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Clients don't just show up! Clients don't just show up!
by Joseph Gatt
2021-01-29 10:16:35
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Let's be clear. Over the last 15 or so years people have been coming up to me and saying “Yossi, what's wrong with the economy? How come the economy ain't what it should be?”

Corruption is one of many problems. Bureaucracy. Sabotage. Easy loans. Those are of course big problems.

But then you have big corporations and governments coming up to me and telling me “Yossi, we want things to work for small business. If small businesses don't work, big businesses don't work, and the government loses tax money.”

I thought about this situation for 15 years, observed kids at work, and here are my conclusions.

noclie0001_400We have a sales skills crisis. That is, young entrepreneurs don't know how to sell.

In the .com era, many young entrepreneurs rely on websites and online advertising to find clients. Problem is, few people trust online businesses, unless they are established and reputable brands. And even when they are established and reputable brands, people look for offline proof that the online business is indeed legit.

Second problem: young entrepreneurs set up businesses and expect people to just show up! They don't go out and try to fetch clients!

Young entrepreneurs try to join all kinds of online groups and forums where they try to advertise their shops or products. But, very often, they'll post the ad or picture, and disappear from the scene.

Or, generation X and generation Y thinks that just because they have a shop people should show up, because of all the efforts they made to set up the shop.

But here's how sales should really work, be it for small businesses or big businesses. Sales is about partnerships. Sales are about going on a lot of “partnership blind dates” and 90% of the time the blind dates will be inconclusive.

So if you have a restaurant, a bar, a factory, a shop, or you work in retail or in farming, a lot of your work will be going out and trying to find partners to come visit your shop and purchase products.

Finding partners is complicated, I've tried my hand at it, failed 90% of the time.

You make appointments with potential partners (usually they'll be glad to talk to you). You visit them at their office (usually they will be ice cold with you). You try to sell your product (usually they will behave like they should be getting your product for free).

And when you've done that a few dozen times, you're going to get a few partners that are going to be the cash cow that helps your business keep running.

Here are the mistakes I've seen young entrepreneurs make:

-They rely on salesman who go fishing all day and then pretend they visited all these potential clients, when they visited no one.

-They rely on commissions-based salaries for salesmen, but a lot of times that's an incentive for salesmen to value short-term hard sales tactics over long-term solid partnerships. To give you an analogy that's like aiming for the one-night-stand instead of the long-term relationship. That's what commissions-based salaries tend to be. That is commissions-based salesmen tend to try to dump as many products as they can in one sitting, rather than build decade-long partnerships with clients.  

-They reject client suggestions for improvement of the product, and refuse to even consider client suggestions.

-Or, they are a bit too attentive to client suggestions and change drastically their range of products just because one client made one remark.

-They don't diversify their sources for networks of clients. They rely on one organization or chamber of commerce of their entire range of clients. You should look at as many organizations and client networks as you can.

-They don't know how to explain their product and its uses.

-They try selling for a couple of days, get tired of rejections, and quit trying to sell.

-They decorate their shop or factory and hope that will catch the eye of customers.

-They rely on passers-by and online visitors exclusively for shopping.

In sum, sales is about partnerships. If you don't go out there, try to chat with people, pitch your ideas and products, get rejected 90% of the time, and get great deals 10% of the time, your business can't work.

This is the real problem I see with startups. Those startups set up complex websites, web applications or technology applications or services without every testing them with clients or leaving their campus to offer the product or service to clients. Can't work!

Startups should really start developing a small sample of their tech product, go around and visit potential clients that they will have identified. They test the product with clients, get feedback, make a better version of the product, test it with more clients, get feedback. And the cycle goes on until clients start making million-dollar partnerships.

So you can develop your product in the garage. But you need to take your car, put a good suit on (or jeans and a clean shirt) and go around visiting people's offices to offer the product. If you're stuck in the garage, you'll be losing money. And if too many kids lock themselves up in garages, we get a recession because banks trusted kids who lock themselves up in garages and rely on 30 page view YouTube videos to sell their product.

So you need a good product indeed. But you also need a healthy dose of patience, and excellent chatting skills. Good luck!

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