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A Costly Lesson from Losing Focus

If you’re anything like me, you much prefer learning from other people’s mistakes. When you’re able (and willing) to look across industries you’ll find even more lessons from other people’s mistakes. Just because you’re not in the fast-food business doesn’t mean McDonald’s pain can’t become your gain. “After losing about 500 million US orders over the past

How Not to Think About Raising Fees

Yes, you should be thinking about raising your fees. But, the CPAs in a recent Accounting Today article, On the Rise: Hiking Fees for Next Season?, approach the topic in entirely the wrong way. As my business grows, I expect the cost of getting my taxes done to increase. I’m no more happy about paying someone

When Your Sure Thing Offer Isn’t

Coffee with a colleague last week reminded me of how frustrating it is to have a great offering that’s inexplicably resistant to gaining traction. Mike’s firm reduces costs by optimizing procurement–he figures he can save most companies at least 20%. His firm has a great track record, he gets paid only from the resulting savings,

Pressure on Fees and Profits Got You Down?

I’m hearing more tales of woe about fees and profits getting squeezed. The squeeze is hitting even professional services firm leaders used to charging above market rates. When clients buy on price, they see a commodity. That should be a wakeup call. You don’t want to be a commodity. Your firm may be better than competitors,

How to Overcome the “Fear of Selling”

Professionals love practicing their trade, but many find little enthusiasm in selling their own services. As more than one PhD or attorney has told me, “I didn’t go to grad school because I wanted to become a salesperson.” It’s an issue even at firms large enough for a dedicated sales and business development staff as

Strategic Marketing 3.0: How to do more with the same or less

Whenever you focus on your product or service rather than the impact on your customer’s operation, your thinking limits your results. Challenging yourself to think about what your customers really appreciate about your firm pays dividends. It’s worth asking these questions because a few exceptional firms earn higher profits, win nearly all the deals they

How a Marketing Plan Can Transform Your Company

Marketing is a tool, right? And, tools don’t transform companies. The conventional wisdom holds that Marketing has its niche, and this niche is support rather than leadership. For reasons that mostly have to do with preconceptions, most marketing looks outward. This isn’t the way great companies think.

Got Mission? Non-Profit Lessons for For-Profit Firms

Jack, the CEO of a technical services firm, and I both volunteer at the same non-profit. Several months ago, with optimism about the economy and a cup of coffee in his hand,  Jack described big plans and goals for the next few years. I knew Jack didn’t currently have the organization to reach his goals,

3 Things Excellent Firms Do, but Can’t Explain

Business leaders envy those exceptional firms that consistently thrive year in and year out through good times and bad. Do these firms have extraordinary management, or is it something “mortal” firms can learn? In my experience, the most consistent performers are culturally committed to the constant pursuit of three common goals: Looking for better ways

How to Raise Pricing in Good Times or Bad

I’ve yet to find a firm (exclusive of the sales force) that believes it’s overcharging for the value provided. In most cases, it’s just the opposite; firms charge too little relative to the value they create. Leadership generally senses this, but doesn’t know what to do. After all, they can’t just raise their pricing in
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