How have you kept your business afloat? Are you able to create interactive customer websites, product brochures, and a team of talented people, or a professionally designed and stocked store and interior? Would I be able to identify strong brands that represent your company if I did a business analysis?
Small businesses today face a competitive marketplace that is local, regional, or national. There are many challenges to being a business owner or even a leader of a team. Every aspect of marketing, from cell phones to marketing techniques, has increased two- to threefold in the past few years because of one innovation. The market for all products and services is constantly changing.
These are the things I used and have benefited from in my past businesses and working with clients to jumpstart people and products.
1. This is what you should do:
The retreat below is excellent for clarifying or changing your brand. The ‘brand ‘…the best service, fastest inventory, best price, or something else must permeate all facets of an organization’s existence. The ‘brand must guide every decision and every action. The ‘brand’ is what you walk, and it is almost impossible to go back the other way.
Jos. A. They are located in desirable neighborhoods and offer excellent service. They were an option to Brooks Bros. Because they had quality clothes, a large selection, and not as expensive, their corporate program also offered a reasonable discount.
Today I feel like a chump because of the corporate program purchase price. JAB has been inundating customers with half-off, or 2-for-1 sales offers almost every week for nearly two years. They are their brand today, and whether they like to admit it or otherwise, “discounter,” “I guarantee it” is what they use.
My client, who is a distributor of confident Proctor & Gamble products, notices a constant reintroduction or repackaging of products. A few months back, I spoke with a McDonald’s owner. He said that he remodels all of his ten-year-old restaurants with modern designs and higher efficiency. The new packaging and remodeling can lead to increased sales unless the original product or service is defective. These re-inventions and repackaging are not based upon price.
2. Improve your “talent.”
First, make sure you do everything necessary to get the right talent on board (see my article “Hire Slowly and Fire Fast”).
Make training mandatory but only for programs that improve job performance. This will move your team ahead and makes you a leader in the market. My experience has shown that professional training can inspire employees and bring about a great return on investment.
3. Develop “Business Development”
If you try to increase sales by offering lower prices, more commission, or trips to the beach, it will not work and could hurt your future sales plans. If it fails, what carrot can you offer?
In an effort to determine the areas salespeople should be focusing on in this selling cycle, a leading research company conducted a survey with over 15,000 people in every industry segment. These are the challenges that survey participants identified based on their previous results: generating business and negotiations, closing deals, managing relationships, and expanding those relationships.
Excuooooooze me! (I was thinking about Steve Martin), but those aren’t the same challenges in good times or at all times.
From that list, it was clear that the top two obstacles were 1) Account Management: finding new ways to add value and 2) Expanding Relationships – becoming a trusted advisor. Although the survey does not reveal the business’s size, I have seen that many companies ignore their unique strength: the ability to build relationships and charge for personalization.
The competition for resources is rarely a factor in closing a sale unless you permit it. It is more a contest of priorities. Right? A buyer is being given their time and money. To win this competition, you must show more value.
4. Organize a 4-hour “retreat.”
This is to identify the needs of an organization in order to increase net profit by enhancing sales and establishing better customer relationships. Everything else must support these two areas.
We often believe that selling more products will solve all our problems. My experience has shown me that even if you have annual sales of 2MM, 20MM, or 200MM, increasing your net profit will not solve the problem. It is essential to make the business profitable at current levels so that sales increase, net profit will also rise proportionately.
A professional planner can help you plan your retreat. For a small investment, it is possible to create an unforgettable experience. You can’t use speeches or any other speech except those that are appropriate to the purpose. Everyone (or at most 80%) should agree that “we got stuff done.”
Personal invitations were sent to employees at least three weeks before the event. It included a program. I made it optional rather than obligatory. Everyone wanted to see the program when they saw it. The retreat took place on a Thursday morning (Saturdays are an alternative). It started at 8 am and ended precisely at noon. Although food and drinks were ready by 7 AM, there was no option to take a nap in the middle of the morning (ask your nutritionist). These events are often used by big boys like IBM and Coke.
As a final note, I’ve read that there are fewer repeat buyers for car brands today than ever before. Due to international competition, financial and environmental concerns, as well as competing models, highly individualistic buyers are emerging.
What are you doing to re-invent and repackage products and/or services [Brand]? Are you ready to be the trusted advisor [Talent] so that your customers, past, present, and future, continue to choose your company?