Out of Business

Today I learned that somebody that I know closed their business and got a job. Happens every day, but this was different. I’ve known this owner for a few years. I evaluated him a year ago. He needed help. The evaluation indicated what to do. So, I told him, laid out the plan, and made it affordable for him.

He said that he appreciated my advice, but was going to fix himself. I asked how. He said that he was gonna read Baseline Selling. I asked how he was gonna overcome his weaknesses. He told me that his wife was gonna hold him accountable. I asked what if it doesn’t work. He told me that he’d call me in three months if it didn’t work.

He didn’t call. Now, he’s out of business. Probably in debt. Still can’t sell.

Tonight, I get to go to sleep wondering if I was too nice. Not strong enough. Worried about offending him or having him think that I was abrasive. Wondering if I should have tried harder to keep him in business.


9 thoughts on “Out of Business

  1. Disclosure: It’s been a long week, and I am running out of steam. Somehow, this story is funny.Somehow, this story is sad. How did you hear he went out of business? Did you contact this person? How will you prevent the next business failure?

  2. Dale, I don’t think it’s funny for anyone to lose their life savings, shatter their self esteem or damage relationships because they are too proud to ask for or accept help. It’s just sad.To answer your questions.I heard it through the grapevine.I did not contact him. He said that he’d contact me.The SBA says that more businesses fail than survive. It can’t be totally up to me. Can it?Interestingly, the SBA also has suggestions regarding planning and starting your business.Plan Your Business• Get Ready• Write a Business PlanStart Your Business• Find a Mentor• Finance Start-Up Can you believe that they suggest to find a mentor before you finance the business?

  3. Let me offer another perspective. Seth Godin, author of the Purple Cow and many other books, recently wrote “Can you bully someone into a sale?” Here’s the link: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/08/can-you-bully-s.html In this blog he states:”Sales bullies describe their approach as ethical, because, after all, it’s in the best interest of the prospect to say yes. It’s okay to be a sales bully when you’re trying to get someone to take their TB medicine, so it must be okay to be a sales bully to get them to sign this contract.””The flaw in thinking is this… the people you most want to sell to won’t respond well to this.””So, if bullying is the only tool you’ve got, it makes sense to focus on an audience that responds to it (and lower your expecations accordingly). Even better, get some new tools.”Bob Burg, author of The Go-Giver, believes in Winning Without Intimidation.Once again, we have a choice when it comes to our methods. Why do you believe that you can only win with intimidation?

  4. Rick – Interesting post. Unfortunately, what happened is an all too frequent occurrence in business. I know a business that shut down last month after enormous excitement in the marketplace. There is a great post mortum on it that you should read (http://www.informationarbitrage.com). Regarding your post, it is not unusual for people to want to go at it alone. It probably had nothing to do with whether or not you were persuasive enough, or too expensive or that any other logical factor. Could you have done something different, only you can answer that question. The answer is what enables us to bring in the next customer. While I am certain you already know this, learning from our disappointments only makes us better at what we do. Ed…

  5. I agree that this is a sad situation. I can only guess what this business owner went through. My suspicion is that he worked so many hours each day struggling to save his business that he lost sight of the big picture. In that situation, it is common to think that you don’t have time to seek help . . . you’re too busy running the business. I’m thankful that I had someone around me to push me in the right direction.As for finding a mentor BEFORE financing . . . I think that is a critically important detail. I agree with it now that you point it out, but I don’t know if I would have had the same insight that you did. Thanks for helping me see the painfully obvious. I’ll bring that into my conscious mind from now on (I think it has been in my subconscious for quite a while).

  6. In response to comments listed: Business owners need to know how to lead, have the right message, know how to communicate, know how to run their business, know how to network and know how to sell. So, to Dale’s comment, I think it is unreasonable to expect Rick to be able to “prevent the next business failure.” Rick is only able to help those people that fit his style. You would not ask the stereotypical computer guy to be the spokesperson for the company. (No offense to programmers.) Knowledgeable sales experts tell us that it is easier to get a sale from an existing customer than it is to get a new customer. Great networkers tell us that people do business with people that they know, like and trust. Great networkers only refer people that they know, like and trust. Knowledgeable sales experts agree that it is easier to close a sale from a referral than a cold call. I think we can all agree on these.Tactics that challenge another’s ego do not build like and trust. Once your network knows of such tactics, they do not like to refer you or trust you with a referral. Now you are left with the more challenging and resource draining situation of having to make cold calls. Why would a sales expert promote a system that makes it harder to sell? This is especially confusing when applied to someone like Dale whose business thrives with a strong network.We can choose to communicate on three levels: as the parent, as the child or as an adult. Most business owners have a substantial ego. If we communicate on an adult-to-adult level, we are treating each other with respect and politeness. In addition, if we are patient and persistent, we will succeed. Leaders look to edify, not tear down.I’m confused about your messaging, how you can honestly show concern in your comment about someone’s “shattered self esteem” after they have failed when your tactics project that you don’t care about it before they fail?Clearly I have demonstrated compelling reasons why you should hire me to improve your understanding of business; improve your networking skills; improve your coaching skills; improve your communication skills; and establish proper messaging. This is a challenging task that only a person that is really interested in improving their business would commit. No, it is not cheap, but you know that “cheap” is not worth anything. I am only interested in working with people that are serious about succeeding. So, you have until the end of business today to get serious and let me know. If don’t care to succeed, don’t worry, I’ll never bother to post again on your blog.I bet you’ve already picked up the phone and pulled out your credit card!

  7. I remember earlier this year I went to a builders association dinner with Dale Shadbegian, a client, and a Sandler Sales Trainer was speaking to the contractors in the room about the reality and difficulty of cold calling. He said that today, the success rate for cold calling is 1 in 200 where it was 1 in 100 a few years ago. He also shared statistics regarding the success achieved when you are referred. The success rate when you are referred is 50%. When you are referred and personally walked in the success rate is a whopping 80%. The obvious conclusion is that building sales success through personal relationship and referral is far more effective than cold calling. The challenge with generating referrals is that it takes hard work, inspirational dissatisfaction and a belief that is congruent with the laws of nature as they are and not as we perceive them to be. This belief is called givers gain. I teach my networking groups to consider thinking like this; make a SUBCONSCIOUS decision to give to others first without allowing yourself to inwardly think about what you want first. Help others obtain want they want and truly don’t expect anything in return. Then keep doing it. Then do it some more. Then the law of compensation will reciprocate to you in direct proportion to how well you truly helped others get what they wanted first. Why do I open with this? We are part of a community of networkers who have grown together. Our network has been built by the basic tenets that we prefer to do business with those who we like, know and trust. When we are referred by others or when we refer others, we must take the responsibility of respecting these tenets and the people referred. Hard core selling, sales bullying, blowing people up, harsh negative reverses without softening statements first, not asking permission before you piss someone off….. all these things RUIN and GO AGAINST maintaining and nurturing relationships built through referral! So yes, maybe some people will want to hire Rick even after he uses his approach. If they do get past his approach and buy, they will be exposed to a sales expert, one of the best I have ever known. I agree with Jason, Seth and Burg that sales bullying and intimidation will limit the amount of prospects who will buy services. Sometimes people need a kinder and gentler approach before they are ready. Also some people will never be ready and will decide to live their lives accordingly. It is not for us to decide what it is best for our prospects, it is ultimately up to them. As the saying goes ” you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink”Lastly, it is interesting that Jason would allude to the possibility that people would likely not want to refer those who promote strong sales tactics because it is inconsistent with know, like and trust, the foundation of building lasting networking relationships.Mark

  8. If he did not call me after 3 months, as he suggested, I would have called him after 3 months and 1 week. If you did, you might have heard directly from him that his business was still failing, and you may have been able to take him on as a client. Surely, it’s not your fault that he went OOB…but it’s your fault that you did not dilligently follow up. Every sale counts….

  9. Def,Unfortunately, this guy was in my network and I actually watched him fail, but he was a very proud do-it-yourselfer and I’m not inclined to push myself on someone who does not want help.In addition, remember that more startups fail than make it, so not only is it not my fault, it’s rare that a business owner in this category would actually believe that anyone would help them.

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