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Over recent months many business people have been asking me that question

Upon questioning them further it quickly became apparent that the brief recession caused by “The Asian Crisis” caused many a hiccup in financial performance and confidence. Since late 1998 there has been a recovery of sorts but it appears that only a few learnt the lessons available in 1998. The recovery removed a crisis for many and then the creative and strategic thinking stopped. The “we’re okay again” mode took over for many.

The lesson though was “Some people grew their businesses through that period, especially in market share”.

Those who didn’t suffer as much were ready when the upturn arrived and have taken advantage of it to further increase market share and profitability. They have also been in a position to attract the best people because of their perception in the market place. The outcome is that these people have accelerated their success path whilst others are still recovering back to their pre-crisis position.

What have been the crucial differences between these businesses.?

Let’s begin with the leaders/business owners.
Those on the accelerating success path have a very clear vision of how they want their lives to be. They have clear goals for themselves and their families, from assets to lifestyles, from income to holidays, from peace of mind to health, they are very clear on how it is for them in 5, 10 or 20 years. Their daily activity and focus clearly demonstrates a commitment. That shows they are doing the things that will make a difference. They also have very clear personal, family and business values - values they
won’t compromise in pursuit of their goals.

These leaders have all decided that the business they own is going to deliver those outcomes. To that end they all have a clear vision of what the business will look like in the future, what it will be like to work there and how the people who work there will perform.
This focus has helped them work out their greatest service or product, who their customers are and where their market is. They have then provided the time and resources to create a strategic advantage in all three elements.
Not only that , their managers and employees are aware of the vision and know that their future success is coupled with that of the company.

So what are their managers doing differently?

Firstly, apart from managing the now they are encouraged to join in designing the future. Each grouping within a traditional organisation has their own agendas, viewing every activity and proposed change in light of how it affects them. In these businesses, going to the future, they now view such things in terms of meeting the future vision because that’s where their personal security lies. Their being part of success, and being recognised for their part in it, is a powerful motivational force. This vision is creating proactive future thinking rather than the usual reactive crisis management of the operational issues of the now. Traditionally that has been the managers comfort-do what I know and look busy doing it. Along with their leaders these managers know that’s a short term path.

Secondly, they have stopped taking the productivity figures of the last few years and extrapolating them to the future. Rather they have, along with their leaders, taken a look at how they currently do business - what products or services they currently offer and asked themselves whether they are still a competitive advantage. Using a competitor’s innovation is admitting you don’t have a competitive advantage. It is a bit like buying new technology where today’s hot topic is in tomorrow’s garage sale. This applies just as much to a business whose product is a service!

These leaders and managers are working together to build not the model of today, but a business of sustainable profitability. Their vision has clearly taken them beyond the pointless game of imitating their competitors. They are too busy designing and implementing competitive advantages.

And what of their employees/contractors?

These leaders soon found that when they shared their vision for the business that things happened.
Firstly the people involved at the operations and delivery end of the business came up with the best ways to use current resources in a more competitive way. Secondly, they suggested new products or services using current resources and knowledge. All that was needed was a few new skills. Thirdly, they suggested new performance standards that exceeded the leaders expectations. Fourthly, and most importantly, the usual scepticism in such change environments evaporated when the leader and managers changed their behaviour to match the new goals and standards.

What else happened?

Those who were uncomfortable with the future left.

Productivity soared ..

New recruits began to beat a path to their doors seeking positions.

Success became celebrated. Resources were shared, tasks were embraced, secrets disappeared and the fingers of blame stayed in the hands of those accepting responsibility.

The focus now beams on the service or product. They are continually asking themselves if what they are offering is still a competitive advantage. Those not moving forward are still offering the same service/product as 5 years ago, when 1 or 2 years ago it had already lost its competitive advantage.

So what is the answer to the question of long term success?

There is no doubt that vision, goals, focus, self discipline, commitment and leadership are crucial ingredients.
How you use all these elements to test the value of your product/service and its competitive advantage is the key.

Then there is your excellence factor. What are you excellent at? What do you do better than anyone else?



Salescoach Ltd
PO Box 9058
Ph: 64 9 524 0302
Fax: 64 9 524 0303
Mobile: 64 021 968 108
Email: ian@salescoach.co.nz

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Posted: Sunday 22 April 2018

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