7Jun/120

Partnerships: The Key to Your Exponential Growth, by Denise Trifiletti

Posted by Denise Trifiletti

Are you juggling all the balls in your family and business life? Are you struggling to keep all of the aspects of your business operating smoothly, while at the same time meeting the needs of your family and others who rely on you? How can you find time for yourself, focus on what you enjoy, and live the life you love? You do this by establishing a powerful partnership with yourself.

In previous articles, I defined Power Partnerships as relationships in which two or more people or organizations come together to accomplish 'all-win' outcomes. Power Partners achieve greater results together than they could individually. And their results can be personal, professional, or both.

There are several types of partnerships:

  • Partnership with yourself – for balance and to live a life you love;
  • Partnership with your network – for referrals and solutions to your business needs;
  • Partnership with your clients – for increased satisfaction, referrals, add-on business; and
  • Partnership with your prospects – for increased sales and revenues.

With whom should you partner?  In business, partner with those who can help you achieve your goals. Review your goals, and take an inventory of what you need to achieve them. If you need more sales or an expanded market reach, find those who can provide you with quality and consistent referrals, those who can open doors to your target market, those who are influential in your field, and those who can increase your reach and exposure.

Most often, people focus on partnerships with others. But none of these can substitute for a partnership with yourself. A 'Partnership with Yourself' means that you live a life of balance, and have time to do all that is important to you.

As an example, imagine the start of your day. Do you rise, go through a series of rote steps, such as brushing your teeth, bathing, dressing, having breakfast—without thinking about the day ahead? Do you robotically get into your car, head down the same road as every other day, and arrive at work (or your appointment or networking meeting) without being conscious of having gotten there? Do you slip into your work routine and find the day half over when you get this uncomfortable feeling you have been here before and you still have accomplished nothing of personal value?

Now, imagine a different start to your day. You come awake, turn off the alarm, and just lie quietly for a few moments. You reflect on the day ahead, and why it is important to you. You think about not just what you have to do, but why it is important. You consciously consider your values, your mission, and your vision for yourself. As you rise and go through your morning routines, you continue to reflect on all of your roles and goals, relative to your vision and mission. In Partnership with Yourself, you are guided by your personal and professional values and vision.

While having coffee or eating breakfast, you start to sort the duties of the day. First, you identify those things that have the greatest value to you as a person, because they align with who you are, what you believe, and where your passions lie. You feel a surge of energy and enthusiasm about getting to them first. You focus on the right things, those activities that match your roles and goals; those that fit with your plan, and which provide you with balance, personally and professionally. In Partnership with Yourself, you establish priorities that are balanced and meaningful.

You look at your activities logically and intellectually, and evaluate their ROI. You are at peace with yourself because you are focused on what is most important and effective: those activities that provide the greatest ROI. Then, you check your efficiency and ensure you are both 'doing things right' and doing the right things. In Partnership with Yourself, you evaluate whether you can delegate or outsource tasks to preserve your time and focus.

You begin to feel a real sense of internal harmony. You have developed a partnership with yourself. You have identified your vision, top roles, goals, and priorities, and you have a balanced plan. People will notice. Your colleagues will see a difference. You are more in control, have more peace of mind, less stress, greater focus and balance.

Have you noticed this trait in truly effective leaders? Have you seen how they calmly and effectively get things done? Have you sensed that they know the right things to do? Have you noticed they are rarely caught up in minutia? Have you ever wondered why this is so? They have their vision, roles, goals, and priorities in place, allowing for a high level of balance and internal harmony. Perhaps it is because they are in 'Partnership with Self.'

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Winter Issue 2006, Volume 2, Issue 4). Copyright © 2012 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

Denise Trifiletti, a business coach and an accomplished leader in the fields of sales and training, is the co-founder of Dynamic Destiny Partnerships, LLC and the founder of  Women's Community, LLC. She is the author of  Create the Business Breakthrough You Want: Secrets and Strategies of the World's Greatest Mentors (Mission Publishing, 2004). Denise can be reached by email at denise@womenscommunity.com.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
9Feb/120

The Power of Partnerships: Your Key to Greater Client Satisfaction, Referrals, and Retention, by Denise Trifiletti

Posted by WABC

In my last column, I explained how partnerships in business can be the key to increasing sales, margins and profits. This article takes the next step by discussing how to increase client satisfaction and retention, obtain business referrals, and increase your client revenues through the power of partnerships.

First, you know it is a tough world out there, and you face a lot of competition. Your competition is knocking on your clients' doors and seeking the same returns that you are looking for. In view of this fact, it only makes sense for you to forge as many strategic business partnerships as you possibly can. This is already a strategy of virtually every one of the Fortune 500 companies—why not a strategy for you?

A "Power Partnership" in business is one in which you and your partner leverage each other's talents for the benefit of both. It is a partnership in which you leverage what you each bring to the marketplace in order to add value for your respective clients. Let's explore this from the perspectives of client satisfaction, referral business, and client retention.

  • Client satisfaction: An axiom of business is that a satisfied client is "gold in the attic." Another axiom is that every client has the potential to become dissatisfied with your products and services. Never assume client satisfaction. Remaining client-centric and keeping in close contact with your clients is key. Continuously ask and learn about their changing needs—then meet them, either through your own products and services, or through those of your Power Partners.

Present your value proposition clearly and frequently, and measure your progress with your clients. Do you have an ongoing client feedback process? Do you have a written tool to capture quantitative and qualitative data about how you are addressing your clients' needs? Do you solicit feedback about what they like most about your products or services, and in what areas you can improve your offerings? Do you ask about their greatest challenges and the ways in which their businesses have changed so you can continually and creatively find ways to add value and provide solutions to their problems? Do you satisfy their needs by referring your clients to your Power Partners if you cannot solve those problems on your own?

  • Client referrals: How often do you ask your clients for referrals? Do you have a scheduled process and system for doing so? What if you combine your feedback and referral process? If your clients are highly satisfied with what you do for them, that's surely the time to ask for a referral. How about asking for a referral when you first establish your business relationship, during the "honeymoon period"?

How much is a qualified referral worth to you? If you are maintaining excellent client satisfaction, and continuously assisting your clients in growing their businesses and meeting their objectives, they will be delighted to share the great news of the results they are gaining with you! They will be your champions, your ardent fans—and you will be amazed at just how many referrals you can garner. If you refer your clients to your quality Power Partners, your clients will be even more satisfied, and so will your referral partner, resulting in an "all-win" situation! Here is some food for thought: If you are highly successful in giving and receiving quality referrals, and those referrals in turn become the source of more referrals, how much business could you handle?

  • Client retention and revenues: How much is your average client worth revenue-wise on an annual basis? What is your average retention (i.e., how long does an average client do business with you)?  What if you could double the lifetime of your client relationships? That additional retention could increase your revenues by 10, 20, or even 50%. If your network of Power Partners helps you by providing solutions for your clients, you are differentiated as a "value-added" solution provider in the marketplace.

Would these strategies allow you to realize increases in client satisfaction, retention, referrals, and revenues?

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide ( 2006, Volume 2, Issue 2). Copyright © 2011 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

 

Denise Trifiletti, a business coach and an accomplished leader in the fields of sales and training, is the co-founder of Dynamic Destiny Partnerships, LLC and the founder of Women's Community, LLC. Her most recent book is Create the Business Breakthrough You Want: Secrets and Strategies of the World's Greatest Mentors (Mission Publishing, 2004). Denise can be reached by email at denise@womenscommunity.com.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
8Dec/110

Business Coaching in South Africa, by Sunny Stout Rostron

Business coaching, like much else in South Africa, was isolated from mainstream professional development due to international restrictions during the years of apartheid. Thus, it is only in about the last five years that coaching has sprung to prominence in South Africa.

However, as might be expected, many of the problems and inequalities from the past remain. In 1994, South Africa held its first democratic presidential election. Although Nelson Mandela—after 27 years of imprisonment—became president, the demographic imbalances created by 50 years of dictatorial white supremacy still hang heavily on the country. In this context, coaching in South Africa faces daunting challenges. At the same time, coaches have unique opportunities to significantly engage and intervene in the on-going process of transforming the country from a racial tyranny into a free, open and democratic society.

South Africa is a land of enormous diversity. Of the 11 official languages, the main ones include English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana and Sotho. The variety of languages reflects the country's wide ethnic and cultural differences. Language can also represent a minefield of cultural and power politics, since it was used in the past to promote minority racial groups and suppress the majority. The white population, who are still the main beneficiaries of coaching, tend to be monolingual, or, at best, bilingual (English and Afrikaans). Africans, on the other hand, commonly speak not only English, but several African languages as well. The choice of language in professional settings is often viewed as a reflection of past power dynamics, and must be negotiated with sensitivity and tact.

In a country in which racial differences were the main driving force of daily life for so many years, it is inevitable that color still plays a major role in public discourse and personal sense of identity. This is a potent issue to which coaches must be highly sensitive, and they must learn to navigate these delicate waters with flexibility and skill.

Coaches in the developed world would probably be startled to discover how often, both in private conversation and in public debate, the issue of color predominates. The main identifiers are obviously "white" and "black." But in South Africa, there is a third category, defined by a term that western societies would regard as offensive or unacceptable. "Colored" refers to mixed-race individuals, most of whom so define themselves. They are predominantly Afrikaans-speaking. These racialized categories are a source of personal, educational and business friction and misunderstandings. Thus, for coaches, there are minefields to negotiate when dealing with either personal or professional issues.

For me personally, this represents an unusual opportunity to be part of the changing landscape in a fledgling democracy. In other more privileged and wealthier societies, the coach probably does not encounter such raw personal hurts and structural imbalances; here, open and frank discussion is gradually dismantling them. In this sense, it is an exciting time to be a coach in South Africa, working with individuals and leaders at the cutting edge of this crucial transformation.

Multicultural and diversity issues

Difference—of gender, race, culture, language and education—creates huge challenges in any workplace. Emerging from its traumatically divisive past, South Africa is in the early stages of trying to work with these complexities and its own unique burden of history.

As currently practiced, coaching is viewed as a privilege far beyond the hopes of all but an elite few. This presents an ethical dilemma. Previously privileged executives are still the ones who benefit from all that coaching offers. The irony is that many who would also benefit are working in the same organizations, but as "previously disadvantaged" (i.e., black men and women), they may not yet qualify for coaching. Often they are not employed in sufficiently senior executive positions to qualify; with coaching they might be.

In South Africa, most organizations remain subject to male culture and assumptions. Corporate culture continues to be dominated by white male norms, language and behavior. Although women have made serious inroads through the glass ceiling and into the boardroom, most South African organizations still reflect the culture and values of a male point of view. Women face complex and difficult challenges in the workplace.

Ironically, one place where women are beginning to feel equality is in South Africa's parliament, which is predominantly black and 50% female. However, women still face disempowering behavior and stereotypes from both female and male colleagues at work, regardless of their occupational field.

Research and development

Important academic research is underway in South Africa. A growing number of masters and doctoral students have recently completed, or are in the process of completing, current market research projects, and their papers are circulating worldwide.

Some of the difficulties in the marketplace stem from the lack of enough qualified, certified coaches to service the needs of small, medium and large organizations. Purchasers of coaching services demand measurable results, value for money, recognized accreditation, sustainable ethics, standards, and continuing professional development.

One development is the creation of the Coaches and Mentors Association (COMENSA), whose mission is to create an umbrella association in South Africa to provide for the regulation of local coaching, to develop the credibility and awareness of coaching as a profession, and to promote the effective empowerment of individual and organizational clients. One of the roles of COMENSA has been to build relationships and alliances between purchasers and providers of coaching services. This has encouraged collaboration across many different functional areas, such as the training and development of professional coaches.

A second area of development is inside organizations. Companies such as Standard Bank, Old Mutual, Woolworths, Netcare and Pick 'n Pay are in the process of creating their own standards and competencies to regulate the hiring of external coaches, ensuring their  alignment with the specific ethics, standards and competencies of those organizations. These corporate bodies are also beginning to investigate the possibility of developing their own internal coaches.

A final development is the collaboration among business coaches themselves, who are forming alliances to offer coaching services to corporate executives and their teams.

Coach training and certification

Two key issues in South Africa today are the dearth of black coaches, plus a lingering perception that coaching is "exclusive" (i.e., not dissimilar to South Africa's recent history under apartheid). On the other hand, there is a new range of quality coach training programs, both commercial and academic, which are often influenced or supported by international coach training programs. However, because the young, aspiring black managers are busy gaining their years of experience in the business world, many are not yet ready to step into the position of executive or business coach. They want to build their competence, expertise and credibility before tackling the task of coaching other aspirant leaders.

Another issue which has surfaced—and one of the underlying reasons for setting up an organization for coaches and mentors—is that any new profession attracts mavericks as well as pioneers. With the development of coaching as an identifiable, legitimate profession in South Africa, and with international support and pressure, some of the problems of unregulated and untrained coaches will begin to recede.

Challenges coaches face today

In South Africa four types of coaching have emerged: executive coaching, providing one-on-one services to leaders or senior management within organizations, entrepreneurial coaching, one-on-one coaching for entrepreneurs building their own businesses, management coaching as the primary way for managers to develop people and achieve results, and life coaching to support individuals wishing to make significant changes in their careers or personal lives.

The key challenge remains overcoming the legacy of apartheid. With such a diverse work force—in terms of language, race, culture and history—we still do not have enough black coaches working at senior management levels. Due to the country's destructive history, this is only the second generation of skilled and "in demand" black business leaders. First generation business leaders were often forged in the anti-apartheid struggle.

Looking to the future

Business coaching in South Africa has a positive and powerful future. That bright future is attributable to the explosion of coaching inside organizations, the development of coach training programs, the inclusive, democratic process of COMENSA's creation of ethical codes and standards of competence, the development of a supervisory framework, the collaboration of executive coaches, and the benefits of international partnership.

The coaching profession is still in its formative stages in South Africa, in the process of becoming a profession in its own right. Over the next few years, we will see increased regulation of coaches, with a demand for qualifications, specific standards and ethics, and recognized certification. There is an exponential explosion of coach training within the country, both academic and commercial/corporate.

Coaching is the trend of the moment. If it continues to develop at its current rate, conforming to internationally accepted standards, coaching will make a significant difference in helping to develop individuals, executives, their teams and their organizations. It will usher South Africa into the future with the very best of inclusive and transformational business practices.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide ( 2006, Volume 2, Issue 2). Copyright © 2011 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
10Nov/110

Are you 20/80 or 80/20? by Ken Ingram

Posted by Ken Ingram

To run a successful and competitive coaching business or any business for that matter it is essential to follow a set of rules, principles and laws. Failure to do so will result in a short and regrettable business venture. That being said, it’s interesting to learn that one of the laws that can have the biggest impact on your profits is being ignored by most businesses. Are you aware that in 1906, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto created a mathematical rule of thumb that states 20% of something will result in 80% of something? As an example 20% of your clients represent 80% of your revenues and the inverse is also true: 80% of your clients represent only 20% or your revenue. It’s come to be known as the Pareto Principle, and if you’re not employing it, you probably should be.

As a Coach, the value of applying the Pareto Principle in most aspects of your business is that it should remind you to focus on the 20% that matter the most. This means you need to take the time to identify and focus your energy on that group because during any given day you’ll end up fire fighting and this will saps your time. So you must remind yourself that your top priorities always need to be addressed first. If something in your schedule slips, or if something is not going to get done, make sure it's not part of that key 20%.

The importance of using this system is to remain focused on ways to increase your coaching practice revenue without working harder. You can make equal or greater income in less time; reduce the stress on the business and all your team if you have one by working smarter. If you have the option, and I believe that you do, develop a strategy for choosing your customers or clients. Reflect upon where you can get the best return on your investment of time, energy and marketing dollars. I know as coaches most of us want to help everyone but strategically it may not be in the best interest of your business.

So what can you do?

Profile the top 20% of your client base who represent 80% of your revenue by:

  • Uncovering existing ‘marginal clients’ who have the potential to become profitable clients’ and open the door to selling them more products or services.
  • Define what constitutes a profitable client based on your ten clients who give you the most business each year.
  • At every opportunity ask the people in your network for someone to contact who match your criteria.

If you could develop and groom 10 more clients just like the ones in your top 20%, you would see a huge jump in your revenue.

So what's holding you back?

Why aren't you already leveraging your profitable clients and reducing the time you spend with marginal clients?  The process makes perfectly good sense, but very few coaches - set themselves up to win by creating a strategy focused on the high payoff group of clients. As a bonus you can now pay more attention and provide WOW coaching to the people who earn you the most profit. I assure you, they’ll love the special treatment.

In reality, you probably can't convert all of your marginal clients and maybe my suggestion doesn't even make sense in your business. But I challenge you to take a good hard look at where you are spending your time.

If you are hesitating, determine your real reasons for not pursuing this strategy with enthusiasm.

Below are Five Steps to help put Parato`s Principle at the top of your agenda:

  1. List all your clients - preferably in a spreadsheet program. Enter the clients’ name, the revenue that they generated this year and last year. Estimate the average revenue from them over the past five years and the potential revenue for next year. Is it going up or down? What percentage of your total revenue does this client represent for your coaching business?
  2. Sort your columns by the margin of revenue and you should be able to identify a pattern. Who are your profitable clients and who are your marginal clients? If something is changing, what are the reasons? Predict which ones will be in your group of profitable clients next year. Do you have all of their business or are you sharing it with others coaches? What percentage of their business do you have now?
  3. To determine what are the common traits of your profitable clients consider:
    • What types of coaching products or services they purchase?
    • Do they have untapped potential?
    • What is the strength of your relationship with them?
    • How did they become a client?
  4. Look at your marginal client group to see if you've overlooked people who, with some effort, could be moved up into the profitable client category in order to increase the amount of business they do with you.
  5. Develop a specific plan to give away, or manage your marginal clients in a way that is relative to their business value.

Also consider what benefits your profitable clients are receiving by dealing with you. I suggest that once you have identified this niche group, call and ask them to help you define your business more clearly. Every important client will value the opportunity to help you grow your business and appricate that you value their suggestions and feedback.

If you react blindly to your customer base and treat all clients the same, then you are definitely working harder - not smarter. Therefore develop a client strategy that enables you to intelligently identify your top clients and spend more time with them and others like them. Are you 20/80 or 80/20?

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.