An Idea

Bill Abbate

Do you see yourself as being in sales? What about the old adage that everyone is in sales? Why is this claim made? Could it be because everyone must deal with other people, and to do so requires some level of selling yourself, regardless?

There is an element of truth there, isn’t it?

Since sales and marketing are joined at the hip, imagine having a simple, easy-to-use concept covering all the bases that could make you a standout in every arena, including life itself.

Let’s look at a concept to help you successfully sell and market your writing, retail or commercial goods, services, and anything else. The great thing about this concept is it is so memorable that you will never forget it once you learn it.

“The fact is, everyone is in sales. Whatever area you work in, you do have clients and you do need to sell.” Jay Abraham (1949-present)

Discovering the concept

In the 1990s, while working for a large multinational corporation, we stumbled across an idea that was so simple yet profound that it proved invaluable in a difficult situation.

As an internal consultant, HQ tasked me with a turnaround of one of its subsidiaries. The subsidiary was losing $1.5 million per month, consuming the earnings of more than a $200 million profitable division of the corporation. In the overall scheme for a $10+ billion company, this was by no means catastrophic. Nonetheless, the bleeding had to stop and had to stop quickly.

While I won’t bore you with the details, the losses were mainly due to the significant capital investment in plant and equipment with the poor sales performance of the subsidiary’s new and complex product line.

After more than a week of meetings with the senior staff, we came up with what we hoped would be the solution. It primarily involved streamlining sales, marketing, engineering, and distribution, involving everyone in the company!

We discovered many internal failures due to not moving the right products through engineering and production in a timely fashion to meet customer needs. Add to this some significant logistical issues and the lack of focus on its customers, which spelled disaster.

During discovery, it became abundantly clear we lacked internal alignment, which led to the solution, an easy-to-remember objective everyone in the company could understand and get behind. It was simply:

Right Product — Right Place — Right Time

This slogan became the source of internal alignment needed to get the company on track and mitigate losses. Every manager and department did what they had to do to achieve it. We later found the concept extended far beyond this one company, impacting individual employees and their work.

The concept is adaptable to any business, but let’s look at how solopreneurs can also use it successfully.

Right Product

Think about the product or service you offer. Is it the right one? Does the product meet your customer’s expectations 100%? Since many reading this article are solopreneur writers, apply this concept to your writing product. You likely produce a particular type or style of writing in a specific genre. Have you taken the time to find out what your readers want?

In doing several company turnarounds during my career, one of the most common failure points was the attempt to please everyone, everywhere, with everything. They were so desperate to sell their products they would do things that made no sense in the long run. They only sought product acceptance, which can be very costly.

The first thing you do in such a situation is pull in the reins. This requires putting the ego aside and restricting and reserving products for the specific customers you can serve well and profitably. You must stop jumping through hoops to sell anything you can to anyone. Serve only those customers in markets that make sense. To do this, you must become highly attuned to who your customer is. Attempting to produce many different products to serve many customers stretches you too thin, draining valuable manpower and resources.

Building a few dedicated customers who most benefit from your product is far more effective than trying to serve the masses. Unless you have a mass-market product, that is. Developing the right product for the right group of customers is a great way to build a profitable, sustainable business.

How can you apply this to those for whom you write? Ask yourself a question — which would you rather have: A hundred or a thousand dedicated readers — or a hundred thousand here today gone tomorrow so-called followers?

“All the businesses from the beginning of history have struggled with product development (assuming there is a market, doing the market testing and so on). But now they start with customer development. Get the customer who says, “Yes. I want that. I need it. I wanna use it. I’ll pay for it.” Brian Tracy (1944-present)

Right Place

Another common issue with too many startups is they overextend themselves, trying to reach customers outside their market area leading to inefficiency and ineffectiveness. While this rule does not apply as much in the digital product marketplace because location can be less relevant, it applies to most physical products due to stock, distribution, and shipping costs. It is better to serve those closest to you for most of these products. After all, if you cannot develop customers in your backyard, how can you serve the entire country or world?

Overreach is a common issue for many businesses. This can be true for writers as well. Like the companies I worked with, we want acceptance of our product and may try to go anywhere and do anything to get it. It can become logistical suicide, draining and diluting resources better used in a more focused area. Find success nearby, and other areas or regions will follow.

Applying this to writing, trying to cover a broad array of topics can take you away from those you can best serve, wasting time and energy. Narrow your market (a.k.a. niching) to find acceptance and success in one area, and growth will occur.

“Leaders win through logistics. Vision, sure. Strategy, yes. But when you go to war, you need to have both toilet paper and bullets at the right place at the right time. In other words, you must win through superior logistics.” Tom Peters (1942-present)

Right Time

Timing is everything. Without the right product sold in the right place, no amount of time will help you. Once making the right product and focusing on the right place is conquered, timing becomes the challenge.

Customers almost always want shorter production and quicker delivery times than businesses can handle. In other words, customers want what they want when they want it!

Once we conquered this issue in the business turnaround mentioned, giving the customer what they wanted when they wanted it, sales took off!

The same thing applies to writing. The more successful people on platforms such as Medium and YouTube have the right product in the right place (the platform) at the right time (publishing consistently, often several times each week).

While I continue refining the product I write, I push myself to publish daily, which has created a considerable following. I have by no means finished improving my product and further refining my market, but I am pleased with the results so far. The only place to go is up as I continue working on my right product, right place, and right time.

“The two most important requirements for major success are: first, being in the right place at the right time, and second, doing something about it.” Ray Kroc (1902–1984)

Final thoughts

How can you apply this concept to your work, the product(s) you produce and sell, and perhaps your life?

Give some thought to spending your time efficiently producing the right product for the right customer. Make this product available in the right place at the right time, and your reward will be much success! Give it a try, and watch the growth begin!

I would love to receive any ideas or remarks you have regarding this concept. Please leave your comments below!

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA

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