Secrets of Great Leaders

“You must first be the change you wish to see in the world” -Gandhi

There have been many good leaders in the world, but few I regard as great, however at least a few come to mind: MLK, Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Mandela, Churchill. Each took up a cause of action that was greater than themselves. They put the cause first, they did not bow down to their critics, they inspired followers to take up the cause, and they had the vision to see what they wanted to accomplish in all its glory and started on a plan to get there. Their real skill was in inspiring and mobilizing their followers and in their ability to influence those that didn’t really think like they did. Here are a few other things that seem to work:

  • Focus: say no to everything that isn’t a “Hell Yeah!” and focus on Force Multipliers
  • Your process for information flow is critical: who or what is keeping you from getting the crucial info you need…especially the negative news. Remove those filters
  • Proper delegation… two key elements:
    • Focus on results, not methods
    • Push down decision making to the lowest common denominator
  • Properly balance management and freedom: give the freedom to achieve, but keep a watchful eye
  • Perseverance: there will be delays, setbacks, even failures
  • Set expectations that inspire others to achieve: tell them you have faith they will do great things…they will do all they can not to let you down
  • Accept failures and mistakes as long as they are learned from… public praise, private criticism
  • Dig down deep into your organization looking for pods of talent… protect and cultivate these people
  • Humility: listen and accept criticism. A bunch of “Yes” men/women is a recipe for disaster
  • Be willing to be on the front lines with your team (not just to show you are part of the team, but so you also know what is really going on without filters)

There are a million thoughts on what makes a great leader, but these work for me.

“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be” -Goethe

Tame Those Hunters, Farmers, and Rainmakers

All salespeople aren’t created equal! Starting with that premise, realize that different people have different strengths…play to those strengths.

In the sales arena, there are a multitude of needs, so try to match the right person to your actual need: Do you need a rainmaker, do you need a hunter, do you need a farmer, do you need someone more technical, more social, etc. Let’s take a quick look at some of these:

  • Hunter: this is a salesperson particularly good at finding and bringing in new prospects. They may not be as good at keeping them, so do what you can to help them bring the customers in, hand them off properly, and allow them to move on to the next ones.
  • Farmer: this is a salesperson that does a great job of cultivating those customers once they are on board. They are great at long term relationships and at getting more out of those existing customers. They also are usually spending so much time cultivating that they don’t have time to spend on looking for new customers…once again a reason for splitting hunters and farmers.
  • Rainmaker: this is a salesperson that can generate lots of sales, seemingly out of thin air, for you in a relatively quick timeframe. They are usually very expensive. Make sure they can really do what they say before you bring them on and secondly make sure you can handle the additional business if they are successful. While hunters are great at chasing lots of new potential customers, a rainmaker is looking to land one or two whoppers.

You need to figure out what your needs are and then you need to put the right people in the right roles. You also need to figure out how you are going to fill these roles…hiring from outside (even from your competitors) or growing them up through your organization. Sometimes you need a little of both, but a healthy bench is extremely important…always know where you are going to pull from next.

For new lead follow up, you may even assign a person or team to doing nothing but this and then have them hand off once the customer is on-boarded. Remember: you have to respond to new leads asap (know this: 70% of the time people choose the real estate agent who called them back first!)…you really need a plan here.

One last piece of advice…just because you have a great salesperson with great ambition that doesn’t mean that he needs to become your sales manager. Many really good sales people are terrible managers and vice versa. Think about it this way: if you had a star football running back would you make him a coach or hire more blockers instead?

Happy Hunting, Farming, and Rainmaking!

 

 

 

 

Qualify, Qualify, Qualify…Sell

Qualify those customers before all else, and as Yoda might have said, do it not and waste endless hours of your life! Improper qualification of potential customers can get you wasting precious time on someone with no potential ROI.

You will never make a sale if you are selling the wrong customer or even trying to sell the wrong person within the right customer. You have to work your way to the proper decision maker. Here are a few quick questions to ask yourself:

  1. Does this person have the authority to make the decision (you need to realize that title does not mean authority)?
  2. Do they have money?
  3. Do they have the desire?

If you can’t answer “Yes” to all of the above, you might want to think twice before investing a lot of time here.

1,000 True Fans

I didn’t come up with this one. This comes from a wonderful post by Kevin Kelly here.

The gist of the idea is that if you want to be successful in any endeavor: artist, entrepreneur, musician, etc. you don’t need 1 million customers or followers, you just need to acquire 1,000 true fans. The emphasis is on “True” fans…that doesn’t mean all 1,000 worship every thing you do, but in general they are willing to buy what you are selling and they are more than happy to help spread the word because they love it so much.

Obtaining 1,000 fans isn’t an easy quest (although the internet has helped substantially in creating direct relationships with your fans all around the globe), but once you’ve gotten there, you know you’ve hit on something good.

Go find those 1,000 fans!

 

Scarcity…How I Love Thee

Scarcity increases demand. Consider: people fall in love with those who could care less, banks give money to those that don’t need it, and people don’t want to go to a party if you are begging them (clubs and restaurants make fake lines out the door while having plenty of empty tables inside), etc. It is a funny law of human behavior.

As a rule, if an item is rare or becoming rare, it is more valuable. As something becomes less available to us, we feel loss of freedom and that makes us want it even more. Think about the times that someone has tried to keep you from taking the time to think a deal over by scaring you into believing you can’t have it later because the thing you want will probably be gone…what is your response (probably depends on how badly you want it).

Here are some ways this is used against us everyday:

  • Companies like Apple complain that they can never fully satisfy demand
  • Bitcoin: US $ can be printed, but there are only so many Bitcoin to be had
  • Salesmen push for you to buy now as another person wants to buy it too… no time to wait
  • Politicians may say something detrimental to them has been censored so they can’t speak about it (now we really want to know)
  • Declarations of inadmissibility in the courtroom usually have opposite effects on jurors
  • Auctions: sometimes they tend to a bidding frenzy beyond all reason…if the other guy wants it that bad then I want it more 

     

     

2 really great experiments in the book Influence by Robert Cialdini:

  1. Beef in short supply: a control was asked to buy beef and told nothing. Another was told of a future scarcity and bought two times as much. However, the customers that were told individually of this “exclusive” information bought 6X as much. The fact that the news of the scarcity was made scarce was even more persuasive.
  2. Cookie shortage: participants were given cookies… both groups were told that the organizers had to take some back but one group was told it was because of a mistake and the other was told because they were in high demand by other testers. The ones in the highest demand were deemed by all to be more valuable and desirable.

One way to maintain long term demand for your product is to never totally satisfy the demand. This applies to dealing with people as well. Make yourself less accessible and you increase the value of your presence…the ardor of an indifferent lover surges with the appearance of a rival.

 

 

 

 

Choose Just ONE Metric

In the words of the Highlander, “There can only be one” or from Jack Palance’s character in City Slickers, “Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean —-.”

The point is if you give your team too many metrics to chase or different metrics for different folks , everybody isn’t pulling in the same direction. So, just pick one thing for your entire team to focus on: Profit $, Acquiring New Customers, Revenue, whatever, but make sure there is no question in your organization what it is and everybody is doing everything they can to head toward that goal.

Just One Thing!!

 

Think Twice Before Lowering Prices

Sometimes it feels easy to do what the customer asks and just cut a price a bit. So what if you shave a bit of profit off of your current business, you’re sure you will make it up in volume. Well, let’s see how much volume increase is needed to offset a cut in price starting with say a baseline of $15 with 50% margin…

Cost Cut Volume Increase Needed

…if you decrease the margin from 50% to 45%, you have to grow revenue by 22%. If you decrease by the margin from 50% to 40%, you have to grow revenue by 50%!! On the other hand, if you can manage to increase your pricing marginally, you can decrease revenue quite a bit and still maintain profitability.

Keep this in mind the next time someone says, “Hey, old buddy, old pal, can you hook me up with a little better price?”