How to write like a pro

How to write like a pro

written by john c ashworth

with inspiration from my new favorite book, ‘On Writing Well’ by William Zinsser

The essence of writing is re-writing. A universal truth I have worked to instill in my son who seems to believe like so many others in his generation that one round into the keyboard is enough. I have to make it a point now to ask him if he’s actually read his work out loud to himself at least once before sending to me for review. This has been a telling experience for him, and he is learning slowly that the essence of writing is re-writing. He doesn’t like it so much. Because when you have to approach it that way, it feels more like a job.

When I first started learning about how and why to blog for business growth, I remember reading in countless places the suggestion that authenticity ruled and that just getting the words out there, regardless of their cleanliness, was the most important thing. Perfect is the enemy of done as I like to often say.

Many of those older posts still exist here on the ash flash and when I come across some of them, I cringe and secretly hope no one is looking. I really don’t like how exposed they sound. They are raw and incomplete. I know there’s value in just getting things out there but I think the problem is that it drives this unnecessary feeling that as soon as you’ve written something, you need to get it posted and live and public because somehow that validates your effort. I stopped thinking and acting this way a few years ago and instead have put my focus back where it belongs. On the craft. I started writing again just for the sake of the craft and how it makes me feel when I’m engaged with it. That’s the really truly important thing. That’s it. No one is sitting around right now and waiting for what John might post today. For the few devoted readers I do have, I want them to know that I’m putting in the effort and that I truly appreciate them being here. Taking the time to read what I have shared.

As Mr. Zinsser has pointed out, “…a badly written message can do a lot of damage. So can a badly written website. The new age, for all it’s technological wizardry is still writing based.”

Email, for example, is an impromptu medium, not conducive to slowing down or looking back. Ideal for the never-ending up-keep of daily life. If your writing here is disorderly, no real harm is done. But it is also very important to remember that email is where much of the world’s business is done. Millions of email messages every day give people the information they need to do their job, and a badly written message can in fact do a lot of damage.

William Zinsser, April 2006 in On Writing Well

Is your sales pitch missing this important message?

written by john c ashworth

If you are unable to quickly, easily and comfortably communicate the fundamental reason why people or organizations would choose to do business with you and you company above all other options, including doing nothing, you will likely have a very serious problem when prospecting for customers.

In fact, you might not ever even get your foot in the door..

Here’s a quick sales pitch formula to help you get started.

“We assist our _______[clients or customers] in the _______ [industry/business] to _______(what you help them do). We do this by _______[what do you help them do? what problems do you solve for your customers?].”

Don’t cheat this work. I know it sounds simple. Too simple, even.

But it’s not.

As soon as you begin working through this as it relates to your products and services and your company, you will see what I mean. If you haven’t answered other key sales and marketing questions about your business, you will have to go back and do that first, before you can get to this.

This process forces you to consider four very important questions about your business. Questions that I’m sure you’ve thought of at some point or another, but that I know first hand, most small business owners and salespeople don’t spend nearly enought time curating and clarifying so that they can truly hone their efforts.

I’m going through this again in my own work right now so I’m also speaking from very personal and timely experience.

Especially in light of everything that has changed over the last year and a half, it is time to reflect on how you, your work, and your business have changed in an effort to adapt to your customers and the marketplace.

What can you do differently?

How can you craft a killer unique selling proposition? (USP)

Here are those four quick questions that will help get you started.

  1. Dou you work with individuals, organizations, enterprises, associations, or governments?
  2. What industry or industry segment do you specialize in? What segment? What market? What type of business? “…OK, I know, that’s really a few questions in one, but they’re all related.”
  3. How do you assist your customers?
  4. How do you assist your customers?

OK, time to get to work.

-John

[video] How good videos can help you Sell MORE stuff

how-great-videos-help-you-sell-more-stuff

produced by john c ashworth

I recently invested in a GoPro Hero 8 Black. It’s pretty sweet.

During the buying process, I was looking for more sales video on the GoPro website. I didn’t find any like the one I’ve shared with you here and I thought it a great opportunity for me to point out to you just how important and effective these kinds of videos can be in your sales funnel.

-John

Three Keys to Selling like a Superstar

Three Keys to Selling like a Superstar

written by john c ashworth

First, I’ll give you the three keys, and then I’ll cover number 1-3 in more detail in three different posts…

  1. Embrace selling
  2. Create Killer Scripts
  3. The final close – so easy to mess this one up; and so easy to correct. And when done right a skill that holds great potential for increasing your income exponentially.

Embrace Selling

This one is important because as I’m sure you’ve heard before, we are all salespeople and we all do some selling each and every day.

“I couldn’t be a salesperson, John. I prefer a steady paycheck.”

That’s OK if you like small paychecks. I prefer BIG ones, and I have the confidence to rely on my own skills, talents and results to get me there. No. It’s not always pretty or perfect, but in my experience, it’s always better in the long run. To get there, however; you have to be willing to take the risk and believe in yourself; and as always, you have to have the right mindset and attitude.

Also, I know we’ve all run into to plenty of bad salespeople so it’s natural that you might cringe a little when you think about the idea of embracing selling. Trust me though, to be successful, you MUST embrace selling. There’s no way around it. And you don’t have to be that greasy salesman guy we’ve all run into on more than one occasion.

Lastly, to fully embrace selling you must embrace your mindset, your fundamentals, and your implementation. Which is to say, you must be willing to risk everything, take a lot of action, fail a lot, learn from that failure, and then get back up again and start over. Over and over again, you MUST do this. That’s why so many people avoid it. This is a lot of failure to accept head-on. It’s just easier to hide behind your fear and mistrust of your own abilities. Do me a favor and stop selling yourself so darn short.

Your mindset can be a tough one too. We all experience the dips in our confidence. Especially when results are lagging as they sometimes do. But instead of letting that failure eat away at your mind like a dirty disease with no cure, these are the times when you need to clear everything away, and get back to the fundamentals, which is the essence of #2 above. The ‘how to’ of selling. The ‘what to say and when to say it stuff.’

You will quickly discover as a salesperson that it is very easy to blame everything external for your failures and lack of results, when in fact, it is almost certain that the opposite is true. And you have to be a big enough person to garner your self-awareness, admit your short-comings and get back to the basics. This, of course, brings you right back to #1 and #3 above.

I’ll finish with one more point about #1 – your mindset – and then I’ll cover the other two in more detail in separate posts. I had more to say than I thought I did when I got started on this post this morning.

I work on my mindset constantly and in many different ways. Here’s a short list of a few of the actions I take regularly to keep my skills and my work as a salesman as sharp as possible and as much of the time as possible.

  • I read a lot about sales and marketing. I’ve been a ravenous student of this game for twenty plus years.
  • I have a routine I follow each and every day. In fact, I have understood much more fully how important this routine actually is since we all started working from home to prevent the spread of covid-19.* It has taken great discipline to maintain the same habits and environment that I had created in my office at work, and there are certain things like my swim at the gym in the middle of the day that have caused a fair amount of disruption in my flow. I walk, and I do strength training twice per week, but without the pool mixed in for recovery and rejuvenation, it’s just not the same for me. Regardless, I work to follow pretty much the same routine every day to keep my mind on track so that I can still get the best results possible during these trying times.
  • I run a diffuser with essential oils pouring into the air just to the right of my keyboard.
  • I get up and stretch my back multiple times per day.
  • I stretch my hamstrings even more.
  • I have a 10 by 10 rule. Ten solid phone calls by 10 AM every single day. Seems simple and trite in this context but amazing in it’s ability to start every one of my workdays extremely productively
  • I don’t overeat during the day. It makes me sleepy. In fact, I try and eat as little as possible for lunch. Just enough to get me to the end of the day. This helps prevent that dip in energy we all feel at 2-3 PM when your circadian rhythm goes primal on you.
  • I have a really good breakfast.
  • I go for a walk when I need to clear my head.
  • I write to clear my thinking.
  • I have a sales presentation and scripts that I use for every sales presentation and I continue to refine them over time. I’ll get into more about scripts when we talk about #2 in my next post on this subject.
  • I follow-up. This goes back to implementation and I still can’t believe the statistics I hear over and over again about how infrequently and ineffectively salespeople follow-up with their prospects.
  • There’s so much more, but I’ve gotta run.

Later,

-John

Show me a robot that can do that…YOUR ability to Produce is the only security YOU have

YOUR ability to Produce is the only security YOU have

written by john c ashworth

I’ve been a salesman a long-time now. Really my whole life. There’s something about the chase. The game. The wins and losses that represent experiences that are as I can get to the fun I had as an All-American soccer player back in the early 90s. In fact, when I was selling cars, I loved working on Saturdays because the entire ritual felt so similar to the one I practiced when I was playing competitive soccer all those years. The preparation. The build-up. The wins or losses that came. The devastation following an agonizing loss, and the courage and fortitude it takes to pick yourself up and do it again; and with the same level of confidence as before in spite of your gut-wrenching defeats. The deals that came down to the wire at the end of the day. It was all great fun!

This experience is not for everyone, though. I hear many people bemoan the life of a salesman because they outwardly admit they could not take the pressure each month. I don’t understand that thinking and I also don’t like it.

Here’s why…

Regardless of whether or not you’re producing your individual income on commission each month, you are in fact accountable for results, or at least you should be. Some of you more than others depending on how well your current employer is keeping track of what you’re doing.

There’s one thing I can guarantee you and it is this…

Successful people get paid on the results they deliver, whether you get paid on commission or not. You can define success and results in any way you want to here, but the bottom line is that you can’t do business sitting on your ass. As such, results still matter every single day. Even if at the moment, you’re work is not being tracked as closely as it should. In fact, this is why I think everyone should have at least some portion of their salary tied to actual results. When you do this, more accountabilty is baked right in and if you’ve done it right, it will more clearly focus your team on the right results.

Otherwise, this idea that you prefer a steady paycheck seems to breed the kind of thinking that leads to lackluster results. This might be OK for now, but eventually someone is going to come knocking and looking for the trail of talent left by people who truly understand this reality.

Never has this idea been more important and poignant than right now. I’ve written this post in advance so I won’t know exactly what the post covid-19 world looks like in late 2020, but I can guarantee you it has changed and that’s not hard for anyone to see right now. As example, I just read an article about how China has been working hard to implement more and more robots into the workforce following their outbreak of covid-19.

What might that mean for your job? Your career? Your business?

For me? I know I can ALWAYS produce as a marketing maniac and salesman; and also as a personal trainer, fitness coach, business consultant, and in many other unique ways that I don’t have enough time to go into here. And I’m confident I can do this in almost ANY setting and situation.

Show me a robot that can do that!

-John

Attention: Salespeople! Stay focused on your primary objective. You remember it, right?

Salespeople…Stay focused on your primary objective. You remember it, right?

written by john c ashworth

Right. Selling and sales.

Because on any given day there are a million and one things that have the potential to distract you from this one very important objective.

Selling.

EVERYTHING you’re doing is in one of two categories.

EVERYTHING your’e doing is either contributing to or taking away from MORE sales.

How much time are you actually spending every day selling? And do you have any bad habits you can eliminate or refinements you can make to be better at what you do? Of course you do. We all do. Remember, the Japanese call it ‘Kaizen’ or, constant improvement. Don’t swish it away as cliche. Though in some ways it has become as such, it remains a core tenant of my own life philosophy and demonstrates in large part how I’ve been able to stay on top of my career over the last twenty five years with as much technological advancement as we’ve had in that time.

How much time you spend selling every day can become a very BIG challenge when you become more successful as a salesperson, because if you’re committed to serving your customers, you need to be there for them once they purchase of your stuff. Because that is really just the beginning of your relationship with them.

So, stay focused on your PRIMARY objective as a SALESPERSON.

SELLING! …and then doing whatever you need to to take very good care of your customers. But don’t let that distract you from MORE SELLING.

Lastly, manage your head trash daily. Constantly.

Is your glass half full or are you full of vinegar?

This is a choice every day.

Stay positive and enjoy your victories in the spirit that each one creates another and is a building block for your success. NEVER become satisfied with your progress. Stay hungry. Always!

Got it?

OK, get back to it, will you?

-John

john c ashworth with another happy car customer at Smart Motors of Madison – circa 2014

The 3 Key Components of a World Class Unique Selling Proposition

written by john c ashworth

Ask most small business owners to share their unique selling proposition and far too often you’ll get a blank stare…

Sometimes, you’ll hear them share a tag-line. Maybe from a recent advertisement they put together or something they created long ago without much forethought and nary an interesting thought about it since.

When starting their businesses, most small business owners race off to create new logos and sometimes a tag-line to go with them, but they almost NEVER grant the process the time and attention to detail it takes to create something unique, interesting, engaging, memorable, and made to stick. Made to implant into the prospect’s mind the benefits of doing business with their business instead of any and all other choices they could make, including doing nothing.

I’ll bet your guilty of this to some degree. And even if you don’t own your own business and maybe just working as a salesman like I am, this idea still holds great importance because you still have to get this across to your prospects in order to garner interest and create a desire within them to buy your stuff. And if you’re company has not done a good job for you, you have to do it yourself.

Sometimes people will refer to this as ‘your elevator pitch.’

In other words, if you and I were riding together in the elevator, what might you say to me in a few sentences that might grab my attention before the door opens to my floor, and leave me with either a strong desire to discover more about you and your business, or at the very least, position you and your business in my mind in a meaningful and memorable way.

Big companies get this wrong too, so don’t fret about it too much if you haven’t taken the time to craft your own unique selling proposition. In fact, I read an article recently that demonstrated how few people if any remembered the USPs of some very big companies who had invested millions of dollars in their so-called branding efforts. To get this right, takes someone at the top who truly understands the importance of this idea.

In fact, the above USPs were so poor, you could have used them interchangeably for each of the companies identified in the article. That’s how out of touch and lame they were. If I can dig up that article, I’ll share it below. If not, I think you get the idea.

The good news is that you’ve found this post on the subject and are hopefully beginning to get a sense of just how important your unique selling proposition really is and how much potential it holds for you and your business when you really get it right.

When you really get it right, your USP drives your entire sales and marketing machine. You can think of it like the transmission in your car. Without it, you might be able to move forward, but it’s going to take a lot of grinding, be very inefficient, waste a lot of effort, and create a lot more wear and tear than necessary.

While there are entire workshops you can participate in that will take you through this process in detailed fashion, I realize that most of you probably think you don’t have time for that. The fact is that this one of the MOST important things you can do inside your small business or your sales pipeline because it will focus everything you do in incredibly powerful and productive ways.

My goal today was to plant the seed of this idea and hopefully reinforce its importance while providing you the three key ingredients of any good unique selling proposition so that at least you can get started.

Here they are…

The 3 Components of a Good Unique Selling Proposition are as follows:

  1. Your unique selling proposition MUST have a direct or implied benefit statement. “Buy my stuff, and get this benefit.” Most tag-lines you see in the world will be completely missing this idea. Start paying attention and you will see what I mean.
  2. Your unique selling proposition MUST have an influential benefit. Meaning that the benefit you’re describing MUST move me emotionally in order to get me to take action on your product or on the information you are offering related to your product or service. If it’s not compelling then who cares and Your prospect is on to the next thing pretty quickly.
  3. The benefit you’re describing in your unique selling proposition MUST be UNIQUE. You MUST have something that your competition cannot or does not offer. Otherwise, you’re still lost in a sea of sameness.

Got it?

OK, time to get to work and if you want to share yours once you have it in the comments section below either here on WordPress or using the facebook comments section, I would love to see them 🙂

Keep up the great work!

-John