Creating the Funnel

Everybody is an expert at something, well, almost everybody. If you really take a minute and look at your life, you are probably really good at one thing or a string of a few things. This is how solid businesses are formed, when people turn a skill, talent, or passion into a profession. Every single day new businesses are formed over 1700 to be exact. That is a lot of people trying to turn their skill, talent, or passion into a profession, unfortunately, just over 1600 fail every day.

Generally speaking just because you are good at something does not mean that it can sustain or replace your income. Being good at something is not enough, most of the time the talent people have is not being “good” at business. Being “good” at business is the crux of it all, it is a learned skill, a skill that some people pick up faster than others but it is the learned skill of business mixed with the passion and skillset of something else that leads to the 100 or so continuing businesses every day. This basically comes down to marketing because that is the first step of getting customers. Marketing is hard. You need customers to run a business without them you just have an office, idea, and skillset. No customers, no electricity.

There is an old marketing/advertising adage that goes something like “I will always spend a dollar if it will make me 2 dollars.” Now that makes perfect sense for the most part (most people in marketing/advertising are actually looking for a better return than that but it works for this example) wouldn’t you spend $100 if you are guaranteed a return of $200 or how about $1000 to make $2000 or better yet $100,000 to make $200,000. Well, yes of course you would but I think we all know that for the average joe that it is simply not that simple. Marketing and advertising are very difficult. There are many factors that play into this: who are your customers, how much do I have to spend, what to I do when someone is interested, how do I add value, how much is a fair price to charge, is my add attractive, and some much more.

I am not going to get into how to create the perfect marketing or ad campaign in this blog post but I will touch on the basics. If you are reading this blog you have probably heard of a funnel, as it pertains to marketing. Picture a funnel and it is large at the top and very narrow at the bottom. This is what your marketing campaign should look like. For example lets spend $100 on facebook advertising, maybe we get about 10-30 people to click on the ad that we have populated. This is the top of the funnel, from here we send them to a specific landing page tailored to their niche or what we targeted them for, they spend some time on the landing page and perhaps fill out the form for their contact information, maybe they fill out the survey we have which gives us even more information. Now we are reaching the bottom of the funnel where we have good qualified leads. This is the ultimate goal.

But again, easier said than done. Here are the basic steps listed below in order:

  1. Find an advertising platform (Google, Facebook, Bing, other social media)
  • Facebook is by far the cheapest and one of the most effective
  • All of these platforms are complicated and change quite frequently
  • I recommend taking a class or spending a few weeks learning if you are going to do this on your own
  1. Targeting
  • Who are your customers?
  • Ad platforms allow you to target exactly who you are looking for (Facebook is best for this)
  • You can target 40-50 year old, stay at home moms, interested in yoga & tennis, that live in Wyoming (really is no limit)
  • Be as specific as you need to be to make sure that you are wasting any marketing dollar

  1. Setup a landing page
  • This is crucial to the success of your ad
  • You can do this many ways, either on your own or by hiring a professional
  • Allows analytics on your visitors
  • Allows you to better optimize your ad

  1. Create free value add content
  • Give some value away for free in exchange for contact information
  • Video, PDF, brochure
  • Make sure it has enough value in it that they want to learn even more
  1. Watch the leads come in

This is the crux of setting up a solid marketing/advertising funnel. It is easier said than done and the most successful ad campaigns are done by people that are considered experts in the field. With that said, if you have the intellect you can become relatively proficient after 20-40 hours of learning how the ad platforms work.

Long gone are the days of cold calling. People do not want to talk to you, they want to find something on their own and make a decision. If they see something on the side of their screen then it was their idea not yours. Remember nobody likes to be sold something but everybody likes to buy something.

The first person who speaks, loses

This may sound like a very aggressive and perhaps even arrogant statement but the truth of the matter is that it is true. I have found myself in countless negotiations, some as simple as buying a car and some with international corporations. The bottom line is, most of the time less is more. We have written a number of posts on this very subject and it always comes down to the old adage that we have 2 ears and one mouth so we should listen twice as much.

There’s also the point when you simply need to shut up and let your latest comment distill and sink in. Far too many times as sales people or negotiators, we tend to throw out a conditional or assumptive close and talk past that close. It’s at that point that you need to stop talking and allow what you just said to resonate a little and perhaps even create a certain amount of discomfort. That discomfort is what progresses the sale closer to a close and agreement.

When you drop a statement in a negotiation that is designed to move them closer to a sale, it requires the other person to pause and think. That thinking process is critical to the progress of the negotiation. If you drop the statement and keep discussing the deal then you have thwarted any opportunity for the prospect to bring things closer.

Something to consider when dropping that statement and stopping is that if the person you are negotiating with is a seasoned negotiator, they will know this tactic and will not want to be the first person to speak. This is where your preparation is so important. At the point that the silence becomes a bit uncomfortable, change the subject. This is critical because it takes the pressure off them and allows them to redirect their thinking. Continue with some small talk and after a short period of time you should begin to steer the conversation back to the decision at hand and eventually drop a new assumptive close and stop talking. If this continues after several attempts then the best thing to do is call him out in a polite way and compliment him. Tell him that he is very good at what he does and try to put everything on the table and simply ask him straight up “what’s it going to take to make this happen right now”. He will respect you and probably give you the deal.

Do Not Talk Past The Close

I had an old employer who had built an amazing business, incredibly successful guy, and he loved to go on sales calls. He was actually quite talented at building rapport and getting the customer to want what we were selling. The only issue was that he loved to talk and often times when, as a salesperson, we should not be. Many times we would get a verbal yes for another meeting or to close the deal and he would begin to talk in circles unsure of where the conversation was going. It was often easy to tell that the buyer, on the other side of the table, was ready to be done with the meeting (Fidgeting, looking at watch, changing posture). This is quite common after receiving confirmation of your objective for new or out-of-practice sales people.

Just about everybody in sales has heard the expression “Don’t talk past the close”. But I have found that many people do not really understand what it means and more importantly forget what it means when in a pitch meeting.

Like I have said in the past your buyer is like an 8 year old boy and that means that the decision window is very small. You have to be able to recognize when the buyer has said yes and when you begin to lose them. Odds are if they said yes and you are still the one talking then you are talking past the close.

Every pitch should end with asking for the business and once there is a concrete yes (or something similar, typically it is not just a yes) then affirm the buyers decision to choose your product or service and get out of the office. The only time that you want to stay in the office is if the buyer is talking.

Two things can occur in a pitch meeting that can cause a sales person to talk past the close:

  1. Nervously excited about closing the deal
  2. Is oblivious to the fact that the deal is closed and that the buyer is losing interest

There is an old sports saying that goes “Act like you have been there before”. Don’t get me wrong you should be excited about your success as sales is a very difficult job and every victory must be celebrated but wait until you get in the car. You got the answer you wanted now leave before they change their mind. The second reason is sometimes tougher than it may sound and is why I always recommend two people for a sales call. When someone is performing a pitch it is easy to get lost talking and when you get to the end of the presentation you are in a word vomit. The counterpart to your team can recognize the buyers body language better as they are not focusing on the pitch and they are able to real you back in. (Post coming soon about how two is always better than one)

Just remember to be confident in your ability, once you get the answer that you are looking for get out of there and do not get sick with word vomit. It is far too common.

Creating a Culture of Positivity

The American work culture is something of true value. Consider the following statistics:

  • Average work week of 50 hours or 9.4 hours per day
    • Other countries work an average of 20% less hours
  • 88% of US Citizens are considered Upper Middle Class or Wealthy as compared to rest of world
  • Average Yearly Income in the US is $61,937
  • Only 15% of US workers are unhappy with their current Jobs
  • The US Remains the worlds richest company per capita controlling $105.99 Trillion or about 30% of the entire worlds net worth

America loves to work. More than any country in the world, we have absolutely no discerning lines between work life and personal life. I believe this issue stems from our desperate need for material items. As Americans we are wasteful and materialistic. Because of our need and our children’s need to have STUFF we need to make more money. It is a really interesting paradigm. You look at other cultures and they have sacred days, or long vacations, or maybe shortened work weeks, but Americans we maybe get a week vacation after our first full year working.

Now believe it or not I am actually not looking to change the American work culture. Because guess what I am American and I like working and I like STUFF. I am however a proponent of making the work atmosphere as positive and enjoyable as possible.

Becoming ranked as one of the best places to work by Fortune is by far one of the best things that can happen to a company and I guarantee that they are successful because of the positive culture that exists. For your curiosity I have included the top 10 for 2020 below:

  1. Hilton
  2. Ultimate Software
  3. Wegmans Food Markets
  4. Cisco
  5. Workday
  6. Salesforce
  7. Edward Jones
  8. Stryker
  9. American Express
  10. Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants

We need to create winning, happy, positive, high energy offices at all of our companies and the only way to do that is to create a culture of positivity. The act of being positive decreases cortisol and your brain begins producing serotonin creating a happy feeling, in addition, one feels calmer less anxious and more focused. Guess what that means in the workplace? More production and more money!

Easy enough right? Just create an office full of positivity… Well this is often easier said than done. At an office there are a multitude of factors that make the mere act of being positive very difficult such as deadlines, bosses, stress, and money to name a few. Nearly every aspect of our life that we stress about revolves around money which revolves around our job.

In order to create a culture of positivity and an office that people want to work at the change has to start at the top. The key for success with this process is to search for people doing good. I think far too often in our work culture employees are only noticed when they do something poorly, especially as a mid level employee. We need to reward and encourage positive behavior by catching people in the act of doing something good. It does not matter what exactly they are doing, catch somebody doing something good even if it is just changing the ink in the printer, somebody has to do it. If the boss starts this positive encouragement it will become contagious in the office. This is a grass roots culture change but if you want to succeed it starts small.

People screw up it happens and you criticizing them or publicly coming down on them is not going to change that fact. I am by no means saying that there should not be a level of accountability because I believe in a proper accountability process as well. I am saying, that you will see a greater response from your employees and your bottom line if you encourage a culture of positivity.

We work a lot as Americans but this does not mean that we have to be unhappy. Encourage positivity in the workplace and watch your company soar.

References:

How Americans View Their Jobs

America-Global Income

Median US Income

“8 Hour Work Day”

Worlds Wealth

Best Companies

Who is next in line for the throne – 7 Step Guide

Succession Planing is something that is not talked about nearly enough. Succession planning according to investopedia can be broadly defined as:

“Succession planning is a strategy for passing on leadership roles—often the ownership of a company—to an employee or group of employees. Also known as “replacement planning,” it ensures that businesses continue to run smoothly after a company’s most important people move on to new opportunities, retire, or pass away.”

The process is important no matter what type of company you own, work for, or operate. If you are running a small family business then you need to figure out who in your family has the ability to take over your business. If you are running a large corporation then it is important to have succession planning for nearly every exectuive position so that if something were to ever happen (death, retirement, left company, etc) you have a plan in place and you are not scrambling.

This process must be, proactive in nature, if you are caught off guard by someones leaving and you are searching for a replacement then you are already too late. I am going to run through some of the most common practices to perform a thorough planning process.

  1. You need to figure out what this person’s role is with the company and what the company will look like without them performing their role.
    • This allows for you to start building a TDK (Tasks, duties, & responsibilities)
    • It also allows for you to know how crucial their role is and how quickly it would need to be filled
  2. Start evaluating who could fill the shoes for this position.
    • Do not limit yourself with this search (John Spence once courted a future employee for ten years before actually having a position for him) The proper personal takes time to find, it is okay to be picky, and to start early
    • Explore employees at your company, colleagues, employees or owners of other companies, nobody is off limits
    • Evaluate what kind of training the possible candidates would need (Remember that just because somebody is a great salesman does not mean they would be a great sales manager. People far too often just look at who is next in line evaluate the candidate not their experience)
  3. Develop a plan for their succession.
    • This means outline everything on paper from tomorrow to 3 years from now (Nothing crazy but a simple blueprint or outline for how it will go down
  4. Once you have a good idea of who you think it could be open a dialogue with the successor.
    • Just because you think they would be good at the job does not mean they are up for it
    • Explain to them the process that you have drawn up
  5. If they are an internal employee you can begin training them.
    • Prepare them for certain aspects of the job that they have not been exposed to
    • Perhaps even hand over some of the responsibility to them as needed
  6. Lastly you will be taking a key employee off the floor and moving them to a different key position. Discuss with HR what you will be looking for ahead of time to replace the new successors.
  7. Final warning if you are a big company do not leave Successor Planning up to your HR department!
    • This is far too important a process and it needs to be handled by people extremely close to the candidates and processes (Nothing against HR it is simply above their pay-grade)

Again, as I mentioned earlier these principles apply to any size business. I recently was hired by a medium sized contracting company to find 3 possible successors (Outside of his current employees) to take over his company in just a few short years. And these are the steps that I followed. We had to evaluate the owners position in the company, what he did on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis. After we new what the specifications were reached out to our connections to find candidates that may possibly fit the mold. From there we sat with the owners and developed a 3-5 year plan based on the candidates qualifications on how the succession would take place. Then we begin interviewing the candidates for the role and started the dialogue. Ultimately we were able to find 4 extremely solid candidates for the position of the successor to the owner. Both the owner and the candidates are thrilled with the opportunity.

Be proactive and start evaluating your company today.

Write that report or have a beer on the deck

Working from home has become somewhat of a standard these days and for many people it is a stark new reality. The discipline required to work from home is not normally something that many people are born with. The idea of waking in the morning and beginning the 1-2 hour craziness that we call “getting ready for work” has essentially acted as a switch that causes us to leave the comfort of home and enter work mode.

Once at work, everything around you fosters and screams, in the eloquent words of Bill Belichick, “DO YOUR JOB”. On the other hand when working from home, you are afforded many luxuries not available at the office like working in your underwear or your inviting deck on a beautiful afternoon. This environment is the antithesis of the office and fosters relaxation and/or a chore list. The question is how to combine the motivation that the office has with the relaxation of your home and still be productive AND relaxed.

From Business News Daily:

Many employees and business owners alike have been working from home for years, thanks to developments in tech that make remote work possible. For a growing number of Americans, this is the norm. Now, amid the recent COVID-19 outbreak, most companies and their workers are following suit, raising the question: Is this working arrangement a productive one?

A 2019 survey by Airtasker says yes. Researchers polled 1,004 full-time employees throughout the U.S. about their productivity, their commutes and other facets of their lives. Among that group were 505 people who worked remotely. The study found that working from home not only benefits employees by eliminating their daily commutes, it also increases productivity and leads to healthier lifestyles. It’s a win-win situation that workers relish for its flexibility – but often at the cost of their work-life balance.

Take a look at the following statistics from Inc. Magazine:

  • As reported in 2020, 5 million employees (making up 3.6% of the entire U.S. workforce) work from home for at least half the time.
  • The number of regular telecommuting employees (excluding the self-employed population) has grown by 173% since 2005.
  • The number of employers offering a work from home option has grown by 40% in the past 5 years. However, only 7% of all employers in the United States offer work from home flexibility.
  • By 2028, one study estimates that 73% of all departments will have remote workers.
  • Two-thirds of managers who offer telecommuting flexibility report that employees who work from home are overall more productive.
  • Larger companies are more likely to offer telecommuting flexibility than smaller ones are.
  • Employers offering at least part-time telecommuting flexibility collectively save $44 billion each year.
  • According to one study, remote employees work 1.4 more days per month than their office-based counterparts, resulting in more than three additional weeks of work per year.
  • 29% of remote employees said they struggle with work-life balance, and 31% said they have needed to take a day off for their mental health.
  • One of the most effective ways workers can stay productive is by taking breaks throughout the day. The Pomodoro Technique is one such method for employees to decompress for a moment and come back refreshed and ready to focus.

As you can see, working from home tends to allow for more flexibility and relaxation. But here’s the rub – Many people working from home tend to find themselves falling into the “work-a-holic” mode and never find an exit strategy for the day. As I wrote at the beginning of this post, the morning craziness acts as a switch that tends to indoctrinate you for your work day. Conversely that ride home and end of day activities helps decompress and allows you to enter the home mode.

When working at home, you do not have these “switches”. the day blends together and creates a very confusing brain pattern. You hear the children playing or your wife talking on the phone but yet you are in the middle of writing a financial summary and you’re brain is caught between two worlds.

Here are some tips for working at home and getting the most efficiency from your workday at home:

Allot a portion of your home for work. Perhaps a spare room or space in the basement or garage. When I started in business almost 30 years ago, I had a very small home with young children and actually converted a 6×10 shed into an office.

If at all possible, do not make your bedroom a part office. This is your sanctuary and you place of rest. If the last thing you see before climbing into bed is your desk filled with incomplete projects, you will tend to have a very unsettled night.

Taking breaks is critical. You are at home, enjoy that freedom and your space. This is your castle and your office is borrowing space from it not the other way around. Enjoy it, push away from the desk at least once an hour and go get a glass of water or refill your coffee and while you are away, enjoy and take in what’s around you – your castle. It doesn’t matter how big or small your castle is, it’s your place of rest and refuge and a spot that you and your family come together.

Be sure to make a distinction between home and office. When you walk away, whether for a break or for the day, be sure to leave it in the office. Conversely, if you are struggling with a challenge in the “office”, many times by walking away and clearing your head you may gain more clarity of mind an be able to solve that problem better because it’s far easier to find peace and clear your mind at home than at the office.

Don’t deny yourself. If the lawn needs to be mowed, go and mow it. If you come out for a refill of coffee and the kids are playing in the yard and you are yearning to participate, go and play with them. If your wife is sitting on the deck taking a break, join her. You have flexibility now and the opportunity to make up the time away. Don’t let your time away become too plentiful but just make sure that you don’t build up a resentment to all that’s going on around you.

Be very attentive and respectful to superiors and co-workers. Understand that during the workday your job is your job and when things are a bit quieter, you can also be quiet. When there are time lines and deadlines make sure that you are not operating on the Pain versus Pleasure principal that I spoke of in a previous post. Like most things in life, working from home required a balance but also a discipline to get the things done that are necessary to complete and do them in a timely manner. If someone is waiting for you to complete something before they can move to their next step, accommodate them and move things along.

All in all there is no secret to effectively working from home. Your efficiency and productivity should increase and your piece of mind should increase exponentially. If this is not the case, re-read this post several times until it clicks.

How do I know when it is time to hire someone else?

In order to achieve scalable growth in a successful company you eventually need to hire more people. But how do you know when is the right time to hire someone or whether or not you actually can afford a new hire. This is a problem that arises in many small to medium sized companies. Sometimes, when we deal with family owned companies they toil with hiring people outside of the family as they have typically developed trust issues. Truth is as a business owner you have to decide what kind of company you want to have. If you really want to grow it then you need to hire experts in the field outside of your immediate network.

There is basically two schools of thought when it comes to hiring timeline. The first school says that you hire someone to grow your company. In this instance you may have a successful company but you want more growth so you want to hire another sales person or a new member to the marketing team. The purpose of this hire is to grow your business. If you add a commission only salesperson then there really is no risk but immense possible return (Remember it is all about payplans). People can grow your company but you have to make sure that you are not stretching yourself too thin.

The second school of thought is that you grow so fast and to a size that you almost cannot handle, you are eating and sleeping work. Because you are so busy you decide to hire someone to take the load off so that you can continue to grow. This one is generally more common among small businesses as you typically know that you can afford to hire someone else, you practically cannot afford not to. The questions sort of becomes “what came first, the chicken or the egg.

Basically, hire someone to help you grow or grow or hire someone because you physically cannot do anymore with the team you have. I would not say that there is a right answer here. I would say that if you are new to hiring people and recruiting people that the later of the two options is best. In the first situation you may not have tons of cash to throw around. You are doing well but hiring someone may be a little tight and you are really counting on the business they bring in to cover their salary. That is why the first one option could be a bit riskier. However, if you are experienced in recruiting or know somebody that would be perfect for the role and are sure they can perform, option one is the easier of the two.

Option 2 allows for significant cashflow coming in above and beyond your fixed costs. This means that you have plenty of cash to throw at a new hire and honestly as long as they do a half descent job it is helping your case. I do not want to get into cashflow management too much as that is a story for a different day.

Take a pen and a piece of paper and figure out where you are at in your business: Are you growing in work and cashflow is a non problem or are you making a descent living growing steadily but a couple thousand to a new hire might be tough? Once you know where you are you can develop a plan to see which option would be best for your situation.

Comfortably Uncomfortable

Listen up everybody, if you want to be in sales people have to like you. People buy from people they like and respect. Typically, a great salesman has the ability to captivate an audience with a story and garner the status “life of the party” wherever they go. This is because a good salesman has become comfortable in uncomfortable situations. They understand that in that brief moment of uncomfort that prosperity will soon come (prosperity does not alway mean money). Being comfortably uncomfortably is a trait that people are drawn to it demonstrates a level of confidence that very few people have. Nobody likes a pushy salesman but everybody loves a good listener with a relatable story.

Sales is one of the most difficult professions to be successful and one of the very few where your performance is tied into your pay on a daily basis. However, according to CNBC sales is one of the top 20 best paying jobs with average mean salary of $140,320 right behind that of a lawyer. One of the reasons it is such a tough profession is because you have to prove yourself and your product. You have about 30 seconds or less at the beginning of a meeting to build a rapport with someone then if that is successful you have about 5 minutes to demonstrate how you can make them more money or you are out.

We do this by making small talk, if it is an in person meeting be sure to comment on something in their office, find common ground. This does not mean that if your buyer likes to hunt in their free time that you have to be the worlds greatest hunter, you just need enough to get the buyer talking. When the buyer is talking you are doing something right… within reason.

For example, if I walk into my buyers office and he has six taxidermies on the wall, I may say something like “Some nice animals you have on the wall there, I myself have a 30/30 in the gun rack at home”. Just find common ground. If you can get the buyer talking about something they are passionate about, they will like you. Everybody is 99% interested in what they have to say and 1% interested in what you have to say. You just have to make sure that you capitalize on the 1% that you get to say, make it worth while. Read Johnny, your 8 year old buyer for more information on the 1%.

If you are unable to meet with the buyer in person and are tasked with a phone meeting, there are a couple avenues that I recommend. The first one is to do as much research as you possibly can. I was recently in a meeting, admittedly that I was unprepared for, luckily my business partner had done his homework. As we got to the ending questions, the dreaded trial close, the buyer began to backtrack and showed signs of hesitation. He expressed that he had recently been furloughed by his biggest contract due to Covid – 19 and wanted to wait to hire us until the contract was active again. My partner quickly was able to reference, based on his research, what he thought would be our buyers biggest contract (based on his website). Once the company named was mentioned the whole demeanor of the ending remarks changed as he respected where we were coming from. We ended up signing the deal. It is all about relationships and trust, the customer has to like you or they will not do business with you. You will be surprised how big a customers wallet opens when they like and trust you.

The second recommendation for an over the phone meeting is to bring up something that affects everybody; sports, weather, holiday, Corona, etc. This allows for instant common ground, not nearly as affective as personal common ground but effective nonetheless. Often times generic small talk can lead to personal common ground if you can ask the right questions.

All of these aspects are important for every meeting that you go into whether in person or over the phone. Just remember that the product is less important than the relationship, find common ground and be likable. If the buyer does not like you then you’re not going to be able to sell them anything. People buy from people they like and remember nobody likes to be sold but everybody likes to buy something.

I called the Vice President but still no decision…?

Sitting at your desk ready to make some calls and land some appointments but not sure who to call, general manager sounds important right? Wrong! If you are not calling the owner or someone with true authority then you are waisting your time and theirs. Sometimes these middle level employees are tasked with finding a product like the one you are selling so it is important to impress everyone you speak to but nonetheless they are still a gatekeeper.

Oh the dreaded gatekeeper, but this one is disguised as a Vice President or General Manager…? Yes, sure you have the traditional gatekeeper that is the receptionist or the Owners assistant but you also have another level of gatekeepers. Sometimes the first set, secretaries, will transfer you to the second layer, Vice President/Manager. 

This second set of gatekeepers can be far worse than the first set as they do have some level of authority. The problem becomes that you do not know what level of authority they have. Often times in a company there are a lot of people that have the authority to tell you no but very few that have the authority to purchase or say yes. Two bad outcomes can occur when transferred to mid level management:

  1. They automatically tell you no 
  2. They graciously have you in for a meeting, many meetings and string you along only to find out they can’t make the decision

Far too often when prospecting, sales personnel get put in the “friend zone”. They go out on sales calls quite often and are very like-able people but because they are visiting prospects so often the middle management actually becomes friends with them. Not to say they are taking advantage of you but ultimately if you don’t have a decision in 3 meetings they are probably not going to buy from you. Send them a birthday card or drop by once a quarter to keep the relationship alive in case something changes but until then don’t waste your time.

A few years ago I was prospecting this decent size account that my boss had worked on a few years prior. He warned me that the owner liked to talk and didn’t like to make decisions but as the cocky salesperson I was I figured it would be different. After about 6 months of driving out there, taking him to lunch, and bending over backwards to get his questions answered he finally agreed and signed the paperwork to offer our products. The only caveat came when I returned to do the install and introduce the new products, processes, and systems none of the employees knew that the decision had been made. It was introduced with much resistance (Because there was no owner buy in) and moving forward the sales team would quote both companies (My products and the competition) and sell whichever was cheaper. Safe to say that my commissions did not equal the time that I put into the account. Some prospects are just not worth it. But I digress.

Now it is tough to find out who the true buyer is because when you are working with a small company the Vice President may call all the shots but when calling on Morgan Stanley, where everyone who owns a suit gets a VP after their name, it becomes a bit more difficult. To find out who if person is a true buyer you have to use your sales reasoning to feel the buyer out as you are conversing and more importantly after a short initial pitch or fact finding meeting be sure to ask if anyone else needs to be involved in the final decision. This question is so valuable and far too many people fail to ask it. Who knows maybe the company has a silent partner that you have never heard of. 

2 years ago I was called in to one of my accounts to do a “recap” on some material that we had gone over the month before. When I get to the account there is a gentleman there that I had never met, seemingly calling the shots (I had this account for 18 months at this time) and began to instruct me to perform a presentation. I stopped dead and said “excuse me sir who exactly are you?”. Well as it turns out he was the owner… nobody told me that the general manager (who I thought was the owner) had been given officer authority and was able to sign the documents. Always ask if there are any other decision makers involved as it is never fun to be blindsided. 

When speaking with company personnel remember that there are many people inside that are able to say no to you but very few that are able to say yes. Do not waste time trying to get to the decision maker through the middle management. If you are confident in your abilities/products then you deserve to speak to the top. Conversely, if you are self conscious regarding your ability then you will think you are not worthy of speaking to the true buyer and next thing you know you are “friend zoned” by middle management, spending a fortune on lunches for commission that is likely never coming. Next time you are about to make a sales call and you are choosing between calling the General Manager and the owner, be confident and call the Owner. 

Pain or Pleasure??

There are primarily two motivating factors in our lives and they are pain and pleasure. I know this may sound a bit risque but it’s true. We will always gravitate to either pain or pleasure depending on the circumstances.

I know you are asking yourself, “where is he going with this??”. Pain and pleasure are the most motivating factors in a persons life. We are motivated by each of them every day. It’s important to understand that both can be shrouded or disguised in a myriad of ways but the bottom line is that pain and pleasure pervade in our lives numerous times each day.

Webster defines motivation as:

The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.

I am certain that I don’t have to define pain or pleasure but it’s not what you’re thinking. Being motivated by pleasure is a pretty easy concept to grasp. We are motivated to go to an amusement park because we know it will be a great time. We are motivated to be with our children because of the essence of time and often enjoy the goofiness that a child offers and inspires. We are motivated to pack for the trip you have coming up because we are excited for the new experiences that are soon to come. Pleasure is an excellent motivator and often prevails over pain. Innately, we gravitate towards pleasure as a first instinct and fall back on pain only if absolutely necessary.

With that said, pain is a very strong motivator and is the result of spending too much focus on pleasure. An example of the imbalance of pain and pleasure would be, snoozing the alarm clock until you realize that you have a meeting in 30 minutes and you will undoubtedly be late, now that pain of being late becomes the chief motivator and far outweighs the pleasure of lying in a warm comfortable bed. Another example for the golfers out there, it’s too painful to write that executive summary or blog post because it’s more pleasurable to be on the golf course. Now you are on the 18th hole and you realize that that report is due in the morning, you must now race back to the office and begin typing like a crazy person – motivated by the pain of not getting your project completed in time and suffering the consequences.

Although pleasure is magnetic and powerful it is somewhat ephemeral if not balanced with the thought of the pain. Notice I typed “the thought of pain” and not the actual pain. In a combat situation there is a phrase and it’s Left of Bang. If we consider that there is a time line in front of you and at the center of the timeline we have a large red circle. Let’s call that circle “Bang”, anything to the right of bang is very bad and not a place we want to be. It means that we are now in crisis mode, the threat and danger is now. You are now in a situation where you are implementing damage control and trying to create order from chaos. You can no longer be proactive, you can only be reactive. Let’s face it, nobody wants to be right of bang. Right of bang is pain.

The alternative to being right of bang is obviously left of bang. This is where we all want to live and operate. It is a far more peaceful, manageable place to be that allows for far more fluidity. There is a very important tactic that you must possess while left of bang, you must be aware and watchful. The closer you get to bang the more you must be aware that the balance is off as you can very quickly enter into that unpredictable and chaotic stage of right of bang. When you see that big red circle coming your way, pump the brakes a bit and refocus your attention on those things that will keep you on the left side of that circle.

Have you ever played that game Labyrinth? It is a square box with a maze in the middle and you can control the equilibrium gently moving a small ball towards your desired destination. Well pain and pleasure, left and right of bang, and Labyrinth all follow a similar strategy. Labyrinth is not that difficult and can really be completed by anyone. All they need to do is go slow, pay attention and be watchful of what’s ahead of you.

Being motivated by pain is not where you want to find yourself on a regular basis and that’s why being mindful of what’s ahead of you is important. We can create a balance between pain and pleasure and it’s that balance that creates efficiency and high productivity!

Be sure to be alert and watchful, make sure you are looking for the holes in your maze and take the necessary time to navigate each day being mindful of the pinnacle between pain and pleasure. Thats the big red circle I call bang. Each day we consume ourselves with countless tasks and projects quickly finding ourselves in the big red circle. Watch, listen and slow down. Your days will be much more productive.