One of the most common denominators in all the personal growth communities and books is the importance of setting goals. You have to know where you want to go, so that the path can be revealed. The more complex your desires, the greater the power of long-term goals, short-term goals, lifetime goals and personal goals.
The benefits of Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results based, Time-framed (S.M.A.R.T) goals have been written about for years. So, many agree, setting goals is a powerful process.
It is about ‘eating the elephant, one bite at a time’ and of turning vision into achievable, actionable things. It’s the common denominator of successful individuals and businesses.
Despite their obvious value, our experience with goals have shown that some are good at setting goals and sticking to them, achieving great results and others can’t keep a New Year’s resolution to stop smoking for two days in a row.
Failure to set goals can be seen as a fear of failure. That is, the blow to your integrity when you don’t reach your goals. When you make and keep commitments, such as setting and achieving goals, it reflects the amount of trust you have in yourself. You increase your confidence in yourself to make and keep commitments to others and yourself. However, when you don’t achieve your goals you lose confidence in your ability to make and keep commitments and to trust yourself.
There are many reasons why we don’t achieve our goals. Sometimes the goals we set are unrealistic. New Year’s resolutions are typical examples. Suddenly, we expect to change the way we eat, or the way we exercise just because the calendar changes. It’s like expecting a child that’s never ridden a bike to suddenly jump on and go, or to run a marathon without months of training. These goals are based on illusion with little regard to natural growth. You must crawl before you walk.
So, how do you set and achieve goals? Stephen R. Covey says it best in his book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. “To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.”
An example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal might look something like the following:
Specific – WHAT
My goal is to grow my business by 25% in the next 12 months.
WHY So that:
I can contribute to my retirement fund and retire in 5 yrs.
- Hire a business coach
- Increase business with existing customers by communicating regularly with them
- Develop an effective Sales Process to increase my conversion rate from 35% to 50%
- Enter a new market for my existing products
Focusing on the smaller, short-term goals and achieving success will give you the confidence to set other goals. So, remember, set your goals based on the S.M.A.R.T. principle to have the best chance of achieving your goals.
Do you want to be SMART? Join us at GrowthClub 90 day planning Sept 21, 2016 and start being SMART today.
The sales pitch of the past isn’t effective in today’s marketplace. Today, a sales pitch is a two-way conversation. You ask good questions and listen to the buyer. The buyer has the opportunity to ask questions, and in the process they’re able to develop a much more personalized relationship with you, and your product or service. Captivating your audience lies in the details. From relevant buyer information to interaction and negotiation, these seven tips will help you nail your next ‘sales pitch’.
Successfully connecting with your audience involves preparing yourself with relevant buyer information. Prior to the presentation, conduct in-depth research on the buyer’s company, industry, and competitors. Include social media in your search. This will allow to tailor your message, better communicating how you can meet their specific needs.
Drawing on emotion is critical in sales. Highlight the unique challenges of the business you’re talking to and allow them to visualize your product or service as the solution. Most often people react and make buying decisions emotionally first then rationalize with information. Having a compelling story backed by facts is a force to be reckoned with.
Not only is it important to be prepared and leverage emotion, but also to bring confidence to the presentation. Promoting yourself as an industry leader or savvy entrepreneur subconsciously builds credibility with your audience. You can achieve this by sharing stories about your dedication and vision for their initiatives or stories about how you helped other customers.
Even if you are presenting detailed information, you must read your audience during the sales pitch. After all, it’s a two-way conversation. Gone are the days of PowerPoint slides and bullet points. Today’s most successful pitches include choices, audience interaction with products and services, and being prepared for any questions the buyer may have.
As mentioned, the buyer will most likely have questions. The most common objects during sales pitches fall under budget, authority, need, and time. Be prepared to go into your presentation with responses to all four. The goal is to have answers prepared, making you appear more knowledgeable while increasing your product or service’s value.
The negotiation portion of a business pitch can be intimidating. Before pitching, have a plan in place for negotiation. Not only should you be familiar with what you’re offering, but research how your audience members have invested in the past. Have a plan for the best case, the second best, and the worst. Add value before discounting price. This will help you approach your presentation prepared for any response.
Always end your sales pitch with a call to action. If a negotiation isn’t instantaneous, be sure to include a specific follow-up plan. That communication touch point in the sales funnel will keep you on the radar, placing you in a good position for future prospecting. Follow-up meetings and trials are great ways to keep your audience engaged going forward.
Now that you’ve journeyed through our seven steps for a flawless sales pitch, we hope you feel more confident in putting your skills to the test. Knowing your buyer, product or service, showing a genuine interest in providing a solution, and being prepared for any objections will allow you to present your next business initiative with ease.
Freedom of speech is one of the pillars of our constitution. What about freedom of listening? Effective communication relies more on good listening than it does on speech. Both are key to the overall development and progress of your team. Without effective communication, your team and your business will lag behind in many areas, be less productive and less happy working for you.
If you want to improve communication skills for clarity and effectiveness, here are some vital tips for you to follow:
1. Listen Carefully
Let’s admit it, we all struggle with this. Yet there is one very simple way to ensure you are truly listening. Stop the voice in your head. You know the one. While you are listening to someone else speak, its constantly chattering to you about your retorts, answers, opinions, corrections and responses to what they are saying. Stop it. Stop planning what you are going to say back to them, and just listen. When it starts up again, stop it again. Focus all of the energy you can muster on listening intently on what they are saying, with the only objective being to really fully understand what the other person is trying to communicate and what they are feeling.
2. Body Language
Freedom of speech also includes body language. Often, we don’t realize the significance of our body language, yet it is 70% of our communication. After all, actions speak louder than words. Your facial expressions, eye contact and gestures reveal everything, even though you do not utter a single word.
Exercise to improve your posture. Stand straight and smile to stimulate positive feelings. Always maintain eye contact when talking to someone. Use open body gestures. Watch your facial expressions and the tone of your voice. At the same time, educate yourself about different non-verbal communication signals in different countries, cultures and societies. For example, a handshake is considered rude in some countries, whereas is it a common practice in the US.
3. Read and Write
In order to improve your verbal communication, read and write as much as you can. Read books, the newspaper, online news and articles, blogs or anything you want to boost your vocabulary and improve your writing skills. Listen to audio books while you are driving or getting ready for your day in the morning.
4. Ask Questions
Asking questions helps clarifying things. It shows that you have interest in having a conversation by keeping them engaged. It shows you are truly listening with the intent of fully understanding what the person is trying to communicate. It also helps overcome the fear of small talk in situations where you don’t know people.
5. Manage Stress
Stress is a major impediment to effective communication. Learn to manage it. Use humor in your conversations, keep calm, or be passionate. Be healthy, exercise, go for walks, take breaks from your day and drink lots of water.
The ability to communicate and listen clearly, concisely and coherently takes years of practice. Practicing these skills will not only improve your communication skills, but also improve your business results, and the quality of your life.
Time – Can You Ever Get Enough?
Whether you own a business or work for someone who does, you have probably experienced the “never enough time” phenomenon. When I worked in the high tech world, the saying was always that there was never enough time to do it right, but always plenty of time to go back and fix it later. This practice was also known as using the customers for beta testing.
If we want our businesses and ourselves to thrive, then we must take the time to do things right. We must also be focused on doing the right things. Stephen Covey, in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” offers a powerful tool, the matrix based on Urgency vs. Importance to achieve both of these goals.
In this matrix, Quadrant 2, is a set of activities in a business, or your life, that are Not Urgent, but are Important – this quadrant is the Zone. The Zone is that place where you set aside all the busy work of the day and focus on the things that are truly important for the long-term success of your business and your life. These are activities like planning, strategy, learning and cultivating relationships.
So how do we get in The Zone? First and foremost, you have to make a conscious decision to go there. It will not happen naturally, because these tasks are not urgent, they are not in your face demanding attention! When was the last time your most important client called you up and demanded that you get to work on your budget? Probably never, but when was the last time a client complained that you didn’t have the right parts in stock, or that you delivered her order a week late? Did you take the time to tell them that earlier this year you failed to budget for sufficient stock, or that you failed to plan the replacement of that machine that you knew was on its last legs? This is one of the hardest things for my clients to see, they are constantly in the “urgency” quadrant, specifically because they don’t spend enough time in the zone. Every day I hear about how overwhelmed they are, because of all the urgent daily demands. Getting in the Zone takes practice in order to become a habit. Here are some tips for how to do so.
Put it on your calendar on a regular basis
Scheduling time for planning activities is probably the best and maybe the only way to ensure that they get done. You should spend 20% of your time in Zone activities, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be weekly, it could be on a monthly or quarterly basis. One way is to allocate 4 hours per week to planning (medium-long term, not short term), an additional 8 hours per month, perhaps a couple of half-day sessions, and then an additional 16 hours per quarter, perhaps in an off-site session or two.
Establish a system for accountability
To help you reinforce the need and the habit. This can take the form of a coach, an accountability partner, a mastermind group, a partner, a spouse or any other person that you will feel accountable to for following through. Be sure that they know to ask you when you are allocating your time, and how you intend to spend it. Be sure that you have deliverables to them for the output of your planning, then review and discuss it with them.
Break up the work and the time into proper-sized chunks
Some people work best in 30-45 minute bursts, other prefer 2 hour chunks of time. Pay attention to your own attention span and work style and allocate the most efficient periods of time for you to get your work done. Break up the work into properly sized chunks so that you can accomplish something meaningful in each time period. Know yourself, and when you set aside your Zone time, make sure the chunks of time will be most effective for you.
Pick the right time of day for your Zone activities
In every business and for every person, there are times of day or days of the week that are better or worse than others. If you know that Monday mornings are always crazy, don’t allocate any Zone time for Mondays. You also know your own daily cycles, so be sure to schedule your Zone time at a time of day that is best for the type of thinking you will be doing – creative out of the box brainstorming or detailed number-crunching.
If you want your business to be a long term success, it takes this kind of intentional disciplined planning. Success rarely happens by mistake, so be sure that you are always planning for success, not just this week, but for the next decade.
If you want to really learn how to get into the Zone, come to my TimeWise workshop Friday June 17, 2016 11:30 – 1:00.
The Hardest Sale You Will Ever Make – Your Business
They say the three most stressful times in a person’s life are when they get married, buy a house and change jobs. Well, I don’t think whoever said that considered starting and selling a business – your company is your baby, the thing you have built over 15 plus years. You have put your heart, soul and an incalculable number of hours into it. Now you want to sell it.
There are many things you need to do and consider, but these seven areas are of immense importance when it comes to finding a buyer, selling the company and getting the most value for it.
1. Think about who would want to buy your business:
Do you have employees that have the management ability and the mindset of an owner and the ability to access capital to pay for the business? If these people aren’t working for you now, do you have time to recruit them and teach them the business with an understanding that they might take over? What about your suppliers, customers or competitors? They might be looking for an opportunity to enter your part of the industry.
Finally, you can go to the general market. Contact a broker that has experience in your type of business or get in touch with me for a referral to one.
2. Remove Yourself from the Business:
Many businesses revolve around the owner. Customers are used to dealing with you. Suppliers have long relationships with you. Your team trusts you. All these relationships need to be transferred to your other staff or the new owner.
3. Setup the Business as if you are going to Franchise it.
If the business exists primarily in your head, it’s not a company you can sell. No one will buy a business that relies solely upon the current owner – the person who wants to sell it and walk away.
Off load your knowledge and expertise into systems you can sell with the company. A well-systematized organization is attractive to prospective buyers who see the potential to own a business that runs smoothly using systems and, importantly, can run without their personal input.
A business that runs under management attracts a premium price when it comes time to sell.
4. Lock in your Key Staff – The most Important People in the Business:
If your senior staff aren’t in a position to buy the company, you need to lock them in some way. Best thing to do is talk to them and keep them fully informed.
Keep them up-to-date with developments in the sales process and make sure they understand where they will fit in after a successful sale. Consider introducing bonuses contingent on a successful sale.
5. The Customer Database – Your Pot of Gold:
This is what will add value to your sale price. Think about it from the buyer’s perspective, they are buying a company that with the hope that the customers continue to deal with them.
By developing solid relationships and a detailed database of your customers you will be giving them more confidence that they can manage the client relationships after you have gone. And they’ll value the business much higher.
6. Formalize Everything – Agreements:
Get all loose agreement in writing. Start with your employment agreements. Develop up-to-date agreements that lay out the terms and conditions that you employ your staff under.
Put agreements in place with your suppliers and customers as well. These should include trading terms, pricing contracts and any other “verbal” arrangements.
7. Ensure you have the Best Looking Financials:
You should aim to show three years of constant growth, with healthy-looking financials. Clean up any personal items that could be questionable as business expenses – this will improve your profit figures.
Clear up all outstanding debtors – this will improve your cash flow figures. Reduce any excessive spending and make the company look as profitable and attractive as possible.
8. Get a Business Coach to give you an Outsider’s Perspective:
Clients often come to me looking for someone outside the organization to assist them with the eight steps above. They are GREAT business owners, but may never have been through the sales process before.
An experienced business coach will not only provide you with advice to keep you on the right track, but also the motivation and confidence to see the project through.
Many people wake up one day, fed up with their company and then hurriedly attempt to sell it. This doesn’t work. Plan it two to five years in advance so that you get the best outcome.
Follow the eight steps above and you will reap the rewards for the many years you spent building your business.
To learn more, come to my free workshop this Friday on “How To Build A Business You Can Sell”.
Why You Need to Learn to Plan (And Plan to Learn)
We’ve all heard the saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” But how many of us really take it seriously or take action on it? Do we even clearly understand the benefits? Why we should do it and what is the value to us?
In my experience, until we understand the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) we never really do anything. Normally we need a strong perceived benefit before we’ll generally do anything!
So let’s first take a step back and explore when we do understand planning. Two of the best examples are: 1. A wedding; and 2. Building a house.
Most weddings are either pretty good or even great. And even if you have been to a lousy one, it’s normally in the minority. Weddings generally work out well because they’ve had literally months and months of planning. Planners consider every detail and the plans get reviewed and adjusted all throughout the months before the big day.
For the second example, consider this:
Assistant (at Home Depot): ‘Hi, this is Joe Soap how may I assist you?”
You: “Hi Joe, I’ve just thought about building a house and want to order some bricks please.”
Assistant: “Sure, how many would you like?”
You: “Well I’m not sure, how many do you usually need for a house?”
Assistant: “That depends on the house. Have you thought about the color yet?”
You: “Not yet so maybe give me a few in every color you’ve got.”
This interaction seems absurd, as no one would ever just start building a house. We’d go through meticulous planning, designing and re-planning, long before we even get to ordering the bricks. First in our imagination, and then with an architect and, even a designer.
Yet I see business owners managing their businesses this way every day. Going through the daily motions, keeping all the balls in the air, without a clear plan for getting where they want to go.
So let’s see how and where planning fits in:
Once you have spent some time on getting clear on your dreams and goals (this is another subject), the next step would be to set SMART goals. SMART goals are then translated into plans so that the actions we take again feed up the line to ultimately achieving our dreams. This would be the same for business goals and personal dreams.
The disconnect between these 4 areas normally result in things like procrastination, boredom, being overwhelmed, burnout and the like. Once you have absolute clarity at each step, it’s easy to focus, and more often than not, you achieve your goals and ultimately dreams faster than initially expected.
With this understanding, I often find people wanting to then go straight into planning over a long period. If you’re not yet good at planning your day, there is no use in trying to plan the next three years. Develop a good daily planning habit first (Read, Eat That Frog, Tracy or First Things First, Covey).
So to start, get some clarity on what you’d like to achieve in the next 3 years. With that in mind, what is it you’d like to achieve in the next 12 months? Once you’ve got the 12 month goals, break them down and work backwards to what you should do in the next 90 days only. Start the planning at that level and first get good at creating a 90-day plan, like you would if you’ve been to my GrowthCLUB. Then break it into monthly focus areas and weekly goals, plans and actions that again connect to the 90-day goals.
Take daily action and get good at reviewing the daily plan and preparing for the next. Then move towards working on the weekly review and planning for the week ahead, and so on. Before long you’ll have exercised your planning ‘muscle’ and will be getting good at annual and then three-yearly planning.
Planning is a tool for achieving your dreams, and the more you work on it, and have fun with it, the more your life and business will bear the fruits. Block out time on your calendar right now when you are going to do this goal setting and planning, then go for it!
For more help, come to my next GrowthClub on June 22nd.