Creating and Selling Value: Creating Value: Sales & The Value Pyramid

By Dora Cheatham, Emerging Enterprise Center

Going from supplying a product that meets basic customer expectations to contributing to a client’s organization can be hard to establish and even harder to maintain, but is an invaluable strategy for long term profitability. Keeping a customer requires the creation of a relationship of mutual trust and partnership that goes beyond supplying a quality product.

Seeking to create value and a sustainable competitive advantage is increasingly difficult in today’s data-filled environment. Buyers today are educated and savvy. In the B2B world, the buyer can be 60-65% through the purchase process before he or she even makes contact with an incumbent or potential vendor. They know what’s out there and what it costs so if all you have to offer is a product that meets specifications, then you have effectively created a situation where your only option is to sell on price—and the lowest price invariably wins. That also means that as soon as a competitor emerges with the same option at a lower price, then chances are that customer is lost to the newcomer. So how can you ensure that your customer remains loyal to your product and business?

Smart Buyers Seek Value

A truly smart buyer understands the value of a vendor that contributes to the smooth running of his or her business. If you can deliver a flawless product, on-time, every time, with excellent customer service, then it behoves him to use your product—because spending time dealing with vendor-related problems and quality issues costs money and impacts his own customer service and bottom line (think about the UPS “I’m happy” ads where department managers and customers are happy thanks to UPS Logistics).

By supplying a quality product with excellent customer service you have already established some level of competitive advantage. And many companies today provide good products with good service – it is a prerequisite to staying in business. To sustain that advantage however you need to continually climb the value pyramid and add to your product in terms of additional service and knowledge, eventually making a quantum leap to the peak of the value pyramid to establish yourself as more than a vendor, but a trusted strategic partner.

Can you help lower your customers’ costs or improve their productivity? Can you help them identify new products or markets? At an even broader level, can your customers call on you for advice on operational systems and processes or strategic direction? In other words, does your customer consider you a supplier or a partner?

Schematic adapted from Doyle P. and Stern P., Marketing Management & Strategy, 4th ed., Prentice Hall

 

As you climb the value pyramid, commoditization decreases and company and product value increases, with fewer competitors able to compete at the same level. The fundamental difference between the lower and upper levels of the pyramid is distinct: to be good at the former, the salesperson and business needs to have a top quality product to sell and needs to understand his product and his own business well.

To be good at the latter, the salesperson and business needs to have an understanding not only of his own product and business, but of his customer’s business as well. He needs to understand his customer’s individual and industry needs and must excel at consultative selling, offering solutions that are of mutual benefit to both organizations. Only then can you hope to ensure an enduring partnership and long term rewards.

You don’t close a sale; you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise. Patricia Fripp.

Why To-Do Lists Are Killing Your Productivity

Written by Brooke Miles, Delaware ShoutOut

Do you start out each week—or each day—with a to-do list? Before I wised up to the dangers of to-do lists, I wrote them all the time. A typical one looked like this:

  1. Write blog article
  2. Craft proposal for new client
  3. Throw out orphan socks from sock drawer—or repurpose into puppets
  4. Develop PowerPoint for social media seminar
  5. Pull new gray hairs from top of head
  6. Make sales calls
  7. Memorize lyrics to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Consider singing with sock puppets.

You know what happened? I’d do the irrelevant stuff first (sock puppets, gray hairs, and Queen), because they were more fun and easier to check off. Wow, I was getting stuff done, I thought! Sure, I might work on less-pleasant-yet-critical business tasks…if there was enough time afterwards. But usually I found more tempting ways to fill the time.

Maybe you can relate. Okay, maybe you’re not lured by sock puppets, gray hairs, and Queen. But your tendency to check off simpler tasks—pay a bill, make a quick phone call, etc.—may be preventing you from accomplishing tasks that could make a huge, positive impact on your business.

Here are more problems with to-do lists:

  1. They don’t factor in the duration of each task. Some tasks might take two minutes—others might take two hours!
  2. They don’t say when you will tackle each task (i.e. no real commitment).
  3. They don’t distinguish between urgent and important. Urgent and important aren’t always the same thing.
  4. They rarely get completed in full. Did you know that, on average, 41% of to-do items never get done?

Imagine what your business would look like if you consistently accomplished your big-picture tasks every week.

My business transformed—with revenues quadrupling in one year—when I stopped writing to-do lists and started putting important tasks in a calendar. (I use Google Calendar, but any calendar will do.) Why a calendar? Because it forces you to block out time for the stuff that matters. In other words, you’re making regular business appointments with yourself. Using a calendar also helps you see what your day truly looks like, so you don’t end up over-committing to less important tasks.

Do I still crave a life with sock puppets, gray-hair pulling, and Queen? Absolutely. But now I can visualize what little time I have for it, at least during the workday. (Besides, I’ve found it’s easier to work on gray hairs at night, when my teenage son can help pull the ones I can’t see on the back of my head. Awkward for him, but great for me.)

I’d love to learn what productivity strategies work for you. Block out 15 minutes in your calendar to email me your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you!

Marketing for Small Businesses – 3 Steps to Success

Written by Dora Cheatham, Program Manager, Emerging Enterprise Center

We often hear of the failure rates of start-ups and new businesses, or even longer term firms going out of business for one reason or another.The US Census Bureau’s statistics certainly bear this out, with as many as 44% of businesses failing by their 3rd year and 71% failing by Year 10.

While this depends greatly on the industry, the chart below from Statistic Brain, shows just how fragile some industries can be:

While the final cause of death is usually financial collapse, the symptoms most likely started much earlier with failed strategies and operational inefficiencies. While no-one has a crystal ball into the future, you can certainly try to preempt as many obstacles as possible with careful planning and preparation; as Alan Lakein once said “failing to plan, is planning to fail”.

So if you’re thinking of starting your own business, or you’re beginning to see fissures in your business, there are definitely steps you can take ahead of time. Here are a few from a marketing perspective to ensure that your business survives and succeeds.

  1. MARKET ANALYSIS │ THE LAY OF THE LAND

Understanding the lay of the land is critical in helping you determine what actions you will need to take to grow—or in some cases—survive. An excellent tool for establishing the lay of the land is Michael Porter’s Five Forces Model. This popular model forces you to look at your industry within a specific framework that takes into consideration competition between existing firms, the threat of new entrants, the strength of buyers and suppliers and the threat of substitute products. Another simple but frequently used framework: the SWOT analysis that assesses strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats—use it to assess not only your own business but also that of your competition.

How do you fit in these frameworks? What are your core competences? What are your weaknesses? How can you leverage your strengths and improve on your weaknesses? It’s not enough to know and believe in your own product: you need to understand how it fits within the industry and among other like products in that industry. You also need to have a clear understanding of your customers’ (existing and/or potential) needs and wants.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that this is a one time exercise—external forces and world events can impact the lay of the land, change the balance of power in these forces and overturn the positions in these frameworks within a matter of weeks! A catastrophic event – think 9/11 and its impact not only on the aviation industry but also the industry’s suppliers, travel, tourism and beyond – can and will result in a need to re-assess your business strategy in short order.  

  1. MARKET STRATEGY │ START WITH THE END IN SIGHT

Once you have a clear understanding of the lay of the land, the business then needs to determine its focus: What is your differential advantage or value proposition as a business? What are your growth objectives? Which products and markets offer the best opportunities to achieve your growth objectives? How will you achieve these objectives? Will it be through market penetration? Product development? Market development? Diversification? How will you position the business and your products to meet these objectives? Which core competences do you need to develop to achieve your targeted growth and create a sustainable competitive advantage? What will the investment be in time, talent and treasure to develop these core competences and what will your return on that investment be? 

  1. MARKETING MIX │ THE ROAD MAP

The Marketing Mix is generally referred to as the 4Ps (or 5Ps depending on the source!) and encompasses decisions surrounding your Products (performance, features, design, presentations, name, etc), Pricing (direct, distributor, geographical, etc), Promotion (PR, marketing collateral, advertising), Place (distribution channels), and People (tasks, sales, support). In other words, you know your market and you know your customers. You now need to ensure that you have the correct products, that they are correctly positioned and that your communications correctly reflect that positioning. Do you have the right distribution channels set up? Do you have effective and efficient processes in place?

A common fallacy to avoid is that marketing is the same as sales, particularly on a B2B level. The two are very different and – while they work hand in hand – they perform different functions. Marketing creates the value, the visibility and the lead; it can also provide the tools to make the sales process more effective, but it is an ongoing process and does not preclude the need for a sales strategy to leverage and capitalize on the value created through the marketing process (check out the posts on Creating & Selling Value and What’s In A Brand?).

 

STRATEGY X EXECUTION = SUCCESS

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it’s not just about the strategy but about implementation and execution of that strategy. Once the lay of the land and the road map have been laid out, specific tactical and action plans, budgets and measurement criteria can be put into place to guide that execution and implementation. One of my favorite quotes is from the entrepreneur Naveen Jain. “A great strategy alone won’t win a game or battle; the win comes from basic blocking and tackling.”

Why Do Passionate Entrepreneurs Fail?

Written by Frank DeSantis, Certified Growth Wheel Trainer, Former Emerging Enterprise Center Program Director

The link below is to a great article in HBR on Passion vs. Preparedness, and reflects what I believe is the approach the Emerging Enterprise Center tries to take with their Incubator companies.

An entrepreneur has to have passion. It’s entirely too hard to start and run a business if you don’t absolutely love what you are doing! Apparently, according to this research, passion is a key ingredient to attracting attention of investors, especially novice investors, those typically found on crowdfunding sites.

Long term success, however, depends upon your ability to be prepared to scale the business. For that you need to have a vision (what do you want to be when you grow up), a game plan (strategy or business plan), and the processes and procedures to replicate what you do and how you sell. For more experienced investors, the passion and the concept may attract them initially, but they move quickly to determining how prepared they are for success; what is the experience of the management team; have they started a business before; is there a market; have they proved the concept?

At the Emerging Enterprise Center, they try to help you focus first on DRIVING YOUR BUSINESS (sales), while in parallel, developing the business skills and the policies/procedures to enable you to take advantage of opportunities that help you achieve your vision.

I believe you can have and, in fact, need both: PASSION AND PREPAREDNESS!

https://hbr.org/2015/07/for-founders-preparation-trumps-passion

Emerging Enterprise Center Announces Billy D. Productions, LLC as official videographer sponsor for all Finding Your Next Customer and Business Fundamentals workshops for 2017 at the EEC

The Emerging Enterprise Center (EEC) has officially announced that Billy D. Productions, LLC will be the official videographer sponsor for all Finding your Next Customer and Business Fundamentals workshops for 2017. One of the key missions of the EEC is to help businesses develop business skills to tackle not only the nuts and bolts aspects of running a business but also marketing, networking, and sales skills so that they can grow. Billy D. Productions has just recently joined the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce (affiliated with the EEC) and is looking forward to growing his business with the Chamber and the EEC. With this new sponsorship, the EEC can provide one more benefit to its businesses for attending the business education workshops.

The Emerging Enterprise Center wants you to join us for Educational Workshops and Networking! Find a workshop for you and your business at www.eecincubator.com. Register today at www.eecincubator.com. Contact Frank DeSantis at desantisf@ncccc.com or 302-737-4343 for more information on the Emerging Enterprise Center and its many programs that assist businesses in the community.

About Billy D. Productions, LLC:

Every video is a chance to tell a story and at Billy D. Productions I want to be the one to help you tell it. From eternalizing the love on a wedding day to introducing the world to your service or product, I aim to tell your story in a way that will captivate your audience and effectively grow your business.

buscard

Emerging Enterprise Center Announces Costco Wholesale has agreed to Once AGAIN be the official breakfast sponsor for business education events for 2017 at the EEC

Over 60 business education events have been scheduled so far for 2017.

New Castle, DE: The Emerging Enterprise Center (EEC) has officially announced that Costco Wholesale will once again be the breakfast sponsor for the business education workshops in 2017. One of the key missions of the EEC is to help businesses develop business skills to tackle not only the nuts and bolts aspects of running a business but also marketing, networking, and sales skills so that they can grow. Costco Wholesale has been a member of the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce (affiliated with the EEC) since 2004 and sponsored over 20 business education events in 2016. The EEC is thrilled to continue this relationship with Costco and to continue providing more benefits to its businesses for attending the business education workshops.

The Emerging Enterprise Center wants you to join us for Educational Workshops and Networking! Find a workshop for you and your business at www.eecincubator.com and register today. Contact Frank DeSantis at desantisf@ncccc.com or 302-737-4343 for more information on the Emerging Enterprise Center and its many programs that assist businesses in the community.

About Costco Wholesale:
costcoThe number one warehouse club offering a wide array of the highest-quality products available from around the world. We offer our members an unconditional guarantee of satisfaction on every item we sell. New Castle County Chamber members receive up to $20 Costco Cash Card when joining at the Executive Membership Level or $10 Costco Cash Card when joining a the Basic Membership Level.

About the Emerging Enterprise Center:
The Incubator is designed to provide business support services to entrepreneurs and associated companies in New Castle County, Delaware. The incubator is not merely about a physical building offering lower rental rates, but rather is a program intended to help new businesses succeed to the point of “graduating” from the program within a defined time period.

New Workshop: Google Local Marketing Power Workshop to Help Small Businesses Succeed on the Web

Emerging Enterprise Center is helping small businesses grow their presence online by sponsoring a Google Local Marketing Power Workshop, which will feature a lesson about how to optimize their free google business listing to rise to the top of the search results.

The workshop will be hosted on Wednesday, January 25th, 2017 at the Emerging Enterprise Center located at the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, 12 Penns Way, New Castle, DE  19720 from 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM EDT. Only 100 seats are available. Bring your laptops and get your business online.

Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map is a program from Google that brings community members, business owners, and civic leaders together to help small businesses succeed on the web.

 

“4 out of 5 consumers use search engines to find local information nearby, yet only 37% of businesses have claimed their listing on a search engine,” says Emily Harris, Manager of Google’s Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map program. “Small businesses are the engine of local economies and when they flourish, their communities do as well.”

Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map is a program that empowers communities to support their local businesses and encourage them to get on the map. Local businesses keep our communities strong; when we help them succeed on the web, they make our communities even stronger. The Google Local Marketing Power Workshop is a Google presentation hosted by Emerging Enterprise Center in cooperation with 360 Business Success, Official Google Partner.

register

 

About Get Your Business Online

Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map is a program designed to empower communities to support their local businesses by helping them get on Google Search and Maps for free. Businesses that are online grow 40% faster than those that aren’t. Let’s help every local business get their information online. Explore our site to learn how you can join in, support businesses in your community, and put your city on the map: www.gybo.com

Boost Your Spirit!

Nonprofit organizations are all around you. Each nonprofit has a specific cause that they are working to better. Today, there is a nonprofit for almost any possible cause you can imagine. These nonprofits function on your donations. Without your donations of money or time, some of these causes will never be confronted. Although it is hard to part with our hard, earned money, there are a number of benefits of donating to a nonprofit organization. There is nothing wrong with rewarding yourself with that money you earned but it might feel more satisfying to reward someone else with it. It’s about that proud feeling you get knowing that you have done something that may help others and support a cause you care abouboostt it.

A recent study by Harvard Business School faculty and graduate students titled “Feeling Good about Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-Interested Charitable Behavior,” explores the ways in which charity donations can benefit your psychological, spiritual and emotional well-being. So do yourself a favor, boost your spirits, help a cause, give yourself a tax deduction, and donate.

Did you know that the Emerging Enterprise Center (EEC) is a nonprofit? We are looking for donors like you to help us support our local entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs in New Castle County will help our local economy grow and bring more business and jobs to the area.
The EEC is designed to provide business support services to entrepreneurs and associated companies in New Castle County, Delaware. The incubator is not merely about a physical building offering lower rental rates, but rather is a profishbowlmoneygram intended to help new businesses succeed to the point of “graduating” from the program within a defined time period. The EEC provides mentoring, educational opportunities, networking events, shared office equipment, receptionist services, and other amenities that are vital to the success of a new business.

Participants have access to customized business and technical assistance geared toward the specialized needs of individual companies. The EEC provides an environment in which like-minded businesses accelerate their potential through interaction, partnerships, joint ventures, and other mutually beneficial collaborations.

Don’t you want to be a part of something that helps New Castle County and Delaware grow?
Donate to the EEC to keep the doors open, lights on, and programs going. Boost your spirit now by donating today.

BUTTON-DONATE-NOW-sm

Website for Small Businesses & Entrepreneurs – “Business First Steps”: There to help potential businesses find information on licensing and permitting in Delaware

Around this time last year, the State of Delaware launched a new website to help small businesses find information on business licenses, permits, and other State requirements. The site, called Business First Steps (FirstSteps.Delaware.Gov), is an index of almost 200 different industries, professions, and products that require State registrations, licenses, certifications, or permits. The goal of the site is to allow businesses to more easily find information on various requirements across State government.

“In Delaware, our state agencies work together to help small and medium sized businesses on a regular basis. Our State is well known as being business-friendly. Now the aspiring entrepreneur can find a checklist of steps to open a business in Delaware,” said Governor Markell.

This website is the latest effort designed to assist small businesses. New Castle County (NCC) Open for Business, is a monthly event that is open to the public, FREE of charge, to meet 12 to 15 resource organizations and agencies that provide business counseling, workshops, technical assistance, as well as information on how to do business with the State of Delaware. NCC Open for Business is always on the 4th Thursday of the every month from 9am-11am (open house style) at the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, 12 Penns Way, New Castle, DE 19720.

In addition to state requirements, the Business First Steps site provides links to and information about, local Delaware governments that have their own licensing requirements. Businesses such as contractors (who perform site work in multiple towns and cities) must have appropriate licenses and permits in each locality where they perform work. Often, businesses are not aware of such requirements. The Business First Steps site can help them avoid that problem.

Companies, such as Delaware Green Mattress Disassembling and Recycling, LLC (DGMDR), were glad to see a clearinghouse for licensing and local permits, and encouraged new businesses to take advantage of the resource. Tanya Whye, owner of DGMDR, and a member of the New Castle Chamber of Commerce, remarked, “The New Castle County Open for Business program connected me with some wonderful mentors, and I am currently navigating the licensing and permitting process. The Business First Steps website is the perfect tool for a one-stop place for a wealth of information,” according to Tanya N. Whye.

Business First Steps is the result of many state agencies working together to share information; and it is the first state website to centralize information on business licensing and requirements for operating a business in Delaware across state government. It was designed and built by the Government Information Center (GIC), an office within the Delaware Department of State. 

“The Governor has made knocking down barriers for Delawareans to start businesses a top priority. This is why a clearinghouse for new businesses to find information about permits and licenses is so important, and why the Business First Steps website will be a great tool that Delaware can offer new businesses,” said Secretary Bullock.

“The Business First Step web site will be a valuable resource for all businesses seeking information concerning licenses and permits. It will save a great deal of time for small business owners and allow them to concentrate on their business.  The site also provides a wealth of information about a wide range of business assistance programs and start up information.  I think Chamber members will find the Business First Steps web site to be an invaluable tool,” said Mark Kleinschmidt, President of the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce.

Organizations such as the Small Business Administration Delaware office, Delaware Small Business Development Center, Delaware SCORE, Delaware Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Procurement Technical Assistance Center of Delaware, Women’s Business Center at First State Community Loan Fund, and other state offices such as the Delaware Economic Development Office and the Office of Supplier Diversity were on hand to show their support for the new site as well.