Since public school I’ve told people that I don’t read. Not that I can’t read, but that I simply don’t enjoy it and prefer not to do it. It’s a bit of a misnomer at this point because in fact all I do is read, whatever is on the screen in front of me x 80 hrs/wk. So I am actually a voracious reader. But over a few decades I had simply adopted the notion that I didn’t, better yet couldn’t do it. Or perhaps somehow I wasn’t suited for it, or somehow it wasn’t suited for me. I hadn’t noticed my shift online.
In Social Selling, these are not unlike the stories I hear from Sales Professionals of varying ages, from companies of varying size. Discounting its’ importance or suggesting that they are not suited and/or willing to adapt to both the new set of technologies and behaviors it takes to be successful in sales today. I mean things like using Linkedin and Timetrade to book meetings, nurturing prospects on Twitter, and by curating provocative content that helps people think differently (blogs, video, newsletters, administering digital postcards, designing html emails, landing pages). Reality check: Are you doing the things it takes to show up in the market today? Think about it as you read this paper. Am I reading your blog? Are your customers reading your blog?
It’s all fair game in today’s sales arena. One can’t sit on their laurels waiting for the Marketing Department. Actually, regardless of what the Marketing Department is doing. Darwin said it best; you’re doing yourself a major disservice by standing in your own way on this. Point is, every individual now has online access to absolutely everything they need to build and run a successful business/territory in today’s competitive landscape. No excuses!
Don’t believe me? A few of you might still think you’re not suited for Social Selling; perhaps it’s not suited to you/your business. Or perhaps you prefer the “I can’t” camp, that’s the one I played in. Whichever you choose, I am officially here to call you on it, and I welcome all excuses. With living proof that anyone can play this game, flourish, and win. Furthermore, I can also prove that the time to revenue can be as little as weeks, and can take as little effort as 30-60 minutes/day. If I can do it…
The proof in this case, can be found in the results of an experiment I conducted over the past few months to validate a bit of advice I had picked up from a world-leading expert in Sales & Marketing. Often the first thing that pops up on my screen each day is Seth Godin’s blog http://sethgodin.typepad.com/. It has become a trusted jolt of inspiration.
I’m sure you’re familiar with Seth as the modern marketing provocateur that he is. He’s written 14 books, founded dozens of companies, and is regarded as “America’s Greatest Marketer” by the American Way magazine.
He tells a great story about a candy store near my home in Orillia Ontario. They had a moderately successful location on the northbound side of a 4-lane highway. The owners worked tirelessly for years to build a solid business but struggled as they were only getting the cottagers on their way north. They had no way of capturing the southbound traffic. Running out of answers, they eventually took over another location directly across the highway on the southbound side and immediately doubled their profits… Brilliant. Those that adapt, win.
I became familiar with Seth’s work through my time with www.theartof.com as he frequently headlines their national speaking series The Art of Marketing. He is also know as one of North America’s top orator’s, is frequently quoted by everyone, and literally dripping with helpful insights for life and business. Hence my attraction to his blog of late.
To be honest however, the first time I saw him I thought his presentation was only slightly above average, with feedback that his message and material perhaps too high brow for the audience (at 70,000ft). One of the central themes he touches on includes the intersection of work and art. He urges people to follow passion, produce art (the real work), and to fulfill themselves by giving it away (so to speak).
Or at least that was my impression. I likened it to the idea of starting a blog, being authentic with it, seeing if it would attract people naturally. Seeing if by putting my heart into a project, producing the “art” around it, and showing it online; that people would be drawn to it, even offer to buy whatever it is I produced. Thus creating a business in the process. Seeing if what Seth says is true, is valuable advice, and can be put in to practice in real life. Give to give as they say. Produce something I love, am passionate about, show it to people, and subsequently give it away. To put it out there, see what happens.
So in April 2013 I stumbled on these two passages from his book Linchpin:
“Here's the truth you have to wrestle with: the reason that art (writing, engaging, leading, all of it) is valuable is precisely why I can't tell you how to do it. If there were a map, there'd be no art, because art is the act of navigating without a map. Don't you hate that? I love that there's no map.”
― Seth Godin, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
“...treasure what it means to do a day's work. It's our one and only chance to do something productive today, and it's certainly not available to someone merely because he is the high bidder. A day's work is your chance to do art, to create a gift, to do something that matters. As your work gets better and your art becomes more important, competition for your gifts will increase and you'll discover that you can be choosier about whom you give them to.”
― Seth Godin, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
These served as the foundation of the experiment, I elected to create a live 30-day test by starting a blog where each day I would paint and post a picture of a dog. After posting, I would share each image on Facebook and Twitter. That was it. Nothing elaborate. Paint a picture, take a picture of it and put it online. See what happens…
The keys to this were that a) I love dogs b) I am passionate about conducting business online c) I am not a Painter, but am slightly artistic. Lastly, d) I knew pretty much nothing about blogging, and most importantly d) I expected nothing to come out of it.
With the “Why” in hand, I headed online to build my system. The work for me initially presented challenges like:
- How do I create a blog?
- Do I use Wordpress or Blogger?
- How do these tools work?
- How do I configure my profile?
- How do I create content?
- How do I share blog posts?
- Who do I share posts with?
- What social media tools should I use?
Despite it looking like a tremendous amount of work for nothing, I settled on a system with Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, and eventually Google +.
I used Seth’s advice to keep me focused on my goal of success. This was supposed to be difficult. Admittedly, I had what I thought to be far greater priorities at the time. The setup was hours of fidgeting with configuration, image sizes, making sure I had it all tied together properly. I also integrated TimeTrade as a way of having guests be able to click to speak to me about my work. The types of tasks I, as a Sale Professional myself, both dislike the most and am the worst at. This must be someone else’s work?
From there I moved on to picking a name, designing my main page, branding it. Fortunately this came to me quite readily on a napkin one Sunday morning with my kids. We were at the kitchen table drawing pictures. Amongst my scribble I had written “52 weeks” and drawn a stick figure of a dog. So with the “Why” and “How” in hand, I jumped into production with the “What” and officially launched www.fiftytwodogs.blogspot.ca, now operating as www.reinimation.blogspot.ca.
I will save you the wonderful connections and stories that ensued as a result of starting this and stick to quantifiable proof that what Seth Godin preaches is true. To do so, I have created this infographic that I feel presents the evidence clearly.
The Bottom Line
No if’s and’s or but’s, to stand out in today’s competitive marketplace and be a “hand’s down” top performer while using Social Selling as an instrumental part of your approach, you need to step off the ledge frequently and initiate things with passion, intent, and often expecting very little in return. The gift or silver lining in all of this hard work is that, at some point along the way you will be rewarded for your efforts. Recognize now that these rewards can come in all shapes and sizes and you’ll stop worrying about how to calculate the returns.
If you’d like to speak with me further about how this applies to you as a Sales Leader/Sales Executive, you can use the button below or click anywhere on the infographic to book my time.
Seth, if you are reading this, “your check’s in the mail…” Thanks for all the great wisdom.