7 Lessons I Learned From My Dad’s Bankruptcy

A defining moment in my life was at the age of 16 when my dad went bankrupt. He owned his own business and was really passionate and knowledgeable about his product. But what he wasn’t so passionate and knowledgeable about was Sales and Marketing. He didn’t know how to attract prospective customers or how to convert them into high paying customers.

Marketing to him, was word of mouth and a few leaflet drops.

When he went bankrupt we lost EVERYTHING. The business, the cars, the house, EVERYTHING!

The bailiffs came in and valued every last teaspoon. They were very kind to my mother and said if she could borrow £300 (A ton of money when I was only 16) she could buy back our essentials. So she managed to borrow the money and bought back our beds, sofas, cooker etc…

The day came for us to move and we had to go into a council house, nothing wrong with council houses of course but when you are forced to go it is a different matter.

It was TRAGIC… we were all devastated. My father couldn’t cope and his drinking got worse and worse as did his anger and violent behaviour. So we ended up leaving him to go to our new house on our own.

He really did lose everything including his family!

When I became involved in Sales and became a Sales Manager I worked tirelessly learning everything I could, reading books, going on training courses, watching and talking to the best in the business. I decided to be an expert in attracting prospective clients and converting them into high paying clients who gave repeat and referral business.

I diligently trained and coached my teams to be the best they could be so they could enjoy success and NEVER be in the position of being humiliated and feeling like a failure, the way my father had.

The results were astounding. We were always in the top 5% in the country and in 1998, when I was Regional Manager for a global company, my teams achieved TOP position in the whole country. We were top against target, we had the best staff retention rate, we had the best compliance scores. We had the highest level of repeat business. We were THE BEST WE COULD BE.

So, what were the 7 lessons I learned from my dad going bankrupt;

1. He would go from day to day working randomly, waiting and hoping tomorrow would bring better results.

What to do – Work on bringing in new customers EVERY DAY

2. Not all of his customers were good customers, some were late payers, little profit or hard to work with.

What to do – Know the profile of your ideal customer inside out and where they hang out so you can attract more of the clients you WANT to work with

3. He didn’t know how to demonstrate to customers the value and benefits of buying from him. He knew how good his product and follow up service were but didn’t let people know. (Not really surprising as his marketing efforts were virtually nil)

What to do – Create value in your marketing messages that will massively differentiate you from your competition. Demonstrate the benefits your customers will get by using your product or service

4. My Dad’s idea of marketing was a flyer which had his company name and address, a description of what he did, his business address and telephone number. The sum total of business from these flyers was “NONE”

What to do – Create marketing materials that are customer focused and included the 4 elements that will have your prospective clients say “Yes, that‘s me I need your help

5. My Dad was an expert at what he did but he was the best kept secret.

What to do – Have a marketing plan to include multiple marketing activities and position yourself as the expert in your field“The go to guy” Expose Yourself… metaphorically speaking… haha!

6. He knew his product inside out. He would talk and talk and talk about every detail of it and what it would do. Because of this he often found himself in a price war with his competitors.

What to do – Understand your customers. Be focused on what they want to achieve. Uncover the problems they are having that prevent them from achieving their objectives. Ask questions, don‘t tell until you know what is relevant

7. He didn’t EVER contact his existing customers to explore the opportunity of helping them further. There would have been endless opportunities to sell additional products. His is attitude was “They’ll come to me if they want more” How could they if they didn’t even know what his additional services were?

What to do – Make sure you use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, even if it is on an excel spreadsheet. Capture the details of your customers, segment them into A B C categories and create a contact programme for each segment. You need to create “Top of Mind” thinking so they will come to you when they are thinking about your product or service.

Oh how I wish I knew then what I know now. My dad died when he was 52 without ever reaching his full potential.

To continue my story;

In 1999 I had an experience which prompted me to leave the corporate world. Another story for another day!

I made a commitment to dedicate my professional life as a Self Employed Sales and Marketing Leader and Coach and Speaker helping Professional Business Owners and Professional Sales People get more business clients in record time through my workshops, products and coaching programmes.

My work has taken me across the UK and into Europe, America, Canada and South America. My purpose and passion is to help those selling to other businesses to achieve SUCCESS through implementing step by step proven strategies THAT WORK!

If I can help you in anyway, please let me know. I will help you take your business to levels you never thought possible.