The beauty of becoming

I recently heard someone describe Spring as a “beautiful time of becoming”. It’s the time when all things are born and new. A time of rapid growth and development.

As you think about your own “becoming”, what are you doing to grow and develop? What are you doing to plant the seeds in your life to improve and expand?

The beauty of becoming resides within all of us. All you need to do is act.

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How effective is your Go-To-Market Strategy?

Developing a winning Go-To-Market strategy includes having deep insights into your markets, accounts, and buyers.  It requires a compelling brand message, and the right sales coverage.  Two very important components to assess the effectiveness of a GTM strategy include knowing what’s important – KPIs, and how your strategy is tracking against those KPIs.

Check out my blog on 7 KPIs to Evaluate Go-To-Market Effectiveness.  

Understanding Your Purpose

Many confuse focus with purpose. Living, or working, with focus means zeroing in on the one or two things that are important to you at that moment in time. Living with purpose is to understand what’s truly important to you and then doing the things necessary to fulfill your purpose.

Today I need to focus on an upcoming meeting with a CEO. However that meeting is not my purpose. My purpose is to be a difference maker for those whose lives I come in contact with…to make a difference, solve a problem, bring joy, reduce pain. In business that requires having a strong focus on continuous learning, active listening, and structured thinking. I must always be learning new things in order to build a mental database of ideas to recommend. I have to listen deeply to the person,, or people with whom I am working to truly understand and empathize. Finally I have to be able to process what I’ve heard – and felt – with what I know – the knowledge I’ve acquired through learning and experience. When I do these things well I fulfill my purpose.

Have you identified your purpose? It’s not enough to say you want to be the best sales person, marketer, father, brother, friend, runner, or swimmer. You’ve got to go deeper. What makes you want to be the best? Is it money? Fame? Recognition? Personal pride? Personal demons?

To find your purpose answer these questions:

1. What am I doing when I am happiest?

2. Who am I with when I am happiest?

3. What emotions – physical and mental – am I experiencing when I am happiest?

4. What challenges you, that while difficult and unpleasant, secretly get you excited?

5. And finally, what do you fear most?

Often times the answer to the 5th and final question provides valuable insight into your purpose. Understanding what you fear can help you create the best path forward to live your purpose. Remember your life’s purpose can only be defined by you, not others. In the end, only you can answer the question, “did I live my life as the best version of myself?”.

Be purposeful in all you do. We all have a limited amount of sand in our hourglass. Make every one of them count.

Win/Loss analysis is the key to growth

I have spent more than 20 years studying buyers in various industries.  What motivates buyers to take action – for or against your product or service?  How are you truly perceived within the marketplace?  How do you blend what to say, with what to do, in order to demonstrate your credibility in the market as a problem solver?

As a Principal with Sales Benchmark Index, I have the privilege of working with companies across a variety of industries to help them make their number.  Read my latest blog here to learn why Marketing should own Win/Loss analysis and the benefits that come along with this critical work.

Culture is Much More Than a Free Lunch

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Culture is a popular topic.  By itself, Google shows more than 1.6 billion results for the word culture.  Narrow your search to include the word “company” with culture and you’ll find 84M results.  Yes, culture is all the rage.  Read any corporate website, literature, or social posts and you’ll quickly see what I’m talking about.  Every company claims to have the best culture.  A culture of winning.  A culture that rewards performance.  A culture that resembles a family.  A culture that encourages innovation.  Are any of these really culture?

Companies that claim their culture is all about family might actually be telling the truth.  But whose family are they comparing their culture to?  The Brady Bunch?  The Partridge Family?  The Adaams Family?  The Simpsons? The Bundy’s?  You see, it’s important to understand what family the culture is most emulating.  A family culture in a vacuum may in fact not be the family you’re most comfortable with.

What about companies that say they have a culture of innovation?  Few companies operate like Apple where they publicly say they “inspire innovation” and actually deliver it.  Most use innovation as a platitude…sounds goods, makes an impression.  Yet innovation by itself isn’t what makes the culture innovative.  A deep level of curiousity that permeates the company coupled with the passion and desire to learn and fail is the culture.  Innovation is simply an output of a culture that inspires ideas, dreams, and invention.  A culture that is built upon a foundational trust between its employees and management is a company that will grow through reinvention because the trust exists to take risks, learn, fail, adjust and succeed.  There can’t be success without failure.

So why do so many companies promote their culture, and who cares?  Should you?

Forget about free lunches, ping-pong tables, fitness centers, and bring-your-dog-to-work programs.  That’s not culture.  Those items are simply perks, benefits, lures to help attract talent.  Dig deeper to understand the culture.  What’s the turnover rate – voluntary and involuntary?  How much training and development is provided annually to each employee – time and dollars spent?  How visible is the leadership team in the trenches?  Not how many lunches do the leaders provide, or how many town halls they give, but how often are they involved in the day-to-day running of the business and interacting with customers?

Culture is deep.  It’s how a company is wired and ultimately its employees.  Nothing is given for free.  The folks I’ve talked to who work for Google, Apple, or HubSpot love working there, yet when you ask them why you’ll never hear because of the great hoagies or the free teeth whitening.  No.  Instead you’ll hear things like “I love working with really smart people”, or “I thrive in a hyper-competitive organization”. Dig deep when exploring culture.  Don’t settle for what’s sold on the surface…the freebies…because in life there are no free lunches.

Be a Tour Guide Instead of a Sales Person

 

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In 2015 I took my first trip to Yellowstone National Park.  To be honest it wasn’t my first choice, but it was solidly in my dad’s bucket list and so we made it a “guys” trip.  Three generations of DeRosa’s (father, son, grandson) traveling to where the buffalo roam, to see exploding geysers, breath-taking views, and to take in the simple beauty of the land.

Of course, the sales and marketing geek inside of me looks for every opportunity to observe, study, and ponder how each experience plays into how people make buying decisions.  Yes, even at Yellowstone I was on the prowl for insights into how sales people can better connect with the buyers journey.  Our Yellowstone tour guide unknowingly provided a powerful example in navigating the changing scenery of the buyers journey.  But first a little context…

If you’re in Sales, or any position charged with hitting a revenue number, you’ve got to sell.  You need to find buyers, and you need to sell them.  Sell them as much as you can, as quickly as you can, to reach your number, celebrate briefly and move on to the next.  Right?

WRONG!

Buyers have become increasingly sophisticated whether buying a pair of shoes, or selecting a payroll provider, or choosing Tom Ford over Hugo Boss.  If you think selling hard, and selling fast is your best chance of success you may want to consider a different career.  Today’s buyer wants to be courted.  They want to feel special. They want to feel important.  They want to believe the option they have chosen is the best option for their need.  Notice I didn’t say the buyer wants to have confidence in the solution you sold them.  No.  They are not to be sold.  They are doing the buyer.  They want you to be their tour guide.

I watched as Kylie, our tour guide welcomed us to a small group tour setting out to see Yellowstone in all its majesty.  Her welcome was warm and genuine.  She was quick to point out the creature comforts we probably would need for this journey.  Blankets, water, soft drinks, snacks, distance between rest stops.  She had anticipated our questions and addressed them before they were asked.

As we started our journey from the Grand Teton’s into Yellowstone, Kylie provided a history of both parks in a way that only a master-storyteller could do.  Her story was highly engaging, edge of your seat, filled with suspense.  She educated us on the wildlife ecosystem and how everything was interconnected.  I’m embarrassed to say I probably learned everything I know about biology and the circle of life from this tour.  Up to this point in my life I hadn’t taken time to think about how life and nature were interconnected. She led us on this journey of enlightenment through her personal passion for the landscape and wildlife within these two parks. It was amazing. In fact, so much so, that we embarked on a second tour a couple of days later with a different focus, in a different part of the park.

I’ve often thought about my experience on this Yellowstone tour.  I’ve thought about how I was educated in a way that allowed me to fully grasp the concept of a wildlife ecosystem.  I think about how my interests in conservation have since grown as a direct result of this new knowledge.  I ponder the impact personal passion has on the transfer of knowledge.  I do believe that if Kylie simply read a script, or ran through the motions, I would have left Yellowstone feeling quite different…less connected.  Her passion created questions of my own.  Her stories have become remarkable memories for me, my father, and my son.

As a revenue leader it is important to have a true passion for what you do.  It’s not enough to be a VP of Sales.  Kylie could have been a tour operator for a double-decker bus in Manhattan, but it wouldn’t have served her passion.  You’ve got to have passion for what it is you’re selling.  What is the ultimate purpose for what you do, what your product does, what improvement it makes in the buyers life.  Too many people are occupying positions for a paycheck, not really believing in what it is they are selling.  We’ve all done it.  The problem is, your buyers can spot a scripted seller miles away and today they vote with their shoes by either walking toward you or walking away.

View yourself as your buyer’s tour guide.  Anticipate their questions and provide answers before they ask.  Make the journey as comfortable as possible.  Be warm, be kind, be generous with your time.  Study and learn…I mean really learn about what it is you’re selling.  If you can’t get excited or enthused about it find a new product to sell.  Your goal is to help your buyer through this journey at their pace, not yours. Be the best sales tour guide you can be.

A Brief Thought on Leadership

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Leadership is a collection of experiences, ideas, values, beliefs, and opinions. Good leaders ask great questions. Great leaders apply what they’ve learned from those questions to their actions.  It’s not about having,or projecting an attitude, but rather demonstrating humility while acknowledging there is still more to learn. It’s not about being right but rather getting it right.

Leadership is a privilege.  It’s not a right, nor a duty as some may think. It’s a gift given to those who have earned it by demonstrating their desire to serve others. Those who have been given a leadership role without earning it are exposed rather quickly.  People are eager to follow those they believe in, trust, and care about.  That relationship can only be formed through the existence of a mutual trust.  It’s the leaders job to build that trust.  It is granted to the leader who demonstrates his or her genuine interest and caring for others, not because it’s in their title.

Leadership is on loan.  Every minute, every day, every week, a leader must continue to earn and re-earn their right to lead. Great leaders know when to lead and when to follow.  Even the best leaders have to follow at times.  Knowing when to lead and when to follow is an area that separates the good from the great leaders.

Leadership boils down to having the ability to add value beyond your job duties.  Leadership is always about doing above and beyond.  Doing just enough does not exist in a leaders mindset.   Striving, soaring, excelling, delivering, securing, discovering, exploring, and developing are the foundational characteristics of a great leader.  Are there any others you’d include?