Stories Sell Better Than Features Do…

How Effective Stories Can Help You Sell...

Many years ago I sold terminals and printers to firms that used IBM minicomputers.

These firms had spent millions on their equipment. The fact that our equipment cost about one-tenth of the IBM equivalent was not a selling point. Prospects thought them “too cheap”.

I learned that telling stories was so much better than listing features.

In one case the brochure listed a printer as “durable”. What does that really mean?

Sea Harvest needed a printer that could survive the rigours of their docking area.

Ships would unload baskets of fish that each needed a printed tag. IBM’s R150,000 printer had lasted about three years. This was an environment hosed down each night with hoses spraying sea water.

Sea Harvest bought our tiny R2500 printer because they needed a printer the next day. But IBM could not deliver for months. We suggested they take two. Because we could not see our unit lasting more than a few months. This was the most hostile printer location we had ever seen.

Three years later they asked us to replace the plastic tear bar. The hundreds of thousands of cardboard tags torn off had eroded it. They had not yet used the second printer.

Which is more memorable: saying it is “durable” or telling a story to prove it?

Find stories that describe the benefits your features offer. Write them down so that you do not forget them. Tell those stories when a client has a related problem. You will help them make a better decision. That will help you feed your kids.

Then start sharing those stories with people who need your products and services.

I find email by far the easiest way to share such stories. Each story harvests a few enquiries. These add up fast.

Check out our course on How to Use Email to Sell More to More People.

Peter Carruthers

Technobabble Sells Nothing…

And yet most of us sell this way...

It was Randburg, March 2001. A client asked me to a meeting with someone he felt might add value to all my other clients.

This fellow started out like Sea Cottage coming out the gates at the start of the Durban July.

I tried to interrupt him three times. He barely stopped to draw breath. Let alone listen to me. He ended 20 minutes later. Both of us exhausted.

I understood as much of his presentation as I did of this short, funny spoof that shows how too many of us try to sell.

I told him that I had been trying to tell him that my market did not need such a product.

His comment? "No worries. At least I had a chance to practice my spiel."

I have never felt so worthless.

It's called technobable. It's the most common way most of us try to bludgeon someone into buying. But it sells nothing. Worse, people avoid you afterwards. These are people who should be your clients.

Click here to check out a tried and tested selling process I have honed since 1984. I call it No-Selling-Required.

Peter Carruthers

Why I Hate Personal Guaranties…

Personal Guaranties, Suretyships, and Guarantees are dangerous

When we first sign personal guaranties most of us have no clue how dangerous the contracts are. The lender or creditor tells us that everybody signs them. So does our accountant. And our attorney. Or that they are normal. Neither of these is true.

But when the lender says “sign or leave” guess what most of us do?

By the time we find out what a personal guaranty contract is it’s too late for any repair.

To be clear, this personal guaranty contract is a worldwide standard. In some countries it’s called a personal suretyship. In others a commercial guarantee. But they all mean the same thing.

Since 1992 I’ve worked with hundreds of distressed business owners. Losing their homes because they signed a personal guaranty at some point. Most marriages don’t survive the stress.

In my work the personal guaranty it is always a business owner guaranteeing a company debt. Or, much worse, their parents guaranteeing that debt.

Image of Personal Guaranty Contract

Don’t sign personal guaranty contracts,

The contract protects the lender, usually a bank. But in doing so it destroys the business owner.

That same bank often secures the business loan with personal security. In other words, they expect you to deposit cash with them. Or to allow them to take a “charge” or a covering “bond” against your home. As well as the personal guaranty.

I learned the scope of these contracts documents back in 1992. My local economy collapsed and took my firm with. I too had secured the business loan with personal assets. And when the bank needed payment they liquidated the assets for 10% of the true worth.

I could not understand how I could have been so stupid. I began to talk to other business owners, only find that every single one of us had signed these same contracts.

I wondered how banks could get away with holding cash and other securities against a loan. As well as provoke us into signing a personal guarantee to secure them.

I have no problem with them protecting themselves.

  • I have a problem with the unknowing guarantor losing their home and everything else they own.
  • I have a problem with parents signing these personal suretyships without knowing what they are.
  • I have a problem with spouses signing personal guaranties without understanding them.
  • I have a problem with one spouse being able to sign a personal guarantee of these without the consent of the other.

It’s tough enough to close a business. How much tougher when your family point fingers at you because mum and dad are losing their home because they signed that guaranty?

After 25 years of helping people through the fallout I have placed everything I know online in a course I call Business Owner Success Strategies. The course focuses on the challenges of ownership, rather than regular business challenges addressed whenever we talk about entrepreneurial risk.

Going places in 2017…

Something new, or last year repeated?

Welcome to 2017. I’m glad you could make it. So, how have your New Year Resolutions worked out?  (My annual scorecard for successful New Year’s resolutions is 51 losses to zero wins.)

I ask because I’ve been setting them since, well, 1976. Big Hairy Audacious Goals. SMART, as well, you know:

  • Specific,
  • Measurable,
  • Achievable,
  • Realistic, and
  • Time-related.

That last piece of the acronym, “time-related”, actually means deadline, but SMART reads so much better than SMARD.

I’d like to share some thoughts  because these past six weeks has been quite revolutionary for me. As you read this you’re seeing your first glimpse of the new Peter Carruthers. I’ve been boring for 17 years. This seemed a good time to change.

So I spent most of the holiday watching videos and reading instead of dealing with the 12 months of backlog. I also spent too much money learning how to actually reach my goals and fulfill those resolutions.

The end of a year is a shocking time to set goals. That’s because the beginning of the next year is usually unbearably uncomfortable after far too much alcohol. We set ourselves up to fail on the first day, and the second, and I have – I’m embarrassed to say – often managed to only surface on the third day.

That represents a 100% failure rate in my annual “I will go to gym” promise to myself. And with that kind of failure rate, why go on?

It was this kind of issue I was pondering, trying to get answers to, watching videos from almost everybody on earth who feels qualified to talk about setting resolutions, on the basis that they can breathe coherently. I’m not knocking the genre, just the repetitive format.

But, I bumped into two outstanding courses on the subject. One cheap, one terrifyingly expensive. And as I considered the expense of the course, from an internationally acclaimed New York Times bestselling author, I realised that the cost was one quarter of the money I’m hoping to earn each day next year. (2017, that is) And that put my anxiety into some perspective. Penny wise, pound foolish. The story of our lives.

So I bought them both. And in combination, wow.

So, before I continue, let’s get one thing straight. I am 99% confident that I will reach my 2017 goals as a result of this book and this course. It’s because, for the first time, I really know why they’re important, why I have to reach them, and what difference they will make to my life if I do. (This “why”, it turns out, is the secret sauce.)

How do I know this? Well,  I realised that I hate gym. It’s full of great looking people all of whom  smile at me when I enter. It’s the kind of smile a mother gives her errant child as he arrives home from the playground with a dark spot on his pants, and mud on his face. They smile even more at my efforts with machinery which puts me into a position where I’m confident I will lose some gas before the weights move out of the starting block.  No thank you.

After 41 years of trying to succeed, I feel it’s time to acknowledge that I need a different approach.

In my case, striding across the  Scandinavian peaks. In solitude. Where the occasional  stomach discomfort goes unnoticed, especially when you have three layers of clothing sealing your nether regions from the ambient minus 25°.

Since there are no peaks nearby, I started light, three weeks ago,  with a gentle stroll down to the nearest supermarket, just in case I got hungry.

But that’s not the point. I’ve always thought I wanted to be good looking, slim, the envy of every man shielding his eyes from my perfect physique. That’s a bad reason. Especially in Norway, where every human being is physically perfect.

No, I realise that the only thing I am interested in was having as much quality left in the years that remain as I can arrange. That needs keeping the mechanical bits functional. This turns out to be jolly good fun.

Once I understood that having a “why”, a valid reason for achieving something, a deeper reason than just vanity all of my other goals – actually, both of them – became obvious, simple, and terrifying. Suddenly I had no more excuses.

More about this later…

I hope your 2017 rocks.