Archives For business growth

IMG_0993It’s a recipe – not a numbers game.  (But wait!  Notice the picture on the left – somehow Hilton decided to select me as their guest of the day.  Little do they know, I’m a devout Marriott Elite customer – but the service here was excellent).  Last night I received a call from one of my clients – in one day he closed a new client deal for managed services! How?  He was so excited, he called me just to share the excitement.

It’s the conversion process I outlined in yesterday’s video blog post.  There’s some event – this can be anything that leads to an assessment.  I like 1-to-many events because they’re efficient, but it can be something one-on-one. It must be educational.  It leads the prospect to want to at least take a look.

Then there’s “Creating the urgency”.  This can’t be FFUD (fabricated fear, uncertainty, and doubt) – it must be real.  Usually, if you look closely at the business, in the security space, there is an urgent issue.  A high percentage of the companies you call on have a serious problem they don’t know about.  My client’s SE found it – they were running critical applications and their back up solution was failing.

Converting the next step – to fee based business, is a matter of persuasion; guiding truth around other’s mental road blocks.  My client executed on this flawlessly – the result…contract in hand…master the recipe and grow your value – this leads to business growth.

© 2013, David Stelzl

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I just landed in Chicago (photo to the left flying over downtown – note: the flight attendant is telling me to put my phone away right at that moment!) –  getting ready for a business leaders in conference which starts tonight.  Tomorrow I’ll be speaking on innovation and expanding the business through creativity.  This conference is geared to business owners with a focus on building the business, increasing profitability, and creating financial stability.  Some of of the other topics include; reducing executive stress, reducing healthcare costs, developing employee character and conflict resolution, negotiating, international trade, reducing debt, and much more.

If you own a business and you don’t take time to develop yourself as a business owner – away from the daily work, you are likely missing some great opportunities.  Today’s business environment is competitive, demanding, and changing.  Make sure you schedule time to get away, spend time with other business leaders to exchange ideas, seek out executive coaches and seminars designed to educate business leaders, and read meaningful books…a few things most of us need to do periodically:

  1.   Step back periodically to see where your company actually makes money.  Over time businesses change, needs change, and bureaucracy creeps in.  Find out where the money is coming in, and focus on improving the things that are working.  Too often I see business owners spending too much time and money trying to fix something that just doesn’t work.  Many times this involves people who just don’t work.
  2. Review your message.  How long has it been since you updated your marketing copy?  Have you read your website recently and do you know what it says?  Is it still relevant?  Are you still using data sheets and are they meaningful?  Chances are you printed a bunch of materials long ago – it’s time to toss them.  Move to electronic copy and keep it up to date.
  3. Where is your pricing?  How long has it been since you have raised your rates.  Are you still charging T&M?  It’s difficult to raise a T&M rate, however, it is much easier to increase fixed fees – especially when you can demonstrate greater value based on outcomes.
  4. Are you reaching deeper into the current customer base?  Chances are they have more needs to be met.  This is a great way to expand your company.
  5. Test your program – does it really meet the customer need?  Are there areas you could be serving but aren’t?

New ideas don’t just happen.  They come as you collaborate, brainstorm, work with outside coaches and facilitators, and spend time reflecting and thinking about your business.  None of this can really happen while you are working “in” the business…

© 2012, David Stelzl

Photo by Hannah Stelzl

Is your brand memorable?

Some have tried to brand by offering lower prices, others with great customer satisfaction, or by building great relationships with their clients.  I see companies touting great people, certifications, or their status as a reseller of some product.  “We are gold partners”, or “Platinum and security certified!”  But these things don’t work as unique branding contributors.  Your business, and you yourself must offer something unique or represent something people see as unique and compelling.  Uniqueness comes with specialization; a unique process, or intellectual capital that others don’t possess, or something about you that adds to your ability, character, or appeal.  You have a product or an approach no one else has.

I was on the phone with a client the other day, and at the start of our call to discuss our first contract (recently signed), she said, I have heard you speak before!  It had dawned on her just a day or two ago as she was lying in bed. She remembered me as “The guy with seven kids and one wife, who home schools and has his children involved in all kinds of entrepreneurial businesses.”    In this case it was my personal story that caught her attention.  She couldn’t remember my name, but my story was fresh on her mind and memorable. The fact that I have children is not impressive, the seven children is somewhat memorable, the businesses are highly memorable, especially when combined with my seven kids who are homeschooled.  People remember this and it works. It adds to my credibility simply because, if I can help teenagers start profitable businesses, perhaps I can help anyone.

What makes your story unique and memorable?  This is the key to your brand…and a business without a brand, is on it’s way out of business.

© 2011, David Stelzl

Meeting today with a group of entrepreneurs – some key points from this discussion group:

1. Most people charge too little…that’s right!  Your client gives you the sob story about how they can’t afford it.  In fact there’s a value disconnect and a natural tendency to want a discount.  Hold your ground, you can’t afford not to.

2. Wrong metrics.  People tend to watch the wrong metrics or none at all.  What are you watching?  If you’re in sales, forget about trying to equate number of calls leading to number of meetings etc.  Improve you ability to communicate value, reduce the number of calls, and increase close ratios.  The number you really need to watch is GP per deal, profit per project, and close ratios with an eye toward improvement.

3. Not every client is worth having.  Some clients suck the life out of you.  They will take up tons of time, nickel and dime you, and only buy on their terms.  They don’t value your expertise and are wasting your time.  Tell your story, look for synergy, and conduct business.  If not, move on.

4. Make sure you are working on your mission.  Deals outside of your focus waste your time.  Move on with a focus on what matters and what contributes to your business long term.

5. Deliver quality.  You can’t afford a bad reputation.

© David Stelzl, 2010

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