There has to be a better way to make sales.
Why am I so skeptical of sales tactics? I am tired of the gimmicks used to raise false hopes. Tired of all the hype which is often used to close a sale. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to be presented with something that sold itself, simply because it works and does what it claims. Why not sell by sharing a simple story, demonstrating usefulness, and letting me, the customer, decide if I desire or need a product?
The truth is, there are very few things in this world that everyone needs. We are all wired differently, so it’s impossible we would like or desire the same things for our lives. Here lies the tension for those whose job it is to sell, to share the good news about something. Convincing others that they need something, simply because we need to sell it, is not enough. There has to be awareness of the needs of the customer.
I believe timing is everything when it comes to sales. I have to be ready with my story when the opportunity to sell comes knocking. If I represent something that is truly good and useful, the time will come when someone will be looking for what I have. It’s important for me to know when that need occurs. If I’m alert and ready to share my sales story at the right time, it will probably result in a sale. Selling to benefit the customer, when they need it, should be more important than my need to make a sale.
To Market, to Market
So I am left with this question, should I advertise or market a good product that meets needs? I believe the answer is yes. The bigger question is how to market. Do I manipulate and do everything I can to make the sale, then move on? Or is there wisdom in being patient, taking time to build curiosity, then trust, and finally loyalty to my product? The first way of selling tends to leave me looking for shortcuts and gimmicks. It’s the kind of marketing that creates skepticism. The second way is more sustaining in the long run, for my product and my business.
I believe God gave us community to help us overcome the darkness in our lives through light. He gave us the opportunity to hear the truth about ourselves through the person of Jesus and the people who choose to follow him and share his teaching. The Gospels are filled with this reality.
What Is Light?
Light comes from darkness. Have you ever really thought about that reality? Without darkness there is no light. The contrast has to be there. We can do our best to never turn out the lights around us, but the darkness is still there waiting for us.
The Gospel writer John illustrates this reality in chapter 1, verses 1-5.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Darkness comes in many forms in our human world. One form is guilt and shame. I don’t have to explain to anyone over the age of two how these manifest themselves in our life. We have all felt them in one way or another. Likely, we have felt them in some form over the past hour or day. The truth about guilt and shame is that they create a dark place in our lives and without the truth that dark place will overcome us.
I am not saying you have to believe or be a follower of Jesus to affect change in this broken world. But, I would challenge you to think about the source of the light you share. It has to have a source.
Here in northern Wisconsin Christmas comes during the darkest time of the year. We desperately need something to combat it. Let’s think about being light in this dark time. Are we going to share hope or doom? I believe you and I have a role to play in keeping the darkness from overcoming our families and communities now and throughout the year. I challenge you to be a light in this dark season by sharing something good with someone, out of gratitude, from your heart.
Lauren Daigle – Light Of The World (Lyric Video)
Balance in all the important areas of life is something most of us struggle with. Thoughts on the subject from an entrepreneur …
Balance: Now and Later
Balance is the key to getting the right mix when living out today’s reality and tomorrow’s opportunity for our life. A healthy balance includes maintaining meaningful work and relationships today while at the same time investing in each of these areas of life for the future.
I like to break my life down into three major categories.
- Relationships – family, friends, community, emotional health
- Activities – rest, recreation, hobbies, growth and learning
- Work – Providing life’s essentials, giving back to society with dollars & service
I find that being an entrepreneur, I often get to mix my work with the rest of my life. The leadership, decision making skills and experience at work help when planning my time with family and friends. I also get to support organizations that reflect my world view and my interests in life through my business.
For many of us, especially us business owners, work is the area where we struggle. Too much work or too little work and we find life is just not happening as well as it could. Do I have this all figured out so that my relationships, activities and work life are always in perfect balance? No, that’s just not true. I can say that I give it thought, and continue to desire and work toward that balance in my life. I also wish it for you.
Testing the Balance
Developing a servant mindset has been a key to keeping a balance between my work and the rest of my life. There is a fine line between being a true servant and a workaholic.
The way I test myself is to ask “Is my business for the purpose of acquiring more stuff or helping others?”. “Am I looking for recognition or anonymity?”
I daily find myself desiring more stuff and/or wanting recognition for accomplishments or acts of generosity. This realization helps me examine my motives. I know there will be times when I will be recognized and financially rewarded for my work, and there is nothing wrong with this. But if the lack of recognition or reward reduces my passion and effectiveness, then I likely may be out of balance.
When there is a deeper reason than acquiring stuff or propping up my ego, that is when work no longer feels like work. The correct balance means the people closest to me don’t feel nearly as neglected when duty calls me away. They may even step in and help me. Balance and a servant attitude helps us all to enjoy the blessing of being a part of something bigger than ourselves.
Where do you need calm instead of chaos? These five tips from a busy executive might be just what you are looking for!
How to stay calm in the midst of chaos? Please note I am preaching to myself, not you!
I also am not professing to have all the answers because chaos can come in so many forms; health issues, including death, relational problems, financial worries, even an over abundance of blessings can set us off balance and feel chaotic. Often, many of these totally unrelated things can converge at the very same time.
First – Stop! Calm Doesn’t Happen in a Race.
I just need to find a place to stop, be still and gain perspective.
Second – Confidence or surrender?
I need to determine what kind of calm I need. Calm that comes from confidence or surrender. These are two very different postures of leadership. Both are equally effective when applied to different circumstances.
Third- Where am I?
Chaos can appear at different times in a process. It can be close to the beginning or toward the end of an experience. Knowing if I’m closer to the begining or the end is important! It can help me prevent panic as I contemplate how much energy I will need to finish what I started.
Fourth – How much fuel is in the tank?
Should I stop or should I go? Do I know if I have the capacity to see this through? Where will the energy come from and do I have the needed resources? These are hard questions because we never know for sure what we are capable of in the midst of chaos. I have this innate ability to either overestimate or underestimate my capability. When my confidence, or lack thereof, talks with my experience, what does it tell me?
Fifth – Wisdom to Stay Calm!
This is like a test. The older I get, the better I should be at making wise decisions and remaining calm in the process. My humanness keeps me from passing this test every time. But grace keeps me in the game.Thank goodness for grace! I am thankful I know where grace comes from. Without it I would be a chaotic mess. With it, I am… well, I’m being as calm as I can be!
More thoughts on being grateful, as November closes…
When I listen to someone talk about a truly amazing and memorable experience, I usually expect to hear enthusiasm in their voice. Their grateful words, without enthusiasm, are just words and carry very little weight in my heart.
The Grateful Giver
I view giving thanks from two different postures, the giver and the receiver. When I am truly grateful I try to add something to what I express. I like to show my excitement in the words I choose, the inflection in my voice and maybe an appropriate action – a smile, a hug or a pat on the back. These are side products of my enthusiasm. Without them the receiver hears my words but doesn’t experience my gratitude in the way I intended them to experience it. They may be just words to them
The Receiver of Gratitude
On the other hand, as the receiver of someone’s gratitude I look for these same cues. I try not to be too judgmental if their actual presentation is lacking in some way. They may be truly grateful but have a reason for being unable to show enthusiasm. Someone who has gone through a tragic life experience or is suffering from illness may be physically or mentally unable to add much to their words. Understanding this can keep me from feeling underappreciated when that is simply not true.
The most satisfying form of thankfulness, in my opinion, is when I am an anonymous receiver. Someone is enthusiastically expressing thanks for something to those around them but they don’t know who did the act. I receive their thanks anonymously. When this happens I know I have truly made a difference in someone’s life! It’s hard to resist the temptation to take credit or divulge that I had a part. Instead I accept that they are thankful and I, in turn, am thankful for the result in their life. I can just smile and give them a hug. That is thankfulness recycled.
How has this month of November stirred you to be grateful in a more expressive way?
Being general contractor for my most recent building project has reminded me of some universal principles that apply to building almost anything of lasting value. Whether it be a home, a business, a non-profit organization, or an athletic program, these same things are true:
- Much of what you do will go unnoticed but it is critical to success. There are two stages in a home building project where you take a whole lot of work by the subcontractors and cover it up forever; when you pour the foundation and when you install the wall coverings and insulation. There will come a time when the unseen becomes seen. Someday you will flip the switch and the lights will come on because the wiring is there. (See photos below.)
- The order in which you do things matters. When the concrete gets poured it is too late to install drains or in floor heating coils without racking up enormous amounts of work and cost overruns. To get the right order it’s always wise to have a good blueprint, professional advisers and experienced contractors in place before the project starts.
- There will be days when it feels like nothing is getting done. There are stages of the project where you just have to wait for the next right thing to happen. So wait, because not waiting can bring disaster to the whole project.
- It’s never as easy as you think it will be. Do you ever look at work someone else has done and think, how hard could it be? Unless you have done it yourself, you don’t realize the time, care or thought behind that finished product.
- Mistakes can lead to innovation. Example: the day we poured concreteI realized I had forgotten to form out where we were going to install a zero threshold shower. I shared my mistake with the mason but it was too late. The concrete was poured and setting up. But we thought of a way to make it work. We took a maul and broke up the concrete while it was still green.
These principles are not to discourage anyone from building a home or business. Instead, knowing them will help you go into the process with eyes wide open to the realities. Creating something of value is seldom easy but it is worth it. We are creating a better world for ourselves and those we love and care for.
Want a good test for finding the ideal partner? Build a house together.
When You Need an Ideal Partner
What they say:
“you should never build a house during the early stages of a marriage. The stress caused by the sheer volume of decisions, many of which are preferential decisions, can be simply too great for the relationship to survive.”
During 25 years of marriage my wife and I have worked our way through two extensive remodel projects and one new family home built from scratch. Now, we find ourselves building again. This time we are building our so called retirement home. It will be a smaller, one level, lower maintenance home.
We started this journey when my wife’s parents both expressed their desire to downsize and simplify. We don’t find ourselves at this point yet, but we saw this as an opportunity. We could build this home early, while we still have the energy and ability to do so. We had been saving a piece of property with this purpose in mind. The thought of them getting to enjoy it, while waiting for our own retirement, sounded like an ideal opportunity.
Defining Ideal Partner
This brings me back to the value of a good partner. Let’s look at a definition of the ideal partner.
Ideal partners value the other’s interests separate from their own. They feel congenial toward and supportive of one another’s overall goals in life. They are sensitive to the other’s wants, desires, and feelings, and place them on an equal basis with their own.
Being an Ideal Partner
My wife, Mary Pat’s involvement in this project has been extensive. She has done most of the “behind the scenes” decor and finishing touches. I, on the other hand, have been managing the day to day workflow and financial aspects of the project. We are currently starting month six of the project. Reflecting on this, it dawned on me how much fun I have had working with my partner on this project. Though it’s been exhausting and stressful at times, she has always, and I mean always, shown me these invaluable characteristics of a great partner:
- Verbally appreciates my role, over and over again.
- Is supportive during the inconveniences that arise in pulling the whole project together.
- Asks my opinion even when I don’t really want to give it.
- Always cares more about me and my well being more than the project
- Laughs often over the silly things we place a high value on, things that are good but often non essential luxuries.
- Willing to compromise if it makes the whole project more bearable.
- Able to say “maybe later” to things that feel overwhelming at the time.
What It’s Worth
I never could have predicted the pure joy this project project has brought me. I give all the credit to a great partnership and 25 years of practice. Multiple home projects and business ventures, raising two amazing children, and a shared faith has prepared us for this adventure.
Never take for granted what you are going through today and who is going through it with you. The value may be in the unknown future joy you will experience with your ideal partner.