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Developing Commercial Drive

The Top 11 Mistakes that Knock-back your Commercial Drive

I’m occasionally asked to help people develop their commercial drive. That is, to become more self-assured and motivated in making their business or organisation successful in its marketplace.

These requests come from people in the private, third-sector and, increasingly, from the public sector. They are sometimes experts, specialists and professionals who have moved into more generalist leadership positions.  And they are sometimes leaders in organisations where market-pressures have changed or where new ‘internal markets’ have been introduced. In either case, the overall commercial success of their business or department is a key part of their responsibilities and developing more commercial drive themselves is a necessity.

There are already lots of books and websites dedicated to helping you do great marketing. So I’ve focused here on the mistakes that you might want to avoid in your own internal attitudes and ways of thinking that can otherwise really knock-back your commercial drive:

  1. Not asking your existing customers what else they need you to do for them, or who else they know
  2. Not being picky enough about who you choose to work with
  3. Not being really focused on doing just a few things exceptionally well
  4. Forgetting how great and joyful it is to help people by doing what your business does
  5. Forgetting to tell your team and everybody else about number 4
  6. Thinking that the product or service you provide will keep being “good enough” without a plan for becoming the absolute best in the world at something
  7. Thinking you have to “sell”, and sell now, instead of building relationships
  8. Doubting your own ability to be great at being commercial, instead of just “Doing what you can, where you are, with what you have” (Roosevelt)
  9. Only having one strategy, one approach to being commercial and always trying to apply that, regardless of its relevance
  10. Being a frozen, rabbit-in-the-headlights, stuck trying to find the ‘perfect’ or ‘right’ way to be commercial, rather than experimenting with things
  11. Not Gamifying your thinking – every contract you win, every great project you deliver is a ‘level-up’ and provides a platform for even more success – if you use it.

Great One-on-One Meetings for Busy Managers: booklet now available on Amazon

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What’s your reason for doing what you do?

How to use that reason to find motivation and direction and engage with your marketplace

Why did you choose the business or profession you’re in – and not something else?

All of the effort and heartache and the joy of when it works are so closely tied in to your reason for choosing it.

Research suggests that on the inside people often chose their business or profession, in their words: “Because I had to.” Often people interpret this as a lack of choice or perhaps a kind of compulsion. We find that when you dig a little, there’s usually a great story involved, of determination,  resourcefulness and dreams for the future.

If you look at that story as an outsider, once things have clicked into place and people understand the reason behind it, it tells you lots of things about what’s important to the founders and the people around them  – and what they want to leave behind, their legacy, what they want to be remembered for.

And one of the really brilliant things about uncovering the reason, is that the story behind it and the legacy you’re aiming for is a great way of standing out in your marketplace. It says something unique about you and your business and lets other people feel the strength of your “why”.  Clients and customers who feel aligned with your reason will engage with your business in a deep and enduring way.

The exercise we sometimes use to work with the reason behind your business is the Blue Plaque Game – that’s mine in the picture. To think about your own, imagine what a third person might have to say about you?

You might also like this link, to a Telegraph article about “Britain’s Best Blue Plaques”.


Great One-on-One Meetings for Busy Managers: booklet now available on Amazon

If you found this article useful, you might want to grab a copy of my latest short eBooklet from Amazon. Please use the buttons or image below to see a preview or buy your copy: