259: More content is not the answer

Most people look at content marketing and get intimidated.
They feel like they have to commit to publishing article after article, week after week.

And they fear that commitment, so they never dive in.

But the truth is that more content is not the answer...

Better content is. 

Sure, there are benefits to volume. 
As you notice I write every day.
But that is because I love writing.

95% of the value that my businesses gain from content comes from the 5% of content that I am strategic and intentional about.

It's the content that I create with a purpose, with a real motivation. 

Everything else I put out helps build audience and trust.
But the real value comes from the 5%. 

More content is not the answer.
And don't avoid content because you can't commit to publishing weekly.

Start by focusing on a few fundamental pieces that will make a difference n your business. 

258: Content creates value

One of the biggest objections of entrepreneurs with marketing and sales is "It feels sleezy."

They get uncomfortable in the situation and don't like selling or promoting.

And I can't blame them when they have been raised in a world where they are being sold and advertised to left and right... and for many companies, they have advertised and promoted in horrible ways.

"Spammy" marketers show up and waste your time, and as a result, you develop a bad taste in your mouth.

But on the flip side, others have marketed themselves in ways that you don't even realize is marketing.

This post for example. 
You read it because you're interested.
Not because I am trying to sell you.

There is value in this post.
And with this post I create trust.

This post specifically may not generate my company revenue, but it builds trust and awareness.
And the day that I do decide to make an ask for a purchase... well you, the reader, may just buy.

Content creates value. It holds people's attention by helping them and, as a result, creates goodwill for your business at the same time.

It's the ultimate "unsleezy."

257: Email & depression

Does checking your email make you depressed?

In a study at the Missouri University of Technology & Science, 216 participants agreed to have their internet usage anonymously monitored for a full year.

At the end of this study, the analysts compared the internet usage data of those who had utilized the University counseling services for depression versus those who did not.

One surprising conclusion... very high email usage correlated with depression.

Other depressive behaviors included chatting, watching online videos, and video gaming.

While the study is small and not all inclusive, it does point to some simple signals. 

When we turn to our digital devices for a desire of connection, or importance, it often will leave us unsatisfied.

Instead, turn to the real world.
To those around you.

That is where real connection will come from and, in that connection, you will find happiness. 

And check less email... science says so. 🙂 

256: Price transparency

The auto insurance company, Progressive, was one of the first in the industry to share their rates alongside competitors directly on their website.

Making this change and putting this as a cornerstone of their marketing led to a growth of Progressive from $3.4B to $15B in annual insurance sales. 

While other factors could have been in play, they are clearly on to something here.

Publishing your prices in comparison to your competitor is a scary thing, but it builds significant trust.

For example, I recently used TransferWise which is a service for sending money internationally. On the site, they literally list out their conversion rates and fees alongside all other competitors.

And one competitor was actually cheaper! 

So I tried the competitor... and the experience was horrible. Their website kept giving me errors...

So back to TransferWise I came, and there I shall stay now as a loyal customer. 

You may not always be the cheapest option. 
That's a good thing. 
So you don't have to hide this.

Instead, show your rates compared to your competition. 
Let them know what their options are and, by sharing that information, you will build trust with the customer. 

255: What is your customer strategy?

So many entrepreneurs get caught up in sales & marketing. They spend all their time thinking about how they are going to win new customers.

But what if you took some time to step back and, instead, focus more time and energy on serving the ones you have?

Think about how to make the experience they have amazing.
Think about how you could offer them more services over time.
Think about how you could "Wow!" them so they tell their friends.

It's fun and sexy to look at sales and marketing all day.
But in reality, you can probably make a bigger impact on your business by looking at those who you are already working with-

By building core steps and experiences in your service delivery that delight and amaze your prospect.
By figuring out how to make your product or service even better and more valuable.

My friend, Nils Vinje of Glide Consulting, has started using the term "Customer Strategy" to really hammer this point home.

How can you grow revenue from your customer base?
How can you build a strategy that farms more from what you have, instead of just hunting for something new?

254: The world is becoming more addictive

"The world will get more addictive in the next 40 years than it did in the last 40." - Paul Graham

This quote is an interesting one to think about. 

Years ago, our biggest addiction fights were nicotine, alcohol, and drugs... 
Today, we fight addictions to cell phones, social media, Netflix, porn, work, video games, and more...

The creators of today's technology products are brilliant. They have studied psychology at a deep level and know how to trigger your brain's emotions at levels without even having a substance enter your body.

And because there is no external substance entering our body, these addictions are easier to form but harder to recognize. 

This means two things.

First, as an entrepreneur, you must recognize you are battling with a competition creating addictive products. Some use these skills for good, others for evil. But you must recognize that this is part of your world now.

Second, as a human, you must recognize the world you live in.

You must learn to guard yourself from these addictive products. 
You must see when they serve you, and when they harm you. 

It's not going to get any easier. The psychological tactics used will only advance and develop in the future.

Guard your mind.
Guard your habits. 

253: Think for yourself

We live in a world where there is a course or book about anything...

From the most tactical topics to the most high-level goal setting exercises, you can get trained on anything.

While access to information is great, it's become a crutch for this generation.

Instead of looking inward for answers, they look outward.

They are constantly seeking that next "thing."
They are looking for solutions to their problems in information.
They keep searching, searching, searching...

But here is the thing.

The solution is not out there.

The solution is inside
Inside yourself.

You can fill gaps in knowledge as needed.
But you can't have someone make decisions for you.

You must learn to think for yourself.
You must learn awareness of yourself.
And you must focus on developing sound judgement and reason.

No one else can do this for you. 
No course can fix this problem.

Only you can think for yourself. 

252: The thing about nonfiction writing

Nonfiction writing is this unique animal...

With fiction writing, you can practice every day, create more stories, and improve your craft.

But nonfiction writing is different... because your writing can't improve through just writing more. 

Nonfiction writing is about the intersection of writing and the real world. 

As a result, your writing will only improve if your experiences in the real world improve.

For example, no one reads a book by Richard Branson for his amazing writing. They read it for his stories and experiences. Chances are, he had a ghostwriter produce it anyway...

The same goes for Peter Thiel, Mark Ecko, Tina Fey, or any other famous individual who wrote a book or autobiography. 

We don't read it for their writing.
We read it for the story and lessons. 

With this in mind, your goal as a nonfiction writer is not to just write more. 

Your goal as a nonfiction writer is to learn more, have more experiences, and to become someone who people want to learn from. 

Your goal as a nonfiction writer is not to write better.
Your goal as a nonfiction writer is to become someone worth reading. 

251: How to use your CRM

Recently, I was doing some sales training with Damian Thompson where he shared some simple philosophies for how to set your CRM deal stages.

This may sound pointless at first, but in fact, there is massive value when you see how it turns into a system.

Damian shared two approaches to CRM systems.

1 - Each stage of the CRM is correlated to an action that you or the prospect is taking
2 - Each stage correlates with the prospect's journey through their decision process

For the sake of simplicity, let's look at 2

These stages could be:

New Lead
Discovery Call
Presentation Stage
Decision
Yes
No
Disqualified 

The reason that this approach is helpful is that you can then set up your CRM to run automations each time a deal moves to a new stage.

When a discovery call goes well, you move the deal to presentation stage and a series of automations, tasks, and proposal templates can be generated which save time across a high volume of deals.

Having a CRM is great.
Learning to use one effectively is even better. 

250: What is enough?

Entrepreneurs are unique. There is no ceiling to what we are capable of, no limit to our income, no cap to our dreams.

While that is great, it is also dangerous.

Entrepreneurial culture breeds this mindset of "more, more, more!" 

Bigger houses.
Faster cars.
Nicer clothes...

It seems that any entrepreneur I see with success develops their taste for spending right along with their ability to earn... 

Why?

Really stop and ask yourself if all of that extra spending is making you happy.

What if, instead of spending more, you donated more?
What if, instead of earning more, you took more time to focus on interests other than business?
What if, instead of pouring more time into business, you cut your work time in 1/5th and invested more time with your family?

The American way is to work more, more, more... 

But it's worth stopping to ask "What is enough?"

It's worth asking "Do I really need all of this? Or is there another way?"

249: Ask for referrals

If there is one obvious lead generation channel that I have done poorly at, it's referrals.

While my businesses naturally get word-of-mouth referrals, I can admit that I have historically done a poor job of actually asking for them. 

While working through sales training with Damian Thompson, he hit on a few things that made this much simpler for me.

First off, your customer is the happiest at the moment they make the purchase. 

As odd as it is to ask for a referral before delivering value, this is often one of the best times to ask for a referral to someone else who could be a good fit.

Second, you should also look to ask for referrals after any big "Aha!" moments or any "Big wins" for the prospect. 

This should happen within the first 30 days at your first delivery of real value. And then it can happen based on key wins after that.

But the lesson is simple....

Build asking referrals into your process. 
Don't leave it to chance or you won't ever ask. 

248: Don't discount ad hoc

Negotiating during your sales process is common practice for many companies. 
But it's often not the actual best way.

It takes time.
It takes energy.
And if often creates an adversarial relationship with the customer.

But you can't avoid it. Some people are committed to trying to negotiate at every purchase they make. 

So what do you do?

Create standard discounts that are thought out in advance. (Picked up this tip from Damian Thompson's sales program.)

Discounts based on how long they commit.
Discounts based on payment upfront or ongoing.
Discounts for agreeing to be used as a future case study.
Discounts for purchasing multiple services.

The key is to create standard discounts and not just negotiate ad hoc.

If someone asks for a better price, you have a response.
You have multiple paths to get them to a better price, but these paths also ensure that you get something more out of the negotiation as well.

And since you are not negotiating custom, there is less chance of resentment after the deal. 
You give them a discount, and you get something in return.

Don't discount ad hoc.
Build standard discounts you can always turn to. 

247: Pricing to build trust

Used cars salesmen... it is the quintessential term that everyone hates when they think of sales. 

Now why is that?

It's because of the sleazy negotiating tactics that they use. 
It's the back and forth bargaining over price. 
It's the fact that you are battling them for a deal, instead of working together toward compromise. 

On the flipside, look at the CarMax model. 
They'll say, "Here is our lot of cars.
The price is on the window. 
We have a 90-day guarantee these cars are of good quality."
There is no negotiating. 

Think about how different that buying experience is. 

No sleaziness. Just honesty and standing behind their product. 

Most service businesses make up pricing on the spot. They try to swindle the customer out of as much money as possible.

Consider a different approach. 
Publish standard pricing. 
Don't negotiate. 

It will do wonders to build trust with your prospects. 

246: Recognize what is not in your control

Stressed? Angry? Pissed off?

Take a moment and step back. 

Ask yourself a simple question.

Is the source of my frustration something that I can control?
Or is the source of my frustration an external person or event that I cannot control?

If you can control the situation, then take action to fix the situation.

But in many cases, the things that stress or anger us are not in our control. They are people, events, circumstances, or situations that we have no impact over. 

Yet we let these things stress us out. We let other people make us angry.

So what do you do when something outside of your control makes you angry or stressed?

You recognize that, while you cannot control the trigger of your stress, you can control your reaction.

You choose to be angry.
You choose to let something stress you out.

If an action will improve the situation, take action.
If not, recognize that the only action you can take is the choice not to let it get to you. 

245: Building Productized Services

Each time you start building a productized service, it starts out chaotic.

You sell a few people onto a vision, but it's not until you actually start delivering that you see all of the problems.

So you deliver on these first few customers, but you also learn a ton along the way.

You learn where you need to set boundaries.
You begin to see faults that could prevent this from scaling.
And you begin to see just all of the nuance involved in delivery.

But the important thing to realize is that you can't know all of this up front.

With a productized service, you just sell the vision without really knowing exactly how you will deliver.

Sure you put some thought into the delivery to make sure it's feasible. 

But you don't work out every detail.
You just sell it, then figure it out as you go.

The first few customers will be chaotic and unprofitable. 
But each time you put a customer through the system, you learn and you optimize.

And over time, your productized services becomes a machine that runs on its own. 

244: Time objections

One of the biggest obstacles that delays many sales from happening is the "not right now" delay.

Someone may be interested, they may take a call, and even look at your proposal or pricing...

And then they say, "Maybe next quarter?"

For many of us, we just roll over and add a follow-up note to our CRM whenever this happens... And sometimes they actually do come back, but often they don't. 

So instead, try this approach that I picked up from Damian Thompson.

When someone says, "not right now," respond with this question.

"What is going to change between now and 90 days from now that will make it a better time?"

They may have a legitimate response to this answer. If that is the case, then that is great and you have more information.

But others may be dumbfounded by it because their rejection isn't real. It's just a response to get you to go away.

This question helps you gain more information from great prospects, and also weed out those who aren't serious. 

243: Growth creates fulfillment

If there is one thing that I have discovered about myself, it is that I find massive fulfillment in growth.

But when I say growth, it is not always in terms of "top line revenue growth."

When I say growth it can mean many things...

Growth in the freedom the business enables for me.
Growth in the impact that I have on my customers and team.
Growth in my own personal skill sets.
Growth in myself physically.
Growth in mindfulness and mental health.
Growth in music and hobbies that I pursue.
Growth in my relationships.

Growth is not just a business term.
It's a term that applies to expanding in all areas of your life.

And while top line revenue growth is not always the objective, growth in some aspect of life always is.

242: Don't take bad customers

Most businesses get into this trap of thinking that they need to take on any customer who knocks on the door.

While that may be a great approach for a software tool, it's horrible for service businesses.

In service businesses, there are bad customers.

Customers who won't hold up their end of the work.
Customers who will complain no matter what.
Customers who will treat you and your team like crap. 

While this can be frustrating, it's important to remember that you don't have to work with these customers.

You can weed them out in your sales process, and turn them away before they ever get in the door.

At Lead Cookie, we turn away over 80% of the leads that come in the door.
We do this because we only want to work with customers who are a perfect fit.

As a result, we have a great service who helps the people who we do choose to sign on.

Don't take bad customers. 
They are a distraction that stops you from focusing on the good ones. 

241: The Monk Amidst a Swarm of Flies

Imagine a monk, sitting amidst a swarm of flies. 

This is us, in our daily lives. 
There are countless events, situations, triggers, and people who will swarm around us every single day. 
Everything around you is the swarm of flies. 

You sit like the meditative monk amidst that swarm of flies.
Fighting the flies is pointless.
They are endless.

All you can do is control your reaction.
You can choose to not be affected.

That is within your power. All else is futile.

240: Dig deeper with your prospects

Most sales conversations are surface level. The vendor talks with the prospect, asks some situational questions, and then makes a pitch.

But when the conversation is surface level, the offer is viewed at a commodity and the prospect is not motivated to change.

On the flip side, if you can go deep with your prospects, things are different.

You can understand WHY they are interested in your services.
You can understand their goals and targets.
You can understand the consequences if they don't take action.

And when you understand all of this information on your prospects, you are in a much better place to compel action.

A great sales conversation goes deep.
A weak one stays on the surface level.

If you want to up your sales game, you have to get used to asking uncomfortable questions. 

It's the key to really understanding your prospects.