A-Head for Success

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A-Z of Business: X- X-Ray Vision – Know your Business Inside Out

Your business results don’t reflect the effort you put in. Sound familiar?

If so, you are not alone.  Indeed, some of my clients have been working so hard that they are nearing burnout.  This is often because they are focusing on the wrong thing, which they believe to be the right thing.  This is why having a forensic view of your company – x-ray vision – helps you to focus on those factors which make the biggest difference to your success.  Working smart, not working hard is the difference which makes the difference.  Productivity, not activity.

For example, if you are spending a lot of time bringing in new business but haemorrhaging customers out the back door, your efforts will be as effective as attempting to fix a burst pipe with a sticking plaster.

Or perhaps you are spending your time bringing in new business that you don’t have the infrastructure to support?  Like building a house without it’s foundations.

Maybe your customer service is poor and you are busy sending out feedback forms when really the problem is that your hiring processes and training do not enforce your company value of customer satisfaction?

Or is your business booming but your customer’s aren’t paying their invoices?  This is where success leads to ruin.

So, x-ray vision on the essentials helps you work strategically – making the right decisions about how you spend your time and your money and what will be the best strategy to take your business forward.  The first step is to get yourself some key performance indicators.  These help you to measure your performance against target on areas you consider to be important, for example:

  • Turnover
  • Profit
  • Product revenues
  • Sales growth
  • Cost of sales
  • Costs
  • Performance against budget
  • Sales conversion ratio
  • New sales by marketing method
  • ROI (see individual blog about this)
  • Revenue by customer
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Employee performance
  • Revenue by employee
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Customer complaints
  • Customer complaints resolved
  • There are also various KPIs for:
    • Social media
    • Site engine optimisation
    • Call centre performance

Lies and statistics

A lot of clients view a nice big turnover as proof of their success and they just work very hard at increasing that number.  However, a forensic examination of the statistics will let them know whether there is also a healthy profit because if the ratio of profit to turnover is low, you are working hard for little reward.  It will help you look at what is creating the biggest profit and whether you need to make a loss on something to bring in profit on something else.  This is both an art and a science.  Also, if you are producing lots of nice big invoices but not getting paid because your credit control is not effective, that turnover is meaningless.

Here are my 5 steps to help you take control of your business with x-ray vision:

  1. Consider what KPIs you want in your business (the above are just a few examples)
  2. Regularly review performance against these
  3. Look at the relationship between them
  4. Decide what is causing the positive results and do more of those
  5. Determine what is causing negative results and take remedial action.  Make sure there will not be negative consequences elsewhere.

Remember that an x-ray shows you what is wrong structurally, it is up to you to find out the cause and to take appropriate action.

If you need help with any of this – it is hard doing it for yourself – do give me a call on 0845 130 0854.  I look forward to hearing from you!

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: W: Weaknesses – You are only as strong as your weakest link

WeaknessWe are all made up of strengths and weaknesses, undiscovered potential and blind spots.  Your best strategy for success is to exploit your strengths, uncover hidden skills (we all have them), open your eyes to your blind spots (we all have those too) and start working on these – and your weaknesses – to make sure they do not become your derailers.

Your biggest enemy in addressing any limitations is denial.  If you want to have success, your best friend is your willingness to be open to discovering weaknesses and to work on them.

As the title of this article suggests – you are only as strong as your weakest link.  Doing whatever it takes to mitigate against these is good insurance for the future and it will give you a sense of progress and achievement too.  It may mean working on yourself (it’s much easier with the support of a good coach) or hiring in talent to make up for any shortfall.  All the best teams, according to the principles of Belbin Team Roles require a variety of attributes to achieve success.

Belbin has nine team roles from Shaper (takes the business forward, creating strategy) to Completer Finisher (who puts the strategy into action).  One cannot exist fruitfully without the others, otherwise the team is out of balance.  Whether you are working on your own or with a team, the same principle applies.

In the 5 Pillars of Success, I look at the dimensions which help to make you successful:

1.    Clarity
Do you have a clarity of purpose, of mission and of values?  Do you have a clear strategy with clear steps to take you there?  Can you see clearly enough to prioritise well and delegate effectively to your team or brief your suppliers effectively? 2.    Skills
Do you have the skills you need to make you successful?  InfluencingTime management?  Leadership?  Delegating?  Presenting?  Emotional intelligence?  Business skills?  Conflict management?  What skill do you wish you had more of?  What skill do you overplay so that it becomes a problem?  Perfectionism?  Drive?  It’s just as important to see when a strength becomes a weakness as it is to recognise your blind spots. 3.    Mindset
Are you positive, motivated and solution oriented?  Do you possess the personality factors for success?  Have you been on my Personality for Success seminar yet?  This gives you a great self-assessment tool, or you can book yourself a psychometric profile. 4.    Stress Resilience
Are you calm and resourceful under pressure?  Do you respond thoughtfully to situations rather than react impulsively, building up more problems for yourself down the line?  Do you allow the small things to become big things?  Do you take the stresses at work home with you and the stress at home to work with you? 5.    Energy
Do you have too much work at the end of your energy?  Does your lifestyle or pace impact your health?  Do you have adrenal energy or core energy?  It is only core energy which is sustainable but few people have this.  Are you firing on all cylinders?  If you aren’t, nor is your business.

And what weaknesses are there in your business?  Do you have the skills, processes and systems in place to run the business effectively and profitably?  Do you have a good quality team, performing well and working well together?  Are you able to acquire and retain customers who pay well and are happy with your service or product?  And are you able to meet your financial targets and obligations?

Remember that no one person can know it all, do it all and be it all.  Perfection is not a human condition but it is a destination, one you can travel on your journey of self-development and business improvement.

What one area could you improve which would have the biggest impact for you?  If you focus on one thing at a time then you will not risk dropping any of the many balls you are juggling and it is easier to integrate the change.

Why not book an assessment to see where you can best focus your efforts to create the best value?  Call me on 0845 130 0854 to discuss your options.

 

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: U – USP – Why You Need One

Unique Selling PointDo you really need a Unique Selling Point?  What happens if you don’t have one?  Well, unless you are in an industry with no competitors then your USP is what will set you apart.  It will give your prospects a reason to go with you instead of someone else.

In a struggling economy, you need all the competitive advantage you can get.  And if you are looking for a job, you need that competitive edge too.

So, why should someone buy your product?  It is no longer enough to say “we are the best”, you need to say how.  And it needs to be based on reality rather than an aspiration that you are working towards.

There was a wonderful sign displayed which went like this:

“We offer three kinds of service – Good, Cheap or Fast.  You can pick any two.  Good and cheap won’t be fast.  Good and fast won’t be cheap.  Cheap and fast won’t be good.  ”

At the gym yesterday, my personal trainer said the best advice he was given is to always think of yourself as number two so that you would still strive to do better.  This reminded me of the Avis USP which is “We are number two – we try harder.”  What a great USP which succeeds in turning a negative into a massive positive.

Apple’s USP is to think differently – they are the company best known for their innovation, having broken many technological boundaries.  They can be relied upon to be innovative, fun and customer-focused.

If you are finding it difficult to identify your USP, go back to testimonials you have been given by your customers.  It is easy to forget these but hopefully you have kept a log of them.  Also, consider what your competitors are doing and what they are promising.  How are you different to them?  What are the problems you are solving for your customers?

Let’s take an example.  For an IT support company, their customers may suffer from not being terribly IT literate, having to wait a long time before an engineer can fix their problem, or their technology is stopping them from getting on with their work

Let’s look at the customers’problem, potential USPs and their corresponding straplines:

  1. Waiting a long time for an engineer
    • USP – getting their IT problems solved quickly
    • Strapline – Your IT Support within 24 hours or quicker
  2. Not very IT literate
    • USP – use jargon free communication so that the problem is easier to understand
    • Strapline – Taking the Jargon out of IT Support
  3. Technology stopping them from working
    • USP – getting you up and running quickly
    • Strapline –Helping you to work when your computer doesn’t
  4. Frustrated that every problem seems to mean a new computer
    • USP – providing the simplest, most cost effective solutions
    • Strapline – Simple Solutions to Complicated Problems

Whatever your USP, do make sure that you live and breathe it.  You don’t want your USP to be “tried and failed” – it should enhance your reputation, not undermine it.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: S – Selling: Your 6 Steps to Success

SalesSales are the lifeblood of any business and the ability to sell is an art-form.  That’s why sales people get paid so well.

It’s also inextricably linked to reputation.  So, whatever commitments you make in the sales process, it’s important to be sure that you can meet them.  It can be tempting, especially if you are chasing targets, to make a sale at any cost.  Promising impossible delivery terms, or unworkable modifications, just to get them to sign the order, can be an expensive mistake.

Conversely, being honest with a prospect if you feel your product isn’t right for them, increases your credibility, your reputation and the potential for future sales and ongoing referrals.  Your prospect understands that you have their best interests at heart so they will trust you should their needs change in the future.

Selling requires a variety of skills, from the ability to build rapport, to excellent listening and communication skills.  The ability to handle objections is possibly the most difficult component and was the subject of a previous article (view).  It requires the ability to influence effectively (view) and to negotiate well (view).

Following is a simple sales process.  To illustrate it in action, let’s suppose you are selling a printer:

  1. Build rapport
  2. Background information
    • How long have you had your existing printer?  What features are you looking for?  What kind of volume do you need it to produce?
  3. What problem are you trying to solve?
    • “We’d like to save money on ink; We’d like to improve reliability and print quality and we’d like to increase the number of functions – ie print on A3, collate reports and staple”
  4. What effect is the problem having on you?  This helps the prospect to identify with the pain of the problem.
    • “The current printer is slow, unreliable and often breaks down – last time it meant that the reports weren’t ready for the board meeting.”
  5. Suggest a positive outcome to their problem.  This will move them from the pain of the problem to the pleasure of the solution, making them more open to saying “yes”.
    • “Our model XYZ123 will produce high quality print, 50% faster than your current printer at a 20% saving on your current cartridges.  Not only that, it will collate and staple your reports for you.”
  6. Ask for the sale – the most important part!
    • There are various closing techniques, the simplest of which are:
      • Direct – “This seems to address all your needs whilst making savings for you.  Would you like to buy this model?”
      • Assumptive – “When would you like it delivered?”

It is easy to blame the product or the price for lack of sales, but often the issue is more about not having aligned your solution to the client’s needs.  Remember that selling is an art-form.  Do read the objection-handling and negotiating articles mentioned above for more information.  Also, why not call for some 1:1 coaching so that you can have a personalised input on how to improve your sales success?  Call me on 0845 130 0854.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: EQ – The Difference Which Makes the Difference

EQIn this A-Z of Business series, we have reached the letter Q.  Now, I could have talked about quotas, quoting or questions if I was being a purist.  But, if I look at the balance of what’s been written and what’s missing, I think that EQ (Emotional Intelligence) is far more important.  Anything which omits this key area of business success is lacking.  So I decided to break my own rule and hope that’s OK with you?

In case you haven’t come across this before you may be wondering why it’s called EQ when it refers to Emotional Intelligence (EI)?  The Q refers to “quotient” which is the amount of a specific quality or characteristic, in this case, emotional intelligence.  But, what does it mean?  It is the capacity for self-insight, for understanding and managing your emotions and having empathy for others’.  In this way you can better manage your relationships and your stress levels.

It is such an important skill that it is thought to be more important than IQ in helping to get you promoted, in creating sales and in building collaborative effort.  Research suggests that it accounts for around 90% of managerial success as opposed to IQ which only accounts for 20%.  Not that IQ is not important.  Of course, it is.  But you need both.  The ability to put your knowledge, your expertise, your skills into effect in the most  constructive way possible is said to be the difference which creates the successful business person whether you work for yourself of for an organisation.

So, ask yourself:

  • How well do you respond to setbacks?
  • How well do you understand people’s different motivations and behaviours?
  • Do you have a balanced view of your own strengths and weaknesses?
  • To what extent are you able to control your responses in situations which challenge you?
  • Are you good at building collaborative relationships?
  • Could you be described as someone who is level-headed, positive and flexible?
  • Do you inspire trust?
  • Do you manage conflict well (rather than avoid it)?
  • Are you self-motivated?
  • How good are you at bouncing back when things go wrong?

You can learn more HERE on our website.

Emotional intelligence is one of those concepts where you need a lot of it to know you have it.  So if your EQ isn’t as high as you think it is, it will almost certainly be inhibiting your progress.  To be sure what your level of EQ is, why not book an assessment?  It’s well worth it and can put you on track for success like nothing else.  Call me on 0845 130 0854.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: M – Marketing for Success

Marketing is the activity which creates awareness of your products or services and brings new business in.  However, it does require you to spend time on your business rather than in it.  This means, creating a cohesive and sustained marketing strategy to create awareness and desire for your services or products.  A mistake a lot of people make is to try something once and, if it doesn’t yield the desired result, drop it and move onto something else.  That’s understandable but means that you are never leveraging off that effort.

Imagine that you decide on an advert.  You spend a fair amount of money, but nada.  Not one single enquiry.  Is advertising wrong for you?  Not necessarily.  There are lots of factors which could affect its success:  Was it the right publication?  Is your branding attractive and in keeping with your product or service?  Was the advert professionally designed?  Is your USP clear?  Is the wording enticing?  Does it have a call to action?  Does it clearly state how they can contact you?  Is it on the right page?  Does it lend itself better to radio or TV?  Is the timing right for you?  With advertising, one insertion is rarely sufficient.  It needs to be part of a campaign, but before committing to that, you need to make sure you have everything right.

Advertising is just one of many different marketing methods from seminars to networking, newsletters to referrals, direct mail to PR, internet to telemarketing, direct selling to alliances.  Social media is extremely popular but it is so easy to waste a lot of time if you don’t do it right.  How do you know which will be right for you?  How do you know where to invest your hard earned cash?  Marketing is an art, not a science, and it very much depends on your product, your competition and your available budget.

There are certain areas that you shouldn’t scrimp and save.  For example, I have seen many businesses who describe themselves as selling a quality product but whose business card is cheap, flimsy and ill-designed. Yet others who have hired telemarketing people who do not understand their product at all, and who follow a script which does not fit the conversation.  And yet more who spend a lot of money on a beautiful website, only to have no-one see it because it hasn’t been optimised.

Points to consider are why someone should buy from you?  What are the strengths and weaknesses of your competition?  Where can you differentiate?  Who is your ideal customer?  What problems are you solving?  Remember that people don’t want a washing machine – they want clean clothes.  Speaking directly to your customer and their needs makes all the difference – you want to inspire them to buy and have a brand which is suitable for your target market.

Once you have your campaign in place, it is important to monitor all your enquiries to see which effort is yielding the best results for you.  This lets you know what works and why, what doesn’t and why, so that you can refine, refine, refine.

Of course, once you have attracted a customer into your business, it’s essential to keep them happy. Happy customers bring more prospects to you.

If you would like help in navigating this minefield, do call me on 0845 130 0854.  I would love to help you make a success of your business.  After all, my success is your success!

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: K – Knowledge – Your Competitive Edge?

It is estimated that 15% of success is from your technical skills whereas 85% is through gaining trust and respect.  So, what has knowledge to do with this?  Plenty, as it happens.  Knowledge covers the whole spectrum.  Good technical skills are, of course, important.  But not if the knowledge is out of date.  Technology is changing all the time – as are trends – and it is essential to keep abreast of what’s going on in your market place and in your profession.

Solicitors and doctors go through years of training in their profession before they are able to practice.  Yet, how much training have you had to run your own department, or your own business?  How much knowledge have you acquired to help you be successful?  Whether you are running a department or a business of your own, the knowledge you need to be effective is extremely broad and most people simply muddle through.  In the meantime, what happens to the trust and respect essential to 85% of your success?

The following table helps you to understand some of the fundamentals for trust and respect and the kind of knowledge you need for them:

TRUST AND RESPECT KNOW-HOW
Good people and rapport skills Influencing and leadership
Doing what you say you will do Planning and organising
Doing an excellent job Technical and delegation
Managing complaints effectively Problem solving and conflict management
Meeting your obligations Business acumen and resource management
Emotional intelligence Understanding of people and yourself and how to manage yourself and your relationships in times of stress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Business knowledge – such as sales, marketing, finance, operations –  is important whether you run your own business or manage a department as you need to see how everything fits together.  These will help you to exploit strengths, minimise weaknesses, seize opportunities and handle threats from a point of strength.

So, how can you increase your knowledge?  Through coaching, training, reflective learning and study.  Often, you don’t know what you don’t know (in the case of business, ignorance is not bliss) and it is helpful to have someone there who can help you see your blind-spot. Having your own coach and mentor is an excellent step to take to help you stay on top of your game.  For more information call 0845 130 0854 for a no obligation chat.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: J – Judgement: The Key to Effective Decision Making

Judgement is your ability to assess a situation and to draw sound conclusions.  This is a key factor in your decision making process.  How do you judge whether something is right for your business or not?  And how do other people judge you and your business?  When you understand this, it can really help you:

a) make decisions which serve your business well
b) help you to help other people make judgements in your favour

There are various ways in which we may be convinced of something-

  • Number of examples – ie the third time you see something, you are sure it’s right
  • Automatically –  you don’t take too much convincing, you just automatically trust that something is right
  • Period of time – you need to think about something for a while before deciding, even if it is an obvious solution
  • A trusted source – if you hear it from someone you trust, or know they are doing the same thing, that’s enough to convince you
  • Logic – you need to evaluate the facts before deciding if something is right for you
  • Emotion – you tend to trust your gut
  • Impact on the bottom line – you will not be convinced of anything unless you see how it will affect the bottom line
  • Tried and tested – you need to see something working somewhere else before you think about it for yourself
  • Cynics – you are never truly convinced of anything

None are right or wrong in themselves.  However, it’s possible to rely too much on a particular method which could leave you vulnerable.  For example, going on gut instinct without checking the effect something has on your bottom line could affect the profitability of your business; relying on a period of time may mean that an opportunity is lost; being automatically convinced can be dangerous as there is no evaluation of the possible impact something may have; cynics can fail to take opportunities because they always find fault; depending on tried and tested methods can mean you are behind the curve in terms of your competition; relying on logic alone can mean that you are ignoring the not inconsiderable power of your intuition; depending on a trusted source requires that the trusted source be right 100% of the time or that their circumstances are the same as yours.

Ask yourself, what other factors do you need to consider when you are formulating your decisions?  Do re-read the decision making part of this series.

Finally, what to do with this information when considering your customers and prospects?  You will be well-advised to consider an example of all the above criteria in relation to your products and factor in where appropriate.  For example, Jack has a strong gut instinct but likes to back it up with number of examples, so you might want to either find three ways of proving your product, or expect to make your case over three appointments, and follow that up with “What does your gut tell you about the suitability of our product for your business?”

Or, Sally may make her decision solely on the bottom line.  So you may want to take the approach of showing the cost savings your product will give her, or the revenue potential, or perhaps some other way of impacting the bottom line.

If you aren’t sure about what someone else’s convincer strategy is, ask them how they decided to buy their latest car, computer system or even holiday.  This should give you a lot of clues.

Even the most successful business people have made bad judgements in their time. However, you can minimise yours by considering all of your options to make a more informed decision.

If you would like to discuss you own business decision making strategy, or change the way others judge your business, please contact us on 0845 130 0854.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: I – Influencing Skills

The ability to positively influence others with integrity is a key skill in business.  It affects your ability to have people buy into you, your business, your product and your ideas.  It impacts your leadership style and your ability to build constructive relationships.  It can also be incredibly stressful if you are unable to influence people constructively, impacting your productivity, your sales and even your profitability.

Influence is about your ability to have a positive effect on someone.  It differs from manipulation in that it is undertaken with integrity and regard to the interest of the other party.   It’s about having people buy in to your ideas and perspectives, so that they say ‘yes’ to you more.

The talent for influence requires flexibility in style, clarity of outcome, the ability to understand a situation from several perspectives, and creating and maintaining a resourceful state, particularly during times of conflict, or when the stakes are high.

It is not about imposing but inspiring someone to take a particular action, while maintaining strong rapport and building positive relationships.

There are numerous language patterns which enhance your capacity to increase your powers of influence which are too numerous to go into in this short article but which I teach to many of my clients and which I include on my Influencing Skills training course.  The issue, though, is not what the skills are, but the effect that they can have on your success.  They can help you deal with objections and concerns so that you are able to transform potentially negative situations elegantly. It’s the YES factor!

 

Whether your intention is to create change, elicit support or diffuse potentially contentious situations, influencing skills can be a real boon to you in your business.

For further details, please contact Tricia Woolfrey on 0345 130 0854.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: H – Health – How Can Your Business Be Healthy If You’re Not?

To succeed in business you need to be firing on all cylinders.  In fact, you could say that the health of your business is a reflection of your own health.  If you are tired all the time, or run down with frequent bouts of colds and flu, suffer frequent headaches or if you are at the mercy of IBS, can you really be functioning at your best?

Health is more than just an absence of symptoms.  When you are healthy in every sense of the word (physically and emotionally), you will have more stamina and energy to deal with the stressors of business life; mentally you will have clarity of thought and direction, the ability to solve problems quickly and your memory will be more reliable; you will feel more motivated and less irritable; health will also mean that your immune system is strong to safeguard you from colds and flu as well as more serious illnesses.

If you’re feeling tired-all-the-time, or low motivation, it could well be as a result of your body needing to be stronger and healthier.

Your health can be affected by many factors including:

  • Food choices
  • Depleted nutrition in foods
  • Cellular health
  • Alcohol
  • Sugar
  • Cigarettes
  • Stress
  • Negative emotions
  • Environment
  • Lack of exercise

Taking care of yourself is taking care of business. We take great care of our cars:  fill them with petrol, make sure there is enough oil and water, take them for a regular MOT, but are you doing this for yourself?  For a health MOT, call 0845 130 0854.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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