How do you expand your business faster? What’s the key to help you expand into new markets in 2015? I work with many successful leaders who are responsible for growing their businesses more every year. I’ve never had a client say, “My business is big enough. I don’t need to expand it anymore.” I do know entrepreneurs who think this way, but not for very long. If you’re not expanding you’re dying.
We are in a highly competitive global economy and the playing field is constantly shifting. I don’t need to tell you most of my readers are leading organizations that are constantly looking for new ways to grow and expand. Here are three easy ways I’ve helped clients jumpstart and expand their business development efforts. Over the next several blogs, we will go into more detail, but these ideas can help you grow again.
The first strategy of expansion is to understand who and what your clients expect from you. What’s the best way to find this out? How do I better understand my client’s needs? I find the best way to do this is to ask them. Sounds simple, but when was the last time you sat down with one of your best clients and asked them what they needed? If you want to make this work, go in with an open mind armed with good questions and refuse to sell them anything during your initial discussions.
Be willing to ask deeper, probing questions and listen to their answers. Good listening is a lost art. You must be a great listener if you hope to continue expanding your business. Finally, push pack on what they say. Be willing to challenge their assumptions about what they need. Also, ask what they might pay for what they want. Many buyers have an expanding wish list of wants that they think would be great options to have available. They probably got put there by one of your competitors who wanted to dislodge you from this account.
I find most people want many things, but are only willing to pay for certain needs. Focus on their wants and it’s easier to expand your business. Your role is to make sure you understand what they want and how you might give it to them, easier. If they have challenging demands, don’t answer today. Tell them you would like to think about the best way of providing a solution.
The second strategy of expansion is to understand who your best customers are and why. I’ve seen many successful midmarket leaders chase many targets to grow their business, but are never clear why they are the best choice. Expanding your business if you’re a midmarket business means that you understand your clients’ business almost as well as they do. In some cases, better, because you have a different perspective than they do. You are also seeing many other clients’ businesses. Your wider knowledge should provide you an edge with your best clients.
So many sales professionals I work with are afraid to appear more knowledgeable than their clients. You should have stories that you can share about other clients who have gained from these different perspectives. I believe midmarket businesses need to do this as a key competitive edge. Strong collaboration locks out your competition while providing you a stronger relationship with clients. Expanding organizations need strong advisors and are willing to pay for them.
When I used to compete in emerging technology sales, I would share why I was the best person to buy from, but also the person who was responsible for making sure we got the results the client desired. More than once in a very close sales situation where I thought we might lose a multi-million dollar project, I said to the client’s CEO, “Ask my competitor who’s responsible for the client’s success?” I wanted to expand my clients view of what we do for them. Many times the competitor’s team gave the wrong answer, at least as far as the CEO was concerned. What would you say the right answer is? I believe even today, I’m responsible for getting the client the desired results.
Why would that answer work for both me and my clients? It’s because even the most effective leaders understand being held accountable to a set of higher standards that you both agreed to. When clients know what to expect and that you’re on their team to get it, your relationship changes with them. The more important the outcome the more clearly you should define success criteria both tangible and intangible. You must expand their view of what’s possible from a partner.
Next week I talk about the final strategy you need to expand your business faster. We discuss my client’s favorite tool in the battle for market share. I talk with you about how to identify and pursue great new clients, and the several keys to have the best clients for your business. See you next week!
This coming Monday, we continue our series on change with Jim Canterucci. Our early reviews have been amazing, so you still have time to catch up. See you Monday.