Posts Tagged ‘strategic growth’

Answering the What Do You Do Question

Have you found yourself stumbling to answer the “What do you do?” question when at business to business networking events?  Do you admire those who seem to answer this question flawlessly?  For those in small business, answering this question is on the job sales training.

what-do-you-do

Credit www.gratisography.com

Sure you must practice and truly know what differentiates your small business from all those other gray suits in the market place. However, over time the answer to “What do you do?” will change as you as well as the marketplace changes.

This past week I amended my response to the “What do you do ?” question when I actively listened to others.  Several people commented about my response of “I solve people and process problems” and attempted to group me with the recent tsunami of business coaches and executive coaches within the marketplace.  I was able quickly recognize this fatal grouping and responded with “No I am not a newbie as my practice is 18 years young.”

The dynamics of those conversations resulted in me changing my response from the “I solve people and process problems” to “For the last 18 years I have been solving people and process problems.”

Much is written about how to answer the “What do you do?” question.  This is an important question to be answered as it may be your first and last attempt to attract attention.

There are many sales training programs that focus on answering this one question. What I know to be true is this response is situational and will change over time.  Additionally, you may require more than one response depending upon your current audience or your ideal customer.

I also know that answering this question must be conversational. For many these responses sound like a Gatling gun or something so perfect it smells of insincerity to an over abundance of ego.

Remember, people buy from people they know and trust. How you respond to the question of “What do you do?” is your first opportunity to let people begin to know you and trust you.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Marketing Goes Way Beyond Paid Advertising

Back in the Mad Men days, marketing was just paid advertising.  Pay big bucks for some high price advertising firm to get you recognized and you will achieve success.

paid-advertisingToday the landscape has dramatically changed and for the better if you are a small business.  You no longer have to pay big bucks for paid advertising to attract attention.  Please note this does not mean you will not spend some dollars or even more time as time is money.

Now you must craft a marketing plan that attracts attention in an entirely different way.  This plan includes the following areas:

  1. Internet including your website
  2. Networking including trade shows
  3. Direct mail
  4. Paid advertising from local media to sponsorships for local business to business (B2B) events
  5. Promotional items including brochures, business cards, pens, logo wear, etc.
  6. Professional development

With the Internet now the #1 marketing channel for small businesses, this requires a secondary social media plan for the following activities:

  1. Blog
  2. Facebook
  3. LinkedIn
  4. Twitter
  5. You Tube
  6. Micro blogs and/or other social media sites

All of these activities require alignment and linkage to each other from your unified strategies to your actual tactics.

The challenge is so many small businesses engage in marketing without having a written strategic plan in place.  By investing 20 to 40 hours depending upon the size of the small business,  the small business owner to sales professional can efficiently and effectively direct their current and futurepaid-advertising actions for the greatest return on investment. Without a well thought out and documented strategic plan, business people embrace the role of Captain Wing-It by spraying their actions all over the place and then praying something will stick.

So how do you know if you are one of the many Captain Wing Its?  If you can specifically answer these questions quickly by writing them down, you probably are not a Captain Wing It:

  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • Where do you find your ideal customers?
  • What are the demographics and psychographics of your ideal customer?
  • What are the market trends in your industry?
  • What are the economic trends in your industry?
  • What makes you different than your competition? (What do you do better than your competitors?)
  • What is your market share?
  • What is your average sale?
  • What is the long term value of your customer?
  • What is your sales to earn ratio? (How many sales leads do you receive versus actually earned sales?)
  • What is your gross profit margin?
  • What is your average sales lead to conversion time frame? (How much time has elapsed from that first handshake to earning the sale?)
  • What current marketing activities including paid advertising are delivering you the best sales leads and conversions?
  • What are your sales right now compared to last year? Are you ahead, behind or the same?

There are many more strategic thinking questions to be answered in the other areas of your small business operations. These are mostly related to marketing and demonstrate how marketing goes way beyond paid advertising.

If you answered all of them relatively quickly and thoroughly, congratulations and you are not a Captain Wing It.

paid-advertisingIf you hesitated and could not quickly answer these questions, then I would encourage you to invest the time to answer these questions and even work with a small business coach or consultant to start constructing a written strategic plan that is goal driven.

At this time you are not ready to hire any marketing firm because the marketing firm will not look at other aspects of your business operations and hence misalignment will happen. This misalignment (think paid advertising) will be profit draining on your end and profit filling for the marketing firm.

Check out Triage Business Planning as a self study small business strategic plan designed for time constrained small business owners and sales professionals.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals in the key areas of strategic growth, people development and process improvement. She speaks and writes specifically to high performance sales people who require a tailored executive coaching solution and to small businesses under 50 employees whose challenges are more unique and resources more limited. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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A Leadership Truism Reaffirmed

One of my colleagues, Doug Brown, made this statement years ago “People confuse motion with progress and activity with results.” This is truly a leadership truism and applies in sales as well.  Regardless of your role as a leader be it small business owner, sales professional, or C suite executive there is a lot of motion and activity going on with far less progress and results.

leadership-truismI was reminded of this leadership truism when I read a LinkedIn Pulse posting about how employee engagement is over-rated because at the end of the day CEOs want results.  From my perspective as I read this posting, I believe the author is ignoring this one fact:

Employee engagement must be in alignment with the strategy, structure, processes/systems, rewards and people within the organization. (Galbraith 5 Star Model)

This alignment is the responsibility of leadership and so employee engagement is really a reflection of the effectiveness of all involved as leaders within the organization.

When employees are engaged but not delivering the necessary progress and results, then it is the responsibility of leaders to ensure there is alignment between all five elements within the organization. Misalignment in many instances is where disengagement is observed.

At the end of the day, leadership is the driving force in any organization from the single office/home office (SOHO) to the Fortune 100 firms. Possibly this leadership truism from my friend should be asked at the end of every day by all in leadership roles:

How did my behaviors model the necessary progress and results we need at this organization?

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals in the key areas of strategic growth, people development and process improvement. She speaks and writes specifically to small businesses under 50 employees whose challenges are more unique and resources more limited. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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