The Enthusiasm of the Hustle

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Who are these people seamlessly living a parallel existence among ordinary urban and suburban Americans? They scrape the most basic livelihood, yet are relatively invisible to everyday people. They are commonly called “the homeless”. A refugee from that adjacent universe pointed out these individuals’ enormous business acumen. More importantly, he illuminated how their success translates to important lessons for the conventional business world. Modern entrepreneurs love to glamorize the hustle. This parallel existence demonstrates that trait’s purest form.

Market Research
Often seen as a necessary evil for superstar sales professionals, market research fuels revenue generating activities’ by conserving very valuable time. The parallel hustlers literally must expertly manage their time with prospects just to eat. They vigorously compete for optimal locations to find prospects. They experiment with different techniques to engage the next prospect. In working their territory, they must determine quickly who has a dollar for them. They also know who is foreign to their territory.

Successful traditional sales professionals use market research to confirm what experience has already informed them. When new opportunities emerge, the research contribute to their considerable knowledge base. If fundamental shifts, like regulatory changes or significant new competitors, occur in their industry or niche, they pay more rigorous attention to new market intelligence. Continued success depends on vigilance, trusted contacts, and knowledge of the landscape. Professionals who most aggressively use these tactics eat the best!

The Big Ask
Ultimately, sales success depends on asking for money in exchange for goods or services that the professional delivers. The Big Ask is that step. Regardless of how polished the sales pitch is, professionals in both worlds must ask for the business. In the alternative world, some sales people approach with a menacing demeanor. Most sales are fundamentally emotional; thinly veiled threats sometimes work. Other approaches appeal to prospects’ compassion. Some hustlers charm, while the next one literally sings. Who has not put a dollar in the performer’s hat? Great asks strike an emotional chord, then deliver!

True motivations behind The Big Ask vary, as well. Some hustlers feed substance addictions. Many sales professionals mindlessly feed luxury addictions. The consistent thread features successful sales professionals focusing on a transcendent object, pushing them to work tirelessly. Recognizing and committing to that item or experience inspires achieving goals. Nevertheless, success requires contributing value and delivering results. Successful hustlers and professionals must honestly identify and focus on their transcendent cause to persevere through the daily grind to generate more business.

Takeaway
Whether hustlers or sales professionals, their desires are consistent. They approach each work day knowing that they need to bring knowledge and skillful navigation of prospects to survive. Furthermore, as skill level improves leading to more results, additional opportunities emerge in both worlds. The hustler is not perfect. Nor, should their story be romanticized. The same observations apply to conventional sales professionals who manipulate their target market. Still, success results from hustling and grinding. Fundamentally, rewards result from approaching business with vigor, enthusiasm and optimism. How many managers lust for such commitment levels from their teams?

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter And Beyond

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Talk is Cheap, Commitment Counts

Sales Guy Working Hard

Entrepreneurs that are big on ambition and small on staff become singularly focused on the top line, the bottom line, and most of the lines in between! The empire that will emerge in the foreseeable future must make payroll again within the next two weeks. That reality means sales must keep coming. Whether it is the boss primarily, the duly appointed sales leader, or the overextended sales team, no one sings unless the cash register rings. Or more practically for business-to-business environments, the sales process must proceed to the point where additional business results from consistently successful sales efforts. That takes work. Ultimately, talk is cheap. Commitments count. Prospects who are really customers are what matter.

The 3 P’s
All sales planning and preparation fundamentally depends on a process. As badly as entrepreneurs want to delegate this function, effective leaders can only distance themselves from business development for certain periods. When payables start running close to receivables, then it is not one of those times. Sales professionals are notorious for being overly optimistic. They are supposed to be. But, talk is cheap. Lost opportunities are extremely expensive.

Successful entrepreneurs demand sales discipline when achieving growth targets! Consequently, accountability to the process is paramount. All sales efforts continuously trade time for opportunity. The more time spent on poor prospects, the less opportunity for paying prospects, also known as customers! Talk is cheap, but the time spent engaged in it soon becomes costly. Only results matter. Consequently, prioritize time toward prospects likely to deliver commitments. Successful entrepreneurs must enforce this!

Commitment
Why do commitments count? Clearly, prospecting activities require connecting with targets that may not result in business. Princesses have to kiss many frogs before finding the prince. While that metaphor is true, please do not kiss the frog, take him home, make him breakfast, and beg him for another date. It is still a frog! Successful sales require discernment and efficiency. Prize those traits.

To develop discernment and efficiency, successful sales professionals must quickly and persistently practice trial and error. To recognize opportunities that lead to commitments, the sales team deliberately and expediently attacks the marketplace. Yes, it is difficult. It is also necessary. Where a sales team is involved, fast learning requires communicating and sharing best practices. Tools help. Attitude succeeds. Teamwork matters for organizational success. The entrepreneur leading the enterprise values the time, efficiency and teamwork. As market-facing contributors, successful sales professionals must value time and cooperation, as well.

Takeaway
Success depends on efficiently securing sales commitments. Communally, sales professionals must spend the most time on activities yielding the greatest return. Particularly, in entrepreneurial enterprises every effort must point toward specific business development results. Sales professionals must measure and manage critical goals. Preparation is essential. So, is efficient harvesting. Regardless of the organization’s size, effective sales professionals must make commitments to their skills, and their results. Value all time investments. Commitments count. Close deals. Grow! Win!

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter And Beyond

 

 

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Marketing for Breakfast

Business people enjoy in lunch at restaurant

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The morning meal launches the daily process with nourishment and energy. Moms everywhere preach this to their kids. The busiest professional in his heart, knows it is true. More importantly, breakfast reflects business practices because the strong start leads to better results. Furthermore, breakfast mirrors effective marketing processes because a healthy start propels better long-term performance. Nevertheless, the power is not in the parallels, the most important ingredient involves superior execution.

Start Strong
Marketing is necessary. Marketing is nourishing. Effective marketing activity sets the stage for superior performance. Sales are the results of the entire business executing like a balanced meal. Different roles contribute in a synchronized fashion. A lackluster beginning requires extra efforts to compensate for a poorly performing foundation. But, a nourishing beginning is the start of a great day.

Realize that a well-conceived campaign positions sales efforts to deliver on well-articulated promises, in addition to well-designed operational processes. Marketing starts the process. Sales delivers. When materials, messaging, follow-up and market intelligence properly coordinate, closing the deal follows. But all elements must work together. Considering every step from identifying prospects to tracking communication progress through CRM systems, a well-balanced program must execute. Bacon, eggs and waffles are well-intentioned, but not the most nourishing. Like a healthy breakfast, great ingredients prepared well starts the process, then transcends to deliciously profitable sales.

Build a Routine
Marketing programs work best when they can be successfully repeated. Enduring health is in the details. So, is excellence. Consequently, ongoing success is a byproduct of repetitive execution. Every deal is not identical. But, the steps from prospecting, to communicating, to tracking, to presenting solutions, then closing, consistently reward the individual contributor and the organizational body. Repeating successful processes equals productive routines. Individual deals have different nuances. Nevertheless, foundational consistency in approaching the marketplace makes high performance easier.

The best routines benefit from a balanced diet of collaboration among all sales-related professionals. A marketing analyst may have specific insight to customer behavior, but without the account executive connecting with an individual decision maker, the seller gets trapped producing unsatisfying cookie cutter solutions. And, no one wants pancakes for breakfast every single day. Establishing practices where team’s communication and essential information consistently passes internally and externally yields the most productive teams that unsurprisingly leads to sustainable revenue.

When all these pieces come together the seller’s organizational high performance becomes a branded experience that the marketplace gladly expects in anticipation of connecting. The brand becomes bigger than any individual contributor and the entire enterprise benefits from a superior reputation and results. The more competitive the marketplace, the more essential a great reputation creates an unbeatable advantage. Healthy performance becomes a habit. The savory aroma of innovation and success further elevates energy levels. Marketing for breakfast makes an enterprise grow big, strong and profitable!

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter And Beyond

 

 

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Not My Customer

Know Your Audience

The classic sales professional dilemma: is that prospect really a customer? Customers and prospects look a lot alike. In some cases, they are indistinguishable. Perhaps, they both requested additional information from the sales professional. They may come from the same industry. Perhaps, they arrived via equally credible referrals. The primary contacts may have identical titles, similar budgets, equal authority and the same need for the product. But they have one nearly imperceptible, yet critical, difference. One of ‘em ain’t buying!!

He’s The Guy
This dilemma is not a hypothetical exercise. A sales professional must quickly identify the guy who will buy. Consequently, the most precious commodity for the professional is time. And, time that is spent pursuing one opportunity is time not spent on another one. Of course, technology allows more efficiency in determining the profit potential of prospects. Nevertheless, the most efficient CRM system, knowledgeable sales assistant, or insightful industry report helps manage time. None of those assets creates more of it, nor brings the guy closer.

Experience helps to use time more judiciously. Productive sales professionals rely on research to discern specific prospects and map them to prior successes and failures. Learning from failure is an exceptionally valuable weapon in the sales professional’s arsenal. Great business developers have war wounds and scar tissue. However, numerable wins afford them the ability to cover blemishes stylishly. Still, how do you know he’s the guy? The successful sales professional gathers all the data and signals that she can, then makes a clear decision favoring the higher probability prospect. Then, she remains flexible to changing her mind quickly as better information surfaces. Who’s the guy? He is the prospect that is positioned to buy more, sooner.

Get Out Now
Because time is money, the great sales pro manages time so that the most likely winning prospects get proportionally more attention. Delegation when possible is great for hedging bets. Recognizing buy signals, or false buy signals quickly, makes a huge difference. Because success depends on taking a prospect to the finish line, activities not contributing toward that result must be aborted, or at least hedged, quickly. Getting out of bad deals opens opportunities to focus on good deals; and pursue the next prospect in line.

Getting out now implies abandoning the prospect judiciously. It means re-prioritizing efforts to the next, best available alternative. And, successful sales pros always have a next, best alternative. Will some deals be lost by jettisoning too quickly? Yes. Will more deals close more quickly by progressing through a full pipeline of other attractive prospects? Yes, again. By deliberately getting out now, and moving to subsequent opportunities, more doors open to more sales success.

“Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions.”, according to an anonymous quote. Gaining experience can be painful. However, professional success does a fantastic job of easing the pain! Quickly, realizing when a prospect is not a customer, creates more opportunities to pay attention to real customers. Ask questions. Listen to what is said, and what is not said. Then, be decisive! By the same token, be decisive to return to stalled opportunities when that choice is profitable. So, how do you grow new business? Jettison prospects that are really not your customer! Close opportunities that are your customer.

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter And Beyond

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The Power Of Story

Business friends discussing brainstorming and ideas at meeting i

The classic story of the business teetering on closing its doors until it is miraculously saved by a last minute sale is heartwarming but misleading. The eleventh hour invoice did not save it. The momentum created by the sale made the difference. The business saw failure, rebounded, and now believed. That story gave hope!

Business stories are essential from the board room to the sales field to the shop floor. Commerce works because of communication. And, communication works best with understanding. Stories facilitate understanding. Whether key points connect through feeling or logic the resultant clarity of purpose drives results. Simply put, story inspires progress.

Emotion
Stories contribute to business success by creating common binds. Effective sales involve solving problems that are not necessarily tangible. For example, an accountant does not purely sell financial reports, he sells peace of mind through documented financial accountability. With peace of mind, ownership can focus on the ongoing health of the company. The business leader has purchased a sense of relief as a result of accurate financial reporting, therefore freeing him to focus on other business priorities.

Consider that the business unit that routinely rallies around serving customers benefits from those experiences. A department that pulls an all-nighter to meet a client’s crucial deadline will wear that victory as a badge of honor. The next time an unreasonable request happens, they return to that story to perform a miracle for the next customer. The pure emotion of outperforming expectations together becomes the foundation of sustained growth. The accomplishments become contagious as long as the story is told in a positive manner.

Value
While businesses benefit by reflecting on their ability to slay monsters from the marketplace, the emotional reservoir goes dry if they draw from it too often. However, the value reservoir replenishes itself. Value can be expressed in a lesson or through monetary resources. Through story, a founder can reinforce the culture which can be a genuine competitive advantage. Whenever Apple conjures its inner Steve Jobs, they draw from their culture of delivering incredibly cool and functional products to raving fans. These products are never found on a clearance table.

A story’s value can drive an organization toward better decision making resulting in long-term benefit. When Starbucks closed its doors a few years ago for a day to retrain their baristas, the coffee icon made a clear statement that their customers’ experience was exceptionally valuable. Undoubtedly the baristas improved their skill and consistency in delivering exceptional coffee. More importantly, Starbuck’s customers and the marketplace received a clear message that their superior price point was going to be matched by a superior product with a superior experience.

The purpose of story resides in effective communication. Yet, it is too easy to place story into the marketing box. While communication is a marketing responsibility, the marketplace is more interested in operations. Is the seller delivering on their promises? Has the customer been incented to tell the marketplace a story in support of the recent experience? The purpose of story is to sound the rallying cry of superior performance. Customers, partners, stakeholders can sing praises, or deliver a death blow. In every interaction, give them a reason to tell the story about their awesome experience.

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter And Beyond

 

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Watch Your Metrics

Overworked server

The commercial with the fast-talking sales guy and lots of shiny objects screams, “We lose money on every sale! We make it up in volume!” Some folks justify the craziness by suggesting that they are aggressively selling loss leaders. The retailer sells razors below cost so that they can sell the blades at an enormous mark-up. Other viewers realize that the seller is a fraud. Regardless, businesses pursuing growth by manipulating common understanding of sales and costs is on a high-speed train racing into the mountainside.

Measure What’s Important
Successful business growth is a byproduct of creating value. Value must be measurable. Money serves that purpose. Understanding how money is spent and made is more than an accounting exercise. Sales success requires pricing goods and services such that a profit is available when the transaction is done. How that profit is measured depends on how the business produces results.

Costs are important to measuring profitability. Prices are even more important because they require subjective judgment. What is important is the relationship between the two. Effective sales efforts demand accounting calculations that consider thorough understanding of all components of a transaction. Businesses that push products with large gross margins still fall flat if corresponding operational metrics are ignored. A local bar has enormous margins on drink specials. However, without paying attention to exorbitant marketing costs to attract targeted customers, or additional cleanup costs following Wicked Wednesday Nights, the revenue never makes it to the bottom line. Not evaluating the obscure measurement of Furniture, Fixture & Equipment expenditures per promotion creates a subtle cash drain silently running the owners out of the bar business.

Correct What’s Wrong
“What gets measured, gets managed” is an old business saying. If the business purpose is to earn, then manage profits, then key components must be measured! Physical costs, behavioral costs, leadership costs are all part of maximizing performance. An auto shop that manages labor carefully through superior scheduling discipline will lose customers because they use inferior replacement parts leading to bad customer experiences. If the shop’s leadership is irrationally faithful to the inferior supplier then, they inherently gave permission to workers to hold onto inefficient behaviors. Ignoring facts affect profits by creating higher labor costs, which creates higher prices for cost-conscious customers. Bad behaviors quickly evolve into reduced revenue. Find and fix organizational holes.

The entire value equation must be analyzed, measured and corrected. A gourmet pizza joint decides never to skimp on their premium signature sauce. However, they may save a few dollars on mushrooms and bell peppers. Leaders must measure their business minutely so that they can meet expectations for their customers and stakeholders simultaneously. Furthermore, they need to be able to articulate how resulting decisions benefit both groups. So, when changes are made, authenticity remains. Decisions based on measuring product costs, competitors’ prices and customers’ alternatives all factor into profits and enduring success.

Business success requires mastery of details. Mastering those details require intimate knowledge of key metrics. Whether it is conversion rates of clicks per dollar of revenue, or the average profit per patron who orders the specialty key lime pie, managing quantitative business facts is the difference between legendary success and humiliating closure. Identifying metrics that receive the most attention require leaders to absorb feedback from the frontline, as well as analyzing financial reports. Business success demands thorough knowledge of both culture and analytics. Watching the metrics means closely engaging the customers, as well as operational details. Leaders must immediately spot deviations from best practices and even more quickly introduce improved practices. Success requires anticipating key metrics that result in operations delivering the profits that the business requires! So, what key metrics specific to your business will you watch now?

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

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Truth In Selling: It’s Much More Fun

Capt Hook & Jack

In the movie, “Hook”, Dustin Hoffman, playing Captain Hook, deliciously delivers a line to young Jack who accused the Captain of being a liar. Hook’s classic response: “Lie? But why, when the truth is so much more fun?”. Obviously, Captain Hook is selling.

Whether a pirate is manipulating a young hero to join his villainous crew, or the electronics sales associate is trying to hit his quota, successful sales involves the truth. Using the truth does not necessarily mean they use the whole truth. Undoubtedly, sales people bring their individual agendas. Nevertheless, great sales professionals seek to align their interest with the prospect’s interest, and facts help. Telling a great story helps, too.

Authenticity
Maximizing sales success and subsequent earnings requires longevity. Effectiveness goes beyond simply being honest. It requires accepting facts and sharing them with certainty. Then, the customer must be willing to believe them. Ironically, the more fantastic the claims that professionals make and then verify, the more success they enjoy. And, more success results in more earnings.

Aligning facts and results requires authenticity. The sales professional achieves more earnings with superior knowledge and confidence. Product and character must align. When the customer points out that a competitor has a better price, the experienced professional acknowledges that fact, then focuses on his company’s superior service. If the prospects counters with a better warranty, then the veteran reveals the competitor’s high employee turnover. The more available truths, the more opportunities to demonstrate superiority. Winners do not have the most attributes, they have the last attribute that matters! When product attributes and personal integrity combine authenticity results.

Storytelling
While facts are essential to competing successfully in sales, enduring success relies on easily digested information. The truth is more fun when facts are accurate, and information is delivered confidently. All great stories have heroes and villains. Often, it is difficult to tell the difference. Also, great stories have conflict and resolution. Great sales pitches are designed the same way. Ultimately, sales professionals identify and solve problems. That makes them heroes.

So, how does the hero have a happy ending in our sales story? First, the sales professional is the hero. Their success depends on controlling the narrative. The customer is obviously important. While other customers will enter the drama, the sales professional remains to continue managing assorted characters and conflicts. The resultant story requires that each prospect brings a challenge. Then, the hero prevails by conquering these challenges. This scenario does not imply that customer relationships are adversarial. It clearly dictates that successful sales heroes solve problems worthy of a great story!

To enjoy success, the hero must deliver a consistent story. Their admirable traits must exceed their questionable characteristics. Their narrative must consistently show integrity to take full advantage of new sales through referrals. Facts must be presented with authenticity and trustworthiness. In short, heroes tell the truth. Some prospects will escape without buying. More will come based on demonstrated knowledge and authenticity. More success will lead to better stories for the next prospect. Why is the truth so much fun? Because owning the truth results in more prospects, more referrals, and quickly more sales! What can be more fun than that?

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter And Beyond

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