How would you like to have 170 million dollars in your bank account before your new product even launched? Well, if you’re the new Man of Steel movie you’ve already raised $170 million in brand partnerships before the movie even appears in the theaters. Talk about having star power!
There are seven secrets, or principles, of sales success. They are practiced by all the highest paid salespeople every day. The regular application of these principles is virtually guaranteed to move you to the top of your field. Continue reading
With so many new products available, it is critical to understand how to leverage your new product development strategies. Creating successful new products and services is critical to your organization retaining your role as a market leader. I have found there are several new opportunities that can help you grow sales and profits. Continue reading
Iron Man 3 debuts this Friday at the Movies. What marketing lessons can we learn and apply from this marketing juggernaut? What can we learn about differentiating our business in a crowded market from Tony Stark? How might we apply Iron Man’s marketing magic to our business development efforts? I thought it might be fun to share several lessons that can help you get the business results you want from your marketing efforts. After all, if it’s not fun and quirky, it’s just another superhero movie. Continue reading
Have you ever walked into a business and it seems all the employees are just putting in their time? They look at potential customers as a distraction to the work they have to do that day? If the business has multiple locations, you wonder why some of their locations are down in the dumps and others are creating incredible customer experiences. I thought it might be helpful to share several key ideas to help you build a motivated workforce. Because your business can only grow if everyone is committed to growing it. One of the biggest challenges a high growth business faces is creating a culture of high performance.
Let’s talk about five things I’ve learned that help create a high performance culture. If you can move your people through these challenges, you’re on your way to transforming the way your business grows, increasing both value and visibility so you can be sell it. Continue reading
How do you create a mobile strategy that helps you leverage the unique technology it provides? The biggest challenge of mobile is how it changes the way you do business. For mobile to provide the greatest benefit it must complement your overall business strategy. Over the years I’ve worked on many projects that leverage new technology to increase business results. Mobile can help you reach your goals to grow your business, but it has already shown that if its not implemented right it can cost you not only sales, but customers, as well.
When I work with businesses to implement a new technology, I look at three key systems to make sure that it provides the edge we expect from early on in the rollout process. I’ve used these three systems in over 100 technology rollouts. I’ve seen it done right, and I’ve seen them fail. Since mobile is such a visible platform for your business, it is critical to get it right and then keep improving it. Using systems to deploy technology comes from many different sources, but I first started using it over 20 years ago after learning the concept from Michael Gerber, who had just shared The E-Myth with the world. Continue reading
How do you say yes to life? What gives you the courage to do the things you do with you life and gifts? Where does your passion align with a greater purpose? It’s Easter Week and I’d like to share why I chose to allow another person help me choose my life purpose. It’s a complicated story, but it comes down to three people and three different leadership lessons I learned that directs my life every day. I’m hoping by sharing these stories this week, it may help you find your way to a life you deserve, a life that provides you confidence in every aspect moving forward. This secret has helped me and many other men and women during the most challenging times in their lives. The first two people and their leadership lessons I talked about in the first part of this blog posted on Developing Serving Leaders at http://shar.es/dmTSP
The third person who taught me about Jesus was my mother. She was like no other person I’ve ever known. She taught me how to share the spiritual part of the Lord. We would spend many hours talking about the lessons that Jesus taught. Somehow, she brought the stories to life for me growing up. To her, Jesus was still with us. She talked about Him in the present tense. She talked about the nature of the Lord, not the Lord of the Bible, but of a Lord who was our friend. She had wanted to be a nun and loved to sing His praises. I’m told her voice could move the most hardened person. That was before the polio cost her voice and three years of her life in an iron lung. She spent time in contemplation and tried to discover what she truly believed. She felt that the polio had changed her both physically and spiritually. If not for the polio, she would have never left the convent and I would most likely not be here. Continue reading
What do you need to do to use mobile to its greatest advantage? Before you start developing your mobile solution you might find it helpful to consider how marketing is evolving. You might consider several elements of your marketing strategy as you begin developing your mobile experience for your best clients and customers. Mobile may be a unique platform but it requires leveraging the changing demands of your clients.
The first major shift is away from decisions and toward customers’ experience. This shift means that you must try to understand what your customers want in dealing with your organization. Every organization is different but customers today want to feel part of what you’re doing and being. For this reason, you need to think more share than sell with many of your mobile applications.
The second major shift is from product to values. This shift means that if you’re a commodity, your business is in trouble. Many of today’s consumers are looking to buy from companies who share their values. The good news about this is that most organizations have a good handle on what they value, from being cool to being green. Shared values create an opportunity for ongoing dialog with your best customers. When you are sharing you can communicate more often. If your mobile technology is not creating shared values and experiences, people opt out.
The third shift is from waiting to wanting it all and wanting it now. This provides an opportunity for faster adoption or failure for your new products. When you look at many mobile applications, you see a very short adoption curve for new products and services. The market gives you an instant answer to if your product is going to take off or die on the vine. There is a tremendous prospect to build strong relationships with new customers because mobile offers an incredible opportunity to leverage community and connection. Hot ideas move quickly across mobile platforms, bad ideas die quickly. Adopting a “ready, fire, aim” approach may serve you well in this new mobile era. The amount of time for your learning curve is decreased exponentially. If you’re not careful, all the insight you receive from the market can overwhelm your market research teams. You must find new ways to manage your product development processes. Experimentation is required to understand how to best maximize these new systems.
The fourth shift is trust matters more in this mobile era. Customers buy faster but also expect you to be more on the edge with what you offer. When you look at many of the mobile applications, you see they have bugs and problems. Today’s mobile consumers expect you to solve the problems. When you look at an application you get to see all of its development issues in real time. If there’s a bug, and there will be bugs, your detractors will be out sharing it on every social outpost including right under your product description in the app store. So consider how you support your product. If you build a great solution, your application can go viral in minutes. Building real time systems to support this new world can challenge even the most innovative organization.
Why this is critical is that most applications cost less than $10. The customer does not expect a $10 experience. This economic model challenges the way you roll out your new products because you must exceed your customers’ expectations. All of your customers!! The disgruntled customer is given an unheard amount of power to decide your fate. You must decide how to connect and how to provide fixes to your clients. Your response is your destiny.
When you look at these four shifts, your mobile strategy is as much a mind shift in marketing as it is a technical shift. Yes, you can put your product catalogue in an app and call it a day, but you’re not going to get rabid customers with that strategy. All you’ve done is make your products even more of a commodity. By shifting your marketing view point, you can create a customer experience with your mobile solution. This customer experience creates a strong, repeatable client base, which in turn, increases the value of your business in the eyes of potential buyers.
Next Monday, we will share a new strategy framework to help support these challenges. Over the next several years mobile is not only going to change the way you do business, but the value of your business forever.
Recently I’ve had several interesting meetings with former clients who are considering selling their businesses over the next several years. I’ve been involved in mergers and acquisitions for many small to mid-market businesses in my career. Many of the organizations I’ve worked with have enjoyed tremendous growth by acquiring businesses that complement their core capabilities. They have ranged in annual sales between five million and several hundred million dollars. Many of these deals have helped take their acquiring organizations to the next level.
In almost all of the deals I’ve been involved in, we were a strategic buyer of the business we were acquiring. For many of the privately held businesses I work with I find it is more attractive to sell to a strategic buyer. A strategic buyer means that the acquiring organization understands your business and pays more because the natural synergies between organizations allows them to achieve more profitable growth through cost reductions, increased marketing leverage, and increased sales and profits. For the business seller, it means you have to be better prepared than you might be for a financial buyer. Do it right and it can mean a premium of between 5-15% of the sales price to the seller of the business. In a future blog, we will discuss financial buyers and what’s right for your business.
So why should a privately held business owner look for a strategic buyer? In my opinion there are three key reasons to look for a strategic buyer for your organization. We’ll talk in future blogs about how to build an organization that strategic buyers want to buy.
You want the highest price possible. You’ve invested time, your life, and money in the business and you want the greatest return on your efforts. For many emerging technology businesses, your ideas are almost as important as your results. Knowing how to leverage your idea into cash can best be done with people who understand your industry and your strategy.
You want a high price, but have other concerns as well. You are trying to optimize your payoff while also assuring that the people in your business are taken care of. Selling a business is a negotiation and to get what you want you may need to make a fair exchange for the things you want to achieve through the sales process. To make this work successfully you must be clear about both your concerns and your expectations.
You want to cash out, but you want to remain in the organization for a few years. For many entrepreneurs they are the most visible person to key clients and partners. They need to help the acquiring organization retain their employees, key partners, and clients. Having the former owner/CEO of the business share the reasons for the acquisition goes a long way to remove all stakeholders’ fears and uncertainty. The key to using this strategy is to put definite timelines in place and begin doing what is required to make it a smooth transition for everyone involved. Do not leave the details undone. Make sure all of these agreements are written out and signed by both parties.
If you would like to know more about what buyers look for in a business you can read more at How to Make Your Business Attractive to Buyers http://shar.es/epiub at Developing Serving Leaders. This is my leadership blog for purpose driven entrepreneurs and mid-market CEOs. I think this blog will get you thinking about what makes an organization a good growth opportunity for strategic and financial buyers.
See you on Mobile Monday next week.
I spend time with my client CEOs talking about their business strategies and how to get better results from their organization’s sales and marketing efforts. You would think we might talk about their strategic issues and challenges. But we don’t, we talk about three challenges impacting their businesses today. I believe that until we get alignment in these three key areas we will continue talking about these issues until they are resolved. Since many of my clients read my blogs, I’m hoping that we can share this information at one time. I understand every one of my mid- market and entrepreneur clients’ businesses are different. It’s amazing to me, but almost all of them have similar challenges although the specifics are different.
The first challenge they face is how to build a stronger strategic account program. Most of my clients have several large accounts among their best customers. They tell me that their biggest clients are negotiating for bigger price concessions and are looking for leadership from their suppliers and vendors. They also say that there is more competition for key projects than ever before. In several cases, they weren’t certain they would retain these clients.
The second challenge is they have limited impact on their new markets either by geography or vertical specialization. They have invested significant capital in these markets with limited success. For many of these companies, they face stronger competition and their own key accounts are less likely to support their new growth strategies. They struggle to have the best sales professional s at the right place at the right time. Many of their key practice leaders struggle to get in front of the right buyers in their potential clients.
The third challenge is that their partner organizations are no longer providing the introductions to their best clients. In several cases, the partner organization has brought in a competitor to provide their customer a better price for a similar product offering to theirs. This competition has caused margins to decrease and, in the worst case, a loss of the revenue completely. Their own sales professionals have had to start calling on new clients’ cold. This has increased the time and resources required to get new business.
Do you share one or more of these challenges? Are your CEOs feeing they must take control to help get their sales and marketing teams aligned with corporate growth and profits? I wish I could tell you there is an easy solution to your problems. I think we’ve hit a tipping point in how business is done and it may require a different strategy for you to keep growing your business. The extended economic downturn and the rise of new sales and marketing channels have created a new opportunity for growth within your business.
These challenges require different management skills if you hope to get back on track. Your challenge is to become more effective in a number of new disciplines if you hope to keep growing your business. Your leadership team needs to work even better together and requires an increasing level of competence in new disciplines for you to succeed. The convergence between technology, marketing, and sales is going to change the way business is done forever. I hope you’re e ready to take charge of this new organization. If not, you may be looking for a new opportunity in the next twelve months.
Now, for the good news. If you are a regular reader of Market Leadership Journal you already know that we’ve been working on these challenges and continue to share with you leading edge ideas to help you continue growing your business. We’ve already added Mobile Monday to help bring you up to speed on how mobile is changing the way you do business. We think it will be a game changer for your business, a real giant killer in your markets. I hate the idea of using all these buzz words in single paragraph but mobile is going to be just that big.
Now for the other side of this, I’ve already shared some ideas on how sales and marketing are converging but I will share implementable strategies to keep you winning business during challenging times. I’ve already seen a dramatic increase in the number of sales teams and their successes. I will share how you might structure these teams to get maximum impact on your sales and marketing results. Finally, I will share ideas on how to build deeper and stronger relationships with your partners.
If you run an organization or have dreams in being the CEO of your business, you might enjoy reading a recent blog that I wrote for Developing Serving Leaders called How to Make Your Business Attractive to Buyers at http://shar.es/jDV3C It shares my findings from a Succession Planning for Privately Held Business seminar I attended last week, here in Independence, Ohio. There are several key ideas I share with my client CEOs that you might find interesting.
See you here next Monday as we talk about how to get the more out of your mobile strategies.