I often wonder what the secret to success is. Especially when it comes to business. Because, at the end of the day, we're all in this struggle. A rat race, if you will. Constantly fighting an uphill battle. Often, we feel frustrated. Sometimes, defeated. But, what if I told you that the secrets to success in business aren't as complicated as many make them out to be?
Okay, coming from me, those words might not have the same impact. But, what if I told you that this information comes directly from two of the best salespeople on the planet? As a student of self-improvement, I've followed many of the world's most sought-after purveyors of success. Anthony Robbins, for one. He's definitely my hero. But, so is Zig Ziglar.
If the name Zig Ziglar doesn't ring a bell, then you might have been hiding under a rock for the past few decades. He's touched the lives of over 250 million people around the planet. Sold millions of books. And most certainly created thousands of millionaires. Now, while Ziglar might no longer be among the living, his words most certainly live on.
Ziglar coined iconic quotes that are often referenced today in business. Things like, "Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude." Along with, "What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals." And, "You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win." Plus so much more.
These are age-old adages. Sure to last generations upon generations to come. But, I wasn't just interested in his words. I was also keenly interested in his students. In fact, one in particular. Kevin Harrington, which many know from Shark Tank fame, is by far one of Ziglar's most successful students. While Ziglar mentored many, Harrington has taken that knowledge and created a proverbial empire with it.
So if there was one person in particular to ask about the secrets to success in business, a person who I could speak to today, it was Harrington. Over the past 30 years, he's helped launch over 500 products. Those products have generated well north of $5 billion in sales. As one of the original sharks on the Shark Tank, he's also the father of the infomercial.
How to Sell Anything to Anyone
There are so many facets to sales. I talk about sales because it's the foundation for success. To succeed, you have to know how to sell. Hands down, it's the most important skill you can have. Everything revolves around sales. If you're no good at sales, you'll have a hard time succeeding in business.
Sales is about influence. There are methods of persuasion that work very well in business. But, there are also several fundamentals that need to be in place if you want to succeed. If those fundamentals aren't in place, you can pretty much kiss your chances for success goodbye.
So let's just call them secrets. Sure, they're fundamental. But, they're also categorically secret. Not in the terms of nobody knowing or understanding them. More so, people simply overlook them. And I knew, that if anyone had those proverbial secrets to success, it was Harrington.
Not convinced that sales is the basis for success? Just imagine for a moment what you're selling at any given moment. No, I'm not talking about products or services or information. I'm talking about selling yourself. You need to sell yourself at just about any point if you want to succeed:
- You need to sell a good college on why you would be a great fit
- You need to sell your skills to a potential employer to get a good job
- You need to sell a potential spouse or date on why they should be with you
- You need to sell your parents on why they should give you an allowance
- You need to sell your bank on why they should give you a mortgage
- You need to sell a landlord on why you would be a good tenant
Selling is everything. Everything. Hands down. Now, selling without holding steadfast to a variety of so-called secrets doesn't guarantee your long-term success. Sure, you'll make some short-term progress. But, not strides. There won't be exponential growth.
Secrets to Success in Business
If sales is the basis to success in business, what are the secrets to succeeding at sales? At the foundation of any business, there are quite literally five fundamental keys that you need to have in place. This is not just about building an irresistible offer. Yes, you need that. But, you need so much more in place before that's even concocted or created.
While there are likely dozens, if not hundreds, of secrets to success, these five are crucial. Harrington says that if you follow these, you can navigate your way to success in the long term. Not in the short term. Remember, this is about consistency in your approach. It's not about faltering or giving up or making excuses. It's about staying on the straight and narrow.
1. Create something of real value
Harrington talks a lot about value. It's the cornerstone to success. If you stopped to think about it right now, the richest people in the world have created the most value. Hands down, it's crucial if you're looking to win. So why is value so important you ask?
While some people might be able to sell anything, that doesn't guarantee long-term success. If you put your own needs first before the consumer's, you'll lose. Harrington says that whatever you sell, manufacture, create or dream up, do it with the consumer's best interests at heart. In other words, add insane amounts of value.
Think about this for a moment. Before most of the world's most successful companies ever made a dime, they added value first. Facebook connected the world through a massive social network. Google provided the most uncannily accurate search results before it ever enabled you to run an ad. And so on.
2. Improve the lives of others
Not only should you deliver real value, but you should look for ways that you can improve the lives of others with whatever it is that you're peddling. Sure, you could sell anything to anyone for a brief period. But, if you're not improving the lives of consumers, you're really wasting your time.
By building products, services or information that improves the lives of others, you can quite literally transform your business and catapult it into the stratosphere. We're talking long-term exponential growth. Beyond anything that you could quite possibly dream of.
That doesn't mean you can't profit from your efforts. It simply means that you have to focus on improving the consumer's life first and foremost. That's the key or the secret to success here. Focus on that and watch as your business takes shape and reaches new heights. Ignore it, and watch it crash and burn.
3. Be authentic and transparent
No one likes a sleazeball. You can't sell anything. Don't be that guy (or girl) that people dread speaking to. The used car salesman. The underhanded low-balling greedy saleswoman. Don't be that person. Just don't. Instead, if you really want to succeed, Harrington says that you should be authentic and transparent.
Don't make unrealistic claims. People can see right through it. Instead, be honest about what your product or service or information will do. Use real-world reviews from people who've tested whatever it is that you're offering. Those testimonials go a long way.
Whether you're audience is millennials or baby-boomers, everyone can tell when you're being inauthentic. People aren't stupid. So don't take advantage of them by trying to be or say something that's not true. It's just a waste of time.
4. Focus on positivity
While you shouldn't look to please everyone all the time, you should focus your thoughts on positivity. In other words, don't think negative thoughts. Yes, it's hard. But, it's necessary. If you begin to veer off to the realm of negativity, your entire life follows.
Considering that we have upwards of 60,000 thoughts per day and a large degree of those happen in the subconscious mind, if you don't focus your thoughts on positivity, you'll feel like you aren't in control. You won't be in control of your destiny. And you certainly won't be able to make sales when you're in that headspace.
Harrington says that it's one of the most important pieces of advice he gives to entrepreneurs. You simply can't make progress if you're always focusing on pain rather than the pleasure of a positive outcome. Sure, business is hard. We all know that. But, it gets easier with time as long as you put in the work and keep a positive mindset.
5. Follow the 80-20 Rule
The 80-20 Rule states that 80 percent of the results come from 20 percent of the efforts. In sales, this means that 80 percent of the sales come from 20 percent of the customers. It also means that, within the 20 percent of efforts, another 80-20 Rule applies. That translates to a very small amount of efforts leading to a very large amount of results.
Focus on that. Find the efforts that are producing the biggest results. This isn't about working long and unending days, toiling away or being the last one to always leave the office. This is about productivity. If you can find what works, you can scale it out. Think 4 Hour Work Week rather than 18-hour day.
Too many people think that the secret to success lies in working yourself to the bone. It doesn't. Just identify what efforts are producing the biggest results and scale. That's how you seriously scale out and grow any business.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors