Like a ship at sea, a business needs to change in a long, sweeping manner. Short, harsh changes in direction will create havoc. And, like a ship at sea, there needs to be a definite destination, a well thought out plan to get there in a certain time frame and with specific resources.
But, what happens when seas are rough, or when a storm is approaching, or when an engine shuts down? It’s then the captain’s responsibility to crew and passengers, to make necessary changes to ensure objectives are met. Then, when the ship is safely docked, management reviews the events that took place, and takes necessary action to make sure the same problems don’t reoccur. Last, management explores ways to improve performance for long-term benefit, and then develops and executes the strategic and tactical strategy to accomplish objectives at all required intervals, short, mid and long-term.
Change requires a great deal of thought and planning. As does operating a successful business. Right now, several of my franchise clients are being exposed to a lot of different proven methods and processes, that on the surface, appears to be “too much change.” However, system-wide there are multiple areas of weakness. Some are common denominators. Some are different from one store to another. Some have caused drastic reductions in sales. Most are the definitive reason for poor profit margins. So, where do we start to address things that need to be changed? Where should we start? And, at what pace or frequency?
Unfortunately, the economic woes of the past years have compounded the situation. It has caused the deficiencies, usually hidden by acceptable sales levels, to stand out like splitting seams on one’s pants… obvious to the people observing, but not so obvious to the person wearing the pants. Until, that person is instructed to look in the mirror! Using this same analogy, in many instances it’s necessary, and vital for survival, that we look at our entire wardrobe…
The ultimate key is honesty in one’s self. I believe we all know our own limitations and shortcomings. It’s what we do to improve, to change, that makes us better. It’s no different in business. Change what you know needs to be changed. Prioritize changes that make the most immediate impact. Grow into the changes that aren’t urgent. But, do it in the time frame where challenges present themselves, as survival may be dependent upon the same.
In the end, change must be practical, and implemented with common sense. I know I need to lose weight, which is an understatement. So, I need to change my diet, change my activity level, etc. That’s practical common sense, right? But, should I just stop eating!
* This post was originally published on this site October 2010. I believe it is very much appropriate today.
This post was originally published on this site January 2010, but still very relevant today!
I recently came across an interesting discussion in one of the social networking groups that I found quite intriguing, and downright enjoyable to read. It wasn’t about franchising. Nothing about social media. There was no mention of business. Money or finances weren’t a major part of the equation. And, surprisingly, just a few mentions about the poor economy. The discussion was actually about the concept of dreams and goals. It was enlightening that there were over one hundred responses in a relatively short period of time. Definitely a considerable amount when compared to other discussions within the same group. Often, the responses were being posted one right after the other. It seemed like people wanted to talk about their dreams and goals, almost as if they had been prohibited from doing so before.
In light of the economic troubles surrounding us today, it seems the subject of dreams and goals has hibernated like bears for winter. During good times, dreams and goals are out in the open, shared by many. Actually bragged about by some, and the end results, often materialistic, flaunted by others. It’s ironic that we’re taught that in order to achieve a goal, a key element in doing so is to enlist the assistance of people that can help us achieve the goal. Yet, in the current economic climate, discussions about dreams and goals have subsided, and almost disappeared. It’s almost like we feel guilty to have such discussions at this time. Or, that we should just be thankful for what we have and dismiss our dreams and goals as frivolous. What about the dreams and goals that are not financially driven or rewarding? Why have they been put on the back burner? Well, to all of this, I say “enough is enough.” Yes, enough of the poor me attitudes. Enough of the pity parties. And, enough of the social “rubbernecking.” (Social rubbernecking is when people excitedly talk about other people’s miseries – i.e. neighbor lost his job, their house was foreclosed on, he was having an affair – it’s just like slowing down to look at the horrific car wreck!)
NOW is definitely the time to put all the negatives aside and re-ignite the passion behind our dreams. It’s the perfect time to pull out those lists of goals and remember why we wrote them down in the first place. Why they’re important. How they’re important to people close to us. And, how our lives would be positively affected upon achieving our goals and making our dreams come true. Certainly, it’s time to face the realization that it’s up to us to make our dreams and goals a reality. They’re ours. We own them. No one can take them from us. To paraphrase a quote I’ve seen many times (in many different forms) in discussions about success, “There are people that make things happen, some that watch things happen, and others that wonder what the hell happened?” Could you tell which group of people are most successful at achieving their goals and making their dreams come true?
This week, we focused our attention on increasing sales in franchise organizations at all levels. We discussed sales prospecting, presentations, sales questions in a B2B situation and even the sale that possibly goes wrong. Although yesterday’s segment was scheduled to be the last in this series, we received many emails, tweets and comments throughout the week basically asking the same thing, “what do you think is wrong with my salespeople?” Well, here’s an article from our archives that may best address this question. Again, realize this applies regardless of what you may be selling as they’re based upon solid fundamentals! Happy selling!
Nothing Happens Without A Sale!
Dedicating our efforts to the latest technology is essential to leading the field in any industry. However, we must not lose sight of the basics. Just as a professional baseball player practices and drills on the basics, especially when in a slump, entrepreneurs must review and stress the basics of business. And, nothing is so basic to business as sales. In fact, nothing happens in business without a sale.
With this in mind, I will take you back to the very fundamental aspects of sales from the perspective of you being the one making the sale. Share the same with your salespeople in your organization and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how back to basics improves your team’s results.
On a very basic level, there are five ingredients needed to create a sale:
The salesperson. The qualified prospect. A need or want that the prospect has. The product or service. The selling strategy or procedure you follow that guides a prospect to the natural conclusion of the selling process; the sale.
While many salespeople would say the selling process is about the customer, they wind up making it about themselves. Think about all the fears or reluctance you may experience when it comes to cold calling or selling. I don’t want to say the wrong thing. I don’t want to look bad. I don’t want to be a nuisance. I don’t want to impose. I don’t want to be rejected or hear no. I don’t want to blow it! I, I, I, I, I!
Look at the first word that begins each statement above. Making the selling and cold calling process about you is the number one roadblock to successful prospecting and the number one cause of cold calling reluctance. Instead of making the selling process about you and how much you can gain if you sell, make it about the prospect and how much value you can deliver to them.
If you are experiencing any fear or resistance to prospecting, look at who you’re making the selling process about. Chances are, you’re making it about you! Once you shift your focus and energy towards making it about the prospect, it will immediately relieve you of the unnecessary pressure to look good and perform.
This week, our focus has been centered on increasing sales in franchise organizations at all levels. We’ve discussed sales prospecting, presentations and sales questions in a B2B situation. Today, in our last segment, we’ll discuss the key sale that possibly goes wrong. From a business owner’s perspective and in light of today’s economic environment, the possibility of being in this position is quite real. This applies to all types of sales!
When the Sale is Critical, What if…?
You’re close to finalizing a major deal with a prospective client that will result in a large payout and repeat business for years to come. The time you’ve spent nurturing this prospect will finally payoff. Some of your current clients have been disappointed by the lack of attention you’ve shown them over the past year but you know you can make it up to them after you close this deal. Besides, this new client will generate a significant increase in revenue and profits that everybody knows is vital to the company’s future success.
But wait. You’ve learned in the 11th hour, the prospective client is changing directions and is exploring options with your competitor. As it turns out, the change in direction is being blamed on something you did or said that they weren’t exactly happy with. You find this out from a former employee, now employed with your competitor. He goes on to tell you the prospect would rather do business with your company but only if you weren’t involved.
You think about the potential loss of immediate and future business. What about the revenue and profits the company desperately needs? How will you be viewed by your employees (and partners) if the prospect signs with your competitor when you’ve invested so much time and resources? What happens if key employees find out the prospect could have been saved if you stepped aside? What is it that you did or said that caused the change in direction? Does it really matter now?
Forget the “this wouldn’t happen to me” response. Put aside the “it couldn’t happen like this” statement. Look beyond the “he should have seen it coming” exclamation. Let’s assume it happened exactly as it was described above – What would you do?
In continuing with our focus on increasing sales in franchise organizations at all levels, we will build upon the last two days’ articles about sales prospecting and presentations, and today discuss sales questions specific to a B2B situation, but can be easily revised for any sales situation.
B2B Sales: Questions Are Your Greatest Tool
Prepare, in advance, the questions you’ll ask when you actually get face to face with your prospect. Of course, every selling situation is unique and every selling situation requires some variation, but certain basic questions that come up in every interview can be planned in advance.
By carefully planning them, you can make sure you cover all of your bases and that your wording is precise. There is one caution – be careful not to phrase them so they sound canned.
Ask As Many Open-Ended Questions As Possible
Closed questions that call for a “yes” or “no” answer tend to discourage people from talking, to give only limited information, and they tend to set a negative tone. During the Probe (the questioning) step of most selling systems, ask primarily open-ended questions that require prospects to tell you how they feel, what they want, or what they think. There is room for “yes” or “no” questions, but be careful not to use too many or to use them incorrectly.
Ask Needs-Based Questions
In the Probe step you want to do more than get your prospect to talk; you want to find out what he or she needs. Therefore, frame questions that will give you insights into how prospects perceive their needs.
Ask Questions That Help You Identify Problems That Need To Be Solved
Usually there’s one overriding problem that needs to be resolved in the prospect’s mind – a situation you can understand by asking the right questions. Plus, with proper pre-call planning and strong internal advocacy, you should already know what those problems are.
Ask Questions That Help You Pinpoint The Dominant Buying Motivations
Buying motivations and needs are not always the same. Buying motivations have to do with desires, feelings, tastes and so on.
Avoid Offensive Questions or Asking Questions In An Insensitive Way
Certain types of questions can offend prospects and cause them to back away from you. Here are some examples of pitfalls to avoid:
Don’t use leading or “set up” questions such as “You do want to make a profit, don’t you?” What’s the prospect going to say…”No, I don’t?!”
Probe, don’t pry. Nosy questions can be a real turnoff.
Be careful about phrasing. For example, instead of asking “How much can you afford to spend?” you could phrase it a little more positively: “How much had you planned to invest?”
Ask Questions That Are Easy To Answer
Questions that require knowledge the prospect doesn’t have can often make him or her feel stupid. For example, asking most consumers, “What’s the maximum wattage per channel on your amplifier?” might get you a dumb look for an answer. The smarter you make your prospects feel, the smarter they’ll think you are and the more they’ll like you.
Use Questions To Guide The Interview & Keep The Tone Positive
Some people love to ramble on and on, but by skillfully using questions you can keep the interview focused and moving in the right direction. Also, ask questions to which people can easily respond in a positive manner. Studies have shown that most people much prefer to agree than to assert themselves and disagree. In other words…make it easy to say “yes.”
Ask – and Then Listen
The prospect can’t talk while you’re talking. Besides, you can’t learn while you’re talking. Don’t just get quiet and think up something to say next. Instead, listen to every word that prospect says and analyze the words, tones and the gestures. Remember, you can talk people into buying, but you can also listen them into it.