Advice To Budding Speakers & Trainers From 20 Years In Business

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For international sales expert Tom Abbott it’s been quite the ride for the past 20 years. Keep reading discover what it took for Tom to go from a one-person show doing pretty much everything to one of Asia’s leading sales training brands with a team behind him.

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1. You don’t need to be perfect to get started. You just need to get started.

If you wait until everything is so-called perfect. You’ll be waiting a long time. You’ll be waiting forever. So whatever you want to do, do not deprive yourself or the world of your message. Just get out there and get started.

Text quote image on You don't need to be perfect to get started you just need to get started

2. Be in the right place, at the right time, with the right attitude.

It’s mindset over skillset; like the expression says, “luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”

Text quote image on being in the right place in the right time with the right attitude

3. Deliver on your promises.

Now, most people deliver excuses. They complain about why things aren’t on time, didn’t do a good job -you know, they always have an excuse for everything. Nothing is ever their fault. Well, that’s not going to help you in the long run. Maybe you’ll feel good in the short term, but you’ve got to take ownership and responsibility for everything we do. So be sure that you deliver on your promises; when you say something, do something! Always under-promise and over-deliver where most people are just delivering excuses.

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4. Focus on long-term dreams.

This COVID situation has shown us that things can change overnight. We can’t ever lose sight of our long-term goals because you’ll just wake up one day, and it’s 5, 10, 15, 20 years later. Then you realize you’ve been focusing on the now, but not the new and not the next. So you’ve always got to focus on your long-term dreams and make sure that you’re constantly moving one step closer to your long-term goals, especially during short-term nightmares.

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5. Always change what isn’t working.

So many people are overly invested in what they’ve already done. However, if it’s not working for you, you need to change it. So every quarter, reevaluate different components of your business. Consider the questions; What’s working? What’s not? What do I keep? What do I get rid of? What do I change? What do I improve? You’ve always got to be thinking about innovation.

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6. Never change what is working.

At the same time, never change what is working! If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. So many people get excited by this shiny object syndrome, anything new out there. They want to try something new. Please don’t sacrifice the core, the essence of your business, because of something new. Always pick your lane and stay in that.

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7. You’re not as great as you think you are, be humble.

There’s always someone better than you are. Be humble. Be gracious, be grateful for what you have. Make sure you have an attitude of gratitude.

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8. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Sometimes we need to ask for help. It’s not weakness. It’s strength. Sometimes it can be a lonely business and a lonely profession. When Tom first started, it was just him for several years; it was just Tom running his business. He had no one else, but then he realized he needed help. So he asked his wife if she would quit her job and join the business. Now, ten years later, she’s the COO, and Tom’s the CEO. So ask sooner rather than later!

Text quote image about how asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness

9. You’re not as bad as you think you are. Be proud.

Be proud of the accomplishments you’ve made running, building, and growing your own business. It’s difficult, hard work, and not many people can do it

Text quote image on how you're not as bad as you think you are, be proud.

10. There’s no such thing as a self-made person.

Like Marshall Goldsmith, “What got you here. Won’t get you there.” This means, at a certain point, you won’t get to the next point on your own. You need help. Instead, get some help from a mastermind group, get a mentor, or ask great sales professionals to give you some tips on how to improve your approach. You can’t do it on your own.

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11. Your customers put food on the table.

Remember that your customers put your food on the table. Sometimes customers can be annoying. Maybe they’re demanding. Maybe they want so much of your time. And maybe we get frustrated from time to time with customers. But please remember, they’re the ones who put food on your table. They’re the ones that put that money in your bank account.

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12. Do what you do best, delegate the rest.

To develop and scale your business, you have to bring people on the team, delegate the functions you don’t have the time, skills, or aptitude for, and focus on what you are good at.

Text quote image on how you should do what you do best and delegate the rest

13. Take big risks if you want big rewards.

Do you want to make 5% more than you did last year? Maybe 10%? Are you tired of that? Do you want to double your revenue? Do you want maybe triple or quadruple your revenue this year? You can do it. It’s possible. Take big risks. If you want big rewards. It’s like Warren Buffett says, “Be fearful when everyone’s greedy, but be greedy when everyone’s fearful.”

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14. Be a big fish in a small pond.

Guess what? Specialists charge more. If you go to your GP, they know a little bit of everything but not a whole lot of anything -and they don’t charge very much, but if you have a problem that needs to be solved, you go to a specialist, and specialists charge more. So, consider, what are you known for? Are you the answer to a question?

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15. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.

If you want to be fast, super responsive and enjoy turning on a dime. You do it on your own. But if you want to go far, go with others to build a team that supports each other. That is how you win the long game, not the short game. It’s the difference between the 100-meter sprint and the 400-meter relay with a team.

Quote image take from an African proverb on going alone If you want to go fast and going with others if you want to go far

16. Hire for attitude, train for aptitude.

Most people get this wrong. They do it the other way around. What they do is they try to hire people that have the aptitude, all the right skills and they figure, well, if their attitude isn’t quite there, maybe I’ll send them on a workshop on positivity or mindset. However, attitude is not something you learn in a one day program. Your attitude, personality, and mindset have been established since you were 18 years old and probably won’t change. So don’t hire people who have the skills but a bad attitude. Hire people that have a great attitude, willing to learn and grow. And they’re positive. They’re willing to learn and then train them up with the skills, hire for attitude, train for aptitude.

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17. Hire slow, fire fast!

This is your business, so don’t rush! Hire slow, but fire fast. Most leaders do the opposite. They’re so stressed out and want to go to market quickly. So they hire fast, and they’re stuck with these people for a long time, and they fire slow. Hire slow, take your time, and get the right people on your team.

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Hire Slow Fire Fast

18. Outputs over outcomes

Many people focus on the outcome or the result; did we hit the target? Did I achieve my goals? While sure, that’s important; it’s not
everything. What you need to do is to break down your outcome into smaller outputs. Consider, what are the small activities that you need to be doing every single day? These are the output that will get you to outcomes. You can’t control the outcome, so focus on what you can control. If you put the output, there’s a good chance the outcome will come.

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19. Persistence over resistance

If you’re feeling resistance from others, from the market, your friends your family, customers and competitors, persistence overcomes resistance. Don’t give up. Don’t quit. Never say die. Never surrender. Never stop. Never say no! No isn’t no. No means not yet. Not sure. Not ready. Not convinced. Don’t take no for an answer; persist and resist and keep going, and you will win. This is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. Are you in this for the long game? How resilient are you? How persistent are you? The answer to those questions will be the determinant of your success.

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20. It takes 20 years to be an overnight success.

Success doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, alongside being in it for the long haul. Don’t give up. Start now, keep going, and you’re on your way to achieving your goals.

Quote image with Tom Abbott on how It takes 20 years to be an overnight success

Final thoughts on 20 lessons from 20 years in business

While it’s been 20 years and one heck of a ride, we’re only getting started. We have a new sales trainer starting with us next month and are currently hiring for sales reps. The company is growing so fast, and we’re serving some of the biggest brands in Asia. We can’t wait to share the lessons we learn from the next five years in business with you.

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At SOCO, we understand that the core of successful selling isn’t about aggressive tactics but about fostering genuine connections and providing real solutions.

Our training programs are crafted to help your team adapt, grow, and excel in building those vital customer relationships. With SOCO, you’re not just learning to sell; you’re learning to succeed.

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