I mentioned I’d been in need of a bit of inspiration and nudging as I tackle my big project. (What about you?) Mr. Carnegie (above) seemed to have the right idea: (paraphrasing) Keep at it and don’t leave your boat tethered to the shore while you’re trying to get across to the other side (unless you happen to be the French team in the America’s Cup trials). Otherwise it’s likely you’ll never make it to the other shore!
Your business model may come from one of two directions: Offer a lot of stuff to appeal to the greatest number of potential buyers OR offer one very exacting thing that appeals to a very narrow audience. Is one better than the other?
When the economy is bad (hello!) instinct may seem to indicate that you’re better off diversifying your products and services to appeal to more folks. This would theoretically make sense if you feel you are losing market share in one or several areas while the economy makes it more difficult for customers to buy. You need to make up the volume. But do you need to do it this way?
On the other hand, if you jettison branches of your business that are no longer productive to concentrate all your efforts on a niche market, you may attract far more customers in this one specific area.
They may make up for all the other business you gave up.
Are you a generalist? Does your business do a lot of different things (or target a niche)? Seth Godin addresses when and why it’s a good idea to get specific in From general to specific (and vice versa).
Are you “Long Tail” or “Point of Sale”?
The pack of gum you grab at the checkout stand, or the can of Coke, is likely an impulse purchase. Not expensive. Short-lived. Retirement planning? Not a checkout stand type of purchase. Nor is buying a home, a car or other long-term investment a quick decision.
You know if your product is one or the other of these, how you market your product is vastly different depending upon what type of decision it is for your buyer to purchase it. And your product or services may lie somewhere in between (furniture, a landscaper, bicycle sales…). Have you thought through your buyer’s thinking process for these different types of decision? Seth Godin has a unique view on how to sell them in Truth or consequences.
Take note that if your marketing misses some of the steps taken by buyers, you’ll be losing sales. Make yourself a checklist of each step your buyer goes through and ensure you’ve addressed each one.
Presenting the Deal
Now that you’ve ensured your marketing addresses each step in the buyer’s decision-making process, it’s time to ensure you’ve got a strategy to close each every lead. If you’re negotiating a deal for a project or finding resistance along the road to a closed deal, take a look at these techniques to learn how to turn a “No” into a “Yes.”
Roger Dooley takes a look at technique to close a sale or negotiation in How to Turn a NO into a YES! Ironically, Dooley recaps a study recently conducted in which researchers found that gaining acceptance (or a “yes”) improved dramatically after getting an initial rejection. The trick is in sequencing what you ask for in order to close the deal.
Going hand in hand with Mr. Farnworth’s negotiating tactics (in Dooley’s recap) is Nancy Friedman’s instructive Why I Can’t Tell You My Fee (Yet). She may be writing specifically about why she can’t tell you her fee upfront for naming businesses and products, but her explanations might apply to your business or professional services as you attempt to explain to a prospect what further details you need to ascertain how it fits into your pricing model.
The Big Strategies
All of these ideas — determining whether or not it’s best to remain a generalist or target a niche market, the details of negotiating a tricky sale or how to present your pricing structure — tackle big ideas and big strategy shifts if you choose to change what you’ve been doing. Keynes has it right above; creating new ideas probably isn’t as hard as you think. But leaving behind old, well-set ideas and strategies is much harder to do.
To (now) paraphrase Dear Abby: Ask yourself if it’s better to leave things alone and not change them at all, or is it better to leap into the unknown, taking a chance that what is untried for you may be infinitely better for your business.