Just Like in Politics…If You’re Dominating, Don’t Debate

This past week, the Democrat challenger to Jim Inhofe, the incumbent US Senator from Oklahoma, complained that Senator Inhofe won’t agree to a pre-election debate.  It got me to thinking…the Senator’s plan of choosing to not debate is the right strategy.  If you’re the dominant player, why should you debate?

Just like in politics, in business your purpose must be to dominate your market.  I can’t get any more clear than that.  When you compete, you give some level of credibility to your “competition.”  You’re, in effect, saying, “Yes, they play in my space and offer similar, if not equal solutions.”  That’s not only wrong, it’s stupid.

Your goal must be to completely dominate your market.  How do you do that?

  • Do what others in your space are NOT doing.
  • Raise your activity level to levels that leave them with their tongues hanging out.
  • Be seen everywhere…Blogs, email campaigns, social media, chamber events, everywhere.
  • Become their worst nightmare.

When you take this approach, you’ll hear that you’re not playing fair.  Exactly!  That’s what you want.  Better yet, you’ll be winning business, winning market share, and you’ll be getting higher prices and more profit out of every transaction.  When there’s no competition, you can virtually name your price.

So, Senator Inhofe, my hat’s off to you.  Let them think they’re competing for the vote when, in reality, they’re just eating your dust!

The 3 Reasons Your Business Isn’t Growing…and what you can do about it!

As we kick off the 4th quarter of 2014, let me ask you this question:  Are you experiencing double digit growth?  No?  Why not?

We are live in the greatest country in the world, a nation with very few limits except for those we actually place on ourselves.  And those limits usually mean we have impotent goals and we have a less than stellar understanding of the kind and amount of activity it takes to really grow our business.

Since 2008, business owners have cut…significantly.  As a result, they have been asking their people to do so much more with a whole lot less.  Now that they’ve reached the lowest level they can go, they’re so wrapped up working in their business that they’ve lost sight of why they’re in business in the first place.  You’re not in business to monitor your employees’ productivity!  But that’s what’s happening.  Your workflow and systems are so 2008 that you can’t get ahead let alone grow.

In the midst of all this, you’ve become obscure or even forgotten by those potential clients in your market place and, worse yet, to many of your customers.  You’re not leading the charge.  You’re people are following your lead.  If you think dealing with the minutia such as paperwork and other “busy work” is okay (as proven by your example), then your employees are going to do the same.

I have some specific recommendations for the cure to this.  If you’d like to learn more, simply send me an email and request my FREE report:  The 3 Reasons Your Business Isn’t Growing…and what you can do about it!  I will send you this free report that provides you with multiple different ways to grow your business at a double digit rate year-over-year.

Remember…Go Big or Go Home!

Using the Inc 5000 to Create New Opportunities

Annually Inc. Magazine publishes their list of the 5,000 fastest growing, privately-held companies.  It is based on the average growth of the company over the past three years and annually has a list of unexpected surprises.

“That’s great, Tom, but how does this relate to me?”

It’s simple.  This list contains the companies who are actually growing.  They are dominating their space and making business happen.  Their growth means business opportunities for every vendor in the market who supports these types of businesses.

Using Inc.’s list, you can drill down to the state and metropolitan area to find those who are in your local market.  Or, if you provide national coverage, simply start at the top and work your way down the list.

This year’s #1 company:  Fuhu.  Fuhu is the creator of an Android tablet for kids and an Adobe Air application that allows children to access the Internet in a parent-controlled environment.  They’ve experienced 158,957% growth over the past three years.  Their revenue has risen from $123,000 in 2012 to $195.6 Million in 2013 and they’ve added 178 jobs in the past three years.

Ask yourself some questions:

  • What market is this company in?
  • What challenges could they be experiencing as a result of this growth?
  • What pain might they be wrestling with?
  • What solutions do I offer that may be of value to them as they embrace this growth and plan for additional growth over the next few years?

Do your research and start making contact.  These accounts are being courted by someone; why shouldn’t it be you?

Remember:  Go big or stay home!

No Mercy

heartON Saturday, September 13th, I went to the local urgent care because of a increasingly difficult cough and lack of oxygen. After x-rays were done, I was sent directly to the hospital where I was admitted with Congestive Heart Failure. A week later, 30 pounds down and a stent in one of my arteries, I’m back at work and feeling better than I ever have. Traditionally this is where you hear about the great epiphany that occurred. You won’t hear one from me. No, I didn’t have an epiphany but rather an awakening to one of life’s greatest principles.

The marketplace always disciplines the unprepared.

Success loves and rewards the prepared.

My body was unprepared because I let it become that way.  My experience was no surprise.  I have type 2 diabetes (not managed); I have high cholesterol; I have a family history of heart disease; and I’m well over my optimum weight.  Just as the marketplace punishes the unprepared, my body punished me for not being prepared.  For not taking care of myself.  For being a putz when it comes to living my life to it’s greatest potential.

Look…the key as I see it is this.  I have an ethical duty to my wife, my family, my job, my community to be the very best I can be.  I know what my purpose is and it’s up to me to live it out.  There are no short cuts and there is no middle ground.  It’s all or nothing.  Live big or go home.

I had a wrist band on for the past several days that says, “Don’t be a little bitch.  Champions dominate!”  When I hurt the most or my energy was dropping off, I meditated on that simple message.  It’s a message no longer lost on me.

So join me or don’t.  I intend to live life with no mercy.  I will live according to my ethical duty to my wife, my family, my employer and, of course, to myself for a long time to come.

Dealing With the Egos

One of the primary challenges your are going to face when managing people, especially salespeople, is the wide range of egos.  Everyone has one.  You have one as well.  Admit it.  It  can work for you or against you.

When it comes to egos, I like to define my job as part manager, part psychologist.  Every personality and ego is different.  One is a Type-A extrovert who demands a lot of attention.  Another is a quiet, go-with-the-flow individual who just keeps his nose to the grind stone.

The biggest challenge with individual egos comes when the rubber meets the road.  When their performance is less than minimal expectations and they are put on a performance improvement plan, you instantly go from being their hero to being the reason for their poor performance.  Everything is now “your fault.”

Even great performers let their ego get too big and that, perhaps, is the bigger challenge.  A year ago, one of my most consistent and strongest performers seemed to feel he had “arrived.”  You know the type.  Their “stuff” doesn’t stink and they can’t get into trouble for cutting a special deal without approval because they’re too valuable.

Eventually this rep started ignoring expectations of the company and started missing set meetings with me.  Yes, he was performing at a high level, but seriously….  When he refused to participate in a coaching session that I was doing with all of my reps and then proceeded to tell me that “there isn’t anything you can tell me or show me that I don’t already know,” that I knew we had hit the bottom.

What do you do in this case?  You can let it poison the well or you take quick steps to cut it off where it sits.  The hystrionics caused by the dismissal were huge, but it also sent a message — he was out of line and that behavior was unacceptable.

I hated it.  If he can get hs head on straight, he can be one of the greats in sales, but that’s just it.  You can be extremely talented and be the “greatest gift to mankind,” but if your ego is out of control, you’ll find yourself in a very tough spot.

To grow your team and maintain consistency, manage the egos.  Put your psychologist coat on and play the role.  Your reps will thank you for it.

The Numbers Don’t Lie – They May Mislead, Though

Over the years, I’ve learned to be a number geek of sorts.  No, I wasn’t the one who loved math in high school.  In fact, I forced my way through Algebra I because it was a requirement to graduate.  In college, I believe the only reason I received a C- in Statistics is because the instructor felt pity on me and also knew a D would mean I would be back in her class.

Nevertheless, when I made the connection of numbers to money, I became a raving fan.  I have learned the art of analyzing data to find the hidden growth secrets in sales.  I’ve learned what it will take, with almost precise precision, to achieve certain sales numbers.

One of my favorites is a tool that analyzes critical rep data.  I take the raw numbers — both final outcomes as well as high value activities — and identify what a rep needs to focus on to make their financial goals happen.  When used effectively, it creates a clear roadmap that, if the rep follows it, will lead to consistent over-achievement and high income.

But I’ve also learned that the numbers can be misleading.  When you look at trends, you need to look at the short term as well as the long term trends.  While a rep may be hitting it out of the park, the most recent short term statistics may be yelling, “Look out below!”  If a rep has become addicted to their success at the expense of the ingredients that make up the success, they will be doomed for near term failure.

As managers, we can’t afford short term failures.  Yes, reps can have some up and down results, but our objective is to help guide them to make these occurences far and few between.

Be sure to inspect the numbers, but pull back the curtain.  Ask yourself, “What are the numbers hiding?”  “Are the numbers misleading me?”  Carefully monitoring yourself to make sure you don’t get sucked into glowing results rather than the ingredients, especially in the near term, is a recipe for disaster.