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Selling Ideas and Driving Action

“Production minus sales equals scrap.” That’s the simple formula for all business entities according to the powerful book “The One Minute Salesperson” (Spencer Johnson, MD). Produce whatever you want, but if you don’t sell it and others don’t buy it, to the scrap heap it goes.

Well, like many of you I’m not primarily in the business of selling goods from inventory storerooms. I sell ideas: ideas for personal and business results improvement.

Ideas are sold when someone else takes action from our suggestions, So tailoring Dr. Johnson’s business formula for your world and mine might be: “Ideas minus action equals scrap.”

Here’s an example. Right now I am blessed to be away for a few days of R&R. Recharge time after a grueling three-month stretch of constant business travel and almost daily speaking events. I started the morning by making a pot of shutterstock_210452404strong coffee and then opening emails after a two-day blackout period. It’s Monday morning at 6:30 AM and there are already 106 new messages to return. (Sound familiar?)

In the demanding work that ‘experts’ like you and I perform, we all need to get away and recharge. To think, to write, to create new lists of great ideas that jump into our conscious thoughts. To stare at the sky as the sun comes up and to read junky police novels or whatever else you prefer. Time to put the juice back into our efforts before climbing back into the battle of business and resuming the demanding job of helping others improve their results on their terms.

Even as I write this brief post to you, I am distracted by two new ideas that I must remember to act upon when I return. That’s what happens when you are recharging. Improvement ideas fly into consciousness from out of nowhere. In an interesting play on words, first these thoughts are ‘nowhere’ then they are ‘now here’. And the big risk is that they will float away just as quickly if I don’t capture them in writing immediately.

So here’s what I do when inspiration strikes, and hopefully these ideas will work for you as well.

Step One – Write it down. Not on a Post-It Note or other scrap of paper. Keep a simple notebook of your ideas. Dedicate this space to be used only for new ideas that might justify action or further exploration on your part. I use a $2 dollar notebook from the local office supply store. The kind with the black and write patterned cover you may have used in grammar school. Great new ideas are all that go into that notebook.

Step Two – Take just five short minutes to add color and context to your idea. Write out how you see your ideas coming into reality. Make notes aboutwho might benefit and how. List names. Add bullets about specific benefits that others will realize when they use your idea. The more visual details you add (names, faces, locations, specific measurable results), the better.

Step Three – Add just one very specific action you will take to move this idea forward. Write out exactly what you will do and when you will do it. Keep this first step simple. Something like, “Schedule five minutes with Joe to discuss how we might…” This step is crucial and becomes the foundation for a broader plan of action you’ll take. Never forget: If it’s not written, it’s not a plan.  

Step Four – Take that first step. That’s so obvious it hurts to say it. But it’s also obvious just how many great ideas die on the vine simply because that critical first step doesn’t happen.

How many of you have daily thoughts about how to improve your own results or those of your business or clients? Incredible ideas that could really move the needle on your goals? Let’s put some discipline around your efforts to capture and act on these ideas by implementing these four simple steps starting today. Let me know what you think.

John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events. Throughout his 35-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”