In one of my recent Facebook lives, I discussed how to engage with your audience using valuable content. If you’d rather listen than read, I suggest you check out the video by clicking here: (LINK) Otherwise, keep scrolling!
Engaging with Valuable Content is Step 4 in creating your social selling strategy.
I think everyone is aware by now that I am in the process of writing my first book on social selling. In my book, I break down my strategy into 5 sections:
So, let's take a look at some of the ground rules of engaging with valuable content so we can break this down even further...
“Content marketing is marketing that provides free media-type content to customers in exchange for their attention.” Neil Patel.
Rule no. 1 – Do NOT be Self Serving
How do you know what your target market considers valuable?
Well, if you ask this question, you are not alone. In a 2016 study, 65% of marketers were challenged when it came to understanding which types of content are effective and which types aren’t.
In order to make content for your target market that they find valuable, you make it about THEM. Not about YOU. Take a look at their pain points and solve a problem they’re having. All of your content MUST provide some sort of value for your target market.
Today, 96% of the most successful content marketers agree their audience views their organization as a credible and trusted resource. They have accomplished this through providing relevant content to their readers.
In Step 3, Find the Right People, you worked on a deep understanding of your target market. So, you should already know what pain points they’re having that YOU can solve for them with your unique offering.
Today, we are going to cover meeting the right market with the right message in the right place at the right time on a consistent basis. Whew, can you say that fast without breathing? LOL.
Rule no. 2 – Know How to Reach Your Audience
Let’s get into it.
Who is it for?
If you want to ditch the old antiquated ways of cold calling and embrace today's art of social selling then today's information is for you. We are breaking this down to the basics.
What is valuable content?
The words on a page, or on your website, information, the text you type in a tweet, the hashtags you use on an Instagram post, all of this is content.
What makes it valuable?
That my dear friends, this is the crux of our training today…so let's talk about it.
The definition of value is like tasting a fine wine or buying a piece of art. It's specific to the person that's digesting the content. It’s specific to the person’s tastes and preferences. Information can be considered valuable by your readers when it is useful, educational, relevant, compelling, and or high-quality and impacts or influences their buying decision. One thing not to be left out is to always be genuine and authentic because that's how we roll.
Where do you use valuable content?
Where your customers are. Let me repeat that, you have taken the time to understand where your customers consume the information, you understand them and the problems you're solving and so you know the answer to this question. We talked about this in Step 3, Find the Right People.
You understand your target market, where they consume their information, and what platforms they are engaging with others in your niche, this is where you'll interact with your content.
Why is it important?
Valuable content is important because it can help you grow your business. Enough said!
Rule no. 3 – Be Consistent
When do I do it?
Let's revisit my chart from Step 2 when we were working on Defining Your Online Goals.
Understanding where your target market is in their buying decision is also understanding where they are in your sales process, funnel, pipeline. Whatever word resonates with you.
It’s imperative to remain consistent when providing valuable content. You don’t want to give valuable content from time to time and just run. You want to be present and continue the trend to prove to your target market that YOU are a thought-leader in your niche, and you are here to stay.
By remaining consistent, you build awareness around you and your brand. Awareness eventually becomes lead generation which then turns into conversions and sales. Your target market then adopts the value you’re providing and implements it as their own which helps you create those loyal raving fans you so desire.
Rule no. 4 – Provide Value Before You Ask for Anything
How aware are your leads that you exist? We are absolutely not selling in this phase. We are providing value before we are asking for anything.
We are letting your target market know what makes your brand unique, and what problem it is that you are able to solve. Expose your target audience to your brand content. You are looking for mental market share. Top of mind awareness.
Examples of awareness and educational content include (but are not limited to):
Step 2 – Consideration
By the time your prospective customers have reached the consideration stage, they have a more thorough understanding of their problem, pain or need. However, they have yet to identify solutions. Here you have captured their attention.
Rule no. 5 – Do NOT Guess, ASK What Pains Your Customer
In order to create valuable content, you have to cater to your target markets pain points by identifying what those pain points are and how your solution can solve them.
When learning what pain points your target market faces, do not guess. Ask them! You can do this by reaching out personally, creating different content to see what performs best, OR learn more about them by seeing what they are posting on a daily basis through various social channels.
Here’s some content suggestions to create in order to address those pain points (once you know what those pain points are) and help to solve them:
Rule no. 6 – Use Educational Content to Nurture Your Audience
3. Decision - When people enter the decision stage, they are ready to buy. At this level they are considered in the middle of your sales funnel. This is where prospective customers start eliminating solutions that aren’t a good fit.
They have determined their options in the consideration stage, and they are looking for information on why they should choose your brand.
In a HubSpot article, I read that, “Companies with refined middle-of-the-funnel engagement and lead management strategy see a 4–10 times higher response rate compared to generic email blasts and outreach. Nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% lift in sales opportunities.”
This is where you finally get to talk about the benefits of your product or service. Your buyers are now qualified, well informed about their issue and thoroughly understand their needs, pains and their options for meeting it. You have entered the nurturing phase. Welcome. This is typically the longest part of the sales funnel. You are building relationships.
In my messaging, I use the words, KNOW, LIKE, and TRUST. In this phase, you are building TRUST.
They now want to know how you are going to back up the claims you are making and how you have done this for other clients like them. They want to know why you are the expert. You want to help people determine if they are a good fit for you or not.
Rule no. 7 – Create Quality Content
Quality content can come in a variety of forms. Some of the best, most high quality content can be like the examples listed below:
4. Acceptance –
Your buyer made it to the bottom of your funnel. Your buyer has committed to a solution. They are ready to buy.
How do you make sure they choose you?
This is where you create the contract, talk about on-boarding them, implementing your solution and what it looks like to begin service. They expect great customer service and performance from your product or service from beginning to end.
Now is the time when your customer is looking for justification for their purchase. They need the final nudge and they need it from you.
Types of content used in this “bottom of the funnel” stage:
Rule no. 8 – Understand the Changing Social Algorithms
5. Community/Advocacy – Your customers could become interested in expanding their opportunities to work with you. Maybe they are considering an upgrade, extension or an additional purchase with you.
In this stage, you need to keep in touch with them to stay on top of mind. Here are some examples that work best:
Rule no. 9 – Build a Community
Man, this is a big one.
Key findings from the Content Marketing Institute found that only 23% of content marketers are building communities and looking for audience participation to bring new voices to the table.
How are you going to stay relevant if you are not building raving fans and listening to them?
Share your target markets relevant content, create live discussions, participate in Facebook groups and other social media platforms, and be responsive to your target market online.
Rule no. 10 – Create a Documented Social Selling Strategy
The biggest benefits to you in creating a written Social Selling Strategy is that it aligns you and or your team’s processes with your online goals and it simplifies the decisions of which types of content you are going to develop and ultimately have your team use to engage with your target market.
Be unique, be memorable, and grow your revenue.
Happy selling and thank you for taking the time to learn my methods for engaging the right people with valuable content.
Why are you online?
Why do you have a Facebook page? Why do you have a Twitter account? Why do you have a YouTube channel and why are you actively searching for connections on a platform like LinkedIn?
Social media has changed the way the world operates. The uptake of these platforms is changing how we conduct business, how we stay in touch with our loved ones, how we access information around the world and potentially how we get our information to ultimately make a voting decision for putting people into political office.
My question to you today is what is your goal for actively being engaged on social platforms? Let's put aside for now our personal reasons, focus solely on the business aspects of social media.
Define Your Online Goals
Let’s start with understanding more about digital marketing goal setting. On one of my vision boards, I have a sticker that says, “A goal without a plan is just a wish”. I would even go as far as to say it is a pipedream.
What is the difference? A pipedream is a fantasy or a mere thought or a hope. A hope that someday, if you dream hard and long enough, the dream fairy or my dear friend Frida the llamacorn, is going to show up at your front door and just hand your dream.
I am sorry to be the lady with the stick pin bursting your dream bubble. Yes, my dear llamacorn, while I firmly believe, you can have everything in your personal and your professional life, before you begin, you must know what you want. You must also have a plan. Included in said plan are a set of objectives or steps you must take to reach the goal and a method of measuring your efforts and the results of those efforts. You want to take control of your life and your brand because why would you let someone else do it for you?
Your Online Social Metrics
OK, let’s get busy. We are focusing on your online social metrics. Much of your online strategy is born from your goals. You don’t need to go hog wild here. Choose the goals and metrics that are the best for YOUR business and represent YOUR goals.
When setting your online goals, remember to make them SMART.
What are examples of online goals?
The items you choose to monitor need to express something strategic about what you are planning to accomplish. What type of impact do you want the actions that you take to have on your business?
We are going to talk about setting goals to create content that nurtures a prospect through their buying stages. The social media strategy you create should align with your goals to nurture your buyer’s journey.
The Buyers’ Journey
In business we talk about the “buyers’ journey”. Breaking that down, it’s the process someone goes through before and after they make a purchase. There are many versions of this concept. In the chart above, you can see the summary of how we wrap all of this up into an executable strategy with online goals that are in line with a clear impact on business. The type of social activity you use differs for each step of the buyer’s journey and so do the KPIs you would measure.
Let me help you out a bit:
Now let’s talk about the online goals you could be setting that will help you achieve the impact that we gave in the example above.
KPIs are Not Random
Next we will establish the key metrics or key performance indicators (KPI) that you could measure to understand if you are moving in the right directions to meet your objectives or online goals.
Below are items to consider when you are determining your KPIs:
Digital or online marketing includes a plethora of possibilities. I want to give you a list of items that can be measured in SMART terms using metrics. It is a good idea to match up your online goals not only with where you are in your business, but also plan to meet your buyers where they are on their buying journey.
When you create your digital marketing KPIs, you will be assigning numbers to each of them. Since you will be setting SMART goals and KPIs your strategy will be poised for success.
Examples of Digital Key Performance Indicators:
The key to planning your goals is understand where you are today and what your business objectives are. Build a strategy to accomplish your objectives and then decide how you are going to measure your progress and success. Always keep in mind that you are moving your buyers along a journey to ultimately have a positive, measurable impact on your business.
In an upcoming blog post, I will break down how to engage with valuable content in each of the steps and suggest types of content to use in your strategy.
As always, thank you for being in my community, good luck and happy selling!
Watch the video to learn more about this topic below!
Authentic relationships seem to be more and more a thing of the past. Does the thought of building an
authentic relationship offline, with an online contact seem daunting or complicated?
In order to stand out from the noisy world, and be successful, you need to adapt quickly. By following
these 8 simple tips, you can build relationships instead of just connections with people from behind the screen without spamming them.
In the Building Your Digital Personal Brand video, we spoke about finding your people. Watch the replay here.
By now, you know your personal values, your mission statement and you have a clear vision for your life and your business, right? So, with your tribe surrounding you, let’s talk about how I have built meaningful relationships with my own online connections.
Many of you have heard my story, but just in case you haven’t, it goes a little like this.
Jumping back into the late 60’s with me for a moment. What was going on in the world?
Now my dad did not want to take part in raising me, so, until July of 2018, I had never met him. I chose Ancestry.com to look for him because my friend "Ricky Bobby" had just found his biological family with great success, and I thought, what the hell. It's my turn.
When my DNA results came back, the results confirmed that my family name was Nunez. I was related to about 1,000 people. BTW as of last night, I am related to 78, 101 people out there in Ancestry’s database. Three thousand of them are 4th -6th-degree cousins or closer.
Imagine going from an only child with no living parents to looking at this screen that was looking back at me and feeding me up this information?
Why do I bring this story up? Well, it’s a story of taking 3,000 online connections and focusing on building relationships. Now I understand that this is more of a personal story, but I am telling you, you can apply the principles to your professional life, because I have. I went on to turn these online stone-cold connections into family and now I am a part of the Nunez-Dorame tribe.
My target audience
3,000 people that I did not know, but I had someone in common with, yet they did not know me. They did not know how I found them, and they did not know my story. Yes, I had something to sell to them, ME, but they were not aware that they even had a problem yet. That problem would be they didn’t have me or my sweet boys in their lives.
Let’s take a step back and look at where you are today with your network and where you are networking. You can’t fish in a barrel with a worm when all the fish in there prefer stink bait. You need to find the barrel that has fish jumping out of the water saying, “WORM, WORM!”
Let’s create some definitions around Connections vs. Relationships
A connection is a relationship in which a person, thing, or idea is linked or associated with something else.
A personal connection occurs when one life form takes the time to acknowledge another. You show a non-threatening interest and the other person positively responds.
A professional or business connection involves a relation between businesses or humans which yields profits or gains and some activity which contributes directly or indirectly to the earning of profits or gains.
Now let’s allow those three definitions sizzle for just a moment while I hop over to tell you a bit more about how I went on to build relationships with my Nunez family.
Here’s what I knew. Ancestry showed two connections that were my immediate family. However, those two people were identified with only initials. Their profiles and direct access to them were not available. The personal handling their profiles wasn’t returning any of my messages.
Does this also sound familiar? You know the ultimate decision maker in an organization, maybe there are two of them, and the administrative assistant or the gatekeeper doesn’t return your calls or email messages or if they do it’s with a comment like, I will give your message to (fill in the blank) and if they are interested they will get back to you.
Now what do you do? This is like the ultimate cold call. You blast onto the stage with a message, a piece of information that you KNOW could change a person’s life or the way they do business and you CANNOT reach the person you need to in order to deliver your information. In my case, it was ME!
This is why social selling is so effective! It no longer has to be this way.
OK now that you have your connections on the social platform you have decided to use, how are you going to take that connection and move it over to actually build a relationship?
Remember, people are searching for people on social networks, even on LinkedIn. Personal relationships are relationships between people with shared understanding, mutual trust and social bonding. Then what happens? Communication!
You start the exchange of personal information and later share mutual experiences. It’s a two way communication that takes place.
Here are my 8 tips to help you build your authentic offline relationships
1. Reach out about a topic that your connection may be interested in.
Your goal here is to share an experience. You are going to reach out to them about a topic that they may be interested in. How do you find that topic?
● You ASK! You don’t guess.
● You send a message to them like what have you been working on this week?
● How has your week been going?
● I see your alma matter is playing mine this week, are you ready to get beat?
Send them a message by asking a question. Here's an example “Hey, I noticed yesterday you were serving Moroccan food in your office (because you looked at a post they shared, and they said what it was) and I absolutely love cous-cous and would love to visit Morocco. If I lived closer, I would have taken you up on the invitation to come by to the lunch!”
2. Get to know the person.
Do your homework. It’s not hard to see the digital footprint people have created online.
● Spend time on the platform and find out who the person is connected to.
● Where do they work?
● Where do they live?
● What topics do they comment on?
● What groups do they belong to?
I have another fun story which I have told before, I was on an SWA flight, and I was seated by a member of our armed forces. He was young and happy and a little too broad-shouldered to be sitting in a middle seat, but that allowed me to strike up a conversation and ask him what he was up to? It turned out he was flying to San Diego, where his girlfriend, who was also in the military, was stationed. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a ring box. He was flying to SD to propose to the love of his life. For the rest of the flight, we schemed and strategized about how he was going to propose.
“What do women like? Should I get down on my knee? Will we make the sunset? Should I do it at the beach or at the airport?”
We had so much fun talking and planning on the flight. I took a photo of him with the ring and also wrote about it in one of my blogs. He had a problem, how to best propose to his girlfriend? And I had a ton of solutions. In the end, he couldn’t wait and proposed in the parking lot at the airport, and she said yes! Another closed deal.
3. Give more and expect nothing.
Now in my DNA case, at first, I had nothing to give. I was working with blind faith. The faith that someone on the ancestry platform was going to drop a small snippet of information that I could pick up and then carry with me to the next set of messages. I was hoping the knowledge I picked up could be used to fill a void or connect the dots for how we were related.
I encourage you to take the necessary time to understand the people you are connected to on your chosen platform. If you can’t find common ground, look for mutual connections, and ask them if they know the person and what they can share about them.
Can they make an introduction? How do they know them? What type of relationship do they have?
My question to you is, what are you doing to help your network? How are you giving without looking to receive? Are you blasting your network with “download my FREE checklist,” “get on a FREE call with
me”? OR are you genuinely looking into their needs, wants, and gaps and trying to fill them?
4. Share your network.
I often find that people on LinkedIn don’t have their profiles up to date. I’ve spoken to entrepreneurs on LinkedIn, and they are looking for a job and turning their business into a side gig. I’ve also met people super unhappy where they currently are employed.
As I started to find this common theme, I asked myself what I would want if I were looking to change positions or find a new one? I would need an updated resume, an updated LinkedIn profile, and maybe even a career coach. I set out to find in my network people in various areas that specialized in resumes and career coaching. I sought out, interviewed, and put together a list of career coaches that I could refer my network too, and guess what? I have referred four people so far in this one category. I am giving to them, not to receive, but to truly provide value to people in an area where they have asked for help.
5. Use Video.
This year I was asked to judge the Women in Sales Awards as part of ZIA Publishing out of the UK. What I found from these beautiful young women is that they were all incorporating video into their selling
Types of video to consider:
● Power points with voice-overs
● Personalized how-to videos
● “Car Wisdom” videos which are thank yous or tips that you just picked up on the road about a product in the field.
● Loom, Bomb Bomb or Bonjoro
Video gives reality to your message. The way you talk, your intention, your body language. Using video allows you to personalize your messages and helps to create relationships. It takes the next step from
a text in black and white with an emoji or two thrown into a recording of you. They can see you living and breathing and taking the time to record a message to your connection.
6. Get Connections on the Telephone.
I have a support team that works through my LinkedIn connections and sets up appointments to get my network on the phone for me. It is my goal to speak to as many of my connections as I can because I am all about building relationships not just connections.
Some people are skeptical at first, they want to know what I am selling to them. I explain, I am writing a book about Social Selling, I want to know what is working for them, what isn’t working in the world of
social selling and specifically on LinkedIn and how I might be able to support them.
7. Grow Your Email List.
I ask each of my connections personally if I can add them to my email list so they can receive tips and tricks that I pick up along the way? No one has said no.
I send a follow-up email or message after the call. I treat my email list like an insider’s club. I clearly explain that I want them to stand out loud in their chosen field, and I hope they find my tips valuable. If at any time they don’t, they can unsubscribe or tell me what I can do to improve.
8. Always Say Thank You.
Sending a thank-you note may seem obvious. You learned this from your parents long ago - to say Thank You! However, what is the best and preferred method to say Thank You to your connections?
I surveyed decision-makers in my network. Here are some of the data out of that survey:
There you have it, my eight tips to move your online connections over into the offline relationship category which will ultimately help you increase sales conversions and grow your revenue.
Want to learn more about taking your online connections and turning them into authentic relationships? Download the checklist by clicking the button below. And don't forget to watch the replay video by clicking here.
Good luck and happy selling!
We All Have a Story
When I sit down and look back on what I have achieved in my life, and in business, I realize it has been the result of a lot of hard work and planning. I have enjoyed a successful career in my chosen field. I have traveled, my list of friends overflows my fingers and my toes, and my children are happy and thriving. I, by an outsider's view, have lived a successful life. But what if I don't feel successful? What if I feel like I haven't reached my full potential, and as a result, I have failed?
In 2007, at age 40, I had a baby. It was my goal to have a baby before 41. On my first day back to work from maternity leave, I was met at the elevator by HR with a pink slip. After almost 12 years with the employer, I was emotionally devastated. I spent my 12 years there championing their cause, their dreams, and their profits. Where was I to turn? I was single, no one to depend on, and was blessed with two young children to raise. Success or failure?
Entrepreneurship as a vehicle to accomplish goals
I bought a few companies and merged them together. My goal was to never work for big corporate America again. I sought entrepreneurship as a vehicle to accomplish that goal. The two businesses were in the real estate space. We don't need to revisit what happened in 2008-2009 in Arizona with the real estate market crash, let's just say it didn't work out so well. I lost it all. Even my home. Success or failure?
Back to work, I went. My goal, this time, was survival. I spent the next 10 years building another successful company's cause. Helping the founder reach his dreams and to earn his profits. Once again, I helped to develop a brand and a multimillion-dollar business as a contributor. A contributor that was unappreciated and expendable, and only as good as my last deal. Success or failure?
Do you see a pattern?
While I set goals and accomplished them, I have spent the majority of my life defining my success by a yardstick that has no finish line. I have defined my success by my career, by my bank account and by the journey of others. I have come to realize that the journey to build my own success is a labyrinth of my own paths. Paths that only I can choose to take. It may feel like a marathon, but ultimately the finish line is mine to step over.
For the past two years, I have done a lot of goal setting to build my own successful brand. A personal brand and reputation that I could take with me to what I deemed a worthy cause. I set a goal to speak, I got on stage and spoke. I had a goal to write, I wrote. I knew I needed to learn more, I studied. I look for gaps then I work to fill those gaps. I look internally at areas that cause pain, and I make a change. I sought and found mentors, I ask relevant questions, I've done homework. I started implementing one focused subject at a time. I used two ears and one mouth. I became more aware of the actions that I take. I realized there was no reaction needed. I danced. I became aware.
In my awakening, I could hear messages from others that were perhaps always there, only now I was able to appreciate their words. I reached a point of realization that it isn't OK for me to wake up and jump on the hamster wheel with the masses. If I want to stand out in the world and create my own success and be the change I want to see, it needs to start the moment I wake up. I need to live with purpose. I need to know my mission in life, my values, I need to define my success on my own terms to achieve it. You see, I can make life happen for me and not to me. I am the victor, not the victim.
How do you define success?
It's a question that I challenge all my coaching clients with leaving many of them dazed and confused, unable to articulate a response.
If I were to ask you the same question, "how do you define success?" would you respond the same way as my clients have? Are you are nodding your head, yes, thinking, I just never thought of that question? I would venture to say that many industry professionals, even the ones we perceive as successful, still can't define what success means. So hey, you are not alone.
Everyone should define what success looks like. Whether it's personal or professional. I find that many people cannot put their finger on what success looks like for them. Maybe, success isn't really a thing that can be defined? Perhaps, success is the actual journey we take to reach our goals?
So, how do you define success?
So often, success is defined by someone else's limited definition of the term. This makes it challenging to wrap our minds around what success means in our own narrative. Whether we're looking at success from a personal aspect in parenting or relationships or if we're looking at success from an individual approach like in our careers - success can mean so many different things. So, I ask you, is there really an exact measurement?
There's no exact measurement of success, only how you perceive it. The only person who can define and measure success is YOU. I'm just giving you the outline you need to determine this for yourself.
"Success isn't a destination; it's a journey."
Success can feel very much like happiness. It feels good to be at the top. We all want our hard work to pay off, or we wouldn't put in the effort. It's the satisfaction that feels good rather than a tangible result.
Some may look at success as the amount of money in their bank account, while others look at success by the number of lives they've changed, including their own. Defining success all depends on yourself and the way you measure it in your mind.
Defining success impacts every aspect of your life. Motivation, confidence, sense of accomplishment, and even stress levels. Success is the underlying factor that keeps everything moving forward because the idea of success gives you something to strive for. This brings up a valid point - to achieve any form of success, you must set goals.
You can't define success without having goals.
If I were to ask you what you want to do in your life, and you respond with, "I don't know," you won't be able to define success. You can't reach success without having goals.
Let's say you were able to paint a picture of what your ideal life or career might be. Maybe it's having the perfect house on a beach or an income that allows you to afford a house on the beach - this ideal life and career could be defined as success. To achieve this "idea" of success, you would be required to set goals for yourself. Once you've reached those goals, no doubt, you would have reached your own definition of success.
Is this hitting home? Do you see what I mean when I say you can't achieve success without having goals? When you know the direction in which you want to go, you determine the goals you want to create to get you there. Once you reach your destination because you set those goals in place, you can feel the sweet satisfaction of arrival, making the process along your journey feel like a success.
Success is a feeling.
Just know, the definition of what success is, will be different for everyone. It all depends on your circumstances, your goals, and the unique situations that define you.
Some of the best questions to ponder while contemplating YOUR success feeling include subjects like money, lifestyle, and career. When exploring these topics, it's clear you can't reach any milestones without setting goals for yourself. Without goals, success isn't possible. So, let's look at a few of those questions:
How much money do I want to make?
How many hours do I want to work in a week to achieve that money?
Most importantly, how do I want to feel when working in my chosen career?
These questions make it possible to set goals for yourself and to determine what success feels like to you. Once you reach those goals, you will achieve success!
Now that you've read this let me ask you again, "How do you define success?"
In your own words, describe in the comment below how you envision success for yourself. If you are unsure of how you picture your success as an entrepreneur, let's chat!
How to Increase the Value of Relationships Through Powerful Teamwork
Last month, we loaded up my car first, then my son’s Mini Cooper with the goods from his teenage man cave. We left San Diego for the trek North embarking on the start of a brand-new college school year. He in his car alone feeling nervous and excited, me alone in mine, 30 minutes behind making sure I kept a stiff upper lip, no tears and a different kind of nervous tension. My baby is off again for his Sophomore year to create new relationships and to be a part of a new team, #teamChapman.
As we checked into his first on-campus apartment at Chapman University, the smile he had on his face stretched from ear to ear. He was so eager and enthusiastic he even commented, “I don’t know why I feel like this is the first day of college all over again. I can't even tell you what I did last year, but I know this year is gonna be great.”
Everything went off without a glitch. Check-in was smooth, expectations were handed out, his name was on his door and poof, the teamwork and preparation made by Chapman University did not disappoint.
In a past LinkedIn article, I've written about how the first day of school is very similar to the first day of starting a new job. In this blog post I am going to go way out on a limb to say that this type of excitement and nervous tension, not only happens on the first day of school or when you start a new job, but it’s the same type of excitement and anticipation that can be experienced by existing employees, business owners, and even returning college students.
Let’s take a look at opportunities where we can experience this type of feeling. For example, a new project, a product launch, a promotion, the first airing of a podcast, on-boarding a whale of a new client...all these actions and more can elicit very similar emotions. What if we could bottle the “new beginnings” emotion and unleash the power to build stronger teams or create growth?
Before we emote “new beginnings”, we need to make sure the infrastructure is in place from the top down, to support and foster the teamwork and growth that we are looking to create. My goal is to help sales professionals and entrepreneurs understand and be aware of the impact they have on the people around them. Awareness begins when you recognize the company culture you have created. The continuous use of acronyms and inside jokes may not be understood by a new person walking into the meeting and it could be considered as unwelcoming to them.
What steps can we take to make sure our colleagues, affiliates or partners feel like they are a part of the team?
How about we start with not guessing? Take the time to poll your employees and find out where you are today and how your employees, affiliates or partners felt when they were just getting started with you.
Here are a few tips to consider:
As my graphic implies, Together Everyone Accomplishes More. Teamwork is a combined action of a group, one or more. A CEO or team leader needs to clarify the different roles that will be part of a team. Sports teams have specific players that make up their roster. Baseball teams wouldn’t be successful if they recruited for only pitchers, and hitters. They look for defense and speed as well. When assembling teams, put thought into what needs to be accomplished. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of your team members and help set them up for success from the very beginning. Define the roles that make up the team and establish the value that each role brings to the larger project.
I believe it's safe to say that we know investors invest in the people that run the companies, not so much their ideas. Customers buy from companies that have a clear why. Good leaders inspire employees with their vision and their mission. What do they all have in common? All of these ideas, investments, and transactions are based on building relationships. One of the best ways to build lasting, meaningful relationships with anyone is to connect with them emotionally, make them feel noticed, let them know they are important and worthy of your time. When we value others, we increase the value of ourselves—we become aware and we grow as a result. Think about the opposite of this statement, Psychology Today states, “when we devalue someone else, we devalue ourselves—our sense of wellbeing deteriorates, we violate our basic humanity to some degree, and become more narrow and rigid in perspective, all of which impair growth and development.”
ENCOURAGE TEAM BUILDING ACTIVITIES
Researchers and bloggers write about improving communication. What better way to increase the line of communication than taking people out of their normal work environment and fostering this through activities? The whole act of a team-building activity mirrors that of internal team building. Teams are created, roles are given, and each role has a specific value. Members have to communicate to finish the activity, there is a goal that is set or a finish line and in the end, the winners celebrate their successes and the losers never hear the end of it back at the office. In the end, everyone that participates gets to know each other just a little better. Getting to know each other helps to understand the style and effectiveness of team communications.
I want to challenge you to make sure that you're aware of the inclusive feelings that you are creating in your corporations and in your teams. Ensure that you're making outsiders feel welcome. Continue to share success stories with upper management, the entire team and with other shareholders in an effort to make sure they have a valuable impact. When you share testimonials or results (positive or negative) about the project, the company or the culture, everyone becomes a stakeholder.
I've created a FREE printable checklist that you can refer to that has all of the above items as well as 10 additional actions you can take to make people feel important and welcome on your team.
If you are struggling to build stronger teams and promote growth in your business, this checklist is exactly what you need to help you figure out the missing pieces in your puzzle.
Download your FREE printable checklist by clicking the button below.
“Do you suppose we’ll meet any wild animals?” asks Dorothy, “well some," replies the Tin Man. Have you ever attended a networking event and it felt like you were entering the dark forest? I bet Dorothy and the crew didn't expect me to drag their dark forest into the chaos of attending industry events, but I did.
We take part in these events because they are all a necessary part of sales and business.
I’ve met people that despise working tradeshow booths or prefer to sit at their desk and live in a digital world. There's no one magic event or channel that is the be-all-end-all solution to successful marketing, but in my opinion, if you are going to make an effort to attend, exhibit or network, then you need to go all in to make it a success.
I used to live in Orlando, and every trade show you can imagine happened in Florida, or at least it felt like that to me. Because I was “local” I was at them all.
I had to create a mindset that allowed me to enjoy standing on my feet all day long handing out stuffed animals to people. Most of said people had no idea what we were selling and more times than not; they were the "guest" loading up on our $5 freemiums for the kiddos back home. I now affectionately call myself a booth junkie because I learned to love them. The mind game I constructed was to interact with as many people in my target market as possible in as many languages as I could speak (OK there's only three so don't get FOMO on me).
Whether you're an attendee, a presenter, or an exhibitor, there are specific strategies and mindset that you can put in place to get the maximum results from your efforts. It's how you go about getting ready for these events ahead of time, that makes attending in person, more productive. Let’s take a look at activities that you can do to support a productive event.
What to do BEFORE an Event
Before you attend a trade show, seminar, or networking event, you need to document what it is you hope to accomplish by attending the event, set simple goals. Once you have your goals down, you can start to build a strategy that will keep you focused. Yeah, here I go again talking about planning a strategy. However, in life, and business, some things are entirely out of our control. It's when we capitalize on the few precious items that are within our control where you can set a clear strategy, amplify your efforts and set yourself apart from the competition.
Ready, Set, Go – Strategic Planning for Events
There’s no need to walk through the dark forest and sneak up on the cowardly lion when you can let him know in advance that you are on your way.
The strategy you prepare in advance will include a list of people (speakers and attendees) to meet, vendors and talks to attend. Be clear and make sure to start with the subjects that caused you to want to participate in the event in the first place. For example, if you're going to a trade show because you're looking for a new software vendor, then you need to outline the functionality that you have identified will solve your problems before you leave your office. Make a phone call ahead of time and schedule an appointment with someone in the booth for a demo.
Connect with the Speakers on Social Media
Another tip is to look ahead of time at the list of speakers that are going to be presenting. When you are setting your strategy and intention for the event, you know ahead of time the skills or content that you're seeking. Only attend the events that will add value to help you achieve your goals. It's helpful to visit the speakers’ LinkedIn or Twitter profiles and connect with them in advance. Make sure you know the hashtag for the event and search for what everyone is talking about or promoting. If you feel networking with the speaker will help you, then reach out to them directly and let them know that you're looking forward to listening to their topic because you feel the value they will be delivering will have a direct impact on you and your company. You may be surprised; they might want to connect with you and offer one on one assistance on their subject matter of expertise because it is their passion.
Networking with a Purpose
If you are going to an event to network, make sure you network with intention. Don't shoot the s*** with people that will not help you move forward in your business or career. Understand what you're looking for in a new relationship, potential employee/employer, or mentor. Then, seek to connect with people or companies that actually possess the skill set you are looking for. I get it, hanging out with your colleagues is great and sometimes fun because you only get to see them occasionally. But ask yourself this question, “is my time, which is my most valuable asset, best spent with people that are not helping me reach my goals?” I am not dissing your BFF colleagues that perhaps can help you reach your goals, but you can talk to these peeps at any time because you work for the same company. Resist bellying up to the bar to whine and moan (and if this is the activity at an event you most look forward to attending, you may want to visit my last blog on personal values, just saying). Get yourself out with your key targets and biggest clients. Schmooze, add value, connect and build rapport.
Networking is Not Like a Baseball Trading Card Game
Let’s get something straight. Networking is not like a baseball trading card game where the goal is to see how many business cards you can gather. No, no, and no. Networking is simply building intentional relationships with people. Uncle Google says Networking is the exchange of information and ideas among people with a common profession or special interest, usually in an informal social setting. I am sure there are lots of books and blogs out in the WWW that you can read to help you with the latest and greatest speed, snap, networking technique, but don’t over complicate things. Head to your next networking event and connect with people that are your tribe. You have two ears and one mouth, listen twice as much as you speak. Find out how you can help people and bridge connections. Be of service, create value, and then, when you truly have a clear ASK, people will be lining up at the chance to help you with what you need. Please give it a whirl and let me know how it works out for you.
There you have it, my thoughts on how to strategically tame the lions and tigers and bears, in the dark forest. Follow your own yellow brick roadmap and make adequate time before any event to get clear on WHY you are going, WHAT you expect to learn, and WHOM you need to meet. Set simple goals for yourself and take action. As a result, you will achieve faster success and higher productivity. You will come home with tons of value to begin implementing immediately, and maybe one day, you too will be a booth junkie.
Good luck and happy selling.
Doesn't that title sound like some type of self-help utopia? A healthier life, lower stress, and a happier workplace seem like such heavy subjects that they should have their own article for each topic, but I am going to tie them all together and talk about setting boundaries. In an age of meditation, self-help gurus and Tony Robbins’ Fire Walkers, you would think this topic is covered more often but it’s not, at least not in corporate America. You’re in luck, I’m not only going to write about it, but I am going to make it simple, I’m talking basic building blocks for utopic transformation. Turn on your favorite Tibetan monk chant song, light a candle and read on.
First, I want to introduce you to a Rita Goodroe, a Business Strategist who has a fabulous Facebook group that I have really enjoyed this month, The Women’s Garden. A kick butt group with a bunch of get shit done women. It was during a recent challenge that a garden member asked, “how do you establish boundaries with your clients?” I had to stop and think for a moment before I contributed to the answer because recently I had a similar situation with an employee and a client that were both pushing hard on my own after hours personal boundary, like seriously invading my red wine cozy up to the fire, snuggle time. I was like, whoa, maybe some people don’t get personal boundaries? I decided to dig in deep and deconstruct how I would teach this to someone, so I could quickly return to my bear rug bliss.
Establishing Boundaries in Sales is Sometimes Complicated
I know it’s hard to pull out your llamacorn badassery all the time, but this one is super important to get right. I understand it, establishing boundaries in sales is sometimes complicated, and those lines get fuzzy even when you’re not sleepy. You spend a lot of time building that ever special client rapport, you’ve shared stories, you see them more frequently than your BFF, and you probably have that yummy feeling in your tummy that you genuinely give a shit about the person. You may even feel like you have become friends …whoop, whoop red flag warning. The same goes with your work colleagues a little too much sharing around the water cooler and the next thing you know they are giving you relationship advice, not a good thing. What about your sales manager that you drive halfway across the state to kill the hours you have to spend with them in the car? It’s four hours of windshield time, so it’s easy to reveal a lot about your latest date night or family drama… warning get out of the shark infested waters. Recognize these as opportunities to honor your personal boundaries and resist the temptation to overshare.
It is crucial to have boundaries in both your personal and your professional life. Establishing these boundaries early on will make your future interactions with your clients, colleagues, and persons of interest that much more enjoyable because the limits will be set and enforcing them will be like rolling out of bed in the morning, easy peasy. Alrighty then, let’s dig in.
Define Your Personal Values
I may have some homework for you. When was the last time you sat down and wrote out your own values? Well, if it has been a while, I want to encourage you to start here with the free Personal Values Assessment that takes less than five minutes to complete. You can also head over to my blog, scroll down to resources and download a list of personal values to find inspiration to help you achieve your own list. Summon your inner Zig Ziglar and remember, “your value does not decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.” Set a five-minute timer and list out all of the adjectives that describe what is important to you. Whittle that list down to the top 10, and it’s like unicorn magic, you are now staring at your most important values. The decisions you make daily are a reflection of what you believe, and those beliefs align with your values.
Armed with your new magical values, you can now take a closer look at defining your boundaries. Remember, I told you it was simple. You just finished your first building block, you may need to restart your Tibetan chants or step it up a notch to a little jazz. Let’s move on to identifying the different types of boundaries that professionals have defined and how you can go about implementing a strategy to keep those boundaries in place.
Understand the Types of Personal Boundaries
The first step in building boundaries is to be aware of the different types of boundaries that exist. It is essential first to identify boundaries you personally need to establish in the different areas of your life. Next, be aware and recognize what healthy boundaries look like.
What is a personal boundary?
I consulted with my friend Wikipedia, the goddess of words. She defines personal boundaries as, “guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits.”
Tracey Cleantis, LMFT a self-declared “happiness warrior,” talks about four variations of boundaries that people may or may not realize they have already created, “rigid, loose, somewhere in between, or even nonexistent.” The nonexistent type is like Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride where she doesn’t even know what kind of eggs she likes to eat. As a llamacorn, we gravitate towards the healthy side of the spectrum, and we know exactly how we love our eggs. BTW my favorite eggs are sunny side up on top of sourdough avocado toast with sriracha sea salt, yum.
Six Personal Boundary Categories
It’s a lot to take in, but I have your back with support and worksheets to complete as well as the articles I reference from peeps way more educated on this topic than me. According to Therapist Aid, there six different categories of Personal Boundaries. You can visit their website and download the PDF What are Personal Boundaries?
1. Physical – You guessed this one, it includes your body, your personal space, sexual orientation and sense of privacy. What does it look like to violate this boundary? How about that person, (me, sorry I’m a hugger) that always wants to hug you? You don’t want to be hugged, e-v-e-r. That hugger then becomes a violator of your personal space.
2. Emotional – This is Julia Roberts in the example above. You need to be able to separate your feelings from others’. Healthy behavior includes protecting your self-esteem. You know that emotional EQ that some, let’s make it easy and say, kids, need to improve? Not taking responsibility for yourself and blaming others for your problems. It also includes understanding when to and when not to share personal information.
3. Intellectual – Thoughts and ideas. Intellectual boundaries can be violated when someone dismisses or belittles another person's thoughts or ideas. Try this one out, "Oh, don't get upset about that. If you want to cry, I'll give you something to cry about!" Or, have you ever found yourself saying this? "Things could be so much worse! I don't know why you're so upset about this!" Total violation.
4. Sexual – (just gonna refer you to directly to the PDF)
5. Material – Money and possessions. Sharing is caring, but in some instances, boundaries can be are violated when someone steals or damages your possessions, or they bully or pressure you into letting them borrow something that you don’t want to share.
6. Time – You know that saying, “if it doesn’t get scheduled, it doesn’t get done.” Healthy boundaries have time scheduled for work-life balance. This is a big one, your time boundary can feel violated when someone demands too much of your time.
Ok, now you have six types of personal boundaries to chew on. Don’t get all caught up in your head here. We are taking baby steps and building a foundation. Just getting this far, and creating awareness around the concept of personal boundaries puts you ahead of the class. Right, where you should be.
Suggestions to Consider
Now let’s take a look at suggestions for you to consider when building your own strategy for establishing healthy boundaries:
1. Don’t connect with clients on personal social media, (yeah I know this one gets really fuzzy. You know if this one is right for your brand or not.)
2. Appropriately share personal information.
3. Value your own opinions.
4. Don’t compromise your values for others.
5. Know what you want and need, and clearly comminute it with others.
6. Don’t be offended when someone tells you “no.”
7. Practice self-care.
8. Find privacy within your own space at home.
9. Say NO to things you do not want to do and do not feel the need to explain.
10. Make sure to set consequences for those that do not respect your boundaries.
5 Examples of Healthy Boundaries in the Workplace
Here are some examples of how boundaries can be set in your professional life. Embracing your values, establishing your personal boundaries, then enforcing those both at home and at work, will create a happier workplace.
1. You are sitting in a meeting about a new product launch. You are a part of the team because you have successfully launched a very similar product at your previous company. Someone in the meeting asks for your opinion, and you confidently share your experience and your opinion about how the launch should take place. You value your own opinion.
2. You are traveling with colleagues on a business trip. You have set a goal to work out while you are on the road because staying fit is important to you. After your workday, your peers decide they are going to hit happy hour. You say no and head to the gym, you tell them you will catch up with them for dinner. You don’t compromise your values for others.
3. During a trade show, a vendor shares with you that they are thinking about leaving their husband. They ask you for your opinion and want to know if you are married or have ever been divorced. You kindly reply that you are sorry they are conflicted; however; those types of discussions need to be saved for a therapist or someone more qualified than you. You share that you are super happy in your current relationship and politely change the subject. You appropriately share personal information.
4. Your annual review is happening. Your boss asks if you have any career aspirations within the company? You state, yes, and then you explain in detail what you want to work towards, your ideas and a potential roadmap for how you would like their help to achieve your goals. You know what you want and need, and you can comminute it with others.
5. You have weekly conference calls with your team. Someone asks for a suggestion regarding overcoming an obstacle they are facing. You comment a suggestion, and the representative says, “no that won’t work because…”. You can accept your stance and are not offended when someone tells you “no.”
Whatever you do, don’t feel selfish about establishing your values-based boundaries, embrace your bold move and smile. Make sure to reflect and be aware of respecting the limits set by those around you, don’t be lopsided. I know, we are great salespeople and can sell happy hour to a non-drinker or fire walking to a pyrophobic, but don’t. Honoring both sides of the equation will empower you to create your own version of utopia, someplace where rainbows brighten up the sky and unicorns roam freely.
Healthy boundaries are essential and one of the steps you need to take on your path to becoming a llamacorn. I told you it was simple to be a happier version of yourself. By creating your own set of rules, you take control of what impacts your life. A happier you is a less stressful version of you. Remember, llamacorns make life happen for them, not to them.
Good luck and happy living.
This week during one of my workouts at Orange Theory, Damien our coach, set the intention of the of the workout. It was perfect because it is in-line with what I have been writing about, being aware. I am going to label it ‘conscious awareness.’ Coach Damian went on to say “be aware of the words that you use when you describe yourself, or you interact with others. When someone asks how you have been, try to respond with how you are feeling instead of starting with the words, I am…”. How you are feeling is a temporary emotion. Using the words, 'I am' conveys more of a permanent state, and when repeated frequently, becomes a part whom you become.
Take for example the following question and the typical answers you may give.
While the question is simple, the way you choose to respond is a result of an autopilot that we have set into place. Do you want to start to build a rapport responding to a simple question like this with a heavy response? I think not. The words you choose and the impact you make should both be taken into consideration while you are attempting to establish a rapport. You need to engage your audience on a positive level.
Often our answers reflect how we are feeling at the time. You may be feeling tired or stressed out, but these feelings are temporary. My challenge to you is to be aware of the automatic responses because they have an impact on your subconscious mind. When you step back, and you become aware of your thoughts and feelings, you start to use a different part of your brain to be aware.
The words you choose during your introduction and initial conversations need to grab attention by letting your audience know what you have to say will benefit them. Do not start your discussions with potentially buzz killing phrases that could have a negative impact on the person. If you want to move your prospect along in the selling cycle and on to the next step of buying your product or service, you need to be positive and optimistic.
When you are developing your talk track or incorporating what marketing has already created for you, it is crucial to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Find words that make you're offering unique; it could be ridiculously simple or something that aggravates a problem. Try to stay away from harsh words or aggressive terms that may once again cause our prospect’s unconscious mind to shut you out before you even get started.
At the bottom of this post is a downloadable list of words and phrases to incorporate into your “rapport building vocabulary”. In my experience, using words such as absolutely, improve and positively make someone smile. Conversely, words like guaranteed, I think, I might or I'll get back to you soon make your prospects eyebrows raise (and maybe even a lip pucker).
My first sales position was in telemarketing. I used to work for RCA, and I sold extended warranties on appliances. Yep, as I write this, it makes me giggle that I made my start over the telephone. I am here to tell you that we can learn selling tips from telemarketers. The online magazine Call Center Helper wrote an article on the “Top 25 Positive Words, Phrases and Empathy Statements” that lead to creating a positive impact.
It is super important to be careful about what goes into your subconscious mind. Research has shown that words and thoughts get stronger by the repetitions. They eventually stick into the subconscious mind and affect the behavior, actions, and reactions of the persons involved. Our subconscious mind works diligently to make these words and thoughts a reality in the life of the person saying or thinking them so be aware. Take action to incorporate positive words in your day to day selling and eliminate the negative vocabulary.
As always, your sales manager should be able to help you with your “sales vocabulary." Alternatively, give me a call if you want to do any role-playing or would like me to help structure a talk track with you. I am here to help.
Good luck and happy selling.
Have you heard this cliché Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail? Do you wander around in your territory aimlessly or sit at your desk with your quota looming over your head because you do not know which qualified leads you are going to call on first? I have been reading posts from different sales groups on LinkedIn. One of the most common questions I have found relates to prospecting. HubSpot research published data that sales representatives feel prospecting is the most challenging part of the sales process.
Here's a story you may be able to relate to, you have blocked off the rest of your afternoon to focus on cold calling. You map out your calls based on the most efficient route to get through the prospect list in a particular part of your territory. Google says your journey will take 3 hours of driving (without traffic) you press start directions, and you’re on your way. You get through most of your list, set up a few lunches, said hi to a few receptionists and finish your day feeling successful. You wake up the next day, head to the airport and take off to the next city to repeat the same motions, list, map, drive. You are one of the busiest reps you know, your calendar is, and there is only one problem. You are not making your quota. It’s hard to understand because you are attempting to contact ALL the targets or specialists in that city. What am I doing wrong? Most likely it’s because you do not have a Strategic Prospecting Plan in place. You may have a list of qualified targets and a map, but after that, no strategy.
What method do you use to determine who you should be pursuing and in what order? If you are going to make progress at prospecting, over the telephone or even in person then you had better put together a strategic prospecting plan so that you know where to go and whom to target. Think about it, you can't prospect or cold call with president’s club success, if you don't know who your most important prospects are. Strategic prospecting is a process where you identify, qualify, and prioritize the sales opportunities that you have in your territory.
In a perfect world, you will know your corporate vision and a clear definition of who the target customer is, the company’s “sweet spot.” You need to know everything about your target customer. Your manager should provide input to help make sure you have a solid strategy to ensure your prospecting efforts are fruitful.
I have heard multiple sales representatives state that they feel completely overwhelmed with the size of their territory. They have many targets with a lot of travel and limited time to get to all the prospects in their territory. This feeling of being overwhelmed can quickly become a ticket to failure. If you are not focusing on a specific target list, then you tend to have what I call the "shiny client syndrome", where you're bouncing from target to target. This type of aimless vision results in feelings of frustration. You are frustrated about not closing an account within the first few visits.
My suggestion to you is to focus on a smaller number of segmented targets and become completely obsessed and focused on closing that target list. What you will find is that as you start to experience success, you will be able to translate the success into stories, and the stories will help to demonstrate your credibility. You will have more confidence in yourself as a sales representative, and it will continue to show up repeatedly. The success that you create using this method is repeatable as you move on to the next focused list of prospects. Your target list will narrow because you will be pursuing only the best sales opportunities. We all realize that not all sales opportunities result in a closed deal. You may ask how big or small this list needs to be? Only you can know the answer to that question. The take-home message is to make sure your list can be worked effectively, thoroughly and focused over a specific timeframe that results in closed business that exceeds your quota.
Here's a time management tip for you, there are only 8-9 hours in a workday. Make sure you are using most of those hours focusing on the accounts that have the most significant potential benefit to you and your company. Maximum sales growth is finding the right balance between new business and organic growth from existing customers.
When you spend time segmenting your prospects, it becomes clear where efforts will reap the most reward. You are now becoming more strategic in your planning. No more aimless wandering and the level or your frustration lowers and starts to disappear. There are many different methods you can use to categorize your potential business prospects. I am going to give you a simple way that many of the sales representatives I have managed put into place, ABC segmenting and the 80/20 rule.
ABC market segmentation is a method which allows the classification of different prospects or clients by their profitability or their high growth potential. The Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule used to frame our discussion states that 80 percent of sales come from 20 percent of the clients. Through your target segmentation, you will begin to understand which names on your list will be a part of the 20 percent. Figure 1.0 is an example of how the prospect segmentation will align with meeting your quota.
Here’s another time management tip. I have seen representatives get comfortable with one of their newest customers. Let’s say it’s a C customer or prospect and it is close to home. Resist the shiny object. Stay focused on your goal to be an A-Player. If you are not hunting for new business, your time will be better spent on another revenue producing activity or learning a new skill. Keep working the strategic prospecting plan.
Selling is a complex process. Strategic prospecting is just one spoke of the selling cycle. We haven’t even begun to talk about the other areas that require your time and energy, areas like pre-call planning, building rapport, strategy and execution, negotiation, follow-up, etc. Committing to becoming an A-Player and proactively planning to win must start with step one, knowing who is going on your target list. You need to have more than a list and a map, you need a successful, repeatable strategy.
Good luck and happy selling.
This week in my travels, I had the pleasure to meet with two medical assistants in one of my meetings. As I was delivering a technical update to both ladies, I noticed something colorful sitting alone in the corner of the room. What could have been their office mascot, turned out to be a unicorn pinata. It made me smile and I asked if they could tell me a little bit about the story of how this adorable unicorn came to hold such an honored spot in their office. It turns out, a sales representative recently brought it to them with lunch. One of the medical assistants went on to say, “he used to bring the same lunch to me all the time and when he asked what I would like for our next meeting, I asked him if he could change it up a little bit and bring in something different?” He agreed, and on his next visit he brought in Mexican food and with it, the awesome pinata. She then said with a smile, “it even has candy in it.”
There were no other items that were apparent in this medical assistant’s workspace. The mere fact that this unique object was out in the open for her to see and to retell the story to inquisitive minds like mine, tells me that it created a lasting impression with her.
The medical assistants had no idea that they were feeding my marketing brain with content. As I looked over at the unicorn, I thought to myself, “I have stumbled upon a sales unicorn, and I’m not talking about the pinata.” I want to congratulate this unicorn representative for taking a step to differentiate himself from the plethora of other sales representatives that this medical assistant meets on a day-to-day basis. Being creative doesn’t require much energy, but it does take thought and action.
Do you think, our medical assistant in the example above felt the sales representative was creative? Absolutely. My question to you is, what creativity do you use daily to become a sales unicorn?
In the context of sales, I would describe creativity as ‘bringing new ideas and actions into your daily sales activities.’ One of the questions I often ask when I interview a potential sales representative is “describe what creative selling techniques you have used in the past.” The answers give insight to let me know if the candidates can think out of the box. Using creativity to connect with your prospects and clients is essential. Combining creativity with information that your new contact tells you about themselves makes them feel heard.
In the medical industry, competition is fierce. Sales representatives continue to look for differentiators in commoditized markets. In my opinion, sales managers need to encourage creativity to drive sales and to use this creative approach to outperform the competition. Data shows that the quality of leadership-representative interactions can influence the extent to which creativity results in actual sales. Sales managers need to listen, discuss and help to develop the creative ideas that their direct reports bring to the table.
In my management experience, creative representatives are more successful than their counterparts. You don’t have to be an art major or scrapbooker to be creative. Use your resources wisely to find interesting tidbits of information to create novel ideas. Stay abreast of your industry by reading journals, follow your targets on LinkedIn and attend industry meetings and trade shows. Armed with information, you will be able to take a problem-solving approach to your selling and successfully incorporate creativity daily to become a sales unicorn.
Create raving fans and enjoy the approach to your sales day. If you are having a hard time collaborating with your sales manager, give me a call, and we can create together!