I’m Not The Boss—You Are

Turn the hiring process upside-down.  Most employers look to fill a role with a body.  As recently as 5 years ago, many products and services were not yet considered commodities.  Companies maintained leadership positions in their industries by differentiating their advertising efforts.  Today, the ad channels are clogged with noise.  Consumers aren’t paying enough attention to most brands’ advertising to be able to tell them apart.  What does that mean?  Differentiation and market advantage must take place BEFORE perceptions are formed about the brand.  It must take place at ground level.  Enter the new hiring model.

Employers used to hire individuals based on their ability to “get it”.  In other words, they hired them and trained them on the features and benefits to prepare them for success–the ability to proficiently overcome a sufficient number of objections to close deals and generate revenue.  Many of today’s customers research products and services on their own, essentially addressing concerns and closing deals before they ever seek advice.  So how does that change the sales role?

In a nutshell, anyone who wants to serve (not work for) any employer in the future will hire themselves by being passionate about their purpose.  They may even create their own roles inside an organization.  Traditional companies have rigid job descriptions and hierarchies for keeping people in line and bases covered.  In my company, I expect three specific things: 

  • Unquestionable loyalty to the parent brand to whom I am committed to serving.  Without their brand value proposition, my sub-brand does not exist.
  • Development of expert understanding of the products and services we provide.  That is the only thing that will offer customers the confidence they are seeking when they reach out to us.
  • The passionate pursuit of your own identity enabled by consistently advertising your worldview.

What if applicants actually started subscribing to these concepts?  How would the labor market change?

Anonymous Calls Don’t Get Answered

anonymous photoThere used to be ONE great customer whose caller ID appeared as “anonymous” that I was excited to talk to, that is until telemarketing companies decided to make hiding their phone numbers a best practice.

Playing practical jokes on each other has always been a favorite pastime around our house.  Imagine being handed a glass of lemonade that turns out to be limeade, or taking a drink from a pop or beer can that had been filled with water or spiked with a hint of vinegar.  If you’ve done these things to anyone, you’re likely recounting the memory of being chased by the targeted person while laughing hysterically.  If you’ve been on the receiving end, it’s quite probable that just hearing a relevant word or phrase is enough to cause your taste buds to short-circuit.

That’s exactly what seeing the word “anonymous” on their caller ID does to a lot of people these days.

Lead Vendors Crack Me Up

Every day at least 5 e-mails hit my inbox offering E-leads, warm leads, and hire-to-call leads.  What’s more amusing is that many discussion boards are full of posts requesting input on what leads are the best to purchase and what vendors have the best word tracks for getting results.

My best friend introduced me to an artist named Todd Snider, whose lyric, “It’s a circus out there, mama.  Your baby’s got the sideshow blues”, reminds me of childhood carnival visits.  It’s not hard to picture those companies’ representatives being the same people we’d see on the Midway:  “Hurry, hurry, hurry…Step right up!”    LMAO.

Brands’ persistence on recommending these vendors demonstrates how entrenched they are in their own traditional worlds.  They must be valuable to some people, but answer this question:  If shoppers knew they were somehow getting on lead lists that are being sold to companies for prospecting purposes for a profit, how long would those lists be?

Time Out!!

What are two of the main reasons a coach calls time out at the end of a half or game?  Usually because his team is either winning or losing.  Being on the winning side of anything is fun and energizing, so the team is usually amp’d up and ready to celebrate.  If they have an insurmountable lead, the bench is cleared and the substitutes get to finish the game.  The point is, the coach voluntarily calls timeout to retain focus and maintain order.

What about when the team is losing?  Think about the last seconds of any event:  A team is down by one goal with a minute left and they have to take the ball the length of the playing surface to get in range to score.    The problem is, their opponent has possession.  How is the mindset of the losing coach different than the one who’s winning? 

Pressure and panic are driving intense planning strategies in a 30-to 60-second huddle.  Even though the game is 60 or more minutes long, the outcome is dependent on executing this game plan created on a hand held white board, likely because the coaches failed to accurately anticipate how the game would evolve.  The intensity of this discussion is directly correlated to the enormity of the upset that is on the verge of happening. 

How do YOU feel today, Coach?

What Are You Selling??

The market is flooded with choices.  You want a new vehicle?  There are 42 different manufacturers listed on Cars.com.  How about insurance?  Interested in a house?  How many styles, locations, and prices are there?

Where can you research ALL of these things?  What can you find out?  What if you decide to buy:  Can you do it directly or do you need a licensed representative to assist you?   If all the licensed representative is doing is finalizing the purchase because it’s mandatory (by law) that they do so, what does their role look like to the customer?  What criteria does the consumer use to select the person who assists them?

The point is that all the marketing in the world can’t replace being a real, authentic person.  Most people aren’t buying specialized luxury products and services anymore…They’re buying YOU.  Perhaps you should begin focusing on differentiating that brand more than the product and service commodities listed on your website.

The 15% Delusion

15%Why does hearing “Save 15%” trigger the human brain to believe that’s a GREAT deal?  Step back and think about this for a second…15% of how much?  15% seems to be the magic number these days, but is it really that significant?

  • 15% of $10 is $1.50 (a 22-ounce bottle of soda.)
  • 15% of $100 is $15 (a movie ticket and a small box of popcorn.)
  • 15% of $1000 is $150 (3 tanks of gas in the standard SUV.)

Okay, so $150 would probably be worth it, but who can’t give up one soda or forego one movie per month and rent Redbox instead?

When I used to wait tables, 15% was the standard tip for really good service.  Today it’s considered an insult in the fine dining world to get less than 18%-20%.  How about insurance?  Saving 15% or more on car insurance sounds awesome until you put some real numbers to it.  If your premium is $300 every 6 months and you save 15%, the savings is $7.50 per month, or 25 cents per day.

Twenty-five cents per day is a great deal?   Really?  How about focusing on the value you receive instead of the incredible amount of savings you’re <NOT> getting?  Would you be willing to pay 25 cents a day for over-the-top, personalized service and technology that saves you time?


Book review: Permission Marketing

Seth Godin and I have never stood face-to-face, but his teachings have had a profound impact on my business’ vision.  His marketing insights are the inspiration for this blog’s title and content.

“Permission Marketing” completely dismantles every conceivable argument for traditional interruption strategies.  The reader is asked to mentally engage in situations where they are being solicited, interrupted, or distracted, all of which successfully trigger emotional responses.   At the peak of frustration, Mr. Godin outlines specific rules and steps for integrating an opposite strategy into your daily marketing routine that is centered on relationships instead of interruptions.

Reading “Permission Marketing” once isn’t enough. The concepts presented are so advanced that your head will be spinning and you’ll have no idea where to start.  If you follow Seth’s Blog, you know that STARTING is exactly what he wants you to do. Reading the book and placing it back on the shelf doesn’t do anything but delay the inevitable, leaving you light-years behind the few competitors that actually choose to take his visions seriously.

(On second thought, maybe you shouldn’t read it…  Being way ahead of the pack is a pretty good feeling.)



Love What You Do


What if worldview and personal media brand were to become the basis for hiring instead of job history or work experience?  Why would this make sense?  

You usually get a job to make money to fulfill needs and wants—you need a car, a house, you want a new TV.  So you go to work every day for a wage that accumulates into income that you can spend.  I’m not saying that having a job and making money are bad things.  What I AM saying is that approaching a job in this manner makes all stakeholders miserable—Unless you are passionate about what you do, you can’t wait for your shifts to end.  That emotion becomes readily apparent to the last customers you serve every day, which, in turn, gets communicated to the business owner in the form of complaint letters or, worst of all, lost business.

I don’t believe there aren’t enough jobs for people, nor that there are not enough people for jobs.  What I DO believe is that there are many people in the wrong jobs because they either don’t want to find the perfect ones or that employers are content with the way things are even if they aren’t operating at optimal levels.  This puts all parties in a difficult position. But what if it was easier to find the “perfect” fit?  Wouldn’t it change the way everyone sees “work”?

Maybe a big reason wages have skyrocketed in the last two decades is because employers had to start paying people to be happy.

Sales? You Like Sales?

Why did we choose a sales career?

Take a look at the job listings:  What are 3 highlights used to attract interest?  Flexible schedule, competitive benefit package , and unlimited earning potential.  All three are key, but the focus of this post will be the last.

Most successful salespeople are known as “go-getters”.  The unlimited income, peer recognition, top 25 performance placement, travel perks to exotic locations, and bonuses derived from exceeding company-established sales goals are huge incentives to drive results.  But what happens when they become obsessed with achievement?  How attractive is it to “bend the rules”?  For some the answer is “VERY”, which makes for interesting material in Ethics classes.

Corporate incentive programs, although well-intended, often end up rewarding selfish ambition instead of customer-centered engagements.  You don’t agree? That’s okay.  So how about this: Before you close your next sale, disclose to the buyer exactly what financial or incentive benefit there is for you including your commission.   Are you willing to risk the sale for transparency (insofar as to not disclose trade secret information)?  If  you’re worried for a split second about your customer’s reaction, you may want to reconsider your disagreement.

Accountability for what?

Management courses define accountability as “ownership of goals”. Employees define accountability as “getting fired for doing something wrong”.  Everything in the middle could be called the “fear factor”. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.  

There are team members out there who are excited to set production goals, but they are few and far between.  They come to work loaded for bear and blow the lid off production…for a while…until they get recruited by another company…or burn out….or lose their family because they’re never home in time for dinner.  I was that person right out of college up until our first child was born.  Then suddenly someone shoved a stick in the hamster wheel and I had to re-focus on what matters most.  Perhaps that reflection is what raised the question that is the title of this post.  

What do you see when you take a long look in the mirror?