"New Skool" Sales Concepts for the "Old School"
Picture a twelve-year-old kid with a "Just Do It" shirt, tucked into a pair of mismatching Umbro shorts, coming at you on a Redline 360 (BMX) in the early '90s. If you need a touch of more detail picture that same kid with the cleanest pair of Deion's (Nike's), and a Sony Walkman tucked into his elastic waistline, and bumping LL Cool J. The only reason you know it's LL is because he's talking about some girl he met around the way and it's rhyming, but the hook is way off-key. FYI, that kid was me. Over 20 Nike shirts in the closet and who knows how many pairs of Umbros. What can I say, it was the early '90s and travel soccer was my life. I was the freshest kid on the block. Did I mention I was super cool yet? Looking back, I was about as old school as it gets. That is if we can all agree that being old school is relevant to a generation. In that case, you could call me Slobby Robby (Netflix).
Fast forward 27 years and I'm not nearly as cool, but still doing everything I can to stay fresh. If I could go back and give my younger self some advice, I would tell myself to save those T-SHIRTS but that's about it. Things change and that's ok, just roll with it. This entire idea of old school got me thinking about the new "skool" of thinking centered around what I do for a living and how things have changed.
Selling pest control right out of college not only was cold calling widely accepted, walking up to someone's door was as well. Now trying walking up to a stranger’s door to talk about anything. Good luck with that! Just like those Umbros, I was all in. I cold-called everything that moved and stopped at every door with sure optimism. I believed I could convince anyone that I had what they needed, or worse, that I could bring up something that's never occurred to them. Again, I was so fresh, and so old school. That was 2004. Fast forward 60,000 cold calls, who knows how many cold emails, and here is the advice I would give to anyone starting off in sales or wanting to take it to the next level. On a side note, I'm not here to argue over tactics. If you have time for that do it with someone else. Also, read some of my old blogs if you want to debate because, in 2019, there are two major things anyone in sales needs to be doing NOW....Because this is the New Skool of thought.
A Vanity Fair: Likes and views don't pay the bills but man do they look good.
"Did I catch you at a bad time?" The Fallacy About Cold Calls
Defending the LinkedIn Selfie with a Social Funnel
*It’s critical that you understand that I am purposely leaving out many tactics, methodologies, and of course technologies. This isn’t about what you shouldn’t be doing and more about what I believe we need to be doing.
We need a personal brand, and we need it yesterday!
This isn't our company's brand and this isn't what our LinkedIn or social profile says about us, or how great we are. Here's a simple test to confirm my theory.
1. Scroll through your social feed and count how many external links you click on?
2. Now count how often you read what was written about each of those links?
The answer to the first question was zero and the second answer was likely all of it. Too often as leaders, we get caught up encouraging, or at the very least, hoping our employees will share company-related content. The reality is, the more they post their own content, the better off the company's brand will be. Don't believe me? Here's the third question;
3. How much company-generated content do you personally engage with? Yeah, don’t act like you don’t know the answer to that rhetorical question.
We need to seek attention every day
If this doesn't sound arrogant to you then I don't know what will. Arrogance, however, is not what I'm referring to here by any means. What I am referring to is our overall engagement on social media. If we want to talk with more people, especially more people outside of our network, we need to connect with as many people as possible. Think like a magazine or newspaper here. Our content is only as good as our reach and when we are not connected to anyone new, we might as well go back to the local networking group where we can engage with the exact same people every day. In my opinion, there is ZERO reasons to keep your connections to a limited amount. LinkedIn is a social platform, if you need to manage your connections then I would recommend Sales Navigator or [I don’t know] a CRM!
Seeking attention isn't just about the kind of content we create, it's more about answering our social voicemail. If someone views our LinkedIn profile, we owe ourselves a pat on the back because the content we’re putting out there is working. Now, all we must do is just connect with those people. Scratch that, we need to connect with ALL those people. They are the ones who need to know who we are and not just what we do. In fact, my team often hears me talking about how nobody remembers the normal kid, but they always remember that weird kid every time.
If sales were a popularity contest, we need to run for mayor or be crowned homecoming king/queen. This is the age of the customer and rather than get into what that is, just think of it this way: Your customers are looking and if they've never heard of you or your firm, tough.
In 2018, I challenged my team to create their own weekly themed social post about something they were passionate about with a corresponding hashtag. To go along with that idea, I required my team to post on social 7-10 times a week. I had this vision that if we posted more about ourselves, we could grow our network exponentially and in the end greatly help our company’s brand. It worked!
Here are the results:
Between four team members, we posted on LinkedIn 1,559 times with a minimum of three sentences of context for each post. As a result, we added 7,964 connections with a significant majority of those connections coming from profile views. In total, among all our methods of prospecting, our team averaged one new meeting for every 29 connections added. That breaks down to five connections per post. Without going in-depth, our overall engagement was over 25% with our annual sales revenue increasing just over 20%.
If data or results are an indication of what we will do more of in 2019, I believe I figured it out.
I'm a regular listener to Gary V's podcast so I can't take credit for everything, but I would like to mention one thing that stuck with me early on. Gary is adamant that Social media is a tool that we NEED to know how to use and if we don't, we are going to drop significantly behind.
It’s been thirty years since I donned a pair of Umbros and my bike was stolen after I turned thirteen. The great news is that at least I can still remember every word to that LL Cool J song. That old-school version of me is now nearly forty years old, and even though I still like to think of myself as fresh, things are different. Very different. I’ve always been a believer that the way we do things will change, especially sales. That doesn’t mean I don’t still think about those Nike Airs or making those dials. It just means that I’ve adapted. Someone once said that you can take the person out of the trailer park, but you can’t take the trailer out of the person. I think the same rule applies to the Old School in us all.
In the event you are having reservations about whether these concepts are for you or if you’re ready to accept the challenge, consider this story:
When my son turned four years old my wife starting-off in my ear about teaching him to play catch. Our fear was that our son would end up spending his entire life in his room with no aspirations. He seriously couldn't catch and couldn’t throw. So, naturally, I picked up a football and threw him that ball a hundred times, which turned into a thousand times, which must be closing in on a million now. Later that year my four-year-old son asked me if he could play football and I was shocked. Playing catch with him worked! So, I signed him up to play flag football that fall in the PK-K division at the local YMCA. You know, the big leagues! A couple of weeks went by before we heard anything from the YMCA, and then, I finally got a call from the athletics coordinator telling me they were short on coaches and wanted me to coach. "Wait, what? I'm not nearly ready to take on that kind of responsibility nor am I remotely qualified for the job!" I remember verbatim her surprised reaction to my comment, "Derek, do you play catch with your son?"
Me: "Actually yes I do, all the time!"
Her: "Great, you're qualified!"
Agree? Disagree? own a significant amount of Umbro shorts you want to sell? Maybe we should connect.