10 Simple Marketing and Sales Hacks for 2012

Get uneasy in 2012

Here are ten ways to hack your 2012 marketing and sales efforts:

1. Make the commitment to actually treat people like human beings. Novel idea, I know. But I am a person. I like to engage in conversations. I am NOT an entry in a CRM database. DON’T YELL IN MY EAR. Don’t blast me with messages YOU want me to hear. Talk to me, and soon enough, you will know what I want.

2. Throw your CRM out the window. You aren’t using it, so why not? It is just taking space on your machine. If you can’t use pencil and paper to manage the important truly relationships in your sales and marketing process, you aren’t following item one. Think I am full of it? Then use the damn thing the way you are supposed to, and stop bitching about it.

3. Remove stuff. Remove service offerings that don’t sell. Remove products that don’t move. Remove antiquated sales processes that don’t work. Watch those TV shows where people coach restaurant owners. Oftentimes, their first piece of advice is to remove most of the dishes, and focus only on a few specialties, and really do them well. You should do the same.

4. Do one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is a killer. For you, for your focus, for your creativity, and for your business as a whole. It is counterintuitive to come across less busy…Lord knows you don’t want to appear to your colleagues to be accomplishing less. But trust me, you will win in the end.

5. Do fewer things. Yes, set a goal to actually accomplish less in 2012. But select the fewer things that will drive more revenue.

6. Slow down. Take your time. All this stuff moves at it’s own pace. You can’t force this into a fixed timetable. If you work at a place where this is expected, you will be miserable (but you already knew this). Slowing down takes the pressure off. Business will close when it is ready to close. Do what you can to communicate and serve, and suggest ideas to help your prospect move the needle, and the timing will take care of itself.

7. Jump. You heard me. Take the plunge. Try things. Experiment with things. Test things. But guess what? You know this. You are tired of people telling you this. You are tired of people selling you books and products to teach you this. But you are probably chicken shit, and won’t jump. But until you do, you will be mediocre.

8. Go natural. If you require a script to follow, you are doing it wrong. If you are required to follow a script, they are doing it wrong. Be yourself. Follow instincts. This makes you legitimate. Human. Approachable. Trustworthy. If you are some sales bot, people don’t want to interact with you, they don’t trust you, and your existence will suck.

9. Acknowledge that there is no standard. No one person acts the same. Each buying cycle is different. Each thought process is different. If you try to fit everyone into the same pattern, the same process, you will labor and struggle. We are all unique…each person…and each organization. Manage your expectations to recognize this fact, and your outcomes will be more satisfying, and you will enjoy the ride a lot more.

10. Get uneasy. Look at the pic on top of this post. Here are two guys working at the very top of the Empire State Building. I am not talking about the observation deck. I am talking the top of the radio antenna on top. This pic makes me nauseous. But thrilled at the same time. That’s where you need to be to know you are truly doing something worthwhile. And exciting.

I mean, seriously. Why can’t sales and marketing in 2012 get you closer to the edge? Why can’t you push the envelope?

And why can’t it be exciting?

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[pic from tumblr]

SalesGravy’s Jeb Blount on IntrepidTV

Recently welcomed my good friend, Jeb Blount, to IntrepidTV. Jeb is best known as the force behind SalesGravy.com, the most visited sales site on the planet. But on this episode, we discussed Jeb’s latest book, People Follow You: The Real Secret To What Matters Most in Leadership.

Highlights of my conversation with Jeb Blount:

1. We discuss the NUMBER ONE reason why people are stressed in the workplace, and why most are unfulfilled in their career.

2. Jeb walks us through the FIVE LEVERS of leadership.

3. Relationship building is the most important skill in being a leader, and getting people to follow your lead. Jeb explains how to start…

You can purchase Jeb’s latest book here (affiliate link):

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Dan McDade on IntrepidTV – The Truth About Leads Goes Digital!

A real pleasure to welcome back Dan McDade. Dan is the President and CEO of Pointclear, and the author of The Truth About Leads.

Dan joined me on this show to announce – and celebrate – the digital launch of his book. So, you can now purchase this great book for your e-reader! Dan, you might remember, joined me earlier this year to talk about book…

On today’s show, Dan and I discussed the following subjects:

1. Why he wrote the book, and who it was written for.

2. Since its release, what has been the most interesting feedback he has gotten.

3. The never ending conflict between sales and marketing, and what we can do about it.

4. The BILLION dollar, 42-touch sales process that really works…

5. The vital role social media can play in nurturing prospects, at any stage, in the sales process…

You can purchase Dan’s book digitally here (affiliate link):

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Always Be Closing Is A Crock…

Yeah, it is one of my favorite films, but the line “Always be closing” from Glengarry Glen Ross is a crock.

And it is why most sales people struggle. And why they hate their job. And why they dread making sales calls. And why they think their sales manager is worthless.

Always be closing. Bad.
Always be learning. Good.
Every day I learn something new about my prospect. Especially if I am actually listening to them. Always be seeking to find out more. To understand. To clarify. They are constantly reading, observing, and studying.

Always be closing. Bad.
Always be serving. Good.
Every day, looks for ways to help. To provide knowledge. To provide them something to help them advance the ball, even if it is just the little things.

Always be closing. Bad.
Always be creating. Good.
Every day, partner with your prospects to help co-create unique solutions, to brainstorm, to try things, to test things, to mind map.

Always be closing. Bad.
Always be extending. Good.
Closers watch the clock. They play not to lose. True salesmen extend…they aren’t in a rush to meet their numbers, to placate management, the satisfy a database. They play to win. They keep working and creating with their prospects to keep improving, innovating, learning, serving.

Closers want to move to the next deal to win the trip to the islands. Real salesmen look at their work and interactions with the long-term play in mind.

Closers fight for the Glengarry leads. Real salesmen make their own luck.

If you are closing, you are scheming. Conniving. Pushing. Harassing. Broadcasting. Telling. Insisting. Waiting.

If you are closing, you are focusing on quota…not serving your prospects and customers. You certainly aren’t listening.

Yeah, always be closing is a crock. What are you doing? Closing? Or serving?

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Remember, Patience Is A Sales Virtue

My friends? A simple reminder today: Patience is a key to sales. Without patience, you best not be in the sales game.

Some thoughts:

1. You must have patience to listen to questions. Seemingly silly ones, pointless ones, endless questions. Remember, there are no bad questions. And yeah, prospects don’t understand things as deeply as you do. If you find yourself saying “How can they not understand this?” — you are a lousy salesman. And, obviously, you must then have the patience to methodically answer each and every question lovingly and caringly.

2. You must have patience to wait for that phone call or email that may never come. You have no idea why they aren’t getting back to you. And chances are, it is a very logical reason why, something you cannot control.

[For example, just heard from a prospect of mine. I submitted a proposal months ago. No feedback. Very frustrating - did I so something wrong? Did I miss something? All of sudden, he rang me just today. Had some personal stuff to deal with, but promised quick action to proceed. All good.

Be patient my friend...]

3. You must have the patience to methodically and painstakingly build a content marketing strategy that educates, inspires, and moves your market to action. This does NOT happen overnight. And this may takes years. So you better get started!

4. Like every snowflake, every opportunity is different. And you must have the patience to understand and recognize that every opportunity will respond differently to your sales process. Every one.

5. You need the patience to understand that you are dealing with people. And people are human. They do stoopid things. If you don’t account for this, you will live a frustrating life.

6. You MUST have the patience to deal with office politics:

6a. Your own office politics, and the sales manager riding your ass to meet your numbers. Right or wrong, remember, he’s just doing his job.

6b. Your prospect’s office politics. There is nothing you can do about this. Just know it is there, very real, and likely deeply impacting your opportunity. Settle in, you will have to ride that wave.

7. Sales requires creativity. And if you have a creative bone in your body (most do even if you refuse to acknowledge it), you know that this takes thoughtfulness, mindfullness, purpose and of course, patience.

8. If you want your prospects to respond to you, you need to treat them like human beings – not an account on a database.

9. Speaking of databases, you will likely be required to key in all your data and activity into some pre-ordained CRM system. Trust me, I know, this is a lousy process. Time consuming, and seemingly pointless. But if you exist in a large sales force, it is reality. So be patient with it. Likely, if you are patient with it, and take some care with it, it can help you…

10. Lastly, you must recognize and understand: good things take time. They just do. Something worthwhile won’t happen overnight. It just won’t. And you better understand this.

Sales will be a miserable, rotten, meaningless, unfulfilling, and ultimately unsuccessful existence if you don’t bring some patience to the game.

Now, take a deep breath, collect your thoughts, and take it one step at a time…

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[cartoon by hugh macleod]

The Zen of Sales

Keep the road ahead simple and clear...

Zen emphasizes experiential wisdom in the attainment of enlightenment. It de-emphasizes theoretical knowledge in favor of direct self-realization through meditation and practice [wikipedia].

Our purpose in sales, is to seek enlightenment, to fully understand how we can serve our customer and prospect…not by the singular implementation of a generic message script and one-size-fits-all sales process, but in being mindful that every interaction is unique…and requires us to be in the moment and focused on each individual opportunity.

To understand the Zen of sales, I suggest the following:

To be mindful of the environment around us, and how it impacts both parties. The environment around us is always changing, and this impacts attitudes and feelings, which have direct impact on sales. Being aware, and allowing for, environmental impacts can be the difference.

Technology is both a friend and foe. CRM systems can be helpful, but not all customers and not all situations, fit nicely into someone else’s system. Each individual is different, and require customized actions. Forcing customers and prospects into technology that doesn’t suit them is not a good thing.

The goal should be engaging with people…learning, teaching, explaining, helping, and of course, listening. If you are telling…one-way, you are not enlightening…either yourself or your customer.

You need to have a service mentality. If you are all about the sale, the commission, the win, the numbers…you might win short-term, but you are not going to in the long-term. In the end, it is really about being mindful of helping and serving your customer. Including long after the sale is made.

Learning never stops. As a provider, the world is ever-changing. You need to adopt a habit of always learning, adapting, and improving. This keeps you sharp. In addition, your customer is ever-changing too. And you need to continue to observe, listen, and seek to understand how the environment and needs of your customer are always in flux.

As much as you wish you could control the timing, you cannot. So let that go. That practice alone can change your attitude about sales. Things will happen when they are supposed to happen, when your customer is ready for them to happen. You will learn though, the more helpful and patient you are, the faster things unfold.

Having and displaying confidence is very powerful. Being enlightened, in your own ability to help, care, serve – shines through, trust me.

Sales requires patience. We cannot always know how best to serve the customer with one conversation, or be so arrogant as to believe we can help in every case. No, we must be patient, to slowly and carefully learn how best to mindfully craft a meaningful solution. This will not be easy, but will be worth it in the end. This is the difference between a partner, and a salesman.

Remember, the people on the other side are human beings. And human beings aren’t parts of a machine, they are people who are dealing with real life, in real time (however fast or slow) and interaction with them has to be in the moment, not checked-off a call or To-Do list.

You need to acquire influence, without seeking to be influential. Achieving sales enlightenment, building a reputation as someone who seeks to build relationships based on service, will enable you to become very influential. Things happen very differently once you achieve this level. [just remember, you do not decide when you have reached this level]

Sales doesn’t have to be process defined by crazed end-of-month deadlines, building the biggest list, making the most phone calls or knocking on as many doors as possible. In fact, it should be the opposite.

Sales should be a mindful process, careful, slow and purposeful. Seeking enlightenment, or rather, seeking to learn all you can about the customer in front of you, knowing and learning how you can be their best partner and advocate.

And understanding that this process never stops…

What do you think?

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[photo from me, from one of my distance runs]

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Don’t Do “Insert Company Name Here” Proposals

Some won’t like this post, because it will require more work. And more creativity on their part. But I think the message is critical:

Don’t do “insert company name here” business proposals.

Ever.

What do I mean? You may try to save time, cut corners and improve efficiency by submitting virtually the same proposal to multiple prospects, especially if you are recommending a similar project scope to multiple prospects.

I get it. I’ve done it myself. And I didn’t sleep at night. And I don’t do it any more. Here are some additional thoughts on the subject:

1. If this prospect is your “dream client,” they deserve more love and respect than some generic template. Don’t they?

2. Is it more work? Yes. Absolutely yes. And if they are worth doing business with, than this is worth the effort.

3. Will it take more time? Yes. Yes it will. I get that there are not enough hours in the day. Trust me, I have a half-dozen proposals to draft at this very moment. It would be much easier to write one, and cut and paste name and address on each. But this is lazy. And disrepectful of the human beings on the receiving end of that proposal.

4. It will require you to be much more creative. And this scares the hell out of many people. But you are a creative. Read this if you don’t believe me. And this is the price of doing business in this day and age.

5. Draft this unique proposal quickly, while the ideas and creative solutions generated by your conversation with your prospect are still fresh in your mind. Or at least capture your thinking (in written notes or recorded audio) while still fresh. The priceless nuggets you recall from your meeting are essential to capture and include in the process. If you delay, you will lose those nuggets. Trust me. I’ve done that too…

6. We are no longer in a “job” mindset. We are in a “project” mindset. And naturally, unique proposals makes more sense in this context.

7. Each prospect has different needs. Different decision makers. And a different decision-making process. Once you learn some of these things about a specific prospect, you can craft a proposal that flows better with their internal process, rather than shoving your template down their throat. All so that you can save time to watch Dancing With The Stars instead…

8. Perhaps this idea will improve your overall prosposal drafting process. Are your proposals too long? Too detailed? To expansive? I learned to refine my drafting process significantly by writing unique proposals, only including the relevant details that they truly need. This effort, while difficult, has made my proposals better. If you are merely reusing the same proposal draft every time, you are likely not updating it. You are likely not upgrading it. You are not improving it. Going through this process, I improve my proposals every time. I make it better. I learn things from past failures to improve on the next one.

9. In the end, you might ultimately put out fewer proposals as a result of this action. But guess what? I am willing to bet your batting average of closed deals will increase.

10. The most important reason? Creating a unique proposal for each important business opportunity is an important exercise in clarifying your thinking on this opportunity. Merely typing in the name of the lead and the company is lazy, and requires ZERO thought and additional creativity. Every time I’ve created a proposal unique to each prospect, I add more value to the draft. Each time I think deeply about the specific prospect, I add more customization and personalization to the process. This makes it more personal, and more meaningful to the end recipient.

So, if this business opportunity is important to you and your organization, and the work worth doing, respectfully craft a personal, meaningful, sincere proposal for your prospect. Don’t half-ass it by taking the easy way out. And I’d think long and hard about whether you want to remain in an organization that does “cut and paste” sales, and requires you to sell this way.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree?

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[pic from google images]

I Survived Making A Cold Call, And 7 Reasons Why I Will Never Do It Again

Are you building connection with your prospects first?

So, I actually performed a cold call the other day.

It sucked.

To fill you in, I made a few cold calls on behalf of a client. I am producing a radio show on their behalf, and am doing a little recruiting to help secure specific guests for their show.

Let me say again, it sucked.

And, I am not surprised to report, and you aren’t surprised to learn, I haven’t heard a damn thing from the individual. And honestly, I assume that I never will.

And I don’t blame them.

Cold calling is hard. The target doesn’t know you exist. Doesn’t care that you exist. Doesn’t want you to exist. Doesn’t want to give you time. Doesn’t want to make time for you…

…unless you build a relationship with them. And therein lies the secret to cold calling.

What I should have done for my client was accept their list of show targets, and then done the following:

1. See if they are active on Twitter, and follow them. Because then I can look for opportunities to engage with them when they tweet something.

1.5. And if they are active on Twitter, set up a Twitter Search query to keep an eye on their activity, so I can learn what they are interested in talking about in real time.

2. See if they blog. Because then I can look for new posts that I can comment and engage my target.

3. Do a Google search for them individually. See what pops up in the query. Are they active on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc?

4. Do a Google search around their organization, to learn about their latest news, new product announcements, quarterly earnings, etc. Here, you are identifying opportunities to reach out and engage your prospect.

5. Search their name (and their organization) on LinkedIn. See what comes up. See what groups they are active in. Perhaps join those groups yourself to engage your prospect there.

6. Now you can connect with them on Google+, and place them in your “prospect” circle, and look for opportunities to connect there.

7. You are probably not friends with them on Facebook, but if you scan their profile, some people still allow you to view their profile. From this, you can see the things they are interested in (“likes”), and this could potentially give you some things in common, which make connection easier to achieve.

So, that’s what it takes. And yeah, it takes a little time. But when you finally connect with your target individual, it is NO LONGER a cold call.

It reminds me of the film Hoosiers, starring Gene Hackman. If you’ve seen it, you remember the coach’s instruction that the team had to pass the ball five times before taking a shot at the hoop. This was meant to encourage better shot selection and to break down the defense.

Same principle with destroying cold calls forever:

You shouldn’t make a contact to your target individuals until you’ve engaged in at least five meaningful non-sales conversations with your prospect.

This encourages more meaningful conversation to actually get to know someone, and breaks down their defenses to a cold sales call from a complete stranger.

The seven tactics above help with that. What do you think? And what else would you suggest?

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[Todd Schnick is a marketing strategist, helping entrepreneurs become intrepid marketers...]
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[pic from IMDB]

Sales Reality: They Are Using The Economy As An Excuse To Fire You

None of us likes to hear this phrase: “With the economic downturn, I am afraid we just don’t have the resources to keep you on retainer. Sorry, but let’s pick things back up when our fortunes turn the table!”

What YOU think this means: “With the economic downturn, I am afraid we just don’t have the resources to keep you on retainer. Sorry, but let’s pick things back up when our fortunes turn the table! We think you are great! Everybody loves you!”

What this REALLY means: “You’re fired. You bring no value. Go away. And we have no intention of bringing you back, but I said that anyway, because I just wanted to be nice.”

So there is your wake up call for the day. If your client tells you this, it is very likely because they want the easy way out to letting you go. This is much easier to say than “You are fired.”

Let’s be honest, if you were moving the business needle, they never would let you go. They would figure out a way to keep you on board because they saw value in what you were bringing to the table.

This evil phrase can have many meanings, but the following is a short list of why it probably came to this:

1. They saw NO value in what you brought to the table.

2. They couldn’t attribute an ROI to the relationship.

3. They wanted to try something else.

4. In the end, they didn’t really understand what you were bringing to the table.

5. Communication broke down, and you lost touch with key decision maker and influencer.

6. You were lost in the fog, meaning nobody on the team knew if any progress was being made.

So, let’s take some steps and work to prevent this situation from occurring again. Here are few ideas (based on experience) that will have a positive impact going forward:

1. Keep the mission of your engagement clear, simple and focused.

2. Keep open the communication channels.

3. Keep each side accountable, and make sure each side does what it is supposed to do.

4. Understand how to measure success, so that each sides knows where everything stands.

5. Debrief everything, so that both sides know why something worked, and why something failed. Learn. Improve.

6. Don’t rest on your laurels. Keep improving. Keep innovating.

One last thought: often times when a customer let’s you go, citing any number of reasons, the reason is that you began to take the engagement for granted. Your customer can sense this. And that’s not a good place to be.

Become a partner. Become a teammate. Become a part of the family, warts and all. Bring value. Help. Teach. Have impact on moving business forward. Do these things, and you won’t ever hear that phrase from your customer…

What do you think?

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[Todd Schnick is a marketing strategist, helping entrepreneurs become intrepid marketers...]
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[cartoon by hugh macleod]

Don’t Take Sales + Marketing For Granted: A Tiger’s Tale

Three things I never thought I’d witness, while Tiger Woods was still in his thirties:

1. Tiger dropping out of the Top Ten in the world rankings;

2. Him being replaced as the next big thing;

3. And someone proclaiming, “Tiger Who?”

U.S. Open Champion Rory McIlroy

Well, it has all happened. Now, you might say the distractions from Tiger’s personal life, and a series of injuries are to blame, sure. And 22 year-old golf phenom Rory McIlroy winning the U.S. Open this past weekend has pushed a few to say Tiger’s day has passed.

But the fact remains, not long ago we were saying Tiger would be the all-time greatest player. Ever. We aren’t saying that anymore. In fact, I would have bet my left arm Tiger would blow away Jack Nicklaus’ Major victories record. We aren’t saying that anymore either.

What does this mean to you?

The world can change. In an instant. You might be on top of your game on one day, and forgotten the next. If it can happen to Tiger…it can happen to any one of us. And therein lies the thought for today.

Don’t take anything for granted. Don’t take your innovative product for granted. Someone will make something better tomorrow. Someone out there is innovating…

Don’t take your customer for granted. They may shop elsewhere tomorrow.

Don’t take your existing strategy (even if it works) for granted. Because the environment might change tomorrow, and the strategy will no longer work.

Don’t take your sales process (even if it works) for granted. Because your prospects will have different priorities tomorrow.

Tiger Woods may very well come back, and come back to dominate. That’s what true champions do. And I wouldn’t put it past him. Or he may fade away forever, and we’ll talk fondly about the days when that young man, for a while anyway, dominated.

Life happens. And that can upset the balance. Prepare for any possible outcome, because it will likely happen. And never stop innovating, never stop improving, because that’s how you survive.

Because just when you think Tiger will never be supplanted, life and Rory McIlroy happen…

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[photo from nbc sports]