I have the habit of underestimating my abilities and also underestimating the value of the things that I do for others. I recently have been in a very sticky situation with a group of angel investors who want to invest in a business that I’m running. Two years ago, a friend of mine gave me a really basic idea that I have evolved into a totally different product that is no longer related. He said that he wanted a piece of it, and thinking it would go nowhere, we came up with a gentleman’s agreement including a piece of gross sales. Now I need him out to get angel investment. Had I valued what I might do with the idea, I would never have agreed to the terms. I did so thinking that it would never become anything. So, I have lived another life lesson to value what I do.
I had a request by my wife yesterday to help a friend’s parents out with a handicap accessible ramp for their house. I had just enjoyed the morning being at the department of motor vehicles to see if my daughter passed her driver’s test (she did – Yeah!). I knew that if I did this, I would be leaving my customers up in the air until Monday. I told my wife that if I did this, I would need to work over the weekend to finish up some time critical issues. I decided to do the project, and it was completed in 6 hours. They were thrilled with the results, and I only had a couple calls that were able to wait.
There are always options in life. Do you ever wonder which ones to take? Do you ever wonder how many options we are missing? I know that this time, I was pleased with the results of an impromptu volunteer project. I guess that will help me decide in the future too. The work always seems to be there, doesn’t it.
My view on competitors is kind of weird. A competitor is anyone who works against you. As for people working against you, that is great! That means you are in a market that is interesting to other people. Whenever I identify a new competitor, I take a moment to relish the thought that someone is interested, and then put my personal focus back towards moving forward with sales, and let the competition trail behind me.
I have discovered that when I focus on what other people are doing, my time is not spent moving forward, and as a result, our progress does not move forward. Its like trying to drive my car forward, looking behind me like I am backing up. Who knows where the car will go, but probably not where I want it to. I have had many occasions in the past where I could have sued someone for “wronging” me. I usually didn’t go after them because it would have diverted my focus into a defensive position. Even in a large company, that slows future growth. When I am the main person doing the work, it stops it. Focusing on the offensive position may not give me the short term satisfaction by getting a wrong-doer, but I’ve found the life will take care of them one way or another because they do wrong to most everyone.
Being a technical guy, I don’t like sales. I’ve been learning that I have to be on the phone with customers to make sales and move forward. Although I have a hard time staying on that not-so-nice task, it needs to be done. My advice is forget about people doing little nasty’s and give them a real reason to come after you by making loads of sales.
After rushing through creating a brand new 40 slide presentation in one day and driving 3 hours to present it on someone else’s equipment, I learned a couple things from the experience. First, if you have video clips in there, be prepared to test it, and after you test it, shut down the powerpoint program and restart it. It appears that the video is not always rewound or something which caused it to not play. The other thing is to bring a larger version of the presentation that can be placed on a podium in front of you. When using someone else’s setup, they may put the laptop quite a distance from the microphone forcing a person to do some weird contortions to speak into the microphone and also look at the screen behind you. It is much better to have a printout that is big enough to read from a comfortable distance at the podium. The final lesson is to ensure that the presentation has been timed out and does not have too much content. I knew this one, and just ran out of time. Most of you probably already know this, and it is tips for myself for the future.
I had a question about exclusive territory contracts by a small company trying to get started. Here are some things to think about relating to exclusive sales territories.
1) only do one territory until they have proven themselves.
2) get their sales forecast as well as their marketing expense forecast. Bottom line is that you are after sales, not exposure.
3) get both of these on a monthly schedule so that if they don’t do what they say, you have the option to bow out of the relationship without a lot of hassle. The way life works, you can pretty much count on somebody really awesome coming along a day after you sign a one year exclusive contract. You need options that are easy to take – so plan for obstacles and opportunities up front.
I am the type that doesn’t like to do cold calling for sales. I just got back for a digital signage conference, and one of the key things that I was reminded of (again) is that customers prefer solutions, that the customer to target selling to may never buy a thing, and marketing messages need to tie into their emotions conveying a message that solves their needs. I know that I undervalue my talents and the capabilities that the company offers. I am going to focus my efforts on getting paid for solving the needs of the many rather than trying to sell. Having the right marketing to the right people will help bring people into the “door” so that I can talk with them rather than doing cold calling. Do you know who your real buyer is and what their top line need is?
For the Online-Kiosks digital signage product, I discovered that the end user is not my customer. It is the reseller channel. Although I am still digesting the last two day’s information, advertising agencies may be my best “customer”, even though they will never buy a thing (only recommend). They talk to the customer when they want to find creative new ways to market their product. Of course everyone wants to more sales, but the emotional thing for the digital signage product is happy customers who return again and again and employees who work flawlessly as a team.
About 3 weeks ago, I put up a blog using b2evolution. There were a few posts and a few people found the site due to it. Unfortunately, it has a feature that provides credit to people who refer visitors to the blog. Within 2 weeks, my site had picked up so much traffic that it filled my space allocation with log records and used 3 times my monthly bandwidth allocation in about a week. I had to shut it down. It was abusive traffic, not the good kind. Apparently certain companies were increasing links for various products by “referring” people to the site. Turns out, it was an automated system that kept calling the site with the right header information. Some of the programs were careful to call it a couple times an hour, and some were calling it every minute to be the most active referring site. Of course search engines would crawl the page often since it was changing every minute, so the product had a link from my site to theirs. With all the blogs on the web, that product probably had tens of thousands of links to the page, bringing them high on the search engine listing. I have since changed to WordPress which does not have the most active feature. I hope I dont have to shut it down again! If you have a site that auto-generates a top referer list, be careful! Make sure that you regularly monitor your traffic. Once they get you, the site must be shut down for over a week to clear it.