NOTE: This is an update to the WHACK-A-MOLE Business Strategy post from several years back. I work with both business owners and their sales teams and individual sellers and I see more WHACK-A-MOLE than ever!
Does this title feel ALL too familiar to you?
I write this blog as I had an encounter with a business prospect last week. “Tom” had met me and heard me speak at a conference about “Meeting the Modern Consumer” and sent me an email to discuss what that really meant for his business.
Tom has a 12-year-old successful Business to Consumer practice that provides services to clients that are largely determined by regional and financial parameters. (I’m not going to tell you too much about Tom so we can be really candid about his problems).
Tom’s main problem was a decline in new clients. He’s not attracting new clients or receiving as many referrals as he did 5 years ago. I asked Tom what worked 5 years ago. Why did people refer to you and what are you doing now to try to change things.
His response had me picturing him at an arcade (remember those?) wielding the big puffy hammer, running from customer to customer, or banging away at new marketing or advertising gimmicks – all in a frenzy.
He is suffering from the WHACK-A-MOLE Strategy and it’s taking a very visible toll on both Tom and his small business.
I group several persistent and pervasive problems into the WHACK-A-MOLE Category and they don’t just plague the “Tom” Small Business Owners of the World. These problems affect Sales People, Directors, Executives and Entrepreneurs too.
Here are the symptoms that indicate you’re playing the nonstop game of WHACK-A-MOLE:
Priority Dilution – Are you just so busy, all the time? Do you focus on putting out fires that will burn the house down instead of activities to fortify and build a fireproof house? Everything is a priority, therefore, NOTHING gets done. You might be addicted to activity. Feeling busy feels comfortable and like you’re moving forward. However, when plans and schedules are the first things to go out the window, you never get to the things on your list which are ambitious or strategic. This is a vicious cycle that makes growth and forward progress really difficult. This is the “Spin Cycle” that can suck businesses into a death spiral.
Old Process Loops – You know there are inefficiencies in your business if you’re duplicating information entry, doing things manually, or you haven’t tied together with your information systems (records, invoicing, inventory, email, et cetera). Not implementing processes and leveraging technology to streamline administrative work means you’re actually increasing your overhead and eating into profit margins. Evolution is a natural process for businesses to grow. If you’re sticking to your status quo and not investing in the tools to evolve your business, you will be replaced by someone else who can outpace and outperform you.
Shiny Object Syndrome – Social Selling, Inbound Marketing, BNI, Toastmasters, Google Ad Words, Chambers, Billboards, Radio Jingles, SEO Ranking, OH MY! Have you tried every type of networking group, sponsorship, advertising or marketing vehicle? Chances are none of them worked very well for very long – especially if you jump from one to another without long tail strategies for nurturing, relationship building, and follow up. Advertising and marketing channels are less and less effective as we are bombarded with THOUSANDS of messages every day. Jumping from one method to another is NOT effective and a big waste of time and resources. Advertising and promotion are not effective if they don’t have a sales strategy behind them, closing the loop with customers with consistent communication, authentic messages, and true delivery. Too busy to develop that strategy, many people jump to something new & shiny as a Hail Mary to pull them out of their spiral.
Crisis Mode – Substituting Priorities with constant Emergencies is not only dangerous to the future of your business but operating in a state of stress and urgency is killing your employees, lowering morale, and bleeding out into your customer messages and experiences. Desperation is a stinky cologne. It’s contagious and like a snowball, rolls downhill picking up more mass and speed. Sure, there are problems, customers can be upset and unexpected setbacks happen in business, but calling emergencies meetings, lighting up vendors or employees with phone calls, and obsessing over problems takes tremendous focus away from customers, building loyalty, growing new business and all the positive activities necessary to move the business forward. Crisis can become your crutch and when you’re always in triage mode – trying to stop bleeding, long-term health and success always take a back seat.
Do these scenarios hit close to home? Are your arms tired from pounding away with that puffy hammer? Are you getting whiplash from snapping your head in different directions? Is team morale or hope at an all-time low?
The above describes the absence of strategy and definitely the void of consistent strategy execution. Stop WHACKING – get back to working strategically. Pick one place to start and commit to turning that area around. Don’t confuse emergencies with priorities.
It’s not easy to remove yourself from your business and get perspective to make changes. Ask for help! If you’re drowning, it’s really difficult to build your own life raft.
If you need more help building strategy and execution – Sales Process and your Sales Playbook, contact us to talk about how and where we can get you moving. Schedule your session to let us get to know your business.
Until next time, stop hoping and start SELLING!
Interesting article. Yes, I’m a Whacker but would not like to be. You’re response should be, “Let’s Talk” but I’ve been through coaches before. My wife would refuse to let me spend anything on another since we’ve never been able to make use of the age old advice to delegate this or delegate that so you can work ON your business.
If I may at least ask one question….. I own Alex Ginsburg Photographics, a very reputable commercial photography studio, with my business partner whom is my wife. Tough industry to make a full-time living nowadays. Not enough income to hire additional staff which would help. We do everything any business has to do, including throwing out the trash. So much for the glamor of photography. When ALL you can do is to work 14 hrs. a day just to keep up with production, and not enough staff, what could you tell a small business owner to do….that is realistic & doable? I’m sure I’m not the only small business with the same dilemma.
Thanks for the comment and question, Alex. Good to hear from you again. I feel your pain. You’re in a tough spot. My insights would depend on a few things:
Do you want to expand business vs maintain and increase profit?
Are you struggling with attracting new business?
Selling higher dollar packages?
Booking repeat business?
My suggestion at a glance would be to maximize the clients and relationships you already have. Can you increase prices by offering a more unique product or experience? Can you leverage that uniqueness into something your clients feel is worth talking about – sharing and referring?
I know you have an established business with a solid reputation. Are you banking on that and can you take everything up a notch?
It’s hard to know what exactly to suggest with all the details.
Know that I’m rooting for you!