The Best Way to Ask Your Customers for Referrals

First of all, there is no wrong way to ask for referrals. There are only more effective and less effective ways to ask for referrals. This is not a moral dilemma…this is simply a question for Sales Leaders as to what results in higher ROI for you and your company.

 

One of the least effective ways to ask your customers referrals is to make a very specific request for action “will you refer me?” in a very general way.  For example, “A good referral for me would be anyone you know who owns another like yours? Or, “A great introduction would be somebody you know who owns a company that has a salesforce of at least 5 full time reps? That is a particular sin of my own when I'm being lazy and unprofessional.

 

Nobody knows Anyone that can introduce you to Someone so why are you asking to meet them?!? Be specific if you consider yourself a professional, let alone expect significant ROI from asking for referrals from clients.

 

My point being this, if you are going to be very specific in requesting action from your clients why would you use such an open-ended and general question to try and drive measurable results?  In addition, why if you are the person being paid to prospect are you making your customer do all the work? 

 

There's a reason I have created the predictable referral system.  It's time to move past generalities and emotion-based referral strategies and into strategies and systems that a sales manager can trust to put in their monthly/quarterly/annual forecast and not be afraid of getting fired.

 

Let’s look at much better ways to accomplish our goal of increased referral based sales results.

 

I advise my clients, and anyone who will listen, that if you're looking to increase your referral business in a general way, make sure that every single client that you and your company service (on a consistent basis within your company’s CRM at a minimum) is told that you appreciate their business, that you love referrals as an organization and individual salesperson, and that you are always willing to help your clients that want to refer you do so.  You live to help make it easy and fun.

 

The beauty of that strategy is that you don't slide into being very transactional and consumptive of your client relationship while in front of them. Very few clients will ever have a problem with you letting them know that you appreciate their business, that you love referrals, and that you would be honored if they gave you any. This is a very low risk and very low stress conversation that you should have with every client.

 

That being said, there is nothing wrong with asking every customer of yours for a referral. My experience shows, however, that that is not the most productive strategy.  Once again, you are not wrong to ask all the time.  The reality is this, with a significant portion of your customer base…you are missing your biggest quota busting opportunity ever.

 

The first step that I recommend for clients I work with in my practice is developing a relationship with a service provider that can help your organization install an automated referral sales program that make referrals very easy for your customers to provide you when they aren’t interacting with your sales team.

 

The service provider that I believe in and trust is called Amplifinity, and I encourage you to research, evaluate and/or ask me any questions about why automating referrals is a massive ROI move in the positive direction for you and your company. In fact, they just released some cutting-edge research on business customer referral programs and all you need to do to grab it is to click here:

 

https://amplifinity.com/whitepapers/state-business-customer-referral-programs-annual-report

 

They do a great job of providing the referral infrastructure for my clients that I can then drive higher ROI from with coaching, consulting and training on predictable referrals.

 

That being said, how about we share the best way to ask your customers for referrals when you the salesperson and/or the sales leader are interacting directly with your clients?

 

Here's a really key tip for creating predictable referrals: you need to figure out which of your clients will actually refer you on a consistent basis far more than you need to ask every single client to refer you.

 

First, before you start getting all fired up and jumping on the phone let me ask you one question:  Have you done your due diligence?

 

The basic question you must answer is this: What is your relationship with your customer?

 

o   Why did they hire you and your company?

o   What tangible value beyond what you get paid from them to provide do you actually bring to them on a consistent basis?

o   Are they a customer of yours because of their relationship with you, or because the product/service that you are representing is the best product out there? (In other words, are they a client because you're the only Mercedes dealership in town?)

 

 

You are a professional salesperson and/or sales leader.  At a minimum, if you really want to ramp up your referral based sales program, you must as a part of your customer intake and service process attempt to social connect and engage with your customers.  Ideally, LinkedIn and Facebook are going to be the minimum standard here. 

 

 

I recommend that you follow my good friend Larry Levine, you can find him on Twitter @larry1levine, LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/larrylevine1992/, or his website www.socialsalesacademy.net.  He is a stone cold genius at helping position companies and sales reps socially for brand success.  Here is a great blog post he wrote about connecting with customers:

 

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/its-time-start-dialing-social-phone-larry-levine

 

 

This social connection with your customers allows you to do what you are supposed to do as a sales pro:  figure out WHO you want to meet and WHO can introduce you (potentially) to them.  Social accomplishes this better at scale than just about anything I have ever seen.  You still have to work, but, it sure is easier to get to the destination when you can plug it into your GPS!

 

Now you can prepare to ask for referrals from your customers and be ready to help them help you.  If you know who they know…you are halfway home. 

 

To put it into action, here are the basic steps to follow:

 

1)    Humbly and specifically ask if your customer is willing to help you grow your business?  Revolutionary, huh?  Wow, you would actually ask if they want to help you before just diving in with a request that makes you money.  If your client says that they aren’t willing to help you, they might just be telling you that they are too busy right now.  The best response is to thank them for their honesty and ask if you can ask them again later.

 

2)    If they say yes, explain that the best way you grow your business is through referral introductions from clients like them and ask if they would be willing to have a discussion about who might be a good introduction for you?  There is very little chance they will not agree to this request, but, if they do you need to ask why.  They want to help and you need to figure out what the challenge is (often time or being overwhelmed) now, so you can figure out when to revisit the conversation.

 

3)    If they say yes, then you can suggest that one of the easiest ways you have found to help clients refer is to share with them a list of folks that you think they might know and see if they would be willing to pick one to test out first.

 

4)    Since you have done your job and made the list (make it short…save the complete list for your CRM…no more than 10 names), you can ask them which of the folks on the list they would be most comfortable introducing to you.  One of the objections I hear a lot when I'm training on these topics is that it seems creepy for you to have already identified who you want to meet from a customer's connections. I get that, I really understand where you're coming from.  You have to work within and despite of your own comfort zone as a sales rep.  At the end of the day, you need to disrupt…even if you are referral based…your clients to some degree to get better referral ROI.

 

Nothing irritates me more than salespeople that think referrals based selling means you don't have to sell. I'm disgusted when a salesperson puts all the onus on their customer to figure out exactly who to refer them.  Referrals are more than just the best way to grow your business, they are also one of the best ways to treat other human beings and prove that you value them.

 

I am doing a 30 minute ZOOM meeting next week to go over this topic and you are invited:

 

Topic: The Best Way to Ask Customers for Referrals

Time: Jun 27, 2017 6:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

 

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/109165570

 

Or iPhone one-tap (US Toll):  +14157629988,,109165570# or +16465687788,,109165570#

 

Or Telephone:

    Dial: +1 415 762 9988 (US Toll) or +1 646 568 7788 (US Toll)

    Meeting ID: 109 165 570

    International numbers available: https://zoom.us/zoomconference?m=YDOGwHbccVGiCM3HUwiI5edsi3jKbeZ6

 

If you enjoyed this post PLEASE share and comment as I need your help to share the power of referral based sales!

I work with Sales Leaders at organizations that want to truly harness the power of Predictable Referrals.  Connect with me on Twitter @mikegroanoke , LinkedIn, or email at mike@garisonsalesconsulting.com.  If you want to have a conversation about how to scale your referral based sales program in a way that you can accurately forecast click here for a slot on my schedule: 

https://bookwithmike.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php

 

 

 

 

 

Selling To Goldfish LIVE Launch

Here we go!

Selling to Goldfish: The Digital Community for Small Biz Owners and their Sales Teams is going Live! This Thursday from 10am EST (US) to 11am EST (US), or longer if necessary, we are going to be talking sales in todays crazy world and how to get predictable referrals.  Here is the link to your Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/smallbizsales/

And here is the link to our Private Facebook Group (where the magic happens):

Selling To Goldfish Private Group

Short introduction to our community and then its all up to you, the audience, to ask any question(s) you have about sales and referrals (or, business in general...if we don't know the answer we will find it out).

This absolutely free digital community (for now...) is the brainchild of Mike Garrison and Victor Clarke, two long time friends that realized that there wasn't a place on the web to conveniently get direct and practical sales information on the web for small business, especially when it comes to real referral strategies. This community will rise and fall based upon you all so come on like our page and join our private Facebook Group (search Selling to Goldfish...look for the fish logo above).

We will be hosting all kinds of trainings and group discussions weekly and, of course for members of the private Facebook group, we will be interacting daily with all of you.  Stay tuned for more announcements as we have assembled a great team of savvy business experts to present complimentary training on the issues that you need to know about today.

All the best,

Mike

PS - This doesn't mean I am stopping coaching, it just means that I feel driven to help more people and this community will allow me to give in the widest arc possible.

 

 

 

 

 

Are Referral Groups Still Worth Your Time?!?

Short answer:  Maybe

Longer Answer:  It Depends on You and Your Group

With the rapid advance of online networking opportunities I felt it worth the time (ha) to revisit whether or not analog (offline) referral/networking groups were still a valid option for sales professionals.  In other words, have referral groups 'jumped the shark?"

There are two factors to measure when honestly evaluating participation in a referral group:  You and the group

Questions for you to answer:

Do you know how to sell and/or have any professional sales training?  

If not, you almost certainly would benefit more from paying for and attending almost any sales training before joining a referral group.  One of the true cancers that afflicts many referral groups is that they are a 'refugee camp' for salespeople that don't want to sell or (in some cases worse) don't want to admit they are in sales.  If you are one of those people, please don't be a networking vampire (that salesperson that takes and never gives) and join a group that has people that love to sell and identify as such.  You will have a terrible experience in the end.

Do you have the time?  

If you are struggling to make quota as it is and/or have an overbearing Sales Manager micro-managing your every day...a referral group might be a tough sell if it occurs during the 'sales day.'  In cases such as the above, you are probably better off getting your regular prospecting pipeline under control and into production before adding another task.

Know this:  Every referral group that has any significant membership represents a MASSIVE time commitment in order to get results.  That time commitment can absolutely pay off, but, it is far from guaranteed.

Do you have contacts and are you willing to share them?

 If you are starting out in your sales career (Congratulations by the way!) and/or have just moved to a brand new territory...a referral group may not be the best option.  The challenge is this:  What do you have to offer the group?  If you don't have a network you are quite the speculative addition to the group.  Established groups that miraculously have an opening for you and just as miraculously are willing to take a flyer on a brand new sales rep are few and far between in my experience.

Are you open to introducing your customers and network to new sales professionals?  If not, don't waste your time and the groups (see networking vampires above).  There is nothing wrong with developing an awesome referral pipeline for yourself without being a member of a referral group.  In some cases, it is easier and far more effective.

Those are some basic questions for you...now its time for the referral group!

Questions about the group:

Are their members in the group currently that are in industries that are likely to refer you?

Not an in/out question, but, it is absolutely critical.  If there are current members that are in your 'contact sphere' (already selling to your customer base)...how long have they been in the group, are they open to considering referring to you and how serious are they about the group (are they making real $$?).

If there aren't current members in that mode...would you be able to load in to the group several of your own relationships and just leverage the group membership to have those current relationships increase their referral production?  This can be absolutely awesome.

Does the group embrace the sales profession and selling?

Prospecting (See Jeb Blount's fabulous book Fanatical Prospecting) is tough, even in the referral zone where I love to reside.  If the group is in denial about the realities of sales, turn around and sprint for safety in the real world.  I am sure (hopefully) that you already have plenty of friends so don't be a member of a support group...only commit joining a group that is as serious, ore more, about your profession and how it really works.

Groups that don't like sales...almost always pass crap referrals and have significantly more 'drama' between members as it is a continuous personality game.

Is the group professional and does it have standards for membership?

I don't recommend considering a referral group that has the 'can you fog the mirror' standard for accepting new members.  If there isn't an interview process, at a minimum, that does a credible job of vetting new members...that is a bad place for you to be.

If the membership is exclusive to professional categories (almost always the best idea), how do they make sure that you aren't stuck with bad members that don't make meetings or contribute in any real way?  In other words, how do the cull the herd?  If they don't have measurable ways to monitor performance...removing members always gets nasty and that makes for very, very, low ROI for you and the group.

Is the group part of a larger organization or independent?

Pros and cons for either in my honest opinion.  Larger organizations, like many religious denominations, offer some increased oversight and problem solving.  They also can make you the victim of a bad actor in your region and your group branding is dependent/affected by the larger organization for good or bad.

Independent groups offer less oversight, but, more freedom.  They also tend to offer less training and support, but, that is not a universal rule.  I have seen some amazing independent groups in my day that have been far superior to larger (even international) organizations.

It all comes down to the group and to you.  Evaluate both, brutally and directly, and you will have a decent shot at determining if the massive time investment is worth it.  Like any investment, it pays to diversify.  Don't forget to invest in other forms of marketing and you will have a better chance of referral groups paying off.

In conclusion, I am not pro or con to joining referral groups.  I just counsel my clients and you the reader to take a serious look at the ROI.  Don't buy on emotion in this case.

All the best,

Mike

I am a speaker, author and consultant on all things #referrals and #sales. Passionate about integrating predictable referral marketing with sales results. Husband, Dad #blessed

One of my favorite descriptions of what I do: 
"If you are really serious about learning word of mouth marketing, and are really serious about gaining more referrals on purpose rather than by chance, then Mike is your goto resource. "How much money have you made?"
Victor Clarke, Be Better Do More

Want to chat...have the first 15 minutes on me: 15 Minutes With Mike

 

 

The No BS Secret to Getting Great Sales Coaching Results: "What are you prepared to do?"

Hint:  It's got less to do with the coach and almost everything to do with you.  

 

 

 

 

 

What a great movie, if you haven't seen it go watch 'Untouchables' right now.  

Sean Connery's character is asking the young Federal Agent Elliot Ness how much he wants to get Al Capone, the famous crime boss in Chicago.  The relevance to sales coaching is direct and blunt:  The client determines failure or success strictly through their commitment to improving.

I don't care how good the coach is...if you won't put forth the commitment and work to improve...the results will not follow.

So how should you hire and get the most out of a professional sales coach?

  1. Forget about 'credentials' and look for experience and references.  Most so called 'coaching designations' are worthless and predominantly aimed at assisting them in marketing themselves.  
  2. How does their model for coaching you reasonably predict success?  It isn't the questions or exercises that make sales coaching work...it is how the coaching model requires your improvement that is the 'magic'.  Do you believe that they know how to get you to where YOU want to be?
  3. Does the prospective coach possess deep experience and expertise in at least one particular niche of sales?  If they aren't really good at one particular aspect of the sales craft you should be highly skeptical of their ability to coach.  Sales success isn't vague or undefined...its numbers and effort.
  4. Do you believe they will challenge you to reach higher levels of performance?  I would rather be fired by a client for being too 'blunt and direct' than to enable one more salesperson to underperform.  That doesn't mean you should hire a sadist, but, it does mean that your coach has to be willing to push you hard to where you said you wanted to go.  If it feels safe and comfortable...its not sales coaching.  Got get a 'rent-a-friend' life coach to make you feel better.

Most importantly:  Decide that you are going to improve and engage 100% with your coach to do so.  Ironically, the decision itself is a big part of the results.

So as Sean so eloquently puts it:  "What are YOU prepared to do?"

If you want to improve there is no arguing for the demonstrated success of sales coaching and if  I can help you in that process please feel free to reach out.  Yes, I am a sales coach myself, but, I don't mind helping you find a different coach...I just want coaching to work for you regardless of who you work with.  

Mike

 

One Reason You Don't Get More Referrals

One reason why you don't get more referrals might surprise you.  After 20 years working in the referral marketing field, the number one reason salespeople don't get more referrals is they are asking for referrals at the bottom of the sales funnel, or in other words, 'done deals.'  In case you haven't used a funnel in real life...you pour into it from the top...

This limiting of referral opportunities to impact the volume of a sales funnel is a massive problem, because as any sales leader will tell you, prospecting is often one of the biggest challenge in managing sales production.  

The question every sales leader I have had the privilege to talk with is:  How do we get our salespeople in front of more prospects that will want/need to buy our service?  The answer is simple:  Get in front of more prospects, consistently, that WILL be buying your product or service and do so in a way that gets you to the front of their buying process.

Nothing is better at doing this than an endorsed referral.  A referral, whether from a customer or referral source, defeats any spam or adblocker software and gets you past almost any gatekeeper.  Once you make that contact, its all about following a sales process that mirrors the buying process of your prospect.

Don't get me wrong!  I love when a prospect is referred to me at the end of their buying process and I am the only game in town and they buy without questions or concerns.  I will tell you that doesn't happen frequently and, I firmly believe, is very hard to replicate on a predictable basis.

So, how do we fix the problem?  We start asking for and 'networking' for referrals earlier in the buying process...or in other words we fill our funnel with referrals at the top of the funnel.

For example, twice this week alone (it's only Monday) I have had conversations with clients and referral partners where I had to pull them off their instinctual/emotion predilection for asking for and working towards referrals that are at the end of the funnel.

This is not productive for several reasons:

1 - This type of referral, especially from referral partners that are doing business with your prospect opens up the most risk for the referral partner.  In many cases, your referral partner is 'shoe horning' you into the buying process and staking it all on their relationship.  Often, there are already competitors entrenched in the decision making process and their is little time for you to do thorough qualifying of the client.  

2 - You dramatically decrease the volume of referrals you receive because of the amount of work and random chance that has to occur prior to you meeting/engaging with the prospect.  Stop trying to turn customers and referral partners into mini-version of you and having them shoulder the prospecting load for you.  I get a ton of mileage from a simple three way email introduction that is easy and extremely low risk for my customer/referral source than the lengthy process of trying to help them pre-qualify and prepare a customer for me.

3 - You kill referral momentum.  This is the 'mind killer' (Dune reference ftw) for consistent referral production.  I love momentum in the referral process...seeing that new referral partner or recent customer turn on and start helping me is exhilarating and it happens more when I make it easy. How many times have you had a person say they are 'working on' an introduction to you that never happens or takes forever?  I bet you can think of a few because I sure can.  Instead, let them know you are a pro and that they don't have to close deals for you...that, in fact, you would love to just have them introduce you via a three way email/text/Facebook messenger etc.  

There is a ton more to unpack about this topic, but, I wanted to keep it simple for this edition.  Remember, referrals are awesome and it is possible to use them to fill up the top of your funnel!

 Stay tuned for more in further blog posts.  As always, if you have comments, questions or immediate and highly lucrative consulting or speaking needs feel free to reach out.

Mike

Getting to the Front of the Line: Referrals and the Buyers Journey

I don't know about you, but, I am not a big fan of waiting in line...especially when it comes to sales production!

Unless you have been living in a cave you know that the buying process for your customers, whether you are a B2C (business to consumer) or a B2B (business to business) salesperson has changed dramatically over the last decade.  Research shows, in B2B specifically, that the prospective customer is between 53-70% of the way down the buying process before they will engage with a salesperson.  If you don't believe that...stop reading and good luck.

What does that mean?  If you aren't involved in helping your prospects decide what, if and when to buy before they decide to call you...you are going to lose to those salespeople and sales organizations that have adjusted their Sales Process to the customer Buying Journey.  

My first real 'outside' (hunter) sales job was as a copier rep for a locally owned copier dealership in Manassas, VA named TML Copiers and Business Machines.  Tom Lensis and Mike Hoover, the two owners, gave me my start in B2B sales and the rest is history.  

Back then, pre-internet, the only way the prospect could educate themselves about my products, services and my company was to engage with me.  Like it or not...I was near the front of the buying process.

That is NOT the case today.  For almost any type of product or service you can imagine there is an overwhelming amount of information digitally available to your prospects without them ever having to contact your or your company.  Additionally, they have the ability to leverage their social networks to get peer recommendations and reviews about not only the process of buying your stuff...but whether or not to include you as a prospective vendor.

Don't get all weepy on me here.  Just because things have changed doesn't mean that salespeople are about to become extinct...only the bad ones will.  You have to change to stay competitive and to grow.  Their is some amazing news though:  Old School still beats New School...if you have a plan and work smart and hard.

Referrals jump you to the front of the line!  Social Selling, Social Media, Marketing, Direct Mail, Cold Calling, etc. are all effective and I support all of them, but nothing beats a solid referral introduction when it comes to getting in front of a prospect.  Do you want to rapidly and sustainably increase your Sales Funnel volume and effectiveness?  Learn how to do Referrals in a comprehensive and strategic way and you absolutely can (yes you can predict them!).

Is your organization looking and/or stuck on executing the required transition to digitally aware and integrated sales methods?  Referrals (in a structured and measurable plan) are your buffer on productivity and the extra profit you need to pursue the training and marketing investment necessary to complete the transition most effectively.

Here is the deal.  If you really understand how digital media/technology is changing buyer behavior...how have you changed your individual and business Sales Process to match it?  Stay tuned for more posts on making sure your 2017 results by referral are predictable and profitable!

Mike

 

How To Get Referrals From New Referral Sources Quickly

I can’t tell you how many instances have occurred at training, coaching and meetings that I have been told ‘it takes a long time’ to build up referral source relationships to the point where they start referring consistently.  That is completely false and a way to personally guarantee individual mediocrity.  For the purposes of this post, referral sources are other business professionals and social influencers that you wish to have produce referrals from you on a predictable and consistent basis.  A great example would be a copier sales person and a commercial mover in the B2B space.

People wanting to generate quick and consistent referral results from referral sources need to step back and evaluate what causes and motivates people to refer to others.  Referrals can happen quickly and consistently if you focus on what you and your referral source want and, most importantly, whether you are both willing to deliver on those wants.

Before we go into what leads to referral sources deciding to refer you, let’s back up and deal with another self limiting belief:  That the secret to getting people to refer you is to have them like, know and trust you.  Wow…do any of us actually refer people we don’t like?  Professionals that we don’t know at all?  People that we don’t trust?  Of course not, those are all prerequisites to referring, but, how do you measure those qualities/standards?!?

Here is some reality for you…it is really hard to measure emotion consistently when it comes to predictably generating referral production.  Listen carefully, we are not saying that emotion isn’t important, or, that is not a critical factor in the referral process.  The challenge is that if you are trying to meet an unqualified standard when developing referral sources…you are never going to be able to reach your potential referral profitability with consistency.

So, how do we find out what standard to meet?  We ask each and every referral source where we stand with them reference their comfort and willingness to refer ‘on purpose.’  Sound crazy?  We know, how weird it is to actually ask where you stand with a referral source.  Look at it this way:  If they are never going to be comfortable referring you, you want to find that out as soon as possible.  The referral sources that will be most productive are often the ones that appreciate transparent dialogue the most.

Take it out of subjective and put it into objective.  This doesn’t make you a crass or cold ‘shark’ networker.  I would argue with all my professional conviction and personal passion that if you aren’t taking the time and effort to make sure you are doing well with your referral sources because you are worried about how they would ‘feel’ when you asked them…that you are actually the ‘cold’ networker.  People that really care about others will have the courage to be vulnerable and ask what they can do better.

Now that we have slain that wooly mammoth of ‘marketing to the prerequisites instead of what you want’…let’s get to the good stuff.

The length of time it takes to have a person produce referrals consistently is directly correlated to the amount of value they perceive for them and their clients in your referral process.  We have seen numerous examples of almost immediate referral production from new relationships and one thing is consistent:  They wanted to refer.

That is the key:  What makes that person want to refer you?  Is it that they were referred to you in a particular manner?  Was it how you described your client process to that professional sales person that convinced her/him that you had a process that displayed your trustworthiness and integrity?  (hint:  for many professionals, they are far more concerned with your process for sales than what you actually sell.  How you sell is more dangerous than what you sell when it comes to protecting their relationship with the person referred to you)

So, to wrap it up:

1.      Stop believing the myth that it takes a ‘long’ time to get referrals from others. 

2.     Stop trying to meet unmeasurable 'fuzzy' and or/emotionally based goals when it comes to relationship development…make the subjective into objective.

3.     Figure out what the referral source wants, and whether or not you are able/willing to do that and you will then reap massive gains as a result by focusing on what you CAN do.

All the best,

Mike

 

The Road to Success

Feeling a wee bit inspirational this afternoon so here goes some of my thoughts on success from my perspective.

In my past, lighter and stronger, I enjoyed hiking and climbing peaks. Never had amazing success, but, the greatest achievement I experienced was in the training for mountain climbing.  If you train to climb anything, you quickly discover that it is almost never true that the best way to get to the top is in a straight line.  You need to gradually work your way to the top, going up from side to side (switchbacks) and you will have a much higher chance of gaining the summit.

I believe that this same philosophy directly applies to sales success and improving performance in business.  There are times when you will experience rapid increases in performance as salespeople, but, they are very rare and hard to predict.  The great thing, in my case and many of my clients over the years, is that in pursuing success in a gradual, systematic and common sense approach almost always produces not only consistent results, but, leads to those spikes of high performance.

The other valuable insight about contrasting mountain climbing with selling is the absolute requirement of strategy and planning when looking to get to the top of a peak.  Only fools climb mountains without a plan and training.  Likewise, only those doomed to failure sell without planning, strategy and execution.

Everything is moving to the digitally aware sales world and social media/social selling is being promoted with wild abandon as the way of the future for sales professionals.  I believe they are right.  

Sales professionals need to start climbing that digital mountain, but, we need to create our plan to the summit, assemble the right tools for the peak WE want to climb and then start training for the journey.  A great place to start training would be one of the following books that helped me get started 'climbing to sales success' in this digital world:

Tim Hughes masterpiece:  https://www.amazon.com/Social-Selling-Techniques-Influence-Changemakers-ebook/dp/B01HS94S44/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1472663705&sr=1-1&keywords=social+selling

Tom Martin's awesome book about community in the digital age:  https://www.amazon.com/Invisible-Sale-Digitally-Marketing-Prospect-ebook/dp/B00FEJCVRC/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1472663758&sr=1-1&keywords=the+invisible+sale

I am absolutely confident that after reading those two books you will not only know HOW to train for the mountain...you will also have selected which one is the right peak for you.

All the best,

Mike

The Myth of Balance

I may lose some followers here, but, give me a chance to explain what I am proposing before you completely shut me out.  I believe that the concept of finding balance (work/home/life) is quite possibly an unproductive myth.

I can't tell you how many times I have read/heard about 'finding work/home balance' etc. in my life from 'experts' out in the wide world.  Whenever I tried to 'balance' everything I failed.  That didn't feel productive or effective and thus I started questing for a better, more realistic answer.  When your career is predicated upon your clients increasing production without hating their life...scholastic or idealistic concepts only go so far...

I now prefer, strongly, the term alignment when approaching the same issue:  How do I handle the time demands my life places upon me?  

There is a ton of 'noise' in today's increasingly connected world.  Hobbies, church, friends, family, clients, vendors, etc...all conspire to 'unbalance' my schedule and my enjoyment of life.  I fight back with alignment.

When I decided to ignore the call for balance in my life, everything started to get better.  I make my decisions about where I put my time and efforts based upon principles that I seek to align all my thoughts and actions upon.  Thus, when competitive interests or obligations arise (hourly/daily) I will decide which gets my attention and focus based upon how closely it aligns with my principles and purpose.

It might seem subtle, but, my coaching and consulting clients have responded with less stress and better results when they shed the guilt of trying to balance things that they, quite frankly, cannot even hope to.  By focusing on alignment, they are able to emotionally and rationally resolve time conflicts and move on with their life.  

In short, accept that you aren't the center of the universe, that the concept of you balancing your life is perhaps an impossible and unrealistic goal (I don't know about you, but, I am far from perfect) and then detail principles that matter to you now and in the future.  Decision making will get simpler, dealing with the projects/noise that you cannot complete with excellence will feel less stressful and at the end of the day you will find the peace of life aligned with what you know counts.

What matters to you?  Think of a compass instead of a scale and detail your alignment needle today.

Mike

My Social Selling Journey and Initial Strategy

A year ago I realized that Social Media was a marketing tool that many were powerfully advocating for, but, I was a denier/hater.  A year later, I am a tireless advocate for Social Selling and use Social Media multiple times per day within an integrated Sales Strategy.

How did I go from realizing it was important to having Social Media use through Social Selling becoming a core strategy in my marketing plan?  The simple answer is I read a lot...a real lot!  My journey started with a book 'The Invisible Sale' by Tom Martin.  Within 10 minutes of starting on that book I knew I was wrong and that I needed to figure out how to 'get into' Social Media.

The challenge was massive:  How to learn, implement and prosper in this brand new world without wasting HUGE amounts of time and money?!?  There were, seemingly, a million different things to do and I had no real idea which or what to start with.  So guess what I did?  Research.

If there was anything I knew from 20+ years of outside sales experience it was this:  Research rules the roost (if you act upon it).  So, I kept reading and talking to those that were farther along the path.  As time went by, I got more and more comfortable how I fit into this new world, but, I couldn't pull the trigger.

Enter https://www.linkedin.com/in/timothy-tim-hughes-669827.  I read one post from Tim on LinkedIN and immediately knew how to move forward.  The problem I was having was that I kept focusing on Social Media and didn't have an overall paradigm for selling that used it.  Trying to master Social Media is like wanting to buy every carpenters tool without knowing how to build a single thing.  

What good are tools if you don't have a strategy?  Social Media took off for me when I learned about Social Selling.  Now that I understood the overall change in buyer behavior and how through Social Selling I could interact with the 'new' buyer better...I was ready to act.

I am on my way with a simple strategy:  Find out more information about the future of sales for micro and small business and get that content into their hands.  As a Sales Consultant, my whole focus is on helping those customers increase and maintain their sales (after all...that is how they can afford me).  

What is your first step toward clarity and sanity when it comes to Social Media use:  Get on twitter, do a search for #socialselling and start reading.  I haven't found a more valuable resource for research than Twitter in my entire career.  Read, read more and make sure you follow @Timothy_Hughes...it will change everything.

If that doesn't make sense, message me or hit me up on twitter @mikegroanoke...I will be honored to assist.

Mike