Perfect Business Plans

Dharmesh Shah is a pretty sharp guy. Of course, my opinion doesn’t really matter, because a lot of people, way smarter than me pay attention when he speaks. I just read his most recent post in which he suggests that “sometimes business plans are dangerous”. You can read his post here.

A couple of days ago, I wrote “Thoughts on Mom & Pop Shops“. Now, I’d suggest that Dharmesh and I write for different audiences, but sometimes the reader doesn’t know that they’re in the wrong audience. Let me make three points.
Last night was the drawing for the $640 million Mega Millions jackpot. I believe that I heard that 1.5 billion tickets were sold. That’s a lot of dreamers. That brings me to my first point. People dream. Furthermore, when people intentionally dream, they avoid bad dreams. They use rose-colored glasses and focus on good and happy and successful.
I talked to a founder earlier this week. There are other factors, but I’ll focus on one exchange.
Me: So, big picture, what would make 2012 good?
Them: 10 new locations.
Me: What would that mean?

Them: $184,256.

Me: What’s that?
Them: My net profit.
Me: How much revenue would the 10 offices generate?
Them: I don’t know. That’s their problem.
In case you haven’t figured it out, this founder wants to sell franchises. Now, if they don’t know how much a franchisee is going to sell, how will they convince the franchisee that it’s a good investment? This founder probably has a spreadsheet that shows how much they net with 3 franchisees, 12 franchisees, 50, etc., but no plan to get the first one, or the second one, let alone the 10th one. So, my second suggestion is don’t focus on making you rich. Focus on making your customers happy and don’t be ‘to the penny’ specific. Stuff happens. Revenues and margins get nibbled at and unexpected expenses appear. So, round the good numbers down and the bad numbers up.
Finally, it’s not unusual for entrepreneurs to be money and success driven. They want to be millionaires and eventually wind up on the list with Rockefeller, Getty, Gates, Buffet, etc. If you’ve already got millions of dollars backing you, go for it, but if you don’t, maybe you should make a plan that will allow you to feed your family this year and provide a nest egg to fund growth next year? How much do you need to pay your personal bills this year? Don’t forget your fun money because you’ll be working long hours and will need to ‘chill’ regularly. How much will your fixed and variable expenses be? Do you need a discretionary fund? How much will you need to scale next year? Add it all up. How many customers do you need this year? How many good prospects? How many interested parties? How much attention do you need to attract? Who can help? Who will hold you accountable?
So, what do you think? Want help with a Perfect Business Plan?

Thoughts on Mom & Pop Shops

Trav Harmon posted this picture on his Facebook page today.
This is all true and if you’ve been following me for long, you know that I have a special place in my heart for small business and that given the choice, I always choose to work with small companies rather than large companies. However, that doesn’t mean that I (or you) should always buy from a small business. I prefer to bank with a large bank rather than Vinnie’s Corner Piggy Bank. I know, FDIC, big banks fail, and all that, but I’m more comfortable with a big bank. Elaine tends to shop at larger stores, but when shopping for something important like a mother of the groom dress, tends to look for personal treatment.
So, why am I writing? What’s the point?
It bugs me when prospects pick a small business owner’s brain to educate themselves then buys from a big company because they get a better price or terms.
It bugs me when a salesperson for a big company steals a customer from a small business because they’re a better trained salesperson then the small business owner.
It bugs me that big companies sometimes thrive despite their inefficiencies, lack of caring and crappy customer service because they have bigger marketing budgets.
But, the internet has changed the world and Mom and Pop shops can compete if they are willing to learn how. Learn what a prospect’s needs are. What their priorities are. What their intentions are. What their strategies and personas are. Mom and pops can use the advantage of being small to adapt quicker. Be more flexible. Reactive. Responsive. Mom and Pops have the advantage of NOT having a sales manager and a marketing manager arguing over turf and blame. They often have one person that switches between the sales hat and the marketing hat. My suggestion? Throw both hats away and get a Smarketing hat. Mom and Pops have a much easier time of integrating their sales and marketing processes and with a little help can get big results within a couple of months if they get the right kind of personal attention.
If you’d like to attend an introductory webinar (at Noon EDT today), register here:  
UPDATE: The webinar is over. If you’d like to see the recording, click here:
If you’d like to talk to me,
send me an email with your phone number
.

21st Century Networking & Referrals

If you haven’t already, please read this article about referrals. Have you thought about what your business will look like 3 years from now? It used to be that ‘long term’ meant 10-20 years out, the internet has changed the world. When something happens, whether you think it’s noteworthy or not, the event can spawn 1000′s of tweets per second. Check out this ‘best of’ list. It’s not just about speed, though. Think about the quantity of information available. Go to your favorite search engine and type in “Who is ____?” or “What is ____?” or “How many ____?” and you’ll probably have millions of articles in a fraction of a second.

Yeah. So?
Let me make three points.
In the article on referrals, Mutt clearly used the wrong approach. He not only wasted a referral and blew up a prospect, but he ended a relationship with a potentially valuable center of influence. Isn’t that happening today? Do you check your spam/junk mail folder? Aren’t those people using the wrong approach? Haven’t they blown up a prospect by being relegated to the junk mail folder? How many blog articles have you seen lately that are strictly a sales pitch? I use the word ‘seen’ because most people don’t want to be ‘sold’ and as soon as they see the pitch they reach for the ‘delete’ button and maybe the ‘unsubscribe’ link and there goes a potential valuable center of influence. How much Twitter spam do you read? Somebody that I used to read tweeted 36 times yesterday. I read none of them. They have 1000′s of followers, but how many readers? My point is that there’s a lot of people that think they’re doing inbound marketing, but they’re just using outbound, interruption marketing tactics on an inbound platform and creating ‘noise’ and the noise, for the most part, gets tuned out.
Another change is necessary in our sales process. In the late 70′s I left door to door sales to take a job in a retail furniture store. When I was hired, the store manager confided that salespeople with my experience typically did well. We were used to going out to find our customers. In retail, they came to us. However, the transition from outside sales to retail is not the same as outbound sales to inbound. Retail prospects were typically in their buying process. Inbound prospects may have many more steps in between the day they find you and the day that they realize that they actually want to buy a solution. If you use a 20th century “Hello” on a 21st century lead, you’ll adversely affect your results.
Finally, reflecting back on the opening paragraph, where did most of your sales come from last year and where will most of your sales come from next year. Notice two things. I asked about “sales” not leads. I also ‘skipped’ this year. Although we live in the present, I wanted to you to focus on the past and the future. How much of your business used to come from trade shows, referrals, direct mail, networking, or some other more traditional source? Are your sales from those sources trending up or down? What will happen to those sources next year? Have you begun your inbound marketing effort? Is it truly inbound or are you using outbound knowledge in the inbound world? Are your former sources integrated and feeding your inbound efforts? Are your inbound efforts feeding your trade shows, networking, direct mail and referrals? It’s almost like prospects from different sources speak different languages. Have you taught your referrals how to speak the language of inbound? Do your inbound followers and connections speak the language of referrals? Imagine the evangelism and growth that happens when your different sources start raising your message above the noise of the internet.
Tune in Thursday at noon if you’d like to hear more on 21st Century Networking & Referrals.

Referral Sales

I originally published this post on 10/23/10 on my other blog. I need to republish it so that I can link to it in my next post. Enjoy!

I contemplated two titles for this post. “More on Referrals” and “Referral Morons”. I guess I’m getting soft as I mature  get older.

Here’s the story. I met a couple of guys a year or two ago. Let’s call them Mutt and Jeff. Late 20′s. Partners in business. Have some success. Jeff’s all personality. Always smiling. Bright eyes. Enthusiastic. Mutt’s the back end guy. Quieter. Steady. They started another business together. It’s a commodity business and I know a guy who’s my first choice to refer in their industry.

Last summer, we were all at a networking event and they mentioned that they had been trying to get in front of someone that would be a great client for them, but he wouldn’t let them get to first base. The ‘suspect’ happened to be at the networking event, so I brought the boys over and introduced them. Mutt immediately jumped down the guy’s throat telling him that he was closed-minded because he wouldn’t even listen to what this 28 year old arrogant, know it all had to say. I was very sorry that I introduced them, apologized to the ‘suspect’ and told Mutt and Jeff that I’d never introduce them to anybody that I cared about again.

I’ve seen them a few times since, but avoid contact. So does Mutt.

Recently, Jeff asked me, “How can we smooth this over so that you’ll give us referrals?”

Did you notice that it’s all about them?

They’re not a client (obviously, based on Mutt’s behavior).

They’ve never referred me.

They’re crappy salespeople.

Mutt thinks he’s smarter than Jeff and won’t stay behind the scenes. Jeff can’t control him. Therefore anyone that I refer to Jeff may be subjected to Mutt’s behavior. That will never happen.

I already have a contemporary (old guy) who does what they do, who’s a great salesman, a great networker, that everybody likes and who has referred to me. My clients don’t need Mutt’s attitude.

So, my response to Jeff’s question was, “Get rid of Mutt.” I could see the conflict and frustration on his face, but I was done talking and left.

In hindsight, I realize that I was harsh. So, Jeff reads my blog (Mutt’s way too smart.) and I’m gonna offer another solution.

First, read Referrals à la Rick.

Second, make Mutt read this post and the pages behind the links. Watch him do it but watch out for his temper.

Third, tell him that you want to fix it and tell him that you want him and you to hire me for three months to fix you both. (Recognize that I’m gonna charge you MORE THAN YOU MAKE to make sure that you’re both FULLY COMMITTED.

Think it will be worth it? How many other relationships has Mutt ruined? Don’t care? OK.

Not enough leads? Leads but no sales? You are not alone!

A couple of weeks ago, I posted “How to Use Hubspot to Increase Sales (Not Just Leads)“.

A few days ago I wrote “HHMMM!
Since then my partners and I have been very busy delivering these webinars to chamber of commerce members and getting ready to deliver “Maximize Your Hubspot ROI by Integrating Your Sales & Marketing“.
But there’s nothing like hearing from a customer. Today, Dale sent an email to someone on his list. He received this reply.

Hi Dale
You may not be aware but we had a very poor ROI and therefore canceled our service. At this time I would NOT recommend Hubspot!!

Dale told me and I replied directly to the customer, “I hope you don’t mind, but Dale
forwarded your response to me. Interestingly, he did so because he noticed how
proudly you displayed the (his) Chamber logo in your signature, rather than
anything that you said about Hubspot. I was in Denver earlier this month talking
about 21st century sales strategies with chamber executives at their National
Sales Training
. I saw that (his chamber president) was registered to attend, but I
don’t think that he and I actually met. (There were a lot of people
there.)

Unfortunately, yours is not the
first story that I’ve heard about unmet expectations, and maybe someday we can
swap stories, but not today. I did notice that your company has a Twitter presence
and a Facebook page and that the chamber has a members directory. Used properly,
that can be an effective combination. It’s actually one of the points that I
shared with the workshop attendees out in Denver.

So, the bottom line is
three-fold.

  1. As a result of my ‘friend of chambers everywhere’ mentality, my
    partners and I are in the process of delivering 3 webinars to chamber of
    commerce members. Feel free to attend the ones that are upcoming or listen to
    the recordings of those that have already occurred. Here’s
    the links
    .
  1. The ROI webinar on Friday is being offered to Hubspot customers,
    past and present that are experiencing less than stellar results. The webinar is
    not about making better use of Hubspot. It’s about integrating your sales and
    marketing processes and aligning them to the 21st century customer’s
    buying process. It’s not about getting leads. It’s about getting sales.
    (BTW, I should point out that although I use Hubspot, I’m not a Hubspot
    employee, investor, owner, adviser or anyone else that might have an agenda. You
    might be interested in this short
    article
    . If you’d like to attend the webinar,
    feel free.
  1. Finally, if you’d like to have a conversation someday about
    growing sales using social media without Hubspot, just reply as such and we’ll
    make it happen.

Happy Spring!

To which the customer replied, “Rick
I appreciate your information and have forwarded to our marketing team, who will attend. I would be interested in what you have to say about social media.

So, here’s the moral of the story. It’s not about leads. It’s not about software. It’s not about metrics or bright shiny objects. It’s about sales! So, if you know someone that’s trying to grow sales, with or without Hubspot, send them this article and tell them to read it and register for this Friday’s webinar. If it fills up, it will be recorded and available later to anyone that registers.

Sales Blog

I posted my first blog article exactly six years ago this very minute. Since then, I’ve published 755 articles with 207,104 words. I specifically used the word “published” rather than “wrote” because I actually wrote many more articles, but some couldn’t be written without hurting somebody. I don’t mind criticizing or teasing, but there’s some stuff that the world doesn’t need to know. BTW, that inaugural post is still popular. My top ten posts are listed below.

  1. Numbers, Baseball and My Kind of Selling
  2. First………..What is a RainMaker?
  3. Questions about competition
  4. Eric Tapley (Off Topic…..Kinda)
  5. top ten geek business myths
  6. Referrals à la Rick
  7. Change for Change’s Sake?
  8. How to Waste a Great Referral
  9. LinkedIn Tip for Salespeople that Read Blogs
  10. Blog Topics
Now, as I scan this list, I can’t help thinking about American Idol. Last Thursday, to Elaine’s surprise, Shannon went home. Elaine felt that Shannon should have been in the Top 10, but America felt differently. I feel the same way about my Top 10, but I’m not thinking about SEO, inbound links, etc. I’m thinking about content and lessons.
So, which articles would be in my Top 10?
top ten geek business myths” would definitely be there. I talk with entrepreneurs every day that will struggle or fail because of their self limiting beliefs and their inability to market and sell effectively.
I’m very pleased that “Referrals à la Rick” is on the list. I’ve talked about referrals in 25 articles. I’ve been a ‘by referral only’ business and believe that anyone that wants to be a 21st century rainmaker needs to learn how to use the 21st century tools to generate reputation and an endless stream of referrals. Please understand that you can be successful with inbound marketing and you can be successful with a ‘by referral only’ mindset, but if you can master both, you will be awesome.
For a while, I was on a networking kick and consequently have a fair number of articles on that topic. If I had to pick a favorite, I think it would be Rod Lee’s interview, but a close second would be Intimidating Women. If you want to read them all, here they are.
I think that Prize Corn was the first post that I know got translated and re-posted. That was cool. I also thought that the attitude toward competition was a good message.
If you have time on your hands, you can search my blog for Success Secrets, Woody Allen, Magic Kingdom, Big Clients, movies and television shows. I’ve had several guest bloggers. I’ve had a good time and seldom been bored.
Thank you for reading and allowing me to reminisce.
Two questions for you.
Did I miss something? Is there some post that you thought was relevant? If you’ve got a thought, please share it as a comment.
Second question is, Do you have something to say? Would you like to write an article and have me post it here? Send me an email, or tell me as a comment. We’ll make it happen.

HHMMM!

Yesterday, I read this article about Hubspot and commented with the title of this post.

I love Hubspot. I think that Hubspot is changing the world and I hope that Hubspot is around for decades, not just years, but that’s not the comment that I wanted to make.
What I wanted to ask is, “2.4 billion page views in 2011″ awesome! “100,000 new landing pages” Great! How come nobody talked about the number of dollars or sales all that activity caused (other than millions for Hubspot)?
HHMMM! Here’s something that you should read.