What happens when 30+ sales thought leaders and sales authors get together to talk about the future of selling on Twitter? 1100+ Tweets, 129 engaged participants and a ton of sales wisdom and insights to share. With 1100 tweets it got a little challenging to follow the conversation but I managed to pull some of the great answers from the tribe. By no means is this totally inclusive, you’re going to have to search #salestribe on Twitter to see the whole conversation, but here are the highlights:
Join us on April 21st to talk about the Future of Selling
I’m honoured and excited to be part of a Twitter chat on this month along with over 30 leading sales authors and thought leaders. It will be held on April 21st 2015 10 am Pacific / 1 pm Eastern
For the first time we are bringing together over 30 leading sales authors and thought leaders to share their insights on the future of selling. This fast paced hour long Twitter chat will discuss:
- How to Win with Social Selling
- The latest sales apps and tech tools
- Is Cold calling really dead?
- Tips, hacks and sales principles for succeeding in 2015 and beyond
I will be moderating the Twitter chat (@ShaneGibson) posting questions and attempting to engage in what will be an enormous conversation on the future of selling. Follow the #SalesTribe hashtag to get involved in the conversation. See you on April 21st!
A big thanks to the BMO Financial Group for inviting me to speak at your business development conference. LinkedIn as I mentioned is not a strategy, it’s a great tool IF you have the right processes and disciplines in place.
The key components of a great LinkedIn in strategy includes:
- Having a complete profile with a current professional looking picture. (No phantom hands on your shoulder from the person you cropped out of your photo)
- Include as much of your work history, personal interests, memberships and rewards as possible – people buy from real people and also want to see you have a track record and some depth.
- Ask for and give written recommendations
- Embed relevant rich media like photos, video and slideshare presentations to turn convert your profile from boring online resume to an engagement page.
- Register for LinkedIn publisher and create unique content that speaks to your audience
- Curate and share great content daily to stay on the radar of your connections “Mindshare = Wallet Share”
- Make a habit of visiting LinkedIn daily
- Reach out and ask for new connections and introductions daily
- Lastly this is not a video game – don’t just collect contacts, use the internet to get off of the internet and build real relationships (that’s how you create social media ROI).
Here’s my presentation deck:
Many variables can impact our chances of closing a deal, they include but are not limited to: industry, geography, financial situation of the customer, product quality, the customer mood or sentiment and a variety of other influences.
When comparing sales people within the exact same company very few things influence the level of one person’s success over the other more than the quality of conversations they have with future and existing customers.
Too often sales training is focused on telling people what to say. What we need to really focus on is how to think and have great conversations. Those people who can have great conversations rarely are thrown off-guard by customer questions, objections or complaints – they’re not afraid to hand the reigns over to the customer. There are several key competencies to being a great conversationalist. The first most important one in my opinion is a positive intent.
Before awareness, asking great questions or listening I truly believe intent comes first. It’s the pillar of your sales strategy. When you pick up the phone or step into a client meeting your intent will frame what you hear, the words you use and even your tonality, body language and pace of conversations.
An sales person answering customer inquiries could have the intent to “get an order” or “sell something from my product line.” This intent limits the customer experience in many cases and also misses larger opportunities. “Get the order” often translates to being an order taker, we ask fewer questions and the questions we ask are about driving the person to a predetermined product or service. If it’s not an ideal fit we often have to rely on hard closes, discounting and heavy objection handling. In this situation our closing ratio is low and the potential for negative customer feedback is high.
For instance if you work in sales at a an insurance company your intent could be “to sell the people one of our insurance products.” With this type of intent we will tend to ask questions that push people toward a narrow selection of products and if they don’t want that product the conversation can end quickly. This type of conversation can often degrade to a price only conversation or miss opportunities you had not considered. A more powerful intent that would build stronger relationships and create a better customer experience could be: “to guide my customers to invest in insurance products that give them peace of mind and take care of them in their times of need, now and in the future.”
This intent immediately expands our awareness, it changes the questions we will ask the customer and also will expand the product offerings we will talk about. All of a sudden we are having a conversation about where they want to retire, their 3 children that they want to take care of and what kind of legacy they want to create. We have laid the foundation for a lifetime customer. We also move the conversation to a place where it’s less price focused and more about the true underlying needs and motivations of the customer.
Positive intent is a conscious act that we need to commit to on every call and interaction. When the phone rings consciously state your intent to yourself before you answer the call. It’s a great way to focus and heighten our level of empathy and engagement on the phone (or in-person). When the our sales process starts with the intent to empower people to succeed it adds immeasurable value to the customer experience and it inevitably makes our job as a sales person more rewarding, personally and financially.
- Create a statement of intent: In two sentences or less state what your intent is going to be on each and every call moving forward.
- Type this up, print it out and put it somewhere near your phone where you can see it and recite it before each call.
- Be aware over the next several days of the impact this has on your calls.
Fear can often be our friend. It’s what has kept us alive as humans for many millennia. We are wired to be full of fear when we sense a threat in our environment. It’s what makes us think twice about climbing a rock face without a rope or jumping off a bridge just for the fun of it. As a sales person, a little bit of fear can give you an edge and make sure you prepare for your big presentation or pitch. Being afraid is natural part of life. In many cases it’s healthy, but fear can also burn up a lot of energy and stop us from realizing our true potential.
A number of years ago I found myself driving late at night from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein South Africa with my father Bill Gibson and my friend and mentor Jim Janz. It was the late 90’s and at that time violent carjackings were happening multiple times daily in the country. While the new ANC government had ushered in an era of unparalleled freedom and opportunity – crime also filled the vacuum that the previous regime had left.
One particularly heinous approach to carjacking was being employed frequently on the highways. These criminals would drag an old wrecked car onto the road and set it on fire – then they would lie on the road and often hide in the ditch as well. When you stopped on the side of the road to help they would rush out of hiding with assault rifles firing and take the victims vehicle by force. They would often kill the people in the car.
Before leaving Johannesburg that night we discussed this threat but didn’t ever think that it could be us that would be faced with a highway full of fire. We were well into Vrystaat (The Free State). It was around 1:00 am and we hadn’t seen another car, person or sign in quite a while. The Free State in many places quite closely resembles the Canadian Prairies – farm land as far as the eye can see and one very straight road that disappears into the horizon.
We were climbing a slight incline on what was otherwise a flat straight road. As we were climbing this hill I began to see an orange glow in the distance – the orange glow grew brighter and we could smell smoke coming into the vehicle. Cresting the hill we could see down the other side. Directly in our path was a raging fire at the bottom of the hill.
I began to slow down but my father quickly reminded me that often the carjackers would hide where people stopped and attempted to turn around. With only a couple hundred meters before we got to the fire on the road we discussed our options: we could slow down and still do a u-turn, we could stop and just wait, or we could step on the gas and hopefully drive around the blockade by using the gravel shoulder of the highway. We decided on option 3.
I put the pedal to the floor accelerating as we approached the fire. Jim placed his hand on my shoulder from the back seat as we uttered mutual “I love you man”s with our hearts pounding. I prayed that somehow we would make it around or through the fire without getting shot or having to harm another human being. We picked up more speed and Dad and Jim were now bracing themselves for a potential impact.
Suddenly I found myself slamming on the breaks and gearing down as the road turned to the left with no warning. The wheels chirped and hopped a bit but we stayed on the road. There was no burning car or carjackers – just a burning farmer’s field being razed to make room for new crops. The fire wasn’t blocking the road – the road did a quick hairpin turn around the farm and then continued on it’s original route. Our tears of fear quickly turned to tears of laughter as we literally belly-laughed for 10-minutes afterward.
What a neurotic bunch of Canadians! For me this experience is an amazing metaphor around a certain type of fear or F.E.A.R. This stands for:
We can often see evidence of a potentially bad experience, are faced with the unknown or a new business challenge – and begin to start telling ourselves the story of what could happen. We use incomplete or false evidence and work ourselves up to a point to complete anxiety. This type of F.E.A.R. can drain our energy, rob us of opportunity and take us away from our purpose.
We can worry about changes in our business model, our next meeting with a boss or colleague or about our next sales call. This worry rarely solves any problems or contributes to our success in these situations.
As sales leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and community leaders it is vital that we challenge our own F.E.A.R. and help our people to do the same. The key is to start telling stories where we win in the end.
- What F.E.A.R.’s have you recently entertained that turned out not to be real?
- How much time, money, energy and opportunity was wasted as a result of this F.E.A.R.?
- What can you do to break this cycle and make sure you are focused on more empowering outcomes?