I was having coffee with a friend of mine the other day and we were discussing the economy and the effect it was having on our businesses. The consensus between the two of us was that we were both having to work harder and the results of that work was far less productive. We agreed that competition for business has always been stiff but in today’s economy it is even more challenging as there are too many people chasing too few dollars. During our discussion my friend
told me about his sales manager and the manager’s penchant for using analogies and how one day during a sales meeting the manager asked the sales staff if they were fishing in the wrong pond. I’ve blogged before about how in business you should strive to be a large fish in a small pond, so the analogy struck a chord with me. What the sales manager was alluding to was the fact that if there are too many sales people fishing in your pond of customers you should find yourself a new pond.
To be a successful sales person you must work hard but you also must work smart. Working hard is getting into the office and sitting down at the phone and making the number of calls necessary to fill your appointment book. Working smart is creating a unique niche for yourself in the marketplace where there are few other sales people. When I first entered my career in real estate I found it difficult to get clients and I stumbled upon the idea of a unique niche merely by accident. Sitting at my desk and pondering my fate on day I received a call from a lady who was looking for a retail space for her nail salon. While there is a nail salon in almost every retail center today, back then it was a new idea and not very well received by property owners. Making it even more difficult for the lady was her difficulty with English. I found her so difficult to understand that I requested that she come to my office so we could talk in person as I felt by watching her speak I might be able to understand her.
Later that day a young Vietnamese lady came into my office and introduced herself as the person I’d had the telephone conversation with. She was almost in tears as she proceeded to tell me how she had called property owners directly and they had been unwilling to work with her. She then started to contact real estate agents but none that she had spoken to were willing to work with her until she had called me. Sitting her down in the conference room and talking with her further I began to realize that she had a great idea but needed a business plan so she could sell that idea to the owners. Over the next several days we repeated the face-to-face meetings until I had all the information I needed to prepare a business plan for her. Within less than a week I was able to secure her a retail location and shortly thereafter she opened for business. It wasn’t more than a day after her grand opening that I received a phone call from one of the lady’s friends who was looking for space. That phone call lead to another and yet another until I had a steady stream of Vietnamese clients. I had found my first niche. I didn’t understand Vietnamese and they understood little English but with patience and persistence we worked together to make their dream of owning a business a reality. Today, over twenty years later I still have some of these original clients coming back to me, their English is better and I still don’t know Vietnamese.
Is your business is challenging you? If so, work smart and find a new pond to fish in.