All the talk at the moment is of ‘how tough it is’ to keep in business and make a profit.
But, if you think its tough at the moment, its nothing like its going to be in a year or so: when a monumental recession actually hits.
On top of this, innovation and IT will keep changing the landscape and replacing any roles that are standardised, repetitive or not specialist.
Ok, so that’s the bad news: what about the good news!
The good news is that we’re in a time of massive change in both the business landscape and customer behaviour … and massive opportunities show themselves in times of change!
As a leader or manager in an independent business you have a massive advantage: you’re closer to your customers and you’re more flexible than your bigger competitors.
So, what’s the message from this blog?
In a nutshell: times are changing quickly for many reasons, you’re probably going to need to be flexible and innovative to thrive or even survive.
What types of businesses have been thriving in these turbulent times? Here are 3 that I’ve done business with this week:
- A local farm that’s installed a vending machine and sells amazing quality milk and cheese direct to the customer.
- An online health food retailer that merchandises really well and makes the shopping experience online fun.
- A pub that specialises in amazing and exciting sandwiches as their only food offering.
Notice anything that links all these? I’d suggest that they:
- Aim to deliver a unique customer experience
- Are specialist and hard to copy
- Focus on giving the customer a ‘wow’ experience
- Are driven by genuine passion for their product
- Are very energetic and attentive to the customers’ needs
So: how can we distil this blindingly obvious common sense into a simple tip to help you: after all, there’s no point in reading a blog if you can’t get an actionable piece of information from it, is there?
My suggestion is (as well as studying and applying all the other tools and ideas in ‘Slow Selling’ of course), there is one thing that will help you above all in these stressful times of change.
You have to be brave in order to do it, but here it is.
Gat as close to your main customers as possible through high quality (not web based off the shelf) systems, and relationship activities, and listen as closely and carefully as possible:
- What do you do really well – and how can you expand this strength to new products and services?
- What problems are they struggling to solve – that you might be able to step in and help them with?
- (And, of course, what aren’t you doing so well – that you can either stop doing or start doing better… but that’s common sense!).
The main opportunity lies in the first two areas of feedback: and these could open up massive opportunities for business and profit if you’re attentive, innovative and flexible enough to take advantage of this information.
And one more thing: one of the greatest (and most overlooked) sources of amazingly valuable feedback and information are those customers who enquired but didn’t buy: the ‘not today, thankyou’s: wouldn’t it be great if you could find out what stopped them from buying from you, what actions they took instead … and why!
How to be more innovative and flexible: that’s the subject of another blog!
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