INSIDER TIP OF THE WEEK
There are entire books and seminars devoted to writing an effective elevator speech. This is the mythical compelling summary of your company’s value articulated in the period of time it takes to ride an elevator with a prospect from some high floor to the ground floor. The outcome of the elevator ride is a deeply interested prospect who is begging for an appointment and handing you his or her business card.
I like short and compelling – but instead of focusing on what you do, market you serve or service you provide, start with what problem you solve.
HOW TO TAKE ACTION
What is the unique problem that you solve in the marketplace and for whom do you solve it? I know “it depends” – but do the work and answer this question, it’s important. What is the problem that you solve? Good answers include:
- “We help companies double the speed that they double their revenues.”
- “Multi-generation businesses hire us to facilitate profitable and sustainable transition from the current generation to the next generation.”
- “Companies who need to trim at least 5 business days out of their delivery cycle hire us.”
- “Top 50 chemical producers hire us to fix and manage distribution, formulation and application development to their end customers.”
The point is the focus - you are focusing on the problem you solve, not the service you offer.
For an even deeper dive on your company’s messaging and the problem you solve, check out one of my blogs on incorporating the “why.”
Not all employees perform equally and therefore, they should not all be treated equally. As a CEO, there are time when being unfair is justified.
I recently read a study which estimated that 65 percent of employees do just the minimum to keep their job. 17 percent don’t even do that much and don’t really care if they lose their job. That leaves just 18 percent who are working hard. Of that number, only about half of them are good at what they do. That means your company is being carried into its success or failure on the backs of about 10 percent of your people.
I can’t vouch for the accuracy of this information, but what I can say is this:
Your company has pacesetters who are faster, stronger, and more committed than the other employees. They are the ones that are making the biggest difference in the success of your business. I can also tell you that you have the other type of employees who are making little difference to the success of your company.
In the politically-correct, hyper-sensitive HR world of big companies, it often seems that the desire to be fair has created an attitude that opposes the idea of meritocracy. As a small or mid-size business owner, you have the luxury of ignoring this misguided PC-driven perspective. Not all employees perform equally and therefore, they should not all be treated equally. Now, before anyone freaks out, I don’t mean to suggest that you should do anything illegal, immoral, or unethical.
The end of the first quarter is the perfect time to evaluate where your business stands. Here’s why it might pay to take a page out of the government’s playbook.
It’s the end of the first quarter. How did you do? Are your revenues, profits and cash flow what you predicted? What about your spending? How about the sales pipeline?
The U.S government is on a forced diet of about $85 billion in annual spend as of March 1, 2013. Skip the politics of the issue for the moment and focus on the basics of what the sequester is—a triggering event that created a forced adjustment in spending.
Could your business benefit from a sequester? The end of your first quarter gives you an opportunity to re-calibrate your plan for the year.
Let’s see where you stand on your business practices. Answer these few questions, Yes or No.
- My company has a clear course-correction plan for what we do if we exceed or fall-short of our revenue plans for each quarter.
- My company has a clear course-correction plan for what we do if we exceed or fall-short of our cost budget for each quarter.
- My company has a clear course-correction plan for what we do if we exceed or fall-short of our profit plan for each quarter.
If you answered “No” to more than one of the above, it is my recommendation that you establish a plan. Too often I see companies that make decisions based upon the latest set of data without considering a long-term plan.
Trying to curb your tendency to micromanage? Here are four tips to help you and your employees stop micromanaging before it starts.
A friend and colleague of mine, Jennifer Palus, is an admitted micromanager. She wrote me recently with some thoughts about the urge to micromanage. She believes that her subordinates can trigger her micromanager tendencies through certain behaviors.
“My micro manager tendencies can lie dormant for long periods of time; they are awakened by several behaviors,” she says. Below, she discusses a few common triggers and some ways you can work with your employees to help you both avoid the micromanagement cycle before it starts.
Lack of Inclusion
Employees that wait to tell you that they have changed the plan until it’s too late to disagree or react.
Consider an employee who agreed to kick off a detailed project at a day-long meeting. As everyone gathers for the meeting, she pulls her boss aside to say she did not bring any of the material because she has reconsidered and will wait until next week. She explains her logic, and it’s not unreasonable. However, her timing could not be worse. She effectively forced her boss into accepting her decision with no discussion or debate. The boss has no options. In the future, I can assure you, the boss will be hyper vigilant about this person’s adherence to agreed parameters and expectations. In other words, she has trained her boss to micromanage her by breaking trust and bypassing the boss’ involvement in a key decision.
With budgets still tight, companies are reluctant to adopt new technology without a compelling reason. Sales guru Tom Searcy shares five approaches that will help you make the sale.
Recently, I had a chance to connect with John Diaz from iQuoteXpress to discuss the changing world of selling technology. It used to be that selling technology was all about software demonstrations and business case presentations. Actually, it still kind of is, but things have gotten a lot more sophisticated and challenging when you consider cloud-computing, SaaS, and the high demand for universal mobility. Here are five approaches to selling technology in this new environment.
1. Focus on the transition
How fast an organization is able to implement a new technology solution is critical to its real value to the buyer. Everyone can demonstrate the functionality of the technology. The real value driver is this: How are you going to get this technology implemented in the smoothest and fastest way possible? Showing your change-management strategy is a compelling way to get people moving forward on a technology buy. End-users drive the real value to a company, not the IT staff. Make certain that you have a clear way to communicate how you will accelerate use by end-users and you will have a better chance of winning.
2. Focus on other metrics besides ROI
The trouble with ROI business cases is found in the assumptions. Most of the time, no one really believes them because the metrics are unrealistic. Instead, provide a business case that demonstrates these metrics:
- Adoption Rate–How many people convert to the use of the technology
- Utilization Rate–How often is the solution used compared to prior solution
- Function Penetration Rate–How many of the functions are used
Buyers are savvy enough to know that these components will drive the real business case.
The first issue of Playboy, published in December of 1953. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hugh Hefner’s brainchild, Playboy, is out to reinvent itself. Will less smut mean more money-making deals?
Scott Flanders, 55, is the first CEO outside of the Hefner family to run the privately held Playboy Enterprises Inc. Flanders has shrunk the staff by 75 percent, outsourced much of the business, and moved company headquarters from its historic home in Chicago to Los Angeles.
After 60 years of American hedonism, Playboy is moving away from the seedier aspects of the brand and morphing into a licensing company. Flanders’ goal is to build an upscale lifestyle brand around an iconic bunny logo.
The new Playboy is both smaller and more profitable. The corporate home is filled with dealmakers but devoid of bunnies and playmates.
Playboy sold its TV channels and digital properties to Internet porn giant Manwin, according to the Wall Street Journal, and struck partnership deals with art and fashion leaders like Dolce & Gabbana to reposition the brand. Long barred from Apple’s digital storefronts because of its titillating past, Playboy will create a nudity free app for the iPhone that features lifestyle tips, beautiful women and articles from the magazine.
Playboy still has a ways to go to achieve the profitability it needs to satisfy its bankers and private equity owners. More licensing deals will help, but what Playboy doesn’t know about their brand might hurt them.
Probe for Your Own Vulnerable Spots
Not knowing your real reputation in the marketplace can kill deals.
The way that companies make purchasing decisions has changed. Here are three ways to keep selling even after your buyers have tightened the purse strings.
There was a time not too long ago when buying authority used to be proportioned throughout an organization based upon that company’s organizational chart. Managers were authorized to make small purchase decisions and vendor selections. Directors made slightly larger decisions, and so on up the hierarchy. All this changed when companies everywhere were hit with the zombie virus outbreak known as Procurement. (At least that’s how I describe it.)
The virus has many strains-;procurement, purchasing, reverse-auction, RFPs and so on. Unfortunately it has removed the authority of middle level managers to make any individual purchase decision or vendor selections.
So, what do you do when you’re trying to sell to one of these powerless middle managers? Whenever possible, avoid them as a point of initial contact. After all, they are zombies. If that doesn’t work, try one of these strategies:
1. Become efficient at handling lots of small transactions. Amazon is a great representation of this model. By becoming the most effective processor of many small orders, you will be able to grow through the sheer volume of purchases made by the lower level managers who are still able to make these decisions.
2. Become an expert at the competitive bidding process. Whether you are dealing with RFPs or reverse auctions, companies who become great at completing forms and operating in tightly defined parameters are in a good position to make money.
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – FEBRUARY 15: A bottle of H.J. Heinz Co. Tomato Ketchup on February 15, 2013 in London, England. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway is is teaming up with the Brazilian investment group 3G Capital to buy H.J. Heinz Co. for 23.3 billion USD. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Warren Buffett makes no secret of his love for hamburgers, french fries and Cherry Coke. When his doctor told him he needed to eat better or exercise more, he chose exercise: “The lesser of two evils.”
Now Buffett can have his fill of condiments for those burger plates. His Berkshire Hathaway has teamed with Jorge Lemann’s 3G Capital to buy HJ Heinz Co. for $23.3 billion, one of the richest deals ever in the food industry according to the Wall Street Journal. Sold in 200 countries, the wide array of brands include Heinz ketchup and sauces, Ore-Ida french fries, Bagel Bites mini-pizzas and even Weight Watchers SmartOnes meals.
Buffett, 82, was seeking deals after his company amassed a cash pile of $45 billion. Buffett has bet big on food before through equity investments in Coca-Cola and purchases of See’s Candies, Mars and Dairy Queen. Now he can add another Logo Deal: an iconic ketchup maker that traces its roots to the 1860s.
How to Pursue a Logo Deal Strategy
Regardless of your business, there is a Logo Deal Strategy opportunity for you somewhere. If that’s the end you’re shooting for, pick your ultimate target. Make it a company that is big in size and big in name.
Tired of sending out emails and getting no responses back? An email expert shares seven tips to help make sure that your emails get read.
Recently I connected with Jonathan Borge, an email expert who has mastered the art of getting emails answered. Through an email conversation, (how else would you communicate with an email expert, right?), he shared with me seven great tips on how you can ensure that your emails will get noticed.
1. Subject lines: Remember that only 20 percent to 40 percent of your emails will actually get opened, though most of your subject lines will be seen. To boost your open rates, think of short, catchy, and informative subject lines. You should try to dangle compelling information (“The future of sales emails”), and you can even try adding some mystery (“Strange question”). We also recommend personalized subject lines, if possible (“Hunter Sullivan suggested I contact you”).]
2. Your tone: Portray yourself as someone that other people can connect to. You’ll want to show your recipients that you care about hearing back from them… so you can’t simply sound like you’re just sending another mass email. Never use “Dear sir or Madam,” and stay away from overly formal language.
3. Email content: Make your emails short, simple, and easy to quickly digest. Your leads are busy people with jobs, too, so you need to maintain their interest. Do your research and find out what resonates for your prospects. Try to get an introduction to them or, if that’s not possible, figure out in more detail what they or their company do.
In-n-Out-burger—eating (Photo credit: Marshall Astor – Food Fetishist)
America’s youngest female billionaire is a burger heiress and she has plenty of suitors. Lynsi Torres, the 30-year-old president and sole owner of the successful In-N-Out Burger chain, is not looking to get married. But she may be hunting for a deal to sell her company in five years.
Her family expanded In-N-Out from a single drive through hamburger stand in 1948 in Southern California into a fast-food empire worth $1.1 billion, according to a recent Bloomberg News feature on the low-profile Torres.
The restaurant chain has a rabid fan base, which one industry analyst calls a “kind of cu
lt following.” Because In-N-Out is a private company, any financial estimate is based on speculation. That being said, the closely held firm has 280 units in five states and probably has sales around $600 million a year. A Harvard Business Review article in 2005 estimates the company enjoys 20 percent profit margins.
Many companies would love to gobble up In-N-Out. That includes burger aficionado Warren Buffett, who according to the UCLA business school website, told a group of visiting students back in 2005 that he hungered to own the chain.
Torres came to control In-N-Out after a series of family deaths. She controls the firm that a trust gave her half ownership when she turned 30, and will give her full control when she turns 35. Whether Torres, a mother of twins, will want to maintain control in five years is the billion-dollar question.