April 30, 2010
I gave the opening keynote in Bogota on April 14 at the ExpoMarketing 360 conference.
The assignment for me that day was: Advocate Better Relationships Between Marketing and Sales. Event Director Juan Pablo Neira talked to me about the inherent difficulties between marketing and sales groups in Columbia. The two groups seem to intersect at the trade marketing campaigns (supporting products directly in the market via brochures, promotions, etc.). He knew that if they connected deeply, marketing would greatly benefit from the insight.
After doing a bit of research on the subject, I found out several interesting things:
1. This is true on a global basis - The very nature of marketing and sales put the two groups at odds in most normal situations. They come from different backgrounds and are compensated differently. They have no alignment in the organization. Research from the Aberdeen Group indicates that the Marketing VPs believe they need to do much better in this area.
2. Improved Relationships are good for business - Sales can give the marketing group great competitive insight, proprietary pricing information and in-the-field feedback on advertising or promotions. They often don't because it requires more work, unless they have a connection with someone in marketing that "they want to help."
3. Relationship Improvement Is Possible - I called up the Director of Marketing for FEDEX South America (Gui Gatti, pictured above), and he laid it out for the crowd. (PS - It's always great if you can bring an in-market executive up on stage and give them the mic for a minute. He spoke fluent Spanish and engaged the audience.) He explained that if you want to make a connection with sales, here's how to do it:
* Unite the groups around "kill the competitor." In his case, the unifying theme at a recent conference both groups attended was, "kill the brown, flush it down." (A reference to UPS)
* Go with sales on client calls, listen deeply and be willing to take some homework assignments. Eat with them whenever possible.
* Reach out to sales and ask them for specific information.
* Always give them credit when you are acknowledged for marketing successes.
April 28, 2010
A few weeks ago, I wrote about listening skills.
In that context, I was referring to every day conversations we have with people that shape the quality of our relationships. Today, I want to shift gears a little and talk about the art of interviewing interesting people. This is a little different than just listening, to conduct a great interview you need to pull content out of people.
If you blog, hire people, network or travel - you need to conduct great interviews to capture the opportunity in front of you. I've gained valuable insight into people, helped them gain insight into themselves and found great/entertaining anecdotes through ad-hoc interviews over the last decade.
Here are a few interview recommendations:
1. Be sincerely curious - Don't just wait for a chance to ask your next brilliant question, be curious about the 'why' behind every 'what'. Johnny Carson was great at doing this, and took pleasure when saying, "I did not know that!"
2. Do your research - Unless it's an instant interview, do some legwork on who you are going to interview. Google him/her. Re-read previous correspondence you've had. Think of at least three questions you'll ask.
3. Ask the questions that need to be asked - This is one of Oprah's real strengths as an interviewer. She asks the questions we'd like to ask. She isn't selfish in her style, she's mining for everyone. Think about the results of the interview (decision, your review of it, etc.) and make sure that shapes your questions.
4. Let the other finish his/her answers - In fact, leave a little pregnant pause at the end of an answer that you think is 'pat' or scripted. This uncomfortable silence often leads the other to improvise a little, and give you some juicy stuff.
5. Don't try and be smart - A good interview isn't about you, it is about finding the truth. In fact, playing a little dumb often puts the other into a teacher-mode, which can lead to the gleaning of insights.
April 26, 2010
Last week I gave the opening keynote at the National Association of Professional Organizers' annual conference in Columbus OH. After the event, I met Mike Paxton, star of the popular A&E television show "Hoarders." He also owns a small business called Clutter Cleaner.
I call his business a double-good model because the service offers a great value proposition (de-clutter a customer's house and restore sanity) as well as a great delivery method (hire people that have a hard time getting a job because of their background.)
After talking to him for a minute, I grabbed my Flip Mino HD camera and drafted a nearby person to shoot a quick interview with him. He not only explains his hiring model, he shares a few tips on how to avoid having too much clutter in your life.
April 23, 2010
Yesterday, while speaking at NAPO's annual conference, I shared a simple strategy for standout success: Find customers through prospecting, then turn them into friends. This group, Professional Organizers, run their own businesses and must build their client base from the ground up.
This is how many of us start in sales/marketing: No customers. Often, our managers tell us to get out our Roladex and start calling our friends, turning them into customers. If they say "no", at the very least, get some leads out of them. That was the advice I received in my first job in Dallas, selling mobile phones. My boss, said, "you can either crack the phone book open and get out your address book and start selling to friends and families. And the second approach is easier."
Being in a band at the time (1986), my address book was slim (if you didn't count our mailing list) and no one could afford a $1500.00 car phone! One day, while catching up on the phone with my grandmother, I told her about my predicament. She quipped: "Friends don't sell friends. They serve them with confidence. Your company expects you to milk your goodwill (friends and families), and they really don't care about them. If you want to stand out in life, do the hard work (cold calls) and get some customers -- then turn them into friends!"
This advice changed my point of view and future business life. I focused more on serving, wowing and helping the few customers I found through cold calling the yellow pages. They, in turn, gave me more referral business than I needed and my real friends got a break from a constant sales pitch. Win/win/win.
If you are building a business, you should try this novel approach too. Here's a few ways to do this:
1. Embrace the concept of selling to strangers: Whether you have to knock some doors or make some uncomfortable calls, deal with the hard work of building a business. If your product or service is as good as you think it is, it should sell itself if you fill the funnel. Social media and email make us SO lazy about this concept. NOTE: Email marketing to sell a product/service is lame, noisy and gives you a false confidence that you are filling the funnel.
2. In networking or marketing, serve people don't sell them. Educate them about an issue related to your industry and then they'll ask you to talk about what you are selling. (See Elmer Letterman story). At broadcast.com, I attended events where I talked about how to use the internet (not my service). I generated a great deal of goodwill and stranger2customers by doing that.
3. When you get customers, exceed expectations. The best way to warm up a relationship is to go beyond the promise and deliver some delight and surprise.
4. Develop a sincere interest in the customer's life situation. You don't have to be nosy, just observant and emotionally available. Pick up one piece of decent information with each encounter, and don't forget to call back to it. You should friend every customer you have on Facebook too, assuming you aren't a jerk, politico or idiot on Facebook. (See 5X5 Exercise.)
5. Express your gratefulness for their business instead of milking them for referrals. They know how you make money and will rave about you to their friends, maybe even on Facebook.
6. Change their life, don't just serve them. Be a part of their solutions team, give advice and share your network with them strategically. Don't keep your value at your vest. Treat them as a neighbor, and they'll reciprocate with friendship.
April 22, 2010
Every morning, my waking thoughts are ones of gratitude.
I think about people from the previous day who were there to help me. I think about a person in the coming day who will be a part of my success. This focus helps me realize something: I am not alone. I have an abundance of support, and I'm not the Lone Ranger.
I love the people that help me succeed. I appreciate them, and later in life I'll certainly think of them fondly - like a war buddy or a frat brother. Who do you love in your career life? Are you thinking about your support system every morning or do you wake up and check your email and get overwhelmed?
If you haven't done it recently, you should identify the people in your bizlife that make you successful. And then you need to express your gratitude for them and help them back. That's love at work. Here are a few ways to approach this:
1. Begin every morning with ten minutes of gratitude thinking. Search your memory for instances of assistance from the previous day or week. Give advance thanks to someone that you think will help you in your day ahead.
2. Express your gratitude. You can send a short email, make a call or tell that person when you see them next. Don't hold it inside, because without expression, you are not committing yourself. When you express gratitude, you are painting yourself into a positive corner.
3. Tune yourself to notice assistance. If you do this exercise for a few weeks, you'll find that you are thanking the same people over and over again. You'll be motivated to find new subjects for your gratitude, and if you try, you'll spot them hiding in the daily woodwork. The more you focus on all the support you get, the more you'll realize that you are far from alone. You have dozens of people helping you, sometimes a few clicks away from your normal point of view. Trace the help back a few steps and meet some new people that are behind-the-scene, making you more effective.
This is a concept that's included in my next book, Today We Are Rich. Visit the book page and you can pre-order a copy and receive a free eBook excerpt with an entire principle! You can also visit its facebook page too.
April 20, 2010
Here's a shameless request: Read and share my 1st article for Oprah.com.
Last month, through a networking friend, I found myself at the Harpo offices in Chicago meeting with editors for the Money and Spirit section of Oprah.com. You can imagine I've been a fan of Oprah's body of work for some time, and I was thrilled to be considered as a featured contributor to Oprah.com (30 million monthly views).
Hopefully, there will be high engagement with the article (Tweets, Facebook shares, comments) that lead to a regular position contributing to the site. Check out the article, as well as other great content on Oprah.com (such as Marcus Buckingham's series on strengths). And, of course, tell a friend!
April 19, 2010
Many of you give presentations, be they for work or in the community.
Regardless of what kind of presentation you give, you need to focus on:
1. People (Your audience, and why you care deeply about them) - How can you 'give' a presentation if you are not connected with your audience?
2. Purpose (Why are you there? What is the desired outcome of your talk?)
3. Punchline (Can you summarize your talk in less than 30 seconds?)
Here's a video I shot in Bogota last week about this subject. You'll note, at the end, the meeting manager gives a testimony about the talk's effectiveness. You'll see how important those 3 P's were to him. Bring me in to talk with your group too!
April 15, 2010
I am nowhere on Foursquare. I don't update my location anymore.
Why? One of our conventional wisdoms RE Social Media is that you should bring people along with you as you travel for business or pleasure. Sure, it's an experience, but at what cost?
If you are single, live in an apartment and posses few items of value -- sure, advertise to the bad guys that you aren't home! If you, like I do, have a family and some stuff you don't want to lose, then don't tell the world when you are out of town for extended periods.
It is easier than you think for ANYONE to figure out where you live. You would be surprised how many databases your address is sitting in, unprotected from bad guys that track these things. And they do. A recent article on Rob Me makes some startling points. A video editor in Arizona was robbed after he posted his out-of-town-ness on (A seemingly harmless update, "Just landed safely on my trip.")
Some insurance carriers are already planning to raise their rates on blabby social media users (see article). It's not good business for them to subsidize your need for more followers on Twitter or Facebook.
You can still share your trips with us, when you get home. I am HOME now, back from a trip to Bogota Colombia. Yesterday, I saw this kid doing a great foot-juggling routine at a trade show (Video: Colombian Football Juggler). I shot it on my flip and could have posted it from the Admiral's Club a few hours later. But I didn't. As with any new media form, we'll refine how we use it. You don't post silly videos of yourself partying anymore, now do you? Drop the need to report real-time on where you are or you'll end up getting desert served to you by some follower that waits for you to advertise that you are "having dinner in Des Moines at Lucy's.' Think before you post/update.
PS - For those of who that travel a lot, you should protect your privacy. Never post a mailing address, a cell phone number on any profile. Be careful about using your home address as a shipping address with websites you aren't familiar with. If you EVER buy a domain name, pay the extra money to keep your address private. You can't be too careful.
April 14, 2010
This week's video clip is from my 2009 talk at the Women's Foodservice Forum.
In the clip, I talk about the link between confidence and generosity. To make a difference, and give, you need to eradicate fear, uncertainty and doubt. What are you doing to reclaim your confidence?
April 12, 2010
One of the best ways you can create wealth is by mentoring others.
By mentoring, I mean sharing your knowledge and experience with someone to help them find traction in their efforts or reach the finish line. I wouldn't be a published author today if I didn't have mentors throughout my life: My pre-Yahoo career, my writing career, my speaking career, etc.
Mentorship is important for you and the person you help. You will enter a knowledge feedback loop through mentorship, which will only help you gain valuable insight as your mentee tries out your ideas in the real world. For them, you pass along your value, multiplying it and strengthening the 'system'. Often though, we are haphazard about mentorship programs, and often wonder what good we've done.
Here are a few rules for mentorship:
1. Pick someone based on a hunch: Don't advertise that you are looking for mentees, or take the first suggestion that comes your way. You'll know the mentee when you see her. She's got a passion for the goal, a willingness to work, a respectable level of potential -- and she reminds you a little of yourself. (PS: Don't offer mentorship to a peer or someone that's arguable doing better than you.)
2. Don't be formal: Just start helping, there's no need to make a production out of it. Besides, she may not be a receptive mentee, so there's no use making a big deal about it. Just do it.
3. Listen before you prescribe: It's important to understand what her goals are, what obstacles remain and most importantly what motivates her. Don't just dive in with your list of biz-tips, take Covey's advice and seek first to understand.
4. Put your mentee on a reading program: Share some of the great books that helped you solidify your point of view. Much like a teacher, these books will serve as a foundation for your advice later on.
5. Be helpful, not Yoda: You don't need to browbeat someone for them to be a good mentee. You should already have their respect if you've really got something valuable to offer. Focus on how you can give useful advice related to getting simple things done. Go beyond knowledge, and offer to network your mentee with others to drive the progress.
6. Never collect: No matter how much you help, remember, you are in giving mode and not trade mode. If you make mentorship expensive, it becomes consulting. By giving without expectations, just like Tom Peters did with me, you'll have a friend for life that will appreciate what you did for him/her and repay you beyond your wildest imagination.
When you take on a mentee, and make a difference, you are creating some significance in your life. I call it "multiplying value."