Monday, February 28, 2011

Stick out while fitting in.

People don’t want to deviate from their normal routine.

So how do you get them to notice you? Interrupt their day? Force them to pay attention to you?

Don’t be intrusive. Don’t make them change their workflow to make time for a sales pitch.

Two examples of sticking out while fitting in:
  • You have a new product and want to spread the word. Modify your business card for a while. On one side of the card include an elevator pitch for your new product.  Later, when they’re going through their cards, they’ll remember the conversation they had with you.
  • You need to connect with a prospect that is difficult to reach. Send a personal video introduction via email. Your prospect goes through his emails just like the rest of us. And if you are lucky, he just might watch what you sent him.

Follow these steps when brainstorming for an idea like this:
  • What do you want to communicate to this person?
  • What are his common habits?
  • Where’s the spot for creativity

This is not an easy task. Madison Avenue was built on this problem.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Please, (don't) act your age.

When you were a child you absorbed information like a sponge. You laughed more. You explored the world in daring and unselfconscious ways. Remember playing in the creek?

There are many reasons why you may have lost those child-like traits. You went through difficult relationships. You had crappy jobs. Responsibilities piled up. You got a mortgage. You had kids.

This all leads to risk aversion.

But what would your life look like if you carried some of those child-like traits into adulthood?

  • Learning would be easier.
  • You would laugh more.
  • Exploring the world like a child, you would find business opportunities, personal interests, and relationships that you might have missed.

As adults, we see the world through the narrative of our past. And we let it bind us.

Do something today that scares you. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Your Tribe is Shrinking, You Have Three Options, Choose Wisely

You share 99.99% of your genes with people who lived 10,000 years ago. These people were hunter-gatherers. They banded into tribes of thirty to fifty, and could support no more. Everyone sought food, every day. They stayed lean and mobile to go where the food was.

Today, 99.99% of your genes are still in a tribe looking for food. But things have changed. There is abundance. People can remain in one place now. There is time to organize and specialize. And tribes have grown much larger. Your company is a tribe, accumulating wealth by meeting a market demand.

But over the past few years the food has been drying up in your area. Your tribe was built on the assumption of abundance, so they are unable to move. To survive they kick people out of the tribe. You are faced with three choices.

  • You can live in fear of being sacked and continue with your tasks of seeking ever scarcer food.
  • You can make a dash for another tribe.
  • You can strike out on your own, seeking food without a tribe.
Tough decision. There are a couple of things to keep in mind. Your tribe does not act in your best interest. Many other tribes are also shrinking. And the data says that a first time entrepreneur has a 20% chance at success.

Who knows which option will work. But there’s only one where you are the master of your own destiny.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Recruit Timid Employees for Sales, Ignorance is Bliss

Sometimes, ignorance is bliss and profitable.

It would be nice to get more of your people into the sales effort, but the problem is that a lot of them are timid.

Why are they timid? The fear of rejection? The fear of failure? We all have these fears. If you’re in sales, you’ve learned how to deal with them in your own way. The others need more practice. But you don’t have years to train them. You need help now.

So do two things to minimize the amount of fear they have to face. One is optional.
  • Liquid courage (optional)
  • Lower the cost of failure - Do not burden your newly minted salesmen with the knowledge that Bob Young is a prospect you’ve been chasing for years. Simply tell them Bob Young is a prospect. 
That’s right. Withhold information. This is one case where a level of ignorance will help your cause. If your new salesmen know how important Bob Young is, they’re going to get nervous when they meet him. So don’t make Bob scary.

Later, when they tell you about their conversation with Bob, tell them how you’ve been chasing him for years. That is a wonderful, empowering moment.