Business Wisdom from Bill Graham



How do some people do success so much easier than others do?

Let’s look into that.

My business coaching Eureka practice has been headquartered on the north coast of California for since 1997. But back when my business coaching practice was based in Palo Alto, California, through a mutual friend, I met Bill Graham, the rock concert impresario and friend of folks like the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney, whose business was based in San Francisco. Graham died in 1991 in a helicopter accident during a rain storm, but the business he founded still exists. Anyway, my friend help me get an appointment with Mr. Graham. I went to his office, set up my tape recorder, and we talked. I was writing an article for my business coaching newsletter so I wanted to catch every word.

After a few minutes I asked, “Bill, what is the secret of your success?” He answered in one word. “Relationships.” Then he went on to say that the rock music business is full of narcissistic, self-centered, egotistical people who are all richer than God and really don’t need you. To do business with them you’ve got to make them like you. This is hard for three reasons: 1) lots of people are after them all the time, 2) they have buffers, people whose job is to keep you from talking to them, and 3) they’re weird.

How to you build relationships with people like that I asked. Another one word answer, “persistence,” he said. He explained. “Because of the life these folks have chosen they are lonely little kids inside, longing for friendship and love. So I give that to them.” How, I asked. “By genuinely listening and getting to know what they value and believe and need and want,” he said. Quickly adding, “This is where the persistence comes in. It’s hard work and it takes time. And many concert promoters like me will give up. I never give up, so I win.”

Relationships, persistence, and never giving up on what you want – the psychologist part of me thought I’d best remember this good lesson as I might find ways to use this with my business coaching clients which I have done a bunch of times.

For example, during the recent terrible recession, which officially began in 2007, one of my business coaching Eureka clients, we’ll call him George, did something interesting. At my urging, George decided not to participate. He planned to boycott the recession. Like it was for many if not most business owners back then, George’s sales were way off and he was suffering and worrying a lot. So of course he knuckled down and concentrated on his top money making activities and watched every little expense like a hawk. But that did nothing to bring new business to him. What he did next, however, to his amazement, turned everything around.

My business coaching sessions got George to make a list of every customer he’d had over the previous five years, he put all their names and phone numbers in an Excel spreadsheet. Then I encouraged him to call and make an appointment to personally go out to meet with every one of them. I had told him the Bill Graham story about the value of personal relationships, which got him inspired to accept this business coaching assignment and start.

Several of our business coaching sessions helped George decide what to say. And I taught him some verbal persuasion behaviors and provided encouraging follow up as implemented his chats.

George told his former customers that he valued their business, that he wanted to help them be successful in all their endeavors, and would do whatever he could so see that they were happy. George persisted. He met with many of those on his list more than once, several times in fact.

This strategy worked. George’s former customers became his most loyal customers. They began buying from him again and they kept buying from him, more than they had before. This simple sounding business coaching actually resulted in George doubling his business income and increasing his profits – during the worst of the recession in recent memory I might add – and that made him real happy. I was happy too of course because of George’s success and because he let me use his story as part of my business coaching Eureka marketing efforts. It’s nice when everyone wins.

Bill Graham is absolutely right. Relationships, persistence, and never giving up, yup, good idea – and any business owner can do this, not just when times are tough, but all the time. And they should, because it works wonders.

Income doubling and profit building are at the heart of every business person’s desires – and the strategies that make that happen clearly exist – and business coaching can help even the most skeptical business person apply them successfully. Wins all around.