This business coach post discusses the journey up Entrepreneur Mountain.
In times past, I would typically wake up at 7:00 a.m. with a very clear mission for the day based on the business coach and self-help books that I read the night before. I always made my to-do list for the following day after I finished my nightly reading. Thus when I woke up, I could not wait to get started on the climb up Entrepreneurship Mountain. However, it must be said that I was always more than a little paranoid about potential looming dangers posed by the men that I contracted and employed. Would they call in sick? If they did, I did not have any backups. Would they show up late? If they did, I could not clone myself to be two places at once. But with my cell phone on me at all times, and with my wife having saved the day on more than one occasion (by actually serving as a backup DJ), I was barely able to manage my paranoia.
Each day after I downed some high-protein (low fat) yogurt, I would then rush to the shower with a sense of urgency. Once I got into the shower, I began preparing to get out of the shower two minutes later because I had things to do. And then once I got out of the shower, it was off to the races. I would literally run to the gym because we lived within a block of it and because we generally only had one functional car available at any given time. There I worked out like I was being chased by fire ants (in a hurry). And so, after forty-five minutes of high-impact, non-stop weightlifting, I then sprinted back to the office.
Just before 8:00 a.m., I would bound into the shower again for daily shower number two. Each one of my showers took three minutes or less, and I only used shampoo over all of my body, so no soap, no conditioner, no exfoliator, no high-maintenance-sounding products, just shampoo. If I could have brushed my teeth with shampoo, then I would have done it as well. I would then put on a yellow tie, one of my eight blue shirts, some khakis, and my brown shoes . . . and then boom! It was business time!
Each morning I would hop into my newly purchased Office Depot black genuine imitation leather chair and begin to feel the opportunity of the moment coming upon me. I knew that each day was my day, and that I was going to kick butt on the phones. Bottom line, I knew I was destined for greatness. To dissolve the tension in the room that I always felt existed in the presence of absolute silence, I turned on AM 740 and listened to John Erling who was neutral about every political issue possible. As I passively listened, I typed client confirmations one after the other rushing against the clock to get all of the confirmations typed before checking voicemails for the first time at 10:00 a.m. (according to my daily productivity-maximizing agenda that I made for myself). The morning was the perfect time for me to type and work out because both needed to be done, and both were things that I found I should not be doing during the work day.
Just moments before 10:00 a.m., I would finish sending the final e-mail confirmations, and then I would pick up the phone to check my voicemail. At this time, we (DJ Connection) did not have a live phone number that customers could use to reach us, thus whenever I checked the voicemail, I always found a stack of messages. Had we had a live phone line, I could not have answered it anyway (because I was always in appointments or on the phone). With ferocity, I would check voicemail, listening attentively for some “good wood” (my term for anything positive), trying to cut through the voicemail from salespeople, family members, prospective customers, former customers, and DJs. Each morning I would say a little prayer as I checked voicemail. I would plead with God for an inbound potential new booking to be on that voicemail. I needed it. I had to have it, and yet only on 1 out of every 8 days would I find an inbound potential new booking voicemail.
At that time, I only advertised with the following:
And so like a samurai and with a sense of urgency that bordered on being outwardly desperate, I ferociously returned the calls I received on my voicemail. If I didn’t get someone live on the phone, I left a voicemail, and then I called the next person.
All day, every day, it was a fun business coach game of “dial and smile.”
The results of this intense, outbound phone-calling methodology were never in question (by me) because I had seen Ron Hood hit ridiculously high sales totals with nothing more than his passionate sales presentation, a phone, and a list of local pastors in a designated market area. It was my goal to work at a procrastination-and-fear-killing pace similar to those who prefer to jump into a cold lake all at once as opposed to gradually adjusting their body to the frigid temperatures supplied by the body of water. I worked with haste then, and I still work with haste now. I just wanted to get things done. I would fly through those callbacks until I eventually reached someone who would say, “Hey, I see that I have eight missed calls from you! What is the deal?”
I would replay (acting hurt) with, “Oh, were you not in need of a DJ? I show I have a voicemail from you, and I didn’t want you to think that I was not trying to reach you because you are definitely our top priority. I just must have been on the phone when you first called. So tell me, what date were looking at?’
As I talked with these customers, I made sure to follow Brian Tracy’s and Napoleon Hill’s business coach and sales methods by writing my own laughter-causing and sales-generating phone script. I took great care at establishing the initial rapport. Then I would give them the benefits of our incredibly humble DJ service while interspersing a non-stop barrage of quasi-jokes, random observations, and various other attempts at humor.
My sales aura consisted of two parts sincere factoids and serious discussion of their needs, and one part hilarity, humor, wit, candor, irony, asides, anecdotes, fun, and randomness. As I would near the end of my benefits list, I would then transition directly into shameless name-dropping of large companies and clients that we were fortunate enough to count as customers. And then with the speed of a cheetah, I would quote the price once the value level of our service had been built up to its apex.
Then like Napoleon Hill, and every other successful salesperson had ever instructed me to do, I would assume the close by setting up an appointment to meet with the customer within 24 to 48 hours of the time that we had originally talked. By setting appointments this way, our customers never felt pressured to book over the phone, yet we were always moving forward to the close at a fast pace. And in those days, if I booked one event a day, it gave me great reason to celebrate, and so I did . . . by making more cold calls all day.
As each day flew by, I would then prepare myself for my rigid 12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. appointment schedule at St. Louis Bread. St. Louis Bread was the perfect place for me to meet with brides, grooms, corporate clients, and anyone else because they offered high-quality food at a quasi-affordable price (I was always buying); they were centrally located in semi-south Tulsa; and I lived within two blocks of it. So I met my customers there every day for over two years. My two-block drive to Panera Bread was always short and loud. I would always bump some R&B through my sweet sound system, and I would sing along to get myself into the party DJ persona that each and every customer was expecting to witness. Over the years, I have heard many of my former employees and consulting clients say, “I am just not a very outgoing person,” or “I just don’t have a personality like yours.” In the great play of life, the salesman is just another role that we all have to play if want to ever become successful. Were there many days that I did not feel like bringing the energy and the quick-witted humor to the appointments? Yes. But did I ever NOT bring the quick-witted humor to the appointments? No. Why? Because I could not afford to not bring it every time. You can’t afford to not bring it every time, either.
If you are in sales and you have not yet cultivated a pleasing sales persona/sales character that consistently generates business, then you need to start getting in to character right now by using the following business coach checklist:
Before I would ever meet with a customer, I made sure that I was well prepared for their initial face-to-face consultation. I made sure that I knew their names. I made sure that I had all of my package information neatly organized. I made sure that I was mentally geared up to deliver thirty minutes of unsustainable entertainment and deal closing momentum. Business Coach Truth: I always knew that I only had one shot to make a first impression, and thus I always focused on making our initial face-to-face meeting the best it could be.
During this phase of the DJ business, it was pretty easy to gather up all the tangible sales information that was needed because I always carried all of last year’s bookings, sales information, and everything of importance related to my business in one big, blue, three-inch binder. That binder contained sleeves in each side where I sorted the appointments by the day and time. I made sure to carefully and neatly print the appointment time on the top left corner of each sales lead sheet. I kept the leads that I was working in the far right sleeve. It was all there, baby, and if I had ever lost that binder, I would have been out of business, missing events, and missing appointments left and right. I clung to that binder with a kung-fu death grip at all times. I actually still have part of that binder today which our office team affectionately now calls the arm. The arm refers to the left side of the binder that eventually tore away from the three-ring portion over years of use. Today, we still actually call the metallic storage bin that we now use to sort the upcoming appointments “the arm” out of reverence for this glorious fallen folder.
Each day, I was always greeted at Panera by Shelly and Fareed. Every day I would always insist upon sitting in the same spot. I wanted to get there before the clients did to subtly wow them with my promptness, and because I wanted to be seated in an area where the customer could easily see me as they walked in the often-crowded restaurant. I also wanted to be seated in an area where my clients could not be distracted. The process of meeting people that I had only talked to over the phone was always fun, and many times it was downright funny to see their reactions. Some clients thought I would be older (I was only twenty-one at the time). Some clients thought that I would be taller. And most clients were looking to spot the stereotypical DJ sporting a mullet, long hair, tattoos, and various piercings. I hope that all of my early customers were always pleasantly surprised.
Each night, I always ordered an obligatory item off the menu. I always bought something, but I would have never gone there to eat if it weren’t for those meetings. Regardless of how much money I have made over the years, I have never really understood the logic of paying six dollars for something to eat. I always hated to order that food, but I knew it was the right thing to do, so I ordered an organic $2 (holy crap, that was expensive) chocolate milk.
As I would wait for my customers to arrive, I never really grew nervous, but I did grow intense and passionate with anticipation. I viewed these appointments as $100-merit-based-pay performances. If I wowed them with accurate notes, professionalism, humor, organization, quick wit, and well-articulated presentations, they would pay me $100. If I did not wow them, they would reject me, and I would leave the restaurant with less money that I came in with. It was a gamble, but I was betting on me, so I always liked the odds.
My whole presentation was a choreographed routine filled with rapport building, pre-written and tested humor, and a call to action. My goal was to always make the sales presentation look easy because it was so well planned. My customers could always tell that I was proud of my sales book, and they would sometimes tease me about it. I always shrugged off this teasing by assuring them, “I only live, sleep, and eat with this friend/folder. It is really of no sentimental value to me.”
I was focused on making each page of the presentation book come alive with my vivid and passionate descriptions of the “1955 classic-chrome-plated Elvis-style mic” and the “multi-colored lights that moved to the beat to work as rhythm therapy for people who could never quite learn how to clap on beat, like my uncles.” I would quickly and passionately describe the packages, the sound, and the lights. As I described each package with comedic levels of wit, energy, and descriptive narrative, most of the customers would laugh (because this was a comedy routine tailored for them, and the presentation was designed to make them laugh). Generally, customers would respond to my routine with a few pointed questions, which I generally responded to with direct, sincere, and non-threatening replies, followed up by a seemingly random humorous anecdote to demonstrate the merits of our DJ service to them. Around this time, rapport was usually reaching its climax. Once I had this sales presentation refined, it truly was a thing of business coach beauty.
After giving the customer my presentation and answering some of their questions, I would then begin interrogating the customer in a fun (yet productive) way to build the value of my expertise and to help choreograph the best upcoming party of reception possible. This business coach process would generally take about twenty minutes. I would then ask them if they had any final questions, and then I would proceed to unload nearly every bit of shameless and highly biased propaganda that I had at my disposal as I ramped to go for the close. And then finally, once I sensed their interest and the value of our service was at an all-time high, I would go for the close. During my first few years in business, going for the close was always the toughest thing for me to do. But the poorer I got, the less I feared going for the close in a way that gave the customer a non-confrontational exit strategy, if needed (which happened less than five times during my two years of appointments at Panera). Although I have found that going for the close is always somewhat uncomfortable, not being able to afford anything to eat is highly uncomfortable in comparison to the discomfort experienced from asking a customer if they want to use my services or not. Over the years, I have also discovered that, “Hey, we’ll look this over, and then can we get back with you?” is code talk for, “Hey Dude, your sales presentation was not good enough to earn our money.”
Without hesitation, most of my early customers would respond enthusiastically to my close attempts with an emphatic comment by the bride-to-be such as, “Yes! Dad, I want to use this guy!” We would then sign the contracts, and they would pay their retainer/non-refundable deposit. I would then promise them that they would be receiving e-mail confirmations from me by the following afternoon. After shaking their hands, I would then stand up and tell them thank you (which signified the end of our time together). As each customer left, I knew that I was $100 richer, and they were now ensured that their upcoming party was going to be epic because I was going to personally train their DJ, or I was going to personally DJ their event myself. Oh, life was simple and good back then. I had spent less than three dollars on my chocolate milk (payment for my office space), and yet this chocolate-milk investment had yielded me a positive return of 97-plus dollars; however, I knew that I was going to need to eventually start getting six of those deposits per day if I was going to have any shot of ever reaching my financial goals.
Once the customers left the appointment, I would always immediately finish writing down all of the notes from our conversation because THE PAPER NEVER FORGETS WHAT IS WRITTEN, and my mind always tends to forget everything (as I write this, I honestly and disturbingly do not know my own home address). I would then file the check, their information, my notes, and the contract all into a single plastic sheet protector before checking my day timer and voicemails to see what my schedule had in store for me next. In between appointments and calls, I always made sure to pass out at least ten business cards per day to humans I came in contact with, generally, around 8:00 p.m., I would discover that my last appointment had concluded and that all of the day’s callers had been reached thus signifying to me that it was time to get over to Office Depot to buy the daily business supplies that were needed to keep the business running.
After shopping at Office Depot and unloading the vans, I would then generally return to my office where I would work until 10:00 p.m. I would use this time to prepare the customized agendas, songs, and files needed to ensure that the week’s upcoming weddings would go off without a hitch. And after the final item was crossed off of that day’s agenda, I would go hang out with Vanessa for a half hour or so knowing that I had successfully spent another day climbing up Entrepreneur Mountain.
“Knowledge without application is meaningless.” – Thomas Edison
Answer the following self-examining questions by completing the following action steps:
If you need help while you are making your way up Entrepreneur Mountain, thrive15.com can help! We provide proven resources, effective business coach, useful online training, and workshops that yield results!