Score: 96/100 (9.6 out of 10)
“Never Sit in the Lobby” by Glenn Poulos is one of the best business books of the season! That's saying a lot considering the shear number of business books we've gotten and read. The thing that separates “Never Sit in the Lobby” from many other business books is its serious, practical, and almost cut-throat approach aside from idealist prattle. The author means business!
Our favorite thing about this book is that the author doesn't subscribe to idealized dogma like “the customer is always right” or that you should respond to every e-mail immediately or to every voicemail. The author accepts that some things aren't worth your time. What's the point in planning to take a potential customer or business partner to lunch if there's a 99% chance they're going to go with a competitor? The author is quick to tell us not to cast your pearls on swine. He is all for separating the wheat from the chaff. There are 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 365 days in a year, and we have a finite amount of energy, why waste them on things that present little to no chance of a return?
At the same time, the author encourages business people to be aware of opportunities in the market. If there's a client with a high potential for a conversion, bribe them and their entire office with complementary donuts.
He takes a particularly interesting approach to the “eighty-twenty” concept. To Poulos, the 20% of customers/clients who are ignored by the bigger companies could potentially become 80% of your business if you're a small business. The way we look at it: there are millions of stores that sell milk, but what if you were the one store in town that regularly makes strawberry milk? What if you were the only store in the state that sells blueberry milk? That might sound a bit ridiculous, but it's actually useful. It shows that you don't have to focus all your attention on the same sections of the market that everyone else is focusing on. There are a few other people out there who aren't getting as much attention but who could be great business for you.
Something else we admired about this book is that the author is adamant about not selling yourself or your products short. Poulos understands that business is ultimately about making a profit. It's not about dropping your prices lower and lower until the customer is finally willing to buy, it's about raising the value of your offerings in the customer's mind by creating a FOMO (fear of missing out) or a fear of scarcity. Poulos recounts a story in which he was in a business meeting pitching a new product model to a potential client, but the potential client was rude and seemed uninterested. It was clear to Poulos that the potential client had been told by a higher-up that he needed to consider other options even though he was already set on one. He was literally just going through the motions, doing this to check a box. The meeting was arbitrary. Poulos says that he called that person out on this, and the tone of the conversation changed entirely. The client was apologetic and became more open to the proposal because he now realized how serious Poulos was about his product and its value.
Poulos seems to champion two forms of communication: phone and e-mail. He has a view of these two forms that may be surprising to newer or younger entrepreneurs, or older ones who've grown complacent. He covers the do's and don'ts of communication including how and when to respond. For example, did you know that leaving a voicemail later in the day takes advantage of the recency effect/bias? Did you know that e-mails aren't to be treated like text messages (as some businesses have been treating them) but rather as formal letters including a greeting and salutation?
This is a terrific business book! Check it out on Amazon!