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, email@example.com
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!
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.
Whether you like or loathe the man, and there seems to be little middle ground Boris has always had a very focussed approach to Brexit. He has a plan and a strategy, rightly or wrongly.
Comparing this withe Sales Process, and there are many prarallels, he is attempting to obtain the best deal for the UK from the EU.
In every sale, the backstop; the very last option has to be a no-deal. In other words, ‘I am prepared to walk away and neither of us benefits from this relationship’. But to make that a useful negotiating tool, it must be an option available to you. If you are not prepared to walk away, no matter how much you want the deal, then the opposition will use this to their great advantage and to your disadvantage.
If they know that you are not allowed the option to walk away, the ‘no-deal’, then they will find it much easier to impose their needs and wishes over yours. It gives you a weak position from which to negotiate because they know that in the end, you will have to accept a deal that favours their needs.
Unfortunately, parliament do not understand this, or, they feel that the risk of ending up with no deal is too great. So, Boris’s hands were tied.
This point is similar to that discussed in my blog of March 2019 where the delegate was not allowed to walk away without the order. Here as well, his negotiating power was weakened and the customer had, and played the advantage.
This is not an easy line to follow. It may result in bluff and counter-bluff and a cool head is needed. However, simply believing that you have the power to walk away from the deal (even if you have no real intention to do so) may be enough to help strengthen your position.
Make sure they believe you have the choice, and then secure a better deal.
Three essentials needed by those selling into technical markets:
1/ Technical knowledge
2/ Training/Coaching in Technical Sales
3/ Motivation & self-belief
Why is technical sales training and coaching so essential?
Managers will notice a lack of confidence in those new to technical sales, and sometimes even in those who have been selling in technical markets for some time.
Lack of confidence results in reduced motivation. Less motivated salespeople will under-perform. Under-performance limits success, reducing self-belief, and so confidence dips further. This results in reduced productivity and profitability.
Likewise, the converse is true. Help in the form of training and coaching in technical knowledge and selling skills for technical markets will boost confidence, motivate and ensure more and faster success.
I remember clearly the time when I was a new sales engineer. I knew that my technical knowledge was good, but not yet complete. My confidence in selling was very low, likewise my self-belief that I was any good at selling (although I never let on!). Clearly, my bosses had seen more in me than I had; they had more belief and confidence that I would be successful. If I had thought of this I may have grown more quickly in the job.
A little sales training was offered and taken, but this was very general and did not address the specific issues met when selling in technical markets. My technical knowledge was built on the job with frequent returns to the engineering lab for help and advice. Mostly, I learned on the job.
The perceived wisdom is that for any new salesperson it would take at least a year, possibly two to become cost effective and profitable.
What if you could reduce that ‘delayed profitability’ significantly? What if it took just a few months rather than a year or two? Wouldn’t that result in more profitable sales, and faster?
Reducing the delay by nine months to a year would make a substantial difference to the number and value of the sales achieved. What extra value would that be? An extra 20 or 30% of sales from that person? It could be more. Put a value on that percentage. Would it not make sense to invest a little now to reap faster and larger turnover?
They say that the average time that a good salesperson stays with one company is no more than 2-3 years. Without training or coaching, the time when experience starts to make them profitable can be 18 months to 2 years. They may just have become profitable to you when they decide to move on. With good, tailored training, you could extend that profitable time by up to a year. Now THAT IS worth the investment!
Motivation, self-belief and self-confidence come from experience and from support. Experience takes time, but support in the form of training and coaching makes a significant difference by shortening personal development and bringing forward success.
Training and coaching result in more knowledge, skills and confidence. And hence more sales.