Networking In the New Normal

“How do we know who to talk to if we only see everyone on the other side in little bitty squares?” With customers’ offices closing and the remaining staff tele-commuting, the old school VP of Sales is probably reluctant to embrace Zoom. However, his reluctance is moot. An aggressive, young sales rep raised with a tablet in his crib is in the process of setting new quarterly sales records for the firm regardless of his title. His primary weapon is a well-connected mastermind group and technological tools that quickly access intelligence on his targets. Furthermore, his instantaneous access to industry white papers and anecdotal niche intelligence super-sizes his expertise. The C-Suite can hardly wait to see how his first year’s final quarter ends to see how close he gets to the firm’s sales record.

Niches
In the New Normal, knowing your organization’s business remains important. However, knowing your target markets’ business is more important. In a business world where solving problems surpasses pushing product in generating revenue, superior results depends on understanding the client’s deepest fears and desires. Providing cost-effective solutions barely register a blip in a world where making a customer’s pain go away has much more value. Sales victory results from knowing exactly what is causing pain and packaging the available solution to remedy it efficiently. Specific, client-centric intelligence wins.

While guessing the source of pain still works occasionally. Having relationships and resources to reveal pain points is much better. The New Normal rewards acquiring accurate information about target markets and their business processes. People skills no longer requires persuading buyers. Successful sales skills depend on establishing business relationships in advance through common experiences. Such experiences feature virtual conferences where up-to-the-moment problems are discussed. Then, joining breakout sessions where deep-seated fears are discussed; all from a laptop . The winning sales professionals earns credibility by interpreting pain points as virtual peers socialize them. And, when the sales professional cannot be in that room, then a trusted colleague acquires the key intelligence on her behalf.

Targets
Tools and talent have always been essential to locating fertile opportunities. Remember when answering machines were the new normal? Or, when a seasoned secretary could never be replaced? Then, technology became integrated into the high-speed world of locating clients with needs. Adapt, if you want success! How about the customer? What about new prospects? Communicate with them offering knowledge and solutions such that no other source is viable nor reasonable. Great communication is focused narrowly on the other person. Ultimately, success results are too. Hence, they are called “targets”. Likewise, marketing messages that turn into sales results focus on… the client!

In the New Normal intelligence is not only available via phone. Industry reports and analysts’ newsletters no longer dominate providing necessary information to grow sales. Now, blogs and Reddit offer bleeding edge insight. Industry intelligence, needs, and opportunities surface at unprecedented speed. The sales pro, who is comfortable with anonymous sources that have proven to be accurate in interpreting the marketplace, now has the advantage. Having an alleged insider has become less important, especially when compared to accessing credible and proven market analysis. With so much information circulating, analytical credibility has increased value. Ultimately, collaborating with peers, colleagues, and frenemies facilitate connections that credibly vet information.

Conclusion
The new sales success secret is accuracy and credibility concerning intelligence. Established think tanks no longer have a chokehold on industry analysis. Intelligence, insight and relationships now go with the individual. To keep up with their insight, success requires actively engaging them on LinkedIn, personal blogs and online roundtables. The investment pays off exponentially better than when the last generation flew to Las Vegas for their favorite bi-annual conference. Identifying sources of superior intelligence now means subscribing, interacting and engaging. Find trustworthy online sources even if it means paying the right source for Zoom access to keep an edge. Otherwise, continue waiting for the quarterly industry report to arrive in the mail. Meanwhile, pay more attention to your quarterly retirement statement when it arrives in the mail. You will need it sooner than you realize.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Development, Client Relationships | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Non Verbal Networking

Confidence communicates competence. Forget about weak handshakes, a weak personality kills business possibilities before an individual approaches! Just like wild animals smelling fear in its prey, polished business professionals recognize weakness from a distance. However, power and prominence communicate extremely well in advance. In the case of effective networking, a personal brand communicates competence well in advance of a professional’s arrival. Individual power, positioning and performance comes from actions, not vocabulary!

Communication
Too often, mediocre business people try to define their professional skills through clever conversation. They expect their command of the latest buzzwords and quick-witted communication techniques to prove their worth. But, astute business professionals clearly understand that value drives business success. Beyond degrees, accolades and titles, the ability to communicate and deliver to the other party’s expectations drive success. A major reason that storytelling emerges as a powerful, value-driving tool is that a well-positioned story’s power, imagery, and connectivity overpowers fancy analysis and industry-speak. Spreadsheets do not close deals. Understanding what the analysis communicates does!

The other essential aspect of effective communication is listening. Too many professionals miss opportunities because they do not hear what the other side said. Their own words were too loud! Effective communication absorbs what is not said. Subtleties from grooming habits to sustaining eye contact contributes to effective communication. Such nuance strengthens effective networking because all these cues contribute to interpersonal signals resulting in like and trust. Rehearsed scripts do not convey the emotional connectivity that drives trust and successful deals. Genuine smiles, focused eye contact, open body posture all while listening contribute to the emotional connection that facilitates enduring transactions.

Branding
While these communication techniques strengthen possibilities to transact business, at some point the deal must continue when the original parties are separated. A brand speaks for an organization or individual when parties are not physically present. Branding is communication when the parties are absent. So, who actually speaks in these instances? More importantly, how does an organization sustain branding consistency in a world where communication is experienced and evaluated via print media, social media, text messages, and Zoom calls. Branding has more marketing responsibilities under its communication duties than ever. How does a brand keep up?

First, intentionality supports a brand’s pace and progress; then consistency operates at a very close second. Social media has quickly emerged as the accelerant for brands racing beyond an enterprise’s purpose because business leaders do not always corral the images and words that described the business. Flaming is any party spreading unflattering imagery in any public or private forum. The ability to spread lies, or painful truths, has never been so prevalent! Control requires faithful and consistent monitoring of all brand conversations. If that sounds hard, try damage control after a brand has been smeared! Effective branding requires controlling the conversation at every point in the ever-expanding marketplace.

Takeaway
Whether ugly comments come from print, broadcast, podcast, soundbite, Zoom-bombing or social media, effective brands prepare in advance with clear talking points to interrupt negative commentary by re-emphasizing brand strengths. Brands must be actively engaged in every reasonable channel where a business operates in order to influence messaging in victory, or catastrophe. The right processes are equally important as the right words and images. Networking’s main purpose is to establish positive relationships so that business can be deliberately, intentionally and intelligently transacted as a direct result of confidence in both parties’ reputations. Establishing, then reinforcing, individual and organizational reputations relies on communicating with images, behaviors, relationships, reputations, and even words when necessary.

Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Coaching, Business Development, Creating Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Branding: Many Relationships, One Character

Balanced Sales Team

Like big corporations, solopreneurs and small businesses can generate disproportionate value by leveraging their brand. Brands represent businesses in busy, noisy, crowded marketplaces.Successful brands introduce a company’s personality and reputation even in the entity’s absence. Aggressive and clever entrepreneurs benefit disproportionately when they execute their branding well. The same mechanism works for individuals. Having the marketplace vouch for someone’s reputation and body of work when that individual is working hard elsewhere creates an enviable advantage. Capturing this lightening in a bottle requires insightful strategy, detailed execution and an appetite for excellence.

Many Relationships
Particularly with smaller enterprises, key contributors have multiple responsibilities. Production professionals also sell. Administrative personnel also perform maintenance. Entrepreneurship relies so much on efficient productivity and tangible results that all-hands-on-deck is the norm. Furthermore, for the organization to grow successfully even more disproportionate efforts go to revenue generating activities. Balancing these multiple obligations takes more than entrepreneurial greed. The leader cannot possibly answer every call, but they facilitate an environment where everyone makes sure every call gets a response. Accountability and respect across all internal and external relationships appears everywhere so that all team members benefit when anyone interacts with the business.

Clearly, relationships are the primary driver of marketing momentum. Every contact is not a potential customer. However, every contact who is not a potential customer has the power to become a referral partner. If a particular contact cannot be a referral partner, then they can be an advocate. In all these roles, the priority remains to find someone or some entity to have a desire, or need, that a deliverable, product, or service can satisfy. In pursuing growth aspirations, the entire business needs to be committed to contributing to its growth. Connecting the public at large, or the individual in specific, to the value offering is every stakeholder’s role, as well as being in their best interest. Essentially, relationships across the value chain lead to success and all stakeholders have a responsibility to contribute.

One Character
Organizational character is the personification of the entity. And, that character is a sales professional. To be clear, every individual is not necessarily a sales professional. Nevertheless, the successful entrepreneurial enterprise realizes that every professional, stakeholder, and administrator has the potential and responsibility to contribute to sales efforts. The One Character in successful enterprises represents the entity’s personality. In some cases, entrepreneurs will point out their services advantages, or their technological superiority. Both attributes contribute to the company’s success. But only when those characteristics contribute to sales efforts, and consequently financial successes, do the business establish staying power to impose their success on their industry and marketplace.

The organization’s character ties directly back to successful branding. Beyond what the business says, how the business performs is most important. Sales success that dies in the marketplace because of unfulfilled promises, reveals bad character and ultimately collapses if left unchecked. Yet, character results from every contributor’s wholehearted participation. Getting an organization to cooperatively work with a high-level of individual accountability presents unique challenges. Consequently, creating a culture of coordination separates successful businesses from the others. Character has been described how someone behaves when no one is watching. One Character then means that the entire team performs in alignment consistently. That behavior drives value, profits and longevity.

Takeaway
“Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan.” Essentially, professional success results from teamwork. Different roles, many responsibilities, one goal, leads to success. Culture is important. High performance is essential, whether culture, accountability, or character drives the performance. The focus on having a team emphasizing its many roles and relationships for the benefit of one common goal wrapped up in a singular character represents a clear path to success. Be yourself; work together. This profile demonstrates how small organizations slay giants. These characteristics reveal why branding wins.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

 

Posted in Business Development, Client Relationships, Creating Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Personal Branding – Know Who You Are!

marketing-technology-revolutionize

“I need to see Mr. Big! He is NOT expecting me!”, the loud visitor announced to an appalled administrative assistant. A well-polished gentleman had just exited a downtown high-rise’s elevator and glided toward the reception area. His untucked fitted shirt with gaudy, initialed golden cufflinks, draped over his Levis. His jeans, in turn, perfectly capped his loafers. His ball cap matched nothing! After failing to persuade the man to return with an appointment, the assistant reluctantly calls Mr. Big to announce the peculiar man only using his visual description. She grimaces upon hearing the phone slam without a word. Magically, power- suited Mr. Big appears in the stuffy reception area, bear hugs the visitor, before dragging him back to his suite with an uncharacteristically broad grin! Clearly, that visitor’s brand spoke for him!

Personal
A personal brand has all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of a corporate brand, except that it involves a singular person. As business processes and headcounts streamline, organizations do less with more. Empowering a brand to do more marketing heavy lifting is an efficient means to that end. Teams of internal marketing professionals and outsourced experts polishing campaigns are no longer efficient in fast-paced business environments. Marketing decisions must be made more quickly.

Once upon a time, competitors featured equally weighty departments passing judgment on messaging. Those organizations still exist. But, so do boutiques with great ideas, entrepreneurial spirits and digital mindsets that produce and analyze messaging at unprecedented speed. Fighting marketing battles with yesterday’s battleships is absolutely futile when younger, nimbler competitors wage digital wars. Essentially, a trusted colleague with laser-like focus on the immediate marketplace and this week’s data has an unmatched advantage in launching marketing campaigns that evolve continuously using real-time input from customers and analysts.

Professional
Benefits of the professional, or corporate brand remain relevant. Scale helps. Yet, business is still done person to person. Even committee-led decisions require a leader whose opinion carries disproportionate weight. In many cases the decision-making committee is simply in place to verify the leader’s decision. Either way, the decision’s merits are communicated based on the knowledge, awareness and reputation of the person representing the professional organization.

Since current branding emphasizes messaging as well as multiple delivery channels, identifying trustworthy sources to establish new connections is essential. Outsourced resources help. Furthermore, as customers’ and consumers’ needs evolve into more narrow niches, communication to those specific targets must become more precise. Flexible messaging that communicates consistently via blogs, real-time images, and point-of-sale video inspires purchasing decisions. Likewise, individual influencers are more valuable than ever in directing choices among the masses with the blazing speed of shifting whims. Engaging identified target audiences with the right voice through the right media transforms messaging into purchasing decisions which drive superior revenue.

Takeaway
When consumers or business customers determine whom they trust, that voice becomes more important than the message. With so many messages communicating through so many mediums, a product’s real value quickly drowns out of the conversation. But a trustworthy brand, delivers a credible voice which triggers the necessary engagement to drive enormous sales volume. Marketers, before judging the moral character of the latest internet personality that influences enormous segments of the marketplace, honestly monitor customers to ensure how they receive marketing messages that drive purchasing of your goods and services. Align campaigns and businesses with the proper messaging that communicates the specific persona that targeted customers will trust.Branding is what the product says when business developers are not in the room. Strong branding opens doors. Then, when great brands talk, targeted prospects listen and buy.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Development, Client Relationships, Leadership Development | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Eccentricity of Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs are eccentric ranks slightly below elephants are large among obvious observations. The opportunities that they pursue, as well as the businesses that they run, singularly point toward an unconventional world of risk, reward, value, and victory! Essentially, they see the world differently. Whether they pursue niche markets, or unconventional low-cost solutions, their boldness is equally embedded in their DNA and revealed through their actions. They live the value that they communicate and create. Their eccentricity is the pathway to outperforming the status quo, or at least betting their livelihood on the belief that they will.

Create Value
Before entrepreneurial wings take flight, these business’ leaders have a vision. Eventually, an idea, a service, a product, or an advantage surface. The vision actually reflects seeing the unseen. These people fundamentally, leap and learn to fly on the way down. Regardless how brilliant, safe, or guaranteed a particular opportunity appears, staring professional and financial risk in the eye requires a different kind of personality. Eccentricity, more or less describes it. But, once the operation launches quirkiness does not accurately capture the behaviors or emotions.

The successful entrepreneur must singularly focus to create value based on an idea and strong belief. More specifically, the entrepreneur must create more money based on knowledge, instincts, and tenacity that they can grow their initial sum. Value makes the operation sound rational. Frankly, taking a sum of money, working hard doing something new, then creating more money sounds closer to alchemy. However, the alleged magic happens often enough to inspire more dreamers to try for themselves. Only an eccentric can exercise that level of faith. Yet, individuals and teams pursue this path regularly.

Execute Ideas
In concert with value creation, inhuman tenacity, and wild ideas, the work begins and execution must happen. Remember that the whole process starts with an idea. The idea’s execution becomes the created value! Then, processes start becoming replicated and improved. The eccentricity intervenes at this point because customers and deliverables are both new to each other, and both parties are trying to achieve a sense of normality. Even if the involved individuals are familiar with each other, the environments that they now occupy have changed in respect to each other.

An entrepreneurial venture adopts a new personality for the marketplace regardless of the familiarity of the personnel. Potentially, the personalities can change for the better. However, the uncertainty directly feeds the eccentricity. Something as simple as 30 days payment terms that rounded up to 35 days harmlessly in the previous environment, now creates a cash crunch in the new venture at day 31. Cash crunches in all businesses causes behaviors to change. Still, entrepreneurial operations tends to create a higher sense of urgency than most corporate environments. Fortunately, successful entrepreneurs compensate with better service, less bureaucracy, or superior performance. The ultimate benefit happens when better idea execution means better value creation.

Takeaways
Eccentricity equals genius when it works! Consequently, successful entrepreneurs are rightly celebrated. Creating value is the foundation of capitalism. Having the confidence to find an opportunity, execute the idea, and create value is rare. Successfully performing these steps is even more rare. Creating an entity that sustains its value is more rare still. Successful entrepreneurship is valuable for that very reason. Perhaps these entrepreneurs are called eccentric because they are slightly strange. Or, maybe they are so rare that they simply appear strange when compared to the status quo. Regardless, the eccentricity of entrepreneurship is worth admiring, and for professionals bold enough to build value through risk and execution, it is worth rewarding.

 
By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Development, Creating Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Story-Listening To Sell More

Happy Business People In Meeting

A win-at-all-costs Operations Director summons her business manager into her office. She pointedly explains, “I have just negotiated a budget exception from the vice-president to upgrade our key production equipment. I need you to negotiate the most effective technology solution possible so that we achieve our production goals this year. And, because of this project’s visibility heads will roll if any component of this deployment fails. To be even more clear. If the results underperform to the point that sacrifices must be made, and it comes down to either me or you… it’s going to be you!” The business manager listened. He understood. The selected vendor must be emotionally and strategically aligned with his department’s priorities.

Engagement
In this scenario where multiple solutions will be reviewed and evaluated, the business manager has a clear directive. Consequently, the successful business development professional in this competitive arena must focus on fulfilling the business manager’s strategic wants. Beyond a sales professional’s skills at storytelling to maximize the sales’ value, the seller now must demonstrate Story-Listening. The vendor must listen. He must connect. He must understand. The winning solution will meet the requirements of multiple needs. Not only must the vendor prioritize his own organization’s needs and wants, the successful vendor must craft a solution that maximizes the business manager’s satisfaction. Meeting someone else’s expectations requires intense listening and a higher level of engagement! That special skill’s reward is the privilege of earning increased revenue and satisfying all parties.

Emotion
Effective Story-Listening represents a heightened sensitivity to the counterpart’s position. Nuance, tone of voice, frame of reference are essential pieces of hearing a story, as well as interpreting the literal language. Ignoring non-verbal cues is the opposite of discerning emotion. The superior sales professionals is consistently in tune with language, inflection, and subtlety. The words are important. They indicate features, benefits, and terms. However, to maximize the totality of understanding, literal listening has to transcend to emotional connectivity. The savvy sales professional is equipped to offer faster delivery in exchange for more vendor-friendly financing, if timeliness is the most critical attribute. Story-Listening reveals the implicit communication that reveals true priorities.

Takeaway
Undoubtedly, clever sales professionals with a winning story that connects buyers to benefits have an advantage. Nevertheless, attentive sales professionals focus on listening to the story that the buyer tells in order to meet the explicit needs that the prospect values most! Creating a sales strategy that meets the buyer’s personal needs strikes an emotional chord with the human being purchasing the good, service, or solution. Once the buying professional communicates their priorities, then person-to-person possibilities surface. A buying professional has to be faithful to their employer and their priorities. But, when opportunities emerge where specific desires are available to the buyer without compromising integrity or value, the savvy sales professional will seal a deal between two professionals representing entire enterprises. That deal only emerges when a sales professional hears, understands and delivers in alignment with the buyer’s individual strategic priorities. Story-Listening opens the door for the personal connection to close the transaction.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Coaching, Business Development, Client Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Selling Experience, Buying Creativity

Analyzing-Brainstorming-Businessmen

“Relationships drive business!”, according to the crusty sales veteran! The young sales leader rolls her eyes. The old fundamentals are true to the point that buyers acquire goods and services form sources that they like and trust. Nevertheless, in an environment where business transactions are consummated in the time that it used to take to order another round for the purchasing team, individual relationships reflect only one factor. However, the trust is less on the individual, and more on the selling team delivering on the solutions that they claim. Results matter like never before! Growth-oriented vendors sell performance and experiences that buyers demand for their specific internal reasons; whatever they are!

Experience
Traditionally, knowledge-based sales require a representative who knows the marketplace, competition and intelligence associated with the goods and/ or service that they must sell. However, in a time where many buying decisions are remotely consummated at the same time that shipping processes initiate, successful sales are based on conveying experience to perform at such levels of expectation. Selling experience equates to selling trust. Customers buy when they are confident that transactions will execute properly. A competitive vendor is easier to find when executed standards are unmet.

Another way that successful sellers transact experiences is with modern iterations of lagniappe. The traditional extra pastry with the purchase of a dozen is less impressive with maturing buyers being attentive to their waistlines. But, the purchasing experience still needs to be memorable and personalized to truly create stickier customers. What result will the customer value to make its experience easier to engage the seller again? Epic experiences must engage emotional connectivity! So, how does a sales pro create an emotional bond for a buyer acquiring 15 tons of organic cotton to create high end apparel? Sharing a genuine and common love affair with protecting the environment and serving fiercely loyal customers is a great start!

Creativity
Nevertheless, with so much selling based on aligned experiences, how do sellers truly determine buyers’ loyalty? First, loyalty must be clearly defined and identified by both parties. With certain exceptions, buyers do not demand exclusivity for certain goods. Service exceptions can be slightly more prevalent because sellers who provide unmatched experiences to customers have stickier buyers. Nevertheless, unmatched is a tough threshold. The key to delivering exclusive creativity comes down to conveying unique benefits that the seller delivers either through past experience or combining product and service functionality in a singular way. Nevertheless, to maximize value, as well as price, the creative solution must be singularly delivered. Consider selling a conference to a business group with a line-up of luminaries that had never previously assembled together.

Other ways to maximize value, and subsequent revenue, is to create a service environment that cannot be easily replicated by a competitor. For example, in an environment where product development becomes a significant differentiator, additional value can be created by developing faster processes to satisfy manufacturing requirements. Manufacturers who have efficiently incorporated 3D printing in their product development processes have manifested a measurable advantage to begin manufacturing highly specific components for demanding customers. Consequently, customers along this specific supply chain create technological advantages that can be incorporated into better storytelling, more productive assembly and increased sales to benefit the seller.

Takeaway
Ultimately, highly valued solutions appeal to a customer’s ability to deliver excellence to their customers and end users. With regards to strategic and financial value, old incumbents often can only sell on their past history of success. Newer organizations sell based on their innovation, relevance, and comprehension of newer trends. These advantages directly impact customers who value being more flexible and can leverage an advantage in servicing fast moving markets. Ultimately, the customer prevails. If they want to buy creativity, then sell them creativity. Maximizing business development depends on knowing the target, their values, and their ultimate point of satisfaction.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Development, Client Relationships, Creating Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment