The Self-Starter

Business Relationship ManagementSo, you have a great idea and want to start a business – good for you! Along with everything else you have to worry about (products, marketing, accounting, employees, profitability) you also need to beware of the hidden entrepreneurial danger. It lurks in the shadowy depths of good meetings, hot ideas and the expertise of others. It’s lack of follow through and general apathy.

It’s easy to cure your own apathy, especially when paychecks rely on project and task completion. The true self-starter is able to get others, that show less urgency, to operate on a schedule consistent with their needs.  Beware of your partners and suppliers holding up the show. If you want to be great, you’ll learn how to manage those relationships to work with the timetables that are needed for your business to be successful. It stinks, I know, because managing personal behavior is difficult enough – let alone someone else’s. But trust me, it’s necessary.

I believe it was Ben Franklin that said, “expect the worst and be pleasantly surprised when it doesn’t happen.” If we were in church I’d be yelling preach. But we’re not so I’ll yell chuuch to ol’ Bennie F. What he says (or what I think he says) makes fantastic sense. Instead of being happy when it doesn’t happen, though, I’ve decided to proactively start to sit on vendors like park benches. It’s not fun and I’d much rather allow people to do what they say they’re going to do, when they say they’re going to do it. Unfortunately, it’s rare when that happens.

Setting up a process for managing the completion of projects when most effective for your peak profitability is key. Part of that strategy may be managing the behavior of a partner/vendor/employee to get things done in the way and time your business needs.

It’s funny, we (me included) are often talking about Customer Relationship Management tools. Sometimes I feel like we need a Business Relationship Management tool, to effectively manage communications with our business partners.Seriously, this idea could save a business or three. I wonder who can help me get this launched? Hmmmm…

Inquiring minds want to know – do you have any tips for managing relationships and keeping people on task?


Win Friends and Influence People – Online

Regardless of the technology that people invent to improve lives, make it easier to communicate & share or simply make a buck, the old tips from Dale Carnegie still ring true. Maybe even more so, now, because we have much more contact with exponentially more people via the social web.  As a business owner and  brand ambassador, this is especially true. How often do you actively implement these strategies? More important, if they were so important to implement with a limited sphere of influence, then why not utilize them in a social media message to gain positive affect for yourself, your brand, and your business?

There were four main points to Carnegie’s book, and they can be used, today, with technology. It may be just the thing you need to encourage dialog and enhance your brand image. [Read more…]


What Does Hand-Raiser Mean?

It’s funny how sometimes people can overlook the explanation of something that is not at all foreign to them. I was recently talking with a friend from another country about the recent trades made in the NFL, in intricate detail about the implications of each, forgetting that he was from Brazil. When I was done and asked for his opinion he questioned, “so the cornerbacks defense the receivers, right”? It hit me, I needed to do some more explaining…and help him with his conjugations. First things first, so I told him, “no they ‘defend’ the receivers – and yes…sort of.” Anyway, that was the end of that conversation and it got me to thinking about other things that I just assume people know. I have had people ask me what does hand-raiser mean, and I just assumed that was a pretty generic term used by the masses. Again, I was wrong.

For those of you that are not aware of what a hand-raiser is in the marketing world, it can be summed up in a simple sentence. A person that identifies themselves as a prospective customer, to a company, by giving them their contact information. The important part of the equation is the sharing of the contact information. A name, birth sign, favorite food, the time, or anything else is irrelevant unless that person can be contacted. Well, I guess those other things can be used as research, but how accurate is it? They didn’t even hook you up with the “ten” (phone #) or the email!

Once you realize what they are, it can be easy to see why there is such a clamor to attain these types of introductions. First, you can make a warm contact, rather than a cold one. There is likely information stored about what that contact was interested in learning more about. You can fill your CRM with more names and numbers. Most of all, though, you have a chance to build a new relationship. Like all other things in life, building relationships based off of mutual interest usually works out better for both parties than a predatory style meeting. This is not to say that prospecting and reaching out to new prospects that show a propensity to be interested in services/products like yours is not okay. To the contrary, the hunter is necessary to build revenue streams and develop your business. The fact is, those relationships take longer to build; they are more costly to develop; and the failure rate is much higher.

The statistics about success rate are varied and unreliable. What cold-call company is going to admit a low success rate, and most lead generation tools are going to tell you how much success you can attain through warm leads.  The final metrics I will leave up to you. But, as a general rule people say that you want to have 25 times the number of leads than target sales. So, if you have a goal of 10 new customers per month, then you should be targeting 250 likely prospects. That works out to a 4% success rate. If you can keep your success rate there, then you’re generating the right leads and should continue on. If you’re targeting 500 people and still only selling to 10 new customers a month, I would tell you to look at who you are targeting first. Then, if it seems as though you’re generating interest but no sales then your product and/or marketing message needs to be evaluated, because you should be closing hand-raisers. Then I would tell you to give me your coffee, because “coffee is for closers.”

You don’t want that, and neither do I, so inspire people to be hand-raisers for your products and services then close some deals! Does anyone have warm lead success stories to share?


Say it With Me: Res-O-Nate

Everyone wants repeat purchasers. They are less expensive on a cost- per-sale basis, and it makes the job of learning customer’s wants and needs much easier. Other than speaking to people on their terms, what else can a small business with a smaller budget, and man-hours in the day, do to accomplish this? My solution is to resonate on a deeper level. Often people buy from small businesses because of the personal touches. Using a quality Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool is often the best way to accomplish this end. You can fill it with all kinds of facts, like birthdays, anniversaries, date of first purchase, favorite likes/dislikes and whatever else you think is pertinent.

[Read more…]