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This great book by Grant Cardone shows the exact attitude that you need to have and actions that you need to take in order to dominate your field, regardless of the product you sell or service you provide. It is geared towards periods of economic contractions but has also a lot of general information about how to get ahead of your competition and grow your business. Below I outlined the main points that I took from this book.

As with any summary, I believe it should be used as a refresher, as a list of guiding points that help remember the contents of the book. To fully understand and apply the following points, it is highly recommended to actually read the book. It does not replace the actual experience of reading the book, nor is it intended to.

You can purchase “If You’re Not First, You’re Last” (Audible/Hardcover) here.

“Problems are opportunities, and conquered opportunities equal money earned.”

1. Advance and conquer while others contract and retreat.
Whenever things take a turn for the worst, most say “I refuse to participate”, “Nothing has really changed, let’s just get back to basics”, “There is nothing I can do, I just have to wait it out”. What you should say instead is “Every resource I have goes to advance and conquer while others contract and retreat”. This attitude is about being the absolute best at what you do regardless of the external situation. It’s about unreasonable amounts of activity, way beyond what’s considered normal. You should restructure your day to focus on the most important thing for every business – SALES. For example, how would you go about your day, if you had 24 hours to live unless you close a deal? This is an extreme example, but if you sit back and think about this just for a few seconds, you will come up with a straightforward course of action that will put you way out of what’s considered normal, way out of your comfort zone and that will result in a sale or more. Your approach would be different from if you were living as if you have 50 years left to live.

2. Power base reactivation.
Everyone has a power base, we simply don’t all acknowledge or utilize it. It’s way harder to build a business completely from scratch, instead of using a place where we already have power with people we know. The people you know – family, friends, relatives, schoolmates, past employers, existing employees and even your enemies – are all part of it. The people you know either have the money you want or know people who do.

3. Past client reactivation.
You will need to use everything available to you, including your past clients. They are the people to whom you have sold and provided a service before, but with whom you are not actively working at this time. This is a gold mine, as they are extremely likely to do business with you, or point you to other people who will. Contacts turn into contracts, and the more contacts, the more contracts.

4. Be unreasonable.
Quit being reasonable – don’t settle for just getting by. Do not rely solely on e-mailing or mailing your potential clients, get out of your comfort zone and call or visit them personally. Rather than just accepting what the situation is, think about solutions, get uncomfortable and take unreasonable amounts of action. The discomforts you experience now will guarantee that you’ll be comfortable in the future. Any attention is better than no attention. Don’t forget add-on sales, second money is always easier than first money. These add-on sales will allow you to maximize the time, energy and effort that you’ve already put forth.

5. Converting the unsold.
According to a study, 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact, but only 10% of salespeople call beyond three times (10% of sales). Some people even have a 3 calls rule – they don’t buy anything unless the salesperson calls them 3 times about it. It indicates that you have firm belief that you have the right product for this person. The most successful people failed more times than you’ve tried. The person who willingly swings the bat has a better chance at success than the person who refuses to swing. When someone tells you no, they are saying no, for now.

6. Ask for referrals.
During your time of doing business, you have probably received a call from a client, introducing you to someone who wanted or needed your product or service. However, that has happened to you, not because of you. Your goal should be to control this process – to ask existing customers for referrals. Activate and multiply your existing clients to create new ones.

7. Delivering at “wow” levels.
If you think about whether someone delivered you a truly “wow” service within the last 90 days, nobody will probably stand out. Nowadays, people are accustomed to poor or mediocre service, so if they get something just a little bit above average, they will certainly notice the difference. Use this to your advantage, the more you wow, the less you have to promote because others will do it for you.

8. Price vs value.
Your competitors are probably always lowering the price, and your customers never seem to have the money for your product. The real issue here is not the price, but the value of your product. You must do a great job of building value and make your customers feel confident that your product will solve their problems in order to get the price you need to stay solvent. Make sure they are aware of the cost of NOT purchasing your product, of staying where they are. The money will be directed toward what people perceive as value, not the lowest price. Selling on the price of the product is an indication of a poorly trained individual or organization.

9. Effective marketing campaigns.
Most businesses reduce their advertising and marketing budgets during periods of contraction. Do the opposite, now is the time to hammer your business into the marketplace with cost-effective marketing plans that let the world know who you are, what you do and what you have to offer. Nothing will provide you with more protection than the ability to generate revenue – something that’s done by taking massive action, effectively marketing, staying in front of customers and getting the job done. The promotion you conduct today sets in motion a selling cycle that will result in new business when you need it six months into the future.

10. The power schedule.
It is critical to have a very tight, disciplined schedule when you’re trying to grow your business, to keep yourself and your company focused and productive. Any production, output, effort or action done in sufficient quantities on a regular basis is better than no production. Make it clear to the world every day that you have things to do and people to see. Schedule the most important actions that needed to be done today and do everything you can to complete them rather than leaving your day to chance. People procrastinate because they lack a commitment to a power schedule and a sense of urgency. When you have other places you have to be and don’t have time for these things, then you just don’t do them.

11. The most important skill needed to advance and conquer.
You need to learn how to sell. You can plan and organize until you are blue in the face, but if you can’t sell your products, what does it matter how organized you are? Most businesses don’t have a line of people waiting for their products, they actually have to generate interest, sell their product and close the deal.
The most needed and protected people in the workforce are those who can sell and bring in the money. There is no shortage of money, but there is a shortage of action and follow-through. A financial plan is the expansion consideration, not the contraction (budget) consideration.

12. The unreasonable attitude.
The economy you have is only limited by the amount of unreasonable action you take to create it and your attitude is going to determine how much of said action do you take and how effective it is. It is always a challenge to remain positive, but if you maintain an optimistic outlook even when things are tough, you will have a significant advantage and a better chance at advancing and conquering. While bad attitudes never show up on a profit and loss statement, they always have something to do with the bottom line. Change your thought process. Drop the arrogance, your old beliefs, and any limitations on what you are willing to do, and get going on producing your economy. More often than not your old beliefs are negative and enforce what you should not do more than what you should. Am I calling this client too much? Am I justified in asking for a referral? Thoughts like these paralyze you from taking action and becoming successful. Most of what we worry about never happens, so why should we waste so many time worrying about it instead of focusing on changing the situation? To become successful, you need to eliminate all the worry, doubt, and fear of negative consequences that could happen if you act.

Take a look at my summaries of other books by Grant Cardone:
Be Obsessed or Be Average
The Millionaire Booklet
Sell Or Be Sold
The 10X Rule