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.
When creating goals, mindset matters.
Whelp, that’s about all I need to say on this topic, but for those of you wanting / needing a little more, let’s dive a little deeper.
As I was thinking through what my next big goal should be, fear crept in. The fear that crept in was that I was going to become the arrogant ass that I was before. Not only that, but instead of building relationships as I accomplished this goal, I would actually be pushing people away as I chased down what I thought was a great opportunity.
I knew that I needed to go about this goal setting process differently. Instead of having some arbitrary goal that would benefit only me, I made others my focus. I knew that if I had a goal that was me centric, I would push people away as I chased an opportunity. However, if my goal was focused on benefiting those around me, then as I strived for that goal, I would be building the very relationships that would lead to the opportunities that I needed.
Mindset is everything. When our goals are focused on us, our interactions take a turn for the worse as conversations go from a we, to all about me. As you set your goals be careful of what kind of mindset you have, because it’s that very mindset that may just keep you from reaching your goals.
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.