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Robert Skrob: Go for the kill!

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Image courtesy of Hal Brindley at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The mother lion slowly creeps closer to the edge of the prairie where a family of gazelles grazes nearby.

The gazelles are always skittish. Ever watchful to protect the herd. Yet as they graze, the lioness creeps closer.

The lioness has a pack of cubs in her den. She’s been hunting for hours, ranging from one prairie to the next, looking for something to bring back to feed her cubs. There has been only one opportunity so far today, just after sunrise, and it got away. Now, well past mid-day, here is a second. If she misses this one, her cubs will go hungry another night.

The lioness is careful not to spook the gazelles. If they run, she’ll never catch up. As she creeps closer, she stays hidden in the brush at the edge of the prairie. The gazelles are too far away for a full surprise attack. She’ll have to make her move and hope she can run down one of the slower animals. She picks an older female gazelle she’s confident she can catch.

It’s time. The lioness crouches down, and with all of her strength she springs out of the brush, into the prairie and after her gazelle.

I’ve read a lot of positive attitude and success books, maybe more than 1000, many of them when I was starting out in business. The win-win philosophy was a popular concept included in most books in the 1990s. Win-win made a lot of sense to me, so I bought into the idea. I chose never to do business with someone unless I could see there was a strong win for them as well as for me.

That was a huge mistake. Partly because I misunderstood the win-win philosophy, and partly because the philosophy is flawed.

For years I got caught up looking for the win for the other person. If I didn’t see the win, I didn’t offer my services. From a sales perspective, it was like a fisherman doing all the work to get positioned over the best fishing hole, baiting a hook, catching a fish, reeling it in and then cutting the line before hauling it in. Still, it was important to me to see the win-win before I would take on the prospect as a new customer.

Years later I have learned I cannot hope to predict all the ways my products and services can help my customers. It’s for my customers to decide if I’m offering something that’s a win for them. By refusing to offer them my products, I’m preventing any opportunity for a win (for them or me).

Once I made that breakthrough, I more easily offered my products to customers; however, I still had another problem to overcome. Back then, I’d leave customers alone to make a decision. I was letting them figure out if there was a win for them. Another huge mistake.

Here is another thing I have learned:

Customers have a lot going on in their lives, and their attention spans are limited. Right now they are excited about solving a problem, and I have a solution. If I allow them to put off the decision for a few days or a week, they are going to forget me.

It’s crucial for us to remind our customers of the benefits they may receive from what we are offering and give them the opportunity to take advantage of them. If we offer our program and then never follow up, it’s like going out on a date and never calling again. It’s rude and it makes the customer wonder if we were sincere about the offer to begin with.

It’s crucial for all business owners to develop a predator’s attitude. (You’ll never read this is one of those self-help books, but it’s true.) Just like the mother lion has to bring back a kill for her cubs, you have to generate customers to grow your business. You must identify your best prospects for customers, single out the ones that present the best opportunities and go after them with a determined attitude.

A mother lion must have that killer attitude. She must focus on the prey she has the best opportunity to kill and then go after that prey with all her strength. Otherwise, she’s left with feeding herself and her cubs the scraps she can scrounge from other lions—or going hungry altogether.

It may not be polite to talk about, but successful business owners are as focused on making the next sale as the lion is on making the next kill. Customers are buying out there. If they aren’t buying from you, it’s either because you are offering them something they don’t want or you are offering something they do want, but not getting their attention.

Our responsibility is to offer our products and services, ask for the sale and give our customer an opportunity to make the decision to buy. As long as we promise what we deliver and deliver what we promise, we’ve satisfied all moral and legal requirements.

Between the lion and the gazelle, there can never be a win-win. In our businesses there must be; both parties must benefit from the transaction. However, we cannot prejudge or wait for the customer to decide. We must go after the sale with a predator’s mindset. Customers benefit when we encourage them to solve their problems. We benefit by getting new customers. So, adopt the rules of the jungle for your business!

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