Does running your business sometimes feel like this?

This will be my last post of 2018.  Happy New Year to everyone!  I thought I would end the year on a humorous note. Enjoy!

Have you ever had one of these days?

The optimal way to avoid this tragic business metaphor is to build your company as if you are going to get, at any moment, an offer to sell that you cannot refuse.  Building for exit value optimization is a great way to build a highly valuable business regardless of your interest in selling it someday.  Here is a pretty comprehensive list of areas to address in priority order (at least the top four in bold) to optimize exit value and, by default, build a healthy and thriving organization.

Increased exit value drivers:

  1. Reduce the risk for the buyer
    • The entrepreneur/CEO/Owner is redundant in the business
    • Powerful, healthy Management Team/Bench for key positions
  2. “Rembrandts in the attic” – Value beyond the financial returns – Value over discounted cash value
  3. Healthy culture/High engagement organization
  4. Revenue predictability and quality over several years, consistent growth in Revenue, Profit and Cash
  5. Show significant growth potential in current, adjacent and/or new markets
  6. Bring multiple buyers to the table
  7. Documented Systems
  8. Customer diversification
    • Have no one customer that is more than 10% of total revenue/profit
  9. Protect IP
  10. Dashboards and KPI visibility
  11. Make books squeaky clean – Taxes, receivables, short and long-term debt, etc.
  12. Clean records/good data
  13. Clean up facilities if applicable
  14. HR compliance
  15. Tighten up ALL Agreements
    • Solid employee agreements,
    • Solid vendor/supplier/technology/customer agreements,
    • Partner legal agreement,
    • Real Estate agreements, etc.
  16. Address any pending/active lawsuits, etc.

If these things (and possibly others based on your industry, etc.) are not in place, a savvy buyer will chip away at the original offer and may cause you to inadvertently sell at a much lower price than you would like.

Please see the two-minute video below for an overview of how to systematically and deliberately address many of these issues.

Set up a 15-minute conversation to talk about how you can optimize your exit value and take the guesswork out of growth (Click here to see a sample one page strategic plan).

Be Exceptional!

Bill  – Certified Premium Scaling Up/Gravitas Impact Coach
(bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.comwww.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)

For MA companies ONLY, as an approved Training and Development provider, Catalyst Growth Advisors can offer you 50% off program fees.  Click here to see if you qualify.

Four ways to increase meeting productivity

Portrait Of Sad Business TeamHow often are you or others distracted in meetings?

What % of your meetings do you consider wasted time? Studies show that executives feel that between 30-50% of meeting time is unproductive.

Here are a few simple things you can do to increase focused attention and meeting productivity (from Mind of a Leader):

  1. Bring your body and your mind – At the beginning of each meeting, invite everyone to join in one minute of silence before getting started. Although for some people a moment of silence can seem strange, in our experience, it can become quickly adopted as people appreciate the benefits of having a moment to settle in. This simple one minute can be key to helping everyone mentally arrive—versus just being there physically—in the meeting with a little more focus and presence.  I have also used simple and fun ice breakers to accomplish the same.
  2. Eliminate distraction – During the meeting, have a collective agreement that phones and laptops are off or put away unless specifically required. If even one person is busy writing emails, texting, or reading tMeeting humorhe news during a meeting, it has a negative impact on the collective focus.  Research shows that just having your phone out on the table in front of you drops your IQ by 10 points. Here are some tips to reduce your phone distraction.
  3. Focus and Clarity – It is also important that meeting objectives are clear and that someone is leading the meeting and ensuring everyone sticks to the agenda. This helps everyone stay more on task and engaged. I have provided a link below to Meetings with Purpose – Daily, Weekly, Monthly – sample agendas.
  4. End early – Toward the end of the meeting, establish a collective discipline of ending five minutes before the scheduled end time—often at the top or the bottom of the hour. These five minutes enable everyone to have time to transition mindfully to their next meeting.  You can also use part of this time to have everyone provide a one-word or one-phrase close to the meeting to guide you toward improving future meetings.

I have also provided a link (under Business Resources, Execution #3)  to daily, weekly and monthly “Meetings with Purpose” sample agendas.

Be Exceptional!

Bill  – Certified Premium Scaling Up/Gravitas Impact Coach
(bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.comwww.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)

* Ask me how MA (and other states) may help pay for my leadership coaching services.  For MA companies, as an approved Training and Development provider, Catalyst Growth Advisors can offer you 50% off program fees.  Click here to see if you qualify

The Power of the Brand Promise Guarantee

‘The guarantee is proof that we’re a great company. We’re willing to tell our customers that if they don’t like our service for any reason, it’s our fault, not theirs, and we’ll make it right.’ I realized then that the guarantee is far more than a simple piece of paper that puts customers at ease. It really sets the tone, externally and, perhaps more important, internally, for our commitment to our customers and workers.” – Mitchell Fromstein, president and CEO of Manpower – Excerpt from The Power of Unconditional Guarantees – HBR article

Screen Shot 2018-10-24 at 11.50.34 AM

*BBBK’s Key Customers were Restaurants and Hotels

The HBR article is about 30 years old which shows you that this is not a new idea.  However, it is rarely achieved since it takes hard work, alignment, and time to pull it off.  The benefits are seen on your business top and bottom lines as well as in culture and employee engagement. The Brand Promise and Guarantee mainly result from the following key steps:

  1. Clarity from Core Purpose, Values and BHAG
  2. Truly understanding what your Core Customer wants and values
  3. Nailing your economic engine – a.k.a. Profit/X
  4. Mapping out in detail your Core Competencies and Differentiators
  5. Relentless pursuit on your X-factor – 10-100X growth accelerator

Please note that this is not a generic 100% money back guarantee as that is not a differentiator.  This is a guarantee that reinforces what your most profitable customer uniquely values and you can reliably deliver time and time again that viable alternatives cannot.

According to Shannon Susko, successful entrepreneur and author, you know you when you have created a truly unique Brand Promise and Guarantee when you answer “YES!” to the following questions:

  1. Does the Brand Promise and Guarantee attract the most profitable customers that buy with little to no convincing necessary?
  2. Do your competitors think you are crazy?
  3. Does it instantly differentiate you in the marketplace?
  4. Can you reliably deliver on the Brand Promise and Guarantee operationally?

How did you do?  Please set up a 15-minute conversation with me if you are interested in learning how you can do this for yourself or with a coach.  I have provided a roadmap to give you a visual timeline of how we build your Brand Promise, Guarantee and overall business into a highly-functioning system,

Be Exceptional!

Bill  – Certified Premium Scaling Up/Gravitas Impact Coach
(bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.comwww.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)

* Ask me how MA (and other states) may help pay for my leadership coaching services.  For MA companies, as an approved Training and Development provider, Catalyst Growth Advisors can offer you 50% off program fees.  Click here to see if you qualify.

How to do more that matters by doing less

As a leader, you make dozens, if not hundreds of decisions each week.  If you took the time to write them all down and then identified the ones that made a significant impact on the team and/or the business, I bet you could count those important and significant decisions on one hand.  Imagine if you made one or two more of those each week.  What impact would that have on your business?

This post will provide you with examples of the changes you can make with how you lead your team and manage your time so you can spend more time focusing on the business decisions that truly matter.  As the 80/20 Principle has proven time and time again – “very few things matter at all; but those that do, matter enormously.”

80-20-rule

 

Here are some examples of the Principle at work from The 80/20 Manager by Richard Koch (pronounced Kotch):

  • Just 1.5 percent of the world’s languages are spoken by 90 percent of people.
  • A study of 300 movies released over eighteen months found that four of them—1.3 percent—commanded 80 percent of total box-office receipts.
  • In common speech, less than 1 percent of words are used 80 percent of the time.
  • The delightful Bill Bryson tells us that there are thirty thousand different edible plants on our planet. Yet just eleven of them account for 93 percent of everything we eat—to the nearest whole number, that is a 93/0 relationship (as eleven is 0.04 percent of thirty thousand). Can you name those eleven plants? I came up with potatoes, wheat, corn, rice, beans, and barley.
  • The thriller writer David Baldacci says that 3 percent of Washington DC’s zip codes account for more than 70 percent of the city’s violent crime.

The ten 80/20 manager types as described in Koch’s book are found below (along with details on each):

  1. The Investigating Manager
    • Am I a detective?  Here are some questions you can ask:
      • Which single powerful idea will turbo-charge my business?
      • Who are my most profitable customers and how are they different from the rest?
      • Who is achieving great results and how?
      • What are my most profitable product(s)/product line(s)
  2. Super-Connecting Manager
    • Make a list of weak ties of the people that you believe are connected to or are your target customer
    • Focus on the super-connectors first. Those that have the largest and most active networks.
  3. Mentoring manager
    • How can I find ways to support my team as individuals and as a group
    • Am I creating an environment where people feel safe to leverage strengths and seek help for weaknesses?
  4. Leveraged Manager
    • Have I visualized success?
    • Am I focused on identifying and making the few decisions that matter the most?
    • Am l leveraging what I love to do and am good at delegating, eliminating, automating or procrastinating about the rest?
  5. Liberating Manager
    • What am I doing to bring out the best in each of my team members?
    • Am I putting the success of the team above my own?
  6. Meaning-seeking Manager
    • Am I seeking to live a life of meaning and purpose?
    • Am I encouraging and supporting my team to live a life of meaning and purpose?
  7. Time Rich Manager
    • Am I spending my time on decisions and actions that have outsized output?
    • Am I looking for ways to escape the tyranny of the moment and thinking how to shape the future to be radically better than the present for me, the team, the customer and the organization?
  8. The Simplifying Manager
    • Am I looking for ways to make key business processes as simple as possible and no simpler?
    • Am I starting each day and week with one simplifying objective?
  9. The Lazy Manager
    1. Am I striving to combine being lazy with intelligent thought and high ambition?
  10. The Strategic Manager
    1. Am I constantly looking for dramatically better ways of doing business?
    2. Can I create a simple statement that encompasses our strategy?
    3. How can I help create a strategy that would put my own company out of business?

There is no need to try to be all of these different types of 80/20 managers.  Start with one that best fits your style and personality and then nail it before considering a second type. Please note that it may take months or even years to master the first one.  Be patient.  Be diligent. Be disciplined.

For more depth on this topic, I recommend picking up Koch’s book – The 80/20 Manager.  It is a practical guide to help you use these today in your role whether you are a leader or on the front-line.  Here is a short interview (3 min. video) of Koch at the London Business Forum.

Here is an amusing bonus video (6 mins) showing how doing the most important things first can impact your life and your business.

Bill – Certified Scaling Up Coach

Be Exceptional!

bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.com, www.catalystgrowthadvisors.com

MA companies – Visit my site to see how you can get the state to pay for 50% of my leadership coaching fees.

Poker chips and Paper Clips

Meeting Dominators

Often times, meetings are dominated by a few people who grab the stage often and sometimes hold it longer than necessary. Most often they are the extroverts and “verbalizers“.  Many times, they blurt out the first thing that comes to mind to control and dominate the conversation. Allowing this to happen regularly can create a stressed team dynamic. It also can limit the ability of the team to explore all the viable alternatives to come up with the best possible decision at the time. Lastly, you risk full commitment from all participants especially those who are most impacted by the decision.

The following “turn-taking” technique supports team alignment and commitment. Making sure that everyone has equal time to be heard is a proven leadership/teamwork building method found in Google’s 5-year study on how to build the perfect team dubbed Project Aristotle.

Poker chips and paper clips 

The following is an effective technique with highly verbal, dominating or contentious meeting participants as well as introverts who do not speak up often enough.  BTW – Research shows that introverts often contribute well-considered and valuable input but may need encouragement to participate more often.

If your meetings are not as productive as you would like, try this:

  1. Before the meeting, distribute 5-10 poker chips or paper clips to everyone.
  2. Communicate the following to participants, “In order to get the most out of this meeting, I want to make sure that everyone is heard and contributes.  Every time you speak, please put one of your poker chips/paper clips in the center of the table. For every 3 minutes you speak, it will cost you another poker chip/paper clip. (This prevents one person from monopolizing the conversation. I recommend assigning a timer).
  3. After all your poker chips are spent, you can no longer verbally participate in the meeting, just listen to others and observe.

table thru door

Obviously, this technique will not work if people don’t agree with it. It will take the senior leader to sanction and support the technique. All must be willing to give legitimacy to trying this powerful technique.

When utilizing this technique, several things will happen:

  • The verbalizers will likely spend their poker chips quickly in the first few meetings.
  • Sometimes the verbalizers will actually think before they speak because their participation costs them something and;
  • The quieter participants will have most of the chips and begin participating more. You may need to prompt them to engage at the beginning.

This is a hokey but effective way to remind everyone to engage and use their time thoughtfully.

N.B.  Once you build the habit, you should no longer need chips or clips.  The conversation will begin to have more of a natural flow with everyone contributing equally in terms of time.

Let me know how it goes.

Bill – Certified Scaling Up Coach

Be Exceptional!

How Alan Mulally saved Ford Motor Company with four simple decisions

Alan Mulally

How Alan Mulally saved Ford

It was the summer of 2006, Alan Mulally was knee deep in getting the Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” designed and built when Bill Ford asked him to take over his role as President and CEO of his eponymous company.  Ford Motor was slowly going out of business, as were the other major car companies, due to years of hubris and poor management practices.  Bill Ford was over his head and needed help.  Mulally was tasked to come in and save the embattled company.

Ford knew that Mulally was his best and last chance as he had pulled off a similar miracle of sorts years ago at Boeing. In the 90s and early 2000s, Boeing was getting its butt kicked by Airbus and needed to do a better job of designing and building competitive aircraft.  It took several years, under difficult circumstances (9/11 being one of them) for Alan Mulally to lead the process that successfully turned Boeing around.  Ford wanted him to do it again. This time in Dearborn, Michigan.

Mulally did not want to leave Boeing. It was the only place he had ever worked since graduating college.  He loved the company. He loved designing and building airplanes.  He and his family loved the Seattle area where Boeing was based. However, it was too tempting to be asked to run an American institution such as Ford. Moreover, his aerospace engineering background favored solving difficult problems such as the one laid out by Bill Ford.

Once he finally agreed, Mulally spent time learning as much as he could about the business and the industry. He was a quick study and became confident that he could fix the ailing Ford.

Ford had a toxic, macho culture that was ruthless to outsiders, had forgotten its customers, and had an outdated and bloated product lineup of vehicles that fewer and fewer customers wanted. On top of this, they were running out of money. His task would not be an easy one.

Mulally quickly won over the company and its board of directors.  In 8 years, he took a company from the brink of collapse to dominate the industry.

How did he do it?

Mulally focused on the basics. He had a list Core Values of how to run organizations. He honed them over 20+ years.  They were the bases for his success at Boeing. When he came to Ford, these simple rules were the foundation of this unprecedented turnaround.

I was fortunate enough to hear him speak last year at a Vistage event as he described in some detail the incredible story.  Mulally used just ONE slide for the entire hour-plus talk as he walked us through his 10 Core Values and the parts they played. Here they are:

  1. People first
  2. Everyone is included
  3. Compelling vision
  4. Clear performance goals
  5. One plan
  6. Facts and data
  7. Propose a plan, “find-a-way” attitude
  8. Respect, listen, help, and appreciate each other
  9. Emotional resilience … trust the process
  10. Have fun … enjoy the journey and each other

He also came up with four decisions below that he knew Ford had to get right in order to climb out of its tailspin.  Coincidentally, these decisions line up well with the framework of People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash that I use as a foundation for the work I do with my clients.

(American Icon book excerpt) On November 14, (2006) as he was finalizing his presentation for the board, Mulally finally managed to distill everything down to four simple points:

1 Aggressively restructure to operate profitably at the current demand and changing model mix. (EXECUTION)

2 Accelerate development of new products our customers want and value. (STRATEGY)

3 Finance our plan and improve our balance sheet. (CASH)

4 Work together effectively as one team. (PEOPLE)

Not only did Mullaly and the team from Ford execute an improbable turnaround over the next several years by relentlessly executing a strategy focused on the customer by a cohesive team, they did it during the Great Recession.  GM and Chrysler needed taxpayer money to bail them out.  Ford did not take a dime.

Suggestion: Write down your four simple yet impactful decisions to drive your company over the next few years.  Can you distill them down to one sentence each?

I encourage you to read the entire fascinating story as told by Bryce G. Hoffman: American Icon: Alan Mullally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company.

Bill

Be Exceptional!

 

* Receive 50% of the fees for this workshop paid for by the state of MA.  Click here to see if you qualify.

“Like many good coaches, Bill knows that buy-in, follow through and confidence are enhanced when ideas and priorities are generated from within the organization. Bill will motivate and guide you to do the work and make progress producing alignment and results” – Global Educators’ Office of the President

Banish Boring Meetings Forever

Tired of useless and boring meetings?

People don’t hate meetings. They hate boring meetings.  The problem is that most meetings are boring. They are like hushed games of golf and should be more like a spirited game of hockey.

Those who are afraid to have a productive fight or as Pat Lencioni states “healthy conflict” are destined to have meetings devolve into yawning affairs where you spend more time on your laptop than engaging your team.  Meetings are primarily for making adjustments, progress, and decisions.  Make your meetings useful and fun!

Here are six things you can do to help make meetings more productive which will lead to a better culture, better decisions and higher employee engagement.  This list is followed by a link to a short HBR article that goes into more depth on how to put each of these into action.  I encourage you to try one or two of these at your next weekly team meeting.

  1. Start by asking a question, not uttering your opinion.
  2. Help quiet people speak up (and don’t let the talkers dominate).
  3. Make it safe for people to take risks — don’t let the sharks rule.
  4. Take the contrarian view.
  5. Dissect the three most fundamental assumptions.
  6. Cultivate transparent advocates (and get rid of the hard sellers). 

HBR Article – How to Have a Good Debate in a Meeting

Be Exceptional!
Certified Scaling Up Coach

Scaling Up Workshop II

One Day ScalingUp Workshop – 4/12/17 – Special discount for Massachusetts companies*

The world-renowned Scaling Up Business Growth Workshop empowers you to accelerate profitable growth using a time-tested and results-driven methodology. Through this exclusive learning experience, Gazelles Coaches has empowered more than 40,000 executives and their leadership teams with proven tools and strategies to scale up smarter.

Register here.

* Receive 50% of the fees for this workshop paid for by the state of MA.  Click here to see if you qualify.

“Like many good coaches, Bill knows that buy-in, follow through and confidence are enhanced when ideas and priorities are generated from within the organization. Bill will motivate and guide you to do the work and make progress producing alignment and results” – Global Educators’ Office of the President

If you do these 7 things well, you will almost certainly be successful

success funnyCompiled from different sources* and my own experience, I believe that if you do these seven things well, you will almost certainly be successful:

  1. Create a success vision – How can you recognize that you have arrived if you do not know what the destination looks like beforehand?  Your first step is to create a positive vision of what success looks like. Don’t worry yet if you can achieve it.  Get creative, be optimistic!  Create the best possible outcome you can this of. Describe it in as much detail as you can. Write it down (Tool).
  2. Have clear goals to achieve that vision – Having 5 or fewer goals is key, Ensure that each goal has an owner, a completion date, and metrics to measure progress (leading) and accomplishment (lagging).  Tools – Use Who, What, When (#11) with leading and lagging KPIs (or OKRs/indicators) explained here.
  3. Identify the problems that stand in your way – Be Precise.  Avoid mistaking a symptom for a problem.  (For example – We need to hire better sales people to hit our goals – possible symptom or problem.  We have a poorly thought-out strategy – possible symptom or problem.  We do not have the right leadership team with the right skills to craft a compelling strategy – likely problem)
  4. Accurately diagnose the problems’ root causes – Focus on “what is” before tackling what to do about it. Spend at least fifteen minutes (up to an hour based on complexity) thinking through the issue, pulling in relevant people who can assist when appropriate.  When you feel you have properly diagnosed the problem, move on to Step 5.Tool – Use 5 Whys exercise
  5. Design plans that address or get around the root causes – Reflect first.  Realize that there are many paths to addressing most issues.  Consider as many as feasible.  Write down the optimal plan as a “DRAFT” and share it with all of those who will be impacted to solicit feedback BEFORE making the final decision. One effective approach is to have the same people who will implement the plan write the final approved version as they are the best equipped to know the details and will, likely, handle most of its execution  This promotes buy-in and ensures a more complete and proper execution. (Writing “DRAFT” on the top shows everyone that you are serious about wanting feedback and are open to the fact that you may not know everything.  This also helps change to take place more readily.)  Tool – Use The Map as your guide to understanding the plan’s impact on all relevant external parties in addition to internal parties discussed above.
  6. Execute rigorously – Focus and discipline are key.  Expand the five main goals into sub-goals/tasks for each until you have a complete set of specific and measurable steps for all impacted parties for the next quarter and beyond if appropriate.  Hold regular accountability meetings at all levels to check progress (at least weekly)  Execute the plan for at least one quarter if not two quarters before you step back and re-assess. Tools – Use Who, What, When (#11) with leading and lagging KPIs or OKRs explained here. (aka metrics).
  7. Learn; Return to step 2 – You may want to make sure your vision is still achievable (Step 1) but I recommend going at least one year (assuming it is a big one) before re-examining it.

I highly recommend that you follow each of these steps discretely and boldly.  Focusing on each step separately will free you from figuring out how to accomplish some or all of the steps in the process at the outset which can limit thinking.  Also, be bold. If you limit your vision and goals to what you know, you may be setting the bar too low.

Good luck!

* Sources – Ray Dalio – Principles, Verne Harnish – Scaling Up, Ari Weinzweig – CEO, Zingerman’s Bakery, Author of many business books

Please contact me if you have any questions.  Take a look my Resources page to see my Suggested Reading List, Podcasts, and other Business Tools.

Bill (bill@catalsytgrowthadvisors.comwww.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)

Certified Scaling Up Coach

Be Exceptional!

Scaling Up Workshop II

One Day ScalingUp Workshop – 4/12/17

The world-renowned Scaling Up Business Growth Workshop empowers you to accelerate profitable growth using a time-tested and results-driven methodology. Through this exclusive learning experience, Gazelles Coaches has empowered more than 40,000 executives and their leadership teams with proven tools and strategies to scale up smarter.

Register here.

 

3 ways to avoid losing millions in revenue and profit

leaky bucket - funny.pngFrom Howard Shore’s new book Your Business is a Leaky Bucket, there are many ways that businesses lose revenue and profit such as the following:

  1. Mediocre hiring practices:
    • Hiring and Keeping B and C players in critical positions
    • Leaving critical positions vacant
    • Lacking a standard interview process
    • Excessive turnover/Regrettable turnover
  2. Lack of alignment
  3. Chasing revenue anywhere and everywhere
    • Lack of targeted, differentiating strategy
    • No or ineffective Sales playbook and process
    • Inability to say “No” to the wrong customers/deals
    • Lack of financial transparency
If you want to grow, you need cash.  Plugging leaks is a simple way to find cash within the organization avoiding the need to borrow and/or give away ownership.
The three ways to avoid these three critical leaks (among many more) in your business is the following:
  1. Create a system to find and evaluate all the leaks. I recommend the CFO be in charge of this effort and part of his/her job description. You can start with the aforementioned list. Your P&L and B/S are also excellent places to look for leaks.
  2. Institute an action plan to plug the leaks you find.  President/COO is the best likely candidate to lead this process.  Every leak should have an owner that comes up with a plan and date for completion.
  3. Create a weekly meeting to hold everyone accountable and offer assistance to anyone who needs it.  I recommend that the CFO run this meeting. Spend time celebrating progress but spend most of the time completing the action plan on time.  This is a team effort with everyone pitching in when others ask for help.
Once you knock out all of these leaks, “rinse and repeat”.  If you are growing and moving forward, you will always have leaks.  It is part of the process.
Bill
Certified Scaling Up Coach
Scaling Up Workshop II

One Day ScalingUp Workshop – 4/12/17 – Special offer for Massachusetts companies*

The world-renowned Scaling Up Business Growth Workshop empowers you to accelerate profitable growth using a time-tested and results-driven methodology. Through this exclusive learning experience, Gazelles Coaches has empowered more than 40,000 executives and their leadership teams with proven tools and strategies to scale up smarter.

Register here.

* Receive 50% of the fees for this workshop paid for by the state of MA.  Click here to see if you qualify.

“Like many good coaches, Bill knows that buy-in, follow through and confidence are enhanced when ideas and priorities are generated from within the organization. Bill will motivate and guide you to do the work and make progress producing alignment and results” – Global Educators Office of the President

Bill (bill@catalsytgrowthadvisors.com; www.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)

Be Exceptional!

Shorten Sales Cycle Time from Months to Days

sales plan humor

Please accept this simple tip provided by Verne Harnish’s articleFive Crucial Techniques for Doubling Revenue.  Other than price, nothing improves cash flow and revenue faster than reducing cycle time.

From my experience and research, seeing, hearing and sensing someone’s reaction dramatically increase your chances of closing a sale.  Decisions are made on an emotional basis.  Being there to witness the process is critical.  Additionally, your prospect will see your belief in the product you are selling.

You can miss vital clues when you send an email or other impersonal communication in lieu of having an important conversation.  However, it is important to send a detailed email after the conversation in order to confirm and memorialize the discussion.  The article excerpt follows:

DRAMATICALLY REDUCE SALES CYCLE TIME

Dr. Victoria Medvec, negotiations expert from Northwestern University and author of the series High Stakes Negotiation: Ten Steps for Maximizing Outcomes and Building Relationships shares how nothing improves cash flow and revenue more than reducing your sales cycle time. And an important technique to dramatically reducing it is to use synchronous communication throughout the sales process.

“This starts with NEVER presenting a sales proposal to a customer without being on the phone or in person with them,” notes Medvec


Emailing a proposal to a customer ahead of a meeting doesn’t give you the opportunity to react immediately to potential concerns and objections that might arise as they read through your proposal.

And the more time the customer has to ponder an objection and potentially pollute their colleagues with negative reactions (or spouse if it’s a business to consumer sale), the more difficult it will be to move the sales process forward.

In the world of texting and informal communication, this process can become more prevalent and accepted.  However, it can go too far when discussing important topics in the sales process such as price or a buying decision.

Even if the customer is adamant about receiving a proposal ahead of a physical meeting, suggest it will save them time if you can review the proposal over the phone and that you’ll email it to them a few minutes before a scheduled phone call. What you and your salespeople want is the opportunity to see, hear, or at least sense specific objections, as you review the proposal, so you can react immediately. And then you want to continue to utilize synchronous communication for the rest of the sales negotiation process.

“I’ve seen this single technique reduce sales cycles from months to weeks and even to days,” concludes Medvec.

Action: Ask your sales team to review the sales process for the last few lost deals.  Were there times they took the easy path where a conversation to review the proposal may have provided different results?

Additional action: Invite yourself to the proposal presentation process to see the process for yourself and to ensure it is being done.  A wise man once told me that “People respect what they expect you will inspect.”

Scaling Up Workshop II

Special One Day ScalingUp Workshop Discount – Register by 12/31/17

Any seat costs $299 if registrations and payment received by 12/31/17 – Please contact me at bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.com to qualify! (IMPORTANT! DO NOT sign up on the Gazelles website to receive this offer)

“For businesses that are ready to think deeply about the kind of business they are and want to become, Bill Flynn would be an excellent choice (as their coach).”  – Global Educators Office of the President

Be Exceptional!

Bill