Abundance is a Mindset

Abundance is a Mindset

I enjoy a good road trip. Since my departure from corporate two years ago I’ve been on several. From my hometown in Reno, Nevada I drove roughly 10,000 miles in 2017 to destinations such as Portland (OR), Mesa, Denver, San Francisco, Vegas, and several National Parks in between.

My final business road trip of 2017 was to Mesa, Arizona for the 10th annual US Sports Congress. It was my 3rd Congress since 2009, the second time I’ve spoken at the event, and in my opinion it was the best one yet.

The 2017 US Sports Congress offered an array of opportunities to connect, reconnect and collaborate with fellow industry peers through several experiential and networking environments. Michael Bidwell, CEO of the Arizona Cardinals, kicked off the Congress with an opening keynote that brought us through the history of the Cardinals franchise and how the NFL has evolved over the decades.

It was fascinating to learn that the Arizona Cardinals is the oldest team in the NFL that began in 1898, and had the first naming rights deal in professional sports. That’s right, in 1920, a food starch company called Decatur Staley’s sponsored the club.

Bidwell did a fantastic job ushering the audience through the evolution of the NFL when boxing, horse racing, and baseball were popular during the Great Depression of the 20’s. Obviously the industry has advanced in leaps and bounds since but one thing seems to have remained the same. For the audience at the US Sports Congress, he emphasized the importance of utilizing sports to share the story about local areas and communities. He stated, “Leverage your sports events as an asset for the community. Continue to invest and reinvest in sports facilities”.

One of the biggest challenges for the NFL is analyzing and making the decision to distribute games in the future. “Youth and amateur sports can exploit distribution”, Bidwell added.

Carl Thomas of Hookit, delivered a great presentation on “Social Media Measurement & Monetization” through sponsored athletes. I’ll let their website do the talking but one thing I found interesting was a case study on GoPro sponsored athletes. 60% were in compliance to their deal with the brand, until called out. When called out engagement increased to 97%.

Thomas brought up a statistic from the IEG Sponsorship report that $130 Billion will be spent on sports and sponsorship activation by 2017. He shared this statistic of how the distribution has shifted over the past few years.

Much opportunity awaits for those who can deliver measurable results. Carl added, “The power of data is only as good as your ability to understand it and use it.”

The group experiences at the 2017 US Sports Congress were fantastic – inclusive of outings such as a jeep tour in the Sedona desert, golf scramble, tour of a brewery, tours of Sloan Park (spring training facility for the Chicago Cubs), and a Pickleball demonstration. The opening reception at the Tempe Center for the Arts was fantastic with a sunset view of Tempe Town Lake. This is where the swim for Ironman Arizona takes place.

Before I talk about my round table session on Personal Branding, I hope you won’t mind a quick detour from the final day of the trip. On Day 7, I drove home from Las Vegas to Reno. My only stop was in Tonopah to top off the gas tank, 211 miles north of Vegas.

A few weeks before the road trip began I wondered how far out of the way Joshua Tree National Park was from Las Vegas or Mesa. Let’s just say that another 500 miles on this road trip would have to wait another day.

I’ve embarked on this Reno/Vegas drive many times since college and have taken note of the Joshua trees on both sides of Highway 95. The difference on this trip was it felt like I was seeing them for the very first time through this passage. Abundance came to mind along with and a realization that this vast spectacle of Joshua trees would eventually come to end as I drove further north from Vegas.

“Abundance is not something we acquire, it’s something we tune into.” -Wayne Dyer

In fact, I couldn’t get over how many of these trees were. So I started to play a game in my head as I listened to the audio book, “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell. The question I asked myself was simple, “Would the Joshua trees end before reaching Tonopah?” I became so fascinated by this realization that I marveled at their mass abundance as I continued north on the 95.

Then I thought about the powerful lesson this fascination was trying to teach. Like the Joshua trees surrounding me, opportunities are abundant if we choose to raise our awareness and seek them out.

I asked myself, “Had I noticed them before?” Sure.

“Did I ever stop to think about how many miles they expand, where they began, how long they’ve been growing in the desert, and how does this grand garden of Joshua trees in Nevada compare to Joshua Tree National Park in California?” Not until now, but I’ve learned that Joshua trees have quite the story.

The Joshua trees finally ceased to grow about 15 miles before Tonopah, due to the absence of the unique conditions they need to thrive – soil content, moth pollination, climate, and altitude. Similarly, to become a high-performance personal brand one must take responsibility to create their own conditions for success and immerse themselves in a mindset where they can thrive.

In these moments I reaffirmed my obsession with the topic of personal branding. When we’re crystal clear about who we are, what our message is, and conscious about how we choose to show up in life, then everything we wish to attract will certainly show up. Abundance is a mindset.

Then I began to reflect on the round table session I led at the US Sports Congress on the topic itself. My job was to conduct an hour long discussion on How Your Personal Brand Impacts Your Success.

One thing I committed to in 2017 was to write rap songs about sales, and use them in my presentations. As a coach and speaker I’ve chosen this technique because no one else does it, it’s entertaining, and raises the energy of the room from the very beginning of the session. If I’m speaking on the topic of Personal Branding, then I need to act the part, not just talk about it.

Differentiation, consistency, and clarity are critical if you want to stand apart as a personal brand.

Weeks before the US Sports Congress I reached out to a handful of industry constituents for general thoughts on the topic and what they thought would resonate with the audience.

I asked Brian Graham of Morris Communications Co. for his thoughts, “Personal branding is a topic that I don’t feel many people really think about much, but one that is very important. My recommendation would be to take a straight forward and honest approach to the topic and be willing to discuss issues that might be a little uncomfortable to some. The message I would try to get across is that one must establish respect in the industry to build their personal brand if they are to be successful.”

After some deliberation and collective feedback from Brian and a couple other industry professionals I devised and refined these 4 fundamental questions to challenge the audience.

  1. As a personal brand, who are you now?
  2. What do you wish to accomplish professionally?
  3. Why is that important to you?
  4. How and when do you plan to get there?

Throughout this round table discussion I alternated my coaching and consulting hats. If people were seeking clarity on my perspectives, then I provided personal success examples like with deals I put together for the Texas Longhorns and New York Yankees. If someone was seeking clarity for themselves I challenged them with questions about the outcomes they wished to achieve.

Some seemed relatively content with where they were, a few shifted their energy and mindset when challenged to look at things differently. I challenged them to think about what they’re passionate about because, in my opinion, the best way to identify yourself as a personal brand is to let people know what you love and why that motivates you.

Ben Camerota, President of MVP Visuals, asked to clarify if the session was intended to focus on the attendees as a personal brand, or as their business as a brand. I was glad he asked. I began to describe my identity crisis after I graduated from college and was diagnosed with brain cancer the day after.

After my cancer ordeal I made the decision to only pursue ventures in things that I loved and it didn’t matter how much I made. At the time my focus was to do something around writing, sports and music. Long story short, I met the owner of a start up company who’s passions were in alignment with mine. With no prior sales experience I eventually developed the company’s entire portfolio among the biggest names in professional sports and corporate sponsorship.

Ben went on to reflect about how he loved to build things as a kid, and what he does now as a business professional is build branded event displays, canopies, etc. for sports events. I think there is an opportunity for Ben to leverage his personal brand story to attain more emotional equity for his professional brand.

Some of the other dialogue during the session stimulated curiosity and introspection about how minor shifts in mindset and processes could –

  • Increase internal efficiencies
  • Enhance visitor experience
  • Develop more harmony in the environment

What I’ve learned throughout the process of becoming a coach is that most people want better performance in their business and in their lives. They want to be more efficient with their time. They want to be less overwhelmed. They want more time with family. Just like the passing of the Joshua Trees those opportunities are abundant and available every day. Sometimes we simply need to change our perspective, or create a new set of conditions that enable new possibilities.

How much more abundance could you bring into your life if you simply changed the way you think?

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.

Compete, But Run Your Own Race

Compete, But Run Your Own Race

When it comes to excelling beyond the competition sometimes our most formidable opponent is ourselves, especially in sales. Distractions cause inefficiencies and when the competition is fierce we must focus on excelling where we differentiate.

Two weekends ago I participated in the Yosemite Half Marathon with no expectations but to compete to the best of my ability. It was the third annual event that sold out with over 2500 participants. Its popularity can be attributed to the amazing destination of the race itself and to the attainability of completing a 13.1 mile half marathon (versus a full marathon of 26.2 miles).

For me, this race was to claim victory on my well-being as it was my first half marathon since I dealt with some health issues in the Fall. From October through mid- January I wasn’t allowed to run, but was motivated to get back to training so I could run with my Reno-Tahoe Odyssey 5-Man Ultra team at the beginning of June. Each of us will run between 34 and 38 miles each to complete the 178 mile relay around the Reno and Tahoe Basin in less than 24 hours.

In sales we must always stay conditioned if we’re to perform at our best. Keeping up to date with industry trends, knowing and clearly articulating your unique value proposition, refining your craft, staying healthy and maintaining a solid network will help keep you in the game.

On the other side of the coin, it’s important to reflect on why you didn’t get the sale. Don’t lose the lesson…

  • PREPARATION: Did you conduct sufficient research about your prospect? Were you prepared to respond to objections or answer the tough questions?
  • SKILLS: Did you align your pitch and product to their needs? Were you confident in your presentation?
  • TIMING: Did you properly assess and identify when your prospect needed your services so you could effectively follow up?
  • DESIRE: Did you prove to your prospect that you were fully invested in their success?
  • TRUST: Were you consistent with everything you promised to deliver?

When your skills and resources are optimized in a competitive marketplace you will always have chance to win. This is when we must run our own race and differentiate from others.

When we’re neck and neck with the competition, we must deliver value in where we excel. Anyone can win on any given day.

I would go on to finish the Yosemite Half Marathon with a time of 1h 38m 33s. Not my fastest half, but faster than my goal time by over 6 minutes.

A couple hours later, I returned to the race site because my buddy was anticipating to place in his age group and receive a medal. That he did. What we didn’t expect was I would place 131 overall among 2500+ participants. But get this…

I would go on to place 1st in my age group that day by 11 seconds. Sometimes we win by creating our own luck, and we do that with more focused effort and perseverance.

 

I may not have been the fastest overall runner on that day, but my competition among my age group (or if this were business, my market) most likely fell short in either preparation or desire. You will win more deals if you have the desire to improve and refine your sales game. Know your shit. Prove that you want to win.

Do you have a success story where you won a deal against the odds? Please feel free to post your success story below.

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.

 

Brand Your Victories – A Portrait of Sales Success

Brand Your Victories – A Portrait of Sales Success

[A blog from the vault]

In 2007 I didn’t have a weekend off until the first weekend of November. However, it was a game-changing year, both personally and professionally.

Professionally I closed my first deal with the New York Yankees, my first 2 college football clients won bowl games, I secured the company’s highest grossing account, and spent several weeks schmoozing in Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, Louisville, and Milwaukee. It set the stage for a massively successful 2008.

During my free weekends I coached a cycling team to ride 100 miles around the Tahoe Basin, trained to compete in an Olympic triathlon, and trained for my first marathon, all while raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Between hustling, traveling, training, and coaching there was little time for myself.  But through the organized chaos I reconnected with an old college buddy who enlightened me.

For this particular instance, he told me the story of a painting he had on a wall by Michael Godard. He said something to the tune of, “You have to celebrate your big wins. In sales, victories are short lived. Whenever I spend a lot of time and energy to land a big deal I treat myself to something that’s symbolic of the returns from my hard work”. That Godard painting was a token of his hard work from a previous business deal.

When Friday of the first week of November rolled around I left work thinking, “Wow, I actually don’t have any plans for the weekend”, which seemed somewhat foreign to me. I drove to Best Buy to pick up some music and there was an art broker in the parking lot selling giclees.

A black and white painting with rolling ocean waves and a couple seagulls, resonated with me. My cousin gave me the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull as a gift while I was being treated for brain cancer 1999, and the story has been a cornerstone to my motivation ever since. Jonathan was one of the seagulls in that painting and it became my Godard.

To this day, I can look at that painting and be proud of all I accomplished that year. More importantly it’s a constant reminder to appreciate your own work, it’s tangible, and always makes for a good story.

I’d love to hear a great sales success story from you. What have you done to commemorate your big wins? Do you have a token that tells the story of your success? Please, do tell 🙂

6 Dumb Sales Questions that Yield Results

6 Dumb Sales Questions that Yield Results

My 8th grade history teacher used to say, “The only stupid question is the one that wasn’t asked.”

When I left my corporate job of 13+ years in October 2015, it was so I could build sustainability for my non-profit and spend more time developing my speaking business. I consider it a giant step rather than a leap of faith and much progress has been made over the past 12 months.

While I remain steadfast towards those efforts I’ve taken on a part time position to help a local company build their business in the engineering, construction and architecture markets. It’s a wonderful opportunity to repurpose 13+ years of sales experience.

Although the 10 principles to sales success remain the same, there are fundamental questions that must be answered so you continue to gain momentum. If you’re new to sales or trying to break ground into a new market, you should know the answers to this 6-pack of dumb questions.

  1. Which department is your product/service best suited for?

You must first identify the correct decision makers and/or departments that have the authority to purchase what you are selling. If you are unsure pick up the phone and ask or schedule a meeting. Assumptions can be costly and lead you to dead ends.

2. What are the benefits of your product/service?

Know your products and services inside and out. Make sure you understand and can clearly explain the benefits of what your business offers and the problems they solve. If a prospect asks a question you are uncertain of the answer, be honest and commit to following up with them after you’ve consulted with other members of your team. Sometimes the answers to the tough questions are worth waiting for. Plus it’s a great excuse to re-engage.

3. How is your product/service different/better than the competition?

Unless your business has a revolutionary turnkey widget, you must be able to identify and clearly articulate how you’re different. There is always an angle. Find it and work it!

4. Why should they buy from you?

The keyword in this question is “you”. Build a rapport of trust and always deliver on your promise. Even if it’s a follow up e-mail or call it’s the little things that count. Prove you’re dependable. Show them you will go above and beyond with the little things.

5. When is the right time for them to buy?

Buying cycles vary depending on contracts, event dates and budgets. Don’t be shy and always ask when you can follow up to earn an opportunity to earn their business. If you invest the time to prepare your likelihood to score increases.

6. Where is the best place to follow up with your prospect?

Favor the communication preference of your prospect. Ask them. Whenever a prospect grants you permission to follow up with them ask them if they prefer phone, e-mail, Linkedin, carrier pigeon, etc. But when it comes to closing the deal face-to-face or a phone call is always your best bet.

If you can nail down the answers to the 6 dumb questions above (especially questions 3 and 4) then you’ve constructed a solid infrastructure for success.

Right, Lloyd?