Win Big, Get Buy-in

Win Big, Get Buy-in

In the game of Texas Holdem Poker, you can give everyone a run for their money if you are dealt a 4-of-a-kind on the flop. The odds are highly in your favor to raise the pot on the turn, and again on the river. I’ve been dealt such a hand at a home friendly tournament.

The feeling is exhilarating but the hand should be slow-played to maximize the opportunity.

I read Daymond John‘s book, The Power of Broke, and that’s what this post is all about. Making the most of opportunities no matter what sort of hand you’re dealt.

Any vetted sales professional would agree that “there are no new ideas, just a better way to deliver them”.  We win by being resourceful.

To succeed in a competitive marketplace, we must find a way to differentiate from competition. While a business can support their sales staff through advertising, strategic partnerships, social selling and digital marketing, it’s ultimately up to the sales rep to find new business and close deals. This is where the art of your personal brand should answer the fundamental question, “How are you different from the competition?”

We win where we differentiate.

Before I landed multi-year deals with brands and teams such as the New York Yankees, Baltimore Ravens, NASCAR, GoPro, and Samsung I needed to first define how we were different. All of our competitors had the same capabilities we did but one of my competitive advantages was a marketers mindset. I changed the conversations by changing the perception of how our products could be used as an extension of their brand rather than just a necessity.

But here is the key…

When entering a market with a different product or service you not only need to win the buy-in of your point contact, but they need to win buy-in from the rest of their team. 

The first principle I preach in any personal brand presentation is passion. And you know the saying, “Enthusiasm is contagious”. If you can get one person excited about an idea that will enhance the performance of their business, surely they can spread that same enthusiasm to others on their team and even the person who approves the budget. Everyone wants to look good.

Know the benefits of your offer inside-and-out so that you can deliver on the details. Then…

  1. FIND THE CHAMPION FROM WITHIN. Let them evangelize your brand through the enthusiasm they expressed with you. But before you hang up the phone or leave that first meeting, ask when you can follow up for next steps to further gauge the opportunity.
  2. SET THE PACE. You don’t want to ask too much too soon but don’t wait for them to get back to you. Always ask permission for a time to follow up to assess when the prospect will be in the best position to buy. The sooner you do this the better you can align your resources to deliver for other potential needs of their business.
  3. POSITION YOUR BRAND FOR BUY-IN. When a new expense is introduced to the budget, it may or may not be approved the first time around. You may run into a “why fix it if it ain’t broke” decision maker or the idea may need to be approved in the next budget cycle. In the meanwhile, find a way to educate and personally connect with 3 to 4 more people on other account teams.

You may encounter a situation where a competitor is locked into a multi-year non-compete. In that case keep your footing on solid ground and uphold the same level of professionalism that got you the first appointment. If you’re in this game for the long haul 2 to 3 years will be up before you know it and you’ll be in pole position when it’s time to renew. Loyalties become fierce when relationships are built over time.

Want to know how I won BIG with teams and brands such as Toyota, MillerCoors, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bearcats, and Texas Longhorns by playing the long game?

Message me and let’s tee up a call.

Tribes & Totems – Win the Hearts of Fans for Generations

Tribes & Totems – Win the Hearts of Fans for Generations

A lot happens over the course of 20 years.

It occurred to me, at the recent Outside Lands Music Festival, that I was seeing Metallica perform live for the 5th time in the past 20 years. The first 3 times were in the late 90’s during my college years and then again in 2004. Over a decade had past until I finally saw them again in August of 2017.

A lot has changed, yet so much has remained the same.

Twenty years ago, internet giants Google, Amazon, and eBay were just getting started. Mainstream music was consumed on CD’s, disposable cameras were considered smart, and people flocked to record stores to purchase new music. Fast forward twenty years and we can do all of that through one single mobile device. Much has changed.

Twenty years ago, tens of thousand of people flocked to Golden Gate Park for a two-day music festival called the Tibetan Freedom Concert. I was there and saw the Beastie Boys, Rage Against the Machine, Foo Fighters and Smashing Pumpkins perform live. Fast forward twenty years and tens of thousands of people still flock to Golden Gate park for music festivals. Much has remained the same.

But regardless of generation or advancements in technology, people are tribal. They identify themselves by lifestyle, totems (brands), and lyrics (cultural values). They are bonded by…

  • Experience – People want to share
  • Interests – People want to learn
  • Community- People want to be a part of something

People of all interests and tribes flock to music festivals to experience the music they love most. When those interests align, it creates a powerful community experience. The Gorillaz, Lorde, The Who, Belle & Sebastien, Alt-J, Real Estate, Vance Joy, andMetallica were among our favorite performances at this year’s festival.

Metallica headlined the main stage on day two. Frontman, James Hetfield, often interacted with the crowd between songs. He once asked two questions. “How many people are seeing Metallica for the first time?” versus “How many people have been with us for years?” The visual consensus of hands-raised seemed to be a 50/50 split although it did seem that there were more new fans. They were definitely gaining popularity among millennials and beyond.

There were two boys near the front, one with blue hair and the other with green hair, and both about 6 years old. Cameras and Hetfield focused on them as they were held up by their parents. All had big grins from cheek to cheek, which was absolutely priceless.

Clearly, Metallica was a tradition that was being past down. Hetfield commented how much Metallica loved all their fans especially the new ones, and there were tens of thousands of them at the show.

The Instagram post/image below was taken during the song, One.

Regardless of what tribe you follow or what you love about them, there is strength in numbers and loyalty is in tradition. The more people become connected to an experience(your brand), the more opportunities there are to collaborate and create success among that tribe. This is especially important for growth in small businesses.

BUSINESS TAKE-AWAYS

We live in a micro economy where details matter. Fans and consumers have more choices than ever. Digital is dominating the marketplace. To stand apart, we must focus on personalizing experiences, nurture opportunities, and position our brand where fans will find value.

Here are a few take-aways from Outside Lands that will be critical to the success of your business or personal brand, especially if you’re just getting started or trying to scale up.

  1. PLAY THE LONG GAME – Know your brand, know your market. Since 1981, Metallica has successfully transcended 3 generations of fans and still going strong. They have an enormous fan club base which was clearly evident when they stuck around on stage after they finished their set. They understand what matters most to their most devoted fans and they deliver time-and-time again.
  2. INVEST IN THE CREATIVE ENVELOP TO STAND OUT – A lot of businesses will get lost in the shuffle of the marketplace because their design sucks! In the 90’s Metallica’s live show was galvanized with pyrotechnics, explosions, and strobe lights. It was riveting and memorable; they’ve always remained cutting edge. Fast forward to 2017 and they still have a lot of that. However, they have invested a great deal to transcend the old Metallica to the new as noted by the powerful laser show integration of their performance. This was a stark enhancement of Metallica that definitely appealed to the new generation of fans.
  3. RALLY YOUR TRIBE – Acknowledge and engage with your fans. Personalization is key to establish authenticity and to stay connected. Nearly 70,000 people attended Outside Lands for each day of the festival. They flocked from different states, countries and cultures. Groups walked around with totems (and flags) of caricatures like Super Mario, Hello Kitty, giant pickles, giant bananas and neon flowers, to more easily locate each other if they were to separate.

How does your business or tribe stand out in the crowd/competition?

Why Performance Matters for your Personal Brand

Why Performance Matters for your Personal Brand

Over the past 6 years there have been 3 names that have dominated headlines in the NBA Finals. Lebron James, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant. Each are extraordinarily talented, charismatic, exciting to watch, and bound for the NBA Hall of Fame. It’s no surprise that the three of them are also the 3 top earners in the NBA (on and off the court).

Each of these super stars have multi-million sponsorship deals that drive sales and attention for their corporate partners. Winning breeds momentum, sales, and brand loyalty.

Take Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and his endorsement deal with Under Armour. Shares of Under Armour are up 4% during this year’s finals and that’s no coincidence. Curry is a high performer, dependable and delivers results during the highest stakes. To an extent Under Armour can correlate the predictability of their stock to his performance.

While the vast majority of us don’t have multi-million brand endorsements on the biggest stages in sports, we must still perform to win for our businesses.

When I secured multi-year deals with the New York Yankees, Baltimore Ravens, and Kentucky Wildcats, it was not because we were the lowest price. In fact, multiple competitors in our marketplace had the same capabilities we did, yet I was still able to win and retain even though our prices were 30% or more than what the competition was offering.

Why?

What I was offering and the way I was pitching it had everything to do with enhancing the image of their brand. When I saw Robert Herjavec of Shark Tank speak at a Tony Robbins event last February, he said, “Innovators create value in things that never even existed”.

We must prove why we’re different.

We must help our prospects realize the value they didn’t know existed.

While the rest of my competitors in the sports industry became complacent with their standing success, I was hungry and out to prove myself by differentiating. I started paying attention to the design and quality of what my target prospects were currently using. Then I delivered on every little promise along the way on the things my competition wasn’t delivering…

  • Timely follow up with collaborative feedback
  • Pushing the design envelop to enhance brand image
  • Face Time: Whenever there was a conference several hours or time zones away, I always made it a point to carve out an extra day or two to have a 1-on-1 or meeting with the rest of the department. If the deal was impending, I’d grab one of the owners and we’d fly out to visit the client just to prove were were dependable.

When entering a market with a new product or service you not only need to win the buy-in of your point contact, but they need to win buy-in from the rest of their team. (more on this in an upcoming post).

Businesses will find a way to fund a project if they see the value.

So what does this have to do with your personal brand?

It has everything to do with your personal brand! In my case I was more dependable, more creative and more responsive than other players in the industry.

The way you present yourself and your product or service will have a great deal of influence on the buyers decision. You may have the world’s most revolutionary gadget, but if you cannot effectively follow up, clearly articulate the value and benefits, your pitch will fall onto deaf ears. It’s important that you’re able to forge confidence so that doesn’t happen especially through the “noise” of a busy and hyper-connected world.

Your personal brand can be Stephen Curry-like in the NBA Finals and become a valuable investment and partner to your target audience. Create excitement. Magnify how you’re different. Orchestrate enthusiasm and creativity whether it’s in person, e-mail, social media, or on the phone.

Become the brand you want people to invest in.

SALES TRANSITION:  From Prospecting to Closing

SALES TRANSITION: From Prospecting to Closing

In the sport of (traditional) triathlon, athletes compete in 3 disciplines – swim, bike, run. If you’re in it to place in the top 3 among your age group or achieve a personal best – time matters.

But what about the time it takes to transition from swim-to-bike, then bike-to-run? Out of the water you must peel off your wetsuit, dry off your feet, put on your cycling shoes, put on your helmet, secure your helmet straps, and run your bike out of the transition to a line that says “Bike Mount”. From there you can finally begin the discipline of “bike”. All of this work is called T1, or the first transition. T2 is transitioning from bike to run and that has it’s own set of nuances.

A few seconds too long in T1 or T2 could be the difference between standing on the medal stand, and finishing fourth as a spectator thinking, “If only I spent more time practicing and improving my transition times.”

That was me in my late twenties because I only focused on the 3 main disciplines. In preceding years my times improved immensely but in retrospect if I spent more time practicing my transitions I would’ve found top 3 medal finisher success. Improving transition times means you develop a plan to become more micro efficient. If you are not a triathlete you might find these techniques to help improve the performance of your business; especially the first two – Practice Your Plan & Be A Minimalist.

When I turned 30, I transitioned onto a new playing of performance – particularly in sales.

During this particular time I was in the third year of two conference partnerships in the sports industry where I landed the company’s highest grossing account for 4 consecutive years. I also began my rookie year of working with the New York Yankees, and my first two college football accounts became bowl game bound.

When I learned to close the transition gaps in my late twenties, sales sky-rocketed. I was calling the shots and was in a position to hand pick and choose the type of clients I wanted to work with – major corporate brands, top experiential sports marketing agencies, and championship sports properties. This became the tipping point of my career.

Like the sport of triathlon, sales has transition times. With repetition and conditioning you become more nimble, street-smart, and intuitive. Gain an understanding of these 3 principles and you will be on your way to closing more deals.

  1. SPEED OF TRUST: Knowledge of your client, product, and industry is a must. More important than identifying when your prospect is in a position to buy, it’s critical that you’ve developed trust and dependability. If you’re social selling, Gary Vaynerchuk is the man with his book “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” which is translated to “Give, Give, Give, Ask”. If you haven’t instilled confidence in your prospect it doesn’t mean you’re out of the game, it just means you may be watching from the sidelines until next season.
  2. PERMISSION: One of the most effective communication tools I utilize is “Permission”. Unless you come across as pushy or phony, most people will give you an opportunity to pitch your product or tell your story if it’s relevant to their needs and/or interests. Asking someone for permission puts them in a position to choose. By doing this you’re also sending a message that you respect their time. Once permission has been granted, follow up with an e-mail to thank them for their time and that you look forward to reconnecting at the agreed time of follow up.
  3. BUYING CYCLE: You must identify when the sales prospect is open to listen to your pitch and when they are in a position to buy. This is essential to your follow up efforts and your ability to competently assess their needs. If you don’t identify and understand their buying cycle, you may be locked out until the contract expires which could be 3-5 years.

Which area in your sales process can you increase efficiency? I’d love to learn about your success.

 

3 Habits to Level Up Your Game

3 Habits to Level Up Your Game

If you are among Generation Y, like myself, then you probably grew up in the world of Nintendo and the Super Mario Brothers craze. Back in the day controllers were rectangular and certainly the technology trend of its time among kids.

Thirty years later video game controllers have 4 primary command buttons, 2 joysticks controlled by the thumbs, 1 directional arrow button and 2 trigger buttons, all to ergonomically fit and conform into the palms of your hands. That’s over twice as many buttons and a lot more multi tasking to focus on versus its predecessor. However, like anything if we focus on mastering one task at a time we can perform at higher levels and excel.

Practice makes perfect.

The key to success in today’s world is optimizing your resources. If you’re in sales, a start-up, or looking to scale your business here are three simple habits that deliver results, and how I implemented them in 2016.

  1. BE CONSISTENT. New habits take time to form and old habits take time to change. Start small if need be and commit. One of my objectives at the beginning of 2016 was to become disciplined enough to write one blog per month. In the end it’s the little things that count and I now comfortably post 1 or 2 thoughtful blogs per month.
  2. DELEGATE. You cannot scale your business if you cannot delegate. Identify operational tasks that can be taught and write a job description to carry them out. Whether you work for yourself or a corporation, figure out a way to duplicate yourself so you can remain focused on growth and the big picture. 2016 was my first full time year as an entrepreneur and one of the things I knew I had to implement for growth was allocate funding. She started this week.
  3. INCREASE ENGAGEMENT. No matter what you must always, always, always network and connect the dots. Everyone has the potential to open doors. Find out what makes them tick, follow through and don’t forget to ask for a referral. I enrolled in three new memberships/subscriptions to expand my reach in the community in 2016.

Stand apart by being great at a couple things rather than mediocre at many. Follow through, hold yourself accountable, and level up for success.