Like John, I am a great fan of business books. Something I enjoy is re-applying a good book at a tangent to its original context. With this in mind, and fresh from a conversation about the “credit crunch” and its effect on businesses selling luxury goods, I started to think anew about a small book I read 3 years ago.
“Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson, M.D. is a small, but powerful little tale about two mice and two little men who find themselves searching for cheese in a maze. When their cheese is moved, how do each of them deal with the change? You will most often find this book being given to people who are victims of corporate change programmes – that is how I found it. However, it has some profound lessons for business owners who are finding that their once great business is now less than great.
One definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result each time. We have all done it. We know there may be a better way but we keep on using the same formula hoping that results will improve. Just like an Englishman abroad who shouts the same English phrase louder and slower expecting to be understood. Just like the computer user typing the same sequence of keys and clicks over and over again and each time being surprised when the computer still refuses to do whatever is wanted.
So it is with sales and marketing. Our customers and our markets change. Something that was working really well stops working. No matter how well we segment, prospect, direct-mail and sell – we no longer get the returns we need to keep our business growing as we planned. Somebody moved the cheese!
Change the Model
If your cheese has been moved – go in search of new cheese in new places. Perhaps your chosen customers have changed their priorities and no longer want what you sell.
Thoughts on How
Go back to basics and re-evaluate what your business is good at – at a basic level.
Work out who is likely to be buying – today. If you cannot think of any group of people or businesses who might be buying, go back to step 1 and start again.
Find a way of communicating your new offer to your new target customer base.
Choose one or two of your references that are closest to your new offer and re-write them (stay truthful!!).
Review your existing sales pipeline. Which of the people or businesses you have failed to convert to a sale would make an ideal prospect for your revised offer?
People buy from people – you will always sell more effectively when people know you and trust you.
Start from scratch to build a new sales pipe-line.
Make sure that you do not alienate your old customer base – you need those who are still spending to fund the transition in your business.
Things to consider
If this process leads you to embark on a radical change of direction, you might need to consider launching a new business to exploit the new opportunity, leaving your old business to make the best of the change in market conditions.
The usual health warnings apply – if you are not sure how to start this process, then get professional help.
This was a guest post by Paul Fileman of SPS who are a national team of proven senior management professionals, passionate about working to help businesses achieve their next level of development and performance. Whether they are facing market changes, financial problems, people/skills issues, or are preparing a major project, they offer dedicated support from a multi-disciplined team of experts.Email This Post