Prospecting Made Easy

Today’s message is very short and sweet… well maybe not so sweet but short for sure… and hopefully helpful to you.

We’ve all felt the frustrations of trying to get good clients. Heck, trying to get new clients period can be a real challenge.

So today I wanted to share a few ideas that have worked for me…

Start by making a list of who you’d like to work with. Think: “Who’s my perfect prospect?” If you could hand pick any client, who’d that be?

This could be connections from a past job, or business associates that you know and who like and trust you or a vendor who you’ve done business with in the past. As a last resort you could put together a “cold list” of prospects.

Study that target market intensely and find out what problems they’re dealing with today, who are they (male, female), how old they are, what magazines they read etc.

Learn all you can about your perfect prospect and the marketplace in general. This is a critical step. This is very important step and should done before you start your marketing message. I know that I’ve talked about this many times, but it’s super important.

Once you have a target group in mind, create a mailing list. You’re going to be sending them numerous messages, offers, and various messages over and over until they become clients, so I suggest that you put these names in a program like Excel so you can keep up with them easily.

Study the competition and learn what they’re doing what offers they’re sending out, go to their websites, landing pages, and direct mail etc. This way you can position your business uniquely.

Once you feel you have enough “intel”, create a lead generation letter and send it to your prospect list.

It’s going to take more than one letter. I like using a letter series sent over a couple of weeks. Sure, you can sometimes close the deal on a single letter but it’s very unlikely. The power in direct mail is by mailing several letters not just one.

So, don’t be discouraged if you don’t get a response on the first letter you sent. This is typical. Again, the power of a letter series goes a long way to landing that client.

You got to remember, people are busy, they are preoccupied, and flooded with lots of distractions, junk mail, and advertising messages in today’s super-busy world.

Lastly, I encourage you to study the masters. Learn all you can about your craft. If you can afford a mentor, then by all means hire one. A good mentor will save you tons of money, time and frustrations. It’s as good as money in the bank… provided you follow through and act on what you’ve learned.

These Are The Top Three Reasons Benchmarking Is Not Good For You And Your Company

Benchmarking has been a buzzword for four to five decades now. It came into its own in the years when TQM (Total Quality Management) was the only gospel truth on how to become the best. The Japanese had taken over the world and for America and Western Europe to catch up; they needed to benchmark the best of what the Japanese were doing. And who propounded and continue to propound these ideas? You guess right, the big boys: BCG, Bain, Accenture, PWC, McKinsey, KPMG, Deloitte, Gemini and the rest of them.

Benchmarking 101 simply says get all the metrics how your best competitor is doing and compare to your performance. Wherever you perform worse, that’s the gap. Pronto you’ve cracked the code. Take immediate action to close the gap and you can be as good as them (your competitor) or even leap frog them. They backed up their presentations with elegant two by two graphs (process visuals as Alan Weiss calls them) and CEOs looking for ever more expensive quick fixes would jump at the recommendations and their treasuries would be the poorer for it.

Tell me, if benchmarking is really this cure-it-all antidote to lackluster performance (the big boys would deny they said it was a cure-it-all), how come Kodak did not benchmark its way to survival? How come Nokia could not benchmark its way to success and beat back Apple and Samsung? What of Motorola that invented the cellular phone technology and Xerox that taught the world how to copy? Why couldn’t the bluest of the blue, with all its technological wizardry do it, and had to send John Akers to the labour market? Beware, the elephant cannot dance unless and until it decides to dance by changing its genetic code.

So here are the top three reasons why you should never touch benchmarking with a ten-foot pole if you really want to be great, break new mold and render the competition irrelevant.

1. Benchmarking ignores the culture of the better performing organization
This is the mother of all reasons why benchmarking is a fatal flaw. Assuming you’re Intel and the Japanese are eating your lunch, what do you do? Do you go on a retreat and benchmark the Japanese to blow them out of the water? Do you call a town-hall meeting to sensitize everyone about the Japanese’s threat and quickly form quick action teams (QATs) to benchmark the Japanese to prepare the way for your glorious comeback? Do you send your top executives to Harvard to learn benchmarking at its best in order to form a groundswell movement that would make you invincible overnight? No! No!! No!!! You do what Andy Grove, Robert Noyce (and Gordon Moore) did. You fire yourselves and start all over again. Remember, only the paranoid survive. You cannot beat the Japanese in head-to-head combat because the cultures are different. Period! Have you not heard that culture will eat strategy for breakfast?

2. Benchmarking looks at the future with the rear-view mirror
Assuming you’re IBM and you’re the world’s most admired company and teased as the Big Blue, and you hear two small boys are fiddling in their mother’s garage and they say they want to topple IBM. Do you postpone your board meeting and send spies to see what the boys are up to or do you benchmark? Benchmark what? Benchmark Apple I or Apple II or iMac that don’t yet exist? The Big Boys would deny they ever said that you should benchmark under such circumstances. But didn’t they say benchmarking was the alpha and omega of the competitive tools? You will never see the future with your rear-view mirror even if you’re a magician. The truth is, when there is disruption (air travel disrupted sea travel, computer disrupted typewriter, gun disrupted bow and arrow, etc.), everything is reset to zero so no amount of benchmarking can save you. We live in an age of discontinuity, thanks to Peter Drucker, and when discontinuity catches up with you and your industry, benchmarking is foolhardiness of the highest order.

3. Benchmarking ignores critical thinking and cannot help you invent the future
The best way to own tomorrow is to invent it. Benchmarking cannot help you do that. Benchmarking is actually antithetical to reinvention. The most revolutionary inventions of our time were or are never the products of benchmarking but critical thinking. Think of products as mundane (now) as paper, post-it-note and light bulb, to mention three. These things never existed before until people’s imagination brought them to be. To invent the future, you start with a clean slate. You ask simple questions like, “why does this work matter?”, “what purpose does it serve?”, “why this (and not that?” These sort of questions enable you think critically, go deep and invent tomorrow while others are busy benchmarking and playing catch-up with the supposedly best companies.

There you have them, the three reasons why benchmarking should be avoided as the plaque: benchmarking ignores the culture of the better performing organization, benchmarking looks at the future with the rear-view mirror, and benchmarking ignores critical thinking and cannot help you invent and reinvent the future.

If you look closely, benchmarking is at the heart of the so-called, international best practice(s) in industries across the globe and who are the proponents of these “best-of-class” concept? The big consulting powerhouses! At best, let me concede, benchmarking can help you make small incremental (additive) progress, but that is not what you need. What you need is exponential (geometric) progress. Now that you have read the top three reasons why you should never do benchmarking, don’t waste time with benchmarking. For any new project you want to initiate, start with a clean slate. Yes, reinvent the wheel. Remember, Apple reinvented the phone with the iPhone, Starbucks reinvented coffee houses, and you can reinvent yours. Go and do it.

5 Reasons Why You Need An Executive Coach

Many of the top CEOs in major global brands have an executive coach on retainer, but small businesses leaders can also benefit from this type of expertise. On average, one of the primary reasons many small businesses do not hire a coach is because of the expense, even though it would make sense for their group. Granted, executive coaches can be a significant expense, charging rates from $300, $1,000 or even $3,000 or more for one session.

Because the business world is now moving at an incredible pace with minimal margin for staying ahead on the competition as new ways of doing business and disruption are now baked into our collective DNA, an executive coach can be a great benefit to your company.

Exploring Ideas: Business coaches have experience across a broad swath of clients, and they bring that experience to their work with you. One of the top benefits of a business coach is the chance to have someone that is unbiased and outside of your organization help you think through new ideas and strategies. In the process of your speaking to a coach about thoughts that you’re thinking, a good coach will ask you questions that will test your thinking and in the process give you more insight.

Leadership Effectiveness: An executive coach can do something that probably no one on your small business team will do–give you feedback. Sometimes business owners have a trusted executive that works with them that will challenge their skills and effectiveness. But, more often than not, that is not the case. A small business owner can easily be in an environment where few people, if any, will inform the leader about how he’s doing. An executive coach is someone that will not have any doubts helping you understand the “why” of decisions and courses of action you’ve taken. In the process, this will help you understand and gain insight into your own management and leadership.

Accountability: The reality is that a small business owner has his or her little fiefdom. Larger corporations have their boards to hold them accountable, but who does a small marketing or retail shop have to hold them accountable? The answer is usually no one. If you’ve meant to update your operating bylaws, launch a new marketing campaign, or figure out how to develop team members, a coach will hold you accountable. It will be this person’s job to check in with you on the goals you’re putting forward for your company.

Measurement: Typically, when you sit for your initial conversations with an executive coach, this professional will ask you about your goals for the process. Out of those goals will come ways to ensure that the goals are accomplished, and usually these goals are tied to making your business performance and leadership better. An executive coach will help you get better at measuring the success of your business because he will be working with you on core issues related to your company, which will come from the goals you prioritize.

Improved Decision Making: One of the significant benefits of executive coaching is that with the live sounding board, in the form of a coach, you’ll have an opportunity to test out ideas and thinking. A good coach will always push you by asking you questions that will help draw out and clarify your thinking. In turn, this process will help you improve your decision-making process because the decisions you will be making will have been thought through with much more rigor. Your choices will become better, and the process of how you get to decisions will become even more thoughtful and rigorous.
Sometimes executive coaches are brought on board for a specific laser reason, but lots of times they are hired because business leaders can benefit from working anywhere from three months to a year with someone helping them develop and improve. If you haven’t thought about an executive coach, it might be something to consider. If you think the price is a factor, it’s only a matter of priorities.