My wife and I recently visited Cape Town, South Africa. It was a wonderful, once in a lifetime trip. As we often do on holiday, we sought out the local street markets. Cape Town is beautiful and friendly, but like any large city it has a seedier side. You take care where you go and keep your valuables tucked away. We wandered up to a square of souvenir sellers with the hopes of finding something to take back for gifts. We are pretty seasoned travelers, but found ourselves immediately uncomfortable. The vendors were aggressive, the pathways too small, and the merchandise in a majority of the booths was nearly identical.
We live and work in a service economy, but too much of our sales training is based on peddling transactions: When a customer has a need, we source the solution, assess our cost, add profit, and offer a price. In order to differentiate, we include “value-added” services, which may be as rudimentary as being pleasant up to the extreme customer service models that so few can afford. The fundamental problem with this simplistic view of how we make money is that our customers are far more complicated than that. Customer complexity is actually a good thing, if you learn how to assess and respond to it.
Here are my top five resolutions for my consulting clients in 2016:
Tom discusses seven ways to intentionally grow your business.
The reason your sales and business development outreach isn’t working is attributable to a increasing lack of customer compliance. They are supposed to take your call, listen to your pitch, and by golly – just give you a shot at the order. Everyone gets the same consideration. Everyone gets a chance. These are the rules. Of course if customers followed the rules, you would always win because you have better people, products, and a nifty catchphrase.
Tom gives seven tips to improve your cash flow today.
One of the key concerns of the sales team I advise is the increase in projects requiring multiple bidders. As a result, the cost of customer acquisition is on the rise. We all talk about the commoditization of products and even services, but I think we should also focus on the commoditization of the proposal itself. I am not going to suggest that you charge for proposals – I think that is still a non-starter! However, rather than give quotes away – often indiscriminately writing one for any opportunity – sales representatives should emphasize the scarcity of their proposals.
Tom shares three steps to restore profits in the new economy.
It’s not enough to expect better for and of yourself, you should anticipate more from your customers. I call this Getting Ahead of Customer Expectations. Indeed, you should be highly invested in anticipating what they will do next, what their expectations are, and how you are going to fulfill them. The fundamental mistake most small businesses make is believing that the product and business model they have provided is adequate for customers needs, and that customer demand can be altered through marketing and advertising. It’s rather arrogant when you think about it. As small business owners, we are all inherently flawed and to presume that the customer should adapt to how we want to do things is insane. Yet, customers make accommodations all the time for poor business models thereby reinforcing these false assumptions. Getting ahead of customer expectations is the process of thinking like a customer, for the customer. This is nothing new, but small businesses are the least equipped to embark on an unbiased exploration of consumer perspective. Nonetheless, our success depends upon understanding how buyers think, which means unlearning that what we want to do for customers is somehow more important compared to what they expect or […]