Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Finding New Customers In The Downturn

Times are tough for businesses these days. If your sales have fallen as low as Paris Hilton's IQ, it's time to start finding new customers.

If your customers are struggling, it's time to find new industries for your product and service. The following is a great link to an article on industries that will be buying in 2009. Make sure your product can help them. Click here to read the article.

If you can add any others to the list, let me know.

--Ron Ameln, SBM

Friday, January 23, 2009

Obama's First 100 Days; What About Your Next 100?

Okay, so President Obama has been sworn in and the watch begins on his first 100 days. I'm not sure where the whole 100-day thing comes from in the first place, but the media watches each new president like a hawk these first 100 days. (Actually, why is it 100 days? Why not 50? 80? 103, maybe?)
I always liked the 100-day watch. It is a great way for a President to kick start his term, set the tone for his administration and it gives him a short time frame to accomplish goals. The 100-day goal makes him accountable.
When I purchased my business three years ago my business coach set up a 100-day plan to get me off and running. There was no time to gently ease into my new position. I had 100 days to make some changes. In my first 100 days I kicked an employee off the bus, added another and changed the way our product was distributed.
I've been thinking lately that this concept doesn't have to apply to just the very start of a situation. I mean, you could start off the year with a 100-day plan (change the way you sell, interact with employees or change your systems). Make yourself a 100-day plan and stick to it. It is a great way to force yourself to be accountable and turn your goals into reality.
--Ron Ameln, SBM

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Are Your Salespeople Selling?

Now, more than ever, it is important to create selling opportunities for your reps.
Some firms, however, are doing just the opposite.
Allen Minster, author, sales coach and president of Integrated Marketing Systems, studied the sales habits of insurance reps and the findings were shocking. His study found that the average sales rep spent only 5 hours a week actually selling and 1 1/2 hours a week prospecting for new business. That comes out to 6 1/2 hours of a 40-hour work week.
As owner of your business, are you contributing to this problem? The trend today, especially with layoffs and corporate downsizing, is to make salespeople a jack-of-all-trades. Some owners expect sales reps to be closers, presenters, collection agents, proposal writers, graphic artists, etc.
According to Minster, salespeople should be focused on only these activities: presentations to decision makers (qualifying and closing), cross marketing to existing clients and resolving client issues that no one else in the company can fix.
If your salespeople are not doing one of these three things, they are simply not selling, and you are losing money on them.
All businesses are trying to watch expenses these days, but make sure you're still helping your sales reps increase their selling opportunities.
--Ron Ameln, SBM

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

When It Comes to The Economy, Is Denial A Good Thing?

I had an interesting conversation with a business owner today. The owner, who is in the office furniture business, proudly told me "His company has elected not to participate in the recession?" Because of this attitude, he said, business is "GREAT."
My first thought was, "Wow, can you say denial." I mean, I often elect not to participate looking bald and middle-aged. I elect to look like Brad Pitt--then I look in the mirror. I hope it works better for the office furniture guy than it's turning out for me.
Now, I don't know if his business is great or not, although I find it hard to believe. I mean, most businesses are just hoping to remain flat this year, and with layoffs and with fewer companies starting, I find it hard to believe phones are ringing off the hook with businesses seeking new office furniture. I mean, the last thing they need at Pfizer or AB is office furniture. But, what do I know.
I talk to some business owners and they don't seem to acknowledge any problems with the economy. Is that a good thing? It's one thing to be positive (that's a good thing) but another to be in denial. I mean, if you don't recognize the upcoming storm or the storm you are in, how can you adjust course to stay afloat. How can you prepare your financials, cut costs, discover new revenue streams, if everything is fine and you are not participating in the recession.
Maybe it comes down to your customers. Attention Mr. Business Owner, if your customers are participating in the recession, so are you. You'd better prepare to tackle the challenge.
--Ron Ameln, SBM