To Achieve Success On Amazon Copy These Tips Used By Million Dollar Brands

Most Amazon Sellers operate under the assumption that all they need to do to be successful is put their products on Amazon. They seem to believe that because they listed their products their job is done and that Amazon is going to take care of everything else on their behalf.   

This is a fallacy, and it is one that is perpetuated by many Amazon Gurus who promise you an easy way to make money remotely, while conveniently forgetting to disclose the fact that an Amazon business is like any other business and that listing your product is just the beginning of your journey.

According to Damian Prosolantis, a twenty-one-year-old Amazon Millionaire, who in addition to being a successful Amazon seller, also runs a consultancy business with over 10,000 Amazon Seller clients says “it’s what you do after your product is launched that determines whether you’re going to hit your sales targets or not”.

Damian has worked with, and researched, several of the biggest and most successful brands on Amazon, and know what multi-million dollar brands do to succeed on Amazon, that ordinary Amazon Sellers seem to ignore.

Here are the top three tips that Damian shared with me that million dollar brands do differently that helps to drive their success.

“Success on Amazon is all about being on the first page, and Amazon looks primarily at three factors to determine if your listing is “worthy” of being on the first page or not. 

  • Sales velocity (i.e. how many units you sell on a daily basis)
  • External traffic (how much visibility your listing gets)
  • Lack of negative indicators (like refunds, complaints, negative reviews).

It’s that simple, and I’ve ranked clients’ products on the top 3 spots of the search results, within a couple of days for ultra competitive terms getting over 100,000 monthly searches with this simple formula.”

Give to Get

The hard part is accepting the fact that you must do what I call “front-loading,” which is give up something now, i.e., free or heavily discounted products to get more sales later. 

Since the primary driving force of 1st-page rankings is sales velocity, you need to achieve as many sales as possible right at the start.

The best way to do this is to actively search for “pools” of your target audience, where you can go and give away products at a free or discounted rate, to improve your listing’s perceived credibility, as that’s viewed by Amazon’s algorithm.

These target pools often exist on Social Media, they can be open interest groups or are or niche followings that have been by built by Influencers on Facebook, YouTube or on Instagram in the form of theme-oriented fan pages, groups or subscribers channels.

For example, if you’re selling a fitness product you might want to identify a Fitness Influencer with 500,000 followers and partner with them to offer their followers a 75 percent discount on your product for a short period of time. This is a win-win relationship as it allows the Influencer to provide value to his followers and can help create a great buzz for your product launch. Everyone should include these free giveaways in their marketing budget to get the ball rolling.

Drive External Traffic

External traffic driven to your Amazon listing, of any kind, can dramatically enhance your search results positioning. In our firm’s collaboration with 10,000+ Amazon brands, we’ve observed that even “junk” traffic coming from cheap traffic sources could boost your search results ranking.

However, since that kind of traffic does not include your target audience, there is no “buying intent,” and thus Amazon does not regard it as highly as traffic with “buying intent”.

That is, when the external visitors you send to Amazon, take actions such as adding your product to cart or sharing it on social media, or even better, checking out.

The simplest way to drive that highly targeted traffic that has a buying intent is by leveraging the massive amounts of consumer data that advertising platforms like Facebook and YouTube have collected and running adverts against it to temp your target audience to visit your products on Amazon.

Even if they visit but don’t buy, you will still get credit for their visit.

It’s All About The Follow-Up

If you’re not following up on your sales, then you are missing out on some excellent opportunities, and judging by what I have seen this is one area where most Amazon sellers can improve. 

Why most of them are not using e-mail marketing is beyond my comprehension. 

The is number one thing I tell each and every one my Amazon clients is “get your autoresponder set up immediately after your start selling”. This is the easiest way to build a consistent, daily stream of product reviews, without spending your bottom dollar.  

Our clients have multi-million dollar brands because they understand this one thing. We’ve not worked with a brand that’s generating millions in revenue, that doesn’t get this.

You can build your own never-ending stream of reviews, with a follow-up campaign that’s 100% TOS compliant, with no risk involved whatsoever.  We are talking about verified 5-star reviews AND seller feedback. 

The added benefits of having properly created autoresponders are minimized complaints, and refunds plus increased reorders and cross-promotion. 

‘If you build, they will come’ only works in the movies, and having a great product is no guarantee of great success.  You have to drive traffic to your page, create a buzz, and follow-up to generate positive reviews and create relationships that creates fans and leads to more sales,  This is how the successful brands become million dollar brands on Amazon.

Want to Be Happy? Stop Trying to Improve, Some Experts Say

Are you spending too much time, money, and effort on self-improvement? The answer is probably yes, according to a New Yorker review of three new books that each take the current self-improvement movement to task as doing more harm than good.

What could possibly be wrong with making an effort to be smarter, more successful, thinner, healthier, more productive, richer, and more satisfied with life? Well, a few things, according to the authors of these books. First, it’s exhausting. Especially in the current era, when metaphysical concepts like the law of attraction (which only requires you to focus on what you want and believe that it will come true) have given way to more data-driven approaches where you have to measure your achievements (or absence thereof), keep track of them over time, and recalibrate as needed.

Second, it sets up unrealistic expectations, especially unrealistic expectations of oneself, which tend to be followed by bitter disappointment and self-recrimination when you fail to attain the goals you set yourself. Anyone who fully believes the American idea that “anyone can be anything” is likely to encounter a rude awakening when that belief collides with the realities of the marketplace, a lack of opportunities, and the fact that we each have our own limitations. 

Even if you’re not aiming for the stars, following self-improvement advice is likely to make you harder on yourself than you should be, if only because it implies that you’re not OK right now. Some of the book authors try to take on this problem by recommending steps toward self-acceptance and rejection of the unrealistic standards you may be trying to achieve. Of course, pursuing self-acceptance is just another form of self-improvement, as these authors are forced to admit.

Third, and possibly most damning, focusing on self-improvement likely means you aren’t focusing on the people or the world around you. In Desperately Seeking Self-Improvement, the co-authors spend a year following every self-improvement regimen they can find. By December, one of them discovers he’s been obsessing with himself to the exclusion of all else, just as his wife is about to give birth to their second child. Perhaps not surprisingly, their marriage has suffered in the meantime.

Self-improvement vs. mindfulness

I write this as someone who spends a lot of my time doling out self-improvement advice, most of which I also follow. I use the Pomodoro Technique and a variety of brain hacks to be more productive. I set measurable goals and review them regularly. And that’s just the stuff I’ve written about. The sad truth is that I spend a huge portion of every day trying to figure out how to do better and be better. And another portion playing games on my tablet, probably seeking to escape the constant striving a life like this seems to call for.

There’s value in turning all of this off. It’s one reason mindfulness has risen in popularity in tandem with the metrics-driven self-help movement. Mindfulness asks you to do the opposite of self-improvement. It tells you to stop thinking about whatever you have left undone, or plan to do, or hope to achieve in the future. Mindfulness is about appreciating the present moment which, once gone, will never come again. It doesn’t ask for self-acceptance, because accepting yourself is another form of judging. It tells you to let go of all judging and just be.

Can Americans learn to just be, and be content with whoever we are and whatever we have? I think it isn’t in our nature. I was struck by this years ago when I bought a 30-year-old bottle of brandy from the man who had bottled it. I was in France at the time, at a wine event where he and his family had a booth, and he and his wife and his grown children were there selling his vineyard’s products exactly as they had done for generations. They all seemed quite content, and I had a hard time imagining that it would be the same in the United States. Yes, the father might want to pass the vineyard along to his sons, but he’d also want them to expand, grow new varietals, come up with new products, open new locations, go global. We are a nation of strivers. It’s no accident that so many of the anti-self help authors come from other countries.

If constantly trying to improve leads to dissatisfaction, and if that constant trying is deeply embedded in our national character, can we ever be happy? Yes–if we can learn to handle the contradiction of searching for continuous improvement while at the same time being proud and satisfied with ourselves as we are. 

If you’re like me, you set yourself lots of personal and professional goals, achieve some, and fall short on many others. And that’s OK. There’s nothing at all wrong with trying to be better. But it’s also fine if you never change at all.

How to Make Choices with Confidence and Clarity

Most of us face decisions of some kind on a daily basis–and many of us wonder how we can improve our decision making skills so we can make clear, confident choices. Whether you’re a CEO, manager, teacher, coach, professor or anything else, you want to make the best possible decisions.

Decision making should be a two step process: the first step is gathering relevant information, and the second is deciding on the basis of what you’ve learned. Most people, however, are biased when it comes to information. If you think you already know the answer, it’s hard to take in new information, and in the end most people have made up their mind before everything is even considered.

But there’s the good news, in the form of a methodology for making decisions with confidence and clarity. Here are the key principles:

1. Don’t assume you’re the smartest person.

Especially if they feel inadequate to make the best decision, people often need to feel they’re the smartest and have all the answers (even when they don’t). This attitude will do nothing but hold you back. Recognize that you still have a lot to learn and seek out information with humility and an open mind.

2. Learn to suspend judgment.

I cannot overemphasize how much our biases get in the way of our good decision making. Bias tends to be the downfall of many smart and successful individuals, if you want to learn something new and gain a new perspective, forgo your biases and suspend your preconceived judgments, so in order, to have a clear enough and open enough to make choices and decisions with clarity.

3. Generate creative alternatives.

The wider the range of options you explore, the better your final decision is likely to be. Generating a number of different options may seem to make things more complicated, but coming up with alternatives forces you to dig deeper and look at the problem from different angles. Try to step outside your normal patterns of thinking and come up with some truly innovative solutions

4. Remember that to get is to receive.

People are more inclined to speak about what they know than to be silent and learn what they don’t. Instead of giving and not learning, aim to get so you can learn everything you need to know. Get a bit of feedback from someone you can trust and whose opinion you value. Listening to others can improve your understanding of what’s at stake.   

5. Gain clarity with objectivity.

Before you begin to make a decision, make sure you fully understand the situation. It may be that your objective can be approached in isolation, but it’s more likely that there are a number of interrelated factors to consider. Every choice comes at a cost, so look at things objectively and test your ideas with others.

6. Frame your choices:

Ask yourself if you will be pleased with your decision five minutes from now, five months from now, five years from now. This strategy makes you consider the short-term, medium-term and long-term consequences, along with the value and benefits, that come with your decision. When you apply this technique consistently, it will help you become more fluent in your decision making.

7. Evaluate your decisions.

With all the effort and hard work you’ve invested in selecting alternatives, it can be tempting to want to move ahead with your choice, But that’s the moment to pause and evaluate. Hindsight is great for identifying why some choices have been more successful than others. So before you start to implement your decision, take a long, hard look to make sure that you’ve gotten as much feedback and objective thinking and input as you can, because your final decision is only as good as the facts and research you have assembled.

The path of our lives is determined largely by the choices we make and the decisions that you take, make sure yours are confident and clear.

This Is Totally Why You’re Not Successful Yet

You’re frustrated. No matter how hard you work, how much you plan, or how badly you want it, you are not living the life of your dreams. But success takes more than hard work. You may not want to admit it, but it’s possible that the biggest obstacle to success is YOU. It’s likely you’re guilty of one of the many success-killing sins.

Here’s why you still haven’t achieved your vision of success:

1. You Don’t Have a Plan

You know what you want. You can see yourself in 5 years, achieving your dreams and finding success. But you’re just not sure how to get there. Maybe you haven’t planned because you need to do more research, or maybe you’re just scared to begin. Whatever the reason, no one’s going to figure it out for you. The worst thing you can do is nothing. So get to work!

2. You Stay Within Your Comfort Zone

Change is scary. But anything worth doing is bound to bring some fear. You won’t achieve anything if you always shy away from making the big move. Fear is a waste of time and resources. So bust through that wall and make something happen!

3. You Just Don’t Want to Work That Hard

This is simply a non-starter. If you don’t want to work hard, then don’t even bother starting, because you’re not going to get anywhere. Real success requires hard work and dedication. Go boldly forward and fight for what you want.

4. You Just Don’t Want to Work That Smart

Sure you work hard, but too hard. You spend more time using your labor to get things done when you should be using your brain to strategize how to make more happen with less effort. Put down the broom and think for a while.

5. You Feel What You Have Is Enough

If you like your career and life situations enough as they are, it can be hard to work up the motivation to pursue something greater. But satisfaction is the enemy of greatness. If you don’t have a burning desire to achieve your goal, it makes it even harder to put in the work necessary to get there.

6. You Don’t Want the Risk

Risk is inherent in change. You can minimize it, but it will never disappear. So accept it as part of the process and learn to deal. This doesn’t mean you should throw caution to the wind and follow your every impulse. But it does mean you need to prepare for risk and make it work for your situation.

7. You Think You Can Do It by Yourself

Sure, engaging others to help build your vision is hard. But you’re ahead of the game by realizing it early. No single person has all the skills and all the creative vision to make a dream a reality. The key is finding and inspiring the right people to take along on the journey and exploiting mutually beneficial self-interests.

8. You’re Not Good at Selling Your Dream to Others

It’s not enough just to have the vision – you need to be able to communicate that compelling vision to others, too. You may not like writing or public speaking or even one-to-one selling, but those are the hallmarks of great leaders.

9. You Don’t Value Time Properly

What you’re about to undertake demands hard work and dedication. But if you don’t use your time efficiently, you’ll never achieve everything required. Examine your work style and see what you can improve. Make a schedule, get up earlier, move faster– do what it takes to reach your goal.

10. Your Glass is 80% Full

You know who you are. You already know everything about everything. No one can tell you much before your brain blocks out 80% of any ideas, concepts, or suggestions that don’t fit with your misguided belief system. Open your ears and your mind. Most likely the obstacles to success are the things you have not allowed yourself to recognize.

11. You Have Excuses for Everything

No successful entrepreneur has time for excuses, his own or anyone else’s. There’s simply too much to be done and not enough time. If you don’t want it bad enough, it will show. Stop formulating excuses and start figuring out how to make your future happen.

12. You Take No Personal Responsibility

This is your vision for your future – so it’s your responsibility. Don’t waste other people’s time by deflecting blame when it’s your work that’s the problem. Great leaders fulfill their own responsibilities and then see how they can help others achieve theirs.

13. You Don’t Want a Great Idea, You Want YOUR Idea to Be Great

Pride can get in the way of success. Examine your idea carefully. Is it really all you think it is? Great entrepreneurs – and leaders – fill the need that exists, not the one they want to fill.

14. The Kiss of Death: You Don’t Know What Success Means to You

You can’t plan how to get somewhere you don’t know. If you don’t know what you want and don’t have a clear vision of your future, you’re immediately hampered in your attempts to get there. You don’t need to know everything at the very beginning – that’s what preparation is for. But you can’t even formulate a plan if you don’t have a clear direction.

How Breakthroughs Really Happen

When Jim Allison received a call from Dr. Jedd Wolchok, asking him to come to his office, he was puzzled at first. As a researcher, he rarely ventured into the clinical part of the hospital. Yet when he opened the door and saw his colleague sitting with a young woman whose emotion was clearly marked on her face, he immediately understood and tears began to fill his eyes.

A few months before, the woman had terminal cancer, but she had just been told that she was in remission. Today, more than a decade later, she remains cancer free and works as a fitness instructor. It was a breakthrough of monumental proportions and one that would make Allison world famous.

The field Allison pioneered, cancer immunotherapy, has now become a major branch of medical science with thousands of people working to improve it and expand its use. Breakthroughs like of this magnitude are never routine, but they almost always share common attributes and we can learn a lot from how Allison overcame intense challenges to create a miracle cure.

Building A Deep Well Of Expertise

Jim Allison’s journey began a long time before he walked into that office. When he was finishing up his graduate work in the early 1970s researchers had just discovered T-cells, which were largely a mystery at the time. Allison, who told me that he always liked “figuring things out,” was intrigued and thought the immune system was something he could spend his career studying.

Over the next two decades, he became a highly respected researcher and made some notable discoveries in the field of immune regulation. It was slow, painstaking work, identifying the myriad different receptors that govern the human immune system, decoding the structure of their proteins and inferring how they functioned together.

This type of incubation period is very common for breakthrough discoveries. Darwin, quite famously, spent five years travelling on the HMS Beagle, cataloguing the flora and fauna he encountered while traveling through South America, Australia and, most notably, the Galapagos Islands. Einstein spent a full decade pondering special relativity and then another decade on general relativity.

We often hear stories of outsiders who seem to come from nowhere to revolutionize a field and that does happen, but the starting point for any breakthrough is always a deep well of expertise. You have to understand the problems in a particular domain before you can begin to solve them and recognize a truly novel solution.

Healthy Skepticism

By the mid 1990s, due to the work of hundreds of scientists, a working model of immune regulation had been established. One receptor, called B-7 works much like the ignition switch in a car, initiating the immune response while another, CD-28 acts as a gas pedal, stimulating the body to produce T-cells at a furious rate.

In 1987 a team of French researchers discovered another molecule, called CTLA-4, which was very similar in structure to CD-28 and most assumed that they worked in conjunction in some way. Allison, however, was skeptical. He noted that CTLA-4 never seemed to show up until after the immune response had already started, so he didn’t see how it could have a role in stimulating it.

If anything, he thought, CTLA-4 wasn’t a gas pedal, but a brake. So, just as he always had, Allison returned to his lab to figure things out and his research confirmed his suspicions. CTLA-4 didn’t stimulate the immune response, but shut it down.

“Science,” as the great physicist Richard Feynman  once remarked, “is the belief in the ignorance of experts.” We often fail to solve a problem not because we lack information, but because we believe things that just aren’t true. That’s why it’s always important to question assumptions, even if those assumptions come draped in the guise of authority.

Fanatical Persistence

Allison’s new discovery got him thinking. His colleague, Sarah Townsend, had done some studies which showed that the B-7 molecule inhibits the growth of tumors, so it certainly seemed that our immune systems have to power to fight cancer. Nevertheless, all previous attempts to do so had failed. Once again, he was presented with a mystery to figure out.

His hunch was that our bodies do recognize cancer cells as a threat and begin to attack them, but our immune system puts on the brakes too soon. Maybe if he could find a way to inhibit CTLA-4, he could pull those brakes off and unleash our own T-cells to attack tumors. Further research confirmed his suspicions.

Allison was excited. He began to fly around the country presenting his results to all of the top pharmaceutical companies, but none showed interest. Over the years, they had spent billions on immunological approaches to cancer and weren’t ready to take another plunge. “It was depressing,” he told me. “I knew this discovery could make a difference, but nobody wanted to invest in it.”

It took him three years, but eventually he found a small biotech company, called Mederex, that agreed to back him and his work. After five more years, clinical trials started and Allison had that first encounter in Jedd Wolchok’s office. The drug that resulted, Ipilimumab, was approved by the FDA in 2011 and thousands are alive today because of it.

Active Collaboration

Clearly, innovation is never a single event. Allison spent decades studying the immune system before he hit on the insight that led to his miracle cure. It then took more time for him to understand and verify its implications. From there, he spent years pounding the pavement to gain acceptance for it. All that takes an enormous personal effort.

Yet it is just as clear, as Allison is happy to point out, that he didn’t do it alone. Many prominent researchers contributed to our understanding of immune regulation. It was a team of French researchers that discovered CTLA-4. Sarah Townsend showed that the immune system can fight cancer. Jedd Wolchok and his team recruited patients and performed clinical trials.

Today, multitudes of researchers work to build on Allison’s discovery and he collaborates with many of them. Although he provided the initial breakthrough, there is still much to be done. The drug he developed isn’t effective for all patients and all types of cancers. There are other aspects of the immune system that may be able to play a role. So many things still to figure out.

That’s why collaboration is becoming a key competitive advantage. Clever individuals working alone can tweak around the edges, but to solve a really big problem requires a collective effort. You need experts and outsiders, managers and researchers, engineers, marketers, logistics specialists and others as well. When Jim Allison walked into that office in 2004, it didn’t mark the beginning or the end of the journey, but the middle. We still have a long way to go.

These four attributes, deep domain expertise, skepticism, persistence and a collaborative approach don’t guarantee a breakthrough, but one rarely happens without them.

What Small Business Owners Need to Look Out For in 2018

Just a few weeks into the new year, there’s never been a better time to plan ahead for 2018. But what issues need to be on the radar of small business owners everywhere? Here are five in particular I’m keeping my eye on.

1. The Growing Potential of Automation

Lilach Bullock of the Roundpeg blog confirms that “automation tools are now more accessible than ever, no matter the size of your business, or your budget.”

Small businesses in particular stand to benefit from new automation offerings covering everything from:

Chances are, if there’s an administrative task you handle on a repetitive basis, there’s an automation tool that’ll save you time, money and other resources.

2. Business Continuity Planning and Risk Mitigation

We’re currently in the second-longest running bull market ever. And while there’s plenty of speculation about how long this one might last (predictions range from the optimistic to the pessimistic), 2018 is a great time to start asking yourself some important questions:

  • What can you do now to protect your business during future economic downturns?
  • What are the weak areas in your business?
  • What risks exist in your business that you aren’t actively managing?

These aren’t comfortable questions to ask. But whether an economic downturn occurs in two years or 10, you’ll be happy you took this step now.

3. Cybersecurity Risks

My site has been hacked multiple times in the last year, and all indications are that these types of cybersecurity risks will only continue in the years to come.

Protect yourself now by:

4. Possible Tax Plan Changes

As of this writing, there’s plenty of speculation about what a Trump administration tax plan might look like. But politics aside, Forbes’s Robb Mandelbaum suggests that the current proposal to lower the tax rate on “pass-through” income (the kind often claimed by owners of sole proprietorships, LLCs and partnerships) to a maximum of 25 percent won’t actually help that many small business owners:

“Indeed, according to an estimate earlier this year by the Tax Policy Center, about 87 percent of households with business income currently max out at the 25 percent bracket or lower.”

Small swings in either direction in how new brackets are organized and what exemptions are kept or eliminated could make future tax years look very different for small companies. 

5. Updates to the Health Insurance Mandate

President Trump’s October 10th executive order was intended to “promote health care choice and competition,” though its full impact isn’t yet understood.

Those watching the space suggest that small businesses could be affected in a number of different ways:

  • Removing the small business coverage mandate could free up capital for employers who elect to no longer offer insurance plans
  • It could become easier for small businesses to band together to purchase association policies
  • Changing policy requirements could pull healthy individuals out of the exchanges, driving premiums up for those in need of comprehensive health care.

Stay tuned for more information, especially if you take advantage of an exchange-based plan or insurance subsidies.

What other trends are you preparing for in 2018? Leave me a note below with your thoughts:

If I See One More %*$@#^! Article On How To Make Managers Better…

I’ve had it. I’m done. Here’s ANOTHER %*$@#^! article on how to make managers better at their jobs – this time in the Harvard Business Review.

Management – The Business Version of the Titanic

While we’re writing articles on making mangers better, why don’t we just do research on how to keep the Titanic from sinking (pssst…it already sank).  Here’s another idea – how about, instead, we figure out how to do it differently, since modern management is having Titanic-like results?

You want to see a disaster? Check out “managing people.” Right now, this month, Gallup says almost 70% of everyone at work is phoning it in, 51% are actively pursuing another job (resume is on the street), and 86% have yet to find something they love doing. Do a search for “research on why people quit”, and every single one of the answers (including the HBR article) points to the boss as somewhere between 50% and 75% of the reasons someone will leave their job. Please, just visit the above Gallup link and weep over how badly we are “managing” people. In our company, we’ve had one person voluntarily leave us since we started it 11 years ago – read on to find out why.

Rehumanizing the Workplace By Giving Everyone Their Brain Back

What if we did something simple? What if we decided people are adults and can be smart and motivated, and if given the opportunity, a team of people TOGETHER could actually design better jobs, better metrics, better processes, and better division of labor than any one boss/manager/genius/hero ever could? Take a look at companies like The Morning Star Co. (4,000 staff), Semco (3,000), Pivotal labs (2,000+), Barry-Wehmiller (11,000+), W. L. Gore (10,000+, GE Aviation (40,000), Wegmans Grocers (58,000+) – a hundred more big companies, and thousands of smaller ones. All of them have exponentially higher staff happiness and retention than others in their industries, by factors of 5x, 10x or more, and they all have one thing in common – they have pushed local decision making to the people who actually have to live with the decisions. In those companies, managers don’t make decisions, teams do.

Who’s Your Daddy?

In most of those companies, managers don’t even exist because the companies found the teams are better at the manager’s job. Duh. It’s so simple and elegant, and all the data is on the side of self-management, yet we keep trying to put lipstick on a Factory System pig that was born in an Industrial Age that does not serve an emerging work world.

Shortly before Peter Drucker died he said, “We are in one of those great historical periods that occur every 200 to 300 years when people don’t understand the world anymore, and the past is not sufficient to explain the future.” Yet we continue to flog this old worn out idea (top-down management) in the face of opposing data that is simply staggering.

People continue to leave top-down managed companies in droves because managers suck, so what do we do? We ignore Einstein’s warning that the mind that created the problem is not the mind that will solve it, and instead we pound and pound on the managers to get better at being somebody’s daddy. Talk about abuse. Making managers better is a terrible, abusive, and holistically untenable idea.

Teams Make Decisions? Could That Work?

Please, please, in the name of good business, let’s stop trying to make managers better. Let’s just rehumanize the workplace and give everyone their brain back by pushing decision-making to those who have to carry out the decision. Teams should make decisions they have to carry out, not managers who sit in walnut offices and play with excel spreadsheets.

Decision-making gives a person their brain back, that drives engagement, and people don’t leave.

We worked that way in all eleven of my companies on four continents, and now we help other companies get there. These companies are all exponentially better off without managers in every way – growth, profit, productivity, and retention. And they aren’t constantly rehashing why people quit, or why managers suck so bad. Because in those companies, there are no managers and people don’t quit.

Don’t Make Managers Better, Eliminate Management

Managers don’t suck. It’s the very idea of “manager” that sucks so bad, and trying to make managers into superhuman co-dependent enablers of people “above” and “below” them is an idea we should just stop flogging. (Click here and here to find out how to create leadership without management, and with exponentially fewer leaders to boot.)

Let’s stop treating the people “below” (below? seriously?) managers like they are children in need of an office day care center and a babysitter. Take a look at the companies in this article that have all freed themselves of the management tax, as my friend Doug Kirkpatrick labels it, and be envious. Then go do it.

Who’s with me? No more articles on how to make managers better! Make PEOPLE better – give them their brain back!

Don’t Stop at the Close: Selling Across the Full Customer Lifecycle

Recently, I went through the process of choosing a new SaaS product for my agency (out of respect for all involved, I’m keeping the name of the company and the kind of product they sell confidential).

I researched several providers and talked to sales reps from each – this was a big-ticket purchase, so I wanted to be sure I had as much information as possible. After a few weeks, I thought I’d made the right decision.

The problems started shortly after. My support tickets took an average of 3-5 days to get a response. I couldn’t get emails back from my “dedicated” account rep (who then bailed on one of our two hour-long onboarding calls and never responded to my requests for an update).

I felt let down. The product itself may have been the right solution for our needs, but the poor onboarding support I received left me with so much post-purchase regret that I wound up cancelling the contract and moving to a different provider.

The sale was lost, and it had nothing to do with the salespeople involved.

Why Selling Shouldn’t Stop at the Close

To be clear, I’m not talking about the trap of overselling – of continuing to pitch your product’s features and benefits after your prospect has agreed to buy. As Nick Kane of the Janek Performance Group notes on overselling:

“What this tells your customer is that you don’t ‘get’ them. Not only is this sales mentality out of date, it’s also one of the easiest ways to turn off your customer – and worse yet – risk losing any future sales opportunities.”

Instead, what I’m arguing is that, after the close, customer relationships shouldn’t be thought of as “done.” Closing a sale doesn’t guarantee a happy customer – let alone one who’s going to go on to refer your company to others.

A full lifecycle program of sales needs to take two factors into consideration: proper onboarding, and the conversion of customers into advocates.

Onboarding As Sales

I’d argue that onboarding – the activities taken after a purchase to get new customers up to speed – should be treated as part of the sales process.

Too many salespeople “pass the buck” after the deal is done, assuming that account reps, customer service or other pre-established funnels will help customers get from the point of purchase to the initial “aha moment.”

This ignores the fact that, during the post-purchase period, new customers are – consciously and subconsciously – evaluating whether or not they made the right choice. Research by Seung Hwan Lee and June Cotte of the University of Western Ontario, Canada, published by the Association for Consumer Research, suggests that there are actually four distinct types of post-purchase consumer regret:

  • Regret due to foregone alternatives (e.g. regret that one alternative was chosen over another)
  • Regret due to a change in significance (e.g. regret that the impact of the chosen solution isn’t as significant as expected)
  • Regret due to under-consideration (e.g. regret that too little time was invested in choosing between alternatives)
  • Regret due to over-consideration (e.g. regret that too much time was put into the decision-making process)

A poor onboarding experience can contribute to the first two types of post-purchase regret, which Lee and Cotte describe as “outcome regret” (versus “process regret”).

  • If customers aren’t trained appropriately or brought up to speed quickly, they may believe that a different alternative would have led to better results.
  • Similarly, if they aren’t shown how to quickly get value from their purchase, they may view its overall significance as being less than its actual potential.

If post-purchase regret is left unaddressed, both of these scenarios can lead to cancellations and refund requests (as in the case of the SaaS purchase I described earlier). Even if money isn’t lost as the result of poor onboarding, it’s missed indirectly when would-be happy customers aren’t converted into advocates for your company.

Selling the Referral

Brian Williams Ph.D. of The Brevet Group shares the following two statistics:

  • Salespeople who actively seek out and exploit referrals earn 4 to 5 times more than those who don’t.
  • 91% of customers say they’d give referrals. Only 11% of salespeople ask for referrals.

Basically, salespeople and the companies they work for benefit financially from referrals. But while most people are willing to give them, they’re rarely asked to. That’s an even bigger problem when you consider that Nielsen research has found that “people are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend.”

“Referrals” can take a number of different forms, including everything from asking satisfied customers for referrals to others who would benefit, to a formally-structured peer-to-peer referral program like RewardStream or ReferralSaaSquatch.

The specifics of the program you put in place will vary based on your company’s needs, but at a minimum should include:

  • Sufficient onboarding to ensure new customers are happy with their purchases
  • A mechanism for separating out happy customers from those who aren’t likely to make referrals (this can be done with a simple NPS survey)
  • An incentive for customers to initiate a referral, which can be altruistic (as in, “If you know anybody else we could help…”) or benefits-driven (for example, “Refer a customer and save 20% off your next purchase…”) in nature
  • A process baked into sales to ensure referrals are asked for, and the specific elements of the referral process are evaluated often

Simply put, sales can’t be hands-off after the deal is done. Without attention paid to customers’ needs in the post-purchase phase of their lifecycle, the financial risk of returns, cancellations and missed referrals can be significant. Treating onboarding as part of the sales process and implementing a referral-driving workflow leads to happier customers and better results for your company.

Does your sales process stop at the close? If so, share your ideas for extending sales throughout the full customer lifecycle by leaving me a note below: