Marketing Automation Group
Share Your Thoughts!

Category Archives for Mindset

In the Marketplace: Never Be the Cheapest

Don't Be The Cheapest

In the marketplace, there are three price spaces you can occupy—the cheapest, the middle ground, and the most expensive. Take it from me, never be the cheapest vendor in your marketplace.

Price is a dynamic factor in small business success. As I discussed in a recent blog, charging more—not less—is essential for business stability. Along with that is taking control of your position in the marketplace.

No formula for success: cheap, cheaper, or cheapest

Entrepreneurs who reactively position their business in the marketplace lose control of their message, their product, and their profit. Why? I’ll tell you.

It is not just new entrepreneurs looking to break into the market who price their products and services too low. Small business owners hang on to inappropriate pricing structures for years. When fear drives your pricing behavior, the outcome looks like this:

  • Deep discounts
  • Price haggling or lowball bids
  • Unrealistic cost and expense accounting
  • Pricing that responds to external factors instead of internal decision points
  • Low wage and almost no profit
  • Inability to grow business or add value

For almost all small business owners, occupying the cheapest niche in the marketplace is a bad place to be. The only time this strategy works is when you can realistically obtain good profit by undercutting the competition. Typically, the success of this tactic is of short duration and not for owners interested in building out their business.

The view from the middle: no end of competition

Some small business owners seek the middle ground. When the bids come in, or a customer browses your product, your prices are not the cheapest—nor are they the highest. This is a sweet spot for many clients and consumers if the buzz about your products and services is good.

But is this where you really want to be? Consider the view from the middle:

  • Your pricing formula must remain fluid, depending on the season, the client, and the project.
  • Sales personnel must be ready to lower prices, or cut a deal, when a potentially valuable customer threatens to walk. Keep in mind—they may walk, anyway.
  • Frustration is the condition of the middle. You are constantly competing with everyone in that space—and most businesses are in that space.
  • Profit margins are thin because everyone is price cutting to get the business.
  • Like the cheapest vendor on the market, your prices must stay reactive, you do not see much profit, and you work very hard for whatever you get. It is not easy or guaranteed that you can grow your business from this position.

If you choose to be either the cheapest on the market, or the average business, there will always be someone willing to provide the service, or the product, for less—even if it eventually drives them out of business.

Middle ground entrepreneurs satisfy themselves thinking slow and steady wins the race. It doesn’t. Slow and steady too often means undercapitalized, which is a prominent reason for small business failure.

My clients are small business owners interested in making more money. It is my job to evaluate what they are doing, and how they are doing it. My ambition is to make my clients millionaires. They do not do this by working harder—they do this by working smarter.

Top tier: how do you get there?

Small business owners who work in the trenches of cheap and cheapest do not have control of their businesses—or their future. Overwhelmed, undervalued, and underpaid, you may sign the checks, but your blood pressure and debt load is giving you a different message.

I am here to tell you that you are not alone and you can succeed. But you cannot have the business—and the life you want—without change. And that starts with realistically resetting your price points by defining your own value.

Let me tell you a story. When I was running my car repair business many years ago, we were charging 20 percent more than even the local car dealerships. That 20 percent let me do more for my customer than other repair shops. The result? I could offer advantages, like free loaner vehicles—a perk that worked—and increased my business and client loyalty.

The take-home point is that meaningful value sells. It is not just a mind game of charging more, of mark-up as make-up. It is offering real, calculable value where your customer needs it most. Trust me—charging more lets you offer more value.

Charging higher prices for valuable services results in business conditions that look something like this:

  • Growth and pricing goals are set and met
  • Sales and service personnel take on more responsibility
  • You get to focus on what you do best—and living the life you want

Sound good? That’s because it is good—and there are small business owners just like you redefining their prices, their value—and their lives—every day.

When you are ready to take control of your business, bump your sales, and take a long lunch without guilt—call me at 585-633-7563. I will help you get there.

To your success,

Bob Britton

The Art of the Telephone Sales Call: Always Be Closing

The Art Of The Sales Call

When you know where you are going with a sales call, the chances are better that you and your client will get there. How? It’s as simple as ABC—always be closing.

Companies of all sizes are shifting from field sales to internal sales teams that are able to scale quickly to a new project or prospect. You and your sales department need a script and a structure to keep telephone sales productive.

As an entrepreneur, you are the face and voice of your business. You must have the awareness and ability to take advantage of a business opportunity whenever it calls. And that call may be tomorrow morning.

Making the connection: internet to telephone

Social media keeps your brand fresh and your name in play. While LinkedIn increases your potential sales pool, it does not make the sale for you. Regardless of your industry, each point of contact—social media, direct mail, email, or telephone call—adds to the perception of your company in the mind of your client.

Email and telephone calls are the primary points of contact for targeted sales leads. Before you pick up the phone, be certain about these points:

  • Know who you are calling: Do your homework before you dial. Know who you want to talk to and why. Use LinkedIn for personal research, and the internet for business background. Know as much about your lead, and his or her business, as you can. Whether you make a cold call, or a scheduled sales call—make sure that your contact knows you are tuned in to them, and their business issues.
  • Know your own business: Before you make the call, take stock. Use a headset to free yourself up to physically move during a conversation. Be familiar with your current business numbers, your vision, what you need from the call, and what you want as a result. Take time to refresh your business vision and your confidence—it improves your odds for success.
  • Make sure you can talk the talk: Understand and appropriately use the language of your industry. Sale calls sometimes falter when reciprocity cannot be created through the use of common jargon, topical news, industry trends, and relevant stories.
  • Have a plan: “Winging” a sales call does not work. While you may strike gold from time to time in an informal sales setting, you make more money when you take the time to make your plan. Sketch an agenda, unique points about your prospect, and your own market differentiators. Imagine the conversation, walk through possibilities, and see yourself closing the deal. If you do not have a process in mind when you make a sales call, you leave money on the table.

Making your best call

Service and sales calls are lifeblood for a small business owner, and they are easy to mess up.

When you have a good lead, make the most of it. When you pick up the phone, make sure you remember these tips:

  • Smile: Why does it matter if you smile on the telephone? Including endorphins, smiling boosts other neurotransmitters that mediate mood, blood pressure, and heart rate. You experience a boost in confidence and greater overall relaxation. Even if no one sees it, set the stage for your sales call with a smile.
  • Connect: When speaking with a prospective client, let them know they are your most important priority. Because of your research, you know something about them, and their business. Comfortable, confident rapport heightens your credibility.
  • Learn: Listening is a key feature of a successful sales call. Ask open-ended questions that reassure, and encourage your lead to discuss their company, and their business issues. Explore without pushing your own solutions. Information gained while actively listening to a potential client gives you the roadmap you need to offer value and close the deal.

My job is working with entrepreneurs to create strategies and structure to make them more money. I create value in the lives—and businesses—of my clients by helping them define and boost the value they offer to their own customers.

The take-away point is that you must shift the central see-saw of your sales call from a conversation about price points, to a meaningful discussion about value. Find out what your client values, what they need—and how you can provide it.

When you approach a sales call with confidence, and genuine curiosity, it shows. If you do your homework, you already have the end game in mind. Remember, always be closing.

When you want to learn more about closing deals and boosting sales, call me at 585-633-7563.

To your success,

Bob Britton

SOS: Beware Shiny Object Syndrome!

SOS Shiny ObjectSyndrome

You just heard a great idea.  You have to try it.  It doesn’t really fit your business model and is beyond your core competencies—but, guaranteed, you will make a fortune.

Stop right there.  All that glitters is not gold—for a lot of reasons.

Good for crows but bad for small business owners, Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS) is hazardous to the health of your business.  Consider these examples:

  • You have a proposal to submit to a long-standing client.  You have a good relationship with your client and the proposal is a sure thing.  You are working on it when an email comes in with marketing tips that promise to make you more money.  Buy this, learn that, earn more.  You buy it hook, line, and sinker and use your new-found wisdom to change your proposal pricing.  You submit the proposal—and the client goes elsewhere.
  • At a conference, you learn of a great program to motivate employees and increase productivity.  You buy in.  A consultant charges you a lot of money to study your company and train your employees.  Six months down the road, no one remembers the concepts, productivity is the same, and the only difference is the financial hit.
  • New marketing software—you must have it.  Your digital marketing guy must have it, too, even though it is totally wrong for your business objectives.  You buy it, deploy it, and watch it fail.

Whether you run a small business or a large corporation, everyone is vulnerable to shiny objects.  They are pretty and promising.  They are new and cool, swag for the business suite—and they can be a serious problem.

Take a breath and slow down

Distraction costs time and a lot of money.  Each new email that interrupts your train of thought, or each freshly-pressed idea that disrupts your business plan, can distract you from achieving your business goals.  Distraction keeps small business owners from succeeding in ways that include:

  • Continually trying new ideas, methods, or software may become your version of business management. Eventually, you think, you will hit on the right combination, the perfect idea, the dream product.
  • Your business could be in financial trouble.  You hit a slump and need something new—somewhere.  A turnaround company says it helps businesses just like yours.  You cannot afford another mistake.
  • Your small business is doing okay.  You want more profit.  Someone said try this new off-the-shelf inventory system—sounds like a good idea.

Distraction fragments your attention, diminishes your budget, and shows little return on investment—if you are even tracking ROI.  All these examples point to entrepreneurs who do not see the big picture.

My job is helping small business owners see the bigger picture, make more money—and become successful.  That means knowing which shiny objects to pick up—and which to leave behind.

How do you know what works?

When I meet with a small business owner, I ask ten strategic questions.  Ten.  Within 30 minutes, we get to the heart of their problem. After that we build a solid plan to create traction toward business goals. Distraction is not part of the deal.

How can you safeguard your business and your time against the distraction of shiny new things?  Consider these tips:

  • Too good to be true:  What was true yesterday remains true today.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • No rush:  The cutting edge of technology is a popular, and profitable, place to be these days.  Nonetheless, there is no rush to try out new ideas or technologies before others use their time and money to do it for you.
  • Use good business sense:  Have you previously identified an issue this technology or process can address?  Will this opportunity or start-up increase value to your client or customers?  Does this innovation apply specifically to your industry, or would you need to reinvent it?  If it passes muster, consult with business associates, or join a small business support team to discuss whether it is right for your big picture.
  • Repeat after me—no rush:  No offer, no product, and no process is so rare you cannot wait to research the idea and confer with others. If you are pushed for a decision, leave the shiny object for someone else to play with.

Innovation is changing the way we live and work.  The other part of my business is creating unique technical solutions for entrepreneurs to meet their identified marketing needs, offer value to their customers, and increase their profits. When appropriate, the deliberate use of innovation is desirable—not distracting.

When you want to make more money, forget the shiny object and call me at 585-633-7563 for the business plan you need to achieve the profit you want.

To your success,

Bob Britton

Born to Win—Not to Fail: How Head Games Work Against Your Success

Your mindset is the most powerful tool

My goal is to make 50 people into millionaires in five years. Sound crazy? Would you like to be one of them? The place to start is in your head. Why? Because that is where your brain lives.

Three pounds of tissue, blood, chemicals, hormones, fat, and water help form your personality, character, and destiny. If you are not yet grateful for the ability to think—let alone succeed —you should be.

From that masterfully entangled web of neurons comes the ability to create a new outcome—but only if you have the willingness and courage to do it.

Failure—the path of least resistance

Loosely considered to be your system of beliefs, expectations, and aspirations, your mindset is the most powerful tool you have to become a successful entrepreneur. Instead of set in concrete, though, your mind must be set for the next development, the next idea—and the next day.

In your miraculous mind is the ability to create, achieve, and live your dreams. The opportunity to fail is equally accessible—and a lot easier. Do any of these circumstances sound familiar?

  • Your early life was not easy—in fact, it was tough and not very comfortable. You made some decisions, turned some directions, formed a business, and it failed. You formed another and you are doing okay. You work too much, though, and you wonder if this is all there is to life. Those long-ago rough circumstances of childhood sometimes seem too near. You will never be a true success.
  • It was a great job that made a good career. You rose through the ranks, developed skills, and saw personal and professional success. From the back of your mind came the thought that you might want to get off this ride and create a business you could lead and still enjoy life. You planned, and one day made the move with a good business plan. You landed safely, but are struggling. Your product and pitch are good but the dream is not what it seemed. Some doors have closed behind you. Was it a mistake?
  • You lay awake again last night. Your business has its ups and downs, but you cannot break through. Lately, the numbers have not been good—but they should be. You listen to people, make changes, switch tactics, but deep down, you wonder if you have the ability or the ideas to really make your business work.

For entrepreneurs, it is easy to focus on operational challenges. Less obvious are ingrained habits as old as you are that drive your business goals into a wall. These head games prohibit good ideas from growing, and successful businesses from thriving.

I help my clients thrive, achieve financial freedom, and enjoy life. But my first job is to listen and learn. In addition to business status and numbers, I listen for the story that makes the map, the underlying paths that are leading good business people in a direction they do not want to go. I listen for head games.

And sometimes what I find, along with a fear of failure, is a fear of success.

Failure has something to offer

In a TED talk in 2012, Regina Dugan, the former director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) asked an old question, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”

In her talk, Ms. Dugan details successful projects—like the internet—developed in an atmosphere free from of worry of failure. Is it realistic to set failure aside? No. Is it worth considering? Yes.

I work with small business owners that fear failure—and fear success. Conflicting thoughts warn of failure, even as they caution of success. Mental and emotional toughness is needed to hear these thoughts and cultivate their energy. How does that work? Consider this:

  • Fear of failure: By itself, a healthy concern about failing is smart. Small failures can lead to huge success as you fine-tune skills and strategies. For confident business owners, small failures hone creativity. The bottom line is to keep such failures in perspective and learn from them.
  • Fear of success: Fear of achievement can be deep-seated. Many people do not know what success looks like—they just know they want it. When it arrives, the tension and choices are sometimes hard to handle. Instead of opting for the familiarity of failure, take a step into success by joining a group of small business owners who understand your fears and help you find your future.

Head games are preconceived notions of self, and of business, that trip up entrepreneurs on a daily basis. I work hard to help business owners embrace new ideas, find new solutions, and accept a new paradigm for their lives—one of success.

If at first you don’t succeed—call me at 585-633-7563.

To your success,

Bob Britton