3Nov/140

Protect Your Turf by John Warrillow

Posted by WABC

JohnWarrillow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four ways to help your client protect their turf

John Warrillow is the founder of The Sellability Score, a tool business coaches use to help their clients understand what drives a company's value.

Warren Buffett famously invests in businesses that have what he calls a protective “moat” around them – one that inoculates them from competition and allows them to control their pricing.

Big companies lock out their competitors by out-slugging them in capital infrastructure investments, but smaller businesses have to be smarter about how they defend their turf. Here are four ways that you can help your client deepen and widen the protective moat around their business:

 

Certification

Is there a certification program your client could take to differentiate their business? A Canadian company that disposes of radioactive waste decided to get licensed by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. It was a lot of paperwork and training, but the certification process acts as a barrier against other people jumping into the market and competing.

Discuss with your client the possibility of certification or training that would make it more difficult for other companies to compete.

 

An army of defenders

Ecstatic customers act as defenders against other competitors entering your market, a factor that has enabled companies like Trader Joe’s to defend their market share in the bourgeois bohemian (bobo) market, despite a crowded market of stores hawking groceries. Work with your client to create strategies that will ensure great WOM from customers; word-of-mouth is still the best form of advertising.

 

Getting customers to integrate

Is there a way your client can integrate their product or service into their operations?

The basic switching costs of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software are virtually nil. Everyone from 37signals to Salesforce.com will give you a free trial to test their wares.

The real expenses associated with changing CRM software only come when a business starts to customize the software and integrate it into the way they work. Once a sales manager has trained his salespeople in creating a weekly sales funnel in a CRM platform, try to convince him to switch software.

 

Becoming a verb

Think back to the last time you looked for a recipe. You probably “googled” it. Part of Google’s competitive shield is that the company name has become a verb. Now every time someone refers to searching for something online, it reinforces the competitive position of a single company.

Is there a way your client could control the vocabulary people use to refer to their category or specialty?

Widening a company’s protective moat triggers a virtuous cycle: differentiation leads to having control over pricing, which allows for healthier margins, which in turn lead to greater profitability and the cash to further differentiate one’s offering.

If your client is wondering how differentiated their businesses is, they can take the

13-minute Sellability Score questionnaire and find out. Differentiation is one of the eight key drivers of sellability.

 

__________________________

John Warrillow is the founder of The Sellability Score, a tool business coaches use to win clients and deepen their relationship with existing customers. John is the author of Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You. Between 1997 and its acquisition by The Corporate Executive Board (NYSE: CEB) in 2008, John Warrillow led Warrillow & Co., an advisory firm providing marketing advice for reaching the Small & Medium Business (SMB) market segment to companies such as American Express, Apple, Bank of America, Dell, eBay, Google, IBM, Microsoft, RBC Royal Bank, Sprint, VISA, and Wells Fargo. John has been recognized by B2B Marketing as one of the top 10 Business-to-Business marketers in the United States.

 

 

 

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
20Aug/130

Professional Selling: Who’s Coaching the Coach? By Barry Trailer

Posted by Barry Trailer

I'm certain for this readership that there is NO need to make the argument in favor of coaching. I think it's an almost equally safe bet that each of you has at least an informal coaching relationship, perhaps a mentor who holds you accountable, providing you with feedback and helping to further your growth and development.

But I do have a suspicion that you and your coach may be overlooking one critical area of your and your business' development: Sales.

In his groundbreaking work on mastery, George Leonard, details five keys to pursuing/attaining mastery: coaching, practice, surrender, attitude and excitement. I'll likely cover others of these in future articles but for now, we'll stick with the first key: get a coach.

There are four ways to improve performance: 1) having a coach; 2) playing with knowledgeable friends and peers; 3) practicing and 4) reading books/watching videos. And as each of you know, the first is miles ahead of the others in improving an individual's performance.

However, the coaching I'm speaking of with respect to sales is somewhat different than what most performance coaches focus upon. Yes, there can be a 360 review, but this should be objectively reviewing lead sources and their respective success (hit) rates; percentage of calls leading to a first meeting/presentation; percentage of proposals leading to a close; client satisfaction ratings, feedback and referrals. These are just a few of the key metrics your coach should be analyzing with you to see "how it's going."

In the first articles in this series I detailed the Perfect Prospect Profile and discussed how defining this and holding each new prospect up to it will help you attract and gauge new prospects. The PPP can include both demographic (e.g., industry vertical, employee size, geographic location) and psychographic (e.g., learning organization, win/win culture, appreciative) components. The suggestion is that you create a prospect hit-list and gather PPP information about the top ten or so names on your list.

Even if you don't have your prospect list created yet, reviewing the PPP criteria with your coach can be a valuable exercise. You can apply it to your current clients to determine opportunities for improved communication or early warning signs that may crop up with new clients as you begin to engage with them. And, of course, you may have a client or two that you need to fire but have not yet worked up the courage to do so. The PPP offers a basis for making an evaluation of whether an existing relationship is feeding you psychically as well as physically.

Do you have your PPP in place and do you use it as a yardstick (or meter stick) to measure with and against? That's great! Now move on in your discussion with your coach to look at your practice. This is both the verb—to practice—and the noun—your practice. You want to get feedback/coaching on your sales skills and the particular skill you're currently concentrating on developing. The skill you're practicing could be asking better/tougher questions, preparing more thoroughly for calls, penetrating accounts more fully, etc.

Then there is the practice that is a noun. Like other professionals, you have to ask yourself, "What is your practice development plan?" What is your target mix for new and existing clients? Large and small accounts? Local and remote clients? Each of these has an impact on your business and its ability to sustain down markets and/or the loss of one or more key clients. What is your plan and have you recently reviewed it with your coach?

As noted in the beginning, I'm certain for this readership there is NO need to make the argument in favor of coaching.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (October Issue 2008, Volume 4, Issue 3). 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.
10Jan/130

Social Media Mania

Posted by Dean R. DeLisle

Social Network Building: A Whole New Approach to Building New Coaching Client Relationships

By Dean R. DeLisle

When you log into a social networking site, it seems very new to most of us. In fact, we just feel lost. Most of us are used to the good old-fashioned process:

  1. Attend an event or get an introduction
  2. Get the card
  3. Connect with the person
  4. Schedule a meeting
  5. Submit a proposal
  6. Close the business
  7. Ask for a referral

Now while we conduct this old approach, we want you to take a fresh approach using the knowledge you have gained to this point.

The goal is still the same! Get the meeting, provide an amazing proposal, close the business, then get a referral and repeat the cycle.

However, we want you to learn two new techniques to get you there quicker. One is a new best practice for when you meet a targeted prospect, and the next is a proven method to getting targeted, closable appointments.

Building Your Network Consistently

Amazing things happen fast when we do them on social networks as opposed to the old way. With the old way, we get the business card, enter the info into our email system, phone, or if we are really efficient, a contact manager or CRM system. What we would like you to do is a network building practice that will pay off tenfold, using just one of your social network accounts. For the example below, we will use LinkedIn, however this will work with most interconnected social networks on today's market; only the numbers will vary based on the size of the network.

Let's assume that LinkedIn still only has about 60,000,000 active members at the publishing of this article. With that in mind, when we connect it's like adding conservatively 1,000 targeted, like-minded contacts into your system. The reason is degree of separation. On average with LinkedIn, we find the following formula to be very consistent.

1st Degree: If you have 90 direct connections (these are people you know directly that you are connected to), it is equivalent to entering these contacts directly into your contact management system.

2nd Degree: Based on average user counts, you should have roughly 15,000 to 20,000 connections that your first degree contact can introduce you to or that you can effectively see to use your own approach.

3rd Degree: Based on the same average user counts, you should now have 1,600,000 to 2,400,000 connections that can turn into introductions.

Using these rough conservative formulas, this means if you have one contact whom you meet at a networking event, speaking event, business meeting, or just casually, you can then determine whether that person is a good prospect for your business coaching. Once you take the time to enter them into your social network (like LinkedIn), then you will have just picked up about 17,000 3rd degree connections just by adding that one person. Now of course these numbers will vary based on the person's connectivity level, but keep in mind it is conservatively the equivalent of adding only 1,000 targeted like-minded contacts to your system. This gives you a margin of error by 16,000 bad connections that your contact has made, which we typically see is highly unlikely!

Getting the Appointment

So you have your core contacts, and now you have visibility and "access" to their contacts. Now, let's get to the appointments!

There are several techniques, though the most important thing is to make sure you don't just barge into someone's network too quickly. We highly recommend the safest approaches first.

  1. Ask for a recommendation from the person you are connected through
  2. Directly compliment/congratulate them on a visible accomplishment, such as an article, promotion, or press
  3. Ask them for advice on a relevant topic
  4. Join a group or sub-community in common

These are value-based techniques that will allow you easier access and a more secure method than just blindly jumping into their network.

Once you have established a relationship, it is more appropriate to invite yourself into their network. Nevertheless, as a best practice, we recommend waiting until some level of relationship is built.

Summary

In this business coaching industry, our job is to help people, so building a large network is not always necessary. In fact, many of the coaches that we coach are very successful with working on quality rather than quantity. Whichever type of social network you choose to build, just make sure you have a method by which to communicate and build on the relationships you have worked so hard to secure.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (June Issue 2010, Volume 6, Issue 2). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

Dean R. DeLisle has proven his ability to accelerate contacts, business development, and operations with sound business practices, the ever-evolving power of technology, and his consulting, coaching, and training skills over the past 25 years. More about Dean in the WABC Member Directory. Contact Dean.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
21Jun/120

The Power of Partnerships: Partnerships with Your Employees and Contractors, by Denise Trifiletti

Posted by Denise Trifiletti

My last column discussed how strategic business partnerships can increase client satisfaction, client referrals, and long-term client retention. This article explains how forging strong partnerships with your employees and/or contractors can also grow your business.

Most business owners don't consider their employees to be their strategic and tactical business partners. This is unfortunate. Most of the time, your employees have a closer relationship with your customers than you do. Your employees also have a vested interest in the success of your business. You need to recognize these realities.

Appreciate the fact that your employees are human beings. Their feelings about you and your customers run the full gamut. Some days they will be up, some days down. Some days they will come to work energized and focused, some days they won't. By treating them as your partners, you will be able to work with them, and they with you. They will be more considerate of your needs and more willing to 'go the extra mile' to help your business grow. Their strong sense of ownership will be reflected in their work.

The key here is that you must reciprocate. Work with your people. Help them by showing consideration for their situations, both professional and personal. Get to know them and learn what makes them tick. What are their interests? What are their needs? Think of ways to recognize them and the work they do. The old axiom, "Reward in public; reprimand in private," is as valuable as the Golden Rule.

Help your employees to understand and internalize the relationship between their financial well-being and the success of your business. Make sure they have the tools necessary to do the job—and to do it well. If possible, base a portion of their compensation on the success of the business.

Give your employee partners ample opportunities to give you advice - yes, advice. An employee whose expertise is solicited by the boss is grateful for the opportunity to contribute. Remember, however, that if you accept input with a polite expression of thanks, and then fail to consider it, you are closing the door on great ideas in the future. You may not choose to follow every suggestion that you receive, but you should always give your employees recognition for their efforts and interest. Be sure to let them know what action, if any, you plan to take. If you implement one of your employee's ideas, make sure everyone understands how that idea meshes with your overall business strategies.

Speaking of business strategies, do you share yours with your employees? If not, the time to start doing so is now. You know from personal experience that in order to be the best you can be, you must know why you're doing what you're doing. You can't be committed if you're not connected, and neither can your employees.

Now, let's consider your contractors.

As with their employees, most business owners fail to regard their contractors as partners—viewing them only as sources of products or services. This is a mistake. Your contractors are businesses as well, run by business people who work with their own clients and suppliers. If your suppliers become your partners, you will have many opportunities to improve each other's bottom lines.

You can establish a mutually beneficial business-to-business partnership with a service provider, such as an attorney or an accountant. Your attorney, for example, has other clients, as well as a variety of business relationships within and outside the profession. It is likely that he or she will be familiar with those individuals' needs. If you can meet those needs, your attorney will be comfortable making introductions and providing referrals, since the two of you have already built a relationship based on mutual trust. You, in turn, can reciprocate by confidently referring your attorney to your clients and business contacts.

These partnerships with your employees and your contractors are not only excellent partnerships to have. In my view, they are essential. Failing to recognize the possibilities inherent in these partnerships leaves countless opportunities untapped—something you don't want to do!

Consider this: If your employees and contractors were your raving fans, providing you with quality referrals, how much business could you handle?

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Winter Issue 2006, Volume 2, Issue 3). 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.