Close it one step at a time.

In sales, everybody is focused on “closing the business”.

But in reality, you may be undermining yourself by focusing on the end prematurely.
Everything happens in a sequence. In business today, because of economic pressures we are tempted more than ever to shortcut that cycle but in the process you can cut yourself right out of the running.
The close isn’t always a signed order, but it is always permission to move to the next level.
Leave a step out and risk losing it all. Pay attention to detail and treat each action item as it’s own “Close” along the way.

You’re hired

The next time you are exhibiting at a tradeshow, making a sales call or even just writing a blog…
Remember you are front and center with your customers and prospects and you want them to “hire your company.”

It isn’t just an ad, exhibit booth or sales call.
You are on a “Job Interview”.
Make it personal. If you were going for a job you would make certain to do your homework, put your resume in order and shine your shoes. Well, your company is applying for work… right?
Should you be doing the same with everything you put in front of a client or prospect?

Growing your business isn’t a job, it is a job interview.

4th & Final leg – Change

This is the one that always throws people off because it sounds so contrary to logic.

Change does several important things.
It attracts the eye without losing recognition because key elements remain intact while the setting changes.
Your big brands always refresh and renew their commercials so that they don’t get static and stale.
Change attracts the eye to help prevent your message from fading into just more white noise.
It allows you to utilize multiple different mediums but in a way that expands rather than dilutes the brand.
Subliminally it demonstrates that your brand stands the test of time and sill works. The best example of this is Google who goes so far as to change their logo on a regular basis. That is real brand strength.

The Third Leg of the Brand – Repetition

We are a grossly over communicated society. Your brand messaging has to work in and be seen in multiple different formats. Print, web, tradeshows, the sign on your building. You need to be seen at least seven times before yo have a chance of “sinking in”. Brand health is not a sprint – it is a marathon. But there is another critical side of Repetition that is often over looked.

The currency of the brand is supported by your ability to perform as promised. So your ability to deliver on customer expectations must also be consistantly repeatable.
If you are all about on-time delivery – you have to be on time, everytime. If you promise world-class service – you need to hold to that standard. If you have a reputation as the low price leader, you need to shop your competition more often than your customers do or prepare to lose credibility with your market.

Interdependence Day

George Washington didn’t win the American Revolution
at least not by himself.  It took a ragtag militia that often had more perserverence than blackpowder.  Together they stood up and against all odds – they won!

Consider this;  If we see litter on the ground
and look at the wrapper in our hand,
we think, “What’s one little wrapper more or less?”

The answer is –
it will be one more or one less
depending on what happens next.

Simply because I cannot fix everything,
doesn’t mean I can’t fix something.
After all, litter got there one piece at a time.  

As individuals we may not be powerful
but that doesn’t mean we’re powerless.
There are no insignificant people
and no insignificant acts.

Maybe I can’t fix the economy, cure the trade deficit,
end social injustice or save the rainforest.
No one person can to my knowledge.
But if we all just do our part – together, amazing things can happen.

Your brand’s second leg – consistency

Brands are so misunderstood.  Many small business people use the “If I ignore it – it can’t hurt me” approach to their brand – much to their detriment.   The goal here is to demystify this process so that you can get it working for you (instead of against you).  The crazy part is that you can get the majority of the value while spending little or nothing more than you do now.  Your biggest investment is in the right mind set.

The second of the four legs of the brand is CONSISTENCY.  It makes sense.  The brand is a promise of performance.  If you can’t deliver on it all the time – it is not a promise, it is just wishful thinking.  Make certain that the core value your brand promises is a sustainable position.  Where would FedEx be if they said, “When it positively, absolutely has to be there overnight – or sometime in the next few days…”

Remember too that to be remembered, the key elements that identify your brand must also be consistent.  If your logo is a blue square, it can’t be a red triangle or a yellow circle.  You will confuse people.  I had a client years ago would refer to his company by its name half the time and its initials the rest of the time.  He didn’t even realize that until I pointed it out.  Once he realized it he asked what to do.  I said – what do your customers call you?  In his case, most of them used the initials.  I advised him to do the same.  It didn’t cost him any more, but it helped his brand health.

Everyone has a brand…

The problem is that most people do a terrible job of managing it because many small business people don’t think about in those terms. Brands aren’t the exclusive property of big companies like Google, Nike or Coca-Cola.  Your brand is a promise of how you will deliver on expectations.  In making a purchase decision, the first thing that a buyer will do is minimize risk.  Knowing exactly how a product or service will perform is ultimately the first, best way to take risk out of the equation.  That is what brands do and why it is one of your valuable assets.  That is why brand names out sell generics 4 to 1 – even though they can cost significantly more.  When clients and prospects see your logo or hear your name what springs to mind.  What should spring to mind?

These posts are a very quick primer to help anyone take simple and affordable steps to safeguard and strengthen your brand.  The first of these steps is clarity.