Consultant Week, Vol 3 of 5 - Solutions Thinking

Continuing the Consultant Week theme, we now move on to solutions.

Back to our boaters. I saw the real problem while they kept dealing with the symptoms. The symptom is they were trying to bring a boat in to a dock when the wind is strong and at a right angle to the dock which when holding on to the rope on the bow will swing the aft of the boat away from the dock. The real problem is their thinking. They only have a rope tied to the bow of the boat. This is a real problem in that wind. But the wind isn't the problem, the boat isn't the problem, the dock isn't the problem (read: economy, sales are slow, traffic is off, the boss won't let me, there's a strike going on, etc., etc.). The problem is not external. Those are symptoms. The boaters kept dealing with the symptoms, not the problem. I saw the solution in a second. They need a rope attached to the bow and the aft, so they can control the boat in the wind and bring it alongside the dock (read: do some marketing, make some sales calls, get positive, get excited, study, learn some new stuff, get a website, do some merchandising, change your display, put things out on the sidewalk, have a popcorn machine out on the sidewalk, get some balloons, do something! Do anything except talk about the symptoms!). Really, folks. It was that easy. I know most of you already got it, but neither boat group got it all the way through getting the boat on the trailer.

I'm looking at the water while I'm out there and I see the tide coming in and going out. It happens every day. You can time it accurately. It is very regular. The tide comes in and the the tide goes out. When the tide goes out, we are not really surprised, are we? No. We know that the tide goes out every day. The economy is like the tide. The economy is up and the economy is down, it is up and it is down and it is always moving one way or the other never really standing still just like the tide. Yet, when the economy goes down, we are surprised and amazed! But the economy is not the problem, it is a symptom. If it were our health, we might say we need a doctor with these symptoms. We might need a check up. We know there is a problem underneath the symptom, so we call the doctor (consultant) to find it. We don't know what the problem really is, we just know the symptoms.

If we don't plan for the tide going out, it is not the tides fault, it is our own. A consultant should be able to see the real problem and help you find effective solutions that overcome and counteract the problem as well as more properly prepare for the changing tide. That can be very valuable to your business.

In our business, we are sales consultants, sales trainers, sales merchandising and marketing skilled. We know sales. Most businesses are based on making sales. So, you would think they would study sales. They don't. You would think they would hire a sales trainer, a sales coach, but they don't. Business is down, so we can't spend any money on the real problem, we are so busy focusing on the symptoms and reacting to them (baton down the hatches, cut the costs, stop the bleeding), that we have no time, money or energy left to deal with the problem. They say, "You understand that, don't you?" We say, "No, sorry, but we do not understand that. It makes no sense to us."

You say sales are slow, but you don't need a website? Do you need a telephone? Then you need a website! You say sales are slow, but you can't afford sales training? Is your business selling things? Then you need sales training! You say sales are slow, but you don't need any marketing? Does your business deal with clients or customers? Then you need marketing! You say sales are slow, but merchandising is not necessary? Do you sell products in a store environment? Then you need merchandising! You say sales are slow and you have no money for a sales consultant? Does your business rely on sales to make money? Then a consultant can help you make more money! Deal with the problem, not the symptoms. It is generally not an external thing causing the real problem, it is an internal way of thinking. The boaters real problem was their thinking. It wasn't any of the external things. The symptoms will change when you invest in solutions to the real problem.

We see some companies spend thousands per month on newspaper advertising, not even knowing if they are getting any return on that expense (we're not against newspaper advertising, but we are shocked when people say they do not know if an ad is working or not). Stop that one month and hire a consultant with that money which means you are spending no new money and watch the results! A fresh outside-in perspective is very valuable. The boaters saw the symptoms, I saw the problem. The boaters tried the strangest things to solve the problem, and I saw the perfect solution. You don't need a consultant for life, but occasionally, it is just the thing to turn your thinking around and thereby turn your sales and your business around--in any economy.

No comments: