The home of the Un-Sales Manager and the articles I wrote as part of Sales Management 2.0. In this section I let my inner social scientist and sales geek loose in an effort to make the world a better place free of bad sales experiences! I also have a strong management and leadership background so I write my thoughts about faith based servant leadership and management techniques that will help you grow personally and professionally.
Occasionally we make mistakes that were preventable. Sometimes we made the best decision we could in challenging circumstances. Either way, hindsight is 20/20 and it’s easy to look back and second guess yourself. It’s healthy and important to deal with your past, but you need to remember to keep your past in your past and not let those mistakes and feelings ruin NOW. I’ve been fairly successful in most aspects of my life. However, I’ve spent about two years dealing with resolving some things that have bothered me for a long time and its challenging.
It’s not just challenging to deal with past mistakes and errors of judgment though, it’s MORE challenging to keep it there and not let myself stewing on and trying to learn from these things create new challenges in the present. What I have tried to focus on lately is keeping my eyes focused forward while dealing with some that bother me while not second-guessing myself.
Good leaders frequently make challenging decisions.
As a leader at work, at home, and in life we often have challenging circumstances with no “correct answer”. When we are in those situations all we can do is rely on our gut, our training, and our moral compass to keep us pointed in the right direction. Remember this: Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your path. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV) If you have done that there is no reason to second guess yourself. You have done the best you could with the tools you had. Knowing more now or having a better toolset can sometimes make you look back and say: “I wish I had done this differently.” or “Why did I let this happen?” allowing yourself to dwell on this just frustrates you and makes you angry.
All you can really do with your mistakes is learn from them, add to your toolbox and move forward armed with new experiences and skill sets. If you’re doing this regularly you are doing the best anyone can do and that’s all that is reasonable to ask of yourself. Sometimes you just need to take your lumps, learn, adapt, and change so you can grow.
Where do the answers lie?
I wish I had all the answers. I spend a lot of time here sharing answers with people and giving sound advice on leadership, sales, and, marketing issues but some answers are just out of reach for most of us. Fortunately, I know someone with ALL the answers and I turn to him frequently to guide me through troubled waters, to aid me in making sound decisions, and to lead me in the right direction when I am unsure. I attribute 100% of my past and future success to my faith and reliance on God and my relationship with Jesus.
10 Verses to meditate on when life is challenging you.
When I am down or face difficult decisions I focus on this knowledge:
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
II Corinthians 9:8 NIV And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
Colossians 3:23 ESV Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.
Psalm 5:3 (NIV) In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning, I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.
Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Romans 12:2 NIV Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
II Timothy 1:7 NIV For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
Mark 8:36 ESV For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
Joshua 1:9 NIV Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
Habakkuk 2:3 TLB But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day.
So how did I deal with my challenges?
I spent a good chunk of my early morning today in prayer before I went to the gym and thinking about this post. Fortunately, after I got there I had time to meditate some more, my pre-workout was kicking, I had a solid workout, and my week is off to a great start. I am constantly reminding myself to remember to keep a positive attitude, focus on the things I can control, and to not let circumstances beyond my control keep me down. I’m not perfect, and life isn’t either, but I put a solid effort in every day to improve myself and my life in some way. Staying focused on the #1 thing I CAN control (my attitude) keeps me happy, positive, and focused on whats most important.
I try to remind myself in life despite my stumbles and mistakes, Jesus wants me to win! In fact, the Bible commands it: Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. (I Corinthians 9:24 NIV) So that’s it right there. I have to get up every day and run with all my heart and energy, my eyes focused forward, and my heart filled with the joy of the lord. No challenge is too big and no race is too long because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)
Finally, I’ll leave you with this thought: Behold, I am doing something new! It’s already happening; don’t you recognize it? I will clear a way in the desert. I will make rivers on dry land. (Isaiah 43:19 GOD’S WORD® Translation) I hope reading this has helped you like writing it helped me. Feel free to drop me a comment with your thoughts. I promise I’ll respond.
I was reading an article on Seth Godin’s blog this morning about Price vs. Cost and it got me thinking about how we sell. Most sales people focus on price. I get it, because price is important. Every product or service we sell has a price associated with it. If we step into the WAY back machine I wrote a piece in 2007 about price vs. value where I talked about the price of Starbucks coffee and why people buy it anyways. It was a long time ago though and I have certainly rethought some things over 10 years so lets revisit this topic today.
Thinking About Price
Pricing a product is difficult. Price it too low, you gain sales but you lose out on potential profit per sale. However, if you go the other way and price it to high you gain profit per sale but lose gross sales. There is a sweet spot marketers are trying to hit that maximizes sales and profit. There is a lot of research and math that goes into this, but the first thing we have to realize as sales people is: Not everyone is our customer.
Here is a diagram showing what we are trying to accomplish when we price a product or service:
Category 1 and 2 are not our customer. There are a few on the fringe that we can convert, but for the most part these people do not have the money and can not afford you. Category 4 is the easy sale. This guy loves your product and sees the value. This sale generally closes itself. Where we make our money is the fringe of category 2 and the meat in category 3. So how do we as sales people convert the sale for the guy who is saying we are too expensive? We demonstrate value.
What is Value?
Warren Buffet gives the best definition in my opinion. He states Price is what you pay and value is what you get. It sounds simple, but that is the trick in every sale. We must as salespeople convince our clients that the value we add is greater than the cost they pay. If the customer perceives value its an easy deal, if they are not convinced your product has value you have a tough row to hoe.
How Do We Demonstrate Value?
Demonstrating value is how we solve the price vs. cost equation. How do we do that? By building quality trust based relationships, asking good questions, and showing how our product solves their problems and adds value. The more value we build the easier things are at closing time.
We start early in the relationship by listening carefully to the client. Notice I said relationship. Even if you sell your product in 20 minutes or less you are still building some relationship. The longer your sales cycle the more important this skill is. You need to start out by asking a lot of questions and listening carefully. layer your questions to develop a deeper understanding. Then repeat what you heard in your own words to make sure you have a clear understanding of the issue. Once you are clear you can ask a deeper question or share a powerful feature – interest – benefit check to build value before moving to the next topic. The feature – interest – benefit check is your best tool to build value as you are talking. It allows you to confirm interest and understanding so that when it comes time to ask for the sale they have already told you multiple times how the product will help them solve their problem, save them time, or help cut costs.
Closing Thoughts on Price vs. Value
Price vs. cost is only ever an issue when value is in question. if we do our job as sales people to build solid trust based relationships, ask the right questions and demonstrate the value of our product we will close more sale easier. I know that sounds like a lot, and it is. for some of you it is going to require you to rethink your entire selling system. For others its just going to require some self-reflection and some minor tweaks. Either way it is a change worth making and your customers will appreciate it and refer others to you if you do.
If you are looking for a great book to help you solve the price vs. cost equation and build value I highly recommend Selling Value: Key Principles of Value-Based Selling by Don Hutson. This book goes deep into the issue of building relationships and value and will help you rethink your own processes.
How do you overcome the price vs. cost issue? What techniques do you use to build value and deepen relationships? Leave me a comment… I’ll write back!
That’s right! Most of the people I see on Twitter are doing Twitter wrong. Sadly it didn’t use to be that way… but in the last year or so I’ve noticed more and more people who are just doing it ALL wrong On Twitter. I’m afraid its turning into a giant soapbox and it is getting harder to find people who are engaged in conversation.
Back in the early days of Twitter, I loved the beauty of it. 140 characters were blissfully simple. find a cool article, say a few words add a hashtag and link and share it. Then the tools came out and honestly they were cool. We were able to find similar Tweeps, hashtag, and follow hashtags in tools like Tweetdeck. You could even set your blog to auto tweet. Then we got HootSuite and Buffer and that is where the fall started. Once twitter could become completely automated people started just rebroadcasting RSS feeds in mass and loading up posts into Buffer to tweet every 30 minutes. The theory was that the chance of your stuff being seen was so small that you NEEDED to blast out as much data as possible as fast as possible. If you didn’t there was no hope anyone would see anything. Twitter had become a soapbox and not a place for quality conversation.
The engineers at Twitter got wise to this and set API limits that slowed this down, but it was really too late. Don’t get me wrong, there are still great people holding fabulous conversations on Twitter, but many of your “active” people you follow are not listening at all. The reality is Twitter is better for you if you engage a few people and don’t worry about every follower seeing every tweet. Position yourself so people are seeing you out possibly even visiting your profile to scan it. I use lists to do this with the people I find the most engaging or interesting.
To be fair, I have no harsh feelings for either HootSuite or Buffer. They are great tools and I used HootSuite for a long time and still use Buffer and Revive Old Posts to keep my feed fresh. I surf the web late at night and find good stuff compose tweets, and then set them to send the next day while I am busy working or out with my family. The difference is, I’m still checking in. I’m reviewing my notifications, responding to people who reply to me and thanking people who retweet me. I’m using the tools but I’m not doing Twitter wrong. I’m making every effort to be efficient, share good content, and still be as engaged as possible.
The Key To Social Media Is being Social
The tools are there to make you more efficient not something you just turn over to a computer and set on ignore. It’s called “Social Media” and not digital broadcast for a reason. The point is to be social, make connections, and share ideas (or cat memes) with others. If you are just looking for more ways to blast out more “stuff” so you can get more traffic to your content marketing blog YOU are doing Twitter wrong.
So what spawned this Twitter rant? Has this just been stewing in my mind for years? Am I turning into a crotchety old man that just thinks that things aren’t as good as they use to be? or did I have an epiphany?
Monday afternoon I decided I wanted to do a top 10 list of must follow sales bloggers. To get unbiased research I reached out to 15 respected and established sales bloggers. Not A-list celebrities who pack stadiums, but solid people in the industry whom I have followed for years and watched grow solid businesses. I tweeted all of them with a reply letting them know I was writing a blog post. I ask them to give a shout out to one or two top people in the industry they thought others should follow. I got one reply back from Mary T Morgan within minutes with two names and one other blogger liked my tweet but failed to answer the question. the rest? Crickets…
This irritated me partly because I have worked on things with some of these people and several of the write about social selling! These people look busy with dozens of tweets a day, many of them mentioning peers… but it’s obviously all automated. It’s an illusion of presence. How can you write about social selling and not monitor your own account? How can you grow a business if you are asleep at the wheel of some of your best communication tools?
The short answer is this: You can’t. Many of these people are in a group together. Their streams are full of mentions, but all they are doing is auto-tweeting about each other. Yes, it extends reach, but they are missing the point. You need to engage with your audience not to give the illusion of engagement.
How To Do Twitter Right
Look, I’m not advocating for everyone to stop using the tools that are out there. In fact, I think they are GREAT! I use several social media marketing tools myself. I’ve also been in groups where I committed to rebroadcasting a few posts a day from a peer in return for them doing the same. There is NOTHING wrong with that at all.
What I’m asking people to do is think about their personal brand and how to manage and grow it through building solid connections and relationships. Really think about your social media marketing and consider whether you are helping or harming your brand.
Ive talked a lot in the last few weeks about being generous with your time and knowledge. Social media is the easiest place to do that. Remember the point of social media is to build connections and be social. Yes, as marketers or salespeople we do this to drive business, sell a product, or spread a social cause. However, the key difference between social media and traditional media is our ability to have a conversation. If you look at a few days of your twitter stream and all you see is a long list of your own links you are doing Twitter wrong.
What Can I do Different?
Reach out to people! See an article you like? Say thank you! Notice someone tweets on a topic you love? Ask a question! See someone asking a question? Answer it or offer to help! Use a Twitter Poll. Set up lists of interesting people so you can follow them more closely. Make an effort to engage one or two people a day and over time, you will see your own click-through rates climb. Your blog traffic will improve, and you will get more retweets. Why? Because people remember the people who engage them and are more likely to notice and re-engage if they had a positive experience with you the first time.
I read an awesome post by Mary Morgan earlier today that got me thinking about trust, values, and honor. It really had me thinking about your personal brand in relationships and how that effects business.
Whether we are talking about leadership, sales, marketing, or even parenting, trust is an essential element in any healthy relationship. Earlier this week I wrote about Why Your Social Media Marketing Sucks. I hope that beyond the hard skills you walked away from that thinking about relationships and trust as an essential part of that mix.
Your Personal Brand
Here is the deal… everything you do or say is either helping or harming your brand. Yes, you have a brand, even if you are not a speaker, writer or consultant. Obviously, your company has a brand and the product or services that company produces affect it. However, many professionals forget that they themselves have a personal brand and that hiring decisions are frequently based on it. In this day and age understanding this is critical because everything you do or say affects it. If you want to get an idea of what your personal brand looks like right now you can do a couple of things.
First, you can ask people who are close to you to candidly share some information about what they or others think of you and why. Second, you can Google yourself. You can learn a lot about someone by Googling them. If you just looked at mine you can see that I have spent years monitoring and developing my personal brand, but when you dig into it you can see that I am consistent and real. There are no surprises in there. My blog and LinkedIn come up prominently, but digging deeper you can see I have been mentioned on a lot of top-notch sales and marketing blogs. These are all things that reinforce my brand.
Why Should I Care About My Personal Brand?
That’s easy. You should care about your personal brand because whether you are aware of it or not it is representing you everywhere you go. It’s more than just your reputation, its who you are and what you stand for and people are checking up on it.
After my divorce, I started dating again, and I Googled everyone I went out with. I was looking at where they worked, who they were friends with and what they were posting in social media to ensure I saw parity between what I was being told and what I found. I have custody of my kids and I was making an effort to ensure that moving forward I was certain the people I was seeing were people I would be ok eventually exposing my children to.
When our kids come home talking about a new boy or girl, my wife and I are doing the same thing. We are looking at what that kid is posting, who their parents are, and seeing if they know people we know so that we can get an idea of what kind of person our child is (potentially) dating. We also make an effort to meet the kid and ideally their parents.
Professionally, I research everyone before I extend an offer. I’m reading your LinkedIn Profile, checking your Facebook and Twitter, and again making sure I do not see anything that seems contrary to what I heard in my interview process. A lot of my hiring process is based on personality and fit with my team. A large part of determining that it is based on manners, morals, ethics, and emotional intelligence so I’m checking to see if what you are posting, liking and commenting on are aligned with your words.
In all three scenarios, s I’m trying to confirm trust. I’ve decided I want to trust you now I’m doing some due diligence to ensure I can. If you are a company I am reading your reviews and looking for customers you use your product so I can talk to them and see what they think. I do not like to make mistakes and I make very few “bad hires” because I am meticulous and careful in this process.
My Personal Brand
I’m going to share a little about my own personal brand because I think it is helpful to see before you start thinking about how to craft your own. Mine is heavily focused on trust, sound leadership advice, and outstanding sales and marketing industry knowledge. When it comes to relationships your reputation and trust are all you have. It follows you everywhere you go and your actions are either improving it or tarnishing it. If you read my blog for any period of time you know a few things about me:
I value relationships
I’m generally more concerned with happiness than money
My family is important
I’m generous with my time and knowledge
I try to be humble and kind in all situations
When you google me nearly everything you find reinforces those ideas and or is displaying my excellent sales and marketing industry knowledge and experience.
Developing My Personal Brand
My personal brand is heavily influenced by the Navy / Marine Corps Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment. Largely, this is because that was a driving force in molding who I am as a man through young adulthood and because those values were driven in repetitively and I owned them. Later in life, I became a Christian and I was able to develop a much deeper level of commitment to those same ideals based off of sound biblical principles.
This one is tough to define. How does one act honorably? For me, this revolves around keeping my word and behaving in a way that honors God and makes people want to say good things about me. Being selfless, putting the needs of others before myself. leading with integrity. Think about it like a modern knights code of chivalry.
Being courageous is easier to define. It’s not about running into harm’s way, though there are times that is the honorable thing to do. Far more frequently, your opportunity to be courageous revolves around being honest in a difficult situation or making tough decisions based on ethical principle you hold that are unpopular but important.
This is easy. You follow through on what you agree to. You are a person who keeps their word. You do not lie even when it would be easy and you are unlikely to be caught. When people ask for help you give freely.
Biblical Principals That Drive My Personal Brand
I’m not a person that walks around quoting scripture all day, but my relationship with Christ is a large part of who I am and a strong influencer of my overall philosophy in life and business. With that in mind here are a couple of my guiding principals of Bible verses that further explain my own philosophy on trust in relationships and define the personal brand I personally am trying to maintain.
Luke 6:31Do to others as you would have them do to you.
The golden rule. Treat everyone like you would want to be treated. Be kind, thoughtful, and respectful in everything you do.
Proverbs 19:20Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.
I try to continually improve myself. I study, read blogs, listen to podcasts, and seek wise counsel frequently. I own my mistakes and learn from them. I go out of my way to accept even painful correction or discipline with an open mind and soft heart. I seek out mentorship and focus on being coachable.
Proverbs 13:20Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.
1 Corinthians 15:33Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
Who you hang out with defines you to some degree. A wise friend told me once to look at the 5 people I spend most of my time with and I would become an average of their qualities. I’m not sure about the math, but I know that over time your thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors are absolutely influenced by who you chose to spend your time with. Choose your friends wisely. Try your best to be a good influence on those making poor decisions or displaying qualities of poor character, but make every effort to spend time with people on your level or better. Be forward thinking. Some friends of the past are better left in the past.
Colossians 3:23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.
Whatever you do be all in all the time. Always work with honesty and integrity. Provide your best quality of work no matter what you do, who you do it for, or how much you are being paid.
1 Peter 5:6-7Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
7Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Remain humble. Pass on credit for wins to your staff and own your losses. Remember without those around you. Always remember that alone you are nothing. No man is an island, you need your family, friends, and coworkers to support you and nobody gets behind someone who is arrogant or a bragger.
Ephesians 4:2-3Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
This one is tough for me sometimes because my early leadership experience comes from the infantry and I will always have a warrior’s heart. It’s taken time to get good at this, but I try in any situation to be humble consider that I could be wrong, to control my anger or frustration, and think clearly while acting with love and kindness in my heart. Being tough is a hard like to walk. You can not allow yourself to be weak or pushed around, but you cant be too hard either.
Honestly, I could go on for days here, but you get the theme.
How Do You Develop Your Own Personal Brand?
I really could dedicate a 2000 word post just to this one concept, but for today I am going to keep it brief. Think about who you are as a person and what defines you. For me, that is being a Sales / Marketing / Leadership professional that displays Honor, Courage, and Commitment in all situations and I back those guiding core values with sound biblical principals.
For you, it may be different. Try writing a list of adjectives that describe you. Rank them based on importance and work from there. Then write your own personal mission and vision statement and get after it. You won’t have to tell anyone what your brand is. That’s the brilliance of it. Your reputation will stand on its own. Your goal should be to craft a reputation you can be proud of which brings us back to trust in relationships.
Trust in Relationships.
Most of my readers are sales and marketing professionals, so I’m going to circle back to this idea. When you are marketing a brand or selling a product what you are really doing is establishing an identity for your product and making promises about what value it will add. I have a relationship with Toyota and Porsche because that is what I have driven for years and I trust the quality and reputation of those companies. I invest with Edward Jones for the same reason. I buy exclusively Cascade Platinum because I’ve used it for years and trust it to deliver clean dishes even when my kids fail to rinse them thoroughly. You get the idea. What you should notice is I’m buying based off of reputation and performance.
For products sold by salespeople, you are a big part of that reputation. I have frequently bought from the second best deal because I saw value in customer service or because I trusted and liked the salesperson. I recently switched from Verizon to AT&T based on price and was hating myself for making that decision based on the experience I was having as I switched over. That was until AT&T sent an area sales manager to my house to help us. He was amazing. He fixed all my problems, made great suggestions and gave me his cell phone number with instructions to call him if I needed anything at all. Guess what. I have called him and even post close he has been helpful. He dropped a SIM card off to my wife at work. My relationship with AT&T is pretty solid now thanks to his effort.
This takes me back to Mary Morgan’s article that spawned this entire post:
No more over-promising and under-delivering. Your customers expect transparent authenticity. You must say what you mean and mean what you say in every communication. Being consistently truthful builds trust.
Mary nailed it right there. If you want to sell more focus your energy into doing the right thing and being honest and respectful. Genuinely care for your customers. Learn about their business and refer them clients. If they tell you about a problem your service cannot handle refer them to someone who can. Share resources and research that will help them grow their business. Most people are friends with others who need similar services. Consistent first class service from knowledgeable caring professionals will be rewarded with return and referral business.
Social media marketing is easy, incredibly easy actually. That is why it so irritating to see so many people doing it wrong. If you think social media marketing or marketing, in general, is all about shouting your message as loud and often as possible you are part of the problem. I get that you have an awesome message, and I get that it’s important for people to see it. However, far more important is that they hear it and pay attention. How do you do that? You have to be engaging. We hear that a lot but what does that mean really? Aren’t you being engaging when you blast out your latest blog post every two hours on every media platform? No… You are not. At best you are shouting and in the worst case, you are spamming.
How Do I Become Engaging on Social Media?
There are Several things you have to focus on if you want to be engaging:
I don’t think any of these ideas will come as a surprise to anyone, but it’s worth having the discussion about what it means.
When you ask anyone how to get visitors to my blog, or how do I get people to retweet me the first thing anyone will tell you is to write great content or “Content is king!”. So what is “Great Content”? To me great content is simple. Great content is about writing articles that solve a problem or answers a question in a way that is entertaining, useful, or unique, and shows a strong point of view.
You should not just say “A lot of people think this and others that…” Be willing to put yourself out there. I’m reading your blog because I see some value in what YOU think. Do not be afraid to be strong and share controversial opinions. It’s scary to put yourself out there, but this is how you get people to comment and share your stuff. Nobody comments on or shares a boring post. However, if they disagree with you they are 2x as likely to comment and your supporters will chime in. Some of my favorite posts are ones where most people disagreed with me.
You should never be afraid to give too much away for free. I use to be afraid to share my best stuff, my secret sauce, the things that make people want to pay me for what I know. The truth is, the more you share the more people see how much value you add and what you can do. They will appreciate your generosity and keep coming back. It’s difficult to remember some times, but being generous with your knowledge is the key to developing great content.
Finally, make your posts actionable. When someone is done with your post they should be able to do something new. Create step by step instructions, leave them with an action item to do or think about. Give them a book to read or another blog post to visit. You can do whatever you want, but there should be a next step. I frequently do all of these things.
Write in a Conversational Tone
My favorite bloggers all write in a conversational tone. When I read what they are saying it sounds organized, professional, and intelligent. Of equal importance though, is that it sounds like they are talking directly to me. Chris Brogan is one of my favorites because when I read his writing, I feel like he is in the room with me. I get a sense of who he is and I feel a connection to this man that I have never spoken to. If you want to get a feel for what that looks like check out this post he wrote on Facebook Live. You can see he is giving a lot of great information there, but as a reader, it doesn’t feel like he is just shouting his news to the world. To me, it sounds like a friend who has written me just to let me know what he is excited about. Another example from my own blog is my post “Long Time no See.” In this post, I talk about what I did during the four-year break I took from blogging and my divorce and remarriage. <–That’s a pretty interesting story BTW.
You Need To Make Connections
The marvelous thing about blogging and social media, in general, is that the conversation can go back and forth. Before I follow a new Twitter account one of the things I do is click the Tweets & Replies button to see if they have any conversation at all or is the account just shouting into a void.
There are a lot of people on Twitter complaining about how they get nothing out of it, or that nobody engages with them. I’m going to give you the “secret” to being successful on Twitter. Talk to people! Don’t just rebroadcast your RSS feed and then complain that nobody follows you back or engages with your content. When I read something I really like on Twitter I try to reply to that person publicly thanking them for the information. If I have strong feelings I’ll agree or ask a question and see if I can learn more or spark a conversation.
I also make an effort reply to people who tweet my blog posts and thank them personally. I do this myself not with a service, I’ll ask them what they thought or for feedback. This gives me a chance to learn, but their replies are also public and your conversation can occasionally draw other people in or attract new followers. People like to follow other active engaging people. If I just wanted to see your RSS feed I’d add it to Feedly and follow it there.
Once you start making connections you need to foster and mature that relationship. This sounds very difficult, but the reality is, it is very easy. Here is how I do it. When I find engaging people I add them to a twitter list. This lets me see a much cleaner version of my Twitter feed with just the people I am most interested in talking too. If it’s someone who’s content I am particularly interested in I will add their blog feed to Feedly as well. If I am extremely interested I’ll also sign up for their newsletter.
None of that in and of itself builds relationship. What these two things allow me to do though is keep a close eye on the 20-30 people I am most interested in. It ensures I see more of their Tweets and when I am working on that list I am in retweet and reply mode. When I am in Feedly I am in blog comment mode or looking for ideas to write about and posts to link to. What I want is for these people to see my name and face everywhere they look. I want them to think WOW! I see this Brad guy everywhere. More importantly though they see me sharing their content, commenting with substantial comments and holding conversations about their stuff with not only them but other people as well.
What I want is for these people to see my name and face everywhere they look. I want them to think WOW! I see this Brad guy everywhere. More importantly, though they see me sharing their content, commenting with substantial comments and holding conversations about their stuff with not only them but other people as well.
Why do I do this? There are a number of reasons. first, when people notice this activity they generally appreciate it and will follow back. Second, I am a little hopeful they will return the favor. Maybe they will visit my blog to see who I am? Maybe they will link out to me or share my content? When I notice some interaction back I’ll reach out via email, their contact page or Twitter DM and initiate a more private conversation to share ideas on how we can help each other. That is where relationship starts. helping others with nor real expectation of anything in return. My experience tells me if you do this a lot it always comes back to you in one way or another. If I do this for a number of weeks and get no response though I’ll disengage and move on. I’m not interested in building relationships with people who do not want to work the relationship both ways.
That is where the relationship starts. Helping others with no real expectation of anything in return will help you make real friends. My experience tells me if you do this a lot it always comes back to you in one way or another. If I do this for a number of weeks and get no response though I’ll disengage and move on. I’m not interested in building relationships with people who do not want to work the relationship both ways.
You Have to Care About Others
Because I have talked about all of this in very clinical terms, I feel like I need to be clear here and say: You have to be truly selfless in all of this and actually care about the success of others. Thats right, your social media isn’t just about YOU. That’s why it is called “social” media and not internet media. If you want any of this to work you have to be invested in your content, audience, and the people you follow. Think about yourself as a curator of quality content. I try to only share awesome and interesting stuff. especially if it is off my primary topics.
If you are following me you will see some of everything I find valuable. I share content on sales, marketing, news, fatherhood, christianity, occasionally fitness, fishing, video games, and pop culture. I’m trying to connect with people like me. I know I can’t be all things to all people so I focus on being the best me that I can be and making my strongest connections with similar people. Fortunately, a fair about of people seem to think I’m cool enough to follow and interact with.
Closing Thoughts on Social Media Marketing
I said in the beginning of this post that social media marketing should be easy and I hope now that you can see that it is. Yes there is some science to it, but it’s really more of an art. if you are a good citizen in the world of social media your marketing efforts will be far more effective than the person who crafts perfect headlines and shouts out their content at only peak times.
The short version of this entire article is this. If you want to be effective in your social media marketing strategies focus on people and interaction more than you do thinking of headlines and optimizing your posting times. Be a real and engaging person and people will be attracted to you because you will look different that the mindless people shouting “LOOK AT ME!” from the rooftop.
Let’s face it, as salespeople, we know there are some things we should never say. However, It seems like no matter how often sales managers say it there are some phrases salespeople will simply NOT stop
using. I am going to break my usual professional tone and share some insight as to what I (and your clients) hear when you use these lame cliché lines.
(Updated) I originally wrote this post in July of 2007 and am updating it 10 years later. The reason I did this is because this is still one of my highest traffic blog posts of all time. I didn’t change much, but some of my thoughts have changed and developed over time. Additionally, the post was just a bit dated and needed a bit of freshening up to remain relevant. I hope you enjoy this new updated version.
The Ultimate List of What a Salesmen Should Not Say
1.I was just in the area and thought I’d drop by.
Are you serious! The professional I am trusting to help me with my important issue has nothing better in the world to do right now than just “drop by” to see me for no reason? I’m busy, my calendar is packed and I do not have time for unscheduled visits that do not have a clear agenda. If you are not doing business with me already I am probably thinking who is this guy? Why is he here and how do I get rid of him as quickly and politely as possible. Unless we really are buddies, don’t just drop by unless you are only planning to leave something (like delicious doughnuts) with my secretary. Trust me; she already knows to tell you I am in a meeting and that I will call you back later. If I really am expecting something from you, she knows that too. Don’t try to fool her. She is smart, deals with several other people just like you every day, and she hates people trying to trick her!
No, I don’t! I am busy, and I have 100 other things I could be doing right now. As soon as I say no, where are you in this conversation? In my opinion, I think you are better off trying to engage me quickly than to give me the easy out and slit your own throat. If I am too busy to talk believe me I WILL let you know.
I really hate this one. I only want to know what you can or will do not what you will TRY to do. If you are not confident enough to say you can do it, do not mention it to me yet. I would rather hear, give me X hours to do some research on that and I’ll get back to you with what I can do. I’ll respect your honesty and willingness to do research. I’ll try is a cop-out, not a commitment.
See the picture here? That is what you look like to me when you say I’m not sure, might, or maybe. Again, your default answer is “give me X hours or days to do some research and I’ll get back to you. This answer tells me you do not know the answer, but you are taking my concern or issue seriously and want to help. I am really not sure is not the answer of the confident professional.
5.It’s not my fault.
Like it or not you are most likely my only contact in your company outside of accounting or billing. That means everything that goes wrong is your fault to some degree. Even if it isn’t, it is still your issue to fix if you are planning to keep my business. The best way to deal with this is to sincerely apologize and take the serious and immediate corrective action as soon as possible. More importantly, let me know what it is you are doing to fix it, and how you will prevent future issues of this nature.
6.What would I have to do to get you started today?
Ever seen the movie Tin Men? Unless you want to sound like those guys avoid this phrase at all costs. This phrase screams “I am a slimy salesman!” and any rapport you have built with this client is eroding quickly from this point forward. If you were trying to act as a consultant and a problem solver up to this point you just u-turned and waved a red flag in front of me. Instead, use something softer like this. You: Are there any other issues or concerns we have not covered sufficiently? Client: No everything looks good. You: Great! Then the next step is to…Not only do you get a good trial close where you can uncover any last-minute hidden concerns, but you end up at the same place in two steps without using a cliché closing statement.
You very well may be. However, I doubt this really how you want to try to compete. It does not take much effort to come up with a better value proposition than that. Additionally, it only takes a little effort for me as a competing salesperson who sells value to explain to your customer why paying a bit more for my product is worth it. Moreover, if I DO find a lower price, you are a liar now, and any trust you built is gone. My dad once told me when picking a service you had three choices; good, fast, or cheap. Pick any two, but recognize you will always sacrifice the third. Your job is to help your clients to understand this. Be sure to take a look at this article on why selling on price is never a good idea.
Always and never are just plain bad. There is almost always an exception to every rule and my experience is whenever I use an absolute like always or never that exception pops up and embarrasses me. My general rule is to avoid absolute statements wherever possible. Use these sparingly if ever.
9.What you need is…
Unless you are my Dad or a trusted friend, I think this phrase should be avoided. I don’t even use it during a proposal. If I call you with a problem, and we have been doing business for years, and you are intimately familiar with my issues it may be ok, otherwise, present me with options and let me pick. Even better is to layer questions in a way that I pick without you even directly asking me. Remember, I am the only one who knows what it is I need. A final thought on this: As a salesman, my favourite deals are the ones where I have layered questions in a way that the client tells me what they want to buy and I just say: Great, let’s get that started.
If you feel the need to tell me this, I am starting to wonder why and will usually assume I shouldn’t. Trust is like love. It’s built over time and the only way to gain it is to earn it. If you want me to trust you, be professional, follow-up on your commitments, and be real with me. Let me get to know you. Use small talk, chat me up about common interests, but never say: “Trust me”
I hope this list is useful to you. Selling is tough, it’s a world full of daily highs and lows. Beyond that, your paycheck is tied directly to your ability to sell. I know everyone has a list of things they hate to hear in a selling situation. I would love to see you share some of those thoughts and your experiences with some of these statements by leaving comments below.
I am a HUGE Brian Tracy fan and I highly recommend reading his book The Psychology of Selling. In this book, he is going to give you a series of ideas, methods, strategies, and techniques that you can use immediately to make more sales, faster and easier than ever before.
Tell me about a time a salesperson said one of the things on this list and how it made you feel. How could they have done better?
Alternatively, share with me a time you said something you know you shouldn’t have. How did it work out and how did you fix it?
You are a leader in everything you do. Not just the moments you have positional authority over others. Every second of the day presents the opportunity to lead. This is true whether you are a CEO, receptionist, father, child, coach, or athlete. I’ve been thinking about leadership a lot because it is popping up in my personal life with my wife and kids, at church, and at work. I’ve also recently transitioned into project management and for the first time in my career, I am managing processes almost exclusively and not directly supervising people. I still deal with a lot of people and I still use essentially the same skill set. However, nobody does anything for me now because of any true authority it’s 100% relationship oriented. I’ve always lead in a way that was dependent on developing relationships. However, it’s still a small adjustment and it started me thinking about leadership in general and how it’s a bit different.
Being a Leader With Your Family:
I was talking to my wife Shawna the other night and she reminded me of something I do consistently that comes straight out of one of my favourite leadership books of all time: The 360 Degree Leader. It was about doing something trivial that everyone knows I do not want or like to do, but I do anyway because I know it is important to set the right example.
“As a leader, the first person I need to lead is me. The first person that I should try to change is me”. – John C. Maxwell
I’m going to be honest here and say I HATE green beans. I don’t just dislike them, I detest them. However, I am aware they are good for me and I have some picky eaters in my family so I eat them without complaint. Part of it is so they will eat something healthy and see me do it too. Another part of it is so nobody can say: “Dad doesn’t eat green beans so I’m not either!” I was smart enough to know that asking them to eat something they don’t like when I would not, was hypocritical at best and a poor display of leadership. Knowing this, I suck it up and eat them anyway. My wife was using this as an example to one of the kids about doing things you don’t want to do because it is the right thing. Whats funny is this kid knew I did that and acknowledged it. I’ve never mentioned that I do this and I don’t make a big deal out of it, but I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that they know I don’t like them, that I eat them anyway. Honestly I was a bit surprised, but it reinforced the idea that your kids watch and listen to everything you do.
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell
Another example that is a bit more serious is related to dealing with my Adult ADHD. I had gone 42 years and never been on any sort of ADHD medicine. I didn’t want it and honestly, didn’t think I needed it. Both my ex and current wife encouraged me to try something for years and I just refused for a number of reasons. If I’m being honest, I was aware I had some annoying issues, but I had learned to live with them and I had what was in my mind a reasonable expectation everyone else would as well.
I have 3 kids with ADHD all three of whom benefit tremendously from taking their medication. I’m not sure what sparked it but two of them were occasionally resistant to taking it and saying it didn’t help. Everybody knows this is simply not true and I had told them how important it was for months but gaining little ground. I had spent a lot of time thinking of ways to show them how important this was and was getting nowhere fast. Finally, one day I woke up and said: “self, you need to take the same stuff they do.” I had finally realized what a hypocrite I was being. Nobody had to tell me, I just reflected one day and realized I was a huge jerk if I insisted they do something I refused to do. That same day I told Shawna: “I think I need to start taking Intuniv too.” Honestly, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am so much happier now and I am able to relax in a way I have never been able to in my entire life. I wish I had done it years ago. Besides feeling better, by taking it myself I was able to show that I was 100% bought into the process of dealing with not only their ADHD but my own as well. My entire family is happier because of it. If you are a parent, you have probably already realized that your children are watching everything you do. Because of this one decision all three of my kids are now happily taking their medication and we have a calmer happier home because of it.
“If you are a parent, you have probably already realized that your children are always watching what you do. And just as children watch their parents and emulate their behavior, so do employees who are watching their bosses.” – John C. Maxwell
Being a Leader at Work
One of the most fun things I use to do as a sales manager was to jump on the phone Saturday morning during our phone-a-thons and set some appointments. It was fun for several reasons. First, I’m a great salesperson and it’s fun to do things you are good at especially if it’s out of your norm. Second, I’m competitive and I wanted to set more appointments than anyone because it’s fun to talk a little smack with my top performers and work hard. More importantly, my mid and low performers saw me demonstrating skills I had taught in training and it reinforced that training because I could prove I not only talked the talk but could walk the walk. Finally, I dialed because they LOVED it. Seriously, everyone likes to see their boss do their job and it’s good leadership to join in on Saturday morning when nobody wants to be there.
Opportunities to lead are everywhere if you are looking for them. in everything, you do someone is watching and learning. My goal every day is to make sure they learn something positive.
Well 2013 is officially here. To be honest, I’m pretty excited. I learned a lot about myself (both good and bad) in 2012 and I am 100% committed to bettering myself this year. So… what do I have in mind? I lost 30 pounds in 2012, but I think I can do better I’m shooting for 50 more pounds gone by year-end! I’m also really focused on finishing my Ed Doctorate… It NEEDS to get done. As for my career, I am committing to being a more focused coach and trainer. I have been active but not to the degree I feel I could be. If I want to move my career forward I need to not only finish school I need to take production to the next level. I’m also placing a big priority on my family this year. Not that it wasn’t a priority in the first place, but I want to make sure I spend the quality time with them that they deserve. So here is my bullet pointed list of priorities for 2013 in no particular order:
Eat Palio 90% of the time
Drop another 50 pounds
Complete the 100 push-up, 100 sit-up and 150 squat challenge.
Start racing again
Complete and defend my dissertation
Spend more quality time with my wife, children, and friends.
More games less TV
Read for 1 hour every day
Write for 1 hour every day
When I’m at work be 100% focused on work and when I’m home be 100% focused on home life.
Learn to relax!
So that’s it in a nut shell I have a loose plan to be healthier and more successful with both my career and family. The theme of this year is gong to be about balance and that’s tough for me because I tend to be a person who goes to extremes and I’m sure we will be talking about that in the next few weeks.
Sales managers… What are you doing for your staff? I know you hold training sessions, set goals, monitor performance, and keep people accountable. We all do those things. What separates great sales managers from the average is the ability to help salespeople build good habits, learn discipline and follow a consistent selling system.
We all want every sale to be form fit to the customer based on a relationship we have developed and leveraged over time. This helps us develop an ideal solution for each client. I also know that most salespeople will use this desire for appointment customization and relationship building to fight you on the development of any sort of sales system. I am here to tell you this is a huge mistake. Systematization is central to effective selling. It keeps us on track, it prevents us from forgetting key steps in the process, and it ensures we are efficient with our time.
This does not have to be complicated, but it helps to have a strategy. Imagine a football team trying to play a game with no pre-set plays? Nobody knows what is going to happen next and while some plays will work, most will end in disaster. Are the players inflexible and unable to customize when running plays from the playbook? No, because they have a set of option strategies they can implement to adjust plays. My goal for my staff is to provide them a framework to follow and then give them a series of plays and options to run based on what they find. This leaves them free to do what they need to but they are never far from the known path.
Example: My Telemarketing Strategy
For an appointment setting call for my staff the framework looks like this:
I have them write this on a piece of paper and make sure they have covered every point before asking for an appointment… The “Plays” are how we move from point to point depending on how things are going. It’s not a lock step script just a simple framework that lets them know where they are and when they have enough information to ask for an appointment.
For Further Study
I love Brian Tracy’s Advanced Selling Strategies. In this book, Brian will share with you strategies, tactics, and the mindset you need to develop your own system and close more deals. If you are looking for more of a cookbook approach I think you should consider Neil Rackham’s SPIN Selling. Unquestionably the best-documented account of sales success ever collected and the result of the Huthwaite corporation’s massive 12-year, $1-million dollar research into effective sales performance. This groundbreaking resource details the revolutionary SPIN (Situation, Problem, Implication, Need-payoff) strategy.
So let me ask you this: Does every member of your team have a well thought-out strategy or are you letting them shoot from the hip?