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What does it take to succeed? How many times have you asked that question of yourself and others? You may have heard many different answers. I have found one thing that successful people have in common. They use systems.
They may or may not have talent. If they did they learned not to rely on talent alone. Talent is seductive. For example, if you are talented at golf you might be tempted not to practice. You might believe you can wing it. Tiger Woods never wings it. Wayne Gretzky never winged it. Both of them are tremendously talented at their sport. But they know not to rely on that talent alone. They developed systems.
What is a system? A set of practices, procedures and habits melded into a process that you learn, perform, evaluate, improve and do again – repeatedly. Everything that you do can be a process. This applies in your personal life but especially to your business. To run a marathon requires a simple system – training, diet, measurement and repetition. The hard part is taking the 70,000 steps to complete the race. Your business is more like a marathon than a sprint.
Everything in your business begs for a system. Business is real simple that way; discover the system and do it. And systems by their nature are simple. They demand only persistence and consistence.
Let’s look at the most important aspect to your business – sales. If you don’t sell you die. Can’t get more important than that. Selling is not luck or talent – it is a process. You find a client who wants your product, they see the value in buying from you, they can afford it, and they buy. That is over simplified but that is the process. Depending on the business you are in you learn the details of each step and apply them. A friend of mine told me that he knows how many million dollar clients he will get this month and the one after. Why? Because he knows the process and where to find them. The difference between the $10,000 client and the $1million client is where to look. The selling process is the same. The only difference is the system of where you look. To maximize his sales he keeps reapplying the process (system) and strives to find opportunities for improving efficiency in the system.
The second most important activity in your business is marketing. Why? Because marketing is everything you do that makes it easier to sell. Here is where following a system is even more important. Marketing is about sending messages. Building your visibility, credibility, value, character and reputation takes time. And the results are difficult to measure. You might be tempted to give up too soon.
What marketing systems do you have in place? You might consider implementing some of these.
Send thank you notes. Carry pre-stamped envelopes and cards in your brief case so you can write the notes in a waiting room, on the plane or while having a coffee. Thank customers for business, opportunities and meetings. Thank others for recommending a book, introducing you to a prospect, or hosting a great meeting.
Write notes of congratulations. Pick a time each day for this activity. It might be first thing, last thing, while on hold, waiting for the computer to backup or during breakfast. Read the news. Did you read about a client, colleague or someone you want to meet? Send them a quick note.
Send news releases about your company to the media. Learn how to write one. Build a database of media contacts. Develop a template. Plan to send one out regularly. Look for opportunities and angles and send them out. Don’t get upset if every one isn’t used. Do it consistently – some of them will be.
Make your cold calling systematic. Write your cold call telephone script. Rehearse it. Improve it. Analyze who your best prospects are. Select those names. Schedule your calling times. Then call. Deliver your script. Then do the next one. At the end of the scheduled time, stop. Don’t keep calling just because you feel good. Plan then follow it. There is much less pain that way.
Don’t be caught by surprise by voice mail, a gatekeeper or the CEO on the phone. Prepare what you will say to each. Write your script, edit, rehearse then tape yourself. Then improve. They will think you are so clever when you know the right thing to say. Don’t count on luck – build that system.
Attend a networking function. Decide your goals for attending. You may want to meet three new people, touch base with two clients, or connect with the CEO. If you know what you want you are more likely to find it. After you achieved your goals you might relax and just socialize. Consider that your reward. All your systems should have checkpoints and rewards – along with penalties.
Do you use a computer? Success with your computer emanates from learning and practising systems. You learn the software, shortcuts and tips. You must develop systems to protect your computer. Backup regularly. Scan for viruses. Use passwords. I guarantee you, deviate from your system of backups and sure enough Murphy will appear to teach you a lesson.
Life is simple. Success is simple. Business is simple. There will be complicated moments, confusing dilemmas, and challenging enigmas. These are meant to test your patience, virtue and self-confidence. Be clear, be persistent, be consistent and practise systems.