As a small business owner or leader one of the questions you may find yourself asking is; where do I start? Every bit of my business needs me and as soon as I focus on one area I’m worried about another.
The plumbing analogy might help you to focus on the right area. It’s a simple and visual way to model and analyse your business flow.
Looking at this diagram below, where should the manager focus their efforts to increase the flow through to the bucket?
- Change the storage tank A?
- Change into a bigger bucket H?
- Change pipe section D?
Tank A could be sales coming in, which looks healthy enough so we could be tempted to increase the flow of value through the business by investing more in sales. But, when we get to pipe D, here we see the flow slowing, leaving E and F at half capacity at most. There is wasted capacity in E and F and the value flow (water) is limited by the time it goes through G and arrives in the bucket.
Some of your management activities may not always be this clearly dependent on each other but this is still a useful analogy to help you think about where the blockage in your business is.
- Don’t ignore the thin pipes or obstacles
- Make sure the thin pipeline is always full, any spare capacity here really impacts the subsequent flow
- Don’t invest your time and resources where things are running smoothly if there is a blockage later on in the system
So we’ve created a story, developed a customer persona now should be ready to convert with your sales pitch.
As a non sales person, this can be quite daunting – maybe with images of identikit blue suits, BMW’s and a wide white teeth smile. Remember it boils down to one person having a conversation with another person, both with their own aims and objectives. As with many things in life preparation and practice are your best go to.
Learn your unique benefits and value proposition off by heart and be confident in that knowledge. Really get into the mindset of your customer persona, what language they like to use, what is an immediate turn off. What are their wants, needs, challenges. Do they want facts and figures, real life examples, detailed product information – have these prepared and to hand. Know what you need to process the sale – is it access to paperwork, payment system or a follow up RFQ for example. Know the limitations in negotiating price or the product.
Practice with members of your team, friends and family. Understand the questions they have to improve your pitch or preparation and continuously improve. Reflect on your own delivery – the words you are using, your own body language and the energy you bring to the sale. Practice listening to your individual customer, understand their specific needs and requirements and then (using your prep work) align how your business can help or answer their questions or concerns. If you don’t know something, explain your next steps to find out for them and give a definitive
Be confident in how you need to process the sale and communicate this clearly. Is it agreeing a timeframe of delivery or an immediate payment and exchange of goods? Ensure you both know
what has been agreed, next steps and timing.
I believe people buy from people, so be yourself, be confident in your preparation and continuously learn and improve as you practice.
Delegation takes a lot of time and can lead to costly mistakes but if you don’t do it, you won’t grow and could end up being an obstacle in your own business.
You may find the below useful. It’s called the skill/ will matrix and it helps you to think about the people you are delegating to.
Essentially, if they have low skill and are not motivated to do the job, you’re going to need to tell them what to do, unless you can motivate them to see why it would be good for them to take on the new task.
If they are very willing but a bit clueless (a new recruit or a new job fits into this category), then guide them carefully – spell out what needs to be done, how and to what standard and check the work before they make a big mistake or miss a crucial deadline.
If they have a lot of skill but no motivation to do the task, you’ll need to excite them before you can rely on them to take on the delegated task with enthusiasm.
And finally, if they know how to do the task and are very willing, delegate away! Be careful that you have really understood their levels of skill and motivation and spend time explaining and checking that they do understand the task.