Everything We Own Is In The Box

JV Cargo trailer

A dear friend recently moved from Nashville to San Diego. Opportunities were imminent. The adventure launched when his wife negotiated a transfer to Southern California. Their fortunes were about to improve dramatically. This personal development resembled a business deal, where they saw opportunity and seized it. They strategized, they planned, then finally loaded their belongings in a cargo trailer towed by their car. Massive success was undoubtedly in front of them! They simply had to execute.

Tangible Assets
Like any start-up, successfully managing details is essential to reaching the goal. The cargo trailer contained furniture, clothes, technology, and assorted hard assets. It is easy to mistake those items as the value that is behind the trip’s purpose. The stuff has to get there. Further complicating the matter, it is easy to assess a quantitative value to these assets. Calculating their price is a straightforward exercise.

Nevertheless, while calculating the assets’ value is easy, precisely measuring the assets’ importance is far trickier. In a start-up venture, fancy offices and elaborate furnishings communicate value about the enterprise. But, it does not indicate the financial value of the enterprise. Entrepreneurial success largely depends on creating value to customers. That results from accurately understanding the marketplace’s needs, then cost effectively delivering them. The tangible assets fundamentally benefit the image of the business providing the service. But, what ultimately determines external business success? How are business goals ultimately met?

Valuable Assets
Business value fundamentally results from delivering a product or service to a paying customer. Then, the ability to repeat the process and acquire experience leads to growth. The office, vehicles, support software of the enterprise typically has minimal impact on the personal interaction that results in exchanging money and goods. The interaction through relationships, the ability to communicate why the transaction is in the customer’s best interest, and the reputation that the seller has for delivering on promises actually drive sales success.

None of those attributes fit into a box! Entrepreneurial success is predicated on the courage to make a claim and to fulfill it because the customer wants it! It is the intangible benefit that results in business success. Feel the fear and do it anyway is a standard operating procedure with start-ups. Recovering and improving at every stage creates experiences leading to longevity and achievement. Who cares what is in the box? Success depends on what is in the heart, mind and soul. Be sure to pack those on the entrepreneurial journey.

Back to the travelers’ journey, an error involving the navigation system made the trip longer than anticipated. Ingenuity and perseverance propelled them through that misfortune. The travelers survived and were smarter because of it. Technology is a tool. It is an important tool, but it is no match for intelligence and tenacity. Successful entrepreneurs understand the importance of the unconquerable human spirit over technological firepower. Make the tool serve the master. Intelligence, perseverance, and faith, is where business value resides. These assets travel with the person, not in the cargo trailer. Get the tools, set the strategy, assess the risk, start the journey. Then, relentlessly execute! Do not stop until successfully reaching the destination. These rules work for traveling across the country, also.

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter And Beyond

Posted in Business Coaching, Business Development | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Who Hears the Customer?


Who likes Girls Scout Cookies? The courageous young lady knocks on the door and asks, “Would you like to buy some Girl Scout Cookies?”. Of course, I say, “yes”. She responds, “Which ones would you like?”. Successful sales professionals hear the customer! They capture the order. They return with the goods when it is time to deliver. The fundamentals are mindlessly straightforward. The success is spectacular with over $700 million in Girls Scout Cookies purchased in 2015. For more complex products and services, return to the fundamentals. Bring a solution to a problem that exists, even if you must bring awareness to the problem. My grown daughters were Girls Scouts. The nostalgia is worth $3.50 per box. I feel younger buying them. And, the Thin Mints are addictive!

Successful sales people hear the customer because they are the ones listening. Sales greatness is more than scripts, seven-step programs, and great closing techniques. It results from emotional connection at a personal level. In business, that emotion ranges from my vice-president believes in that product and he will reward me favorably for recognizing his preference. Or, that service frees more time for my staff so that we can be less stressed next quarter. Realize that the product benefits are real. But, the individual benefits drive decisions.

To interpret decision drivers, effective sales professional must insightfully question. Costs always matter, but not equally in every instance. Ask questions to determine the value that the prospect truly wants to receive from the purchase. What is the real value for a convenient hotel room at the most important conference for your customers? Question to understand. Question to create urgency. Question to direct toward the solution that the customer absolutely wants, so that they conclude that they want you to give it to them.

The responses that the sales professional receives dictates the terms of the deal. To deliver what the prospect desires, the sales professional needs to have clarity regarding their priorities. Successful professionals must know their audience so that they can communicate in a way that individual prospects will receive information. Listening means interpreting with your head and your heart. The sales professional that only focuses on dollars misses the emotional connection that increases value.

On the other hand, the sales professional who only focuses on relationships which lead to like and trust, miss the urgency of consummating the transaction for optimal profit. Listening is essential to the dialogue that results in sales success. As the prospect talks, learn their needs, priorities, and hot buttons. Sales success requires guiding them to your solution. While you may guide them, they have to want to get there. Manipulation is shortsighted. Trust endures. Each effective sale based on thoroughly listening and understanding the customer makes the subsequent deal easier.

Sales success requires that questioning comes first. Then, invest more time listening. Question effectively. Listen intently. Satisfy the customer’s curiosity. Remember selling is helping. Help customers find the wisdom of your solution. Question to create understanding that your solution meets both spoken and unspoken needs. Listen to close. The customer will let you know. Be ready to hear their “yes”!

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter And Beyond

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

Networking – Who Sales Most?


Are business stories really that much funnier after a few beers? Hotel lobbies, happy hours, and networking events are bustling with alcohol-induced anecdotes and not-so-subtle sales pitches. Sales veterans stereotypically cracking jokes provide a quick snapshot of how successful selling occurs. Unfortunately, this is a photoshopped image. Sales success is a process! Hysterical anecdotes during a conference’s after-hours mixer, a professional development event, or the local niche group’s rooftop party do not create enduring value. The home office and the sales professional’s career demand results. So, where are the results if not following a few laughs and a few more drinks?

Closing deals is important to business growth. Creating enduring value is essential for growing a business, and consequently a long, effective business development career. Service links business growth and enduring value. Communicating your product, intangible good, or solution for the explicit benefit of the customer is the goal. Sharing a drink or two is not necessarily bad. But, using that valuable time to create trust and demonstrate the critical benefit of service effectively leads to securing new clients. You are there to help!

The best way to demonstrate service is to demonstrate service. At the next corporate happy hour, identify your prospect and serve them. Save the discussion on your product’s superiority for business hours. The evening meeting focuses on building rapport and establishing trust. Make an introduction for a prospect who wants to meet someone for selfish gain. As the conversation dies down, accept an assignment that creates a reason to reconnect. To super-size results, make it a personal favor. If Ms. Buyer is in the market for a new personal trainer, take that action item and deliver a phenomenal recommendation in the next 48 hours. Let the service experience be part of the prospects storytelling.

Fundamentally, great communication returns to listening. Effective networking relies less on being right, it focuses on communicating effectively. Listening is more important than talking. Usually, the talkers dominate. Too many “listeners” are really “talkers” waiting their turn. Consequently, true listeners have a huge advantage because they are scarce. In securing the targets’ trust and confidence, encourage them to talk. They will remember you and the conversation more positively. Furthermore, they will be more receptive to hearing from you in the future.

Great questions are key. Volley the conversation back to the prospect. Ask them to elaborate on the point that they just made. Request a clarification on the source of the wisdom they just shared. A great sales professional is not trying to win arguments. She wants to establish a conversation, that leads to revealing a problem, that she can solve. Rehearse open ended questions that involve business matters in the local community or the specific industry. Let prospects demonstrate their expertise, then subtly guide them to share their challenges. Align their challenges with your solutions.

Effective networking is no longer the guy who can drink the most martinis before pouring himself into an Uber. It is now the person who grabs the prospect’s favorite coffee while continuing the conversation. Business is done with clarity and a service mindset. Every conversation does not close with a deal. Sales success is a process. The process requires many conversations so that more opportunities emerge. Opportunities surface by effective listening specifically to align articulated desires with your solutions. More conversations result in more follow-up meetings, resulting in more problems to solve, resulting in more sales, resulting in more satisfied customers, and more referrals, and more…

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter And Beyond

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

Connective Marketing Grows Business Together

Nashville4Haiti Donation 0214

Connective marketing describes two or more organizations partnering specifically to coordinate and reinforce each other brands. Together is better! The expected result is to expand their market reach and growth capabilities. The aligned organizations benefit by leveraging reputations, awareness, and marketplace penetration so that both can engage in new opportunities. To execute properly, both entities align the stories that they deliver to their individual target markets and subsequently attract each others’ audiences to their consistent messaging. In turn, both entities increase their market reach to audiences that have already have an appetite for the message.

Group Conversation
But, how is growth created? The plan is that one set of messaging is now spreading among two separate audiences and engaging additional listeners. A similar message now reaches two audiences instead of one for the benefit of each organization. The communication dynamics now feature a two-to-two group discussion versus two independent one-to-one discussions. Group discussions are now created which are far more broad, interactive, and interesting than a singular conversation.

More interactive conversations provide opportunities for more ideas to emerge. Expanding communication facilitates exchanging more ideas, in turn yielding more opportunities to identify solutions that solve problems and create value. It is like a dinner party with two couples versus two individuals. Practically, the collaboration can involve a vendor and its leading customer sharing booth space at an industry event. They can articulate to the marketplace how much richer their individual businesses are through their cultural partnership. Likewise, it can involve a non-profit organization partnering with a corporation at a community event clearly articulating how their joint resources create additional tangible value for the community and specific customers. Together they serve a community through a well-funded collaboration that emotionally and financially benefits the greater good.

Influence or Reach
In either case, both organizations increase their presence into areas that primarily belong to the other partner. Both influence and reach increase for both organizations. Opportunities to serve and deliver solutions increase because the market benefits from a larger collaboration that leverages more resources through aligned cultures. Optimally, both parties are intentional in creating cross-selling opportunities, in addition to telling their audiences that cooperatively they have more resources to satisfy the market in very specific instances.

Connective marketing creates relationships that emphasizes and rewards cultural alignment. From a marketing perspective, consistent imagery describes the available benefits from working with the team. To maximize reach each entity receive incentives to refer businesses within the partnership. Success depends on both entities having enough trust that individual needs will be met while sharing new relationships with the other party. Like any initiative the results must surpass the effort. The partners measurably combine contributions and share results. Tactically, they explicitly establish and accomplish predetermined goals.

Connective marketing like any initiative works successfully when each party creates more value for themselves and their partner. Essentially, connective marketing unites customers, vendors and ancillary service providers on multiple levels so that a hungry market selects from a broader menu of resources and offerings. The collaboration results in more financial and reputational benefits for all involved. Customers prefer to join winning teams. So, find a culturally aligned partner who wants to share their market influence and reach to create more value. Significant growth is waiting.

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter And Beyond

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

Digital Marketing – For Entertainment Purposes Only


Major advertisers, like Budweiser, recently created commercials that resembled ongoing stories. The marketplace applauded! The major pivot featured Budweiser’s ability to take a complex story and transcend marketing channels with a consistent presentation. The commercial appeared on television, YouTube, Twitter, and other online platforms. This evolution is more significant than having a campaign transcend media with similar video, print, and audio images. It meant that the campaign was designed technologically and behaviorally to interact with prospective customers whenever and wherever they absorbed content.

Businesses Targeting Messages
Interaction between businesses and consumers are now closer than ever. Across entertainment and information channels, businesses have increased capacity to acquire data on their customers’ behaviors and preferences. In turn, advertisers can communicate more directly. Even, stodgy print media has evolved to where national publications like, Fortune magazine, can target advertising to have a regional focus for readers despite its content having international reach.

Specifically, content creation and social media has evolved so that audience interactions produce data facilitating more feedback and clarity that involve marketing messages. For example, a Scandal episode maintains a twitter feed throughout its broadcast so that fans, producers, and advertisers can observe the audience’s discussion thread in real time. Furthermore, better qualitative and quantitative data permits executing more creative cross-marketing opportunities when producers package entire seasons for streaming services. Forget targeting the audience with marketing content that fits a psychographic inferred from the media channel. The advertiser now gets to communicate directly with the audience as a fellow fan of a favorite show: the essence of developing like and trust.

Consumers Bypassing Messages
Furthermore, consumers get to be even more particular how they receive advertising messages. TV commercials no longer signal the time to race to the refrigerator or bathroom. Consumers have the luxury of digesting entertainment and informational content on their own terms. If Stephen Colbert’s show comes on too late, despite the urgency of his monologue, then subscribe to The Late Show app or YouTube channel and watch it in the morning. The commentary is just as sharp over morning coffee. Regardless, marketing messages are equipped to be more tightly associated to individualized consumer tastes; in the event that they are not skipped altogether.

Best of all, with increasing power going to the consumer, advertisers must be more engaging or risk being totally ignored. However, commercials that do strike a chord with the audience become part of the entertainment experience. State Farm commercials are watched repeatedly as they deliver identical scripts to two totally different, yet related scenarios, regardless of what YouTube video, or sporting event, is viewed. They are genuinely funny (“Is this suede?… I love suede.”). Deftly targeting audiences and blending content with entertainment messages results in consumers becoming more closely aligned with content, advertising and purchases.

Through emerging technology and its coordination with both entertainment and informational content, marketing becomes more efficient for businesses that embrace this new reality. Suburban mothers buying cleaning products based on their favorite soap opera is over. Today, newly regentrified moms watch only the ads that they like while they follow their favorite characters on mobile devices, wherever their busy lives may take them. Savvy marketers still communicate with their targets where they are, in ways that they want to receive it. Fortunately, marketing tools continue to expand to keep up with consumers’ demanded flexibility and creativity. Effective marketing means that viewers are exposed, entertained, and analyzed to maximize marketers’ ability to interact with their audience to establish buying habits.

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter And Beyond

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

Why Story Kicks Social Media Butt!

Kick Butt

Too many business professionals fixate on social media and its everchanging forms and channels for business growth. However, the successfully savvy marketer emphasizes stories more than ever! Of course, the ability to communicate with your audience with text, audio and video at all times is a seductive tool. Regardless, the ability to tell a story worth hearing, and then sharing, is immensely more impactful to business success. What good is having the world’s attention without anything significant to say?

On the other hand, “what good is it to have something to say and no way for anyone to hear it?”, is a logical responsible. Unfortunately, logic does not always carry the day. Business history is littered with brilliant thinkers who failed epically in executing successful ventures. Business depends on results! Ordinary people performing extraordinary acts regularly satisfy that requirement. Results are what is rewarded.

Attention is plentiful, but is very difficult to hoard. Stories are desirable because they impact people emotionally. Stirring emotions through communication provides a direct path to activity. From a business perspective, professionals routinely make purchases based on their individual desires, then justify it with corporate priorities. Impulse purchases happen regularly in corporations to varying degrees. Was that incredible steak house really the most healthy and cost effective solution to convince that prospect to become a client? Who cares? Experience the story of the firm’s culture of success and prestige over steaks and martinis. Close the deal. Post the celebration on Instagram later.

But, definitely post it! The story is the priority. That does not mean it is the singular attribute. Stories have to map directly to business goals to maximize their effectiveness. Social media is a powerful and convenient way to tell the story. Blogs, tweets, and snaps broadcast images and text quickly across the marketplace. And, with carefully crafted strategies to recirculate these messages, customer communities and entire industries can experience the story of recent successes.

Good stories have heroes, villains, and conflict. Great stories have complexity to make it hard to figure out who the good guys and bad guys are. The connection becomes important because complex stories can easily reach broad audiences through social media channels. Marketing efforts provide the storytelling. The challenge is that all style and no substance is not a sustainable business model. Communicating the story is empty without proper execution to deliver on promises. Communicating what the marketplace can expect in a way that it wants to receive it, then delivering on the expectation is essential to marketing success.

Ultimately, content and connections are necessary to cultivate relationships that result in commerce. Story drives the content. Whether written, audio, or visual content, striking an emotional chord through imagery facilitates human connection. People do business with people. The connection simply communicates, then validates the transaction. Hashtags and closed groups corral valuable connectivity when messaging needs to be controlled. Nevertheless, ultimately a person will be held responsible when an execution problem arises. Regardless of the communication vehicle, butts will be kicked. And, no one wants to be part of that story.

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter and Beyond

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

Entrepreneurship: How Deep is Your Love


While attending an amazing entrepreneurship forum in Nashville, the evening entertainment took the stage during my learning and networking. They performed a cover of a classic tune, “How Deep Is Your Love”. In the spirit of creating value through connections with ideas and people, the song smacked me with the seriousness of niche marketing. Entrepreneurs famously talk about loving what they do. But, how intimately do they know their business, their industry, their competitors, and their advantage? How deep are their relationships and knowledge?

Connective Marketing is a tactic that captures an organization’s ability to partner with like-minded stakeholders like customers, vendors, or charitable organizations to strengthen their branding influence. Connective Marketing focuses on leveraging relationships specifically for increasing marketing strength and results. It emphasizes the person to person connection so that both organizations can mutually benefit. The relationship depends on the personal connectivity because demonstrating cultural alignment is essential to the strategy’s success. The cultural alignment relies on more than common messaging, but demonstrating camaraderie and consistent behaviors among the parties. The relationship’s depth between organizations must be singularly distinct such that it is competitively difficult to duplicate.

Knowing each other’s specific area of expertise instinctively and deeply is the other step for presenting a defensible advantage. While subject matter expert is almost a cliché, the term captures the depth of understanding that sustains a competitive advantage. The most valuable asset resulting from superior knowledge is the ability to anticipate market shifts and opportunities. Marketplaces, preferences, and applications constantly change in all industries. Market leaders are organizations that take advantage of upcoming opportunities before others. Leveraging insight and resources among savvy professionals within collaborating organizations establishes a clear competitive advantage. Such unity matters toward maximizing the impact of interpreting market dynamics. Not just the public facts, but the intricate nuances.

A significant advantage resulting from attending conferences and interacting with other industry players is acquiring the latest niche information. Over coffee, lunch or happy hour, unique problems and solutions bubble up in casual conversation. Likewise, customers’ wish lists for future needs are part of the conversation. Last night’s wish for quicker delivery results in tomorrow’s decision to open a new hub in the office park where several customers and prospects cluster. Deep understanding in a particular business’ competitive niche anticipates opportunities and needs. Networking reveals that insight! Study the personalities and quirks, of competitors, vendors, and analysts in your industry. Entrepreneurial forums are perfect for gaining that edge. Bright people are looking to connect and show off their influence and intellect whenever they gather. Find your industry’s equivalent. And, listen. Dive deeply into the niche’s depths and complexities. Love the process. Position yourself to sing your own big hit!

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter And Beyond

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