It was almost a decade ago when the economy was hot and many more of us were busy with a strong roster of clients. It was like shooting fish in that old barrel. Today, the opposite is still playing-out for most sellers. From professional services to hamburger stands, we all have lots of well-qualified competitors taking very creative steps to differentiate them from us.
Let’s face it folks, if your strategy is built around bringing your old world back, that’s a fruitless dream that can only jeopardize the true options you do have.
Sure it is harder these days, but there are ways to succeed and even surpass the successes we enjoyed back then. However, it is not going to happen by applying the strategies of the past. Today’s formula is a holistic approach based on optimizing all the operating functions in your business. The core is a triad that includes a robust and sustainable customer finding process, a highly efficient and effective operational platform, and a customer-led culture.
Consider these ideas and methods in conditioning your business for the competitive challenges confronting you now:
- Business Development – Nothing happens until you sell something
Building a robust, sustainable process for finding and keeping customers assures a steady flow of prospects. Getting this critical process on a stable footing includes:assessments and improvements to the offering, provocative promotional programs, brand building and knowledge leadership. Continuing to employ grandpa’s old methods, or waiting for customers to call, “like they used to,” are not the building blocks of a sustainable process.Get some help to: Nail your value proposition, build on what satisfied customers might say about you and “stimulate” those with sales responsibilities. Develop a killer database/CRM of prospects, customers and friends of your company. Stay in touch with your “constituents” regularly, and be the resource they come to rely upon.
But, what if the problem is not customer finding, but customer keeping?
- Operational infrastructure – Fulfilling the brand promise
After the marketing function has made commitments to its customers, the rest of the organization must deliver on these promises. Every process, line or staff must be examined to the finest detail, optimizing each to assure efficiency. Policies and procedures must be developed with specific accountability guidelines. Tackling operational weaknesses goes right to the bottom line. Assess your internal structure like a franchisor might; qualifying every step and procedure in pursuit of the most efficient protocols. You know this, it’s just not your priority verses getting the work out and getting the money in.
- Team building and leadership development – Improving the culture
Your people dictate whether you fly high or crash and burn. The more clear employees are on the ambitions of their organization and what their role is in reaching business objectives, the more engaged they are in the process.The key to unlocking untapped employee potential includes a clear process and achievable goals. Leading an organization-wide culture shift encompasses employee evaluations, team building, plus versatile recruiting and hiring tools that are an integral part of our programs.
Note: In many cases the leader will need the most inspiration.
Doing is the hard part – don’t have time, don’t know where to start, or can’t see yourself changing old behaviors?
Fixing, stabilizing or growing smaller companies requires a multi-disciplined skillset not generally found in one advisor. Lauterback Consultants are “business mechanics,” process specialists who roll up our sleeves to create, fix and implement the systems necessary for a sustainable future.