Growth Hacking Approach to Avoid Stupid Selling


Manners matter. We know that interrupting people face-to-face is rude and can be quite embarrassing. Our social norms make it too risky to attempt to force our agendas and wills upon people we encounter in person.

However, with distance and virtualization, there are still the unimaginative souls who persist in trying to violate basic manners. Playing a numbers game, trying old school approaches such as cold calling or other forms of spam gets knee-jerk blocking from recipients. As buyers, we have the power to block out those who invade our attention space pretty easily.

Selling without imagination is a waste of everyone’s time. Instead of trying to force your will on others, how about working on your personal sales process first? Think about how to earn someone’s attention.

Earning someone’s respect, attention and business is hard work. You have to think long and hard about how you are perceived. Then think about the touches that make sense and who will pay attention. Each step has its own intrinsic ratchet down ratio.

Testing what you have in your head and how people actually react to your overtures and gestures takes quite a bit of vigilance.

Ultimately, you can shape a sales funnel that makes sense for those you who can say, “Yes.” You can attract the right people, start conversations, and keep attention towards a path to doing business together.

You have to do this while competing with the entire world. The great thing is that if you are creative and persistent, you have the opportunity to have your own personal flowing pipeline of opportunities and deals. You can differentiate and have an asset by designing and staying consistent with your custom approach to selling and making connections with those that you can bring value to in this noisy world.

Yes, it’s strategy. It takes time. But it’s much less wasteful and more efficient to do business by figuring out what scales.

How can you design and test a better, more human approach to connecting?


How can you reposition or repackage your brand?

You don’t have to do business the way you are set up currently. You could take the same core value you sell and repackage how you present your wares and skills to the market. The position you are in was a choice. Maybe it was practical. Early on someone asked for a price. You named it and that set you on a trajectory.

Your current position became tradition. And our habits and choices are hard to change once established unless there’s a need to change the form factor.

What if you doubled or tripled your price? Have you tried this exercise?

You may have to reposition your offering to enhance the value perception. Or your product may need more features and benefits.

The hard thinking to explore your option are only limited by your imagination and willingness.

Repackaging your offering can allow you to have more revenue for less effort. And that is good for the market. You can focus more on value than on paying your bills. You have less to manage in headcount, systems or clients. You can focus more.

Furthermore, you are forcing yourself to innovate by disrupting business as usual. You have to have vision and conviction that you can bring more and you are worth it.

Nothing sits still. The world is always changing and forces are acting on you and your business. If you are sitting on your laurels, you will become commoditized over time.

If you are asking how to bring more value, then you are innovating. This is the research and development we must all do continually to remain relevant. It’s good for you and for your customers. Seek to repackage continually and demand more of yourself so you can be worth more to others.

How can you repackage to be worth more?

Would You Rather Be Rich or Right?

Want your ideas to matter? Start with selling first.

In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create. ~ David Ogilvy

It’s extremely difficult to be wanted in a world of ridiculous options. You can insist on your idea and work hard on creativity. That may be fulfilling because you feel right regardless of whether the world rejects your offering.

Being original is a strategy that makes sense in a different world, time and ecosystem when we had less choice. However, Google, Amazon and the entire connected world makes it hard to stand out today. We can find an unlimited amount of options now at our fingertips.

A better strategy if you want to be relevant and build out creativity is to be needed. This may feel like compromise if you have high creative aspirations. But, without someone saying, “Yes,” what do you really have?

The best proof that you are relevant is to sell to someone directly. Take a simpler idea that people need or already value. Sell it and see if you can convince someone to give you money. It’s an exchange of value. They are saying, “I am willing to trade. I value what you are offering.”

If you find yourself procrastinating or avoiding the selling part, then you might want to consider abandoning your idea. You care more about being right than rich.

There are things you want people to buy and there are things that they actually buy. I’m not suggesting you abandon your creative ideas. I am putting forth a strategy that works in a world of limited resource, attention and time. Do the hard work of becoming relevant and needed. It’s doing first things first.

After you work hard at the baseline, you can play around with your creative pull to be right. It’s a business strategy that will keep your bills paid and flame going.

How can you focus on getting your next customer?

Entrepreneurs Thrive on Resilience

A key differentiator in the marketplace and a way you can compete is to be more resilient than the next person. Resilience comes from both resolve and determination to stick things out when you don’t see an answer, or if you do see an answer, keeping on course until you see the outcome you want materialize.

You may need help to see clearly, get conviction around what you believe and then taking action. Resilience will make you different than those around you used to things being comfortable, defined or secure.

Your own resilience is becoming critical in a world of too much noise. You have to stand out.

Developing resilience comes through life experiences. Here are some ways you can increase yours:

  1. Meet regularly with a business or life coach and get clarity about what is in front of you.
  2. Own the decisions you make. Don’t look back. Write down your decisions either to yourself or emails to your team. Committing makes you have to back your decisions which builds conviction.
  3. Push a little farther in your work. If you say you’re going to deliver something, learn to do a little extra. Create surprises and delights. You have to stick with the work, perhaps not even getting credit, but it will go a long way in seeing something through to the end and then some more.
  4. Take a little longer with people. See if you can study what motivates people. Don’t react in emotionally charged situations. Observe the behaviors you see. You will be learning to subdue your emotions and analyze reality.

There is a lot of work and self-restraint when it comes to resilience.

However, the reward comes from seeing things through regardless of difficulty and circumstance. It’s an entrepreneurial trait that pays dividends as you learn to achieve milestones along the way of success.

How can you be more resilient?

One Problem Two Solutions


If you are a business owner or manager, you have the ongoing challenge of solving daily problems with your team. Inevitably, people will bring problems to you. And how you handle those requests becomes a signal to the people on your team of what to expect. What you communicate will be one of two items:

  1. I will solve your problems
  2. You can solve your own problems

The former is a hero mentality. You become the choke point to the endless issues surrounding your business.

The latter is empowerment and coaching. You are communicating to your team members that they are fully capable of solving their own problems. This second option scales nicely. But it does take consistency in how you communicate your expectations. So, consider this strategy when people bring problems:

  1. Listen to the person carefully with full attention.
  2. Ask them for 2 solutions that they can think of.
  3. Empower them to go and execute their solutions.
  4. Repeat.

Over time, people will realize that they have to do more thinking before they approach you instead of leaving you to own the problem and burden of doing the thinking for them. You are, in effect, creating a smarter team that does their due diligence and only the hardest problems will be surfaced.

One problem, two solutions. Put it on your office door or in your email signature.

Make a deal with your team members. Tell them up front how you handle problems by requesting that any issues brought in front of you will have the same request repeatedly.

In this way, you get the best ideas and encourage the hard work of creativity and thinking in others rather than simply build around your own charisma.

What do you think of using this strategy in your management practice?

Business Owners Rock


I posted some ideas on how to work with business owners over at the Huffington Post as an author there.

Not everyone is an entrepreneur. A person’s fear and personality largely hold back most people from making the decisions and taking the actions necessary to make an idea happen.

Personally, I have found that business owners are my type of people. They push to solve problems and have that remarkable resilience to push through the inevitable difficulties of guiding a business towards revenue generation.

And if they decide to take on employees as part of their venture, they shoulder that responsibility of making the big decisions for efficiency and money-making.

The business exists to serve its customers. And in so doing, the pressure of delivering with consistency and extreme value is at the forefront of the business owners mind. Who else wants that responsibility? Only other owners.

We are living in an economy that is gaining ever-increasing efficiency. Thus, companies are becoming flatter, or for that matter, flattened. Leaner organizations with less headcount is commonplace because we have tools and systems to make what was once prohibitive and expensive possible.

And business ownership is becoming both frequent and necessary as jobs end.

If you get that opportunity to work with business owners or build your own venture, know that it is the sweet spot for opportunity and growth. It’s where the action is happening.

Learn to service business owners by studying what matters. It may mean getting out of your own head and priorities to align with what matters to owners.

Ultimately, the leaner economy favors those that are thinking directly about how to bring value in a rare way. Niches continually form from this reality of our connected economy and what is common or easily replicable keeps fading into irrelevance and commoditization.

Learn to become or relate to the business owner.

How can you do this better?

Appreciate Timing


To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. ~ Mark Twain

When you approach someone with an idea or something you want to sell, assume you are out of phase. What are the chances of being in phase.

Sure, if you have an urgent care office, people show up because they are sick. The timing is right.

But when you are initiating in the marketplace of overcrowded, abundant offerings, people are likely not thinking about what you are offering. And if you act like the man with the hammer nailing everything around you, then you will likely find disappointment.

Timing matters a great deal. Getting in phase and helping someone’s mind get ready for hearing you gives you chance to be heard and valued. But this takes more work than simply going around nailing everything in site. It requires strategy.

Instead of asking how you can sell, ask yourself how you can help people be ready to receive what you are selling. The prerequisites likely come from your past buyers if you would study what caused them to buy.

What mindset did your previous buyers have?

How can you help someone to consider something they have not considered previously?

What problem became so acute it bugged them immensely? How can you push on this point?

It’s thinking about process and connection to create the timing and readiness for your message and offering to be received. This may require more appreciation for timing than you currently have, but in effect, you can build a sustainable pipeline by simply tweaking your approach.

Most people you engage are not ready. The question now becomes, how can you help your prospective customers become ready to hear you?

It’s pushing on the heavily weighted factor for selling – timing. Master this and you create the ongoing environment for continuous conversions.

Find Your Clues Pay Your Dues

different color clues

Want to know what you should do and do with everything you got?

Find your clues. Pay your dues.

That’s a message my wife recently heard from Jen Hatmaker in a speech to a large audience looking for direction.

It’s great advice to get on with the business of knowing what you should do. Finding your clues means knowing what you are good at and what your strengths are. Most people are simply guessing, but I will be the evidence is continually before you. Your clues keep showing up. There are things that are easy and valuable. Then there are things that are hard and not valuable.

The ones that are in-between: hard and valuable and easy and not valuable can confuse us.

When you see performers, athletes, politicians and everyone we see on media, they figured out what was valuable and easy to them. They had a special quality in that area. Then they got to work. They saw the clues and then paid the dues.

My first piece of business coaching advice is to stop guessing. Get a strengths test, know what is easy and stay away from what is hard.

Then figure out where your strengths are valued.

Then get to work and grind it out with happiness and consistency day in and day out.

We live in a world where being well-rounded is pretty overrated. Your school teachers, media elites and many well-meaning mentors lied to you. Well-rounded is not going to do much for you in a hypercompetitive world.

The world values and pays for sharp, not well-rounded. And your best bet is to figure out what comes easy and is valuable. You can waste a lot of energy and time playing outside of this framework.

Want to know where you should pay your dues and get a clue?

Let’s talk:

Nobody Wants to Meet for Lunch


Lunch was the way business got done. But it’s not the way of the world these days in a connected economy. A few reasons people don’t want to meet you:

  • It’s going to take 3 hours. Maybe an hour lunch, but fighting traffic, getting out of a groove and getting back into a groove is a lot of time.
  • We can access every vendor out there we want from Google and social media.
  • We can educate ourselves.
  • Our inboxes are overwhelming.
  • We build relationships with our thumbs.

We know the cost of time and attention and when we have demands for proposals, project deadlines and our personal lives, it’s hard to justify lunch. It may serve you well to build a relationship but we are counting the cost of a wasted day of productivity.

So, if nobody wants to meet for lunch like they used to, how about thinking about how to become even more valuable. You have to stand out by getting personal and being an increasing person who puts value in front of people consistently and with insight.

Take that hour lunch and use the hour to make the person you want to connect with become more successful. You will do that by getting them to think about things they may not have considered or connecting them with people they need to know. This takes precedence over selling your product to them directly. You have to get to know them and think about their problems.

Selling with intentionality and care is hard to do when we are pulled to treat everyone like a commodity. Don’t do it. Go the other direction and be human by using your creativity and your ideas to lead on discussions you haven’t had before.

It’s the way selling is done today. It’s still personal. It’s just delivered differently.

Want to learn how to do this? Ping me.

You Can Always Have a Baseline


Entrepreneurship and selling is hard business. The ambiguity and uncertainty can stump many people who are used to a well-paved path.

Do this and you get that.

Just tell me what to do.

You may know what makes money now. That’s a great thing to have. It may become boring over time, but for now, it is a baseline. And having a well-refined baseline is the new job security when it comes to entrepreneurship and growing a business.

You want to keep that baseline intact, working and efficient. The operational processes, sourcing vendors, customer acquisition and all the other pieces of the puzzle that you have figured out should be a cash cow that you can tap into. It’s a culmination of your value. It is knowledge.

Other people new to your industry or niche will have a hard time figuring out all the nuances.

And when you want to grow, you will face new challenges. You will be back on a path of uncertainty. And you could fail. What worked before may not apply to your next horizon or desire, even if it is somewhat related.

One strategy is to try new ventures and ideas in parallel so you don’t tamper with what is working. You keep what is known as a cash cow and experiment with new ideas, products or markets in a separate project altogether. This keeps your baseline running and funding you.

If you do try to enhance what is working and get tangled from the complexities of growth, then your recourse is to always get back to what you have known to work and retry again when you have further insights and motivations.

Ultimately, smart entrepreneurship and selling is about mitigating risk and going with what works in the marketplace and in nature. Your ability to manage that risk going after something larger can be tied to how you manage your baseline as part of your overall strategy.