Bugatti Veyron For Sales

BugattiIt’s not a typo:   This isn’t a classified ad. Those don’t work like they used to. Nor do a lot of things in the sales world.

Remember when you had to call people, knock on doors and send them direct mail just to get their attention? Of course you do…90% of the people reading this are still doing it every day! Even though they have access to a marketing machine equivalent to a Bugatti Veyron at their fingertips, they still choose to do it the old way. The vehicle is Social Selling.

What’s the point of the cold call in the first place? To get attention and build relationships, of course. Whose time does that involve? Both the caller’s AND the prospect’s. What happens if you can’t come to trust and respect each other in that first interaction? Both the your AND the prospect’s time are wasted. Time has become an even more important resource than currency, especially when you’re trying to build a business in this fast-paced world. Unlike money, you can’t add time to your bank account.

What if you could establish relationships faster than a Bugatti can go from 0-200 mph? How would it benefit your business if you didn’t have to spend hours every day interrupting people, trying to get their attention to give them a message they usually don’t care about hearing?   What if you could instead focus on engaging with communities of other humans that have grown to know, like and trust you before you have even physically MET THEM?  Does anyone else think this is a ridiculous conversation to be having right now? Be honest: How many more people could you reach and attract if you just stopped doing what you have been told to do for decades and started interacting with customers on THEIR terms? Social Selling allows you to make the most of your time AND that of people who have yet to meet you.

By the way, you can’t test drive a Bugatti Veyron. They’re like works of art, specifically fitted to each buyer…like a personal brand is specific to each human being that builds one.  

Coincidentally, authentic versions of each are nearly priceless.

The Opposite Attraction: NLP

cropped-stop-cross.jpgI’ve said a repeatedly that:  “I don’t care if I’m the FIRST person someone thinks of.  In fact, I’d much rather be the second than the first.” The reason is simple: The representative’s name people bring up first when talking about my industry at dinner parties is often the one they’re pissed at. Interestingly enough, this JUST HAPPENED, right at my own breakfast bar.

My wife had friends over the other evening for wine and appetizers.  Out of the blue, one of them started talking about how much junk mail they get from other local brand representatives, and how they get nothing in the mail from my office.  Almost instantly, the other two chimed in and it became a virtual slam-fest.  These women were going off on the old-school marketing  tactics, saying how they would “NEVER” do business with these people.  Meanwhile, I stood there in my kitchen, eating some soup and a sandwich.  Finally, an opportunity came to throw some gasoline on an already blazing flame:  “Do you know that when those prospects call one of those offices, they are told THEY HAVE TO COME IN DURING BUSINESS HOURS to be taken care of???”  I thought the roof was going to blow off the house!  But it was true. This is how some representatives STILL thrust their “this how we’ve always done it” mentality on people.  What this impromptu conversation made me wonder was:  “How can I tap into this incredible negative energy and use it to build something amazing?”  That’s when I thought back to Anthony Robbins’ “Unlimited Power” CD I keep in my car for road trips.  It’s in that content  where I first learned the term “Neurolinguistic Programming.”  NLP is the perfect way to advertise and market the opposite attraction.

When people go on a diet, do they stop eating entirely?  No.  When they start a workout program, do they go to the gym for three hours 7 days a week after being sedentary for 5 years?  Of course not.  Dieting and exercise are are two cases where doing the exact opposite of what you HAD been doing simply doesn’t work.   Marketing, namely how consumers REACT to certain strategies, is an example of how customers CAN be rewarded for engaging in the exact opposite behavior when confronted with certain stimuli.  In this case, those stimuli are traditional interruption strategies.  Expose and build upon the frustration people like my wife’s friends were demonstrating about the other local brand representatives, then give them an easy-to-adopt opposite alternative that allows them to regain control over their time and attention.

Few things in the world are absolute, which is why gray areas exist.  One exception to this is time.  There are ABSOLUTELY 24 hours in a day…no more, no less.  What people choose to do with every second of every hour depends on their personal values.  I argue that most people value spending time with others and/or doing things that matter most.  They would also prefer in those moments that everything else:  distractions, annoyances, inconveniences, surprises, etc, would just go away.  Do-Not-Solicit/Do-Not-Call, DVR’s, Opt-outs, and anti-SPAM regulations are just a few indications that customers want uninterrupted control of their time. What many have yet to understand, however, is that there are increasing numbers of professional service providers out there TODAY who will allow them to reject the traditional strategies and actually encounter remarkably superior levels of service by doing the exact opposite of what they are accustomed.

When customers begin diverting their attention and revenue the opposite direction, it will accelerate change across entire industries.

Selling On Price

Price value

Brands that sell on price are making a statement that numbers matter more than relationships.  For decades, numbers have driven sales goals and performance incentives for most companies. “Make this or that number and you will be looked upon favorably when bonus time rolls around.” Yet how many times are representatives told that “it takes years to build a relationship and only seconds to lose one”? Is this not a counter-intuitive thought process? If it takes seconds to lose a valued customer that continues to pay for products and services year after year, why would anyone not focus more attention on those great people than on others who will never care about your brand or, worse yet, will never care about YOU?

Retention is the right strategy. Unfortunately, legacy systems don’t support it to the extent that they should. What would happen if representatives were rewarded for the number of times a customer bought from them, the number of their friends they had been introduced to who also chose to work with them, and the depth of relationships they had formed with these customers? What if THOSE were the primary metrics on which representative performance was measured with production being secondary?

The truth is that measuring retention isn’t sexy. It doesn’t put big, flashy numbers on the board. It doesn’t predict market performance, and therefore how well or poorly a newly-introduced product or service is received by the general public. The game of retention is like golf: The LOWER score wins.  

Until the paradigm shifts, the traditional marketing cycle will continue trying to run up the score.

Life’s A Journey, Not A Destination

Road Less Traveled

Life’s a journey, not a destination, yet so often it’s the end result that gets all of the attention.  What about those who are between the beginning and the end?  When they’re not creating the desired results, why is it assumed that they’re on cruise control when what some are actually doing is building a new superhighway because they find the road that’s always been traveled is becoming too rough or too busy?  

It’s been recommended that one occasionally take a different route to work instead of driving the same one every day, just to break up the monotony of the daily grind.  It’s said to help gain new insights on the world that surrounds us.  Yet many companies do exactly the opposite when it comes to their processes and procedures.  And people resist change in the same manner.  “But this way:  is faster…is shorter…has fewer stop lights…has less traffic” they argue, so they refuse to even try.

What’s greater:  The risk of following the same path every day or the risk of venturing out?  Twenty years ago, the risk of staying the course was minimal.  The waves of technological change weren’t yet beginning to gain traction. Prospects and customers could only speak of your obsolescence with 10 or so others who resided within their geographic confines.  Today, prospects and customers have powerful tools at their disposal that, although dismissed as “visionary” or “pie-in-the-sky” ideas when authors like Bill Gates (The Road Ahead) and Seth Godin(Permission Marketing) first wrote about the today’s changes back in 1996.

 
The choice is whether to take the road less traveled or get left behind.

Segmentation: Personalities Behind The Posts

SegmentationWith all the talk about segmenting customers, wouldn’t it be equally as intriguing to dive into the brand and representative personalities that create, curate, share, and publish content?  News feeds and timelines are becoming more cluttered by the second, which is forcing consumer attention spans to get shorter each day.  As a result, consumers are becoming more aware of the motivations of the people they follow, although they likely have yet to get as analytical as some people. (Yes, I’m referring to myself.)  

Three years ago, I marked 2016 as the year that would re-define the term “Attention Deficit”, only this time it’s not a disorder, but a paradigm shift.  Why 2016?  Because it’s a presidential election year in which a good percentage of the American population is now relying on mobile technology as their primary source of communication:  Voice, text, and data, all in one.  The desktop computers on their kitchen counters are collecting dust, their land lines have been disconnected, and their DVR’s are all set to record their favorite shows (without commercials).  All of the focus now is on their handheld screens, and the visual noise is getting overwhelming.  2016 is the year that will make a lot of people rethink their priorities about who they follow and engage with, and whose content is worthy of their attention.  In previous years, much of the information consumed was chosen without regard for motive of the content creator/curator. From this point forward, my belief is that “attention deficient” consumers are going to begin categorizing their contacts into the following four specific segments:

  • The Subliminal Self-Promoter.  This person uses what Eddie Murphy called in his standup routine: “The Jedi mind trick.”  It happens when someone posts about their joy and happiness for someone else’s success…that they reveal in the next sentence was made possible by their business efforts.  It’s nothing more than a sales pitch covered up with frosting and sprinkles.   
  • The Bold Brander. These “human doings” wear their brands on their sleeves, or pockets, or across their backs—Literally.  Their entire wardrobe was purchased from their company store.  The e-mail containing the phrase:  “People care more about who you are than want you do” apparently bypassed their inbox and went right to “junk”.    
  • The Compliant Content Curator.  This person schedules and publishes alright:  But only the stuff that appears in their corporate suggested content queue.  What they fail to realize is that the only reach they are extending is that of the brand through their networks.  They are NOT differentiating themselves.  Instead, they are annoying the community members who used to “like” them.
  • The Under The Radar Renegade.  This person knows the rules of engagement.  They constantly manage their personal brand and attract others based on their world views.  Many times, customers ask to work with them because they DON’T do what the other three groups are doing…The only factor that affects timing is the level of noise tolerance of their potential customers.  Lower tolerance = faster growth.

None of this should come as any surprise, right?  What segment do you think you belong in?  Put yourself in the shoes of a customer and ask:  “What segment would I most like to work with?”

2016 appears to be a big year for decision-making.

Like It or Not, YOU’RE A BRAND!

No more hidingIt’s time to stop hiding behind the “employee” mask.  That title is dying right along with the Industrial Age it was coined in.  While we’re at it, let’s toss the “boss” title out the window, too.  Change is upon us, and all of our futures depend on one very important observation:

If you work with the public in any capacity and earn an income from those interactions, you are performing the FUNCTION of every business in the world:  The acquisition and maintenance of customers.  And you are likely doing this with some goal in mind:  To provide for yourself and your family by making money, which is coincidentally the GOAL of every business in the world.     

Why the assertion that everyone is a brand?  Because the Internet has made it that way.  Everything we post online is a representation of who we are and what we stand for.  Our values, beliefs, loyalties and oppositions are reflected in our words, expressions, clothing, vehicles, homes, possessions…  you name it. Don’t believe it?  Have you ever seen a Ford pickup with a window sticker of Calvin (of the cartoon Calvin and Hobbes) pissing on a red bowtie (aka Chevrolet) emblem?  That’s an example of brand loyalty, albeit an extreme one.  Do you know people who ONLY wear clothes of certain brands?  How about people who refuse to eat at certain restaurants or drink certain brands of beer?  Each of these is an example of brand loyalty.  “But how does this apply to the ‘employee’ label”,  you ask? To answer that question, we must first clarify your own priorities:

  • How did you choose your career?  Are you driven first by (a) intrinsic factors like personal passion and fulfillment, or (b) extrinsic factors like money and power?
  • How did you choose your employer? Are your employer’s values and beliefs: (a) well aligned and complementary to your own, or (b) inconsistent or conflicting with your own?
  • How committed/loyal are you to not only your employer, but all of the brands that you “endorse” by being directly or inadvertently connected to them?  Are you (a) proud to be associated with them, or are you (b) paid to be happy (i.e. with salary or discounted goods and services)?

***If you answered (a) in each instance, you’re probably an employee/brand advocate, whether anyone inside your organization realizes it or not.  If (b) was the choice each time, your work environment probably restricts or discourages advocacy because neither party in the equation knows what the other might say.  Very unfortunate, indeed.       

 

In the Industrial Age, passion and alignment with an organization’s values wasn’t part of a job description, especially for someone applying for work on a factory assembly line.  However, as the Industrial Age began fading,  assembly lines became more automated and less human. At the same time,  educational institutions began shifting their programs away from “blue collar” careers and toward “white collar” ones.  The paradigm that still exists, unfortunately, is best explained by visualizing the factory environment.  

Walk up to nearly any factory and what do you see?  Big doors, solid walls, and a few windows. The windows aren’t there to look out of, though.  Rather, they are windows usually located a few feet below the roof line.  They’re not intended to allow passers-by to look in and see the workers…they are intended to allow natural lighting into the building.  The walls (and placement of the windows) allow the majority of employees to remain anonymous to the outside world.

Look around today:   You won’t find many offices and businesses without windows.  Organizations know that great work environments attract great people.  Even cubicles, the trademark of ‘90’s office spaces, are being replaced by mobile technology leveraged by teams in remote locations with wi-fi that turn Starbuck’s seating areas into satellite business locations.     

As mentioned earlier, the LABOR shift from human to automated, specifically in the industrial sector, began years ago.  What has been clinging on to the Industrial Age is the Employee/Boss “MIND”-shift. It’s time to let go.

NOW.   

Marketing to Phone Book Geography

Yellow PagesSome of us may remember when consumers used to be limited to buying from providers within their geography whether or not they knew, liked, or trusted them. If they needed a product or service and didn’t like anyone who sold it locally, too bad. Driving to the town 30 miles away wasn’t an option in 1972 for a couple of reasons: 1. There was an energy crisis. 2. People not only didn’t know how to find places outside of their own areas, they had no easy way of knowing what was even available when they got there. Phone books only used to be distributed by TOWNS within about a 10-mile radius of someone’s residence. If you wanted to run your fingers through the yellow pages of another location, you had to drive to the local library and pull them off the shelf. As if that wasn’t enough, you had to then find a map of the place you wanted to go. Even then, no one had time to waste driving up-and-down every street in an unfamiliar place looking for what they needed. We all know it’s not 1972. In many ways, it’s never coming back, yet in some ways it is.

When I was a kid, my dad used to spend every Saturday morning from 7am to Noon at the grain elevator lobby in our local town. He and a dozen other farmers got together to talk about anything anyone wanted to discuss. When I went along, one of the men always gave me a shiny quarter to buy an Orange Crush in a 10-ounce bottle from the Coca-Cola chest-cooler. Back then, I thought it was because he liked me. Now that I’ve been a father for 18 years, I’m pretty sure it was to keep me quiet so dad could socialize.

Why did I tell you this? How is 1972 applicable to today? People like my dad and his friends were all about community. Their sense of belonging made time stand still because they shared common world views. Today the Internet adapts those same desirable characteristics while diminishing or even eliminating the constraints of geography. Consumers’ options are longer defined by the yellow pages. Businesses, their products and services, and even their representatives, can be searched, researched, located, contacted, interacted with, mapped, and transacted with…no matter where they are in the world. What does that mean? If consumers are being served by a business, but don’t share complementary world views with the representative they are bound or assigned to, they can research and locate a more compatible provider. Doing so allows them to be part of a community instead of feeling like a prospect constantly being sold to. Second, they can regain control of their time. They will be able to confidently ignore a majority of the people competing for their attention every day, allowing them freedom from the continuous interruptions of representatives who “just don’t get it”.

So what are we doing now, marketing the phone book or creating communities?

Employee Turnover: Shut The Back Door

Shut The Back Door

There’s a lot of instability in the sales world right now. It’s clear from the tone of message boards, forums, e-mails, and business meetings that the ripples in the water are developing whitecaps. While all of the attention is on somehow innovating ways to continue building revenue, there’s an even bigger problem that will potentially cancel out a large number of marketing efforts designed to build brand trust: Employee turnover.

It’s not the 80’s anymore, folks. You can’t expect a terminated employee to remain quiet when you let them go for not meeting the quota you assigned them using your antiquated sales systems. It’s 2016, and they have networks, connections, friends and followers. People “like” them and their online communities reflect their shared, complementary world views. So what happens when they post on their timelines that they just got fired from the job they were enthusiastically posting about getting just two months ago?  It’s likely to be “Outrageous!”  Even more so are the numbers.

Let’s say you hire, train, and fire 5 people per year and each averages 200 close online contacts across all of their networks. That’s 1000 people per year that no longer hold you or your brand in high esteem: You fired their friend…You now suck.  Not only that, guilt by association concludes that your brand and everyone affiliated with your brand now sucks.  But wait…we’re STILL not done sucking:  The industry with which your brand is affiliated sucks, too.  “A thousand people in a one-rep market doesn’t make that much difference”, you say? What if you’re not the only brand OR industry representative in the market? What if there are 20? Or 200? As a group, you are burning through 1000 people per year.  Potentially 200,000 of the customers you intended to market your products and services think, you guessed it— that YOU suck. Does that get your attention or are you still not buying it? That’s what I thought.

Here’s what is baffling: Nearly every forum places the blame on the employee for their failure to produce!   “It’s that damn (fill-in-the-blank) generation! They just don’t want to work!” Heaven forbid anyone would entertain the possibility that the world around them is changing at the speed of light. I learned years ago that you have to provide employees all of the tools and training necessary for them to succeed or else they will fail. I also learned that you manage things, but you LEAD people.  How many true leaders seriously have NO contingency plan when all trends over the last decade have indicated major changes are on the horizon?  How is it in the realm of possibility that interrupting people’s lives to initiate a sale is going to work forever? Do DVR’s, disconnected land lines and DNS database usage stats not send a message to anyone else?

The internet’s inherent advantage is that customers can tell brands how they want to be served in real time. Unfortunately, it seems that very few are listening. Instead, enthusiastic people with unlimited potential are being turned off by legacy companies every day because the only tools they are trained to use are obsolete. There’s also a subliminal message being conveyed to great current and future customers: “This brand isn’t equipped to serve you on your terms.  You need to get online and build a relationship with one that’s looking to the future instead of living in the past.”

Even the best marketing strategists can’t dig themselves out of that hole.

Business Focus: Ants or Elephants

elephantAntHow many sales representatives are trained to hunt “elephants”? (Figuratively, of course!)  Elephants are the big accounts that can surpass an organization’s annual sales budget in ONE DEAL.  

Reps that land these accounts are seen as heroes whose business practices are written in stone for everyone hired into that role going forward.  We can all agree that elephants provide an organization with significant revenue streams in the short term, but what about the long run?  Is there another source that could be as, if not MORE, lucrative over the long haul? As a matter of fact, there is…except not many representatives or companies are able to see them or the massive potential they represent. Why?  Their work is being done mostly underground.

I consider myself an “ant”, not an “elephant”.  In fact, most small business owners probably place themselves in the “ant” category.  The reason?  Because small business owners aren’t provided the same opportunities to leverage today’s technology and big data as large corporate counterparts. They simply have to be more frugal with their cash flows in order to make ends meet. Unfortunately, that means the customers they are passionate about serving are often faced with operational IN-efficiency throughout the buyer journey.  For instance, large companies have the resources to leverage predictive analytics to more accurately anticipate the needs of customers.  Small business owners have to physically listen to each of their customers’ interactions and reach out to them MANUALLY, not via automation tools provided to their larger competitors within their custom-tailored systems.  This seriously restricts the ability of small business owners to add value to their customers’ experiences.  My assertion, which is supported by at least a handful of influencers out there, is that “ants” provide a huge, untapped opportunity.

Ants are truly fascinating creatures, and perfect for this analogy.  Here are some interesting facts about ants that can be assimilated to small business ownership and marketing:

  • Ants can lift up to 100 times their body weight.  Like small business owners, they have to do their own heavy lifting.   
  • Ants recruit other ants into their colony to help do their work.  Sounds very similar to an advocacy program, doesn’t it?
  • Ants do most of their work out of sight.   They build massive networks of colonies across hundreds, even THOUSANDS of acres, and no one even pays attention.

What would happen if some attention and support were suddenly given to small business owners who have been doing their own heavy lifting, manually piecing together their own systems while diligently building tight-knit, connected and far-reaching communities of compatible world views? What if they suddenly had all of the tools necessary to come out from their underground networks and could start influencing others to build their own inter-connected communities above ground? How would the cumulative benefit of serving thousands of “ants” compare to that one “elephant” not only in present, future, value?

It might be worth a look, don’t you think?

Exponential Magnification: The Power of Six

magnifying-glass-450690_1280In 1992, a scientist named Robin Dunbar assigned “150” as the number of close individual relationships human beings are capable of maintaining at one time.  The human brain, Dr. Dunbar asserted, reaches a tipping point and becomes overloaded if forced to retain information about more than 150 people.  Anyone who looks at their own life would likely see this theory as being quite reasonable.  But how does Dunbar’s Number apply to connectivity within social networks?  What if you could exponentially magnify that number by engaging with and connecting complementary community members in a very precise manner rather than at random?

 

Since Mitch Joel wrote a book called “Six Pixels of Separation”, I’ll choose the number “6” for the purpose of this discussion.  If you were to choose SIX topics you are most passionate about and SIX topics that would make you exit a room as quickly as you entered it, what topics would be on each list?  Do you have your lists made?  Good.  Now reflect on the 150 people closest to you.  You all share a few common insights and passions, right? Otherwise, you’d run the other way when you saw them approaching you.  The important thing to note here is that NOT ALL of your 150 closest relationships are compatible with ONE ANOTHER.  Because of this fact, I ask you to now categorize each person into whichever of the six “passion” categories you defined a moment ago.  If they fit into more than one, great!  It means you have more to talk about when you get together!  

 

This is where it gets interesting.  Where Dunbar’s Number caps the relationship figure is where the real magic happens.  How is this possible?  An old-school concept called DELEGATION. Except in this case, you’re delegating purposeful connectivity rather than authority.  And your network becomes exponentially magnified as a result.  Remember the six “passions”. and the six “deal breakers”? Let’s start first with the deal breakers.  Would you ever choose to engage with people with whom you share zero commonality?  Of course not.  The great thing about big data is that these people can now be identified before you send them ANY marketing correspondence.  By the way, this is the ONLY way they’d ever hear of you in the first place.  They, like you, certainly aren’t going to connect with anyone they have ZERO in common with, right?   This concept pinpoints exactly why traditional advertising is on its last leg.  

 

Finding people who share one or more of your passions is the key to success.  Why?  The relationships are more genuine, authentic and engaged when joined together by passion. Customers who share one or more common worldviews are also less likely to leave your care, and therefore, you make a better living as long as you never give them a reason to not trust you. “What does ‘Dunbar’s Number’ have to do with any of this”, you ask?  In order to understand, you need to take a step back and visualize a rather unique example.  I’d like you go back to science class and picture an ATOM, namely the individual molecules within that atom.  

 

Let’s start with the nucleus:  YOU.  Rotating around you in the next layer are 150 of your closest friends.  Connecting you to those friends are one or more BONDS (as discussed above).  The number of bonds between you is the number of passions you share. Dunbar’s Number stops there, but with the Molecular Networking model, we’re just getting started.   What happens next exponentially magnifies your network by delegating the power to expand it to your friends.  Although the two of you may share a few common friends, you are only one particle in their networks, right?  The thing you can be relatively assured of is that, because the two of you share compatible worldviews, it’s likely that others in their network you have yet to meet are likely to be compatible with you as well.  We see this playing out online every day.  My assertion is that, much of the time, such connections are less purposeful and more random.  By making these secondary connections more purposeful and focused, however, we gain two distinct advantages:  First, we maintain some element of control over our connectivity.  Second, we are able to inject passion into the second layer of communities THROUGH our first layer bonds.  

 

The difference between this Molecular Networking concept and traditional marketing is that there is no randomness, and therefore, a reduced level of discord within networks.  Once the passions and deal breakers have been determined, the focus of the networking process is EXCLUSIVELY ON THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.  The primary function of the nucleus is to strengthen the bonds between molecules.  When done correctly, the bonds (chemistry) between molecules (people/communities) are become stronger than any opposing force(competitor), thus dramatically reducing the pull (noise).  The potential size of a network using this theory is limited only by one’s ability to engage and energize their communities. Even if you only achieved a 20% bond with the group one layer beyond the initial friend layer, the potential is staggering:  

 

150 x 150 = 22,500 x .2 = 4500 people.

 
Not bad, right?  Hang on, friends.  This is only one facet of a multi-layers concept..  How many influencers on Twitter have used the phrase “Employee Advocacy” in the last 3 months? Exactly.  Your team members are also nuclei, aren’t they?  You have 3 of them?  Triple the product in the above equation. Three HUNDRED people report to you?  Bad news:  You need to buy a new calculator.  What about the impact on recruiting when networks and worldviews are factored into the selection process throughout all levels of an organization?  Wouldn’t people enjoy going to work more if everyone throughout an entire organization shared at least a few compatible worldviews? How much would such diversity benefit a company’s retention efforts?  

Personally, I believe it would be a game-changer.