Pick Two Types of Service

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The temptation for businesses, especially after they have success, is to overreach. You have the choice of price, quality and service as your focal points in the marketplace. But you can only have two. We are tempted to be all three. But we live in a world of natural trade-offs.

Part of being in business is knowing what you are committed to and will deliver to your customers. You can go broke fast when you muddy the water with perfectionism.

If you are good and fast, but not cheap, then expect to turn away prospective customers that are not a match. It’s not a fit for what you are about. You can wait patiently for the people that will come your way that want what you are offering.

If you are in the business of being fast and cheap, keep that habit, message and approach day in and day out. There are plenty of people that are looking for your offering and can live without good. It’s good enough.

I know restaurant owners that own two types of restaurants. One is fast and cheap. They have a steady flow of traffic. It’s a volume game.

The other restaurant looks nothing like the first. It is fast and good.

They don’t comingle the two concepts. They are different businesses with different patrons.

Perhaps you want to get bigger after you see successes. How about focusing on leaning in further to your success and be better instead. Deeper focus and commitment to the two service items that make you who you are will go a long way towards growing your business.

What two are you? How can you get clearer and more committed?

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?

Be Productive With Others To Get What You Want

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It can feel harsh to accept the common maxims you hear:

There is no free lunch.

Noone owes you anything.

Value for value.

However, if you observe these statements happening in reality with human nature, it can be extremely empowering for you personally. You are not spending all your time trying to change the world or insisting on something that is elusive at best.

Instead, you can be productive towards your goals and participating in an exchange. Appealing to someone’s self-interest is the first place to start. And that takes insight, empathy and caring. You have to figure out what another person truly values and deliver it in exchange for what you want.

It’s a much more fruitful use of your time and energy than insisting that people do what you want.

You might start the process with, “What do I want?”

Then you have to ask, “What do my customers or friends want?”

Lastly, get clear on, “How do we make a trade so they get what they want and I get what I want?”

Trade, don’t insist.

We Need a Whole Lot of Better Listeners

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“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” ~ Dale Carnegie

It sure would be amusing if we heard people speaking their minds when they tire of someone talking too much. Can you imagine the painful, humorous candor if people were simply blunt and said, “I don’t think you’re that interesting to talk to,” or “I can’t stand listening to your bragging anymore.”

Maybe we would get people to be more considerate and have healthy conversations that go back and forth like a smooth air bearing on rails.

I do think there is immense fatigue from being talked at inconsiderately from advertising, social media and people that lack listening skills. The great thing is that we have more power and choice to shut out the noise.

Noise is so wasteful.

I like learning new things, and a lot of learning happens by simply asking good questions and genuinely listening and being interested in someone else’s story.

Have you worked hard at becoming a better listener? I mean with rigor, intentionality and passion?

If you took Dale Carnegie’s observation to heart, he’s stating a truism. You get more friends by becoming interested in other people. It’s a habit. And I think it means paying attention and caring about something beyond your own agenda by:

  • Learning to completely focus in the moment on someone else
  • Being a continuous learner. Remember everyone can teach you something. “In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Growing a heart that cares about others and their problems

Imagine if you stand out because you simply are a better listener than most people. Why wouldn’t people want to spend time with you and lean in on friendships? It’s a natural response because you are trading value. Someone feels heard. It validates their thoughts and identity.

Every day, I think there is something I can learn and there are people that can teach me. The skill of listening is an age-old virtue. But, it’s becoming more valuable simply because so few people listen well or even care to.

It’s not fancy technology. It’s part of being human and connecting that makes a difference to get influence and results in life. All we have is time and connection. And you can choose to harness this wonderful habit to make the time we have with others worthwhile.

Making Impactful Introductions

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There are certainly a great many messages that get ignored. We tune out what is irrelevant as a way to simply survive the noise and to focus on what is important.

However, one gesture that gets attention and is extremely high value is to make introductions that lead to deal making. Opportunities are hard to come by for many of your friends, clients and business relationships.

Those that are looking to grow their business or pay the bills are working hard to find meaningful opportunities. And as you are bumping around the universe, you have the change to bring immense value to others by thinking like a connector, someone who is able to bring together two parties that can greatly benefit from each other.

I like to keep my eyes and ears open to opportunities. I like putting the jigsaw puzzle of value together for people I like. It’s fun. Sometimes the people I put together get immense value and remember me. And that helps my own business goals.

Here’s how I like to introduce people that can do business together, being considerate of both people’s time and attention:

  1. Pinging. I like to stay in touch with people and see what they are up to. When I read something, I may share it with people that come top of mind. I let my contact list and my mind lead me to people to check in with. I send out a lot of pings with ideas to help.
  2. Listening. In all the interactions I have with people, I listen for what is happening and where the problems are. I was educated as an engineer. My mind is built to solve problems and what I hear all the time are problems after problems. Usually, the problems revolve around money, health and parenting.
  3. Connecting. I have a large network of people that I like to think about when I hear triggers around problems. I have to connect around the question, “Who can help?” People come to mind. I may search my old emails and my contacts. Then I think about how I can connect the two people.
  4. Ideas. I hate wasting time. I hate anyone wasting my time and I hate wasting other people’s time. I think my friends know this and pay attention when I do approach them. I like to think about goals and outcomes. When I think someone can help, I take the initiative and send an email connecting the two people and share specific ideas of how these two friends of mine can help each other and how they can benefit. It takes thought and effort.

I assume that if two people talk long enough that there are many areas where both can mutually benefit. However, we don’t always have the luxury to probe and find those areas of convergence.

I do the work of making an introduction that helps everyone win. And I try to be respectful and put myself in the shoes of others so I can evaluate, “If it were me, would I find this extremely valuable?” I make the connection. Then I get out of the way.

The process of making impactful introductions is creative work for me. I have to keep tuned in. I have to be learning. I get a lot out of being resourceful and efficient with connecting people around ideas and strategies they can both benefit from.

How do you like to make introductions? Can you think of anything that is of more value to your friends?

Look What I Did For You

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It’s much easier to sell “Look what I did for you” than “Look what I avoided for you.” ~ Nassim Taleb, Antifragile

I lament that our society and human nature exalts the glamorous over the shrewd.

“Look what I did for you” garners perceived value so readily. Perhaps it’s because we are wired to respond to what we can see, feel and touch more so than what was accomplished conceptually.

And, quite frankly, what can be sensed sells more efficiently than what is avoided.

For the seller, tuning into what you do communicates value. That’s your task. Make the unseen felt and valued.

There’s the challenge of helping customers with what may be needed and then ensuring they get what they wanted.

Insistence on what people should perceive as value can be fatal if that’s your goal.

How do you show what you did for someone?

Building a Money Making Foundation

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Money is flowing every day. Deals are made. People pull out their credit cards continuously  to buy what they want.

We don’t have to create demand as much as we need to sell things that people want to buy and make it easy for them to do so.

If you are so impatient and frenzied to get the next sale and have to continually hustle without creating a selling machine, where will you ultimately be in six months? Still hustling and struggling to get the next deal?

If you are so busy that you make it hard on yourself, it’s because you undervalued or ignored the need to build a solid money-making foundation to your business process.

Maybe you have a few sales already. Great! You could step back and learn a few things to build a foundation that could drive continuous sales. Here are some key strategies to build such a foundation:

  • Profile your best customers. People that already pulled out their wallets bought from you for a reason. Did they have urgency? Were they in a certain demographic? Were they motivated by guilt? Seek to find the pattern.
  • Identify the place your best customers hang out. Perhaps your best customers are executives. Do they tend to congregate in a LinkedIn Group? Are your customers opinionated consumers that pin frequently on Pinterest? Work backwards and fish in the pond where the fish tend to be.
  • Design your message to attract your best customers. There is a problem of attention and focus today with the onslaught of instant information at our fingertips. What gets people to look your way? How can they tune into your signal? Be sure the message pushes on their problem that they may not be considering. Study how the copy in your articles or messaging in your headlines speaks to your ideal customer’s pain.

These are a few thoughts to start your process of building a foundation for selling. There are many other details, but if you are always hustling then scaling your efforts becomes an ongoing problem. How about simply starting with these strategies and seeing if you can build a foundation that attracts and makes selling easier?

You Should Not Be in Chaos

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If you are in continual chaos, why? Do you simply accept reality as one giant mess? Week after week is simply reactive and full of open loops?

Yes, business can be overwhelming in our connected economy. We can all create work for each other rather quickly.

However, when you think of your workflow, then you can anticipate how demands, information and projects will come into your life. If you are the bottleneck it is because you have not set up an approach to doing business efficiently.

This can be solved.

But you have to care about solving it first. Some reasons people don’t solve this obvious and continuous problem:

  • They aren’t paying attention
  • They have an out as an excuse
  • They are used to losing
  • They are comfortable reacting rather than leading
  • They don’t know there is a way
  • They don’t value productivity and collaboration

Your personal productivity is the foundation for money-making. You have to ensure that you are not simply showing up being a secretary in life by reacting to the chaos other people create.

Chaos keeps you and your team from becoming an Ultimate Selling Machine. People that are ready have space to think creatively, bring more value to their customers and take advantage of opportunities when they inevitably come around.

The goal of your business is to get and keep customers. And if you are in continual chaos, how can you really make money optimally around this goal? You are missing out on all those wonderful opportunities because chaos is ruining your days and obscuring your view of what is possible.

Chaos is not normal. And your opportunities await if you believe this and commit to eradicating chaos.

Who knows what the next week will bring. If you care enough to be ready and align your life and business to respond to chaos, then you will have opened up the world for yourself.

Do you care to solve the problem?

Growth Hacking Approach to Avoid Stupid Selling

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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?

Would You Rather Be Rich or Right?

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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?