Five Essential Principles For Growing Your Small Business

When it comes to succeeding in growing a small business, many people view success as luck. Some will succeed and some won’t. And it’s stories like John Mackey’s that inspire us to try. Mackey started a small vegetarian store in Austin, Texas, more than 30 years ago and this year sold his Whole Foods empireto Amazon at a price tag of $13.7 billon.

Business author Faisal Hoque points out in his recent Fast Company article that luck isn’t what it takes. Small business success comes from five essential elements, which we’ll share here.

1. Timing is Everything. The timing of your product or service must be right in the marketplace. There must be a need or a pain point that your product or service solves in order to gain interest and traction. If the market isn’t ready, then your business will fail or you will need to wait to launch your product or adjust your product to the market needs. As Hoque points out, smaller businesses have the advantage of being able to make choices and implement changes without the exhaustive process and conflicting points of view that slow down major corporations.

2. Brand, Brand, Brand. You need to create a positive experience for your customers to stay competitive. And, if you want to create a scalable business, you must understand just how crucial it is to build brand equity. The emotional attachment that links customers to your product, as opposed to any other, translates into sustainable growth. Hoque shares these basic rules for brand-building:

Choose your target audience. The surest road to product failure is to try to be all things to all people.

Connect with the public. Your objective is to make your audience feel an emotional attachment to your brand.

Inspire and influence your audience. An inspirational brand message is far more influential than one that just highlights product feature functions.

Reinforce the brand image within your company. Make sure employees at every level of your organization work and behave in a way that reinforces your brand image.

3. Scale Your Sales. You also need repeatable sales processes to create a business that can easily grow. It is one thing to sign up a few customers; it is another thing entirely to identify, design and implement repeatable sales and customer delivery processes. According to Hoque, you know your business is scalable when:

You can add new hires at the same productivity level as yourself or your sales leader.

You can increase the sources of your customer leads on a consistent basis.

Your sales conversion rate and revenue can be consistently forecasted.

Your cost to acquire a new customer is significantly less than the amount you can earn from that customer over time.

Your customers get the right product in the right place at the right time.

4. Embrace Technology. Bottom line, it pays to embrace technology. If a small business can identify a genuine need, technology likely exists to fulfill that need both locally and globally. There are few barriers to entry in an age where anyone with wireless can cheaply and quickly access the enabling technologies needed to execute their business model. Put effort into mapping out a plan that ties technology into your operational and business needs.

5. De-Stress For Success. As Hoque points out, managing the success of a small business can be twice as stressful as maintaining a healthy relationship with a spouse or partner, nearly three times as stressful as raising children, and more than four times as stressful as managing your own personal finances. In fact, a Bank of America survey pointed out that 38 percent of small business owners maintain full or part-time jobs while running their own business.

If you’re not happy, healthy and motivated, growing your business will be difficult. You also set the tone for everyone who works with you. So, take care of your mental and physical well-being so that you can provide the best of you to the business.

PCT returns tomorrow with more tips for success.

Source: Faisal Hoque is founder of SHADOKA and other companies. His newest book is “Survive to Thrive — 27 Practices of Resilient Entrepreneurs, Innovators, And Leaders” (Motivational Press, 2015). He is formerly of GE, and other global brands, business author and contributor to Fast CompanyBusiness Insider and the Huffington Post.

Maintaining Your Leadership Momentum

Have you ever had a day in which your wheels spin a bit slower? Have you noticed your team not putting the usual miles in at the office? It seems that when a team is aligned, focused and working together, projects excel. But when there’s a lack of focus, energy or commitment, or when benchmarks aren’t set in place, your team project doesn’t gain momentum.

Today,we’ll share these five tips from Elizabeth McCormick, a keynote speaker specializing in leadership, to assure your leadership and team directives match the result you envision.

1. Know Your Destination: When you begin with the end in mind, you have a distinctive vision of your desired direction and destination before instructing your team to launch. It doesn’t matter how big or small your project is—if the direction, intention or desired outcome isn’t clear, it will be tough to for your team reach its goal. Assume nothing, clarify everything, and have it in writing.

2. Engage Your Team: Once you have communicated the objectives to your team, start by having team members re-state the goals and desired outcomes in their own words. Also, flesh out the project, brainstorm with the team and add detail to the project. This type of activity will help jumpstart the camaraderie as your team begins working together as a team toward a common goal.

3. Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan: Be sure you have established the proper benchmarks, and signposts for you and your team, so that if there is any drifting off course, it will be recognized and realigned quickly without much wasted time or effort. Ensure that work is broken down into manageable, measurable, short-term goals to aid in motivation and increase productivity.

4. Own Your Results: As a leader, it’s your attitude, stamina, direction, commitment to the project and work ethic that establishes the environment and culture of your team, as well as the success of your project at hand. One of the biggest reasons people are taken off task is that the purpose for their task isn’t strong enough to keep them engaged. If this is happening, recognize it and take some time to clarify your team goal. And, regardless of why it happened, own the results. Empower your team to help you assess what went wrong, develop the proper benchmarks and guardrails to prevent that from happening again, and then map out a new flight plan to a better destination.

5. Collaborate—Share Your Progress: It is important to communicate, collaborate and share your progress. Your strategic plan could be working well. However, the marketing department may have new information that invalidates an initial premise or causes your data to be out of date. Informing them only at completion risks the success of your entire project. So, it’s important to keep key stakeholders up to speed throughout the entire process.

Include progress updates to those who are affected by your plans so that changes can be incorporated along the way.

Source: Elizabeth McCormick is a keynote speaker specializing in leadership, sales and safety presentations. She was recently named No. 4 on the list of leadership experts to follow online. A former U.S. Army Black Hawk pilot and author of The P.I.L.O.T. Method; the 5 Elemental Truths to Leading Yourself in Life, she teaches instantly applicable strategies to boost employees’ confidence in their own leadership abilities.

Four Strategies For Making The Right Connections

Networking is critical to keeping the momentum of growth and opportunity throughout your career. Unfortunately, networking comes easier to some people than to others. Today we share these five strategies from Jill Johnson, business author and speaker, on how to build your network of connections.

1. Build Your Network Before You Need It:
 Johnson says the best time to start networking is while you’re still in school. Look for professional groups in your field. Attend their events with the goal to meet people working full-time in the field and learn from the speakers. Many of these groups need volunteers.

As a student, I was a member of Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), and had opportunities to interact with public relations professionals. It was a great way to ask questions, learn about the skills I needed and make connections for internships.

Be sure to follow up your meeting with a thank-you note and reach out to make a connection on LinkedIn, along with a personal message. These are the details that get you remembered.

2. Be Specific In Asking For What You Want: Don’t waste the time of your networking contacts. Be clear about what you are hoping to gain from the meeting. Tell them exactly what you want to do and why you think they can help you. “Informational interviews” are a terrific method for learning about their career path and gaining their insight on how to build your career. Make sure you have a stated purpose for the meeting and then stick to it. Ask if there are any events, trade association meetings or volunteer opportunities that you should consider to help you build your network and gain some good foundational experience.

3. Face Time Is Critical:
 We’re all too used to communicating by text and email. While that works in many situations, networking requires a personal connection. People can only get to know and like you as well as help you when they meet you in person.

You can get face time simply by asking for it. Request a 15-minute face-to-face meeting. Prepare for your meeting by reviewing your contact’s professional LinkedIn profile and company website. Have your question list ready, then greet them and listen carefully as they answer your questions. Conclude the meeting with a sincere “thank you,” in person and with a follow-up handwritten note.

4. Use Your Expertise To Help Others: Ready to pay it forward? Share some of your learnings and perspectives with your new networking connection and keep in touch. One interaction is not enough. Remember to pay it forward by asking if there is anything you can do to for them. There might not yet be an answer, but it counts that you’re interested in a two-way street if possible. You have valuable knowledge, too.

Whether starting out early in your career or looking for the next right opportunity, try these tips and branch out with new contacts.

Source: Jill Johnson is the president and founder of Johnson Consulting Services, a highly accomplished speaker, an award-winning management consultant and author of the forthcoming Bold Questions Series. Johnson helps her clients make critical business decisions and develop market-based strategic plans for turnarounds or growth. Her consulting work has impacted nearly four billion dollars’ worth of decisions. She has a proven track record of dealing with complex business issues and getting results.

How To Craft A Winning Business Plan

An employee recently came up with an idea. He wanted the company to invest money to develop new functionality for the software solution we sell to our customers. The first question to him was, “How much money will it take?” He gave a ballpark number. So he was asked, “How did you get to that number? Do you have market research to show the need for this functionality and a rationale for the cost?” Of course, he didn’t, so it was suggested he work on a business plan.

There are many times a business plan is required, and it’s not just when you are looking to launch a new business. However, a majority of businesspeople don’t understand the key elements of a business plan and the role it serves.

Today we reveals the key elements for developing a business plan shared by author MaryEllen Tribby in her Huffington Post article, “The Eight Key Elements of a Successful Business Plan and How to Make Them Work for You.”

1. Executive Summary: Following the title page, the summary should tell the reader what you want and clearly state what you’re asking for. Length of the statement should be from a half page to full-page depending on how complicated the plan. Within that space, you’ll need to provide a synopsis of your entire business plan.

2. Market Analysis: This section should illustrate your knowledge about the particular industry your business is in and the market drivers that are affecting this industry. It’s the foundation for setting up your opportunity. A market analysis also outlines pricing, distribution and marketing strategies that will allow the company to become profitable within a competitive environment. Begin your market analysis by defining the market in terms of size, structure, growth prospects, trends and sales potential.

3. Company Description: This section should include a high-level look at how all of the different elements of your business fit together. The company description should include information about the nature of your business as well as the crucial factors that you believe will make your business a success.

4. Organization and Management: This section includes your company’s organizational structure and ownership of your company, and describes the roles, responsibilities and qualifications of your management team, as well as any advisory boards or board of directors.

5. Marketing and Sales Strategies: This section defines your strategies for building brand equity, market penetration and lead generation. It explains how you are going to fill the sales pipeline and move your prospects through that pipeline to secure the sale. Start with strategies, tactics and channels that you have used to create your greatest successes. Next, branch out to others that may be working for your competitors. Remember that this section will be continually updated based on your results.

6. Service and/or Product Line: In this section describe your service and product. What is it that you are actually selling? Make sure to emphasize the benefits or value to the market (not the features). Establish your unique selling proposition. This means you have to show not only how your product is different but also why it is better.

7. Funding Requirements: In this section state the amount of funding you will need to start or expand your business. Include best- and worst-case scenarios. Be realistic.

8. Financials: Develop the financials after you have analyzed the market and set clear objectives. You should include three to five years of historical data.

The biggest mistake that most businesses make is that they don’t revisit their original business plan. We all know that it’s a dynamic marketplace, with outside forces affecting businesses every day. Make it a discipline not only to make decisions based on business plans, but to also revisit your business plan and make adjustments on a regular basis.

Source: MaryEllen Tribby is founder and CEO of WorkingMomsOnly.com and MaryEllenTribby.com.

Seriously, Don’t Come to Work If You’re Sick

We’ve been off for a bit due to the busy nature of the holidays but today we are back with a vengeance and to talk about something very important to all of you out there.

Nobody wants you and your gross germs.

840x-1There’s nothing more selfish you can do than come to work sick. You may get a gold star for showing your sniffling face at the office and soldiering through the workday to prove your value—but everyone around you just gets sick. You’re an inconsiderate work hazard.

When people bring their infectious illness to work, it spreads—and when sick people don’t have a financial incentive to show up to work, fewer people get sick, according to a new working paper by the nonprofit National Bureau of Economic Research.

The researchers studied U.S. cities with paid sick-leave mandates and, using Google Flu Trends data at the city and state level from 2003 to 2015, looked for changes in flu rates after those mandates went into effect.

The cities that adopted paid sick-leave mandates in that time frame saw flu cases drop by about 5 percent after their laws took effect. For a city of 100,000 people, that comes out to 100 fewer infections per week, the researchers estimate.

“You see people who are at the workplace sneezing and potentially infectious. That’s how diseases spread,” said Nicolas R. Ziebarth, an assistant professor at Cornell University and one of the study’s researchers.

For most of us, staring at a computer through the fog of illness is torture, and does nothing to help us recover. Yet 3 million people, or 2 percent of the U.S. population, bring their ailments to work each week—a phenomenon the researchers dubbed “contagious presenteeism.”

Many do so because of financial pressures; nearly a third of workers have no access to paid sick leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The other two-thirds, who have the luxury of taking a sick day, need to stop making excuses for showing up at work sick.

Almost half of workers say they worry work will pile up if they stay home sick. People who find their jobs engaging also have a hard time staying home, finding work more fun than submitting to the reality of a sick day.

“Some people want to appear tough and signal that they are hard-working,” said Ziebarth.

But those diligent workers aren’t just showing their commitment, they’re also showering their coworkers with germs; the modern open office plan is a breeding ground for contagious illnesses. Worst of all, people tend to come to the office at the beginning of an illness, when they’re at their most contagious but still feeling well enough to get a little work done.

“You have over-the-counter drugs that suppress your symptoms, but they don’t suppress contagiousness,” Ziebarth pointed out.

And diligent workers who absolutely must meet a deadline or finish a life-or-death project should at least self-quarantine. Telecommuting has become an increasingly acceptable way to work, and 60 percent of employers let employees work from home, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s annual Employee Benefits Survey.

“It’s good to change the culture of how people see each other,” said Ziebarth. “You can signal hard work in a lot of different ways. It’s not the right way to go into the office and spread diseases.”

In fact, we all need to do our part to stigmatize coming to work sick. If a coworker comes in complaining of a tickle in his throat or clammy hands, say: “Go home! Nobody wants you and your gross germs.”

Original Article by

Rebecca Greenfield August 30, 2016, 9:47 AM EDT

Are You A Persuasive Presenter?

If you are in a management role, you’ve most likely given presentations at work. In fact, a 2014 survey by presentation software firm Prezi revealed that 70 percent of employed Americans who give presentations agree that presentation skills are critical to their success at work. However, 20 percent of respondents said they would do almost anything to avoid giving a presentation, including pretending to be sick or asking a colleague to give the presentation, even if it means losing respect in the workplace.

Sound familiar? One way to address the fear of presentations is to build confidence in giving presentations that are effective and memorable.

We’ve all heard the basics such as you shouldn’t have too much copy on a slide or that you shouldn’t read from a script. Here are just a few presentation tips from HBR.org writer Dorie Clark that give you the power to persuade your audience—the ultimate goal of a presenter.

1. What’s the problem you’re solving? Clark says that too often presenters start off by directly providing a solution rather than first acknowledging the problem. If you don’t explain the context and why it matters upfront, you risk them tuning out early on because they’re not sure if your idea is relevant.

2. Why now? Next, you need to explain to your audience why now is the most relevant time to address this problem. You need to create a sense of urgency, a call to action and the cost of not taking action.

3. How has the idea been vetted? Next, according to Clark, you need to explain your credibility in addressing this problem and how you’ve vetted your recommendations. This means highlighting your experience and your competence in addressing this issue. As Clark says, “For instance, it’s worth mentioning that your team interviewed 100 leading researchers to identify the best practices you’re recommending, or that you ran three pilots to test the concept.”

4. Have you simplified the structure? Clark says that the next step is to simplify your idea. Present it in a way that is simple and clear to the audience. Perhaps present your idea in a series of steps or phases. This enables the audience to grasp a complex solution more readily, and inspires more confidence in the path you’re proposing.

5. Have you included a story? Make sure your idea is wrapped in a story, says Clark. Don’t just pepper your presentations with a bunch of factoids and statistics. Instead, build a narrative that helps others visualize what you’re talking about. Facts and stats can serve to emphasize points in the narrative, but make sure there is a story to which the audience can relate.

6. Have you included a call to action? Finally, Clark reminds us to always end with a call to action. Be clear about the key steps you want the audience to take and how they can make a difference.

When you know how to be a persuasive presenter, the idea of giving a presentation becomes a powerful tool instead of dreaded task.

Source: Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist and professional speaker who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. She is the author of Reinventing You and Stand Out. You can receive her free Stand Out Self-Assessment Workbook.

How To Choose The Right Organizational Structure

It’s the fourth quarter, and that means it’s time to finalize budgets for 2017. One of the budget considerations is determining what staffing will be required to carry out next year’s goals. This planning process has caused me to stop and consider: does my current organizational structure make sense?

Here we will look at three key organizational structures and considerations a small business should take into account when determining the right structure to achieve its business goals.

Business writer Kristie Lorette says that a small business can achieve both efficiency and effectiveness by implementing one of three primary organization structure options: functional, divisional or matrix.

Functional: A functional organization is one in which the hierarchy of the business is based on the job role of each employee. The structure features groups of employees who are focused on a common goal. For example, all accounting roles would be on an accounting team. Even if you only have two or three employees who fulfill the marketing role of your small business, you would structure it so one person is in charge, such as the vice president of marketing. His team would consist of a marketing manager and a public relations manager. This is a traditional organizational structure.

Divisional: The divisional organizational structures place specific roles within divisions or business units, products or regions—decentralizing specific functions. For example, you could divide the United States into four divisions: north, east, south and west, and each division would have its own specialists, such as a marketing director. Each division would then have its own employees.

Matrix: A matrixed organizational structure is a hybrid of functional and divisional organizational structures. The matrix organizational structure works more like a team. Instead of department heads, each team has a leader. Matrix organizational structures bring together employees who focus on a project, but fill different roles from across your business. The matrix organizational structure often works if your business serves different geographic regions.

If you have a small business, how do you take in elements of these organizational structures? It depends on your growth. For example, says Lorette, if your business starts out by only serving the local city where the business operates, but eventually serves the state, you might start with one structure and change to another one to better fit the needs of your business and its customers.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, no right or wrong. Try elements of each of these structures to see what works best for your business.

Source: Kristie Lorette is a marketing copy and content expert who works with small business owners and entrepreneurs who struggle to market their business effectively to attract the right clients on a consistent basis. What separates her service from other marketing professionals is that she only works with small business owners and only specializes in creating marketing content and copy. Because of this, Lorette’s clients receive proven, effective and extremely specific step-by-step information on exactly what they need to do to attract clients with their marketing. As a result, those who work with her attract more clients and make more money than that would have on their own.
Share this content with your client (without the ad) by clicking on the ClientSafe button below.

How To Lead Innovation

There may be a time when you need to take the lead on innovation in your organization. The distinguishing aspect of leading a special-purpose team is that you’re not in control; you can only influence behavior. You’re tasked with figuring out how to do something new, so what you do in the formative stages will greatly impact the team’s chances of success?

1. Keep team size small, even for big projects. In Silicon Valley, the “pizza rule” has taken hold. If you can’t feed a team with two pizzas, your team is too big. Once a group gets beyond five to seven people, productivity and effectiveness begin to decline. Communication becomes cumbersome. Managing becomes a pain. Players begin to disengage, and introverts withdraw. When it comes to team size, less is more.

2. Pay attention to group chemistry and emotions. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon point to three factors that make a team highly functioning. 1) Members contributed equally to the team’s discussions, rather than letting one or two people dominate; 2) Members were better at reading complex emotional states; and 3) Teams with more women outperform teams with more men. The emotional component—how we feel when we are engaged with a team—truly matters but is all too often never discussed. Pay attention to how the people you’re inviting onto your team relate to others. Always give credit to your team rather than take credit yourself, and practice empathy at all times.

3. Don’t go overboard with diversity. Can too much diversity be a detriment to team chemistry? Researchers at Wharton think so. Too much diversity of “mental models” can be a drag on forward progress, say professors Klein and Lim. If members of a team have a shared, organized understanding and mental representation of knowledge about the nature of the challenge, it can enhance coordination and effectiveness when the task at hand is complex, unpredictable, urgent and novel. The researchers concluded that team members who share common models can save time because they share a common body of knowledge.

4. Establish a group process. A group without a process is like a ship without a rudder. It will have a harder time innovating. Establish team rules at the outset. Address how you’ll treat each other, how you’ll respect each other and articulate how much of time each member is committing to the team. Effective teams establish clear goals and rules at the outset, and hold each other accountable.

5. Pay attention to the 3R’s of innovation: Result, Reputation and Residuals. What motivates people over the long haul is not money, but intrinsic rewards. As the team leader, keep the three R’s in mind: 1) Result: If you hit your target, you’ll have another accomplishment on your track record; 2) Reputation: Your status in the organization rises. Senior management will be delighted. Colleagues will talk you up, praise your contribution, and invite you to join future projects. 3) Residuals: the lasting payout of participating in a successful collaborative team is that you get to see your “product” being used by customers, both internal and external. You know you’ve made a difference, solved a problem or created an opportunity for the organization, your team and most of all yourself.

Source: Robert B. Tucker is a renowned global futurist and innovation keynote speaker with a client list that includes more than 200 of the Fortune 500 companies. President and founder of The Innovation Resource, Tucker is an internationally recognized pioneer in the field of innovation.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

Milestones Matter. Celebrate Them.

Gone are the days when people worked for the same company their entire careers. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American worker stays in his or her job for 4.4 years. So when you encounter an employee who has worked for the same company for 20 years, as I recently did, you realize this is a dedicated and engaged employee—one who deserves to be celebrated.

The fact of the matter is, employees remember their hire date. It’s the career equivalent of a birthday (and who doesn’t love birthdays?) You know who else remembers employees’ hire dates? Great managers, that’s who. By treating each employee’s anniversary as an achievement and a special occasion, you create a positive work environment and encourage employee commitment (and thus increase your employee retention rate).

Make sure your company is following these four steps for celebrating employee anniversaries:

Step 1: Create a system for remembering anniversaries. First, you need to create a system for remembering anniversaries. Prepare a list or a spreadsheet of employees and keep track of their hire dates. Make sure to mark these dates to your calendar and create reminders long before the date so you have time to plan a celebration.

Step 2: Decide how and when you will celebrate. Establish a policy to designate when you will celebrate anniversaries, whether annually or on more momentous anniversaries such as five or 10 years. Take into consideration the size of your company and your budget when deciding how you will celebrate.

It is important to maintain consistency so you do not hurt anyone’s feelings by celebrating someone earlier or more frequently than another.

Step 3: Be sincere and make it personal. Acknowledge each employee’s anniversary every year, even if it is just with a small gesture (save the big celebrations for special anniversaries). Make it personal with a card, letter, phone call, personal visit or some other gesture. Don’t worry about making it formal. It just needs to be a genuine expression of appreciation.

A few sincere words from management will be noticed and appreciated by an employee and greatly improve their morale. Feeling appreciated is very important to job commitment and success.

Step 4: Think twice about giving monetary gifts. In employer-employee relationships, money is associated with compensation. The last thing you want to do is confuse employee recognition with compensation. When you are celebrating an anniversary, you are expressing appreciation for the employee’s service. Compensation is something that is earned.

You also don’t want it to seem like you are obligated to celebrate an employee’s anniversary. While easy to provide, gift cards that include a specific amount of money can be perceived as just another form of giving money. A classic choice is to select a relevant and personal gift that includes the corporate logo.

In the end, it’s important to make it part of your company’s culture to notice and recognize employees. It’s a great gesture to celebrate employee anniversaries, but it’s even better to also frequently celebrate employee successes, accomplishments and contributions as a part of your company culture.

Source: Integrity HR, an Inc. 5000 company and certified Female Business Enterprise, has been operating in Kentucky since 2007. The company provides results-focused human resources outsourcing services, executive and professional search services, behavioral and talent assessment tools, as well as additional HR solutions to reduce HR costs and create more successful, productive and high performance organizations.
Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

How A Sense Of Urgency Separates Winners From Losers

Sometimes, three little words—the saying, the adopting, the believing—can make all the difference in the world. I’m not talking about the classic “I love you,” or any variations thereof. Today we are sharing three important words that will boost your business: sense of urgency.

Those three words tend to define the difference between winning and losing. In a nutshell, winners have the sense of urgency; losers do not. When you’re analyzing your own performance or that of your salespeople, ask yourself, “Do they display a sense of urgency about their jobs – or not?”

One might think that tighter economic times would provoke a greater sense of urgency on the part of those whose responsibility it is to make things happen. Often, however, the result is the opposite, because urgency’s enemy—fear—sets in. Salespeople who would otherwise be highly motivated to make calls get nervous and apprehensive about “the economy,” and thus calls go unmade (“I’d rather call them when the news is better”). Of course, since “the economy” is simply the cumulative effect of individual decisions to do or not to do business, every such postponement actually makes the economy a little worse.

Lack of urgency will affect business growth in multiple ways. Here’s how:

The salesperson: I see a lack of urgency in many different parts of the sales process. As an example, recently an out-of-town company prospected me to purchase a fairly innovative marketing program. Coincidentally, a local company contacted me the very next day, offering a similar service. I know and like the owner of the local company, and I am a buy-local guy when it makes sense. So, I met with them and discussed some possibilities. I then waited for a proposal. And waited. And waited. Meanwhile, the out-of-town company was calling me to follow up. When I finally received a proposal from the local company (after not one but two calls asking if they wanted my business or not), it was less targeted to my needs than the one I’d received earlier from the out-of town company. Reasoning that if the local outfit didn’t have a sense of urgency about winning the business, they were unlikely to have one when it came to servicing the business, I went with the out-of-town company. I’m pleased with my decision but if the local company had followed up aggressively, they’d have won the deal.

The sales manager: The most common way for urgency to get lost at the sales management level is when changes are desired by ownership, but the sales manager is lackadaisical about pushing that message to the reps and making sure that the right things happen. The biggest way the sales manager can reflect a lack of urgency, however, is simply by not making certain that the reps are maximizing their 40 hours per week. I call these sales managers “coast and collect” managers, and they’re not a help to you or your company.

The business owner: Business owners can be the best and worst at having a sense of urgency. Sometimes, they’re the best such as constructing a new building or adding a product line. Sometimes, they can be the worst. One example that I see all the time is the business owner who waits for the perfect time to do work to develop his/her personnel. “Well, I’d like to get the next person hired” becomes “We’re kind of busy right now” becomes “We’re not very busy right now so we’re keeping an eye on cash” becomes “I just had two people leave.” This rhetoric becomes a never-ending cycle. Not coincidentally, the companies owned by these business owners seldom grow.

Having a sense of urgency means maximizing every lead, every call, every proposal and every hour. If you’re doing it, great! If not, remember those three little words.

Source: Troy Harrison is the author of Sell Like You Mean It! and president of SalesForce Solutions, a sales training, consulting and recruiting firm.