Swimming With the Sharks

Want to know what it's really like after you get a deal with a Shark?

'I'll make you a deal'. Hearing that from the mouth of a Shark was like magic. Suddenly I was living the entrepreneur's dream. I was at a conference and had just pitched my product to original Shark Kevin Harrington (he was on Season 1 of ABC's Shark Tank) and I was sure I was on the rocket ride to riches.

He loved what my body language and persuasion system could do for people including closing more business deals and solving some unique personal challenges like talking your way out of a traffic ticket, even interpreting secrets hidden in online dating profiles.

Kevin is the inventor of the infomercial and behind products like the Ginsu Knife, the Food Saver and the Ear Wax Vac. And I knew he was the one to take my system to the masses. I had a great system and a Shark. What could go wrong?

'You'll do great.'

Have you ever thought you were ready with a solution the marketplace wanted ... and then you were told to start over?" That's what happened when the phone rang the next week.

He wanted to pitch my 2 book, one DVD kit to the home shopping channels. But I needed to reposition it to fit their market which is 70% women. (here's a tip. When someone tells you to reposition something that's code for start over.)

He said, 'solve small, achievable problems in 3 DVDs, 2 CDs and a re-write of my books. 'Oh and one more thing....Tony Robbins failed when he went on QVC but I could do way better than him. People are too busy to try to have a great life any more. They'll love your tiny solutions.'

This wasn't going to be as easy as I'd planned. It was going to take real work and out of pocket expense. The risk was high in time and dollars, but the potential payoff was huge.

Sharks often ask for product redevelopment before they move into action. I targeted the women's market from the problems I solved right down to the color of the box. This was virtually the same info I had been teaching sales teams for years. Just a few shifts in the application and terminology did the trick.

After 6 months, my kit was ready. I found myself on a conference call with the VPs at the Home Shopping Network. They loved it. We spent hours on the phone. (Nobody get s that kind of time with them) It was perfect for their audience. They'd call me in a week. It was the longest week of my life. I felt like I was on the 1 yard line ready to score a touchdown.

When the phone finally rang, they said their first PO would be for....wait for it.....zero. They're only working with celebrities now. They said 'Just go out and make yourself a celebrity then call us back, we like the product'. 'Um, Yeah. I'll get right on that', I thought.

I felt like a popped balloon. But I had to pick myself up and figure out what was next. I thought about giving up but quitting was not an option.

What's that one thing you could pick back up and find a way to make it work? The only people that lose are quitters!

Back to Kevin I went. He said 'Make the book a best seller on Amazon before we pitch to another shopping network. We don't want to hear the same thing again'. That was the last thing I wanted to do. I was getting married in 4 weeks and was near meltdown on all levels. How was I going to find the energy? But I found out it only takes about 350 sales to be a category bestseller. Hmmm, That doesn't sound too hard. Isn't it funny how things that seem insurmountable aren't once you dig into the details?

So I put together a killer sales letter and sent it to 40 of my professional speaker buddies to send to their lists. And it worked! For days, orders poured in and my book was the top selling book in the self help/communication category, even a top new release on Kindle. This was easy!

The power of community is amazing. When you're going for something big, people will step up to help if you ask. But you have to ask! What are you doing to build your network? What associations are you involved with? How are you helping others? When you help, people will be there for you when you need it.

I was sure I was on my way to air time on the home shopping networks. When we pitched to the rest of them, they said being a best seller wasn't good enough. Come back when I was famous. After all that work, I was crushed. Only a visit with my good friend Jack Daniels could ease this pain.

Kevin said, "Forget the home shopping networks, we'll do this ourselves. Make me an infomercial to test. You'll either be a wild success or completely fail. Most of them fail. But if you win, you'll win big'

I just couldn't walk away, even knowing the odds. I just had the feeling this could be big. Who wouldn't want to know how to talk their way out of a traffic ticket?

I didn't know much about infomercials so he sent one to model. The Wax Vac -- a vacuum for ear wax that he'd sold millions of. Certainly traffic tickets were a bigger problem than ear wax, right?

After months of production, I found out the answer is no. My infomercial didn't test well enough to get TV time. Who knew earwax was such a big problem? Not me. So after cleaning out my ears with the Wax Vac I had bought, I worked to figure out another plan.

I had to find another way. Should I just resign myself to selling this at the back of the room at my talks? I just knew it could be bigger. I couldn't bear the thought of giving up.

The Solution Right Under My Nose

It turns out the solution was right there all the time. The internet. I made a separate web page for specific problems the the kit solved and targeted the women looking for those solutions.

People who want to get out of traffic tickets are hard to find. So I dropped that from the primary hook and turned it into a bonus. It's preventative and people want solutions to problems they already have.

The easiest group to target are ladies who are internet dating. They always want to know more about the guys they're browsing...They want to avoid the heartache of another bad date. So I focused on that aspect of my kit. Now lots of women are using the tools to know more about who's really behind the dating site profile.

What are you overlooking that could be your cash cow? How can you refocus your marketing? As my Shark said, success comes from solving tiny, achievable problems. And now I know he was right.

My journey with this project isn't over yet. New opportunities continue to unfold every day. Did it turn out how I envisioned? No. Would I do it again? Yes. Every, single bit. There's nothing like a Shark to make you swim faster and find a way. Now go jump in your tank. The water's not bad!