Monthly Archives: October 2011

How to Move Your Market from Complaining to Placing Orders for Your New Product

LinkedInTwitterGoogle+FacebookShare

Companies like APPLE® haven’t waited for customers to specifically ask them for completely different telephones or even faster, thinner, and lighter products.  Folks from that corporation observe how people work and communicate and then create products to address the problems and wishes before the customers even have a chance to complain about it.  APPLE® has been so good at innovation that their products haven’t just responded to a recognized need the products create a need.

But the reality is…most of us are not APPLE®.

We can’t all create a need, but if we wait until customers actually ask us to provide a new service or product, those customers have been frustrated for a long time.  We run the risk of competitors figuring out how to address the problem before we start to develop a product/service. The company that only provides a new product when it’s been directly requested is playing it safe, ends up with a smaller portion of the available business, and is viewed as conservative and reactive.

When it comes to product/service innovation, there is an important zone between “bleeding edge – create a need” and “reactive – wait to be asked.”                

If your company interacts with its customers, conducts focus groups, asks about where the clients are headed, listens to customer complaints and frustrations that are unrelated to your company’s existing products/services, you will have a sense of the “felt pain.”

The best products/services of tomorrow address today’s’ felt pain.

In addition to developing a product/service that fixes a problem, it’s important to invest in marketing.  During the complaining phase, customers aren’t asking you to provide a product/service….in part because they don’t believe anyone will address their problem. They don’t know you have the capacity to do anything. They have no idea that the new product/service exists. How can they request it from you?

I am now in the process of launching my 8th enterprise. This one involves collaboration among several competitors who are industry leaders.  Why would customers believe that is even possible or know to request it?  The new business concept lowers the price of a mission-critical service so midsized companies can actually afford to have the excellent product/service that only major corporations have been able to afford.  Why would the customer ask for that when it doesn’t seem possible to them?

The strongest businesses introduce new products and services that truly address felt pain…and they do so boldly to move the market place from complaining to placing an order.           

 

Aldonna R. Ambler, CMC, CSP has earned the right to be called THE GROWTH STRATEGIST™. She has won over 2 dozen national and statewide “entrepreneur of the year” awards for the resilient growth of her international businesses across 4 recessions.  Her midsized BtoB service, technology, and distribution clients get on…and then stay on…the published lists of the fastest growing privately held companies. All of her own service businesses (strategic planning, executive advisory, growth financing, talk show, speaking, search) help privately held midsized companies achieve accelerated growth with sustained profitability™.  Ambler is in her 7th year hosting a weekly peer-to-peer-to-peer on line talk show at www.Business. VoiceAmerica.com and www.growthstrategistshow.com that features interviews with CEOs/Presidents of midsized companies (typically between $20 and 200 Mil/yr) sharing success tips about the growth strategy-of-the-week. Family owned businesses are being emphasized in 2011. Ambler is in the process of launching her 8th enterprise. She can be reached toll free at 1-888-Aldonna or at Aldonna@AMBLER.com.

[video] Launch a Second Enterprise or Create a New Department

Launch a Second Enterprise or Create a New Department

George owns a content management website development company. Their capacity to attract and maintain programmers with sufficient experience in their content management software is simultaneously the optimizing and limiting factor for their growth. So, he is seriously considering opening a training program to build their pipeline of qualified programmers. An attorney quickly told George to start a second business.

The attorney is correct. A training company or school is a very different business from a website development company. This is especially relevant because George wants to open the school on another continent. But I was struck by the casual matter-of-fact tone of the attorney’s advice.

Yes, George can work with the attorney to file official papers to open a school. But before that makes any sense, George will need to have someone in place with experience opening and running a professional school. What credentials will instructors need to have?  How will recruitment and selection of instructors be handled? Who are the prospective students, and how will they be reached?  What would the curriculum be? How will competence be measured, a passing grade be earned, or certification achieved? What competition exists? What tuition is normal? What drop out and no show rates are common? What prevents graduates from deciding not to come to work for George’s company after they have been trained? What percentage of an instructor’s time can realistically be in the classroom? What will the hard costs be for facilities, work stations, telephones, utilities, etc?  How much gross profit and net profit should George expect from the school? Will the key person be a partner and eligible for profit sharing? How long would it take for the school to produce capable employees to achieve ROI on the venture?

His core business is growing. Recruitment is just not going fast enough. Search firms have produced disappointing results. George is VERY busy handling proposals and making sure that major clients are happy. Realistically, he won’t have time to oversee the launch of a second business right now.

It’s funny.  When we suggested that the content management website development company could establish its own recruitment department, George dismissed the idea because he thought that having a recruitment department would be too expensive and distracting.

 

Aldonna R. Ambler, CMC, CSP has earned the right to be called THE GROWTH STRATEGIST™. She has won over 2 dozen national and statewide “entrepreneur of the year” awards for the resilient growth of her international businesses across 4 recessions.  Her midsized BtoB service, technology, and distribution clients get on…and then stay on…the published lists of the fastest growing privately held companies. All of her own service businesses (strategic planning, executive advisory, growth financing, talk show, speaking, search) help privately held midsized companies achieve accelerated growth with sustained profitability™.  Ambler is in her 7th year hosting a weekly peer-to-peer-to-peer on line talk show at www.Business.VoiceAmerica com and www.growthstrategistshow.com that features interviews with CEOs/Presidents of midsized companies (typically between $20 and 200 Mil/yr) sharing success tips about the growth strategy-of-the-week. Family owned businesses are being emphasized in 2011. Ambler is in the process of launching her 8th enterprise. She can be reached toll free at 1-888-Aldonna or at Aldonna@AMBLER.com.

Your Sales Force MUST Embrace the Strategic Plan or You Don’t Have One

Many of you are in very dynamic industries with rapid technical advancements, globalization, certifications required for preferred vendors, and an evolving pool of competitors. To keep up with (better yet…get ahead of) the changes around you, you are increasing the frequency of your market research, customer satisfaction surveys, and strategy sessions.

The process of research and analysis has led several of our clients to the conclusion that the rules have changed sufficiently in their industries that they must dramatically change their business models. A few are making the move from billing for hours to value/results-based pricing. A few are getting into private label products and focusing on niche markets. Some are going after much larger accounts and essentially “firing” the bottom 10% of their customers. One is dramatically modifying the role of the distributor in their industry. Another weighed the pros and cons of leading a roll up while another is seriously considering a merger to get the help they need with backroom operations. Most have to also address sticky succession issues.

An inexperienced person might jump to the conclusion that production level personnel would be the most resistant to change, assume their jobs are now at risk, and not want to learn.  In all of the cases mentioned above, the waged employees have not presented a challenge.  They have been excited that their employers are doing research, considering the future, starting new things, providing opportunities to learn new skills, and investing in survival and growth.

In a few instances, our clients have had to bring in a CFO instead of expecting their Controller to generate scenarios or deal with bankers and investors. In one case, the HR Manager was over his head and didn’t know how to change the company’s approach to recruitment. We got them into the Top Grading approach, which helped.

Absolutely, across all of these examples of companies changing their business models, the sales force has been the most reluctant to help, learn, accept, and change.  With the unemployment rate as high as it is these days, one would think that sales people would be a little more willing to try a new approach, go after larger accounts, learn to use updated systems, etc.  Despite involving sales people in the research, utilizing participative approaches to strategic planning, and providing training and coaching for success, these clients have had to put sales people on notice, let some of them go, and dramatically step up recruitment to attract future oriented sales people.

Nothing will torpedo a new strategic direction faster than sales people continuing to talk about the past or criticizing their employers for wanting to change.

 

Aldonna R. Ambler, CMC, CSP has earned the right to be called THE GROWTH STRATEGIST™. She has won over 2 dozen national and statewide “entrepreneur of the year” awards for the resilient growth of her international businesses across 4 recessions.  Her midsized BtoB service, technology, and distribution clients get on…and then stay on…the published lists of the fastest growing privately held companies. All of her own service businesses (strategic planning, executive advisory, growth financing, talk show, speaking, search) help privately held midsized companies achieve accelerated growth with sustained profitability™.  Ambler is in her 7th year hosting a weekly peer-to-peer-to-peer on line talk show at www.Business.VoiceAmerica.com and www.growthstrategistshow.com that features interviews with CEOs/Presidents of midsized companies (typically between $20 and 200 Mil/yr) sharing success tips about the growth strategy-of-the-week. Family owned businesses are being emphasized in 2011. Ambler is in the process of launching her 8th enterprise. She can be reached toll free at 1-888-Aldonna or at Aldonna@AMBLER.com.

[video] Are You Being Held Hostage By Your Sales Force?

[video] Why VIRTUAL Growth Should NOT Be a Goal

Why VIRTUAL Growth Should NOT Be a Goal

Yep.  Advanced technology makes it very tempting to grow your company through subcontractors and vendors.  That option is particularly reassuring if you are reluctant to accept the responsibility, cost, and risks associated with building a team of employees. Even if you didn’t want to take the virtual route, these days you may feel compelled to do so because so many service providers view themselves as “entrepreneurs” rather than employees. You may benefit from the flexibility that comes with growing virtually.  When a vendor or subcontractor under-delivers, you simply replace them … right?

But be careful.  Despite the obvious benefits, VIRTUAL growth also brings its own share of challenges. Just because a bright owner knows how to design great websites or create social media programs doesn’t mean he/she knows how to train people, grow a business, develop a team, etc.  Pretty soon, the business management problems of a trusted vendor become your problems as deadlines are missed, your LINKED IN account gets shut down, or your “Golden 50” program screeches to a halt. The vendor won’t want to tell you that he/she is having difficulty managing his/her business.  You don’t see them every day, so you miss warning signs. Now you must invest time in fixing the problems, getting things back on track, reviewing invoices, renegotiating the contract, and looking for a replacement. No one feels any sense of loyalty or security.  Folks are expendable at any time. Bridges are burned over and over and over.

As a result of virtual relationships, we have seen more and more company Presidents spending way too much time looking for new vendors, diving back into the details, worrying, and not doing their own jobs. When the commitment to virtual growth becomes the goal instead of a tool, it can stifle productivity, profitability, and perspective.

The VIRTUAL approach isn’t limited to marketing, bookkeeping, HR management, IT, etc.  The biggest risks, in my opinion, come when a company relies too heavily on subcontractors for client services, production, etc.  It is too easy to become a subcontractor for most companies.  We know a few firms that use very thorough multi-step screening processes when they hire employees and then utilize a very superficial contracting process for important subcontractors who interact with their customers on a daily basis!  Their entire future and reputation is on the line because growing virtually has been elevated to a goal.

We’ve seen companies with fabulous supervision and coaching programs in place for employees that are not utilized with key subcontractors at all! Subcontractors can easily value their flexibility over your customer satisfaction goals. They can easily modify your process and methodologies. Because they are independent, they have to keep looking for their next great opportunity.

If you rely heavily on subcontractors and vendors to grow your business, consider:

  • Strengthening your selection, training, supervision, and performance evaluation processes.
  • Certifying and/or licensing to convey the value of your methodologies and intellectual property.
  • Hiring a manager with sourcing, purchasing, and contract administration experience.
  • Asking yourself if and why growing virtually has been elevated to a goal for you.
  • Reviewing your approach to team building.
Aldonna R. Ambler, CMC, CSP has earned the right to be called The Growth Strategist™. She has won over two dozen national and statewide “entrepreneur of the year” awards for the resilient growth of her international businesses across four recessions.  Her midsized B-to-B service, technology and distribution clients get on…and then stay on…the published lists of the fastest growing privately held companies. All of her own service businesses (strategic planning, executive advisory, growth financing, radio show, speaking, search, etc.) help midsized companies in Achieving Accelerated Growth With Sustained Profitability®. Ambler is in her 7th year hosting a weekly peer-to-peer-to-peer online radio program at www.business.voiceamerica.com or www.GrowthStrategistRadioShow.com that features interviews with CEOs/Presidents of midsized companies (typically between $20 and 200 Mil/yr) sharing success tips about the growth strategy-of-the-week. She can be reached toll free at 1-888-Aldonna or at Aldonna@AMBLER.com.

Growth Strategy Tip

Testimonials

I am so grateful to have worked with Aldonna. Her guidance helped our company build a practical plan. We’re still growing and still using the tools she taught us!

Jodi Ferrer
The Perfect Promotion

Schedule a FREE initial consultation with Aldonna to find out how she can help you work through your challenges and take your business to the next level. Click Here