Business

Stories Change Everything

Stories change everything.  A story can be the sole difference between you getting a sale, a new connection, a new job or perhaps even the man or woman of your dreams.  Let me explain what I mean with a short story.
In October of this past year on of my brothers got married.  For the groomsman, he had picked out some suits.  Like the many times before, when I got the suit back from the tailor, multiple pockets were still sewn shut.  I grabbed a little pocket knife that I had and cut the thread so I could actually use the pockets.  I figured that there would be others who’s suits where in a similar disarray, so I brought the knife on the wedding day.  Low and behold I was correct.  The best man, a guy that has known our family for decades, ended up needing to use the knife.  When I finished up he handed it right back without a second glance at the knife.  As he handed the knife back my other brother who was also one of the groomsman spotted the knife.
His face lit up with joy because it was one of the knives that he had brought back after serving overseas near the Middle East.  As soon as the best man heard that this knife was a gift from my brother, everything about it changed. He asked to see it again and he held it with respect and awe as my brother, who gifted the knife, was able to tell a little about it and his time in the army
As I said, stories change everything.  They turn an ordinary knife into something worth taking a second glance at.  Stories are so important that before we go into any of those moments that could be life changing, we need to make sure that we are prepared. Prepared not just with general background information on the other person or company, but prepared with a story that clearly illustrates why using you, or what you offer, is a game changer.
Business

I’m Not Your Friend

I freakin love relationships.  I love people. So why the title? Why the post about not being your friend? Let me paint a picture. (This is the part where if this was a movie it would do a ripple fade to another shot).
It’s a normal Tuesday, early afternoon.  You are just getting back from lunch and diving right back into the project that you had to take a break from. As you look up, you see a mountain of emails filling your inbox, and out of the corner of your eye you see a coworker coming over to talk to you about an issue they wanted your help with.  As all of this is going on, you hear a faint noise coming from your right… its the ring tone of your office phone. You don’t want to be a jerk and ignore it so you reach over and pick it up off of the receiver.
As you greet the other person on the line with a hearty hello and your name, what comes next isn’t unusual, but it is jaw dropping.  “Hey Paul, this is so and so from blank company.  I know its been a couple months or so since I last reached out, so I figured I’d call to see how everything is going and catch up.”  Like I said, not unusual, but it is jaw dropping.
All of us have experienced this, and some of us, myself included, are guilty of doing this jaw dropping action.  The exact words we use ourselves, or hear from the other line, may be a little different, but it all amounts to the same thing.  We have no relationship but  would like to shoot the s#!t and burn 15 of their minutes idly chatting.
Again, I am 100% about relationships, but I have begun to see the importance of being selective with those relationships and who I share my time with.  It’s also not that I don’t want to form new relationships, it’s just that I don’t want to idly chit chat with someone who is a complete stranger.
Whenever we call, whether it is a friend, and especially if it is a new contact, call with intention.  Call with a specific, not general, question in mind and if you can hear stress and frustration in their voice, give them an out.  I know this may seem counterproductive to sales, but if you are always calling and idly chit chatting you are not only wasting their time, but yours as well.  The strongest relationships I have, have started  over the simplest things, but those conversations where had with intention.
Remember, I’m not your friend, at least not yet, so please don’t pretend that we are.  Start calling people with intention and I promise those relationships will form.
Business

So You Didn’t Close The Deal

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.
Business

How To Get Beyond The Ghost

We are just four day’s away from the next Carrier Community Event and I am freaking pumped!
Today’s post is inspired from some answers from the attendees when it came to the question of how do you get beyond the ghost.  The ghost is referring to the person you were talking to and about to sign a deal with, but then all of a sudden they don’t respond to your text’s, call’s, emails… nothin.  Below are some of the ideas discussed, some of which I wouldn’t have thought of.  Since I have started creating this carrier community with others, these pieces of wisdom have become invaluable.
  1. Pay attention to the news surrounding their company and about items that would be of interest to them.  If their company has done something remarkable and it is being reported on, this is an easy way to mention it to them and possibly get them talking about themselves… which we all love doing.  If their company isn’t in the news and you sent a printed out copy of the article with a letter stating why you sent it, that shows that you actually know about them and their interests, and that you are not afraid to go above and beyond what others and sales do.
  2. Search job postings for their company.  You may notice that their company is about to hire someone who will be their boss, or that their position is now open.  If you see that the company is hiring a new person in logistics / supply chain, you can send a welcome note once that position is filled.
    • You should also pay attention to their LinkedIn.  That is the easiest way to see changes to someones status and to see if their company, if their company keeps up with their own LinkedIn, has new people that could help you get back in contact with “The Ghost.”
  3. Get existing clients to call prospects.  If you can’t get back in touch with your contact, see if you can get an existing client to call on your behalf.  If someone called me and was genuinely raving about the service they were receiving… I know I would be 100% more inclined to reignite those conversations and take a second and third look on what was actually offered.
  4. Take a personal visit to their office.  This is super old school, but a personal touch is always more impactful.  See if you can learn their schedule a little bit better before you go to visit because you may be able to catch them on their way back from lunch.
  5. Hold them accountable.  This is one of the more tough suggestions because you have to do it with empathy.  You have no idea what is going on in their lives, but whatever is happening shouldn’t keep them from helping out their company.  If they agreed to get back with you about a yes or a no, keep them accountable to that.
Any of these five points can be implemented over and over again, but the most important thing is to make the other customer the hero. Part of the reason they may be ghosting is because even though you may be saving them some money or solving a problem, you are positioning yourself as the hero bringing about the solution. Remember that in sales you are never the hero.  Your job in sales is to make the other individual realize that with your help, they are going to be the hero as they save their company money, solve a big issue, or help bring about positive change that the company has been needing for so long.
Getting beyond the ghost isn’t easy, but it is possible. What are ways that you are doing it with your potential customers?