Interesting vs Useful

While asking questions and listening are at the heart of ethical selling, there will come a moment, or several, where the buyer wants you to say something.

Answer a question, explain something, repeat something…

That’s a crucial moment, because the way you handle that determines whether or not your sales conversation will go smoothly, or instead you have to struggle.

Most people, when it’s their time to talk, will go for ‘interesting’, which leads to statements like ‘We’re the world’s largest blah blah’, or ‘I work with some of the most influential authors’ or, the best of the worst: ‘I was talking to Richard Branson about that yesterday’ (or insert whatever more minor celebrity that someone actually might know).

The problem is not that these statements don’t make you look interesting.

The problem is that they do.

And a buyer doesn’t give a damn about how interesting you might be.

A buyer wants to know how interested you are in them.

And not in the money they might pay you, but in the solution they’re hoping to get from you.

And for all you regular, normal, non-world’s-largest, not-connected-to-celebs business owners out there: the good news is that even if you’re as boring as a wet sheet of paper, you can still sell your stuff, and at good prices too.

How?

By being helpful, obviously. If your thing doesn’t help, people have no reason to buy it.

And if you want a buyer to understand how much you help and how useful you are, you show them.

When it’s your turn to talk, don’t start with things that make you look interesting.

Instead, say things that are useful: share insights, ask clarifying questions, suggest ideas or changes, and above all, and before anything else: make sure the buyer knows that you really get their situation.

Because it’s super useful to talk to someone who gets us: there’s no way we won’t get something useful out of the conversation.

And even if they don’t buy then, they’ll be happy you spoke, and you’ll be welcome when you reach out again.

There: an easier conversation, with better positioning, AND an open door when you follow up, just because you didn’t try to look interesting.

Ain’t that useful.

Cheers,

Martin

10 Principles for a Fun and Profitable Business

Some of these took me a long while to accept, others to discover, and some to implement.

All of it is, I guess, a work in progress – like the self, our business, and life in general.

So here’s what I learned over the years, in no particular order, to help make your business easier, more fun, and more profitable.

1: Learn how to write copy. Business will always require writing, and the sooner you get a grip on how to write tightly, in a way that’s clear and compelling, the better you’ll do. It’s an unmissable skill in business.

2: Learn how to enroll people. You can call it selling or persuasion or whatever you want, but if you have a business, you deal with people and you want people to align with your vision, right? Whether we want buyers, high-performing teams, active and responsive followers… you want to really *get* psychology in such a way that you’re able to *move people*. Because that’s what enrolling and selling are ultimately about.

3: Always stay active in growing your list. It’s the core asset of your business and you should never stop growing it.

4: Speaking of assets: your business is full of them, except we tend to overlook or discount them, especially when they aren’t tangible. A fleet of cars is an asset, but so it a list of past customers, who might buy again or introduce you to someone. More assets: your reputation, your network, the quality of your work… all assets that can be leveraged, and your life and business are full of them. Get of your assets, and put them to use for your business.

5: Never get good at the small stuff. Sure it’s great if you know how to fix the printer or design a logo – but if your money-making activity is, say, doing SEO at $100 an hour, you spending an hour fixing the printer cost you a hundred bucks. Better pay someone 25 and use your time to do work that pays.

6: Protect the owner (that would be you, operating as a business owner, instead of a business operator). Most of the time, we work *in* our business, and forget to work *on* our business. This is a massively bad idea because it keeps us stuck in the hamsterwheel of doing and making, stealing time from architecting, strategising, and planning, which is what make for business growth.

7: Values and shared values are the core of finding product-market fit – and enrolling buyers. Not everyone who shares your values will be a good client for you, but if you look at your best, most lucrative and most fun clients, you’ll likely find that those people had a lot in common with you, in terms of values. Find more of those people.

8: Keep it simple. And that’s how simple I’ll keep this point :)

9: Systemise everything. Systems aren’t boring: they are what free up your mind for creative thinking, problem-solving, and creating content that attracts people or that people will pay for. After all, these days we’re all a publishing company, whether we publish work for marketing or for getting paid.

10: Talk to your people. Video, email marketing, public talks or social media: it doesn’t matter where you do it, but you’ve got to show up. Nothing will show up (clients, opportunities, partners, etc) unless you do.

There’s a lot more that goes into a business that’s fun and profitable of course, but if you look at this list, you’ll see there’s a nice set of do’s, don’t’s, skills and attitudes in there, enough to keep you on the right track.

Cheers,

Martin

Look! Book! Ten Rules for Ethical Selling

One of my favourite things when working with clients, is looking at the assets that aren’t being utilised in their business.

Makes for fun and fast growth, when for instance you take the asset called ‘subscriber list’ and you start talking to the people there. After all, most people collect email subscribers, but never send.

But once you start to communicate with them? Replies, downloads, sales… like I say: it’s fun!

And in the spirit of eating my own dogfood: I’ve taken some of my own assets, and put them together in a little ebook, for your entertainment and education.

Click here to download ‘Ten Rules for Ethical Selling’

Enjoy!

Cheers,

Martin

The Cost of Short-Term Thinking

It’s not that I’m a consultant or coach for the hospitality industry, but man there’s a ton of lessons to be learned from what I see here in town – this time, courtesy of a different establishment than the one I wrote about last week.

“I need another waiter”, said my buddy the restaurant owner. “Just for serving drinks, but I can’t find anyone”.

I suggested he attract a quality waiter by paying above average wages – say 20 or 30% more, but he said he can’t afford that.

Which seems to make sense in winter: Not enough diners to make up for the extra cost.

Except it’s backwards thinking. Short-term numbers games, and it does his business damage.

Because if today a large family shows up – and the Spanish love to dine in groups of 8, 10, or 12, and because you’re understaffed they get sub-par service, it might be the last time you see them.

10 diners is easily 500 euros worth of food and drinks, and if you treat a group like that well, they’ll easily be back at least two or three times before summer is over.

And, they’ll be telling their friends how awesome the service was and how well we were taken care of.

So losing the support and loyalty of just that one family can cost his business anything from 1000 to several, or many, 1000s in lost sales, over the course of a year. And that’s just one family. If ten families decide to never return, he loses tens of thousands in sales.

Contrast that against an extra 300 euro per month in paying a waiter above-average… i.e. a total increase of wages of 3300 per year (11 months) and you’ll see it not only makes sense to hire a superb waiter at higher prices… you also see that it’s outright stupid not to.

But such is the mentality on the coast: pan para hoy, hambre para mañana. Bread today, hunger tomorrow.

Short term thinking is expensive.

Long term thinking works to leverage current costs against future returns.

In other words: If you want your business to be fun and lucrative, you can’t afford to make short-term decisions that clip your earnings later on.

And if you HAVE to make short term decisions in order to protect cashflow, the last area where you ought to save money, is in customer experience.

Cheers,

Martin

Better or Worse

He’s a terrific guy, an awesome waiter. He does have the Granada ‘mala folla’ attitude, but once you accept that, you realise he’s actually not boorish at all – that’s just his sense of humour.

And at work? I’ve never seen a waiter run faster than him. It’s astonishing.

But the other day, having lunch with friends, the terrace was just so full that we had to eat our paella starved of drinks. He just wasn’t able to keep up.

This morning over coffee I asked if they shouldn’t hire another waiter, to help him.

Turns out, his boss doesn’t like paying wages. Thinks he can handle things by himself.

Which he can, but if you’re serving 25 tables at the same time AND there’s nobody behind the bar pouring drinks for diners… Then it simply is impossible to handle things well.

This owner, they are doing damage to their business.

Everyone I know in town loves this restaurant – and everyone complains about the service.

Which isn’t my friend the waiter’s fault – he’s running as fast as he can.

But to the customer, it doesn’t matter whose fault it is. They want a good meal and decent service.

And the greediness of the owner… well, customers only care about that once it affects service or quality, right?

Here’s the moral of the story:

While profit is essential in business, and you sometimes need to make tough decisions, never let quality and service suffer.

Yeah, it’s bad for business.

But more importantly: it’s backwards thinking, because quality and service grow a business, while inefficiency and wastage slow it down.

If you’re going to optimise for profit, start by looking at bottlenecks, redundant assets and processes, and numbers to grow: traffic, inquiries, conversion rate, number of followup actions and all those fun digits that tell you whether
your business is doing well or not.

Make things better, instead of worse.

Are you looking to make some choices at the moment? Maybe I can help you there… and help you make things better.

Cheers,

Martin

Because Nice People Should Finish First

Last night, a friend held my feet to the fire about my work, USP, and elevator pitch.

To her, ‘coach and consultant for ethical business growth’ isn’t what I should run with.

So I tried to explain: “You ever notice how people high in integrity, folks who really want to do right by people, are often the ones who have most trouble growing their sales and their business? I help that kind of person sell more because of, not despite, their values. I call that ’solving the good-egg problem”.

“Yeah”, she said: “Too long”.

By this time, I was getting frustrated: I mean, she knows
me, she knows what my work is about. What I stand for, and which values are sacred to me. And besides, I wasn’t sure if she was challenging me on my USP, or my tagline, or my elevator pitch.

So I blurted out: “I help nice people sell more”, and that seemed to hit home.

Because the harsh truth is that in business, many people believe that nice people do finish last.

And that’s not how it should be.

Nice folk should finish first. Not despite being nice, but because they are nice.

And helping nice folk grow their enterprise, that’s something I get up for every day.

So if you want help with the mindset and decision and strategy side of things, I can coach you on how to be a powerful, skilled business owner. The leader in your own team, whether you’re a solopreneur or not.

If you have that down pat but you want your marketing to get you higher returns, I can consult you on that, and/or implement a marketing system guaranteed to grow your business. (actual guarantee, not just words).

Or, if you have your self-leadership rocking, and your marketing rolling, but you want to learn specific business skills, such as selling, email marketing, productivity or negotiation, I can provide you with custom-made training.

Put differently:

If you’re a good egg, and you want to grow, you might be the kind of person I work with.

Because nice people should finish first.

And if right now you’re eager to make that growth happen, then maybe we should talk and see if I’m the right chap for you.

Sounds good?

Let me know…

Cheers,

Martin

The Case for Being a Technologist in Business

The E-myth says that someone who’s awesome at doing something people pay for, isn’t necessarily also good at running a business.

So when you go from the Operator in, to the Owner of the business, things get easier. You stop exclusively working IN your business, and go to working ON your business.

A level up from the Owner archetype, is the Artist.

The visionary, the architect, the designer… that’s the archetype that turns a good, fun, and profitable business, into a dream machine.

But there’s a level above is: the technologist.

Technology comes from the Greek ‘Tekhne’ (art, craft) and ‘Logion’ (oracle), or:

‘Tekhnologia’: (systematic treatment of an art, craft, or technique) and as such can be understood as:

The precise, deliberate, measured and intentional application of skills&knowledge in the art of building a business.

Fun fact: whether or not you see yourself as the technologist of your business or not, you already are it.

Tag!

Question is: are you going to lean in to the archetype and apply yourself to your business, the way a technologist would…?

Cheers,

Martin

Fix, Prevent, or Upgrade?

There’s three kinds of value a business can deliver: Fix, prevent, improve.

When something in the world or business of our client is failing, we can offer to fix it. Generate more leads, run a promotional campaign in order to make payroll, quickly implement a social media strategy in order to get more people show up to an event that’s not yet booked full… Whatever it is you do: if there’s an immediate, painful problem, you need to offer your buyer a fast, practical solution.

Then there’s prevention, where there’s fear because of a future risk. Disruption in the marketplace, changing laws or treaties or algorithms… For that kind of client, you use trusted, reliable, proven solutions. You solidify what’s going well, and remove bottlenecks.

And then there’s Improvement&upgrade, where you help your client go from good to great.

Here, you bring knowledge, skills and creative thinking, in order to identify assets to be leveraged, and you bring them together to take a client to a level they couldn’t have reached on their own.

The reason I’m sharing this, is because it’s a handy model for choosing what to work on in our business as well.

Often, we go double effort on trying to fix something that’s failing, hoping that once we’re done, life will be good.

Which may be the right choice, but what if you’d ignore the failing part for the moment, and go for the improve&upgrade first?

There’s things in your business that are working well, that if you were to push forward on them, might end up working awesomely terrifically well.

And sometimes, it’s better to let something that’s broken be broken, and maximise on something that’s already pretty good.

Especially if you know, in your heart of hearts, that you’re going to procrastinate the hell out of the fixing you say you need to implement anyway.

Sometimes, it’s better to do what will work, rather than do what you tell yourself would be right. (i.e. the more ‘should’ in it, the more likely that it’s better to work on an upgrade, instead of a fix).

Cheers,

Martin

Your Way, or No Way?

In your business, how do you handle the sales and price and T&C parts of being a freelancer or solo owner?

Specifically, when clients try to haggle, or try to make you play by their rules – what do you do?

It’s very common for us to then start to appease the buyer.

But when you start to reduce your price, or you agree tot terms you’re not happy with, you’re setting up for an experience that will disappoint your buyer and you as well.

In fact, the more you let go of your own rules, the lower level of customer satisfaction, no matter how good of a job you do.

Saw this tweet the other day:

“Just said goodbye to a potential client because they wanted me to go against everything I’ve learned and start work without a deposit payment.

“But we’re BIG and you’re small. You can be flexible.”

No. It’s because I’m small that I can’t be. Now this is a correct and true response – but it’s also the wrong one.

Because how big a client is doesn’t have to affect your terms and conditions, and shouldn’t.

Because with that reply, the client heard ‘you’re right, you’re bigger and therefore dominant.

In other words, the client shows up with a big social ‘frame’, and says ‘And you are small, so you do what we say’. If you then agree with the first part of the statement, nothing you’ll say afterwards will change things for the better.

It’s a lost case.

But if you’d ‘break their frame’, and show your own, bigger, authority frame (which is rightfully yours, as the business owner), you might have a chance.

So a good and useful reply would be:

“Size doesn’t matter.

You are asking me to sell you this work, which means I also need to tell you my terms and conditions, which I’ve just done”.

With two sentences, you can turn the tables, and position yourself back where you belong:

As the business owner, stating terms and conditions, that a client may refuse or reject – and which they certainly may complain about if they want – but which is your prerogative to protect.

I know it’s cool and scary and exciting when a big company wants to buy your work.

But don’t be intimidated, and never let them bully you just because they’re bigger.

You run the business, you get to define your terms and conditions. You get to decide whether or not business is ‘your way, or no way’.

Cheers,

Martin

Do You Need More Geese?

It’s great when something starts to work, when we get noticed, when we start to land more clients.

Suddenly, things start to flow: it’s like you found the goose that lays the golden eggs!

For example: tenacious, persistent, dogged commitment to quality. If you keep that up long enough, sooner or later word of mouth will start working for you… look, there’s my goose!

But what if that’s your only source of new clients?

What if you don’t have marketing and visibility and traffic… and for some reasons, that word of mouth slows down…

Then what?

Success is awesome, but it can cause complacency, and you can’t afford to be complacent in business.

You can’t ever omit to build systems and assets that work for you, should there ever be something wrong with your goose.

So if right now things are working and your goose is laying golden (or even silver) eggs…

Should you be ‘building more geese’?

If yes, let me know, and let’s see what you can add in to your marketing and sales…

Because yes: you need more geese. We all do.

Cheers,

Martin

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