Hunting Big Sales with Tom Searcy

Weekly Tip: Be the “Go To” for Best Practices


Every industry is seeking a voice of innovation and the platinum standard of best practices that will provide insights for gaining advantage. As gaining advantage and MAINTAINING advantage has become harder because of the ease of gathering information and so much transparency, this effort has become intense. For sales people, gaining a reputation as the best source for best practices in your customer’s marketplace and the industry in general allows you to stay relevant and valuable, gaining you access and face to face time. Being the best source for best practices is a part of being the best sales person.
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1) Define your area of expertise - You have to become known as the answer person regarding a definable segment of your collective customers’ and prospects’ business issues. Choose a segment about which you are passionate and curious. One of my clients sells to big box stores. She became an expert in store layout psychology and its impact on purchasing patterns. This gained her lots of access because it was valuable to her clients. 
  
2) Stay current - Being current is not hard if you leverage technology. The internet and available tools will scour data and present it back to you regularly, giving you insights on trends, changes, regulations and technologies. It’s your responsibility to keep up by making it a regular part of your weekly work. 
  
3) Implications trump data - Just knowing the data makes you annoying if you can’t translate the data into actionable recommendations. By mapping data to implications you become conversationally more relevant and valuable to buyers, which means you get more attention and access. 
  
I believe becoming an expert on best practices is a major differentiator of the best sales people today. 
  
Our friends at the RAIN Group recently posed the question: “What are the winners of actual sales opportunities doing differently than sellers who come in second place?” They have presented their findings in a new book, Insight Selling: Surprising Research on What Sales Winners Do Differently, where bestselling authors Mike Schultz and John Doerr teach you exactly how sellers do it.

Posted by Katelyn Marando in Weekly Tips.

4 Steps to Hiring an All-Star

One of the things I often hear from companies recruiting candidates is that there’s a talent shortage. But award-winning author and sales management expert Lee Salz views it differently: The talent is out there, you just have to know what you want (and how to find it). 

Lee Salz wrote the book Hire Right, Higher Profits, which I highly recommend. Too often, he says, companies focus on people, not processes. The days of receiving a gold watch for 25 years of loyal service have come and gone and Generation Y is anything but loyal. However, it is possible to find loyal talent. Here, then, are four steps from Lee to help you recruit the right candidates. 

Always Be Recruiting. 

Much like grocery shopping when hungry, a big mistake is looking for candidates when you desperately need to hire them. Always be recruiting and open to networking. You never know where it will lead. 

Use the Tools Correctly.

Assessment companies provide data about a candidate, but it’s up to you to interpret it and combine it with nuances gleaned from those in-person interviews. The same goes for tracking systems, which are designed to make the hiring process more efficient. The problem is setting too many filters, which can shut out some great candidates. So manage these tools correctly and consider them part of the overall process, not the end-all be-all.

Do Your Homework.

When considering a candidate, be sure to assess all the factors that will help that person succeed or fail, as the case may be.

Posted by Tom Searcy in Inc.com.

How to Write a Killer Resume

A resume alone will never help you get hired. It has to be relevant and compelling enough to get your foot in the door. Having reviewed thousands of resumes myself, I’ve found that most of them read like a cross between an obituary and a museum exhibit timeline. 

First, let’s debunk a couple of resume myths. Resumes are not read, at least not at first. They are scanned, scored and sorted. Second, a good resume is not critical to getting you hired. It is only critical in landing an interview. Third, the real purpose of a resume is to catch someone’s eye. HR departments use resumes as a job-matching tool. They are trying to find a fit, and in this way they are solving a problem. 

Most executives agree that you should never start with HR, so if you write your resume to match a job, then you’re writing for the wrong audience. Here, then, are four tricks to get the people with hiring power to notice you:

State what problems you’ll solve.

Executives are focused on solving challenges of time, money, and risk. When reviewing a resume, they want someone who’s overcome challenges in at least one of these areas, if not all three. 

Explain who you helped. 

Many resumes include companies that are not household names so add a short explanation. “Top 10 international provider of heavy construction equipment components,” for example, will give your performance some context.

Say what difference you made. 

Here, I’m talking about specific measures you took to solve a problem.

Posted by Tom Searcy in Inc.com.

Weekly Tip: Are You Helping Your Buyer’s Professional Brand?

Making the Executive Sponsor a hero is one of the goals that we have as vendors, suppliers or partners. We know that if we do, it is good for us. Sometimes we do the impossible and it just does not seem to get us much credit. Other times, we do good work but nothing extraordinary and the customer is ecstatic. These reactions in part have something to do with how the executive in our customer’s company is trying to brand himself or herself. To get promoted, each executive is trying to create an image to the company of what type of a performer he or she is. There are four core categories for performance upon which an executive wants to be viewed:

  • Operational expert – Keeps the operation humming
  • Revenue generator – Sales or business development, they make the money
  • Problem solver – They get brought in to fix things when there is a mess
  • Ideas person – They want to be seen as the visionary, creative approaches person

Arguably, every executive wants to demonstrate all of these, but the executive is building his or her reputation on being exceptional in one of these areas. If what you do for that executive fits in that area, you are aligned with building the executive’s personal brand. If what you are doing is in another area, the benefit you provide is less valued.

If you can determine the value your buyer is trying to show and be a part of that brand effort, you have a greater chance of decisions favoring your company.

Posted by Katelyn Marando in Weekly Tips.

Team Players Vs. All-Stars: Who Matters More?

Business is like baseball in so many ways, none more so than when you set out to build a great team. You want the best players, like that insanely great sales leader, but that’s not how the game is played.

Every company, like a ball club, is out to win as many games as possible. But every company is filled from the bottom up with two distinct types of players: You’ve got your organizational types and your all-star types. A good leader knows the difference.

This is not to disparage those people who get the job done day-in and day-out. This is to help you know that once-in-a-lifetime talent can take your business to the next level. As much as you want a workplace where everyone feels equal, as George Orwell wrote: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal.”

So, what are the characteristics of all-stars? For one thing, they’re innately talented and possess leadership ability. They’re also ambitious and strive to achieve. Beyond that, they’re engaged, and constantly developing themselves personally and professionally.

To help them fully harness their natural talents–because nothing is worse than talent going to waste–here are three simple, yet effective ways to keep them engaged at your company: 

Challenge them. Give them the tough assignments, urging them to aim for greatness.

Spend time with them. Pass along your wisdom, helping them to develop big goals. Then find out not only who they long to be but when they hope to get to that point.

Posted by Tom Searcy in Inc.com.

Weekly Tip: Is your opening line tired?

There are topics that are so tired to discuss when opening a conversation that they should be retired as starters. Let me give you my list of small talk snoozers, the kinds of things that start off conversations with low energy and from which you then have to recover:

  • Weather – “Everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it.” – Mark Twain. Discussing the weather is a substitute for real conversation. You are either complaining about it or comparing it, but once that trite and over used opener has played out, you then have to move to the reason you are there. Not a very easy transition.
  • Travel – No one cares. Travel stinks – your delays, their delays, no delays – who cares? Starting off a conversation with travel digs a negative energy hole that really has little to with why the other person is there.
  • Sports – I know, a classic “go-to” for lots of sales people and small talkers. Here’s the challenge, you always have to make a hard pivot to get the conversation from the sports category to the business category. Everyone knows you are going to pivot, they just don’t know when. When it happens, it’s jarring to everyone in the discussion.
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Start off your conversation by asking the other person a question:

“I wanted to get your opinion on something I recently saw….”

If what you recently saw is relevant to the marketplace, competitors, customers, or industry, so much the better.

Posted by Katelyn Marando in Weekly Tips.

Weekly Tip: Nothing Good Happens After Midnight

Nothing Good Happens After Midnight

Your mama taught you this, and you probably were like me and you spent a lot of time out past midnight before you figured out that she was right.

I have more sins than Saturday night confessions in my history on this topic, so when I tell you that there are seven rules for client entertaining, I know because I have broken a few.

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Here are my rules:

1)   Don’t go anywhere with a client that you wouldn’t take the person in your life you respect the most.

2)   Don’t set the fastest pace- whether it is drinking, dancing, eating, talking, karaoke-ing, or any other activity. When you set the fastest pace, things tend to spin out of control, and the focus becomes you rather than the client.

3)   Take the check, but don’t fight for it. Everyone’s on expense account, so this is just shadow boxing anyway.

4)   Lead, don’t follow. If a client is taking you somewhere that doesn’t fit your own beliefs, your company’s code or common sense, don’t go. Just because they are the client does not mean they have say on your values.

5)   Protect your company and its people. If someone on your team is making a bad decision, you have to take the responsibility for resolving the issue. Don’t watch the train wreck happen and then give a detailed report later. Stop the train wreck.

6)   Everyone is watching – How you treat the servers, the doormen, other patrons is all on display and your clients or prospects are watching.

Posted by Katelyn Marando in Weekly Tips.

7 Steps to Creating the Ultimate CEO Fortress of Solitude

I’m not sure if it was Peter Cetera or Kierkegaard who said, “Everybody needs a little time away.” Regardless of who said it, that statement is certainly true, especially for business leaders. In this 24/7, constantly-connected world we live and do business in, there will come a time that you have to find that spot that you can go to and be truly alone.

Even Superman had a place to go when the rigors of defending Metropolis got to him and made him feel less than super. For CEOs, there are a number of tasks that you will not be your most effective in solving if you attempt them working in a standard office environment. Maybe it’s annual reviews, terminating an employee, deciding whether or not to launch a new product, or even something as simple (yet, mind-numbingly complicated) as a customer issue. At some point, we all need our own Fortress of Solitude. You need to find a spot that will allow you to truly embrace the beauty that is complete solitude, a place that allows you to really focus on an issue, re-energize yourself, and go back to being super.

Here are 7 Steps to finding that perfect spot:

1. Embrace the beauty of being alone.

Even if you are the most gregarious person in your office, sometimes you want to enjoy your own company. In your fortress, one of the most important things is to be comfortable with yourself and only you. No Lois Lane, no Jimmy Olsen, and definitely no Lex Luthor.

Posted by Tom Searcy in Inc.com.

Weekly Tip: Writing for Impact

You probably write proposals. You likely write quotes, and I know you write emails. If you think about it, you write a lot more than you ever thought you would when you were in school. I write as a part of my job now, but I did not go to school to become a writer, and if I had, I would not have been learning how to write the kinds of materials I write now. We are all writers because we are all communicators if we sell. Let me give you some tips on writing for more impact, regardless of whether it is a million dollar proposal or a two-sentence email.

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1)  Write tight – You want to use as few words as possible to communicate your idea. That is why editing is as important as authoring in the process of writing for business communication.

2)  10th Grade – If you are writing, communicate as if it were to someone who was in the 10th grade. This is not about dumbing-down, (I know some amazingly smart high-schoolers), it is about clarity. When you write at that level you already assume that you have to provide context, so you are more complete in your explanations. Remember, when you send a document digitally, it will travel to places you had not planned. You want all readers to understand with clarity your message, even the unintended ones.

3)  Write real – I read A LOT of proposals. Often I wonder, “Who does the author think is reading this, Peter Drucker?” Save the MBA-speak, buzz-word filled, and jargon laden language for your Harvard Business Review article.

Posted by Katelyn Marando in Weekly Tips.

Achieve Faster–Nobody Lives Forever!

Goals are great, in fact they are paramount to actual success. Every single successful business in the history of time started with a goal, achieved it, and went from there. The only problem is, why do they take so long?  Here’s a very simple, two-part process that will help you rocket to the finish line.

Part 1: Understanding the Path

  1. Declare the goal. The best definition of a goal is a dream with a deadline. So declare not only the dream, but the deadline as well. What do you want to do and when do you want to do it by? These two very simple questions can help you to measure progress along the way and to know when you’re winning.
  2.  Create the path. The major difference between most goals and dreams is that a goal not only has a deadline, but it has a plan. What’s your plan? How do you intend on reaching that finish line and achieving that goal? Do you have everything you need to get you there? Have you anticipated roadblocks and pitfalls along the way? Do you have a plan to sidestep the landmines that you won’t see until the last minute?
  3. Set mini-goals. Be sure you have measurable milestones–mini-goals along the path to let you know that you’re on the right road. The most important part is that they are three things: applicable, measurable, and attainable.
  4. Define winning. The mini-goals and the major goal have to be tangible, specific.

Posted by Tom Searcy in Inc.com.