Successful business growth doesn’t happen accidentally. While there are times when rapid expansion occurs due to unforeseen factors such as large-scale market changes or shifts in demographics, for the most part, a business plans for expansion long before actual growth takes place. This planning helps anticipate potential challenges and roadblocks, as well as define growth opportunities—all so expansion takes place in a hopefully ordered and effective manner. Here are five tips on planning for expansion that can help inform your strategy…
In a video interview with the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), Nick Leighton, bestselling author of Exactly Where You Want to Be explains why it is so important for business owners to have a both a personal and business vision that is aligned…
You may have the best product or service out there, but you need sales. The bottom line is that if you want to get larger than a few people, you most probably will need more sales than you can achieve yourself, so if you lack a high-performing sales team, chances are your business will suffer. As anyone who’s ever been in (or dealt with) sales knows, it takes a combination of locating a person with the right sales traits and skills, combined with the best approach to training and guidance, to get the desired result. Here are 4 tips on building a world-class sales team for your company…
If improving communications with your employees was on your 2018 list of resolutions, there are many ways to leverage digital technology to achieve this goal. Businesses that still rely on a “suggestion box” in the break room or some similarly out-of-date mechanism should consider adopting current technology to make employees feel more involved and part of the team...
Every business owner (you and I included) is a sales person at some level. Pretty much 99% of the business owners I work with must sell to customers (potential and/or existing). And we all must sell our ideas to employees, vendors, partners etc.
Then, we move to the next level of a maturing business, where we (as the owner) can’t do all the selling. Either we don’t want to do all that selling, or we realize we can’t do everything in the business (if you get this, then great – your business is doing great).
Here are the 5 sales myths you need to know.
Myth #1: We can pick any employee to learn sales.
Well, perhaps not anyone—but certainly the guy in marketing who’s such a well-known “people person.” Right? In fact, salespeople who are good at what they do are a breed apart. They have a unique ability to strategize and think ahead, regardless of where they are in the sales cycle. They’re also committed to building relationships that don’t have any immediate pay-off. Yes, they’re persistent by nature, but that persistence encompasses much more than making repeated telephone calls. It involves ongoing research and working hard to retain such “soft” information as the name of a client’s fifth-grade daughter.
Myth #2: The right salesperson can convince anyone to buy our product.
Yes, salespeople are persuasive by nature (and training). But the era of mass impulse buying is long past, thanks to the wealth of information available to consumers online. Prospects know a lot more about your business before they’re ever approached by a member of your sales team, so they’ve already made at least a partial decision about whether to consider purchasing your product or service.
Expert salespeople understand the key is determining if a prospect has a genuine need for what they’re selling. They know they could spend all day extolling product features, when all the would-be customer wants to know is, “What’s in it for me?” Such sales veterans aren’t interested in trying to sell to everyone they meet.
Myth #3: CRM and online resources make selling easy.
While it’s true that Customer Relationship Management and the internet’s vast toolkit of resources offer advantages undreamed-of in an earlier time, the best salespeople understand that these resources help pave the way, but aren’t the cause of sales. They use online data to help prepare for their appointments with prospects, but never mistake the web and/or social media as replacing the all-important relationship they build with individual buyers or department managers.
Myth #4: The best salespeople see everyone as the “enemy” (including their fellow employees).
We can pigeonhole salespeople as wildly competitive and out to make themselves better than anyone else, including the people they work with. But don’t fall for the idea that your best performers will be cold-blooded, deal-making machines. Instead, aim for a sales culture within your organization that promotes a team mentality, by rewarding more than just the top performers, and by inspiring confidence in the entire team’s capabilities.
Myth #5: Our sales team must always be closing.
We all fall prey to the notion that sales must focus entirely on “ABC” (always be closing). But, as noted earlier, sales are equally all about relationships. And those relationships must revolve around a discussion of value to the customer, not the salesperson’s need to meet or exceed quotas. Building relationships takes time, so the most effective perspective is long-range, rather than any short-term benefit to the company.
Want more advice for your sales process, or general advice from other business owners like you? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!
Are you hoping to invest more time into growing your business instead of getting bogged down by day-to-day business challenges? Maybe you are thinking you would like more time away of the business in 2017? More sales? Better profitability? More efficiencies with your team?
The most important tool for refocusing your energies on your company’s core goals is your strategic plan. There is hard evidence from the Small Business Pulse Survey showing the real-world advantages of the strategic planning process.
I’m going to assume you love what you do – check out this video.
Here, we’re focusing on a strategic planning template that will help you to craft your own strategic business plan. TAB’s Strategic Business Leadership® (SBL) process provides an effective framework for transforming your personal vision of your company into a clear and concise road map that will help to guide your organization’s response to every new challenge and opportunity. The SBL strategic planning process is designed to help small- and medium-sized businesses develop practical strategic plans with attainable, measurable goals. Use your “big picture” focal points to meet today’s business challenges with SBL’s five-step strategic planning template:
- Align organizational vision with your personal vision.
- Turn a critical eye toward your business.
- Develop the plans needed to meet your goals.
- Carry out your plans.
- Continually evaluate and adjust your plans as business conditions change.
The Five-Step SBL Strategic Planning Template
- Vision. To develop a truly effective strategic plan, you’ll first need to take an honest look at what you want to get out of your business. Develop a written Personal Vision Statement, one that details what you’d like to see your business strive towards and how that connects with your goals for your personal life. This isn’t a statement you need to share with employees, investors or customers, so be honest with yourself: are you hoping to sell the business? Bring in new management? Turn the company over to your son or daughter? After you answer these questions, you can develop a Company Vision that will ensure your management team and employees understand your team’s common goal. I have a couple of videos to help you write your personal and business vision.
- Analysis. Next, you’ll need to detail the features of your company and the business challenges that loom on the horizon. One proven method for accomplishing this is the SWOT analysis for identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Assess the things your company does best, and consider the areas where you fall short. Ask yourself about the characteristics that make your company unique, and describe the way your customers truly view your organization. Then identify emerging technologies or markets that might provide new opportunities going forward. Finally, make note of external factors that could cause trouble in the future, such as new regulations or competitors.
- Plan. You’ll need to detail critical success factors, goals, strategies and action plans as part of the SBL strategic planning template.
- Critical Success Factors. Identify your organization’s most important large-scale objectives to help direct your efforts.
- Goals. Set up concrete goals that can be achieved within one to three years. If your Critical Success Factor is expanding your product line, for example, you could set a goal of developing two new products within the next 18 months.
- Strategies. Develop guidelines that will help you to meet your goals. In the above example, that might include allocating more resources to your R&D department to facilitate product development.
- Action Plans. Produce a plan of action that meets SBL’s “S.M.A.R.T.” criteria: your plan must be Specific, Measurable, Actionable, assigned to a Responsible party, and fit within a set Timeline
- Take action. A plan won’t do you much good if you and your team let it sit idle. Focus on effective communication to make sure you meet your goals. Your whole organization needs to understand the direction you’re heading and the role they’ll play in making sure you reach your destination. You’ll also need to review and modify your plan as often as possible (preferably weekly), which will allow you to factor in new and unforeseen developments. Also, remember that growing your business will require your full participation. As the business owner, you’re ultimately responsible for ensuring that your company moves towards your objectives.
- Turn the Wheel. The last factor in the SBL strategic planning template is what we refer to as “Turning the Wheel.” You didn’t become a business leader because you wanted to stick with the status quo or let others guide your fate. Take ownership over your company’s progress. If things are veering off course, review your plan and revise it. If you need to change course to respond to the loss of a major client or because of difficulties acquiring capital, you’ll need to embrace your role as a leader. If you remember that your strategic plans will need to be dynamic and malleable, you’ll be better prepared to respond to the unexpected and to chart a new path forward.
The strategic planning process is an essential part of any company’s decision-making process. Regardless of your level of experience, and no matter how large or successful your organization is, TAB’s SBL strategic planning template can help you to excel when faced with tomorrow’s business challenges.
You’ve got a finite supply of business resources, and you’ll use them best when you move forward with purpose and conviction.
Start the strategic planning process today.
What would you consider the most important aspect of a cogent business strategy? Comment below to let us know what you’d need to include in your strategic plan.