Customers are more valuable than the money they spend. They can help grow your company, whether they buy more or not. Here are three things your customers can give you:
- Ideas. It’s a great misconception that customers don’t know what they want. Research and experience has shown the opposite. Tap your lead customers for innovative ideas.
- Credibility. Customers are more credible than you are. This means they make better marketers than agencies or internal employees. Identify your biggest fans and incent them to act as “champions” for your company.
- Getting others to buy. Customers are often more interested in a fellow consumer’s sales pitch than yours. Find ways to put them in touch with your prospects and let them close the deal for you.
Today’s Management Tip was adapted from “The Things Customers Can Do Better Than You” by Bill Lee.
Asking the right questions is the key to finding innovative solutions to any problem, even finding a job. Instead of asking “What job can I find today?” what if you asked, “What kind of job can I create today?” The slight twist of one word might hold the key to more helpful answers. Take a few minutes a day to write down nothing but questions about your job search. Do this consistently for thirty days and your questions will take you down new paths. For example, “How can I make a bucket of money?” may change to “What will make me happy for the long term?” This could then morph to “How do I create something for the long term?” The result may be seeking out different kinds of job opportunities, ones you may not have considered if you had not changed your line of questioning.
Today’s Management Tip was adapted from “Find a Job Using Disruptive Innovation” by Jeff Dyer and Hal Gregersen.
As a business becomes more complex, it gets difficult to trace costs. If you aren’t sure where your company is making money — or losing it — follow these two steps to simplify:
- Analyze profitability by offering or market. There are often large profit disparities among lines of business, brands, products, and customers. Knowing exactly where you’re making money and how is the first step to making more of it.
- Make sure each brand and SKU is pulling its weight. Most complex companies have many brands or SKUs that contribute little to the bottom line. By targeting profitable ones and cutting the rest loose, you can free up significant capacity with negligible loss in revenue and volume.
Adapted from Guide to Finance Basics for Managers.
If you have to put together an annual budget for your department, your compensation may depend on your ability to stick to it. Here are three tips for creating a manageable budget:
- Stay goal-oriented. If you aim to increase sales, make that your overriding concern. Don’t let other issues sidetrack you.
- Don’t do it alone. Include your team members in developing the budget — they may have knowledge about certain line items that you don’t.
- Question your assumptions. A budget should take current data, add assumptions, and create projections. Be careful about the assumptions you make and question how likely they are to come true. When you present the budget, you’ll need to be prepared to defend them.
Adapted from the Harvard ManageMentor Online Module: Financial Essentials.
Whether you’re a small company or a Fortune 500, customer feedback matters. But it can be tough to navigate online feedback. Which reviews are valuable and which are unreliable? Consider the following when dealing with the negative ones:
- Seek a solution. Post a response and offer a way to turn the situation around. Always extend an olive branch if you can.
- Don’t treat all comments equally. Anonymous reviews should never receive the same attention as authored comments.
- Invite comments. If you’re open to hearing input, you’re more likely to hear positive things. Create forums for discussions about products or services, allow customers to post video testimonials, and keep social media lines open.
Today’s Management Tip was adapted from “What Angie’s List Knows About Customer Reviews” by Angie Hicks.
Elevator pitches aren’t just for start-ups. They are helpful in job interviews, networking events, presentations, or any time you need to quickly explain your case. Instead of stumbling when asked, “What does your company do?” prepare an effective pitch that outlines win-win goals and launches a deeper relationship. Grab the listeners’ attention with a smart hook, and then convince them of the mutual benefits you could provide. End by suggesting a follow-up and converting a chance meeting into an opportunity. Speak in terms your audience can relate to. And communicate with the passion that comes from knowing that this opportunity may never come again.
Today’s Management Tip was adapted from Guide to Persuasive Presentations.
Too often the strategy creation process produces options that aren’t any more interesting or creative than the current strategy. If you find yourself agonizing over which of your carefully crafted strategic options is the right one, chances are you are taking the strategic planning process too seriously. Give up being right and sensible. Instead, tell a story about the future. Make it aspirational and envision your organization in a happy and successful place. Have everyone participating in the process tell their own story, and together you’ll have created a list of options. Then start the real work of strategy creation: ask yourselves, for these stories to come true, what would have to happen?
Adapted from “Moving from Strategic Planning to Storytelling” by Roger Martin.