How has your business kept up? If I performed an analysis on your company, would I clearly identify a strong brand that represents your organization? Do you have an interactive website, new product brochures, inspired and no-excuses talent? What about a technologically up-to-date plant or a professionally designed store interior? Being a business owner or even a team leader continues to have many challenges.
Today’s small businesses compete on local, regional, national, and even global levels. Marketing techniques have advanced remarkably in the last several years due to innovative and evolving marketing platforms. Branding and marketing of all products and services continue to change as companies re-invent or repackage to grow, or just maintain, their market share.
I have used and benefited from the following actions, both with my own businesses and with clients, to power up people, products, and profits.
1. Strengthen Your Brand. If your organization’s brand is unclear or needs to be changed, make the investment in time and money to upgrade it. Whatever your brand—the fastest service, largest inventory, best price, or hopefully something more exciting—you must infuse it into every aspect of the company’s being. Use the brand to govern every decision and action. The brand talks the talk and walks the walk of your company. Once you go down a specific path, it can be next to impossible to reverse direction.
For example, Jos. A. Bank Clothiers have had a definite quality niche. The stores are in good neighborhoods, with quality fixtures and furnishings and good service. Their personnel are a cut above the mall retail clerk. I viewed them as an alternative to Brooks Bros., having quality clothing, a wide selection, and not as pricey as comparable stores. Also, their corporate program provided a reasonable discount.
Today, I feel like a chump for the purchases made at the corporate program price. In recent years, JAB has inundated customers by mail and on the airwaves with almost weekly half price or 2-for-1 sales offers. Their brand today, whether they admit it or not, is that of a discounter. “I guarantee it.”
A client of mine who is a distributor for certain Proctor & Gamble products notices a constant reintroduction of products that have been redesigned or repackaged. And in speaking with a McDonald’s restaurant owner a few months ago, he told me that he completely remodels his restaurants that are 10 years old with more up-to-date designs and greater efficiency. Unless the product or service was wrong to start with, you can expect increased sales from the new packaging or remodeling.
2. Improve the Talent. First, do whatever is necessary to ensure you have the right talent on board in the first place. Invest in training programs and make them mandatory. However, only use programs that take job performance to a higher level and moves your team forward as leaders in the market. It has been my experience that professional training inspires employees and provides ample ROI.
3. Boost Business Development. If you try to bolster sales in an economic downturn by reducing prices or offering higher commission rates, you can expect short-lived results, if any at all. You certainly could harm any future sales programs. And if it doesn’t work, what carrot do you offer next?
A leading research group conducted a survey of over 15,000 salespeople, within every major industry segment and in various selling roles. They wanted to discover the primary areas that salespeople would focus on most during a challenging selling cycle.
Reflecting on previous results, survey participants cited these challenges: generating business, negotiations, closing business, managing relationships, and expanding relationships. No surprises. But, we experience these same challenges during good times, or any time for that matter.
The survey didn’t reveal business size, but I have observed that many companies ignore their unique strength. That strength is the ability to establish relationships and charge for personalization.
Closing the sale typically is not a competition of resources (unless you allow it). It‘s a competition of priorities. Someone will get a buyer’s time and money. Right? Offer more value, and you’ll win that competition.
4. Conduct a Half-day Retreat. The purpose—to identify ways to increase net profit through improved sales and create greater customer relationships. It is from these two areas that everything else must flow.
Too often, we think that just selling more stuff will cure all of our problems. I don’t care if your annual sales are $2M, $20M or $200M. If net profit is weak, it will not fix the problem. I know that from experience! First, make it profitable at existing levels. That way, when sales increases come, the net profit will increase proportionately.
Hire a professional meeting planner. For a very modest investment, your retreat can be a valuable experience, not the usual meeting, and not a party. It is strictly business, but enjoyable. No speeches or anything other than content that fits the purpose. You want everyone to agree, “We got stuff done.”
I made it a point to send personal invitations to all employees a minimum of 3 weeks in advance. The invitation included a program, and I made attendance optional rather than mandatory. When everyone saw the program, they wanted to come.
I have read that there are less repeat car brand buyers today compared to any time in recent history. The result of competing models, international competition, environmental and financial concerns are creating highly individualistic buyers.
Are you prepared to deliver added value to a new breed of buyer? Ensure that your company is re-inventing or re-packaging products and services to strengthen its brand. Keep up with the needs of your past, present, and future customers and they will keep coming back to you.
To get more information and receive other no-cost special audio downloads, reports, articles, blog posts, and more, visit Ron Hequet where I cover valuable topics that every person wanting to grow their business or career needs to know. And, if you’re ready to take your business to the next level, get a free assessment from me personally at Free Business Assessment or for those wanting to build your career go to Complimentary Coaching Assessment