Is Your Annual Strategic Planning Process Done?

Strategic Planning - Not Just For Fortune 2000 Companies

Generally, if you have more than about a dozen people in your company, you need to have an annual strategic planning process.  With a small management team of three or four people, it is not very difficult, and will likely go quickly because you discuss these things daily.  The trick is to look at the longer-term (at least a year out, preferably three years) in the context of a 3 to 5 year vision for the company.  As the company gets bigger the time invested will get bigger too, but either way, it will pay big dividends and needs to be done. 

I recently attended a leadership seminar doing research to add a Leadership segment to our CEO & Entrepreneurship Boot Camp. This instructor said that at a recent corporate training with about thirty people from the same company, including the CEO. The instructor simply asked who understood the goals of the corporation for the coming year.  Only...

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Six Ways To Grow Your Business

Jay Abrams, an excellent marketing guru, and the speaker says there are only three ways to grow your business: 1) More customers, 2) Higher average sales/revenue per customer and 3) A higher purchase frequency from your customers. Although this is a great model to divide and attack the problem, it is more classified into categories of ways than actual ways to grow your company.  Luckily, we can come up with hundreds of ways to grow a business, and the tough part is deciding where to put your efforts.  One theory is that with ever-growing sales and marketing costs, it is usually easier to get more revenue from existing customers than to find new customers. Yet, most businesses put more time and effort into customer acquisition than retention and upselling (#2 and #3).  This varies greatly from business to business and is a function of the actual acquisition costs of a customer, what else they might need when they need your product, and many other factors. 

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The Messaging And Communications Pyramid

Roadmap To Your Vision

FOR EARLY-STAGE COMPANIES

Before you start selling,
before you talk to a single capital source seriously,
before you will raise any money
you NEED ALL of the above things (at least in iteration #1 or #2).

This is not as hard as it sounds if you have help from others with the right expertise. In fact, it can be done in a week or two in most case if you have already done you market research.

Therefore, you need some time and energy from all 5 key skill sets of business development and launch. This can be an expert in each area with management experience or a CEO level person with high-level experience in managing all these disciplines. Each piece must go through several iterations and be backed up with solid market research that includes conversations with...

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Developing A Market Entry Strategy

Using Competitive Landscape Maps as a Positioning Tool

Developing a Competitive Landscape Map ("CLM") is a very important early step in developing your market entry strategy and getting other people to understand it. There may be several of these maps (see samples below) charting different market variables that are significant to customers in that market. There should almost always be one that uses quality and price as the X and Y-axis. Additional maps will look at other key dimensions, significant in that space to customers, or dimensions may be major product differences. Sufficient competitive intelligence should be done on each potential competitor to understand its size/resources, current market position, sales strategy, target markets, and other factors specific to the industry. On initial market entry, it is always best to position yourself where no one else already is on this map. When you do this you are not selling head-to-head on day one while you are weakest. This would...

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Optimizing Your Sales and Marketing Process

How to Increase Sales Without Spending More

Ask marketing people what a company should do to increase sales, and most of them will probably say that you've got to spend more money on advertising. Or they'll come up with equally expensive, complicated strategies that they think will capture new prospects. However, the reality is that very few companies obtain really good conversion results from prospect names they have already generated.  Most of those leads go to waste. The conclusion is inescapable: the route to dramatically improved sales is properly optimizing your marketing and sales process.

What usually happens within a company is that the marketing folks generate the leads and then a bunch of names is somehow handed over to sales. This process is problematic because it implies some sort of magical transition from marketing on the one hand to sales on the other. There must be a combination of sales and marketing directed at everyone in your prospect funnel. On a...

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A Powerful Yet Simple Framework for Employee Development Part-3

Expectations of Managers

It is the goal of all quality organizations to provide its employees with a superior opportunity to grow, both individually and as professionals. Nothing has a greater impact than hiring the right people and having them develop simultaneously with the company’s own growth. It has been frequently shown that appreciation and growth can be stronger motivators for an employee than money and can result in reduced turnover, improved customer service and ultimately generates superior profits for the company. With this in mind, it is best to lay out clear expectations for performance so that employees can achieve both personal and professional growth. Employees should understand that their employer is committed to making every effort to educate them so that they can expand their horizons and take on new responsibilities over time.

A system like this provides some transparency to the “mysterious” process of promotion and professional growth...

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A Powerful Yet Simple Framework for Employee Development - Part-2

Expectations of Executives

It is the goal of all qualified organizations to provide their employees with a superior opportunity to grow, both individually and as professionals. Nothing has a greater impact than hiring the right people and having them develop simultaneously with the company’s own growth. It has been frequently shown that appreciation and growth can be stronger motivators for an employee than money and can result in reduced turnover, improved customer service, and ultimately generates superior profits for the company. With this in mind, it is best to layout clear expectations for performance so that employees can achieve both personal and professional growth. Employees should understand that their employer is committed to making every effort to educate them so that they can expand their horizons and take on new responsibilities over time.

A system like this provides some transparency to the “mysterious” process of promotion and professional growth...

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A Powerful Yet Simple Framework for Employee Development Part-1

 Expectations of Individual Contributors

It is the goal of all qualified organizations to provide their employees with a superior opportunity to grow, both individually and as professionals. Nothing has a greater impact than hiring the right people and having them develop simultaneously with the company’s own growth. It has been frequently shown that appreciation and growth can be stronger motivators for an employee than money and can result in reduced turnover, improved customer service, and ultimately generates superior profits for the company. With this in mind, it is best to layout clear expectations for performance so that employees can achieve both personal and professional growth. Employees should understand that their employer is committed to making every effort to educate them so that they can expand their horizons and take on new responsibilities over time.

A system like this provides some transparency to the “mysterious” process of promotion and...

Continue Reading...

Is Customer Service Dead Or Just Dying?

8 Ways to Prevent Customer Service Dying At Your Company

I can't be the only CEO in the world who would look for daily, weekly, and/or monthly "flash reports" showing exactly what was happening to our customers that we thrust off on another vendor before they could begin paying us for our services?! Is it even possible that there are significant businesses out there who are not watching critical measures of their own success and delivery? I guess no matter how unbelievable it is, it must be happening every day. Is it happening in your business without your knowledge?

Sure these things can happen occasionally, and at good companies, the customer gets an apology, a free month, and/or a bowl of fruit for their trouble. However, the very fact that these things are happening on most transactions with companies tells me management is losing touch with some basic principles.

I challenge any manager to make sure they use their own service anonymously on a regular basis (secret shopper) to...

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Is Customer Service Dead Or Just Dying? 8 ways to prevent it

8 Ways to Prevent Customer Service Dying At Your Company

I can't be the only CEO in the world who would look for daily, weekly, and/or monthly "flash reports" showing exactly what was happening to our customers that we thrust off on another vendor before they could begin paying us for our services?! Is it even possible that there are significant businesses out there who are not watching critical measures of their own success and delivery? I guess no matter how unbelievable it is, it must be happening every day. Is it happening in your business without your knowledge?

Sure these things can happen occasionally, and at good companies, the customer gets an apology, a free month, and/or a bowl of fruit for their trouble. However, the very fact that these things are happening on most transactions with companies tells me management is losing touch with some basic principles.

I challenge any manager to make sure they use their own service anonymously on a regular basis (secret shopper) to...

Continue Reading...
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