The One Controversial Thing You Should Do Before Starting Your Business

We all come to turning points in our lives. Decisions we make in those moments can shape our entire business and life. In the startup world, this couldn’t be truer.

When my co-founder approached me about starting a catering-delivery startup together, I was exhilarated by the prospect of a new venture and the potential to achieve success far beyond what I’d be able to accomplish in the corporate world.  I had come from a household of successful parents, graduated from an Ivy League school and worked for a top-tier consulting agency. If anyone was prepared for this, it was me. Or so I thought.

After being open for about six months, I hit a wall back in April 2011. I had been putting in more than 100 hours a week, with little to show for it. The company wasn’t progressing as quickly as we had expected, and we weren’t sure we could scale to make the business worthwhile. During that time, I started to question if I made the right decision. 

One weekend, I decided to take a drive to the ocean to clear my head and think about what I wanted in my life. After a lot of soul searching, I decided to continue down the startup path. And I am glad I did. The company now has locations in six cities, more than 60 employees and is continuing to grow rapidly.

As I look back to why I was ready to quit, I realize it was because I still hadn’t fully burned my bridges back to my old life. I still had the thought that I could go back to how things used to be. Over time, I realized that holding onto that lifeline turned out to be what was holding me back.

It wasn’t until I had cut off my escape route that I could truly focus on the way forward. From then on, I started each day by telling myself that what others thought (or what I thought they thought) didn’t matter, it was all about my own focus on the task at hand. Just making that choice didn’t guarantee success, but if I continued on and later failed, I at least knew that I would have given my all and had no reservations.

Starting a business requires total dedication and allowing yourself a safety line can be enough to keep you from being able to give it everything you have.

Here is what I learned about just letting go.

Survival mode sets in. When you no longer have a crutch to lean on, you realize your startup is all you have. While this can be petrifying, it can also help put you in a mindset where every decision is crucial to the success of the business. Nothing was too small or insignificant — if it affected the business, it became my sole focus.

Perception changes. When I had an easy way out, I was bitter about the sacrifices that I was making, because my life had been so much easier before I became an entrepreneur. Once I burned my bridges, I saw the sacrifices as the first steps towards the lofty goals I had set when I started. I saw each new roadblock as a challenge to overcome, not as a wall that couldn’t be surmounted.

Priorities shift. Before I was constantly questioning whether I had made the right decision but after letting go, I realized I couldn’t succeed unless I saw the business as an extension of myself. This shift allowed me to prioritize the business above all else and simplified and clarified my direction.

Keep in mind, by proposing that people burn their bridge, I’m not suggesting throwing caution to the wind. Before moving forward with a startup idea, people need to make sure there is a product-market fit, will have the tools to execute and can scale the concept. Throughout our startup process, we used lean startup principles and didn’t take large, uncalculated risks.

What makes most startups successful is the will to overcome challenge after challenge. The hard truth is that genius insights and breakthroughs are often the result of fear of failure. 

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/235997

10 reasons you will fail as a real estate agent

Success requires a particular mindset especially when life and clients throw you a curve ball

If you have ever met me, you know I’m a fairly optimistic person. I work hard to avoid and focus on the negatives of life — to me they are just something that gets in the way of enjoying it to the fullest. So when you look at the title of this post it probably throws you off as to why I’m bringing up why something WON’T work for somebody. Well, I also think that I know people — and negative news tends to get more press and attention that positive news. I guarantee if the title was “10 reasons you *will* make it in real estate,” you might not be reading this right now. Tell me I’m wrong — haha. 

Anyhow, being an agent for over seven years I have had the opportunity to watch what successful agents do, and what unsuccessful ones do. It’s night and day, folks. Here is what I can tell you — there is one thing, and one thing alone, that will cause your success or failure. And that’s YOU. More specifically, your mindset.

So ask yourself: What are you thinking about most of the time when you think about your business?

Since mindset is kind of a fuzzy subject for most people, I thought it appropriate to discuss 10 specific items why you’ll end up not making it in real estate over the long haul.

1. You won’t prospect.

Prospecting conjures up big-time fear in most people’s minds. We’ve been conditioned to associate the word “no” with rejection, failure and pain. I can’t remember the stat exactly, but I have heard that by the time we’re 18 years old we have heard the word “no” 250,000 times vs. “yes” a mere 10,000 (apologies if I don’t have the precise numbers, but I do know they are worlds apart). So you have subconsciously learned to associate “no” with not getting what you what. It’s normal — don’t feel badly about it — BUT you have to start getting back on track and reassociating “no” with what you want.

Real estate is a numbers game — no matter how you slice or dice it. I hear a lot of real estate agents say they aren’t in sales, that they just want to help people. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you want to increase your business and help lots and lots of people, you have to work through the numbers.

And please don’t hear what I’m not saying — I’m not saying that people, clients, etc., are numbers. I care about everyone I talk to on the phone and don’t treat them like a number. You have to be interested in the situation and looking for a way to help them out — assuming they want help. I’ve talked to plenty of people who just don’t want to be helped, and you know what? That’s OK.

If you are going to have success in real estate, you have to prospect. There are about a million ways to prospect in real estate — I won’t go into specifics because that isn’t what I’m after here, but get to it!

2. You won’t follow up.

Follow-up is everything in real estate. How many times have you talked to somebody for the first time and they say, “Yes, I want to buy or sell a home immediately! Where do I sign up?”

Yeah, almost never.

You can’t build a lasting, concrete, sustainable business that way.

Many agents give lip service to follow-up and tell people they’ll call when they are supposed to, but lack the decision to set up a follow-up task to do so. It fascinates me how many people I see in the business world (not just real estate) that say they are going to call me at such and such a date , or do something for me, only to find out it doesn’t get done! It’s actually more normal than abnormal, and that’s not OK.

In my business, nothing is left to chance or falls through the cracks. EVER.

If you want to last in real estate, simply be a person of your word. Everyone admires someone who does what they say they’ll do.

3. You’ll let one bad experience throw you into a downward spiral.

This one is huge!!! As humans, we tend to enjoy drama. All you have to do is turn on TV and find all of the great reality TV shows out there (sense the sarcasm) and you know what I’m talking about. We love to wallow in how bad a situation is and give it all of our time and energy.

Stop it!

I know it’s hard but you have to train yourself to do it. Otherwise, you’ll end up broke, depressed and unhappy.

So what do you do when something bad happens in your business, like you lose an escrow, a client you thought was solid says they are going to work with another agent, you get a letter from the local department of real estate, a client yells at you? Is your stomach turning yet?

Here’s the secret: Keep moving. Deal with the situation and do the best you can to remedy, and if you have given everything you can into turning it around or finding a solution, move on and do something else productive. Don’t let it suck you down to the bottomless pit of anxiety. That isn’t going to help you get what you want. A good word to describe this is to compartmentalize your thoughts and actions.It’s crucial for your business success (and life success, really). What I mean by this is don’t let the bad feelings you have from one problem bleed over into other parts of your life. I see it all the time.

4. You’ll think the business is too hard, when the truth is you just haven’t made the decision to be great yet.

I’m sure I might get some backlash on this, but I believe it’s important to speak the truth. Real estate is not a complicated business. You find people who want to move from one place to another, and assist them in that process. Simple. I didn’t say it was easy — it’s just not complicated. If you talk to (the right) people, be genuine in your approach and have a proactive plan of follow-up, you’re going to do well. You just will.

What makes real estate hard is your perception that it is hard. Again, going back to mindset. There are so many excuses people make up why real estate is hard — because of the economy, the market is bad, too much competition. And all of those reason are true – for that agent. What you need to do is instead of focusing on why it’s so hard, focus on what you’ll gain when you do well. A much more empowering perspective and one that is likely to yield substantially better results.

What does it take to be great? Your mindset, of course, but underneath that you need discipline, stamina, determination, a personable attitude, the ability to ask people the right questions, a “do whatever it takes” mentality, perseverance, and the skin of a rhino (as Hector LaMarque of Primerica would say), among others.

5. You’ll say it’s too competitive.

Notice what I said here. I didn’t say “because it’s too competitive,” I said “you’ll SAY it’s too competitive.” Big difference. I work in Phoenix, Arizona. If you look at how many agents there are in relation to the population, it’s one of the worst areas in the entire United States to be in real estate. And that’s a fact. Just look at the numbers. Everyone here knows probably five to seven Realtors. No joke.

But so what? If you are great, clients are going to find you. Focus on building your skill base, cultivating relationships around you better and associating with other like-minded professionals, and the competition is going to be virtually nonexistent. I assure you.

Now, do I go on listing appointments and don’t take the listing? Absolutely! All the time. But I walk out of there knowing I did everything I could to set myself up for success.

6. You will keep making the same mistakes over and over.

Let’s go back to my listing appointment example: When you don’t take a listing, do you ASK the person why you didn’t get their business? I bet 9 out of 10 agents don’t. Why don’t we? Because it’s painful and uncomfortable and means we are less than perfect. But that’s OK. By asking “why” you are humbling yourself to see what you could do differently next time to alter your results. Maybe it’s something you were completely unaware of that would make all the difference in the world. So the conversation goes like this:

“Mr. Smith, I understand you aren’t going to list with me and that’s fine — can you tell me what led you to that decision? This way I don’t make the same mistake with the next person I sit down with to list their home (or buy a home) with me. I’d really appreciate it.”

And then shut up, they’ll tell you. Then thank them for being open and honest with you, and best wishes in your transaction.

7. You’ll choose comfort over success.

I start my day on the phone. I will make anywhere from 10-50 calls depending on the day. I remember when I first starting doing this the phone looked like it weighed 100 pounds. If you make the decision to be disciplined and just get it done every day, it gets easier. Just like any good, positive habit you are trying to develop. Since it’s at the start of the day, I want to get all discomfort done and over with as soon as possible. That way I can better “enjoy” the rest of the day and do things that don’t require as much mental focus.

I’m not saying that is the way you need to do it, but understand the concept — usually when we do more comfortable activities (cleaning out the garage, updating people’s contact info in your database, working on paperwork for an escrow, etc.) we find that the uncomfortable tasks tend to grow more ominous in our mind the more we postpone them, and oftentimes we don’t do them, which ironically ensures our failure.

8. You won’t make it a team sport.

There are many people involved in a real estate transaction, and if you don’t have the ability to work well with others (i.e., if you are overly demanding, indifferent, rude, or unresponsive) you aren’t going to do well. Although the Realtor is “top of the food chain,” so to speak, in the transaction, treat people badly and things won’t get done, or they will get done slowly. You are the central hub of communication and it is vitally important you keep a level head at all times, regardless of what is happening.

9. Your outlook is too shortsighted.

Most agents are looking for the next transaction to close in order to put food on the table, and this can cause you to cut corners or make decisions that aren’t in the best interest of your business long term. Bottom line: Do the RIGHT thing all the time and you’ll never have anything to worry about, even if it is a little painful for you in the short term.

10. You’ll focus on your expenses instead of focusing on growing your sphere and level of influence.

We all have bills to pay. They aren’t fun, but they’re a necessary part of life. By getting overwhelmed with your financial responsibilities you are diminishing your effectiveness in business. I once heard a speaker talk about going out and buying a big house, a fancy car and all the “stuff” that success is supposed to be in the eyes of the public. Horse rubbish. All that does is stress you out and keep you up at night because you have no idea how you’re going to pay for everything.

Instead, keep your expenses (especially personal ones) at a minimum. You don’t need all that crap right now. I never once had a client ask me what kind of car I drive. It’s a good car, reliable, but it’s no Lamborghini, I assure you that!

Focus on finding help to help clients and how specifically you can provide a solution to their challenges, and you’ll always have a good income.

I hope you’ll take these in stride — often the best medicine is that which we are least receptive to because it doesn’t necessarily taste good. Would love to hear your comments, thoughts and questions about other reasons Realtors won’t make it in business and what the solution is.

So fire away below!

10 reasons you will fail as a real estate agent

Focus on Priorities

Let common sense prevail when applying the 80/20 rule at work.

I think most people have heard of the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle. What it means basically is that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

In business, it is often the case that 80% of revenues come from 20% of the clients.
It can also be suggested that 80% of your problems come from 20% of your clients.

The late American entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn would suggest: “Spend 80% of your time with the 20% that produce the most”

In a perfect world, you might be able to use that data to fire 20% of your clients, replace them with “better clients” and hence your business would improve. In reality, life is never that simple.

This principle is, however, a very handy way to look at your efforts at work because very often, an 80% solution is perfectly adequate.

And if it can be achieved with 20% of the effort that would be required for a 100% solution, then that is often a far better answer than expending the other 80% effort to go from 80% to near perfection.

Don’t get me wrong – if you are surgeon, an 80% success rate for your operations is clearly not acceptable. Equally, if you are an pilot, then 80% of your landings being good is not acceptable either!

However, if you are developing an IT project, then just maybe a solution that meets 80% of the needs but is developed at 20% of the cost would be a great answer.

If you are producing internal reports, do they need to be “pretty” or do they need to be functional?

If they are readable and professional, is that OK – or do they need to be in colour, formatted to the “nth” degree and of publisher quality?

Well, sometimes they do and sometimes not. This is where business common sense comes into play.

Ask yourself some basic questions:

  • Does the 80/20 rule apply to my situation?
  • Will the extra effort it will take to improve my result “here” be better spent elsewhere?
  • Will the extra effort it will take to improve my result be time well spent?
  • Am I aiming for perfection at the expense of practicality?
  • Will my client be happy with the result I am providing? (note that it can be an internal or external client)

Do bear in mind the following caveats:

  • Quality is always something to strive for… but it needs to be viewed through the lens of practicality. If you achieve perfection but the result is unaffordable, then you lose.
  • Never undermine an employee’s commitment to excellence, but if applying a “common sense” approach will help him to be more efficient, it is worth teaching that lesson.

As management consultant F. John Reh said: “The 80/20 rule should serve as a daily reminder to focus 80% of your time and energy on the 20% of your work that is really important.”

http://www.eagleonline.com/blog/.Article

27 Acts to be Successful

The following list of ways you should act in order to be successful is based on what I have discovered about successful people and the way they do things.

1. Have a “Can Do” Attitude

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People with a “can do” attitude approach every situation with the outlook that no matter what, it can be done. They consistently use phrases like “We can do it,” “Let’s make it happen,” “Let’s work it out”—and they always maintain that a solution exists. You must believe and convey to others that a solution does indeed exist—even if you’re going to have to work a little harder to find it.

2. Believe That “I Will Figure It Out”

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Even if you’re not sure how to do something, the best answer is “I will figure it out”—not “I don’t know.” You can admit that you’re unfamiliar with something—as long as you immediately follow that admission up with the promise that you will figure it out or find someone who will. An alternative response to “I don’t know” is “Great question. Let me check into that and figure it out.” You are still being honest, but you’re inciting a solution instead of implying ineptitude.

3. Focus on Opportunity

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Where others see difficulty, successful individuals know that problems solved equal new products, services, customers—and probably financial success. Remember: Success is overcoming a challenge. It doesn’t really matter what the challenge is; as long as you handle it adequately, you’ll be rewarded. And the bigger the problem is, the bigger the opportunity as well. These people are able to use the issue at hand to separate themselves and dominate the marketplace.

4. Love Challenges

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To achieve your goals, you have to get to a place where every challenge becomes fuel for you. Life can be quite brutal, and people can incur a fair amount of losses over time. Many get to a point where every new challenge they face automatically equals a loss in their mind. When you are able to develop a more positive outlook, you begin to see a challenge as stimulation to engage—rather than as an excuse to avoid something. And don’t kid yourself—winning in life is vital. The more you win in life, the higher your potential will be—and the more you will grow to love challenges.

5. Seek to Solve Problems

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Successful individuals love to seek out problems because they know that almost every problem is universal in some way or another. You get yourself on the successful list by seeking problems to solve— for your company, employees, customers, the government— whatever they may be and wherever they might exist. One of the fastest and best ways to separate yourself from the masses is to establish yourself as someone who makes situations better, not worse.

6. Persist until Successful

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The ability to persist on a given path regardless of setbacks, unexpected events, bad news, and resistance—to continue steadfastly or firmly in some state, purpose, or course of action in spite of conditions—is a trait common to those who make it. Persistence is a great advantage to anyone who wants to multiply his or her success—because most other people have given up on their innate ability to persist. When you retrain yourself to do whatever is necessary to ensure that you are in the best mental, emotional, and financial position to persevere— you will find yourself on the list of the most successful.

7. Be Unreasonable

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Unreasonable doesn’t mean being mentally unstable—but that you refuse to validate the alleged “sanity” of reasonable actions that will never get you what you want. Think about it: Would we have cars, air- planes, space travel, telephones, and the Internet—if someone hadn’t done something that another person had labeled “unreasonable”? Man would do nothing exceptional if it were not for the willingness to be unreasonable. So be one of the unreasonable ones. They are usually the people who make a huge difference in our world.

8. Be Dangerous

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Do you want to get investment dollars from a billionaire? A salary that pays you a million dollars a year? Take your company public? If so, you have to be willing to be dangerous because more will be expected of you with each of those situations. To do something big, you have to embrace danger. The way to ensure that danger doesn’t kill you is to be sufficiently trained so that you can get into the ring and come out the victor.

9. Create Wealth

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Poor people believe they need to work in order to make money and then spend their lives either spending it on nothing of importance or conserving like crazy in order to protect it. The very successful think in terms of creating money and wealth, not salaries and conservation of funds. They figure out how to create wealth through the exchange of great ideas, quality service, and effective problem solving. Remember: You don’t need to “make” money. It has already been made. There are no shortages of actual money—only shortages of people creating wealth. Move your attention from conserving money to creating wealth, and you’ll be thinking as successful people do.

10. Readily Take Action

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The unsuccessful people talk about a plan for action but never quite get around to doing what they claim they’re going to do. The successful people assume that their future achievements rely on investing in actions that may not pay off today but that when taken consistently and persistently over time will sooner or later bear fruit. Action is necessary in order to create success and can be the single defining quality that will enable you to make the list of successful people.

11. Always Say “Yes”

Say-yes

When being asked to do something, say, “Yes, I will be happy to/would love to/want to make it work for you.” Life is to be lived— something that becomes impossible to do when you’re constantly saying no. Although many suggest that it is critical to know what to say no to, the reality is most people don’t venture out and don’t experience enough in life. Give this a try: Say yes for now until you become so successful that you are forced to add “no” to your arsenal and start managing your time and efforts. Until then, make “yes” part of your successful habits.

12. Habitually Commit

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To acquire success, it is vital that you quit testing the water’s temperature and simply jump in! Commitment is a sign that someone is pledging him or herself completely to a position, issue, or action. Successful people see past the problems and are able to keep their focus on the promise they’ve made to themselves or others. Commit fully as though you are already successful and demonstrate that commitment to all those with—and for—whom you work.

13. Go All the Way

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Until an action is turned into a success, it is not done. Until you make the potential client a client or the potential investor an investor, you have not gone all the way. This might seem harsh, but if you called a client 50 times and didn’t get the deal done, then you might as well have not called that person at all. Commit to being completely unreasonable and going all the way. Don’t accept any excuses! No settling allowed!

14. Focus on “Now”

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There exist only two times for the successful: now and the future. “Now” is the period of time that successful people utilize most often to create the futures they desire in order to dominate their environments. You must acquire the discipline, muscle memory, and achievements that result from taking massive action—while others think, plan, and procrastinate. Discipline yourself to perform now and I assure you that the volume of endeavours you are undertaking will quickly increase the quality of work—and propel you to move with enhanced conviction and certainty.

15. Demonstrate Courage

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Who wants to do business with or support someone who readily gives in to his or her fears? Who wants to invest in a project when the people behind it don’t act with confidence and courage? Do things that scare you more frequently, and they will slowly begin to scare you a bit less—until they become so habitual that you wonder why you ever feared them in the first place!

16. Embrace Change

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Successful people love change, whereas the unsuccessful do everything they can to keep things from changing. But how can you create success when you are trying to keep things from becoming any different? It is impossible. Although you never want to alter the things that are working, you should always look for ways to improve what you are doing.  Change is not something to resist; it’s something that should keep you excited.

17. Determine and Take the Right Approach

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The successful know that they can quantify what works and what doesn’t work, whereas the unsuccessful focus solely on “hard work.” Whatever the method may be, the successful don’t think in terms of hard work. Instead, they figure out how to work “smart” and handle the situation by finding and using the right approach until they succeed.

18. Break Traditional Ideas

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The most successful of the successful go beyond the concept of mere change and challenge traditional thinking. Look at organisations like Google, Apple, and Facebook, and you will see companies that challenge traditions and create new ways of doing things. They break that which already works in order to get to a better place. The most successful are looking to create traditions—not follow already established ones. Do not be a prisoner of the thinking agreed upon by others.

19. Be Goal-Oriented

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Successful people are highly goal-oriented and always pay more attention to the target than the problem. They are seemingly able to bend bullets because of their commitment and focus on the goal. If you don’t stay focused on your goals, you will spend your life achieving the objectives of other people—particularly those who are goal-oriented.

20. Be on a Mission

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Successful people approach their activities as though they are on a religious mission—not as work or merely “a job.” Until you start approaching your job as though you are on a mission, it will always be reduced to “just a job.” Approach every phone call, e-mail, sales visit, meeting, presentation, and day you spend at the office not as a job but as a calling for which you will forever be known. Until you adopt this attitude, you will forever be stuck in a job—and probably one that isn’t very fulfilling.

21. Have a High Level of Motivation

UntitledTo succeed, it is critical that you be stimulated, excited, and driven to some action or actions. The study of successful people makes it apparent that their high levels of activity are fuelled by being goal-focused and mission- driven. Elevated motivation isn’t the kind of enthusiasm that lasts for a few hours, a day, or a week; it’s based on what you do each day to stimulate yourself toward actions and inspire yourself to keep going.

22. Be Interested in Results

8-things-make-results-268x300Successful people don’t value effort or work or time spent on an activity; they value the results. Unsuccessful individuals attach great importance to the time they spend at work and their attempts at getting results—even if nothing happens. Quit patting yourself on the back for trying, and save your rewards and accolades for actual accomplishment. Be hard on yourself and never let yourself off the hook until you get results. Results (not efforts)—regardless of the challenges, resistance, and problems—are a primary focus of the successful.

23. Have Big Goals and Dreams20140606_105413

How big are your goals and dreams? The middle class are taught to be realistic, whereas the successful think in terms of how extensively they can spread themselves. “Big think” changes the world. Realistic thinking, small goals, and trivial dreams simply won’t provide you with any motivation—and they’ll land you smack dab in the middle, competing with the masses. Dream big, go big, and then figure out how to go bigger than that! Think big, act big, and reach your full potential.

24. Create Your Own Reality

tumblr_mn2n5cpnzB1ralxhxo1_500The successful don’t deal in other people’s realities. Instead, they are bent on creating a new reality for themselves that is different from the one that others accept. They aren’t interested in what other people deem possible or impossible. Do a bit of research and you will see that those who have made it really big created a reality that did not exist before they came along. The next reality of how things will or can be is only as far away as the next person who creates it.

25. Be Interested in the Group

studyGroup9The successful people always expend energy and express interest in their associates because they know that if they are not doing well, even the most well-to-do will be dragged down with them. You want everyone on your team winning and improving because this is likely to improve your game. For that reason, you always want to do everything you can to bring the rest of the team to higher levels.

26. Be Dedicated to Continuous Learning

learningThe most successful people see every opportunity to train and educate themselves as the most solid and sure investment they can make. Unsuccessful people, on the other hand, simply worry about the cost of a book or seminar without ever giving consideration to the benefits it will provide. So join the ranks of successful people who know that their income, wealth, health, and future are dependent upon their ability to continue to seek out new information and never stop learning.

27. Be Uncomfortable

BUSHNELL PICTURESThose who succeed were—at one point or another in their lives—willing to put themselves in situations that were uncomfortable, whereas the unsuccessful seek comfort from all their decisions. Whether it was moving to a new city, cold calling a client, meeting new people, doing a new presentation, or venturing into new sectors, most of it was uncomfortable until you got used to doing it. It is so tempting to become content with your surroundings, daily rituals, and habits. It feels good when things are familiar. Successful people know that getting too comfortable, too relaxed, and too familiar causes a person to become soft and lose his or her creativity and hunger to stay out front. So be willing to be uncomfortable, and do what makes other people uncomfortable as well. It is a sure sign that you’re on your way to success.

None of the things on the list above is a superhuman quality. Every single one is attainable. Don’t use just one or two of the techniques. Start thinking and operating with them, and they will become a part of you. Use them all.

Source: The 10X Rule

Obsession Isn’t a Disease; It’s a Gift

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The dictionary defines the term “obsessed” as “the domination of one’s thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, or desire.” Although the rest of the world tends to treat this mind-set like a disease, I believe that it’s the perfect adjective for how you must approach success. To dominate your sector, your goal, dream, or ambition, you must first dominate your every interest, thought, and consideration.

Obsession is not a bad thing here; it is a requirement to get where you want to go. In fact, you want to be so fanatical about success that the world knows you will not compromise or go away. And until you become completely obsessed with your mission, no one will take you seriously. Until the world understands that you’re not going away—that you are 100 percent committed and have complete and utter conviction and will persist in pursuing your project—you will not get the attention you need and the support you want.

If you become obsessed with your idea, purpose, or goal, you will become equally addicted to the idea of making it work. After all, if your ideas do not excessively preoccupy your own thoughts, then how can you ever expect them to preoccupy the thoughts of others? Something has to absorb your thoughts every second of every day—so what should it be? Be obsessed with something. Make your dreams, goals, and mission your mind’s and actions’ dominant concern!

The word “obsessed” tends to have a negative connotation because many people believe that obsession with something (or someone) is usually destructive or harmful. But show me one person who has achieved greatness without being obsessed on some level. You simply cannot do it. Any individual or group that accomplished something significant was completely obsessed with the idea of it. Whether it was an artist, musician,

Obsession Isn’t a Disease; It’s a Gift

Source: The 10X Rule

Fear Is the Great Indicator

fear

Sooner or later, you will experience fear when you start taking new actions at new levels. In fact, if you aren’t, then you’re probably not doing enough of the right things. Fear is actually a sign that you are doing what’s needed to move in the right direction.

Admit it, most of the time, what you fear doesn’t even occur. It’s been said that: FEAR stands for False Events Appearing Real, which aptly implies that most of what you’re afraid of doesn’t ever come to pass. Fear, for the most part, is provoked by emotions, not rational thinking. And in my humble estimation, emotions are wildly overrated—and the scapegoat many people use for their failure to act.

Everyone experiences fear on some level, and because the marketplace is composed of people interacting with both products and one another, the market will face fear in the same way that you and your peers do. But rather than seeing fear as a sign to run—as most other people in the market will do—it must become your indicator to go.

For example, let’s say that John needs to make a call to a client, a task that immediately causes him to feel anxiety. So rather than picking up the phone and making the call immediately, he gets a cup of coffee and thinks about what he is going to do. His lengthy contemplation only causes his fear to grow, as he imagines all the ways the call could go badly and all the potentially terrible things that could happen. If confronted, he’s likely to claim that he needs to “prepare” before he makes the call. But preparation is merely an excuse for those who haven’t trained properly—and who use it as a reason to justify their last-minute reluctance. John needs to take a deep breath, pick up the phone, and just make the call. Nothing happens without action.

Everyone has had the experience of failing to do something they wanted to do. Perhaps by the time you got yourself “ready” to do something, someone else had taken action— and now you’re regretting it. Regardless of the outcome, I would say that it’s far preferable to fail while doing something than to fail by over-preparing while someone else walks up and scoops up your dreams.

People give their fears much more time than they deserve. They wait to make the personal visit or phone call, write the e-mail, or present their proposal because they’re afraid of the outcome. Countless individuals share the same excuses for why it is “not a good time” to take action. The client is leaving town. The client just got back into town. It’s the end of the month or the beginning of the month. The clients have been in meetings all day. They are about to go into meetings. They just bought something. They don’t have the budgets. They are cutting back. Business is bad. There’s been a change in management or staff. I don’t want to “bug” them. They never return my phone calls anyway. No one else can sell them. They are unrealistic. I don’t know what to say. I am not ready yet. I just called them yesterday . . . and on and on.

Eat your fears; don’t feed them by backing off or giving them time to grow. Learn to look for and use fear so that you know exactly what you need to do to overcome it and advance your life. If you aren’t experiencing fear, you are not taking new actions and growing. Fear, like fire, is not something from which you should pull away. Rather, it should be used to fuel the actions of your life.

Source: The 10X Rule

The 7 Steps of the Sales Process

1. Product Knowledge
This step is fairly straight forward, but it is also the great undoing of many a technical expert turned sales person. When one is extremely well versed in a particular product especially a technical one, it is easy to get caught up in a monologue of all the great features it provides.

The technical expert turned sales person is so eager to explain how the product works or why it’s unique that the benefits to the customer are left out of the discussion. Never assume that a prospect will easily link a feature to a benefit. That relationship must be stated clearly (something done in the presentation step 4, after the needs assessment step 5). The acquiring of product knowledge for a “technician” therefore, is less about the features of the product itself, and more about how the customer will benefit from those features. When discussing product, the technicians mantra should be; “So what?” Consider those two words to be what the prospect thinks every time a feature is mentioned, and re-learn your product from that perspective.

2. Prospecting
Prospecting, just as the word implies, is about searching for new customers. Like product knowledge, this step may seem fairly straight forward but upon closer examination it becomes more complex. The key to prospecting effectively is knowing where to dig and what to look for. It’s also important to distinguish between a lead, a prospect, and a qualified prospect. The most important element in this step is to create a profile of existing customers. This may have been done at your company, but have approach tactics (step3) been tailored to match each profile. Have you fully profiled each of these in order to adjust marketing tactics appropriately? For each market segment do you really know what the ideal customer looks like? These questions should be answered fully in the “Tactics” portion of a marketing plan.

In the broadest sense, prospecting is an ongoing process that everyone in the company (particularly the sales force) should be involved in. This simply means everyone should have their “prospecting radar” up when they are out and about in the world. Very often, a great lead turned customer was first discovered after being heard or seen in the news at a party, or event, etc.

3. The Approach
This is where the rubber meets the road in the sales process. For our present purposes lets consider the approach in the context of a sales call rather than lead generation (i.e. the difference between a mass mailing and a telephone call). This is the step where you begin to build a relationship and the intelligence gathering continues (it started with prospecting). A good approach is crucial to sales success because it will either identify you as a bothersome salesperson and cause a prospect’s guard to go up, or it will identify you as an obliging salesperson with something of value to offer. Consider the example of tele-marketers selling a seminar:

Their product is a seminar, about which they presumably have sufficient knowledge. They prospect by scanning the house lists for appropriately titled leads, (generated by earlier prospecting efforts). They approach by saying “I’m Jay from XYZ and I’m calling to follow up on an invitation to a seminar that we mailed to you last week. Do you recall receiving it?” Then the dialog begins, often it’s perfunctory, other times however it can be extremely informative. The difference more often than not depends on how astute and articulate the caller is. What do you think is good about this approach? What do you think is bad?”

Quite often the type of call one makes is a follow up to some action i.e. seminar attendance, brochure mailed, etc. Technically these calls are part of follow up step 7, but let us address them in the context of a sales approach. What would be a good approach for each of the above follow up actions? Think about eliciting information and advancing the sale (closing, step 6). What would be a good approach for a cold call?

Additional Note on recording information: Regardless of the type of call or the results, it is important to take detailed call notes and schedule a subsequent action item, no matter what it is be it a week, a month, or a year down the road. (One can invent a system of abbreviations to make this easier i.e. LVM = left voice mail.) History notes are important for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is tracking where a prospect is in the sales process, including what follow up is necessary and when. Noting that “packet was mailed” or “attended seminar” or “inquired about model” is only half the information and not the most important. Why?

4. The Needs Assessment
This is arguably the most important step of the sales process because it allows you to determine how you can truly be of service. To be a highly effective salesperson, that is to sell to the prospect’s needs, you first have to understand what those needs are. This means you must think in terms of solving a prospects problem. The only way to do that is by asking lots of questions. Does a health practitioner prescribe remedies before a thorough exam? Asking good questions will not only help you determine what will best suit the prospects needs, but it builds confidence, trust, and will very often help the prospect consider issues they may never have thought of. This last point is powerful because it provides an opportunity to showcase features, which the prospects answers led you to. What questions would you ask to illustrate how your product is different/better than a competitor’s. Although intelligence gathering occurs throughout the sales process, it is at step four where it happens in earnest. What other information would be important to gather at this stage? (hint: who’s who, referrals).

5. The Presentation
Remember the discussion in step one, focus on benefits rather than features? If you consider your product/service in terms of how it benefits the customer, your presentation will be a focused and relevant dialogue rather than a self aggrandising monologue. Nothing is worse than a sales presentation which proceeds from the sellers perspective. This is why the needs assessment is so important and why it will ideally flow in and out of this step. A good needs assessment allows you to tailor your presentation to your audience, and keep it interactive.

6. The Close
Eighty percent of sales are lost because a salesperson fails to close. Closing is about advancing the sales process to ultimately get an order. What you are trying to sell at each stage may be different. For example, a close early in the sales process may be to get an appointment to discuss your product/service, in that case you are selling an appointment not a widget. In a later stage you might need to meet with a committee, in that case what you are selling is a meeting. Seeing the sale process in this light takes a little pressure off of each encounter and makes things a bit more manageable. But don’t be lulled into complacency, you must ultimately ask for the order and no sales conversation should ever end without an agreement to some next step. Do not be satisfied with “we’ll get back to you”, where is the agreement in that? What could you say in response to such a remark in order to advance the sale?

In large part, closing is about discovering obstacles. Have you heard these before: “I’ll need to think about it.”, “It’s too expensive.”, “Let me run it buy some other people.” “Sounds good but I’ve already got one.” What could you say to overcome these objections?

There are lots of ways to close, indeed closing a sale has become a science unto itself. Books have been written on this topic alone. But there is one elemental truth – if you don’t ask you don’t get. Just for fun, following is a sampling of a few closing techniques from among the many:

 The Ask For It Close. “What do we need to do to get this model into your organization?”
 The If-Then Close. “If I could demonstrate how an XYZ model provides you with, (things you know are important based on the prospect needs assessment) then would you be willing to… demo, rent, buy, switch, etc.”
 The Process Of Elimination Close. “So you like the model, you have use for it, it’s not too expensive!”
 The Either Or Close. “Will that be cash or charge?”
 The Lost Puppy Close. “I guess I didn’t do my job very well.”

Additional note: The question “How much does it cost?” Is a great buying signal yet it is a question you want to avoid early in the sales process. What could you say to defer that question politely? When you do mention price, don’t be afraid that they are too high, say it with pride. Don’t forget to ask for the referral.

7. Follow-up
Good follow up will double your closing ratio. When a sales person makes contact with a prospect a relationship has been built, and follow up is how it is nurtured. Staying at the forefront of a prospect’s mind requires persistence and should not be confused with being bothersome. This is why it’s important to get agreement on some next step each time there is contact. Follow up therefore should never end. The pace may slow but it will never end. When a sale is made, then a new type of follow up begins.

Follow up conversations are best handled by the salesperson who started the relationship. Who else can better gauge a prospect’s “willingness to buy”, or pick up where “we last left off”. This means that detailed notes must be kept on each prospect with particular emphasis on their “state of mind”. It is unwise and ineffective to keep track of this information anywhere other than a centralised database.

Additional note: It’s important to hold some follow up ammunition in reserve. Overwhelming your prospects with every piece of information you possess on their first request hampers your ability to stay in touch. Having a stable of collateral materials gives you reason to follow up.

The 7 Steps of the Sales Process