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Archive for November, 2008

Since I took my first philosophy course as a freshman in college, I have been a fan. In the many years since, I still enjoy studying philosophy and can say that doing so has done much more for me than being able to answer a few more questions on Jeopardy than I normally would have other wise.

Bear with me here as I promise to quickly get beyond the ‘school lesson’. If you read my post on ‘Magic and Sushi’ then you may remember that my passion for magic (Illusions) has helped me in business in that it has taught me to look at situations differently as far as coming up with solutions that may not be so obvious at first; the same is true with philosophy.

That said, let me take you to what I have learned watching some of the home repair/fix-it shows on cable. I am not a handy man but I do enjoy watching the work of those who are. In watching these shows, and I admit I speak from an understanding that I know very little about interior design, I could not help but notice how much of what is suggested as a solution seems to be subjective.

Here are a few examples:

1. We want to add this color to the baseboards because it will anchor the theme throughout.
2. If we place this bowl on the table, it will serve as a focal point helping to distract the buyer from the fact that the ceiling is not that high
3. If you are going for Zen, then nothing says Zen like river rock and textures.

Now, these claims may in fact be absolutes. I could query 1,000 designers and they may all be in total agreement and if so, fine. The point I am making is that as you are trying to grow your business, be careful of what may be subjective advice passing for an absolute.

Here are a few examples:

1. Cold calling is for the stone age, no one cold calls any more
2. If your business card does not make someone do a back flip, get rid of it and get one that does.
3. If you are not subscribing to a lead service, you are dead in the water.

In my, admittedly, subjective opinion, there are elements of truth in each of those sayings but one should not accept or discard each as something ‘either/or’ (Either true or false). I would ‘translate’ the three bits of advice as follows:

1. There may be better options for you than cold calling.
2. A great looking business card is better than a dull or amateurish looking one.
3. Subscribing to a lead service could give you an advantage.

If you are still reading, allow me to jump back to the ‘classroom’ briefly and what is known as the ‘fallacy of appeal’. This is common form of fallacy in that, rather than present an objective argument that stands on its own merit, presents some form of appeal, prompting the listener to accept a point without further questioning.

As you grow your business remember that there are lots of free advice out there, mine included. I encourage you not to fully discount or embrace what you read but rather see how it can apply to your business and take what truth from each that will help. Sometimes, the value may be nothing more than hearing or reading something that almost immediately you reject as ‘crazy’ but, after some thought, may prompt you to, as Apple says, ‘think different’.

In answering emails and my involvement in discussions on industry related online forums, it is easy to see/read so much advice that is pure opinion. In these tough economic times, are there any absolutes a company can focus upon? I believe there are, the good ole P&L statement comes to mind.

However, the path one takes to go about making productive changes will be paved with subjectivity which is why I am such a big proponent of doing all you can to not just ‘shoot from the hip’ as you try to build your business but document your changes, tweaks, adjustments. (See: ‘”Practice Does Not Make Perfect, Perfect Practice Makes Perfect.” – Bumper Sticker (Business) Theology –Thursday, November 6, 2008)

Bottom line, keep what works, toss what doesn’t but make sure you formulate the difference on absolutes as opposed to whether or not you find it personally appealing.

OK, next time I will be less ‘philosophical’…that is, unless I happen to write my blog just after being in a thoughtful discussion on the writings of Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein and how his Vienna Circle promoted the believe that logical analysis performed with the help of symbolic logic is the preferred method for solving philosophical problems. (Talk about exciting!)

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a line via email…I love talking shop.

——————–

Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

http://www.cmconl.com/

Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell@cmconl.com

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“These are the new leads. These are the Glengarry leads. And to you they’re gold, and you don’t get them. Why? Because to give them to you would be throwing them away. They’re for closers.” Blake – Glengarry Glen Ross

Boy do I love that movie! If you have never seen Glengarry Glen Ross and have anything to do with trying to bring in new business for your company, watch this movie. It should make you feel a little better about your current situation. For there to be zero violence, it is the most difficult movie for me to watch because the performances are so powerful. [Warning: It is definitely a ‘grown up’ movie…keep the kids far away as the language can curdle milk.]

I was having a conversation with a prospect who is concerned about being able to build new business during this downturn. The conversation turned, as one might expect, to discussing how he feeds his pipeline and how he leverages the information that not only makes into the pipe, but is not considered ‘pipe worthy’.

I believe there is no such thing as a ‘bad lead’ for people selling products or services in the construction arena.

The one thing I tell anyone I speak with about building new business in this economy is that the greatest sales people in the world are not going to be able to convince any owner or developer into constructing a new building that they cannot afford.

So, what do we do?

If you subscribe to F.W. Dodge, Reed Construction Data, DEC International, CDC News or any of the other construction lead services you need to make sure you milk each lead for useful information. Remember, you are not the only company purchasing those leads so you have to know how to leverage each one beyond its primary purpose.

One of the profound incidences that led to me this business is when I was working at Construction Market Data (Now called Reed Construction Data) and would see companies paying up to hundreds of thousands of dollars for leads and using the information to just a small degree of their worth. My analogy is they were purchasing a new set of woods and irons (golf clubs for the non-golfers out there) and when it was time to play; they would grab just three clubs and leave the rest in the bag.

This is the time to review your sales and marketing strategies. How do you feed your pipeline? How do you process your contacts? How do you measure your results? How do you leverage each lead? What are you doing that your competitor is not?

With the days growing shorter, construction slowing down because of the season, now is the best time to review your sales processes and sharpen your ax.

A lead is not a contract or purchase order but merely the first step in that direction. What will you do differently that will give you the edge over the other hundreds of companies who have the same information?

There is no better time than now to refine the processes that fill your pipeline. I do not believe the economy will stay down but who knows when it will turn? In the mean time, use any time you have not fulfilling business to do all you can to build new business.

If you have any questions, let me know.

——————–

Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

http://www.cmconl.com

Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell@cmconl.com

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Politics and religion, the two subjects we are to avoid in polite company. No worries, I do not plan on trying to prove I can pull off broaching either subject in a way that will help you build new business. What I will do in this offering is to highlight some of my favorite ‘bumper sticker’ phrases, add a little meat to the bones and relate them to some ideas that may help spark a fire as you build new business.

“People Don’t Like To Be Sold, But They Love To Buy”™

This is such a popular ‘Bumper Sticker’ that it has been trademarked. This comes from renowned sales coach Jeffrey Gitomer, a creative, on-the-edge, writer and speaker whose expertise on sales, customer loyalty, and personal development is world renowned. If you are not getting his free, weekly newsletter, sign up now! (http://www.gitomer.com/)

What Jeffrey is saying here is that how often do you hear someone say, “I am going to the mall to be sold a TV.”? As compared to “I am going to the mall to buy a TV.”? Gitomer can elaborate much better on this topic than I ever could but the gist of it all is to make your product or service something someone wants to buy rather than something you have to sell them.

How much effort do you put in each month on learning new ways to have others buy from you?

“If I Had Six Hours To Chop Down A Tree, I Spend Four Sharpening My Ax.”

I just wrote a white paper for a client where I was able to use this, one of my favorite quotes. It has been attributed to Abraham Lincoln and it so simply states the need for proper planning. As we head into the colder months, depending upon which part of the country you reside, construction may slow to a crawl, if it has not already. This is the time you should be sharpening your ax.

How does your pipeline look? How are you filling that pipeline? How are you working that pipeline?

When you are trying to get people to buy…are you beating a tree for six hours with a dull ax or are you slicing through to new business with time to spare?

“Practice Does Not Make Perfect, Perfect Practice Makes Perfect.”

This quote has been attributed to Vince Lombardi but I am going to credit my father, my lifelong coach, for the impact this has had on me. Growing up, one would have had a difficult time convincing me I would not become the next Jack Nicklaus. Golf is what I did. One day, in the back of a golf magazine, I saw an ad for a net that one could erect in a garage or large room which would allow the person to hit practice shot after practice shot, grooving their swing all through the winter.

When I told my dad I wanted one, he balked. I asked why and he said, “How do you know if you are grooving your swing the correct way? How can you tell where the ball ends up if you are hitting it into a net?” He went on to explain unless you could see the end result, that practice alone is not making perfect.

How often to you review your presentation? Have someone critique your pitch?

“Any Goal Not Written Down Is Nothing But A Dream.”

I never cease to be amazed, when talking with prospects, how few do not have a simple list of goals. I won’t even go into how few actually have a business plan. I am not sure who to credit the above quote to but it is one of my favorites.
Think about this…the construction industry is all about following plans, construction documents and specifications. This information will tell a contractor everything from how to erect the steel all the way down to pointing the direction of air flow from a diffuser yet when asked if the have/follow a set of plans for their business, many just stare and blink.

Let today’s goal be to create a list of goals unless, of course, you have already accomplished this goal. If so, what about your employees? Do you know what their goals are?

“Failure Will Never Overtake Me If My Determination To Succeed Is Strong Enough.”

This one is easy. Og Mandino, author of ‘The Greatest Salesman In The World’ and the book I have purchased more than any other. (We give a hardback copy of this great book to all high school graduates we know.)

Times are tough and who knows when things are going to turn around but hang in there and never give up. Sharpen your ax every day, even if it is for just five or ten minutes at a time.

If your determination needs a boost, get Og’s book and if you read nothing else, read “I Will Persist Until I Succeed.” It works for me every single time.

——————–

Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

http://www.cmconl.com/

Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell@cmconl.com

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