4 Things to Do That Will Jump-Start Your People and Profits

How has your business kept up? Do you have a new customer interactive website, new product brochures, inspired and no-excuses talent, a technologically up to date plant or professionally designed interior and merchandised store? If I performed an analysis on your business, would I clearly identify a strong brand that represents your organization?

Today’s competitive market for small business may be local, regional, national or even global. Being a business owner or even a team leader continues to have many challenges. Everything from the cell phone to marketing techniques has exponentially advanced two to three times in the last several years due to one innovation or another. And regarding competition, the branding and marketing of all products and services continue to transition by being re-invented or repackaged to grow or even just to maintain market share.

To address these matters I have utilized and benefited from the following action points in my previous businesses and with clients to jump start people and products.

1. What is your “Brand”?: If your organization’s brand is unclear or needs to be changed, this is a great use of the retreat indicated below. Whatever the ‘brand’…the fastest service, largest inventory, best price, or hopefully something more exciting, the ‘brand’ must permeate every pore of the organizations being. Every decision and action must be determined by the ‘brand’. The ‘brand’ is the walk of the talk and once you go down one path, it can be next to impossible to reverse direction.

Ex: Jos. A. Bank clothiers have had a definite quality niche. The stores are in good neighborhoods, quality fixtures and furnishing, good service and 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, not as pricey, and their corporate program provided a reasonable discount.

Today, I feel like a chump for the purchases made at the corporate program price. JAB has for close to two years, inundated customers in the mail and on the air waves with a half price or 2 for 1 sales offer almost weekly. Their brand today; whether they want to admit it or not, “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, increased sales can be expected from the new packaging or remodeling. Note that these re-inventions or re-packages are not based on price.

2. Improve the “talent”: First, do what ever is necessary to ensure that you have the right talent on board in the first place (see my article ‘Hire Slow and Fire Fast’).

Invest in training programs and make them mandatory, but only programs that take job performance to the next level, which moves your team forward and leading in the market. It has been my experience that professional training will inspire employees and provide ample ROI.

3. Develop “Business Development”: Efforts to boost sales in these times via reduced prices, an added spiff, higher commission rate or trips to the beach will be short lived, if at all, and certainly could wound any future sales programs. And if it doesn’t work, then what carrot do you offer?

A leading research group conducted a survey of over 15,000 salespeople, within every major industry segment and in various selling roles; in an effort to know the primary areas that salespeople would most focus on during this selling cycle. Reflecting on previous results, survey participants sited these challenges; generating business, negotiations, closing business, managing relationships and expanding relationships.

Well excuooooooze me (I was thinking of Steve Martin), but aren’t those the same challenges during good times, or any times for that matter?

And from that list, the top two hurdles were 1) Account Management: finding additional ways to add value, and 2) Expanding Relationships: becoming a ‘trusted advisor’. The survey doesn’t reveal business size, but I have observed that many operations ignore their unique strength; the ability to establish relationships and charge for personalization.

Closing the sale is not typically a competition of resources (unless you allow it); it is a competition of priorities. A buyer’s time and money are being given to someone, right? So, you have to manifest more value to win that competition.

4. Conduct a 4 hour “retreat”: The purpose; to nail down specific needs of the organization as it pertains to increasing net profit through improved sales and greater customer relationships. It is from these two specific areas that everything else must support.

Too often we think that just selling more stuff will cure all of our problems. From experience; I don’t care if your annual sales are 2MM, 20MM or 200MM, if net profit is weak, more sales will not fix the problem. First, make it profitable at existing levels, so when sales increases come, the net profit will increase proportionately as well.

Hire a professional meeting planner: For a very modest investment your retreat can be an experience, not the usual meeting and not a party, strictly business but enjoyable. No speeches or anything other than that which will be fitting to the purpose. You want everyone (or at least that all important 80%) to agree that ‘we got stuff done’.

I used to send out personal invitations to all employees a minimum of 3 weeks in advance, which included a program, and I made it optional rather than mandatory. When everyone saw the program, everyone ‘wanted’ to be there. The retreat was held on a Thursday (Saturday is an alternative) morning starting at 8am sharp and ending exactly a noon. The food and drink was ready at 7am, but nothing was served that might bring on a mid-morning nap (ask a nutritionist). These types of events are used often by the big boys, like IBM, Coke, etc.

In closing, 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.

What is your organization doing to re-invent or re-package products and services [Brand], and in being prepared to deliver added value and to become the trusted advisor [Talent], so that your past, present and future customer continue to want you?

Author's Bio: 

The Strategist, Ron Hequet; Consultant, Speaker, Coach and is considered one of America’s Leading Authorities on Small Business. Ron has successfully founded, owned and operated 8 different organizations in 6 different industries, and has worked with clients across the U.S. in as many as 20 different industries.
Ron’s Private Mentor, Coaching Programs and Achievement Resources for implementing success strategies and tactics, are guaranteed to attain results.