Thursday, April 30, 2009

Business - Find Your "Golden Glow"

I recently turned down a fresh business opportunity whom I'd just serviced.  It's another condo unit in the same block of the poorly designed condo case study I'd blogged earlier.

While I'd managed to deliver some progress to the first unit, the other unit my client approached me with has even worse fundemental issues which I reverted with 2 solutions:

- Allow me to talk to his client so I can explain the situation clearly to him and advice him to sell it off
- I'm not taking up this case

In the end, my client declined to refer me to his boss and I walked off with the money on the table with clear explanation of why I'm doing so, and that I've nothing against my client.  I could've taken the money, do something "with my best", and then eventually say that things fail because it's the building's core design fault.

But I didn't.

In my 10 odd years of business (sales) doing, excellent delivery isn't a given, it's expected because your client paid money for it.  We have the duty to be professional in our services as a proof of our difference to the many competitors out there.  And in this stance, we've the duty to inform our prospects what they should expect with their shopping list.  Now for this, another term would be "managing expectations".

Please don't confuse this with complacency, which is an entirely different ball game altogether.  Managing expectations comes with a high level of sincerity and integrity while complacency is a game of ego.  Having said that, failure to deliver what the client expects of me may also mean I'm not good enough to deserve the business.

This is entirely fine by me, because the world is very small, never ever burn bridges by a sub-standard delivery.  Words get pass around and in no time, someone by 4th degree association to the prospect would hear of it and the name would get stuck with dirt.

And what if you're a newly start-up (like me) and need the business to cover expenses?

In my entry of Passion Isn't A Blank Cheque, money is essential to have a new business running, along with the other key ingredients to make the first steps.  If one is doing business with very low level of "ammunition", they cannot expect themselves to survive in the cruel business warfield.

In all of my years doing sales and business development, a failed sales target means only one thing: my pipeline is weak.

While I do not belong to the top 10% salesperson in the world, I do know of sales people who never fail their sales targets.  They took alot of strategising and planning to have a healthy pipeline, and by delivering what clients need.  By meaning of "what clients need", it's not always about goods and services in the hardline way.

It can mean the strong personal relationship built for the business to be put in their hands.

One may think it's unfair that businesses can be done this way but please let me remind you that empires are made by beliefs and trust.  If your prospect/client believes in you, likes you and trusts you, then the deal is indefinitely yours.  It's not about the money anymore.

This is business doing at a higher level - Relationships.

This is a soft skill not acquired overnight.  It's a personal niche a business owner/salesperson has to uncover within themselves of their best selling point then polish it till it shines, to smell success.  Please note that it's "smell", it's not in the pocket still.

I've read many self-help books, and many talk about "right attitude", "be positive", "be motivated" and all to be successful, but most didn't impart the X-Factor of success.  And that is your personal niche.

Personal niche is different for many people.  It could be the way they carry themselves, the way they talk, the 24-7 aftersales service, the way they make beef stew for the clients or even how they write their "thank you" cards.  Everyone is unique and one should always seek to find that golden glow within.  Find it and one would never have to starve again or make a living in a hard way.

For me, it's my honesty and transparency that have won contracts and sales from a successful empirical track record in the last 10 odd years.  I can't push for sales, it's impossible to me, I always fail if I start pushing. 

Yet, before finding the "golden glow", a budding sales/business person should have solid foundation understanding the principles of sales doing, products and services knowledge, presentation skills, public speaking skills, negotiations and sales-closing angles etc before going off the higher level of seeking the "golden glow".  Without the foundation well set, achieving the "golden glow" is just a skill of apple polishing.

While apple polishing isn't a career suicide in the short run, it definitely has long term damaging effects which I've witnessed many times in my life.  It's very ugly, scary and always strike at the wrong timing - when the individual needs the job most.

Isn't life difficult?  Yes, life is a jungle out there.  We need to survive and we have to find ways for it.  No one is spared of this cycle (including me) and no one should be a dodo bird if they can help it.  But once you find your personal niche i.e your Golden Glow, you're set to cruise.