9 Percent Short

Do you know Roko Karanusic?  He is one of the top 100 players in tennis.  He is not number one.  Arguably, he is 90% of Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal, both brand names and highly endorsed stars in the top five in the world.  Becoming 99% of what those stars are creates a large gap not only in results, but also in rewards, recognition and rankings.

There are products designed as 90% all the time.  iPods, however, are designed and sold with the 99% mentality.  They get the the lion’s share of the MP3 market for that last 9%.  The last 9% that makes iPods different are in intangibles – design, emotion, culture, ease-of-use, connection, relevance.  There are lots of imitators, yet the essence and intangibles, while not costly, separate good and great.

In business, everyone is seeking to sell.  What you sell is a commodity.  You may think it is special, but that is because you are thinking about yourself.  Your customer is inundated with choices just like you are.  They see a continuum of choices and their perception of value is clouded by the overwhelming amount of information that comes at them.  They are looking for that last 9 percent in the things they buy.  It is the intangibles which help them see value when the default perception is parity.

Here are some examples which differentiate great from good enough in business:

  • Ringing up an order versus making someone’s day
  • Selling someone who doesn’t want to be sold rather than positioning your value
  • Sending a boring newsletter versus connecting emotionally with your customer
  • Arrogance – “we don’t make mistakes” –  versus humility – “we are transparent”
  • Focusing on your income rather than helping your customer with their problems
  • Using sales techniques versus learning to connect
  • Working in a box versus going the extra mile
  • Focusing on tools rather than optimizing talent

In today’s economy, the truth is that tools are commodities.  Techniques raise our guards, and we have all been conditioned to block out noise and be suspicious.  In our attention economy, 90% of what is ideal will not work.  If you are not willing to put your heart and soul into a newsletter, don’t send it.  It will be deleted, ignored and work against you.  If you do not truly know what is important to your customer, then don’t approach them.

99% requires the hard work of thinking.  You must think about what your customer truly values and what your customer is trying to get done.  Here are a couple hints:

  • How can you help them make more money?
  • How can you offer them more peace of mind?
  • What problems do your customers focus on?  How can you offer to help solve them?
  • How does what you offer make a difference in the first place?  Why do you believe this?

Getting to 90% is pretty easy.  Just copy what you see from others.  Copying will leave you short, though, if you don’t understand the intangibles which make the impact and difference.  Copying will be deficient for lack of substance.  Your own passion and commitment to getting to the last 9% will be what helps you break through the inattention and skepticism of the new economy.  The truth is people can buy whatever they want whenever they want.  Give them a compelling reason to connect with you.  Give them a reason to see you as truly valuable.

In a world of too much, click here to learn how to connect with and impact your customer by getting to that last 9 percent.

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

One thought on “9 Percent Short

  1. Don, good word. That top 1% is what’s making 99% of the money but they didn’t get there by accident. It really is more than just a better product to get you there. As a real estate agent, I think that last 9% is largely made up of how well I connect with my clients and earn their trust. I’m meeting with a client tomorrow who will be interviewing several realtors…time to put this to practice:)

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