Swotting Flies

I was never been a big fan of the SWOT analysis. Mainly because it always seemed to be one of those exercises that merely justified a marketing consultant’s time and billable hours.

SWOT:
Strengths
Weaknesses
Opportunities
Threats

So, if you aren’t familiar, a SWOT analysis is an exercise where you identify your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Put very simply, once you identify these things, you can then make very strategic decisions about how to better allocate talent and resources to maximize strengths, buttress weaknesses, capitalize on opportunities, and mitigate threats.

Let me officially declare: I was a fool with regards to poo pooing the power of a SWOT analysis.

It can be very eye opening.

Now, you don’t need to hire a consultant to facilitate one, in my opinion. Unless you need someone to conduct an honest one. [Honesty is critical with a SWOT analysis. If you fib and aren't honest in assessing your strengths and weaknesses, the SWOT analysis is totally useless.]

The second piece of advice with regards to the (honest) results of a SWOT analysis? Do something meaningful with the results.

If the outcome is obvious, if the clear direction an individual should take is obvious, go that way. Cater to those strengths (or steer away from those weaknesses).

If you bury your head in the sand, and ultimately wonder why nothing changes, there was no point to the exercise in the first place.

I, for one, promise to do a mini-SWOT analysis on things (however minor) on a much more frequent basis. It is a very effective tool to make a quick determination of the value of a person/process/concept. In fact, I did three small ones today to gauge my thinking on a couple aspects of my business.

It changed my thinking on a few things, let me assure you…

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More #sales and #marketing rants found here!

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You just need one idea

When it comes to succeeding in sales, you simply need to present one (new) idea that matters to your prospect.

One idea, to get the whole damn process rolling.

Just one idea.

For the record, I am not suggesting that’s all it takes to “close the deal,” but I am suggesting that generating one key idea is REQUIRED to get the ball rolling.

I had a killer first conversation with a new prospect today. We only met a few weeks ago. There was one bit of our preliminary conversation that struck me in a meaningful way…

…A way that resonated, for both of us. I hung on to that idea, and let it process in my head.

Off of that one strand of meaningful conversation, an idea developed, one that became the basis for my whole pitch to them about how we could serve their organization.

Today, I presented the one idea.

Boom. It resonated.

And from that, three to four different strings of opportunity presented themselves. Magic was happening. From there, I was no longer pitching my value, we were brainstorming the idea, which lead to scintillating discussion on multiple directions and concepts.

All from one idea…

Too many people think they have to crack the code in the first pitch…

Too many people think they have to close the deal on the first call…

Too many people think they have to convince the decision-maker with the first white paper…

Too many people think the cash register will ring loudly when you mail the brochure…

Doesn’t happen that way. Sorry, but you’ve got to start a conversation about how you can partner and solve their problem.

And that first conversation may be raw. Unformed. Untight.

But for cryin’ out loud, at least get a discussion started.

Here’s the good news:

A positive interaction, one that might lead to a closed deal, can all result from you sharing ONE IDEA that changes their thinking on things…

Easier said than done, I know, but that’s the fun part:

Your job is simply to come up with one cool idea that gets them thinking.

It’s down hill from there…

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More #rants about #sales can be found here.

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Long-term thinking: How and when to do it

I am going to be honest: All I can think about is 2015.

As of this writing, early September 2014, I’ve almost sold as much business for 2015 as I have for all of 2014.

This is very exciting. And explains why I’m so excited about the coming year. And don’t get me wrong, nothing wrong with planning for and thinking about the future.

But there are still four months left in 2014. Lots of exciting stuff can still happen now, in the short-term. This is exiting too.

But how to proceed? How to conduct oneself? How to prioritize one’s actions? How much effort do I exert to close business NOW verses the next calendar year?

Now, some big changes and evolutions afoot with the business, most of it centered on changes in how I will approach things this coming year. But I have to be mindful that there is still fruit ripe for the picking…right now.

How does one balance this?

My answer?

Prioritize serving your customers first and foremost. Act in their best interest.

Just this afternoon, I just lost a gig scheduled for late October 2014. But in the same conversation, sold two projects that will pop in 2015.

My client is a winner. But so am I (even though I might have lost a little revenue designated originally for 2014).

What I can promise you is that this mindset won’t always jive with your end-of-month numbers. And if this is a problem, well, then you have bigger problems.

But in the end, you and your prospect will come out winners.

Like I just mentioned, I’ve punted several Q3 and Q4 opportunities to 2015. While this will result in less profit for me in the short-term, it does yield a heck of a good 2015.

Look, always good to close as soon as is practicable. Not arguing that. But if you are operating in the best interest of your potential customers…

…you both will come out ahead.

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Some daily tips to better serve your customer!

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Trust your sales instincts

I worked a sales opportunity about two to three years ago. It was potentially a really cool gig, for a really cool organization.

There was interest. We had several phone conversations. We had several face-to-face meetings.

Plans were sketched out. Timelines were drawn up. I was beginning to build the project into my work flow.

And then all of a sudden…poof.

It was gone.

The fellow stopped returning phone calls. Stopped answering emails. And then one day, quickly, and matter-of-factly, sent an email to say “Leave me alone.”

It was strange, but as we know from our own sales experiences, this happens with some frequency.

But I was frustrated. For two reasons:

1. I had invested a lot of time in my efforts to advance the opportunity.

2. And as I said, it was a really cool organization, and what I had in mind would have both served them well, and been really fun to execute.

It saddened me to update the CRM to reflect the latest news.

But then a funny thing happened:

I later found out that the fellow I had been coordinating efforts with had soured on the organization, and had moved on.

Turns out, he just lost interest in the organization itself. It was NO reflection on what he and I had been working up.

Flash forward to a few months ago, I came to meet the new person installed in the organization that had taken his place, and had the pleasure of running across him at a meeting.

I mentioned some of the ideas that had been bandied about a few years back. And what do you think happened?

“Wow, those are great ideas! I like them. I want to explore them further. Where do we go from here?”

Boom. We are having coffee in two weeks.

At the end of the day, trust your sales instincts. Your ideas, your solutions are good.

Sometimes, just sometimes, the person you are pitching them to just has his mind on something else.

I had allowed myself to question whether my ideas just weren’t good enough.

Turns out I was wrong.

Keep after it. Sometimes it is just a matter of the right person hearing your ideas at the right time.

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I am not a salesperson

I sell everyday. And I’ve built a business where I help my customers sell every day.

And yet, I don’t see myself as a salesman.

And by this, I don’t mean that I am embarrassed to call myself a salesman. Frankly, in business, we are ALL in sales. Some, obviously, more directly than others.

But I don’t see myself in the traditional light that many still view salesmen. Instead, I see people helping and serving and advancing.

Rather, I see people who do what I do in these following ways:

Engineers
Tacticians
Thinkers
Problem-solvers
Teachers
Innovators
Artists
Craftsmen
Designers
Thought-leaders
Influencers
Mentors
Architects
Foremen
Directors
Creatives
Strategists

Think about it…

When I think about how I interact with my market, I am not some dude with a briefcase full of carpet and tile samples…

Rather, I am a partner. I am a co-conspirator. I am a collaborator with my customer/prospect to move the needle, to make something interesting happen.

I see a little bit of myself in everything listed above. And how I collaborate, how I interact, how I strategize is all a little bit different case by case.

It is this idea that every scenario plays out a little differently with each opportunity, that keeps my sales work interesting.

It is this idea that I have to use different strengths and skills and mindsets, that keeps my sales work interesting.

I am not embarrassed that I am a salesman. But I also don’t see myself as a salesman.

I see myself as (see list above).

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CLICK HERE to read more of my occasional sales rants.

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Building your own media empire

Todd SchnickAnnouncing a new project: Building your own media empire!

Some of you are aware and took my “Workingman’s Content Marketing Course.” I’ve long been promising a major overhaul and upgrade to this program, and am hereby announcing it today.

I am in the midst of finishing up the short ebook manifesto and autoresponder course offering, which will launch soon.

My thinking has evolved in a big way here, and therein the shift in the program.

I used to think we all had to be content marketers. Now I believe we have to build mini-media empires to get our story told, our message out there, all to inform and move our markets.

Some won’t tell the difference between those two. That’s the point of this book. To explain that shift…

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:

Whether you want to admit it or not, you respond to media.

We ALL respond to media.

We all binge-watch the latest hot show on Netflix, and then chatter about it on Facebook, usually whilst watching it.

We all read the latest best-selling book, and recommend it to our friends.

We all watch the commercials during the Super Bowl, and engage with our community and vote on the best (or worst) ones.

We all glance through magazines (online or print) and look at the ads, ads which influence products we want to buy, or fashion we want to wear.

We listen to a song from a favorite artist, and harken back to the memories of what the song is about. We listen to certain songs when we are in a melancholy mood, or pick-it-up when we need to get fired up.

We all read essays, articles, or manifestos (like this one), to get inspired, informed, educated, influenced, and to learn about a new idea, movement, strategy, etc…

This is media. We all consume it. And it inspires us. It influences us. And it drives our actions and behaviors.

Here’s the important thing:

It has never been easier to consume media. With some combination of your television, books, computers, and your growing collection of mobile devices, you can consume all the global media your heart desires.

And as a person with a product to sell, a service to offer, or an idea to spread, YOU HAVE TO PRODUCE MEDIA to drive the actions and behaviors of your market.

Said another way, if you aren’t creating your own media, you will be left behind in this modern world.

This manifesto walks through this idea, and shares some basic strategies and tactics on how and what you should be producing.

Together, we can help build your own media empire!

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Sign-up here to be notified when the book and e-course are officially launched!

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Discomfort is the new normal

A few years ago I resigned myself to the fact that my career was going to be unpredictable. At the time, this didn’t make me happy.

Today, I’ve happily accepted that this is the perfect place to be. And the only way I want my life (and buisness life) to be.

I don’t want to be ensconced into any type of rut or routine. In my view, doing that is the kiss of death.

This realization came roaring back to me this past week when in the midst of conducting a new innovation series on another radio show of mine.

Recording a new interview for the series, we were discussing the optimal situations for innovation to thrive, and our guest said something to the effect that you have to be uncomfortable for innovation to thrive.

It was one of those forehead smack moments.

I immediately thought to myself: If you are ever comfortable in your business environment, it is safe to assume that you are NOT working in an innovative business environment.

Looking back on my recent career track, it has been ANYTHING but comfortable. Lots of change and evolution going on. I now see this as a positive thing.

I started thinking about another radio show of mine, one that I’ve been producing for almost three years. We just made a major recent shift in the show’s format…despite the fact that the show was doing fine and the sponsor was generally happy with things.

Despite that, we still made the format shift.

So, what happened?

So far this month, the show’s downloads are up 50%.

The lesson here? Even if you are comfortable, get uncomfortable. Shake things up. Try new things. Mix it up.

You need freshness in everything you are doing. If you aren’t learning, you are failing. If you aren’t seeking to improve, you are falling behind.

And yes, there was risk in this move. It might not have worked. It might have backfired. It might have proven to be too disruptive to yield any movement.

But it didn’t.

I’d rather push the envelope than stagnate.

So get uncomfortable. Be a little unsure of where the path might lead.

Because that’s so much better than the status quo. So much better than sitting motionless in neutral.

Discomfort is the new normal. Get used to it.

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Speaking of innovation, you owe it to yourself to read the best book on innovation I’ve ever read:
The Innovation Book: How to Manage Ideas and Execution for Outstanding Results

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Live the Intrepid Life: Now available for pre-order!

Todd Schnick

The new book!

My next book is now available for pre-order!

Pre-order with this link!

Live the Intrepid Life is a passion project of mine, one that I’ve been working on for several years. It is a carefully curated collection of essays of mine about diving into life, thinking a little different, presenting some hard lessons learned, and some hard successes earned.

Unlike past books of mine, this collection is organized into three blocks: Planning, Disrupting, and Doing.

Planning. Most of us go through life without any direction, path, goal, mission, or purpose. We get up, we go to work, we go home, we watch TV, and we get a paycheck at the end of the week. No, the goal here is to think about and understand what work we are meant to do, and to change mindsets and paradigms to position ourselves to get it done.

Disrupting. Change is hard. Starting is hard. And changing those mindsets and paradigms only happens when you think differently about things, when you look differently at things. To achieve big goals and dreams, you can no longer conform to societal expectations. You have to disrupt how you interact with the world.

Doing. At the end of the day, you have to execute. This always has been and always will be what separates success and failure, or at least mediocrity. This is where I failed so often in my early life, and this is where most people fall short of reaching their goals: most don’t even PURSUE the achievement of the work they are meant to do.

Yeah, I know…did the world need another motivational and inspirational read?

Perhaps not.

But the world hasn’t read my take on how to do these things. Perhaps the world would benefit from observing how one man, someone just like them, not some world renowned celebrity they cannot relate to, learned to live the intrepid life…

You’ll receive your copy when the book launches mid-October!

Pre-order the book here:
Live the Intrepid Life

Extend the conversation: #IntrepidLife

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Tell them you are hitting the road: How to make sales fun again

Todd SchnickWow. Guess I was in a mood Friday.

But there were two business opportunities I’ve been chasing for quite a while, two specific organizations who just haven’t been engaging back with me…not responding to my communications.

And Friday, I decided to let them know I was moving on.

I said something very much along the lines of: “Well, clearly this isn’t a priority for you. I am tired of wasting my time (and yours), so I am throwing in the towel. I sincerely wish you the best of luck, but I am going to focus on some organizations who see value in what I can do for them, and are actively exploring possibilities with me. Do let me know down the road if there is ever any way I can serve you…”

Immediately following those notes, I deleted both records from my CRM. Boom. Gone. Removed from existence.

[Frankly, it was surprisingly therapeutic...]

So, took a deep breath, reorganized the notes on my desk, and set about to tackle the next action item…

You already know what happens next…

I immediately received messages from both (one email, one phone call), asking to set a call for next week to discuss the project.

Ok. So there’s that…

I guess that’s a good thing, right?

Trust me when I tell you, I didn’t pull that stunt move hoping to achieve this very outcome. I am not that smart.

No, frankly, I was exasperated, and fed up. And decided my time was better spent on opportunities that were legitimately interested in learning more about my services, and more importantly, working (and communicating) with me to explore said possibilities.

Full disclosure here: I am not suggesting you send exasperated notes to all the people in your funnel with whom you are, well, exasperated with.

But if you are a instinctual salesman, you just know when someone is legitimately interested, interested but busy and distracted (most), or not interested.

But I have two important questions here:

1. Why do we treat prospects with kit gloves, why are we so afraid of them, why do we gently dance around how they treat us? And why are we so afraid to let them go, especially when they act like they don’t care? [ok, that's several questions]

Which leads to the next question:

2. When did it become ok to treat people who are attempting to sell you something as scum of the earth?

We are rude, we don’t respond to their emails, we don’t return their phone calls, we are annoyed by them and delete their communications with malice…

Let me be clear, with the two opportunities mentioned above, they weren’t ugly to me, they had just stopped acknowledging my communications.

As a salesman, I don’t deserve that. I don’t have to accept that. And most important, it does me no good to keep opportunities like this in my funnel, just so I can tout to my sales manager that I have “thousands and thousands” of opps in the funnel.

So what?

Look, my media company is growing, and I am busier than I have ever been. I have more opportunities to manage than ever before. I have more “scope of work” documents in play than ever before.

I don’t have time to manage the ones who are not acting professional.

It is ok to let them go. Spend your found time working with those who are interested. Spend your found time identifying new opportunities.

Many complain that sales is a hard slog.

That’s because you are trying to work with prospects who don’t want to hear from you.

Move on.

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Sales requires actually talking to people

create conversationYou all know I do podcasting for a living.

And you all probably know I help my clients leverage podcasting by using the medium to facilitate connections and expediting relationships with prospects important to their business.

Got someone you want to connect with? Invite them to be a guest on a podcast you are involved with. Simple.

Erm… Maybe not.

Was speaking with a prospect today who actually indicated they had tried podcasting as part of their sales and marketing process in the past, and abandoned the strategy, indicating it didn’t work.

When I asked why it didn’t work, here is what he said: “The challenge was because it fell on us to line up the guest. It became a hassle, I’m told.”

Me:

Me:

Now, to clarify, I pitched the idea as a business development strategy. This assumes you have identified prospects you want to close and make customers.

Since the dawn of man, sales works when you connect with people, communicate with them, offer a solution to a challenge they are struggling with, and they buy your solution because you solve the problem.

Works a lot better when you actually speak with the people.

The whole damn point is to invite people…to invite the people YOU WANT TO CONNECT WITH.

There are several clients we’ve sold podcasting services to who failed. Why? Because at the end of the day, they never actually ever invited someone to appear on their podcast.

Makes it hard that way.

Reminds me of a guy I know who flopped at a fundraising gig. When I asked if he ever actually asked anyone for money, his answer was “No.”

That makes fundraising really, really hard.

People… sales are about relationships. You develop relationships when you talk with people.

Sales works when you reach out and actually try to connect with people. Some, like me, invent tactics (my podcasting services) where we try to make this process of connecting with people simple.

Even then, people muss it up.

Why is connecting with someone you can help and serve a hassle, to use the quote above?

If that’s how you view your role and your job, that it’s a hassle to reach out to people, sales is gonna be a real long slog for you.

Find something else to do…

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Drawing by Hugh.

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