I never got into Dylan, but I do know he’s an awesome poet – and I love me some good lyrics.
Saw this the other day – you may know it: “He not busy being born is busy dying”.
At times like these, that’s truer than ever.
If right now you’re not reinventing how you operate your business and marketing and sales – if you’re not working to reinvent yourself or rebirth your operations – you might end up in trouble.
Of course this isn’t new.
A business is either constantly being innovated and optimised, or it should expect ‘shock by change’, at some point in the future.
Soon or later, problematic or disastrous – trouble ahead unless we reinvent.
And if, at this moment, you’re trying to figure out how to reinvent things and you’re asking ‘How do I keep selling?’ rest assured that you can stop doing that.
If you want to keep selling, the question should be:
‘What are my people’s needs, right now, under these circumstances?’
This, too, applies to business under any circumstances – but if right now you want sales keep to keep rolling in, that empathic way of approaching your market will a) give you answers as to what solutions people need, and b) make you stand out from all the tone-deaf competitors who simply keep pushing out their offers, as if nothing has happened.
If you want to be busy being born, be busy learning people.
Yeah it’s a messy time, and yeah every business on earth is under stress…
But while some are under threat and the stress threatens to crush them, others are under stress because suddenly, in this changed world, there’s so many opportunities.
The restaurant that kept all their staff and went full-on delivery based, they’re under stress – the good kind.
Zoom, who saw their userbase go sky-high in a matter of weeks, is under good stress.
Online educators, the smart ones, are suddenly able to reach and sell to far more students than before: people have time, have more disposable income, and there’s only so much Netflix one can ingest.
And there’s a large demographic of people who are keen to learn things but never had the time. So I predict that the online learning market is going to grow massively.
Now what do all these have in common?
They benefit from a rising tide.
Sure you can look at how the tide has fallen across industries, and lament how people just ain’t buying. But that does you no good, and it won’t land you in contracts where you get to serve your people, either. Double-bad.
So instead, move towards the rising tide. If you read some articles on entrepreneurialism and how people are adjusting their businesses, you’ll find plenty of smart moves people are making, that you can borrow from and implement for yourself, in order to also get lifted by the rising tide.
Because while the economy may change or slow down, it’s not going to stop. And parts of it are going to rise, in a big way.
Go towards the rising tide, and I’ll bet there’s one in your industry as well, if you look close enough.
Happy to have a conversation about what that looks like in your situation. Just let me know you want to talk, and we’ll set up a time.
One of the best ways to pivot or adjust when a market changes dramatically – or, indeed, when a global ‘Aaaaaah!’ disrupts practically every industry and every economy – is to find a cork and offer it for sale.
As in: if you suddenly find that your normal buyers don’t buy the same way and at the same speed they used to: figure out what ‘leak’ they have in their ‘boat’, and find a way to plug it.
Because crisis or not, there are always ‘good to solve’ problems in the world of your buyers, but also ‘need to solve’ problems..
And at times like these, especially in B2B sales, there’s very often a ‘need to solve, right now’ problem.
Find that, build a solution, and ask if they want it.
Identify the leak they can’t plug, and offer to do it for them. Sell a cork.
I wanted to show you the system I built for that last week, but it turns out I had to redesign the system. Something that only became clear this morning, while showing the system to a rather savvy leadership coach.
I’ve spent the rest of the day redoing the system, and will proceed to recording an explainer video asap – apologies for the delay.
Meanwhile, think of these, the four core steps of the system:
1. Segment and survey:
Who’s on your list? Who has bought before? What segments do you have there?
Next, talk to people. What leak do they have going on? (google ‘customer development interviews’ for a broader look on how to survey, the way startups often do it).
2: Extract and design
Your intellectual property, that zone-of-genius work you do: get it out on paper.
Then, knock it into a package you can offer for a very specific, narrow solution, for a segment that is the most likely to need it – and want it.
3: Show up and sell
“Look, you said you needed this kind of cork. I’ve built it, it’s ready, I made this for you. Do you want it?”
4. Iterate and optimise
Look at the data: who responded? Who didn’t? Are they qualified? Why yes, or no?
What buy blockers can you exist? How can you remove them and go for more sales?
Those four steps, that’s just the very core of the system, but it goes much much deeper and I believe it’s going to make a difference.
On Sunday, the world online seemed to have calmed down a little: Twitter seemed slightly quieter, and the online groups I’m in were mostly deserted.
Made me wonder if people were spending the day actually with their families. That would be a nice side effect.
The second thing, and I hope this is useful to you, was a few thought leaders in the entrepreneur space whose discourse started getting a little defeatist. Which I understand, and I don’t blame them.
Everybody has a soapbox these days.
There’s 10 million voices to listen to.
And whether it’s you, or me, or another online entrepreneur:
If you, like some of those others seemed to, end up wondering ‘why bother’ or you’re feeling anxious or depressed… ask yourself who you’re listening to?
Which biases are you consuming, which narratives feed your mind and emotions, which agendas are behind those narratives, and, very importantly:
What emotional reactions and states are being triggered in you?
Because while I don’t advocate living in lala land thinking that all the wrongs in the world will right themselves automatically, I do recommend you keep your mental and emotional state optimal. Fortitude and a healthy, reasonable dose of optimism matter.
And what this outlet or that speaker, this author or that vlogger says, affects your state.
Which brings us to the 3rd thing I noticed, already last week:
I’ve been finding myself saying ‘ain’t nobody got time for that’ a lot more.
Which is a bit harsh, but it’s because I feel a sense of urgency. There’s stuff to be done – for myself and my work and for my clients and my friends.
And we all have stuff to do, and nobody ain’t got time for things that take down our state, sap our strength, make us feel helpless or cause us to procrastinate.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
So the voices you pay attention to: select them with care.
Observe your state, and ask yourself: which voices cause my state to lift up, and which cause negative reactions and dips?
Engage with the people in the first group, and beware of (or eliminate your intake entirely) voices in the second group.
And I get it. We’re all reeling to some degree or other, and don’t we have better things on our minds, besides business?
Well yes, we do: Smile. Or do you have anything better to do?
(Ok, that’s a bit snide, but I really really mean it: smile. It’s better).
But that business and selling thing: should we? Is it right? Does it matter? Is it ethical?
Well, think of it this way:
You’d better hope your baker keeps selling bread.
It would be nice if you supermarket keeps selling and serving your needs.
If your phone breaks, hopefully someone is selling new or second hand ones.
Petrol, for those who need to get to work, such as medical, transport, foodstuffs professionals…
The online platforms you use for your business, they’d better keep operating and taking your monthly payments.
Now these are obvious… of course they should stay in business and keep selling. They’re important, for all kinds of reasons.
But if you think that because you’re a solopreneur, or a coach, or an author, or literally whatever it is you do or whatever reason you’re telling yourself why you should take your foot of the gas, that you’re not supposed to be selling your work, you’re making a mistake.
Even if you’re an artist, and you’re telling yourself that ‘there’s more important things than art at a time like this’, you’re making a mistake. Art matters a lot for culture, and even more now that folk will increasingly struggle to keep their head on straight. As evidenced by the uptick in the consumption art and music during past recessions and such.
And another thing: it’s not that you have to keep operating and selling if you don’t want to, but there’s nobody ‘exempt’ from operating their business.
Because whatever the world is going through, it will always have an economy, and you’d better hope that it keeps working, in whatever way.
Without an economy there’s little left except barter, and humanity is no longer organised in a way that makes barter easy on a wide scale. Besides, barter is just another form of economy, so my point stands.
‘The economy’ is a big, big thing, spanning continents and industries and demographics and crossing all kinds of societal and cultural divides… a huge, complex, web. And while I don’t know a whole lot about ‘the economy’, but I do know this:
An economy exists, and functions, by virtue of people trading things of value against each other, buying and selling things. And the more that happens, the more things can happen. Hopefully, good and ethical things.
But without an economy, things suck a lot more for people. Kind of like smiling, now that I think of it.
So the question ‘is it still ethical to sell’, can be replaced with a more important question:
Do people still need what you do?
If the answer is yes, and people also want it, then I’d say go out (well, you know…) and find people who want to buy it.
Your baker is selling bread. Go and keep selling your stuff. And then go give your baker some money.
Please smile as you do so.
P.s. If you’re concerned about your revenue and sales, I’m still on track to announce tomorrow the new system for turning your intellectual property into a profit centre that I’m building. Stay tuned. And warm, hydrated, and smiling.
I’ll bet the neighbours said that a lot, back when Steve Jobs was still soldering away at the first ever personal computer.
What’s he building in there…?
A few decades later, and it turns out he built the seed of something rather transformational.
In the last few days I’ve seen tweets saying that a lot of great things were built, while people were isolated from plagues. Don’t quote me as stating facts, but apparently calculus was invented, and Shakespeare did some of his best work… and I’ve seen other examples.
Again, I don’t know facts and I don’t have time to research, but:
While all this crap is happening, things are breaking and people are struggling, there’s also this:
Now that we have technology, and now that everyone is at home…
How many geniuses are out there, with technology at their fingertips, able to communicate with other geniuses…
…quietly tinkering away in their studios or garages, trying to build something that solves problems…
On a global scale, there’s a lot or them. And as the weeks and months go by, we’ll start seeing things come out into the world that could have a huge positive impact on society and even have a positive influence on the actual situation.
Just think: so many people finally free to develop and invent and test and experiment – at a time like ours…
What are they building in there?
What will be the good those things will do?
And while I know it’s my chronic optimism talking, and I’m not naïve enough to think everything will suddenly be fixed, I’m excited to see what comes out of the next few months.
Because it’s no longer about one person in a room inventing calculus, and then sending a letter by horse and ship to a university: we’re now at a time that there’s instant sharing, there’s cross-pollination of ideas, and there’s SO many more geniuses now than 200 or 500 years ago.
And, another thing I’m beginning to observe: silos are being broken. And according to the science of human networks, and observable in scientific history as well as in business and innovation, the more cross-silo interaction there is, the faster things can be developed, and the more transformative they can be.
Meaning: what with the fire that’s been lit under all of us, and all the above ideas, we’re likely to see some exponential results and changes happening.
Just as the damage we’re struggling with is exponential, so will – in my futuristic thinking – be the kind and size of innovation and problem solving.
In other words: there’s not just hope that things will get better again… you might also want to, kind of, hope that surprisingly good things will happen. There’s folks working on awesome solutions, right now. Promise. (Also: support them when you can).
Meanwhile, life goes on, and if you’re in business, so does business.
Unless it doesn’t – so many people unable to sell their product or service at the moment – in which case I’m building something that might be helpful to you.
It’s a system for turning your own version of genius (or in a more humble way: unique ability, or your intellectual property) into an offer you can sell online, both to existing and new clients.
I hope to have a webinar ready by Friday to explain how it works, for you to implement.
I’ll also offer a guided training at an affordable fee (less than $100), and a 1 on 1 done-with-you option at a higher fee, in case you want to borrow some of my ‘unique ability’.
But if you’re hurting now and you want to see if I can help you create a new revenue centre in your business, feel free to book a short exploration call, to see what you have for people and if I can help you get it into their hands digitally.