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The greatest companies in the world start with what the customer wants; not what they want the customer to buy.  Every customer is different.  At some companies, different products may have different customers.  A mentor told me once, “THE CUSTOMER, THE CUSTOMER, THE CUSTOMER; Tim, have you talked to the customer”.

So here is my frustration today…

The single family investment space is being invaded by “Great Ideas” that are being created by people that are not investors.  They read the Wall Street Journal, see something Uber did, and think it could be the next big thing.  Then they mention it in a conference room overlooking a busy street, and everyone scurries about trying to make the boss’ big idea work.  They cram it down the target customers throat, then wonder why the customer will not buy their great idea.

Here is the biggest secret; THE CUSTOMER IS RIGHT.  Period.  End of story.  I’d love nothing more than for every one of the 1,000 motivated seller calls I receive every year to just fill out a web form; and schedule their appointment online.  It would save me hundreds of thousands of dollars!  It would be so efficient.  There is just one problem.  The motivated seller wants to talk to someone.  They have a problem.  They are confused.  They are scared.  They are not trusting.  They are a dozen other things.  What they aren’t, typically, is an Uber passenger!

You really have to think about the demographic of the person that is going to be your majority customer.  This can change by product line, region, and generation.  What I mean by generation, is the way you sell to a 37-year-old white male (me) today, is going to end up being completely different ten years from now.  What you CANNOT do, is force ME to buy the way you want the guy who is 27 (and will be me in a decade) to buy when he can.  If you do that, you know, if you are ahead of your time; you may not be in business when that customer is ready to buy.

I’ve seen a dozen companies try to be too evolved, too quick.  It is a death sentence for a company, and your staff.  Spend some time TALKING with your customer.  If you have multiple products or services; make sure you truly understand the audience for the different offerings.

AND FOR GOD’S SAKE, don’t try to act like you are smarter than everyone else.  You cannot learn anything if you are always the one talking.

OK, it’s 6:00 AM on January 1, 2014, and I’m sitting here in front of a computer.  After a great night with my family setting goals, and reflecting on the past, four hours was about as long as I could sleep.  This morning, I sat down and wrote out my goals, and started to look at them.  It really hit me.  We tend to set some ambitious goals this time of the year, and then we try to do them all at once.  Too often, we do not have the right plan in place, and have not written out our goals AND plans.  When I say write your goals, I do not mean to write a long list of vague ideas.  You see, “get in shape” is not a Continue Reading…