Rethinking: 10 Strategies for a Challenging Era, Advice from Jim Cathcart

My pal Jim Cathcart is one of my associates in Speakers Roundtable give us great advice for challenging times. Speakers Roundtable is a group of 20 of the best, in-demand professional speakers, executive speech coaches, and trainers:

Rethinking: 10 Strategies for a Challenging Era
By Jim Cathcart, CSP, CPAE

In October of 2008 our markets and institutions experienced a permanent
shift. That’s twice now since the Millennium that the game has changed.
On September 11, 2001 I was shocked into the awareness that not only had
we experienced a tragedy of epic proportions, we had also experienced a
permanent shift in our daily life and business patterns. Never again
could we trust at the level we had trusted before. That was true for our
military and domestic defenses and now we find it true for our economy.

Now is a time for us to rethink virtually everything.

We have entered a challenging era, one in which previous assumptions
about what was safe and what would work are no longer reliable. We must
increase our scrutiny of our businesses and our lives before some
government agency does it for/to us.

Here are 10 areas worth re-examining:

The value we deliver to our customers. What do they really get by doing
business with us? Is the cost worth the outlay or can we make it more
valuable to them without unduly increasing our cost of delivery? How can
we increase their satisfaction right now? I call this “Up-Serving”,
looking for ways to be of more service without more cost.

The customers and markets we are pursuing. Is there another group or
subgroup that could benefit from and afford our offerings? Are we
seeking the optimum consumers of our services? Can we offer more or
different products/services to our existing customers? Should we be
pursuing customers who were never on our radar before?

The safety of working here. Is this a place where workers can relax in
the assurance that we are looking out for them as well as our owners? Do
we seek ways to show our people how much we value them? Do they truly
know that they are appreciated? Do we listen to them, really? Do we
protect them?

The margin of profit from each of our endeavors. Are we truly spending
$100 time on $100 activities or do we often expend prime time on low
payoffs? Let’s become more efficient and more effective simultaneously.

The attitude we show day to day. People who work with us and buy from us
are acutely aware of our own fear or confidence. We need to be
intentionally and consciously building optimism and inspiring
innovation. The only posture to operate in during challenges is
Proactive & Positive. We need to be watching for ideas and opportunities
on every front, especially from our own workforce.

Sales efforts from every level. Nobody is exempt from sales efforts
unless they plan to leave the organization. At times like this we need
every clerk, assistant, technician, accountant, machine operator,
driver, courier and cook to be “Thinking Sales.” How and where can we
see an opportunity to help someone else at a profit? All of us circulate
in the world and become de facto ambassadors for the company. That means
we are walking sales reps even though we may never make a sales
presentation, nor ask anyone to buy. Let’s train everyone to recognize
sales opportunities and show them how to pass along the leads for our
best responses. Incentives will help too.

Our own work patterns. What worked last year may not work next year. We
may have to begin doing some things we thought we had outgrown. It may
be that we will need to re-ignite some old practices in order to
generate new business. What time each day does your truly productive
work begin? What do you regularly spend time on that has a low payoff
value? Where is the highest and best use of your time?
In what ways are we “spoiled”? Have you grown accustomed to certain
luxuries or freedoms on the job that no longer make sense? What items
that were once goals & dreams have you lately come to consider as
entitlements? Lean and mean is the need right now. Roll up your sleeves
more often and do what must be done.

Our primary relationships. Everything we do is done through others on
some level. When we change the nature or mix of whom we spend our time
with, we also change our results. Give some strong consideration to who
you’d benefit from associating with and who might be holding you back.
Cut back on the limiting relationships and increase the high payoff
ones. (See my other posts about Relationship Intelligence).

Our expenditures. This is where most organizations begin their reactions
to challenges. But most organizations don’t do very well. Those who
thrive in tough times are the ones who realize that nobody ever saved
their way to more income. You don’t increase sales by cutting expenses,
you do it by increasing the payoff from each expenditure. Look for ways
to increase high payoff expenses and eliminate low payoff expenses. Ask
what items and efforts could be re-purposed toward sales.

The biggest challenge in meeting tough times is MINDSET.

As FDR said, “the greatest thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Mindset is the beginning point for all behavior. We must cultivate an
abundance mentality: there is opportunity out there and we will find it.
We don’t have to fear our competition, we simply need to value and serve
our customers. We needn’t worry about customer’s being loyal to us, we
will begin by being more loyal to them.

Check out Jim’s information-rich website. You will be glad you did!