Just Three Things.

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just-three-thingsOne of the real pleasures of my job – and what makes my job possible – is that I get to speak candidly and personally to a few hundred salespeople every year.  It’s in those conversations that I have come to understand the qualities that all the great ones seem to share.

As you might imagine there are dozens of behaviors, approaches and beliefs that one could point to.  But in the end it seems to come down to a very short list of just three things.  And if I were building a sales team today and could hire only three qualities, I’d pay for these:

If you’re a qualified digital sales leader or manager and would like to be supported in your own growth or that of your team, come to the Seller Forum on Thursday February 9th in New York. Seller Forum is the industry’s only peer-to-peer gathering of people just like you.  You’ll hear from clients and market experts, get insights on the shape of Q1 spending and share best practices and tips.  Request a spot for yourself and another key manager on your team. Seating will be strictly limited.

Curiosity.  To truly sell means to persuade another person – or group – to do something significant.  In this quest, curiosity is a superpower.  The curious are always looking to understand more about the work and life and issues of the customer.  Their curiosity helps them learn how the customer’s business works, and why it sometimes doesn’t.  And it makes the customer feel deeply interesting and attended to.  In this environment, change and commitment become truly possible.

Generosity.  The old stereotype of the slick seller busily counting his commission would be laughable if it weren’t so pathetically misguided.  Great sellers rarely wait for the cash register to ring and always leave something on the table.  They are also generous with their time and attention…and with credit when something goes well.  Because they give, others want to give to them….support, loyalty, commitment.

Paranoia.  Yes, this one sounds odd by comparison.  But the touch of paranoia afflicting the great seller makes her always do one more thing…check one more detail…meet one more person…make one more phone call.  When a deal is 95% certain, the great seller dwells in the 5% that’s not…turning every bolt, checking every circuit.  His curiosity and generosity are what bring business to the table; his paranoia is what finishes the sale and drives the success of his company.

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Six Questions for GSK’s Scott Grenz.

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scottepharmaAn agency veteran and now VP, Global Media Head for the pharma and consumer healthcare divisions of GSK, Scott Grenz will be our featured guest at the Seller Forum on Thursday February 9th in New York.  Here, he answers six questions about the new world order for clients, agencies and the sales community. 

DW: The nature of the brand/agency relationship has been evolving for years.  This past year seemed different though.  Was it?

SG:  Yes, I think the advertiser/media agency relationship is evolving.  At GSK, we push our media agencies to deliver more for us and bring us new approaches and strategies and in the US we partner strongly with PHD.  We also expect them to push us.  How do we, GSK, need to behave so we get the very best from our agencies and by extension the media sellers?  We strive to be client of choice with our agencies and advertiser of choice with the media sellers.

DW: What’s different about a meeting you’ll personally take with a media company versus one you’ll hand off internally or to one of your agencies?

SG:  GSK is a progressive place for Media.  We partner strongly with our media agencies and expect the media selling community to be part of the equation developing custom solutions for our brands.  Our intention is to remain open to innovative, bespoke programs.  You can be assured GSK will invest all the time we need to bring a good idea to life.  The blueprint for this is the work we did with Weather on the Flonase launch.

If you’re a qualified digital sales leader or manager and would like to be supported in your own growth or that of your team, come to the Seller Forum on Thursday February 9th in New York. Seller Forum is the industry’s only peer-to-peer gathering of people just like you.  You’ll hear from clients and market experts, get insights on the shape of Q1 spending and share best practices and tips.  Request a spot for yourself and another key manager on your team. Seating will be strictly limited.

DW: You believe that media companies and publishers should be prepared to assume some of the risk on new ideas. Have you developed a good model or formula for sharing risk?

SG:  Investing media dollars has inherent risk, which the advertiser takes on the brunt of, especially if sales don’t improve as a result.  That said, I would advise any media seller to come to us with new ideas on how we can share the risk.  Maybe it’s a cost model based on business impact, piloting new opportunities at no cost…I’m sure there are others.  It’s more being open to the approach in general as we feel it will deliver more scalable and lasting partnerships.

DW: Sellers want to call on clients, and within client companies they want to get close to brand teams.  Good idea or bad idea?

SG: My counsel in this regard is patience.  At some point in the process, if the media company brings something unique and integrated, the brand teams will need to get involved.  If the sellers are strategic, understand our business, act as partners, they will become part of the team.

DW: What’s the single most overhyped idea in media today?  And what are we not talking about nearly enough?

SG:  “Digital” as a unique element of the communications plan – as in, we need to “do more digitally.”  If we are really astute about consumer journey and hold true to that in how we invest our media spend, we should find ourselves spending in all the correct channels.  Something we are talking about but are just starting to do well is tying investment back to ROI.  We have made great progress working with our media agency partners, but the media sellers need to step up and help us in this regard.  It’s another opportunity to differentiate yourselves.    Also important is top talent.  We expect the media agencies to maintain the best talent on our business.  The same can be said for media sellers.  I think there’s an opportunity there for sellers to differentiate…we really don’t talk too much about talent on the sales side and we should.

DW: Our business is insular.  What do you do, read or experience outside our world that keeps you grounded?

SG: I try to focus on experiences that allow me to be creative in different ways.  I like to cook.  That really is a stress-release for me and I don’t get many complaints on the results.  I also enjoy reading biographies.  I like to understand what experiences and environments equip people to accomplish what they do in life, both the good guys and bad guys.

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January is Still Yours…Use It Well!

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Branden Harvey Stories // http://brandenharvey.com

Branden Harvey Stories // http://brandenharvey.com

Of all the Drift’s I’ve written in the past 16 years, this New Year’s Day post is the one that’s most often requested for a repost.  It’s helped many execs in our industry start the New Year off right since 2011.  I hope it does the same for you.

So you’re just getting back from the holidays and this first couple of weeks of 2017 may just set the tone for your quarter – or your whole year.  Here are some suggestions on putting your own personal house in order:

Segregate the Issues. The very best people in business (‘Doers’) are those who build strategies around things that they control.  Others tend to obsess about market conditions, the economy and a host of other uncontrollable phenomena.  (Call these folks ‘victims.’)  So make a list or an excel document with one column called ‘controllable’ and another called ‘uncontrollable.’  Economic conditions or the amount of money a given client choose to budget toward online are clearly uncontrollable.  Managing your time, reading business and strategy books that will make you more valuable to customers, writing better action plans for your accounts…all highly controllable.  Post the list you create in a visible spot and be accountable to it.  The hours you spend thinking and talking about stuff you can’t control are wasted.  Maniacally focus on the other column.

If you’re a qualified digital sales leader or manager and would like to be supported in your own growth or that of your team, come to the Seller Forum on Thursday February 9th in New York. Seller Forum is the industry’s only peer-to-peer gathering of people just like you.  You’ll hear from clients and market experts, get insights on the shape of Q1 spending and share best practices and tips.  Request a spot for yourself and another key manager on your team. Seating will be strictly limited.

Create a Learning Agenda for Yourself. What will make you smarter and more vital to your company and your customers if you learn it this year?  What area of expertise or insight will you ‘own’ in 2017?  Perhaps its vertical knowledge of an industry.  Or maybe expertise in a process or technology. If you’re just doing your job you’re doing yourself a disservice. Growth doesn’t just happen; you’ve got to have a plan… a plan with dates, deliverables and action verbs on it.

Start a Network. No, not that kind.  Plan an event – a dinner, a breakfast, a meeting at a coffee bar – in which you’ll bring together a disparate group of your customers and other smart, interesting people you know.  The agenda?  No agenda.  Don’t worry about selling anything in this environment or being heard.  Instead you’ll be raising your own personal credibility and creating value where it didn’t exist before.  That group of people will see you as a connector and your relationships with all of them will grow exponentially.  It’s the smart, confident and valuable seller who says “Hey, you know who you should meet….”

Take Inventory. Write these words at the top of a page:  First.  Best.  Only.  Under them are two columns.  One says “Me.”  The other lists the name of your company.  What are the things you can be first to offer your customers?  What are you truly best at?  And what can only you offer?   Fill each list with appropriate actions, capabilities, insights, executional tactics and the like.  The “Company” column will help you define the core product and audience strengths.  (Things you do that are not on that list are probably a bunch of commodity “anywhere” junk that’s distracting you and your customers from connecting with your core value.)  And the “me” column?  Your personal strengths – these are the actions and capabilities that you will go to again and again as you compete effectively this year.  These are the “plays” that you’ll run to perfection instead of just falling into the ‘automatic sales stuff’ that will make you seem like everyone else.  Or worse, set you up to play the other guy’s game.

Believe. What do you believe in?  What do you know to be true?  What scenarios would you bet your house on?  Far too many people in sales don’t believe much of anything.  Or if they do, they don’t let that belief structure influence their work and their relationships.  Your belief structure will serve you well.  It will be a compass as you make decisions and it will be a magnet for interest and value.  Be that seller who brings a point-of-view and core beliefs to your associates and customers.   And watch your stature and influence grow geometrically.

Wishing you a happy and prosperous New Year.

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10 Ways I’ll be a Better Manager in 2017 (Part Two)

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10-ways-part-twoTo help foster a great 2017 start for my company, I’m publicly committing myself to being a better manager next year in 10 different ways.  In this last Drift of 2016, here are the final six:

  1. Be an Example by Planning My Own Days. So much of the American workforce starts its day by plunging right into its email inbox and starting to work south.  This begins a cycle of reaction – and non-productivity and frustration – that can last the whole day.  Too often I see myself doing the same thing.  So in 2017 I’ll have a plan – if only an outline – for how I plan to win the day.  And I’ll share that plan with my team so they’ll do the same.
  2. Put on My Own Oxygen Mask First. It sounds like a cliché from a self-help book, but it works.  Many managers – myself included – tend to burn out by failing to look after themselves.  Showing your team how much stress you can absorb and how many hours you can work is not a sign of strength.  Ironically, the best managers always seem to be the healthiest and most balanced.  In 2017, I aim to be one of those.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by AppNexus. With AppNexus Mobile Solutions, you can access more demand partners than ever, gain precision insight into your inventory’s pricing and attract the ad spend of the world’s largest advertisers.

  1. Bring New Voices Into the Room. Insularity is a problem in our business.  Even though we’re good at what we do, we run a small company and there are only so many voices we hear in a given business day.  Maybe your team is just as small and insular.  Or maybe you run a small team within a bigger company.  In 2017 I’ll be trying to find different voices for my team to hear.  Customers, TED speakers and thinkers and doers who have nothing to do with our industry or our business.  Because it’s often the unrelated or distant connection that helps you break through in your thinking.
  2. Ask Twice. As managers we should never forget that the first inclination most of our employees will have is to please us, to tell us everything is under control.  When we say “Do you understand?” or “Are you all set with this?” the immediate answer is “Got it!”  But is it true.  In 2017 I’ll start asking twice.  Because it’s in the second – or even third – question that the employee starts to feel your genuine concern and curiosity.  “Quickly take me through your plan” and “Let’s talk about how I can support you on this” are also good phrases to keep the conversation going.
  3. Take Time for Inspiration. Given how sophisticated and worldly our digitally-focused, millennially-oriented workforces are, they’re not supposed to care about inspiration, right?  In a world of ones and zeros, who’s got time for slogans and deep thoughts?  As someone who speaks directly with digital sellers and other executives in our business virtually every day, I can tell you that inspiration is more vital than ever.  Your people – and mine – are seeking meaning in their work and in their lives.  There are many inspiring stories, lives and ideas out there.  And in 2017, I’ll be trying to share more of them with my team.  I hope you will too.

As mentioned last week, we’ve evolved the mission of The Seller Forum to focus on developing the next generation of great digital sales managers.  If you’re one of them – or could be – or if you’re a CRO who wants to invest in the growth of your own middle managers, email Tamara Clarke and she’ll help with your 2017 Seller Forum and help you take advantage of pre-sale rates.  The first Forum of 2017 is on Thursday February 9th in New York, so don’t wait.

As this was our final Drift of 2016, let me thank you for reading our ideas this year.  I wish you, your family and your colleagues a wonderful holiday and a new year filled with hope, promise and grace. ~ Doug Weaver

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10 Ways I’ll Be a Better Manager in 2017 (Part One)

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10-ways-part-one-bTo help foster a great 2017 start for my company, I’m publicly committing myself to being a better manager next year in 10 different ways.  Here are the first five:

  1. Be Present. As I wrote earlier this year, attention is the world’s most valuable currency.  I’ll stop and focus completely on the employee, issue, conversation or problem at hand.  No multi-tasking, no distracted “halfway” interactions.  Speed kills, and the things it kills most often are trust and effectiveness.
  2. Commit to Systems and Structure. When it comes to business systems and practices – Salesforce, regularly scheduled meetings, databases – I’ve too often been the guy who preaches from the church parking lot.  How can I – or you – expect my employees to build and benefit from our systems if I remain just a little bit above and apart from them?  I’ve already started fulfilling this commitment, and the results are immediate and overwhelming.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by AppNexus. With AppNexus Mobile Solutions, you can access more demand partners than ever, gain precision insight into your inventory’s pricing and attract the ad spend of the world’s largest advertisers.

  1. Challenge My Team, Honestly. I’ve hired very good people – both employees and contractors — who have good values and intentions.  I owe it to them to challenge them so that they find the upper limits of their capacity.  I’ll ask the extra question…I’ll slow the process down just enough to examine it for improvement…I’ll ask people to think a little more deeply about why?  I’ll challenge with the intent of helping people improve and grow.
  2. Filter Distractions for My Team. It’s too easy to assume that everyone in your world shares your ability to tune out the trivial, scary or just plain confusing stuff.  But they don’t, at least not right away.  Great managers take the time needed to turn down the noise and keep their people focused on what matters most.  You can never know what haunts the dreams of your employees unless you ask.
  3. Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize. Closely aligned with number 4 is my commitment to regularly help my people choose which tasks to pursue and when.  Like many small businesses (and not so small ones) we throw off a lot of work and a ton of sometimes conflicting priorities.  If left unexamined and unexplained, they eat away at enthusiasm and effectiveness.  I commit to frequently asking about capacity and focus and helping my team work on what matters most right now.

Next week, in our final Drift of 2016, we’ll offer five more commitments to better management in 2017.  We’ve also evolved the mission of The Seller Forum to focus on developing the next generation of great digital sales managers.  If you’re one of them – or could be – or if you’re a CRO who wants to invest in the growth of your own middle managers, email Tamara Clarke and she’ll help with your 2017 Seller Forum and help you take advantage of pre-sale rates.

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