The world of business is full of noise. Outsourced appointment booking services, cold calling and canvassing lists. Mail Merge and personalisation. SPIN Selling...
We are encouraged to see success and failure in business as a numbers game. If we just put ourselves in front of as many people as possible, we will win. If we can just make our pitch better, present our ideas in a more appealing way, we will win. Anything else is failure.
And the numbers game does work. Cold call enough people and someone will need you when you call. Mass email enough people and someone will buy your product or service. It may be 1%, 0.1% or 0.0001% but you will get there eventually. This is why cold calling and canvassing are still popular ways to develop sales people and run a business. It is also the preferred way to run a phone scam.
It works with incredible waste. For everyone you call who doesn't want your service, you have wasted your time and theirs. Over time it creates a net negative to each individual salesperson. A negative which isn't countered by the one person out of one hundred who does need to buy what you are selling when you call.
The counter weight to the waste of the outbound, cold-sales movement has been the inbound movement. The edges of inbound start to look the same as outbound sales. Wait till they click, then call. Email triggers based on actions and personalisation. It seems that even when we advocate for content leadership and driving inbound sales, we still want to push, to influence and to spin.
There is a method that does respect the time of the majority, focus our action on quality and ensure the most efficient, and personal use of resources. Real inbound business inquires and referrals from people we know. Focus on value-first.
Every time we reach out to someone, we think about 'how can I create value for this person?' 'how can I do something meaningful?' Over time this leads to reciprocation and helps us build relationships. Long-term this creates sustainable business build on mutual exchange of value.
This is the idea that if you focus on doing meaningful work for the people that you deal with, they will recommend you when they meet people who care about meaningful work. It means investing time in relationships and value. And it means accepting that you will lose business to the more aggressive, flashy and pushy sales tactics.
This is going back to the past of what business was originally supposed to be. Do something that creates meaningful value for others. If the value is meaningful enough, they will be willing to pay for it.
Treat everyone as a customer as even if they don’t pay you today, they may tomorrow. Treat them badly they never will.
This mindset is one reason behind our social impact programs. When we find a gap/failure/mistake in our business, we change the service or build a social program to counter it. A normal business accepts 20% failure as long as the business grows. I’ve been that person, telling my team to be clear that we can’t help them. Walk away. Focus on what makes money. Now, I want to be the person that says, let’s think of a way that we can help them and build a profitable, sustainable business.
Building a value-first, referral-based business means investing in a long term business which will succeed or fail based on the work that we do each day.
Welcome to our experiment to create an empathetic, slow business.