guess what? I booked another hotel for one of my upcoming seminars. We contracted a different hosting company for our new web site. And, we formed a new banking relationship to handle all of our on line merchant service needs.

All told it was a lot of business that was directed away from companies not responsive to our needs.

Many times it’s easy to get away from what we really do. We focus on the product or specific service we want to sell. We should be focusing on the pain and the needs of our clients and prospects.

The reality is that they don’t care about us or our products or our services. What they care about is being able to successfully complete their daily tasks, enjoy life, or make a profit. They only care about us to the degree that we can service them. It’s all about the benefit they receive from our products and services.

Not returning a call on a timely basis takes away from their ability to achieve their goals.

So, what could be keeping someone from returning those calls on a timely basis? Some people fear rejection and therefore put off making the calls. Of course by not calling they are in fact getting a “no” to their product or service by default

You are not going to sell everyone anyway. You will get some “no’s,” but you have to work through the “no’s” to get to the “yes’s.”

The other reason I see that many people don’t return calls on a timely basis is that their work area is a mess. It’s hard to be efficient when you have too many of those little pieces of paper with phone numbers on them running around rampant.

Top producers have an efficient system of organizing their office and maintaining contact with their relationships.

Now let’s look at where you should focus to give the best possible service to your clients and prospects.

Return all calls within one hour of when they were received. With cell phones and other office technology there’s no excuse for being tardy.

When you tell someone you’re going to call on a certain day or at a certain time, do it!

Use a good contact management software system to keep track of all the commitments you make. “I’m not up on technology,” is not an acceptable statement anymore.

Spend time looking for the true value you deliver. What is it that your clients are really getting when they invest in your products and services? The answers to this question can have an incredible impact on your business.

Ask your clients what is important in their eyes and give it to them.

Commit to making these things a habit. Practice them consistently for 21 days and you’ll wonder how you ever got by without them before.

Another important aspect about any client contact is the message you leave them. It’s important to communicate clearly and concisely when you call clients. You must be brief with new clients and respectful of their time.

Can you communicate exactly the value you provide and who you deliver it to in a few seconds? My memorable marketing message takes 8.5 seconds to deliver, under 8 seconds on a good day! It’s critical that you have an oral command of your service so that you can leave your prospect with a memorable marketing message.

Customers and clients want to be treated great. There are too many people out there who sell the same products and services. We would like to think that what we offer is unique, but the reality is that who we are and the way that we treat people characterize our uniqueness.

Stop procrastinating. Return all calls promptly and watch your sales soar It comes down to making a choice. Do you choose to look for other’s needs and then serve them, or not? If you do, you will be Building a Better Biz. If not, well you can figure that out.

Three Reasons Your Business Will Fail This Year

Sam Articles 0 Comments

All around the world there are businesses failing. In the United States alone, almost 200 businesses fail every day of the week!

You may see companies that are doing great, people prospering, and business booming. But don’t kid yourself. There are also markets that are collapsing, industries that are disappearing, and a constant flow of bankruptcies.

Why do business have problems? Why do good intentions turn into failure? What could drive you out of business? Here are three reasons that your business could fail this year.

1. You Lack a Strong Business Model

Many business professionals are running their business as usual. They market, they sell, and they deliver their goods and services. Unfortunately they haven’t taken the time to strategically design their business model. They do things because that’s the way they have always done them, or because fate led them in that direction. To be successful today, that way of thinking just isn’t good enough.

You must take the time to evaluate three factors, and then design a business model that will serve you well moving forward. First, what is the value you deliver? Maybe you sell books, but the real value you deliver is information, knowledge, solutions to problems, or entertainment. People invest in your products and services, but they are buying the true value you deliver. Once you understand this concept you are in a position to make your offer so compelling that most prospective clients will not be able to refuse you.

Second, to whom do you deliver this value? This is your target market. It is important to know who is best suited for your value and who will benefit the most from it. It’s a matter of efficiency. You don’t have the financial resources, or the time to try and market to sell everyone. If you can clearly define who is best served by the value you deliver, then you can focus on that group and increase your success rate.

Third, how do you deliver your value? The “hows” become your products or services. A professional speaker sees himself as a “speaker.” In other words, they just speak for a living. Once that professional speaker realizes that the value they deliver is knowledge or information, then they can realize that speaking is only one way of delivering that knowledge. Speaking is one of the “hows.” Books, audio CDs, video learning systems, and the internet all become additional ways of delivering that same value to their marketplace.

Take the time to determine the real value you deliver. You may wish to ask your clients. It may surprise you what their response is. Then determine whom you deliver it to and list all of the other possible “hows.” From this information you can create your own business model.

2. You Are Not Surrounded By The Right People

You really are only as good as the people you work with. Your suppliers, employees, peers, and anyone else you rely on can have a major impact on the results you achieve.

You only have to think about the busy sales professional that almost misses a deadline to submit a significant proposal to realize that the assistant who reminded the sales pro of the pending deadline to realize how true this is.

The old expression; “No man is an island,” is very much the truth. All business professionals are dependent on the people they associate themselves with, both inside and outside their companies. Do you have a great team around you? Are your suppliers making you look good or bad? Do you have wonderful customers? Are they referring you to their peers?

As you can see, your success is going to be impacted by everyone you associate with.

3. You Do Not Have a Dream Big Enough To Attract Others.

Dr. Martin Luther King said, “I have a dream.” President John F. Kennedy said, “By the end of the decade we will put a man on the moon and safely return.” These were bold statements, but they were dreams that were big enough to attract others to their cause.

As an individual, you only know a limited number of people. You only have twenty-four manhours in a day. Your knowledge base contains a set amount of information. Ultimately, alone you can only accomplish so much. By bringing in others to help you achieve your goals you expand, the time, energy, knowledge, and resources that are available to tackle your dream.

Dream big, and make it big enough to attract others, because they will help you along the way. Your goals will be reachable and the results you achieve amazing.

Don’t fall into these three traps, and you will be on road to Building a Better Biz!

Enhancing Your Brand

Sam Articles 1 Comment

Do you have a brand? Do you know what it is? Perhaps, more importantly, do your clients know? And what about the marketplace?

All great questions, but they are not always easy to answer. Your brand is your promise to the market place. When someone does business with you they know what they will get based on this “promise.” A great brand will have clients flocking to you a bad brand repels them. When someone thinks of you they should think of your brand, and conversely when someone thinks of your brand they should think of you. It’s simple – on paper.

When you go eat at McDonalds you know ahead of time what you are going to get. You know exactly what type of service to expect and what quality of food you will receive. If you are not satisfied with your meal, then my guess is that it was your fault for not having your expectations properly aligned with their well-known brand.

When business professionals think about themselves, their organization, and their brand many times they fall into the trap of only thinking about the products or services they offer. It is true that your brand should cover the quality and type of products and services that you sell, but your brand should also be related to the experience of doing business with you.

Dominos Pizza built their business around a brand of “your pizza would be delivered in 30 minutes or it was free”. You knew just what you were getting when you did business with Dominos. If you liked their pizza, and you wanted it fast that was the place to go.

When evaluating your brand it is probably best to go to your customers and ask them what they think of when they think of you. Put together a survey that they can fill out with questions about your products and services, the people that make up your organization, the experience they have at all points of contact, and adjectives that they associate your business.

Before reviewing this information, have everyone in your organization answer the same questions. With all of this feedback in hand you can learn how others perceive you, combine their views with your own knowledge of how you want to be perceived, and then take the steps to bring both of those visions into alignment.

If your brand is strong, easily understandable, and memorable, then you have the opportunity to really build your business.

A brand is so much more than a slogan that looks great on your letterhead. It may look nice on paper, but a brand that is only in words and not delivered in reality is a false promise. Create a strong brand, deliver it, and promote it — you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz.

Refer Your Way To More Business

Sam Articles 0 Comments

There are many ways to grow your business. You can increase sales to existing clients, you can add additional products and services to your offering, and you can even merge with another organization. The easiest and fasted way to grow your business is through referrals.

Cold calling is a proven way to develop business. The only problem is that it can be slow and tedious. And, although there is a time and place for cold calling, other ways of building your business may work more effectively for you. Certainly advertising can pay off, but you had better have significant funds available to you so that you can stay visible long enough for your advertising to pay off.

Referrals tend to buy quicker and place larger initial orders than other types of new clients. Some of the most successful business professionals today have developed a system of gaining quality referrals that works very well for them. Below are six ideas that will help you in developing your own system of cultivating referrals.

1. Be Great

The level of service you provide must be outstanding, and the quality of products you deliver must be superior before any referral system will begin working for you. But, if you are great without being asked to be, then your clients will automatically start sending referrals your way.

Like life in general, you rarely receive something unless you deserve it. Do you deserve referrals from your clients? Have you done everything in your power to stand out and be great in both quality of service and quality of products? If you can say ‘yes’ to these questions, then you are on the right track.

2. Ask

This may sound simple, but all too often, business professionals just simply fail to ask for referrals. There are specific times in a relationship that it is natural and normal to ask for referrals. You need to be aware of those moments and take advantage of them.

Right after you complete a sale and you are thanking your client may be a great time to ask for referrals. If you use a standard order form, print two or three blank lines on the bottom. After your client signs off on the order, point to those “blank lines” and tell your client that your business is built on the satisfaction of your clients and the potential clients they refer. Then ask them if they know two or three people who may be in the same situation that they could refer you to.

Always give specific “types” of people to think about. Don’t just ask if a client knows “someone.” Say, “Do you know any other small business owners?” By defining groups of people for your client to pull from, you will help them hone in on potential referrals for you.

3. Reward

When a client does provide you with a referral, be sure and reward them. Depending on your business, a dinner for two would be appropriate. Also, you can have a program with cards printed up that promote referrals and states the reward your clients will earn. For example; if they send in a prepaid post card with a referral on it and the referral buys then they receive $50.00.

If you want to take this idea one step further, mail to your client base twice a year. In this mailing you can promote your products or services, and you can also include some more referral cards for your clients.

4. Newsletters

Newsletters are a great way to stay in touch with your clients. They can be traditional printed newsletters, email newsletters, or a combination of the two. Be sure and mention that you appreciate referrals somewhere in your newsletter. You’ll be surprised by how just reminding your clients that you appreciate referrals can pay off.

5. Thank-You Notes

If you’re not already sending your clients thank-you notes on a regular basis, then you are missing out. Thank them for taking the time to meet, thank them for considering your product or service, thank them if they don’t buy, and thank them if they do. You should also thank them for referring clients your way. When you write a thank-you note sometimes you can add in that you would appreciate any referrals that they send your way.

You can also call your clients after the product has been delivered and your thank-you note has arrived. Toward the end of the conversation ask for a referral.

6. Create An Army Of Advocates

If you excel at building relationships, which is what business is all about, then over time you should be building an army of advocates. Advocates are those people who love you, your company, or your products and services. Let those people know how much you appreciate them. Also, let them know how you build your business and they you need and appreciate their referrals. If they really like you, they will promote you to their associates.

Stay in touch with your advocates on a monthly basis. Maybe send them a hand written note. Maybe send them an article that you think they will be interested in. Maybe send them a book that you feel would help them in their business. You could write a personal note and sign the book for an even greater impact!

Take care of your advocates, and they will take care of you.

A referral program is not a one-time thing. It is an ongoing effort that, over time, will produce significant results for your business. If you are looking to add quality clients that will buy quicker and place larger orders then referrals are the way to go. Design your own referral program. Stay consistent in your efforts, and you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz!

Which Direction Is Your Business Heading

Sam Articles 0 Comments

Two years ago John’s business was down ten-percent, but he figures that the economy was a bit slow and he would make it up the next year. Last year, John’s business was off another ten-percent. He was not very happy with the way things were going, but he figured that this year was the year to turn things around. By May, John’s business was off fifteen-percent from the prior year. His repeat business is down and so are his referrals. John is worried that he isn’t going to be able to stay in business much longer. He is angry at the economy, he is frustrated with the people he works with, and he is depressed.

Unfortunately John’s situation is not all that uncommon. We think that just because we’ve been in business for a number of years, our business should automatically continue to grow and flourish. The truth is that it takes an ongoing commitment to marketing, sales, and relationship building to not just build your business, but to maintain what you already have.

When external factors affect your business, you must make internal changes to combat those forces. Here are three steps to being more strategic in the way you run your company and manage external changes.

1. Monitor Your Numbers and Watch For Trends

It is not enough to review your financial information at the end of the year or at tax time. Each month you should spend time reviewing your financial statements. Over time, you become so intimate with them that you will spot a change or problem immediately.

You should also know what drives your business. Are your sales dependent on the number of clients you have, the number of sales calls you make, or maybe the number of presentation you give? What are the key numbers that most consistently impact your business? I call them critical drivers. Know what they are and monitor them. Many successful organizations I work with track these numbers on a daily and weekly basis.

Look for trends in your numbers. Is there a trend illustrating an increase or decrease in your critical drivers? If your drivers are moving in a positive direction you may need to act in order to maintain a good level of customer support and other post-sale issues. If the drivers are decreasing, then you may need to increase your marketing efforts or make changes where it’s necessary.

A great place to review your critical drivers is with your Master Mind Group. If you don’t have a Master Mind Group already, then you may be missing out on one of the most powerful business concepts used by successful entrepreneurs today.

2. Don’t Accept the Status Quo

I hear it all the time, “The economy is bad.” Well, so what? Are you just going to sit around and let the economy, your competition, or someone down the street dictate your success? Just because there is something going on beyond your control doesn’t mean that your business success should be totally out of your hands.

You don’t have to accept external factors as the final word on your success. Evaluate your situation. Make changes when it’s necessary. And, keep moving your business forward.

3. Look For New Opportunities

The economy changes, business changes, industries evolve, and your business should look different in ten years than it looks today. What are you doing now to make that happen?

The entire universe is continually evolving and changing. It would be crazy to think that your business could stay exactly the same. Maybe you’re using different technology to get the job done. Maybe you’re entering into different markets. Maybe you’re selling different products. There are so many opportunities for change and growth!

Constantly evaluate what you are doing. Stay educated about your industry. Look for additional ways to deliver value to your existing clients, or, new clients that you can deliver value to. If you stay focused on delivering value, you will always be ahead of the curve, and discovering new ways to grow your business.

Do these three things, and you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz!