Doing the Right Thing, but Doing it Wrong

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When I began my consultation business in teambuilding and adventure, one of the “things” I did to find clients was cold-calling. Today, I run a small business specializing in outdoor adventures and etc . But 4 years ago, I was completely ignorant on the topic. Without a script or much of plan, I opened the phone book and started calling.

As you can imagine, I were less than successful. I landed two very small jobs (one of which I ended up refunding the money), so I decided that cold calling wasn’t the way to find clients in our market. It wasn’t until a year later that I met some colleagues who were having great success with cold calling. One even told me that it was the primary way he gained new business. My failure caused to conclude that I were “doing the wrong thing,” when in reality, I were “doing the thing wrong.”

Doing the Wrong Thing, but Doing it Right

A year later, I met a business woman whose done direct sale market. Previous to this, she’d been a freelance sales consultant. As most of you know, the primary way a person in that field gets business is through networking: belonging to groups such as chamber of commerce, establishing relationships with people that could become clients or who know others who could become clients. Much of this type of work is gained by “word of mouth.” Jackie knew this and was good at it. And since that was all she knew, she was using it for her direct sales marketing business.

The problem was that, unlike direct sales marketing, where she only needed maybe one or two new clients every few months to make a living, Jackie needed to sell several dozen of products each week to make a profit. What Jackie needed was a website and a retail outlet to expose her product to the public. Networking meetings were getting her one or two sales, at best, a month. If Jackie had been a different type of person, she might have concluded that she was “doing the thing wrong” and tried harder—more networking meetings, talk to more people, and so on. Fortunately, she realized that, although she was “doing the thing right,” it was “the wrong thing” to do for her new business.

So let’s get away from either/or thinking, and engage in both/and thinking: both strategic thinking and tactical thinking are critical for success


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