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Relationship building March 29, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Relationship.
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p5130012.jpg Would you prefer to buy from someone you like? Most people would answer yes to this question. The Big Dogz understand this principle and apply it to all their dealings with people. The result is higher effectiveness with less effort. The principle is called Relationship Selling. Business relationships can be viewed as a continuum of possibilities from adversarial through partnership.  Let’s take a look at the five key components of a business relationship and how we can tell if we have a partnership relationship. 

  1. Interpersonal

This is how we interact with each other. In a partnership, we are informal; we joke around and call each other by our first names. We inquire about personal situations like family and hobbies. We are polite with each other and remember special events like birthdays and anniversaries. 

  1. Trust

Trust is our willingness to take a risk. In a partnership relationship, the trust is very high. We have experience with each other that has resulted in our needs being met. There is mutual trust and respect. Most deals are made on a handshake or a verbal commitment. 

  1. Goals

Goals are what we want to get accomplished. In our relationship they are shared and aligned. I may have other goals in my business or life that are not connected with you. I frequently share those with you and you share yours with me. Both of us look for opportunities to help each other accomplish our non-mutual goals. 

  1. Conflict

Conflict is a difference of opinion. In general conflict is avoided in most relationships. In our partnership relationship, conflict is encouraged and respected. It is how we grow. Instead of using conflict as a wedge between us, we use it to create innovation and make both our businesses stronger. We use structured problem solving processes to get the creative solutions. 

  1. Decisions

Decisions are choices that we make. In our relationship, choices are made that optimize the benefits for both of us. There are clear areas where one of us makes the decision because we are the best qualified to make the decision. There is no second guessing. When it is clear that neither one of us if more qualified to make the decision, we use consensus or compromise to get to a decision that benefits both of us. We don’t keep score on decisions. The Big Dogz are constantly evaluating their business relationships and are striving to have each of these components at the partner level.  In the next thirty days take a look at one of your key business relationships. What are the levels for each of these five components? What are your actions to make this relationship a partnership?

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Beating a Recession – 2 March 28, 2008

Posted by David Dirks in Marketing Buzz, Recession: How to Beat It!, Sales Strategy/Tactics, Solving Business Problems.
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dirksphoto.jpgIf you’re in business and you hear the word ‘recession’, you need to rejoice!  Rejoice?  Yes, get happy about it because your time has arrived.  Call me crazy but when times are good and the economy is kicking along, even mediocre businesses can survive.  Recessions, like any economic downturn worth its salt, flush out those who were already on the way out.  The challenge of keeping your business moving forward and profitable is not an easy task during an economic slowdown.

The good news is that there are many things you can do to advance your growth and profitability during a recession (or anytime for that matter).  In this column series, we’ll take a look at ways that can help you win no matter what happens.

Now, for the bad news.  If your business is already operating on a shoe string (little or no money), you’ve got to fix that problem first before you take another step.  People who open businesses on a shoestring have broken the first rule of business:  have more than adequate funding to start.  Talk to your accountant (don’t have one? Another mistake!) and your banker to develop a plan to shore up your finances.

Here are three ways you can advance your business during a recession:

•    Sell more of your expertise.  Own a restaurant?  Offer cooking classes.  Own a florist?  Teach people how to arrange flowers for all occasions.  Own a auto repair shop?  Why not teach basic auto care?  Own an accounting service?  Teach basic business bookkeeping workshop.  Get it?  Take your expertise out of the closet and put it into the hands of people who need it the most: current and future customers.

Marketing more of your expertise to your current customer base can help you deepen your relationship with them.  It’s also a way to bring new foot traffic into your business too. You can also develop an adult education course for BOCES or any one of our fine community colleges that have active adult education programming.

It’s a huge business opportunity that is underutilized within the Hudson Valley.  Need proof?  Try to find a business that reaches out beyond their normal product/service offerings to sell their expertise.  If you do, I’d like to hear about it.  Email me at dirksmarketing@gmail.com.

•    Solve more customer problems.   When you are looking for ways to create or stabilize your revenues, one way to do that is find more customer problems your business can help them solve.  That will help you add more offerings to your business menu.  Contrary to popular recessionary wisdom, you should add more service/product offerings instead of cutting back on them.  How do you do this? Just ask your customers and they’ll tell you what problems they are trying to solve.

•    Use local college brainpower.  Need some fresh perspectives and ideas on a marketing or sales issue?  Bring it to a local college and get some fresh eyes, ears, and brains on it.  For example, find out if your local college/university has a marketing program.  Contact the professors who teach those programs and see if you can enlist the help of their students to solve a marketing or sales challenge.

Sometimes you’re just too close to a business problem to effectively come up with solutions to solve it.  What better way to get that outside perspective than to tap into our local institutions that teach the next generation of business leaders?

You might even consider hiring an intern or two and have them focus solely on helping your solve a critical marketing or sales challenge.  It’s a win-win for both you and the students!

Look at a recession as a business opportunity, not as a call to 911.

Your Personal Board of Directors March 20, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Achieving goals, Board of Directors, Uncategorized.
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p5130012.jpg  Want more brainpower? The Big Dogz know how to get more brainpower; they assemble a group of bright people to advise them. Woodrow Wilson was a Big Dog who said: 

“I not only use all the brains I have, but I all I can borrow” 

Here is how you do it: 

  1. Identify areas of your life that you feel you could use some help. For example, financial decisions, merger or acquit ion opportunities, promoting yourself, salary decisions, using technology — well, you get the drift.

  

  1. Identify people you know who are subject matter experts in that area.

  

  1. Ask them if they will mentor you in that subject. You will be surprised how many people are flattered by your request and would be willing to help you for free!

  

  1. Repeat this process until you have created your own “Board of Directors” who will provide you with guidance and suggestions in any area that you need.

 The Big Dogz know the really good news. You don’t need actual people to do this. You can tap into the wisdom of the ages and you can tap into the minds of the most successful people that have ever lived. Here how you do it: 

  1. Identify the person you want to have on your “Board of Directors”. Be daring. Pick the best of the best.

  

  1. Of course, your pick will be famous and lots of people have studied and written about this person. This is even true of contemporary high achievers. Read all you can about this person.  Check out the biography, the autobiography and the stories about them. Learn all you can.

  

  1. Now when you need advice, tap into the mental store house of knowledge you have accumulated. I have a friend who uses visualization for this process. He goes to a quiet place and relaxes. He closes his eyes and “sees” the other person sitting across from him. Then, he has a conversation; asking questions and visualizing the responses.

 The Big Dogz have a “Board of Directors” made up of both real people and virtual people to go to for advice and counsel. Putting together your personal “Board of Directors” begins with you identifying the areas where you might need help. Next, start identifying the sources for your board.  

You will on your way to increasing the brainpower you can bring to any situation.

I don’t know it all…and I’m so thankful for that! March 18, 2008

Posted by David Dirks in Confidence, Creativity, Grow your skills, Solving Business Problems.
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dirksphoto.jpgAnyone who believes they have arrived and know it all, are just about DOA in my book. I don’t what your age is, you can always learn, do, read, think, and ask more about anything in life. Pity the people, and you probably know more than a few, who just can’t seem to invest anything into their business life that would give them an edge. The Big Dogz, at least the majority of them, invests in making themselves even sharper on the business edge.

Taking some time each week to read, watch, or study about some dimension of your business world is key to your long-term survival. Want to learn how to deal with a recession successfully? Then find out what the Big Dogz do to succeed in tough economic times.

I read a lot. In between career and kids, I read everything I can get my hands on.  Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time readying books on leadership and innovation. These are two topics that I’m investing more time in understanding and learning about. Why? Because I’m interested in them and, while I know a lot about them, I don’t know it all. Not even close. So, while I do my morning commute, I’m listening to audio books on those subjects.  Thank goodness for Audible.com!

To stay on top of the latest marketing and sales trends, I read a lot of business magazines. I relish the opportunity because invariably, I’ll get some fresh insights into these subject areas. Ideas begin to pop up as I move along. It’s my SONY digital recorder that captures certain ideas/concepts as they come along in my reading time. Capturing thoughts and ideas has become a necessity; otherwise I’d lose most of those thoughts to memory loss of some kind!

Workshops or seminars are another great way I learn and invest in myself. It’s an opportunity to get out of the business mayhem and into a learning environment. Exchanging ideas with those who take those courses are invaluable to me.

What topic could you pick that if you invested some time for yourself to learn more about, would help enrich your overall business experience and success? If you can’t answer that question, you have other problems.

Find the time, no matter how small in amount, that each week you can call your own. Life is too short to have called it ‘quits’ on learning. When you finally check out of this world, you can stop learning (at least here). Until then, get going and get learning.

How to Create More Revenue Streams March 9, 2008

Posted by David Dirks in e-Small Business Resources, Increasing Your Profitability, Sales Strategy/Tactics, Solving Business Problems.
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David DirksIf you’re looking for ways to increase revenues, www.cafepress.com might have the fix you need. The concept is simple: you set up a free online store within cafepress.com, decide what kinds of items you want customized to your designs, and start selling them.

If you have a loyal customer base, they might want to purchase items with your customized designs on them. Shirts, hats, mugs, books, cds, you name it and Cafepress.com can just about make it for you.

In this case, you don’t carry any inventory nor do you pay for any until a customer actually purchases it from your online store provided by carepress.

How do you profit? You make the difference between what Cafepress charges you for the item and what you decide to charge for it. And, with their basic store, you pay nothing. If you decide to upgrade to an online store with more features, then it could cost you as little as $4.95 per month to have your own online store.

Check out their website at www.cafepress.com and check it out. Build a free online store; determine what merchandise you want to carry, and promote it in every communication point you have with your customers. They can’t make it any easier than this.

Non-profits take note: This is an excellent way to create additional development funds when donation money gets tight. You risk no capital and have the chance to get your nonprofit supporters to buy merchandise that provides great benefit to your cause. It’s all good.

Communicate with confidence March 4, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Confidence, Uncategorized.
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p5130012.jpg  Want to influence others with your confidence in face to face meetings? When we meet others, we communicate mostly with non verbal signals commonly referred to as body language. Why is it that some people are more influential than others? The Big Dogs know the answer to that question. Here is how they do it.

 Posture — keep the body straight. Powerful people stand and sit straight; it shows that you are in control of yourself and can be in control of whatever is going on around you. There is no need to be stiff, just hold your posture straight. Experiment with your posture by using a mirror to see how you come across.  

Eye contact — during the meeting discussion and especially when you need a decision or are making a key point, make direct eye contact with the other person. During most of the conversation, you can be effective by making eye contact about 65-85% of the time. Making eye contact shows confidence and an ability to relate. Of course, this technique is useful in western cultures and should be avoided in cultures where direct eye contact is considered rude or aggressive.  

Smile — a smile relaxes people more than a frown. People respond to a smile as friendly and welcoming. Frowns make people suspicious and uncomfortable. It takes fewer muscles to smile than frown, but a lot of people persist with a stern look when dealing with business scenarios. You can be serious and still smile. Go to the mirror and try it. Pick a key phrase and say it with a smile, then say the same phrase with a stern look. Even your tone will change. So smile; it is easier and more effective. 

Make hand gestures — emphasize your points with hand gestures. Using both hands is even more effective. Complex gestures with your hands will get the listener to focus on you and will enhance their listening. If the other person uses hand gestures, remember them and use them later in the conversation. This action will create a connection between you and the other person. Be emphatic in your use of gestures, but do not overdo it. Gesturing and moving the hands too much is distracting. Experiment in the mirror to see what the right level of hand gesturing that is the key to making you confident. 

Dress the part — be on the high end of the dress code for the environment. If you are in a business casual environment, do not be the sloppiest dresser in the group. In a casual environment, you may want to wear business slacks and a nice shirt or blouse without neck wear. Be careful not to over dress for the environment. Wearing a dark suit with a tie or scarf while everyone else is in jeans and a sweatshirt draws the wrong kind of attention to you. However, it is effective to dress at the high end like designer jeans and nice collared blouse or shirt. When you visit clients, try to find out ahead of time how they dress. A good rule of thumb for interacting with clients is to dress the way the client dresses. Again, you want to be at the high end of the dress code.  

These tips are applied by the Big Dogs in making a solid impression that they are self confident and in charge. Experiment with them over the next 30 days and see if it doesn’t make a difference for you.