Your customer’s attitude is your guide to how you sell and how you market. It also helps you make decisions about adding to or changing the services and products you offer. Attitude is not all about a customer’s wants, desires or needs. It is about their point of view (POV)— at least as it relates to what you have to offer them. The good news is you can choose what is the best customer attitude and POV for your business success from three options. Then you can focus on attracting customers who have the right attitude match. This will make your business a lot better for everyone.
The most current LMCI numbers from Texas Workforce Commission for small business ownership in the Austin – Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area or MSA (which actually goes from Georgetown to San Marcos) are encouraging. As of the latest data (December 2017), there were over 47,800 firms. Of these these micro businesses, businesses under 20 employees, represent more than 41,000 firms (about a 1/3 more than the 2009 number of 29,500 firms discussed in this original post) and the number continues to grow. (BTW, there are currently only 232 firms with over 500 employees in this same area.)
This is not unusual. When people get laid off sometimes their only option is to create a job for themselves by starting a business. And the Austin area has been extremely supportive of this. As a matter of fact, it has been used as a major way we have been able to work ourselves out of recessions – nine that I know of since we started in 1982. [Read more…]
You can be entertained and inspired at the same time this holiday season or any time of the year with these business-related films. What a combination.
Even your family and friends will enjoy them.
So will your employees. You might want to have a movie party or film festival instead of what you usually do to celebrate the season.
Some of these holiday films are old and some are new but they have one thing in common: they will leave you with ideas, a smile and maybe a happy tear or two. Best of all none of these are snarky. The people really care about each other, instead of trying to rip each other apart or outdo each other. These are all 5-star!
1. Holiday (1938) is all about vision and sticking to your guns. Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn show that money doesn’t mean everything and that being true to your vision — even if it’s unorthodox. We know, and the characters know, that making your vision come true can be painful but rmore rewarding than following the herd and what is expected.
2. Miracle on 34th Street (1947 Maureen O’Hara & John Payne) is what good customer service should be all about — giving people the opportunity to buy if it’s the right choice for them. It’s about believing in yourself when others don’t. Yes, I believe in Santa Claus (or at least what he stands for.)
3. Desk Set (1957 Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn) is a tale of trade secrets and technology that can backfire good intentions. It demonstrates the need to recognize the employee grapevine we all have — even if we only have one employee. Every well-meaning owner should watch it if they are planning major changes to their business. And, remember what they learned!
4. We’re No Angels (1955) Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray, and Peter Ustinov become temporary employees and use unusual methods to help out a well-meaning business man. Think about what your employees do for you and be thankful.
5. Other People’s Money (1991) Danny De Vito and Gregory Peck point out the good and bad of corporate takeovers. Darker than the rest of the films listed and not holiday-driven, it is highly relevant today as current businesses struggle with the issue of what is good for employees and what is good for shareholders who are also employees. It’s a thinking movie that lends itself to discussions between employees and management and even other stakeholders.
6. The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017 Dan Stevens & Christopher Plummer) is not just about creatives like Charles Dickens. Most owners go through business blockages from time to time and live with businesses that always don’t cooperate. They can be messy and inefficient. Downright unprofitable and scary. When you go back to your roots and use the resources that you are exposed to, great things can happen.
We hope you will add to the list and watch some of these treasures. Be sure to share them with others.
Contract negotiations and re-negotiations can be risky business. Both parties go into it with the assumption of the potential for conflict. If you are the provider, you do have a secret weapon: your existing customers and their contracts.
These existing contracts give you precedent that you can use in the negotiations. This is especially true if you do business with a government entity. As my colleague Sandra Stenzel, founder of the Bid Resource Centers in Texas that became the model throughout the US has often said to clients, “the government wants the lowest responsive, responsible bid”. That translates in contract negotation to “we want the best deal” — unspoken is “than you give anyone else”.
In our case, our client was faced with a customer who wanted the same terms as the government got and not an increase in price from the last contract. Reasonable, but not in line with the contracts of their other clients. Our client’s goal was to provide parity with his other non-government contracts for the same work. Also reasonable and necessary for his growth in order to simplify his pricing structure which was definitely not standardized. [Read more…]
Are you driven to marketing? This is not the same as being market-driven.
Do you hate marketing your products and company? If you feel that you’d rather have all your teeth extracted than do anything with marketing, you could hate being “marketing driven”. You’re not alone. Most of our clients (except the advertising and marketing companies) don’t say “Whoopee, I get to come up with and implement my inbound or outbound marketing”. [Read more…]
Bosses who talk too much or blab can hurt their businesses more than any cyber security leak ever could. The results can be disruptive enough to kill sales, drive away staff, prevent being granted a patent, or potentially kill the company.
They can also be harder to stop because frequently the boss doesn’t realize they’re doing it.
Big Mouth Examples
Here are eight of the worst blabbermouths and what happened (or could have happened) to their businesses. See if you recognize these or maybe you are guilty yourself.
• Sharing Secrets
The food manufacturer responded to a simple question from someone she just met by revealing her secret way to solve a major production problem. She was too proud of what the company had done to keep quiet about it. Good product but the idea of protecting trade secrets was foreign to her. [Read more…]
Before anyone buys anything, they have to complete their own buying continuum™ process. This is true whether they are from the government, a non-profit, a consumer, or another business. From your point of view, you want them to accomplish this process and in a specific order. If they do, your sales cycle will shorten. It will result in a win-win for you both or you will be able to cull them as a prospect with a clear conscience that this was NOT the sale for you. [Read more…]
There are good, better and best sales. You may have thought all sales are equal.They’re not if you are trying to build a successful business that is sustainable, profitable and transferable.
Focus on Sales Value
Sales people (even if it’s the owner) need to concentrate on finding and getting sales that add the most value to the business. This requires a sales process that doesn’t just look at the dollars coming in from this sale. It also can’t include only the costs — money going out, time to get and manage the sale, profit level, and any “hassle” factors.
4 Ways to Measure Sales Value
The value of each sale must also be measured by:
- Its ability to add to the reputation of the business and the product or service
- How it affects company image,
- Its ability to attract customers of the same or higher value to the business,
- How well it supports brand and company positioning.
Sales commission, bonus, and career advancement should be based on the salesperson’s ability to bring in good sales and to prevent spending time and effort on bad sales.
Use Sales Value to Prioritize
I have seen it written that 50% of all sales leads are not followed up. That sounds bad. What I don’t know, because they don’t say, is how many weren’t followed up on purpose. Maybe they were right!
Choose sales opportunities at your own risk. Choose wisely and succeed. Choose poorly and there are long term consequences.
Use Sales Value to Allocate Resources
Don’t go after every sale equally. Evaluate and prioritize those new leads, upselling opportunities, or repeat sales in terms of those with the highest value.
Also, make sure your sales process gives you and your salespeople a way to quickly identify bad sales opportunities that should not be pursued or only under restricted circumstances.
The less the sales value, the more likely it’s a bad deal or at least should not be given the same time, effort and resources.
In the end, it’s the quality of each sale, not the quantity of sales that matter.
Here’s to your success!
I love Thanksgiving but it’s got to go. Growing up, it was my favorite time of year — even better than Christmas because it was all about friends. My mother would invite the family but also anyone who was alone and had been granted titles of “uncle” or “aunt”. We dressed up ourselves, the table and the house. There were special dishes I got to make at first with her, then by myself. Conversation was the order of the day and sharing and being thankful for what we have. How wonderful!
I want that BACK! With all the troubles, hate, and anger in the world, I think we need to take time for Thanksgiving for sanity’s sake if nothing else.
Thanksgiving Has Had Options Before
It wasn’t President Abraham Lincoln’s fault. How could he know when he established the 4th Thursday in November in 1863 as Thanksgiving Day and a federal holiday, that we would make All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween) as big as Christmas with lights, costumes and parties, etc. and the day after, Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year? He was just following in George Washington’s footsteps. Washington was the one who encouraged a national celebration of thanks in 1789. Then, of course there were those pilgrims who regularly celebrated thanksgivings (not just the three-day feast in 1621).
My solution suggested by my friend Anne: let’s move Thanksgiving to a different date. If we do something about it now, there is a full year to get organized.
Potential Consequences of Moving Thanksgiving
Here’s why: time is too short and precious. Do you celebrate Christmas (25th), Hanukkah (starts the 6th), Kwanzaa (starts the 26th), Mawlid un Nabil (23rd) Boxing Day (26th), Winter Solstice (22nd), or other holidays in December? I think there’s not enough time between Thanksgiving, any of the above, and the end of the year. Let’s enjoy Thanksgiving by moving the date; not rush through it to get to some other event.
Moving it may cause retailers some angst or they may rejoice because they can legitimately merchandise and advertise for Christmas. They wouldn’d have to deal with “Nay Sayers” like me who wonder what happened to Thanksgiving. The schools will have to keep kids in class and parents won’t have a couple of days off to shop but they will survive. Football fans can still have their Thanksgiving games, but they will be just Thursday games. Travel should be safer if we don’t have to cram it all in so close together.
Life-Work Choices Owners Make at Thanksgiving
If you’re a business owner, it’s even worse. You have to get ready for everything that’s due this quarter or has to be closed out before or by the end of the year. Do you find yourself agonizing over what to do? What do you do?
- Get work done for pay or get work done to keep connected to friends and family? Shopping, decorating, and card writing is work, too.
- Focus on fun, family and friends, giving donations of time or money or both to causes you support or be professional and concentrate on end of the year business stuff – closing out the books, preparing for next year, making final sales quotas, finishing projects or reports?
What do you say? Would you vote to move Thanksgiving? Let’s do something so we won’t start the new year exhausted, stressed, or burned out.
One Thanksgiving Recommendation You Can Implement Anytime
Look at your city and state. do you know not just its history but those who have made it so special? The Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio Texas reminds us to be thankful to all 26 cultures that came before and are still here and vibrant. If you live in Texas, spend a day or two there. If you live elsewhere visit it or visit your own thanksgiving sites and be grateful.
Photo courtesy of ryanjunell.
(Excerpt from The Networker’s Guide to Success by Jan Triplett)
Not all groups are right for you to join and give your valuable time and effort. Not all people are key to your networking success. It’s not about the numbers. It’s about knowing when to say “Yes” and more importantly, when to say “No”.
There have been times when I just said no. That’s hard for those of us who use networking to do, but it’s vital.
At some point your time, money, and energy run out. Before it gets to be a crisis, back off for a while. Reconsider how you are networking. Remember, you are responsible for helping your current networks as well as helping yourself. In networking, you have to be constantly on the lookout for new additions and people to add to your current networks, or even new networks to join. In addition, other people will invite you to join their network. You are going to have to say “no” or “not right now” to some of them. It’s okay.
In Austin, there are between ten and twenty new networks, Meetup groups, and new formal and informal associations that are formed each month. An equal number fold or change. There may be even more opportunities where you live. You have to decide what’s right for you and what’s not.
Take a minute to consider how much time, effort and money you’re willing to invest and at what rate of return. Make sure you also consider what you can invest. Say “yes” to the people, organizations, meetings, lunches, etc. with the highest value to meet your goals; say “no” to the rest. You can always change your mind if your situation or theirs changes.
For ways to look at organizations before you take the plunge, read my post about what’s wrong with many networking meetings. You also might want to check out Jerry Ussem’s post that discusses various experts opinions on why it pays to be a jerk sometimes. He quotes research from the University of Amsterdam that found that semi-obnoxious behavior not only can make a person seem more powerful, but can make them more powerful. Your goal should be to be ok with being perceived as obnoxious by some if you say “no”.