Traveling to NYC this past week, I had the opportunity to get chatty with many of my fellow travelers. “Going places” is pretty much a universal language and helps create instant bonds when you’re “all in this together” on a plane, or in a terminal. So, unless you give the international sign of “don’t bother me” (headphones, a book, closed eyes – or all 3) it’s cool to strike up a conversation.
Several of my conversations started with “So what brings you to New York?”
Instead of answering, “I’m attending a sales conference”, I answered, “My clients. My clients bring me to New York for what promises to be a remarkable conference on sales, sales technology, and business innovation.”
My clients, now and future, drive me to look for opportunities to Learn Harder so I can help them Work Smarter, Sell Better, Grow Faster, and achieve Competitive Advantage. I go to learn from the innovators, the game changers, the rebels and forward thinkers. I learn what’s new, what’s smart, what’s different, efficient, dated, et cetera. I go because my clients are back at their businesses, running them, entrenched in the everyday grind of “making the donuts”.
I sharpen my ax so my clients go into business battle with the precisely honed tools and the most competitive strategies.
This conference was Sales Machine, hosted by Sales Hacker and Salesforce.com. And it did not disappoint. In fact, I’m nursing a pretty awesome hangover . . . no, not alcohol . . . possibly too much awesome for two days.
When I purchased tickets months ago, it was the speakers that drew me in like moths to a flame. The opportunity to see, hear, and experience Gary Vaynerchuk, Arianna Huffington, and Seth Godin had me drooling. After I purchased tickets and travel, they continued to add to this star-studded expert lineup. If the names aren’t familiar to you (go read them NOW), it’s like going to a concert where Beyonce headlines, Taylor Swift follows, Blake Shelton, Jay-Z, Jason Aldean, and Bruno Mars bat cleanup. Yeah, that good!
It’s not the celebrity status or fame that gets me so pumped to see these speakers live, it’s their singular dedication to growth and learning so they can share their passion and improve the lives of their audience. I left each of their sessions with dozens of notes. The audience energy was palpable and my brain was buzzing with the possibilities of how to apply their insights to the context of my clients and it definitely sparked some new ideas of my own.
It will take me a while to totally digest the powerful messages and innovative ideas collected but I am inspired to share a few of the biggest takeaways with you in this recap of quick sound bites and quotes.
#LEARNHARDER – my key takeaways from Sales Machine 2016:
Gary Vaynerchuk (Entrepreneur, & Author: #AskGaryVee, Jab Jab Jab Right Hook, Crush It, The Thank You Economy) – “My religion is sales is ATTENTION. We have taken for granted the buyers’ attention. Do what no one else is doing. Don’t be F*@#ing lazy.” And “TIME has become the number one asset. The number one emerging pillar of value to everyone.”
Takeaway: Gary Vee had probably the most poignant number of takeaways in volume, underscoring his two key points and in his very own “Gary Vee” kind of way. In fact, I wanted to sprint around the parking lot and light something on fire after his session. Attention – he had everyone on the edge of our seats and Time – he filled every moment with intense, passionate, bold purpose (and LOTS of cursing, FYI). Figure out what gets your audience’s attention. Be where your competitors aren’t. And understand how to keenly and strategically show value for the time of your prospective customers.
Colleen Stanley (President & Founder Sales Leadership, Author Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success) – “Stop ‘overcoming objections’. You’re putting your customers in a fight or flight response. Instead, respond with empathy.”
Takeaway: Check your Emotional Intelligence Quotient – Empathize with your customers. Be in tune with them as people, not just prospects. Truly understand where they’re coming from, the risk they face in making decisions. Reflect that understanding back to them and help them work through their stress.
Seth Godin (Best Selling Author Tribes, The Purple Cow, Poke the Box, Linchpin, The Icarus Deception, et cetera) – “For the first time in history, we can treat different people differently. And at scale. Different people hear differently. Don’t speak the same language to sell your ideas.” And “If you can choose anyone to buy from, don’t be any one.”
Takeaway: Be remarkable. Don’t say the same thing to each customer. They value different things, think and feel differently, so treat them differently. You can customize messages [and at scale] through social media, email marketing, and using intelligence to understand individual buyers. Vague and general messages are the death knoll to your future business.
Simon Sinek (Author, Leaders Eat Last, Start with Why) – “There are two types of business players. Finite players and Infinite players. Finite players are in it to win it. Infinite players’ objectives are to stay in the game. Finite players are obsessed with the competition. Infinite players are obsessed with where they’re going.”
Takeaway: Don’t look in the rear view mirror at your competition. Quit worrying about who’s “ahead”. Focus on where you’re going, your purpose and your vision and play the long game. PS – it’ll drive your competitors nuts.
Jill Rowley (Speaker & Queen of #SocialSelling) – “We’ve mapped the buyer journey to be linear but it is anything but. Social Selling is not linear. Social is connecting [and serving] in real time. It’s not just to find your buyers but to be found.”
Takeaway: Be visible to your customers, be vocal about why and what you believe helps move people forward, and be valuable in your customers’ currency and context. Buying is an individual process so use social media to meet your buyers where they are in their process.
Jim Keenan (Social Media Evangelist and Author of Not Taught) – “The only way to get someone to trust you is for them to believe you can help them.”
Takeaway: Prove you’re not just out to make a sale. Build relationships (online and in person) by being helpful and authentic.
Arianna Huffington (Founder, The Huffington Post, Author of Sleep Revolution) – “We know exactly how much battery is left on our smartphones but have no idea how much battery is left in ourselves. Power down and create a bedtime ritual so you can rest and recover every day.”
Takeaway: Know when to unplug and recharge your batteries. You’ll be sharper and more valuable to your customers, your company and everyone around you when you take care of yourself.
Fredrick Ecklund (Realtor and star of Million Dollar Listing New York, Author, The Sell) – “Tell your buyers to go meet your competitors.”
Takeaway: Your goal in selling is to help people buy. To make decisions, we need to clearly understand the differences in our options. Telling your customers to meet your competitors is a bold move but you can be sure they know they want YOU and they make their investment without the Fear of Loss over them from making a wrong choice.
Whether you’re in sales, own a small business, or just want to “Learn Harder” yourself, there should be a few gems here for you to use that will give you an edge or sharpen your ax.
Part of “Learning Harder” is that these ideas and strategies will make their way to my clients (and yes, most likely blog posts too) over the next few weeks. Quickly absorbing, testing, and implementing the wisdom and lessons learned is key to the ROI and payoff of attending events like Sales Machine.
In your industry, for your clients, how do you sharpen your ax to work smarter than your competitors?
For more context about these big ideas or how to put these strategies into action, contact me and we’ll sharpen your tools to slice through paper.
Until next time, stop hoping, start SELLING (and LEARN HARDER)!