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Increase Your Business in Competitive,
Changing Times

by Lorna Riley

With competition on the rise, few businesses can afford to sit around waiting for customers to walk in the door. A common wail I hear over and over again from companies in need of help, "We used to be order takers around here and now we actually have to sellĖand weíre losing the game."

There are many viable strategies for thriving in increasingly competitive markets. Now's the time to use all the tools at our beck and call. Consider this checklist of pointers to keep your business booming and protect yourself from being out on the street wondering what happened.

Get Up Close!
Consider the enormous numbers of ways for reaching your buying public today. If youíre not e-mail connected, web-site friendly, a value-added resource (VAR), then you are fast becoming vulnerable to those who are. Get hooked, wired, hot-linked and every other techno trend at your disposal. Hire someone to be your consultant. There are many small companies out there (call National Assn. of Computer Consultant Businesses for names in your area) who specialize in placing temporary computer specialists. Donít try to do it yourself unless youíre just plain curious. The technology is changing too fast to know whatís state-of-the-art and whatís not. Delegate it and get going on what you do best!

Get Personal.
I still canít believe the number of businesses that run without a contact manager. A contact manager is a computerize system that keeps track of just about everything youíd want to know about your prospects, customers, and related groups-who to call, all contact information, direct access to e-mail, when to call, notepads for logging information, mailing capabilities and much more. Act, Telemagic, Goldmine are just a few of those out there worth looking at. It surprises me when I discover businesses which want to build relationships with customers (make a friend, make a sale), but have no way of keeping track of the personal information that helps to develop those relationships. You wonder why customers arenít loyal? Theyíre not your friend. Why arenít they your friend? Because they think you donít care. Why donít they think you care? Because you make no effort to know them. Why donít you make an effort to know them? I donít know.

Partner With Your Adversaries.
Weíre breaking down boundaries today and creating "open systems" where people have access to everything. The internet is the great leveler in the playing field of business today. Weíre just beginning to see the effect of partnering through "hot links," where one piece of information can link users to another relevant piece of information. Partnering means nobody knows who works for anybody anymore. We are all in business together. The great American success story is built on this one principle - everyone has a vested interest in the success of other people. In other words, by helping other businesses, including your competition, to become more successful, yours will too. Ask yourself how you can help other businesses to do more business.

I was recently asked to create an on-line learning library. It would have been a great library, but I knew it would be the best on the planet, and come together more quickly if I included my speaker and trainer friends--people who do what I do for a living, to create an even more powerful library. Technically we are all competitors, but we all benefit from pooling our resources. If we think scarcity, we get scarcity. If we think abundance, the possibilities of the world are infinite.

Copyright © 2002 by Lorna Riley. All rights reserved.

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