Four Ways to Grow Your Business!

Want to grow your business but unsure how to go about it?

In the late fifties a gentleman called Igor Ansoff created his now well known matrix, which highlighted four specific ways in which a business could develop strategies for growth. Now that sounds nice and simple when put that way, but is it really as simple as that?

Ansoff’s matrix was first seen in the late fifties in the Harvard Business review and is regularly used today by marketers to provide a structured way of developing a range of strategic choices by which to grow a business. The matrix, offers four potential strategic directions for growth. The matrix takes into account the ability to grow a business by leveraging new or existing products via new or existing markets. Ansoff named these four strategic directions as follows;

  1. Market Penetration
  2. Product Development
  3. Market Development
  4. Diversification

ANSOFF MATRIX

Present Market/Present Products= Market Penetration

This is the most simple of the four strategies. In this situation there would be no change to product or the markets the organisations is targeting. Ansoff suggests that to grow under these circumstances would require a market penetration strategy.

This would mean increasing market share at the expense of your competitors. In a static market you would gain share at the expense of your competitors. This could result in a price war. Do you have the capability and commitment to defend such a situation? Typical ways of increasing market share would involve a mix of increased advertising, price discounting and using push (direct ) selling strategies into existing and clearly defined markets.

New Market/Present Products = Market Development

Here we are involved in marketing existing products to new markets. Typical new markets could be simply geographic expansion; exporting for instance. It could be a new use for an old product. For example water-soluble polymers (product) originally designed for rapid control of urine capture in babies nappies were marketed as an additive for potted plants that needed a constant source of water. This is an example of an existing product in a new market.

Present Market/New Products = Product Development

This is where we would market new products to existing markets. The motor industry is a classical example where product development is used to gain a competitive advantage in an existing market. Motor companies develop new products on regular basis to keep ahead of the market. Product development involves an amount of risk due to the time and effort spent on developing a new product and marketing before you create revenue. However the rewards are there if you get it right! It is also less risky in following a strategy of product development as opposed to market diversification.

Two great examples of product development include quartz watches and digital cameras. These products changed their markets dramatically. Kodak have since the evolution of digital cameras decided to stop making traditional film cameras.

New Markets/New Products = Market Diversification

This would be where we would market new products to new markets. This is termed Market Diversification.

There are two types of diversification; related and unrelated. For example the brewing industry and manufactures of crisps are different markets but can be considered related (food Industry). On the other hand should the brewing company decide to manufacture cars then this would be considered unrelated diversification.

Market Diversification is the highest risk area in developing marketing strategies for growth. Getting it wrong here can be expensive. However many companies have been successful in pursuing a market diversification strategy. As an example supermarket chains in the UK and overseas have diversified into non food related products such as insurance and banking with a degree of success.

To be successful in this strategic growth arena you must show a real commitment to the program or you will have an increased chance of failure. The supermarket chains who went on a market diversification strategy also had the advantage of a large and mainly loyal existing customer base who went on to buy products that were outside of the supermarkets normal scope of supply. Being able to easily access customers when following a market diversification strategy can significantly minimise the downside risk of failure.

How do you grow your business?

Well how you go about it is entirely up to you. You can choose to develop plans in all four strategic arenas or mix and match depending on your overall capability to manage a varied strategic growth plan. Think about how you are planning to grow your business through products and markets. Complete the Ansoff matrix and see if you have sufficient plans in place that will ensure your business continues to grow and proposer.

If you need any help in developing growth in your business then contact us and we will be pleased to help you think and develop growth!

Develop a Keep In Touch Strategy For Sales Growth

Research shows that approx 50% of all sales are made on or after four points of contact.

How do you keep in touch (KIT) with your clients? Do you have a KIT strategy?

Most clients  only buy when the sales person or selling organisation has established a degree of trust and empathy that instils sufficient confidence in the buyers mind to part with cash. Building trust and empathy with clients does not happen overnight. It takes time and effort. In some situations you will have to “touch” the client many times before you make a sale.

Developing and implementing an effective strategy to keep in touch with clients is therefore essential if you want to see your sales grow.

So how do we keep in touch? There are two principle means of keeping in touch with clients.

  1. Face to Face
  2. Indirect

Face to face encounters include meetings, exhibitions, association meetings, general networking etc.

Networking is a powerful part of a keep in touch strategy. Networking allows you to meet existing and potential clients in a friendly and non threatening atmosphere. Over several weeks clients will come to recognise you and begin to build trust in you as an individual. Trust and sales performance go hand in hand. Regular contact is an essential part of developing trust.

So where should I carry out my networking?

Most industries have a trade association which host networking events. Join at least one trade association and resolve to meet as many people as possible. Always follow up chance meetings with a phone call or at least a “Nice to meet you” e-mail.

Check out your local chamber of commerce. They hold regular network events where you can meet other business people and assess whether or not there may be potential to do business. The Institute of Directors in another member  association who hold regular networking and briefing meetings for directors.

Check out your local university and colleges who often hold network events for local businesses. Local newspapers post regular business briefings and also announce local business network meetings.

Sign up to relevant trade association newsletters. These often provide invaluable information on forthcoming events, industry statistics and often have a spotlight briefing on a successful business story. They can be a good source of leads too.

Social media is in fashion. Networking over the internet is becoming more acceptable. LinkedIn is a good example of a free social media service where you can connect with other industry professionals and decision makers.

Finding creative ways to keep in touch is a key skill for any professional sales person. The more points of contact you have with a prospect the more likely you are to develop a ongoing sales relationship.

What should I do when I meet someone at a networking or association event?

When meeting someone at a networking meeting or exhibition ensure you keep to the following guidelines;

• Show interest in the other party and their organisation by asking relevant open ended questions.

• Do not try to sell them something at the first point of contact.

• Moreover establish if it would be appropriate for you to meet them later to discuss exploring opportunities to work together.

• Exchange details if appropriate.

• Follow up with a telephone call or e-mail within a relatively short period.

Indirect Methods

A newsletter is an excellent way of keeping in touch with existing and prospective clients. Make sure that your newsletter contains a variety of topics that will keep your clients interested. Use it to demonstrate your level of expertise in your chosen field and not as a “buy from us today” communique. That way the client will look forward to receiving the newsletter and when they are next in need of your products,or expertise you will be at the forefront of their mind.

Set up a google alert so you can track what is happening in the clients world. Drop them a letter of congratulations when you hear of good news. Maybe they have just won a new contract or opened a new office. Whatever it is find a way to let them know you are still interested in them.

Subscribe to industry specific journals. This provides you with up to date information on your clients. You may even consider advertising in journals where they advertise.

If you are exhibiting at a conference why not invite prospects and existing clients to visit your stand to bring them up to date about your new products etc.

Invite them to a company open day.

There are lots of different ways to keep in touch. Be creative. You might just be pleased with the result.

Work at keeping in touch. In the end it will pay dividends!

Quick Negotiating Tip

In any negotiation parties will almost certainly enter a bargaining phase at some point. This is when either parties ask for something that is in their own interest.

For example can you give me 10% off and we have a deal. This can put a lot of external pressure on you to agree to the discount in order to secure the business.

But what do you do if you cannot drop your price by 10%? Do you simply say no and risk losing the business or be seen as confrontational?

When responding to a request like this, there are a number of things one can do. Here is one negotiation technique that is worthy of consideration.

Offer Vague and Ask Specific

In the event that you have been asked the question:

Drop your price by 10% and we have a deal.

Respond with the formula “Ask Vague, Offer Specific”. Say something like this:

We may be able to consider discounts (vague) but we would need to increase the order by at least 30% in order to do that (specific). Would that be possible?

Alternatively

OK we may be able to look at our discount structure (vague) however we would need to agree a two year term in return (specific). Would that be possible?

You can play around with this “formula” by changing what it is that would be of interest to you. Hope you have found this negotiating tip useful.

Getting Through Gatekeepers – Cold Calling

One of the most frequently asked questions on any cold callers wish list is;

I make lots of cold calls. Once I am connected to the decision maker (DM) I am usually successful in securing an appointment. However I find it difficult to work with or around the Gatekeepers! Do you have any suggestions or tips to help me get past gatekeepers?

Let’s first of all take a look at the role of a gatekeeper.

The role of a gatekeeper is to protect the DM from any calls that are simply nuisance value. Consequently the gatekeeper has to take decisions on whether or not your call is of sufficient value to be transferred to their boss. Consequently if you are to stand any chance of being put thorough to a DM, you must be able to convince the gatekeeper that you are one of or all of the following;

• You are important

• You are able to help the DM in his day-to-day issues/problems

• You are polite and business like.

Many protagonists suggest you should befriend the gatekeeper. Whilst I do not disagree with the underlying sentiment of this statement, I do ask that you consider whether or not the person on the other end of the phone is as capable and as passionate as you are to promote the reasons why the DM should actually meet with you. In many cases it would be better to be put through to voice mail. Whilst this is not an ideal scenario you can at least be assured that you will put across your message with the same level of commitment and passion as you would do so if you were connected directly. In fact in many cases I would even recommend this in preference to befriending the gatekeeper in the forlorn hope that they will  “sell ” you to the decision maker. I would even suggest leaving a voice mails could be a better option than simplt ‘sending information’ to the gatekeeper which is likely to end up in the bin or in the case of email be blocked out by spam filters. At least with voice mail you get the opportunity to leave a personal message with at least a good reason reason as to why the DM should consider meeting with you or at least take or return your calls.

Here are my top tips when dealing with gatekeepers;

Tip One – Never Tell Lies

Never tell lies to get through. Many sales trainers advise that it is OK to tell the occasional white lie – if this means you are put through to the DM. For example saying you are returning their call, when in fact this is untrue. This could land you in serious hot water with a DM if you are found out to be less than honest in dealing with gatekeepers. Do not pretend to be a relative or long-lost friend who is trying to reconnect. Do not say it is a personal call unless that is the truth. Good gatekeepers will always check your assertions and will probe with further questions before they decide to put you through.

I would always advise against telling lies in a sales situation. There are better ways to get connected to a DM without risking your integrity and the sale!

Tip Two – Sound Important

Most gatekeepers tread a fine line between stopping everyone except those who are in regular contact with the DM (white list) and letting through those callers who are of sufficient value and importance that it would be ill-advised not to transfer the caller to the DM.

Speak slowly and clearly and increase your chances of being put through. I know this sounds crazy but most executives speak slowly and calmly. Also use senior job titles. This may sound condescending but the bigger the title the more likely you are to get transferred.

Introduce yourself as follows;

I am John Smith (Name). I am the business development director of XYZ ltd. Can you put me thorough to Jim, Thanks?

Notice in this phrase we did not ask if anyone was available? We simply asked to be put through to Jim. This inferred that we knew Jim and that we were important.

Tip Three – Find out DM contact name before you make your appointment call.

This may sound obvious but there is no better way to alert the attention of a gatekeeper to a sales call by asking;

Can you tell me who is in charge of….responsible for…makes the decisions on etc? Closely followed by; Can I speak to Mr Smith? Is Mr. Smith available?

You may as well have said; This is a sales call. Please put me through to the person who makes decisions on………

When you are doing your pre-call research make an effort to obtain a contact name. Once you have a contact name call them at a later date.

Tip Four – Do not sell to the gatekeeper

Remember the objective is to speak to a DM. When the gatekeeper asks

what is the call in connection with” or “regarding”

keep your response to a minimum. The potential number of responses is wide and varied. The responses will be different based on why you wanted to talk to the DM in the first place.

There are three principal reasons why a DM might want to take an unsolicited call.

1. Potential to increase sales

2. Possibility to decrease costs/expenditure

3. Chance of improving productivity and or communication across the organization.

Therefore three potential responses could be

1. It’s about business development, Thank you!

2. It’s about managing business expenditure, Thank you!

3. It’s about improving productivity or communication in the organization, thanks.

Do not try to tell them who you are and why you are calling and why the DM would want to speak to you. This is more than likely going to result in a statement

Can you send some information and we will get back to you if there is any interest!

Remember you need to sell to the DM – not the gatekeeper.

Tip Five – Be Confident, Not Apologetic

So many telemarketers apologise at the start of the call. A decision maker does NOT want to hear someone making an apology for disturbing them. They want to hear someone who is confident – someone who can provide a solution to a problem or issue that is currently causing them some concern.

Tip Six – Be Creative

Find a way to get your message in front of the DM with no filter whatsoever!

Here is a suggestion that might be worthy of consideration. Send them a rose to their works address with a card marked private. This way the rose will get to them without being “filtered”. When they open the card the message might read.

What would you do you if your website could attract treble the number of visitors it does right now?

What would you do if you could increase sales by 20%?

What would you do if you could cut costs on your IT spend by 25%? Etc

The message continues. I will call you next week. Friday 23rd at 1230hrs to see if you are open to finding out how this can be done!

What are the chances of this call being taken? I suspect more than an outright cold call. Be creative and you might just increase your chances of the call being accepted without question.

Tip Seven – Expect to be put through

Your attitude and frame of mind plays a big part in your chance of success. The best cold callers fervently believe that they will be put through to the decision maker at the start of each call. This frame of mind sets them apart from others mere mortals who could only wish to emulate their success. Learn to replicate this positive frame of mind and you too will increase your chances of achievement.

Tip Eight – If all else fails get GK to talk to GK

If you are getting nowhere fast then it might be time to speak in the same language. The language of gatekeepers that is! Get your gatekeeper to talk to theirs.

Imagine if you get a call-  Hi this is (name) I am the PA of (Name, Position and Company). John has asked me to arrange a meeting with Name (Target). Can you please let me know the best way of arranging a meeting with Peter please?It may be just enough to secure you an appointment.

Happy hunting!

Attracting Visitors to an Exhibition Stand

Photo provided by Kokoon Ltd

I am often astounded at the lengths some exhibitors will go to in order to get a “prospect” to stop on their stand.

These stop and sell methods include anything from scantily clad bodies (male and female), magicians, games, competitions etc. I have even witnessed exhibitors physically standing in the isles thrusting brochures into peoples hands hoping to get them to stop or at least take away literature that is most likely of no relevance whatsoever to the recipient. Having used these tactics to “successfully” stop their victim they then go on to force these poor unsuspecting souls into “taking a look at what they have to offer”.

Granted as an exhibitor one does need to find a way to attract people onto a stand – not only to establish if there is any way in which you can both work together but also without actual visitors it is impossible to get an return on the investment. However do we really need to physically man handle people onto the stand or draw them in under false pretences just so we can sell at them?

Here is a simple and very effective way to get someone to stop for long enough to  start-up a conversation. Having gained their attention you go on to build some rapport and then through a process of effective dialogue establish if they might be interested in what you have to offer.

All visitors to exhibitions and conferences these days are issued with a name badge. Assuming like me you can read a delegate badge at five paces simply smile warmly and say.

Good Morning Jim (Person’s name)

Now Jim  will immediately stop and say good morning. On hearing ones name it is a natural reaction to stop and turn to the person who has greeted you. As they try to work out how you know each other simply ask;

How are you finding the exhibition Jim?

Jim quite naturally responds.

Very good thank you.

You have now struck up a conversation and can then ask other questions.

What brings you to the exhibition?

As you build up some level of rapport, you will eventually get to a point when either they will ask you to tell them what you do or you can ask them;

What do you know about (our company)?

Now you have their permission to say what it is you do. From here you can discover if there is any interest in what you have to offer and start to build a relationship and take it on from there.

I used this name technique the other week when working for a client on their exhibition stand and achieved the following results;

  1. 85% of people whom I greeted using their name, stopped to talk.
  2. approx 75% of those who stopped asked me to tell them what it is we do!
  3. Approx 60% actually booked onto a course within the next eight weeks.

Compare this with the same greeting including the smile;

Good Morning. How are you?

How many people stopped to talk with this greeting? Well I will tell you it was around 15-20%. What does this tell us?

It tells us very clearly that names are important to us as individuals. Try it the next time you are working an exhibition stand.

I guarantee you will get more people to stop and talk without the need for any tricks or gimmicks.

If you want to know more about getting results from you exhibitions why not contact me.

Happy hunting.

Handling Failure and Rejection

Handling failure and rejection is a fact of life especially if you are in sales, management or a budding entrepreneur. How one reacts to failure or rejection directly affects ones self-esteem and ongoing levels of motivation.

I think that failure and rejection are two different things that are interlinked in the mind of each and everyone. I have worked with numerous individuals over the years and some handle failure and rejection really well and others can hit the self destruct button. Having the correct mindset is essential to overcoming setbacks. The fear of failure and or rejection can be debilitating or liberating!

The first thing to consider is

There is no success without first trying. Failure is part of the journey to success.

Failure

Trying means you are bound to experience failure at some point or another. I have yet to meet anyone who claims to be successful all of the time. If you want success then you have to be prepared to encounter failure. Most successful people know this. How many of us learned to ride a bike without crashing once or twice? It hurts but you simply get back on and try again. If at first you don’t succeed try, try and try again!

Rejection

Rejection on the other hand is when an individual senses emotional pain to the extent that their own personality or capabilities are brought into question by themselves.

  • Why do they not like me?
  • What have I done wrong for them not to accept me?
  • Why am I so inadequate?

Try to remember when you are feeling rejection this may not be a reflection on you. It could be that the other person simply is not on your wavelength.

There is no simple answer on how to handle rejection.

This depends on your own personality and make-up. However having observed successful people at first hand,  they have all experienced rejection at one time and another. However what sets them apart is they find a way to move forward that suits their personality and sense of direction and purpose at that time.They always find a way to bounce back!

Here are a few suggestions I hope you might find useful on handling rejection.

  • Try not to take it personally.
  • Do not give up at the first sign of difficulty.
  • Accept that you are more likely to fail than succeed.
  • Learn to love yourself and others will follow.

Success usually tastes sweeter when you have experienced failure/rejection first.

After all how do you know what success is if you have not experienced failure?

If fear of failure or rejection is holding you back, I would recommend reading the book “Feel the fear and do it anyway” by Susan Jeffers.

Best wishes.