Best Practices

Write This Down: Part Two

Back on May 9th, I posted part one of my “Write This Down!” series – really just a running list of helpful sayings and ideas that I share with sellers in my workshops.  Today we add to the list.  Enjoy and share.

The Opposite of yes isn’t no.   The opposite of yes is anything other than yes.  Most sellers don’t get this fact.  They hear “we’re waiting on our budget” or “we have a couple more proposals to look at” and they stop selling.  They don’t see these as the objections or brushoffs that they are and fail to qualify them further.   Hence all the ambivalence and murkiness in your pipeline.

The opposite of selling isn’t not selling.  It’s describing.  This idea prompted the biggest response I’ve ever gotten to The Drift.  Somewhere along the line we lost the connection between sales and actually selling stuff.  The goal is to persuade and change the outcome.   But sellers and those who support them seem completely focused on just endlessly describing stuff.

Don’t take no from someone who can’t also tell you yes.  This ancient gem still shines.  It’s particularly poignant in our industry because of all the lower-level gatekeepers whose main purpose seems to be role-preservation.  Sellers either don’t know these bureaucrats can’t green-light projects or are just too frightened of ‘getting in trouble’ to push any boundaries.

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Big decision makers want to make big decisions.  I like to talk to sales teams about the client’s floor of consideration.  We think that by keeping the price minuscule and reassuring everyone that it’s just a test we are making the customer more likely to act.  But serious executives don’t want to take political and business risks to spend $50-100K.  Risk aversion only works with those who probably don’t want to buy from you anyway.

Work backward from the cost of the unsolved problem.  The core of the media sale is to stack up enough units of value – pre-rolls, banners, videos, full page takeovers, impressions, etc. – to justify a price tag.  But it’s not about that anymore. As I like to say, if you want to make a million dollars, go find a $20 million problem to solve. One of the crippling limitations of media thinking is that we never stop to consider what the unsolved problem – or the unrealized opportunity – is really worth.

Stop negotiating against yourself.  Speaking of crippling downsides…  Experience is a great teacher in our business.  Unfortunately it tends to teach limitations.  Show me 10 “experienced digital sellers” and I’ll bet you that eight of them know exactly why every new idea won’t work….why the customer won’t pay that price….and why there’s really, actually no way out.

Don’t sell or manage to what’s in the other person’s head.  Managers and sellers alike seem fixated on changing belief and getting others fully on board.  We talk of evangelism and winning others over.   But this just leads to endless cycles of guessing.  Instead, focus on discrete behaviors.  A client either agrees to recommend (that’s a verb) a buy or not; a seller either books a call, or doesn’t.  The sooner you focus on the actions of others the sooner you’ll be fully in touch with reality – and empowered to start changing it.

The Fab Five.

The Fab 5I just read a great Forbes Article on “5 Things Super Successful People Do Before 8 AM.”   I can tell you without a trace of irony that I LOVE stuff like this.  Considering the number of high-performer, type-A executives in our business, I’m sure I’m not alone.  So I thought I’d pick up on the thread and offer up “5 Things Super Successful Digital People Do All the Time.”

We Pay Attention to Hard Trends.  It’s too easy to get caught up the 24-hour hype cycle and lose sight of what’s real.   Super Successful Digital People measure everything against the hard trends of business and consumer behavior and stick with the practices, technologies and innovations that serve growing markets, logical behaviors.  It’s what helps us keep it real.

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We Start the Day Proactively.  If you woke up to the alarm on your iPhone or Android and immediately began reading and responding to emails, then you missed the chance to take control of your day.  Most of us start the day in full reaction mode and then never really recover.  SSDPs center themselves first thing with some exercise, non-electronic reading, a bit of fresh air, the creation of a list or even just five quiet minutes of reflection.

We Humanely (and Human-ly) Use email.   Let’s face it:  in less than a generation email has gone from productivity miracle to soul-deadening time-suck.   Effective emails are always short, always personal and always well-considered.  Cover-your-ass CC’s, mindless “me-too” responses, “your name here” sales pitches and messages that are longer than the viewing window are all non-starters.  So let’s stop sending them.  And then let’s start using emails to say things like “Just thinking of you and realizing how long it’s been since we spoke” and “Please answer this one short question….”

We are Present When Speaking to Fellow Humans.  It’s a sad commentary that paying attention has gone from expected to polite to exceptional in just a few years.  So leave the phone in your bag; look into the eyes of the person speaking; ask clarifying questions; care.   A minute or two of an interaction like this is worth more than a day spent in partial engagement and permanent distraction.

We Improve Everything.  Or at least we try to.  SSDPs don’t accept the status quo very well.  But our improvements are not limited to website redesigns or software upgrades.   We aim to improve day-to-day processes, the quality of meetings, the little things we do to make our customers and employees feel special.  If you’re not getting better, then you’re getting worse.  There is no “neutral.”

As you finish reading this you might notice how closely all this “Super Successful Digital” behavior resembles really high quality “Human” behavior.