Today I want to share something which I believe creates a key competitive edge between the hordes of self employed people who struggle – and the ones who thrive and become top-earners.
It applies to any business, from large organizations all the way down to solo freelancers. You are either doing it (and succeeding), or not doing it (and struggling), but either way chances are you don’t even realize that you are or aren’t doing it.
What on earth am I talking about?
I’ll tell you below. But first, a bit of backstory for context…
My Most Frustrating Entrepreneurial Moment
What would you say is the most frustrating thing we experience as entrepreneurs?
I’ll tell you what it is for me.
A new opportunity comes your way – you respond, perhaps hold a consultation – and then the person disappears. You follow up a few days later, to the sound of crickets.
Your opportunity has vanished; slipped away into the night.
This was the single biggest pain I experienced when I was starting and growing my advertising agency. It made me so damn angry that I wanted to scream at the prospect and call him out for his inability to do what he said he was going to do.
I’d have lunch with a prospect – Thai food. I order the Massaman curry. He explains to me that he has thirty employees working for him in Germany; his brand is the industry leader in that country. Now we discuss the grand plans we have for the rebranding and growth of his company in the US market.
All seemed well; we met up for drinks a couple of days later. I assess that his budget is around $10k. He asks for a proposal, citing his desire for a “fair” price. I create an extremely thorough one, crossing all T’s and dotting all of the I’s. Then a couple of weeks go by, I follow up, and the deal never goes anywhere.
What on earth happens in these situations? It’s something that any freelancer agonizes over at some point.
I’ve dealt with this frustrating dilemma for years; and still do to this day. People inquire for information about advertising opportunities or collaboration on a potential project, and then disappear.
This is such an important scenario to handle correctly and one of the single biggest obstacles that keep us from getting the opportunities that we truly want.
I think it’s worth examining this situation carefully and mapping out a plan of attack that leads to the highest possibility of success.
I believe if you can turn the corner – and become a master at this – you can reach the other side where TRUE wealth and abundance lies.
For me, it requires what I call The Rockstar Effect.
The New Opportunity Timeline
A profitable business is a simple three part equation.
The rockstar effect provides a critical transition between the first milestone and the second:
1) Generate leads (-$) —> Rockstar effect —> 2) convert leads ($) —> 3) Nurture for full lifetime value ($$$) (LTV)
- Milestone 1 (generating leads) costs time and money, which puts the business in the negative.
- Milestone 2 is where we get back our investment and make some money. But it’s often not enough to create a sustainable, profitable business.
- Milestone 3 is (usually) where the real money is made.
But in most cases we’ll never even get to the second or third milestones (and be left with nothing) unless we deploy the rockstar effect.
Lately, I’ve been focusing intensely on this as I’ve been performing a lot of lead generation to support my current entrepreneurial efforts. I’ve set up a bunch of different portals which are contributing leads and sometimes new sales and clientele, and I need to convert them.
For example, in the last two weeks I’ve received three inquiries from Vayable – which could potentially net $700.
New leads from Vayable.com
Leads come from all kinds of sources, in all shapes and sizes. The common denominator in each situation is that I have something to offer. I’m providing something of value, and interested parties need to commit to working with me or investing in what I have to offer.
To that end, it’s imperative to present a compelling case that cements their decision to accept what you offer.
But even presenting a compelling case – in 2016 – is simply not enough. We’re not only competing with all the other options out there, we’re also competing for people’s limited attention spans. We’re all cognitive misers, awash in information, content, videos, and GIFs.
Plus that pesky alternate reality known as “real life” persists at interfering in our affairs from time to time.
To make this work (and close more deals), The Rockstar Effect alone can help us beyond a shadow of a doubt.
What Creates the Rockstar Effect?
How do we create the rockstar effect?
I won’t suggest some overly simplistic solution, such as: “show that you’re the most qualified person to solve the prospect’s problem,” as it’s probably something you’ve read before.
And that alone is too timid to get the result we seek.
Another traditional approach, taught by Dan Kennedy, involves sending new prospects a “shock and awe” package meant to “wow” them with your authority and expertise. It also includes case studies, press mentions, testimonials, listing of books written and speeches given, and so forth.
It’s meant to make you look like a big deal.
Credibility is certainly important, though I don’t think it’s matters nearly as much as most of us think – or as we make it out to be. The same applies for credentials.
I think what’s most important – especially when it comes to the first impressions we make – is competence. In business, everyone is judged by their level of competence. The more competent we are, the higher we go.
Competence doesn’t display itself in a resume or on a portfolio page. These things help, but they are only the tip of the iceberg.
If I were to pin this down, I would say that competence starts with how you communicate. Second, it also equates to doing what you say you are going to do.
Third, equally important is empathy – understanding how your communication is going to make the other person feel and how to say the right words and do the right things to lead you both to the outcome you want.
Creating the rockstar effect early in an interaction is critical. And it need not be overly complex. You don’t need 20 years of experience (and in fact, it is an X factor that can help you trump other candidates with far more experience and credentials).
A Quick Example
I’ll give a quick personal example. I’m currently living in the most expensive area of Bangkok (Thonglor). There’s a Mercedes dealership on the corner of my street.
This has been my base for the last four months. And I’m staying here for free.
Wait, what? Did I steal a house!?
Nope. I’ve been housesitting while the owner has been away in Australia. You can learn more about the ins and outs of housesitting here. Getting this (and the other housesitting gig I had here in Bangkok) was quick and surprisingly easy. One e-mail is all it took.
Housesitting, like anything, is very competitive. On sites like MindMyHouse.com and TrustedHousesitters.com the number of sitters outnumber the available housesits by a hundred to one.
I found this current assignment through a Facebook group – these groups have been becoming more important and relevant lately. Once I saw the posting, I contacted the lady immediately, to ensure that I was the first applicant. Then I used the “rockstar effect” immediately to ensure that I would considered first among all of the available housesitters.
What did I do?
I simply copied and pasted a list of questions, and sent them to her in my initial e-mail. Questions like:
What is your cat’s immunization history?
Is your cat micro-chipped or tattooed?
Is there a lost pets contact number?
Are there any existing health or injury problems I should know about, such as skin
allergies, a heart condition or diabetes?
Do your pets need medicine? Is everything they need there now or would I need to obtain
What is your vet’s name, address and phone number?
Do you have a clear, up-to-date photo of your cat?
Does your cat spray inside the house?
Does your cat have certain daily routines? What are they?
I also send my references in my initial e-mail, putting myself one step further ahead and pre-empting a potential objection (and also demonstrating empathy – understanding of the other person’s feelings – which demonstrates competence).
Everything about my initial e-mail is designed to give the impression of competence, and make the other person’s decision to choose my services as easy as possible.
The funny thing is, I’m NOT an experienced housesitter. This is only my second time housesitting. I know very little about cats, and have been learning on the job.
However, I AM experienced in knowing how to communicate with new opportunities and leads – and because of that, I got the gig.
It is critical to stand out in a way that shows new leads that we understand them and their needs, and are able to allay any concerns so that they feel comfortable that they are in good, caring, competent hands.
That’s the funny thing about the rockstar effect. I call it “rockstar” because like an actual rockstar – it’s all a performance.
Read that again. It’s about presentation. It means that you don’t actually have to BE the most experienced or competent option available. You just have to present yourself in the most competent way.
Of course, it’s important to use this technique ethically and actually deliver upon your promise.
I wouldn’t say that I’m a master of the rockstar effect yet. I still pursue far too many leads which slip away. But it’s like those instances when you’re driving home, replaying a recent interaction in your mind, and thinking: “I should have said that!”
As soon you receive an opportunity from a certain source, I think it’s important to take an extra few minutes to document a plan with steps and template messages to handle similar future opportunities.
In these interactions, pay special care to any needs, wants, opportunities, or unique terminology to further develop your sense of empathy and treat all of these scenarios in the competent style of a rockstar.
Bonus: Five additional characteristics of rockstars
- Rockstars are sought after. They don’t seek after.
- Rockstars make people wait before they can work with them. “I’m full with projects now, but we can circle back the in mid-February…”
- Rockstars confirm that the client / potential colleague meets their criteria: high budget bid, high traffic volume, etc. “Do you have a budget of at least $15,000 for this project?”
- Rockstars often direct leads to their assistants (gatekeepers) for scheduling and warm-up call purposes.
- I think it’s also important to make it clear that you EXPECT a reply from the other person and that they are committing a serious social taboo by ignoring you.
As I outlined in this post, I’ll often send the subject line: “Did you get this e-mail?” in my first follow up.
After receiving several non-replies, you may also send something along the lines of: “Since I have not heard back from you on this, I assume your priorities have changed.”
It makes it clear that you’re not the kind of person who will be left hanging. They should respect your time, and you.