Randy Cantrell

Chasing Customers – Grow Great Daily Brief #150 – February 5, 2019

Chasing Customers – Grow Great Daily Brief #150 – February 5, 2019

As a business operator, you can chase any number of things. Each pursuit is different and you should know the risks and rewards.

Some entrepreneurs are chasing fame. They want celebrity. Well, I’m not talking about that kind of pursuit. Instead, I’m talking about the things necessary to build and grow your business. Things like cash, products, services, employees, and customers.

The first thing most businesses have to chase? Customers. Until you have a customer you don’t have a business. Every business needs people willing to trust us enough to buy whatever we’re selling!

Finding and acquiring customers is a big, big topic. It’s what marketing and selling are all about. There are tons of experts willing to share their insights on how you can improve those activities. You’d think it would have all been thought of, written about, promoted and well known by now. And it probably has, except the tactical part. The tools are always changing. Human behavior adapts and adjusts, too. But the principles are likely tried and true. The difference is like a diet program…you have to figure out what resonates for you. Find what works.

Chasing customers can be like any of these pursuits, exhausting. But there’s one thing about chasing customers that is different from some of these other business building/growth pursuits. The more quickly you’re able to get customers the more encouraged you are that your business is valid. Failure to capture customers is supremely discouraging and it may mean the idea isn’t valid. Or it may mean something else. It can be depressing and daunting to figure out what’s wrong. Why can’t I get customers? Or, why can’t I get more customers? It may be a million things and that makes this pursuit difficult when we’re struggling.

It’s necessary to chase customers. It has to be the first pursuit. Above all others. 

Everything else can wait. When you’re starting out, even cash has to wait (kinda sorta) because your path to cash is a customer!

Does “chasing” sound too adversarial? I get it. I don’t mean it like that though. I mean it as in chasing something good. Like pursuing something valuable. And like accepting the responsibility that you need to influence the outcome, not just wait for something to happen.

Don’t be bashful to pursue customers. Let me more properly define “chase” or “pursue.”

I don’t mean corner people, coerce people, or even sell people. Selling people is ideally giving people the opportunity to make up their own mind by supplying them with the true value you can provide. Largely, it’s educating people on what’s possible. It’s not manipulating people into doing what you want.

I’ll use myself as an example because it’s always easier to pick on myself than somebody else. I’m not saying what I do is perfect or even ideal. I think you need to figure it out for yourself and do what works for you. Everybody has to do what feels appropriate for them.

My objective in chasing customers is to first get people’s attention, then inform them (educate) on what I’m able to do to help them and then allow them to decide. I don’t talk anybody into or out of anything. Ever. I respect whatever decision people make. And I’m aware that they may decide based on my ineptness to properly convey what I want, but that’s how it goes. I’m not perfect. They’re not perfect. And if they miss out on an opportunity to work with me, it’s just the price we both pay for my botched effort. 😉

I’m always more interested in the prospect and their business. If you happen to talk with me on the phone I’m going to ask you about yourself and your business. It’s not an interrogation. Nor is it some convoluted qualifying process. It’s just a friendly conversation so I can get to know you better. Sales coaches would be highly critical of me and my process. I don’t care. I know who I am and I know what feels right to me. Those folks can judge me all they want. They don’t have to live my life. I do. I’d encourage you to roll the way you have to roll. Stop trying to fool people. Don’t pretend. Don’t act. Just be you and if prospects don’t like it, be happy to live with the outcome. It’s the age-old maxim, “You have to be willing to be hated by some in order to be loved by others.”

If I were to put a percentage on the phone call, I’d say 95% or more is spent in me learning all I can about somebody. Less than 5% is spent even telling them what I’m offering – the solution or value I might offer. That’s not likely ideal for me, but it feels right to me. I’m sure I could close more business if I were pushier, but I’m not pushy. I treat everybody the way I’d like to be treated. I don’t ever want to corner a prospect. But almost every day I encounter people selling me and they’re willing (I can’t be sure how happy they are about it) to corner me. Or to try. Try to corner me and it won’t go well for you. And I’ll hang up feeling awful myself. Everybody loses. That’s just too high a risk for the other person and for me. So I never do it. NEVER.

So for me, chasing and pursuit look an awful lot like a friendly, deep conversation that ends in a polite invitation. If people accept my invitation, great. If they don’t, I don’t judge them. Or get angry. Or feel like I blew it. Even though I’m sure sometimes I do blow it. So it goes. Life ain’t perfect and neither am I. New flash, you aren’t either!

If we don’t ask, we won’t get. When you believe in what you’re doing – and I absolutely believe in what I’m doing – then extending an invitation is a perfectly honorable thing. Would you hesitate to hand somebody an invitation to a celebration because you want them to attend, but you’re afraid they may not want to? Well, don’t. Give them the opportunity to attend. Or not. And unlike that birthday party invitation, don’t put a negative spin on the outcome. If they accept, great. If they refuse, it doesn’t mean they hate you or your birthday party.

I bring that up because people don’t invite people to do business with them because they make the decision for their prospect. Who gave you that right? They don’t have the right to figure it out for themselves? I’m constantly urging YOU to figure it out. I’m not offended if you don’t do exactly what I do. I’m only offended if you don’t even try to learn, understand and grow. I want a better outcome for you. If that doesn’t come across in this podcast, then I’m failing miserably. I don’t spend my time spinning content into a subtle sales pitch. Sometimes I tell you what I’m doing and ask if you’re interested. But that happens so rarely I’m often criticized by others who tell me, “You’re not selling anything. What’s wrong with you?”

Nothing is wrong with me. I’m peddling ideas and encouragement. Mostly.

I want people to grow great. If I can contribute with this podcast and never collect a single dollar from you, that’s great. I’m happy to have that outcome. Why else would I do this podcast if I weren’t happy with that outcome? But if you check me out and think a coach could help accelerate your growth and you think I’d be a good fit for you, then that’s also a great outcome. My chasing customers look the same either way. I want YOU to get what you need to grow great. Period.

It doesn’t make me better or worse than anybody. It doesn’t make how I roll right or wrong. It’s just what it is – it’s my personal commitment to how I need to roll in order to be happy with myself. I want you to be happy with yourself, too.

Be well. Do good. Grow great!

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What You Can’t See Will Hurt You. Badly. – The Peer Advantage by Bula Network

The mental and emotional health of today’s entrepreneur is a real thing. A very real danger. But very few people talk about it. Or even acknowledge it exists. 

I’m more afraid to not talk about it, than I am to talk about it. Because it doesn’t have to cripple us as CEO’s and business owners. Truth is, it’s like any other challenge or constraint. It can be dealt with. Improperly by ignoring it. Properly by seeing it, understanding it and then handling it. It’s what we do, right? We manage the work. We lead the people. It’s about time we started managing the things that get in our way as owners, leaders and humans. 

Visit The Peer Advantage by Bula Network.

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Grow Great: It’s Still About Your Leadership

Over 20 years ago I distilled business building into what I called the “trifecta” of business building:

  1. Getting new customers
  2. Serving existing customers better
  3. Not going crazy in the process

It’s always been about growing, improving and transforming. Mostly my own leadership. And boy did it sometimes need heavy doses of all three. While my intent may have been well placed, my execution was often way off the mark. 

Almost 3 decades of C-Suite experience running companies and committing just about every foul possible taught me a thing or three. So when I stepped away from the daily grind of operating multi-million dollar businesses some years ago, I committed to helping top-level leaders and business owners overcome the disadvantages of the natural siloing that happens when you’re the #1.

That’s what the Grow Great podcast is all about. Your leadership. Your challenges. Your pain. Your opportunities. 

It’s about the whole YOU. 

If you’re an executive, a leader, a business owner – Grow Great is aimed at helping you with weekly insights, experiences, stories, perspectives and whatever other resources we can marshal to help you grow, improve and transform. It’s not about the leadership at the office. It’s about your ability to lead an improved life. 

It’s time to stop hiding and start making better decisions. It’s time to stop feeling like a winner in one arena while feeling like a failure in some others. You didn’t get where you are by thinking about what isn’t possible. You did it by aiming at what is possible. And you proved it. So don’t stop climbing now…the best is yet to come.

I hope you’ll subscribe. Drop me a note. Tell me about yourself and what’s going on with you. I’ll help you by asking you a question, “What’s the one thing you wish somebody would help you with right now?”

Subscribe to the podcast

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Thank you!

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The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell (#13 The Law Of The Picture)

An Audio Book Summary: The 21 Irrefutable Laws Of Leadership by John C. Maxwell #5016 - GROW GREAT

First published in September 1998, The 21 Irrefutable Laws Of Leadership by John C. Maxwell put Maxwell at the forefront of leadership experts.

The book contains a variety of exercises that will help you not only plant the ideas firmly into your life, but they’ll help you improve your awareness and identify your needs. You’ll likely want to listen to each chapter more than once so you can fully grasp each law.

The Peer Advantage is all about leadership. The courage, conviction and drive to improve fuels the peer advantage. Leadership and personal growth aren’t for the faint of heart. The paradox is that vulnerability – the kind of vulnerability required to join a group of your peers so you can grow and transform your life – is the major requirement for anybody who will take full use of the peer advantage.

The pain of going it alone is an unnecessary pain. There is a better way – a more courageous path to higher success. Surround yourself with other business owners who want the same things you want – growth, improvement, transformation and success. They’ll lift you up and serve you. You’ll do the same for them.

If you’re interested in joining a small, intimate group of just 7 business owners from around the United States who come together via a video conferencing platform, then click here for details.

Now dive into this audio summary and get busy growing your leadership. Enjoy learning and performing each law –


Subscribe to the podcast

bula network podcast on itunesTo subscribe, please use the links below:

If you have a chance, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking Review on iTunes. It’ll help the show rank better in iTunes.

Thank you!

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Owning A Business Requires Superior Fire Fighting Skills

There are owners who don’t operate, but at some point every company has an owner who does. Operate.

Operating the business isn’t about thinking. It’s not as high brow as some may think. It’s the grunt work done every hour of every day when we’re faced with another flame that pops up unexpectedly.

It’s the daily grind of business ownership, entrepreneurship. Shouldering the financial responsibility it hard work. Only a micro-segment of business owners are well known. Most of us are completely anonymous, operating in small circles where only a few (or few hundred) people even know who we are.

Our work isn’t glamorous, sexy or exciting. That isn’t to say we’re not thrilled with it because we are. It’s largely why we do it. It’s the source of our professional vitality. But to the outsiders it’s nothing like “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous.”

Some years ago I was happy to read Carol Roth’s book, The Entrepreneur Equation. Because she didn’t paint business ownership with the glamorous brush so many do. She was candid, truthful and honest. It’s not for everybody. And there are many reasons for that. Chief among them may be the ability to accept risk and embrace the stress of problem-solving on the fly.

Successful business owners have to learn to accept decision-making with incomplete data. We have to know enough to make a decision. Then, we have to make that decision.

That’s what fire fighting is all about, making decisions in the moment as our business can continue to move forward. But there’s an obvious issue that doesn’t get the discussion it deserves.

Loving the fight.

To be skilled requires learning, but first it requires desire. Don’t fall in love with starting or owning a business because today’s culture puts a premium on it. Millions of business owners could earn more money by getting a job. Millions more will lose money in the effort. You’d better make sure you’re in touch with what you really want and who you really are. It takes just as much courage to say “no” to entrepreneurship as it does to say “yes.” Your desire to fight fire is central.

These days my work is intensely focused on business owner decision-making. Because that’s really all there is. Talk with any successful business owner and they’ll confess that they spend most of their time, every single day, putting out fires. Translation: they spend their days making quick decisions on the fly with incomplete data, but just enough to give them some sense of what they should do.

Sure, sometimes decisions take longer. And require more data gathering. Most decisions are important, but they’re not “bet the ranch” scale. So if we get them wrong, we know we’ve got enough margin to fix them later. But sometimes we face a fire that we know we need to get right because if we don’t, it may be costly, difficult or impossible to fix without a high price tag.

Real-time problem solving is the superior skill. It hinges on how people are wired, on our experience and our learning. Or our willingness to learn. It also requires great data gathering skills, which means listening. Superior fire fighting skills include the ability to get to the heart of the matter by asking good questions. Then, listening to the answers and asking more (perhaps deeper) questions.

The most successful business owners I know embrace the need for speed, but not at the expense of learning from others. Successful fire fighting requires just enough patience to get to the crux of the issue so you can make a decision, then make sure it gets done. Not all fires are created equally so a great business owners won’t tackle the fire without first learning more about it. The goal is to put it out, or at worst – contain it while you engage more resources to extinguish it.

Skilled fire fighters don’t make it worse, but sometimes business owners do. We have knee-jerk reactions, don’t listen to others, don’t gauge the feedback we get, have our mind made up before we know the facts — many weaknesses cause us to let a small flame flare up into a raging inferno.

Successful businesses are made that way because at the helm is an owner with superior skills at putting out fires. The visionary may get all the business press praise, but it’s the daily, grind-it-out, fire fighting owner who is making success happen.

Are you the owner of a small-medium business?

Do you want to become a superior fire fighter — a more skilled decision maker? That’s the goal of THE PEER ADVANTAGE, a virtual peer advisory group of just 7 owners from around America, who help each other grow as owners so they can grow their business.

>>> Click here to apply or to learn more <<<

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Changing The World One Small Business Owner At A Time

Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.

Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”

The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”

The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”

*adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

Small business owners are no longer necessarily limited by geography. Many of them serve customers all over the world. Others know their customers by name because they live in the same town or neighborhood. To pigeon-hole small business owners is about as sensible as doing it with any multi-billion dollar company. One size never fits all.

The Holy Grail of starting and operating a business for many may be Google, Facebook or Amazon, but for others of us…it’s more modest. And we’re good with it. Gary Vaynerchuk wants to build the highest building – his metaphor for building his empire. All the best to him. He’s interesting to watch. But there are millions of us – small business owners – out here trying to make a difference in the world in a much smaller way.

I don’t think we should make any apologies for that, or feel like we’re losing because of it. Success for some isn’t measured by completing another round of funding. It may not be calculated based on an opening IPO share value. It might be more visceral as a business owner unlocks the doors this morning, flips on the lights and commits himself to another day of operating in a way that brings value to his employees, suppliers and customers.

99.9% of all small business owners will never make the cover of Entrepreneur magazine or Fast Company or Inc. Most are known only in very small circles. VERY small circles.

Small doesn’t mean insignificant. I’d argue it means just the opposite. In a world steeped in scope and scale, intimate and personal don’t. Scale or scope. They can’t. Robin Dunbar may have been right. Maybe 150 is the maximum number of people with whom we can maintain a stable relationship. That’s not to say that celebrity business people like Gary Vee don’t impact us, but Gary doesn’t know me. I don’t know him. We can see him online and feel like we know him, but we don’t. Not really. He’s not on my speed dial. I’m not going to call him if I need some feedback.

Some of my most powerful moments of service are when I contact a small business owner for the first time. I’ve always viewed my work just like the story of the boy rescuing star fish one at a time. I never feel like a “rescuer,” but I feel more like a friend who wants to help. Sometimes I’m able to help. Sometimes I can’t. Just like any friend. But the conversations are almost always personal and deep filled with vulnerability. That’s a connection you can’t make with strangers. Or one you can make as a fan.

The starfish story holds up when it comes to the impact we have as small business owners. For me, my clients – YOU, small business owner – aren’t starfish incapable of helping yourself. I’m simply empathic to the struggle and glory of operating a small business (and for the umpteenth time, small isn’t based on revenue but in how the business operates). I know how lonely and isolating it can feel. And I know small business owners don’t often have access to the high-end resources available to the CEO of the billion dollar corporation.

That’s why I do what I do. It’s why I do it the way I do it. Because I know that I can help make a positive impact on one small business owner at a time. It’s the magic of The Peer Advantage – small groups of small business owners who develop deep connections with one another while serving to help each other build more successful businesses. And at the same time, grow themselves as human beings. For me, that’s among the best work on the planet!

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