The importance of precision for entrepreneurs
27 February 2017 -
Being precise is vital for scaling up your business and achieving sustainable growth
Guest blogger Gordon McAlpine
What exactly do I mean by precision? The dictionary definition is a good start: ‘Precision - the quality, condition or fact of being exact and accurate.’
To bring this definition to life, let’s take a look at some examples of what precision might look like in the world at large.
For astronaut Tim Peake precision could be the precise second at which he must return from his space walk and re-enter the European space station before his oxygen runs out. For car company Jaguar Land Rover precision could be a robot laser cutting metal for a chassis to the accuracy of one thousandth of a millimetre.
The above certainly believe that precision is critical, and in their worlds there is very little margin for error. But how important is precision for you as an entrepreneur?
Many top business people believe there is a fine line between success and failure in business – a sentiment I’ve always agreed with. In fact, I’ve always seen precision as the difference that makes the difference: a perfectionist mindset that can markedly improve your chances of scale-up success.
Here are five ways in which you can use precision to scale up and grow your business.
Precision in scale-up sales
If you and your team operate with accuracy, quality and precision in everything you do, you will continually make improvements, and better performance and sales results will follow.
Being precise is hard work to start with (most things in business are), but once you get the hang of it, it becomes a habit like any other and will pay back handsomely.
Precision for your proposition
Being precise in a proposition means avoiding a number of things. These include putting up a slide of a map of the world with dots on it and saying ‘we work in 57 countries…’ – this comes across as arrogant and irrelevant.
Another one to avoid is rambling on pompously for a few minutes about how great your business is and exactly what you do, when all the potential client wants is a brief snapshot – this will tarnish any rapport you have built.
To construct and deliver a precise proposition and instantly differentiate yourself from rambling, overconfident competitors, don’t include client names as part of your core proposition – these can come later, when the prospect asks for client examples, which is when they will sound more impressive and less like bragging
It’s also vital to use simple, precise language (no waffle).
Remember that less is more – never expand on your core proposition, as it’s more impressive to reveal benefits about yourself over time as the sales conversation unfolds.
Precision in your passion
You would think that all passion is great. Well, passion is nearly always great, and believe me I’m one of its biggest fans! But there is a danger of overdoing it and sounding ‘salesy’, so here are some pointers to harnessing your passion with precision.
Be precise with when you use passion in sales conversations. Examples of when to turn on the passion are when explaining your proposition, when you’re doing your demonstration and when someone asks you why you are better than your competitors.
Be precise with the language you use when you become passionate and beware of using too many superlatives when talking about your product -- for example, ‘amazing’, ‘unique’, ‘incredible’ and ‘unbelievable’.
Prospects may become wary and start thinking that it sounds too good to be true.
Precise, sincere language works more effectively. Examples of phrases are ‘I’m extremely proud of the product we have created specifically for this market… ’, ‘Our research study has shown that businesses like you generate a strong return on investment from using our technology… ’ and ‘As a business, we genuinely want to make a difference by… ’
Precision in building your pipeline
Precision is a critical component for a solid, sustainable pipeline, and I’d recommend you focus on two key areas to start with: precise targeting and precise pipeline management.
Many entrepreneurial firms take a ‘we’ll sell to anyone as long as it grows sales revenue’ approach. It’s true that this will grow sales revenue, but it is an inefficient route to long-term, sustainable growth. The best way to create a dynamic, sustainable pipeline is to target with precision.
Identify your client target niche and stick with it.
If you want to target more precisely, you can even fine tune it into a ‘micro niche’.
As an example, you might identify your target niche as financial services, then distil this down to professional financial services, then to accountancy firms, then to SME accountancy firms with up to 500 employees.
By focusing on this micro niche you will get known, gain word-of-mouth recommendations and grow sales quickly. Do the maths on market size, but there could be millions of pounds of sales for your company within this micro niche alone.
And once you dominate a micro niche you can start growing back up into the larger ‘parent’ niche.
When it comes to precise pipeline management, firms always start building their pipeline with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm, but over time sloppiness can kick in, which can impair the probability of converting leads into sales.
A customer relationship management system (CRM) is at the core of your sales and marketing activities, and this is where precision is extremely important. Set up best practice rules for the CRM for everyone in sales and marketing, including accuracy of data entry, categorising prospects precisely, logging precise meeting notes by the end of each week and making it the responsibility of sales people to manage, clean and update their pipelines regularly to ensure accurate sales data.
It is crucial for you as a leader to be able to run CRM reports with precise sales forecast data at any given point in time, and insisting on precision in your CRM system will aid this.
Precision for your people
To create a world-class team (yes, it is possible in a small firm) and make sure they remain focused and motivated, it is critical that you apply precision in leading your people.
Key areas to focus on include a precise definition of your sales culture, to ensure your team have absolute clarity on the culture, the vision and exactly what is expected of them. Post it on your sales team wall – virtually as well, if possible – and high performance will follow.
And, of course, don’t forget that you need to demonstrate precision in your leadership and lead by example. If you’re not precise, you certainly can’t expect the rest of your team to be.
Scale Up Millionaire by Gordon McAlpine is out this month, priced £11.99 (published by Rethink Press). For more information, visit www.gordonmcalpine.co.uk
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