Profitability Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
your competition

Why Partnering With Your Competition Could Be Your Key To Success

How intelligently collaborating with your competition can vastly improve your business.

While counter-intuitive, partnering with your competition may be among the best ways to grow your business. By intelligently creating a partnership with someone who you would otherwise work against, you can combine your client bases and maximize return on your investment. However, you never know what kind of positives can come from what may otherwise seem like a negative.

Watch this video

In this video, I discuss how to deal with competition in business. This is a part of what I call the “Ivanisms Series”, all of my personal quotes and phrases and why they have worked for me. Therefore, please watch this video to understand what Ivan means.

The value of collaborating with your competition

I was doing a seminar about how it is possible to increase your business by cooperating with your competitors.

A man sitting in the audience argued passionately about not consorting with the competition. We were having a pretty lively debate when an older member of the audience stood up to weigh in.

The story he told made a believer out of everyone else in the room:

I’ve been in the investment business my entire professional career. A few years ago, I was courting a company for an investment package that included retirement and more. It was huge — one of the biggest projects I had ever worked on. Spending weeks getting to know the client’s intricate needs and putting together a comprehensive package, the client told me they were going with someone else.

Therefore, I was just gobsmacked, completely shocked. After I caught my breath, I asked him who he had chosen. It turns out he was giving it to a competitor in his mid 20s. This kid had no experience and yet, here they were giving him this monster project. I felt like I had spent enough time with the client to ask him why he would choose this person over me and my package. He looked at me and said, “You want the honest-to-goodness truth? It’s my brother in law, and my wife will go crazy if I don’t give him the business. However, I do trust him, but I know he hasn’t got the experience you have.”

In my entire professional life, I had never done what I did next. In my area of business, it’s usually dog-eat-dog, but I called the kid and congratulated him. I told him I knew a lot about the company and if he ever needed anything, I was happy to help.

The kid’s voice literally jumped out of the phone. He said, “I’m from a wealthy family, but I really have no idea how to manage a project this big. I’m connected and I have four more deals just like this one, and I don’t know how I’m going to get it all put together. Could we partner up? In conclusion, I know I can get even more deals like these, but to manage it well, I could really use your help.”

We did just that: partnered up. And that kid is a rainmaker. We have worked on so many deals, all of them the same size or bigger than that original one I thought I lost. Therefore, I made more money than I had ever made before by calling up my competitor and offering goodwill and advice if he ever needed it.

Therefore, as you might suspect, the young man in my audience had a change of heart after hearing this story.

Will this happen every time you try to work with a competitor? Of course not. But it will never happen if you don’t reach out.

What are some effective ways you’ve been able to collaborate with competitors? Let us know in the comments below.

 

VCP process

The Three Phases of Networking: The VCP Process®

I have written about this concept in many of my books but I’ve never done the full description here on my blog.  So – for the first time, here’s a thorough description of the three phases of networking: The VCP Process.

The key concept in referral marketing is relationships.  The system of information, support, and referrals that you assemble will be based on your relationships with other individuals and businesses.  Referral marketing works because these relationships work both ways:  they benefit both parties.

A referral marketing plan involves relationships of many different kinds.  Among the most important are those with your referral sources, with prospects these referral sources bring you, and with customers you recruit from the prospects.  These relationships don’t just spring up full grown; they must be nurtured.  As they grow, fed by mutual trust and shared benefits, they evolve through three phases:  visibility, credibility, and profitability.  We call this evolution the VCP Process®.

Any successful relationship, whether a personal or a business relationship, is unique to every pair of individuals, and it evolves over time.  It starts out tentative, fragile, full of unfulfilled possibilities and expectations.  It grows stronger with experience and familiarity.  It matures into trust and commitment.  The VCP Process describes the process of creation, growth, and strengthening of business, professional, and personal relationships; it is useful for assessing the status of a relationship and where it fits in the process of getting referrals.  It can be used to nurture the growth of an effective and rewarding relationship with a prospective friend, client, co-worker, vendor, colleague, or family member.  When fully realized, such a relationship is mutually rewarding and thus self-perpetuating.

Visibility

The first phase of growing a relationship is visibility:  you and another individual become aware of each other.  In business terms, a potential source of referrals or a potential customer becomes aware of the nature of your business – perhaps because of your public relations and advertising efforts, or perhaps through someone you both know.  This person may observe you in the act of conducting business or relating with the people around you.  The two of you begin to communicate and establish links – perhaps a question or two over the phone about product availability.  You may become personally acquainted and work on a first-name basis, but you know little about each other.  A combination of many such relationships forms a casual-contact network, a sort of de facto association based on one or more shared interests.

The visibility phase is important because it creates recognition and awareness.  The greater your visibility, the more widely known you will be, the more information you will obtain about others, the more opportunities you will be exposed to, and the greater will be your chances of being accepted by other individuals or groups as someone to whom they can or should refer business.  Visibility must be actively maintained and developed; without it, you cannot move on to the next level, credibility.

Credibility

Credibility is the quality of being reliable, worthy of confidence.  Once you and your new acquaintance begin to form expectations of each other – and the expectations are fulfilled – your relationship can enter the credibility stage.  If each person is confident of gaining satisfaction from the relationship, then it will continue to strengthen.

Credibility grows when appointments are kept, promises are acted upon, facts are verified, services are rendered.  The old saying that results speak louder than words is true.  This is very important.  Failure to live up to expectations – to keep both explicit and implicit promises – can kill a budding relationship before it breaks through the ground and can create visibility of a kind you don’t want.

To determine how credible you are, people often turn to third parties.  They ask someone they know who has known you longer, perhaps done business with you.  Will she vouch for you?  Are you honest?  Are your products and services effective?  Are you someone who can be counted on in a crunch?

Profitability

The mature relationship, whether business or personal, can be defined in terms of its “profitability.”  Is it mutually rewarding?  Do both partners gain satisfaction from it?  Does it maintain itself by providing benefits to both?  If it doesn’t profit both partners to keep it going, it probably will not endure.

The time it takes to pass through the phases of a developing relationship is highly variable.  It’s not always easy to determine when profitability has been achieved – a week?  a month?  one year?  In a time of urgent need, you and a client may proceed from visibility to credibility overnight.  The same is true of profitability; it may happen quickly, or it may take years – most likely, somewhere in between.  It depends on the frequency and quality of the contacts, and especially on the desire of both parties to move the relationship forward.

Shortsightedness can impede full development of the relationship.  Perhaps you’re a customer who has done business with a certain vendor off and on for several months, but to save pennies you keep hunting around for the lowest price, ignoring the value this vendor provides in terms of service, hours, goodwill, and reliability.  Are you really profiting from the relationship, or are you stunting its growth?  Perhaps if you gave this vendor all your business, you could work out terms that would benefit both of you.  Profitability is not found by bargain hunting.  It must be cultivated, and, like farming, it takes patience.

Visibility and credibility are important in the relationship-building stages of the referral marketing process.  But when you have established an effective referral-generation system, you will have entered the profitability stage of your relationships with many people – the people who send you referrals and the customers you recruit as a result.

 

VCP process

The VCP Process with Tiffanie Kellog

We simply can’t achieve success at networking without strategically building VCP = visibility, earning credibility, and then ultimately gaining profitability.

VCP is a referral process, not a sales process. If the majority of your clients aren’t giving you referrals, then you are only at Credibility with your clients, not at Profitability. It’s possible that you can have a lot of Visibility and a lot of Credibility, but NOT have Profitability. Rather than a formula, VCP is a continuum. Before you can refer to someone, you will need to know, like, and trust them.

In this guest video blog, Tiffanie Kellog, a trainer for Asentiv Florida, explores the three stages of the VCP process. Click here to watch.

In short, your goal should be to first enter Visibility with people, then perform activities that will help you build trust and Credibility with them, and finally through time and the strengthening of that relationship, they will most likely pass you consistent referrals in the Profitability stage.  After all, “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.

Partnering With Your Competition

While counter-intuitive, partnering with your competition may be among the best ways to grow your business. By intelligently creating a partnership with someone who you would otherwise work against, you can combine your client bases and maximize on return on your investment. You never know what kind of positives can come from what may otherwise seem like a negative.

Click on the graphic below, or click here, to hear what I have to say.

Negotiating With Clients is in Your Best Interest

ID-1009160How did you determine how to price your services? One reason you may be suffering with finding new clients could be due to how much you charge. If this is the case, more than likely you’ve heard this objection from current or potential clients before. While you may not want to consider negotiating, it really is in your best interest. Here’s why:

  • If you agree to at least negotiate on a price with a potential client, they may see you as empathetic and willing to work with them. Many people allow their emotions to help decide how they will spend their money, so developing a positive rapport may help you close with a client who otherwise was considering not spending money on your services.
  • Negotiating allows you to explain to your potential client why your fee is fair for the value of service they’d receive. If they can search the internet and find others in your industry who offer similar services for cheaper, this is especially important. You know you are worth the extra money; you just have to justify it to the client.
  • While negotiating, a potential client may mention a service that you don’t offer, but your competitor does. Hearing this kind of feedback can help you later when you’re looking to expand what you offer.

In the end, some people will be impossible to negotiate with. No matter how low you go, they will never buy your service. Don’t continue to lower your prices to try to get them to use you. Remember that your business first and foremost is a way for you to earn income. Never negotiate lower than you are willing to go.

What tips do you have for negotiating your price with potential clients? Share them with us in the comments below!

The VCP Process®: V + C Does Not = P

Lately I have seen a lot of people who have been using the VCP Process® (Visibility, Credibility, Profitability) like it’s a formula: Visibility + Credibility = Profitability.

The fact remains, however, that VCP is a referral process, not a sales process. If the majority of your clients aren’t giving you referrals, then you are only at Credibility with your clients, not at Profitability. It’s possible that you can have a lot of Visibility and a lot of Credibility, but NOT have Profitability. Rather than a formula, VCP is a continuum.

Once you achieve Credibility (and not before), you then need to start asking for referrals in order to achieve Profitability. Profitability does not result automatically from Visibility and Profitability.

If you were previously unfamiliar with the VCP Process and have questions about it, please ask them in the comment forum below.  I believe that VCP is the single most important concept in networking and I’m more than happy to answer your questions.  Also, if you’re familiar with VCP and you’ve been using the process for a while, please share some of your experiences–I’d love to hear them.

Networking Is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

The fact is, networking truly is a marathon of an endeavor–it’s most definitely not a sprint.  I have met so many people who practice what I call ‘hyperactive networking’ and they mistakenly approach networking at the speed of an all-out sprint–they want to be absolutely everywhere and meet absolutely everyone and they go, go, go ALL of the time until they soon inevitably burn out, ‘collapse,’ and give up.

It’s a real shame because if these people would, from the beginning, just slow down and take the time to develop a networking strategy and understand that networking takes time, patience, hard work, dedication, commitment, and endurance, they would be reaping great rewards from their networking efforts instead of exhausting themselves with nothing to show for it in the end.

Networking at its core is about taking the time to build genuine, trusted relationships.  Sure, visibility is important, but without building trust right along with it, visibility won’t get you very far in the long run.  You can run around all day long going to networking events and shaking people’s hands, but if you’re not spending time following up and developing trust with the people you meet, then you haven’t really achieved much of anything that will actually give you results from your networking efforts–do not confuse activity with accomplishment. 

So, what are your tactics for pacing yourself in the marathon of networking?  What actions do you take to strategically build relationships?  I’d love to hear from you so please share your thoughts and ideas in the comment forum below–thanks!

Success through Profitability & Abundance

In this brief video filmed at a recent TLC (Transformational Leadership Council) conference, I talk to my good friend Raymond Aaron about our respective contributions to the newly revised version of Jack Canfield’s book THE SUCCESS PRINCIPLES.  

I am beyond honored to have been asked to contribute to the book and, because of that, I wanted my portion of the book to focus on the most valuable, useful, beneficial information I could possibly offer within my field of expertise.   That information is the concept of the VCP Process®–how to build visibility and credibility to ultimately achieve longlasting success through profitability.

Raymond, a world renowned success coach, offers eye-opening information about what blocks us from enjoying success through abundance and how to overcome those road blocks.

Have you read THE SUCCESS PRINCIPLES?  If so, I’m eager to hear your thoughts on the book in general or on a specific section or sections which resonated with you the most.  Please share your thoughts in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

For more information on THE SUCCESS PRINCIPLES, please visit: www.TheSuccessPrinciplesBook.com.

Getting to the Referral Stage with a New Contact

People often ask me how to move a relationship with someone they just met to the point where the new contact feels comfortable passing them a referral.

I always say that the best way to get to this next referral-passing stage depends in part on how you came into contact with a person in the first place.  Let’s say you met while giving a brief presentation to a group of people who are in your target market.  Assuming you did a good job, then you absolutely have the possibility of receiving a referral, even though you just met.  Why? Because the presentation moved you from visibility to credibility in the new contact’s mind and now they’re probably willing to risk their reputation and recommend you to someone they know.

Photo Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

The same thing is true when you’re out networking.  If you have a good conversation with someone and truly add value to the conversation, then moving from visibility to credibility isn’t that difficult, and you’ll be in great shape for getting some referral-based business.  What’s more, it’s not terribly important whether the person is someone you might do business with directly.  Even if your businesses don’t match up, the other person might have information that’s useful or might know other people you’d like to get in contact with.  It’s often worthwhile to develop a networking relationship with people who have little in common with you because they can bring an entirely new network into contact with yours and broaden your business horizons.

 

Just bear in mind that even if there is a strong possibility that you’re going to do business with this new contact, it’s probably not going to happen there at the networking event, where conversations last anywhere from an eye-blink three minutes to a long-winded seven.  Instant business is not likely to be had.  But if you follow up with a quick note a few days later, you can make some one-to-one time and come up with ways the two of you can help each other.  That meeting is where you’ll have your best opportunity for a quick referral.

 

What has your experience been with moving to the referral stage with new contacts–do you have a tactic that seems to be particularly effective?  If so, please share it in the comments section.  Thanks!

Using Social Media—“Navigating the VCP Process® to Networking” Series

TR Garland (pictured with me in the photo below) is a friend of mine and co-author of one of my most recent #1 best-selling books called “Building The Ultimate Network.” 

TR-and-Ivan-Blue-Backgrou

For some time now, we’ve both observed a need to drill down on one of the most important and foundational concepts to networking – The VCP Process®.  A while ago, we started a much-anticipated 12-part series of blog posts which addresses this and contains some very timely information for networkers across the globe. Today, we’re proud to share with you Part 12–the final post in this series. Enjoy.

TRBlog1VCPpic1

Using Social Media to Navigate the VCP Process®
(Part 12 of the “Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking” Series)

In Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 , Part 4, and Part 5 of this series, we introduced and re-introduced the concept and steps of The VCP Process® to Networking for our readers through brief anecdotes, relevant comparisons, and sometimes even humorous situations. For Parts 6and 7 we even shared with you video trainings from the both of us.

In Part 9, we suggested some behaviors that you can use on a weekly basis to increase the number of referrals you receive. And, as a result, we got a couple phone calls complimenting us about how that particular blog post clearly outlined what type of behaviors a successful networker should be practicing on a weekly and monthly basis – and we were asked to provide more. We fulfilled that request.

In Part 10, we addressed that ‘Mindset’ has as much to do with your success in networking as ‘Skillset’. And in Part 11 we addressed how to deliver effective Introductions & Short Presentations when Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking. And therefore, in this final installment of the series, we found it relevant to address “The Elephant in the Room” – Social Media.

Yes, as experts on Business Networking and Referral Marketing, we’ve been asked time and time again to provide our opinions on how Social Media fits into one’s own Business Networking Plan (…if at all).

So, today, let’s address this “The Elephant in the Room”. Let’s bring out into the open the question that still may be on the minds of many of our readers.

When asked about the topic of Online Networking versus Offline Networking, you may have already heard Ivan share his philosophy that “…it’s not either/or, it’s both/and when addressing this topic”.

Today, let’s dig a little deeper and give you a clearer picture on what’s meant by this, as well as deliver you actionable steps for you to take (as the title of this blog insinuates) to use Social Media to navigate the VCP Process® to networking.

Let’s get started.

An often overlooked tool to navigating the VCP Process® is using Social Media effectively. And, more specifically – Facebook.  Now please allow us to clarify. We didn’t say Facebook is overlooked! Lol.

ENTERTAINMENT vs. EXECUTION

We happen to believe that many people are actually addicted to Facebook and spend way too much time using it for ENTERTAINMENT. Whereas, they could actually be using it for the EXECUTION of a well thought out strategy.

Let’s face it. There are professionals out there who you want passing you referrals that are on many of the same Social Media platforms that you’re on. Yet, do you have a Business Networking Plan that addresses this?

Well, would you like to grasp a really quick concept that will help you address this?

For example, let’s assume an ideal referral partner for you is a CPA. And, you recently met a CPA at a monthly networking event such as a Chamber of Commerce mixer. What typically happens is that “life happens” immediately after that event and 30 days go by before you see that CPA again.

From our perspective, it’s going to take a long time to dig deep and build a quality, meaningful relationship and move through the VCP Process® with this person when you only see this CPA twelve times a year.

Therefore, today, we’re recommending you use Social Media to compliment your in-person, face-to-face networking efforts. Yes, if you take action and plan to make strategic “Touch Points” during the time between those mixers, you’ll actually be able to expedite the VCP Process®.

And, who doesn’t want to shorten the cycle from first meeting someone (i.e. Visibility) to building trust with them (i.e. Credibility) to finally getting an actual referral from them (i.e. Profitability)?

Yes, too many people are spending too much time on Social Media for ENTERTAINMENT purposes versus the successful EXECUTION of specific tactics of an overall strategy that will help them drive revenue to their business.

Today, we’d like to make a pretty good case that Social Media shouldn’t be ignored either. Social Media should be considered an intricate part of successfully following your particular Business Networking Plan.

HERE’S ONE SPECIFIC TACTIC YOU CAN USE IMMEDIATELY

Let’s assume an ideal referral partner for you is a CPA as noted above. By connecting with this person on Facebook immediately after meeting them and strategically LIKING or COMMENTING on some of their posts – you will create additional Visibility so that the next time you see this CPA it will actually FEEL like you’ve known each other longer.

Does this make sense?  We would love for you to leave your thoughts in the comment forum below.

 

How to Get People to Refer Business to You

Over the years, I’ve run into countless people who believe that joining groups and organizations and becoming active by volunteering, taking on responsibilities and working side-by-side with other people on a common goal will cause people to get to know them and refer business to them.  However, this is not how things work.

(Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

(Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Granted, it’s easy to think that if you rub elbows with someone long enough he or she will spontaneously start sending you business opportunities. But that’s really nothing more than an entitlement mentality.

Getting referrals usually takes three things: visibility, credibility and profitability.  Ordinary participation in an organization, even a strong-contact referral group, will get you visibility and perhaps some credibility; it won’t automatically get you profitability.  That takes a much more focused approach, along with some explicit talk about the kinds of referrals you want.

By nature, referral relationships are rewarding and valuable when they are created purposefully and by design. If you are assuming that the idea of giving you referrals is going to pop into someone’s head spontaneously if you hang around long enough, you are definitely misunderstanding what a referral relationship is supposed to be.

Woody Allen once said that “90 percent of success is just showing up,” but he wasn’t talking about referral marketing.  “Just showing up” will get you a seat at the table, but you have to pass the food to others and snag your own steak whenever it comes around.  It’s not “netsit” or “neteat“–it’s network!”  If you want to build your business through referrals, you have to learn how to deliberately work the networks to which you belong.

You see, participating in a group is one thing; performing is another.  To get referrals, you have to perform.  If you don’t perform–talk specifics about your business, your specialties and your ideal referral, and refer business to others in your group–how are they going to know what you do and what you need?  You have to take specific actions to let people know how they can refer business to you.  Being a good citizen is the right thing to do, but it’s not enough to get you the referrals you need to run your business by word-of-mouth marketing–you need to actively feed and water your referral relationships, so to speak, in order to significantly grow your business through referrals.

So, what specific actions can you take this week to let people know how to refer business to you?  I’d love to hear your ideas–please share them in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Do What You Love & You’ll Love What You Do

What is currently the single hottest, most profitable business you could possibly get involved with? . . . There’s only one right answer and it is this: whatever you’re passionate about.  That’s right–the specific answer will vary from person to person but the basic answer will always remain the same; follow your passion and you can’t go wrong.

In this video, I talk about how powerful and fulfilling life can be when you make your living following your passion.  I also discuss why following your passion can play a huge part in cultivating long term success and how if you don’t love the business you’re in, you will never have sustained success in your business.

So, what are you passionate about?  Even more important, how did you begin following your passion or how do you intend start following your passion?  Please share your thoughts below . . . I’d love to hear your story!

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