The most important 80/20 of all is the 20% of your skills that produce 80% of your results. Yes, 80/20 applies to your time, and your customers, and your product lines. But the greatest source of satisfaction of all is working in your gifted zones. When you apply 80/20 to your own giftedness, you force multiply everything else in your career. It’s the fastest path to an income spike. It also reduces your stress, big-time.
Looking back on the two grueling years I spent as a manufacturer’s rep, pounding the phone and trying to go see people who didn’t want to see me, I now realize one of the biggest problems of all was I didn’t have any appreciation for how I naturally sold and persuaded.
I was spending my life trying to be somebody else, trying to be like other people.
I had a boss named Fred. Fred was a brilliant salesman, almost a hostage negotiator. He would walk into meetings with a sort of magical confidence. He could say things to customers that I could never get away with, he would ask them questions I was terrified to ask; he would walk out with a $200,000 purchase order.
How he accomplished this just mystified me.
Meanwhile I would wander into factories, try to solve their engineering problems, spend all kinds of time helping them with stuff, then get brushed aside when it was time for the guy to buy something.
I eventually got so desperate and frustrated from eating baloney sandwiches and ramen soup that I resolved that I was going to absolutely, positively figure out HOW I needed to sell and WHAT I needed to sell and WHO I needed to sell to.
My friend, if you’ve resolved to figure that out, your life is about to suddenly get a whole lot easier. Mine did. Here’s what transformed my sales career.
I switched jobs. Similar product. Similar customer. Same industry. But what was different was:
- The new company was web-centric, so most of the initial contact was made through web pages and emails
- We generated leads through the web instead of cold calling
- Writing was a strength for me, much more comfortable than the phone, and FAR less nauseating than cold calling
- We positioned ourselves as technical experts by offering charts and diagnostic tools, which catered to my analytical skills
I’ll never forget: A few days into the new job, an engineer called me, asked me a bunch of questions. I satisfied his concerns and a purchase order came from Micron, the semiconductor company in Idaho. Just like that. First customer. Suddenly, selling was EASY.
My own 80/20 persuasion groove was:
- Creative solutions to complex problems
- Blending empathy with analysis
My old boss Fred’s 80/20 persuasion groove was:
- Thinking very fast on his feet
- Very high empathy
- Keen awareness of the customer’s processes and procedures
I listed three things for each of us, because when used together they Force Multiply. I was in the top 20% of sales people as a writer; I was in the top 20% as a creative problem solver; I was top 20% in combining empathy with analysis. When you combined all three together, I was in the top 1% for situations requiring all three.
Ditto with Fred. If you needed a high-speed real-time empathizer who totally “got” customers’ systems, Fred was almost impossible to beat.
What I didn’t understand at the time was how Fred had almost unconsciously groomed his accounts and his relationships to match his skills over time.
Not only was Fred unable to articulate to me exactly what he was doing, it probably wouldn’t have helped if he tried. He and I were very, very different animals.
As I matured as a sales person, I began to notice how differently various people sell. My old boss Fred is still a brilliant hostage negotiator and he still hates the Internet. I know fellas who are “Elephant Hunters,” who only like to work with Big Accounts. I know other folks who like to hide in their cave and write copy and press a button and send emails.
I know people who sell like crazy via videos and infomercials. Right now Pimsleur language learning is killing it with a combination of Facebook ads and videos. Very different from Fred and very different from me.
What’s Your Marketing Style?
One time I took the Kolbe strength assessment test (which is very useful), and I said to myself, “The world needs an assessment for marketing styles!”
Such a thing didn’t exist, so I built it. It’s called the Marketing DNA Test .
The Marketing DNA Test distinguishes the analytical consultant from the hostage negotiator from the video producer. The main portion of the Marketing DNA Test report looks like this:
The report you see here is for a friend of mine, Dave Frees, an attorney and professional speaker from Pennsylvania. The test says that Dave leads with empathy, that he’s a wordsmith, and that he does his finest work live, on the spot.
Those are Dave’s three “selling 80/20’s.” Those three in combination represent a top 1% skill zone – force multiplication of his persuasion abilities. In other words, put Dave on stage in front of a room full of people, and he’ll win ‘em over. He’ll set the room on fire.
This also says he dislikes analysis, especially not using analysis to persuade people. It also says he doesn’t like “recorded.” That means he is not a person who likes to meticulously slave over a sales message trying to edit and perfect it. He’d rather perform LIVE, in the moment.
Eight basic skills come into view when you need to persuade, market, sell or publicize:
Producer – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – Alchemist
Recorded – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – Live
Words – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – Images
Analytics – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - Empathy
A producer is a person who follows procedures. An Alchemist is a creator.
“Recorded” means editing and perfecting. “Live” means communicating in real time.
We all know what “Words” and “Images” are. Some people sell with one, some the other. A few are skilled with both.
Some sell with facts and figures; others by plucking your heartstrings.
The way you naturally persuade falls on one of these four continuums. The most important thing to recognize about yourself is which mix works best for you.
Many of the ways we’ve all tried to sell in the past have been shoving square pegs into round holes!
When you spend your life developing weaknesses, at the end of your life you’ll end up with a pile of strong weaknesses. But if you build your strengths, and distribute tasks outside your strength areas to others, you attain compound interest with your efforts. In time, you develop a natural groove and develop a persuasion style all your own.
Many of my customers now refuse to hire anyone until they’ve had the person take Marketing DNA. The Marketing DNA Test is $37 but you can take it free if you own my book, 80/20 Sales & Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Working Less and Making More . The book is available at bookstores like Barnes & Noble or on Amazon.