Why precision is a key skill for entrepreneurs
 
Written by Gordon McAlpine
 
I really do believe that being precise is a key skill for scaling up your business. But what exactly do I mean by precision? Let’s take a look at the dictionary definition, which is a good start: ‘Precision - the quality, condition or fact of being exact and accurate.’

To bring this definition to life, let’s take a look at some examples of what precision might look like in the world at large. For astronaut Tim Peake, precision could be the precise second at which he must return from his space walk and re-enter the European space station before his oxygen runs out. For Jaguar Land Rover, precision could be a robot laser cutting metal for a chassis to the accuracy of one thousandth of a millimetre. For the Scotland rugby team, precision could be throwing an ambitious looped pass at just the right angle to open up a gap and breach the solid English defensive wall (without being intercepted).

The above examples show how critical precision is, and how there is very little margin for error. But how important is precision for you as an entrepreneur?

Many top business people believe there is a fine line between success and failure in business – a sentiment I’ve always agreed with. In fact, I’ve always seen precision as the difference that makes the difference: a focused mindset that can markedly improve your chances of scale-up success.

So, here are five areas in which you can use precision to grow and scale up your business.

Precision in scale-up sales

If you and your team operate with accuracy, quality and precision in everything you do, there is no doubt that you will continually make improvements, and better performance and sales results will follow.
Being precise is hard work to start with (most things in business are!), but once you get the hang of it, it becomes a habit like any other and will pay back handsomely.

Precision for your proposition

Having a precise proposition means AVOIDING a number of things. These include:
 
  • putting up a slide of a map of the world and saying ‘we work in 57 countries…’ – comes across as arrogant and irrelevant
  • rambling on pompously at the start of a sales conversation about how great your business is, what you do and who your clients are – when all a potential client wants is a brief snapshot
  • death by powerpoint – ruining the rapport you have created at the beginning of a meeting by ‘tell selling’ with a bunch of slides on how wonderful your business is – believe me most prospects would prefer an intelligent two-way business conversation
It’s vital to construct your elevator pitch using simple, precise language (no waffle!). Remember that less is more and make sure you have a strong ‘WHY’ – why you are doing what you are doing, NOT what you do and how you do it (at least not to start with, that can come later).

 
Precision with your passion

You would think that all passion is great. Well, passion is nearly always great, and believe me I’m one of its biggest fans! But there is a danger of overdoing it and sounding ‘salesy’, so here are some pointers to harnessing your passion with precision.
Be precise with when you use passion in sales conversations. Examples of when to turn on the passion are:
  • when explaining your proposition
  • when you’re doing your presentation or demonstration
  • when someone asks you why you are better than your competitors
Be precise with the language you use when you become passionate and BEWARE of using too many superlatives when talking about your product – e.g. ‘amazing’, ‘unique’, ‘incredible’ and ‘unbelievable’. Prospects may become wary and start thinking that it sounds too good to be true. Precise, sincere language works more effectively, examples of phrases might be:
  •  'I’m extremely proud of the product we have created specifically for this market… ’,
  •  ‘Our research has shown that we can solve some of your major challenges and generate a strong return on investment… ’
  •  ‘As a business, we genuinely want to make a difference by… ’
Precision in building your pipeline

Precision is a critical component for a solid, sustainable pipeline, and I’d recommend you focus on two key areas to start with: precise targeting and precise pipeline management.
Many entrepreneurial firms take a "we’ll sell to anyone as long as it helps us grow our revenues" approach to sales. It’s true that this will probably grow sales revenue, but for a small business it is an inefficient route to long-term, sustainable growth. The best way to create a dynamic, sustainable pipeline is to target with precision. Identify your target client niche and stick with it.

If you want to target more precisely, you can even fine tune it into a ‘micro niche’. As an example:
  •  you might identify your target niche as financial services
  •  THEN distil this down to professional financial services
  •  THEN to accountancy firms
  •  FINALLY to a precise focus on SME accountancy firms with up to 500 employees
    By focusing on this micro niche you will get known, gain word-of-mouth recommendations and grow sales quickly. Do the maths on market size, but there could be millions of pounds of potential sales for your company within this micro niche alone! And once you dominate a micro niche you can start growing back up into the larger ‘parent’ niche.

    When it comes to precise pipeline management, firms always start building their pipeline with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm, but over time sloppiness can kick in, which can impair the probability of converting leads into sales.

    A customer relationship management system (CRM) is at the core of your sales and marketing activities, and this is where precision is extremely important:
    •  set up best practice rules for the CRM for everyone in sales and marketing
    •  rules to cover include accuracy of data entry, categorising prospects precisely, logging precise meeting notes by the end of each week
    •  give the responsibility to your sales people to regularly manage, clean and update their pipelines regularly to ensure accurate data for both sales and marketing
    It is crucial for you as a leader to be able to run CRM reports with precise sales forecast data at any given point in time, and insisting on precision in your CRM system will aid this.
    Precision for your people

    To create a world-class team (yes, it is possible in a small firm!) and make sure they remain focused and motivated, it is critical that you apply precision in leading your people. Key areas to focus on include:
    •  a precise definition of your sales culture (and how that fits into the company culture)
    •  ensuring your team have absolute clarity on the culture, the vision and exactly what is expected of them
    •  post your vision/mantra on your sales team wall (digitally as well), and high performance will follow
    And, of course, don’t forget that you need to demonstrate precision in your leadership and lead by example. If you’re not precise yourself, you certainly can’t expect the rest of your team to be.

    Conclusion

    By following these simple pointers, you will find that you and your business will become sharper, more professional and more trusted and you will stand out against your competitors.

    The bottom line is that if you and your team operate with accuracy, quality and precision in everything you do, you will continually make improvements to allow you to evolve and grow. Better performance and sales results will ultimately follow and your scale up dreams can start to become a reality.

    For further information on how to scale up an entrepreneurial business, Scale Up Millionaire by Gordon McAlpine is available on Amazon - for more information, visit www.gordonmcalpine.co.uk

    About the author: Gordon McAlpine

     
    Gordon McAlpine is a sales guru and serial entrepreneur. After a stellar start to his sales career at Astra Zeneca, he co-founded tech start-up BigHand from his living room, and as Sales & Marketing Director was responsible for driving the global Scale Up to successful exit.

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