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Tuesday, 15 December 2015

8 Simple Ways to Produce More Revenues

1. Get additional products for your existing customers.
One thing you need to do is make your customers spend more in your business. Give them the opportunity. You could create new products if you make them. Source from other suppliers other than the ones you normally buy from. Partner with people who offer complimentary products. Check out what else is of value to your existing customers. After all you stand to make more money from your existing customers than from new ones, just do it.

2. Look for new markets for your products.
Your products could be doing well for your existing market. But maybe there is another market – social class, geographical, online etcetera that could also do with your offerings. Look for that market. You may have to make some adjustments in your products, how it is delivered to the market and how it is used but if it will bring in more cash without costing more why not

3. Market your business in ways you have not done before.
Probably you have stuck with one way that has been working ok so far, but it won’t hurt you if you got another way of doing it without stopping the existing one. Actually, the best time to try something new is when you have an old one that is working. If you have been using radio advertisements try online ads. If you have been depending on personal selling, try direct marketing. Trying something new. If it doesn’t work try something else.

4. Become more intimate with your existing customers.
You have no better assets than your customers. They will give you better returns than any other investment. They are the source of all your current riches and they hold keys for your future cash. Treat them as such. Get to know them more. Spend more time with them. Buy them gifts, even when it is not Christmas. Call them not just when selling or asking for cheques. Surprise them. Make them love you by loving them. You can’t over love a customer. Of course you know what I mean.

5. Look for new partners. You have tried it all alone so far.
You have had partners who have disappointed you. But from past failures there are lessons you have learnt that can make your partnerships more valuable. So in the New Year do not be scared to try out things with new partners. Do not risk your life or that of your business but you can start with short term, objective oriented partnerships that could open up new markets for you, bring in new customers, generate more value for your customers or create a new business model that would not have been possible while working alone.

6. Get more from existing people.
Whether you are going to hire better, train more, motivate or manage better if you have a smarter and more hardworking team you will be guaranteed of better results than in the last year. If they remain at the same level they were last year you are doomed to fail in everything else you try. People are the best multipliers of your effort and ideas. Aim 2016 to get at least two people in your business who will be smarter than you and who will work harder than you.

7. Become a better you.
If you are the same person you were in 2015 why would you expect to get different results? Be more generous. Be kind and be more open to new ideas. Learn new skills and seek for other viewpoints. Listen to your people more than you did before. Be more positive in your outlook and laugh with your people. Whatever you do, be a better person.

8. Get a coach.
No one makes it big in any sport without a coach. Business is a game that many expect to excel in without a coach. Be different get one. They will help make your swing and dribble better. They will help you make better decisions and execute any of the above ideas in a better way than you could on your own.

Please share more ideas with us. These are not exhaustive.

Do not miss our Sales Growth Planning 2016 Boot camp for Business Owners on January 14th-15th 2016 in Nairobi. Your business should grow by 200% in 2016. Email for the bootcamp details.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Ideas for Growing Sales in Tough Times

In a tough economy 80% of all profits are the results of internal decisions and 20% due to external circumstances. In a great economy the percentages are reversed. (Gerhard Gschwandtner)

What kind of Sales Year do you expect 2016 to be? I hope a GREAT one! But to make it a successful year you will require good plans, well executed and a dose of good fortune. 

With an economic slowdown there will be general decline in demand for most products. People and businesses have access to less money and will consequently tend to spend less. Most Individuals will tend to buy services and products that are essential for their survival, increase their earning power and help cut costs of living.  Businesses will spend only to keep their business going on, cut costs or increase their revenues to some extent.

This situation has a very unpleasant truth to sales leaders and sales people. Selling in 2016 will be harder than in the last year. This may sound pessimistic but real optimists will see opportunities in the situation. They will grab these opportunities, beat competition through creative products, marketing and sales strategies. They will grow their revenues and achieve higher profit margins.

How will they do this? A lot of advice, ideas and tips on how to sell in slowing down economy have been in circulation for some weeks now. The soundness of wisdom in this advice will be evaluated through results generated. We have gone through a lot of these ideas and here are seven of which we believe will help organizations not only succeed but thrive in the year ahead.

1. Commitment to development of Sales Competencies
.  It will be very difficult to achieve better results in 2016 using the same level of competencies you used in the last year. It will be more important to improve the skills, knowledge and motivation of the sales people and managers to be able to excel in a tougher market situation. It will be critical to focus on competency development through coaching and effective training.
It is a fact that when the economy is not doing well the training budget is among the first casualties but failure to invest some resources in equipping those  who bring the life into  the business (salespeople and sales leaders) will only make a bad year worse. Although being thrifty is essential ; it will be important for sales leaders, training managers and sales trainers to develop competency development programmes that are not only cost effective but offer guaranteed results improvement and require minimal time since selling time is the only resource that will neither be more or less in 2016.

 2. Follow a Formalized Sales Process which will increase win rates, reduce time and financial wastage, shorten the sales cycle, increase deal size, remove obstacles for customers to buy from you and build profitable business relationships.
Probably, this will be the single most important factor that will determine your 2016 sales success or lack of it. Most firms have been operating without one. But in a situation where it is harder and more expensive to get a top performing sales person as it will be in 2016 ;it will be like attempting to swim wearing a heavy woolen jacket. But as the economy becomes tougher and competition stiffer even with the best sales people in your team you will need to have one that is followed to the letter.

3.   Hire, develop and keep highly optimistic sales people and sustain positive attitude throughout the year. The most successful sales people have very optimistic world view. Various studies have shown optimistic sales people sell more and stay longer in a sales job. One of the studies showed that optimistic sales people outsell their pessimistic colleagues by 300%.
Optimists will also stick with you longer in hard times. Pessimistic new salespeople last in a tough sales job only for a few months while optimists will be in it for at least two years.
As an organization you need to build channels of positive communication and adopt a culture that provides for passion and oozing motivation in all people who interact with the customer. Even as you tend to cut costs don't cut costs on sales people motivation which is equivalent to cutting the hand that feeds you.

4. Customer Focused Selling Approaches: When there is so much news of real or perceived economic slowdown it becomes ten times more important to adopt customer focused sales approaches. The customers will not want to spend one more penny than necessary to solve their problems. It is then important for the sales person to have almost flawless ability to identify the customer's pain (or pleasure points) and match the attributes and advantages of what you are selling to these pains (and pleasures).

5. Positive Price Communication: In 2016 buyers will ask tougher questions related to price and they will base many of their buying decisions on price. They will actually try to live with their problems than spend to solve them which will mean that one of the biggest price competitors to a salesperson will be status quo. Therefore, it will be necessary for the salesperson to communicate his prices in the best positive way possible. Whether this communication is in verbal presentations or written proposals and quotations it will need to be in a format that gets the customer to see more value than cost otherwise forget the sale. In-fact the value should prove that the person will lose by maintaining the status quo.

6.      Account Management: Many organizations get at least 60% of their sales from existing customers. But this is the year that most of these customers will become more open to propositions from competition (especially if they are less than excited about your handling them). As you  think how to excel in 2016 the first set decisions you need to make are on how to handle existing customers as the foundation of your business.
Most businesses that fail start by having their old customers stop buying from them. As you think of old customers you will have to think beyond maintaining these accounts to growing them –getting as much business from them as possible.

7.  Build 3Rs of Buying Decisions: Remember people buy from sellers who present lowest perceived risk of buying from. This risk is affected by what we term as 3Rs of Buying Decision – Relationship, Reputation and Reliability. 
People will be more risk averse when there is too much news in the market advising them to be cautious. They will be less willing to experiment on ideas (products and services) whose results are less than obvious and worse if these ideas are from unreliable or unknown players in the market.

If you have built good relationships with your customers 2016 is the year to get most out of them since they will tend to be more conservative in their experimentation. But for those who have been unreliable you better clean up your mess immediately since your unreliability will be scrutinized more and found to have more negative effect than you can imagine. Unreliable sellers can have only one reprieve sell on lower prices for some time. 
You will therefore need to work harder to be perceived as a less risky person to buy from by focusing on the 3 Rs.
I believe by putting into action one or more of these ideas you will get closer to sales success. I hope you will find it worthwhile to seriously  consider  these ideas and implement them throughout the year.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Philosophy of Achievement: You are Richer than you Think.

“Sam, I know where you live. I know the car you drive. I know your office. You are not a rich man. You cannot write such a great book then give the money to some charity instead of upgrading your life.” Those were words from a friend when I told him that I will be giving proceeds from every copy of The Guy Who Fired His Boss towards Cancer Care and Support work.

My friend’s definition of riches is not close to mine. I consider myself very rich. I have a great wife and children. I have life basics. I’m enjoying what I do. I have a few skills and capabilities that others would desire to have. I have fulfilling friendships and great networks. I’m in good health. I am rich.
If he meant that riches are measured in terms of money and other material possession then I don’t have much. But my life cannot be about accumulating more of these. It is ok to get some comfort and conveniences that these riches bring but they are never a measure of accomplishment and achievement.

I believe that the measure of success is how well one has used the skills, opportunities, health, finances, experiences, connections, talents, positions, relationships etc to make the lives of others better. This is regardless of your status or situation. That is my philosophy of achievement.

You don’t have to give up everything away. You don’t have to do something spectacular. You don’t have to die in front-line fighting for freedom of others. But you can do it in your day to day activities and routine in small measures. You don’t have to take over all the problems of the world – you are neither omnipresent nor omniscient. But you can do something about one or two problems in the world.

You can do it once or you can make it a lifelong endeavor. You can drop coins in the collection basket or you can set up a foundation. You can give now or you can leave all in your will. But all in all you can do something.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

How to Get the Most out of Psychometric Tests

Many recruiting managers are turning more and more to psychometric testing in their pursuit of getting that one great new hire. This is driven by frustration of failure of conventional interviewing and a desire to be as scientific as possible in selection process.
What has been interesting is that the more the employers turn to psychometrics tests candidates are turning these tests into exams to be passed. Candidates have called us asking for coaching session on psychometric tests while some firms offer practice sessions for them.
The challenge for you as an employer then is to ensure that you get the right results from the tests rather than those that have been influence by a candidate who is keener to say what they hope you want to hear than being honest.

As a firm that uses psychometric tests in sales people selection we have learnt a few lessons that I’m happy to share.

A test is as good as what it seeks to measure. The user of psychometric test need to be clear what the test measures and whether what it measures is relevant to performance in the role. For example if a test measures whether someone is an introverted or extroverted you need to ask yourself whether these factors are essential for the role you are filling.

Secondly, you need to be sure that the test can validly pick out these factors. The simpler and straight forward a test is the more likely it is to be manipulated by the candidate. Great tests are expensive because they are costly to develop, administer, analyze and interpret. While there are many computerized systems to do the analysis in most cases the best interpretation is done by a human being.

Psychometric tests are great in giving an objective representation of a candidate. However, they should never be used alone to make a selection decision. No one can talk of a test that is 100% fool proof. But the administrator should have validated the test to a point where they can talk of their error margin and demonstrate whether that is acceptable. The conventional interviewing should seek to validate the outcomes of the psychometric tests.

When we test for various aspects of sales aptitude and sales behavior tendencies we use oral interview that is structured to validate the tests results. This greatly improves our success rate in hiring great candidates using these tests.

We have seen candidates who have all the right qualifications, credentials and demeanor come out weak in the tests. The decision then becomes whether to ignore the test results and go with the impressive resume. Some employers have opted for the resume. Most of them regret making this decision. Our suggestion then has been – ignore the test results only with good reasons.

Monday, 9 November 2015

My Life in Consulting

Many years ago I read somewhere that if you really want to be successful you must do that which you really love doing. The writer of the piece insisted that you should look for it till you find it. He went on to say that once you find it just do it even if no one is paying you to do it. 

As I grew older I figured out that if you did only that which you will enjoy doing without making money then you have a hobby and soon enough you may end up doing that which you don’t like to sustain it. To be really successful you require figuring out how you will make money from this passion of yours. I also discovered that I need to combine that which I love doing with what am good at. Passion combined with talent it is unstoppable. This then got me into the journey of finding out that one thing that I love doing( I can happily do for free), I am good at and can make a living from.

The Helping Business
Five years ago I got the answer………… HELPING. I love helping people. I’m good at helping people (sometimes to my detriment) but how can make a living out of helping people? I had to get people who had problems that I would enjoy helping people overcome and they would be willing to pay to be helped. To cut the story short I saw many business people who struggled to generate and grow sales. I saw sales people under pressure to perform but no know-how to do it. I saw managers struggling to get the right people to do the right job. I saw frustrated entrepreneurs caught up it traps of their dreams but minimal returns from their hard work. I felt for these people and there I knew how I could help. That explains how I got into the consulting business.

The best definition of consulting I have come across is the one that emphasizes that it is the business of helping people and organizations become more efficient and effective in pursuing and achieving their goals. This is the philosophy behind everything that I do as a consultant.

Not Effort, But Results
The end result of my engagement with my clients is leaving them better off than I found them. I want to see them making more sales and profits, having more efficient and effective organization, become more competitive, have happier and motivated people and develop highly professional people working with them.

That’s why whenever I am contracted by clients (people under my care) I make it clear to them that I don’t wanted to be engaged in the processes of writing papers, strategic plans and other initiatives that will not be implemented for whatever reason. Declaration of intentions has its place but I believe that the most important differentiator in life is not the plans and intentions but actions.

Whatever strategy we come up with we keep on asking the big question how can we make it simple and practical enough that the client will implement it. We are always seeking ways of dealing with the various obstacles that render many consulting engagements unfruitful. We create systems of monitoring the implementation of the strategies. We, politely but firmly, push our clients to act. All this is because we really want to see the fruits of our helping efforts. Of course we know the client is free to choose and take responsibility for the task at hand.

The most frustrating clients for us are those that are not action oriented. In the few years I have been in consulting business I describe the biggest reason why most consulting projects fail as lack of action. Our definition of action is strategic focused action towards realization of the intended goal. Many managers and business owners don’t take this kind of action. Instead they go through work motions without asking themselves where the activity will lead them. They are trapped by daily emergencies and petty emergencies that make them fail to take the right action. I believe that a semi good consulting engagement backed with strategic action will bear more fruits than a perfect one without strategic action.

Our highest rewards are the results our clients get. We consider it a failure if we do the job and not get results. That’s why we turn away from jobs that we cannot promise results for whatever reason. By focusing on results we feel happy that we do not take our clients money and leave them worse off than we found them.

As I have said we are in the business of helping our clients accomplish their goals. We don’t take the clients responsibility for their success.
In a nutshell that is my brief experience in helping business. I love it. I enjoy it. And it pays!