Like many aspects of our lives, we can either leave things to chance and hope that they magically fall
into place; or we can make a plan in order to identify, prioritise and execute the various activities
required to achieve an outcome. There is also the concept of too much planning, which can cause
“paralysis by analysis”. So creating a business plan is not about any plan, but the right plan.

Bstar released a SME Research Report for 2017/18 in April 2018. The report, based on a survey of small
businesses, identified business planning as the number one Business Concern, unchanged from the
previous year. Encouragingly, 98% of business owners believe that there are opportunities to grow their
business, and most have ideas to do so. What they lack is a plan – only 20% had prepared a business
plan. Whilst this is sobering, the good news is that it is never too late to create a business plan. And it
has been proven in numerous studies that companies with a well-conceived plan achieve on average
three times the profitability of their industry peers.

One of the key outcomes from the right plan is prioritisation. This involves making the choices necessary
to create a world-class business. Having too many options creates confusion and stress for the owner.
Confidence is required to make the effort to change. As the Bstar report notes, business owners need to
believe in their goals and trust in the plan to achieve them.

Finally, accountability is key to successful implementation of the business plan. Every person in the
organisation needs an accountability partner, most importantly the owner. Do you have one?

Want to hear more about how PAIR Planning and other members of The Consultants’ Community can help your business? Contact us today to set up a meeting.

I’ve been looking at what the major problems facing sales managers and professionals are. These are four of the most common:

1. Lack of response from prospects: 

Often the biggest problem is that we are not addressing the client’s ‘why’. We make it about us, not them; how we solve a problem is about us, what we’ve solving is about them.

Focus on the problem you’re solving, not how you solve it.

2. Difficulty closing sales:

There are many reasons for this; a common cause is that the sales person has missed or ignored the emotional drivers behind a client’s buying decision. For example, they may want to feel safe with you.

What is the emotional need your client is trying to meet?

3. Not engaging with decision makers:

It’s normal for the first contact with a client’s organization to be through an influencer or other staff member. To move any deal forward, we need to engage with the decision maker at some point. Typically their needs will not be the same as the influencer. Understanding the difference is key to moving sales forward.

Do you know what the decision maker wants you to deliver for them?

4. Avoiding discounting:

This is a big one where a product has not been sold properly. The first point is simply not to do it. The second is that, if you understand your clients’ ‘why’ and the problem you are solving for them, price will not be a key factor.

The value of your proposal is in the solution you offer, not the product or service

Once you look at sales from the perspective of meeting the client’s emotional needs, as well as the issue they present, you’ll increase both the frequency and consistency of your sales. It’s tempting to remove the emotional aspect of decision making from the sale process. This is why so many people struggle. The focus must always be on the client’s ‘why’, not on our how. If you’re focussing on facts and figures you’re likely to be talking about yourself. If you’re discussing what your solution will give the client, you’re focussed on them.

To quote Ben Feldman: “Don’t sell life insurance, sell what life insurance can do.”

There are some great models around to make this process practical and straightforward. Many sales people (and ‘sales’ itself) get a bad rap because they do not know how to apply these simple models to what they’re doing.

If you would like to learn more about these models, contact me directly, or register for my one-day workshop on the 25th August:

Tickets

Want to hear more about how Graham Elliott Coaching and Training and other members of The Consultants’ Community can help your business? Contact us today to set up a meeting.

There’s no doubt about it: public speaking is an act of vulnerability. To lay ourselves bare and speak openly and honestly in front of others requires courage. In doing so, we expose our authentic, best self to the scrutiny and evaluation of an audience. And herein lies the source of one of life’s greatest fears: what if the audience doesn’t like what they see or hear, and judge us unfavourably as a result?

Alas, like it or not, as a business leader, public speaking in front of your colleagues, customers, prospects, peers, or industry network is a professional inevitability that can be as daunting for some as it is exhilarating for others.

Whether you love it or loathe it, here are my top tips for overcoming your fear of public speaking so you connect with your audience:

Prepare for the worst; aim for the best
Let’s say the audience doesn’t like what they see or hear. So what? What’s the worst that can happen? Visualise it. Then take the time to prepare for your worst case scenario. Put a contingency response in place and practice it. If the worst happens, at least you will know what to expect and won’t be caught off guard.

It’s not about you
Sorry folks, but it’s not about you – it’s always about your audience! So get out of your own way. Take the focus off yourself and turn your attention to the audience. Put yourself in their shoes. Do your research. Understand their challenges, questions, opportunities, hopes, fears, wants, and needs. Then use this knowledge to design a talk that speaks directly to them. They may not agree with everything you have to say, but they’ll respect you for respecting them.

Perfection doesn’t exist
Don’t try to be perfect – just try to be valuable. This goes hand in hand with the previous point, but I think it warrants its own mention. If you focus too much on writing the perfect script and delivering the perfectperformance, you’ll lose focus on your audience. Given its subjective nature, there’s no such thing as the perfect speech or talk. So instead of chasing something that doesn’t exist, keep your focus firmly on being of value to your audience.

Pause. Breathe. Continue.
Sounds simple enough right? But in states of stress or excitement we are more likely to charge through our talk without giving pause for effect…or breath! Pausing to breathe serves many purposes. It calms us as the speaker, helping to centre our thoughts and give power to our voice when we next speak. It also gives the audience chance to digest what we have just said. No one wants a three-course dinner rammed down their throat all at once. The same is true when we speak. Don’t cause yourself – or your audience – to choke on your words by forgetting to pause and breathe.

Remember, it’s all relative
Like all fears, the fear of public speaking reveals itself in different ways for different people. It can range from butterflies in the stomach, through to avoiding situations altogether and physical symptoms such as excessive perspiration or nausea that can be associated with social anxiety or ‘social phobia’. If this sounds familiar, Beyond Blue has some great resources on the signs, symptoms and treatments for social phobia that I encourage you to check out.

If you’d like to learn more about speaking to connect with, impact and influence your audience why not come and hear me talk at The Consultants’ Community event? It is at 7am on Tuesday 13th March at Hemingway’s in Manly. Get your tickets here:

Branding is fundamental to a successful business. Branding is basic. Branding is essential. Branding is indispensable. Branding is crucial. Branding is vital. Is it clear? One more time… Branding is IMPORTANT!

Creating a new vibrant brand (or refreshing it) is a challenge that requires a sophisticated strategy and what not everybody knows is that branding is an ongoing activity. So even if you think that your branding is on par with Apple, Porsche, AirBnB, or Über and you don’t need to do anything else… we challenge you to think twice!

This is our secret (please don’t tell): every time we have a client that needs a new branding (or re-branding), we get together and work on a Brandstorm (Brand + Brainstorm) that includes some exercises to help recognize who exactly the brand is, and if they are up to date with their clients’ needs and challenges.

Only for today, because we are in a good mood (or is it because we’ve just had half a packet of M&M’s and feeling frisky?) we are going to share with you 3 of the exercises we use to build value for a brand.

Exercise #1: Client Avatar 

If your client feels like you are answering the issues he faces and speaking his language, he will be more likely to buy from you.

Branding is the box your customer puts you in when they are thinking about buying what you are selling. This is the biggest reason you need to have a firm and solid brand — so that when your customer is thinking about buying what you’re selling YOUR company name is the first to pop up in their mind.

To understand what your clients may be thinking, you first need to know who they are and what are their problems. In this first exercise you need to write everything you know about your Client and create a Broccoli Avatar:

Now that you know your client better, you can continue with this exercise by writing down what your clients need, and what you provide them. Remember, people choose you because of who you ARE and not what you DO, as in most cases it’s assumed you’re good at what you do, and people like to work with people they like. Now’s your chance to select you’re “A” clients with clearly defined solutions to their problems.

These Avatar exercises will help to realise if what you are offering is in line with what they want to receive, and if is not like that, it’s time to work on your offer! (or maybe you need another audience)

Exercise #2: Brand Personality Spectrum

Can you imagine seeing an image for Virgin Airlines of a black and white businessperson in a suit? No, because their branding is about vibrancy, youth, and dynamics. Putting perspective on where you sit will allow you to check all images, text, and marketing messages to be sure they’re on brand.

Defining brand personality attributes means you can apply them consistently in your verbal and visual communication. A clear vision of your brand personality will guide your choice of colours, typography, word and actions.

So the exercise goes like this:

Add a dot to each spectrum where you feel the company sits.

And this is how you read the results:

LEFT:
Your company is contemporary, fast-moving and energetic. You like to make ideas happen quickly, and you don’t mind taking risks. Your communication style is friendly and approachable.

RIGHT:
Your company is traditional, relies on solid planning and established ways of getting things done. You might be trying to appeal to upscale clientele, and your communication style is corporate and professional.

MIDDLE: We urge you to take a stand about how you’d like your brand personality to be perceived. When it comes to marketing your business, the middle is the worst place to be. You’re guaranteeing that your brand will be entirely forgettable, because it’s not one thing or the other. The middle is Boringville. Avoid it at all costs.

ALL OVER:
If your dots are all over the place, with some on the left, and some on the right, you have a unique brand that doesn’t fit easily into a box. That’s fine! Feel free to mix and match traits from the list above. You might use traditional fonts and colours, with a very an approachable copywriting style, for example.

Exercise #3: Market Opposition

What are your competitors doing? Finding out what industry leaders are doing will help you look to the future, and do it even better!

At this stage, you know your client and you know yourself, now you need to know the market. Who is out there offering the same product/service? And how you can differentiate from them?

In this exercise, you need to list your USP (unique selling points). But wait, what are those? To understand it, let’s say you are a broccoli at the market, you will need to answer these questions: why should people choose you? What do you have different from the other broccolis? What are the other broccolis offering?

With these 3 exercises completed you are equipped to sketch the last (but not least) step to get your branding done: define your brand message and visuals. The results of the exercises will inspire you to define from the language and tone of voice, to the symbols, graphics and colour palette. Soon we will post more about this last step. So keep in touch.

Although it seems easy to do, when you are facing the white paper and not even a word appears to your mind, you just want to cry! But don’t worry; we are here for you. You can either visit our Branding section to get some inspiration or, if you are becoming a bit desperate, you can also show up… our doors are always open!

You can also come and hear me talk at The Consultants’ Community upcoming event. It is at 7am on Tuesday 13th March at Hemingway’s in Manly.

Get your tickets here: