Sales is a Science When You Have Strong Marketing….an Art When Your Marketing Sucks!

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is sales and “art” or a “science”? It depends….is your marketing strong, or does it suck?

 

In my last post: Is Sales an Art or a Science I shared how I opened a recent presentation to business owners and their senior leadership teams with a question;

Is Sales an Art or a Science?

 

The responses were pretty predictable;

Felt sales was a science: 30%

 

Felt sales was an Art: 60%

 

Felt sales was both an art and a science: 10%

 

This was interesting, however I heard the soft comment I was waiting for: “It Depends…on your industry, team’s training, product, price, availability of sales tools, your web site….” (Perfect! Now we are going to have a discussion!)

Then they asked me…what did I think? Art or science? I said “yes” as sales is often both. I find where sales falls in the spectrum with art on one end and science on the other depends on the organizations competency in marketing.

Marketing? Yes, because the fundamental job of marketing is to have an intimate understanding of your market, its buyer’s problems, and how they set out to solve those problems. Competent marketing teams clearly understand the buying process, cycle and criteria. They create tools to help buyers buy.

Market Leaders

 

If you have a strong competency in marketing, you know your market, and its problems that need to be solved. You know the buyers; you have clearly stated buyer persona’s and you understand the buying process. Your message is clear and does not require a translator (salesperson) to help buyers understand the problems your products or services solve.

Market leaders have such a clear understanding of the buying process their sales is more of a science. The art in the sale for market leaders is the salesperson’s ability to ask open-ended questions and apply proven sales tools for the right step of the buying process that keeps the conversation moving to a sale.

In market leading organizations, sales are 80% science and 20% art.

 

Unfortunately less than 10% of organizations would be considered Market leaders. Those that are, dominate their markets.

 

 

 

Market losers

 

If your team lacks a competency in marketing you will experience it for yourself on sales calls. Your team plays; “ feature and benefit BINGO” in hopes they rattle off all your features and benefits and at some point your buyer yells “BINGO” as they put the pieces together with the problem they have, and they understand how they “think” you solve this problem.

 

Market losers really do not know the problems their products solve for their buyers, the buying process, or buying criteria. In most cases their products were built from the inside out and marketing was tasked with “creating the need” for their products…losers! 

Market losers launch products and believe they can “manage by objectives” and meet their goals by managing key performance indicators created without any knowledge of their market. 

Market losers  have high turnover as they replace those who fail to hit goal, and skilled team members leave to join market driven teams.

Market losers have websites that talk about their company, years in business, and they prepare the feature and benefit BINGO card for their buyers and salespeople.

 

For market losers 80% of sales is an “art”.

 

The CEO and CFO of market losing companies go crazy because there is a lack of predictability, and they can not “manage” their way to market leadership. In this model your salespeople need to disregard what marketing does provide, and listen to their buyers, understand buyer problems, and create their own sales tools that discuss how their product or service solves those problems.

The danger in this model is sales may be promising things your product does not do, and the message varies by salesperson and thus is not repeatable.

 

From my experience, I would say about 50% of the companies out there are Market losers.

 

They build products because they can and not because they should. They are sales driven or bottom line driven. They have high turnover and ironically the salespeople they are letting go today won awards for sales performance two years ago….so what changed?

From my experience 40% of companies are somewhere in between but striving to improve.

They often launch a product that becomes very successful and then have a series of launches that fail. As they grow, the leaders who knew the market are now “managing the business” and lose touch with the market and its problems. They forget it was their understanding of market problems that caused their success and often fall into the trap that they think it was their personal brilliance and or hut spa.

As I closed the discussion I asked everyone in the room to do two things in the next seven days….

  1. Go out and meet with your customers and ask questions about their business and the problems they are facing, and how they try to solve those problems

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  1. Look in your top salesperson’s trunk of their car and or lap top and see the tools they are using

 

The good news is everyone can become a market leading organization and realize higher than market average profits, lower turnover and increased shareholder equity. When you clearly understand your market and buyers, and create sales tools to help buyers move through their buying process, you create a win-win-win.

So what kind of organization do you work for? Market leader? Market Loser? Or someplace in between? Why?

 

Is Sales an Art or a Science….it Depends on Your Marketing

 

 

Is Sales an “Art” or a “Science”?

 

There is no general answer that applies to all organizations as it depends…..it depends on your team’s demonstrated competency in marketing. (Believe it or not)

An “Art “implies creativity as well as varietability and” science“is about process, method and constantly assessing and experimenting with process, and managing  the process.

A number of clients over the years have stated their needs as; “I need you to create a repeatable sales process for our team”. However, in most cases they lacked a clear understanding of their market, buyers, buyer needs, probelms, and the buying process. They wanted me to study their “sales super star” and replicate them throughout their team. However sales processes built from the inside out produce marginal sales increases and often increase the gap between your team’s “sales speak” and “the buying process”. What you need to do  is create Sales Velocity.

So what sould  teams desiring  to be market leaders to do?

I was asked to speak at a conference recently for business owners and their senior teams. Prior to my presentation, I reached out to the organization’s members and asked;

“In the areas of marketing and sales what topic would you like me to discuss?”

I could have discussed a number of topics, but I wanted to provide their members the maximum return based on their needs.  I was interested to see if the recent and current economic environment in any way changed what I typically here when I ask this question.

The responses varied from;

How do we get our salespeople to sell new products?

 

How do we motivate our salespeople to focus on opening new accounts?

 

What is the best way to measure the ROI of marketing?

 

How do we align sales and marketing to reduce waste and increase productivity?

 

What is the best marketing vehicle to drive sales now? Quickly?

What is my take on “social media” and it’s ROI?

 

How can I be assured my next investment in a new product launch meets goal ?

 

I felt I could speak for a week and not do justice to all the  questions independently,  so I grouped the responses into two buckets;

What is marketing and how can it impact sales in a way that produces the greatest overall return?

 

How do we create a repeatable sales process that works, has an immediate and long term impact?

 

I shared my findings with the event coordinator to insure the direction I was taking would serve his association and his goals. He shared that the two topics I chose were like thorns in the side of his membership as they keep bubbling to the top of discussions. So I asked questions to better understand past discussions and he shared two comments his owners and senior leaders shared in private;

“Our salespeople are just not working hard enough, I know times are tough, but for what I pay them they need to sell through those objections”

 

“I think a large % of our overall marketing spend is a waste, fluff, and does not provide the return any other expenditure would be required to produce.”

 

Interesting…..

So I decided to open this presentation with a question for the room;

Is Sales an Art or a science?

 

Before I share where this discussion went….

What do you think?

Is sales in your organization an Art or Science? Why?

 

If you could pick Art or Science, what would you prefer sales to be in your organization? Why?

 

I will share in my next post the results I observed and any feedback and comments on this post. I will also share the desired state and my answer to this question.

Hey Delta, …Buyers Make Decisions in “their timeframe” Not Yours!Your Goals do not Matter to your Buyers

 

Organizations that create objectives based on their needs and timelines and not their buyers miss key indicators and create frustration for their internal and external customers. Why do so many organizations create goals and key performance indicators from high within their organizations and not from the market and buyers in market?

Most organizations lack an intimate knowledge of their buyers, their problems, and buying process so they operate in “gut and intuition  mode.”

 

When organizations start building market driven goals with an understanding of the problems their products and services solve, key indicators and EBITDA objectives are met and exceeded.

If you have not gathered it from previous posts, I fly a great deal. Domestic travel has become more of a necessary evil experience (with the exception of South West). I have traveled on  business now for over 25 years, so I remember when air travel felt like the airlines valued me and my business.

International travel has become even more challenging. I traveled  from Phoenix to Manchester England recently on Delta. I had a long layover in Atlanta and  then 7 1/2 hour flight over the pond and I was in business. The first leg of my flight left Phoenix at 6:10 AM. so based on the rules for international travel I had to check in at the airport by 4:00 AM. Luckily I do not live too far from the airport so I set my alarm at 2:45 AM.  I arrived, parked the car, took the parking bus to the terminal, went through security and arrived at my departure gate.

I settled in with a book I have wanted to read  by Jim Collins and I was not looking forward to my 5 hour layover in Atlanta,… but you have to do what you have to do.

The gate agent announced;

We are overbooked on this flight and we are looking for 4 volunteers willing to take the later flight and we will give a voucher to be used for future travel…

I went up to the check in counter, and found I could indeed take the later flight and still have a hour to make my connection in Atlanta. However, since I was already at the airport, I decided to decline.

In about 15 minutes another announcement needing volunteers and her voice seemed more desperate. ( don’t customers know how important it is to Delta to get volenteers now?)

 As the boarding  time approached we heard additional announcements and eventually they found their volunteers who had “flexible” flight plans and they received later flights and cash vouchers. ( while our take off was delayed)

 

Hey Delta…when did your system know you were oversold?

Is this the ideal buyer experience for your service? …I think not.

 

If your system knew within 24 hours of the flight it was over sold, it sounds like you have an unresolved problem you need to solve that may actually turn into a service your customers rave about and save your bottom-line profits…Interested?

 

If you have the technology to remind me to check in 24 hours prior to the flight, …can you leverage that technology to request volunteers for overbooked flights 24 ours ahead of check in? If so I would have volunteered for free to have a few more hours of shut eye!

How about your organization?

 

Do you set sales goals and timelines based on your needs versus the markets? How’s that working for you?

Are your sales objectives and timelines created by internal Hippos who have a dated understanding of your market?

 

Or are your goals developed with a clear understanding of your buyers, their buying process and criteria?

Let me ask you a key question….

What % of your sales team met or exceeded their sales goals last year? If you are like most organizations as high as 70% of your team missed their sales objectives last year.

 

While on this topic let me ask you another question:

What % of your salespeople received a goal increase this year?…( that many huh?)

 

So let me get this straight, 70% of your team missed their sales objectives in 2009, and 100% received a goal increase in 2010? Am I the only one who has heard Einstein’s definition of insanity? [Hell, chances are you have used it in meetings with your team, why not look in the mirror when setting goals?] So your employees also suffer whn goals are made wiout an understanding of your buyers?

So what happens next?

 

Objectives are missed

 

Goals are adjusted down or inventory far exceeds actual sales, and EBITDA objectives are missed…again

And / or you discount your product or service so buyers react to your goals and timelines

Market leaders understand goals should not be a shell game, and they must be created from a clear understanding of your markets and how (when) your buyers buy.

Market losers create objectives in their Hippo watering holes called boardrooms with little or no understanding of their buyers, buying timelines, and buying process.They focus on their needs and not those of their buyers. They demand buyers to buy on thier timeline. 

 

Market Losers get frustrated because objectives and key timelines are being missed, and they try to “manage” their way to bottom-line objectives.

 

What kind of company do you work for?

What kind of a leader are you?

 

If you are a Hippo, when is the last time you left “the watering hole”?

 

When was the last time you bought or used your product or service?

 

When was the last time you talked to a potential buyer for your product?

Are you dictating when buyers must buy?

 

The solution is obvious….

Get out in your market and get to know your customers and potential customers today. When you do you will discover market problems and see opportunities for your team to solve those problems.

Who knows, you may also create raving fans who value a few extra hours a shut eye more than a $400 travel voucher.

Are Your Customers receiving a “Luke Warm” buying experience? …if so it’s costing you more than you know…

 

The climate for business is difficult with consumer confidence low, the access to cash tight and record unemployment. However some organizations are thriving while others know something is wrong, and they are just blaming the economy. The economy is a factor; however it may be the main “why” behind your organizations’ struggles to make numbers if your clients are receiving a “Luke Warm” buying experience. Luke warm employees create a “just enough to get by “buying experience and that simply is not cutting it in this highly competitive environment. I discussed how the buying process has changed over the last year in my post: Are you Enabling your Sales Force or Emasculating them?  With these added pressures, the last thing you want is for your clients to have a poor buying experience and seek out your competitors.

I just finished a book by Francis Chan titled; Crazy Love. It’s a book about growing your spiritual life.. In chapter four he discusses “the profile of Luke warm” and I thought how the wisdom he shares with regards to our faith life also applies in the business world. Chan describes how a Luke warm faith life is worst than being hot or cold and I feel this is also true for businesses and their employees. Specifically this is most evident in the buying experience.

What is it like to buy from your company? Are your salespeople trained and knowledgeable? Do they know how to find buyer problems and set out as if on a quest to solve them?

Or are you like most organizations who have built inside out service models and you hear executives challenged by “how our clients just are not smart enough to see the value in what we provide.” Or maybe you have downsized your sales and customer service teams and you are wondering why your business is declining and your customer satisfaction is at an all time low?

Luke warm team members produce Luke warm service levels.

The Bible discusses how being Luke warm is worst than being hot or cold and this rule also applies to your team members. I would much prefer a team member who tells me: “I just don’t get our plan and I am having a hard time getting motivated to execute my indicators” than someone who says they are on board and is just going through the motions to just get by.

As I discussed in my post: Third Part of truth …Motivation; Are You willing to go the extra mile like Chick-fil-A?  As a consumer we instantly recognize good service and an organization that has clearly set an expectation for how customers should feel in the buying process.

I need to ask…How you want your customers to feel in the process of buying your goods and or services.

Once you intentionally create this vision, you will need to identify team members who will need to be trained, and in some cases replaced.

14 warning signs a team member may be Luke warm and negatively impacting their service to internal and external customers

1.)    They do what they believe is expected of them and only what they believe is expected of them

2.)    They choose to follow Hippos, they do what is politically correct but may not be right

3.)    They are striving to survive not win

4.)    They rarely share their knowledge and experience as they use knowledge as power and not a gift

5.)    They focus on comparing their results to that of other team members versus their key performance indicators

6.)    Their actions serve themselves more than others ( customers both internal and external)

7.)    Their service is conditional, selective, and often comes with strings attached

8.)    They are focused on today and what’s in it for them today, they lack a future vision

9.)    They spend more time with their bosses than their subordinates and customers

10)    They do the bare minimum , and their goal is to be “good enough”

11)    They play it safe, they know the rules better than anyone in the organization and often site them

12)    They are visually busy, but not necessarily adding value

13)    When things go wrong they quickly blame others

14)    They seek the safety of their silo’s, and lack a “one company-one team” mentality

A half hearted commitment to the organization’s plan; mission and vision can be felt by customers. A Luke warm commitment to service disrupts your team from within and in the market if left unchecked.

If you read the above and could apply at least four of them to specific team members; employees, managers, supervisors, you now have to ask yourself a tough question;

Will I be a Luke warm leader and look the other way? Or will I take the market leader position and address poor service resulting in a bad buying experience?

 

 

 

What about your organization?

 

When you read the above did specific employees come to mind?

 

How about you, did you personally identify with any of the above?

 

How have you helped Luke warm employees become energized value adding producers again?

 

Have you experienced a loss due to not addressing a Luke warm employee and you would like to share?

 

What should you do if your boss is Luke warm?

 

 

Thank you to Francis Chan for his book; Crazy Love, as it challenged me on many levels.

Entrepreneur Best Practices: #10 “How” you “CHASE” New Business Matters….Do you want pepperoni with that new checking account?

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I have heard entrepreneurs say; “any marketing is better than no marketing at all…” and they can say this…but they would be wrong! Entrepreneurial leaders must insure the marketing vehicles and tactics  they use support their brand and do not create an interruption.

 

 

Market leaders understand their buyers, their buying process and buying criteria.

 

Market leaders create sales velocity because everything they do has continuity with their brand.

 

 

Market losers create a variety of marketing tools and “throw them against the wall” of their market and wait to… “see what sticks”.

 

Market losers scare business away, and their energy and budgets are used to grow competitors’ businesses.

 

I Love being a Chase Bank customer.

 

I have used a number of banks over the years…Bank of America, Key Corp, and so on. However the service I get from Chase Bank seems to feel different, it’s as if they know me, and they answer my questions before I ask them. Just yesterday my wife and I met with Dennis at our local branch and he was obviously trained to serve his clients. When other banks have made us feel like we were putting their associates out , Dennis was like the Van’s Golf employees name tags that say “sure not problem” Even the experience of walking into one of their locations “feels” different in how you are greeted and guided to the right person to help you. So imagine my surprise after a doctor appointment to come out to my car and see a windshield flier under my wiper from Chase Bank. This was an interruption for me.

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Marketing interruptions make current customers pause…and bad things happen when customers pause.

 

For example, at first I smiled and threw their flier in my trunk to throw away later. As I drove to my next appointment however my mind wandered…

I have been reading about banks in trouble

 

Is my bank…Chase Bank, in trouble?

 

Should I maybe check out Wells Fargo or maybe open an account with Bank America again just to play it safe?

 

Didn’t I just read they were downsizing?…. ut oh

However my mind quickly came to terms with what has a higher probability of truth; It was the end of August ( end of the month race to hit numbers), and some salesperson , a hunter by nature ( which is awesome) needed business. So as opposed to sitting in the branch waiting for business to come to them, they took initiative and made some purple fliers and more than likely spent hours in the 104 degree Arizona heat stuffing them under windshield wipers in hopes this would drive new business. I had a pizza shop as a client years ago that could ramp up or down his sales by the number of windshield fliers he would have his drivers place. It became a predictable outcome for him over time.

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However, the way a pizza shop or even a gas station chases new business is significantly different than what I would expect from my trusted bank, and the two should never be confused.

As I discussed, entrepreneurial leaders have bad things happen when they “assume”. “Well if windshield fliers work for pizza shops and gas stations…why not…” The “why not” is whatever you do must be intentional and have continuity with your brand image, your brand promise in the minds of buyers in your market.

In defense of Chase Bank, I have had rogue sales guys and even sales managers do much worst over the years. As I said I have to smile that at least they tried! Leaders, no matter what the size of their organization, must remember;

If marketing does not create tools that help salespeople hit their objectives, sales will create their own…and although you appreciate their “be a part of the solution” attitude it may cause your market to pause. When markets experience a pause, an interruption in the brand image …bad things happens.

 

 

How about your company…..

 

Are your salespeople creating their own tools to hit their numbers?

…Are you sure?

 

What policies and procedures do you have in place to insure your brand image is protected and reinforced?

 

Have you ever had your salespeople create their own tools…tell me about it.

 

 

From the number of fliers blowing around in the parking lot now as “marketing litter” I could tell most of the people who had fliers under their wipers did not value this communication attempt by Chase Bank. I would be interested to know from Chase Bank if this tactic is a marketing approved new business program or if I was correct a local branch went off the marketing reservation. If this tactic does in fact drive needed new business at moth end that is greater the negative impact it has on their brand in the mind of the market.

Entrepreneur Best Practice; #5 Tailor Questions for your buyers that Illustrate your Expertise and Prepare you to Serve their Needs

steinmartlogo

When you are being served by a market leader you know it. When someone experienced in understanding the needs of their buyers, the overall buying experience is amazing. When buyers experience this kind of service they buy, and they become raving fans for referrals.

 

Market leaders understand the value of knowing their buyers needs, criteria, and how the very questions they ask illustrate your knowledge and expertise.

 

As I have shared in previous posts, I decided in March I needed to lose weight. Since March of 09 I have now lost 70 lbs. The good news is I have a tremendous amount of energy, I feel healthier and I no longer need my blood pressure medicine or my sleep apnea machine. The only bad news is I need a new wardrobe.

I was recently asked to be the keynote speaker for the Boomerz event and I wanted to buy a suit. All the suits I have are 52 jackets and I swim in them now. I could deliver my content casual, but I would prefer to be more formal. (There I go showing my old school nature again) My wife recommended I look at the local Stein Mart as they have designer suits at significantly discounted prices.

suit

I went to a local Stein Mart and started trying on jackets to determine my size today. I was quickly approached by Howard, the floor salesman and asked if he could be of assistance. He asked …” what size are you?” and I explained that I do not know. So he quickly measured me and said you are really a 43 long, but let’s try a 44 long. As I was trying on various suits, Richard (who also worked in the men’s clothing) approached and asked me a number of questions;

 

What size do you typically wear? I explained I do not know as I just lost weight…

What size were you before? A 52 jacket and a 42 pant…

So you have always bought athletic cut suits? …how did he know that?

Did you typically buy Heart Shafter Marx? (How did he know?)

 

Did you play football? Yes…again how did he …?

What occasions will you be wearing this suit? I explained I do public speaking and training workshops and consulting…

So you will be on your feet most of the time? Yes…

Oh, this is the wrong suit for you…and he disappeared, and I liked that one…

Within a few minutes he came back with two suits I had not seen prior … (Forgive me but I thought to myself …oh great he probably just found two of the most expensive suits off the rack, and like a car salesman wanting me to take a test drive he put the new jacket on so I would fall in love with it and find the money)

The suit looked great, but felt snug…

Richard said; the suit lays exactly as it should on you; this suit is cut better for men built like you… (He must have detected my concern about the snug fit)

I can tell you are not used to wearing clothes that fit… are you? Kind of a bold question from someone who wants my money…

 

He went on to say …You told us early on you have lost a lot of weight…it’s not unusual when we are overweight to not have clothing that fits properly…this is how a suit is supposed to fit. Wow, they were listening to me…

He asked me to look into the corner of the mirrors so I could see the back of the suit, and he said; see how nice this lays on you? And he taught me how a suit is supposed to fit.

He asked; when you speak do you button your coat? (I never thought about it)

He went on to tell me; Gentlemen never button the top button and he recommended when I first greet my audience I have the middle button buttoned and then unbutton it as I begin to speak…( is this guy for real? Or is it that I have never met someone before who knew so much about men’s clothing as Howard and Richard?)

I decided to buy the suit they recommended and have the suit tailored…

Again, a new series of questions from Howard and Richard (I’ll spare you but you get the idea)

Howard asked …so when do you need the suit? I explained I have time its a few weeks away…

He said; no… When you pick up your suit we want you to come back and we will check everything with the actual shoes you plan to be wearing…again, amazing….I felt like I was not only in experienced good hands, but I felt like I was the only customer in the store…

As I went in the dressing room I forced myself to peek at the price and to my surprise it was the same price as the suits I originally was looking at! …He paid attention to my price target…

When I came out of the dressing room Howard handed me a claim ticket and went on to explain the date it would be ready, where it would be located that day. Again both Howard and Richard reminded me to try the suit on, bring the right shoes and if for whatever reason it did not look right they would have time to fix it as …they wanted me to feel good when I walked to the front of the room. …again wow!

I thanked them and they asked what I teach. I explained how I teach leaders how to treat customers the way they both just treated me. It turns out they both had over 25 years of experience and Richard served clients for over 30 years on a commission only basis prior to joining Stein Mart.

Since that time I have told over a dozen of my friends about what a welcome interruption it was to receive such amazing service. I told everyone about the team of Howard and Richard and if you want to have an expert serve and fit you, you need to visit them at the store on Shea near the 101 freeway in Scottsdale.

When you are being served by a market leader, someone experienced in serving the needs of their buyers, the overall buying experience is amazing.

 

You can identify Market leaders by the questions they ask, and their bottom line.

 

Market leaders make you feel like your goal becomes their goal as well.

 

Market leaders not only want you happy, but they want to make you a raving fan.

 

How about your organization….

 

Are your salespeople trained as well as Howard and Richard?

 

Are you hiring “service people” or “salespeople”?

 

Is your team creating raving fans?

 

Do your clients feel like your team members are “internal champions” for their needs …or just trying to hit a goal and make their commission?

 

(In hind sight I now wish I had the guts to have the pants cut without a cuff as Richard adamantly recommended, but I chose cuffs …obviously showing my lack of knowledge in the current styles.)

 

Remember… buyer’s like to buy…they hate being sold.

 

Our job as salespeople today is to help buyers buy.

 

Guide buyers through their buying process and be their internal champion and not just “protect the fort” of company policies, rules and reinforce “we can’t do that’s

 

Thank you Howard and Richard!

 

I can only hope I make my clients feel as you both made me feel.

 

Entrepreneur Best Practices; #4 Remember “The Law of the Locker Room”… it truly is a small world after all

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“The Law of the Locker room”: after your work (out) is done, there is a high probability others too have seen this pain point the buyers in your market have that you set out to solve and will want to share that space. It does not mean you should quit, it just means; As an Entrepreneur never assume you are the only one who saw the problem and set out to make the pain go away.

As I have mentioned before, I like to work out first thing in the morning. If I wake up before the alarm as if often the case I can workout at my gym Mountainside Fitness at 4:30 am. What I like about working out so early is you pretty much have the gym to yourself. There are a few other crazy people there, but unlike Friday nights at 6:00 pm you can get your work done, without waiting on machines, and you are off to start your day.

What never ceases to amaze me is; “The Law of the Locker room”. Simply stated it goes something like this; no matter what time of day, or how little the number of the cars in the parking lot, nor how many lockers they have in the locker room, when your workout is done and you return to your locker…someone will have the locker right next to you, and you will have to share your space.

So what’s the relevance to entrepreneurs you might say? Well just last week I had lunch with two partners of a start up venture who asked for my help. They shared (an awesome product I plan to blog about after we launch) and I put a bit of a damper on their enthusiasm when I asked one simple question;

“Have you researched to see if others have seen the problem you are setting out to solve, and if so does any of them have patents that your new product violates?”

Entrepreneurs who see problems and set out to solve them must never assume they are the only one who sees this problem.

Entrepreneurs must never assume they are the only one who sees the market problem and they are the only one setting out to solve it.

Like the Disney ride my daughter loved when she was young that’s song still echo’s in my mind “it’s a small world after all…it’s a small, small, world.”

 

disney small world

I recommend my clients: assume others are trying to solve this problem, have solved this pain, and ask yourself why a buyer should choose you over the others?

How do you know if others have or are setting out to solve this problem?

Google

Google your product as if it already was in the market. Google the problem you are setting out to solve. You definitely want to Google the name you plan to call your product. For example I will be launching a seminar to help entrepreneurs late this year. When I Goggled what I had planned to call “my” seminar there were 989,000 entries in Google. As I reviewed them further I found one person pretty much owns what I had planned to call my seminar. I could boldly launch as like most entrepreneurs as I am convinced the other content out there can’t be as good as mine…or I need a new name for my seminar that I can own.

The Market

If the need, the pain, you are trying to solve is big enough, ask people in the market how they make the pain go away today. Find out if what others in the space are doing completely solves your market’s pain, or is a just an incremental solution. What you will often find is most people, if presented with something can poke holes in it. If you are an entrepreneur you have learned what most people can not do it create solutions…that is your gift. So listen to your market, let them share their gifts and apply yours.

Patent Search

This part scares most start ups and seasoned pro’s alike but it is a must if you feel you have a unique product or service. What scares most are the perceived fees, and yes this can get expensive. But let me ask you a question;

What is more expensive in the long run, a Patent search before you launch…or finding out after you launch (and you invest your 401k, loans from family and friends, and use your home equity) that you violate someone else’s patent?

Remember “The Law of the Locker room”: after your work (out) is done, there is a high probability others too have seen this pain point the buyers in your market have. It does not mean you should quit, it just means;

As an Entrepreneur never assume you are the only one who saw the problem and set out to make the pain go away.

How about your organization…..

Has your team launched something only to find many others in that space…after you launched?

How did that make your sales guys feel?

How do you think it made you look in the eyes of your current customers and the market that you did not know?

Have you ever designed-built-launched a perfect solution to your buyer’s pain only to be shut down by a patent violation? (I have, when I did not have grey hair and it sucked!)

The good news is you have the “Entrepreneurial DNA Gene”; you too have a spider sense to see and want to solve pains your buyers have.

They say “reasonable people if given accurate information make reasonable decisions” so please take a few extra steps before you invest and launch your product or service.

And if you do, you can thank me by forwarding a link of this post to your other 9 entrepreneur buddies who may not know the law of the locker room…it’s a small small world after all