14 years into my journey as business owner I've learned a lot, but never so much as in the last few years.
Even back when I started all this and worked on my own I remember things being pretty easy really, but now I wear the battle scars and sport the grey hair to prove that things have become a whole lot more complicated.
It was never a problem finding briefs and getting clients into meetings because things were pretty simple. Just phone through a decent list, get hold of people after a few attempts and set up the conversations. Most of my clients were regularly winning business and life was good.
Whilst success rates are the same now, the amount of thinking, effort and creativity needed to get hold of people has become paramount.
There are simply no shortcuts as people are more harassed than they ever have been so it's all about standing out. No matter what your business does, your service is most likely commoditised to a greater or lesser extent so there's always going to be some other company up the road that can do what you do, and just as well as you.
So where do you focus your efforts and how do you make sure you stand out from your competitors?
Well, there are no USPs left in the world so there's no point in thinking that you have one. From your perspective it may be that you are incredibly good at something or have some proprietary thinking, creativity or technology that makes you different but you have to see it from the perspective of the person you're selling to.
That mindset shift has become incredibly important to our clients who come to us looking for new opportunities.
Most businesses are good at describing what they do, who their team is and how they do it but they don't often enough think about what's in the mind of their prospects and that is a limiting mindset.
The other, and more important factor, in new business is standing out from an emotional point of view. For ten years, I've been telling clients that new business and sales is as much about behaviour as it is about information.
To this end, I have also been talking for many years about the need for emotional and rational balance in new business. This approach sits behind everything my business does and is derived from a basic psychology called Wise Mind. (Google it)
The application of this thinking, in combination with a very deep understanding of different markets, enables us to help clients stand out and become much more attractive. However, it's not merely based upon commercial advantage; it's based upon getting under people's skin, thinking like them and getting them to listen to you/us.
So we start to look at the laws of attraction and why people and businesses are attracted to each other. This is where Wise Mind kicks in. Looking at the emotional and rational elements of your business will help you understand who you truly are, what's attractive about you and what will draw prospects towards you.
When you get this right and take out all the salesy language you get to a much more powerful place and are able to start a meaningful journey with prospects.
Put simply, if they like you, they will listen to you and tell you the truth. That builds a much stronger pipeline.
So think carefully the next time you consider chucking a few grand a month at an agency in exchange for some meetings. Are you even ready to go? Do your website and materials really connect at an emotional level? Is what you're saying exciting or interesting on a human level?
If not then save your money, sort yourself out and develop your own truly 'you' approach to sales.
Yes, people buy people and that's still and will always be the case but there are so many channels now, so many competitors and so many ways that you can (and will) get lost.
Find yourself, get attractive and you'll be amazed at the results.