Stop relying on “Random Acts of Sales & Marketing”!

Three weeks ago, Marie and I each had two prospect meetings. As we debriefed, it was as if we had the same meeting but on two different topics. Marie’s was marketing and mine was sales. In both cases what we heard was a lot of wishful thinking, and lots of money spent with virtually no real strategy, process, or plan to ensure 2017 is better than 2016. Guess what the 3 musts to success in sales and marketing are?

1. Strategy

My business partner, Marie uses the phrase ‘random acts of marketing’. I sure know what those look like and you might be doing some of them yourself. It’s that knee-jerk reaction to the so-called social selling craze. The MUST to be on Twitter, Periscope, Snapchat, etc. It’s the belief of “if I only had a better website, then they would call me.” Producing videos that don’t speak to the audience and futilely grasping at the latest and greatest. Or worst of all, handing over a fist full of cash to the nice guy in your networking group that convinced you he had the magic wand, but now you want to punch him every time you see him!

These investments rarely work and can almost always guarantee to be a waste of money, time, resources, emotions, and opportunity costs. Unfortunately, businesses run like this all the time and the ownership wonders why they struggle with market awareness, consistent messaging, and real Marketing Qualified Leads.

How do I fix it? Take the time to get QUALIFIED consultation and recommendations for strategy. Then, be sure to understand the strategy and make a commitment to follow through on the complete strategy. Marie has a hard and fast rule: it’s a no-go if it has to be done in under 6 weeks. That goes for a conference, an email campaign, or anything else that you want ROI from.  We offer our clients strategy, implementation, ongoing execution, automation, and ultimately TRACKABLE and QUANTIFIABLE REVENUE. Isn’t that what marketing should be doing?

2. Process

I take tremendous pride in doing my job to the best of my ability, both selling and teaching sales. It makes me sad when I hear my profession be diminished and criticized. Then I quickly realize that we have no one to blame but ourselves because most salespeople are ill-equipped to succeed. They are often poorly trained (if at all), poorly led, poorly coached, poorly managed, and incentivized in horribly outdated ways.

Simply ask yourself, would you go to a dentist that wasn’t trained or had no plan? Send your kids to a teacher with no certificate? Trust a doctor, mechanic, jeweler, dry cleaner, or a pilot who is ‘winging it’?

Of course not! So what makes anyone think that you want to buy from an untrained and unprofessional sales person who lacked a process? What makes us think we should be selling when we’re not properly equipped with a process? Look, sales is a profession - one that should be respected and appreciated by those of us who sell (EVERYONE READING THIS) and those of us who buy (EVERYONE READING THIS). If you’re a lawyer, accountant, chiropractor, plumber, or any other professional service, stop your ‘random acts of sales’ and get trained to be the best you can at client acquisition.

3. Plan

Are you set for 2017? Do you expect 2017 to look like 2016 or does your plan insist that it will be better? Listen, don’t get caught looking back at the end of Q1 and see that you’ve done nothing new to ensure your success. Here are a few points to consider:

A. Is my networking really working or do I waste my time ‘net-eating’, ‘net-drinking’, and ‘net-chatting’? Networking needs to bring you ROI! If it doesn’t then stop, re-evaluate, and realign to a new group. If you need help, let me know.

B. Set very specific goals and then set the course to achieve them. There is nothing worse than being on the hamster wheel of business only to run and run but fail to advance.

What I want you to do now is simply decide: are you going to try something new and talk to with a successful sales and marketing team or do you want to forge ahead on your own? @Revenue offers a variety of training, education, and full consulting services. So the real question is: are you failing to plan, or planning to fail?

 


Is Business Networking Obsolete? Not If You Follow These 5 Commandments

Blair Nicole (Business 2 Community) featured our co-founder Jim Rosas in her article on effective networking.

“Do you think face to face business networking is something best left in the stone ages? If so, you’re probably missing out on valuable opportunities to connect with potential partners, influencers, and even customers. After all, no amount of digital marketing compares to eye contact and a firm handshake.

The problem is that most people go about business networking completely wrong, and in some cases, create a bad name for themselves in the process. But business networking done right can truly set apart novice business owners from seasoned hustlers.

Here are five commandments from expert business networkers, to help you go from schmo to pro in no time.” Continue reading on Business2Community.com

Are you getting the most from your networking efforts? Attend our monthly Executive Brief.


Have They Told You Lately That They Love You?

About a decade ago a client of mine used the phrase “professional love” to describe how they felt about the work we did together, the results and our working relationship. As a result, I’ve spent the last 10 years always holding that as the bar for my client interactions. After working with many dozen sales professionals, mid-level manager, Directors, VP’s and CEO’s there are so many reasons why professional love exists in some relationships and is lacking in many others.

For some leaders, they couldn’t care less how their staff feels about them. These are of course not leaders but simply people in authority, often by default. These folks typically don’t understand the need to be emotionally intelligent in order to maximize the potential of their people and therefore their business. I’ll give you an example: I worked with the CEO of a 12-year-old $500,000.00 business. It became abundantly clear in only a few weeks that the reason why this business could not get past a moderate dollar amount in a high ticket service industry was that the leader was only concerned with one thing, his ego. Despite suggestion and the specific direction he simply did not value his people or the internal relationships. Had he recognized their talents as equal to his and shown them some love, they would have helped him double or triple sales in no time.  Who wants to go to work and KNOW that you’re not appreciated nor respected? This so called "leader" was not in professional love with anyone but himself and his staff could feel it.

One of my daily mantras is simple, you must love them first.

And, as in any relationship, we show love in a variety of ways.

  1. Be the best you can be for each other.

    In business, this means to focus on strengths and bolster weaknesses. If you’re a leader, study how to be better. If you’re a janitor, equip yourself with the tools needed to be most efficient. Talk to any Doctor and they will tell you that they are taxed with being their best or people may suffer or even die. Why should we take our profession as any less impactful? Be sure to put one another first and to serve one another. Keep in mind that this also means that we should expect the best from our teams and our clients. Don’t settle for second best, don’t settle for weak attempts, if you’re giving it your all, it’s a lot easier to demand your team’s all.

  2. Love only works with trust.

    As in the example above, without trust, there is an imminent failure in any relationship and business. How we translate trust to our teams and clients is critical. What I find best is to identify the strengths I talked about in #1 and create the environment for each to maximizes their strengths. Don’t give up on an amazing sales person just because they are weak at doing CRM entries (which is every superstar sales person). FIND SUPPORT STAFF THAT CAN HELP THEM. Your profits will be higher if that superstar stays out on the streets closing deals. Then, TRUST THEM. Don’t micromanage, don’t monitor their e-mails, don’t stop giving them projects…” trust, but verify”-Ronald Reagan.  Verification comes through accountability. I wrote an article, conducting an effective 1:1 meeting which outlines how to hold your team and clients accountable to their commitments. However, if we start with management and not trust, we set our people up for mediocrity.

  3.  Love cares.

    It’s okay to like and care about one another's personal lives and to take part in important causes of your staff. I was out to dinner with a friend the other day and she mentioned that their staff was all taking work-time to donate to an animal shelter. Why? Because each employee (about 10) have important causes and each month an employee arranges to do something for their cause and then the ENTIRE team buys into that cause and works together. I’m sure you can imagine the camaraderie, respect and “love” that comes with this. Of course, the leader has to be bought in and understand that work time does not translate to clock punching. The time invested in these activities pays off in spades when your team is united, caring, committed, involved and loyal to each other and their united success. The lives of your people and the revenue of your business will prosper. The ENTIRE team buys into that cause and works together. I’m sure you can imagine the camaraderie, respect and “love” that comes with this. Of course, the leader has to be bought in and understand that work time does not translate to clock punching. The time invested in these activities pays off in spades when your team is united, caring, committed, involved and loyal to each other and their united success. The lives of your people and the revenue of your business will prosper.

  4. Love is recognized and rewarded.

    Think about your spouse, children or any loved one, we show love with hugs, kisses, gifts, servitude, etc. In the work environment, these manifest themselves in ‘at-a-boy’s’, bonuses, smiles, rewards, dinners, happy work environments, etc. In his book Drive, Daniel Pink teaches at great length that the days of the stick and carrot are no longer. He also talks about if-then rewards vs now-that rewards. Love is not conditional so work reward shouldn’t be conditional. Almost every sales manager tries to get results with if-then rewards. You know, “If you hit the goal then you get more money”. This is far less effective than when you show your love/reward with no expectation. This can be tricky and is a real mental shift for many.  If you have any questions or would like to connect about this, let me know. I show my love by working with SMB leaders to drive great success. I do this in a variety of ways and not always for money, sometimes just for love. 

 

 

 


Let's talk about Six

After years of working with SMB business owners/leaders and their salespeople, I have realized that there are at least six, oftentimes more but we’re going to talk about the prevalent six, critical areas that are neglected entirely or have weak plans and structure. My hope is for you to identify and address any and all of these areas in your business.

1. Go-To-Market strategy - As businesses look to grow they often times have the Field of Dreams syndrome; “Build it and they will come”. This rarely works unless your business is a Starbucks on seemingly any corner in the Loop. Other than that, a strong actionable go-to-market (GTM) strategy is required. You must have specific actions formulated to access and influence your buying market. No matter what your services, from accounting offices to chiropractic practices, every business requires strategy to maintain growth. There are some great GTM examples online, but a word to the wise, make it your GTM strategy. Unless you own it, embrace it and believe in it, it will simply be another document that collects dust in a drawer. Seek the outside perspective that is required and then do it! Try it, track it and then you will know how to change it.

TASK: Read the examples, step away from your business for an afternoon (If you think you can’t do that, you don’t have a business you have an obsession) take the best minds you have from within your business and a few from the outside then start talking long term strategy. You’ll need to set some goals for the strategy but goals without a strategy of achievement are only hopes and wishes.

2. Automate, Delegate, Duplicate - The biggest hurdle that business owners face is the habit of being the COE, Chief of Everything, instead of a CEO. As you build your service offerings and identify how you care for your clients make sure that you document repetitive behaviors. Everything from how you onboard a customer to the follow up that happens with your inbound marketing can be automated, or if automation is not an option you can document the process and delegate it. Make it a full time focus to effectively hand off as many tasks as possible. There are a litany of tools on the market (insightly and mailchimp are my favorite go-to products) that can function as a project management tool, empower your marketing automation and drip marketing campaigns, and integrate with your accounting software.

TASK: Do a time audit to understand where you are investing your time. When you have a solid view of where your hours are going you will be able to assess what truly should be on your plate and what can be handed off. Begin to document how each task is done and create activity sets that can guide a support person through the process. You can find a virtual assistant or on site part timer to help you in the beginning, and then do your level best to touch things once and hand them off!

3. Documented and Disciplined Client Acquisition Process - Each phase in the client acquisition process needs to be documents and measurable. I’ve seen many businesses that simply have fields such as: LEAD<PROSPECT< OPPORTUNITY< CLOSED WON as their funnel. This will not suffice if you take your business development seriously. Here is an example of one I built for a past client. As you can see, there are VERY SPECIFIC qualifications that must be met before the prospective client transitions from Marketing Lead to Sales Lead and then MORE VERY SPECIFIC qualifications that must be met before the salespeople can assign a phase and percentage of probability. With this process, my client could easily identify the marketing effectiveness and where along the process they had the greatest lost rate. WIth this information, I was able to coach, develop and train with laser like focus.

TASK: Move outside of the generic sales funnel fields and assign what makes sense. Then, within each category assign the qualification points that must be met to achieve the threshold. This gives you a true “process” to follow. Think of it like a recipe: step by step, timed accordingly, baked properly, etc. When you omit ingredients or make other mistakes you inevitably get a dismal outcome.

4. Consistent and effective 1:1 meetings with staff and leaders. I already wrote about this topic so I won’t repeat myself. I encourage you to read it if you haven’t already. One addition, few business owners have someone to give them consistent and honest feedback.

TASK: Follow the tips in the article! If you as a business leader don’t have someone, find someone. It’s not that hard these days to find a coach. Your obligation is to find one that fit’s with you but will push you. Oh, and make sure they’re qualified, there are a lot of jokers out there.

5. An understanding of Emotional-Intelligence, Dr. Travis Bradberry’s book is a smart but easy read that is far and away one of the best out there. I will only impress upon you that the world is shifting, carrot/stick is a motivation of the past for most businesses. You must lead with emotional intelligence in this day and age.

TASK: READ THE BOOK!

6. Working toward your exit vs. running in place- This seems to be the big winner! In a May 2016 CNBC story it was sited that almost two-thirds of businesses have no plan for exit. Thus, people run on their hamster wheel day after day and never get to their goal. Simply said, without the goal of exit, it’s rarely achieved.

TASK: This one is more fluid. It depends a lot on from where you are starting. But a few musts are: Timeline goals, financial goals, a decision on what will happen to the business when you exit, strategy to pursue your goals, support to achieve your goals.

So, now what? Take stock, don’t be discouraged and start to make the changes needed to address these Six often neglected areas. Listen, it’s hard! The days fly by and business owners have a few thousand distractions a day. Step back, get perspective and set a plan into action. Let us know if you need help.


Choose Your Attitude

Have you ever read Attitude is Everything?

It serves as a constant reminder to me that I get to choose who I am and how I feel. Too often society tells us to blame someone or something for our lot in life. “It’s the economy”, “my mom was mean”, “cold calling doesn’t work”, “if only my employee’s worked harder and longer”, “”If only my prospects and clients would ___________”(I could fill in that black with a few dozen excuses) “If traffic wasn’t so bad I could see more prospects”, Positive or best of all “Everyone around me is negative, it’s hard not to be”. All of these excuses play on our attitude. So, what to do?

  1. Choose to be optimistic. Jack Canfield, in his book The Success Principles, calls it “inverse paranoia”.  Simply put, believe that the world is out to do good for you and you for it. The sky is not falling, your boss doesn’t hate you, customers WANT to buy, etc. This comes with creating the habit of starting every day with a decision to have a positive mental attitude or a foundation. A positive attitude should drive your beliefs, behaviors and ultimately dictate your outcomes.

  2. Believe that people are your strongest resource and source of accomplishment. Technology puts us into our cubes, walking with our head down, our nose in phone, picking up our devices instead of engaging with the world around us. We were created to be a community and to interact. Most people inherently want to do good and help one another. Find your allies, invest in them and shed the negative people.

  3. Know that your past does not dictate your future. Whether you’re overcoming a bad childhood or overcoming a streak of ineffective cold calling, you get to decide where to go next. Get the help you need to get better. But you need to chose to do it!  Help comes in many forms and from many sources. Especially if you BELIEVE that the world is out to do you good...you inverse paranoid!

  4. Fear nothing! Do you remember when you were little and afraid of the dark or what was under your bed? Silly when you look back on it, right? Well it’s mostly the same with today’s fears; there’s usually not much to be afraid of. It’s the games we play in our head, it’s the irrationality of our imagination. Folks, I’ve made hundreds of cold calls and door knocks and I still have all my teeth. If I had a nickle for every “No” I’ve heard, I’d be retired. Shed the fear and replace it with persistence.

  5. Act as if! What does that mean? A great mentor of mine, Joe Murzanski used to tell me; “Jim, act as if you have a million dollars in your pocket, that you haven’t a care in the world and that you have the solution to your customer’s problems” (at the time I sold advertising for the Tribune Company’s spanish language papers). That bit of advice allowed me to not worry about closing out of desperation because I told myself I wasn’t desperate, and it also gave me great confidence in what I sold. As my customers businesses were positively impacted and their sales rose, I only became more emboldened to sell more. The result was, 4 consecutive years of award winning highest production in both revenue and column inches sold.

The bottom line is, as Dr. Charles Stanley said, I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me, and 90 percent how I react to it.

And so it is with you... We are in charge of our attitudes.


The 5 MUSTS to Consider for your new CRM

The 5 MUSTS to Consider for your new CRM

After more than 10 years of selecting and implementing CRMs for my small business clients I have seen more than my share of struggle, strife and stress when it comes to these tricky systems. We have experienced programming across 14 different platforms and at the end of the day it is basically the same gears and pulleys and what you are truly selecting are systems integrations and the interface. So how is a business owner to choose the right one and set it up for success? Let me share our hottest tips:

1. Align to how your company thinks.  

Every organization has technology and systems plugged in long before they start thinking CRM. Heed this advice: Pick the CRM that most closely aligns with the tech you already use! If you are an Apple shop do not pick Microsoft's most recommended CRM! If you are Google based, use a product that was designed to integrate (I recommend Insightly).

2. Start with the end in mind. 

If you are attempting to program your system yourself, the easiest way is to identify what reports are going to be most valuable for your organization. Do you need to track how long it takes a digital suspect to become a qualified prospect? Do you need to hyperfocus on the usage of your website by current clients? A little brainstorming about the results will allow you to create a map that truly works.

3. Get out of your head.

Creating a map that you can look at and play with OUTSIDE of your own head or in the system itself is critical. Map out the flow of how a prospect flows through the system, which drip marketing campaign it gets added to, and what activity sets need to automate to get them effectively in the pipeline. This kinesthetic, visual exercise will give you the clarity you need to set the program up right.

4. Be dedicated.

I hate to break this to you but, except to a few geeks like me, CRMs are not sexy.  Your staff is not going to be salivating to learn a new and complex system that can feel like busy work. As a leader, you must be 100% engaged with the system and be the example your team can look to. Log in daily. Get excited about the automations and reports. Geek out...and show them the power of systems.

5. Create a training and engagement plan.

Your team will need you to educate them, over and over again, about the power and functionality of your CRM. Create a training schedule, incentive program and stick to it! Think of it like dating. You want to introduce them to each other, and let them go on a few dates before they start seeing each other every day. And, once they are married to it, sometimes it helps to find something to reignite the spark. If you are a soloprenuer then make a date with yourself to keep engaged!

Your CRM can help you automate activity, track the true numbers and bolster sales, but it's going to take some love and time in the beginning.  @revenue offers assistance with selection, mapping, programming, training and more! Enlist an expert today, we are just a phone call away! 630-631-7713


Facilitating Powerful Networking Events

Facilitating Powerful Networking Events

After facilitating high-level networking groups for a decade, I must say, I LOVE THEM. Why, because I control the environment to ensure success. That might sound arrogant or "controlling" but it's not, it's what's needed.

A few tips about running great networking events are:

1. Facilitate your own so you can set the tone.

I run lunches that have 8 members that come every month.
Each member commits, on a contract, to be there every month with a decision maker level or deeply networked guest. We spend 1.5 hours in a highly structured but fun environment getting to know one another's business. And before I close the lunch, I ask EVERY attendee to publicly announce with whom they can help and how.

I've personally generated Hundreds of Thousands of dollars from these events over the years.

2. Host as few drinking events as you can.

I always tell my clients that they need to understand, "networking is work. It's not net-drinking, it's networking!" These events rarely result in a return on the investment of time and effort. If you’re going to have one, host it as a party more than a networking event.

Having said that, a nice structured dinner and wine event from time to time is always nice for those clients/contacts that will appreciate them.

3. Be picky about who attends.

There is not always strength in numbers. I recommend “purposeful networking”. Think about who you want to invite and then scrub your network to find purposeful guests. This is an instant winner for your attendees and sets you apart as a force in the networking world.


 

A few tips when attending an event.

4. Have a plan before the event.

With whom do you want to spend time? Recruiters, business owners, accountants, etc. Be purposeful about how you execute your plan by focusing your time on the right people that you can help and that can help you.

5. Go to give.

Don't go with the mindset of "I'm going to find business today". Instead, go with a determination to enhance others networks by making strong connections. This mentality will set you apart from many at the event. And I guarantee, if you go with that mindset, business will come and you will not be disappointed.

6. Understand that networking is not a leads group.

Many people attend events with skewed expectations. Networking is about identifying strong likable people to whom you want to open your network and who want to reciprocate for you. This can take a follow-up call, a personal 1:1 meeting and a concerted effort to identify and introduce people to one another. Expecting to get business by dealing out 50 business cards will only set you up to frown upon networking. It doesn’t work!

7. Don't give up too easily.

Unrealistic expectations lead to disappointment, disappointment often leads to giving up. If you plan to join a group, be picky. Once you find one that makes sense, make a commitment to give it all you have for a year.

8. Offer solutions, don't point fingers.

We've all been to bad events. If you have a suggestion to make one better, talk to the facilitator. If they are real networkers, they will appreciate the input. If not, go build your own with best practices.

9. Track your Return on Investment.

I recommend to my clients and I insist for my members to track the ROI. Return on Investment or Results, Outcome, Impact. Sometimes connections add value in other ways than the bottom line. They find you a new office space, a deal on furniture or travel, etc. ROI may not be just dollars.  But if you add up your financial investment in a group, the time you spend, measured at a reasonable rate and then you run the numbers for a year, you BETTER be getting an ROI. If not, stop it, and find something that works. Like starting your own group and then running it like a machine.

As you can probably tell, I am deeply passionate about networking and the powerful impact that it can have. Being a coach and the co-founder of @revenue, www.atRevenue.com, I’m happy to talk more about my passion for making networking work for you.