How To Win Business And Influence Everyone

But we already have a way of doing that

But we don’t have the time or money to train our staff to use your product

But no one else is doing it this way

But…

But…

But…

Yes, I’ve heard all the “buts” a million times.  So how do you, as an entrepreneur or change maker, go from a “but” to a “hell yes!”?

Tell a great story.  

Every purchase you’ve ever made had a story attached to it.  And it is not the functionality or the feature set of the product or service which you bought.  You bought the story you told yourself about the product or service.

If I gave you a spec sheet of two cars and they were identical, you would pay the same for both cars.  But if at the end I revealed that one is a Jaguar and one is a Ford car, suddenly the value of the Jaguar car goes way up.

Why?

Because of the story we tell ourselves.

When you drive a Jaguar you’re buying the story of “I’m successful, I am rich, I am one of the big boys now”.

You can create the story you want for your business!  

I know this sounds lofty and as a small time entrepreneur you may think it’s not relevant or applicable, but it is, and if you don’t get this then it will stop you from getting to the next stage in your business.

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” – Henry Ford

So how the hell did Henry Ford sell his cars?

I played a game with my dad a few days ago.  I was playing the part of a farmer from 150 years ago and my dad was playing the part of an inventor who had just invented a car.  Here’s how it went:

Dad: Hello, I was wondering I could interest you in buying a car.

Me: Oh, what’s that?

Dad: It’s something I invented.  It can take you from A to B in no time at all!

Me: Hmmmm, I already use my horse to get around.  I don’t think I need anything else.

Dad: But, this is quicker!

Me: I’m just a simple farmer.  I’m not in a rush to get anywhere.

Dad: This car can hold luggage!  You’ll be able to move more crops!

Me: My horse’s saddle holds everything I need.

And on and on it went.

Notice what happened here – my dad was trying to sell me features!  The car has a roof, it has a boot, it can go this fast, it has an engine etc etc

NO ONE CARES ABOUT FEATURES!

YOU NEED A BETTER STORY!

We all know how much better the car is than a horse in getting jobs done today, but no doubt Henry Ford and the other innovators of his time faced the same dilemma that entrepreneurs today face.

My dad would have been better off telling a story about his car.  A story so powerful that it would strike the prospect right in his heart:

Innovator: “Mr farmer, do you have a family?”

Farmer: “Why yes, as a matter of fact I do.”

Innovator: “Mr Farmer, this car which I’ve built will allow you to take your beautiful wife out to Capital City during the day and allow you to come back home by evening time.  Imagine taking her out to a nice dinner and showing her the bright lights of the city.  You will finally have the freedom to explore this beautiful country.  The only limitation is how far you want to go!”

Do you see the difference?  And here’s the thing!  You can make up any story you want.  If you tell a good story then you won’t have to convince people about features, you’ll just have a conversation about how the features will allow you to deliver on your story.

You see, if you can tell a story about where you want to take the prospect then you can explain how you will get the prospect there.

I am in the healthcare sector.  If I were the one who came up with the idea of an electronic healthcare record, if I were to plainly describe what it does, I would not be able to sell it.  Take my word that electronic health records have dramatically improved the healthcare provided in England.

But again, if you try to sell features you get the following conversation:

Salesman: Would I be able to interest you in purchasing an electronic health record?

Clinician: Erm, what’s that?

Salesman: It’s a computerised system that allows you to create records.

Clinician: Well, we already have paper notes.  Why would we change?

Salesman: Well paper notes go missing!

Clinician: We have never misplaced a patients record in this clinic!

Salesman: ….well this also does prescriptions and can help you prescribe.

Clinician: I don’t need any assistance from you or your software!

Again, no one cares about features!!!  Tell a great story!

Salesman: Would I be able to interest you in trying out an electronic health record?

Clinician: Erm…what’s that?

Salesman:  Dr Smith, in an ideal world we would work closer with our colleagues both in the hospital and with other healthcare providers in the community.  In an ideal world we would know exactly what medications a patient is already on so that you can prescribe safely.  In an ideal world you would always know what allergies a patient has so that you don’t risk harming them instead of helping.  If these issues are things which you truly care about, then we should have a discussion.

Tell a great story!

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Are You Stupid, Mature Or Brave?

The only thing between where you are now and where you want to be are a series of hurdles.

Few people overcome these hurdles to reach the goal. Few people push through to become the person they want to become.

Stupid people start something while full well knowing, from the very beginning, that they’re never going to push through to the end.

Mature people realise that there are too many hurdles and don’t even start.

Brave people, the very few, decide that they’re going to fight to the end and reach the goal.

When you started your project, your business, your university course, your fitness regime you signed up for a series of hurdles.

Being mature is fine.

Being brave is fine.

Being stupid is inexcusable.

Are You “Job-ifying”?

“Job-ifying” is a game that people play.

The game consists of the following:

  • Comparing your clothes to others
  • Comparing who has the biggest car
  • Comparing who has the biggest house
  • Finding out who to please at work to get a “promotion”
  • Gossiping and spreading rumors about people you don’t like
  • Comparing how big your pay check is compared to others

The list is endless.  In short people who “job-ify” are people who think that resources are limited.  They think the end goal is to accumulate as much “stuff” as possible to try to impress people they don’t know..

But what if I told you there’s another way?  What if I told you that there’s a world where resources, happiness and wealth is not limited, but unlimited?  This world exists.  And you could live in it.

The only thing you need to do to live in this world is follow a new set of rules:

  • Be as generous as possible
  • Help others as much as possible
  • Share ideas as much as possible
  • Create as much as possible
  • Make as many meaningful connections as possible
  • Only compare yourself to who you were yesterday
  • Stand up for what’s right
  • Look others in the eye and with all sincerity say “I care”

I know which game I am playing.  Why not join me?

Businesses Only Make Sense After The Fact

It’s always in the news: “Eating X, causes Y Disease!!”.

We all know that these types of statements do not prove what the cause is. Does red meat cause bowel cancer? Or is it that people who eat more red meat are also more likely to be sedentary, smoke and drink a lot more alcohol? Perhaps one of these other variables is actually what causes bowel cancer.

When people see these types of news articles, they generally are aware that “correlation doesn’t prove causation”.

So why are we so bad at detecting BS when it comes to so many other things?

Let’s look at the education system.

Does education cause economic prosperity for a country? Most people would say “Of course it does!”. However, it is interesting to note that countries get wealthy despite not being educated. Look at India, Bangladesh and China. Their economic growth has been incredibly high despite their lack of “education”.

In fact as they are getting more wealthy they are building more and more schools and Universities.

No!

Rich countries do have schools but, countries get rich first!

So what about businesses and entrepreneurship? The narrative is always there. “Solve a problem!”, “help a million people and make a million dollars!”, “be at the cutting edge of technology!”.

Well, I think this is all BS. It’s a narrative that’s created after the fact.

Tell me, what “problem” in the market place did Facebook and AirBnB solve?

If you ask the founders they will give you an answer: “We wanted to make the world more connected”, or “all of this space was being left unused and we figured out a way to use it”.

But, these are insights that are thought of after the fact. The founders of these companies weren’t trying to solve problems – they were being lead by their curiosity and a sense that what they were creating “should exist”.

I genuinely think that the best businesses / business ideas are things that the founder feel like “should exist”.

Many people say that the definition of an entrepreneur is “someone who solves problems”.

I think that the definition is more like; “someone who creates the change they want to see in the world via commerce”.

Science Vs Entrepreneurship

The impression I got when I was in school was that everything had an answer.  If the answer wasn’t obvious then you could always look in the back of the book or ask someone for it.  There was always a “correct” answer out there somewhere.

The mirage of certainty fades away the higher up you get in education.  When I was in University we would often reach a point in discussions where there were no answers, just questions and ongoing research trying to find the truth.

That’s what science does.  It searches for an agreeable “truth” using a method which makes this “truth” undeniable.  However, “educated” people go on to believe that there is a truth out there, which is yet to be discovered, for pretty much everything…

In this respect, science seems to be the opposite to business and perhaps this goes some way to explain why very educated people tend to make bad entrepreneurs.

Science = searching for a “truth” that we can all agree with.

 Entrepreneurship = searching for a business to prove everyone else in the market place wrong.

For a new business to work and thrive, it has to be overlooked by everyone else in the market place – otherwise there would be no point in creating a new business.  This means that you have to bet on something that no one agrees would make a good business.  This means that since something new is being done, the journey of an entrepreneur will always be full of hurdles, uncertainty, nay sayers and risk.

Realise, that there’s no hero in this story.  

There are no large businesses that will come and help you, there is no waiting for that “big deal”, there is no person that will get the sale for you, there is no one to introduce you to new prospects.

It’s all up to you.

“But, Money Can’t Buy Happiness!!!”

It’s interesting to note that the most precious things in life are intangible.  They don’t have a price, they aren’t things that you can hold in your hands and without them life would be pretty meaningless.

Love, family, relationships, purpose, happiness….All intangible.

But there is one thing in life which is intangible, but money can buy.

Time.

Time is impossible to put a price on.  Your time is precious, non-refundable and once you’ve spent your finite time on this Earth it’s gone forever.

Your time is worth fighting for.  Too many people aren’t close to their family and friends, have missed their children’s first steps and words due to not having the time – usually as they’ve tied their time to a 9-5 job.

And for what?

People stick to those 9-5 jobs so that one day they can buy a mediocre car, a mediocre house and receive a mediocre pension so that they can live the rest of their lives out doing what mediocre people do (reading the news, getting angry at politicians, complaining about why their life sucks).

Don’t fall for the “But, money can’t buy happiness*” argument, because no one is arguing for it.  But realise that you can buy one of the most precious things in your life: your time.

And it’s worth fighting for.  Your life is valuable and you can have it back if you create enough value for the world.

*When I first started to have the idea of starting a business when I was a junior doctor, I would always face the “But, money doesn’t buy happiness!” argument from other doctors when discussing my business ideas.  For some reason here in the UK, pseudo-socialist middle class doctors who are in the upper percentiles of income, don’t like the idea of one of their colleagues becoming even richer, as that would just be wrong and socially unjust…  To paraphrase Orwell:

“It’s not because they love the poor, it’s because they hate the rich”

It’s a knee jerk argument/reaction on their part, because they’re not willing to think things and do things which would make them uncomfortable.  It’s a form of laziness and shouldn’t be taken seriously.