Tag Archives: Contacts

How Do You Rebuild a Company? Nine Strategies

Situation: A CEO is in the process of rebuilding the firm following a period of inactivity. Historically their marketing was word-of-mouth. How do you reestablishing a network which has been dormant for a period, find new clients and communicate an updated value proposition? How do you rebuild a company?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Track down and visit old customers and contacts. Let them know that you are rebuilding the company and ask for their advice and help.
  • Use LinkedIn to find and reconnect with old contacts. Have breakfast or lunch with them, even those who are retired. Reestablish old connections and ask for an update on their companies and activities.
  • Focus on your knowledge base and the results that you’ve produced historically. There are more technology choices available now than there were in the past. Help old and prospective new clients to navigate the array of choices.
  • Development assessments to show your prospects where they are and where they need to focus their effort.
  • Many have built companies on their own – without professional assistance. The results often look good on the surface but lack a solid foundation. You have the perspective and expertise to bring it all together in a coherent and cohesive strategy.
  • Rejoin professional associations and networks that you may have dropped.
  • Go virtual – use virtual assistants to manage expenses while you rebuild.
  • Do webinars, and give talks on developing and executing a successful plan.
  • Create some pro-bono or low-cost programs for charities. Your target is the Board Members who may become future clients.

How Do You Join a Not-for-Profit Board? Seven Thoughts

Situation: A CEO wants to build network of highly placed contacts. One method that she is considering is joining a not-for-profit Board. What are good organizations? Is it reasonable to expect a quid pro quo? How do you join a not-for-profit Board?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Do your homework. Find out what the most influential Boards are in your community. For example, the Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce is very active and includes in its membership many very well connected people.
  • Influential groups and boards will vary by community. In Silicon Valley, the Silicon Valley Association of Start-up Entrepreneurs (SVASE) is a good organization to consider. This and other Angel groups know small companies that need help. Others include the Sand Hill Angels and the Asian-American Multi-Technology Association. In other communities Chambers of Commerce or similar organizations are the movers and shakers.
  • Don’t count out Rotary, Lions, and similar organizations. All these organizations are struggling to recruit new members and some have movers and shakers.
  • Rather than thinking about the meetings, volunteer to join a committee. For example, volunteer to join the Finance Committee. Once the members get to know you, you may be invited to join the Board.
  • Raise money for an organization, this will bring invitations to join the Boards of other organizations.
  • Follow your passions in selecting an organization, you will be more enthusiastic.
  • It is reasonable to expect a quid pro quo? Yes, if you make a significant contribution and demonstrate your competence.

How Do You Develop a Sales Organization? Four Points

Situation: A small company’s business is increasing and they need to build a sales organization. To date all sales have been conducted by the founder CEO and a single employee salesperson. Should they build inside or outside sales first? Are there trigger points at which one or both should be increased? How do you develop a sales organization?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Right now you have first mover advantage in your market space. You have a unique offering and no existing competition. The immediate objective is to maximize early market share. Borrow if necessary to ramp sales. There is no trigger point.
  • Hire an outside salesperson now. You want an individual who is knowledgeable about your market and who has a large set of contacts. Make at least 50% of this individual’s compensation variable (commissions) to start and escalate the percentage of variable compensation as sales grow. Hire at current market rates.
  • Supplement your existing marketing with an investment in social media marketing and SEO (search engine optimization). Don’t try to do this yourself on the cheap – hire a pro. Invest in Pay-Per-Click to push your visibility.
  • To sell this plan to your existing salesperson and the rest of the team, it’s time for a Come to Jesus talk.
    • Make a strong business case for your program.
    • The trade-off is either invest now to rapidly build sales or become insignificant.
    • Once you’ve made your pitch and received consent, let the plan work before you ask for more.

How Do You Respond to a Competitor’s Sales Tactic? Six Ideas

Situation: A company has learned that a competitor has cloned their client development approach. This approach enabled the company to gain early market share. They have since moved up-market and have enhanced their sales tactics. How should the company respond to the competitor’s tactic?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Reconnect with the market contacts that got you where you are. Be sure that they are aware of your track record, the value that you provide your clients, and reinforce your current market development focus. Now that you are established, position yourself as the proven producer who consistently produces results.
  • Study what the competitor is doing, who their target customer is, their close rates, and what if anything they are doing to enhance their close rates. Learn from them and copy or improve on their practices where this will yield benefit.
  • If your sales development is based on referrals, enhance the rewards to contacts who bring you new business in your prime target markets.
  • Your principal concern may not be your client base, which is likely unaware of the differences in your versus your competitor’s approaches, but in the referral structure that is your primary source of new business. Focus effort and resources to shore up your relationship with your referral base.
  • Focus on your strengths – performance and excellence in managing client relationships.
  • If the competitor is focusing on down market accounts that you no longer cultivate, then expect them to succeed in this market. Become the provider of choice to up market accounts and the natural referral choice for these accounts. If the competitor stumbles, you may pick up unexpected business.

How Do You Work with an International BD Person? Seven Ideas

Situation: A company has been approached by an international business development specialist who wants to help them expand into Asian markets. The company would need to hire local resources to support business that was generated. Most of this would be cookie cutter as opposed to creative work. How do you work with an international business development person?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Research the country markets where the specialist can help you and focus on the more developed and promising markets first.
  • If the specialist that has approached you has a local presence in the markets in which you are interested, lean on this person for help getting you started – office space, staff support, and so on.
  • One company started a subsidiary in Canada. The CEO believes that you must have a highly trusted person to own the project. Success is all about the relationship with this individual and their knowledge of both local and American culture.
  • Another company hired very promising business development person for a large Asian market. As the relationship progressed, they found that this individual was double dipping – working for them and their competition at the same time. Apparently this is acceptable in that culture.
  • Many cultures are relationship based. Local contracts are critical. Does your specialist possess these, and are they premier companies or also-rans.
  • Talk to individuals in your industry who have experience in the region.
  • Have your eyes open and recognize that this is will not be a quick process.

How Do You Respond to a New Large Competitor? Five Suggestions

Situation: A mid-sized company has learned that a much larger company is entering their geography and market niche. This company is known to enter new markets with a low pricing strategy to “buy” market share. How do you respond to significant new competition?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Accept the fact that you will lose some business; particularly from customers who driven more by price than quality and service. The flip side is that these customers are likely not your best customers.
  • Research the reputation and business practices of the new entrant in their traditional territory. What is their reputation? What are their weaknesses? Do your homework by networking with their current competitors and customers.
  • Take a lesson from those who have survived a move by Walmart into their territory:
    • Boutiques survive Walmart – especially those that focus on personal service. Upgrade your customer base based on personal service.
    • Use your knowledge of the marketplace and your long term relationships to your advantage – including your reputation with existing customers when going after new customers.
    • You may remain more profitable than the larger company, on a per transaction basis, based on your knowledge of the territory or business niche.
  • Don’t assume that all large companies are Walmarts. Walmart has a unique set of talents and a tightly controlled process. This may not translate to other markets – especially those involving personalized service.
  • If you are a family business, consider promoting your “old world skill” and established reputation and expertise.

Key Words: Competition, Geography, Market Niche, Walmart, Price, Personal Service, Reputation, Contacts, Boutique, Profitability, Family Business

What are Best Practices to Open New Markets? Five Thought Starters

Interview with Greg Curhan, CEO, Clickworker, Inc.

Situation: Clickworker was founded and has gained nice traction in Europe. Focusing first on Silicon Valley, they want to expand into the US. This means identifying companies that could use their service, as well as appropriate contacts within those companies. What are best practices to open new markets for a product or service?

Advice:

  • Start with a set of profiles of possible customers and contacts.
    • If you have a history of success, look for companies in similar industries, and with similar profiles as your current customers. Build a set of profiles of customer companies, and use these profiles against the lists that you develop to identify and prioritize prospects.
  • Develop a list of who’s in your addressable market and narrow this list to prospects.
    • Work with your staff and systematically review past jobs and companies that you’ve been associated with, including vendors and suppliers. Identify a list of possible target customers, and use LinkedIn, Link Silicon Valley and other social networking sites to confirm and develop your contact list.
    • Also work with companies that develop and update databases of local companies including contact lists, web sites, telephone numbers, revenue data and SIC codes. For example, Rich’s Business Information develops searchable lists of companies Northern and Southern California. Dunn and Bradstreet and others also sell searchable lists of companies and positions.
    • Subscribe to the locally published Business Journals in your target markets. These Journals generate Books of Lists of local companies and contact information.
    • Network with those you know and ask who they know. This is more effective once you’ve developed a set of profiles, so that you can clearly characterize what kinds of companies you seek.
  • This is an initial set of ideas. What has worked for you as you opened new markets?

You can contact Greg Curhan at greg.curhan@clickworker.com

Key Words: Customer, Profile, Contacts, Suspects, Prospects, LinkedIn, LinkSV, Social Networking, Rich’s, D&B, Business Journal, Network