I’m pretty sure it’s a universal law that we all love the sound of our own voice… I mean I know I do. I love hearing my sweet sweet tumbra as I drone on about things I’m passionate about. As true as this is, I also realize it is the worst thing for me to do to build relationships and really be able to share in people stories.
I have recently been challenged to shut up and listen, and I’m doing my absolute best to heed this advice. Side story: One of my greatest fears is to have silence in a conversation. I mean I literally used to pray Proverbs 29:25 “Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but to trust in the Lord means safety” over and over again as a mantra. I would pray that over conversations saying to myself that it is dumb to worry about silence or lack of conversation, and that I could trust that the Lord would bless our time and make it beneficial. I still deal with this fear to this day.
Back to the post: I have had some great advice given to me that I believe will help me conquer the above mentioned fear and make me a better human being, father, husband, friend, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. To put the advice simply, it is to ask an intriguing question and to shut up and let the other person talk. If I really want to go one step further, it would be to take a vow of silence for a day, or at a networking event, so I can give the other as much runway as they need to talk. One last thing that I have started doing is bringing a little notebook and pen that I can jot down thoughts that come into my mind so I don’t have to interrupt. Please, if we ever have the opportunity to talk, hold me to this.
A couple questions to end on. Are you a fellow interrupter? Do you equally love the sound of your sweet sultry voice? If so, take up this challenge and start to listen more. Lean into the silence. Create better questions. Learn to listen, actually listen, and give the other person the gift of hearing their own voice / talking about themselves and what is interesting to them. When you give them this gift, it’s actually quite amazing how much you learn about them and figure out how you can both benefit from the relationship.
Two words that are often forgotten in any line of work are “Thank you.” Now after a project, contract, or event is completed we may half hazardly throw out those words, but that is what everyone does.
Some people think it is an overrated idea and that a text message or email sends the same message, but that just isn’t true. People value what takes time and costs more and a text or an email doesn’t send that type of message. On the other hand, a hand-written note that you had to purchase an envelope, card, and stamp lets the other person know that they are worth your time and money.
I also believe that with whatever you do, you need to be you 100%. I don’t mean for you to use this fact as a scapegoat saying that “I’m not someone who sends cards.” I bring up this fact because I want you to use a little flair or embellishment when you send these cards. When picking out stamps from the post office, don’t just do the typical ones. Look through their booklets and pick out something fun, creative, or whimsical. Pick out a stamp that you think represents you or that you think is pretty cool. If you want to go one step further, you can also find a card design that fits your personality or you can have customized cards emblazoned with your name or logo. What I am trying to get across here is that even in the small details you need to let your personality shine through.
Now that you have got your cards and stamps in order, the most important reason why you need to send thank you cards is because the world doesn’t have enough of these floating around. How many times have you read a book that changed your life, heard a speech that moved you, or had a conversation that shifted everything in your worldview? When these moments happen, we need to let the other person know. If it’s an author, find an address to send them the card and mail off a thank you note letting them know how their book specifically impacted you. If it was a speech that you heard or a conversation that you had, find out a good address and mail off that thank you card.
As you start to make this a habit, it is amazing how all of this good that you are putting into the world will come back to you. The connections that you can make and the opportunities that these notes can bring about are life giving for not only the receiver, but for you also. Please, take this encouragement and start letting others know that you care greatly about them and their contribution in your life.
In a recent community event that I hosted, the topic of “How to hold your customers accountable” was discussed. I was able to get one of my friends, who has been crushing it in sales for over 15 years and recently had his best year ever, come and share his insights with the group. Here are some of those insights.
Contract negotiation is all about the relationship. Most people just try and get facts about the company that will help the deal move forward, but they are missing key elements. Those key elements are that they need to more fully understand the individual they’re doing business with. It seems a simple understanding of what that person does and their specific role is sometimes overlooked. This is a crucial mistake because if you don’t know who you are literally doing business with, there is no way you can best position yourself and the product to meet their needs.
We also need to realize that contract negation and building relationships is a dance. If you all are not moving in sync, it is felt and problems start to come up. Stop stepping on their toes, take a breath and get back into the rhythm. We need to have our eyes open to everything around us so we don’t mess up by doing a line dance while they are doing the Cupid Shuffle or the Fox Trott. To be a better “dance partner,” go back to the point above and re-read it. Get to know the other party intimately if you want to know how to best move and grove together.
Most importantly, be you. Know what you are great at and go into the conversation putting those qualities and characteristics first. If you are more reserved, don’t come barging in the meeting telling jokes. If you typically slower in building trust, don’t start with a complex question that goes beyond the surface. However you are, lead with that gifting.
Now, let’s say you execute what you think is the perfect pitch and you get to know the customer in and out, but for some reason you don’t get the deal. What in the heck happened? That is a great question and one you need to ask yourself. Don’t go blaming the should have been customer or other people on your team. What you need to be doing is see what you missed. Where you actually talking to the decision maker or where you interacting with the gatekeeper the entire time? Did you miss it because someone had an inside track with an executive so they got the business? If you missed the sale, you need to take the time to look over the whole story and see what fact or issue you overlooked and didn’t clearly answer.
If you didn’t close the deal, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it helps you better refine your craft. Even if you missed the deal for something small, that one thing can be a huge leverage point the next time this opportunity comes around, because lets be clear about one thing… that opportunity to sell is right around the corner.
What are you great at? I know if you asked me that question, I would say building relationships and sharing in peoples stories. I love getting to know people for who they are and seeing how we can best partner up and help each other. Not everyone is wired this way and that is what this article is all about, sorry outdoor enthusiasts or folks who love posts about gun regulations.
We need to fully understand what we are great at, which is part of our personal brand, if we truly want to make the most sales and have the biggest impact. If you find yourself as the proverbial “hunter” in sales, then by all means, go out and do your quick kills and bring that back to the “family” so we can eat. If you are a farmer, then understand you still have great value for the “family.” You are playing the long game as you cultivate relationships. You are the ones that have the opportunity to yield more than what you have “planted.”
Please do us all a favor and be uniquely you. Learn what you can from others and books, but apply that with your own personality, shake it up, and see what comes out. If you want to have more sales, a giant impact, and know what opportunity to choose, first figure out what your great at and then do all you can to do more of that in your job. Don’t try and be someone else. Be you through and through and opportunities will start to come about.
A couple of weeks ago on June 6th, 2019 a dream was accomplished. Even though to the handful of folks who heard about the event or attended may have thought it appeared in happen within the matter of a month, it took over two years to come about. During this two year period I failed multiple times, frustrated a few people, made a handful of amazing relationships, and learned a ton along the way. Part of me hates that it took over two years to have this event come to fruition, and the other part of me wouldn’t have it any other way.
The real question is WHY on God’s green earth should you or anyone else stick with something for two years or more? I believe that can be best explained from what I learned over this time period.
The first thing I learned is that to accomplish anything of impact you have to surround yourself with an amazing community. This event all started with someone who has become one of my best friends. This man is a champion and crazily enough has been supportive of all my harebrained ideas. Bo Cordell is a huge reason why this event even happened. It was because of our monthly coffees that we started having over 3 years ago that an idea, to help the logistics and supply chain community, turned into this event . A little over a year and a half ago we tried to start this community, but our relationships, time and capacity we had to offer were not enough. Even though we had a little success in the beginning, the momentum, support and knowledge wasn’t there to keep it going full steam.
The second thing I learned is that you have to be mindful that you are not sprinting past your family and friends. There were a handful of times when I could have pulled this off earlier, but I would have had no one around me to celebrate with. I remember countless conversations and nights having tough and frustrating conversations with my wife. I was leaving hear and my kids in the wake of my dreams and ambitions and that only would have ended in frustration and pain. I am so thankful that if I listened to hear and took a moment of rest.
The third thing I learned was that to accomplish anything of impact or importance it is all about taking small steps. From the very beginning I wanted to be surrounded by a huge community that made the other good ol’ boy clubs look outdated and weak, make an impact in legislation around logistics and supply chain, and have a large and well attended event. All of these things are great, but to do them all at once and right away is ridiculous. The bigness of the idea was too much for us to handle, and over time it was whittled down to the carrier community event that happened on the 6th. It’s this last idea of small steps that actually saved this ambition from falling away for another two years.
Why stick with something for two years… because you have no idea of the amazing places it will take you, the lessons you will learn, and the adventures you will have along the way. Without this experience I wouldn’t have realized those three lessons:
To accomplish anything of impact it takes surrounding yourself with community.
Don’t sprint past your family and friends towards your goal. You don’t want to accomplish anything and realize you are at the end all alone.
Don’t go for broke. Instead, start walking and figure out the next small step that will be a great foundation for the next step and the one after that.