Sunday, 29 September 2013

Sprats and Prats!

I thought in this Blog posting I would share some of the frustrations that we all must feel when running and Building a Business, the problem of the Sprats and Prats!

What do I mean by Sprats and Prats? Well, especially if you are growing a new business, or a new area of your business, often at the beginning and the early stages you get lots of people who ...well waste your time.

Either they are looking for something for nothing, or if you can get any money out of them, its like catching sprats when fishing, small, minuscule and below your true value leading you to think was it really worth it?

As you move around the Networking circuits you especially come across the Sprats and Prats. There are many people in business who are not really running a business let alone growing it, but boy do they love to take up your time, attention and energy!

At first they seem a likely prospect usually commending you on your elevator pitch and asking some probing questions. You think you have a catch and then they start to tell you about their business woes and needs. Very quickly you realise there is little to no sale achievable with these people, Sprats, and then you quickly realise they have taken up your time and energy which could have been directed at a better prospect in the room, and then the Prat syndrome kicks in. Hopefully you don't verbalise your inner thoughts - a bit of self control is in order in this situation!

So how can you deal with fishing in a lake and only catching Sprats, and how can you avoid the Prats that come through this process?

Here are three things which I have implemented recently and found new and better quality prospects as a result:

1) Go fish somewhere else! Seems too easy but very necessary. If you find the networks you go to are breeding sprats and prats for your business, then find new networking events, they are springing up weekly. If you find your mailing list is not producing a response even though you have worked on your message, your call to action and still no response, then get a new mailing list. Plenty of fresh business contacts available through data houses so long as you are clear on what your target markets are.

2) Make it clear in your pitch, your materials, your correspondence what your price is for your goods, products or services. That way, those not wanting to invest in their business will not approach you, and therefore will not waste your time, which now you have free to pursue those who really want to buy what you have to sell. Alongside this, review your pricing strategy, raise your prices - and those who want quality, substance and results will invest, those who don't can go bother someone else!

3) Pick up the old dog and bone rather than relying solely on e-mail and social media. People don't have time now to always engage fully with social media when you need them to, and e-mails fill up your inbox to the extent that people often become immune to the best subject line ever and still wont open that email. If you want to know if someone is really interested in what you have to sell, then cut to the chase, pick up the phone and make that call. If its a No, then on to the next as you will get that Yes! In the meantime your productivity will increase and your sprats and prats will decrease!

I hope this has been of value to you, and enables you to take control of your time, manage your resources better and continue to Build Your Business!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

60 Seconds to make an impression!

Yes, we all do it, some dread it, others relish it, but its a necessary part of promoting our business, the 60 second “Elevator” pitch!
This is probably a topic that there have been millions of articles written about, so you may have heard some of this before, but in terms of communication if something is worth sharing, its certainly worth repeating.
When was the last time that you reviewed your Elevator pitch? For me, I review it EVERY time I know I am going to use it. Seems a bit of overkill? Well there is a method to the madness, honestly!
The 60 second Elevator pitch is not, in my view, designed to be  set in stone. It is not something that I would print on my business card and be giving out to everyone.
Let me explain why. ALL businesses need to be adaptable to the ever changing markets that they operate within. They need to be able to adapt their pitch to catch the fish.
If I was to have a standard Elevator pitch, then my business is not adaptable to the markets around me, and I will end up losing opportunities rather than gaining new business.
Therefore, I have a few basic rules / components to my Elevator pitch, but around this I build my pitch for the audience that I am in front of, whether thats an individual or a group.
The core components of my Pitch are:
  1. Who I am
  2. What my Business name is
  3. A call to Action
Just three core points of my Pitch are always the same, the rest is developed according to my audience.
So how do I gauge what I am going to say in the rest of my 55 remaining seconds?
Well, if I am going to a network meeting, where most of these Elevator pitches are utilised, I always try to find out beforehand from the organiser Three main pieces of information:
  1. What the format of the Networking event is
  2. What sort of Businesses attend
  3. If there are any potential competitors anticipated to be there
This information gives me the scope to then decide what I Pitch. It lets me know the type of business in the room and what from my list of services are most likely to be of appeal to those businesses so that I make a connection.
It also aids me to design my pitch with a call to action that is relevant to the event format. So for example if the network event had the 60 seconds round near the beginning of the event with opportunities to have 121 appointments during the rest of the event, I would have a call to action to be one of those appointments with people in the room.
However, if the pitch was at the end of the event, with people potentially rushing off, then I would make sure I placed my business cards on the tables when I arrived at the event, refer to these as how to connect with me in my call to action, and ensure that people had the means to contact me if we were unable to do so in the meeting.
If there are other businesses in the room doing similar to myself, I always have a few items up my sleeve to pull out and pitch according to what my competitors have already said. So if a competitor pitches something I was going to say, thats fine as I will have a couple of other services I can promote to be different to my competitor and give people a choice in connecting with me.
Another tool that I employ in deciding what I pitch, is to listen to the other Pitches. I look to see the reaction of the people in the room, what they engage with, what they dont. This can be reading body language, do people write things down about what is being said, do people use jokes to break the ice and they get a reaction? 
These things all feed into how I pitch and what I pitch.
I have found that the following help with the successful delivery of the message and therefore influence the content of my Pitch:
  • People like to hear facts about the topic
  • People warm to statistics to back up your point
  • Asking a question to gauge where people are at helps your pitch
  • Relating what you have been doing for other businesses to illustrate your service / product benefit, helps people understand and connect
It is important however, that I know my services / products / goods and know which ones I want to promote and which ones are right for that audience. This is a skill that develops over time and with practice. 
If I know my business target markets, if I know what I have in my portfolio relevant to each target market, then all I need to do is identify who in the room falls into which target markets and pitch accordingly.
The main skill in this is blending the markets, if more than one, into the pitch so there is something for everyone to potentially make that connection with.
For those who know me, then this will come as no surprise that the main feeder for the Pitch for me is my gut instinct! There is nothing like being in a room, gauging the atmosphere, looking at the businesses present and deciding last minute what to say in my Pitch – it keeps me sharp!
You are you, and I am me, so like my journey, yours will be full of try it outs, see what works, what you need to change and feel your way in your circumstances and situation.
Hopefully some of the pointers I have shared will give you more focus on your Pitch, on how to gauge your audience, and how to ensure you know your services / goods that you want to promote, and just stand up, SMILE and GO FOR IT!