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posted: 7/25/2017 1:00 AM

Reset your business to start up

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We live in an era where entrepreneurs are flourishing. Young people are transforming incredible ideas into businesses that are changing the landscape of the economy. Their fearless approach to business growth is fueled by an army of high-performing millennials who have been challenged to get the business's message out to the buying public.

I recently met with a business owner who was struggling to grow his business. He invited me to join him for coffee so we could discuss ideas I might provide to improve his bottom line. I asked questions about his sales process, marketing approach to gain awareness, the skill of his sales team and his leadership style. When I analyzed his answers, I found a very traditional, old school approach to business development. His sales process involved a feature/benefit "dump" that made him sound like his competitors and allowed low price to be the sole differentiator. His marketing approach didn't employ any social media so there was zero buzz around his services. His salespeople were a tribe of professional visitors who were happy to meet with anyone who would listen to their "pitch." His leadership team was relying on pressure and intimidation to motivate the troops in order to improve their results. Most people in sales and leadership spent their time justifying their poor results and blamed the company for their lack of success.

Let's compare this approach to a well-known start up who has been a client of mine for three years. The sales process I developed for them begins with connecting and interacting with their target customer. They search their prospect's website looking for ways to link the prospect to their service and then use questions about the prospect's business to engage them. The marketing approach they employ has been designed to create a buzz around their services and does so with a strong SEO campaign designed to connect the service they offer with their target customer.

The sales team is made up of a group of young salespeople who "live to sell" and have fun doing it. They compete for company superiority with their peers and have turned selling into a game.

Lastly, the leadership team of this start up focuses on a "what if" strategy that values creative approaches to growing the business allowing their employees to explore the upside of new ideas. This eliminates the thought, "we don't do it that way around here" and encourages employees to experiment with cutting-edge approaches.

It's time to analyze your business to determine whether it is driven by outdated thinking. Here are some critical steps traditionally-oriented business owners can take to incorporate new thinking into their approach to business development:

1. Update your sales process: Analyze the way your salespeople build relationships with prospects and customers, qualify the business opportunity, determine pain and close the sale.

2. Scrutinize your marketing approach: It's time to focus marketing on a social media awareness campaign. The campaign should emphasize making your business the "go to" supplier in your industry and every dollar spent should yield an opportunity to meet with a "suspect."

3. Analyze your salespeople: Eliminate mediocrity in your sales force. Stop accepting poor performance and raise the performance bar. Utilize "managed turnover" as a way to weed out the herd. These are two diametrically-opposed views on achieving success. It's time for business leaders to take a page from the start up world and push the reset button.

Let's learn from entrepreneurs who are on the leading edge of the new business reality. Go conquer your worlds.

• Bill Bartlett owns Corporate Strategies, A Sandler Training Center. bbartlett@sandler.com. Text "SalesTip" to 71813 to receive Bill's bi-weekly newsletter.