Archive for January, 2012

How profitable is your business and how much FUN is it?

In this post I’m going to share the story of the most recent client to join the fold of those working with me on a one-on-one basis. It’s an opportunity to see if it resonates with you or people you know and care about that you may in turn want to share it with.

First, though, let’s put this in context.

Change is happening

Oh, really? Oooooh yes, as if we hadn’t noticed. Change is happening all over the world, all around most of us, at a faster rate than ever before and it’s about the only constant we can rely on, if you’ll excuse the rather ironic observation…

The main ways it’s affecting us most directly are either a change in our own immediate environment – with many it’s to do with business/work or job; with others it’s a shift in our own internal feelings about an existing environment or relationship, and with a few it seems like it’s just about everything! :-(

Many people – maybe even most people – don’t like change, especially when it’s not of their own choice. And it can take a lot of guts to bring about change even when it is our decision. It’s usually not about the comfort zone thing that ‘experts’ go on about: it’s familiarity zone – change can be very scary! So when somebody has actually taken a huge leap the last thing they’re going to want to address is that it might not be in the best direction for them…

Which leads me back to my client story

This lady had been in the same, well rewarded/ lucrative line of business for many years. A number of occurances in all three areas of her work, personal and health life – the industry she worked in was changing, her marriage had ended and she’d survived a serious illness – had culminated over the previous few years to tell her that huge changes were necessary – and happening whether she liked it or not!

Actually, writing this has made me realise that this isn’t the story of just one client – there are similarities with several others…

And what became apparent fairly early on was that this, again as with others, could well be a case of “throwing the baby out with the bath water”. This is where a person has virtually ‘binned’ all attachment to and associations with their previous profession – including the skills and abilities that went with it.

In my experience this can often happen, especially where a relationship break up or an illness has been involved that is blamed on the stress of the previous work/lifestyle. In other words my client was in danger of jettisoning virtually every skill she’d learned, contacts she’d made, ideas she’d had, and so on: anything connected with her previous way of life that had somehow contributed to the “bad” things that happened to her. And it’s a syndrome that’s a lot more common than we might suppose, especially with people who have really lived their lives fully.

Is fun and profit possible?

This is a potentially huge question and it annoys me no end when you get ‘gurus’ blithely saying “Follow your passion!” The answer can definitely be “Yes. Business can be fun and profitable” provided you do your research and make sure you tick all the necessary boxes. One of the sharpest points I’ve ever heard of to address is:

There may be a niche in the market but is there a market in the niche?

When we met, my client had resolutely been sticking with focusing on her alternative earning potential which was of a much more spiritual nature than her previous career. While it worked well for her in many ways it hadn’t contributed much to her bank balance and didn’t look as if it would any time soon. And not only was that becoming a problem.

What we needed to do was the playing-around-in-the-mud work first to get to what she enjoys about what she was doing now and what the good bits were that she enjoyed from her previous working life – I find that there are always some or people wouldn’t have stayed with it for so long. There was also the need to firmly embed that making money is not bad per se and, provided what we do for a living is decent and honest, we can help a darn sight more people when we’re wealthy than when we’re broke!

Within a matter of days we’d reached the point where she had decided that there was a more spiritual way that she could provide a version of the services from her previous industry that would enable her to genuinely and fairly easily help many people. That freed her from the need to look for business opportunities when she attended her spiritual get-togethers.

The punch line

Not 10 days after we’d started working together she went off to enjoy a stress free weekend that included a couple of meetings with her spiritual expansion acquaintances – I have no idea whether that’s the right terminology – I just wanted to make clear they’re real people attending real meetings, not ethereal spirits! 😉

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that on each occasion she had people asking her what she did for a living so she was confidently able to tell them about the direction she was now following (and extremely well qualified for)… and as a result already has advocates working on opportunities for her to speak to groups of women on how she helps people like them.

Who do you know who might benefit from a fresh perspective, working with someone – me! – :-) who has no agenda other than to help them gain more clarity on establishing a fun and profitable business?

Selling: How to Crack the Psychological Code That Reveals Untold Secrets

Well, maybe that got your attention :-) It certainly would have if you’re one of the (I’m not going to divulge how many – doesn’t really matter) business owners who tell us you want more more profitable custom in 2012!

Is using a Psychological Code in order to sell ethical?

Firstly I’d say: Don’t get freaked out. We all use techniques to help us get the results or outcomes we want and up to 99% of the time we’re not even aware of it!

Once you open your mind to this there are gazillions of examples that come to mind without trying too hard. To make it a no-brainer though, let’s take one of the most fundamental that we can all relate to:

A baby wet/hungry/hot/cold/ not just crying but yelling at the top of his/her lungs until somebody takes notice and starts fulfilling that need to change the unbearable status quo. This babe isn’t taking any prisoners and it becomes impossible for any but the hardest hearted within earshot to ignore! You don’t even have to have been on the receiving end of this – you’re bound to have been a perpetrator!

Depends what you want

How do you set parameters between what’s ethical and what’s not? With the baby in the fundamental example it could be anything from swapping the discomfort of being wet to the comfort of being dry to the very essence of survival: “Feed me!”

I’ve developed my own litmus test for this ethics question over the years, and it started when I was in the employ of others to sell their products or services. It wasn’t even very difficult either – once I realised I’d unintentionally gone down some wrong routes, and worked for some outfits (even household names) that I felt weren’t operating in or with integrity – and faced up to answer the question I devised for me:

“If someone you loved wanted/ required/ needed this kind of service/ product (that you are employed to sell/ persuade people to buy), would you be happy that they’re buying it from you and that it will ‘do what it says it will on the tin’?”

Ping me and I’ll tell those of you who are interested the story about the high powered bloke whom I’d never met yet was caring enough to share some home truths with me about the track (not illegal but definitely tacky) I’d got myself on who was instrumental in the creation of my test for me – and it’s stood me in good stead ever since when I sell, promote or endorse my own or others’ products or services! :-)

Okay, so let’s skip to where you’ve done your own due diligence and have a clear, happy conscience about what you’re selling and get on with the ‘Psychological Code’:

I’m referring to Joe Sugarman’s 30 Triggers. Joe was part of the direct mail, direct marketing, direct selling spearhead movement of the 1980s. He was one of the pioneer ‘ad men’ to realise the need to understand target audiences and segmentation versus the previously adopted mass marketing approach. Technology played a huge part in this new ability to cost effectively test products, marketing messages, bring split runs into play and… well, just have some real creative fun in sales & marketing precision in ways that weren’t possible in the pre-computer-that-fits-on-a-desk era.

Your starter for 5 Top Triggers Tips

Here are my interpretations of and variations on the first 5 of Joe’s Top 30 Triggers. You’ll notice I’m calling them tips rather than triggers. In my opinion they’re a mix of both so I’d say “Don’t worry about the handle, just dive in and see what you can get to work for you!”

  1. Get commitment to buy (something) initially
  2. Add upsells as a “by the way”
    Once you learn what works you can replicate it

  3. Understand your product nature/ personality
  4. For example, with toys, you’re selling to the adult
    Sell them the fun or educational value

  5. Know the nature of your prospect
  6. Their likes/ dislikes, hopes, dreams

  7. Raise your own objections
  8. Highlight what you know are potential drawbacks to your product or service and use them to your own advantage
    “Raise and Resolve”

  9. Take each and every potential problem and turn it into an opportunity
  10. This one is so varied – send your own in and I’ll give you ideas to turn them around!

More to come, obviously – we’ve only just started with the first five of thirty! Yet we’ll return to my litmus test before signing off.

It was part of the kick off point for the workshop last week where the defining questions and (sometimes like teeth being pulled, I kid you not) answers of
why you’re in the business you’re in and
why anybody should buy from you, stay with you and grow with you
absolutely must be clearly and definitively answered before any Psychological Codes have any effect or meaning…

Your thoughts?

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"I was very impressed by Linda's determination to help and the constructive, but persistent, manner in which she identified issues and then tried to resolve them. After recent progress I was again reaching a stage where I seemed to be spinning my wheels, and she has given me fresh impetus to start moving forward again."