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Why Sara Blakely Is So Successful

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sara blakely spanx

Sara Blakely is an American businesswoman and the founder of multi-million dollar underwear company, Spanx.

Blakely has been recognised in both the Top one hundred influential people, and Top one hundred powerful women in the World.

 

Sara Blakely’s Early Years

sara blakely billionaireSara Blakely’s original plan was to become an attorney, however, when she failed an entrance exam into law school she was forced to change paths. She accepted a job at Orlando, Florida’s Walt Disney World where she worked for three months. Blakely supplemented her Disney income with work as a stand-up comedian.

After the short period with Walt Disney World, Blakely took a job selling fax machines door to door for office supply company, Danka. By the age of just twenty five Blakely had proven quite the salesperson and was promoted to sales trainer.

Part of Blakely’s ‘uniform’ was to wear pantyhose which she disliked. She didn’t like having to wear them in Florida’s hot climate and didn’t like the look of the seamed foot when wearing open-toed shoes. However, she did like the way they eliminated panty lines and made her body look firmer.

 

“It’s important to be willing to make mistakes. The worst thing that can happen is you become memorable.” – Sara Blakely

The Birth of ‘Spanx’

sara blakely billionaireWhen Blakely was going to a private party she cut off the feet of her pantyhose whilst wearing them under a new pair of slacks as an experiement. They consistently rolled up her legs but she did achieve the look she desired.

When Blakely was twenty seven she moved to Atlanta, Georgia and whilst continuing to work at Danka she spent two years and $5,000 on the research and development of her idea. Rather than spending another $5,000 on legal fees she wrote her own patent for her product after buying a textbook on the topic. Blakely then went to North Carolina, home of the most Hosiery mills in the USA to pitch her idea but she was rejected by every representative. They were all used to dealing with big companies and didn’t see any potential in her idea.

 

Sara Blakely’s estimated net worth is $1 Billion.

 

sara blakely billionaireTwo weeks later Blakely received a call from a male mill operator who wanted to support her concept after being persuaded by his two daughters.  As she went on to develop her idea, Blakely realized that the hoisiery manufacturing agency was run by males who weren’t using the products that they were creating.

The prototype product was finished within one year with Blakely and her female family and friends testing the product. This was a big step for the industry as testing on people had never happened up to that point. Whilst making progress on refining her product, Blakely noticed that the industry was using the same sized waistband for all hosiery products. For the development of her product, Blakely had variable sized waistbands to account for different sized customers.

 

“I think failure is nothing more than life’s way of nudging you that you are off course.” – Sara Blakely

sara blakely billionaireBlakely’s vision was gathering momentum, she proceeded to revolutionize the packaging of hosiery products. She realised that all of the current packaging was beige, white or grey, featuring the same type of model. Blakely opted for bold, red packaging with animated images of different looking women.

The next stop was to find a name for her product and she grew increasingly frustrated after not arriving at a decision after eighteen months of thinking. When she was in the final stages of deciding on a name she wanted to model the ‘k’ sound in companies like Coca-Cola and Kodak and this was further compounded by her knowledge of the ‘k’ sound getting the best reaction from a comedy crowd. Originally, Blakely was going to call her product ‘Spanks’, however she switched it to ‘Spanx‘ when her research revealed that constructed names were more successful and easier to trademark.

 

The Growth of Spanx

sara blakely billionaireBlakely managed to secure a meeting with a buyer for the Neiman Marcus Group, in which she changed into her innovative product in the ladies restroom to prove its worth. As a result of the meeting, Spanx was sold in seven of Neiman Marcus’ stores, with Bloomingdales, Saks and Bergdorf Goodman quickly following suit. Not resting there, Blakely sent a basket of products to the office of Oprah Winfrey with a card explaining her vision.

Blakely was handling all aspects of the business: marketing, logistics, product positioning and more. In the latter part of the year 2000, Oprah named Spanx one of her ‘Favourite Products’ which caused a boom in popularity and sales. Spanx achieved $4 Million of sales in it’s first year and $10 Million in its second year. Blakely signed a contract with QVC, the shopping channel around this time and sold 8,000 pairs of Spanx in six minutes!

 

Sara Blakely’s Billion Dollar Empire

 

Conclusion

Sara Blakely has built a net worth in excess of $1 Billion by using failure as a stepping stone, always innovating and believing in her vision. Her ability to find a solution has always been incredible, all the while enjoying her life and keeping a smile on her face.

Had Blakely passed herLaw exam, Spanx would not exist and she would most likely not be a billionaire. Rather than allow failure to get her down she used it as a springboard for success.

What have you failed at that could be the reason you are now pushing towards your ultimate success and happiness?

Jermaine Harris is a Coach, Trader, Author and Speaker. He is passionate about human potential and empowering others to change their lives in the same way he did. Jermaine believes that the opposite of being 'stuck in a rut' is possible and explains how in his book, The Rut Buster. Get to know Jermaine better at: jermaine-harris.com

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Entrepreneurs

Qualities Of A Brilliant Salesperson Who Actually Closes Deals.

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I’ve spent the last ten years analyzing sales people and what separates the good, from the uninspiring, worn out, no good sales person that is toxic to any sales culture.

I’ve also worked in sales for a long time myself. These qualities are what have worked for many other high performing sales people I’ve worked with and me.

Here are the qualities of a brilliant salesperson:

 

They’re humble as F*#K.

They’re not the person trying to tear everyone else down.
They don’t think they’re the best.
They want to train the junior sales people.
They aspire to be a leader.

Humble salespeople do all of these things because they know that if they didn’t have access to those same tools, they’d never be where they are. Bragging is ugly and eventually, it will reflect in your sales performance.

No salesperson is ever going to be on top of the leaderboard forever.

That’s why it pays to be humble in sales.

 

They get that relationship is everything.

If someone doesn’t like you, they probably aren’t buying from you. We all buy from people we like.

A relationship with a client is built with the following tools:

– Respect
– Vulnerability
– And Rapport

If you nail those three tools, then you’ll have a genuine relationship with the client. A relationship is another word for trust. Once you’re trusted, you’ll get all the business.

“All the snake oil salesman in the world can’t take a client from you when you are the most trusted sales person they are dealing with”

 

They worship the power of referrals.

The religion of a salesperson who knows their craft is one word: referrals.

Referrals come from doing a good job and delivering on what you say you will. That quality is so rare and that’s why many salespeople don’t get referrals. If you want to compound your results, you must do your best to over deliver.

This doesn’t mean underselling so that you can deliver what the client actually paid for; over delivering is delivering more value than should normally be expected from the same product or service in the marketplace.

 

They have gone all in on social media.

Everyone Google’s everyone nowadays.

“If a customer Googles you and you appear nowhere, then you become a commodity. Unfortunately, that translates to a heavy bias towards price”

When someone looks you up, they should see a professional social media profile like LinkedIn, they should see at the very least some content from you about your industry, and some reviews or references from people you’ve previously sold too.

A strong social media presence allows brilliant salespeople to have warm prospects approach them rather than having to go looking for them. A brilliant salesperson can turn a “Hi, how are you Tim Bob?” into a “Yes let’s meet next week for coffee to discuss X business opportunity.”

 

They take the complex and make it simple.

That’s why we fell in love with Apple. They took hundreds of menus and turned them into a few beautiful app icons. Life is complex enough and a brilliant salesperson can help us take a load off by giving advice to us in easy to understand language.

This method of communication requires the “less is more approach,” no acronyms, no industry jargon and a step-by-step process that can easily be followed.

 

They tailor to the audience.

Corporate pitch? Better put a suit on.
Seeing a new, cool, funky startup? Probably best to wear a t-shirt and take a backpack.
First-time users of the product or service? Stick to the why and 2-3 useful takeaways.

 

They capture your attention.

Not by using PowerPoint decks, closing techniques and fancy catch phrases: by using their infectious personality and sense that they care about the needs of the customer.

 

They avoid overthinking.

It’s easy to procrastinate in sales and try and predict every move that a customer will make. In the end, the client will use mostly emotion to make a decision. Quit trying to overthink the outcome of a business opportunity and focus on going all in.

Give it everything you have and then if you lose the sale, it’s all gravy. Move on to the next business opportunity.

 

They make actual decisions.

Sales is hard which is why there are incentives. If it were easy, we’d all have the job title of “sales.”
Sales requires many consecutive and challenging decisions one after another. You have to convince not only the customer, but also the internal stakeholders such as the product and operational areas.

This process is a series of lots of small decisions that match the urgency of your customer. If you take too long, you lose the sale. If you overpromise, you’ll burn the client. If you don’t offer a competitive price, they may go elsewhere.

All of these are decisions and brilliant salespeople make them daily, and do so efficiently.

 

They always use deadlines.

Without a date to work too, we all get lost in the busy trap. Either you become too busy or the client does. This is not about hard sell techniques or fake offers that expire. If you can genuinely help your client, then you should want them to have that benefit as quickly as possible.

 

They are aware of their ego.

Ego is the enemy. If you think you’re some hot shot sales person, your prospective clients will run. Too much confidence and an inflated ego are usually a mask of a salesperson who’s covering something up. In other words, someone who lies for a living.

Humbleness, kindness and humility are how a brilliant salesperson attracts customers. Too much ego does the opposite.

 

They use discipline to their advantage.

As I said, sales is hard work. To be good at it, you need to be disciplined.

You can’t help everyone.
You only have so much time to prospect.
You have to make the calls, respond to emails and see clients to make target.

If you don’t do the basics, you can’t be a brilliant salesperson. Kobe Bryant put in the hours to become a great basketballer. He went to the gym, did the practice shots and ran until he passed out. Phone calls, emails and prospecting meetings are the exercises used in the sales world.

The more you do the exercises and stick to the plan, the closer you’ll get to Kobe’s success in the basketball world. We’re lazy by nature though, so discipline is key in sales.

 

They listen.

Too many salespeople talk your head off but don’t actually listen. Listening in sales is how you understand the customer and deliver a message that will allow them to make a buying decision. You’ll learn more from listening than talking. Phenomenal salespeople recognize this.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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4 Important Life Lessons You Can Learn From Billionaire Jim Koch

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Jim Koch is an American entrepreneur, author and a passionate beer lover who left his lucrative business in Wall Street to start his own beer company, Boston Beer, from scratch and make it among the most successful brands in the US market with an annual revenue of around $1 billion. I have read a few books about Koch, including his book, Quench Your Own Thirst: Business Lessons Learned Over a Beer or Two, and below are four lessons I believe you should learn from Koch`s thrilling life.

1. Do what you love

Koch had a business and law degree from Harvard and had a lucrative, high-paying job, yet he wasn’t happy. When he thought about the whole situation, he realized that consulting wasn’t what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. So he quit after spending five years at a consulting group in Boston and went to do what he loved best; manufacturing and selling beer.

“Getting rich is life’s biggest booby trap. It comes down to what would you rather be, happy or rich? I say do what’s gonna make you happy.” – Jim Koch

2. Career wanderings aren’t bad

If you still can’t find your calling or have wasted a couple of years working on something you later found out  doesn`t fit you, don`t worry. Koch`s career path wasn`t linear. He began his adulthood life deciding to be in the beer business. In fact, he was encouraged not to do so by his father whose net income in the last six months of his brewing career was less than $500.

Koch found his calling at the age of 34 and believes he wouldn’t have made it without his many career wanderings, including working as an outward bound instructor and spending three and a half years mountaineering across America.

One of the lessons he learned from that job is that you never climb a mountain to get to the middle. You either aim for the top or don`t climb at all. With this lesson in mind, Koch intended to make The Boston Beer Company the biggest high-end beer in America, and now his net worth is over $1 billion.

3. When there’s a will, there’s a way

When he launched his first product, Koch`s best idea was to hire someone to sell it for him because, though he knew a lot about brewing and the law, he wasn’t a good salesman. Unfortunately, none of the five Boston-based wholesalers agreed to represent him thinking the market wasn’t ready for an expensive American beer.

So he got himself a wholesaler license, leased a truck and hovered around Boston cold-calling bars. They liked his beer, and the wholesaler`s cut went into his pocket.

“The values you want to live have to come from your own living heart. You have to be the best model of those values. You have to push yourself to the highest possible standard, because it’s not reasonable to expect anybody else to have a higher standard than you do as a leader.” – Jim Koch

4. Monday may never come

One Friday morning, a friend left a message with Koch`s secretary that he would call him on Monday. Unfortunately, that man didn’t make it and died of a heart attack on Sunday. So Koch asked for that message to be framed and hung on his office wall to remind him that Monday doesn’t always come. The lesson here is simple; life is short and whatever you have on your plate do it ASAP, if not now.

One of the things you must do, according to Koch, is start collecting experiences as quickly as possible. If you’re in your twenties or thirties, the best question to ask yourself is “What experiences will I regret not having ten years from now?” Write them down, make a plan and a deadline and use necessity and pressure to force yourself to take action because you probably won’t have enough time or freedom to do many things once you start a career, get married, and have a family.

Life is also short relationship-wise. You don’t know when your loved ones will go. A parent, a friend, or that cheerful old lady who greets you every time you meet on the streets. One day, one of you will leave, and you don’t know whether you`ll ever have a goodbye moment together.

So make it a habit each day of calling somebody you haven’t seen in years or make sure your friends or parents are okay. It will make both of you feel good, and when that inevitable moment comes, you won’t have many regrets.

What is something you have learned from Jim Koch? Comment below!

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These 10 Steps Will Help Any Entrepreneur Get Their Game Right

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entrepreneurship

You followed your heart. You turned your passion into your mission. Your fear of regret superseded your fear of going for it. You’ve worked hard, but the success you desire didn’t arrive on schedule. You’ve had achievements, followed gurus, and kept your dream alive through sheer tenacity and a determination not to return to the hamster wheel from which you jumped.

You’re exhilarated at the thought of being your own boss, working alongside your dog, and not punching a time clock. What you may not have known about entrepreneurship is that, like raising kids, there are ups and downs, overwhelm and excitement, pain and joy. You’ll think you’re doing it wrong most of the time, while secretly hoping you’re getting some of it right. You’ll want to quit. To all those statements, I can say, me too.

Here’s 10 ways to change your game and get it right:

1. Refine and release your product offering

Your business isn’t just about what you’re selling and what problem it’s solving. Focus on what gives your life meaning and how what your offering represents that. You’re selling your story, not your product or service.  And, if you’re stuck in the pondering, refining, revising, rewriting, or redesigning stage, move forward. Get a good, not perfect, product out there. Rinse and repeat. Done is better than perfect unless you’re engineering heart valves or knee replacements.

2. Build your brand from your heart, not your head

If no one knows who you are, where to find you or what you do, they can’t buy from you.  A legitimate problem but easily solvable. The step that matters most to your bottom line, however, is incorporating bits of your journey and soul, not just your expertise. Focus on being resonant. A great brand builds relationships and relationships are why buyers choose you over and over.

3. Determine if you have a fear of failure, a fear of success or both

You are probably clear on fear of failure- the hesitancy that comes with the fact that what you’re doing might not work out and could be painful to you and your bank account. What you may be less familiar with is a fear of success, that can be equally paralyzing because you have deep-seated worries about how your life will change if your business really takes off.

You might be disappointed that you haven’t reached your goals, but you are comfortable with the familiarity of how your life is now. Fear of success is released the same way as fear of failure. Ask yourself three questions. What’s the worst that can happen if I’m successful? Can I handle it? And, what’s the best that can happen? Then choose comfortable and familiar or success.

“Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out.” – Karl Augustus Menninger

4. Hustle

When you link your service to your story, you can easily talk to everyone all the time about what you do without sounding coercive or salesy.  If you want to be successful, you have to be the mayor. Fake being outgoing until you’re outgoing. You may have held back because hustling sounds icky. You may also have mistakenly thought you were hustling when you weren’t!

If you work all the time but aren’t getting where you want to go, you may be doing more of what’s comfortable rather than what works. Give your inner badass entrepreneur a hustler nickname and embrace that part of you that knows you’re in business to make money as well as making the planet a better place.

5. Focus on what you don’t do well but desperately need

If you’re spending all your time becoming more of an expert at what you do, chasing more credentials and living in the comfort zone, but you’re neglecting marketing, strategic planning, competitive analysis or some other part of your business, success will continue to elude you. Instead of listening to Ted talks and reading journal articles in your field, focus on the major players in business like Tim Ferriss, Tony Robbins, and Gary Vaynerchuk and everyone they interview.

6. Focus on the small goals on the way to the big dream

I love dreaming big, like focusing on becoming a NY Times best-selling author. That goal is definitely on my vision board but so is to finish writing the book and get it published. That’s a simple example but overlooking consistent, focused small steps while affirming the big goal will not get you where you want to go. Don’t focus on a net income of $2 million when, immediately, you need to focus on making enough money to keep you out of a day job.

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” – Jim Rohn

7. Make “I can” your new motto. Banish “I can’t” from your vocabulary

It’s rarely true anyway. You can say: I don’t know how, I’m working on it, and I need to figure it out, which all imply that there is a solution to be had. I can’t is final and permits you to quit. I can, not only psychologically primes your brain to find a solution, it switches your thoughts from a fixed to a growth mindset.

8. Ask for help

It’s easy to slip into excuses, like “everyone’s busy”, “you have to pay people to help you” and “why would so and so want to help me”.  It’s a risk to ask for assistance. However, wishing, wanting and hoping what you need magically appears succeeds far less often than asking for it. The answer will either be a yes or a no, and either is ok. Don’t take it personally. As Jack Canfield says, every no brings you closer to a yes. Be sure to show or tell them why they want to help you and offer to assist them in return.

9. Know your role models

Don’t reinvent the wheel because wheels exist. Find who’s doing what you want to do, be and have. Study them, contact them, and do what they did. For work, life and relationships- know your role models. And keep it in perspective. Your big goal may be that your mentors become your friends but you need them to be your mentors first.

10. Enlist a support team

You need your cheerleaders and tough lovers. These are people who will provide unbiased support- celebrating the victories, cheering you through the difficulties and asking the tough questions that help you win big. They brainstorm solutions and provide much-needed connection for the SOULpreneur.

Most of success is mental, not mechanics, but these steps cover both, require no financial investment, and you can start on them today. As mega fitness superstar, Shaun T says, “Let’s goooo!”

What gets you excited? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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7 Mistakes You Must Avoid When Hiring a Virtual Assistant

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virtual assistant

As my online business has grown over the years, I have felt the need to get some additional hands on board. Since I am big on being flexible, I didn’t want to hire someone as an employee and then worry about giving them a place to work or being there to monitor them. I decided to try my hands at hiring a virtual assistant (VA). While I have hired and worked with many virtual assistants so far, I made some basic mistakes when I hired my first VA last year.

Below, I have shared the seven mistakes I made that one must avoid when hiring a virtual assistant:

1. Not having a clear role for your Virtual Assistant

When I decided to hire a VA, my decision was driven by getting some work transferred to the VA. The mistake here was that I did not think about the exact work I would pass on to him/her.

So, I came across a VA on Facebook and interviewed him. While he seemed like a great guy with a good attitude, he was low on the skills part. Nonetheless, I considered hiring him and then training him on the job.

If I had a clear role in mind for my VA, I could have avoided hiring the VA I did, as he didn’t fit my criteria. But since there was none, I made the mistake of hiring him.

2. Not asking for previous work examples

No matter how great a VA looks, without prior work samples, you have no way to gauge the quality of his/her work. As a rule, always ask for samples. In case the VA doesn’t have related samples, you can ask him/her to do a little sample work for you and then gauge the quality.

3. Not training your Virtual Assistant

When hiring a VA, you must know that it will cost you money as well as some time in the beginning. Unless you have hired a highly skilled VA who is ready to hit the road from the very first day, you need to spend time training him/her. Remember that your business and your way of working is completely new to the VA and you need to hold their hand for the initial few weeks.

Having said that, you’re only helping the VA in areas of your business and your work. You shouldn’t train him/her on basic skills such as email writing, or Excel.

You don’t have to do it all by yourself.” – Whitney Wolfe

4. Not using the right tools

You need to have a system to keep the work going smoothly when working with a VA. When you have a system in place, keeping track of your VA’s work, giving them feedback, and planning ahead is a lot simpler.

Simple things such as creating a Google Drive or Dropbox folder for the VA’s work, using tools such Google Sheets, Slack, and Trello can really streamline your work and save a lot of time.

5. Not giving clear instructions and timely feedback

Your VA can’t read your mind. If you don’t give clear instructions, you shouldn’t expect high-quality work from their end. As a best practice, it helps in being crystal clear in your instructions. While you may find this time consuming, it’s a lot better than to get something low quality in need to rework.

Also, it’s is important to review your VA’s work and give them timely feedback. For the first few weeks, you can opt for daily short check-ins. This becomes a lot more important when you’re working with someone in a different time zone. If you don’t correct them in something when they make a mistake, you risk wasting another day.

6. Not being patient

Even if you hire a perfect candidate, he/she is likely to take time to acclimatize to your business and your style of working. While it’s a good practice to keep a strict tab on the VA’s work, you shouldn’t expect them to start firing on all cylinders from Day 1.

A reasonable expectation should be to transfer your work gradually to the VA (over the next few weeks or even months), and train them appropriately. You need to be patient in the initial days and understand that your VA may slowly cope up and perform as per your expectations.

“Patience is a virtue, and I’m learning patience. It’s a tough lesson.” – Elon Musk

7. Not calculating the ROI

When you invest in a VA, you need to have a clear idea on what benefit you’re looking for. For example, would hiring a VA allow you to expand your business, or would it allow you to delegate some work and focus on more important stuff.

Whatever the benefit, you need to think about the RoI (Return on Investment). Evaluate whether having a VA will help in generating a positive RoI or not. If you can’t peg a number to it, analyze whether the benefit of having a VA justifies the cost or not.

What are some mistakes you’ve made in hiring a VA? Comment below!

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3 Reasons Why It’s a Good Thing Your First Startup Failed

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startup failure

Statistics on business failure are a matter of heated debate. Back in 2014, a study in The Washington Post rubbished the oft-repeated claim that “nine out of ten businesses fail,” saying that it had “no statistical basis.” Even so, a more accurate figure from The Small Business Administration still points to only around half of businesses lasting beyond five years. (more…)

Louise Taylor manages online content for Tomedes, a translation company. As well as running the company’s blog she also looks after the Tomedes Business translation center. Louise is a native English speaker, but also has a varied level of skill in Portuguese, Latin, French, German and Spanish.

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Qualities Of A Brilliant Salesperson Who Actually Closes Deals.

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I’ve spent the last ten years analyzing sales people and what separates the good, from the uninspiring, worn out, no good sales person that is toxic to any sales culture.

I’ve also worked in sales for a long time myself. These qualities are what have worked for many other high performing sales people I’ve worked with and me.

Here are the qualities of a brilliant salesperson:

 

They’re humble as F*#K.

They’re not the person trying to tear everyone else down.
They don’t think they’re the best.
They want to train the junior sales people.
They aspire to be a leader.

Humble salespeople do all of these things because they know that if they didn’t have access to those same tools, they’d never be where they are. Bragging is ugly and eventually, it will reflect in your sales performance.

No salesperson is ever going to be on top of the leaderboard forever.

That’s why it pays to be humble in sales.

 

They get that relationship is everything.

If someone doesn’t like you, they probably aren’t buying from you. We all buy from people we like.

A relationship with a client is built with the following tools:

– Respect
– Vulnerability
– And Rapport

If you nail those three tools, then you’ll have a genuine relationship with the client. A relationship is another word for trust. Once you’re trusted, you’ll get all the business.

“All the snake oil salesman in the world can’t take a client from you when you are the most trusted sales person they are dealing with”

 

They worship the power of referrals.

The religion of a salesperson who knows their craft is one word: referrals.

Referrals come from doing a good job and delivering on what you say you will. That quality is so rare and that’s why many salespeople don’t get referrals. If you want to compound your results, you must do your best to over deliver.

This doesn’t mean underselling so that you can deliver what the client actually paid for; over delivering is delivering more value than should normally be expected from the same product or service in the marketplace.

 

They have gone all in on social media.

Everyone Google’s everyone nowadays.

“If a customer Googles you and you appear nowhere, then you become a commodity. Unfortunately, that translates to a heavy bias towards price”

When someone looks you up, they should see a professional social media profile like LinkedIn, they should see at the very least some content from you about your industry, and some reviews or references from people you’ve previously sold too.

A strong social media presence allows brilliant salespeople to have warm prospects approach them rather than having to go looking for them. A brilliant salesperson can turn a “Hi, how are you Tim Bob?” into a “Yes let’s meet next week for coffee to discuss X business opportunity.”

 

They take the complex and make it simple.

That’s why we fell in love with Apple. They took hundreds of menus and turned them into a few beautiful app icons. Life is complex enough and a brilliant salesperson can help us take a load off by giving advice to us in easy to understand language.

This method of communication requires the “less is more approach,” no acronyms, no industry jargon and a step-by-step process that can easily be followed.

 

They tailor to the audience.

Corporate pitch? Better put a suit on.
Seeing a new, cool, funky startup? Probably best to wear a t-shirt and take a backpack.
First-time users of the product or service? Stick to the why and 2-3 useful takeaways.

 

They capture your attention.

Not by using PowerPoint decks, closing techniques and fancy catch phrases: by using their infectious personality and sense that they care about the needs of the customer.

 

They avoid overthinking.

It’s easy to procrastinate in sales and try and predict every move that a customer will make. In the end, the client will use mostly emotion to make a decision. Quit trying to overthink the outcome of a business opportunity and focus on going all in.

Give it everything you have and then if you lose the sale, it’s all gravy. Move on to the next business opportunity.

 

They make actual decisions.

Sales is hard which is why there are incentives. If it were easy, we’d all have the job title of “sales.”
Sales requires many consecutive and challenging decisions one after another. You have to convince not only the customer, but also the internal stakeholders such as the product and operational areas.

This process is a series of lots of small decisions that match the urgency of your customer. If you take too long, you lose the sale. If you overpromise, you’ll burn the client. If you don’t offer a competitive price, they may go elsewhere.

All of these are decisions and brilliant salespeople make them daily, and do so efficiently.

 

They always use deadlines.

Without a date to work too, we all get lost in the busy trap. Either you become too busy or the client does. This is not about hard sell techniques or fake offers that expire. If you can genuinely help your client, then you should want them to have that benefit as quickly as possible.

 

They are aware of their ego.

Ego is the enemy. If you think you’re some hot shot sales person, your prospective clients will run. Too much confidence and an inflated ego are usually a mask of a salesperson who’s covering something up. In other words, someone who lies for a living.

Humbleness, kindness and humility are how a brilliant salesperson attracts customers. Too much ego does the opposite.

 

They use discipline to their advantage.

As I said, sales is hard work. To be good at it, you need to be disciplined.

You can’t help everyone.
You only have so much time to prospect.
You have to make the calls, respond to emails and see clients to make target.

If you don’t do the basics, you can’t be a brilliant salesperson. Kobe Bryant put in the hours to become a great basketballer. He went to the gym, did the practice shots and ran until he passed out. Phone calls, emails and prospecting meetings are the exercises used in the sales world.

The more you do the exercises and stick to the plan, the closer you’ll get to Kobe’s success in the basketball world. We’re lazy by nature though, so discipline is key in sales.

 

They listen.

Too many salespeople talk your head off but don’t actually listen. Listening in sales is how you understand the customer and deliver a message that will allow them to make a buying decision. You’ll learn more from listening than talking. Phenomenal salespeople recognize this.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Entrepreneurs

4 Important Life Lessons You Can Learn From Billionaire Jim Koch

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Jim Koch is an American entrepreneur, author and a passionate beer lover who left his lucrative business in Wall Street to start his own beer company, Boston Beer, from scratch and make it among the most successful brands in the US market with an annual revenue of around $1 billion. I have read a few books about Koch, including his book, Quench Your Own Thirst: Business Lessons Learned Over a Beer or Two, and below are four lessons I believe you should learn from Koch`s thrilling life.

1. Do what you love

Koch had a business and law degree from Harvard and had a lucrative, high-paying job, yet he wasn’t happy. When he thought about the whole situation, he realized that consulting wasn’t what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. So he quit after spending five years at a consulting group in Boston and went to do what he loved best; manufacturing and selling beer.

“Getting rich is life’s biggest booby trap. It comes down to what would you rather be, happy or rich? I say do what’s gonna make you happy.” – Jim Koch

2. Career wanderings aren’t bad

If you still can’t find your calling or have wasted a couple of years working on something you later found out  doesn`t fit you, don`t worry. Koch`s career path wasn`t linear. He began his adulthood life deciding to be in the beer business. In fact, he was encouraged not to do so by his father whose net income in the last six months of his brewing career was less than $500.

Koch found his calling at the age of 34 and believes he wouldn’t have made it without his many career wanderings, including working as an outward bound instructor and spending three and a half years mountaineering across America.

One of the lessons he learned from that job is that you never climb a mountain to get to the middle. You either aim for the top or don`t climb at all. With this lesson in mind, Koch intended to make The Boston Beer Company the biggest high-end beer in America, and now his net worth is over $1 billion.

3. When there’s a will, there’s a way

When he launched his first product, Koch`s best idea was to hire someone to sell it for him because, though he knew a lot about brewing and the law, he wasn’t a good salesman. Unfortunately, none of the five Boston-based wholesalers agreed to represent him thinking the market wasn’t ready for an expensive American beer.

So he got himself a wholesaler license, leased a truck and hovered around Boston cold-calling bars. They liked his beer, and the wholesaler`s cut went into his pocket.

“The values you want to live have to come from your own living heart. You have to be the best model of those values. You have to push yourself to the highest possible standard, because it’s not reasonable to expect anybody else to have a higher standard than you do as a leader.” – Jim Koch

4. Monday may never come

One Friday morning, a friend left a message with Koch`s secretary that he would call him on Monday. Unfortunately, that man didn’t make it and died of a heart attack on Sunday. So Koch asked for that message to be framed and hung on his office wall to remind him that Monday doesn’t always come. The lesson here is simple; life is short and whatever you have on your plate do it ASAP, if not now.

One of the things you must do, according to Koch, is start collecting experiences as quickly as possible. If you’re in your twenties or thirties, the best question to ask yourself is “What experiences will I regret not having ten years from now?” Write them down, make a plan and a deadline and use necessity and pressure to force yourself to take action because you probably won’t have enough time or freedom to do many things once you start a career, get married, and have a family.

Life is also short relationship-wise. You don’t know when your loved ones will go. A parent, a friend, or that cheerful old lady who greets you every time you meet on the streets. One day, one of you will leave, and you don’t know whether you`ll ever have a goodbye moment together.

So make it a habit each day of calling somebody you haven’t seen in years or make sure your friends or parents are okay. It will make both of you feel good, and when that inevitable moment comes, you won’t have many regrets.

What is something you have learned from Jim Koch? Comment below!

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These 10 Steps Will Help Any Entrepreneur Get Their Game Right

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You followed your heart. You turned your passion into your mission. Your fear of regret superseded your fear of going for it. You’ve worked hard, but the success you desire didn’t arrive on schedule. You’ve had achievements, followed gurus, and kept your dream alive through sheer tenacity and a determination not to return to the hamster wheel from which you jumped.

You’re exhilarated at the thought of being your own boss, working alongside your dog, and not punching a time clock. What you may not have known about entrepreneurship is that, like raising kids, there are ups and downs, overwhelm and excitement, pain and joy. You’ll think you’re doing it wrong most of the time, while secretly hoping you’re getting some of it right. You’ll want to quit. To all those statements, I can say, me too.

Here’s 10 ways to change your game and get it right:

1. Refine and release your product offering

Your business isn’t just about what you’re selling and what problem it’s solving. Focus on what gives your life meaning and how what your offering represents that. You’re selling your story, not your product or service.  And, if you’re stuck in the pondering, refining, revising, rewriting, or redesigning stage, move forward. Get a good, not perfect, product out there. Rinse and repeat. Done is better than perfect unless you’re engineering heart valves or knee replacements.

2. Build your brand from your heart, not your head

If no one knows who you are, where to find you or what you do, they can’t buy from you.  A legitimate problem but easily solvable. The step that matters most to your bottom line, however, is incorporating bits of your journey and soul, not just your expertise. Focus on being resonant. A great brand builds relationships and relationships are why buyers choose you over and over.

3. Determine if you have a fear of failure, a fear of success or both

You are probably clear on fear of failure- the hesitancy that comes with the fact that what you’re doing might not work out and could be painful to you and your bank account. What you may be less familiar with is a fear of success, that can be equally paralyzing because you have deep-seated worries about how your life will change if your business really takes off.

You might be disappointed that you haven’t reached your goals, but you are comfortable with the familiarity of how your life is now. Fear of success is released the same way as fear of failure. Ask yourself three questions. What’s the worst that can happen if I’m successful? Can I handle it? And, what’s the best that can happen? Then choose comfortable and familiar or success.

“Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out.” – Karl Augustus Menninger

4. Hustle

When you link your service to your story, you can easily talk to everyone all the time about what you do without sounding coercive or salesy.  If you want to be successful, you have to be the mayor. Fake being outgoing until you’re outgoing. You may have held back because hustling sounds icky. You may also have mistakenly thought you were hustling when you weren’t!

If you work all the time but aren’t getting where you want to go, you may be doing more of what’s comfortable rather than what works. Give your inner badass entrepreneur a hustler nickname and embrace that part of you that knows you’re in business to make money as well as making the planet a better place.

5. Focus on what you don’t do well but desperately need

If you’re spending all your time becoming more of an expert at what you do, chasing more credentials and living in the comfort zone, but you’re neglecting marketing, strategic planning, competitive analysis or some other part of your business, success will continue to elude you. Instead of listening to Ted talks and reading journal articles in your field, focus on the major players in business like Tim Ferriss, Tony Robbins, and Gary Vaynerchuk and everyone they interview.

6. Focus on the small goals on the way to the big dream

I love dreaming big, like focusing on becoming a NY Times best-selling author. That goal is definitely on my vision board but so is to finish writing the book and get it published. That’s a simple example but overlooking consistent, focused small steps while affirming the big goal will not get you where you want to go. Don’t focus on a net income of $2 million when, immediately, you need to focus on making enough money to keep you out of a day job.

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” – Jim Rohn

7. Make “I can” your new motto. Banish “I can’t” from your vocabulary

It’s rarely true anyway. You can say: I don’t know how, I’m working on it, and I need to figure it out, which all imply that there is a solution to be had. I can’t is final and permits you to quit. I can, not only psychologically primes your brain to find a solution, it switches your thoughts from a fixed to a growth mindset.

8. Ask for help

It’s easy to slip into excuses, like “everyone’s busy”, “you have to pay people to help you” and “why would so and so want to help me”.  It’s a risk to ask for assistance. However, wishing, wanting and hoping what you need magically appears succeeds far less often than asking for it. The answer will either be a yes or a no, and either is ok. Don’t take it personally. As Jack Canfield says, every no brings you closer to a yes. Be sure to show or tell them why they want to help you and offer to assist them in return.

9. Know your role models

Don’t reinvent the wheel because wheels exist. Find who’s doing what you want to do, be and have. Study them, contact them, and do what they did. For work, life and relationships- know your role models. And keep it in perspective. Your big goal may be that your mentors become your friends but you need them to be your mentors first.

10. Enlist a support team

You need your cheerleaders and tough lovers. These are people who will provide unbiased support- celebrating the victories, cheering you through the difficulties and asking the tough questions that help you win big. They brainstorm solutions and provide much-needed connection for the SOULpreneur.

Most of success is mental, not mechanics, but these steps cover both, require no financial investment, and you can start on them today. As mega fitness superstar, Shaun T says, “Let’s goooo!”

What gets you excited? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Entrepreneurs

7 Mistakes You Must Avoid When Hiring a Virtual Assistant

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As my online business has grown over the years, I have felt the need to get some additional hands on board. Since I am big on being flexible, I didn’t want to hire someone as an employee and then worry about giving them a place to work or being there to monitor them. I decided to try my hands at hiring a virtual assistant (VA). While I have hired and worked with many virtual assistants so far, I made some basic mistakes when I hired my first VA last year.

Below, I have shared the seven mistakes I made that one must avoid when hiring a virtual assistant:

1. Not having a clear role for your Virtual Assistant

When I decided to hire a VA, my decision was driven by getting some work transferred to the VA. The mistake here was that I did not think about the exact work I would pass on to him/her.

So, I came across a VA on Facebook and interviewed him. While he seemed like a great guy with a good attitude, he was low on the skills part. Nonetheless, I considered hiring him and then training him on the job.

If I had a clear role in mind for my VA, I could have avoided hiring the VA I did, as he didn’t fit my criteria. But since there was none, I made the mistake of hiring him.

2. Not asking for previous work examples

No matter how great a VA looks, without prior work samples, you have no way to gauge the quality of his/her work. As a rule, always ask for samples. In case the VA doesn’t have related samples, you can ask him/her to do a little sample work for you and then gauge the quality.

3. Not training your Virtual Assistant

When hiring a VA, you must know that it will cost you money as well as some time in the beginning. Unless you have hired a highly skilled VA who is ready to hit the road from the very first day, you need to spend time training him/her. Remember that your business and your way of working is completely new to the VA and you need to hold their hand for the initial few weeks.

Having said that, you’re only helping the VA in areas of your business and your work. You shouldn’t train him/her on basic skills such as email writing, or Excel.

You don’t have to do it all by yourself.” – Whitney Wolfe

4. Not using the right tools

You need to have a system to keep the work going smoothly when working with a VA. When you have a system in place, keeping track of your VA’s work, giving them feedback, and planning ahead is a lot simpler.

Simple things such as creating a Google Drive or Dropbox folder for the VA’s work, using tools such Google Sheets, Slack, and Trello can really streamline your work and save a lot of time.

5. Not giving clear instructions and timely feedback

Your VA can’t read your mind. If you don’t give clear instructions, you shouldn’t expect high-quality work from their end. As a best practice, it helps in being crystal clear in your instructions. While you may find this time consuming, it’s a lot better than to get something low quality in need to rework.

Also, it’s is important to review your VA’s work and give them timely feedback. For the first few weeks, you can opt for daily short check-ins. This becomes a lot more important when you’re working with someone in a different time zone. If you don’t correct them in something when they make a mistake, you risk wasting another day.

6. Not being patient

Even if you hire a perfect candidate, he/she is likely to take time to acclimatize to your business and your style of working. While it’s a good practice to keep a strict tab on the VA’s work, you shouldn’t expect them to start firing on all cylinders from Day 1.

A reasonable expectation should be to transfer your work gradually to the VA (over the next few weeks or even months), and train them appropriately. You need to be patient in the initial days and understand that your VA may slowly cope up and perform as per your expectations.

“Patience is a virtue, and I’m learning patience. It’s a tough lesson.” – Elon Musk

7. Not calculating the ROI

When you invest in a VA, you need to have a clear idea on what benefit you’re looking for. For example, would hiring a VA allow you to expand your business, or would it allow you to delegate some work and focus on more important stuff.

Whatever the benefit, you need to think about the RoI (Return on Investment). Evaluate whether having a VA will help in generating a positive RoI or not. If you can’t peg a number to it, analyze whether the benefit of having a VA justifies the cost or not.

What are some mistakes you’ve made in hiring a VA? Comment below!

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