Find the Few and Disregard the Many

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A few projects matter. So do a few relationships and a few tools. It’s so easy to simply accumulate stuff and throw horsepower into everything. While thinking that should cover over any deficiencies, what is often hidden is the cost in the form of waste, unclarity and management overhead.

We don’t have unlimited attention, resources or energy. It’s hard enough to make something work well or achieve success. However, more noise will only add drag to your best intentions and efforts.

Think about how you want to do business and consider inverting your model. What if you chose to focus on the few that matter rather than the many that have diminishing returns? Your process can look something like this:

  1. 10 clients – The absolute number I want to work with at one time.
  2. 20 deals – Because I close half and only 20 matter.
  3. 40 prospects – People I would be happy to work with and that are an ideal fit.
  4. 2 channels – Places that my prospects I like hang out. Strategies I am committed to fully and will refine.

This kind of strategy can work, but you have to be thinking about what you want and focusing your conversations and approach to the few that matter. In a way, it is a form of abundance thinking. You are realizing there are specific, valuable people you want to work with in a vast world and you simply need to connect and get clear with them.

As a side effect, you are avoiding creating a lot of waste, irritation and noise out there for people that are not a fit.

You also ask better questions of yourself:

Who are the 10 people I want to have as friends and spend my time with doing business?

What do the few people I work with have in common?

What don’t I like?

I bet you find yourself more relaxed and easier to work with. I bet you find abundance by focusing on the few. Clarity and focus have a way of bringing that kind of increase and efficiency.

Can This Person Say Yes?

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There’s a world of opportunity out there for what you are pursuing. But one piece of clarity that gets overlooked too often is qualification. Most people you meet cannot say, “Yes,” to what you are offering. However, a few people can.

I’m not sure why we have this block, but the clearer you can get on who you know can say, “Yes,” the more fun you can have doing business.

Thinking everyone is a prospect is discouraging, costly and wasteful. You can leave relational carnage in your wake. Maybe, it’s hard to feel that fact. Pitching everyone is like spamming, but you don’t feel the cost necessarily.

When you are clear about who can say, “Yes,” you can enjoy the relationships in front of you for what they are – people to enjoy or avoid. You can relax. You can create goodwill and focus on others more than simply what you are trying to sell.

And for the people that can say, “Yes,” you are simply helping them become aware of something they need. They are the ones your firm has been built to serve. You have to put yourself in front of them in order to help them.

Ask the question clearly if you seem to push too hard, “Can this person say, ‘Yes?'” If they cannot, then keep finding people that can.

Secondly, get clear on who does say, “Yes,” that you can bring immense value to.

This is abundance thinking. The world is your oyster and you can go out building amazing relationships with the right people as well as avoid perturbing people that don’t even have a shot at saying, “Yes.”

Who says, “Yes,” to what you offer?

Don’t Start if You Are Not Going to be Consistent

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The labor it used to take to simply set something up is lost on this next generation. I can tell my kids don’t relate to the pain I try vainly to communicate when it comes to how hard it was to set up websites, IT systems and even getting your message out. The people that could do the work or hire it out had a strategic advantage previously.

Today, it’s easy to set up a store, a site or any other platform now. That barrier to entry has been shattered.

Everyone feels like they have a voice now. They just have to get attention and become famous or relevant, at least with the people that matter to them.

If you haven’t listened to the Tim Ferriss interview with Derek Sivers and his journey with his CD Baby venture and exit, it’s helpful perspective on how hard it was to even build a platform in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. I like how he talks about the pain and joy of building a Buy Now button for a shopping cart. It’s a simple formality today in contrast.

Now that things are easy and everyone can play, what does that mean?

As of the writing of this article, I have over 1,400 articles posted and indexed over ten years. I enjoy sharing out my thoughts and it’s been one platform that has been natural for me to maintain with consistency.

I like writing. I like reading. I like thinking. I like sharing business strategy and helping people win.

I think that’s what has made it easy and fun for me. And, I would tell people that just because there are a lot of shiny platforms out there, don’t start if you can’t even see yourself being consistent over a period of time.

Why? Because showing up is important to the process of building trust and awareness. Getting better at something you can dial into helps you build an asset over time with a connection with your tribe of connections.

Dependability and consistency become harder as you go down the journey. Having something to say becomes more of a differentiator the further you go down the rabbit hole.

We have a lot of choices and options out there. But we are still human and building trust is not so easy to come by regardless of how much content is streaming through our lives. Part of that trust building is knowing there is passion and commitment behind what you are putting into the world. If I know something is not going to be consistent from someone, then my own enthusiasm and commitment will be affected. It’s a natural reaction because I want to invest my attention and focus where there is continuity.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to everything in nature. We don’t care so much about transactional items. But when it comes to tribe building, trust and awareness, competing on consistency can differentiate you from those that are semi-committed.

So, a thought to consider. Before you start some work, can you picture yourself being consistent over time?

Will it be painful to extract yourself later? Why not think a bit about what you might start and picture whether you will be consistent with showing up?

Watch People’s Faces to See What They Value

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I’m glad I get to do business in the connected economy rather than times past such as the industrial age. You can make your ideas happen so quickly without a ton of gatekeepers that had to give you access and permission to create, distribute or sell something.

If you want to put a book out, you can do it by getting to work and publishing on Amazon.

If you want to launch a business, you can put an idea out there by getting a new customer and refining your product.

The hard part is about how you approach testing your ideas. There’s such a temptation to be narcistic and think about what you want. The idea has to start with your own assumptions, creativity and zeal.

However, whether people want to pay for your idea or value what you are selling is entirely up to them. And it’s hard to break through the noise when everyone has access to any goods, content or information from their iPhone. You are competing for attention as well as quality presented by every major brand out there.

I don’t like to assume anything. At the end of the day, people want what they want and it’s our job in business and selling to figure out what resonates.

I like to come up with ideas all the time. That creative process is critical. Furthermore, what is valuable today becomes old news and stale in a short time. So that idea machine has to be continually running.

I think the critical part is dialing in on what people want and one of the best ways to approach making money is to watch people’s faces closely. That’s right, look for their reactions. When you have something you are presenting the world, the ultimate question is not the intrinsic value you believe exists in your idea, product or service. It’s the value perception and reaction your customer carries in their mind.

There are 3 outcomes when you risk presenting your idea:

  1. Your customer perceives immense value.
  2. Your customer is indifferent and does not perceive value.
  3. You are close, but something is missing.

The first reaction is the home run. You can expand and repeat. Great job.

The second means you have to pivot. People vote with their wallets. Either the idea is majorly flawed and you have no hope. Or your idea needs refinement, thus number 3. More work and engagement is required to see what is missing. It’s an exercise in filling in the gaps.

This is why you have to watch people’s faces. See how they react. Probe and find out where you need to tweak or whether you need to abandon the idea altogether to put your energy into a better concept.

If you miss the reaction and refinement then you lose opportunity to delight, connect and make money. You don’t get to be the judge. The customer is the judge and is incapable of being wrong when it comes to determining value.

Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs get too married to their idea and miss that value perception is the key thing that matters.

You can affect your own revenue and loyalty by taking heed and watching people’s faces closely. See what they truly value and keep coming back with positioning, framing and enhancements to your offering.

How are people perceiving your value? How can you increase it 100%?

You Have Limited Options for Selling

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When we discuss sales strategies with clients, there’s commonly a misnomer about what options are available. We live in an attention-starved world full of information and glamorous messages that cloud our thinking.

The reality is that for B2B Professional Selling, especially of professional services, you don’t have that many options for selling consistently and growing your business.

Here are your options:

  1. Inbound Selling. You set up selling systems to get people to contact you.
  2. Outbound Selling. You reach out and engage people that can say, “Yes.”

The Challenges of Inbound Selling

If you are not famous, it is very hard to get attention. Yes, it’s easy for you to set up social media profiles and put video and written content out there. But it’s also that easy for everyone else as well. You are competing against the entire world.

There are millions of blogs, Youtube videos and posts on Facebook and Instagram. And your last post or Tweet is out there within various users’ streams for an extremely short while.

If you are going to make inbound selling work, you must be fully committed and not miss a day. You have to work extremely hard for a long time to dial in the messaging. You have to be interesting and build an audience that looks forward to seeing the next ideas, entertainment or story that you put out there. It’s a long game based on attention, consistency and quality.

The real questions to ask are:

  • Will you remain consistent for years?
  • Will you invest in resources to keep your branding out there.
  • Can you be interesting and stand out?

The Rigor of Outbound Selling

Getting people to call you is a continuous process. You need to be set up like a media company that puts your message out there for building a critical mass of attention.

Your other option is outbound selling. You reach out to people who may not be aware you exist.

In outbound selling, you have the option of two approaches:

  1. Mass contact
  2. Networking one-to-one

If you approach people with numbers and communications blasts, you risk being labeled as spam. Approaches like cold-calling, email blasts or any other form of spamming will only get you ignored. We are used to blocking out unwanted or non-personalized messages.

Look at what you do with your junk mail, advertising and caller id blocking. The numbers for conversion are extremely poor.

For professional B2B selling, deals happen based on trust. If you work backwards for how deals are made, you can see a pattern:

  1. A signed deal happened, but before that
  2. A negotiation occurred, but before that
  3. A conversation happened, but before that
  4. An appointment was scheduled, but before that
  5. You got a referral or attention in a personal way, but before that
  6. You reached out to someone via networking

The outbound selling approach works because you are human and interacting in a personal way. However, it is a lot of work that also requires being organized, efficient and consistent. It’s building relationships, remaining professional and increasing trust.

Ironically, we pay attention to someone addressing us personally. It breaks through the enormous amount of noise.

The question then becomes whether you will do the outbound selling or partner with someone that will execute day in and day out.

We all need to sell and keep a pipeline of opportunities and deals flowing.

Can you think of another selling strategy or option? What makes sense for your B2B business?