Earlier this year I came up with a simple framework for starting sales conversations, which we’ve used successfully as part of our target account prospecting initiatives. I thought I’d share and as always, comments and refinements are appreciated.
3 R’s for Starting Sales Conversations
1) Relationship (You know someone)
- They can book a meeting or make an intro for you
- You can name drop, use the relationship to get the attention of the person you want to get to
2) Recency (Recent Activity/Interaction)
-You met them (or someone from their org) at a tradeshow/event, or they were at least there
3) Relevance (Real Intelligence)
- You know they have a project
- There was recently something relevant in news that can be referenced
- There is something relevant in their LinkedIn profile that can be referenced
Chris Brogan posted a question this morning, looking for feedback regarding what people felt new marketers and new media marketing agencies should be doing. As always, Chris’ post and the related comments are well worth the time to read in their entirety.
So what do you do Jesse?
I’ve thought about what I do, and I think it can be boiled down to this:
I help organizations explode the traps of traditional thinking about business, and realize the value of every individual.
Every individual that has any form of relationship with your organization (employee, customer, partner, prospect, etc) has value beyond what’s on the surface. Anyone can be an evangelist for your organization, anyone can bring you the “next big thing”, anyone can help you fix a business problem. It’s your job to let them, engage them and nurture them.
What is “new marketing” specifically?
As someone who’s been in marketing for almost 5 years now, having had no formal training, my thinking about business and marketing is almost exclusively shaped by my experience and personal character. I love people, and am a firm believer in the value of every individual. From a marketing perspective, this means I believe that organizations need to be as closely connected and engaged with their customers and market as possible. Marketing is a conversation. It’s not just about what YOU do as a company. It’s about what the INDIVIDUALS IN YOUR MARKET tell you you’ve done/do, what they tell OTHERS you’ve done/do, what they tell you they need and how YOU respond.
What about all the cool new tools?
New marketing isn’t just about the new tools, the new mediums, the messaging… it’s about changing an organization’s mindset and approach to how they operate and interact with their market.
Enough about what I think, what do you think?
Oh wow, you’re the CEO!? SENIOR Vice President, you must be really important!
Titles Influence Actions
Think about this. If you automatically attribute certain rights and privileges to a certain “class” of titles, your interactions with those people are artificially influenced right out of the gate. In addition, if you attribute a level of superiority with certain titles and YOU have one of those titles, that can influence the way you interact with other people as well.
I was talking with someone recently about an issue at their company. They said that they thought that they had a fine solution, but they didn’t feel comfortable sharing it because they’re not “a director”. Please!!! That kind of stuff drives me nuts. As I shared with him my feelings about that kind of thinking, it became clear that he had gotten the “who are you to suggest something to me?” treatment from people in his company before, which sadly prevents him now from speaking up.
Knowing that certain kinds of titles influence the way people act, why do we still insist on having those types of titles within our organizations? Don’t we want every person within our organization to feel like they can disagree with anyone, and that their ideas are as important as anyone else’s? Don’t we want people to gain respect and admiration based solely on their contributions and character, not an artificial label?
So what’s your title? Do you think people would address you differently if your title were something “less important”?
Time For A New Approach
Why not revisit the way you assign titles? Do you need them at all? Maybe each person in your company can make up their own title? Maybe your title is based on the department you work in, and is the same as everyone else in the department? Maybe a title has clear objective accomplishments that need to be met in order to attain it, yet it’s not tied to any rigid management hierarchy?
In the end, it comes down to the culture and management structure of your organization. Unfortunately, some companies want titles to keep people in a box. Other companies have traditional titles, but they have such a strong culture of equality and value for each individual that titles may not have much of an effect on the way people treat one another. In the end, titles alone will obviously not solve the problem of overly hierarchical and bureaucratic management, but they can play a role in breaking down those barriers.
Only you can judge the effects of titles in your organization. It’s worth considering.
One of the things I love most about working is having the opportunity to sit down next to someone else and work side by side with them on something. I literally go out of my way to work with people this way if at all possible. I learn so much, and it’s an opportunity for me to hopefully impart something worthwhile to the person I’m working with. Sure, there are always things that you simply need to just focus on and get done on your own. But when you need to interact with someone else on your team, why not work side by side with them whenever possible?
Working this way is a powerful tool you can use to help create a culture of innovation within your organization/team. Here’s how:
1) Preface your interaction/work session with something like this:
“My goal every time I work side by side with someone like this, is not just to accomplish the task at hand. I have two other things that I explicitly want to accomplish. I want to learn something from you – I want YOU to teach ME something. At the same time, I hope to share some bit of knowledge, or teach you something as well. So please, try and teach me something, I will try my best to do the same.”
It’s important to set expectations this way, especially if you are working with someone that reports to you. Some people will feel like you are micromanaging, so just be clear about your intentions and goals.
2) Recap – When your work session is over, tell your co-worker what you’ve learned and ask them what they learned. THEN, ask them if what you learned is what they were trying to teach you and vice-versa.
3) Encourage everyone on your team to do the same when working with one another.
4) Periodically talk about the things that you’ve learned over the course of a given week or month, and ask the rest of your team members to do the same. It’s probably good to vary the frequency of these discussions.
This accomplishes a number of great things:
1) It shows that you respect your team members, and that you don’t think you know it all.
2) It shows that you are not just task oriented, but that you have an interest in your team members’ development.
3) Knowledge sharing happens, respect for one another increases, and stronger relationships develop throughout your team.
4) Your team members learn, grow, and become more engaged.
All making your job as a manager/team leader that much easier, and helping to create a culture of innovation within your team.
“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” – Jack Welch