Sales Masters Guild Mentor, Toby Acton, explains why he’s not just a business mentor, but an architect too.
At one of my weekly breakfast networking meetings there is an architect and also a structural engineer in the group. So, I recently stood up to present my 60 second pitch and stated at the offset that I would be stepping on their toes as I was now filling the role of being both an architect and a structural engineer!
I have always loved buildings, architecture and structures – I actually wanted to be an architect when I was younger but I swiftly realised that I was not creative enough, so I left that to the more artistic people in life and ended up with a degree in quantity surveying as compensation! When visiting new towns, cities and countries I love looking at all the buildings, both modern and those from past eras of architectural style.
However, what I am talking about here is my desire to provide my clients with simple forms of architecture and structure to run their businesses. Having a systemised approach and a structural form benefits your business in several ways:
- it enables you to know the various steps of a process and know where you are in the process at any time
- it provides efficiency when delivering the service
- it tends towards more consistency and better quality of delivery
- it improves the customer experience and satisfaction
- it reduces stress and uncertainty for yourself
- it lends itself towards providing you with a better work/life balance
So, what areas of your business can be given structure and architecture and be systemised?
Just about any area to be honest!
But here are a few examples:
- Networking and presentations
- Sales processes
- Time management
But what I would suggest is that you focus on getting it right in just one area, or at most two areas, at a time and once that is really cracking on and the results are showing in those areas, move on to others. The danger in trying to develop too many areas at once is that the effort gets diluted, the results do not show, and you get disillusioned. Remember: where focus goes, energy flows!
So, let’s cover a few of those areas and explore how introducing structure and defined architecture can enhance what you are doing, make it easier and less stressful to achieve what you are wanting to achieve and make the experience better for everyone involved.
Networking and presentations
As I have covered in previous blogs, having a strategy and structure to your networking will give you greater confidence when going out there, engender far greater results and therefore provide a better return on the time and money you invest in networking.
This can start with how you introduce yourself to people when you meet them for the first time and the specific words you use to get across what it is that you do for your clients (see my recent blog “What do most people get wrong when networking?”)
When standing up to give your pitch to the room, your 60 seconds (or 40 seconds or 70 seconds of course for some groups), to my mind it is essential to build in architecture and structure to what you are saying so that you can get across to the other members of the group exactly what you do, exactly who you do it for and exactly why you do it, in a concise, effective and memorable way.
By having a structure to your 60 second pitch, by using the architecture of a story, it is easier for you to remember and get across clearly and of course easier for your audience to follow and remember. Everybody loves a story!
A simple example of such a structure to follow for a 60 second pitch is this:
- The Opportunity
- The Challenge
- Your Solution
- The Call to Action
This is simply the concept that you start off by talking about an opportunity in the business landscape that people in the room are generally aware of and can relate to. You then move on to a potential hurdle to them taking advantage of that opportunity. You then briefly present your solution, all in big picture, no detail – i.e. you have the answer. And you then finish up with inviting people to talk to you to find out how you can help them (or someone you know) with the challenge.
I will explore structures like this in more detail in a future blog but suffice to say that, by effectively telling a story, you take your audience on a journey with you and show them the value that you bring to your clients. It also has the added advantage of being easy for you to remember the four simple stages, so if your mind wanders part way through and you go off at a tangent, you can easily bring it back on track by remembering the next stage of the structure. It is therefore fantastic to have as a backup, “emergency” pitch for those occasions when you stand up, your mind goes blank, and you simply don’t know what to say!
Whilst still on the subject of networking, when called upon to give a 10 or 20 minute presentation to the group, the concept of a structured approach with defined architecture can simply be expanded. It is easy for your audience to follow and to remember the salient points and easier for you to deliver when it has clearly defined stages set out in your mind.
In a similar way, by having a structured approached to your sales conversations it makes it an easier and more pleasurable process both for your potential clients and for yourself as I covered in my past blog post “Everybody likes to buy, but nobody likes to be sold to”.
To recap, the structure for a sales conversation is as follows:
- Establish rapport
- Ask qualifying questions with intent
- Find a core desire or a pain
- Link your service to that desire/pain
- Trial close and handling objections
By having a systemised, structured approach we can once again take our prospect or potential client on a journey, even if it is on a subconscious level for them. It is taking them through a process that feels comfortable and natural and basically does not seem like “selling” because of the way that it is carefully crafted.
The structured sales process also helps you if negotiations are not progressing as you would like you as are able to ascertain where in the process you are at any time as you know the 5 steps. If you are not getting the results or you feel that you are floundering and losing your prospect you just go back to an earlier stage and re-address it. This gives you confidence when having a sales conversation.
These have been just a couple of examples of how having a systemised structured approach to certain areas of your business can give more confidence, less stress and a more efficient and effective delivery. I will cover in later blogs how having to things like time management and admin can also massively benefit your business, in much the same way.
With a good architect and a good structural engineer, a building will be built swiftly, efficiently and challenges along the way will be overcome with ease. But most importantly, the finished building will stand the test of time and be a landmark for many years.
Similarly, if you become an effective architect and structural engineer for your business, it will build faster, grow more efficiently and will also stand the test of time and provide you with the wealth and work/life balance that you started it for.
If you would like to talk to Toby about your business and how he could help, contact him directly through his Sales Masters Guild Mentor page. If you’d like to find out when Toby is holding his next Entrepreneurs Training Day, you can find out and book here.
Toby Acton is a Sales Masters Guild Personal Business Mentor.
For more than two decades, Toby has been running his own businesses, with interests in a variety of diverse sectors including IT, market research and property. He has also mentored and trained many hundreds of people on how to build their networking marketing businesses and to develop their personal brand.