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The 2 Rare Skills You Need to be a Great Leader

 Looking to take the next step as a leader? Lolly Daskal writes this article for her blog where she lists two  of the skills needed to take your leadership abilities to the next level!

At some time or another, most of us have experienced a boss, manager, or leader who made us feel recognized and valued. And as a result, we were able to do more than we ever thought we could.

More than anything else, that’s the sign of a true leader—someone who makes you feel, think, act beyond the limits you imagined to your own capabilities and capacity. What’s more, they make you feel you are valued and that you’re part of something bigger than yourself.

What skills do these leaders have that allow them to help others become their best? Fundamentally, there are only two. Even the first is far from common on its own, and because the second builds on the first, it’s especially rare.

But here’s the good news: rare as they are, they’re attainable. You can learn them and practice them and master them, and go on to help and empower others to exceed their self-imposed limits.

First, great leaders have a strong foundation of self-awareness. All great leaders draw strength from a well-built foundation of self-awareness. To lead from within requires a comprehensive understanding of yourself. That includes the ability to identify your own strengths and weaknesses—in terms of skills, which you can leverage by hiring people who make up for your weak spots, and also in terms of emotional triggers. Managing these triggers  requires a high level of emotional awareness, plus the knowledge of how to be adaptable and the willingness to alter your behavior to be an effective leader. You have permission to be human—that is, sometimes flawed and vulnerable—but you must never allow inner turmoil to wreak havoc upon those you lead.

True leaders understand that their attitudes toward themselves set the tone to which others respond.

Second, they have the single-mindedness to instill power within others. It’s one thing to understand yourself and to be aware of who you are. But the highest leadership quality is knowing how to empower others. A true leader is able to inspire their team, to encourage them to go beyond excellence and accomplish far more than anyone expects of them—or than they expect of themselves. A good leader may take people where they want to go, but a great leader takes them where they don’t necessarily want to go but ought to be.

A true leader doesn’t create more followers; they create more leaders.

A good leader may ask, “Is this working for me?” But a great leader will ask, “Is this working for my people?”

Great leaders can change the world, but first they must learn to lead from within. It’s only after they’ve developed that level of self-awareness that they can they lead and others to greatness.

Lead from within: Leaders become great when they are able to find their inner power and use it to inspire, strengthen and empower others.

This article is written by Lolly Daskal, an executive leadership coach who is CEO and founder of Lead From Within. You can find this post here.

If you need help getting started in a new business venture, and you are in Chicago, Oak Brook or surrounding areas, contact us today if you feel you need some coaching on this topic!


Employee Engagement 101: Creating a Culture of Commitment Versus Compliance

Working at the “Happiest place on Earth” means more than just providing a warm atmosphere for visitors. Jeff James writes this article for the Disney Institute blog about employment engagement and what it takes to create a magical place for employee and visitor alike.
The term employee engagement is often used in business today as it relates to how we employ and motivate employees. At Disney, we like to think about engaged employees (Cast Members in our terms) as a combination of those willing to “go the extra mile” as well as those who are committed to the organization.
“Going the extra mile” is not about working harder or longer—it is about discretionary behaviors that employees want to do versus have to do. When you have to do something you comply, meaning you do it because it is required as part of your job or role within a company. But, when you commit (to an organization or company), you do things because you want to do them.
Most often, when you do something you want to do, it’s because there is an emotional connection that has been created and nurtured between you and the company (or its leaders) which makes you feel like you are making a meaningful contribution to the betterment of the company. As a leader, once you are able to instill this feeling of “family” or connectedness within your team, the sky is the limit in terms of what you can accomplish.
Sometimes leaders within an organization get concerned when they hear the word “discretionary” related to their employees’ abilities to satisfy a customer. They usually think of how much money “discretionary” could cost their company. But, what they may not be considering are the longer term implications of NOT allowing their employees the ability to do the right thing in the moment.
These moments of truth, when there is either a transaction or what we like to think about as an “interaction,” can create a lasting brand deposit (or withdrawal) depending upon how a customer has been treated.
Getting your company or organization to this state, to form this type of culture within your team, can take years of steady, hard work—something we know well at Disney.
In fact, our consistent business results are driven by strategically focusing on certain business functions and opportunities in which other companies often fail the see the value and potential—and that is a key source of what differentiates us. We have learned to be intentional where others may be unintentional. 
So, this raises the question, how can YOU be more intentional in creating the type of environment where your people “go the extra mile,” not just because they have to—because they want to?

This article is written by Jeff James, Vice President and General Manager of Disney Institute. You can find this post here.

The opinions expressed here by Jeff James are their own, not those of

If you need help getting started in a new business venture, and you are in Chicago, Oak Brook or surrounding areas, contact us today if you feel you need some coaching on this topic!


3 Leaders Reveal Their Hardest Conversations

Not all decisions are easy to make. How do you give a difficult talk to your teammate, boss, or even yourself? Andrea Williams covers this in her article for Michael Hyatt, on Nov. 27, 2018.

Building a successful organization requires interpersonal skills as much as knowledge of finance or marketing strategies. Perhaps the most important tool in the relational toolbox is the tenacity to have tough talks that lead to the sort of necessary change that makes growth possible.

Here, three individuals relate their most difficult conversations, revealing insights and advice applicable on a fairly wide scale. Their problems are likely to be yours at some point, if you are leading people.

Calling out a trusted team member

Addressing an individual’s poor decision making is never easy, especially if that person is a valuable part of the team and someone you want to continue working with long-term. The solution, says Shyam Krishna, founder of SKI Charities, is to empower that individual with more ownership over their role and the future of the organization as a whole.

SKI Charities supports local entrepreneurs in developing countries by providing microloans to women, giving them the necessary resources to lift their families out of poverty. In order the execute this mission, Krishna depends on project managers who are based in each country and are directly responsible for recruiting and developing entrepreneurs for SKI’s microfinance program.

During the organization’s growth in eastern Zimbabwe, Krishna discovered that one project manager was “overly-aggressive” in decision-making and enrolling beneficiaries who were not ideal for the program.

“She had been a stalwart member of our team and played a vital role in our early growth,” Krishna says, “so when I noticed this movement away from our core mission, I knew I had to speak with her about changing her mindset while balancing her continued engagement.”

Ultimately, Krishna reminded the project manager of SKI’s core mission, while also encouraging her to take an active role in creating and enhancing the company’s future vision. “With her involvement and ownership, she began to make decisions less as an employee and more as a leader herself,” Krishna says.

Giving the boss an ultimatum

While the onus for effectively tackling difficult conversation typically falls on leaders who need to address their subordinates, there are times when the need to initiate an important discussion starts at the bottom.

Before becoming the founder and CEO of business consulting firm Trebuchet Group, Chris Hutchinson was working under a leader who stifled his growth, taking over a number of his responsibilities once he had achieved success in those areas.

Hutchinson’s frustration was mounting.“I needed to help my boss do the role the business needed of him and let me do mine, or help transfer my responsibilities to him and leave the business,” he says.

Hutchinson presented his boss with two solutions: Either his boss would need to step back and focus on being the president of the organization, while Hutchinson exercised full autonomy as general manager, or Hutchinson would depart, transferring his responsibilities back to his boss.

“He chose the latter,” Hutchinson says. “Over the next few weeks, I coached him on how we would announce my transition…It was very difficult to leave my colleagues when I believed they would not be successful, yet I also felt I was in a no-win situation. The harder I tried to help, the less authority I had to be able to help.”

Hutchinson’s experience shows that not all difficult conversations will achieve an ideal result for both parties, but it’s important to have them nonetheless. His advice? Prepare in advance to ensure that your message is delivered with clarity and focus.

“A good friend gave me The Four Agreements book as I worked up the courage to present my boss with a clear choice and then follow through on that choice,” he says. “The book helped me make commitments to myself to do my best to be impeccable with my word, not make assumptions, and not take things personally. These lessons made a tremendous difference in that situation and have served me in other, difficult conversations with people at work.”

Owning up to your own mistakes

It’s estimated that one-in-five American jobs are held by contractors, and that, within ten years, half of the workforce will be comprised of contractors and freelancers.

For contract workers, the beauty of free-agent employment is the ability to assume full control over their schedule and work-life balance. But, in the face of poor time management and everyday life challenges, your schedule can quickly become an unwieldy monster.

As a self-employed attorney and mediator, Nance Schick has found that her most difficult conversations were the result of having to disclose her professional errors. This was certainly the case after a recent health crisis.

“I kept trying to work and thought I could get more done each day than I did, and this only made the work backlog pile up more,” Schick says. “This client’s project went further down my priority list each day, in part because I overestimated myself and made promises I couldn’t keep. Worse yet, I stopped communicating with her about my delays, thinking the project would be done before she even realized I was late completing it. I told myself this was okay because a lot of businesses operate this way, even if that is not how I run mine. But it was not okay.”

After recovering from laryngitis, pink eye, and a sinus infection, Schick was able to complete the project and submit it to her client for review. She also included and explanation, an apology, and a discount on her fees.

Since then, Schick has realized that it’s her responsibility to fully regain the trust of her client, but she’s also realistic in understanding that unforeseen circumstances may once again delay her productivity. Going forward, she plans to handle those situations with a different approach.

“First, I will be more realistic and honest about my schedule, even if it means I have to refer a project out to a trusted colleague,” she explains. “Second, I will notify the client immediately if I suspect a deadline won’t be met, and I will give the client a true opportunity to adapt, including by reassigning the project. Third, I will apologize by phone and allow the client to express her anger, disappointment, or whatever she feels.”

That may be a tough conversation to have but if she wants to grow, Schick believes it is a necessary one. “I must be the change I wish to see in others,” she says.

This article is written by Andrea Williams, digital content strategist, author, and journalist. You can find this post here.

The opinions expressed here by Andrea Williams are their own, not those of

If you need help getting started in a new business venture, and you are in Chicago, Oak Brook or surrounding areas, contact us today if you feel you need some coaching on this topic!


9 More Strategies for Successful Leadership (Part 2)


Last week I shared a post written by Ed Shultek, Founder and Managing Principal @ Sandler Training, published on LinkedIn July 2016.  This week I’d like to share the follow-up post Mr. Shultek published on LinkedIn in September 2016 after learning of a study out of Duke University that found people were motivated more by pizza than a cash bonus.  These are 9 more strategies for successful leadership that you can implement today and start seeing results.

  • Do things that make subordinates feel good. Little things that show people how much you value them goes a long way.   People like to feel important. Oblige them and they will oblige you.
  • No promises allowed — Just deliver.  There is always a risk in making a promise. Either a fulfilled promise is expected or an unfulfilled promise can end a relationship. You know the saying, “Actions speak louder than words.
  • Don’t withhold information.  Information is on a need to know basis and employees always need to know what will help them in their job.   Employees are more motivated to perform at higher levels when they feel empowered with all the information they need to accomplish the organization’s goals.
  • Address disagreements honestly and with no judgment. Employees need to feel empowered by the independence in their roles. One should learn the results of their own conflict resolution style as well as the styles of others and deliver difficult conversations in a manner that best resonates with the communication style of the receiver.
  • Listen to your employees. All people want to be heard and they want to feel that what they have to say is important. Its an easy way to gain their respect and loyalty as well as learn more about what is going on within the team.
  • Provide honest and immediate feedback to each team member.  Not only does this set the expectations regarding their contribution but it tells them how well they are meeting your expectations so they can improve.
  • Reward loyalty and hard work. When you reward good performance, you can expect to see more of it. Don’t take their efforts for granted. The rewards don’t have to be grandiose. Remember the pizza study?
  • Encourage ideas and participation.  No one should ever feel that his or her idea wouldn’t be heard. Set expectations in meetings by rewarding all ideas and contributions.
  • Make time for team building. Encouraging active participation with team members is a great way to keep the team focused on the overall goals.

If you are in management, you have been tasked with the responsibility of achieving results through the efforts of others. Your efforts in making your organization a place where employees can grow should be a part of your own growth plan and is what will turn you into a leader and not just a boss.

Download the Step By Step Coaching Guide for Improving Revenue for quick ways to implement some of these leadership strategies.

Twelve Strategies for Successful Leadership (Part 1)


In keeping with the theme of Leadership, I’d like to share a post written by Ed Schultek, Founder and Managing Principal @ Sandler Training published on LinkedIn on July 25, 2016, discussing leadership skill sets needed to get others to do things.

So you got promoted to management! Congratulations! By now you realize that you have the most difficult position in the room. You were promoted because you rocked as a sales rep or were clearly the most competent in terms of the technical aspects of the job. How long did it take you to realize that knowing how to do something and getting others to do it are two completely different skill sets?

 Twelve Strategies for Successful Leadership

  • Maintain a good relationship with your boss. He or she will be your champion, information source, and support.
  • Demonstrate to your employees the behaviors that you want them to show you.   Modeling is a very powerful and effective leadership strategy.
  • Be a human first. Laugh at yourself and with your people. Bonding and rapport are not just for the sales call.

“Sandler rule: People respond to people they trust; people trust people like them.“

  • Effectively use up front contracts to make your expectations known. An up- front contract establishes who is responsible for what and identifies the desired outcomes.
  • Encourage idea sharing. Run meetings that encourage participation and strengthens the team. Keep the group focused on outcomes and goals.
  • Identify employees’ unique abilities. Communicate that some people will prosper in jobs that cause others to stagnate. Encourage all employees to recognize where they shine, not just the superstars.
  • Use assessments to identify strengths and gaps in the team. There are tools to help employees communicate more effectively with each other as well as tools to develop a roadmap based on the expectations between management and employees.
  • Hire the right people. No amount of training will make a reluctant employee a rock star for you. Screen candidates carefully and stop wasting resources when trying to reform mistakes.
  • Get “buy-in” on the goals, visions, and reasons. When you tell people what to do without them knowing the motivation behind it, you will find yourself in arm-wrestling matches. Explain what your needs are in a situation and get them to help you decide the best way of accomplishing those goals.
  • Admit your mistakes. Demonstrate this as a sign of strength and expect the same from them. Establish a no judgment policy so everyone can benefit from the learning opportunity (See no. 2 on the list).
  • Help employees find the jobs that they both enjoy and will meet the needs of the organization. By identifying their unique abilities, they will be more motivated to perform their jobs well.
  • Manage your time well. Delegating and outsourcing are not a sign of incompetence. It is recognition that someone may be able to do it better than you or that it is simply not the best use of your time.  

The Top 10 Stats from 2016 that Show the Importance of Email Marketing

In keeping with the focus on marketing, I’d like to share the following article by  Linsey Morse in the, originally published at, that takes a look at the top stats of 2016 that highlight the importance of email, and a few tactics for effectively wielding it effectively in your content strategy.
When I think about digital storytelling, there are a few images that come to mind. I picture crisp, vivid photography that draws my eye to a publication. I picture articles so compelling I can practically hear the clear voice of the writer who composed it. I think of catchy hashtags and emotional Instagram campaigns. And I think of videos, whose power to transport has rendered the medium invaluable for a solid content strategy.
But in all that, it’s easy to forget one key element of a comprehensive storytelling strategy that’s too important to leave behind: email marketing.

Even in 2016, where spur-of-the-moment, blink-and-it’s-gone content reigns ever supreme, you need email. And, more importantly, you need to storify your email strategy. It’s not enough to have a newsletter or a targeted approach to distribution. Today, your email approach has to demonstrate a deep understanding of (and respect for) your audience and their needs, with rich visuals and irresistible subject lines.

According to Salesforce’s 2016 State of Marketing Report, “80 percent of marketers agree that email is core to their business.” Are you among them? If not, take a closer look at the top stats of 2016 that highlight the importance of email, and a few tactics for effectively wielding it effectively in your content strategy.

Why it’s Important to your Strategy

1. Email pays for itself–and then some.

If you can work your email strategy into your broader content strategy, the results will prove worth the work (especially where ROI is concerned): according to the Direct Marketing Association via Outbound Engine, “Email marketing yields an average 4,300 percent return on investment for businesses in the United States.” What’s more, as Hubspot pointed out, Forrester Research found that “companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales ready leads at 33 percent lower cost.”

Furthermore, Salesforce’s report noted that 49 percent of marketers (up from 20 percent in 2015) claim email is ” directly linked to their business’ primary revenue source.” And for businesses who are already using email as part of their strategies, they’ve likely seen a payoff even as recently as the close of Q2: as Experian’s Quarterly Email Benchmark Report (from Q2 2016) showed, while “quarter-to-quarter volume [for email] remained the same for Q2 compared to Q1 2016…revenue per email rose from $0.06 to $0.07 in Q2.”

2. There’s power in its personalization.

One of the best things about email–and automated email marketing in particular–is that it enables marketers to create personal experiences that speak to their recipients. And those extra efforts to personalize pay off: Campaign Monitor discovered that “emails with personalized subject lines are 26 percent more likely to be opened, and marketers have found a 760 percent increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns.”

That’s not surprising. As with any good content strategy, email’s efficacy lies in its ability to prove a sender knows and respects their audience. And remember, you need both to ensure your campaign’s success. The majority of people claim they open all emails their favorite companies send; confirming this, according to Chadwick Martin Bailey, the organization sending an email and that email’s subject lines are the two most influential factors in open rates. Proving your company deserves a spot among those favorites necessitates care and consideration for readers–just as it does with your blog and on social.

3. Speaking of social�

According to McKinsey and Company, email far surpasses the social media giants where generating customers is concerned–in fact, it’s 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter. That might seem surprising, considering the number of people who actively engage on social on a daily basis, but it’s easy to understand how email facilitates a quieter, more intimate, and (most importantly) less distracting environment for a conversation or transaction. Beyond that, the company cites the fact that, (as of 2014,) “ninety-one percent of all US consumers still [used] email daily.” And that number’s expected to grow: The Radicati Group predicted that the number of email accounts worldwide would increase to 4.3 billion by the end of this year.

4. It’s only ever a thumb’s press away.

According to statistics from emailmonday (via Adestra’s 2016 Consumer Adoption and Usage Study), more email (55 percent) is read on mobile than on desktop clients. What’s more, emailexpert found that “sixty-four percent of decision-makers read email via mobile devices.”

Courtesy of emailmonday

With readers embracing mobile as a means of all communications, that means you’re able to send your personalized stories to readers and reach them wherever they are. While this does lead to the risk of catching someone in a moment when they’re not willing to consider your product or service, the likelihood is good that if your audience considers your brand a trusted name, they’ll engage.

5. B2Bs are in the lead.

According to emfluence’s Email Marketing Metrics Benchmarks 2016 report, “B2B marketing email averaged over a 47 percent higher click-through rate than Business-to-Consumer (B2C) email and boasted a 23 percent higher click-to-open ratio.”

Does this mean B2B companies are better email marketers than their B2C counterparts? Not necessarily, but it does indicate that they might be more well acquainted with their target audience’s needs and interests. For some B2B newsletter inspiration, check out the tips FreshMail offers.

How to make it work for you

6. Optimize for mobile.

Outbound Engine puts it best: “If an email does not display correctly, 71.2 percent will delete it immediately.” That makes optimization crucial. Responsive email templates are not always ideal, serving more as one-size-fits-most (but-certainly-not-all) solutions to the optimization problem. However, knowing that approximately 90 percent of all mobile email opens happen on an Apple device is a good start. Consider your user base and their devices when creating your next email template–it’ll pay off.

7. Contribute to your brand’s story.

Think about your emails as one more way to reinforce your brand’s story–they’re almost a publishing destination. Case studies, firsthand accounts from customers, content written by employees and relevant stories about the ways in which your brand is contributing to the world are all great approaches you can take–provided you do so in an authentic way. According to Headstream’s Brand Storytelling Report 2015, 80 percent of surveyed adults want brands to tell stories. And as you already know, authenticity is crucial in developing a relationship with your audience. Find a way to create email content that’s true to your brand’s voice and tone and aligns with its goals, and segment your audience wherever possible. Readers will take notice.

8. Automate, automate, automate.

Automation is a marketer’s best friend when it comes to crafting comprehensive campaigns and making sure your stories get where they belong–so it’s no surprise that an average of 49 percent of companies is currently automating in some way. It almost goes without saying that having a month to sculpt a story with gorgeous video or photography and an attractive headline about your brand’s latest product or service makes for an infinitely better experience than developing on the fly. To that end, scheduling goes a long way. But when you automate, you can track email success, monitor your leads, and refine your process for the long term. You can conduct A–B tests to determine the best ways to frame content–and the best content to frame. It’s like having your finger on your audience’s collective pulse.

9. Monitor your subscription (and unsubscription) rates.

With global unsubscribe rates averaging at a seemingly negligible .127 percent, it’s easy to write this problem off. But, as IBM Marketing Cloud pointed out, “improving your unsubscribe rate just 0.1 percent would save 1,000 subscribers every time you send to a database of 1 million people. That’s more than 200,000 contacts retained over a year if you send four emails per week.”

Don’t underestimate the importance of unsubscriptions–and if users unsubscribe, consider the cause. Are you sending emails too frequently, or not frequently enough? Is your content relevant, engaging, and segmented appropriately? Are you using a responsive template? Turn to your audience (and your automation software) for clues.

10. Test (and retest) your cadence.

Just as you’d develop a regular publishing cadence for your digital publication and meter your social posts, it’s crucial that you deliver your emails with the right frequency. More often than not, your cadence is going to be unique to your audience’s behaviors, so there’s no one best answer to this question–although Vertical Response’s compilation of research provides some great references. Good rules to abide by when you’re just starting to test the waters with a new email newsletter include ensuring you can deliver fresh, relevant content consistently with each newsletter, while simultaneously ensuring you’re not bogging readers down with a content excess.

Remember, too, that you’re no longer restricted to the Monday-through-Friday, nine-to-five schedule of old. As Vertical Response noted, “With consumers becoming more and more active on their mobile devices, especially outside of standard nine to five working hours spent at an office desktop, testing sends outside the traditional morning hours is essential.” Take time to experiment and find out what works best for your readers.

The Future of Email

The major tenets of email are clear: to be successful, your brand needs a keen awareness of its audience’s behaviors, a finger on the pulse of their devices, and an eye for optimal design. As future updates to email clients make it easier for your readers to ignore your messaging completely, it’s becoming increasingly crucial that your brand keeps up with fresh, relevant, engaging email content that goes the distance and brings readers back for more insight. Brands that take the time to get to know their readers will have the upper hand in the email sphere–and the value of that, as these stats have shown, cannot be overlooked.

cutting the red tape

Cutting the Red Tape

Cutting the Red Tape with Big Companies

In the last post we talked about how to bring the big-company mindset into your business and your team. This will help you overcome the mental obstacles that will keep you from being successful. Now, that you’ve learned how to overcome that, we’re going to talk about who your fish is. It’s important to know about the fish you are looking for before you put a plan together. We’re also going to take a moment to talk about the cutting the red tape that you may encounter along the way.

The most important thing to know about your fish is their purchasing habits and procedures. There are four main things you need to work on in order to be successful:

  1. Responsibilities: You need to know who has influence over purchasing, who does the actual buying and who can kill a deal if they want.
  2. Get on Their List: You need to know how to get on their list of people to buy from. Your name needs to not only be on the list, but at the top of it and in as many categories as possible for the more interaction. Ask about a procurement program and what you need to do to go through the application process.
  3. Lingo: You need to learn the company’s unique language and communications methods. These could include report names, buzzwords and even the nicknames they have for their employees.
  4. Fiscal Budgets: It’s essential you know the fishes fiscal budget, so you know exactly when they are planning their expenses for the year.

Now that we’ve talked a little about what you need to know about your fish, let’s a quick look at cutting the red tape.

Bureaucracy might as well be a four-letter word with the emotions it stirs in all of us. “Red tape” is a necessary evil, but one you can use to learn from. There are two ways to learn from their system:

  1. Analyze their activity.
  2. Review their correspondence.

Being an outsider looking in can have its advantages too. If you hate dealing with the “red tape”, imagine how their employees feel dealing with it. If they need to crunch some numbers, offer to do it. If they need more info, make sure you are giving it to them in a user-friendly way.

The things we talked about in this lesson will help you prepare for the big approach. If you need help with cutting the red tape, and you are in Chicago, Oak Brook or surrounding areas, contact us today if you feel you need some coaching on this topic!

Greg A. Lee is also available on Advicoach.

find large clients

Find Large Clients

How to Find Large Clients

There are a number of factors to take into consideration when prepping yourself and your company to find large clients for you to work with.

Today we’re going to start with a brief look at the three paths every business faces and show you which one is the path to success. Then we’ll talk about the mindset it takes to attract the big fish.

There are three major paths a business can take when trying to find large clients:

  • Snail Speed
  • Shooting Star
  • Catch the Big Fish

Snail Speed

Most business owners ended up working themselves into the ground without much reward or success. This is what happens when you fool yourself into thinking you will find quick success. You may also find yourself following this path when you are afraid of change.

Shooting Star

This describes a business that shoots to the top so fast you are overwhelmed and don’t have the right resources in place to adapt. This can also happen from being overwhelmed by small clients and not taking the time to find large clients, which will sustain your business after the small client sales slow.

Catch the Big Fish

This is the path that allows you to build at a steady pace that you can manage by not allowing your customers to outpace you. You can do this by putting these tips to work:

  1. Attract, keep and lock in big clients.
  2. Integrate “big business” culture into your company and employees.
  3. Acquire the expertise you need to grow.
  4. Have the courage to make changes as you grow.

Now we are going to transition a bit and talk about the “big fish” mindset. It may sound easy to just find and catch that big fish, but if you are stuck in the small business mindset, you may find it harder than you think.

Think of all the benefits of aiming at bigger clients:

  • Inexpensive
  • Highly Profitable
  • Longevity
  • Security

In order to find large clients, you need to believe your company can make a difference with their business. It’s easy to get into the thought that a large company doesn’t need anything from a small business like yours, but this is entirely wrong!

Once you take a look at how big companies operate, it’s important to know which ones are the best fit with your company. One of the best ways to get in the door is by knowing someone on the inside who can put in a good word for you.

If you’re not sure where to start and feel a little intimidated about catching big fish and you are in Chicago, Oak Brook or surrounding areas, contact us today if you feel you need some coaching on this topic!

Greg A. Lee is also available on Advicoach.

position your business

Position Your Business for Big Clients

Position Your Business as the Perfect Bait for the Big Fish

You need to position your business so that it is the perfect bait for your biggest fish. In the last post we talked about how to learn about your big fish and prepare for the first contact you’ll make with them. This first contact is essential to your success. You need to instill confidence in them. They need to know you can fulfill exactly what you are offering on time, at a good price and at the quality you promise.

Today we’ll actually go through the big approach and how to make that perfect first impression. Before you put together your approach plan, you need to choose with big fish you’re going after. Take a look at your notes and the research you’ve done about prospective fish. Then decide which one will be the easiest approach to start out with.

There are a series of things to go through in choosing which fish to start with. They are:

  • Position Your Business
  • Compile Your Hit List
  • Select the Best Target

Position Your Business

You need to position your business to make the first move by listing your revenue streams, id and list your operational procedures, where your fish is initially positioned, your big-customer research, and putting it all together.

Compile Your Hit List

Start with a list of all the companies you’ve been considering. Then narrow it down to the ones who know could use your products or services. Don’t overlook obvious choices, whether they are big or small. Even small companies could be big fish in the future.

Select the Best Target

Once you’ve got your list narrowed down, you need to decide which one is the best fish to start with. You need to consider a couple of things:

  • Which have the most purchasing resources to spend?
  • Does their company vision compliment yours?
  • What are their employee incentive programs as they relate to your products/services?
  • What’s the company’s real need for you?
  • Will the partnership lead you off-course?

Now you should have a target in mind to start with. It’s time to plan your approach and execute that plan.

Here’s the step-by-step plan to help you make a good first impression:

  1. Build and analyze your database. Divide your leads into three different categories: hot leads, great fits and secondary leads.
  2. Send out introductory mailings to your target to introduce yourself, your company, services, products, and vision. They need to be short, clean and concise.
  3. Follow up with your first phone call 2-3 days after they would have received the mailings. During the phone call find out whom you need to be speaking with in the future and try to set up a meet with the right person.
  4. Follow up your phone call with another mailing that thanks them for taking the time to speak with you and offer more details about your products/services. Use this letter and opportunity to set up a meeting to do a presentation.
  5. Follow up the letter with another phone call a couple of days after they would have received the letter. This phone call is to help you further develop your relationship with the prospective client. You should also be able to set up a presentation meeting with them.
  6. Call again a week later if they haven’t agreed to a meeting or presentation. Ask if they received your creative letter (the second one) and if they have a minute when you can stop by and introduce yourself in person.

Now, don’t be upset if you don’t seal the deal right away. Some people simply take a little longer to woo. This can all be a little intimidating at first, but when you know you are offering a quality product/service, you can’t go wrong.

Once you’ve gone through this process and make first contact (and hopefully a good first impression) it’s time to put your best face forward, which means sending the right salesperson to seal the deal.

If you need help putting together your approach and make a good first impression, and you are in Chicago, Oak Brook or surrounding areas, contact us today if you feel you need some coaching on this topic!

Greg A. Lee is also available on Advicoach.

maximize your business

Maximize Your Resources – Part 2

Maximize Your Business

Today we’ll look at how to maximize your business as a resource. Last time we talked about the first three areas to work through in maximizing your current resources. They were:

  • Recognize the obvious
  • Unconventional breakthroughs
  • Face the facts

Today we’ll cover the next three, which are:

  • Reveal your business’ soul
  • From breaking even to breaking the bank
  • Stand up and stand out

Reveal Your Business’ Soul

Every business has a soul and you likely felt it the strongest when your business was just starting. It’s that passion, newness and momentum you had at the very beginning. Sometimes that can get lost along the way as your business gets stagnant and set in its ways. You have to break out of that rut and get back to your business’ true soul and use it to maximize your business.

The philosophy of putting your client’s needs above your own is the true key to success. You need to serve your clients not sell to them. They want to build a relationship based on trust, not a used car. Add to these responsibilities your ability to solve problems, handle special situations, be a friend to your clients and focus on offering valuable, high quality products/services. Only then will you get back to the basics and find you have more resources than you thought.

From Breaking Even to Breaking the Bank

One of the classic and most used ways to attract clients is to offer them a ridiculously low price on their initial purchase and lock them in for future purchases. You see this approach with movie or book clubs and even credit card companies who offer lower interest rates for the first six months.

Essentially, you are offering them a deal on their first purchase and then you offer them back-end and add-on products along the way. These are naturally higher prices and will bring them in to more of an intimate relationship with you and your company.

Stand Up and Stand Out

You need to stand out from the pack among your competitors. They only way you can do this through consistency and value. You do this by discovering what your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is and perfecting it. Here are some tips to help you find and develop your USP:

  1. Look for unfilled needs in your industry.
  2. Use preemptive marketing.
  3. Use a technique that is clear and to the point.

This wraps up this post. If you need help with any of these areas or to learn more about how to maximize your business, and you are in Chicago, Oak Brook or surrounding areas, contact us today if you feel you need some coaching on this topic!

Greg A. Lee is also available on Advicoach.

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