My bold statement: Sales-minded entrepreneurs and sales professionals who do not make the decision to embrace personal branding will go the way of the dinosaur while those who do make that decision and do it well will own the majority of future business.
My personal branding adventure began in late 2014, shortly after I began writing my book, It’s Time to Sell: Cultivating the Sales Mind-set. I began the journey with one vision in mind: be of service to entrepreneurs and help them to see sales differently in their minds and thus feel better about acquiring new clients.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
As I shared in this article, there are really only two primary ways to change. If we are hit with a life event that consumes us at an emotional level, we react to it and change. Or, if we proactively make a decision to change and work on ourselves and through consistent, spaced repetition of a new ideal, we change more gradually.
When I jumped into sales as one of my life’s pursuits, I hit a major brick wall. The foundation for that brick wall was an image of sales that had been planted in my mind in my youth. That image portrayed sales as a less-than-worthy profession. Can you relate?
On November 1st I gave a version of this presentation to a local group in St. John's. The feedback has been overwhelming with many people taking me up on the challenge. I believe if you follow through on this challenge for 30 days you will form a new habit and that habit will enable 2017 to be your best year ever.
Have you noticed that you're making more connections than in the old days, the days before there were tools like LinkedIn and Facebook? People must fundamentally believe that the value of our life experiences increases as they meet new people. I know that I do.
Have you ever been to a buffet restaurant? They lay out all the food, and everything looks so good that you want to try it all. Without really thinking about it, you fill your plate with a little bit of everything. Buffet marketing is like that too.
A key marketing asset for any business today is an expanding email list of customers and prospective customers who value what you do.
That an email list is a key asset for any business has been well documented. Yes, followers on the various social media platforms are valuable; however, those platforms are constantly changing the rules of the game, to the point that the value of having the following is changing and, in most cases, decreasing.
We are living in a time when reaching potential customers is not a problem.
Leads have become commodities. For example, in seven minutes you can create an image that is 1200 pixels wide by 628 pixels high, write a compelling headline, and place an ad on Facebook targeting people 44 years old who are interested in drinking craft beer and live in Dubuque, Iowa. Within minutes, you’ll have leads.
We have two golden retrievers. Sophie is eight years old, and Jack is one year old.
Sophie is cool, calm, and collected. She has been ever since we got her when she was twelve weeks old, although she did get super excited one Christmas morning, bolting across the floor and smashing our glass lamp into pieces.
Jack is serious, curious, and—most of the time—all over the map. We have lost him in holes that he digs in our backyard.
Big wins are the ones that we seem to celebrate with other people. We go out for a nice meal with our spouses and children after landing a new, six-figure contract. We go out with our buddies after winning a championship.
Unless sales feels 100% natural to you, developing the habits and routines that lead to a consistent stream of clients and revenue is a tall order. After you land a new client and feel good about the accomplishment it is very easy to get trapped in the maintenance mode of serving that new client and forgetting about long-term revenue.
This evening, while doing some research, I came across a question that was asked of Guy Kawasaki on the Q&A website Wiselike. Many of us know Guy as an early evangelist at Apple and, most recently, an evangelist at Canva. I have used Canva for the past year, and I have to say that it truly is democratizing graphic design. I love it.
One of the issues we face in our sales endeavors is the fluidity of what we do. In my opinion, sales is one of the few professions in which results are defined almost entirely by the decisions of others. Think about that for a minute. What other professions have a mandate to move people toward making decisions?
As entrepreneurs and sales professionals, we’re out there looking for new people to buy our stuff. We’ve immersed ourselves in our products and services, and we believe in them. We know that what we have can benefit the prospective client. We meet with him or her, and first we listen. Then, we typically go into a pitch. We talk about feature X and benefit Y. We talk about the color, texture, smell, taste, and so on. We walk away from the conversation feeling great.
Meeting new people can sometimes feel awkward. I have stumbled over my words and outright fallen flat on my face on many occasions, especially early on in my career.
In 1995, I was in the last couple semesters of my business education and was starting a company with my two pals Steve and Ron. We decided to start a website design company. At that time probably 99% of the population had no clue what a website was. I don’t think I did either. Steve suggested we start a business, and I simply said, “OK!”
How people buy is evolving. Entrepreneurs and salespeople must evolve too. Buyers are doing more and more of their research online prior to engaging directly with the businesses that they feel may have the solution they need.
Early in the summer of 2014, I felt a burning desire to step outside my comfort zone and try something new. Despite having no experience writing and no confidence in my ability to write, I decided to write a book. No, not a blog or a letter to the editor of the local newspaper—an entire book.
Very seldom when I speak with a college student and ask what they are studying does he or she say, “I’m studying sales.” I may be a bit biased, but I find the lack of that response (or some version of it) disheartening and I can’t help but wonder whether students are turned off by their perceptions of sales. What I find even more interesting is that when I speak with a person who is a little further along in a career or business venture, he or she often says, “I wish I’d learned more about how to grow revenue when I was in college.”
The topic takes me back in time to the late 1990s, when I was sitting behind a desk in a mid-level IT management role. I had subscribed to a couple of ‘free’ magazines, meaning that in exchange for providing information about our IT systems I received a twelve-month subscription to the magazine. Puffy chested like I was, I made my job sound one level higher than it was and my spending authority seem a few zeros more than it was.