25 thoughts about business, selling, and success (part 1)

This month’s blog comes from the insights of Kevin Crone, my colleague in Toronto. Kevin is in the habit of getting business owners and leaders to think strategically about their future. Here’s Kevin:

The following thoughts come from research that I’ve done, and from my experience coaching executives and teams.

1) Every Friday afternoon, write down what clients say they need and why (their motives). Keep a file or journal on both. You may learn how to sell and market better in today’s tougher marketplace. I once invested five weeks into visiting clients to learn their business needs and challenges. I filled an entire book, which resulted in change for my business and me.

2) “What do I do to get more sales?” is the only conversation you should have in your head. The rest is filler and not important. The second question is, “How do I help my customers with their business?”

3) To get big, complex sales, use bold attention-getters to get in front of prospects. Stay on conversation. Don’t get dragged into talking about you and your products.

4) Tactfulness is always important, but don’t let it get in the way of getting a sales force to be bold and aggressive. No one can hear you today! Who in your organization could lead a research project to get data that helps you be bolder?

5) Leaders work differently. They are trying to get the team engaged in the same song as the one in your head that you hum over and over. It is about asking questions on behalf of your improved offering, business strategy, and story to the market. Get people interested in dialogues. They won’t do this on their own because they have work to do.

6) You can’t differentiate your business with commoditized product language. Businesses have to tell a different story to be seen as different. Improve the offering and keep your brand promise. Now that’s different.

7) Work with clients to help them improve their business and, if you pay attention, it will rub off on yours. It doesn’t start with fixing yours. Work with others you scope out and care about. It is not a level playing field. If you are a small business person, people are trying to put you out of business. Keep expanding the list of people you care about. Keep in touch. Keep showing you care. Small business people are going to heaven.

8) Companies that are too big try to bluff you out. You can sell to them. Just get to know their business — not yours.

9) You can’t change a marketing offering and sales problem with a technical solution. Sometimes I wonder if people realize they are doing that — for example, fixing CRM software, a sales process, etc. I think they don’t talk to enough customers or are scared of rejection or looking bad. They do anything but listen to a customer and rethink what they are doing.



10) Being in the middle means mediocrity, not safety. Stand up to your market. Let people know you are helping them with specific issues. Looking good is no measure of health. Being good is.

11) Passion is no substitute for planning. Passion alone can make you poor. Figure out where you need to go, compare it to current reality, and act on prioritized actions. Period.

12) You haven’t experienced anything until you have stayed awake late at night wondering if you’re going to make the next payroll. It sure takes care of focus and entitlement issues. If the real world doesn’t make you productive and innovative, nothing will.

13) Any direction is a good one if you don’t know where you are going. You have to answer over and over, why are you in business? How do you change customers’ lives? What is the game of business you are creating that is worth playing, even if you often fail? What are the rules? Put 2% of your time into thinking and 98% into acting on your thoughts.

Our next blog will conclude with the other 12 ideas.

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