Tag Archives for " Business relationships "

Innovation Can Come From Within

As business owners we constantly need to be innovative in our approach to networking, referrals and relationships.  Heraclitus, the Greek Philosopher is credited with being one of the earliest creative thinkers.  Little is known about his early life and education, however he is regarded as self-taught, he was also known as the weeping philosopher.

He often said that delving into our own knowledge and intuition was a perfect way to gain insight.  If you compare this with our modern education system, there is little opportunity for reflection or insight gained from within yourself.  Our schools and universities are based on the “Gulp and Vomit” system.  That is you gulp down a lot of information and vomit it back out onto paper at the exam in the exact same words if possible.

As a result of this process we come to believe that the best ideas are those provided to us from within someone else’s head, rather than our own unique thoughts and musings.  Heraclitus would like us to remember that there are many good ideas in our own heads, of course if we are willing to delve into the recesses of our brain.

We can with practice, develop our own innovation style.

Here are six ways that you can delve into your inner recesses to access your creativity and innovation skills.

  1. 1. Pay Attention to the Details

Have you ever got up early on a crisp winters morning and noticed the beauty of a spider’s web as it glistens in the early morning sun.  Or what about the precision with which ants leave their nest and return carrying a load of plunder from their day or hours of foraging outside the ant nest.  How do they know where to go to find the food and then how do they remember to get back, often precisely retracing their steps back to the nest.

I used to do this from natural wonder, now I ponder the detail and use this talent to observe detail in problems or challenges I face.

  1. 2. Become Detached

The best way to free up ideas is to let the best ones go.  That’s right, often times we come up with a good idea, which we want to use no matter what.  We literally fall in love with it.  Sometimes the pathway to enlightenment is rocky and we have to let go of love!  Leave that beloved idea to one side and explore other ideas.  Only after we let go, do we sometimes find exactly what we had been searching for all along.

  1. 3. Find Your Blind Spot

The creators of the Johari Window, Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham created a four-quadrant model about relationship awareness.  In one of the quadrants the Blind Spot, the two descriptors include that which is known to others, but not to ourselves.

Sometimes we are looking at a challenge or problem and we just can’t see a solution.  It’s at times like these that we may need to think of the Johari Window and ask someone else what is it that they can see that we can’t.  Looking at someone else’s challenge with fresh eyes is often enlightening and the blinding obvious stands out so clearly.

  1. 4. The Pressure Cooker Approach

The quickest way to cook vegetables on a kitchen stovetop is to use a pressure cooker.  It gets them cooked in half the time and makes the job easy.  If you are faced with a problem or challenge perhaps applying the pressure cooker theory may work.  That is set a short deadline and work hard and fast toward creating the perfect solution by the looming deadline.

This process works well with a group of people and the challenge to perform is often met.

  1. 5. Handle Rejection

Depending on the creative process being used, your ideas may be rejected out of hand by your work colleagues.  Be brave and let your ideas be tested, challenged and even rejected by others.  As part of the creative process, ideas need to be challenged, remember the best ideas often come out of a rejected idea.

  1. 6. Harness Your Ego

One of the worst errors we can make when we are searching for creative or innovative ideas is to let our ego interfere.  It’s our idea, so it must be good, it’s our idea, so of course it will work.  It’s our idea, so of course I’ve considered all the alternatives!  I’m sure you can relate to what I’m saying.

Let go of your ego, remain calm and go with the flow, you may be amazed at what happens next!

© Lindsay Adams 2018.  All rights reserved.

Lindsay Adams is a relationship management specialist, he works with leaders who want to leverage the power of relationships, to lead better, sell more and build better teams.



Identify Your Market, the Secret Ingredient for Relationship Marketing Success

Good marketing starts with a clear definition of your target market.  In fact, any good marketing text will tell you that it is crucial to identify your target market if you want to be successful in business.  You must know who your target is so that you can craft the best marketing message to convey the value you offer to any potential buyer.  Understanding your target market enables you to design the features or services that you will take to market.  This could include things like price, packaging, distribution and a range of other issues that impact on market share.

Put simply it comes down to three basic facts:

  • • Who wants my product or service?
  • • Where will they find them?
  • • How will I reach these potential buyers with such a compelling message that they will buy what I have to offer?

Doing business by referral revolves around generating referrals that result in closed sales.  In referral marketing the marketing message is always the same.  It all starts with a clearly defined target market.

Why is target market so important?

There are many reasons why target market is so important.  A clearly defined market will enable you to create word of mouth marketing within a specific buying group so that business comes to you.  How do you become known and get people to refer to you?

You could join a business group, trade Association or Club and build relationships with people within that target market.  You could write articles for that target market or offer to serve in a leadership capacity within the Association or Club.  As people in that target market begin to get to know you either personally or by your reputation and they hear good things about the services you provide, they may seek you out and buy from you.

OK, so you understand the power of word of mouth advertising, how do you use that to generate more business?  If you have the luxury of a small target market you can simply create a positive relationship based business by doing a great job and relying on the satisfied customers you have to spread the word about you among the rest of that target market.  Sadly, we don’t always have small and concentrated target markets like this.

Two very different people attended one of my sessions on relationship marketing recently, both wanted to learn how to get more business by relationship.  Both worked in the financial planning industry and understood the importance of doing business by relationship.  We’ll call them Planner A and Planner B.  We focussed in on target market.  It was easy to identify which financial planner was going to be more successful.

Planner A said their target market was anyone with money to invest and wanted a secure financial future.  Planner B had a very different perspective.  Planner B said they wanted to work with young professionals between the ages of 25 and 35 years of age, preferably couples with no children and clear financial goals.

Planner B wanted to work with people who were clear about their future and because they were in the same age bracket understood the issues and challenges they faced.  Not only that they knew that young professionals often had a habit of spending up big and not saving for the future.  This planner had lived a very basic upbringing and wanted to secure a sound financial future for themselves and was passionate about spreading the word to other young professionals in the same age bracket.  They were very clear on their target market.

Both financial planners were competent however Planner B had targeted young professionals, was more passionate and it literally oozed out of their pores.  Combine that with a clear target market and it was obvious that Planner B was destined for success.  This planner only had to work with a few young professional couples and I predict word would spread fast among the target market, bringing more and more referrals and of course closed business.

Planner A would have to pitch their services to clients everywhere hoping to find someone who will work with them.  They will not have the ability to get referrals from a clearly refined target market like Planner B.  Other than being competent they have little extra to offer to potential clients other than they are a generalist, rather than a specialist financial planner.

The message for business owners and sales people is clear, if you don’t have a clearly defined target market, you must spend time defining one.  With a clearly defined target market you will create a steady stream of referral business.

Lets get one thing straight, just because someone gives you a business referral, doesn’t mean you automatically have a sale.  This referral is simply an opportunity to do business with someone who you have been recommended to.  If you can provide the expected products or services that the prospect is seeking and they are satisfied with the process, then you may have the privilege of doing business again.  If you can’t get this first sale across the line your referral source will most probably dry up.

The issue here revolves around your ability to sell.  Anyone who has experience in relationship marketing will tell you unequivocally that sales skills are essential as well as relationship marketing skills.  In fact sales skills are needed in every part of the process, not just closing the sale.

Dr Ivan Misner the father of modern networking researched referrals versus sales in the early 90’s.  He found that thirty four percent of referrals made between business’ owners resulted in recorded sales.  An interesting statistic, not amazingly high, though significant for business owners in terms of the power of referrals versus sales.

Subsequent research by a university student replicating Misner’s original research conducted around ten years later revealed some more interesting facts.  Thirty four percent of referrals made between business owners resulted in a recorded sale.  Yes you are suffering from déjà vu.  The exact same result as ten years before!

What does this mean for business people?  Sales skills are important and some people are better at closing sales rather than others.  However one does not exist without the other.  You are thirty four percent more likely to make a sale if you get a referral and sales skills are an essential ingredient of that process.  There are countless avenues available today to learn the art of sales

The worst thing that you can do after you receive a referral is to be aggressive, indecisive or evasive.  The prospect wants and expects a high level of respect, service and professionalism.  Remember this is a win-win situation and the better you come across at this stage, the better it will be for both parties.  You get the business, they get the goods or service.

Once you meet your prospect, you have to persuade them to bring the sale to a close.  This is what people think of when you suggest the term sale.

Third, once you’ve made the appointment, persuade the prospect to buy your product or service.  This is the part that usually comes to mind when one hears the word “sale.” Integrity is paramount at this stage.  The prospect should know exactly what to expect: no hidden charges, no unexpected exceptions and no bait-and-switch.  If you’ve created a highly efficient system of generating referrals for your business, you’ll see a steady stream of referrals.  This doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be capable of closing any of them.  It takes sales skills to turn prospects into new clients or customers.

The message about sales in referral marketing is this: If you’re not comfortable in sales or if you haven’t been professionally trained, sales training is a worthwhile investment.  Keep this message in mind and it’ll serve you well in every aspect of relationship marketing.

© Lindsay Adams 2018.  All rights reserved.

Lindsay Adams is a relationship management specialist, he works with leaders who want to leverage the power of relationships, to lead better, sell more and build better teams.