Too often we massively limit our own success by either becoming satisfied too quickly or failing to see the potential before us. Maybe our beliefs about what is possible limit us, or maybe we just lack a strategy to achieve greater success. The goal of Making It Happen is ultimately to equip you with a strategy that might force you to rethink what's possible and, in the process, make you more successful than you could have ever envisioned. It's a strategy based on acceleration.
The acceleration competency is focused on maximizing success, and we will begin by unpacking how you might create leverage -- how you might get a greater return for the same or even less effort. More for less... who wouldn't want that?It starts by answering the following questions:
- Are your standards for what is possible as high as they should be?
- Or are you limited to business as usual and the way things have always been done?
Let's begin by taking a look at a company that rethought what was possible and developed a more strategic approach around it to ultimately accelerate their success and differentiate their offer from the pack.
When you buy something offline, you may not realize it but you have to pay a shipping and handling fee. Maybe it doesn't appear directly on your bill, but almost all goods have to be transported around the country to be sold. This has a cost, and that cost is passed onto you -- the consumer. In fact, the transportation industry might be one of the most important to our lives, ensuring that all of the products (from produce to sneakers) we want are at our disposal.
As such, there are thousands of transportation companies competing for the opportunity to ship goods, along with what the industry calls "lanes." (or routes, in layman's terms). Historically the industry was quite commoditized -- the transporter being the middle man -- and all business decisions were based on price. The result was to procure lanes from the cheapest provider possible, often booking 50 different carriers to manage 50 separate transportation routes. The transportation companies, on the other hand, were "sweating lanes," or losing deals, left and right as they invested their energy in reaching out to new customers to maintain their bottom line rather than working more strategically with existing clients. It was just how things were done in the business.
But then Lakeside decided to rethink what was possible. They were tired of being "just another lift and shift organization," and so they redesigned their strategy and began to target the C-suite as a strategic partner. Their goal was to address the company's business holistically and offer an end-to-end freight management system that mitigated risk, optimized the distribution networks, provided real time business insights to inform business strategy, and ultimately simplified the entire space for their customer. The result is always a lower overall cost, though not necessarily per lane, and the ability for their customers to "focus on what makes their company world-class."
They called their approach "SmartSourced Transportation," and it has not only enabled them to stop worrying about the lanes they sweat, but it has helped accelerate them to work with Fortune 500 companies like Campbell, Xerox, and Johnson & Johnson. They eliminated the headache for themselves and for their customers, and all they had to do was shift their efforts from procurement to a much higher level system of customer management.
Lakeside demanded more from their relationship and more from their company itself, ultimately accelerating them to a level of success beyond anything they might have previously imagined.
Creating LeverageIn my experiences, I've noted three primary approaches to create leverage:
- Seize your moments of mass exposure
- Target more lucrative buyers
- Change the way you price the value you offer
Lakeside mastered the latter two: targeting more lucrative buyers by appealing to the C-suite and, in doing so, moving beyond a transactional model to charge for the value they deliver as a freight management strategic partner. The first approach is a bit more unique and reliant on the space you are working with, but as I explore in the video it has been incredibly powerful for figures like superstar comedian Jerry Seinfeld.
As usual, to get more you've got to give a little more. After you've watched the video, consider how you might create leverage through one or more of the above strategies. Here are some ideas for how to approach it:-Identify at least 3 opportunities already on your plate and at least another 3 that are not which represent a chance for mass exposure:
- Apply some discipline to seizing those opportunities which have already presented themselves.
- Begin relentlessly pursuing the 3 that have not yet presented themselves. Consider who might be able to help you open those doors.
- Make a list of who those buyers could be.
- Now make a list of who and what groups have sway and credibility with those buyers.
- Brainstorm how you could network yourself into those groups or, better still, be invited in as an expert or someone with genuine value to add.
- Farm your existing contacts for a referral to at least one such buyer.
- Seek out a methodology for measuring your impact.
- Take the risk of a different pricing model with at least one prospect you have in your pipeline. One where the upside is much bigger for you but also where the downside is smaller for them should you not deliver on your promise. A fee for performance as such.
- Integrate into your sales process questions which illicit just how important solving their problem is, and if they have any metrics by which they can measure the costs of the problem persisting.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and Peter Sheahan on the topic of Making It Happen in Small Business, focused on turning those with the ideas into those with the influence. To see all of the posts in the series, click here.