Business Challenge of the Week – What would you do?

MAY – BUILDING A WINNING TEAM

It’s a new month which means it is time to focus on a new area of your business.  So far we have covered:

  • January – Strategy
  • February – Money
  • March – Marketing
  • April – Sales

May is about providing you with challenges around building and maintaining a winning team for your organization.  Remember you are only as good as the people you surround yourself with so the challenges this month will help you surround yourself with “A” Players.

Your challenge this week is adapted from Guy Kawasaki’s “Art of Recruiting”.  He calls it the Shopping Center Test but my version is called the Concert Test.  He uses it during the recruiting process but I’m adapting it to use for all of your key team members.

Ready?  It’s really quick and really easy to do.  But the results are very revealing.

  • Take a moment to list you key team members – those people whose roles are vital to your success.  I want you to write them down on a piece of paper.
  • Now go through this for each team member one by one:
  • Suppose you’re at a concert, and you see your team member.
  • He/she is fifty feet away and has not seen you.
  • You have three choices:
  1. beeline it over to him and say hello;
  2. say to yourself, “If we make eye contact then I’ll say hello, or maybe they will see me and come over,  if not, that’s okay too;”
  3. make a point to not look in that direction again and go the opposite direction when you leave.

If you don’t pick number 1 for each person on your team, than you’ve got a problem that you need to address.  It may not be that the person isn’t right for the team, but clearly there is an issue with that person if you will not make a simple effort to connect outside the office when the opportunity arises.  My advice is figure out what it is and deal with it immediately.  How you deal with it may need to be extreme too – maybe they need to be let go and you just don’t want to deal with it.  This is an all too common problem.

Hopefully as you think about each team member on the list, you will choose #1 each time. If you don’t, then deal with it; don’t just rationalize it somehow.  Resolution may not be easy, but forthrightly addressing the issue, and ensuring that you’ve got the correct players in place will be significant to the future success of your organization.

Remember, without people a company just an empty building.  Make sure you’ve got the right ones in place.

BONUS CHALLENGE:  Do this same exercise for your customers as well.  It may be time to get rid of some of your customers.  

 

Sincerely,

Bruce Rector

The Rector Group

Tel: 954-356-0439

brector@therectorgroup.com

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Business Challenge of the Week – 5 Ways to Keep Your Customers Coming Back

Do you know the 5 best ways to keep your customers coming back?  Are you practicing them?  

Your challenge this week is to do an honest assessment of how well your company is doing in the following areas on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 means you are doing way below average, 5 you are exceptional) :

1.  Reliability – Do you do what you say you are going to do?  Do you do it when you say you are going to do it?  Do you get it right the first time?  Do you get it done on time?

2.  Credibility – Does your company have your customers best interests’ at heart?  Does your company behave like it has those interests top-of-mind?  Customers want security, integrity and the assurance that if there is a problem, it will be promptly handled at no extra cost.  Customers don’t want hidden agendas, hard sell techniques, extra charges and contracts with “fine print”.  How credible is your company?

3.  Attractiveness – Anything your customer sees, feels, touches, hears or smells concerning your business is shaping his opinion of your service fro better or worse.  How attractive is your company, and how focused is management on ensuring that the company’s profile in the public marketplace is strongly positive?

4.  Responsiveness – Is your company accessible, available and willing to help your customers whenever there is a problem?  How proactive are you about keeping them informed on any changes or issues that may affect their service?  What specific processes and procedures have been put in place to ensure a responsive reaction to any issues that a customer raises?

5.  Empathy – Do you put yourself in your customers shoes and try to understand their point of view?  Do you ask the right questions, listen intently and speak their language?  Customers buy for their reasons, not ours.  Do you clearly understand what their reasons are?

How does your company rate for these five critical factors that your customers use as a basis to judge the quality of the service they receive from you?  Where do you want to rate?  I say nothing less than a 5 is acceptable.  Taking care of your customers using these 5 factors will keep them buying, multiplying and coming back for more.

Quick links to review all of  April challenges:

There are only two things people ever buy. Are you selling either one?

Are you practicing the greatest sales secret in the world? 

When is the last time you surveyed your customers?  

 

To Your Success,

 

Bruce Rector

The Rector Group

Tel: 954-356-0439

brector@therectorgroup.com

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Business Challenge of the Week – When is the last time you surveyed your customers?

APRIL – SALES MONTH

When is the last time you asked your customers how well you are serving them?  And how you could improve and deliver more value to them?  Finding the answers to these two questions tells you:

  1. The customer’s perception of your quality of service
  2. What you can do in order to increase that perception

“Relative quality as perceived by customers is the single most important factor in determining long-term profitability.”  Michael LeBouef, Ph.D., Author of How to Win Customers and Keep them for Life.

If you want to win the big bucks, you need to focus on not just getting new customers but keeping them.  And you do that by providing them with greater levels of quality service or products as they perceive it.  Bottom line, you want to add value at a level that makes your service or product a compelling offering.

Your challenge this week is to survey your customers.  You can do this through online software packages that email a questionnaire to them.  SurveyMonkey.com, zoomerang.com, mobosurvey.com are just a few you can try.

Here are some ideas on what to ask them that they can rate you on a scale of 1 to 5 or 1 to 10.

  1. How well do we deliver what we promise?
  2. How often do we do things right the first time?
  3. How often do we do things right on time?
  4. How quickly do we respond to to your requests?
  5. How accessible are we when you need to contact us?
  6. How helpful and polite are we?
  7. How well do we listen to you?
  8. How hard do you think we work at keeping you a satisfied customer?
  9. How much confidence do you have in our products or services?
  10. How willing would you be to recommend us?
  11. How willing would you be to buy from us again?

You might also want to add some questions that allow for open ended responses such as:

  • Are we doing or not doing anything that bugs you?
  • What do you like best about what we do?
  • How can we better serve you?

You are going to have to modify the questions so they are applicable to your specific situation, but these should give you a good start.  You may also want to consider surveying your past customers to learn why they quit and if there is anything you can do to get them back.

Most importantly, once you get start getting the information back, PUT IT TO WORK.  Capitalize on perceived strengths and correct perceived weaknesses.  Make a list of problem areas that need improvement and rank them in order of importance.  And continue to involve your customers.  Keep on asking and keep on improving!  Businesses that are smart enough to keep asking, modifying and improving in the spirit of what the customer thinks, have the inside track to long-term prosperity.

If you missed any of this months previous challenges you can access them here:

There are only two things people ever buy. Are you selling either one?

Are you practicing the greatest sales secret in the world? 

 

Sincerely,

Bruce Rector

The Rector Group

Tel: 954-356-0439

brector@therectorgroup.com

 

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Business Challenge of the Week – There are only two things people ever buy. Are you selling either one?

Welcome to this week’s Business Challenge of the Week:  There are only two things people ever buy.  Are you selling either one of them?    This is the second challenge in our series on Sales which will go throughout the month of April.  If you missed last week, you can catch up by going to this link:  Do you know the greatest sales secret in the world?  

Onto this week’s topic:

What are your customers really buying from you?  It may seem like a silly question but it’s vital that everyone in your organization, from the CEO to the loading dock operator, knows the answer.  Your customers aren’t buying what you are selling.  They are buying what your goods or services do for them.  For instance….

Don’t sell me clothes.  Sell me a sharp appearance, style, and attractiveness.

Don’t sell me insurance.  Sell me peace of mind and a secure future for my family and my business.

Don’t sell me things.  Sell me security, efficiency, self-respect, happiness.

Don’t sell me consulting services.  Make this nervous feeling in my stomach go away.  (Real life conversation I had with one client)

 

There are two key things customers will exchange money for:

  • Feeling happy and good
  • Solutions to problems

Remember, customers buy with emotion and justify with logic.

Your challenge this week is to make sure you are communicating how your goods and services provide this to your customers.  Three key questions to determine this:

  1. What good feelings and solutions does our business provide to our customers?
  2. Does everyone in our organization understand their role in providing good feelings and solutions to our customers?
  3. What can each employee do to provide more good feelings and solutions to our customers?

To put yourself in the right frame of mind, here are some tips when dealing with customers:

  • Customers want to buy from people that make them feel good so be sure you are in a happy state.
  • Never tell customers your problems.  We all have our share of problems and discussing them is certainly healthy – just not with your customers.
  • Customers buy for their reasons, not yours.  So get in their world.  You win customers by giving them what they want and not what you think they want.
  • Always remember when you are dealing with a customer, you are representing the company and their decision to become or remain a customer depends on you.
  • Use both logic and emotion to win and keep customers.  Emotion causes customers to buy but logic keeps them sold and coming back.
  • Always be solving problems for your customers.  Find out their state of mind:  Mad, Sad, Scared?  Move them to Happy/Glad.  Two key questions to always ask:  What is the situation now?  What would you like it to be?

If you pay attention to your customers, they will come back for more. If you pay attention to only your goods and services, they won’t.

Put it to work and you will see what I mean.

Sincerely,

 

Bruce Rector

The Rector Group

Tel: 954-356-0439

brector@therectorgroup.com

 

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Business Challenge of the Week – Are You Practicing The Greatest Sales Secret In The World?

APRIL – SALES MONTH

This week’s challenge: Are You Practicing The Greatest Sales Secret In The World?

Welcome to the 2nd Quarter of 2012.   We’ve covered three key areas so far this year with our Weekly Business Challenge.

January – Strategy Month

February – Money Month

March – Marketing Month

*Stay tuned for the accompanying webinar and ebook for each month you and your team can view and download for easy, quick reference.

Your challenge this week is to determine if your sales force is practicing the greatest sales secret in the world on a consistent basis.   What’s the greatest secret you ask?  It’s simple and you already know it.  You may have just forgotten it.  Here it is.  If you reward your customers, you’ll create and keep them.  Fail to reward customers and you are out of business.  Sound simple?  It is.  We often complicate business success by equating it with dollars, statistics, facts and figures.  Yet all of those measures are determined by the behavior of customers and the employees who serve them.  So simple.  So obvious.  And yet, so often ignored.

When a customer or potential customer has any contact with your organization, they will experience certain consequences as a result of that action.  If the customer feels rewarded, they will come back for more.  The less rewarded they feel, the likelihood that they will not repeat their behavior  – that is, have contact with your organization – increases.

To determine if your sales team is practicing the greatest sales secret, take some time to observe and assess how you are currently rewarding your customers when they do business with you.  Are you rewarding them with on-time delivery, exceptional products and services, an inviting environment, delicious food, a great value, helpful and friendly employees or even a simple thank you?  You will need to decide what the specific “rewards” need to be for your customers and then be truthful in assessing how you well you are doing in providing those rewards each and every time.  And the well rewarded customer is the one who tells others how great your company is which in turn creates more customers.

Selling is a lot like tennis.  Those who don’t serve well, end up losing.

Bonus Challenge:

  1. If your customer needed something that you didn’t have, would you be willing to refer them elsewhere, even if it is a competitor?
  2. Does everyone who deals with customers or prospects believe that their job is to help people buy not to sell them?
  3. Is helping the customer a higher priority than selling your product or service?

If you can’t answer yes to all of the above, I challenge you to adjust your selling strategy.

 

Good luck!

 

Sincerely,

Bruce Rector

The Rector Group

Tel: 954-356-0439

brector@therectorgroup.com

 

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Business Challenge of the Week – Are Your Marketing and Sales Aligned?

March Marketing Month continues with our last challenge of the month:

If You Need Catch Up on Previous Challenges, I’ve posted them here:

Week 1 – Identifying Your Why?  

Week 2 – Do you know your customer’s pain points?  

Week 3 – Put Your Marketing Strategy Into Action

There’s an interesting thing that happens at organizations where effective marketing and sales alignment occurs—they get results.  In fact, companies who are “best-in-class” at aligning marketing and sales had 20% average growth in annual revenue as opposed to a 4% decline.  When Sales and Marketing share goals and collaborate on processes and technologies, more deals get closed.  So doesn’t it make sense to make sure your Marketing and Sales are operating like a well oiled machine in your organization?

Your challenge this week is to Get Your Sales and Marketing Aligned

Here are some steps to jumpstart the process:

  1. Invite your marketing team on sales calls so they can listen to how the sales team are actually selling products.  Let them hear first hand how products are being positioned and how questions, concerns and “objections” are handled.  Then listen to the feedback marketing provides and collaborate to improve the process.
  2. Are both Marketing and Sales delivering the same company “pitch”?  Or can both do a product demo, share product features and benefits?  Take the best from both sides to deliver clear concise messages that support the overall brand strategy.  If everyone is singing the same song, it will be heard loud and clear in the marketplace.
  3. Develop goals, objectives and metrics jointly.  Identify how each side is going to contribute to achieving the goal.
  4. Meet consistently to collaborate on planning, goals and challenges. Once you are doing this routinely,  you will have achieved alignment.

The end result of Sales and Marketing Alignment  is a more engaged team focusing on the shared goal of generating more business in a faster and more efficient manner.

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Sincerely,

 

Bruce Rector

The Rector Group

Business Challenge of the Week – Put Your Marketing Strategy Into Action

MARCH- MARKETING MONTH

This week’s challenge: Put your marketing strategy into action

Week 1 – Identifying Your Why?
Week 2 – Do you know your customer’s pain points?

If you did the work in Week 1 and 2 you are now ready for action. You’ve identified your brand strategy by going through the challenge in Week 1 – What is Your Why? and you’ve clearly identified how to effectively communicate to your target customers after completing the Week 2 Challenge – Do You Know Your Customer’s Pain Points?

If you haven’t done the first two challenges, start there before you move onto our Week 3 Challenge – Putting your strategy into action.

Your challenge this week is to identify what actions you are taking to reach more customers so they Know, Like and Trust you. Here are a few questions to kickstart your thinking and start building a marketing plan with an action list. Your plan and actions should be reviewed weekly with your team and summarized each month to highlight what happened as well as preview the next month’s plan. Let’s get started:

  1. Do you have a great website that clearly communicates your “why” and what problems you solve for your customers? Is your website mobile friendly? Is it time to build an app for your business?
  2. Are you routinely creating and adding new content that adds value to your customers and prospects? (i.e. Case studies, webinars, testimonials or customer reviews, videos, white papers)
  3. Do you have a customer relationship management process to ensure you consistently “check in” with your current customers and prospects by providing them something of value? This can be done with an email campaign, events that you sponsor or can be as simple as picking up the phone on a routine basis.
  4. If you are using social media, is it aligned to an overall social media strategy? Social media can be a great platform to communicate to and get feedback from your customers and build a community. Make sure you know why you have that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. account before you start spending lots of time posting to them.
  5. Most importantly, are you tracking and measuring everything you are doing? By measuring, you can determine what is working and do more of that.

These are just a few of the critical tactical areas you should be focusing on to execute your marketing strategy. Review these questions with your team, get their feedback and create an action plan from it that you begin to track and measure against your overall strategy. Get into action mode and start getting results.

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Sun Tzu

Sincerely,

Bruce Rector
The Rector Group
Tel: 954-356-0439
brector@therectorgroup.com

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Business Challenge of the Week – Do You Know Your Customer’s Pain Points?

Last week we started the month with a challenge on Identifying Your Why?  Why does your business exist?  Why do you do what you do?  What is your unique story?

Creating an effective marketing strategy can seem complex and costly because there are so many different tools and tactics you can use to reach your customers.  Tools and tactics include a range of options like social networking, content rich websites and blogs, email marketing,showing up to relevant search engine traffic, customer relationship software as well as more traditional tools and tactics like trade shows, networking at local trade and community events, face to face selling, newspaper or magazine ads and direct mail.   Depending on your budget, all of these can be effective ways of letting your prospects KNOW you exist.   But how do you get them to LIKE and TRUST you?

Most companies start with these or other tactics before they have an effective strategy which rarely leads to success but definitely will make a dent in your budget.  Hence the belief by many business owners that “marketing doesn’t work for my business” or “it’s too expensive”.

I believe that it is often what you are communicating, or not communicating, that is the bigger issue. Your challenge this week is to identify your customers pain points.  Spend some time and attention on this topic with your team, especially those on the front line.  Put yourself in their shoes and imagine what keeps them up at night, what their problems and issues are.  Ask them?  Talk to your customers about their pain points and really listen to them.  Get into their world.

Once you understand the challenges and issues your customers are facing, your marketing strategy should communicate how you will help them solve those issues.  Demonstrate the gain they will receive by working with you and your team.   Most companies talk about how good they are.  No one cares how good you are.  The only thing your customers care about is how good they are going to be by working with you.

Taking care of your customers and providing an exceptional customer experience is the foundation of building an effective marketing strategy.   Take stock in everything you do and ask the question “Are we helping our customers solve their pain?” “Are we communicating clearly how we will make them better?”

Focus on your customers and you will win.

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Bruce Rector

The Rector Group

Tel: 954-356-0439

brector@therectorgroup.com

 

Business Challenge of The Week – What is your Why?

March is  Marketing Month

What is Marketing?  If you ask 10 different people you will get 10 different answers.

One of the best definitions I heard and now use is the following:

Marketing is getting someone who has a need for your products and services to:

KNOW, LIKE and TRUST you so they will TRY, BUY and REFER you and turn into a REPEAT customer.

Throughout this month we will focus on each of these areas.

But before we get into each of those, we are going to start with WHY.

Your challenge this week is to identify your WHY.  More important than what you do and how you do it is WHY you do it.  Why does your business exist?  Why do you do what you do?  What is your unique story?  Who are you being?

Simon Sinek is a leader on this subject.  His book Start With Why is a must read.  You can also view his TED Talk on the topic here

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Bruce Rector

The Rector Group

Tel: 954-356-0439

brector@therectorgroup.com

 

 

Business Challenge of the Week – Improve Your Bottom Line

February is coming to an end this week therefore so is Money Month.  This week’s challenge is focused on improving your bottom line.  Most businesses spend a lot of time and effort looking for ways to increase sales and improve revenue.   But often there is a huge opportunity to improve the bottom line by making small improvements in cost structure.

One of the first things I do when I am working with a company is to look for areas where there are opportunities for savings – and I never have to look far.   Your business challenge this week is to look for areas where you can reduce costs by 1%.  That’s it: 1%.  Should be easy, right?  The result of of a 1%  savings can have a major impact on your company’s bottom line.

For example: A company has revenue of $5 million and a cost of sales of $3.75 million (75% cost of sales), results in a gross profit of $1.25 million (25% gross margin).  If gross margin is improved by 1%, the bottom line increases by $50k.

Not too shabby right?  Imagine if you did that for 4 or 5 areas in your company.

Here are four areas where a 1% savings may be lurking:

  1. Margin/Pricing – Can you reduce your costs or raise your prices to improve your margin by 1%?
  2. Materials – Are purchase orders being used? Are vendor prices competitive?  Are you getting multiple bids for qualified vendors? Are you asking for a lower cost?  Is someone in your organization accountable to minimize these expenses?
  3. Freight / Fuel Charges – Are you reviewing the freight liner invoices in detail? Are the charges accurate for each delivery?  Is there a fuel surcharge?  Are there ways to bundle deliveries?
  4. Direct labor –  Are jobs getting ‘slammed’ with hours due to improper planning?  Are there more efficient ways to execute the work by thinking ahead?  Does your team have excessive travel time?  Are the crews being scheduled effectively?  Is the job supervision adequate? Is there complacency on the jobs?  Is overtime being worked? If so, is it really necessary?

Devote some time this week looking for areas you can reduce costs by 1% and enjoy the results on your bottom line.

If you missed any of the Money Month Challenges, here is a review:

Week 3 – Managing Your Banking Relationships

Week 2 – Tracking Progress and Keeping Score

Week 1 – Capturing Key Metrics

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Bruce Rector

The Rector Group

Tel: 954-356-0439

brector@therectorgroup.com