06/03/2013

By Robert Craven, Managing Director of The Directors Centre

Someone must have slipped something into my Recession Special two-for-the-price-of-one drink… the breakfast meeting suddenly became very ‘Alice in Wonderland’…

‘But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ said Alice. ‘Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the cat. ‘We’re all mad here.’

All around me were (mad?) business people clutching hold of their BlackBerries and iPhones and Tweeting and Facebooking themselves into oblivion while discussing the merits of the twelve different networking groups they belonged to. It was ‘all talk and no trousers’ as my mother would say.

No-one was actually doing business (you know, closing sales, that kind of thing); they were all talking about it.

The modern disease of looking (or pretending to look) busy will kill many businesses.

Let me briefly work backwards. To quote Steven Covey, “start with the end in mind”.

What people want is results. Results come from action. Action comes from decisions. Decisions come from people being decisive. Being decisive comes from having a clear focus and direction.

And what are the results that people want?

Answer: more customers and more profits.

Now we’ve established what it is that people are after we can set about making it happen.

How do you get more customers and more profits?

Answer: you combine the soft skills (people stuff: rapport, body language, listening, questioning, networking) with the hard systems and skills (the database, customer relationship management, working the funnel/pipeline, systems etc). By combining your personal/soft skills into a system, things start to happen. This is not about activity for the sake of activity but is actually about structured, focused effort.

So how do you make it happen?

Answer: Do the things that work, things that give you an identifiable return on your investment. Know what it is that you are selling, clarify who your target customer is, create a compelling proposition, sort out your selling skills and just go for it. And measure, measure, measure. It is all about focused, productive activity. Definable, measurable action. Massive action.

I doubt you will tweet your way out of the recession. However, you might sell your way out. And if Twitter (or Facebook or LinkedIn or BNI or whatever) works for you then fantastic; do it and do more of it and count the cash coming in. But don’t just do things that you think might be working.

Hope is not a method.

Never put lipstick on a pig. A bad idea is a bad idea – even if you disguise it as a pretty idea. The only thing that matters is the results.

So no more pseudo, pretentious, intellectual hot air about why social media is so good. Most people wouldn’t know a good business tool if it bit them on the bum. For these people the debate and discussion isn’t a means to an end but an end in itself. They think it makes them look smart (wrong!). But just a minute, the endpoint is more customers, so just do stuff that works, Stop talking. Just do stuff that works.