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Fundamentals: Success Tactics for Tough Times

(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Thanks to basketball I was able to attend college on an athletic scholarship. My parents might have been able to send me, and probably would have, but I was grateful they didn’t have to. I also had the pleasure of playing on a team that achieved some success. In fact, this October will be our teams’ 50th reunion and I will witness one of my teammates being inducted into our college Hall of Fame. The reason we were a successful team, against some very good opponents, was due to two things — teamwork and fundamentals.

These same two items are the principle reasons why one small business will succeed and another will fail. In this blog I want to explain how you can use them to make your business more successful during these uncertain times.

Objectives and Strategies: How to Use Them

Before playing another team, we would examine the strengths and weaknesses of that team. Then, we would assemble some objectives we felt would lead to victory, if we executed them properly.

For example, we would want to neutralize the opposing team’s best player as much as possible. One of the strategies used to make that happen might be, assigning our best defensive player, to their best offensive player. But even the best defensive player will sometimes need help. That’s where the teamwork part comes in. While at the same time, good defense comes from hours and hours of practice, strength training and determination to be the best possible player.

These same tactics apply to business. Let’s apply these same basic principles to a business. Let’s say our objective is to increase sales 5% in the third quarter of 2012. What are some strategies we might use to make that happen?

  • Objective: Can you attract more customers?
    Strategy: Analyze your current customer base. Who are your best customers? What characteristics do they have in common? Who are similar customers you might be missing.
  • Objective: Can you increase your average sale? If your average sale is $100.00 how will you increase that to $110.00?
    Strategy: Train your salespeople to show value and not rely on price. You need salespeople, not order takers. Train employees to find the need and qualify customers by asking open-ended questions.
  • Objective: Add on Sales: Increase profits with add on sales.
    Strategy: Teach sales people to “package” products together. Never sell a dress shirt without a matching tie.
  • Objective: Sell your most profitable products and services.
    Strategy: Make sure salespeople know your most profitable products and services and how to sell them. Have sales people practice on each other for better product presentations. Make sure the customer is getting the most bang for their buck. Remember, you want them coming back again.

Obviously I could go into great detail for each of the above objectives but space prohibits that. The take away point is sitting down and defining what you need to do to keep the doors open for the rest of 2012.

There are going to be a host of problems that you will have no control over. Higher gas prices, corporate layoffs, housing market, taxes, the credit market, healthcare to name just a few. With a plan of what you want to accomplish you will at least have a fighting chance at achieving the success you want.

Teamwork & Fundamentals

If everyone in your organization knows what the company goals are, they can tailor their job to make sure those goals are met. At the same time, meet with each of your key employees. Or, if you are a small company, meet with each employee, one on one.

Each employee works with you for a different reason. They have their own goals that have nothing to do with the company goals. Your job is to explain to them that they cannot achieve their personal goals unless the company achieves its goals. If the company fails to stay in business, then their job is lost, and so are the employee’s goals. It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone.

Successful businesses teach their employees the  fundamentals that allow each transaction to flow through the sales and delivery process, with everyone doing their job seamlessly. It’s also working together as a team. Each part of the transaction goes though a series of people. It might start with the salesperson and end with the delivery person buy several other people were involved in between.

Some Final Thoughts

We are poised to embark on a very uncertain journey together. We are going to have a new government in a few months, and a precarious financial horizon before us. It would be nice to close the doors, go home, and wait for better times. Unfortunately, we can’t do that. So you have a decision to make.

Can you create and unbeatable team, that knows the fundamentals of your business or industry? Can you clearly define your objectives and create achievable strategies to meet those objectives? If you can answer, “yes” to both of those questions; then your chances of success will be greatly improved.

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