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Anthony Iannarino
Updated: 38 min 33 sec ago

How to Suffer in Sales

Fri, 2018-07-20 06:38

The first way that you might suffer in sales is wishing that you had hot, ready to buy leads burning up the phone lines. Ready to buy leads are much better than targets in the mind of those who suffer, because ready to buy leads don’t require that you sell. Targets, or what I call dream clients, require that you displace your competitor, which requires a relatively high level of skills as a salesperson.

You might also suffer in sales by wishing that prospecting was easy. You might wish you didn’t need to use the telephone to make outbound calls to prospective clients. You wish that you could sit comfortably behind your screens sending emails to schedule meetings instead. You wish that your brand was big enough on LinkedIn that your prospects hunted you down instead of you having to hunt yourself. Selling is in large part about creating opportunities, and that requires prospecting.

Believing that your client should not perceive you as a commodity, nor should they treat you as suspect just because you’re a salesperson will leave you disappointed. Wishing that the bar was lower and that you didn’t need the business acumen and the situational knowledge necessary to be perceived as a peer doesn’t in any way, shape, or form lower the bar. The reality is that your behavior determines how you are perceived. You decide whether you are a time waster or a value creator. You decide whether you are a commodity or a strategic partner.

It may not seem fair that your prospective client is going to resist making the commitments that you need them to make in order to help them produce the result they believe is necessary now. They will resist having certain meetings, bringing in other stakeholders, and even something so little as providing you with the information you need to do an analysis of their current state. the fact that you must control the process, and you have to sell the client on making and keeping their commitments, well, that is what salespeople do. In fact, that’s why we call it selling.

Being angry, upset, or disappointed by the things that happen in the normal course of business is a recipe for suffering. The fact that your operations team struggles to deliver the outcomes you sold is the reality of execution. Your client refusing to make the changes they agreed to make as you were going through the process and causing them not to be able to generate the results you promised, is also something happens in the normal course of business. If you are going to be upset over the things that happen in the normal course of business, you’re going to spend a lot of time being upset.

The recipe for suffering is wishing that something was different than it is. In large part, we humans wish that things that are outside of our control were in our control, so we could have the certainty of outcomes we desire. The truth is, the only thing that you can control is yourself, and most of us are very good at that. If you are going to try to exercise control of yourself, you may as well start with working to control your response to things that are difficult, things that are uncomfortable and the things that are outside of your control. To do less is to suffer.

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Not Everyone Needs to Be an Entrepreneur

Thu, 2018-07-19 05:42

A few days ago, I wrote this post about being exceptional. The point of that post was that in the Industrial Age people were hired for their hands and their backs, not for their minds, resourcefulness, and initiative. In this Disruptive Age in which we find ourselves now, hands and backs are not nearly as important as imagination, creativity, resourcefulness, and a proactive approach to making things better.

In that post, I suggested that one should put their heart, soul, and mind into their work, that they should do work that is exceptional. One reader admonished me for leading people down the wrong path. He wrote to me to tell me that there is no way to be truly successful working for someone else. He suggested that I show people the right path, which is, in short,

Entrepreneurship. He told me that for people to be truly successful and make money, they need to work for themselves.

Some people are not born with an entrepreneurial spirit. They don’t have a burning desire to start something, to take a risk, they don’t have a groundbreaking idea they want to share, and they don’t want to invest their life savings in a dream. Many of them don’t want to bootstrap it to create some sort of “side hustle.” Other people have no interest in taking responsibility for creating a business, growing a business, and employing other people. Even though it makes some people happy to do these things, it makes other people miserable.

And then we get the sales. Sales is the great leveler. You can have the greatest entrepreneurial vision in the world but without the ability to sell whatever it is you are going to produce, you will not last long as an entrepreneur. Most people dread the idea of ever having to work in sales, let alone having to do it for their very survival with everything on the line.

As much as I want to agree with the reader who sent me has comments, I can’t. The math is not in his favor. I have no idea how accurate any of this math is, but the estimates suggest that 20 percent of small businesses fail within the first year. Another 30 percent of small businesses fail in their second year. And by the five-year mark, 50 percent of small businesses are gone. An entrepreneurial adventure can teach those who embark on them great lessons-and sometimes they come with great success. It can also wipe people out completely, especially those without the mindset, the skill set, or the help they need and the understanding of how to create and sustain a business.

Right now, mostly because of Silicon Valley, America is in love with entrepreneurship. I believe this is good for people generally, and even better for America. That said, it isn’t for everyone. Not everyone needs to be an entrepreneur to be successful. There are plenty of people who are succeeding wildly and have the exact life they want because they are pouring their heart and soul and mind into work that they believe makes a difference and that makes them happy. And that’s enough.

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How You Changed Your Client’s Perception

Wed, 2018-07-18 05:33

You have tremendous business acumen and situational knowledge. You understand your client’s business well enough, and you know where your business and theirs intersect exceptionally well. You were able to capture their mindshare by sharing with them an understanding of why they have the challenges they’re having, how to make changes that produce better results, and you gained their trust and support. You won the account on your merits as a value creator and someone worthy of being a strategic partner.

But as you started to execute with your team, you and your client started to experience the day-to-day challenges of implementing. It required a lot more of your attention, and sometimes around the more transactional tasks that must be done. Even though these tasks do not belong to you, they either weren’t getting done or weren’t getting done fast enough for you or your client, so you jumped in there and became another pair of hands. You made sure that whatever needed to be done was done effectively.

As time went by, your client depended on you to help them execute and achieve the outcomes you sold them. A lot of what started to show up was more transactional work that belongs to someone else on your team. There was that one time an order was lost, and they asked you to track it down because it was important. Another time they had an invoice problem and 11 invoices needed re-typed. You had a tough time finding somebody to do it, so you did it yourself. Your client was grateful for your effort. And then they called for help as they prepared for an internal meeting and needed reports. You generated the reports and added four-color charts to make sure that their meeting was a success.

Because you owned the transactions and not the outcomes, you’ve managed to move from a peer, a trusted advisor, and a strategic partner, to a typist, a clerk, and an administrative assistant. Even though all of the things that you did were necessary, you’ve changed your perception from a value-creating change agent to something less than that.

Bringing on the new, large, and important clients may require that you do whatever is necessary to produce the outcomes you’ve sold. None of this is to say that you cannot lend a hand to your team under certain circumstances. Instead, it’s a reminder that you are responsible for the outcomes you sell not all the transactions that surround that outcome. It’s also a reminder that the value you create for your clients must be something of greater and more strategic value.

Stay in your lane.

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Why You Need to Be Exceptional Now

Tue, 2018-07-17 02:26

One of the hangovers from the Industrial Age is our view of work. During that period of history, you went to work, punched the clock, worked for some number of hours, punched the clock again and went home. The quality of work wasn’t so much a matter of individual care and attention as much as it was the repetition of a process. It was by design that one could be removed from a line and replaced with no noticeable difference in the desired outcome.

The Industrial Age took the view that workers were limited, disposable, replaceable, and not too much different from the machines they operated. What was required of them is that they were compliant, and a school system was built around this very idea. So were ideas about what a good life was made up of.

It’s tough to predict the future. If the predictions from my childhood were on course with the estimated timelines, I would already have a flying car, I would be wearing a space-age jumpsuit of some kind, and my diet would consist of a single nutrition pill each day.

No one expected a future in which almost no one punches a time clock, where the idea of work hours means less and less, where people work from wherever they happen to be, and one which looks very different than the Industrial Age.

Because of the nature of the world you now occupy, the quality of work you do is not likely to be determined by following some rigid process, but rather from individual care and attention. Where efficiency ruled, effectiveness is now the outcome. More still, in a past that looked at human beings as a pair of hands and a back, the present looks at a human being as a fount of creativity, resourcefulness, innovation, and initiative.

“But wait,” you say, “I am still treated like a number, as if we still live in the Industrial Age.”

You are now faced with the choice of deciding to operate as if you are something more than a pair of hands and a back, even if the work you do is in an office, at a desk, in a structure not too different from the factory floor. You now also have the choice to treat what you do as a chance to do something exceptional, something that makes a difference, something that leaves things better than you found them.

In the future, the rewards in all their forms are going to accrue to those who decide to be exceptional by putting heart and soul and mind into their work, and not just their hands and their backs—if those are necessary at all. Exceptional is the new standard of greatness, and it is born of passion.

Is what you are doing now exceptional?

Are you willing to give up the mediocrity of punching a clock and give yourself over to your work to do something that makes a difference?

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The Greatest Threat to Your Sales Results

Mon, 2018-07-16 01:28

Your strategy for acquiring new clients is not very likely to be the difference between your results and the results you need. Your sales process and your sales methodologies are almost certainly up to the task of acquiring new clients.

Your product, service, or solution is also not what is hindering your sales results. There are an immeasurable number of poor products that sell relatively well, as well as commodities with zero differentiation with revenue in the billions of dollars. The same is true of your service or your solution.

No doubt that one obstacle might be your salesforce. There are only four challenges a sales organization faces here, too little activity, too little effectiveness, both of the preceding two, and poor leadership. And since the first three are all a result of the final factor, that makes lack of leadership the greatest threat to your sales results.

Specifically, the greatest threat to your sales results is some combination of the first two factors, enabled by the final factor.

If there is one thing I would indict sales leaders for, it would be for allowing apathy, complacency, and the lack of real effort against the tasks of creating new opportunities and winning those new opportunities. Creating and winning new opportunities are the outcomes a sales leader and their sales force is responsible for producing.

Selling is not a passive, reactive endeavor. It requires a proactive approach, one based on effective activity designed to produce the outcomes necessary for growth. When a sales force is allowed to sit in a passive, reactive posture, waiting for marketing to produce leads, and waiting for clients to respond to automated messaging, and spending more time in software designed to help with the sales process rather than being face to face with their prospective clients, it is a failure of leadership.

No one wants to be a micromanager. And no one wants to be micromanaged. As a leader, however, you are responsible for setting the priorities, setting the goals, and ensuring that the resources provided to you are applied against those priorities. When some of those resources, including the human resources, decide to spend their time and energy on things different from the priorities, it is not micromanaging to require that time and energy be shifted to what’s most important.

Recently, I learned that there is no word for accountability in Spanish. The word is consistently used here in the United States, but it’s hard to recognize the definition of the word from the actions of those who are responsible for ensuring accountability. The greatest threat to your sales results now is a lack of leadership that allows salespeople to spend their time and energy on things outside of creating, winning, and serving their clients.

Everything is important. But not everything can be most important. There is no way to generate the results you are capable of without doing the work necessary.

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Be the Protagonist in Your Story. Not the Extra.

Sun, 2018-07-15 00:39

In the movies, there are always “extras,” those people who show ups in scenes so the restaurant is full, the streets are busy, or the grocery store has customers. The “extras” don’t really have any role to play, other than being in the background. In an action or horror movie, the extras don’t fare very well. In fact, things normally end badly for them.

For an extra, the world they occupy is acting upon them. They are not acting on that world; they’re just going through the motions, even though nothing they do changes the plot or improves their circumstances. The script is written for them, even though they have no lines, and their fate has long been determined. Extras are disempowered.

The protagonist has a very different role. She is acting upon the world that she inhabits. What she says and does has an impact on the people and circumstances in which she finds herself. She is capable of heroic feats of mind and body, with solid thinking and solid action, even when she gets herself in trouble. The protagonist is empowered. So is the villain, for that matter.

It’s more interesting and more fun to be the protagonist than to relegate yourself to being an extra.

You are taking the role of the extra when you believe that the world is acting upon you, and not the other way around, believing that you have no power to change the plot into one in which you are a player—or maybe THE player. When you decide you are the protagonist, the plotline shifts.

When you absolve yourself of the responsibility of accepting that you are the writer, the director, and the producer of this thing called life, you cause yourself to play a bit role in someone else’s production—instead of taking the lead and making your story your own. The fact that you believe that this production is of your own making, you recognize that you can change the plot line at any time, regardless of your past, and regardless of your age.

If the story were to end in the middle chapters, the protagonist isn’t likely to have obtained what she wants. The reason the protagonists always win is that they continue their pursuit until they get what they want. No great story ever has a protagonist that doesn’t have to discover something about themselves, change, and grow in some way to succeed.

No one ever knows what happens to the extras in a movie. They have no plot line, and they do very little to help themselves.

You are the protagonist in this story you are writing. We are all watching to see what kind of great adventure you are going to create.

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