You cannot listen your way out of this recession. If you keep listening, you’ll believe Chicken Little was right: the sky is falling, your business is going down the tubes and you’ll never again get another gig. You’ll believe you shouldn’t get on an airplane unless someone name Sully is at the helm because you’ll wind up in someone’s home (a foreclosure?) instead of the Bahamas, or wherever you were going to stash what’s left of your cash. You’ll believe Las Vegas is closed because all conventions have been called off and all business communication has been reduced to a poorly put together but free webinar or static-crackling teleseminar. Oh yes, and you’ll never make that $25 million bonus ever again. Honestly, are you supposed to worry about that? I don’t.
Because I speak up more than I listen: Q109 is on track to be my best quarter ever.
I beat the odds and so can you. Despite what the end-of-the-world people propound, I am SPEAKING to an audience of successful business professionals at a CONVENTION in LAS VEGAS on Thursday. I am getting there by AIRPLANE with no intention of landing on a roof rather than a tarmac. I am investing in 2 new START-UPs. My companies continue to produce great products for our customers and new orders come in everyday. I teach a course called “Pitching the Perfect Presentation” on the UCLA campus, because people are still SELLING (which means people are still BUYING). You just need to be more crisp, clear and compelling than in sloppier (read rich) times.
What should you do? Start thinking about OTHER PEOPLE. When you consider other people to be your AUDIENCE, you frame what you have to say or sell in terms of what they need and can purchase. Focusing on the prospect, consumer or customer remains the most fundamental principle of business. TODAY, if you have a phone, computer and a car, this is what you must do.
1. Identify unmet needs of people and companies you can reach.
2. Amplify the consequences of this audience not fulfilling those needs.
3. Present the right-sized solution that they can buy, approve and engage in. If they aren’t hungry for the whole elephant, then sell it bite by bite.
Not everyone sells, but everyone does the only two things that, when combined over time, lead directly to success (if done right).
Actions + Interactions = Success.
#1: Take ACTION.
Develop good enough products, produce insightful spreadsheets of data and analysis, program computers so they do things better, build wind turbines to get us off the oil pipe, show people how to lift weights without injuring themselves – you know what I mean: be good at the stuff you DO, or your company does. You don’t actually need to warehouse stuff. You need to represent it well, with prototypes, renderings, a brochure or a website. Most buyers want something customized, so a sample will do.
#2, Engage in lots of INTERACTIONs.
– Make the opportunities to speak up and persuade, train, team-build and brief customers, prospects, superiors, subordinates, colleagues, partners, investors, suppliers and potential referral sources. Do this EVERYWHERE, all the time. Don’t waste an opportunity to speak up.
– Seek out high value targets: people you can reach by phone or email, who might make time to meet with you. Be ready to tell them what you’ve done that directly relates to what you can do for them. Ask them what keeps them up at night. If it at all relates to what you DO or what you can get a finders fee for, and there’s a glimmer of “I might buy” in their voice, set an appointment.
– Then, drive to their offices and engage them in conversations about how you can empower them to do more business, re-vitalize their business processes and products, or create additional security in the short and long term. That’s where your serving of either elephant, or elephant tartlets, come in.
What does it take to be successful now, in this economic environment?
Make more calls and meet more people than ever before. Remember, the most important people in the universe are the people who 1) can say yes, and 2) have a budget. Make every interaction count but don’t make any one deal the only deal you work on. Believe that every situation is dynamic. Things can change if you influence them. Even a no is a good place to start – more about that later.
Not all so much has changed, no matter what the teeth-gnashers moan. Like gravity or air, you knew the fundamentals for survival and advanced techniques for thrival (okay, I made up that word) existed before this recession. Those principles work now, when you put them to work for work.
Don’t listen to anyone who tells you different.