Imagine that you’re on an airplane next to somebody. You know how it is — sometimes you can tell whether someone is open to conversation or whether a polite “hello” will do. But if you get into a conversation, of course the question comes up: “So what do you do?”
Most people will try to narrow it down into a few words: a manager at such and such a place, salesperson, lawyer, etc. In short, the answer, as impressive as it may be, is usually something that elicits, at best, an “Oh, that’s interesting,” unless it’s something like Sea World animal trainer or something really out there.
Do most people fare any better at networking events where the answer to what you do is actually really important? I don’t know, but if you’re giving “airplane” kinds of answers, I’d be surprised if anything beneficial would come out of that kind of networking.
In sales, in business, you have to be able to clearly articulate what you do in such a way as to make the person you’re communicating with say, “Wow, how do you do that?” Your ability to summarize the benefit of your product or service is the key to success in selling. If you can do that, you can make all the sales you want to make for the rest of your life.
If you can’t summarize what you do that way, it means that you don’t understand what you’re selling. If you don’t understand what you’re selling, it’s impossible for your customer to understand.
All that people are concerned about is what your product or service does. How can it change lives? How does it improve someone’s work or family life? What does it do? What’s the before-and-after difference? That’s what people want to know.
Successful businesses know exactly what they specialize in and then become absolutely excellent in their area of specialization. A rule in business and in selling is that you never take on more than you can do with excellence. You don’t try to be all things to all people.
Companies that go under start off with one area of specialization, become successful, and then think they can walk on water. They start to offer everything in a mediocre way, and then mediocrity becomes everything they do.
Unsuccessful people try to do all kinds of things, but that’s like trying to ride three bicycles at once. Successful people pick a single focus, and they concentrate on that. The only way that you can succeed in life is by becoming an expert in what you do, an expert not only in your own mind, but in the minds of others. They must know that you are very good at what you do.
One of the big frustrations we have in life is when we waste so much time on low-probability prospects who turn us off, turn us down, reject us, and we start to think we’re no good, or the product is no good, or life sucks, when that’s not the case, yes? We’re just talking to the wrong people. And much of the time, we’re talking to the wrong people because we haven’t really focused in on what we have to offer.
What are your stories of turning a business — or anything — around from trying to do too many things with little success to finding success in a single focus? Was it business? Career? Relationships?
Funnel into the Market of Success
Beyond the funhouse mirrors of what people think it means to run a successful business, at the end of the day there’s a science to it, like most everything else.
The definition of a scientific formula is something that has been developed, tested, and then tested again and again by geniuses compared with most of us. The benefit we get is those formulas can now be used successfully by just about anybody who applies them. We’re surrounded by formulas that we can simply follow. It may have taken them years to develop, but now we can use them with just a little effort.
There are formulas for business success. Some of them need to be applied before you invest your first dollar into any enterprise. The businesses that fail are the ones that fail to specialize, differentiate, and segment their core customers.
Specialization means you specialize in a particular product or service, a particular market area, a particular industry or geographical area. You target this like a marksman. What do you specialize in? What is your focus?
The next part of successful marketing is differentiation. Every act of professional selling is differentiation; that is, identifying your area of excellence. Specialization focuses on whom you’re targeting and what the product is going to be. Differentiation takes it a step further — how are you going to deliver that product and/or service differently than the other businesses your customers could be going to? What are you going to be excellent at? What is it about your product or service that makes it better or superior to anything or anyone else?
If you want to earn the highest possible income, it’s worth taking a week, a month, a year — as long as it takes — to excel in a particular area, because that’s where all the money is. Real money is not for the average, the mediocre, the well-meaning, or the hopeful. It’s for people who are really good at what they do.
Segmentation is deciding who your best customers are based on what you sell, what you specialize in, what you’re already good at, and who can most benefit the fastest from what it is you sell. These are the customers who are the easiest to sell to. You focus single-mindedly on them. You identify the 20% of customers who can account for 80% of your sales.
Wave a magic wand and imagine your perfect customers. As silly as it may sound, it is actually the most appropriate analogy to make. Your perfect customers are literally on the verge of buying; all you have to do is meet them, and they’ll take it right out of your hand. Who are those people?
Now by the time they are arriving at your door, you already know what they need because you’ve focused on your specialization, differentiation, and segmentation. You begin talking about your product or service, showing them that all things considered, yours is the best choice. You answer their objections or hesitations, close the sale, and get resales and referrals from them. Marketing Success 101.
You do this prospecting so you don’t spend a single minute talking with people who are not good prospects. Your job is to identify the people who are most likely to buy, and then connect with them immediately with a benefit that they want now. All you have to do is prove that you can deliver.
Aim to Please
There was a study out a few years ago that said 80% of millionaires are self-made. That is, they didn’t inherit their millions, and they didn’t win the lottery. They literally started out wanting to be a millionaire — like everybody else — but found a way to earn their millions.
Ten percent of self-made millionaires are people who work for self-made millionaires. They join a company like Apple when it’s small and grow financially and professionally with the company. Only about 8-9% of millionaires are professionals like doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers, athletes, entertainers, and such. Inheritors represent about another 1 percent. These are ballpark figures.
For a vast majority of millionaires, the one skill they had in common that made them millionaires was simple: the ability to sell something at a higher price than it costs them to produce.
So for you, the purpose of a millionaire-making enterprise is to create customers in a cost-effective way, and your job is to innovate what you’re selling and market it. Those are the only two things that create customers: to find newer, better, faster, cheaper ways to help people achieve their goals or get what they want, and to let as many people know about it as possible.
The measure of the success of a business is customer satisfaction. If your customers are pleased, you’ll know because you’ll still be in business. When you realize “It’s not about me; it’s about the customer,” you become focused on that, not “How can I rip them off; how can I get the money and run; how can I get them to buy once and never buy again.”
Once you have learned how to build a successful business, you can use the same principles to build business after business after business. That’s how millionaires stay millionaires.
Yet, here’s another sobering fact: a vast majority of businesses go broke in the first three to five years. Businesses started by people with no experience go broke more often than not. Businesses started by people with experience succeed 90% of the time or more.
People starting out don’t know how to sell; they don’t know how to satisfy customers; and they don’t know how to create and keep customers.
The good news is all business skills are learnable. When you realize that there are certain things successful people do over and over again, and if you can learn what they are and do them yourself over and over again, you’ll eventually get the same result.
People will say, “Well, I’m not very good at selling.” Get over it! You may not be very good at it, but it’s a learnable skill.
So what is the highest-paid work in our society, for most people? It’s not doctoring, or lawyering, ball playing, or singing. It’s thinking.
Think, “What can I sell that I’m passionate about but also adds value to other people’s lives in some kind of way, and how can I do this profitably?”
The customers may not always be right, but never let them know that. You want raving fans. You want supporters. You want critics who care. You want to see those people again and again. Like any relationship, it’s not only about you and what you get out of it. It’s building and sustaining rapport while your profits soar to millionaire heights.
The Answer Lies in How
From now on, whenever you have a goal, the only question you ask is, “How?” If you have a problem, the question is, “How do you solve it? How do you overcome it?”
All successful people ask, “How?” They’re proactive. They’re action oriented, and the word how is like pushing the button on a detonator. The answer always triggers you into explosive action. You can’t ask, “How do I solve this?,” “How do I achieve it?,” “How do I get there?,” or “How do I overcome it?,” without being triggered into taking an action of some kind.
If top people think about what they want and how to get it, what is it that unhappy, unsuccessful people think about most of the time? They think about what they don’t want and/or who’s to blame. That’s the basic summary of all abnormal psychology. They think about what they don’t want, which makes them unhappy, and they think about who is to blame, which makes them angry.
Unsuccessful, unhappy people are always angry at someone whom they blame for their problems. The goal is to mature to the point where you realize that you are in command of your own life. You’re in charge. You make things happen. You are not a victim. That was then; this is now.
Never allow your past to determine your future. Think about what you want and how to get it.
When you turn toward the sunshine, when you think about what you want and how to get it, the shadow of negativity falls behind you. You realize you can’t change any of that stuff from the past anyway, so why fret over it anymore, yes? You have control over now. Now you can ask how. “Instead of thinking about what I don’t want, what do I want, and how do I get there?”
One of the greatest wastes of life is to be upset about something that happened in the past that you can’t change. One of the great uses of life is to think about what you want in the future and how you’re going to get it. You keep your mind so focused on the future that all those other things just peel away like dead skin.
Don’t allow unhappy experiences in the past to keep re-emerging in your daily life. This is what holds us back. This is what stops people from succeeding.
Maybe some things happened to you that were beyond your control. Maybe those events had consequences that detoured or even derailed some goals in your life up until this point. Maybe you’re still living with those consequences. You are responsible for your life now. You are responsible for the things that you want and how to get them.
Nobody is smarter than you. Nobody is better than you. If they are doing better, they have just figured out how. They’ve gotten the recipe before you did, but the recipes are available to everyone.