This guest post is from Barbara Weaver Smith from the Whale Hunters.
Historically, a weak economy favors entrepreneurs and small businesses rather than big companies. To weather the recession, many if not most of the large companies have cut costs everywhere, withheld investment, and reduced their work force. They now have an unhappy, overworked, and de-motivated work force, a lack of new ideas, and an attitude of survival, not superiority.
But for the small companies that made it, you've got a bigger playing field than before. Many of your large competitors are losing market share, some of your smaller competitors are no longer in business, and you are agile and innovative enough to grow fast as the economy recovers.
It's not automatic, though. Here are some ways to “think like a whale hunter” as you re-energize your business:
Understand how the recession changed your market.
There have been winners and losers; the former hierarchies of the haves-and-have-nots may be overturned. And lots of big companies that have rigidly controlled spending now have cash reserves and a need to buy. Do your research to be sure you know the rules and the players in the new game.
Study the Competition.
Your competition has changed. Some of them are gone; some are weaker than before. But others have survived and thrived. What are they doing? What new ideas, products, services, delivery mechanisms have they introduced in order to stay on top of their game? Don't be blindsided by your view of who they were a few years ago. And watch for new players moving in to fill the gaps.
Reset your Target Filter.
The “target filter” represents a set of characteristics that define your ideal customer. Whale Hunters focus on identifying, researching, connecting with and selling to a specific, targeted list of appropriate companies. During the recession, you may have taken whatever business you could get in order to keep your doors open and your employees at work. But that's a survival tactic, not a growth strategy. Review your target criteria and begin to implement it relentlessly.
Own Your Sales Process
If you employ anyone to sell products or services on your behalf, now is the time to take control of the sales process. If you have a good target filter, be sure that everyone on your team observes it. Don't allow individuals to bypass your criteria, especially if those criteria are changing now that things look better. Selling to a big customer takes time and resources. You need to be in charge of the decision that “this one looks good now” or “this one can wait until later.”
Be Ready to Deliver
You've got the market figured out. You've got your team motivated to bring in a few new, large, exceptional accounts. Before you close those deals, be sure that you can deliver impeccable service. While those sales are underway is a good time to review, adapt, or simply create good intake processes for key accounts--step-by-step guides for how you are going to do it and who's going to do what. The world's best sales strategy can't help you if you fail to deliver what you promised.
It's a great time to be an entrepreneur! Opportunity is all around you. If you think like a whale hunter-- research, plan, target, and deliver--you will be ready for your best year ever in 2011.
To learn more about Whale Hunting as a small business growth methodology, please visit us at www.thewhalehunters.com and join the online community for a wide range of sales and business development resources.
The Whale Hunters is a strategic sales coaching company that helps small businesses achieve explosive growth by landing bigger deals with bigger customers. Our business development process has consistently helped hundreds of companies create a repeatable, disciplined sales culture that optimizes the company's ability to land and harvest whale-sized accounts in any economic climate. The question is how can small businesses grow at a rate that will show results sooner rather than later? That's where The Whale Hunters comes in - and we invite you to register for a free account which gives you access to the wealth of information on the new expanded Whale Hunters website- http://www.thewhalehunters.com