Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Training May Be The Key To Future Business Growth

The world of business is about to change--dramatically.
It all comes down to demographics.  The baby boomers are about to leave the workforce in droves.  (Think about the many business leaders between the ages of 55-65...many will be retired in 10 years.)  On top of that, consider that the birth rate the last 5 years was lower than any time in this country's history since the 1920s.
Bottom line:  There will be a huge shortage of workers.  This will happen as soon as eight years in the U.S.
What does all of this mean to businesses?  Finding the right experienced employees will be difficult, but the companies that can successfully train employees in the proper skills will have the advantage.
Training is something many companies have ignored recently.  The costs were high and cramped reduced budgets and employees don't stay at one place very long (why would you invest in training when an employee will leave for your competitor?).
All of that might be changing in the future.  Instead of looking for an employee with the right amount of experience, who can come in and perform the job on Day 1, employers are going to need to train employees.  That will take a process.  That will take time.  Many will do it very poorly.  The ones that perfect recruiting and training, will hold the edge.
--Ron Ameln, SBM

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Election: What It Teaches Us About Sales

The commercials (happy I didn't live in a swing state) are over, the debates are done and the election is history.  It feels like forever but the election was just 5 months ago.  The pundits are all talking about the lessons each party can take away from the past presidential showdown.
From a business perspective, we can learn a lot from the President's 2% win over Mitt Romney.  Here's the lesson for every small-business owner:  Know Your Customer.
The president's campaign understood, from the very beginning, that the key strategy for winning the swing states was to focus on the voters that would be most likely to vote for him, Hispanics and single women.  Knowing he had the African-American vote locked up, his strategies (amnesty for young immigrants and free birth control and the war on women) were disseminated throughout the swing states.  His army of workers primary mission was to find these two groups and get them registered.  In Ohio, for instance, his crew worked for two years searching out the demographics (single women/Hispanics) to get them registered. Once registered, they then went to work to get the groups to the polls.
The strategy is one all businesses should follow.  Find out who is most likely to be your paying customer, and focus your energies on those customers.  One of the biggest obstacles for business owners is trying to be all things to all customers.  We all believe in our products and services and our natural instincts are to convince everyone to hire us.
However, the key to sales success is to focus on your most profitable customers.  Find them.  Provide services geared directly to them.  Finally, get them to sign up for your products/services.
The lesson from the 2012 election we can all use in our own businesses.
-Ron Ameln, SBM

Get On Your Front Porch

In the old days, neighborhoods were set up with large front porches, really close to the side walk.  It was inviting.  Sitting on your front porch each night invited neighbors and even strangers to come by and carry on a conversation.
You would never know who you'd meet, and what new friends you'd make (some for a lifetime).
That's all changed now.  Some neighborhoods don't even have side walks.  You might as well post a "Don't Come Up To Me" sign on every home.  I'm not a big fan of those neighborhoods.  In fact, I'd never live in one myself, but many people today like it just fine.  I think the thought of a large sidewalk and porch would be too much for them.
I thought of that the other day when I was browsing some Internet sites.  It seems to be a trend on sites where users can't access an email to send a direct message.  Instead, users are asked to fill out a form with the exact reason why they'd like to be contacted. 
For example, if I had just a short question.  I just couldn't email it.  I'd have to fill out their forms with all my information and let them decide if they should return my message.  Maybe I don't want to be part of the database.  What if I just had a quick question.
Sounds strange to me.  We've been told that the great thing about this technology age is that we can communicate easily with companies.  But many of the websites don't seem to like it when we (the user) gain control of sending a message.  Some don't even post a physical address.
Just like with our neighborhoods, I would think the more inviting we make our sites and the easier we make it for people to approach us, the more lifelong clients we will earn.
-Ron Ameln, SBM