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Four insights from the Mindshop Advisor Training Round 4, November 2018

Are you practising authentic authenticity as a business advisor?

Are you walking the walk or just talking the talk? A flashy marketing campaign to convince quality customers of your transparency and genuineness is doomed to failure. Mature clients have a well-honed radar and will disconnect if they sense even a whiff of disingenuousness.
So how do advisors convert clients no longer buying into spin? James Atkins and Jason Langford-Brown both long standing Mindshop members and successful business advisors delivered four key insights to achieve greater marketing cut through during the global Mindshop Advisor Workshop round this November.

1. Marketing for engagement

‘Experience is the new product and time is the new price’ was an idea that resonated throughout the workshops.
For professional service firms, providing a fantastic experience for customers across all touch points, from the sales process, onboarding and delivery through to billing is essential to generate referrals – still the strongest advisory lead generator. The key idea being that marketing is no longer the sole responsibility of a few key people and that clients are willing to pay for ease of engagement.

This whole-of-business approach to marketing requires thinking, acting and communicating from the inside out, starting with the organisation’s ‘why’. Ask your business some fundamental questions: ‘what is your purpose, your motivation and what you believe?’ This will frame ‘how’ you go about engaging with clients – your process, specific actions, and then finally framing the ‘what’ – what do you do?

2. The need to be more authentic

Balancing what you say, versus what others say about you is the key to authentic engagement. An advisory brand is an articulation of who the organisation is, what they believe and what they do, if it does not reflect the expectations and experience of customers and public reputation, you’re at risk of lacking authenticity. Do you know what clients are saying about you and your reputation? If not you need to ask both those you have won recently and maybe those you have lost?

The sweet spot of authenticity is the intersection of your brand, reputation and fit with customer needs.

To be authentic you need to be trusted, and to be trusted you need to be transparent.
Think of your marketing as a pyramid, from the basics of your website up to nurturing campaigns and sales engagement techniques. All these building blocks need to be authentic, aligning to your ‘why’ at each stage of the sales cycle and beyond. Here’s a practical tip – why not try harnessing the power of video, the shorter the better, using unscripted language to tell stories of how your customers have experienced success using your services?

3. Engaging through influence

B2B selling is complex, the likelihood of a purchase drops sharply when the number of decision makers involved increases. Today’s empowered customers are on average 57% of the way through their purchase decision by the time they engage a supplier . Therefore, engaging through influencing decision makers can be a powerful tool.
Advisors can implement the seven principles of persuasion to assist in the B2B sales process

1. Reciprocation – prospects will have a feeling of obligation if you provide something of value first
2. Social proof – we tend to be more trusting of things that are popular and have been endorsed as quality by others we trust
3. Commitment and consistency – asking your prospect to start with small agreements makes it harder for them to say ‘no’ in the long run
4. Liking – we’re more likely to submit to requests made by people we like and who like us in return
5. Authority – we’re more likely to agree with those who have perceived authority
6. Scarcity – we’re drawn to things that are hard to get and in short supply
7. Unity – people need to feel they belong to something greater than themselves

These principles are not about ‘trickery’ and need to be applied in an authentic way. How can you weave them into your advisory offering, marketing and sales?

4. You’ve got them, so how are you going to keep them?

The quality of your service model and ability to deliver a high value outcome for clients is obviously key in the retention of clients. If you’re not offering services that provide ongoing benefits, rather than one off project-based activities you will constantly be searching around for new clients.

Does your advisory model hit a sweet spot? Your offering must meet three marketing fundamentals:

a) Be digestible
b) Solve a problem, and
c) Link to a clear competitive advantage

Your advisory model needs to tell a great story about how you will work with clients to achieve their goals.

Here are three advisory services that will cut through with clients in 2019 and improve your likelihood of client retention:

1. Online coaching and training – deliver the triple play of benefits – leverage (more clients, more often), improved customer experience (just-in-time support) and cost reduction (less reliance on heavy travel schedules to maintain face-to-face contact)

2. Initial business reviews – help clients focus attention on where they are now and where they want to be in the future, use tools such as a Growth and Profit Diagnostic, Now Where How and financial dashboards

3. Half day strategic plan re-sets – time-poor clients want a simple strategic plan review to get them back on track. Use One Page Plan, Now Where How, Sustainable Competitive Advantage, Mindmap and Pareto to achieve a clear plan in a short period of time.

Good luck with implementing some of these ideas, the achievement of authenticity through your marketing, sales and advisory offering will set you apart from those who are just ‘talking the talk’.

Want to learn more about being an agile advisor or how Mindshop helps build high performing advisory businesses? Click here.

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Business advisory can take many forms, from delivering insights and problem solving, right through to implementation of strategic plans.​​​​​​

Presented by James Mason
Duration 24 minutes

Are you just starting out, or years down the track? Does your team have a wealth of capabilities to deliver a wide range of advisory services or are you learning the basics? In this 24-minute webinar, James Mason will uncover the types of models working at each phase, the capabilities you will need for success and where major revenue opportunities lie. Watch the webinar here:

https://vimeo.com/user24295412/review/295096358/8235bf6dee

In this webinar you will learn:

  1. the 5 phases of business advisory success
  2. the biggest opportunities to win advisory work
  3. key capabilities needed for success at each advisory stage
  4. example business models achieving great cut-through
  5. key strategies for the year ahead

After watching the webinar you can post comments and questions below this blog for James to answer.

Would you value a 15-minute discussion with a Mindshop Regional Manager about your business advisory objectives? Contact lthomas@mindshop.com to organise a time.

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‘How to market your advisory services’ is one of our most popular webinar topics, and is increasingly relevant in today’s competitive market.

View James Mason’s half-hour webinar below.  You will learn how to:

  1. Identify your sustainable competitive advantage
  2. Define your target customers
  3. Create your business model
  4. Know your targets
  5. Start your marketing process

After watching the webinar you can post comments and questions below this blog for James to answer.

Would you value a 15-minute discussion with a Mindshop Regional Manager about your business advisory objectives? Contact lthomas@mindshop.com to organise a time.

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If you missed the first Mindshop advisor training round of 2018 we’ve put together some highlights to give you a taste of the practical information and insights shared at the events around the globe.

James Mason, Managing Director of Mindshop, was joined by long-standing Mindshop advisor Rod Willers in Australia and New Zealand, with Dr Chris Mason presenting in the UK and US on the topic ‘Value Creating Growth’.

Rod shared insights from years of experience as a partner in the largest professional service firms in Australia and from building and operating his own consulting business.

Insight 1: Mind the performance gap

Mindshop recently surveyed over 160 business leaders and advisors, the results highlighted the need for continuous capability improvement to build business success, and emphasised that capability must be supplemented with ten key high-performance habits to bridge the gap to success. Key findings from the report include:

  1. Advisors are focused on refining their business models in 2018, top of the ‘skills or capabilities required’ list for 13% of respondents.
  2. Strategic planning days are most likely to be offered as a service by advisors in 2018.
  3. Finding time or capacity is in the biggest concern for advisors in 2018.

For more insights from the survey and a list of capabilities and high performance habits needed by business advisors, download the full report here.

Insight 2: Get alignment in your business model

The creation of an advisory business model that fits your purpose and vision is key to ensure your business is sustainable in the long term. Power comes through alignment of your purpose with your sustainable competitive advantage, which is then expressed in your business model and marketing materials.

Insight 3: Shift to implementation and execution

‘Don’t pay me for the plan, pay me for the implementation’
Russell Cummings, Mindshop advisor.

Rod outlined the seven key success factors that power great implementations:

  • Use frameworks to help the team develop and execute the strategy (Now-Where-How, One Page Plan for example)
  • Match the level, language and approach of the business
  • Meet regularly to assess progress
  • Have a tailored focus
  • Ensure your approach is culturally aligned to the business
  • Watch for having a scope that’s too broad, saturating the organisation with overly complex projects and not adapting as the situation changes
  • Have a support plan to any implementation project to ensure change success.

And remember, implementation is a marathon, not a sprint.

 

Insight 4: Five steps to lifting value with potential customers

Display your value to create growth when having preliminary discussions with clients by following these steps:

  1. Frame – discuss your unique value proposition, timing and focus (let the client dictate the focus), have authentic war stories at the ready
  2. Questions – Delve into the business, asking about their vision, goals and consequences of failure, what support and resources are needed to overcome barriers?
  3. Listen – focus on client’s priorities, not your agenda, watch energy levels, demonstrate you genuinely care
  4. Use a process or tool – for example Now-Where-How or Porter’s Competitive Strategy framework to dig deeper and provide structure
  5. Next steps – don’t leave without next steps being outlined, always summarise in a One Page Plan, post everything in your support system.

 

Insight 5: Challenge the leaders you work with
Challenge the commitment of your clients’ leaders to change by using a model such as Mindshop Change Success. Ensure organisations are ready for change by exploring:

  • leadership support for the project
  • the need for change
  • ‘what’s in it for me’
  • the change process and
  • the confidence of the organisation to successfully implement the change project.

Insight 6: Use activity mapping

An activity map is a strategy tool to un-pack an organisation’s competitive advantage as to how it competes for profit, it connects elements of the market-facing value proposition to the company’s assets, capabilities and values. It helps map out what a company does and doesn’t do which makes it unique.

Use it to show how every function contributes to the achievement of strategy, for greater alignment across different offices and to prioritise where to focus your energies to drive improvements in the value proposition.

Insight 7: Capability will drive increased referrals

Referrals should be a key part of your lead generation program. To maximise the effectiveness of your referral program, you should:

  1. Do good work!
  2. Ask for the referral
  3. Foster advocate behaviour and always close the loop
  4. Target influential and active referrers
  5. Ask yourself some hard questions if it’s not working for you

I hope you take away some pointers from these highlights, the next major Mindshop event round is in May, when our conferences take place in the Gold Coast, London and Denver. I look forward to sharing more highlights with you then!

 

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Mindshop by Lindsay Thomas - 8M ago

Mindshop surveyed over 10 business leaders and advisors in 9 countries providing valuable insights to highlight the ten capabilities and ten high performance habits needed for business advisory success in 2018.

Download the report here.

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