Make Business Simple – Four-Word Rules for Success
Leonardo da Vinci wrote, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Confucius said, “Life is really simple, but we insist in making it complicated.”
Chopin believed, “Simplicity is the final achievement.”
If those brilliant minds got it right, then why do spend so much time, money, effort, and heartache making our business much more complicated than it needs to be?
Is it because we don’t have confidence in good ideas? Could it be because we need to justify our labors? Is it just that it’s hard to make things easy?
Or, as that other great thinker, Pogo the Opossum said, is it because “we have met the enemy and he is us?”
Regardless, there’s great learning to be had and benefits to enjoy by figuring out how to make it simple.
As I wrote that, I realized that’s what I’ve been doing with my clients for the last 30 years or so. In fact, in my third book, Building Brand Value, which described the seven points for building a great brand, my third point was “Make It Simple.” And because I wanted all seven points to be memorable and usable, I reduced each one to just three words.
But it went deeper. It dawned on me that many of the corollaries I use to help build my clients’ brands and business are only four words each. And while I’d like to brag about my foresight, this wasn’t by design. I just noticed that the length of each was what they had in common.
In my ongoing effort to provide you with powerful suggestions to help build your brand and your business, I’m going to use the next few weeks’ blog posts to show you these Four-word Rules for Success. Let’s start with a story:
My clients and I were presenting a new partnership opportunity to a Fortune 500 Company. The company filled the room with their best thinkers —their CIO and CMO, and the VPs of marketing, product development, and consumer insight.
Our team was no slouch, either. We’ve got both founders, our system designer, our carefully selected celebrity spokesman (you’d recognize him in an instant) and me.
The Fortune 500 team loves the idea. They see the connection between the product and their customers, and they see how it will enhance customer loyalty and generate new revenue.
There’s only one problem: My client won’t shut up.
She’s so excited she needs to explain every detail of the plan. And she’s so wrapped up in her pitch that she doesn’t see her partner signaling her to be quiet.
The meeting ends at least 45 minutes later than it should have. When we get out to the sidewalk, the client high fives everyone on the team. And on the way to the airport we stop for a celebratory dinner and a few great bottles of wine.
But when the buyers call back they are no longer buyers. Instead they said they were “putting the project on the back burner.” That’s corpspeak for “don’t call us, we’ll call you.”
What happened? Simple. My client violated the cardinal rule of sales: “Always take yes for an answer.” Her prospect wanted to buy until she convinced them that they didn’t.
“Yes” is the best you can hope for. Who cares if you spent weeks on your PowerPoint? Who cares if you’re only up to page four of a 28-point deck? Who cares if you flew halfway across the country? When your buyer is ready to sign on the dotted line, turn off the projector. Showing your full dog-and-pony show isn’t the goal — getting to “Yes” is why you’re there.
Decisions are often made without all the facts. Once the purchase decision has been made, more facts can either enhance the decision or kill the deal. Once you’ve got a “Yes,” why risk snatching defeat from the jaws of victory?
The simple solution in presentations — especially ones going well — is to let the buyer talk. To do that just remember this Four-Word Rule for Success: “Shut the @#$%!! up.”