3 Non-Tech Steps to Build a Multi-Million-Dollar Business
We should all be focusing on technology to help grow sales -- the digital transformation of most aspects of commerce has created more business leverage than just about any other component. This article is not intended to disparage technology. With that said, relying too heavily on tech at the expense of certain foundational factors will seldom lead to the desired outcome of profitable growth.
Here are three non-tech building blocks every business should start with.
1. Start beefing up your brand today.
Expertise, authority and unique content can all be promoted through technology, but first they must exist. Before customers will pay you money, they need to know you have something worth purchasing. Belief and confidence in any brand comes from the story that can be told through the legitimate presence of authority.
This requires a lot of time and effort to establish. "It took several books, a couple of TV shows and over 1,000 real estate deals to build the brand I enjoy today," says Doug Clark of UnlistedFlip.
Clark, who teaches thousands of students his methods of real estate investing every year, may be an extreme (and multi-million-dollar) example of successful brand-building, but anyone can begin the process of becoming an acknowledged expert simply by starting a blog. Blogging is an easy way to convey expertise if you keep in mind the basic rules of the game:
- Know your audience
- Don't over-promote yourself
- Provide meaningful content
- Keep it concise
- Write consistently
- Incorporate relevant links
After you start writing, try to migrate your blog to a higher domain authority site that carries more credibility. Then follow Clark's example by writing a book -- or two -- and get in front of as many audiences as you can. As your knowledge increases, so will the quality of your blogs, books and presentations.
2. Commit to a feedback loop that lets customers improve your business.
Sales increases come from one group of people -- your customers. They vote with their wallets. Are you plugged into their desires, intentions and satisfaction level?
"If our customer satisfaction ratings drop below 4.8 out of 5, we scramble to fix the problem," says Response President Phil Smith. "Our customer support team takes thousands of calls a week, so we always know how we're doing according to the people who keep us in business." This customer-centric approach has contributed to annual sales in the nine-figure range.
Whether you use standard satisfaction surveys or the simple yet insightful Net Promoter Score, it's critical to have a regular, systematic source of real-time customer data. Satisfaction, loyalty and the inclination to recommend your offerings to others are all important measures to track.
Quantitative data can be supplemented with qualitative information via customer interviews. All significant information should be accessible to your workforce so that changes can be made quickly.
Of course, the processes of gathering and disseminating customer data can be enhanced dramatically by technology, but how often to ask which customers what questions should all be determined first. Most important, however, is the commitment to invite the feedback and the resolve to act on it.
3. Find the biggest customer problem first and solve it.
Too often, we concentrate all of our resources on building a better mousetrap for customers who don't have a mouse infestation. The world will only beat a path to your door if you can prove that your solution is the one they actually need. Most of the time your customers may not care about your actual offering as much as what it can do for them. This is the old drill-versus-hole metaphor, and it's one of the main things you need to figure out.
"We discovered early on that our customers were less interested in precious metals and more interested in how gold and silver could help protect and grow their nest egg," remembers Scott Carter, CEO of PM Capital. "Even more than that, they were laser focused on building a balanced portfolio, of which commodities were only a small part."
As a result, Carter and team have provided comprehensive retirement planning resources and training materials, thus giving customers what they really need. And metals are almost an after-thought, only amounting to around 10 percent of the average investor's asset mix. Still, metals sales have reached multi-millions annually.
No matter what you sell, you would probably sell more by simply spotlighting the result of your offering rather than the product or service itself. If you have a mouse problem, you should care more about being mouse-free than how high-tech the trap is.