This eBook for entrepreneurs, CEOs, and startup founders covers it all, from staying relevant, to cutting overhead, to providing outstanding customer service, to increasing sales, to teaching you what mindset you need to have to be successful on a daily basis. It’s put together to empower you so that you can, “do great today.”
Take the lessons that you learn from this business reference guide, and put them into action. Share what you learn, teach others what you learn, and commit to yourself to make a difference in your own life, starting right now. Enjoy the ride.
Table of Contents
Preface – Push Yourself
0.1 Be Responsible for You
Ultimately, you need to be responsible for you. No one has the power to push you to excel more than yourself. Success is a mindset. Make the decision to do better with your life today by continuing to learn. If you’ve messed up in the past, make it right, and then start doing the right things today. Learn from your failures. Be helpful, be useful, be empathetic, be forgiving, and always be true to you.
0.2 About the Author
Brandon Schaefer is an influential corporate business strategist that shows entrepreneurs, CEOs, and startup founders, how to improve their sales and business processes, client and prospect communications, lead generation efforts, and profits per sale. Brandon assists his clients in discovering the best ways to effectively manage their business, including leveraging employee engagement, social media and content marketing, sales training, hiring and firing, distribution, development, and advertising. Brandon has considerable experience in streamlining business processes to maximize productivity, working with executive leadership to come up with new ways to grow the business, forming enterprise content marketing strategies, analyzing data to make more informed educated business decisions, and creating personalized marketing and lead generation campaigns that get results. Brandon helps his customers be accountable, consistent, and accurate, in every aspect of their business.
Brandon is extremely popular among his executive peers, and he’s well known wherever he goes. Brandon shares his real life experiences with every corporation and executive that he works with, and he has a special way of forming long-term “family” type relationships with his clients. Brandon always tells it exactly how it is in business, never sugar coats anything, is always genuine, is always sincere, and is always helpful and available whenever and wherever clients need him.
Brandon is also a frequent contributor of content to a variety of influential websites, and his unique content is viewed by people across the world on a daily basis. Some of his past projects include working with Google’s Primer App to create new sales lessons, working with Google’s Small Business team as an Advisor, and mentoring SCORE clients. Brandon states, “I’m an entrepreneur at heart. I share information that will not only inspire you, but also help you move closer to achieving your goals. I naturally tie in business information with personal achievement and success, because the two go hand in hand. I personally aim to have good balance between my personal and business life. Having strong family support and strong business support makes all the difference in the world.” Brandon has a large and engaging following on all of his social media channels, including Twitter and Instagram, and some people wonder when he ever sleeps.
0.3 Inspirational Leadership
The business landscape is evolving faster than ever seen before in history. That’s why it’s absolutely crucial, as a business leader, that you focus on growing your inspirational leadership skills. Inspirational leadership skills are what will drive not only yourself, but your team, through the uncertain future. You must look forward, and look at the possibilities that lie ahead.
Here are the inspirational leadership skills that will drive you through the near future, and beyond. Remember, you need to implement them in your daily life for them to work.
Embrace change. Be open it. The world is going to change, so we can either get on the bus and go with it, or we can let the bus pass us by and then wonder why we never did anything about it. You don’t need to like change, but if it’s something that’s absolutely necessary to keep your lights turned on, so you’d better adapt to it, and quickly.
Think before you react. Give yourself that ever so important 10-seconds of thinking time before you say or do anything that may negatively impact an already bad situation. Mistakes are going to happen, it’s inevitable, so learn to be patient, and you’ll have an opportunity to not compound an already bad situation. The idea is to provide a positive experience for everyone involved.
Respect people for who they are and what they believe in. We’re all human beings. Toss any negative judgements out the window. Yes, people are going to have their own opinions, but as a business leader, you need to stay respectful and unbiased, regardless of the situation. The world is way too small of a place to not respect someone for what they believe to be true.
Be forgiving and understanding. Let me put it this way, “Stuff happens.” Flat tires, kids being sick, you being sick, parents getting older, vacations, and everything else under the sun. The best thing you can do is sit back and listen when someone is explaining what’s going on. There’s a big difference between enabling, and loving. Enabling is continuing to put up with the junk behavior, and loving is telling the employee that you realize what’s going on, that you’re not going to put up with anymore, and that if they don’t change, they’re going to be gone. Give people a chance to correct negative behavior.
It’s ok if it’s not perfect. Not everything is always going to be 100% correct. Sometimes you just need to go with what you have ready at that point in time, and then learn as you go. If you’re aiming for perfection, you’re most likely going to get paralysis by analysis, and you’re probably never going to get anywhere. You can plan all you like, but you’ll never know until you start to actually execute the plan, to see if it works.
Take small steps. Hit a few singles first, before you start swinging for a home run every time you’re up to bat. Look at business steps like you’re walking to your bedroom upstairs in your home, if you try and jump two or three steps, you’re most likely going to fall, but if you just take it one step at a time, you’re not going to have any issues. Taking too big of a bite may put you in an unrecoverable situation where you’ll lose everything.
Say it exactly how it is. There’s no reason to beat around the bush, ever. Being straightforward is always the best way. You never want to be rude or ignorant to anyone though. There are always ways to get your point across while being firm, without chopping someone down at the knees. It’s not something that you’d like done to you, so don’t do it to anyone else either. Get right down to the point, say what you need to say, and then move forward in conversation from that point.
Hire the best person for the job. Just because someone has all the qualifications in the world, it doesn’t mean they’re going to be a good fit at your company. Take the time to hire the person that is going to work best with your other team members, even if they’re not as qualified. Don’t worry, when great people are surrounded by great team members, they’ll learn whatever they need to, and quickly. Great companies are run by great people.
Cultivate your employees. Give people that work at your company an opportunity to grow. If you want people to stick around, you need to provide them with exciting opportunities to challenge themselves, and to make some serious money. If an employee comes to you with a great idea, let them run with it, support them, provide them with guidance, and if they need a little funding, give it to them. Creating a team environment helps employees feel like they’re an integral part of a greater whole, and when they feel like this, their creativity and productivity will go through the roof.
Let employees work where they work best. Let them get their groove on. Some people work best in the office, some work best listening to music, some work best at home, whatever it is, it’s ok, let employees work wherever, and whenever, they want, so they can be most productive. All that really matter is that they’re getting the work done, to the best of their ability, on time. It’s really a simple concept, don’t make it more difficult than what it is.
Put a meaning behind an employees work. Let them know the importance of what they’re working on. Is it going to change a life? Is it going to help a business be more productive? Is it going to help improve the standard of living for people living in poverty? Whatever it is, make sure your employees understand that how what they’re working on is going to make a difference.
Be personable and let your guard down. It’s ok to show emotion. If your upset about something, let your team know what caused the issue, how it’s making you feel, and what everyone can do moving forward so that it doesn’t happen again. Let people into your life, learn about them, let them learn about you, and create enriching memories that will last a lifetime.
Show confidence. Even in the worst of situations, there’s no time to throw the towel in and lose confidence. There’s always a solution. If you haven’t found the solution, you haven’t looked hard enough yet. Your team needs you as the leader, and if your knees buckle, it’s going to be like dominoes falling behind you. Never let them see you sweat, and always exude confidence, even if you do have to fake it sometimes.
Develop strong partnerships. This is really important in the big scope of things. The saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know,” can definitely play to your advantage. Look to grow every relationship you have. Leave no stone unturned. I’m not talking about selling some pyramid scheme to every person you know, making them feel uncomfortable every time they see you — what I’m talking about is making every relationship count by being the person that they can count on when needed.
Keep it simple. Making things more complex than they need to be is not going to help yourself out. The simpler, the better. If your compensation plan is so difficult to understand, employees are not going to buy into it, and you’re going to lose good people. You don’t want to set so many rules and regulations that every time someone goes to do something, they have to make sure they’re following the rules. Let people be themselves, by keeping how you run your business, simple.
Learn from setbacks. In my life, I always say, “I never lose, because I always take away a lesson.” You can do the same. Yes, I get that you lost that big competitive contract that you were bidding on, but look to see what you learned from the experience, write down notes on what you can do differently next time, and then stay in front of the prospect until the next time they’re going to send the contract out to bid again. Once the bid goes out, use your previous knowledge do give yourself a competitive advantage over your competition.
Dump bad relationships. If you have an employee that’s not pulling their own weight, or maybe their negative attitude is just starting to bring other people down, it may be time to dump them and move on. There’s no time in business to have negative, disrespectful, or undisciplined employees around the office. You work too hard, and pay way too much money to have people ruining what you fought so hard to build.
Set goals. Not setting goals for yourself, as well as your employees, is like driving your car in the night without your headlights. Yes, you may ultimately get to where you wanted to go, but your car may be all dented and banged up because you were driving in the woods half the time. Make it easy for yourself by taking a few minutes at the start of the year, to write down a few simple goals. Then check up on them every month to make sure things having changed, or that you’re not too far off track. Make the needed adjustments, when needed, so that you meet, and or exceed every goal that you’ve set.
Beware of hype. The next best most exciting software, product, or service, may not be the best for your company, especially if it’s a long-term commitment and it’s going to cost you a lot of money. Let the candle burn a little bit and let the first-time adapters spend their money and do all the testing for you. Learn from them, listen to feedback, and then, and only then, if you feel that the software, product, or service is a good fit, make the decision to start using it. To put it simply, “Hype is excitement, and when people get excited, they stop thinking clearly, and when people stop thinking clearly, they get burned.” Don’t be one of these people that loses the ability to think clearly because of the hype.
Be courageous enough to make an unpopular decision. It’s not easy to make a tough decision, especially when personal friendships that have been made in business are at stake. When you have an employee that’s just not working out, or a client that’s just not the right fit, and they run in the same circles that you do, it may be difficult to have a candid conversation in regards to what direction you’d like to go without them, but if you do it for the right reasons, and your upfront, everything will work out better for everyone involved in the long run.
Bring the wow factor. Be the business leader that everyone says, “Wow, he’s an absolutely fabulous person to be around. He always comes through on what he says, and he’s never let me down.” When you bring the wow factor, your customers will do all your selling for you. When a customer gives you a warm handoff to a friend that may be looking for what you sell, you’ll be in great shape to lock up the deal. Be the superior provider of products and services, and bring the wow factor with your customer service.
Always be looking forward. There’s just not enough time to be driving out of the rearview mirror. Look forward, see as far as you can, and then use data, faith, and your gut to help you make the next right decision. Don’t rush into any big decisions without fully thinking and playing them out first. It’s always a good idea to bounce ideas off team members so that you can get some constructive feedback.
Show up to win. The first part in anything is showing up. The second part is showing up to win. You need to bring the physical body, as well as your mental brain, to every important business meeting and/or event that you attend. Showing up and moping around is not going to keep your employees enthusiastic, what is going to keep them excited is you sharing a positive and exciting outlook on business. I know you’ve met that magnetic person that everyone wants to speak with — well, you can be that person if you want — all you need to do is reach your hand out and smile wide.
Stay mentally fit. A mentally fit person i.e. well balanced individual, definitely has a clear and distinct advantage over someone that’s irrational and unbalanced. Empower employees to get mentally fit, share the benefits with them, and provide them a platform where they have an opportunity to engage in activities which help clear their mind of all the clutter. Yoga, working out, walking, running, meditation, are all great and easy ways to get mentally fit. It’s all about balance here, not only in business, but in your personal life as well.
Give credit where credit is due. If someone does something outstanding, give them credit for what they did. No one likes a person that takes all the credit for everything. That’d be called a braggart, and that’s not good. You don’t need to go over the top with acknowledgement, but it’s very important to give credit where credit is due. A simple note will suffice, or a simple conversation in which you recognize what they did, in front of their peers, is very effective as well.
Be an instigator for change. As the business landscape changes, you need to adjust, adapt, and change as well. Be out in front of trends, learn what actions you can take today so that you’re set up for long-term business success in the future. Initiate change within your organization and let employees know why it’s important to get on board.
Think big, real big. Get creative here, and don’t limit yourself. So what if you’re office is in your garage right now, or you don’t have any employees yet. Dream about what you want to achieve in business, layout paths that will get you there, then wake up every morning like your hair is on fire and go out and get it. You can achieve a heck of a lot more than what you think you can, so set that bar super high.
Never settle for anything less than great effort. If you look at great athletes, as well as great business leaders, you’ll see a common trait amongst them, and that trait is effort. Putting forth strong effort will help hide your weaknesses, and it will give you a distinct competitive advantage. Effort, matched with a little bit of smarts, will take you to many magical places.
Make sure you’re doing something you love. If you haven’t bought into what you’re doing and it’s not bringing joy to your life, it’s not right for you. When a situation isn’t right for you, you’ll go home at the end of everyday not feeling fulfilled, and when you don’t feel fulfilled, you won’t be happy, and when you’re not happy, you’ll have a negative attitude, and when you have a negative attitude, it’s going to affect everyone around you. Simply put, “Do what you love.”
Be bold and unique. It’s all about differentiating yourself, and the only way to do that is by you not doing what everyone else is doing. Just because a competitor wears 3-piece suits when they go and visit clients, doesn’t mean that you have to as well. Conforming to the standard mold is not always best practice when you’re running a cutting edge business. You don’t need to be crazy or outlandish in terms of being bold and unique — you just need to be smart about it.
Look at the big picture. Don’t let one situation or employee drag you down. There’s so much more to the big picture when it comes to running a business. So what if one project failed, learn from it, put together a new plan, and go out and make it happen. Whether or not you know it, failing is actually part of succeeding. Sounds strange, but it’s true. You just need to rack up more successes than failures, and you’ll be on the positive end of things.
Provide encouragement. Life can get employees down, business can get employees down, they can get you down as well, but don’t let them. Be the inspirational leader that provides encouragement and reaches out a helping hand when someone needs it most. Let them know whatever feelings they’re currently having will eventually pass, and that you’ll be there to support them through all the way to the end. People need people. There’s nothing that more fulfilling than helping someone else feel fulfilled and seeing that sparkle in their eye.
Let people be who they are. If someone is quirky, let them be who they are. All that really matters is that they’re adding value to your organization. The goal for you as a leader is to bring the most out in people, while letting them be who they are, not for you to be best friends with everyone. If they don’t work like you, it really doesn’t matter — what matters is that they’re getting their work done on time, and properly.
Be true to yourself. If you want to be unhappy, do something that you truly don’t love for an extended period of time. There’s no hiding it, if you’re unhappy, everyone in your life, employees, wife, husband, partner — will feel it. You need to be true to yourself and get involved with a business that you love. Money will only take you so far along your path to success because success is a total sum of life i.e. happiness, health, wealth, relationships, and spirituality.
Don’t take yourself so seriously. I know you think you’re the big shot, and you actually probably are, but don’t act like it. Relax a bit, don’t take yourself so seriously, and just be a normal human being that shows emotions and has feelings. Walking around being stern and serious all the time is no fun. People like funny people — so have a laugh with your employees. If you trip and fall in front of everyone, don’t worry about it, just laugh along and move on, no matter how embarrassed you are.
Always talk it out. This is psychology 101. If you don’t talk about what happened, and you just brush it under the carpet, nothing is ever going to get resolved. Resentments will build, employees will feel like they’re being treated unfairly, and you’re going to end up losing good relationships that may have been able to be saved had you talked it out. No communication, is bad communication, and bad communication leads to unhappy employees, so take the time needed to work out issues.
Let your passion shine through. Trying to build a business that you truly aren’t passionate about is not going to work very well. People want to buy from passionate people, that want to buy from people that can transfer the feeling of excitement to them and put them in the drivers seat. Passion has to start with you, in the top leadership role of the company. If you’re walking around like a zombie, your employees are going to follow suit. Be the excitement, transfer that positive energy, and lead by the actions you take, not the words you say.
Be funny. Everyone likes a good laugh. I’m not asking you to put on a 30-minute comedy show here, but I am asking you to be human and have some fun with business situations. If you can get someone laughing and associate with them, you’ll break down all kinds of barriers, and very quickly. Just another quick reminder, which I know you already know, stay away from sticky topics i.e. religion, politics, and such, as jokes around these topics can be misconstrued easily.
Focus on the task in front of you. Have a laser beam focus when you’re working. There’s no need to check your email every 5-minutes, you’re not a brain surgeon — there’s many more important things that you need to focus on rather than waiting for some magical person to send you a magical email. Do one task at a time for best results. You may not think that you’ll get more done by doing it this way, but over time, you’ll see that you really do.
Share your experiences. Your whole life is an experience, so share it with your employees. If you did something stupid when you were a kid, let them know what it was and laugh about. If you did something smart when you were first starting out in business, and you think it’d help an employee if you shared with them, then do so. A great personal story can make a big difference in helping someone else out. Just because you went through something, doesn’t mean that they have to go through it as well.
Go the distance. See projects all the way through to the end. First, if you don’t start, you’ll never finish. Second, if you start, and then you stop, you’ll never finish either. You have to go the distance, no matter what conditions or circumstances are thrown at you. Living the definition of tenacity at your company, will shine through to each and every employee, and fuel them to lead by inspiration, and example, as well.
Be invested in your local business community. You need to give back. If you look back at how you became successful, you’ll see that you owe a lot of people for giving you an opportunity and a chance to do business with them. Build your office in a community where you can have plenty of opportunity for everyone in your company to get involved. Painting a fence, cleaning up a park, or helping build a house for someone in need, will get everyone feeling like they’re on a winning team, and when that happens, their is no limit to how successful your company can be.
That’s all of my inspirational leadership tips for now. Just going back through all these points gets me fired up. I can do a better job of leading, you can do a better job of leading, and combined, we can all make better business decisions together. There’s no better way to run a company, than running it with inspiration and hope. Look forward, implement the inspirational leadership tips that you’ve learned here, and endless possibilities will lie ahead for you.
0.4 Creating a Positive Work Environment
Without a doubt, work is a huge part of our lives — nearly 1/3 of our time will be spent in a work environment, so while you’re there, you may as well make the very best of it. I look at it like this, “If I’m going to be there, I’m going to do the best as I can in my leadership role,” and one of the most important ways I do that, is by creating a positive work environment for my employees.
All successful leaders create positive work environments, and you can too. To help you out, I’ve put together a list of positive work environment traits that some of our most successful leaders embody, in the hopes that you’ll implement them into your personal leadership development plan in the near future as well. Read them, implement them, put them on your list of goals for the year, and see how great of an effect they have on the growth of revenue and employee leadership development at your company. I know you’ll be very happy with the results.
Focus on what employees are doing right, and build upon those strengths. Turning something that an employee does good, into something they do great, will have far more reaching benefits, than turning something that an employee does bad, into something that they do good. You get what I’m saying here — focus on their strengths, and form a team that’s built on what they do great.
Dump the 1980’s style micromanaging. Stop with this nonsense type of management because it flat out leads to resentments, unhappiness, and the employee ultimately leaving. The workforce today doesn’t need to have someone looking over their shoulder, they’ve been brought up to work independently, and can get the work done, as long as they have clear directions. Remember, just because you did things a certain way when you were growing up, doesn’t mean that those ways are still correct today.
Always be considerate of how changes in the compensation plan are going to affect employees. It’s tough for employees to work for free, especially when they have families and bills to pay. Make sure before you go hijacking the compensation plan, you think about who it’s going to affect the most, and make sure that you’re not going to lose any employees in the process. For me, I love paying someone when they do a job well, so I always look to pay the people that excel within my organization, the most money.
Never allow any type of hazing or bullying. This may sound stupid to have to say in an adult workplace, but unfortunately it still happens. Immediately stop any type of activities that may be construed as hazing or bullying. Yes, cutting the new guys tie after his first deal is hazing. It’s ok to have fun, but there’s a big difference between causing uncomfortableness vs. taking an employee out to lunch as a team as a congratulatory event. If you have to think about whether what you’re doing, is right or wrong, it’s probably wrong, so stop in your tracks, and don’t do it.
Keep the human element in every interaction. I always talk about the human element because it’s so vitally important to understand. When you cut yourself, you bleed, it doesn’t matter what gender, race, or ethnicity you are — so treat everyone the same. There’s never any room for ignorance. We’re all human, we all have emotions, and we’re all eventually going to mess up at some point — the key for you in your leadership role, is to be understanding and help employees through whatever they’re going through.
Focus on team performance and employees working well together. Have people with similar interests and skill sets, work together on the same team. The idea is to get maximum productivity out of every team. The power of like-minded smart employees working together is incredible. New ideas will be discovered, deeper more enriching and accountable relationships will be formed, and ultimately, your company will come out on top because your employees will feel that they’re part of a greater whole.
Make sure employees have work-life balance. Everyone needs to take a break and spend time relaxing or partaking in an activity that they love. As an employer, if you’re pounding on everyone with the 24/7 work theme, you’re not going to have happy employees for very long. Yes, people may buy into this philosophy at first because they’re drinking the Kool-Aid, but after a while, they start to breakdown and realize that this way of, “all work and no play,” just isn’t what life is all about. Make sure your employees are taking time off to spend with their families, and make sure they’re taking time to do what they love.
Stay way out in front of issues. Without a doubt, there are going to be issue that come up. There are many different dynamics in business, some in your control, and some out of your control, and then you match that with different employee and management personalities, and you have a strong probability of issues arising. The best thing to do, is nip them in the bud, immediately. Letting issues linger will only create an atmosphere of animosity within your company. The faster you take care of issues that arise, the faster you’ll move beyond them, and the more happy employees you’ll have.
Provide continual education for employees. Your employees are the lifeblood of your company. They’re an extension of you, so invest time and money into making them the absolute best people they can be — not only in business, but in their personal lives as well. Education is paramount to continual employee growth. Employees may not want to take part in education opportunities at first, but once they’ve completed what they’ve been asked to participate in, they’ll be thanking you.
Honor every employee commitment. If you say you’re going to increase pay for employees every year, than do it. Never commit to anything that you’re not going to be able to stick to. Treat commitments like cement — strong, secure, and lasting. Breaking commitments, breaks trust, and when you break trust, you lose the ability to transfer messages to your employees because they’re not going to believe in what you’re saying.
Promote the right people, for the right jobs. There’s nothing worse for an employee to see a co-worker that’s really not the best person for the job, actually get a job they have no right getting. This is a moral crusher and it will take away positive energy from your staff. If someone is doing a great job for you, but they don’t have the same education or background that another employee has, who cares, put the person that’s doing the great job in the spot. Reward employees that are doing great jobs, by moving them into new roles where they can continue to challenge themselves. If you promote the wrong people, you’re eventually going to have to go back, fire them, and then hire the right people, so just do it correctly the first time, and you’ll save a bunch of time and money.
Bring the best out in every employee. There’s no better feeling than seeing an employee that may have been a little rough around the edges, come through as your shining star. Great leaders have a knack for bringing out the very best out in employees. Look at it like this, “It’s not what you did for yourself that people are going to remember, it’s what you did for other people.” Leave your imprint on the world, and your company, by providing an enriching work environment where people can learn, excel in what they do, and put some serious money in the bank.
There you have them, my list of positive work environment traits that top leaders embody. As I always say, “If you don’t do anything with the information you learn, what sense is there in learning it in the first place.” Let this information sink in, pick out one or two of traits above, and implement them in your organization, then pick out another one or two, and implement them. You need to be moving in a positive direction on a daily basis for best results. I challenge you as a business leader, to create a positive work environment that truly touches your employees hearts.
0.5 Positive Cognitive Mindfulness
Healthy thinking i.e. positive cognitive mindfulness, is an absolutely phenomenal way to live your life. Always coming from a positive point of view, makes you a magnet that people are naturally attracted to. I’m sure you’ve met someone that just seems delightful, outgoing, secure, and magnetic — well, they’re living a life of positive cognitive mindfulness, and that’s the exact reason why you’re attracted to them.
To help you out, and to get you on your way to success, I’ve shared some of the top positive cognitive mindfulness traits that you can grab hold of relatively easily, and incorporate into your everyday interactions with people. Remember, reading these and not doing anything with them, is not going to help you out — you need to grasp hold of them, study them, and embody them, for them to work. You’re going to get what you put in.
Focus on the positive. Ignore the negative. When you focus on the positive, every situation turns out better. Yes, it may be a terrible situation that you’re going through, but letting the negative enter into your mind and eat away at you, is not going to help. It’s only going to exasperate the situation at hand, and it’s just going to cause more stress. Look at the glass as half-full for best results. Whether you believe it or not, there’s a positive in every situation, it’s just that sometimes it takes a little more time than normal to be uncovered. If you give up, you don’t stand a chance at finding it, so keep your head up, stay positive in every situation, and you’ll eventually get through and find your way.
Have some grey area in your thinking. It doesn’t always have to be black and white. You don’t always have to be right either. There’s no sense in fighting with someone over something that’s in the grey area. It’s good that you feel strongly about something, but going too far to the extreme in any one direction can hurt relationships. You may think you’re the law, but you’re not, so let people be who they are, and learn to work with them according to their strengths and weaknesses. In most peoples lives, the grey area consumes most of the interactions throughout the day, but our mind wants to go black or white, so stay on track by being thoughtful, caring, understanding, and compassionate. It just works better this way.
Give people a chance. Not every person is going to have the same skills. Don’t assume that they they’re going to know how to do something if they’ve never been trained properly. Everyone needs an opportunity. I don’t care where a person is from, what type of upbringing they had, or didn’t have — everyone deserves a chance to prove their value. The real gems are in the person that gets a chance, takes full advantage of it, and excels beyond anyones expectations. Success stories like this all start with one main action — that person being given an opportunity. Sometimes multiple chances are needed. We’re all human here, and we’re all going to make mistakes. I know it may be tough, and outside guidance from a trained professional may be needed, but being understanding, and giving people a second chance, is really the way to go.
Never jump to conclusions. Listen to what happened, why it happened, gather some supporting evidence, and then make a decision on how you’d like to handle things. You know what they say about assuming things, and it’s not good. Take the time to listen. Making quick and uneducated decisions, typically just compounds the situation and makes things more difficult to straighten out later. Take the time to understand the situation in full before you react. The idea is to put the effort in up front, and resolve any issues, so you can move forward, free and clear, of any negative circumstances moving forward.
Be responsible for you. The reason you want to be responsible for yourself, is because you don’t have control over everyone, and every situation that occurs. It all needs to start with you. If you’re not acting responsibly yourself, how is anyone else going to look up to you and believe in what you’re saying. Back up your words, with your actions. There’s no sense in blaming yourself for everything that happens. You’re not able to control, and/or stop everything that’s going to happen, so the best thing you can do, is adapt and evolve along with every situation. Do the best you can, let people know you’re boundaries and expectations, and stay positive for best results.
It doesn’t have to be fair, it just has to be right. Not everything in life is fair, and that’s because every situation has different rules. In some countries, one thing is legal, where in another contries, it’s illegal — whatever the case, it’s up to you to understand what’s right, and then abide by those rules. Read the guidelines that are set forth to protect you, understand the disciplinary measures in breaking the rules, and then get onboard and work within the rules to maximize your efforts in whatever you’re looking to achieve. Breaking the rules is never advised, but pushing the limits is something that you’re going to need to do if you want to get ahead. If you have to question if what you’re doing is right, or wrong, it’s probably wrong, so seek guidance before you jump in and get started on something that’s going to lead you down a negative path that you really don’t want to go down.
Never blame shift. If there’s one thing you never want to do, it’s blame shift i.e. transfer a mistake that you made, to another person. This is a quick way to lose relationships. Learn to take on responsibility and to be fully accountable for your actions. Shirking responsibility and pushing it on someone else is not only hurting yourself, but you’re going to compound the situation and hurt the other person in the process because they’re going to be sucked into something that they really have no idea about. Not blame shifting comes down to you, being responsible for you. If something happened, and you’re to blame, let people know why the mistake happened, what exactly happened, and what you’re going to do so that it never happens again. Like I mentioned above, we’re all human and we all make mistakes, so just fess up if you messed up, take responsibility, and move on.
Dump should, could, and would, from your vocabulary. All three of these words will lead you nowhere. They’re all past tense and position you as a failure. Let me give you a few examples of what I’m talking about. “I wish I would of done this,” or “I should of done this,” or “If I could only have this one thing, everything would be great,” you see what I’m saying? Using should, could, and would all put you in a position of feeling less than. Well, I’m here to tell you that you’re more than. Instead of using, “should,” try saying it like this instead, “Maybe next time I’ll try it this way.” You see the simple transition? Of course you do. Using the right vocabulary and laying out things in your head properly can make a huge difference in how you feel about yourself.
Make decisions based off the information that you have, not just from your gut feeling. Set yourself up for success by understanding everything that’s going on in your life. Your gut i.e. intuition, is vitally important, but you always need to put some facts behind it as well. In simple terms, “Don’t be irrational with your decision making process.” Sometimes our emotions will get the best of us, and we’ll make a big decision, based off how we feel, which may not be really how the situation is, because we’re not in the right emotional state to make the proper decision. I’d suggest that before you make any big decisions, that you give yourself some time to think about it, and to work out all the details on paper. Gather all the facts, see how you feel, then make the decision.
You need to change, not other people. Relationships that surround you are always going to be in flux, so the faster you realize that it’s you that needs to adapt and change, not the world, the better off you’ll be. I’m sure you’ve heard the quote, “The situation doesn’t determine your success, it’s the way that you react to it that does.” Some people are just flat out crazy, and when you try to change a crazy person, you know what happens right? You end up being the crazy one — so don’t worry about the crazies or what they’re doing, just avoid them, alter your behavior for the positive, and move on with your life. Control what you can control, and that’s only yourself most of the time.
Stay away from generalizing and judging people. You just don’t know what someone is going through, or had to go through to get to where they are today. Maybe they had a rough upbringing that was gifted with happily married parents and a perfect house with a white picket fence and a dog. Looking at people from just the outside and judging them by appearance is really selling yourself short. Get to know people, listen to them, find out their story, and be the helping hand when needed. Yes, it’s easy to judge people right away because our mind is setup to do it this way, but if you can train yourself to hold back on that initial judgement for a few minutes until you can find out a bit more about the person, it will definitely open up some new relationship opportunities for you. Grouping people into categories isn’t good to do either — just because one person does it, doesn’t mean that everyone is going to do it.
You don’t always need to be right. No one is always right, it’s ok. Share what you know, and don’t try to extend the truth to make yourself sound better. You’re not on the playground in first grade anymore, be an adult, and when you’re wrong, promptly admit it. Sometimes finding out that you’re wrong, can be just as exciting as you thinking that you’re right, because you realize that you won’t be spreading junk information anymore. There’s really nothing incorrect with being wrong about something, admitting it and moving on, but there is something wrong with knowing you’re wrong, sticking to your guns, and just continuing to make a fool of yourself.
Do a good act because you want to, not because you want to get rewarded. If you want to feel fulfilled, or like you’re a greater part of a whole, give back at every opportunity you get. There’s nothing more rewarding than helping out a person, or an organization, that needs it. Yes, money is great, and it’s probably the preferred method for most organizations, but time is needed as well. People need people, they need emotional support, they need to feel loved, and money isn’t able to do this — only one human with another human can transfer these ever so important feelings. When giving back, do it for the right reasons without expecting anything back in return. Believe me, if you give naturally for the right reasons, you’ll get back ten-fold what you put in, you just need to hang around long enough, and look hard enough to find it.
There you have them. All the positive cognitive mindfulness traits that you can easily implement in your life. Like I mentioned above, you get what you put in, so study these, implement them, practice them, and you’ll be on your way to an absolutely phenomenal way of life. Remember to always come from a positive point of view, and wake up in the morning with the intent to be helpful and useful, not only to yourself, but everyone you come in contact with.
Chapter 1 – Staying Relevant and Competitive
1.1 Adapt and Evolve to Stay Relevant and Competitive
Thinking you’re fine just doing what you’re doing today, tomorrow, is lying to yourself. You always need to be adapting and evolving on a daily basis, that is, if you still want your business, to actually be in business, years from now.
There’s nothing worse than seeing a once powerful business giant fall to the ground ungracefully, but it’s part of reality every year. If only they had taken the steps to adapt and evolve, all that money may not had been wasted, but with complacent behavior, comes sub-standard results, and with sub-standard results, comes big losses of money, and with big losses of money, come job layoffs and cost reducing measure, and with all this, comes your weakness to your competition, and they ultimately end up driving you to the ground and out of business.
This is the fact of business life. If you want to run a business that’s profitable, and that delivers a cutting-edge product or solution, you need to adapt and evolve, and you need to do it on a daily basis.
So here are some steps you can take.
Hire young, savvy, and very smart people – a person doesn’t have to be book smart, or have graduated from an ivy-league school to be smart in this sense. The person only needs to know what people want and like, and in some instances, not looking at the business data over the past twenty-years, and just being able to predict the future in some sense, is well beyond good enough.
Take suggestions – the power of suggestion is everything in business. Some of the best business improvements to products and services have come from simple suggestions. However much you think you know, you can always know a lot more. Take suggestions to heart, the more open your mind, the more ways to success you’ll find.
Figure out what’s working vs. not working – if you’re only doing what you know to work, you’ll never grow. There’s no such thing as failure because even when you fail, you learn what doesn’t work, and the faster you learn what doesn’t work, the faster you can stop wasting time and money, and keep testing other methods out until you find a few things that do work.
Pushing the limits is a big part of adapting and evolving. The biggest lessons in business will come from pushing the limits, but if you don’t push them, you’re eventually going to stop learning, and when you stop learning, you get complacent, and when you get complacent, your business starts to go down the tubes
Invest in technology – not investing in technology, is flat out ineffective and inexcusable. It’s also one of the fastest ways to make your business non-relevant. Invest in right technology, and you’ll have good profit, and you’ll have excellent potential for big-time growth. Don’t invest in technology, and your overhead will continue to rise, you’ll have low profit margins, and your competition will eat you up.
It’s extremely important to make the right technology decisions. Just because your competition is using a certain software solution, it doesn’t mean that the same one is good for your business. Try out different technology, see which one fits best with the way your business functions, test it out for a month or two, get an implementation plan together, and then execute it.
Jumping into an enterprise Oracle solution, may not be the best fit for your mid-size company. Over invest in technology, and you’re done as well. Balance is everything.
There’s no sense in beating yourself up over business decisions that ended up being incorrect. Just rack them up as learning lessons, keep your head up, and rock on through the future.
Commit to adapt and evolve, that is, if you want to continue to be in business. Remember, there’s a big difference between book-smart, and business-smart, whatever type of person you are, recognize it, embrace it, and then higher the counter opposite of what you are as your top employee so you balance each other out.
1.2 Focus on the People that Engage
Having a massive email subscriber list is great, but if people aren’t engaging with what you send out, it’s not serving you any purpose. You’re better off spending time focusing on the ten percent that are actually opening your emails, and furthering your relationship with them i.e. finding out more personalized about them, and learning how your service can help them solve their short-term and long-term objectives.
Focusing on the ten percent will enable new opportunities to blossom. When you take care of what you have, and the people that are important to your business, great things happen. Focus on providing the ultimate client experience whenever possible. Form real relationships, understand each other, and sincerely care about each others well being for best relationship results.
You get the drift, these are the type of clients I like to deal with, no one can offer a highly personalized service for a hundred thousand people, and if you can, you’re hired, and let me know how you do it. The old philosophy of it being difficult to, “mix quantity with quality,” really does hold true. If your goal is just to get a bunch of random email addresses, then go ahead, but your real power is going to come from actually bonding true long-term personal and business relationships. This is the area where you’re going to make the most money, in the least amount of time.
It’s easy in the beginning to think, numbers, numbers, numbers, but I’d rather sell ten cupcakes to one person, instead of ten cupcakes to ten people, that just makes more sense to me.
Go through your email list, sort the people that interact with your emails, sort the people that don’t do anything with them, separate your email list into categories, and then focus on the ones that are interacting with you. Dump the ones that don’t do anything, and start fresh. It may be tough at first, but it will be much more rewarding later. This will allow you to focus on what really matters i.e. the great clients that you already have in front of you. Provide the best service they’ve ever had, make their experience so great that they tell there friends, and you’ll see success like never before.
Respect people and their email addresses. Don’t just send out junk, and whatever you do, build your email subscriber list up naturally. It may grow slow, but it will continue to pay dividends for you for years to come.
1.3 Getting Your Message Out
There’s no one size fits all way to get your brands message out in front of a vast social media audience. What I recommend is to just start testing out the different social media channels with your content, so that you can get a better idea of what channel you’re getting the most engagement on. Just because one brand has a ton of success on one social media channel, doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to have the same success.
To get started, all you need to do is make a plan to the best of your ability, commit to yourself that your going to follow through with your plan, and just get after it. I do know one thing for sure, if you do nothing, nothing is going to happen. Don’t worry, it’ not going to be perfect, no matter how well you plan, so just start, and you’ll learn quickly along the way. The idea with testing the different social media channels is to find out which one works best for you, so that you can then focus your time and efforts in the right area. Look at your social media plan the same way oil companies drill for oil. They do small tests to see where the oil is, and once they find it, then they make the big investment in getting it out of the ground in that particular area. You’re going to do the same with your social media channels.
Take the ‘learn as you go’ strategy in the beginning, because there’s no official social media guide book that’s going to give you the magic silver bullet. The social networks change so rapidly that by the time you get done planning, you need to change everything again. This is why I always recommend to just start and test the waters by putting your foot in first.
Thankfully, there are a few core building blocks to social media marketing that you can adhere to, but like I mentioned previously, it’s all going to come down to testing to see what actually works best for you. Here are a few them.
A. Always use landing pages with calls-to-action – if you’re going to invest time and money to push traffic to your website, make it super simple to navigate and have a crystal clear path for people to follow. B. Always be consistent with you posting schedule – people are creatures of habit. They’re used to seeing things at certain times. Do yourself a favor, get a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule, and stick to it. You’ll be helping everyone out by doing so.
C. Always cross-promote your content – use every angle you have to get your message out in front of your audience. You can send out an email newsletter, if you’re speaking at a convention, mention your social media channels, if you’re on one social media channel, mention another social media channel you’re on, and the list goes on and on. What I’m saying, is get creative.
D. Always look to provide helpful, useful, and relevant information – by far, this has to be at the top. Make sure the information you share is helpful to your audience, not just you personally. I know you have the new car you want to show off, but you’re audience really doesn’t care, they want to know how your product or service is going to help them save time or make more money.
E. Always stay engaged and respond to any questions – social media marketing isn’t about posting and running, it’s about getting involved in conversation in real time. Make the effort, and great result will follow. Like with any ‘learn as you go’ strategy, you need to commit to yourself to stay consistent and not give up too quickly. Depending on the size of your company, you may want to hire outside help to do everything for you, but as I always recommend, people are attracted to people, so make sure everything that’s getting shared out has that down to earth, unique, personalized one-to-one touch. Yes, that means you may need to write a few articles, or jump behind the camera and share what makes your product or service unique.
1.4 Stop Beating Around the Bush
Have a purpose in what you’re looking to do in regards to selling your product or service, and stop beating around the bush. This may sound a bit harsh right now, but you’ll thank me later for just coming out and saying it.
If you’re selling something, don’t beat around the bush, let the person know you’re selling something. It’s not rocket science here. It’s not like they don’t know you’re there to sell them something. So this is the important part, please make sure what you’re selling either solves a problem for the person, or provides value to them. It just makes it easier for everyone involved.
Don’t be persuasive, talk about how what you’re offering them is going to directly benefit them. I see time and time again, people beating around the bush, not providing value, not providing solutions that solve problems, and it just ends up wasting the time of everyone that’s involved.
You can read all the persuasion books you want, and you can study all the body language books you want, but what really is going to help you is when you start directly bringing solutions to the table that solve your clients needs. It’s all about their business, not yours.
Here are a few other helpful and simple tips that will help you grow your business faster. Be sincere, be genuine, and be personable in every client interaction that you have. Directly solve problems, always be responsive in a timely manner, leave a buffer so you don’t corner yourself, listen more than you speak, be understanding, be forgiving, be passionate, and above all, just be yourself.
1.5 Spring Clean Your Email List
Your email list is one of the most powerful communication tools that you have. You always want to be sharpening and narrowing down your email list so that the people on your email subscriber list actually participate in what you send out.
It makes no sense to have 5,000 email subscribers on your list and when you send out an email only 10 people engage on what you’ve sent out. If your email subscriber base is not participating in your emails, it may be time to perform a spring cleaning on your email list.
Below are a few examples of ways that you can perform a spring cleaning with your email subscriber list.
A. Send out an email directly asking them to engage or provide feedback. Example: “What’s one thing you’d like to do better in regards to your social media efforts?”
B. Send out an email directly asking them if they still want to receive information from you. Example: “It’s spring time and we’re updating our email subscriber list. If you still find our information helpful, great, but if you’re not seeing the value anymore, please unsubscribe by clicking here.”
C. Send out an email directly stating that if they do not engage and participate in future emails that you send them, they’re going to be removed from your list. Example: “We’ve sent out several emails and you haven’t participated in any of the conversations. If you’re not interested in participating, please click here to opt-out. If we do not receive a response or see you participating in future emails, we will remove you automatically ourselves.”
You pay to have people on your email list. Inactive email subscribers are costing you money and they’re doing absolutely nothing for you. Don’t be fooled by an inflated email subscriber list, focus on what really counts, which is the engagement you get on the emails you send out.
1.6 Do Your Homework
Be selective, and do your homework before you commit to any large business decisions. Making irrational and quick decisions will drive your business to the ground. You have to think your decisions all the way through. I’m not talking about getting paralysis by analysis, or having a team of twenty people help you make a decision. I’m just talking about taking a few minutes, looking at the end result that your decision is going to have, and giving yourself a few moments to see everything through to the end before you jump into something that you may regret.
Ask yourself: Are there any implications? Is it going to hurt anyone in the process? Is it going to help people in the process? Is it going to end up costing you a lot more money in the long run? If you don’t do your homework properly, you’re never going to know the answers to these very important questions. Doing your homework puts you in the drivers seat to make the most educated decision you can. There’s no absolute way to know for sure that any decision you’re making is one-hundred percent correct, but you can definitely help yourself out and put the odds in your favor if you understand the full picture, and the only way you’ll ever understand the full picture is if you reverse engineer the decision making process.
So let me break down the reverse engineered decision making process for you, by providing an example. A mid-size business i.e. generating annual revenue between 10m – 100m, is looking to implement a new help desk ticking system so they can support their clients in a more efficient and timely manner. Instead of jumping into the water head first and just purchasing the same help desk service everyone else uses in their market, they look at the end data that the service is going to provide them, and then they make sure that this information is actually what’s important to them. Once they understand that the end data is correct, they can move to seeing how the data actually gets to that end point. Some legacy systems are clunky and require a lot of importing/exporting, and then manipulation to get the data to look pretty. This is not what you want i.e. this is a red flag in the buying process. Once you understand the data flow, and you’re happy with it, you need to look at how the data is actually being entered. Is it an electronic process where there’s no manual interaction? Or is is a semi-manual process where some user interaction is required? These are all very important points to know because as the volume grows, you need as much automation, that delivers as much personalization, as possible.
I’m sure you get the idea of the reverse engineered process by now. All you’re doing is looking at the end result you’re going to get, and then working backwards. This simple 3-step (ABC) model (shared below) can be adapted to any type of purchase you’re thinking about making. All you need to do is change the words and terms to match your needs.
A. Start at the finish line i.e. the end result the product or service is going to provide to you
B. Check how the data flows through the system
C. Check how the data is entered into the system i.e. is it manual or automated
Decision making is not difficult, although many people, and companies, do make it difficult for themselves because they don’t do their homework and reverse engineer the process to make sure it’s going to work in their specific environment. I’d say this, “Just because your friends company uses a particular product or service, definitely doesn’t mean that the same product or service is going to be a good fit for your company.” Every business has different workflows, different systems they work in, and have different unique needs. Don’t get sucked into the hype of the new best thing, because it may end up being your next worst thing. Look at decisions from the finish line, and then run the race backwards to make sure everything is exactly the way you want it to be. Companies want you to look at things from the starting line, but if you do this, they’ll be the ones crossing the finish line first, not you. With your business, especially with the service providers that you’re paying a lot of money to on an annual basis, it needs to be all about you, so win the race, by doing your homework and reverse engineering every large business decision.
1.7 Camp Out to Get to the Decision Maker
Getting to the decision maker is not easy. In fact, finding out who the decision maker actually is, may be the most difficult hurdle initially, but once you do find out, it may be time to camp out so that you can get an appointment with them. I look at it like this, the harder it is for you to get in front of the decision maker, the better it’s going to be for you in the long run, because if it takes you a while to figure out who they are, and then to camp out to get in front of them, and you have persistence like no other sales reps do, ultimately you’re going to have a competitive advantage moving forward because standard sales reps will never get in front of them.
Look at getting in front of a decision maker as a challenge, and make it fun in the process. Below are some steps you can follow that will help you out.
Step 1: Identify a handful of strategic companies that you’d like to do business with. What you’re looking for are high profit opportunities. Stay away from government, city, and school contracts, as they’re typically very low profit, involve a lot of little transactions, and are sometimes difficult to support due to the fact of how much they’re buying in bulk. Yes, big contracts are great, but if you’re not setup to support them, and you do win the bid, you may end up hurting your business a lot more.
Step 2: Target a specific department within one of the accounts that you’ve identified, and start to do some digging to find out who does what, and who the ultimate decision maker is for that department. Companies have tons of different departments i.e. legal, marketing, purchasing, manufacturing, and etc., you want to focus on the department where your product or service will have the most impact, in the least amount of time.
Step 3: Camp out. If it was easy to gather information on decision makers, everyone would be rich, but it’s not, so you need to do what you need to do to find the information you’re looking to find. I’m not able to say it much simpler than this. If you’re not willing to put the tough behind the scenes work in, you’re not going to be successful. Some people call this the dirty work, but this is where the most progress is going to occur. When camping out, talk to as many people as you can i.e. building management, other tenants, search through your LinkedIn contacts, and use whatever methods available to find out what the deal is, and who makes the decisions. There’s a fine line between being creepy and being investigative, don’t be creepy!
Step 4: Once you have the information, do something with it. You’ve already put the hard work in, and now it’s time to reap the rewards. There’s nothing worse than seeing sales reps do nothing with the information they’ve found. Keeping all the information in your head isn’t going to work either, so use some type of CRM to track and enter all your notes.
Step 5: Get in front to the decision maker. The whole idea in doing all this previous hard work, is so that you’ll have your day to shine. Whatever you do, don’t waste time when you get in front of a decision maker, leave the fluff and nice fish on the wall type junk conversation at home. Get right down to the point i.e. what your product or service does, how it’s going to benefit them, and what it costs. Be short, keep it simple, and be ready to answer any questions that come up. If you don’t know the answer, don’t fake it, just say you’ll find out and follow back up with them right away.
There you have it. Some simple, but very effective steps that you can take to initially identify the decision maker, and then what to do once you get in front of them. You’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here, so just be yourself, and you’ll be fine.
1.8 The First Step is Starting
If you want to finish, you need to actually start. This really isn’t that hard to digest when you think about it. If you’re running a road race, you’re never going to finish the race, unless you actually start the race. The same simple theory holds true in business. If you never start calling on new clients, you’re most likely not going to get any new clients. Yes, I understand that right now your product or service is hot, and customers are flocking to you, but it may not always be that way, so the best thing you can do, is always be prospecting and looking to form new strategic business partnerships.
Everything starts, by you actually starting though. Don’t start, and you’ll never finish. Start, and at least you’ll have a shot to finish. There are so many inspirational stories out there of people that just started doing something, found a true love for it, and made a huge impact on the world. The key is that they started. Yes, I’m sure some of them initially set out to do what they ultimately achieved, but in most instances, the larger percentage started something without any real end goal in site, got a little momentum behind them, said to themselves, “Hey, this is something that can really make a big impact,” put some strategic planning behind what they were doing, set out to expand what they’re doing, and never looked back.
Don’t get me wrong, starting is tough sometimes. As humans, most of us want perfection, and that leads to paralysis by analysis, which in turn leads to you never getting started. You need to dump the idea of waiting for perfection before you start something, and just jump in and get started. For example, I wanted to find a way to give back to my local small business community, because they had given so much to me. So what did I do, I searched for ways to give back locally. Now, you may say, “This is nothing,” but in reality, this was the start. You see, I started by doing the research, and had I not initially started by doing the research, I’d never have found what I’ve found. I ended up finding a great organization called SCORE. What SCORE does is provide free mentoring to local small businesses. Bingo, this was perfect for me, so I took the next step, reached out to them, signed up, got engaged, got active, and started to participate. The moral to the story is that it all started by me actually starting.
So let me just go on a little tangent here. I talk to so many people, and businesses, the truly have phenomenal ideas, but they seem to never bring them to fruition because of fear of failure. If there’s one thing that holds more people back than anything else, it’s fear. I’m here to tell you, “dump the fear,” and embrace the challenge instead. Look at everyday as a challenge for you to start the day fresh and get engaged in activities that are moving you closer to the goal and/or goals that you want to achieve. The people that win in business are the ones that get active, get engaged, and participate in not only their own success, but in helping other people be successful as well. I challenge you to challenge yourself to make a difference. I assure you that you’ll be happier once you do.
1.9 Set Your Business Up for Success
If you’re going to run a business, you may as well do it right. So here are some evergreen tips that will help set your business up for success. I can tell you from first hand experience, that there’s a direct correlation of success with the companies that embody the traits shared below.
If you’re already doing them, great, keep it up, and if you’re not doing them, just commit to start doing them moving forward. It’s only going to work if you take action and implement them.
Work as a team. Sounds simple, but sometimes it’s more difficult to do than expected. Match people that work well together so that they all can achieve maximum productivity. Make each team member feel a part of, and that they’re combined effort is helping build a stronger front. People that feel a part of, produce better results and help make a happier work environment.
Get a good location. I’m sure you’ve heard, “Location is everything,” well it’s not fully everything, but if you’re in retail and you’re not in a high-trafficked area, it’s going to be tough. Set yourself up for success from the start by taking the time to find out what location is going to be best, before you just jump in hoping for the best.
Pick a growing niche. If you’re selling into a dying niche, “What in the world are you thinking?” Unless you have superpowers to bring people and things back from the dead, stay away from a niche that’s decreasing in market size. On the opposite end, be careful of a trending niche that’s on fire, as it may well be flooded and it may be too late to get any real traction.
Know your market. I know you think you know what type of people or companies are going to buy your product or service, but that may not be the case in the end. Test out your product or service once you have it ready to go to see what market segment is most likely going to buy what you sell. I can tell you first hand, it’s not always who you think it’s going to be.
Have a unique idea. Needless to say, if you’re just copying another product, or making it less expensive, the path to long term success is going to be difficult. Be you, be unique, be exciting, be different, and look to position your product or service as being one of a kind. A bit of personal sweat equity in regards to creating a unique idea will go a far way.
Be flexible. If there’s one trait you can have that will give you an advantage over your competition, it’s being flexible. I’m not talking about being too flexible, all I’m talking about is giving your employees and customers opportunities to be involved in the success of them working with you. Maybe an employee wants to work from home, it’s ok, as long as they get their stuff done, or maybe a client needs special terms, that’s fine, as long as they have excellent credit and have never stiffed anyone before.
Hiring great people. Great companies hire great people, it’s that simple. Invest time into finding people that will get the job done right for you, the first time. Yes, you may have to pay them a bit more, but who cares, it’s easier to overpay one person, than overpay three other people. In the end, having lazy employees is going to cost you way more than if you just hire the one person that works quickly and gets the job done, on time, every time.
Launch when you’re ready. No one has the ability to see into the future and tell you when the perfect time to launch is. If you wait for perfection, it may well never come, so at some point you just need to make the best educated decision you can, and just do it. I know companies that launched when they thought it was the best time to, and it ended up being the absolute worst time to, so use your gut, and what you know about the market, and make the best choice you can based off the information you have in front of you at that time.
Get out of the gate strong. When you do launch. Put all your effort into it and be like a circus clown that just got shot out of a rocket. Fly high, get out there, do every bit of PR work you can, and leave no stone unturned. Lock down deals, and form as many new strategic partnerships as you can, as fast as you can.
Have money to spare. Blow all your money in product development, and you’re in trouble. Be smart, you always need to have some reserves. The best way to have money to spare, is to make money selling your product or service. Again, if you’re waiting for perfection, stop, it may not be pretty or perfect in the beginning, but you need to sell what you have so that you can keep the lights turned on and keep some money in the bank in case you need it.
Watch every dollar that’s spent. I always say, “The best time to put away money, is when you’re making the most money,” but people and companies don’t. They think that they’re going to continue to blow the cover off the ball, and when business slows down, they realize that they haven’t been watching every dollar that they’ve been spending, and now they have all kinds of overhead that they need to immediately cut so they can stay in business. Be smart with your money.
Take care of your customers. The customer is always right. There’s always a way to keep a customer happy. Yes, sometimes you’ll need to give a little to continue to be able to take a little, but if you stop giving, you’ll definitely stop getting. Create a win-win symbiotic experience where both you, as well as the customer, are mutually benefiting from your business relationship.
Be a part of your business. You need to live and breadth your business. I’m not saying put it in front of everything else in your life i.e. family, but when you’re there, be there, be committed, be engaged, and maximize every second of the day. There’s no time to waste eating long lunches. Pack a lunch instead and eat on the go. Your business is an extension of you, so take care of it, just like you’d take care of yourself.
Stay calm and cool. Don’t let your customers see you sweat. Getting fired up and acting crazy and irrational is going to push customers away, and that’s not what you’re in business to do. Be the firefighter that runs into the burning house, grabs the animals and people to safety, and then runs back in to fight the blaze. You need to be the quarterback of your team, and your example is going to set the precedent for the rest of your team.
Put forth maximum effort. As the old saying goes, “Maximum effort, gets maximum results.” Be the person that people look at and wonder how they do it all. One way to put forth maximum effort is to work smart. Learn how to automate and cut down on manual repetitive tasks. You truly get what you put in, so put in a lot, and you’ll get a lot back, put in a little, and that’s what you can expect to get back.
Be resilient. I saved the best for last. You need to be able to get knocked down, get right back up, and get back engaged. The ability to recover quickly is vital for your long term success.
There you have it. Several truly magnificent ways to set your business up for success. Like I shared above, “If you’re going to run a business, you may as well do it right.” The best thing you can do now is implement what you’ve learned into everything you do in business. What I share here works, but only if you take action and work it.
Chapter 2 – Overhead Will Kill Your Business
2.1 Technology is the Solution to the Overhead that’s Killing Your Business
Overhead will continue to kill your business if you don’t invest in technology that replaces time-intensive people tasks.
High overhead kills profits. When you have high overhead, you need to charge more to keep your margins, and when you need to charge more, you ultimately become uncompetitive in regards to pricing, and when you become uncompetitive, you lose customers, and when you lose customers, you start to not be able to pay your bills, and when you’re not able to pay your bills, you go out of business… it’s pretty simple to understand when you look at it this way.
I’ve listed a few of the more prevalent time-intensive overhead busters below.
A. Customer needs to call in and speak with a support representative to receive their information – such as billing histories, executed contracts, receipts, and service histories
B. Customer needs to call in and speak with a service representative to open a new service ticket, or to follow up on an existing one to check on an ETA
C. Customer needs to call in and speak with a sales representative to receive product, and pricing information
If your business is guilty of any of the above, look to implement technology that can automate these tasks. Automation is not nearly as expensive as it used to be, and in most cases a relatively small investment, can save you big time dollars.
Here’s what’s going to happen if you don’t invest in technology.
A. As customers continue to want instant access to their information, you’re going to need to keep hiring more and more people to answer the phone, gather the information, and then email it or physically mail it to them – the end result will be that your overhead will continue to rise, your productivity will continue to decrease, and smaller, more nimble and technology savvy companies will offer your service or product at a lower cost, thus eating up your market share and eventually putting you out of business
B. We live in a mobile-centric world, people don’t want to call a business to open up a service call, or to check on an ETA. They want to be able to quickly hit a website or app on a mobile phone and open up a service ticket or check to see what time the service rep is going to arrive – the end result will be that again in order to support the customers needs of instant gratification, you’re going to need to hire more staff, and have them work longer hours, thus again busting you’re overhead.
Customers want to have a fluid, interactive experience, in real-time, and if you don’t offer it to them, they’re going to gravitate to the smaller, more technology savvy companies that do provide easy of use, and real-time tracking
C. Customers want instant gratification, and when they want to buy something, they want it right away. Not having sales reps manage your phones all day and night, is going to cost you sales, it’s also gong to cost you a lot to money, so it’s never going to work in the long run – the end result will be that companies that are more savvy in presenting information, pricing, and instant checkout information online, will smoke you and you’ll end up out of business within the next three to five years.
Overhead is no joking matter in business. It’s one of the fastest ways to eat up all your profits, and send yourself right down the tubes.
On the other hand, investing in technology will get you to where you want to go in business. It will allow you to cut out all the people sitting at desks doing time-intensive tasks, saving you on office space and payroll.
Yes, technology costs money, but people costs way more money. From healthcare, to hiring, training, to firing, it all comes at a big expense to businesses. You can ultimately do what you want, but just beware, there’s an entirely new generation coming through the ranks, and these kids our technology and automation experts, and they know how to run a business on a dime.
To keep up, you must change the way your grandfather ran his business, which is most likely the same way that his grandfather ran his business. It’s time to change, it’s time to update your technology, and it’s time your business becomes competitive again in a crowded market space.
2.2 Don’t Get Over-Tooled by Monthly Subscription Services
Have you ever heard the term “over-tooled” before? Getting over-tooled simply means that you have way too many tools than needed. Companies get over-tooled all the time now because they get caught up in the hype of the, “next great monthly subscription website,” only to find out months later that they just wasted a bunch of money.
If this sounds like you, immediately do an analysis of every monthly subscription website you’re currently using. I can assure you, that you’ll most likely find a handful of them that you can drop and start saving money on asap.
There’s nothing wrong with subscribing to a monthly subscription website if you’re using it to the fullest, but if you’re over-tooled, and you have too much going on to keep a track of your monthly expense budget, you’re 100% going to be paying for services that you don’t need.
I speak from experience when I share this information, I was over-tooled myself and was paying out hundreds of extra dollars a month for monthly subscription services that I hadn’t logged into in months. I was astounded, as well as dumbfounded, when I saw what in the world I was spending my businesses hard earned money on.
What helped me the most moving forward was that I put together a simple Excel sheet listing all the monthly subscription services I use, along with what they do and how much they cost, and I review them on a monthly basis to see if I still need to use them. It’s simple, it’s easy, and this is what I’ve found to work best for me.
2.3 Keep Your Tools Greased
Knowing the tools the pros use is great – the only thing is, it’s not going to get you very far if that’s all you’re relying on. In order to use the tools to the best of their ability, you need to add some grease to them. Not physical grease, I’m talking about enthusiasm and personalization grease. Everything in life needs grease i.e. tires, nuts, bolts, door hinges, and everything else you can imagine. The same holds true for what you do in business. You are the grease – yes, you.
Your personalization, your genuine passion, your effort, and your willingness to help without receiving anything back in return is your grease. Remember the story of the old man and the teenager that have a contest to see who can chop down a tree faster? The teenager spends all day continuously chopping at the tree, while the old man chops at the tree, stops for an hour, gets a drink, sharpens his axe blade, then goes back to chopping. Do you understand the story here – the old man is sharpening and greasing his blade to actually chop faster.
You need to do the same thing with the tools you use in your business efforts. Everyone has the same tools available to them, it’s those that grease the tools and use them to their maximum ability that find ultimate success. You don’t have to listen to what I’m sharing here, but I can tell you from personal experience, when I started adding grease to the tools in my toolbox, things really took off.
One other thing that really helped me turn my business around was focusing on less tools, and really working the tools that I did use, to their maximum capability. In some cases I find that when I focus on less, I actually get back more. My recommendation is that you select a handful of tools, test them out, and I mean more than just logging into the site and doing one thing.
Grease the tools up, learn from them, and see if they can work for you in the long run. What works for one person may not be right for you, make your own tool recipe, add your own grease to it, and figure out a way to maximize the tools to the best of your ability.
2.4 Business Processes are Important
When I first started out in my entrepreneurial journey years ago, I most definitely was not into following business processes of any form or type, but over the years I’ve learned that having business processes in place, is really something that is needed for long term business success.
When it’s just you, business processes may not be that important, but when you add an employee or two, or three, things can fall off the tracks pretty quickly, so to protect yourself, you need to clearly define some solid business processes. A business process is defined as a series of logically related activities or tasks, such as planning, production, or sales, performed together to produce a defined set of results. You can setup business processes to streamline order taking, invoicing, shipping, or whatever else eats up a bunch of your time and causes a bunch of confusion. The idea is to automate the workflow and remove human error from the equation. Once you set up the process, you can just let it run on its own.
By implementing business processes, you’ll be able to streamline the way you complete everyday business tasks. Not only that, but you’ll also have a clearly defined set of rules for your employees to follow when you’re not in the office. When it’s just you, business processes may not be that important, but when you start to hire people, they’ll become very important to your business.
2.5 Improve Daily Routine Tasks
In business, it’s the little things that will kill you… that’s why it’s important that your business development team focuses on how to cut down on the time it takes to complete daily routine tasks. Daily routine tasks that suck up a bunch of time are going to severely hinder your ability to accelerate and grow your company.
I’m talking about repetitive tasks that multiple people in your organization have to do, day in, and day out… such as data entry of invoices. Having a person, or multiple people, sitting at a desk, manually typing in information all day, is flat out crazy. Not only is it crazy, but it’s not cost effective. What is cost effective, is investing in technology that will automate this process for you.
My recommendation is that you take a look around your office, see who’s doing the most repetitive tasks, find out why they’re actually doing the tasks, and then work with your business development team to streamline or automate these processes.
If you keep your eyes open as you walk around your office, you’ll clearly start to see some common tasks that can be easily automated. It’s all about streamlining workflows to maximum efficiency, while delivering the highest quality results.
Remember, the little things will kill you in business, so make the most of your time, and make the most of your employees time, by looking to remove the manual repetitive processes that grind your business to a halt.
2.6 Three Types of Employees You Need to Dump
Employees are the blood that runs through the veins of your company, and if they’re not onboard with the way you do business, they need to be dumped. Yes, this is harsh, but unless you want to have much bigger problems later on down the line, you need to dump your defiant, non-disciplined, and entitled employees immediately. They will bring you down, and they’ll spread their negative views and bad behavior throughout your organization like wildfire.
You’re in business to sell more and more products and services, and make money obviously, but underneath this, there’s also a responsibility to help employees have an opportunity to make a good living for themselves, and help them take care of their families by paying them fair wages. The last thing you need is some defiant, non-disciplined, and entitled employee trying to ruin the positive environment that you’ve worked so hard to build.
So let me break down each type of problem employee that you need to dump. Look at it like this, if an employee has one of the three terrible traits, maybe it’s something you can work through, but if they have all three of them, it may be time to just have a quick conversation and let them go work at some other company where they may be a better fit.
Defiant – this will flat out drive you crazy. You say black, they say red, and they’ll fight you to the death even though they know they’re wrong.
Non-Disciplined – Shows up late to work and meetings, doesn’t get jobs done on time, looks a mess when they show up to work, and just doesn’t seem to care if they fail or don’t have great results.
Entitled – They think that they can do the least, get the most, and then actually complain about everything and anything.
All three of the above terrible employee traits will flat out drive you nuts. You don’t have time in business to be wasting it with negative people that are trying to share their negative thoughts and actions, with your positive employees. Dumping defiant, non-disciplined, and entitled employees isn’t a harsh move, it’s a smart move. If you had a bad business relationship, you’d dump that quickly, so do the same when it comes to bad employee relationships as well.
Now that you’ve listened to my harsh and straightforward side, let me share some love with you. Giving people a chance is only fair. If you do have an employee that embodies these traits, call them aside privately, share what you’ve seen or heard, and let them know that you know what’s been going on, and that it’s not going to be tolerated, and give them an opportunity to correct their behavior. If their behavior isn’t corrected, and you’ve notified them properly in advance and have attempted to work through the issues, but no positive improvements have occurred, then take swift and immediate action. I just had to put this disclaimer in here because not every circumstance is black and white. Remember, there’s always some grey area in every situation.
2.7 Know What Inventory You Have
If you don’t know what inventory you have to sell, how are you ever going to sell it? So let me share an experience that I had to set this all up. I wanted to get some indoor gym space at one of our local schools. I had never been through this process before, but I had a feeling that the process was going to be old, manual, and most likely broken. Never the less, I did the most important thing that I always talk about doing, and that’s just “starting.” I searched the web, found nothing, then continued to search, and came across a page that said, “Request for Permit for School or Park.” Bingo, this was the search term I needed to enter, and now all I had to do was add my local town so that the results came up with my local school district.
So I entered my localized search term into Google, and it brought me to my local high school website page where there was a link to the permit form. I clicked on the link, and it was broken. If you know me, I’m relentless, and don’t give up easily, so I found a contact email of someone that facilitates the permits, and I sent them an email stating, “Hey, I’m looking for some indoor training space, and thought a public school gym may be the best place to start.” Now, understand this, I’m not looking for any handouts here, I’m looking to give the school money, to use the space. In fact, I’d be wiling to pay them more than our local private training facility because I know it’d be helping the local school out.
Well, I was sadly mistaken. I was met with immediate resistance, and the reason is, because the school doesn’t have a simple calendar i.e. way of knowing what schools i.e. elementary, middle, or high school, have what gyms occupied, at what times. Finally, this is the bread and butter of what I’m talking about. The school that needs money, and is always complaining about not having enough money, isn’t even setup to accept money when a person wants to give it to them, because they don’t have a way to track their inventory. In the case of the school, their inventory is based on hourly use of the gyms. I get that the community has reserved gym time from 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM everyday during the summer so that kids can go to camp, but what if I wanted to rent the gym space from 6:00 AM – 7:00 AM, or from 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM. You see what I’m getting at here, because they don’t know what inventory they have left, and because the system they use to keep track of things is from 1980, they’re missing the opportunity to make additional money. Don’t let this be your business.
Think about the scenario I just shared above, with your business, and see if you can relate with your inventory. Like I said, “If you don’t know what inventory you have, how are you ever going to sell it.” The answer is, you’re not. On top of knowing your inventory, you need to make it easily accessible for people and companies to buy. If it’s not easy to buy, it’s not going to be easy to sell. The transaction and/or reservation process must be seamless. Technology is vital in making on-boarding and customer purchasing experiences fluid, so invest and use it wisely.
So here are the three key takeaways I want you to have: (1) get out of 1980 with the way you keep inventory (2) once you know your inventory, sell every bit of it, plus more (3) invest in technology to make it easier for people and companies to make purchases.
Inventory sitting in the warehouse is just holding you down. Even if you sell it at a discount, you’ll still be in better shape than if you just have it sitting there for the next year. Products become obsolete, and if the product cost you a bunch of money to produce, cut your losses and just get rid of it. Use the money you make to invest in something else, but at least it’s not just being wasted sitting in a warehouse. You can even donate it, take a tax write-off, and just put the whole thing behind you. Mistakes happen, it’s ok, but the first step is knowing what inventory you have, offering it for sale, and then getting rid of it. It’s pretty simple when you think about it.
Chapter 3 – Outsource Time Wasters
3.1 Outsource Everything that Eats up Your Valuable Time
A job is about getting stuff done, for the lowest price, at the highest quality level. People, especially our younger generation, are excellent at working independently. They don’t need to come into an office so that they can be checked on every day.
In fact, the lease you check on them, the better they work. Assign and outsource jobs that need to be completed. People work better when they know what they need to do, as well as what the expectation is for how long it’s supposed to take.
Outsourcing reduces costs, it also allows you to higher specific experts, for specific jobs, rather than hiring a jack-of-all-trades. It also allows you to hire and fire as needed without any legal obligations, and it allows you to be nimble and quick without having any long-term insurance benefits.
Freelancers know this, and when you work with an experienced freelancer, the experience will be fluid, and will deliver excellent results. Your entire team can be freelancers, but you always want to make sure you have a strategic advisor to help you out with major decisions and to bounce questions off of, as well as seek advice from.
Outsourcing tips to help you succeed.
A. Start by outsourcing one simple task – the big issue with most people is that they make too big of a deal with what they want to outsource, and it gets too confusing, and then nothing ever gets done. The simpler the first outsourced task, the better. You’re not looking to outsource a difficult math equation here, you’re just looking to offload something that typically eats up a bunch of your time.
B. Stop expecting perfection, and start expecting above-average results –
great, your perfect, and you never make any mistakes, but there’s a whole world of people out there that aren’t perfect, that do make some mistakes, but do deliver awesome results. There’s no way someone is going to do everything the exact way you want them to one-hundred percent of the time, especially if you’re not explaining what you want them to do absolutely perfectly. Most of the time, if there’s an error, it’s probably because of you not explaining it properly.
C. The first freelancer you work with, doesn’t have to be the only freelancer you ever work with – this is the beauty of outsourcing. You don’t need to hire someone and invest time on boarding and training them, only to find out six-months into it, that they’re really not the right fit
You can hire and fire as many freelancers as you want until you find the right one for the specific job you’re looking to outsource. Once freelance may work well with behind the scenes data, while another one may be great with customer facing items, everyone is different, find each freelancers strength, and then hire them for jobs where they can succeed. If they’re not succeeding, get rid of them, or redeploy them to work on another job. Some people just don’t have what it takes to work with your business standards, don’t be mean about it, just let them know the job is not right for them and walk away from the situation
D. Master the art of outsourcing – there’s nothing better to have the comfort level of being able to have any type of freelancer at your fingertips, for any type of job that may come your way. The better you set up and keep track of what freelancers do what, the better you’ll be able to assign them jobs.
It’s no joking matter. Being an effective and efficient outsourcer, will drive your profits through the roof, without any long-term employee payroll or health insurance expenditures.
Be true to your company, look to take care of every penny, and be sure to take care of the people that are taking care of you in business. Growth comes from pushing boundaries, and yes, implementing an outsourcing strategy is pushing the limits of your comfort level, but the fast you become comfortable with the uncomfortable, the faster you’ll be able to start to put some real money in your pocket.
3.2 Only Do the Most Important Business Tasks
The key to your success in business is not in you doing everything yourself, it’s in you doing the most important aspects of your business yourself.
You spending time generating leads may not be in your best interest, while you spending time closing leads that your employees nurtured and educated already, may be the best use of your time. What you see here is that you need to let go of the little tasks that you can give to your employees.
Working in your business i.e. sweeping the floor, answering the phones, doing data entry, etc., is not going to pay you money to keep your lights turned on in the office. Working on your business i.e. closing down pre-qualified leads, planning marketing strategies, building high level c-suite relationships, is going to pay you money to keep the lights turned on.
It’s not hard to see what I’m talking about when I explain it this way. What I see is that entrepreneurs get caught up in the acts of running their business, when they really need to get caught up in the aspects of growing their business by continuing to keep their sales funnels full of highly targeted and qualified prospects.
So the key point to remember, is for you not to get caught up doing every little single business task yourself, but in you just doing the most important aspects of your business yourself i.e. activities that generate new revenue streams.
3.3 Get Out of Your Own Way
It’s easy to get sucked into wanting to be involved in every facet of your business. This is fine in the beginning, because it’s most likely just you doing everything, but as time goes on, and your business grows, you’re going to need to get out of your own way.
Getting out of your own way doesn’t mean not showing up to work, it simply means that you’re going to need to empower the people that you’ve hired, to excel and provide the services and support that you’ve hired them to actually provide.
What happens sometimes when your business grows rapidly, is that you continue to hold on to wanting to be involved in every meeting and decision making process. The thing is, when your business is rocking, there’s not going to be enough time in the day to continue to be involved in everything, so you need to get out of your own way, and start to believe in the people you’ve hired, and let them make some decisions for themselves.
By you wanting to be in every meeting and decision making process, you may well in fact be holding up a decision that your staff has already made because of your limited availability. If this starts happening, it’s definitely time that you need to get out of your own way, because it’s ultimately going to end up causing tension between your employees and yourself. If you’re going to hire people, hire people because you’re going to empower them to be able to make decisions for you.
Don’t make your business all about you. When your business is all about you, it means no vacation or downtime for you because everything is based around you. The idea is to let go a bit, get out of your own way, and give yourself some free time every once in a while. Yes, letting go is hard, but if you don’t let go, you’re business will ultimately end up suffering.
3.4 Watch the Money
The time to watch the money, is when your business is making the most money. When business is good, your guard goes down, you get more relaxed on spending, and you may sign up for a few add-on services you really don’t need. But this is not the correct way to think, especially if you’re running a small business. I don’t care what anyone else says about, “How when they’re making a lot of money, they don’t need to watch things as much.” I’m here to tell you that you need to watch every penny that goes out of your business, especially when you’re making a lot.
Have you ever read the quote, “Take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves?” This is so true, even though it was quoted all the way back in the 1700’s. And like with all things, if history repeats itself, like it normally does, companies that spend lavishly while they’re making a lot, ultimately end up going broke because eventually business is going to level off, your expenses are going to be way to high, and you’re just going to end up looking back and saying, “How did we blow it all.” You don’t want to look back and have regrets about wasting money, so take the time now to perform a spending audit. If you don’t do an audit and get this information down on paper, how are you ever going to know what you’re actually spending on a monthly basis? The answer is, you’re not! Once you know what your dollars are being spent on, look into each product or servicing company you use, and go back to them and ask them how you can cut costs, while maintaining the same level of quality. Some may say they can help you by doing XYZ, while others may say there’s nothing they can do. In the end, at least you’ll have an idea of what companies want to work with you vs. which ones don’t. This is cutting costs 101 for businesses.
The idea of watching your money is not about just cutting services and chopping things out that you truly need to run a successful business, it’s about getting the maximum and highest grade quality products and services, for the least amount of money. You have to push companies hard to get yourself the best deals. If your spending a lot of money with a company because they provide products and/or services to your company, and you’re not circling back to them and knocking on their doing negotiating better pricing, shame on you. I can tell you one thing for sure, “If you don’t ask, you’re not going to get,” it’s that simple. You’ve got to have the persistence of a little kid that wants a particular toy when you’re walking around in the toy store. Persistence wears down resistance. If a vendor says they’re not able to do anything, get another vendor involved that offers a similar product and service and see how fast your current vender gets in line. You’re in business to make money, and you need to fight for every dollar, especially when you’re making the most money, because this is a great time to pack away the savings.
So let me share a few ideas on how you can watch every dollar and cut costs at your business.
A. Negotiate, negotiate, and then negotiate even more. With outside vendors, with employees, with everyone. I’m not talking about being cheap and not paying people well, what I’m talking about is being smart and getting the absolute most for every penny you spend.
B. Have people work remotely. Listen, it’s not 1980 here where we don’t have access to computers. There’s no reason for someone to take up high-priced office space just so you can walk out of your office every once in a while to make sure they’re working. People know how to work, and they’ll work twice as hard if you give them the freedom.
C. Really focus on hiring super smart people. Don’t just hire a body to fill a spot, hire a person to perform a highly specific and important task, and if you don’t need someone full time, outsource the task. Investing in the right people upfront will save you tons of money later on down the line.
D. Have your happy customers do your marketing for you. Word of mouth marketing is so much more powerful than spending a fortune on TV ads or magazine ads. Entice your customers with rewards to share what they love about your products and/or services. Only advertise where you can track the ROI. There are tons of companies that promise the world, but don’t deliver, stay away from them. If you’re not able to track activity, dump them.
E. Stop investing in IT hardware. Put everything in the cloud and pay for only the exact amount of licenses or data you’re using on a monthly basis. Keep a close eye on license based subscriptions because when people leave the company, and you don’t replace them, you won’t need that license anymore.
F. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Make everything in your business dead simple. From distribution, to communication, and everything else in-between. The simpler, the better. Have an open line of communication and hold virtual roundtable sessions so employees can share ways that they think they can simplify things.
Chew on those suggestions for a while. Remember, if you just sit here and read this information and don’t ever implement any of the ideas, nothing is ever going to change in your business. Watch the money, because if you don’t, you’re going to end up overpaying for everything and getting ripped off all the time. Take action before it’s too late. Get that initial audit done, circle back to your vendors and negotiate like crazy, and cut out all the waste. Like I shared above, the best time to watch the money, is when your business is making the most money.
3.5 Be a Powerful Productivity Machine
If there’s one aspect that separates seasoned successful business executives vs. rookie business executives, it’s knowing what works in terms of being a powerful productivity machine. Seasoned business executives know that there’s only so much time in the day, and that if they don’t use their resources to the maximum, they’re going to be dead in the water. So to help you out, I put together a list of powerful productivity tips that I’ve learned from seasoned successful business executives. After I learned them, I immediately adopted them into my daily routine, and they’ve provided me with outstanding results, so I know first-hand that they work. Here they are.
Bring the energy. No one likes to talk with someone that’s half asleep or mumbling like they have marbles in their mouth. You have to bring the energy, share your enthusiasm, put your own unique spin on whatever you’re talking about, and let that passion shine through. I always say, “energy creates energy,” so get fired up and take that energy level all the way up. You don’t want to be obnoxious with your energy level, you just want to be effective, so take in the situation as you see it, and act accordingly.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Yes, this means having multiple projects going on at the same time. You need to hedge your bets a little bit, and by having a few different projects going on, it keeps your brain learning, and you performing at its optimal level. I’m not talking about going multi-tasking crazy here, what I’m talking about is hiring people that are capable of running the smaller projects until they get big enough that you need to handle them. Multiple revenue streams is what you’re looking for. I’m not talking about any get-rich-quick type junk either, I’m talking about solid revenue streams.
Don’t worry what other people are doing. Does it really matter if you miss a party or don’t get to attend a football game with your friends. In the big scope of things, no, it really doesn’t matter. Dump the FOMO i.e. fear of missing out, and just do your thing. When you pull up in that nice new ride, or buy that nice new apartment in the city, or get that nice big payout, no one will ever question you again.
Stay up to date with news headlines of the day. I’m not talking about watching TV all day, what I’m talking about is browsing the quick news headlines from top news sources. If you like to listen to the radio, NPR is a great source to get caught up on everything going on in the world very quickly. The idea of staying up to date is so that you can see if anything major is going on that may affect the market segment that your product or service delivers into. You don’t want to be driving in the dark without your headlights on.
Use a timer to complete tasks. I can tell you without a doubt, that if you put time limits on finishing tasks, you’ll get them done quicker. If you haven’t allotted yourself enough time to do the entire task, focus on getting the foundations down for the total project in the amount of time you’ve given yourself. Push yourself to work not only faster, but smarter.
Stay physically and mentally fit. Take time for yourself. Meditate, do yoga, run in the park, go to the gym, or do any other activities that you enjoy that get the blood flowing. Find alone time where you can refresh, get away from it all, and get those endorphins going and get back in touch with yourself. Exercise and meditation have so many benefits beyond the actually activity, so it’s never good to go too long without actively participating in keeping yourself fit.
Take action when needed. Putting off something that needs immediate action is not good. If something pops up that needs to be sorted out right away, do it right at that moment, and then move on. If you let things linger, you’re going to keep all that clutter in your head and you’re going to lose productivity. Here’s the motto that I live by, “If it takes me longer to explain to myself the reason why I don’t want to do the task, rather than just doing it, I immediately stop fooling myself and just do it right then and there.” Maybe you can try this out and see how it works in your life.
Who cares if people are judging you. Does it really matter? Not in the big scope of things. Most people that are great thinkers and innovators are judged all the time, but it doesn’t matter to them because they know in their mind that what they’re doing is valuable, and that it’s going to change the way the people operate and do business. People that judge other people are weak, don’t worry about what anyone says to you, just keep doing your thing.
Work where you work best. You’ve got to setup a working environment where you can be the most productive and creative person that you can be. For some, this may be sitting in an office, for others, it may be working outside in a park, or maybe in a Starbucks, it really doesn’t matter. All that matters is that wherever you choose to call your workplace, that you can get into the groove and get a ton of stuff done in a short amount of time. I personally like to switch things up a bit and work in different environments because I tend to think differently when I see and hear different things.
Use your time wisely. Listen, you only have so much time during the day, so use every second of it wisely, and make every second count. There’s nothing worse than wasting time. Hanging around time-wasters is no good either. Stop hanging around the water cooler talking to people that are accomplishing nothing for themselves all day, and get down to work.
Keep your eye on the finish line. It’s gratifying to finish something you’ve been working on in business. Take the great feeling, bottle it up, and the next time your struggling to get started on a project, remember that gratifying feeling you had when you completed your last big task. It may be easier if you start at the finish line, and work your way backwards. If you think about it for a second, you’ll understand what I mean.
Solve the right problem. There’s no sense in trying to solve the wrong problem. Take extra time to figure out with the problem actually is, and then go full force with all your might and determination to solve it. So many businesses waste so much time trying to solve the wrong problems because they didn’t put the research in before they started. Don’t be one of these companies, especially if you’re a startup. Find the problem, address it, and create a solution that solves it.
Give yourself time to dream. Never limit yourself in your dreams. Just dream about whatever you want, and don’t listen to the first thought that your brain is telling you, because it’s probably saying, “No, that’s too big for you.” All you need to say in response to your first thought is, “No thank you. I’m not buying what you’re selling.” Here’s the deal with dreams, if you don’t follow through on your dream, someone else who has a similar dream most likely will, and then you’ll be staring at your dream idea that someone else brought to fruition because they acted on it. You want to be the person in business that’s acting on your dreams, not the one watching them as you walk by the store window.
It takes daily effort. If there’s one thing that will put you head and shoulders above your peers, it’s daily effort. The will to show up everyday, and hit it hard. I know people that can put forth strong effort for a few days in a row, but then they relax, and they never really reach their full potential in business, or in life, while on the other hand, I also know people that put forth daily effort, over extended periods of time, and these are the true winners i.e. the ones that lead top companies while helping their employees grow beyond what they ever thought was possible for themselves.
Design the way you want to design. Just because your biggest competitor has an app or website that looks a certain way, it doesn’t mean that you need to do the same. Buck the trend, try something different, and above all, be unique. As a trendsetting motorcycle designer once said, “The last thing I do when designing a new motorcycle, is look at other motorcycles.” It makes total sense when you think about it.
Stay in the moment. Have you ever met someone that’s all over the place when you speak with them? It’s terrible, isn’t it? Scattered people with scattered and jumbled thoughts, are definitely not in the moment, and if you’re guilty of this, stop doing it immediately because you’re confusing the heck out of the people you’re speaking with. Staying in the moment keeps you at your highest point of productivity, it gives you the most amount of energy, and it puts you in a position of power.
Practice makes perfect. It may take you doing something over, and over again, and over again, until you do it right. Yes, the ultimate goal is perfection, but you’re never going to get there unless you practice. The best sports athletes not only practice physically, they also practice mentally. The best downhill skiers spend hours racing down the course, hitting every corner perfectly, and there’s a reason why, because mental preparation is nearly just as important as physical preparation. Balance between the mental and physical works best. Try something new. If you don’t try, you’ll never know.
Learn what matters most to you. There’s no sense in working in a business that doesn’t matter to you. If you’re not into it, and it really doesn’t matter if you fail or succeed at what you’re doing, you’re definitely in the wrong place and need to make some immediate changes in your life. Take time to find out what’s important to you, and then take action to get involved and engaged in a business where you can go home at the end of every day with a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment.
Be resilient. You have to be able to rebound from a devastating moment, and quickly. To put it simply, you need to be able to get your butt kicked and get right back up and then go on the offense again. Nothing can stop you. If you lost, learn from it, don’t let it hold you back, and go back and do it all over again, but use what you learned previously to be smarter and stronger, so that you come out successful.
Find one beautiful moment in every day. Seek to find the one moment of beauty that made you feel warm inside and smile, and have that be your last thought before your eyes come to rest and you go to sleep at night. You want to talk about setting yourself up for success, doing this daily before you go to sleep at night will definitely blast you off into the next dimension.
There you have them. Powerful productivity tips to help drive your business, as well as yourself, to new heights. Let me leave you with this thought, “Just because you bought the book, doesn’t mean you’re going to open it up and read it.” Now let me tell you what I mean by this. Yes, it’s great that you read the information, but if you do nothing with it and don’t implement anything of what you learned into your business life, nothing is going to change. You need to take action on what you learn. I’d suggest picking out one or two items initially, implementing them over the next few weeks, see how things go for you, and if they go well, pick another one or two, and implement them, and then keep the productivity implementation trend going from that point. You can never be too productive.
Chapter 4 – Customer Service
4.1 Customer Service Must Rule
Without a doubt, there’s no easier way to set your business apart from your competition than offering the absolute best customer service. Excellent customer service equals happy customers, and happy customers equal repeat customers, and repeat customers equal people that tell their friends and family about your business, which equals you getting additional customers without paying any advertising.
The customer is always right, even when they’re wrong. There’s always a solution to a problem if you try hard enough, and you’re willing to make some small sacrifices. It’s possible to reach a happy medium, with anyone, over any situation, with a little bit of giving
It’s just not worth arguing over loose change, when you’re sticking dollar bills in your pocket. Losing the little battles, allows you to win the big battles, which is where your continued revenue stream is going to come from. Repeat customers keep your business running. Without repeat customers, it’s going to cost a lot in advertising.
Imagine you had a restaurant that had no repeat customers, it’d be nearly impossible to find new people, within your local demographic, to come in and fill the place to eat every night, and you’d eventually end up going out of business
Repeat customers are your revenue stream for continued growth. It’s much easier to share a new product or service offering to a repeat customer because you already have their attention and they’re willing to listen to you. This is one of the easiest types of sales, and it’s one that costs the least, because it’s just you simply informing them of the addition to your already excellent offerings.
If you want to keep high profits and grow your business really quickly, getting people to share their incredible stories with their friends and family, is the way to do it. When people have an excellent experience, they’ll share it with the people that are closest to them, giving your the warm introduction to gain a new customer. The best part about a warm introduction is that the friend or family member already knows that your business does an excellent job, and they already have a certain level of trust and expectation.
Typically, building trust and expectation takes time and money, but when you can get people to share how good of a job your business does, and how excellent your customer service is, it puts you in a higher starter position in the relationship.
The more free advertising you can get from excellent customer service, the more money you’re going to put in your pocket. Yes, you can go to one of the major advertising outlets and pay them a lot of money to get your message out in front of your target audience, or you can repay your customers and say thank you to them for doing business with you by offering them special discounts, incentives, and awards, which ultimately gets them feeling great, which ends up meaning that they’re going to share what your business did for them, thus creating the free advertising and warm introduction you’re looking for.
People work harder and buy more when given incentives. Learn this lesson early, and incorporate excellent customer service, along with excellent incentives, and you’ll be well on your way
It’s never too late to start offering excellent customer service. If you’ve done a terrible job of customer service, and you’ve fought to get every penny, from every customer, regardless of whether it was ruining the business relationship or not, you can change. Everything successful starts with change, and every company has gone through some rough patches, the only difference between that companies that are still around and that are successful today, is that they’ve evolved and changed with the times, while the ones that aren’t around, never adjusted and just became irrelevant.
The goal for your business is to provide the ultimate client experience to your customers, so that they will continue to support your business, and help it grow faster, and at a lower cost than using standard advertising methods.
4.2 Provide Impeccable Customer Service
Business is driven by relationships. Impeccable customer service is the keystone to initially build, and then maintain those relationships.
Impeccable customer service starts with you. It starts by taking ownership of whatever customer interaction you’re having. The smallest thing to you, may be the biggest thing to your customer, so every need or concern that a customer expresses, needs to be dealt with in a professional manner.
4.3 Send a Pre-Email to Get a Competitive Edge
To put it simply, you need to send a pre-meeting email or pre-stay email because it’s flat out going to give you a competitive edge. Getting an edge on your competition is not that hard if you know what to do. One easy way to get an edge on your competition is to take your email marketing to the next level with your clients and prospects by sending them a pre-meeting or pre-stay email.
It sounds simple, but so few people actually send pre-meeting or pre- stay emails. With so few people and businesses actually sending pre- emails, this leaves you the opportunity to differentiate yourself from your competition. Differentiating yourself from the competition is one of the most effective ways to gain new clients, while staying in front of your current clients.
For example, if you’re in the hotel business, send an email out to the incoming guest 24-48 hours before their arrival, perhaps suggesting a few restaurants or activities that they may enjoy. If you’re really savvy, reach out to the restaurants or other activity spots and work out a referral program. This will allow you to capture a new revenue stream in the process.
Here’s another example, if you’re in sales and are hosting a demonstration at your facility, reach out to the prospect or client 24-48 hours before their arrival and let them know what the planned itinerary is, and be sure to ask them if their is anything else you may provide to them before the actual demonstration. You may want to include a limited offer coupon, brochure, or something in the email as well.
You get the idea here, the potential for you to differentiate yourself is up to you, there are no boundaries, so just go for it. When done right, the pre-meeting or pre-stay email is extremely effective. You have some great tips here to add to your long term business recipe for success.
Having a client or prospects email address and first name is not going to do it when it comes to getting new business today. You need to get personal and keep track of everything you speak about. Make your business thoughtful and personable by setting everything up for success in the pre-email.
4.4 Step Into the New Age
We’re in a new age where business is done differently. How we did business five years ago is way outdated. Companies didn’t have to worry about signing documents electronically, entering online support tickets, handling social media mentions, and managing reviews, because there was no platform to support it years ago, but now there is, and our youth are eating it up, so now is the time for you to make the transition to the new age, before your company becomes obsolete. Below are four new age trends you need to become educated on as fast as possible.
Getting paper documents signed. If you still need to physically meet with a person to get a signature, you’re model is broken and you’re going to get smoked by newer, more technologically savvy companies. The way we do business today, isn’t the good-old-way we used to do it. Running a successful business today is all about empowering people with information to be able to make a purchasing decision, and then giving them the ability to execute the contracts online. The experience must be fluid and not take any interaction from a person sitting there holding a pen for you to take to sign a piece of paper.
Entering online customer service tickets. It just makes sense to be able to have customers contact you via email, social media, or text to open up a service or customer support issue. There’s absolutely zero reason for a person to need to pick up their phone and call you anymore. The idea is to have the person open an initial ticket electronically, thus providing them with an immediate time stamp along with a ticket number for reference purposes. Sure, if a follow up call to them is needed to solve the issue, there’s nothing wrong with that, but if it can be handled without any phone communication, it’s going to speed up your time to resolution, and it’s going to give you a better ROI on your support team.
Customer service via social media. Here’s the deal, someone from your business always needs to be monitoring your social media feeds for mentions. No, I’m not talking about someone sitting there staring at a computer screen for 24 hours a day, but every hour or two, at least during standard non-sleeping hours, someone needs to be ready to respond and interact with anyone mentioning your brand. When some is talking good about your brand, it’s a great opportunity to engage, enrich, and grow the relationship, while if someone is talking bad, it’s a great opportunity to jump in and see what’s going on, how you can help, and create a path to happy resolution. People on social media want to be heard, and if they’re not, they’ll continue to shout as loud as they can from the rooftops. The key to social media customer service is monitoring mentions, and responding in a timely manner.
Getting and managing reviews. Let me start by saying that reviews are crazy. I’ve never seen two polar opposites, than I do when I read reviews. One person has a company winning every award under the sun, and rants and raves about them to their friends, while another person files a scam report on the company and swears that it’s not advisable to do business with them. So what’s right vs. what’s wrong, there’s no real answer. I think a review can be broken down into 1 of 3 categories, and all three of them need to be managed by someone at your company. The first category is a person that gets what they want, their expectations are met, they’re happy, and subsequently they leave a great review. The second category is a person that doesn’t quite get what they want, but the company steps in and makes the situation right, offers great public relations, makes a quick save, and subsequently the person leaves a great review. The third category is that of the disbeliever, or unhappy one. The person is never going to be happy no matter what you do, they’re never going to believe how good your product or service is, and they’re just looking to be heard, so subsequently they completely bash your company with a terrible review.
Everything I mention is new age type business. Companies didn’t need to worry about signing documents electronically, entering online support tickets, handling social media mentions, and managing reviews years ago, because we didn’t have online access like we do today. What you need to do is get on board with all the new age methods of communication mentioned above. If you don’t you’re business is going to be heading in a direction you don’t want it to, so now is the time to transition and make the technology updates needed to bring your business up to speed.
4.5 Every Client Interaction Counts
There’s no downtime when it comes to client interactions. Keeping a smile on your face no matter what’s going on behind the scenes is essential. Clients don’t want to see you sweat, they want to see you look good, and they want to see that you’re paying attention to them. Clients are checking you out, so you need to be on your game at all times.
One small outburst and you may ruin a relationship you’ve been looking to build for years. You need to keep it all in check, and hold back your emotions from exploding when something doesn’t go your way. After you build your relationship, and you get to know your clients a little better, then you can start to share some more intimate feelings, but you don’t want to share something with someone that feels totally different about a topic or subject than you do. Making a joke about something that your client finds insulting, is a quick way to never do business with them again.
I’m not talking about not being sincere with your clients about who you truly are, and the way that you feel, but in the introduction and learning more phase about each other you definitely don’t want to be too straight forward and abrasive. Topics to avoid are politics and religion. Just steer clear of them all together. If your client is talking about them, don’t comment, and just transition into another conversation as fast as you can.
With technology today, there’s so many different ways to interact with clients i.e. email, text, social media, instant chat, etc., and you need to be savvy on each one of them. The difference between the old school way of picking up the phone and speaking with someone, is that most of the time information is shared via electronic methods, which makes it a little tough to erase after it’s sent. That’s why it’s so important that you really understand the meaning of what you’re sending. If it may be insulting to anyone, don’t send it. What you send has a very good chance of getting resent to someone else, so always keep that in mind. Negative messages can spread like wildfire, so always keep what you’re sending positive and enriching, that way you’ll never have to worry if it’s resent and reshaped.
You are the forefront of your organization. Focus on building and maintaining client interactions that help get business done, and that help build trust in the relationship, and you’ll not only keep that business, but you’ll get a ton of referrals as well. Great businesses are build off great relationships because at some point the client is going to need to count on you to come through for them in the clutch. These clutch moments are the opportunities where you can really shine. People want to do business with people they can trust. If they’re putting their neck on the line, they want you to put your neck on the line as well.
Everyone in your organization needs to focus on making every client interaction special, no matter how big or small, the very best experience needs to be provided. From greeting a visitor at the door with a big smile and offering a complimentary coffee or water, to holding the door on the way out, everything matters. Overlook the little parts, and the client may well just overlook you. It’s the little bits that matter the most to people, so focus on the little experiences, and you’ll ultimately be given the opportunity to focus on the larger experiences in the future. It has to be a team effort though. It doesn’t work if only a few people are onboard.
4.6 Redirect Attitude and Behavior
Running a business is typically great, but every once in a while you’re going to run into hiccups that can really bring you down. It’s in these little moments of despair, that if you can redirect your attitude and behavior, that you’ll reap the biggest rewards. Act irrational and say mean things that you really don’t mean, and you’ll have a lot of repairing to do. What you need to do, is train yourself to take a few seconds before you react, giving yourself the chance to mentally redirect your behavior to a positive and helpful attitude, making the outcome more desirable.
There’s really no two ways about this. Act out, and the situation is not going to improve, in fact, it’s only going to compound the situation and make it worse. Take a minute and redirect your behavior, and you’ll be positioning yourself for a positive outcome.
When a customer of yours acts irrational and acts out towards you, don’t react. Sit back, listen intently, look to identify and understand where they’re coming from and why they’re so frustrated, and then let them know that you understand, that you’d probably be just as frustrated if you were in their shoes, and that you’re going to do everything possible to make the situation right as fast as possible. This is the way excellent customer service is done. It’s the little redirections in your thought process that will hep you have positive outcomes regardless of the circumstances.
Excellent customer service isn’t about giving someone a snow job i.e. attempting to deceive or persuade them by using flattery, it’s about sincerely caring about making the situation right, but if you don’t redirect your behavior and you slip into the childish, “they hit me so I’m going to hit them back,” there’s never going to be a positive outcome. In fact, you’re the one that’s going to ultimately lose in the end. You’ve worked so hard to get a customer, now don’t mess it up by having a rubber band reaction the will immediately ruin your relationship. I get it, a customer may not be right, but you need to find a way to make them feel like the resolution you’re providing to them is validating their feelings.
Master the little redirections of behavior in your business, and you’ll have many happy customers for years to come. Positive behavior starts with you. It’s an attitude, it’s a lifestyle, and it’s an absolute must to run a successful business.
4.7 Repairing Damaged Business Relationships
Mistakes happen in business, it’s inevitable, so you learning how to repair the damage, is vital to your longevity. The faster you realize that something went wrong, and that your client is upset, the faster you can start to repair the damage. Both internal and external communication are key. I know one thing, “If you don’t repair the damage, you’re not going to get any future business,” that’s for sure. No relationship is perfect, even in marriage you’re going to have issues, so having business relationship issues is just par for the course.
The good thing is that if you’re willing to put the work in to repair the damaged relationship, there’s a very good chance that you can heal the wounds and make everything right again. Below are some simple, easy to follow steps, that you can implement to resolve and make right any business relationship issues that pop up.
A. Define the damage. Find out what happened, why it happened, and commit to bring a resolution to the issue.
A. Pay attention. Keep eye contact if you’re in person, or stay engaged by responding back if you’re communicating via phone, email, or text.
B. Show concern. Share how what happened has affected you. You want to reach some type of common ground where you both can relate.
C. Be empathetic. Share how you feel their pain and why you understand how they feel. Maybe share a similar personal story where you felt the same way they did because of a circumstance that occurred.
D. Take action. Make it right. Do whatever it takes to make the situation correct as fast as possible.
E. Be accountable. There’s nothing worse than providing lip service and then not baking it up by doing what you said you were going to do.
F. Make the changes. Do what you said you were going to do to make the situation right, and then continue to follow up and make sure that the same issues aren’t happening.
Remember, the simpler, the better, don’t make anything too difficult to understand. Just stick to the main points, and work together as a team to make things right again. Trust comes with time. Go above and beyond the norm. Show that you care, show that their business relationship with you is of utmost importance, and you’ll win them back. Stay away from blame shifting and name calling, as those types of school yard actions will only drive the relationship you’re trying to rebuild in the opposite direction that you want it to go.
4.8 Working with a Difficult Customer
Not everyone is a happy-go-lucky type customer. Some customers are difficult, there’s no doubt about it, but if you can learn to work with them, you’ll create a unique competitive advantage vs. your competition, which most likely has no clue on how to handle them.
The most important thing you need to understand about difficult customers, is that they just want to be heard i.e. listened to, so if you muster up the strength to sit back and listen, you’ll be sure to come out on the positive side of things, instead of the negative.
So here are my go-to tips when you’re working with a difficult customer.
Maintain self control. If you flip out and start going on the offensive, it’s over, you’ll only be hurting yourself. There’s nothing more satisfying to a difficult customer than seeing the person they’re interacting with get all fired up. Never let them see you sweat or lose your cool, and you’ve already won half the battle.
Listen, listen, listen. Who in the world doesn’t want to be listened to? The answer is, “No one,” so give them what they want. Sit back, get a nice bottle of water, open your ears, and listen up. Look at listening as an art form. Have fun with it. Relate to what the customer is saying as you’re listening to them.
Validate the way the customer is feeling. After you’ve listened, now it’s your time to chime in, let the customer know that you’ve heard them loud and clear, and that you’re committed to helping them out.
Determine an appropriate resolution. You need to come up a plan that’s going to work for the customer, as well as yourself. Yes, you may have to give a little here, or a lot, it really doesn’t matter, just do whatever you need to do. I’m not talking about being a push-over here, I’m talking about making an agreement that both parties can live with.
Act quickly and follow up. Once the plan to resolution is agreed upon, act on it immediately. If you don’t act quickly, you’ll only be compounding the situation. Don’t give some lame lip service and then not follow through. If you say you’re going to do something, do it.
There you have it. A few simple steps you can take to defuse the situation when working with a difficult customer. The main thing to remember is that life is about helping out and having some fun in the process, so don’t take yourself too seriously throughout all your business situations. Yes, mistakes are going to happen, and yes, they can be repaired if handled properly. What’s not excusable is continuing to make the same mistake over and over, and not making any changes. If you want change, you need to change.
Go into every situation with a difficult customer with the intent to make them your best customer. Some of the hardest customers are actually the softest on the inside, you just have to break through that tough exterior layer to be able to see it.
4.9 Keys to Better Communication
If there’s one thing that will put you head and shoulders above your competition, it’s being an excellent communicator. I mean communicating about the good stuff, the mediocre stuff, and the bad stuff. The best leaders in business, all tend to communicate very well, so if you want to position yourself for success, focus on becoming the best communicator in your office.
Below are some of my go-to tips for better communication. Study them, and implement them into your daily routine for best results. The more you practice them, the better you’ll become at naturally doing them.
Put yourself in their shoes. Understand that the person you’re speaking with might not be having the same great day that you are. You never know what the person on the other side of the email or phone has gone through that day. Relax, be patient, be understanding, and listen intently to what they’re saying and look to relate by putting yourself in their shoes. Think of a situation that may have been similar: What emotions did it evoke? What was the outcome? What did the other person do in your situation to make you feel more comfortable? Look within yourself, answer these questions, and use them to find common ground.
Be you. Add your passion, and your sentiment, to the conversation. If what the person you’re speaking with hits home with you, let it show. If it’s a good thing, share your excitement, and if it’s a bad thing, share your sentiment. Relate. It’s ok to show emotions during conversation. I’d suggest not getting too crazy in either direction as you don’t want to scare off someone that you don’t know that well yet. I’d also suggest steering clear of conversations around politics and religion as these can sometimes get heated. If a conversation begins around a topic that you’re not comfortable with, just sit back and listen, don’t engage, and move the conversation to another more subtle topic when the opportunity arises.
Words make a huge difference. Use the right vocabulary and voice inflections at the right time. Words can make deals happen, and they can lose them just as fast. Study vocabulary, learn power words i.e. improve, understand, proven, help, amazing, extraordinary, and such, to bring people into the conversation. Use of your voice i.e. voice inflection is super powerful when combined with the right vocabulary. Everything works with proper balance. Whatever you do, you don’t want to sound like a boring trained robot with this stuff.
Stay on topic. Keep the conversation direct and to the point. Getting sidetracked will just prolong the conversation and you’ll probably end up forgetting about what in the world you originally were meeting to speak about. Just stick to the main point for best results. If the conversation starts drifting into other, non-relevant conversations, just reel it back into the original topic. You need to control the conversation.
Be understandable. Even if you don’t understand, find a way understand. I’m sure you’ve had someone share a story with you that made no sense at all, we all have. What did you do though? Did you tell the person that they were crazy and you were never going to speak with them again? Well, if you did, and it was in a business setting, it may not have been the best thing to do because you may need, or want, to work with this person in some capacity in the future. You never know where people that you’ve met in business are going to show up. Sometimes who you thought was your worst enemy, becomes your best client, and the exact opposite i.e. best to worst, if you don’t communicate properly. Find common ground, whether you think they’re crazy or not, and understand what they’re saying to the best of your ability. You don’t need to react, you just need to listen.
Know when to bail. Staying in a conversation for too long can open up several new cans of worms, which you may not have time for. Some people just like to talk, and they’ll talk forever. Set boundaries as soon as you start talking with people like this. If you bump into a talker you can always say something like, “Hey, I’m about to jump on a call in a few minutes, can we make it quick.” Yes, I get it, you’re kind of cutting them off from the start, but it pushes them to get right down to what they want to talk about. The thing is that if you constantly surround yourself with talkers, you’ll never get anything done. It’s all about being productive, without hurting anyones feelings in the process.
Communicate in private. If the conversation is online, take it offline where you can really find out what’s going on and help out. It’s easy for people to lash out online and say nasty things that they really don’t mean, so take the conversation to a private place where you can both share how you’re feeling to gain a better understanding of how each of you can work together to reach a common goal. Not everything is for public knowledge. There’s nothing wrong with pulling someone aside in person and having a quick private conversation. In fact, this is one of the most powerful types of conversation.
People are people. Understand that no matter how much money a person has, or doesn’t have, they’re still people. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect. Ignorance is a behavior that needs to be tossed out and forgotten about if you’re going to communicate better. If you’re not able to relate with what the person is speaking about, it’s ok, just listen as best as you can, nod your head every once in a while if you’re in-person, stay engaged, and let them know that you care. It’s funny, the best communicators, are actually the best listeners. Sounds strange, but it’s true.
Ok, that’s all of the keys to better communication for the moment. Now that you know the keys to better communication, the next step is up to you to actually implement them into your daily communications with people. Remember, the more you practice, the better you’re going to get. The better you communicate, the more you’ll position yourself for success. Daily effort is going to yield the best results.
Chapter 5 – Always Keep Your Word
5.1 No Matter What, Always Keep Your Word
It’s absolutely vital to keep your word in business, no matter what, even if it ends up costing you money to do so. Your word needs to be like concrete. Once you say it, you need to stick to it, otherwise you’re going to lose trust very quickly, and when you lose trust, you lose customers, and quickly.
Words are powerful, especially in business. If you say you’re going to do something, at a particular day or time, do it. If you have a circumstance that arises, and you’re not able to keep your word, communicate that to your customer immediately so that they know what’s going on and so that they can make alternate plans.
Lack of communication is unacceptable. There’s nothing worse for a customer than having a business say they’re going to do something, and then not follow through. Even more damaging, is when the business doesn’t communicate effectively. A simple email or call from your company will suffice. Any communication, is good communication in most circumstances, especially when it comes to scheduling and having people waiting around.
Success starts with internal communication. If your business doesn’t communicate well internally, how’s it ever going to communicate well externally. The answer is, it’s not. Keeping your word needs to start on the inside. Everyone on the inside of your business needs to keep their word to each other to start with. Keeping your word forms trust, and it forms a bond where people feel like their part of a team and that whatever they’re going through, they’re going to do it together. Businesses that keep their word to each other internally, naturally understand the benefits, and translate the communication levels externally.
Automation needs to come into play. New communication tools are released monthly. Find out which one is most cost effective and solves your businesses unique needs. From the most simple location tracking communication apps i.e. the driver will be at your house shortly, to the most robust tracking and online monitoring systems, they’re out there for you to use.
As your business grows, it’s going to continue to get tougher to keep your word, no matter what, but without a doubt, it needs to absolutely stay at the top of your importance list, as it’s one of the core building blocks to successful business longevity. Words are like magic, use them properly, and great things will happen, but use them improperly, and business will go down faster than you ever imagined.
Keeping your word may cost you money. Always look at the big customer picture. If you aren’t able to keep your word, and it’s going to be on a consistent basis with a particular client, let them know what’s going on, why the situation is occurring, and that perhaps it may not be best for you to continue the business relationship. It’s better to be upfront and straightforward rather than beating around the bush. People understand real life situations, so when you can put what’s going on into simple terms, people will be able to relate to it and understand it easier.
Treat your word like gold, and let your customers know you feel that way. Set a new standard of excellence for every individual customer your business serves. The higher standard you keep, the higher level of customers you will serve. Great companies hire great people, and being a great company can start with you by keeping your word, both internally and externally.
5.2 The Best Way to Say Thank You
Saying thank you in business is one of the most important things you can learn how to do correctly. Saying thank you in a proper, polite, timely, and etiquette manner will make all the difference in the world.
By far, the absolute, most definitive, and best way to say thank you, is by writing a handwritten card or letter. There’s something special and unique about putting ink to paper, it’s an art form, it’s an expression that takes time to do, and people on the receiving end will remember it forever, especially because so few people do it. We live in a world of e-cards and automated thank you’s, don’t get me wrong, these have a time and a place, what I’m talking about is making a unique difference for yourself, and separating yourself from the pack.
I personally understand the true value of writing a highly personalized thank you note, and attribute my continued long term success with clients because of it. A handwritten note says you care, it says you took the time to buy a piece of stationary, write the note, seal the letter with your own tongue, and place the stamp on it. Wow, now that sounds great, that sounds powerful, this is why writing a hand written note makes a difference. What you write in a highly personalized hand written note is very brief, below is an example of one of mine.
Thank you very much for your continued support of my live training seminars. Many of your staff still reach out to me from years ago saying how much value they received from the live training seminars and how thankful they are that you invested the time and money to have them trained. Not only have you made a difference in my life, but you have made a huge difference in many of your employees lives as well. I personally wanted to thank you and look forward to many more years of continued success together.
You get the drift, I am sincere when I write this, this is really the way that I feel, these are my true emotions bleeding out onto the page. Let your emotions hang out there in a thank you note, you’re not going to go wrong with a handwritten thank you note, it’s in your effort, not in the result. Be sure you take the time to write handwritten thank you letters, so that you can keep those ever important business relationships evolving.
5.3 Four Primary Quadrants for Success
In life, we all have different measurements of success, some of us say that having monetary wealth is the main determinate of success, while others say that having an enriching family relationship is success. However you determine your success is ultimately up to you, my goal in this article is to open your mind to the idea of balance between the four primary quadrants of life.
Look at the following four words: wealth, health, spirituality, family. Now, pick the word that is most important for you to achieve today, which one says, yes, I finally made it in life. There is no right or wrong answer, the word that you chose, you will most definitely achieve, through actively seeking it and working towards it, great job. The concern is that you have three other primary areas which most likely are suffering because you are focusing on achieving the one thing you want the most.
Have you ever met a monetarily rich person and said, wow, this person has really made it in life, then you find out that they are a total jerk to their employees and family members. Do you still feel the same way about that person? This is not success, this is gluttony in the wealth quadrant of their life. A person like this cannot truly feel whole and fulfilled at the end of everyday.
To reach life balance, we must strive for perfection in all four primary quadrants of our life: wealth, health, spirituality, and family. Only striving for one of the primary quadrants is like walking up to a soda machine and putting in one quarter, when the soda costs four quarters, nothing is going to come out of the machine. The same story works in life, to reach full life balance, deposit all four-quarters today.
Don’t worry, if you didn’t know this life balance information before, now you do, so do better starting right now.
5.4 Change Your Outlook
Change Your Outlook if You Want to Change Your Outcome. It’s not hard to understand that if your attitude stinks, that you’re not going to have a very successful day. By simply changing your outlook, you’ll naturally change your outcome. It’s all about mindset. If you go into a situation with an open mind and positive attitude, you’re most definitely going to have a good outcome, but if you think negatively and share those types of feelings, it’s really going to hurt your chances of having a positive experience. When your positive, you stand out in the world, and when you stand out in the world, your chances for success increase.
I’m sure you’ve met positive people that always seem to have everything fall in their lap, but there’s no mistake about it, these people are literally making their own dreams come true by keeping a positive outlook. If you’re a negative person, it’s ok, just slowly try and mix in some positive outlook on a daily basis and see if you can start to make the change. I assure you that it works, but it may take some time.
One way to keep a positive outlook is by doing something that helps someone else. By helping someone else, you’ll be helping yourself in the process. It’s a win-win for both parties involved. By being helpful, it will naturally make you feel fulfilled, and people that feel fulfilled, typically achieve more in life. So if you want to achieve more and go to bed feeling great, get engaged in activities that boost your self confidence, and remember to go into every situation with a positive outlook.
5.5 Use a Reminder System
The main reason you need to use a reminder system is because you’re going to forget important things that need to get done if you don’t. It’s that simple.
Trying to keep everything you need to remember in your head is not going to work out for you when you start to get busier. In fact, trying to keep everything in your head is actually going to hinder your ability to think clearly about future projects. You have to get everything out of your head and into a reliable reminder system if you’re really looking for long term success.
If you’re old school, keep a pen and paper handy at all times, and if you’re new school, use a site like Evernote to keep track of everything on your phone or laptop. The idea behind utilizing an effective reminder system is so that people can count on you and know that you’re going to be somewhere, or do something that’s needed, when you’re supposed to. It’s all about being consistent and accountable.
Using a reminder system will help you keep your word, and when you keep your word, people like you, and when people like you, they give you business, and when they give you business, you become happy, and when you’re happy, it shows, and when it shows, people are attracted to it, and you’ll end up getting more business, and the list goes on, and on, and on.
5.6 Under Promise and Over Deliver
Always leave a buffer. If it typically takes you 5-days to complete a certain type of job, say it’s going to take 7-days to the customer, and then deliver it in 5-days. It’s much easier to under promise and over deliver, than over promise and under deliver. This is what top sales reps do, and this is what you can do to start to give yourself an advantage as well.
Leaving a buffer will leave your customers happy. Look at it like this, all you’re doing is setting the expectation correctly from the very start. I hear of sales reps and companies cornering themselves all the time because they didn’t leave enough time to properly get the job done, and it severely hurts their relationships.
Your only hurting yourself by over promising and under delivering. Just because you’re saying it’s going to take 7-days to complete, doesn’t mean you have to charge them for 7-days work. Give your customer a rebate for any unused hours and let them know they were a pleasure to work with and that you’d love for them to spread the word about their happy experience. Believe me, when a happy customer shares their happy experience with a friend, co-worker, or family member, this is way more powerful than any type of advertising you’ll ever do. Social influence i.e. social persuasion is the most powerful form of advertising there is. Your close rates will be through the roof if you can get happy customers to share their experiences.
Leaving a buffer doesn’t mean you’re going to get lazy and work slower, it means you need to get in there, bust your hump, make it all come together, and get on to the next thing. Keeping a customer informed and aware is vitally important as well. Communication is key during any implementation or build-out. Changes, updates, or any other relevant information must be communicated immediately to keep the project on-time and under budget. The faster everyone knows what’s going on, the faster decisions can be made.
Remember these points to have continued success: leave a buffer, under promise, over deliver, work quick, keep the customer informed, provide a rebate, and ask them to spread their happy experience. It doesn’t get much better than this in terms of providing a positive customer experience.
Chapter 6 – Be Helpful
6.1 Be the Helpful and Useful Resource
In business, your success is going to depend upon how helpful and useful you are to your customers. If you’re constantly taking from them, and never giving back anything in return, you’re not going to be in business very long.
The easiest way for you to become a valuable resource to your customers is to be helpful and useful to them. This means, sharing new information with them that’s going to help them grow their business, or cut costs for their business. In some instances, the information you share with them is not going to directly pertain to the product or service that you sell, but that’s ok, because you’re still providing value to them.
You may lose some money initially. Being the helpful and useful resource may cost you money in the short term, but it will definitely make you a lot more money in the long term. If a law changes in the favor of a client, and it’s going to have them stop using one of your services, let them know anyway. Being a helpful and useful resource is about providing value to your customers, not about robbing them blind when you know that they can be saving money.
When you’re always selling, it gets tiresome for the client, and when a client gets tired, they get frustrated easier, and when they get frustrated they get irritated easier, and when they get irritated it usually doesn’t work out well for you, so steer clear of the, “always be selling,” philosophy, and stick to the, “always be helpful and useful,” philosophy instead.
Keep your clients awake. There’s nothing worse than a sales rep that comes into your office every few months trying to sell you the next greatest widget on the market. Think of the worst sales reps that come into your office, study what you don’t like about them, and then do exactly opposite of what they do when you’re on customer facing appointments selling the products and services that your business offers.
It takes one to know one. If something that a sales rep does gets under your skin, you may be doing similar yourself. Take an honest review of how you’re doing things, and make sure that you’re not putting your customers to sleep by sharing boring information with them. Find helpful and useful information, put together a presentation, and go out and have some fun with it.
Don’t get your customers frustrated. Customers are human, they want to be talked to normally, they want to have clear expectations set, and they want to work with a business that has their best interest in mind. When your business fails to provide clarity, expectations, and trust, they’re going to dump you, and quickly. There are just too many businesses, doing excellent jobs, for a person that gets frustrated time and time again, to decide to stick with you. Remove any customer frustrations immediately, otherwise they’ll be gone in a flash.
To be a helpful resource, you need to be invested in doing business with the market segment you serve. You need to stay up on the laws by listening and reading the news, you must attend industry conferences, and you must be engaged with businesses in your market segment on a daily basis. You need to be able to mix together everything you’ve learned, bake it up, and serve up a delicious presentation that quickly and easily explains what’s changed in the marketplace, and why it’s important that the customer takes action. When you’re helpful and useful, you’re positioning yourself to grow your business in a natural and organic way, which typically yields the best long term results.
Always, no matter what, be helpful and useful, even if it is to your worst enemy, because you never know if your worst enemy may end up turning into your best friend once the walls are broken down and a certain level of trust is formed. Be human, be kind, be helpful, be useful, and you’ll be successful in business, but always be cognizant of where you’re spending your time, as well as where you’re spending your money.
6.2 Lead by Example and Actively Participate
You must lead by example within your organization. Your employees are going to go off of your lead, so it’s vitally important that you lead by example within your organization. When you say one thing verbally, but your physical actions don’t back it up, it’s very confusing for people. The best results in business come when your verbal communications, sync with your physical communications.
It sounds pretty simple to do, but it’s actually quite challenging. The good part is, once you start synching your verbal and physical communications in everything that you do, people will really start to understand and get behind what you’re saying and doing. Becoming a leader within your organization may not happen overnight, but if you always stay true to your verbal words, and you keep your physical actions in sync with your verbal words, you inevitably will be looked upon as a leader within your organization.
You must actively participate to be a strong leader within your organization. Just showing up on a daily basis is not going to get the job done. You need to show up and actively participate. You can actively participate in conversations, you can actively participate in question and answer sessions, and the list goes on and on of ways that you can actively participate in activities that will help position you as the go-to leader. The idea here is that you’re making the effort to actively participate.
If you’re not actively participating in making your own life more successful in business, no one else is going to walk up to you and make you do it. You need to make the decision within yourself, that you’re going to make the most of every moment, in every day, by actively participating, wherever you are, and with whomever you’re with.
6.3 Commit to Create a Positive Work Environment
Don’t let other peoples actions i.e. employees and customers, determine your happiness. You need to decide how happy you’re going to be. It’s up to you. If you let people get the best of you, you’re not going to be very happy. Surround yourself with great people, and great things will happen, surround yourself with negative people that are acting out, and your happiness with definitely be affected. Happiness doesn’t come easily for everyone. Some people are just happy being unhappy, but that can all change with a little bit of help from a professional coach or psychologist.
If you’re running a business, and you’re negative and share those thoughts with your team, business is going to suffer. You, as the leader, are at the top of mountain, and when you poison the water that’s flowing down the mountain with negativity, everyone that drinks it is going to get sick as well. Don’t contaminate the water with poison by being negative, instead, enrich the water with vitamins and nutrients that are going to help your employees flourish and grow. Great companies hire great people, so make a commitment to yourself to be positive and set out to hire positive employees that will make your office overflow with productivity.
The hard facts of negativity in the office is that it drives down moral and it creates an environment where people walk around like zombies and don’t want to do any work. Lower productivity causes higher costs to customers, higher costs to customers causes lower demand for your product or service, lower demand causes reduction in workforce, and then you ultimately are caught in an uncontrollable spin and end up going out of business. It sounds harsh, but it’s the truth.
Companies run by negative leadership will not last in todays business environment. There are just way too many startups, with great products and services, that are just waiting for you to slip up so they can take your market share away. Customers don’t put up with negativity anymore, and neither do most employees, so if you’re negative, or you have employees that are negative, address the issues head on, repair the damage done, and work to be positive on a daily basis moving forward. The commitment to create a positive environment needs to start with you.
6.4 Stop Selling to Sell More
Selling is not about selling, it’s about creating an environment where, “you,” as the sales rep, can ensure that, “they,” as the buyer, can have piece of mind. You see, no buyer is going to get anything from you unless they can trust you. Now here’s the funny thing with trust, it happens almost instantaneously when you physically meet someone, and if you’re talking over the phone it can happen by their voice inflections, and if you’re talking via text or chat, it can occur by the context and manner in which each of you are writing to each other.
Here’s a quick example. I was looking to buy an additional car online. I saw a deal that I liked, so I emailed the person, the person immediately reached back out to me, but they we’re using the word, “her,” where they were supposed to be using, “him.” There were several other little things that were written in the email that didn’t match up either, so what did I do, I halted the conversation, and just looked somewhere else, and yes, I got the additional car, and you know from who, from someone I trusted. The reason I share this is because one little thing that creates doubt, can turn into a snowball rolling down a hill, and when this starts to happen, it’s over for you. Focus on the small details that create trust, and if you want to be trusted, do trustworthy things. I’m really not able to put it any simpler than that.
Mess up the trust during a sales process and you can pack your bags because you’re done. So let me break down why I say, “You sell the most when you’re not selling,” and give you a few tips that you can use moving forward.
A. Selling is about being personally accountable to the client you’re providing a product or
service to. People need to be able to rely on you, it’s that simple. Yes, it may be Friday afternoon and you may be sitting on the beach, but at least be responsive and put them in touch with someone in the office that can immediately help them with their problem. Even better, set the person up with a list of contacts, names, emails, numbers, that they can call when they have a specific problem, so that they can totally bypass you and get help directly from the best source. Of course, it’s always good measure that they keep you in the loop with what’s going on as well.
B. Selling is about being in the trenches with your client when the crap hits the fan and everyone else is running away from the problem. You need to be a firefighter and run into the burning building, pull the people and animals out, and then go back in and put out the fire. The best sales reps are relentless, and strive not only to dig the trenches, but to fight in them with their clients as well. Never, say never, to anything, when it comes to helping out a client and making them look good.
C. Selling is about uncovering, understanding and implementing solutions that save money and solve big problems. If you don’t know what you’re talking about in regards to the product or service you’re selling, don’t bother faking it. You need to be the resource that your clients reach out to when their boss wants something done, and quickly. They don’t have time to look around, get quotes, and build new relationships, all they have time to do is make one call to you, get the solid recommendation, and then move on from there. Here’s the key, just because you don’t sell what they’re looking for, it doesn’t mean that you’re not able to help them through the process. Help where help is needed, regardless of whether it puts immediate money back in your pocket. Believe me, do this, and money will come into your pocket for a long time to come.
D. Selling is about having a personal one-on-one relationship with each other, learning
about each other, personally, and business wise. You’ve got to invest time and effort to build your business relationships. I’m not talking about being creepy about things, I’m just taking about being sincere and creating a reliable one-on-one relationship where you both know that you have each others backs. Yes, you may have to peel back the onion a bit and share who you really are, but it’s going to be ok. If you’re doing the right things in life, it will be hard not to like you, but if you’re engaged in activities that don’t align with moral values that most people have, you’ll either need to change your behavior, or start working with clients engaged in the same type of junk behaviors that you’re engaging in. I don’t suggest this by any means, as they’re are a lot more people doing good, morally correct things, than people that are doing negative things. Surround yourself with the winners, and don’t be afraid to dump a client if they’re not up to your specifications. It’s a two way street here.
E. Selling is about truly caring for their feelings, for saying Happy Birthday, for
being there when they need you, and to help each other become more successful together. Stuff doesn’t always go right for people, a person may have a loss in their family, a loss of a pet, someone in their company was let go, or a variety of different issues, be there for them, listen to them, associate with how their feeling, and when they want to talk, be available and supportive, whether it has to do with personal life, or business life.
Ok, so now that you have a few pointers to help you out, digest it, and then make you’re own recipe for success. Doing things the exact the way that I say, word for word, may not work for you. Every situation is different, you’re unique, and you need to add your own personality and flavor to everything you do. By doing what I recommend as a whole, you’ll be setup to have long term relationships, that will ultimately help you have long term success.
6.5 Surrender to Win
There comes a time when you may have to surrender, so that you can win in the long-term. Yes, it may hurt to surrender in the short-term, but if you continue to fight a losing battle, it’s going to affect your attitude, your business revenues, and your employees. I call it, “surrendering to win.”
Most people were brought up with the never surrender attitude, but knowing when to surrender vs. continuing to prolong a business situation that’s never going to change, is very important. I always say, “If you’ve tried with everything you have, over an extended period of time, and there’s no resolution in site, or the other party involved is just flat out ignorant and is not willing to change or make adjustments, it’s time for “you” to change.” You’ve got to control what you can control, and sometime that’s just you making the decision to remove yourself from the situation.
Yes, it may be painful at first, as most people like the norm and don’t want to upset the apple cart, but living in hell in the in your current business situation will drive you down to the ground and shut you off from future growth. Growth actually comes from change, so what you think may be the perfect situation right now because you’re complacent, may well in fact be holding you back from reaching your full potential. The thing is, you’ll never know until you try something different.
Look at surrendering as a last option, but if it comes down to it, look at it as an opportunity to open up new horizons for yourself. The situation is going to be exactly how you look at it from a mental point of view. Think negative, and that’s what the situation will be, think positive, and that’s what the situation will be.
In the end, you just need to do what you need to do so that you can be happy in business. Yes, the ultimate outcome may not be what you had planned it to be, but it is what it is, so it’s just better to make the best of the situation, rather than harp on it and let it keep you down. Remember, if you don’t do anything, nothing is most likely going to occur, and you’re just putting off the inevitable. Everything starts with you taking action in your life, as well as in your business.
6.6 Share Your Weakness
You’re better off just coming out and sharing what your weakness in business is, rather than having a prospect or client assign it to you. The benefit in you taking the first step and assigning a weakness, is that you can assign it to be whatever you want, and of course you’re going to put a positive spin on it. What happens if you don’t assign a weakness, is the prospect or client you’re selling to will assign one for you, and it won’t be in your control anymore.
This may sound like a strange theory, but it works when done properly, and here’s the reason why. People look to find what’s wrong with a company because they know that everything isn’t able to be one-hundred percent correct, so they hunt around until they find something, and then they use the negative that they’ve found to either drive down your cost, or in the worst case, select someone else as their vendor of choice. The good thing is that you can stop all this by assigning and sharing your weaknesses with them, and then immediately handling the objections that surround it.
The sale is all about the setup, so when you stay in control, and you dictate what goes on, the probability of you winning the business is very strong. This is why assigning your own weakness puts you in control.
So let me provide a quick example of what I’m talking about.
I sell XYZ in a super competitive space, and my XYZ is typically double the cost of my competitors, but I sell more than double the XYZ that they sell, and here’s one of the main reasons why, “After the initial conversation, discovery phase, and value proposition, I always share my weakness,” which is our cost. I know that every vendor is going to say to them that my cost is way too high, but if I’ve already told the person this information, I’m leaving my competitor to try and blow up a broken balloon. It’s never going to work for them. It’s like hearing old news, it really doesn’t matter.
The one thing I always do is make sure I help the client build a case around why we cost more and why it’s important they go with us over a less expensive XYZ. The key phrase being, “Help the client build a case.” You see, if you build the case yourself and present it to a prospect or client, it’s not going to be as strong, but if you work together and assist them in building their own case, you’re going to be in the money zone. It’s like teaching a kid how to fish, they get so excited when they get something on the line that they start jumping up and down, and they want to tell everyone. The same thought process holds true when someone in an office works on a project that they’re proud of. They want to show it to everyone and sell their idea. Be there in a supporting role, and make sure the prospect or client gets all the credit for all the great information they found.
I won’t beat this story anymore, but I’m sure you get the idea by now.
A successful sale is all positioned in how you set it up. Assign your weakness i.e. take away all the power from the competition, provide strong value i.e. ten times more than your competition is providing, and then help your champion in the account build a strong case and let them have all the credit. Sounds simple enough, right? Try it out for yourself and see how it goes. I assure you that you’ll find success in doing what I recommended. I can tell you this, “If you don’t try it, you’ll never know if it works.”
6.7 Attributes to Boost Your Career
Besides your health and your family, your career is most likely the next most important thing you aspire to be successful at, but it’s not always easy. Maybe you don’t have the education that a co-worker has, or maybe you were hired at a lower role within the company to start—it really doesn’t matter when it all comes down to it. What matters most is what you do to boost your career once you’re at your company of choice. I call it, “shaking-and-moving.” I know guys that started in the mailroom and now own the company—and you know why? Because they new what to do, how to do it, and when to do it, and the same attributes they used to get to the top, I’m going to share with you below.
Embrace these attributes that I share, and you’ll blow away everyone else in your office, I assure you. The one thing you need to understand before you read any further is that you really do determine you’re own success. Don’t listen to anyone that tells you different. Here they are.
Be a creative thinker. If you think like everyone else, how are you really going to offer anything different—the answer is, you’re not. I’m not a big fan of the, “think outside the box,” saying, but I am a big fan of, “thinking in the box, as well as outside of the box,” and bringing new creative ideas to the table. Most of the time, the best idea is sitting right there in front of me, and it’s so simple, but I miss it because I’m always looking for this great big compelling idea to come to me instead. You don’t need to be the next person that solves the worlds toughest physics problem, you just need to be the next person within your company that comes up with a creative idea to drive more sales of your companies products or services. The smaller steps you take, and the simpler they are to follow, the more success you’ll have.
Be a great learner. You can never know too much. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you, “know it all,” because you don’t. The most successful people are voracious learners. They love to consume content via any method possible. If they’re driving in the car, they’re listening to an audiobook, if they have a few minutes before a flight, they’re catching up on a podcast, and if they have a few minutes before a meeting, they’re reviewing any type of documentation that may give them a competitive advantage vs. their competition. Knowledge will help you get ahead, so take full advantage of every learning opportunity.
Be timely. There’s no excuse for being late. Yes, I get the snowstorm, the flat tire, the car accident, and such, but what I’m talking about is just flat out being disrespectful and not showing up to appointments or commitments on time because you just didn’t leave yourself enough time to get to where you needed to be. If you consistently don’t show up on time, it’s not going to be good for your career. People won’t trust in you and they’ll just stop setting up appointments with you. I always say, “5-minutes early is on time.” Be the role model when it comes to being on time.
Be the first to reach your hand out. We’re all human beings, and when we walk into a room and we don’t know anyone, we naturally feel uncomfortable, so having someone, like yourself, reach a hand out, break the ice, and help them feel comfortable, will pay you dividends in terms of new relationships for years to come. Some of my best relationships have come from a simple smile, and a nice handshake. It’s so simple. If you’re at a conference or event, and you see someone on the outside of your 2 or 3 person conversation circle and they’re just staring out into the abyss looking lost, invite them in, introduce yourself, then introduce them to everyone else you know. You never know who it may be that you’re reaching your hand out to—it may well be your next boss or next best customer.
Be unique. I think being unique, and just being you, is really one of the toughest things to do, but it’s also one of the most important, so you need to get this one down and learn to just be yourself. The strange thing is that deep down inside, we all want to be unique, but then we’re pounded by our peers to conform to the latest and greatest trends and we lose track of who we really are. It’s ok to be different, and it’s ok if you don’t look the same, or do the same things as everyone else. The most successful people didn’t get to where they are by following the same road that everyone else was taking. They got there by paving their own road, and by being true to themselves by doing what they wanted to do, how and when they wanted to do it.
Be positive. The better your attitude, the more people you’re going to attract, and the more people you attract, the more introductions to additional new people you’re going to have. You want to be the person that people say, “Oh, you have to meet him. He’s completely amazing,” or “Oh, she is the absolute best person.” Be the positive magnet that pulls people together and gets them talking. I always say, “The better the attitude, the higher altitude,” and man does this definitely hold true. Set yourself up for success by thinking of 5 things you’re grateful for before your feet even hit the floor in the morning. A positive mind can really do some amazing things and help out a ton of different people.
Be responsible for you. No one is going to knock on your door everyday looking for where you are. You need to be responsible for yourself, and your own career success. So what if you’re parents were rich and you were brought up with a gifted upbringing—if you’re not responsible for you, you’ll ultimately end up losing it all. Take responsibility for your actions, be disciplined, be respectful, and be kind to everyone that you meet. There’s no place for negativity in any aspect of your life. If you want to feel estimable, do estimable things. It all starts with you though, and you not blame-shifting and shirking the responsibility for your actions on someone else. If you messed up, it’s ok, just take responsibility and make it right as fast as possible, and set yourself up so you don’t make the same mistake again.
Be the first to say thank you. A thank you doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, or crazy, in fact, the simpler, and more sincere, the better. A simple handwritten note is what I find to work best. People just want to feel appreciated, and by you taking the time to share your appreciation, you’ll be helping them feel fulfilled. When you help people feel fulfilled, they naturally enjoy your presence, and will look to engage in future conversations and business with you, which is a very good thing in terms of career growth. It’s important to remember that your thank you needs to come from the heart, without you expecting anything in return. Say thank you because you’re appreciative and want them to know that what they did, really helped you out.
There you have them, my tried-and-true tips that will help you boost your career. Actually, they’ll help you out in your family life as well, so don’t be shy to use them there as well. Like with all the information that I share, it only works if you take action on what you learn. Daily action yields the best results.
Chapter 7 – Data is Your Foundation
7.1 Pick Out the Right CRM from the Start
A customer relationship management tool is the backbone of every successful organization, but don’t get sucked into the new and brightest star out there all the time. Test several different platforms out to see which one works best for your specific needs. Implementation and licensing costs can be high, so you want to be as sure as possible that you’re selecting a CRM that’s going to last for the next several years. Below are some of my tips to help you select the best CRM.
Do your research. Test out several different systems. What works for your friends business may not work for yours. Every CRM has different and unique advantages. Don’t over invest. Start small and grow from there. Stay away from any customizations as they’ll eat up your budget quickly. Go with lean and mean. Easy import and export abilities are key. Be sure you can easily setup and run email and/or mobile text number campaigns. Not segmenting means not personalizing, and not personalizing means lower engagement rates.
Be sure you can commit to working in the CRM 24/7. The CRM needs to be the heart of your organization. Make sure the CRM allows you to build relationships with people while gathering as much personalized information as possible. Being able to tag and highlight what’s important to you within the fields you setup in your CRM, such as, job titles and departments, is extremely important. Check to see how easy it is to run highly segmented reports and customized outreach campaigns, while syncing and tracking everything. Make sure the CRM can constantly evolve with your needs. It needs to be able to grow with you.
Above all, if during the transition things are clearly not going well, don’t be afraid to dump it right there and then. Remember that time you were at the restaurant and the bread came out stale, then the soup came out cold, and then the meal was terrible? It’s the same philosophy here. Dump it before you’re too heavily invested and have to live with it. Cut your losses and just move on before you waste way too much money.
7.2 Use Communication Technologies
The beauty with all the communication technologies available to sales reps today, is that you can cover a lot of ground, very quickly. Even better, some of your daily sales tasks can actually be automated if you’re really smart about how you set things up. Yes, we all know about email marketing, and yes we all know about social media marketing, but it’s really how you use these communication technologies which is going to determine how successful you’re in regards to your efforts.
What takes you a few hours to do, may take someone else a few minutes, and that reason is most likely because the person that’s taking less time, is using technology to automate repetitive tasks. Successful companies understand that client data, client communications, and client support, are the three pillars for long term continued success for their businesses. Brands that master the art of using their data, not only to communicate with their customers, but also to offer unparalleled customer support, are setting themselves apart from the pack very quickly.
It’s not ok for companies to sit back and drive out of the their rearview mirror saying how great they’ve done in the past. Quite frankly, these companies will get smoked by some of the more agile, new companies, that are investing money in customer relationship management technology.
The beauty of a CRM (customer relationship management) tool, is that it’s affordable for both big, and small organizations. Yes, the larger companies will invest in more automation and customization of financial reporting within their CRM systems, but this is definitely not a requirement for a smaller brand that’s looking to build and maintain a strong client foundation.
Let me put it to you this way, “Companies that invest in customer relationship management tools will be working ‘on’ their business in the future, while those that don’t invest, will always continue to work ‘in’ their business.” I hope that makes sense to you, and that you get the point that I’m making immediately, because it’s very important to understand.
As a business owner, or an executive in an organization, you know how difficult it is to maintain communication with not only your clients, but your own staff as well. Investing in a CRM will tie all the pieces together for you. A customer relationship management tool will enable you to keep all your data in one central repository, communicate with your clients about service and product updates, as well as handle all of your customer service needs.
With any type of technology you implement, you want to stay lean, mean, and super efficient. My suggestion is for you to test out a few different setups, and see which one works best for your organization. Since every company has different workflows, and all the systems run differently, it’s always best to try before your buy. You can thank me later.
7.3 Convert Email and Text Subscribers Into a CRM
It’s time to change the way you think about your email and text subscribers. Having someone subscribed to your email or text list in no way guarantees that they’re going to become a client. In fact, having someone on one of your subscriber lists, and you not marketing and reaching out to them effectively, may be doing you more harm than good.
Stop trying to get as many unqualified email addresses and text numbers that you can, and start looking to get qualified email addresses and text numbers from people within your target market, that are in the market to buy your product or service. Unqualified email addresses and text numbers are costing you money.
If people aren’t engaging with your emails and texts over an extended period of time, dump them, it’s that simple. The people that are engaging with your emails and texts, reward them. Reward them by entering their information into a CRM system, this way you can start to form a personal relationship with them while keeping your notes, projects, and touches, all in one central repository.
Here’s a real life example of how a CRM can work in tandem with your email and text marketing efforts.
A. Prospect fills out your online form
B. The form collects email, text number, timeframe, needs, and more
C. Information is then updated directly into your CRM system
D. An initial welcome email or text message is triggered
E. In the email or text, a date and time is requested to speak via a live phone call
F. Live phone call is performed and exact needs are discovered
G. Every interaction with the prospect is noted and tagged with a date and time in your CRM
H. Specific quote is provided back to the client in a timely manner
I. Calendar is marked with any follow up dates and reminders
J. Client is entered into the most appropriate email or text marketing bucket in your CRM
K. Emails or texts are sent out automatically according to your weekly marketing plan
As you can see, automation is powerful, but you need to take the time to set everything up right from the start, and then you can sit back and watch the system run. The bottom line is that if you’re looking to build a strong business for years to come, you need to start to think of how you can implement a solid CRM that ties into your email and text marketing strategies.
7.4 Focus on Your Current Systems
Here’s the deal, stop looking for the next best technological advancement and just focus on perfecting the systems that you currently have in place.
Companies try to run-run-run, always looking for the next big hot ticket. I’ve got news for you, the ticket you think is so hot, most likely really isn’t. Don’t get caught up in chasing the next big thing, otherwise you’ll find that when it comes time to pay the bills to keep the lights on, there’s not going to be any money to do so.
I’m not recommending that you don’t take a proactive approach to new technology, what I’m recommending is that you focus on running your core business and look to implement new technology slowly. Take new technology and new social networks in small doses. This is why it’s important to have a business plan and clear goals, along with a solid calendar to keep you on track.
If you’re not on track and you’re running around like a chicken without a head, stop, and make the adjustments needed to slow down and get back on track. Remember, failing to plan, is planning to fail.
7.5 Tag Contacts in Your CRM
Companies don’t make purchasing decisions, a company is just a name – it’s people that make the purchasing decisions for the company, and that’s why it’s important that you tag individual contacts in your CRM by what they specialize in.
Focus your efforts on selling to a company, instead of the people that run it, and your sales are going to fall flat, but focus on individual people within a company that have the power to make purchases, and you’re going to see solid revenue growth. Not only are you going to be rewarded with immediate sales, you’re going to form long-term relationships that will reap the rewards of continued sales for years to come.
Yes, it’s great to enter a persons fancy title into a CRM, but who really cares about a title. What you want to be able to do is run a report on anyone that specializes in “x, y, or z,” for the company they work for, such as “education,” “marketing,” or “IT services.” The more you can get personable and send our correspondence which resonates with the person receiving it, the better the results will be.
To segment individual contacts in your CRM by what they specialize in, just create a few tags in your CRM i.e. “legal,” “marketing,” “data management,” and etc., and start tagging everyone. My suggestions is to stick to the more broad theme of what the person specializes in as a whole, not as an exact specific. If you get too specific, it will be difficult to run reports, so stick to the more basic themes of what department the person works in, or what function they do for the company.
Below are some segment examples that we use in our CRM so that we can run reports in a matter of minutes.
Data; Education; Advertising and Marketing; Business Products and Services; Construction; Education; Finance; Food and Beverage; Human Resources; IT Support, Software, and Hardware; Legal; Logistics and Transportation; Manufacturing; Real Estate; Security; Telecommunications; and Travel.
Once you have all your contacts tagged in your CRM, you can quickly run a report, and then send out a text or email message to all the subscribers in that segment. Remember, don’t just send a message out because you feel like it, send one out only when you have something that’s helpful, useful, timely, and engaging.
7.6 Easy Access to Information
Yes, customers want a great product, and they want great support, but what they really want as well, is access to their information, when they need it.
But here’s what most businesses do first, rather than focusing on providing a fluid user experience platform where their customers can log in and have access to all their information at their fingertips, they use some clunky old legacy system that makes their sales and support reps have to manually go in, run reports, and then send the information to their clients. Let me tell you, this old school way is broken. If you run your business like this, do everything you can, as fast as you can, so that your customers have access to their information when they want it.
Focus on creating fluid user experiences so that people have access to their information, when they want it, on whatever device they’re on, wherever in the world they are. And in the process of you providing them with access to their information, look to collect an one or two additional pieces of information from them when they’re logged into the system. The more information you have on a customer, the more you can deliver personalized user experiences, and the more you deliver a personalized user experience, the more you can sell them. It’s not that hard to understand.
So here’s a simple plan that you can follow. First, get the customer to buy your product or service. Second, provide them with backend access to everything to do with their account. Third, when they log in, provide them with incentives so that they share more personal information of what they like vs. don’t like. Fourth, set up highly personalized retargeting ads upselling your add-on products and services. Fifth, rinse and repeat.
Remember both of these points, it’s much easier to collect additional information from the user after the initial on-boarding process occurs because it’s no longer a hostile environment, and once you have additional customer information, use it to your advantage by highly personalizing every experience and interaction they have with your company. Lastly, always put the customer first, and look to provide the ultimate client experience.
7.7 Submarine Prospecting Prospects
If there’s one thing I hear all the time from sales reps, it’s “I can’t get a break with this prospect, they never answer the phone or respond to any emails that I send.” Well, let me tell you, this is not a good excuse. Maybe in 1952 this excuse worked because we didn’t have online access to personal information, but in today’s world, you can find out everything you want to about a person if you just do a little bit of searching. Like I always say, “You’re only as good as the tools you use,” and boy does this hold true in regards to prospecting.
So here’s the deal — I’m going to share what I call, “submarine prospecting” tips, so that you can either implement them into your own daily sales prospecting activities, or you can teach your sales reps how to use them. As with everything I talk about, you never want to be creepy about how you go about your business. The idea is to use public information that you find about a prospect, to help you build a personalized portfolio of likes vs. dislikes, before you ever meet them. This way, when you reach out to them, you can add a little personalized touch pertaining to something that they like. For example, I love the beach, so if a sales rep reaches out to me about attending an event that he or she is hosting, and it’s at the beach, my probability of attending is going to be much higher, compared to them sending me an invite for an event in a freezing cold destination. Now here’s the kicker, if they hadn’t done any submarine prospecting i.e. searching online to find out personalized public information about me, they’d never know that I was a beach lover. Even better, if they customize any future marketing material to me and it’s related to the beach, sun, and fun, my probability of engaging with that content is through the roof. Typically what happens is that everyone gets the same old marketing piece with the standard stock photo of some guy or girl doing something that the prospect has no interest in, and I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t work very well, so stop doing it if your guilty of this. Personalize, personalize, personalize — that is, if you want to have superior results.
It all comes down to doing the proper research before you reach out to them, that way when you do reach out to them, you’re talking about something that’s exciting and relatable to them. I’m sharing this information to educate you on how the top sales reps write 10x more business than their counterparts — the reason is because they know the tricks and make the most of every outreach communication they send out to their prospects. One rule of thumb to follow, is always be respectful of a persons privacy, no matter what, and like I mentioned above, the idea is not for you to be creepy with the information, it’s for you to be effective, and to use it to form new business relationships and close more business. So here are my submarine prospecting tips.
Do a web search and find out if they’re a member of any buying group. There are tons of buying groups out there, and big companies definitely use them all the time. Look to find out what buying groups serve what markets, as well as what business departments they serve within their market — find out the list of members, attend a few conferences or meetings when they’re open to the public, and get engaged. What better way to start a warm conversation with someone than saying, “Hey, I recently was at the XYZ industry conference and really found the information that was shared very helpful. Did you attend the conference as well? And what did you think about it?” You see what I’m doing here, I’m hitting them with something that they can relate to right off the bat. There’s no asking some bland question about the weather, it’s getting right down to the point. Again, it’s all about being personable here, not creepy.
Find the challenges in the department they work in i.e. finance, marketing, sales, etc., and directly make them aware of the issue, as well as how you can help them solve it. This is sales 101 type stuff, and it works very effectively, that’s why we’ve been doing it forever. In simple terms, find what’s broken i.e. maybe a law changed or a specific department needs to do XYZ to become compliant, make the prospect aware of it — as they may not already be, and directly address the issue with how your product or service solves it. The more you do behind the scenes research, the more you’ll become the authoritative resource, and the more prospects look at you as the resource they can turn to for answers, the faster they’re going to become your clients. Read up on everything you can, join industry relevant groups, and dedicate the time needed to learn what you need to learn so that you can be a value-add resource.
Find people that know the person you want to get in front of, and ask them to give you an introduction i.e. LinkedIn, news outlets. A warm handoff is worth 10x more than a run-of-the-mill cold call. You need to search around and find people that know the people that you want to get in front of, and utilize those relationships to the maximum. This is one reason why it’s so important to take care of every business relationship you have — even further, be sure you’re taking caring of every personal relationship you have as well. You never know who is going to know who, and if you’re a jerk it will eventually catch up with you somewhere down the line. Always be helpful, useful, understanding, and engaging, no matter what. Search the web, check the cc’ line on emails that get sent to you and look to see if you know any of the last names. I assure you, the world is a small place, especially when you use resources like LinkedIn, and the other primary social media channels of choice. If you search hard enough, and you search smart enough, you will find a relationship with someone that can introduce you to whom you want to get an appointment with.
Find people on social media and see their likes, dislikes, what type of activities they do. Find similarities and be crafty about different ways to reach out to them while relating to their likes. Stay away from comedy, politics, and religion, as sometimes jokes can be taken incorrectly and spiral out of control quickly. Here’s another great idea, “Use Google to search their name!” It sounds so simple, but so many people just overlook the most simplest of places to look. It’s really isn’t that difficult. It you just keep it simple, and look in the obvious places i.e. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google, you’ll find out 90% of what you’re looking for. Like I always say, “We’re not sending a rocket to space here,” don’t make it more difficult than what it really is. It’s simple research just like you did when you were in 5th grade for your research paper you had to write on George Washington.
So there you have them, a few of my insider submarine prospecting tips. If you haven’t been able to break into a prospective account, use these methods, they will help you without a doubt. Like I said above, it’s not 1952 anymore and there’s just way too much online information available for you to have any excuses as to why you’re not able to break into an account. You have to work like a champion though — new business isn’t going to just come easy to you — be smart, be effective, use your resources, and you’ll be fine.
Chapter 8 – Increasing Sales
8.1 Best Practices for Increasing Sales
To increase sales, you need to be smart about how you go about your business. Sales don’t happen by accident, sales are made by putting together several key steps, all ultimately culminating in the end result of the sale.
Below are my insider tips for increasing sales. Some of them are actual tasks you need to do on a daily basis, while others have to do with mindset. Wake up ready to go in the morning, and make sure you’re mentally prepared for best results.
A. You have to want it big time – proper attitude is everything. No one can want it more than you.
B. You need to be smart and get sales strategy in place – failing to plan, is planning to fail.
C. You need to become an expert in communicating with people – if you don’t know how to read voice inflections and body language, learn how, and quickly.
D. You need to stay up on industry relevant information that directly affects your target market – law changes, new cost cutting measures, or something along those lines.
E. You need to figure out who your target market is – find the proper market where you’re able to maximize your profits.
F. You need to identify the people that work for accounts and make decisions within your target market – segment them as much as possible.
G. You need to keep all your prospect/client information in one central repository – Salesforce, Google Docs sheet, or something along those lines.
H. You need to constantly be updating your prospect/client information – keep notes of every name you hear, make sure they’re spelled properly, as well as any personalized information that you learn. This is not about being creepy, this is just about being able to make your conversation more timely and relevant throughout your relationship.
I. You need to focus on building relationships – buyers may work for 4 or 5 different companies, but if you’ve built a strong relationship, they’ll bring you along with them.
J. You need to be an expert in your market segment – be the authoritative resource that your customers turn to for answers.
K. You don’t need to know all the answers about your product and services, but you need to know who to get in contact with at your company that does know the answers.
L. You need to reach out to people before they’re in need – the best time is before they’re even aware of a situation. If a person reaches out to you, it’s too late to build value because they’ve already done their research online and are just looking for you to validate how they already feel.
M. You need to master the art of initial outreach in both verbal and email form – the shorter, the simpler, the better.
N. You need to be persistent and never give up – persistence wears down resistance.
O. You need to become the master of follow up – the fortune is in the follow up.
There you have them. Some of my best tips to help you increase sales. Remember, “Sales don’t happen by accident, sales are made by putting together several key steps, all ultimately culminating in the end result of the sale,” so be sure to get your game plan together, and then go out and execute it on a daily basis. Before you get out of bed in the morning, get your head right mentally, and be prepared and ready to make the most of every second in the day.
8.2 Targeted Selling to Departments within Companies
Below is a helpful list of common departments within companies, along with the roles each of them provide. When selling your product or service, it’s always a great idea to speak directly with each individual department, and focus on their specific needs. Your not trying to sell popcorn to the world here, you need to get real focused and provide specific value to the department.
Keep an eye out for compliancy and law changes that affect each department, and when your product or service fills the need, directly reach out to the person, or group, that handles it for the company, and get in front of them asap to go over how you can help make them compliant. Selling takes timing, and you keeping up to date with market segment changes, will put you in the drivers seat to pounce on easy sales opportunities.
Remember, when a person calls you saying they want something, it’s already too late. You need to be calling them and telling them they need your solution because it’s going to solve a big problem for them. My suggestion is that you print this list out, go through the product and services you sell, match them up to the departments, and get in front of your customers and prospects before your competition does.
A. Administration – officers and support staff that run the company behind the scenes
1. Human Resources – support hiring, firing, and insurance needs
– Health insurance
– 401(k) plans
– Wellness programs
– Litigation risks
– Social outreach
– Property insurance
– Workers compensation
– Drug testing
2. Office Support – deliver mail, make copies, answer phones
– Waste removal
– Vendor maintenance
– Shipping and Freight
3. Legal – make informed business decisions based on current laws
– Internal governance
– Research risks
– External communication
– Review agreements
– Provide legal clarification
– Enforce copyright
B. Finance – plans and organizes how to spend money
1. Purchasing – buys products and services
– Fleet leasing
2. Accounting – creates, tracks, and pays invoices
– Property tax
– Tax credits
– Sales tax
3. Credit – offer payment terms to customers
– Bank fees
– Credit card processing
C. Marketing – creates sales opportunities
1. Public Relations – handles interviews and public interactions
– Local newspaper articles
– Local TV coverage
– Speaking engagements
– Store events
– Guest radio appearances
– Podcast interviews
– Guest blog posts
– Local bulletins
– Community newsletters
– Social media
– Local organizations
2. Advertising – supports paid campaigns
– Google Adwords
– Online Ads
– TV Ads
– Magazine Ads
– Newspaper Ads
– Direct mail
D. Sales – work with customers to close opportunities
1. Distribution – gets the products and services delivered
2. Service – provides product and service support
– GPS tracking
– Quality control
E. Production – make the products that get sold
1. Research – study market trends and share new ideas
2. Development – bring ideas into reality
– Create models
F. IT – support computer infrastructure and users
1. Data Management – manages customer information in a CRM
– Email subscribers
2. Analytics – measure website data to gain customer insights
G. Customer Service – answer customer questions and help with concerns
1. Quality Control – makes sure high level of consistency is maintained
H. Environmental – makes sure all products and services do not cause climate damage
1. Recycle – take back products and turn them into reusable goods
There you have it. Almost every primary business department is listed above. My suggestion is to print out this list, go through each of your accounts, and match up what product or service you sell with each department. Once you have this done, reach out to each individual department and let them know how your product or service is going to help them. It’s that simple.
8.3 Best Pitch and Presentation Methods
Best pitch and presentation practices are like core building blocks needed for any successful construction or engineering project. Skimping out and cutting corners is going to lead to disaster later on down the line.
From the mom and pop shop selling donuts in a corner bakery, to a Fortune 100 company with a sales team of thousands, the core pitch/presentation building blocks are the same. The beauty with the best practices for pitching and presenting clients, is that how much you use of each one of the building blocks is up to you. It’s like cooking a meal… you may use some more of this or that, but in the end it’s going to be your personalized pitch, using the core components in the unique and special recipe that you blended up, that’s going to make the difference.
The difference maker is you, and the faster you blend your own recipe, the faster you’ll start to relate to people on a more personable level. Below is some crowdsourced information from movers and shakers in business in regards to how they best pitch and/or present to clients to deliver the best results.
Take this information, use it, implement it in your daily routine, learn what works for you best in your particular case, and then rinse and repeat what works.
A. Be yourself – if you’re quirky, that’s cool. Being you is what makes you unique and different.
B. Be personable – writing like an attorney does not work. Talking like a human being is what works best.
C. Keep it simple – your most likely not sending a rocket to space. Keep your message simple.
D. Make it easy to understand – there’s nothing worse than falling asleep in a presentation because it’s like the person is talking a foreign language. The easier it is to understand, the easier it will be to make a decision.
E. Share your weaknesses – if you don’t share your weaknesses, people will assign them to you, and they may not be the ones you want.
F. Share your strengths – never brag, only inform.
G. Never bash the competition – don’t be afraid to bring up the competition and share what areas they excel in vs. what areas you excel in.
H. Don’t hide anything – just come out and say exactly how it is. People like to know what they’re getting into upfront.
I. Have a price estimate ready – everything in your presentation needs to build value in your cost of goods. Be ready to share pricing, and especially be ready to support it with value.
J. Share something that can be passed around the room – if you have prototype, have it with you. People love to look at feel at things when in presentations. It keeps them awake.
K. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare – it’s all in the setup. Put the oil in the skillet first, heat things up, then start cooking.
L. Be ready to handle objections – know what the common objections are, and be prepared to address them head on when they come up.
Now that you have some unique and different pitching and/or presenting ideas, put together your own recipe for success and go out and make it happen. No one else is going to do it for you. Your success is up to you.
8.4 Persistence and Perseverance
To be successful in sales, you need to have both persistence and perseverance. Persistence enables you to wear down any surrounding resistance, and perseverance enables you to have the will to keep going, even after other people quit.
Persistence – what does persistence mean to you? Think about it for a second yourself – to me, persistence means continuous effort to achieve a desired goal. It does not mean nagging or bothering someone, it is an internal drive within me that says, this is the right thing to do, so make it happen, regardless of what it takes. Kids provide a great example of persistence, when they want something, they relentlessly keep asking for it, and will do almost anything to get what they want. We as entrepreneurs, need to take the same approach that kids do, and never give up.
Perseverance – what does perseverance mean to you? Think about it for a second yourself – to me, perseverance means the undying will to achieve my desired goal. For example, calling on a prospect for five-years, never getting them on the phone, never getting in front of them, while continuing to look for opportunities in which my services may help them save time and money. Now I’d call that perseverance.
Some might define this as the definition of insanity, I define it as the will to make things happen, and eventually they will. Believe me, the ice will get thin and you will find an opportunity. The moral of the story is, most people give up before the opportunity presents itself. Whatever you do, don’t give up, the opportunity will present itself. From personal experience, it is when I have pushed through the biggest pain points, that the biggest breakthroughs have occurred. Like they say with the lotto, you have to be in-it to win-it, the same holds true for life as a sales rep.
In the end, the continuous effort and undying will to achieve a goal, that’s what it comes down to for successful sales reps. However you define persistence and perseverance, it really doesn’t matter, just blend up your own recipe and go out and achieve your sales goals today. Dig deep within yourself, regardless of where you are right now, you can ultimately achieve what you want to. You don’t have to be great to start, just start to be great.
8.5 If You’re Not Failing, You’re Not Trying Hard Enough
As a sales rep, you can slide into a comfort level that’s not advantageous for your continued growth. Yes, you can work from anywhere you want, you can make a lot of money, and you can have freedoms that other jobs don’t allow, but it’s all based on you producing sales at a high level.
Once you’re living the life that you’ve always dreamed, complacency can start to set in i.e. meaning that you get comfortable and stop pushing the limits like you did when you first started out. Pushing the limits is what got you to have ultra sales success, and it’s what allowed you to have the freedoms other people dream of having. So never stop pushing the limits, regardless of how successful you become. When you push the limits, it’s only natural that you’re going to have failures, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough, it’s that simple. Failing is part of the process of getting to success.
In my life, I fail everyday, sometimes multiple times throughout the day, but my brain is working strong, I’m open to new ideas, I’m listening to people, and in the end, I’m learning how to offer the very best products and services for my clients. I understand that if I sit back and enjoy my past successes, my life isn’t going to continue to be successful for long. I always say, “You may be on the right track, but if you’re standing still you’re going to get run over.” I say this to myself everyday, to make sure that I’m continuing, focused, and committed to continuing to move forward.
Failing is not a bad thing, in fact, the faster you get to find your weaknesses and where you can improve, the faster you’ll get to success. The point is, you need to have the will to keep going when others quit. The low points in your life, the decisive moments when you’re put in a position to fight-or-flight, these are the moments that will define your success in the long run. If you fail and hand it in, you’re done, if you fail and decide you’re going to use the experience to learn and do better next time, you’ll ultimately be the winner in the end.
Read some books on ultra successful entrepreneurs, they’ve all failed, and many times. The difference between them and someone else, is that they learned from their experiences, they used the lesson to catapult themselves forward. Focus on taking two steps forward, one step back. This way, you’ll always be one step ahead. Make the decision in your head, that no matter what happens, you’re going to take away a positive experience from every situation, no matter what.
Give what I’m talking about a try, and see how your life changes. When people start coming up to you and saying, “I see a positive change in you, what’s going on,” you’ll know that you’re on the right track. Turning negatives into positives takes time, don’t be too rough on yourself in the beginning, just try your best and always look for the positive. The situation doesn’t define you, the way you react ultimately does.
8.6 Rapidly Increase Your Sales
You don’t need to do anything crazy to increase sales, you just need to stick to the core basic foundations of sales success. Do the actions that are going to provide you the most impact, in the lease amount of time. The whole idea is to do everything you can to get new paying clients on board.
A. Segment your database – put your contacts into “market segment” campaign buckets, so you can start to send out highly relevant information that’s related to each specific market segment. There’s no sense in sending a person that loves golf, information on biking, it’s just not going to resonate with them, and the conversions are going to be very low.
B. Create case studies and success stories for each specific market segment – once created, share the compelling information (via your email marketing system, as well as your social media channels) that gets people within each specific market segment to take action, and either signup for a free account, or even better, a paid account.
C. Host a “how to” WebEx every week. This will be a place where anyone on the fence about your service can stop by and learn more about the benefits that it provides. Run the weekly “how to” sessions for fifteen minutes, followed by a fifteen to thirty minute question and answer session.
D. Focus on increasing the “free” users to “paid” users – do this by looking at how many times a “free” user logs into the system, as they’re the low hanging fruit, and then look to convert them right away. Also, convert anyone that opens a help desk (problem-tunity) ticket into a paid user.
E. Get a targeted list of companies that will benefit from having a customized solution built for them, and then send them helpful, useful, and relevant information in regards to how your service is going to directly benefit them. Reach out to the companies both by email and phone. Focus on these strategic accounts and give them highly personalized attention because they’re going to yield the largest monthly subscriptions amounts.
F. Continue outreach on a consistent basis, and get current users that love your service, to share out their love for it on their social channels. Entice people to do this by providing them with beneficial perks like, “the more people you share it with, the more perks you’ll receive.” Run some contests, giveaways, and promotions to engage new prospects.
G. Review all of the analytics from all the above activities, and then, “rinse and repeat,” all the steps, primarily focusing on the one’s that provide the greatest results.
Don’t sit back and wait for people to come to you, go out and get them. The above sales actions will provide the most value, in the least amount of time.
8.7 Powerful Words to Use When Pitching Your Idea
Using the right words when pitching your idea make a huge difference. By using the right words, you can make the person, or people, your pitching your idea to, feel comfortable, angry, scared, hesitant, and so forth, so proper word selection is vital. Use the right words to get your point across, and you may well just end up with the sale, but use the wrong ones, and you may well end up losing the opportunity.
Use words to empower you to get your point across while continuing to maintain a comfort level with the person, or people, you’re presenting to. Use keywords (examples below) to raise awareness, create emotion, and to evoke a response when needed. The best speakers in the world are experts at this, and you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor by implementing them in your presentation strategy as well.
Believe me, using these words will make a big difference.
A. Safe and reliable words – key, leading, best, pioneering, primary, finest, dominant, passionate, easier, powerful
B. Adventuresome words – serious, triumphant, game changing, best ever, buzz, buzzy, fantastic, brilliant, stellar, jaw dropping
C. Risky words – conquer, explosive, severely, stimulate, urge, fever, agitate, killer, capture, dangerous
Have fun with these words, include them in your next pitch and whatever you do, don’t sound like a tape recorded robot when speaking. People love people, so make sure your pitch is highly personable and be sure to use these words to accentuate your points.
8.8 Insider Sales Tips
Don’t push, make it attractive instead. Pushing does not work, especially when it comes to the sales process. What does work is making your service or product attractive, so that clients and prospects see the value in buying your product or service. Pushing may get you where you want to go in the short term, but in the long term it will lead to an unhappy client relationship. In sales, as well as in life, it needs to be about the other person, remove the “I” from your sentences and watch your results soar. Look to directly solve your clients and prospects problems, get your magnifying glass out, discover their exact needs, address them, solve them, and you’ll be off to the races.
Look for new tools. Find websites, apps, software, that will enable and empower you to keep everything you do highly personalized with your clients and prospects. Continue to discover new ways to streamline your business processes. Focus on having people do people processes with other people. Find and discover tools that will help automate your billing and invoice processing systems, and let your computer focus on what it does best, processing information with other computers. One note of caution here, don’t get so wrapped up in tools and automation that you get paralysis by analysis. There’s a tool for everything these days, my recommendation is to focus on the largest areas of pain first, master and control these highly specific areas, then look to implement tools in your other areas of business.
Have a laser beam focus. The reason I say this is because this is the best way to solve immediate problems for clients, prospects, and for yourself as well. People tend to look at things from too broad of a perspective, and this causes less to get achieved in the short term, because the focus is not exactly where it needs to be. When a problem arises, get the magnifying glass out, direct all your energies into solving the problem, and watch the results. The problem will not linger, it will be immediately resolved when you use this approach.
Get a laser beam focus with your sales prospects. Segment your list, focus on how you’re going to solve a big problem for each one of them, contact each prospect directly stating how what you want to talk to them about is going to solve one of their big problems, and you’ll be on the fast track to success.
Work smart and hard. If you think you’re going to sit back, not work, and that the competition isn’t going to be banging on the doors of your clients, you’re sadly mistaken. You need to be out in front of your clients on a consistent basis, and yes, I mean consistent. Not just when they call you because they need something. Your competition is working hard, and you need to do the same if you don’t want to get outworked.
Keep both feet on the ladder. Climbing the ladder to success is great fun. When you’re climbing the ladder, don’t try and kick anyone else off the ladder. To kick someone else off the ladder, you need to take one of your feet off the ladder as well, so make sure you watch, because you may fall off the ladder yourself. Help people as your climbing the ladder, give more than you want to get back, and watch how your business life naturally blossoms.
Make the most of your day. Time is one thing you don’t have when you’re running a business. You need to be able to solve problems quickly, and you need to be able to get the questions you have, answered within a few minutes. Surround yourself with knowledgable and helpful people. Network like a champion, so when you need an answer to a question, you can ping your network, and receive back the best answer, in the shortest amount of time.
Having a coach helps. To reach your maximum level, you need coaching. Top athletes in the world have coaches, and there’s a reason why, and that reason is because they keep you accountable and they push you to new limits. If you truly want to get better, have a coach. Investing time and money in yourself, is one of the most effective means of accelerating your growth. Having a coach will help you throw out the idea that failure is an option. Failure is not an option. Get a coach to get that little extra spark you need to jump to the next level.
8.9 Give People a Reason to do Business With You
Using the same old blah-blah-blah sales techniques that everyone else uses isn’t going to give your business a competitive edge. All it’s going to do is put a little bit of money in your pocket, and make you feel half-decent at the end of everyday, but what I’m talking about is shooting for the moon here and feeling like your on fire before you go to sleep at night.
To excel in business, you need to create difference makers for yourself. Below are some examples of what you can do to make a big impact, in a short amount of time.
Create savings – everyone loves to save. Hit people where it counts most to them i.e. right in their pocket. Be careful though, this can be a slippery slope if you’re not providing value, and you’re just in there with a low price. Look at the soft cost savings as well. Time is money, so if you can save them time, you can save them money, and if you can save them office space, that’s going to equate to dollars saved as well.
Offer discounts – this is an easy way to upsell add-on products and services. You’ve already done all the hard negotiating to get your foot in the door, now it’s just a quick simple email saying, “Hey, you already use or XYZ product, so why not try out our ZYX product?” It’s like buttering warm bread, but it needs to be done right to work effectively.
Create value – needless to say, if you don’t provide value, you will not be in business for long. Low price bidding is like picking up scrap metal, you have to pick up a ton of it to make any money. Here’s an example, get on a treadmill, turn the speed to level 5, then level 10, then level 15, you start to get it here? You’ll never outrun the bottom line. Dump that low price jargon and start to provide value if you’re really looking to build a sustainable business.
Offer non-standard coverage – every business offers Monday to Friday service hours, so why not offer non-standard hours i.e. on weekends and after hours, and charge a premium. People in need will pay a premium, and they’ll thank you for it. Look at it like this, you own a home, it’s the weekend, and your air conditioning stops working, do you think twice about calling for repair? The answer is, at least in most instances, no. Offering non-standard hours will help you build new customer accounts because you may literally be the only company able to do what a person needs, when they need it most.
All of the above suggestions are differentiators that will provide you with opportunities to create competitive advantages for yourself. Creating competitive advantages is one of the best ways to put more money back in your pocket, while increasing your profit per sale. Be the company that people can count on when they need it most, and customers will keep coming back to you for years to come.
8.10 Flush Out Decision Makers and Hidden Influencers
In every account, there are decision makers and hidden influencers. It’s up to you, as the business owner or sales representative, to find out who they are, and to get your information in front of them. Not knowing who the decision makers and hidden influencers are within an account is like driving in the dark without your headlights. Needless to say, you’re not going to get very far.
Some people start at the top with the decision maker, and when they don’t get anywhere with him or her, they jump down to the hidden influencers, build the business case with the influencers, and then have the influencers circle back and bring their findings to the decision maker. Other people may start with a department head i.e. legal, accounting, or IT, and build their case up from there, but you need to stay focused and engaged on being sure that you get in front of the decision makers or hidden influencers, because ultimately those are the people that are going to ensure that the contract gets signed.
You may have even been in a position where you thought you had the deal locked up because you were working so well with a non-decision making person, only to find out that the deal gets signed with another company because they were actually dealing with the right people that were able to make the decisions. Listen, everyone gets burned once, but the faster you learn to flush out the decision makers and hidden influencers, the faster you’re going to have the opportunity to get in front of them with your information and lock in the deal. The idea is to find the right people within an account, find out what’s important to them, get your information in front of them that solves their problem, find out what they’re objections are to what you’re presenting, and then lock in the deal. This is sales 101 at its best.
Sales isn’t difficult when you know what to do and how to do it. What makes sales difficult is when a sales rep doesn’t have enough industry knowledge i.e. they’re new to the market segment, they haven’t been offered proper training, or they’re just lazy and think they’re going to get by just knowing what they know. This is a ridiculous type thinking, and if you’re a business owner that doesn’t have market segment knowledge, stop what you’re doing and go out and get it before you invest any more money in building your business. Then make sure you get all your sales reps trained as well. There’s nothing worse than a buyer sitting in front of a seller and them thinking, “this sales rep has no idea what in the world they’re talking about.” You want to talk about an immediate deal killer, that’s one of the biggest ones.
Business owners and sales reps need to be savvy and need to be up on the latest trends, law changes, and anything else relative to the buyer. Be the authoritative resource that shares ultra-valuable information and helps put money back in your clients pockets. Lastly, decision makers and hidden influencers don’t like to waste time. Just get to the point with the important information you have, and how it’s going to help them, and be ready to close the deal. Just because it took someone months to close a deal, doesn’t mean that it’s going to take that long for you to get the same deal done. Go into every situation with the intent to close. Don’t be brash or overbearing, just be in control and let them know that you’re going to provide the best solution, for the most reasonable cost, with the best support that they can count on. Be prepared. Decision makers and hidden influencers can make decisions on the spot. If you’re not ready to get the deal done, and they are, they may just pass you by and forget about you and move onto the next big thing. You have to strike while the iron is hot.
8.11 Strike While the Iron is Still Hot
Don’t wait so long to launch your product or service that by the time you do, your product or service is obsolete. You have to strike while the iron is still hot. Yes, I get that you want everything to be perfect, but sometimes you just need to launch what you have, so that you can still capture the excitement that’s in the marketplace. Consumers get crazy over products and services trending on social media, and if you have a product or service in that trending segment and you’re not taking full advantage of immediately launching and then working 24/7 to work out the little kinks, you’re crazy.
No product or service is perfect when it first launches, and in fact, it may never be perfect, so just go with what you have, especially in a trending market, and then see where the business takes you. Put it this way, “If you don’t launch, you’re never going to know whether your product or service delivers what people in your market segment are looking for.” Sometimes you just need to launch and learn. This is not something that I’d recommend for everyone, but if the markets hot, and your product or service falls within that hot market segment, you have to do what you have to do so that you can capture the revenue.
Yes, if you’re a huge pharmaceutical company, obviously this type of launch and learn strategy is not going to work, there’s just too many laws and regulations, but if you’re a small to mid-size business, just put the rubber to the road and go for it. I talk to a lot of business owners that have developed products and services, but have never launched them because (a) they spent way too much money in research and development and ran out of money to finish the project, and (b) they fear that their product or service is not perfect and that people won’t buy it, so they just never do anything with it. Both of these scenarios are bad, not only for the developer, but also for the consumer. When a developer never launches, they never get to make any money and receive the rewards of all the work they put into building their product or service, and for the consumer, they never get to try out a new product or service that may actually have been the perfect fit for them.
You have to put down your fears of failure when launching. Some people will like what you have, while others won’t, just focus on the people that like what you offer, and continue to build your client base as fast as you can in the trending market. People wait their whole life to ride the wave, so when the big trending market wave hits the market segment you’re in, and you have a product or service almost ready to go, don’t hesitate, just jump in and you’ll find a way to make it all work out. You have to be in it, to win it.
The same strike while the iron is hot philosophy holds true for everyday sales reps as well. Be prepared to sign paperwork or execute the contract when you go visit with someone. There’s no sense in having to circle back if they’re ready to buy now.
8.12 Cool Your Jets when Selling
When selling your product or service, cool your jets when you’re talking to prospective clients. Don’t spew out so much information, so fast, that the person you’re talking to feels like they’re getting sold. No one likes to feel like they’re getting sold, and if you do business this way i.e. high-pressure, frantic, or “do this now to get the discount,” you’re not going to be successful for long. This is kindergarten type sales, and it doesn’t work when selling high-priced products and services. Yes, you may get the odd one or two people that buy what you’re selling, but what I’m talking about is providing real long term value to your clients.
Your job as a sales rep is to guide the person down a path, sharing helpful, useful, and timely information to them along the way, which ultimately leads them to making the purchasing decision for themselves. This is a the most powerful type of sales you can do. Guide the person so that the lightbulb goes off in their head, and they say to themselves, “This is a no-brainer. I’d love to do this.” Blurting out how great you are, or how great your company is, while bashing the competition, is not the way to go. Sales people that do this immediately turn off the people they’re speaking with. There’s nothing wrong with mentioning your competition and sharing some differences between your product or solution, and their product or solution, but there’s never any reason to get engaged in uncalled for bashing. “If you bash, you will crash,” it’s that simple.
Be relaxed when you’re selling. I know it’s not easy to cool the jets when you get excited, but you need to learn to lay low, ask a lot of great questions, and then sit back and listen. The better listener you become, the more successful you’ll be in sales. Have you ever met someone and you’ve said only a few words to them and they told their friends that the two of you had the best conversation ever? Bingo! You do this, and you’ve won the sales race, as well as a new relationship. The funny thing is that you may walk away from the conversation saying, “That was so boring, they talked the whole time,” but remember, sales is about the other person, so just relax, enjoy the moment, smile wide, and pay attention to them like they were the last person you were ever going to speak with.
Moving onto the follow up phase of sales. Cool your jets here as well. You don’t want to start pounding them with phone calls or emails too soon. Have a methodology to your madness. If you didn’t get the immediate sale, simply send a quick thank you follow up email to the person, sharing how much you enjoyed learning about what they do, and that you look forward to speaking with them again soon. Then a few days later, circle back with some helpful information that’s related to your product or service and how it’s directly going to benefit them. Sales is a balancing act, don’t act or follow up enough, and you’ll show up to find another vendor supporting them, while if you push too hard, they’ll get turned off and you’ll end up showing up to another vendor supporting them. Just like in your life, implement balance for best results. Look at it like this, you don’t want to act like you just got shot out of a rocket when you first talk with someone. Settle down, remember back to when you started dating and you got a little bit more experienced than you were when you were fifteen years old, this is how you need to act. Cool, but in control.
One thing I do all the time is relate my personal experiences to sales experiences because I’ve found that they’re really intertwined. Treat prospects and clients like you’d like to be treated yourself, and you’ll without a doubt have outstanding results. Always remember to laugh and have a good time when selling, and don’t take things too seriously. There’s always a solution, no matter what the circumstance or condition, the challenge for you as the sales rep is to find it and present as fast as possible. Remember, you’re running the show, so make it the best ever.
8.13 Closing a Decision Maker
If you’re going to be successful in sales, you need to have excellent closing skills. Now, you may be thinking, “I’m not good at closing,” or “I’m better having someone else in my company do the closing calls for me,” but you’re selling yourself short if you think this way. You see, the close of a sale, happens way before you go to sit down with a decision maker. In fact, the close of a sale with a decision maker is supposed to just be a formality of meeting and signing the paperwork, not you starting the sales process all over again.
So here are my (ABC) suggestions for you when you’ve won the opportunity to sit down with the decision maker to close a deal you’ve been working on.
A. Be short and get right to the point. There’s nothing worse than sitting in front of a sales rep that’s clearly adding a bunch of fluff and floating around the real point of why they’re sitting in my office. I know you’re there for a reason, you know you’re there for a reason, so let’s just get right down to it. Take the direct approach for best results. Yes, I understand you may like to take the 8-hour scening route when driving to grandma’s house, but decision makers want to take a private jet and get there in 30-minutes instead. Be respectful of their time.
B. Keep it simple. You’re not looking to explain how electricity works, you’re just looking to walk him/her over to the light switch and magically have it turn on. You get what I’m saying here? Keep what you’re talking about simple, so that you don’t muddy the water and have to end up going back to resell everything all over again. If you’re not able to explain the value in what you’re selling in less the 1-minute, you’re not ready to be in front of the decision maker, so you may want to go back to the drawing table, figure out your plan, and then make another appointment to go and meet with them.
I look at it like this, “I’m not working with NASA to send the next spaceship to Mars, I’m just looking to buy what product or service you’re selling because it’s going to add value to my organization. Don’t make it more difficult than what it really is.” The simpler the better. Believe me, I’ve been in front of tons of decision makers, closed tons of business, and I know what works best.
C. Be ready to answer any questions that come up. Yes, there’s always going to be one or two quick questions that a decision maker has, answer them directly, and don’t flinch or show any type of hesitation. This is the closing point. If you start squirming around in your chair, or your arms start moving in strange ways, or you start to look everywhere around the room where you have no business looking at that crucial moment, you’re done. Body language doesn’t lie, and if you’re not in control of your body, you’re going to create doubt and the decision maker is going to jump ship. Show no hesitation by staying in control of your body movements. Answer questions directly head-on, and don’t fluff or mess around.
Now we’re talking. Now you have the skills to walk into a decision makers office and close down the deal. Put your own twist on closing by adding your own personal little unique differences, but remember to always stick to the core (ABC) basics that I shared above. Practice, practice, and then practice more, if you want to have outstanding results.
Chapter 9 – Entrepreneur Mindset
9.1 What it Takes to Become a Successful Entrepreneur
Think you want to be an super successful entrepreneur… you may want to understand everything that it’s going to take, before you take the leap of faith and dive in.
If you’re looking for a get rich quick entrepreneur type theme… good luck… it’s not going to work. If you’re looking to commit a lifetime of work to fulfill a life long dream or passion of yours, while making a super successful business out of it, then you stand a very good chance of being successful as an entrepreneur. So let me share some of what it’s going to take to become a successful entrepreneur.
A. You’re going to need to bust your hump – no doubt about it, you’re going to have to throw out any lazy habits that you may have. It has to be a full on attack on what you need to accomplish for that day, everyday… sometimes seven days a week. You’re going to need to wake up early, and go to bed late.
B. You’re going to need to sacrifice a lot of different things – those Sunday football games that you go to and tailgate for five hours before the game, you may need to dump. Those hour and a half lunches that you take with your friends to hang out, you may need to dump that as well. The idea here is to make the most of every minute of the day. Yes, everyone needs to have some fun, but you’re going to need to cut back on some of these longer socializing activities.
C. You’re going to need to work harder and longer than any of your friends – your friends may not have the same goals that you have, and they most likely don’t have the same work ethic either. Some people are fine going to a nine to five job and collecting a paycheck for the rest of their lives. In entrepreneurship, it’s about laying the cement foundation in the beginning, to reap the rewards later. You want to be the one writing checks to your employees, not the one receiving checks from an employer.
D. You’re going to need to have an undying faith that things are going to work out – I don’t mean faith in a religious sense here, I just mean that you’re going to need to believe in things that you may not be able to physically see directly in front to you i.e. the rewards and monetary gains that you’ll receive once your business is successful. Friends and family are going to tell you that you’re crazy, and that you’ll never do it… these are the times when faith is going to pull you through. People that don’t have the entrepreneurial vision, don’t understand the way entrepreneurs think, don’t worry about it, just move on and keep doing what you’re doing.
E. You’re going to need to throw out the idea that failure is an option – failure is not an option. If you’re going into your entrepreneurial endeavor with a bail out plan, you’re most likely going to end up using your bail out plan. Any ideas that you have around failure, must be smashed. Your attitude needs to be right, one hundred percent of the day, and you always need to be focusing on the positives in any situation that you’re in.
F. You’re going to need to take advantage of every second in every day – planning is vital to an entrepreneurs long term success. It’s not like you’re going to wake up in the morning and ask yourself what you’re going to do for that day. You need to plan your day ahead of time, so that you can max out every second of the day. Entrepreneurship is fast paced… it’s like no other career in the world. You are literally living, and dying, by the sword every single day in the beginning.
G. You’re going to need to give up control – as an entrepreneur, it’s going to be tough to give up control of certain tasks in your business. After all, you spent your blood, sweat, and tears building your successful business, but to expand and grow your business, you’re going to need to give up control to employees and partners that you rely on. Yes, no one does a job like you do, but by you handing over some of your more time intensive daily tasks, you’ll free yourself up to focus on more important business expansion projects.
The above points are not meant to discourage you from becoming an entrepreneur, they’re meant to educate and inform you, so that you can prepare yourself mentally for the entrepreneurship road that’s in front of you.
Taking on a new entrepreneurial endeavor, and being successful at it, is going to be one of the most rewarding things you ever do. You just need to realize that it’s going to take some time, and that you’re going to deal with many failures in the process.
The fact is, that most people actually have no idea of the commitment that successful entrepreneurs put into their everyday meetings and tasks, all they think of is some guy or girl out on the golf course, or vacationing on their fancy yacht. This is far from the true reality, because most successful entrepreneurs bust their hump and are already working before people wake up, and long after they go to sleep, people just don’t know it.
9.2 Master These Traits
Successful entrepreneurs have mastered these traits, and they work them into every client and prospect interaction that they have. If you can personally master these traits, you’ll be on your way to entrepreneurial success as well.
A. Be polite and courteous – to become a successful entrepreneur, you’ll have to be polite and courteous because being rude or disrespectful is not going to get you anywhere. Being polite and courteous as an entrepreneur just makes it easier to get business done with current clients, as well as future prospects. The simple power that a thank you, or the holding open of a door, actually has with people, is way more powerful than you think.
B. Be respectful and accepting – when a client makes a decision that doesn’t go in your favor, don’t just go and bash the client and say their idiots, or they have no idea what they’re doing, be understanding. What a respectful and accepting entrepreneur does is find out what made the client or prospect make the decision they did, and they look to find ways that they can continue to help and provide value to the client or prospect. Successful entrepreneurs understand that not everything is going to go their way, and they understand that one decision not going in their favor, is not going to determine an entire relationship.
C. Being timely and helpful – successful entrepreneurs understand that their businesses success is going to be based around being timely and helpful to their clients and prospects. They understand that they need to be timely and helpful 365 days of the year, not just when a client or prospect is looking to buy something from them. Successful entrepreneurs help their clients and prospects when there’s no dangling carrot (immediate sale) sitting right there in front of them. Successful entrepreneurs provide their clients and prospects with helpful information on a continual basis, keeping them informed of any industry updates, or relevant products and services that will help their business.
It takes a lot to be a successful entrepreneur, it’s not like they just wake up, flip the light switch on, and everyone loves them, and their business is successful. Entrepreneurs work long and hard to get where they are with their business, and their success is no joking matter.
If you can personally challenge yourself to embody these success traits: being polite; being courteous; being respectful; being accepting; being timely; and being helpful to your clients and prospects, 365 days of the year, regardless of the circumstances, you will be well on your way to entrepreneurial success. Now that you know what you need to do, go out and do it, no excuses.
9.3 Entrepreneur Lifestyle
Living the entrepreneur lifestyle is truly amazing, but it’s not something that you just naturally fall into. It takes planning, and in most cases, years of working long, hard, and strenuous hours, while not knowing 100% if you’re going to actually be successful or not. Being an entrepreneur takes some real guts, and you actually have to be a little bit crazy as well – at least this is what I’ve found to be true from hanging around super successful entrepreneurs over the years.
Just think about the journey for an entrepreneur when they’re first starting out – all they have is an idea in their head that they feel will make a difference in either their own life, or someone else’s, and then they make the decision to just go for it. Most people will say this entrepreneurship thing is a totally crazy way of thinking, and then they’ll go back to their normal day job working away doing the same boring task, day in, and day out, while an entrepreneur is on the total other end of the spectrum, thinking that anyone that works a normal day job and doesn’t live the entrepreneur lifestyle is totally crazy.
You see, there’s no right or wrong here – ultimately the choice to work a normal job, or the choice to live the entrepreneur lifestyle, is totally up to each individual person making the decision. I can tell you first hand that the lifestyle that you most likely see yourself living when you first start your business is totally incorrect. The movies and TV glamorize the entrepreneur lifestyle as if it’s as easy as going to get a cup of coffee at Starbuck’s in the morning – let me tell you, it’s not.
Successful entrepreneurs didn’t get to be successful by accident, they got to be successful by design, and you can do the same. One thing that you can do that will really help you out if you’re just getting started in your entrepreneurship journey, is to utilize every resource possible to the maximum. The SBA.gov site and SCORE.org site are two great resources.
Living the entrepreneur lifestyle is the ultimate prize for a long, hard fought journey, that so few take, and that so few actually make. The ultimate entrepreneur prizes come to those that put the time in up front, so that they can reap the rewards later.
You need to get fired up about this entrepreneur stuff, and you need to be able to tell people that tell you that you can’t do it, to go take a hike, because you can do it, but the inspiration and perspiration needs to come from within yourself. Living the entrepreneur lifestyle is going to take some serious effort, heart, and soul, but you can do it if you put your mind to it.
9.4 Entrepreneur Mindsets to Master
If you’re going to be a successful entrepreneur, you’re going to need to take crystal clear action in your life, and you’re going to need to take ownership of every second of your day. Yes, I’m talking about sacrifices here, and big ones as well. The ups and downs in your business are going to come and go, but in the end, what really matters, is that you’re still standing when it’s all said and done.
Top entrepreneurs all embody similar traits, and in fact, they all have very similar mindsets that don’t let anything get in the way of them achieving their desired goals, and you can do the same! To help you out, below I’ve shared some of the more prevalent traits that successful entrepreneurs embody. Have a read through them and implement them into your life, and I assure you that you’ll find success in whatever you’re setting out to achieve.
Change your attitude to change your results. Attitude is everything. When you have a bad attitude, everything seems terrible, and when you have a good attitude, everything seems great. This is why it’s so important for you to have a good attitude. The best part is that when you change your attitude, you literally change your results, but it’s up to you to make this attitude change. Make the proper attitude adjustment, and you’re going to see the world in an entirely different light, don’t do it, and you’re going to see the world from an entirely different darkness. You have to control the things that you’re able to control in your life, and your attitude is definitely one of those things that you have total control over. Yes, it may be tough to keep a positive attitude in some instances, but if you can fight through it and maintain a positive attitude, you’ll surely be rewarded by feeling good later.
Get used to being uncomfortable. Getting outside of your “norm” may feel uncomfortable at first, but it’s where you’re going to make the most progress, this is why it’s vitally important that you learn how to handle your emotions. The bottom line is that you’re going to need to commit to yourself to do things a little differently than everyone else, and sometimes it’s just going to feel flat out uncomfortable. You need to get beyond this feeling and learn to thrive from it, rather than continuing to run from it.
Make the most of your time and money. Don’t waste time, and don’t waste money, it’s that simple. Getting caught in the time and money trap will completely ruin your business. To make the most of your time and money, you need to understand where you’re currently spending a lot of your time, and then you need to take a look and figure out if where you’re spending your time is really making you any money. Yes, it’s easy to follow your passion and do what you love, but if you have a family and you have people to feed, you need to make money, that’s the bottom line. There’s nothing wrong with doing what you love, but you just need to make sure you’re creating a way to generate money for yourself in the process, and not wasting time. What you want to look for is high-value opportunities. This means that you’re going to spend very little time actually doing the task, and you’re still going to get paid good money. Discover what makes you unique in business and what you do very well with ease, and then focus on driving high-value opportunities around those assets that you naturally have.
You have to believe in yourself. You’re never going to excel at selling your product or service unless you truly believe in it yourself. Yes, you can fake it for a while, but eventually you’re going to need to take ownership of your feelings and make a decision on what you want to do. If you believe in the product or service you’re providing, continue to move forward with it, but if you don’t, stop kidding yourself and just move on. There’s not enough time to be lost in the downward spiral of selling something that you don’t believe in. You want to be sure that you believe in your product or service offering because people that do believe, are much more likely to be successful, than people that don’t believe. Anytime you can set yourself up to be in a situation where you can find success, you need to jump on it, and believing in what you offer is one of those easy opportunities.
Write down your goals for the day. When you write your goals for the day, you set yourself up for success. Thinking that you’re going to remember every goal that you’d like to achieve during the day without having them written down is nonsense. When you write down your goals for the day, you make yourself accountable, and when you make yourself accountable, you again set yourself up for success, this is why it’s important to do it on a daily basis. Look at writing your goals for the day like this: if you don’t know how to get somewhere, you’d write down the directions and follow them – the same holds true for the goals that you write down for the day — they’re going to provide you directions to get to where you want to go.
Remember these thoughts, to be a successful entrepreneur you need to maintain a good attitude, get out of your norm, make the most of your time, believe in what you’re providing, and write down your goals on a daily basis. Not everything is going to happen on your time frame, so being patient is a must. You just need to stick to your core values, and stick to the success mindsets shared above, and you’ll do just fine. Now that you know better, go out and do better.
9.5 Tips to Get to the Next Level
As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get caught up in the next big thing, only to find out a few months later that it’s a complete waste of time and money. It’s ok though, because as entrepreneurs, we know that not everything we touch is going to turn to gold. If every entrepreneur project that we worked on turned to gold, there’d be no challenge in trying new things and breaking new ground. Successful entrepreneurs understand that failure is just a pothole in the road, you hit it, and you just keep driving, it’s that simple.
To help you along in your business journey, I thought I’d share a few entrepreneurial tips of wisdom that helped me get to the next level. Use these tips to build your own business success story.
Stop with the nonsense and do what works. This is as about as simple as it gets. If you’re doing activities which are not yielding you any type of results, stop doing them. If you’re not convinced, look up the definition of ‘insanity’ and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. Find out work works, and quickly, and start to do it before you’re broke and out of business.
Don’t get caught up in the hype. Let me tell you, “Hype is hype,” because it’s just a bunch of hot air. Jumping on the hype bandwagon is not the way to go. Hype causes people to make irrational decisions, and when you make quick hyper-inflated decisions, the results are usually not what you expect them to be. Stay away from the hype as an entrepreneur.
Get to success by failure. There’s nothing wrong with failing as an entrepreneur. Some successful entrepreneurs say, “The faster you get to failure, is the faster you’ll get to success,” and I’m a firm believer in this myself, as I’ve seen it work in my own personal life, as well as in my business interactions.
Get some grit in your life to grow Your business. You need some grit i.e. some toughness to stick it out when the going gets rough. Having grit as an entrepreneur is a must, you have to be able to jump in, get dirty, get the job done, and get out at the perfect moment. Grit is tough to teach, it’s more of an inherent trait the successful entrepreneurs seem to have been born with.
Don’t take the shortcut. If you take the shortcut, you’re eventually going to have to circle back and do everything all over again, so just do it right the first time. Cutting corners is not the way to go about doing business, especially if you’re cutting corners in the products or services that you’re providing to clients.
There you have them, some great entrepreneur tips of wisdom that will help you build your own business success story. To close things out, let me share my personal entrepreneurial journey with you in one sentence,“When I started out, I didn’t have a crystal clear vision of what I wanted to do, but I new the initial direction I wanted to go, so I just started walking in that direction and next thing I new, through much hard work and failure, I ended up being exactly where I was supposed to be.” Look, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to be an entrepreneur, you just need to be someone that has the guts to go out on a limb and try something new and different. You have to commit to work hard, to challenge yourself, and to dump any fears, and great things will happen, that’s the bottom line.
9.6 We All Have Similar Stories
The more and more I study and learn about the top entrepreneurs in the world, the more I’m amazed. I continue to hear similar stories from the majority of them — most of them are doing what they are truly passionate about, most worked for a couple years making absolutely no money, most have founded several different companies, and most live healthy lifestyles.
So what I decided to do, is just share a little bit about each of their entrepreneurial highlights, in the hopes that you can grab a little insight from them, and use the information to help propel your own entrepreneurial efforts forward. Here they are.
Do what your truly passionate about. If I told a normal person to show up to work for two years and that they were going to make no money, they’d never do it, but for some crazy reason, entrepreneurs don’t have an issue with it. This is why it’s so important to do what your true passion is as an entrepreneur. Making no money is not fun, it actually physically hurts you, but if you’re persistent, consistent, and insistent, you’ll eventually make money at your business endeavor.
Make it your story. Almost every entrepreneur has a down-and-out story where they were about to quit, and then all of the sudden, the magic started to happen and business started to take off – this is the beauty of being an entrepreneur. I don’t want to mislead you into thinking that every entrepreneur makes it big, some make it big by making a lot of money, some make it big by feeling fulfilled at the end of every day, and some don’t make it at all. In every outcome, as long as you put your heart into it and give it your best shot, you are ultimately going to win. You may not think you are, but you are – deep down inside yourself you’ve grown stronger, and that strength will last you a lifetime.
Have multiple streams of income. Another consistent story I hear is entrepreneurs starting several different companies along their journey. Not everything you do is going to be a success. Do you catch a fish every time you go fishing? Do you win every game? The same holds true in business, you try something, it may not work — you learn from what you went through, you wake up the next morning, and you try something different. Trying and failing does not make you unsuccessful, what makes you unsuccessful is not trying, and not doing anything i.e. not even giving yourself a chance.
Eat healthy and workout. Most successful entrepreneurs live healthy lifestyles, meaning physically, emotionally, and mentally. They work out, they eat right, and they’re into some type of meditation. You need to be hitting on all cylinders to be ultra-successful. There’s limited downtime, so you need to take care of your body and mind. What we’re looking for is balance in your life, the ability to know when to call it quits, and to know when to move onto something new. You can have all the money in the world, but without your health, it’s really not going to matter. Feed your body with the proper nutrients throughout the day, just like you put ultra-gas in your high-end car, put ultra-foods in your body.
It’s a decision. Being successful is a decision that, “You,” make. Your outside circumstances may enable or deter you, but they truly don’t determine your success. Some entrepreneurs have risen out of the absolute worst physical and mental circumstances, while others grew up with a silver spoon in their mouth. Either way, they all made the decision to be successful. You have to be a fighter to make it — nothing is going to be given easily to you.
You are who you hang around. Choose your friends and business associates wisely. When you hang around positive and successful people, the energy seems to penetrate into your very own body — this may sound crazy to you, but it is one-hundred percent true.
There you have them, my entrepreneur highlights that you can use in your own business life to go out and do better, starting right now. This information only works if you take action on it. To recap, do what you’re passionate about, make it your story, have multiple streams of income, eat healthy and workout, make the decision to be successful, and hang around people that are doing the right things. Everything is up to you — work hard, and you’ll create your own luck.
9.7 Make the Decision in Your Head
How do you make a big business or personal decision? Are you one-hundred percent committed to the decision once you make it? Are you willing to take action every day to move you closer to your decision?
People make big and small decisions all day long. The thing that gets me is that people make big decisions, and they’re the correct ones, but then they’re not one-hundred percent committed, causing their dreams to just fade away. A great example of this is a New Year’s resolution, you may have great dreams and resolutions, but what you need to have is a commitment, not a resolution. A commitment is long-term, while a resolution is short-term. What you’re looking for is to have a commitment that will provide you with long-term success, while still allowing you to reach your short-term goals.
The point that I want to make, is that you have to make the decision yourself, you have to believe in the decision that you are making one-hundred percent, and you have to take action and move yourself closer to your decision every single day. The reason I say you need to believe in the decision you make in your head, is because once you do so, this decision becomes written in stone in your brain, and from that point, virtually nothing can stop you from reaching your decision or goal. I have personally had this happen with decisions I have made, so I know it works.
You have to believe in yourself, if you don’t believe in yourself, how is anyone else supposed to believe in you? Listen, I don’t care what anyone else says, “You can do it,” get up right now, make the decision to be successful today, and never look back. The beauty of this is that once you make the decision that you are going to be successful, an entirely new world opens up. This is the world of inner-success power and it’s so strong that once you’re in it, failure is not even on your radar screen or in your head.
One side note, when I say, “Success,” it doesn’t always mean money. I know people with no money, but huge personal successes in helping others, and this is as much a success to me as having an infinite amount of money. How you make the decision is up to you, some people just make the decision, some get spiritual guidance, some ask friends, however you do it, just make sure you believe in it one-hundred percent. There’s no wrong or right way, it’s whatever way works best for you.
9.8 Remove Yourself from the Equation
When was the last time you took a day off and just completely turned off all your electronics? Did you feel like your business was going to implode because you weren’t there to catch, monitor, and delegate command?
If you’re not able to take a day off from your business, and I mean completely shut down totally from the world, there is something fundamentally wrong with the way your business is set up. No business should have one point of failure. If you have made your business so reliant on yourself that it can’t run without you, start to make changes so that your business can run without you. That’s the point of having a business right? Didn’t you open the business to gain entrepreneurial freedom?
In my line of work I lived and died by the sword, every day was the last day, every deal may be the last deal, every deal may be the largest deal ever written in my organization, I just never new.
The thing is, I always felt like I had to pick up my phone line within two-rings, I had to respond to emails within five-minutes, I had to physically be in the office everyday. The amount of stress I put on myself was beyond anything you can imagine. Why all the stress you ask? Because I was the single point of failure for everything. I set up my entire business model improperly, I wasn’t empowering all the great people I was surrounded by, it was all me, me, me. I had set up my business model so that I wasn’t able to take a day off, or even a week, or even a month. My back ached, my thoughts of what was happening to my business ran through my head like a bad dream, and I was stressed to the max.
Then, everything changed, I took the “me” out of my business. My business wasn’t about me, it was about what my business provided. I stepped out, I turned off, I focused on my family when I was with my family, I focused on my business when I was at my business. I stepped out from my business slowly, I empowered the great people that had surrounded me to take more responsibility. I had actually been causing too big of a shadow on the people around me and stunting their growth. When I got out of the way the sun was able to shine through, new ideas grew, new people grew, new opportunities came about. Removing me from the equation, caused amazing things to happen.
I see far to often that overpowering entrepreneurs and management don’t let their employees shine. One of the goals in writing this is to say, “get out of the way,” let people around you shine, stop making your business all about you. Make changes so that the people around you can grow and so that you can start to take a day off, a week off, or even a month off, without feeling like your business is going to crumble. I speak from personal experience, I was the biggest offender of the all about “me” business model. That model is broken, and it will eventually break you, both mentally and physically.
Do yourself a huge favor, change your model, empower your employees to do more, watch them grow, watch them prosper in their new found sunlight, and above all, watch your very own family life grow and prosper in the process.
9.9 Success Takes Work
Success in business, as well as in life, takes work. It’s not like you wake up in the morning and all the sudden everything is perfect for you. We, as humans, start to learn from the minute we’re born, and it continues throughout our entire lifetime.
The good part is that we have the power to control our own destiny. What I mean by that is that we have the power to learn what works in regards to building relationships, building a business, coaching a team, or anything else you want to focus on. I know from personal experience that consistent daily effort yields better results, that keeping an open mind to new opportunities yields better results, and that not following statistics yields better results.
I’ve shared some additional information on each of the high-yielding actions I found to work best below. Have a read through them, implement them in your business and personal life, and whatever you do, start today, don’t wait for tomorrow.
A. Your daily activity is really going to determine what you achieve, and how fast you actually achieve it. It’s great that you want to achieve a goal over the next six months, but waiting until the last month to jump into action may make the goal a little difficult for you to achieve.
It’d be better if you focused your daily efforts around reaching your goal from the second you commit to it, this way, it doesn’t look like too big of a mountain that you need to climb. Being consistent with your daily efforts is like walking up the stairs in our house. You need to hit every step to safely make it to the top, but if you skip some, you may lose your balance and fall, so you’re better off being patient and steady on your way up.
Daily consistency starts with planning ahead. Waking up in the morning and making a plan is too late, it needs to be done a day, a week, or further out in advance for the best level of results.
B. Growth opportunities are all over the place, but it’s up to you to not walk right by them. You need to know when opportunity is knocking, and you need to jump at the chance when it does. You need to put yourself out there so that people and businesses know you are open to new opportunities and projects.
Walking through life with blinders to new opportunities is really selling yourself short. Yes, there’s risk, but on the flip side, there’s a ton of growth potential as well. I’m not saying for you to stop doing what you are doing today, and just jump head first into the water, what I’m saying is to keep an open mind and be open to new opportunities in the future, as they come up.
Maybe you work for a company now, bring idea’s to them, let them know you are interested in excelling within the organization, maybe you have an idea that can help the company grow. If your not sharing it with anybody, no one will know. The idea is to make a difference, to leave an imprint, whether it be at a Fortune 500 company you work at, or a small business you just started, make a difference. Put yourself out there. Get comfortable doing uncomfortable things, and the uncomfortable things will become comfortable.
When you’re actively moving and seeking improvement in you life, things will naturally get better. The most important part is that you just start. Without initially starting, and without allowing yourself to become open to new opportunities, nothing is ever going to happen.
C. If you truly fell it in your heart, just go for it. Statistics are great to research and follow if you want to fit in with the rest of the pack. People who have broken out of the mold and risen to super stardom in business and entrepreneurship have definitely not followed statistics.
If you’re looking to really break out and follow your dreams, whatever they may be, you’ll need to go against a lot of expert statistics. Statistics will tell you that you can’t do it because of x, y, and z, or that it’s not advisable to do because of x, y, and z, they may even make you think, hey, “I fit into that statistics category, so I need to think and act like people in my statistics category do.”
Statistics will not show you how much heart a person has, statistics will not show you how much heart you have, statistics will only bunch you in a category like the curve on a college exam does. I’m not saying not to do proper research before you enter into something, what I’m saying is you need to follow your true hearts desire sometimes.
Following your true hearts-desire allows you to drive your car looking out of the front windshield rather than driving looking out the rear-view mirror.
There’s nothing worse than going through life saying, “I should’ve, could’ve, would’ve,” this type of thinking will drive you to the ground and you’ll always be living in the past. Stay in the present moment by learning what works, and then implementing it in your life. Yes, it takes work, and yes, it can be done.
9.10 Learn from Your Mistakes
Making mistakes comes with the territory when you’re pushing the limits trying to grow your business. It’s ok to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them and don’t continue to make the same ones over and over again. When growing your business, you’ll come to understand that the mistakes you make are par for the course. Don’t let the mistakes get you down, the mistakes are actually building blocks that are going to make you even more successful in the future.
Not everything you do is going to go perfect. The best thing to do is to discover what happened that caused the plan NOT to go the way you wanted it to, learn from it, and set out to do it again correctly. You may initially think that a business setback is the worst thing in the world, but it may just end up being the best thing that happened to you because it forced you to take a different path than expected, thus creating different opportunities.
Yes, mistakes and failures are not easy to digest, but they’re part of the process, and the faster you learn to deal with them and move on, the faster you’ll be able to continue to move forward. If building a business was easy, everyone would be successful at it, so don’t let the little things get you down, and stay focused on achieving your goals.
9.11 Drop the Poor Me Attitude
You are what you think you are. If you take on the role of the poor me, I don’t have enough, or I didn’t have the background that this person, or that person, had, you’re not going to go anywhere. I don’t care where your from or what your parents did or didn’t do, because I’m talking directly to you right now. It’s you that determines your success. Yes, your path to get to where you want to go may not start off as pretty and entitled as someone else’s, but that’s your story, embrace it, share it, and use your tough road to success to help others know that there’s a way out.
Just because you didn’t go to a prep school, and then onto Harvard, it doesn’t mean that you’re not able to have just as much success as someone that did. Again, I’ll say that your success is completely up to you, but you need to drop the poor me. Your path to success may be through the muddy battlegrounds, while another persons may totally different. I’ll tell you what, me personally, I’d hire the person that fought through the muddy battlegrounds over the person that came through life untarnished and thinks that everything is perfect as long as it goes their way. Let me tell you, life is not perfect. I don’t care who you are, what you do, where you’re from, how rich you are, stuff is going to happen, in business, as well as in your family and relationships. If you have the poor me attitude, life is going to stink, whether the best thing, or the worst thing is happening, it’s always going to come out stinking in the end. Drop the poor me attitude immediately, and commit to yourself that you’re going make a difference by implementing a positive attitude, in every situation, no matter what.
People that have dropped the poor me attitude are fighters. I say this because fighting through the poor me may well just be the biggest fight you have to win on a daily basis for the rest of your life. A negative attitude will drive you to the ground. It will make people retract from you faster than anything else you can do. Your attitude determines your altitude. If you don’t understand that, basically it means that the better your attitude is, the higher you’re going to fly in life, as well as in business. Now life and business intertwine, so it’s vital to incorporate what you learn in life, into your personal office skills as well. Compassion, empathy, understanding, acceptance, forgiveness, just to name a few of them. Embody these, and people will know that you’re the person they can count on when they need to speak with someone about something that’s affecting their life.
Now here’s the kicker, you are who you hang around. It’s like bad fruit, if you’re a good piece of fruit sitting next to and surrounding yourself next to a bad piece of fruit, for a long enough time, you’re eventually going to catch some of that fungus and become bad yourself. It makes total sense. Believe me, poor me people love to hang around other poor me people, and even better for this type of person, is when they can convert a positive person into being a poor me person. Don’t fall for it. If you know a poor me person, just make an exit and move on from that relationship as fast as you can. If they’re a family member, co-worker, or friend, gently provide them with information on how they may be able to improve their viewpoint. Listen, it’s tough to come out and say, “You’re poor me attitude stinks, and I’m just dropping our relationship because of it.” You have to be a bit more subtle, loving, and helpful than this, and if it’s an employee, there are laws you have to abide by to help them out.
But here’s the point I really want to drive home. I want you to know that it’s not where you’re from, but it’s where you’re going that matters the most, and I want you to know that regardless of your conditions, circumstances, and everything else that seems to have been holding you back, that you can drop the poor me attitude and do amazing positive things that help tons of people. I think that people that come from rough backgrounds and rise through the ranks are the absolute most amazing people. I call it beating the odds. Everything was stacked against you from the day you were born, nothing was ever given to you, you fought for everything from the time you were able to talk and walk, and now you’re a winner today. It doesn’t get any better than this. If you’re the person that’s beaten the odds, it’s your responsibility to share your story with other at-risk people, especially our youth, because if they don’t here from you that there’s a way out, they may never realize that there’s a way out. Take this information and take action on it today, not tomorrow, please.
Chapter 10 – Suggested Plans of Action
10.1 Ways to Promote Yourself as a Musician
My suggestion is for you to put some of your own skin in the game and do most of the initial work yourself. No one you hire is going to do it with the passion that you bring.
Below are some immediate suggested steps of action to get your music out in front of the right audience. Your job right now is split in half, meaning you need to be 50% sales rep, and 50% music man. The more you sell, the more you can start to focus on just your music and have someone else do everything for you, but you need to focus on putting money in the bank and keeping the lights turned on for know.
A. Partner and/or network with other musicians. Do shows together, cross-promote each other. Share each others music on your social channels. Remix each others music. Reach out to local colleges, do a free concert, start to build up a following.
B. Put together a target list of music companies, radio, satellite, or internet stations you want to get your music in front of. Personally reach out to them, send them music, build relationships, and follow up. Set up radio and podcast interviews with as many of them as possible.
C. Find the influencers in your specific market segment, and again, personally reach out to them, let them know what you’re up to. Local community papers, newscasts, and websites work well for free exposure. Start to form relationships with them.
D. Promote you as the artist. Share unique photos of yourself. Be you in them. Have great artwork and make sure it views excellent online. Put together a website where people can learn more about you, download your music, and purchase merchandise. Be sure to include a subscription button where people can opt-in to receive email updates from you.
E. Share your music on as many social channels i.e. Instagram, Twitter, SoundCloud, or any other ones where people listen to music and look for new artists. Put some money behind what you share by running ads that get your music in front of your target audience. List your live appearances on national and local music databases.
Performing all these actions is not a once a week thing, it’s a daily routine that takes a lot of passion, enthusiasm, and effort on your part. Remember, persistence wears down resistance, so get in there and make it happen. Every musician started in the same spot that you’re in right now. If they can do it, you can do it.
10.2 Launching a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign
Use the below suggestions to help launch a successful crowdfunding campaign. Launching a campaign is easy, but being successful at it and meeting your funding goal is way harder than you think. Use the advice provided below as your road map to success.
A. Grow your audience before you actually launch your campaign. Promote that you’re launching a campaign on your social media channels, local news outlets, and anywhere else that will get you in front of your targeted audience. Having a large email subscriber list of interested people before you launch, is a massive benefit. You want to get that big surge of activity when you first launch. The organic audience is not going to be enough, so you need to build your own, and bring it with you to the platform. Without a large pre-built community, your project will most likely never get funded. Build a pipeline of contributors/supporters well in advance, and let them know when the campaign finally goes live so they can take action. Do a pre-survey to make sure you realistically have enough excitement before you launch.
B. Know your costs. Sending out your rewards is going to cost money. Try to give out awards that don’t cost you any money i.e. shout outs, interviews, appearances, and such. It will save you a ton of money on the back end. Make sure the rewards that you’re offering are actually worth it to the people contributing to your campaign. You need to get creative. Make sure you provide clear and direct expectations for people that fund your project. You don’t want to have any misunderstandings. Cost escalations i.e. production, shipping, time, and so forth, happen frequently, be prepared and make sure you leave a buffer for any mistakes that may arise. Watch for international shipping costs, especially if what you’re shipping is heavy, costs can add up very quickly. Know what demographic you serve, and what type of disposable income they have. Do your research before you start so that you don’t get in over your head and aren’t able to deliver when you get funded.
C. Get all your content, endorsements, public relations, and advertising lined up well before you launch your campaign. Once your campaign is live, time is going to fly by and if you’re not prepared, you’re going to be running behind the entire time. You don’t want to be scrambling all over the place once your campaign starts. Do tons of pre-launch promotions on social media. Build relationships with influencers, bloggers, vloggers, in your products market segment and get them to talk, write, or shoot videos about your campaign. Have white papers and other types of downloadable content ready to go before you launch. The more you can get people with large audiences to share your information, the less money it’s going to cost you in advertising later on down the line.
D. Make sure you have a phenomenal story to tell. Your story must be compelling enough to get people to take action. Your project most likely isn’t going to speak for itself, so use short form video to get your message shared out. If you’re going to invest money, video is where to do it. Be sure you’re not launching with just an idea. Have a firm grasp, demo, or footprint of exactly what you’re providing. Be patient. If your launch isn’t a huge hit after the first few days, keep plugging along, don’t give up, and keep networking like a champion. Look to catch fire through whatever means possible. Look to reach people personally with your project, and have it mean something to them. The furthering along your project is to completion when you launch, the higher success rate you’re going to have. Tell people why it’s important that they fund your project. Make it personal and make it so it benefits them.
E. Learn from other people that have previously launched successful campaigns. Test out a “draft” campaign and see what type of feedback you get from friends, family, and peers. Turn your “draft” supporters into real supporters when the campaign goes live. You need to have a few big key supporters that put down big chunks of change. It helps you look good right out of the gate. Don’t put your project goal so hight that it’s going to be impossible to reach. People like to fund projects that are near completion, so make your goal attainable. Find reputable companies that have helped get projects funded, and see if there’s an opportunity to work together. You want to work with a smaller company that’s going to put some skin in the game and do some unique and different strategies.
F. Maintain excellent communication with your backers. Answer every question, be proactive, let them know of any timeframe changes, or anything that may affect the outcome of the project. Being straight forward and upfront is always the best bet. Have a big push at the end to get every last contributor/supporter onboard. The better your communication, the more people will be willing to invest in you, so form true relationships and let people know that they can count on you to come through for them. There’s nothing wrong with taking an hour to two and writing some personal emails to some of your largest backers. Share highlights, share letdowns, and share your everyday stories that you go through in regards to your campaign. People love behind the scenes looks at things, so give it to them. Look directly into the camera when speaking and connect with your audience as best as you possibly can.
G. Have a plan. Failing to plan, is planning to fail. Do as much research as possible before you launch. Study data, market segments, and everything else under the sun so you learn as much as you can. Just because you’ve launched your campaign, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be successful. Keep your expectations in check. Stay motivated pre-launch, through actual launch, through the slow time, and right through the end when the big push occurs. Without a strong motivation and will-to-win, it’s going to be very difficult to follow your campaign all the way through.
H. When someone shows interest in your current campaign, but doesn’t actually become a supporter, don’t write them off because they may become your largest support of your next campaign. Have a CRM (customer relationship management) platform that you use, and fill it with information of people that have shown interest. You can always circle back with these people towards the end of the campaign and ask them if they’d like to contribute then. If you fail the first time, you can always try again. This is why it’s so important to keep a clean database of interested contributor/supporter prospects. Tag large donors so that you can do specialized outreach to them. Make sure every contributor feels personally involved. If someone contributes to one of your campaigns, they’re likely to contribute to another one you launch in the future.
I. Read the rules of your crowdfunding site before you put all the time and money into planning your campaign. It sounds so simple, but so few people do it. Choose the right platform that will suit your project best. Schedule the launch of your campaign well in advance in case there are any issues that you need to work out before you launch. Have a product that’s unique and original, and that changes the way people live and/or function. Remember, standard ideas, get standard results.
Now that you know what works vs. what doesn’t, put together your plan, and go out and execute it.
10.3 How to Separate Yourself from the Pack in Sales
To be successful in sales, you need to separate yourself from the pack. What I mean by this is that you’re going to need to do something unique and different to get an edge on your competition. If you do what everyone else is doing, and you don’t push the limits, you’re going to get the same standard results that everyone else in the same pack is getting. What you want to have is superior results.
Below are some suggestions that will help you in separating yourself from the pack. Like with everything that I share, you need to take action on it if you want to have results. Digest the information shared below, learn from it, and piece together your own recipe to separate yourself from the pack in business.
A. Find an underserved market and deliver a superior product or service to them. Know the individual needs of the market segment you’re selling into, and speak specifically to them. Be as personable as possible. Know the demographic you serve. Clearly define who you are, what you do, and why it’s important that a person and/or company selects you to work with. Get plugged into your local Chamber of Commerce, as well as other non-profit agencies within your demographic. Give your time, share your knowledge, and make it a point to get people talking about what your business provides. Join a larger global market segment group and become the local outreach person in your demographic. Solve a direct problem for your customers i.e. maybe a law changed or new requirement came out, address it directly and show customers how your product or service is going to make them compliant. Make it easy for customers to say “yes” to what you’re selling.
B. Always be building new relationships, while taking excellent care of your current relationships. Connect with influencers in the market segments you serve. Publish content i.e. articles, white papers, videos, infographics, etc., so that you can become the authoritative resource in the market segment you serve. Use SEO, social media marketing, online advertising, news outlets, text marketing, and email marketing, to get your message out in front of your target audience. Tell your story and make it personable. Put everything you do on a human level and put your customers first. Get face-to-face with your largest prospects and customers. Nothing beats an in-person meeting. Always follow up on every interaction. The fortune is in the follow up. Be early to appointments. Genuinely care about every customer interaction. Be a good person, smile, laugh, and show emotions. People love people.
C. Provide high value. Make your product or service the absolute best quality, and back it up with excellent customer support. Be unique, be different, be the company that people rave about to their friends. Be authentic in everything you do. Strive for excellence in every aspect of your business, regardless of how small you think it is, it may make a huge difference to a customer. Live and love what you do. If you don’t love it, it will show through. No matter what, be consistent, persistent, and insistent, regardless of the circumstances. Give the WOW factor in every interaction you have with prospects and customers. Passion is tough to hide, let it shine through. Provide remarkable customer service.
D. Take the hands-on approach. Don’t be afraid to jump in and really get a feel for exactly what’s going on. Focus on building long term relationships. The single sale is great, but multiple sales is what will separate you from your peers. Use KPI’s to set goals and measure your results. If you can’t measure it, you’re not going to be able to gauge how well you’re doing. Build trust with your customers. Be empathetic and listen to them when they want to be listened to. Always make it about them. Quality over quantity all day long. Surround yourself with people that are hungry to succeed. You are who you hang around. Hang around lazy people that just want to get by in life, and that’s what you’ll get in your life. Always be prospecting. I’m not talking about directly selling at a family party, but keep your ears open for opportunities and circle back with that person in a few days and see if you can be of any assistance to them.
E. Specialize, don’t generalize. It’s tough to be the authoritative resource when you specialize in everything under the sun. Deepen relationships by showing up when asked. Holidays are a great time to go out of your way and share you appreciation. If you feel strongly about something that’s going to help a customer, share it with them, and let them know why you feel strongly about it. Relate to the customer your speaking with by sharing stories that point out similarities. If you work and/or run a big company, then talk about big company stuff, but if you work and/or run a small business, talk about small business stuff. You just want to be on the same page with the person you’re speaking with. Look to form partnerships with large organizations that can make large purchases. It’s easier to sell ten cupcakes to the same company, instead of ten cupcakes to ten different companies. It’s also easier to support.
Now that you have some suggested steps of action to separate yourself from the pack, go out, take action, blend up your own recipe for success, and do it. Separating yourself from the pack takes daily effort, it’s not a once-and-done type activity. You’re only going to be as good as the daily effort you put in.
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