Business

Make The Call: Grow your community and knowledge by genuinely caring about others.

Life is infinitely better together and I think that is something we can all agree on. As true as that is, it still seems that people are living their lives more and more in isolation and behind screens.  Let me encourage you to do something a little cray cray… pick up the phone and make a call.  I honestly don’t care to whom, just make the call.

Good, now that we have started to loosen up, I want you to do something really crazy.  What I need you to do is think about the people you interact with on social media or those you work with, but have only talked with through email.  Narrow it down to one person, and give them a call.  Don’t have their number? Doesn’t matter.  Reach out and ask for it.  Don’t make this some weird awkward hopeful date thing.  This is a you genuinely caring about another human being that you have done life with kind of a thing.

I have been able to do this a handful of times over the past couple of months and it has been such a great learning opportunity.  Here are just a handful of things I have learned:

  1. Know your personal brand. This gives clarity for the big and small decisions we’ll make.
  2. Patience, mixed with realistic expectations, is what will help you as you navigate business and the need to not only provide for your family, but also close deals and provide for your customers.
  3. Vague beginnings lead to chaotic endings.
  4. Culture is everything.  Make sure it is their from the beginning of your business and not something you halfheartedly add at the end.

These four brilliant nuggets of gold are what I have learned from others.  Please, do us all a favor and grow your network and community by authentically caring about others and getting to know them.  One last word of caution.  Don’t go into these conversations trying to dig out some brilliant life lesson.  Go into the conversation with some general questions and direction, but let it go where it goes.

Who do you need to call? What did you learn?

Business

Don’t Ever Say Never:

You want to know why you are losing sales? It’s because you don’t think that deal is possible.  Heck, we all do it. We have that conversation, look over the details, crunch the numbers, fail time and time again and we decide that whatever it is, is just impossible to get.

The real issue, it’s that we don’t have realistic expectations of what it will take to accomplish that goal / task / ambition.  Plus, we try and push too fast in the relationship and instead of finding out their actual needs and how we can help, we just make the offer… which falls on deaf and/or angry ears.

Please, take a moment to read to this quick story because I promise it will help, even if not right now.

I just closed a deal with someone who has become a great friend over the past few years. His name is Bo Cordell and he is a freaking champion, you should get to know him.  Around three years ago he stopped by Tip Top and it was a great meeting.  He left with no business in hand, BUT he had started some key relationships with our company.  As time went on, I became the traffic manager with sole responsibility of bringing on new carriers and the needs of our company started changing.  Beyond that, we spent about a year and a half getting coffee once a month just to shoot the shit, talk shop, and get to know each other even better.

About a year ago he received a fantastic promotion, just another reason that shows how much of a #boss that he is, and he moved back to his home town.  Since then, we have had fairly regular calls, one of which further cemented our professional relationship.

After three years, we just closed a deal with his company. It never felt forced, it always felt natural, and the whole time we talked biz we grew our friendship.  I can’t wait to see how it continues to grow, especially as we are potentially starting another exciting adventure together with a few others. More details on that to come at a later date. 

Community

Stop Sending DM’s In LinkedIn:

I think a lot of people could benefit from following the advice from the title of this post: Stop sending DM’s in LinkedIn.  Most of the time people send really crappy messages just going straight for the kill and asking for the close, or as a put it in another post, the marriage proposal.

Please for the love of all things good and holy, stop furthering this issue and make sure that you don’t just send a blast of DM’s via LinkedIn or any other social media platform asking for business.  Sure, you may get a random person positively responding, but then I would also ask why were they so willing to work with a random stranger.  What we need to do is forget the ask all together and see how we can best interact with that individual.  If they are posting lots of content on LinkedIn, start interacting with them there. If they are not posting anything on that platform, see if they are engaged elsewhere and find out where they are most active.  It is the craziest thing for you to keep trying to contact someone in the same way even after the fact they haven’t responded to your first fifteen tries. 

No matter how you eventually connect with someone, don’t let the first interaction be a big ask, because your relational bank is empty is instantly overdrawn, and no one likes the feeling of being overdrawn.  Take your time, relationships don’t happen overnight, but over a lifetime. 

Helpful Hints

How To Get Past The Gatekeeper

Ahhhh the infamous gatekeeper. The holder of the keys and the bosses schedule.  The one who decides who gets to go beyond the proverbial curtain and see the wizard… too much?  Gatekeepers, we all know them, we all struggle with them at times, and in fact, at some point or another we all are one of them.  Gatekeepers are an integral part of companies and when they do their job well, they save the person they work with a lot of wasted time and effort.

The question to ask yourself, especially in sales, is how do you get past the gatekeeper, especially when there is one of those convenient no soliciting signs?  

What I have seen and experienced work best is when we create a point of connection.  To do that, you need to be incredibly observant of your surroundings and the non-verbal cues that individual is giving.  To create a point of connection, as you are walking up to that persons desk and starting a conversation, you need to see if there is anything that can be a connection that you can talk about.  If there is a picture of their dog on the desk, you can start bringing up their pet and ask questions.  You also need to have questions prepared that will help you to go beyond the surface and get you some real information.  What I mean is that you don’t just want to find out the dogs name, you also want to see if it has a favorite toy or treat.  Once you are loaded with that information, as you follow up with that office again in a couple weeks, you come in to talk to Carol about her dog and you hand her a present for her fur baby that ends up being their favorite kind of toy.  As you begin creating this good will and influence with this individual, you are making lots of relational deposits so that when you eventually go for the ask, it doesn’t feel like much of a draw on the relationship because you have already given so much.

If there are not any pictures to draw some data from, you have to be armed with some general questions that will lead to uncommon commonalities.  Not only that, you have to realize that surprisingly enough, they don’t want to spend all day with you.  That being said, getting past the gatekeeper takes time.  As you focus on forming a genuine connection instead of getting past them, opportunities to do just that will start to pop up.  Maybe instead of dropping off just your business card, you stop on by with a handful of gift cards for a local restaurant or coffee shop for the gatekeeper to use and share with others in the office.  Maybe you bring by handwritten thank you cards.  Maybe you don’t go straight for the person who you eventually need to meet, but instead you start to meet other people of influence at the company like the people who run the warehouse.  Remember, the person you think you need to meet may not actually be the one to get you the business.  

Think about doing business differently and start thinking about how you can form common points of connection that just may lead to the opportunity for you to make a sale.

Helpful Hints

In Sales, You Are Never The Hero:

I was recently having a talk with a friend, who is a carrier, when he brought up a predicament he was in.  He said he could think of about 4-5 potential customers that he couldn’t get beyond a certain point.  With each of these relationships he was forming, he didn’t know if he should continue pressing into them, put his focus elsewhere, or go straight to the head decision maker.  I am sure this scenario may be sounding familiar to you, especially if you are in sales.  There could be a million and one reasons why these individuals he was talking to kept on pushing the decision down the road or were not even bringing up the solutions that he was offering to their boss.  Whatever those reasons may be, figuring out how to get over this obstacle is crucial.

The only way, I repeat, the only way you can get over this obstacle is by making that individual you are talking with the hero.  That person needs to be the hero of their company that helped save $100,000.  That person needs to be the hero that brought the solution that solved all of shippings issues.  That person needs to be the hero that came up with the idea to simplify the supply chain.  As a salesman, if you want to get to the decision maker, you need to make that initial contact look like a hero to their boss.

You need to change the way you bring up those great little facts about your company.  That individual that is keeping you from getting to the next step honestly doesn’t care that you are saving them money, time, effort, or the fact that you are almost always on time.  That person does care however that you are giving them the opportunity to let there boss know that they just saved their company $100,000 over the course of the year as the markets are tightening up and most companies spend is going up by 15%, or that their end customers will have a better experience of service and as their trust grows in the company, they will end up purchasing more product, which means more sales.You need to learn to start framing facts so that the potential customer is the hero.  Remember, you are there to make them… look… good.  

What if, after all of this, they still don’t bring your proposal to the real decision maker?  You need to frame this next part carefully.  You need to show empathy for their situation and ask them if you can go directly to the decision maker yourself.  You need to see if you could email or call that person directly, BUT before you go ahead and do that, you need to learn how to frame whatever you are about to say in such a way that still makes the initial contact look like a hero to their company.  You can’t call the real decision maker and talk down about your initial contact.  That is a sure fire way to never get the business.  You also shouldn’t just go over their head because the story that may end up being told about you to the real decision maker may be one that is fabricated and keeps you from ever getting the business.

No matter which route you choose, you need to make that initial contact look like an absolute hero to their company.  If you can do that, and you make it to the real decision maker, you will start to close on more deals and earn more customers.