Is Your Default Business-Building Mode Isolation?

In a crisis or quandary, my default mode is isolation. No matter the problem, I’ll opt to try to solve it myself before involving others. I would rather brood than ask for help.

I will think and think about possible solutions until I’ve come up with a solid plan. Then, and only then, will I tell someone else what the issue is and how I’m going to fix it. I trick myself into thinking that this “strategy” is about being well-prepared, as opposed to a coping mechanism for being scared, confused, or worried.

Luckily, I’ve learned this is not a helpful strategy. And, I’ve figured out that it’s not about being well-prepared; it’s about not being courageous enough to ask for help.

I’ve also recognized that this coping mechanism often bleeds over into decisions about opportunities, too. In default mode, I spot an opportunity and ponder it until I’m ready to act on it.

Either way, I miss out.

Is your default business-building mode isolation?

 

As much as I’d like to think otherwise, I do not always have the right ideas. I do not always have the most experience. And I do not always see all the possibilities in front of me.

In default mode—isolated from those who could really help—I’m blind to everything but my own narrow perspective. And I’m really good. But I’m not that good.

If your response to a problem, opportunity, or idea is to go to your thinking spot and think until you have a plan before you loop anyone else in on what’s going on, your default mode is isolation too. And, just like me, you’re prone to missing out on great ideas, even better opportunities, and innovative solutions.

Isolation is a fast track to failure.

Of course, your default mode is not the only operating mode you have. You can choose to do things differently, to seek out help when you need it most and often when you don’t.

Change your operating mode to “community & collaboration.”

Your business community—the people who support you, cheer you on, challenge your conventional thinking—allows you to see your blind spots. Seeing your blind spots is the first step to avoiding a collision.

Your community also helps you detour around traffic. They can show you the most congested parts of path to your intended destination and give you a new route. You get there faster and with less anxiety.

And best of all, your business community can help you see how to connect all the dots to where you want to get. Running a business is like renting a car in a town you’ve never been to. You know where you’re at (hopefully!) and you know where you want to go, but you have no idea to navigate there. Others have been there, they’re accustomed to the roads in the area. Your community is your personal GPS device.

Over the last few years, I’ve made a real commitment to not living or working in isolation and engaging a business community to support me. I’ve made small changes like always looping in my partner on questions I have about my business. And I’ve made much bigger changes like opening my team to people who aren’t looking for direction so much as they’re looking to make a contribution.

Whether you’re looking to hire or whether you just need a fresh perspective, you need to be proactive in involving others in your business. That could mean posting on a Facebook group that’s full of people you respect and trust. It could mean joining a membership community where everyone is working for the success of other members (btw, you can get a free 10-day trial of ours). It could mean joining a group business coaching program like Quiet Power Strategy™, making a biweekly Skype date with a colleague, forming an accountability group, or having a weekly local business owner meet up.

Next time you feel yourself going into isolation mode, change the setting. Look for help. Ask for an opinion. Bounce an idea. Situate yourself in a community and take advantage of it. Your thinking spot will still be there when you get back.

Make More With What You’ve Got: Lacy Boggs’s Case Study

Want to make more money? Afraid it’s going to take a lot of time to create something new or devise a fresh offer so you can do it?

It doesn’t have to. An important concept we work with Quiet Power Strategy™ clients on is reworking what you’ve got to make it easier to sell. We also show our clients how to develop sales cycles that sell those offers throughout the year–and how to plan those sales cycles so you always know where your next dollar is coming from.

Last week, I heard from Lacy Boggs about a big success she had with very little work. It’s exactly the kind of result I like seeing from clients because it means they’ve developed a process they can use time and again to make more money. Here’s her case study:

How Lacy Boggs Used an Unplanned Sales Cycle to Make Money Fast & Easy

In January 2015​, I made my Blogstorm course (my lowest priced, introductory offering) ​evergreen after doing the revenue planning exercise in Quiet Power Strategy. I had realized that launching and running the course live was waaaaay too much work for the amount of revenue I was generating from it, so something needed to change.

​I saw a nice spike in sales when I made the evergreen announcement, and since then ​I generally get 1 or 2 sales a month without doing anything, which is fine by me. When I mention it in a blog or newsletter, I usually get 1 or 2 more.

Since the course helps entrepreneurs get 6 months of blogs planned in an editorial calendar, I was inspired by a random comment on Facebook about the year being almost half over to do a “launch” push for June. ​ ​I decided to​ offer a value add of going through it “live” with me in the Facebook group. ​And ​I made the decision to do this “launch” about a week before June 1st!

Note from Tara: This is what we call a sales cycle. It’s the same type of content, pitch, and follow-up you’d use in a launch, but it’s used to boost sales of an existing or evergreen product or service offering. Normally, I recommend using our Revenue Planning tool to forecast these sales cycles. But the power of an unplanned sales cycle to boost your revenue unexpectedly–and pleasantly–can’t be overstated!

But, I’ve had great success! I sent one dedicated email to my list, and​ wrote a blog post promoting it using Tara’s CEAD content framework (it’s usually spread out over four posts or emails, but I didn’t have time).

​I also had my message fresh in my mind from working on it with Tara and Brigitte at the Quiet Power Strategy™ retreat, and tried to really drive home what I want to be known for in both the blog post and the email—no more being polite about my opinions, no holds barred.​ ​ ​ Since the email went out on Monday (the Memorial Day holiday, no less) I’ve sold 20 courses ​and made about $1200​ in unplanned income five days later.

That’s more than double my last “live” launch in 2014!

​By tweaking my sales message for this course based on the work I did in Quiet Power Strategy™, I realized I don’t have to run a lengthy, all-consuming “launch,” but rather focus on giving people what they really want. The course hasn’t changed, even my “value add” is the same as when I ran it live, but my message made a huge difference.

​At this point, it’s like the best of both worlds. I have the trickle of income from the evergreen product, but I can run it “live” as a value add—with my newly improved messaging—twice a year for a healthy ​boost in sales without all the DRAMA of a big launch​. ​Just one more example of Quiet Power Strategy™ giving me the guts and permission to do things my way, and having it pay off almost immediately.

***

Let me recapped what worked so well here for Lacy:

  • She created fresh messaging for an old product to make sure it was obvious it’s exactly what her customers need.
  • She reinvigorated her sales by creating content for a sales cycle and publishing it to her blog and list.
  • She planned for the future by incorporating new sales cycles for this product in her overall Revenue Plan instead of just waiting for sales to come.

These are all things we create strategies for in Quiet Power Strategy™ and these strategies are something that Lacy can use over and over again for other products and new offers. It’s timeless, effective, make-more-money technique.

Put this to work for yourself. Look for a product that you know you could sell more of. Create messaging that ties that product to a problem or goal your customers are regularly talking about. Then create content that supports that messaging and send it out to the people most likely to buy from you. Finally, make a plan to do this throughout the year.

In the mean time, you can find out more about Lacy Boggs, the Content Direction Agency, and how to get more from your blogging effort: get instant access to her resource library.

Why Your Business Won’t Survive Without a Strategy

In 2004, I started working for Borders Books & Music and quickly worked my way up to managing a store with an annual volume of $5 million. I witnessed a lot of ups and downs in my time before leaving in 2008 and the company going out of business in 2011. The biggest downs came from Borders’s complete lack of strategy.

They would choose a direction and then change it without giving it time to prove itself. They would give more autonomy to store managers and then they’d take it away, only to give it back a few months later. They would focus on ecommerce and then try to drive more traffic to physical stores. They’d focus on the quality of titles over discounting and then issue more coupons than people knew what to do with.

At any given time, Borders would be pursing multiple conflicting “strategies.” Their managers felt disempowered, their employees felt directionless, and even their customers would wonder aloud what was going on.

When bankruptcy came, no one was surprised.

Making any decision—from who to serve, to what color to use on your website, to what price to charge—about the direction of your business can be difficult.

A lot of business owners I see struggling are resisting the decisions in front of them. They’d rather play both sides, try something new, or continue to research and delay the inevitable need to commit.

When you’re not making firm decisions and taking the action those decisions inspire, your business will suffer. I’m sorry to say, but your business might even end up like Borders did.

Without strong strategic decisions, your customers will feel lost, your products or pitches will feel unfocused, and the purpose behind your business will be unclear.

Decision-making is what business strategy is all about. If there are no decisions, there is no strategy. If there’s no strategic decision-making, there is no success.

Your business won’t survive without a strategy.

When a strategy succeeds, it seems a little like magic, unknowable and unexplainable in advance but obvious in retrospect. It isn’t. Really, strategy is about making specific choices to win in the marketplace.

— Roger Martin, Playing to Win

Creating a business strategy that breaks through the noise is about declaring “yes” to some things and “no” to others. And, as you might guess, the yesses and noes aren’t about right and wrong.

Strategic decision-making: Toms is a give-back-first business, not a shoe business.

Take a look at Toms. Now, Toms has sneakers, sandals, platform wedges, and all other manner of shoes. They also have a whole marketplace of goods by other companies. But in the beginning, Toms sold one style of shoe. They made a decision to go to market with one style and focus their marketing on the One for One campaign.

Toms decided to be a give-back-first company instead of a shoe company.

If they wanted to be a shoe business, they would have gone to market with more than one kind of shoe.

Toms decision wasn’t a question of right or wrong, good or bad. It was a question of values, preference, skill, strengths, and effectiveness.

Now, consider Amazon. Amazon has made the decision to be a logistics company, not a bookseller. They may have started by selling books but Jeff Bezos put the most investment into distribution logistics from the get go. Now, they can sell almost anything and ship it to you in 2 days.

Even the development of the Kindle fits this strategic decision. Want a book? You can start reading it immediately.

If Amazon wanted to be a bookselling company instead of a logistics company, they would have invested more initially in connecting readers or helping you find your next book.

Look at your own field. What do some people say “yes” to when you’re firmly a no? What do you see as the conventional way to do things and how would you prefer to do it differently? How have the decisions leaders in your field have made affect the way their businesses are perceived?

What can you decide to focus on that puts your business in a category of one like Amazon or Toms?

Making a decision to go a different direction, to make a choice other than the default, is a strategic decision.

It puts your business in a category of one. When based on your strengths and unique effectiveness, it makes your business more compelling. Making a strong and interconnected set of choices is the first step toward success.

Other strategic decisions are who you’re going to serve, how you’re going to connect with them, what price point you want to charge, how you’re going to package & deliver your offer, or what emotions you want evoke when people use your product.

The more intentional you are with the decisions you make, the stronger your strategy.

Now, not every strategy works—but to even have a chance at success, your strategy needs to be based on focused, intentional decision-making.

Every decision you make is an opportunity to put your product or business in the best possible position for success.

If you resist making decisions, you resist success. It’s as simple as that.

What decision have you been wrestling with lately?

Would you Tweet me and let me know? Sometimes it helps to call attention to it and share it with someone else.

Are you on track to reach your business goals this year?

It’s almost half-way through the year and that means it’s a great time to take a minute to figure out if you’re where you wanted to be when you set your business goals back in December or January.

What were you thinking when you read that sentence?

  1. Uh, I didn’t set goals for 2015. I just take things as they come.
  2. Yes, sure am on track! Thanks for asking.
  3. No, things aren’t turning out the way I planned.

Regardless of how you answered, it’s time to set your course of action for the next 6 months (because who wants to be working hard in December?).

Are you on track to reach your business goals?

“Uh, I didn’t set business goals for 2015.”

Look, I get it. In Myers-Briggs, I’m an INTP and P stands for “not gonna plan ahead for anything I don’t have to.”

I used to resist planning ahead, setting long-term goals, and committing to a course of action. I could create small victories on the fly—what more could I want?

Turns out, I wanted a lot more. If you’re resistant to set long-term goals or commit to a long-term course of action but you still have ambition informing your vision, I hate to break it to you but it’s time to make a change. You don’t have to over-plan, but you want to action with a particular destination in mind.

Your Next Question: Where do you want to be a year from now? Where do you want your business to be a year from now? What’s it going to take to get there?

Setting your destination helps to set your strategy.

“Yes, sure am on track!”

Congratulations! So am I. I’m exactly where I planned to be. And now that I’m here, I’ve been able to adjust my plan to reach a stretch goal I had in mind but couldn’t quite see the path to.

If you’re right where you want to be, it can be extremely helpful to look a little farther down the field. Maybe you were hoping to kick a field goal at the end of this drive and instead, you’re in position to go for the touch down.

Do you know the course of action you’ll need to get there? Do you have the tools or planning processes in place to make that happen?

Your Next Question: What decisions will help you reach your stretch goal? Is it time to hire some one new? Raise prices? Offer something that’s been on your mind? Cut away deadweight from your business?

Strategy is all about decision-making and you’re in a great place to do it.

“No, things aren’t turning out the way I planned.”

I’ve been there. I’ve created great plans only to have certain variables not go my way.

One of our Quiet Power Strategy™ clients, Jennifer Racioppi, who helps high-performing women create the personal fortitude they need to put in the work, talks a lot about resilience. Resilience is the ability to change course when the going gets tough. It’s the quality you need to spring back up when you get pushed over.

Resilience is hard work.

But it’s so worth it.

If things aren’t going to plan halfway through the year, it’s time to make a commitment to yourself, your business, and your customers to reexamine the plan and adjust it based on the new information you have.

Your Next QuestionWhat course corrections do you need to make?

Whether you haven’t had time to finish the project you thought you could, whether deals didn’t close as easily as you thought they should, whether all your pitching for media mentions and guest posts as fallen flat, you’ve got new data to work with. Take what you’ve learned and change course.

No matter how you answered…

No matter how you answered, it’s probably time to get some support in reaching your business goals. I’ll be opening pre-registration for the Fall session of Quiet Power Strategy (my hands-on business coaching program) in a couple of weeks. It might be exactly what you need to get where you’re going.

Of course, you can find support lots of place: colleagues, friends, mentors, and team members. Just don’t try to go it alone, okay?

You don’t get where you’re going (whether you’ve just decided where that is, you’re picking out a stretch goal, or whether you’re changing course) without help.

The Biggest Sales Objection: Trusting Yourself

Have you ever crafted the perfect offer, put a perfectly reasonable price tag on it, sent it out to all the right people, and still come up empty-handed in the sales department?

I know I have.

One technique you’ll hear over and over again for combatting this problem is to address your customers’ objections. Are they worried about the time commitment? Show them how to fit it in. Are they concerned that your product is right for the kind of person they are? Explain why it’ll work for them, too. Are they concerned about price? Demonstrate what kind of return on investment they could get.

But the biggest sales objection I’ve run into over the years—and from conversations with our Quiet Power Strategy™ strategists-in-training last week, I’m in good company—has been an objection that’s exceedingly difficult to combat.

How to Combat the Biggest Sales Objection

It’s trust.

But not trusting you. The biggest objection to buying is trusting themselves.

As providers, makers, and marketers, we spend an exorbitant amount of time helping our prospects trust us. We share personal stories, create valuable free content, and demonstrate through testimonials that we can be trusted.

But many times your “ask” doesn’t require any more trust in you and requires your customer to trust their own ability to get the kind of results you know you can deliver.

Getting value out of a product or service requires personal responsibility. Unless you’re a snake oil salesperson, you’re not saying that your product is the magic formula. You’re not the kind of marketer that promises that “one weird trick” is going to reduce the number on the scale by 20lbs or that this secret formula will result in triple the sales.

Even if you design clothing or make jewelry or create paintings, your customers need to feel that they can put your work to good use in order to buy it. People generally don’t buy things they don’t have the confidence to wear or put things in their homes they don’t have the attitude to match.

An Example

Let’s look at an example: Amy is a career coach. She knows she can help people manage career transition, discover a new path, or land a big promotion. She’s done it many times.

On her website, she talks about the clients she’s worked with, the successes they’ve had, and spells out specific outcomes new clients can expect when working with her. She doesn’t make promises—she knows better than that—but she does clearly articulate what she can coach you to if you’re willing to put in the work.

Amy’s practice sustains her own career but it’s not thriving the way she would like it to be. She has a hard time closing new clients. They start with long drawn out emails, they evolve to long initial consultations. They come back and ask more questions. Maybe then she can close the deal.

Yet, her existing clients rave about her. They keep coming back to her even after their initial packages complete. They ask her advice (and pay her) on the little bumps in their careers.

So why don’t more new prospects sign on the dotted line? And why can’t she, for the life of her, get people to sign up for the awesome career change program she put together?

Trust.

As a potential client, when you’ve had some career missteps, maybe a bad boss or a difficult-to-work-for company, you’re hopeful but cautious. That caution leads to the long sales conversation Amy is having to have to land each new client. It also means that even those who feel like she’s the right person for the job won’t pull the trigger. It’s them, not her.

And if they’re not willing to trust themselves enough to get results from working with her 1:1, they’re not going to trust themselves enough to get results working with her in a program.

Again, it’s them, not her. (It might be them, not you.)

This Sales Objection is Also a Question of Risk

We are exceedingly bad at understanding risk. And a majority of your prospective customers think they themselves are a sizable risk to their own futures when it comes to spending money on goals that can’t be guaranteed. Every time you make an attractive offer, your customers are weighing the risk that they won’t be able to put it to use.

We, of course, think they’re considering whether it will be good enough or not, whether we’re smart enough or not, or whether we’re experienced enough or not. And that may be the case, but it’s far likelier that they’re asking themselves whether they are good enough, smart enough, or experienced enough to get the results they really want out of what you’re offering.

Breanne Dyck, who started this conversation on our Quiet Power Strategy strategist training call last week, explains that to help people feel more comfortable with perceived risks, you need to help them gather more information. More information comes from experimentation (action), not from more data (inputs).

Most of your marketing strategy to this point is about data. Blog post after blog post you’re explaining concepts, telling stories, and sharing experiences. But it’s all just data until someone takes action on it. The result of their experiment becomes true information that allows them to better understand and predict future outcomes. It allows them to better assess their own personal risk and increases their level of personal trust.

That means that in order to combat this stickiest of sales objections, you need to build action and experimentation into your business model—not just data.

Knowing is not enough. Knowing too much can encourage us to procrastinate. There’s a certain point when continuing to know at the expense of doing allows the mess to grow further.

— Abby Covert,  How to Make Sense of Any Mess: Information Architecture for Everybody

The best way to ask your prospects to act is to ask for a commitment.

Trust (and True Information) Comes from Commitments

Think about the way you develop a romantic relationship. If you meet your special someone online (as I did), you start with committing to email them—it’s an initial experiment. This is about as low of a commitment as you can go. Then, hopefully, you commit to a first date. It’s probably just a coffee or drink date. Then, maybe you do a dinner date. And then a day hike.

Yes, this is a process of learning to trust the other person. To suss out whether they’re the one for you or not. But it’s also a process of learning to trust yourself. Do I like myself when I’m around them? Do I trust myself enough in this relationship to know I won’t make stupid decisions or follow them blindly?

Each commitment helps you learn to trust yourself as much as it does the other person.

As you’re building your business the same process needs to apply.

People generally don’t jump from discovery to purchase—especially not high-end products or services. You need to establish a series of commitments first.

Here are some commitments you might ask for:

  • Like your page on Facebook
  • Join a webinar
  • Exchange an email address for a welcome gift
  • Share a post with their friends
  • Regularly open emails and read content
  • Attend a workshop
  • Buy a book
  • Read a detailed case study
  • Visit your booth at a show
  • Purchase an entry-level product
  • Engage in an initial consultation
  • Book a short-term, project-based package

If you want to seriously combat this huge sales objection and dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes you to close a prospect, don’t pick one or two of these. Pick 3, 4, 5, or more of these smaller commitments. Create systems around them. Build them into your marketing calendar.

Relentlessly ask for small and escalating commitments so that when you’re ready to make a much larger offer, your prospect trusts herself enough to say yes.

Now you might be asking, “Isn’t this why I’m blogging every week?

Sort of. The thing is, blogging isn’t enough. Content strategy is huge, don’t get me wrong. But marketers who are only blogging (even blogging and sending it out through email) aren’t establishing that trust spiral that allows their readers to get closer and closer to feeling really good about making a purchase.

In my own business, I’ve built action and experimentation into all levels of my marketing:

  • I write ebooks that have built-in workbooks. The action is both the purchase and the results.
  • I host webinars that promise results during the call. The action is decision-making and discovery.
  • I teach workshops that build action steps into strategic concepts. The experiment is committing to watching and doing the homework.
  • I offer Goal Discovery sessions as part of my on-boarding process. The experiment is vulnerability and commitment.

Together, these pieces work together so that I don’t have to worry about the “trusting myself” sales objection. If you’ve made it that far in my business model and still don’t trust yourself, you’re probably not a good fit for my programs.

Amy’s Strategy

Remember our career coach Amy? I would ask Amy to think of 3 common scenarios that send people looking for career help. They probably don’t know they need a coach yet (and maybe they don’t), but they know they need to consult Google, a friend, or the network to get an answer. Those 3 common scenarios are:

  • I’m bored at work. I want a new challenge. I’m ready for a promotion.
  • I’m tired of this career. I want a new one. I’m ready to figure out a new direction.
  • I’m not making enough money. I want a raise. I’m ready to ask for one.

Then, I’d ask Amy to create a commitment trigger for each of those scenarios. Maybe she has a free ebook on asking for a raise, a free audio & workbook that helps you pinpoint your interest so you can figure out a new direction, and a checklist for preparing for a promotion. Each of those she puts behind an email wall. The “ask” is for an email address.

Now, let’s follow the free ebook on asking for a raise. The ebook shares exactly how to put together your pitch. The prospect finds that extremely helpful–but now she has a new problem. She needs to combat the fear of asking for a raise. Amy knows this, so she’s got a free webinar that she invites people who downloaded the raise ebook to. It’s all about getting over the 3 biggest fears you face when you ask for a raise.

Of course, asking for a raise is personal. So every month, she leaves 5 spots open on her calendar for a free initial consultation. Once a month, she asks this same group who is ready to work with her privately and invites them to this no-hassle consultation. She books all 5 appointments effortlessly. On that 30 minute call, she equips the prospect with at least one tactic they can use to suss out the possibility of getting a raise.

Finally, she follows up and asks if they’d like to book her Get That Raise coaching package. She offers to guide them through the next 6 weeks so that they’ve got a helping hand for each part of the process. She can’t guarantee a raise, but she can guarantee they’ll feel really good about the procedure.

Each part of Amy’s process has helped to build the prospects’ trust in herself. She’s taken action and already gotten results. Now it’s just an easy assessment of risk (what risk?!) to determine whether the information she has makes her feel good about working with Amy. Does she trust herself enough to really make use of this? Of course! She already has.

Sale closed.

Now it’s your turn.

How will you ask your audience to act, experiment, and commit in order to build their trust in themselves? There’s likely something you could do today. So do it!