How to Become an Innovative Thinker
It’s time to stir the pot, so to speak. While other businesses and perhaps some of your competing VARs are panicking or sitting back waiting for something positive to happen with the economy, it’s time for you to step up. And I mean step up. No more using marketing tactics in the tried and true ways. Forget about pulling out last year’s marketing plan and “tweaking it.” And if you think your customers are going to call you and say, “Just put me down for what I ordered last year,” forget it. It’s a new world out there in this down economy.
But those resellers who become innovative thinkers and get creative about the way the plan to do business in 2009 and beyond will be the ones who thrive for years to come. How are you going to connect with your customers in a different way than you have in the past? How are your customers doing business differently these days? Those answers will affect your new shift in thinking. Customers today are demonstrating different buying behaviors than in the past. They are facing challenges that have no solutions. Provide those solutions. You won’t be able to solve their problems using outdated methods. How are you going to set your own internal stage so that it has positive effects for your customers? Now is the time to “get busy”, and probably for the first time, put that thinking cap on for real – like your life depends on it, because it does.
So let’s look at some these ideas that will you can put into motion today:
o Make a goals board. Now is the time to stay focused at the task(s) at hand for optimum efficiency and effectiveness. Hang a dry erase board in your office. Mark off spaces for short-term (weekly, monthly) and long-term (quarterly, annual) goals. Be sure that they are measurable. For example, don’t set a goal of “adding more customers”. Get specific: “Add 10 new customers next month.” By making your goals measurable, there will never be any question about whether you succeeded in meeting them. Give yourself goals in every category. Make a list of five things you can do today to get closer to achieving those desires. What will it take to stay on task and meet – or beat! – those goals?
o Call five customers. Your best source for new sales and enhanced market knowledge and business trends comes from your existing customers. Today, pick five – any five. Call each one. Ask about their business. What are they working on? What’s selling well? What isn’t? Identify a need that you can address (either right then and there, or do a little homework and get back to them). Find a problem you can solve. Then solve it.
o Survey your customers. If you want to know what your customers need, want, and aren’t getting, ask them! Call five of your regular customers today and ask what they would like to see added or improved on your site. “How can our site be more valuable and useful to you?” Then call five customers who have fallen off your radar and ask them what you can do to bring them back! They will all appreciate your earnest interest. And you will unlock the answers as to how their changing their business model during this down economy – and then you can change with them.
o Answer questions on LinkedIn. Go to LinkedIn’s “Answers” tab and click on “Answer Questions.” Here you’ll find a vast array of problems just waiting for the right solution. Step in so you can become a knowledge expert! Now it’s your turn to be the thought leader.
o Talk to your vendors. You’re not alone in your business. You can – and should – rely on your vendors to support your sales efforts. At least once per quarter, reach out to your vendors and find out what resources, ideas, and promotions they have available for you. Check on additional training they offer to help you sell their products more effectively. Ask about promotions (giveaways, premiums, rebates, bundles) that you can use to boost sales in the upcoming quarter. These are your partners, folks, so work together!
o Think of a brilliant value-add idea to better serve your customers. What would make your customers stand up and take a fresh look at your business? The broad answer is: exceed their expectations. Give them something that they will value without charging them for it. Add convenience to their lives. What can you do to tempt your customers with something of value that will provide a good ROI? If you don’t try, you will likely lose them to those competitors who are taking this advice. And you’ll miss out on the priceless value of that viral word-of-mouth advertising that goes along with exceeding your customers’ expectations!
These ideas are really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to “thinking forward.” You must encourage yourself to be innovative, to think differently, and to take action in new and unique ways. Your customers will take notice. Your extra efforts will show that you are genuinely interested in how this recession is affecting them – and that you’re doing something to help them. Think of your own tips and tricks. For a few more ideas to jump start your brainstorming, you’ll find more in my ebook, “50 Smart, Easy and Effective Ideas to Boost Your Business Today.” All it takes is one idea to get things rolling. But if you don’t roll now, you’re quickly going to be left behind.
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