Can you grow your business when many around are shrinking?
I think you can, and I wanted to share my ideas with you.
My last blog suggested ways of adapting to market needs and I explained how I had added to the Salient range of offers by promoting courses on Zoom (or other platforms). Are there other ways of growing your market? The first four major areas you can consider are:
The Ansoff Matrix shows clearly how these are related: (Igor Ansoff – Harvard Business Review 1957).
Market Penetration means selling more of what you offer into your existing market.
Market Development is selling your present range of goods or services into new markets.
Product Development describes selling new products into your existing markets.
Diversification involves selling new products or services into new markets.
As an example of market development, my sales modules and programmes are now fully recorded and available to purchase from the Salient website (here: https://tinyurl.com/y44gahlg !)
I am promoting and selling my existing courses, general sales and technical sales, into a new market. The new market comprises those businesses and individuals who prefer to learn and experience in their own time and space, rather than attend at specific times and locations which can be inconvenient to their own businesses.
Product development can be achieved by adding something that compliments or is a relevant addition to your existing range of products and services. Ideally, this should be something you have identified by asking the market what else they need, or at least your existing customers!
Market penetration in simple terms is finding more ways of selling what you have in the market you presently target. For this I would recommend revisiting dormant customers and making contact with ‘lost’ business. Business previously lost may be looking again for a new supplier and we may only have lost it by a small margin.
Diversification can be fun! Lateral thinking can result in some great ideas for additional products and services which will attract new interest in your business. I caution you to prepare well and to do some useful and effective market research prior to this. It is essential you know what your potential customers want and need before committing time and funds to developing new products and attacking new markets. However, the rewards can be high as ‘out-of-box thinking’ can make a significant difference to your turnover and profit.
Finally, the fifth way of growing your business, and a less risky alternative would be Collaboration, again with much preparation and due diligence. You would halve the cost of any such growth plans by working with another trusted business. However, you may halve the risk, but you will also halve the profit made!
Your first choice is whether you try and ‘ride-the-storm’, or, work smarter and develop your business. If you choose the latter, your second choice can be made from a number of options as outlined in the matrix above. When the ‘new norm’ arrives, if you have used the time wisely and prepared for growth, you will be much more secure as a business than those that have relied on rationalisation and hope.
If you are interested in hearing more about our ‘applied sales’ courses, in general or technical markets, then please contact Andy on 07941 041364, firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to learn more about the Salient recorded sales training programmes, visit the offers on our website here: https://tinyurl.com/y44gahlg
A bit dramatic I know, but this does reflect the present position of most small businesses.
Darwin would be fascinated with the choices facing business at the moment.
At the start of the pandemic we all hoped it would be over in a few months and we could get back to ‘normality’. Many small companies simply ‘battened down the hatches’ intending to ride the storm, if you will pardon the mixed metaphors.
Unfortunately, it did not happen. We are likely to be looking at many more months yet and most are realising that the ‘normality’ we anticipate may be somewhat different from that pre-covid.
In the last few weeks, I have gained some new customers who have admitted they felt they could hold back no longer and needed to move ahead, otherwise their customers would go elsewhere. In fact, due to the scarcity of active businesses, they would now have to work harder just to stand still.
To maintain Salient’s position in the market and to adapt to the present situation I have had to change my approach. Fewer customers wish to have strangers in their offices presenting training courses. Having said that, recently I have presented my Technical Sales Programme on-site, distanced, masked, sanitised and very successful!
With fewer opportunities to train and coach ‘in-the-room’, I have added to my training, coaching and mentoring offers. Becoming adept at running Zoom meetings I can now run any course or session on-line.
I have also used the extra time available to record my complete sales programme onto a video platform. There are general sales and technical sales training versions for large and small businesses, and all will be available to purchase on line within the next two weeks. I have also added small business group support and growth sessions called ‘Adapt, Survive and Prosper’, and these can be delivered with some in the room and others on Zoom.
By adding to my range of offers, I am now able to deliver:
Sales, Marketing and Business development
1/ courses or sessions in-the-room, as before
2/ courses or sessions on Zoom, or
3/ course modules recorded for more convenient viewing
By adapting to the new market needs I have ensured that all prospective customers can be served by Salient, whatever their circumstances.
This is what I have done. What have you done to maintain or even grow access your available market and hence grow your sales? Have you adapted? Most such situations can be overcome with some thought, ideas and application. If you have not addressed this already, perhaps now is the time. Clever use of the internet and some lateral thinking are called for.
Take the lead from Salient; Adapt, Survive and Prosper!
As we move slowly back towards life as we used to know it, people keep talking about the ‘New Norm’. If you challenge them, they appear to have little or no idea as to what this New Normality will be.
Many believe we will rely much more on the internet to do business and there will be a significant increase in those working from home. Some of those whose businesses have operated primarily online, the digital marketeers, web designers and IT experts, are suggesting they need never go back to an office.
Since ‘lockdown’ we have all had to change our approach. We have had to engage with our customers in different ways. Primarily, but not exclusively this has been via the internet. I believe it is still accepted by most, that face to face and in the same room is the ideal! This allows more of our social instincts to play a part and to enable more of a solid business relationship to develop. It would be very sad if we did not go back to meeting, shaking hands, embracing (when appropriate!) and enjoying each other’s physical company.
What other positivity can we take from the present difficult situation:
The air is cleaner!
More people now know more about the internet and its possibilities for communication and promotion.
In general, people are more aware and considerate of others wellbeing.
Many have observed that the pace of life has slowed, allowing more reflection and consideration.
The situation has encouraged more lateral or ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking.
As a society we have reset our perspectives and priorities; we have acknowledged what is most important to us.
I could continue with the list, but I think the point is made. After lockdown, it would be a great shame to lose all that we have gained. Clearly, we need to take the best we can from all this and apply them to our New Norm. Ideally, we should maintain good perspective, priorities and wellbeing as we start to meet with others again. At the same time, we should continue to embrace more of the best of the technology.
We need to balance the best of the Old Norm with the best of the lockdown strategies we have developed. Every business has different needs and priorities and so they will have their own version of the New Norm. I urge you all to plan carefully how you address coming out of lockdown and what your New Norm will look like. If you need help with this, I have developed a new module called ‘Your New Norm’, which helps you define what you want to become as a business, you new approach to promotion and engagement that will continue to make you successful as we are ‘unlocked’.
At some stage in the future, lockdown will end. For months we will have been meeting, talking, and socialising with the images of people on screens. When we finally get to meet with them again, how will we cope?
Can we remember the ‘social niceties’ as we used the call them, the social conventions that ensure mutual respect and deference?
I thought it would be a good idea to share with you some of the social decorum or etiquette that we were expected to follow when we were younger (which is probably before you were born, dear reader). Yes, in such prose as these when addressing the reader they were often referred to as ‘dear’ or even ‘gentle reader’!) The following relate to ‘greetings’ in the 1960s. Some of these conventions are still applied by the ‘old school’!
• If a lady entered a room all the gentlemen were expecteed to stand. If a large room or hall, or in a large gathering it was understood that only those whom she approached would stand until she was seated.
• All gentlemen would stand to shake hands but the ladies would remain seated to do the same. (I believe this is still expected and correct behavior.)
• Unless they are a relative or long standing friend or aquaintence, no kissing is allowed. If the lady leaned forward for a peck then this could be offered or received, but this was unlikely.
• Anyone senior to us in years we would call ‘sir’ or ‘madam’, unless instructed by them to do otherwise. If respect needed to be emphasised then these could be used at any time.
• If you knew someone’s Christian name you would not use it unless invited to in an introduction. It would be Mr., Mrs, or Miss as appropriate. Again, Sir or Madam could be used if superiority is clear or even suspected.
• If passing someone you know, gentlemen should raise or touch the rim of their hats. If a lady then stops to engage them in conversation the hat should be removed until the lady moves on.
- there is a lovely story involving my Father. In the early sixties he was a civil servant working in the city of London, in Somerset House. The ‘uniform’ in the city was great-coat and black bowler hat. This hat was raised or the rim touched at all required moments. One day when returning home and almost at our garden gate, he met an acquaintance. He started to raise his hat. At the same moment, his acquaintance offered his hand for a handshake greeting which was also acceptable, but was a more familiar approach. Dad accepted this and so started to offer his hand in return. His friend had also realised the disparity and was starting to raise his bowler hat at the same time. My Mother relays this story as she was watching from the window and says that the greeting was attempted three times with hats being raised and hands offered alternately, until finally they gave up and just said hello.
• On ending the conversation, if with a lady, the hat was returned to the head and with a gentleman it was raised or the rim touched on parting.
That may seem very involved but that was the way we were taught to behave, the expected ‘norms’; and THAT was just for the greeting!
I am not suggesting we re-adopt these social expectations, this was just a bit of fun. But, we can be certain that when our ‘normal’ is returned we will feel very strange shaking hands with strangers or even standing right next to them in a meeting or gathering.
I used to give a talk called ‘Selling, Ballroom Dancing and Space Invaders’. The latter reference is to those who invade our personal space. I would not be surprised if our normal personal space has been extended due to ‘social distancing’.
Let’s hope we can soon return to ‘social nearness’, or for the brave, ‘social closeness’, and we can look forward to sharing time AND SPACE with everyone we wish.
How important is it for everyone to be resilient, thick-skinned, even hard-nosed?
Life can be hard. Without one or more of these traits we run the risk of being beaten down by the more forceful and ultra-confident types.
To illustrate, let me describe an extreme version of this:
A confident go-getter enjoys ‘banter’ with their colleagues. One colleague is a less confident and seldom joins in with the exchange of ‘winding-up’ and derisory comments. To some, this makes them ideal targets for such banter, and the comments start.
Initially teasing, they are easily shrugged off. But, they continue, and can develop a hint of mocking. Others, wanting to remain with the confident and ‘favoured’ group, will find themselves joining in, sometimes without intending to. Within a short period of time, perhaps a few weeks, one person has become the butt of most of the ‘banter’ going on.
Originators of office/school/group banter will claim it is ‘character building’. They believe they are helping those bearing the brunt of the humour to gain a thicker-skin, to ‘man-up’. The ‘Butt’ may well attempt to join in, but will show their inexperience in making quips and digs and will likely receive more ‘digs’ as a result. Initial banter is usually ignored, but continued and it gradually eats away at the recipient, resulting in lost esteem and confidence.
Life is hard. Perhaps we should encourage this form of banter to help weed-out those not capable of defending themselves and so to form stronger teams.
But, what are we doing if this continues unabated? We are making someone’s life pretty miserable. They will see it as bullying and will find it more and more difficult to become involved, contribute, socialise and engage.
Then there is the other extreme, where we cosset and protect the weak and avoid all banter and ‘wind-ups’. I remember when a boss I had in the mid 90’s apologised to me for swearing. He assumed that, as I didn’t swear, it must be that it offends me. Bless him! Extreme swearing does offend me, but the occasional ‘Anglo-Saxon Derivative’ (as my English teacher used to say) can add richness to the language. The reason I didn’t swear was because I had four young impressionable daughters at home and Dad swearing, even inadvertently, was not the example I wanted to give them.
There is another way. I saw this happen once and it had a great positive impact on me. At one stage in my career, the boss was also the chief source of the office banter. He would rip into anyone, strong or weak and wind them up to a high level. Most of us recognized this and responded in kind (to a lower level; we wanted to stay in good books). There was one chap who did not take this well. He was a really nice guy and had much to contribute to the group. However, it was clear that he was enjoying being at work less and less. His mood changed and his engagement with all of us was less frequent and helpful. He was becoming isolated. This was not the group’s intention, but none recognised it for what it was and no-one wanted to suggest to the boss that he stopped. In the end, the boss sorted it. He was perceptive and understood fully the risks to the team and to our colleague. The boss took him to one side and had a chat with him. The next thing I know, our colleague was smiling, animated and seemingly in awe of the boss! His output increased and his loyalty knew no bounds. He was even seen to join in with the banter occasionally.
What did the boss say? Eventually, my colleague confided in me.
In a nutshell the boss had told him that he was sorry that such actions and comments were upsetting him. He told him how valuable and valued he was, how he should ignore anything that offended and to regard it as immature behavior on their part. He wanted my colleague to come to him and tell him at any time if anything was bugging or upsetting him, because he wanted him to be happy in his work and to enjoy his time. The boss, even said he regretted the way he behaved but that it was now expected of him and he was worried that any change would be regarded as a weakness.
In showing humanity and humility, the boss had succeeded in turning round the whole situation.
Perhaps this is the best approach when such ‘banter’ risks getting out of hand; risks losing a colleague, or worst of all, demolishes someone’s self-confidence and self-esteem.
There is no easy answer. But, taking account of people’s feelings can result in stronger teams, stronger relationships, and stronger leadership.
Some rules of emailing, yes, we’re still making the same mistakes.
How often do you receive and email and have objected to the contents? The objection may be mild, it may be significant or it may be something in between? Too many times
How many of us have written one straight back, assuming our interpretation is correct, and damaged that relationship? Too many of us.
They say that the art of letter writing is being lost due to the convenience and speed of texting, emailing and the like. Speed and convenience is a strong incentive to use these modes of communicating, however, make it too fast and it can be dangerous to your business.
‘Hearing’ a tone of voice that changes the interpretation
Making a sarcastic comment that is either inappropriate or taken literally
Sending something which no-one has proof-read; which is poorly spelt and constructed
Only answering one question and ignoring the other three
Assuming familiarity and making it too informal for the contact
Some simple rules which should overcome these dangers and pitfalls:
If it reads as though it was written with attitude, leave it and come back later. Try and read it with a smile on your face, it can sound so different! THEN respond accordingly.
PROOF READ everything. Poor spelling, grammar, or punctuation can suggest you are not thorough or professional.
Avoid humour, particularly sarcasm. If you want to include levity, an exclamation mark could help to signpost this.
Read everything received more than once and you will find other things which need a response.
Read everything before you send it, to avoid these classic blunders, and others.
Why not pick up the ‘phone?! It is more efficient and effective; you can cover more points in less time; you can build better business relationships. Then summarise and confirm by email. This is far more effective and professional than a rushed email or text.
Avoid the traps of fast texting or emailing and build professional relationships; use the ‘phone, or, even better, meet them face to face.