At a dinner party, a friend of mine asked me this question: “Do you want to know how to have a really nice small business?” I knew the question was a setup, so I bit. He said, “Buy a really nice large business and wait.”
This is as true for businesses as it is for the level of value that they create. It’s difficult to climb to greater levels of value creation, but it’s easy to slide down to lower levels. ’Waiting” will by itself knock you down a level or two.
[Here’s a post to provide some context around these levels]
From L4VC to L3VC
- You Stop Being Proactive: The first way you slip from L4 to L3 is to stop being proactive. If you’re reactive, if you wait for your client to tell you what they need, if you don’t present the next idea to move their business forward, you run the risk of dropping from L4 to L3. And the longer you go without being proactive the more likely you drop a level…or two.
- You Run Out of Ideas: And the key to being proactive? Continually coming up with new ideas. One of the linchpin attributes of successful salespeople-and successful people in general-is resourcefulness. It’s the ability to come up with new ideas that create value and solve problems. And one of the biggest problems you will face is discovering the next idea to move your dream client’s business forward.
- You Stop Listening: One of the fastest ways to run out of ideas is to stop listening. Listening is the ultimate act of caring. If you take the time to truly listen to your clients you will uncover issues, challenges, problems, and opportunities. All of these provide you with an opportunity to be proactive.
- You Become Complacent: You are the value. Until you’re not. As soon as you become complacent, as soon you stop growing, as soon as you stop learning, you begin to slip from being the biggest part of the value proposition to something less. Be the value.
L3VC to L2VC
- You Stop Producing Tangible Business Results: You can slip from L3 to L2 by not producing tangible business results. You don’t really need to do anything for this to happen. All you need to do, like our story from the beginning of this post, is to wait. Your clients needs will change. Their desire for better results will grow. What you do will no longer produce the business results they need, and you will slip from L3 to L2 (and possibly lower).
- You Allow the Status Quo to Take Hold: Remember when you won your dream client? Remember how you build consensus around overthrowing the status quo? Now you are the status quo. The business results that you produce were fine when you won the account. They’re no longer fine. The benchmarks that you established are no longer the benchmarks on which you will be judged.
- You Ignore New Business Needs: Your clients needs are changing. It’s inevitable. Again, all you have to do is wait. Either you determine what the new business result needs to be or your competitor does. And “poof,” just like that, you’re L2.
L2VC to L1VC
- You Stop Providing Support: One of the primary factors that allow you to deliver L2 value is excellent support. Without excellent support, you’re L1. You can have a great product, but a great product without great support isn’t a great product. To sell successfully today you have to be accountable for the outcomes that you sell. If your client can get those outcomes, you’re responsible to help them. Lest you become and L1. Lest you become a commodity.
- You Stop Delivering an Excellent Customer Experience: L2 pretends towards relationships. They give you an excellent customer experience. They make you feel that your important. That they know you personally. That they care. Without an excellent customer experience, you drop to L1. Say goodbye to your margins. And say goodbye to the profit you need to deliver a higher level of value.
L1VC to The Dustbin of History
- You Sell Price: L1 means that you have a great product. But if you have a great product and you compete on price, you are stepping onto the slippery slope that is commoditization. You drop your price, your competitor drops their price. And so it goes, both of you chasing the bottom, until there’s nowhere left to turn. Without the margin you need to create a great product, service, or solution, you’re on your way to the dustbin of history.
Think of a client where you’ve slipped from L4 to L3. What did you stop doing?
Think of a client where you’ve slipped from L3 to L2. What did you stop doing?
Think of the client where you slipped from L2 to L1. What did you stop doing?
Now that you know this, what are you doing to do different?
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