re:Position Your Business

Hitting a moving target

Small businesses, whether in a good economy or bad, always seem to be shooting at a moving target. So the idea of restructuring, redirecting, realigning and rebuilding is nothing new to most entrepreneurs. However, I do think many of you may be a little more challenged to “re:Position” your business in this current and future economies.

To re:Position your business means to analyze your current business model in context of the current economic environment in order to develop a strategy that will allow you thrive now and in the future. To effectively re:Position, you will need to increase your focus on innovation, customer micro-targeting, customer engagement, flexible pricing, social awareness and other strategic customer-focused activities.

How are you going to THRIVE?

  • Innovation: Innovation can take on many forms from operations to products/services to marketing to employee development. What do you do better, faster, and/or cheaper than your competitors? Is your company leading or lagging in your market segment? What proactive things are you doing to improve your internal operations, create must-have products/services, and market more effectively?
  • Marketplace Alignment: Is your business model strategically aligned to take advantage of current and emerging economic trends (see Where’s Your Hedgehog?)? For example, entrepreneurs will need to be more aware of their customer’s affinity for green products and doing business with companies that engage in green initiatives.

  • Customer Micro-targeting: What does your customer really want? It will be imperative for you to be more in tune with your customer’s specific needs, desires, and price points within different demographic groups.
  • Pricing: How much is your customer willing and able to pay for your products/services? Paying attention to your price to quality ratio will be vital. You have to ensure that if you have a high end product or service, its price is justified by an exceptional level of quality.
  • Customer Engagement: How do your customers want to connect with you? You will need to be more strategic in how you interact, serve and educate your customers. The use of social media technology, while before may have been a nicety, will soon become a necessity. You may also have to be more patient as you engage more in consultative selling, educating your customers long before you convince them to make a purchase (see Seize Your Season of Opportunity).
  • Personal & Professional Development: If you’re not growing, you’re dying. How are you increasing your knowledge and developing your skills? Does your business truly reflect a balance between your purpose, passions and professional skills? If you are going to ensure your personal long-term sustainability, you have to start thinking like this.

It is possible for your business to not just survive but thrive in this current and future economic environments. The key question is, are you ready to re:Position?

Dream B.I.G.,
Paul Wilson, Jr.

re:Position Summit facilitated by Paul Wilson, Jr.
“Shift your life from striving to THRIVING!
~ Learn how to flourish in any economic environment ~
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Alpharetta, GA


*Enjoy this video Gamechangersfrom

Seize Your Season of Opportunity

Entrepreneurs Need to Think Like Farmers

Due to the fact that more than 80% of Americans live in urban areas, sometimes it’s difficult for us to relate to the habits and lifestyles of those who live in agricultural areas of our nation and world. Nevertheless, one can extract key lessons from agricultural best practices that can be used as transformational business and life principles.
In order to get the greatest yield from the land, farmers understand they must plan for several factors, including available resources and constraints, geography and climate of the farm, and their own philosophy and culture among other things (see Wikipedia for more info).

Farmers also understand that different strategies are used at different times of the year to reap the best harvest based upon the types of crops they are producing. Likewise, entrepreneurs must plan and adjust their actions to harvest different business opportunities, because like crops they also come and go in cycles or seasons. Entrepreneurs must become keenly aware of the season/cycle in which their opportunities exist, so they can increase the size, frequency and quality of their harvest.

Let’s dig a little deeper as we consider different types of “opportunity seasons” and how you can plan for them in your business.
  1. Prepare the ground (Customer not ready to purchase): Externally, educate yourself on your target customers, market conditions, future opportunities and potential threats to your business. Internally, assess your company for ways to improve your current designs, performance, processes, customer service, etc (a SWOT Analysis tool is great for this). This season may also involve focusing on your own personal development.

  2. Plant the seeds (Customer interested in learning more): Focus on marketing, brand building, and networking. Reach out and connect with target customers. Demonstrate your expertise and value in the marketplace through several platforms (i.e. free seminars, social networks, blogging, articles, podcasting, email newsletters, interviews, free samples).

  3. Nurture the growth (Customer considering a purchase): Build relationships with priority customers. Focus on educating and equipping them with valuable knowledge and specific information that will benefit them. Assess customer relationships to determine whether they are hot, warm, or cold – this will dictate how quickly you move to the next stage.

  4. Reap the harvest (Customer ready to purchase): Be confident and close the deal. It’s critical to know when your customer is ready to purchase. If you try to close too early or too late you could lose them.
You must recognize that different opportunities avail themselves in different seasons of a business cycle. Therefore, you can’t use the same approach for each opportunity. You need to know what stage it’s in – preparing, planting, nurturing, or reaping – so that you can determine how to strategically seize it.

Although the country may be in a recession your business doesn’t have to be. You can still grow in this environment. You just have to be more strategic, discerning, and value-driven than ever before. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to think like a farmer.

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.

Super Risk, Super Reward?

$3 million for 30 seconds. That’s the going rate for commercial ads being sold by NBC for this year’s Super Bowl. That’s a 10% increase over last year’s price of $2.7 million (I guess the recession hasn’t hit everywhere yet).

With the Super Bowl being a globally televised event that has the highest ratings of any television show, that $3 million could be a no-brainer investment – if it’s spent wisely. But of course if you have watched the Super Bowl over the years you know that some companies haven’t spent their money all that well.

Here’s one of my favorites from last year…

What would you do if you had $3 million to spend for a 30 second commercial? How would you spend it on your business or organization? I would love to hear your comments.

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.

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The Trust Factor

Know you. Like you. Trust you. It has been said that these are three critical elements of growing healthy customer relationships that result in sales and long-term loyalty. I just read a great article at that speaks to the key steps in building trust with your customers (click here for the article).
Entrepreneurs can’t afford not to focus on trust-building, especially when customers are more conservative and discriminating about how they spend their money. Sometimes trust is often the ultimate motivating factor for purchasing decisions.

Below is a list of some key questions related to building trust with your current and future customers. Having practical, specific, and customer-friendly answers to these questions will help you to build credibility and a competitive advantage.

  • How are you building a brand that demonstrates trust?
  • With every customer interaction, are you thinking about a long-term relationship versus a one-time transaction?
  • Does everyone in your company operate with a trust-building mindset?
  • How do you help your customers develop a comfort level with your products or services?
  • If your products or services don’t work as promised, what remedies or processes do you have in place to quickly resolve issues?

Remember, if you focus on getting your customers to know you, like you, and trust you, you will not only increase your probability of sales now, you will also enhance your opportunities for repeat sales in the future.

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.

Be Persistent Without Being a Pest – Part 2

…continued from Part 1

It matters what you say AND how you say it

There is a fine line between being viewed by your customers as pest-like versus persistent. The key is effectively managing your customer interactions. In Part 1 I stressed the importance of the fact that the content of your customer communications must be focused on the tangible value that your products/services can deliver to your customers. Here in Part 2 I will focus on how to effectively communicate that value to customers.

Some statistics say that it takes a minimum of 8 interactions for a customer sale to be generated. So, one of the keys to effective customer communications is not trying to hit a homerun with every conversation or interaction. This can be hard for many entrepreneurs to buy into, because sometimes it seems like you staying in business is contingent upon that very next sale. I know how that feels, because I’ve been there. However, this is one of the most destructive mindsets that you can have as an entrepreneur (or employee), because it can drive short-term thinking, causing some to engage in unethical business practices just to get a sale.
Like with any relationship in life, it takes time, energy, and intentionality to build a healthy one. As it relates to effectively building long-term, mutually prosperous relationships with customers, your thought should be that every interaction that you have with customers is positioning you for the next interaction with them.
Tips for Interactions
Here’s some ideas for how to engage in successful customer interactions in order to grow healthy, profitable relationships.
  1. Plan your contact intervals: Develop a 6 month schedule for when and how you will contact each key customer prospect. Strategically plan to have at least 6 to 8 interactions within this timeframe. Utilize various forms of communication including email, phone, in-person, and other tools listed below.

  2. Plan your interactions: Be very intentional about what you want to communicate with each type of interaction. Include the appropriate content with the right communication tools. Especially during the initial interactions, ask a lot of questions, so that you can spend more time listening than talking. This will help you mine key nuggets of information, such as problems, issues, or challenges they are experiencing that you can use for #3.

  3. Link previous contacts/interactions together: Remember, each contact should build for the next one. With each interaction, use creative ways to remind your customer the subject matter of your previous contact and how what you provide relates specifically to their needs or desires. You are basically authoring a story about your company they they are experiencing over a long period of time versus all at once. Make sure it’s a good story!

  4. Focus on VALUE!: Don’t waste your customer’s time trying to impress them with your marketing materials (they can read your web site or brochure for that). Use creative ways to communicate the tangible benefits they will get from your product or service (remember Part 1?). Also, consider including the negative impact they might experience by not using your product or service.

Tools to Demonstrate Value

One key to effectively demonstrating your value to customers, is to position yourself as the expert in your area. You can do this by displaying your capabilities, experience, and expertise in ways that increase their knowledge and awareness. As part of your planned customer interactions, I suggest incorporating some of the following tools at various intervals:
  • Customer Satisfaction Surveys
  • Customer Testimonials
  • Newsletter
  • Blog
  • Case Studies
  • White Papers
  • Podcast
  • Book
  • Freelance writing for magazines and industry trade publications
  • Press releases
  • Awards
A lot of this stuff is Marketing 101, but many entrepreneurs either don’t utilize these tools or they don’t use them in the most effective ways. Just like in other areas of our lives, we often know what to do, but we still don’t do it.

Acquiring new corporate customers requires having the right strategic approach that clearly and consistently demonstrates your value. Hope for quick customer decisions, but plan as if they will take a long time. Persist the right way so that you don’t become a “sales-pest” that they want to exterminate.

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.

Be Persistent Without Being a Pest – Part 1

Beware of pest-like behavior

Successful business owners understand that the DNA of their personality must contain the 3P’s of Entrepreneurship: passion, perseverance, and persistence. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs are unbalanced, with passion often overshadowing the other two. And when they are “overly passionate” about what they do, but without understanding how to effectively channel that passion or have underdeveloped interpersonal communication skills, they will come across as overbearing, tactless, and even desperate.

In essence they have created a combustible mix of annoyance that causes a customer’s “sales-pest alert” to be activated. When this happens, customers become turned off and alienated very quickly. It can then become an extremely difficult challenge to reverse a customer’s perception, partly because the experience has confirmed their negative preconceived notions of “typical” salespeople.

For small businesses who mainly target large corporations, there exists an art and a science to securing and growing healthy, prosperous customer relationships. Although, it often takes a long time to get through some of your prospects’ doors of opportunity, you have to be able to knock on those doors with a velvet hammer.

I am going to break up this topic of persistent, “non-pest like” customer communications into 2 parts. Part 1 will cover what to communicate and Part 2 will cover how to communicate it. So, let’s look at what the content of your interactions should be with prospective corporate customers.

Value Drivers for Corporations

As you target different customers, there is a common denominator that they are all looking
for… VALUE! Whether you sell widgets or windmills, if you expect to build a prosperous relationship, your product or service better do one of the following for your customer:

  1. Make money
  2. Save money

  3. Solve a problem that does 1 or 2

  4. Make job easier to do 1 or 2

  5. Provide new learning that help them do 1, 2, 3, or 4

If your product or service doesn’t satisfy any of these five, then I would strongly argue that you are not providing value. And in the current economic environment, most corporations are not going to spend money on something that is not providing them some type of tangible value.

Measure your performance to prove your value

One of the keys to demonstrating value in one of these five areas is having performance metrics derived from data collected from your previous customer engagements. The critical importance of selecting the right performance metrics is that they must be: 1) important to your customers, 2) relevant to their goals and 3) demonstrate your past successful performance.
If your customers value cost savings, then having metrics that show how your product/service has saved money for previous customers is crucial. If your customers are focused on service levels, then you need to have metrics that demonstrate your ability to maintain high service levels. If your customer is focused on providing a high level of customer satisfaction, then having metrics that demonstrate how well you keep customers pleased is a non-negotiable.
Unfortunately, for many small businesses that I have dealt with, collecting data used to generate performance metrics is not a business practice that is utilized often enough. Without capturing data, it will be very difficult for you to effectively prove that you can deliver on one or more of these five value drivers.
Before engaging your next prospect, you need to collect and analyze relevant data in order to assess whether or not your product or service would really add tangible value to their operations. Doing your due diligence in this area prior to contacting them will help to ensure that your customer interactions will be time well spent – for you and them. They will definitely appreciate you for that (even if you don’t get a sale right away).

Passion is a necessary element for any successful entrepreneur. However, you need to be able to demonstrate controlled passion not just about what you do, but how well you do it. When you are able to clearly prove your tangible value to customers and can effectively communicate that in a consistent, non-intrusive way (see Part 2), you run a much lower chance of being perceived as a pest.

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.

Make sure to check back for Part 2.

Overcoming Sales F.E.A.R. recently published an article online entitled, “Are You Sales Phobic?”. I was thinking about this article in the context of one of my recent blog postings, “Conquering F.E.A.R.” This topic of fear as it relates to business is close to me, because I have to admit that although I’m an entrepreneur, I’m not a salesperson at heart. In fact, for many years I shunned sales jobs, because I disdained the image of one of those slick, overbearing salespeople, who “force” themselves on people with gadgets or services that they probably didn’t want or need. That wasn’t who I was or who I wanted to be known as.

What I eventually learned is that I had the wrong perspective about sales… and maybe you do too. Even when I first started my consulting and training business, I was naive and didn’t fully embrace the fact that entrepreneurs are really salespeople (and if they don’t think they are, they won’t be in business for very long). I was hoping that all of the relationships that I had developed while I was working in my corporate job would come chasing after me once they found out I was a “free agent”. To my dismay and disappointment, that didn’t happen. I soon realized that I had to… ugh… sell to them.

Until recently I had not associated my aversion to sales as fear. One reason is because fear can look very subtle in sales. For example, fear could be displayed as apprehension, avoidance, procrastination, self-sabotage, lack of confidence, or indecisiveness. Personally, whenever I was in a situation where I felt the pressure to sell something, all of a sudden I become tense, robotic, anxious, and unsure of myself. This was in total contrast to my typical personality. I naturally enjoyed engaging with people and I didn’t have a problem striking up conversations with complete strangers. I realized something had to change if I was going to be successful as an entrepreneur.

Then one day I was at a leadership conference and I heard one of the speakers give his definition of sales. He said that sales is simply offering something to someone that they need. This simple yet profound statement impacted me unlike any sales seminar or book that I had experienced prior to that. My overall perspective, attitude, and approach to customers was totally changed after that. I realized that sales was not about me trying to convince my customers to buy something that I had to sell. It is about me offering something of value to them that they need – even if they don’t realize yet that they need it.

Even with this new understanding, I still had to work to get over my fear of sales. I also had to get comfortable with who I was as a salesperson and how to sell most effectively. One way to help cope with the fear of selling is to discover your sales style, because everyone doesn’t do sales the same way.

According to Ray Silverstein, there are three basic categories of salespeople, Finders, Minders, and Grinders (click here to read article). Regardless of what sales style that you have, the common denominator between each of these styles is the ability to build relationships with customers. The key differentiator between the different sales styles is the time frame of the execution of the sales process.

As I assessed at myself while reading his article, I realized that my personality and style places me mostly into the Minder category. One of my strengths is building and maintaining positive relationships. I’m not quite as strong at getting a lot of sales in short periods of time. This is critical information for me to know, because it helps me to define the type of strategy that I need to employ to build relationships with customers that will grow my business.

Business is all about relationships. If you don’t know how to build and maintain relationships, you will fail in business. There are three basic principles which are crucial to you overcoming your fear of selling and growing a successful business or career. You must get your customers to: 1) know you, 2) like you, and 3) trust you. Knowing and practicing these three key principles will enable you to build profitable relationships that will fuel your sales success. Let’s take a closer look at these principles.

1) Know you – Your reputation is your personal brand and is the most valuable asset that you have. Your customers will know you by the quality of your character and interaction with them. Developing genuine, authentic connections with your customer will enable you to be known by a positive reputation.

2) Like you – The Bible says that those who want friends must show themselves to be friendly. Are you likable (i.e. personality, character, attitude)? Are you easy to get along with and easy to talk to? You need to demonstrate a genuine concern for your customer’s needs. Helping your customer like you as a human being will get you even further as a salesperson.

3) Trust you – Trust can take a long time to establish. The number one thing that you can do to establish trust is to keep your word, because integrity is non-negotiable. Under-promise and over-deliver. Don’t give in to the pressure to meet a sales quota at the expense of compromising your relationship with your customer.

Whether you are working for yourself or for a company, when you engage customers you are really selling yourself. Stay true to who you are. Don’t try to fit into someone else’s vision of a salesperson if that doesn’t fit your character or personality. Just because a certain technique works for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you too. Also, recognize that everyone is not your customer, because they may not need what you have have to offer. You need to be OK with that.

You are uniquely you. Use your own character traits to your advantage as you build long-term, profitable relationships with current and potential customers. Don’t let fear or anything else keep you from positively impacting the people that need what you have to offer!

Empowering Champions,

Paul Wilson, Jr.

Resource Articles:

“Are You Sales Phobic?” by Allison Stein Wellner

“Finder, Minder or Grinder: What’s Your Sales Style?” by Ray Silverstein

Conquering F.E.A.R.

The pace of life and business seems to be steadily increasing. With this increased pace, making positive decisions becomes more challenging, because there is less time to process critical information needed to make those decisions. Fortunately, God foresaw this, creating within our bodies an intricate rapid response system that we utilize to make quick decisions on the fly.

Our bodies are equipped with a mechanism called adrenal glands, which control our “fight or flight” reactions when we encounter threatening situations. Most times these decisions are made in fractions of a second. In his book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell provides an interesting perspective on our ability and propensity to make split second decisions. His premise is that we constantly make instantaneous decisions based on a two second first impression of a situation. He explains that this ability to make quick decisions works to our advantage in some situations, and to our disadvantage in others.

While our adrenal glands are quite effective in helping us determine instantaneously whether to fight or flee, they are not quite as useful when it comes to situations when we are given a space of time to make a decision. The negative impact of this is that people have a tendency to make more “flight” decisions when immediacy is not required. It seems that the more time that people have to ponder their situations, the more time they spend focusing on the downside risks rather than the upside potential.

The reality is that running a business or simply living life is all about effectively managing risks. An essential part of managing risks is taking them when necessary. However, if you are unwilling to take any risks, your business or your life will not flourish like it could. There is one main culprit that can be blamed for people’s aversion to risk and assertive decision making. Fear.

Fear paralyzes people and constrains their decision making process considerably. Fear can even keep people from taking low impact risks. Whether it be fear of failure, fear of success, fear of other people’s opinions, or fear of the unknown, this is a powerful emotion that can sap the courage out of the strongest people. Regardless, fear can be conquered no matter how intimidating a situation may be.

People who achieve great things in life and business have learned how to conquer their fears. You must learn how to do the same if you are going to have significant accomplishments in your life or business.

Here are some practical steps that you can engage during those situations when you are tempted to give in to your fears. Continually practicing these steps will also help you to make better decisions in shorter amounts of time.

Focus on your vision:

  • Keep your thoughts aimed at your dream with a laser like intensity.
  • Don’t be distracted by things that don’t align with your vision.
  • Focusing on your future can provide you the motivation to move past your fear (Imagine what will happen to your vision if you don’t move past your fear).

Evaluate the obstacle(s):

  • Assess whether your obstacles are real or perceived. Sometimes what we consider an obstacle is nothing more than a menial distraction.
  • Determine what you have control over – including your attitude – and what you don’t. Quit worrying about things you can’t control.
  • Seek wise counsel from those who have faced similar obstacles, so that you can determine whether to attack it or ignore it.

Attack the enemy that’s “in-a-me”:

  • A house divided against itself cannot stand. Your fight is often internal (i.e. thoughts, emotions, and desires) before it becomes external.
  • Recognize that you have the potential to do great things. If you don’t believe that you can win your fight, then typically you won’t.
  • Forget your past mistakes and don’t allow negative memories to poison your perspective.

Respond to the challenge:

  • Courage is not the absence of fear, instead it’s recognizing your fear and engaging in the battle in spite of it. You may even be fueled by it.
  • Learn from your previous victories and use them as stepping stones to move ahead.
  • If you’re going to fail, at least do it moving forward. Rarely have I seen a fight won by a person who was running away.

A key point to remember is that just because you are able to make quick decisions, doesn’t mean they are always the best decisions. The more you practice practical decision making in situations where you are challenged by fear, the better your decision making will be when it needs to be instantaneous.

Pursue your dreams with persistence, patience, perseverance, and passion. Face your fears confidently and assertively. Don’t let anyone or anything, especially fear, stop you from accomplishing all of which you are capable.

Empowering Champions,

Paul Wilson, Jr.