How to Lose 80% of Your Business

Originally, I was thinking about this title. 

How to Lose Your Stake Holders, Best Customers and Evangelists

but I realized that some business owners don’t know that they have Stake Holders, Best Customers and Evangelists and they don’t know how important they can be.

So, what’s a Stake Holder? Look at this diagram. That’s a lot of people that depend on you doing a good job. Let’s focus on Customers. Your customers depend on you delivering, staying in business. You may be part of their offering. Your service may keep them up and running. Some of your customers invest their faith in you.

Who are your Best Customers? Are they the ones that buy the most from you? Are they the ones that pay you on time? Are they the ones that don’t complain? That appreciate your efforts? That thank you for being you? Have you thought about who your Best Customers are and what makes them best?

Evangelists: Compare this definition to some of these. Notice the similarities in the biblical and the business definitions. Religion, speading the word, way of life, love the cause, good news. Evangelists use, love and tell the world about what you do for them.

Have you heard of the 80/20 Rule? So, my simple explanation is that if you look at any business, club, association, or any other organization, 80% of the good will come from 20% of the members. 80% of your business will come from 20% of your customers. By the same token, 80% of your problems will come from 20% of your customers. (I try not to sell that 20%. and focus on the good 20%.) In any referral group, 80% of the referrals will be passed by 20% of the members. They get it. They believe. They make it happen. I know who my evangelists are. They believe in me. They do anything that I ask. They work on my behalf without me asking. All associations, whether they’re a chamber of commerce, charitable non-profit, or industry or trade group has members and donors that pay dues and make donations. Some pay big dues or make big donations. They’re important. Some members donate their time. They evangelize. They spread the word. They believe in the cause. They find new members and new donors.

So, you want a great business? Focus on the 20% that bring you the 80%.

You want to go out of business? Focus on the 80% that bring you the 20% and watch the Stake Holders, Best Customers and Evangelists go to your competition.

Solopreneurs and Startups

Question: Is a team of founders more likely to succeed than a solopreneur?

Although we all know Mark Zuckerberg as the founder of Facebook, Wikipedia also lists Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and  Chris Hughes as founders.

Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne of Apple.
Paul Allen and Bill Gates of Microsoft.
What if we changed the word “succeed” to “survive”?

Sales Experience Can Make a Difference

This is a guest post by Nancy Middleton. Nancy Middleton works as an online instructor with The College City. While she has not had a sales job since the first one, she appreciates everything she learned while working for the company.
In her own, unedited words…
I was 17 and working in a department store for a special office that sent me to different areas depending on who had not shown up to work. One day, I was sent to the men’s department. I was used to the braggadocio of the all-male sales staff. Usually, I spread my sales around the department regulars because they worked on commission which I could not receive.

One Sunday, we were talking and, before I knew it, the “bet” was on. Being 17 and not particularly bright, I had told them I could sell more than any of them that day. The race was on.

It was busy. I did not stop moving for about five hours. After the store closed, we ran the numbers on the cash register. I, the 17 year old, female, sales inexperienced, naïve, temp won by a respectable margin. I learned a lot that day about sales, myself, customers, and sales people.

Lessons Learned

As the song from the musical Gypsy says, “You gotta have a gimmick.” I was an adorable, slender, energetic, good-natured, smiling girl. The most important adjective is “girl.” That was my gimmick, and they had figured I was too inept to use that to my advantage. I was not flirtatious or suggestive in any way. For heaven’s sake, I was 17 and, for the most part, in the company of much older men. I did not have to be those things. I just had to be a “she.”

The second reason I was successful was far more important. I did not need the money. I was not depending on a paycheck that would reflect my sales success. It was just a game for me. The others in the department ate what they sold. They paid their mortgages, fed their families, and kept their households afloat. It mattered to them, and they were competitive. They needed to make those sales numbers, and they knew it.

That fact was critical. I did not need the money, and they did. That was the all-important, vital, important, essential reason I had succeeded. Being a girl was a gimmick, but not needing the money is what made the difference.

What that experience taught me was that if you want to succeed, you have to convince yourself it will not kill you if you do not. It needs to be a bit of a game. There are many important skills possessed by the successful sales person but that is, perhaps, the most important.

I think it is most closely related to a trait that makes for the most successful golfers. Every stroke has to exist alone. If it stinks, forget it. It is over and done. Do not let it haunt the next shot. If it is great, forget it. You do not want to be over confident. Each shot should stand on its own.

That is how each sale should be. You do not require it. It would be nice, but it is not going to change your life. When you are not desperate, you have a better chance of success.

This was just one of the lessons I learned from that job. If you are looking for real-life experiences that will help you do better at whatever you do, make sure you include a sales job. It will become an important part of who you are, and what could be a better recommendation than that?

The First Four Questions That Need Answers

  1. What is your average sale? If the size of your sales is all over the place, you need to put some thought into this. Be careful of ‘happy ears’ and wishful thinking. Any lie to any of these questions dooms the process to failure. If you lie to yourself all the time, contact me. I’ll help you find the truth.
  2. How much time do you have to put into a customer after they buy from you? Be sure to include everything, delivery, project management, account management, problem solving, etc.
  3. How much time do you have to put into getting a new customer to buy from you? This is difficult to determine. Sometimes the phone rings and they give you a credit card at the end of the call. Sometimes it take 12 phone calls, 3 meetings, a proposal, a revision, 6 weeks of hiding, etc. You also need to account for time writing emails, internal conversations with partners and staff, time put into marketing, including advertising, social media, networking, attending trade shows, etc. You also need to be sure to include all of the time that you put into prospects that don’t buy and, again, you need to be real. What you may find is that occasionally, your phone rings and 10 minutes later you’re writing a sale for a new customer, but on further inspection, you may find that that phone call was the result of a prospect reading a blog post that was retweeted by someone that you met at a networking event or a trade show.
  4. Next, how will you define success? How much do you need to sell to reach your goal? What is your goal? Respectfully, I wouldn’t accept your first answer until you also answer, Why is that your goal? Who else cares about this goal other than you? How will your/their life be different when you attain your goal? How will it be different if you don’t?
Once you’ve answered those four questions, you’re ready to use these formulae.
Total Hours Required = New Customers Required x (Pre Sale Hours/sale + Post Sale Hours/sale)
ow you know how many clients you need to be successful and how many hours you’ll need to work. Next, you’ll need to do a personal and professional SWOT analysis and a strategic analysis to determine whether you can with what you’ve got or you need something else to execute your strategy, but that is another post….
I’ve got three openings for entrepreneurs that want help doing this in June. If you’d like to be one, send me an email.

Truthful vs. Believable

Remember the Seinfeld episode about the “bad breaker upper“? Elaine is out with a date and a former girl friend throws coffee in her date’s face and says that he’s a bad breaker upper. Later in the episode, Elaine breaks up with her new beau and he calls her “big head”. Thus proving he’s a bad breaker upper.

So, recently, a friend told me about a really bad experience that he had with someone. I sympathized with him because it wasn’t the first time that I had gotten a bad report about that particular someone. Here’s the issue. After a little digging, we learned that my friend’s experience wasn’t as he had perceived and that it was a miss-communication. The thing is that because I knew that it had happened before, I was totally ready to believe my friend.
So, here’s the question….
Is anyone spreading any bad reports about you?
Are the reports true?
Are they believable?

Don’t Rush. Slow Down. Make it special.

 I sent this message to one of my LinkedIn connection’s connections yesterday.

(His first name),

I frequently scan my connections’ connections on LinkedIn looking for interesting profiles. When I find one, I look to see how we’re connected. You and I have several mutual connections, from a variety of directions and when I saw the Hubspot logo on your website, I knew that I’d be reaching out to you.

I retired on 12/29/11, but enjoy talking with founders who have been around the block and are still at it. Feel free to check our my profile and if you’d like to have a synergy-seeking conversation, let’s do it. 

Rick Roberge
He replied a couple of hours later with:
I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

Now, why did he do that? I don’t believe that we’ve ever met. We can’t vouch for each other. We don’t know enough about what the other does to be able to make a recommendation to somebody that we care about.

It’s kind of like meeting someone and asking them if they want to get married or have sex. How about coffee, a drink, dinner or a movie first? It’s the reason that potentially good prospects go into hiding. You’re going too fast. You’re using a cookie cutter process. Slow down. Make it special.
This was my response.
(His first name),

I’m sorry. My bad for not being clear.

At this point, we don’t know each other well enough to connect, but I’d expect that it would happen after we have a conversation to see if we get along. My calendar is online at Pick a time. Include the number that you want me to call. I’ll do the rest.

Rick Roberge
Incidentally, if you’d like us to get to know each other better, use the link, include your number and I’ll do the rest.