Monthly Archives: July 2010

Forget What Was

The NCAA was tired of watching Lew Alcindor beat opponents by dunking the ball over their heads effortlessly, so they outlawed dunking in college basketball. Coach John Wooden talked with a distraught Alcindor and told him to forget what was and focus on what is. He then encouraged him to find a different way to shoot, thus the Sky Hook was created. When Alcindor turned pro where dunking was legal he was doubly equipped to score over opponents with two deadly shots.

We need to focus more on what is and what will be than in what was.

Business owners are still wishing for a return to how things used to be, wishing for the clock to roll back to the good times. Forget what was; let’s deal with winning with what is.

Be in the present

I am asked frequently about what can be done to win in the present times. Here are my tips for finding success in the current economic climate. It all starts with the fundamentals.

Stop comparing

Businesses have a habit of comparing this year with the year before, the best year, the worst year and the same month of the previous year. Forget it. The comparisons are unfair. Why are they unfair? Because they are not comparing equals. New businesses come to town, traffic patterns change, economic shifts happen beyond your control, and buying habits of consumers change. Sadly in good times we loved those comparisons because they improved (frequently beyond our control) and we loved the ride. Today those comparisons beat us down. To borrow from John Wooden once again – forget the winning and the bottom line. Take care of performing the fundamentals with excellence and the winning will take care of itself.

Focus forward

Looking at what used to be isn’t going to get us where we are going when the business world is so different. The rules of engagement have changed when dealing with employees, customers, vendors, and investors. Today’s times require a renewed focus on where you are going and what tools are the best to use to get you there. An Internet presence has never been more important than today, the ability to make changes rapidly has never been as necessary as today, and being able to find the hidden pockets or revenue has never been as important in your business’s lifecycle as right now.

It’s time to navigate where you are going not where you have been.

Hard work and hustle

With the advance of technology greater demand is placed on small businesses to keep up on all fronts; and it seems fronts keep adding on! Not only do you have to be on the front page of a Google search, you need to have a solid presence in social media and have multiple sites, and that is just in the online marketplace.
I hear all the time from small business owners, “How am I going to get everything done?” In this economy where everyone is going after scarce dollars the winners are those who out-hustle and out-work the competition. Many businesses got away from the basics in the good times. Now it’s time to ramp up the effort, energy and commitment.

Try stuff

If you aren’t experimenting, innovating and trying new things on a daily basis your business will constantly be playing catch up. Forget perfection. Forget trying to find a groove. Try stuff and embrace the volatility of change and you will see your victories returning like it used to be.

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Why is Simple So Compicated? A BizWizTV 3 minute video

Consumers, whether individuals or businesses, are overwhelmed with a barrage of information and choices. As a result, they often shut down and avoid the buying process altogether.

Use these questions to apply the information Russell provides to fit your organization:

1. Do we need to pare down our product and service offerings to a more manageable level so we can offer more complete, better-informed suggestions to our potential customers? How do we do that?

2. Once we have reached the decision-making stage, how do we simplify that process so that we don’t sabotage our sale by offering too many options or too much information?

3. How can we distill out marketing message down to the most important thought we want to communicate?

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Grow Your Business the Easy Way

Many organizations are afraid to spend marketing dollars these days claiming no one is buying. Some organizations are “hoping” for growth but not willing to make the effort to grow, or try new things to grow.

Normally, I try to teach the cutting edge and challenge executives to try new things, but today here is a reminder of a tried and true technique that need dusted off, that’s old school, but still works.

Growth strategies are not always new and innovative; sometimes the growth opportunities can be easily accessible and right in front of you. In advising a fellow speaker about growing her business I told her the easiest sale I can make is to one of my audience members. They have heard my information, delivery style and feel a connection. They know me and my approach to growth strategies. When they come up to me afterward and start asking about available dates on my calendar I know it’s mine to lose. Why does this happen? It’s the connection.

The same thing goes for my corporate clients who use me year after year — They know I am good; therefore, it’s easy for me to get to the point of sale. What about your current clients or customers? Do they feel comfortable enough with you to open up and share what’s really going on in their organization?

Get Interested

Every company is experiencing its own unique economic ride these days. How well are you tuned in to the specific journeys of your customers? Do the research, interview key executives of the client, get to know their situation. Trust me, right now people want to talk and tell their story. Whether it is a go-against-the-flow story of having a great year, or telling a tale of woe, people like to be heard. Show interest, listen and do not sell. That’s right don’t sell, just be the friend with the ear. Not only are you gathering information for a later sales call, you are being the friend they need right now. The more they know you, like you and trust you, the more they will want to do a greater amount of business with you.

Of course this is nothing new, but I see few organizations grabbing this opportunity. They are still pressing the sales staff to find new sales, to bring home the big new contract, when the best thing these sales people can do is grab a box of Krispy Kremes and a few coffees and make a call on a good current client and talk about the state of the industry, the economy, and that client’s tale to tell.

Be the friend, and set down the order pad for a couple of visits. Be the ear they want to use to brag, let off some steam or just chat with.

People buy from those they are most comfortable with and we all know it’s easier to sell to a current client than go find a new client. The key is you don’t just want current clients, you want current clients who find you indispensable, and not just because of the products and services you offer, but because you are someone they need.

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