Posts Tagged ‘Sales’

Got any stories?

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

One of Robroy’s favorite things to ask a CEO is, “Got any stories?”

After a couple of decades of listening to their replies, I’ve finally made an important distinction about story-tellers.  The good ones teach us something about themselves.  And the great ones teach us something about ourselves.

Imagine having the ability to do this with your clients and employees.  To help them learn more about themselves by the stories that you tell.  Imagine the bond of trust, appreciation and loyalty you’d develop.

“Does that really work?” you ask?  Well, let’s see what we can learn from five Baltimore CEOs who, by Robroy’s definition, are great story-tellers:

1. Greg Cangialosi, CEO of Blue Sky Factory, never was a sales guy, and yet sold his business for millions of dollars.

2. Bernie Dancel, CEO of AscendOne, realized that, unless he helped others, they would never be free.

3. Marty Mintz, CEO of Northern Pharmacy, withstood large, faceless competition to keep the corner drug store open for its 70th year.

4. Myra Norton, CEO of CommunityAnalytics, had to experience great sorrow before coming to trust her team.

… and, finally, a lesson from the past on what not to do:

5. Captain Isaac Emerson, CEO of Bromo Selzter, advertised a headache remedy for troubled marriages, while building monuments to his own failed marriage around Baltimore.

As for me, I’d say I learned that I am human.  I’m afraid of being misunderstood.  I’m afraid of losing business and losing love.  I’m afraid of having my loved ones die.

But I’m not afraid to go for it all, anyway.

How about you, boss.  Got any stories?

See Robroy LIVE!  http://bit.ly/qhmqek

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5 thoughts for thought-leaders

Friday, June 17th, 2011

“Every man is where he is by the law of his nature; his thoughts have brought him there.” James Allen, As a Man Thinketh

Robroy has read this quote dozens of times over the course of 20 years, and I still find fresh meaning.  Lately, in my work helping CEOs tell their stories, I’ve discovered it means that we can not only found companies with our thoughts, but grow them by leading the thoughts of others.

Here are some ways being a thought-leader helps you grow your company:

1. Attract talent

2. Stay top-of-mind with prospects

3. Differentiate yourself from competitors

4. Shorten your sales cycle

5. Generate referrals

The idea is, the more you make people think, the more they think of you.  Steve Jobs and Apple Computer might be the ultimate contemporary examples.  Apple comes out with a new product, and legions of followers are inspired to think in new ways.  Could this approach to leadership work for you?

It’s a thought.

(While you’re here, have another Robroy.)

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Sales primer

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Helping clean out my parents’ basement before their move, I came across my old collection of MAD magazine, and re-read them all.  While it brought me back to my 10-year-old self, it also made me realize that I never really grew up.  That’s what’s so great about MAD.

Remember how MAD always took something you knew well, and twisted it in a way that made you squirm and laugh?  Then join us now as we step madly into a career in sales with Robroy’s MAD sales primer.

Consultative selling. Refusing to let a company make the mistake of not hiring you.

Sales cycle. The time it takes a sales guy to do his laundry.

Mirroring. A tricky but effective sales technique.  Remove the customer’s bathroom mirror, climb behind the sink, and wait for a meeting.

Quoting. The sales guy hooks two fingers of each hand in the air while repeating something the customer just said.

Closing the deal. Close the deal like an overpacked suitcase by sitting on it.

Yecch!  That’s enough of that.  Now let’s turn to Spy vs Spy.

(While you’re here, have another Robroy.)

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Robroy in 3D

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Strange things online do happen.  Sometimes blog characters step right out of the screen, onto the conference room floor, smiling and telling stories.

Next week in Baltimore, Robroy will do just that.  It would be great if you can join us.

My talk is about how to use the power of story-telling and story-listening to sell better.  Here are some take-aways:

  • How to hear the prospect’s story
  • How to help them tell their story
  • How to apply the Story Wheel in your business growth strategy

Get registered here.  It’s Tuesday, March 8th at 7:30AM.  All blog personnel will return to their screens by 9:30.

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Bull!

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Have you ever had a dream that you were alone in the ring with a bull?  You flourish your cape.  The crowd cheers.  Fifty feet away, the bull leans toward you, absolutely intense.  Are you ready?

If you’re selling or marketing your company, you’d better be.


The bull is boom times, and Robroy has news for you.  This is no dream.  In Maryland, the bull strode cooly into the ring earlier this year, when the Baltimore Business Journal acknowledged “the end of the recession.”

The bull paused, straining his powerful neck and pawing the dirt as the Baltimore Sun reported more data on economic recovery: http://ow.ly/1DaVo.

What does the data say?

Businesses posted thousands of new jobs in sales (up 23%), marketing (up 8%) and customer service (up 26%) on CareerBuilder.com, the Sun’s online job board, recently.  The article says more companies are restocking their revenue producing roles.

How is this good for you?

Whether you have a company or a revenue producing role, you have a new purpose.  Get out there and warn your prospects and customers that companies are going agressively into growth mode.  Not only is it safe for them to invest in growth again — it’s dangerous not to.

Ole!

Maryland gets first crack at the bull.  What we do, win or lose, will create momentum for other states.  So let’s be true matadors and engage fearlessly.  Our time has come.

(Read Robroy’s column in today’s Baltimore Business Journal)

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Twenty-One Ways to Use Social Media to Grow Your Business

Friday, February 19th, 2010

As Twitter, blogs and the many forms of social media continue to dominate all conversations about sales and marketing, Robroy still hears from doubting CEOs.

“Who cares if I’m hauling out the trash or playing with my kids on a snowy day?” they scoff.  “Give me one good reason to take my company in this direction.”

Will you take twenty-one?  Because that’s at least the number of fundamental changes in the way the marketplace communicates today.  Here are some of the ways you can benefit from joining social media:

  1. Let people know who you are
  2. Reach people quickly
  3. Build company culture
  4. Give voice to the company’s personality
  5. Release new features and ideas
  6. Get the truth from the community, like a focus group
  7. Interact with users and fans with questions and comments
  8. Recruit talent
  9. Share company content
  10. Share customers’ content
  11. Generate Web traffic
  12. Get answers quickly
  13. Correct mistakes / improve products
  14. Stay informed on industry trends
  15. Get feedback on what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and what you should do next
  16. Make the company feel smaller and more cohesive
  17. Use as a sounding board
  18. Establish expertise
  19. Attract the media
  20. Humanize the company
  21. Build your brand

In the old days, no one expected to befriend a CEO, or know what he did with his personal time.  Social media changes that.  It makes everyone more accessible.  And if everyone is accessible, including your competition, my friend, do you need another reason?

(How are you using it?  Please comment below.)

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Dumb question

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Whoever said, “There’s no such thing as a dumb question,” didn’t know Robroy.

In a cavernous lecture hall for Biology 101 — the first class of my freshman year at University of Illinois — I sat with Mike Hoffman from high school and around 400 strangers.  The professor, a widely acclaimed scientist, according to Mike, was wrapping up his opening remarks by encouraging our participation because, as he said, “there’s no such thing as a dumb question.”

Always one to test this theory, Robroy raised his hand.  The prof nodded.  Mike cringed as I called out, “Do frogs have bones?”

It was supposed to be funny.  I always thought I could catch a teacher on that one.  I envisioned him rubbing his chin and saying, “You know what?  I’ll be damned.  In all my years, that’s the dumbest question I’ve ever heard.”  He could get a laugh, improving the lecture, and I could spread my mayhem.  Win-win.

Unfortunately, the professor took me seriously.  “Oh, yes.  Frogs have many bones,” he said.  “Now, please turn to the syllabus.”

I sat there with the smile drying off my face while everyone turned to the syllabus.

At first, I felt foolish.  Then a wave of embarrassment, deepening to shame.  Ug, my ego, my horrible ego!  It was costing me an education.  Had I accepted his authority, and my own anonymity, had I insisted on the natural order of things, and not my own agenda, I could have asked so many better questions: Will I ever be loved?  Do I even belong here?  What am I supposed to do with my life?

So that’s what I learned.  Any questions?

(please comment below)

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Robroy says goodbye

Friday, January 29th, 2010

The worst part of moving away at age 8 was saying goodbye to Patricia Wood.

It was a Saturday morning in Englishtown, New Jersey, about one hour before we left forever for Illinois.  Patricia was hugging me goodbye.  Her mom had errands to run; we would be gone by the time they got back.

My bike had not yet been packed.  I grabbed it as they got into their car.  Riding behind them, I could see Patricia’s round face in the back window.  I had the unbelievably painful urge to impress her one last time, so much that she’d never forget me.

Now, in our neighborhood, in the 70s, the curbs were not cut for wheelchair access.  To get from the street onto the sidewalk on your bike, you had to stop, lift your front wheel, roll forward, lift your back wheel, roll forward, and get on.  Unless you were excellent.  In that case you simply jumped the curb, and kept on going.  As for Robroy, earlier that very morning, for the very first time, I had become excellent.  Patricia did not know that yet.

Her face was getting smaller.  It was now or never.  Do or die.  At top speed, I hit the curb.

“Yah!”

The last she ever saw of me was flying head-first over the handlebars and onto the sidewalk.  I smacked the ground and rolled over with the bike crashing down on top of me.

By the time I looked up, she was gone.

The memory comes back to me now.  Robroy is moving again.  No big deal this time.  It’s just the blog that’s moving.  We’re saying goodbye to WordPress and saying hello to our own domain, robroysblog.com.  That’s all.

But deep down, I’m nervous.  I worry.  What if I leave my readers behind?  What if I try too hard to impress them, and end up making a gigantic fool of myself?  What if they get home and find no Robroy, only a ghost town, a wasteland of words?

I’ll be honest.  I don’t want to lose another friend.  Too painful on the knees.

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More sales turtles

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

But Robroy, you say.  In sales, you can’t catch every turtle by pouncing on it.  It would be overkill to catch a box turtle that way.  A snapping turtle would make you very sorry for trying.  So would a sea turtle, most likely.  What are the best ways to catch other kinds of sales turtles?

Box – she may be slow and shy, but deep down this buyer is motivated by the chance to make a difference in the lives of others.  To catch her, be persistent.  Be steady.  Look for ways to let her help you.

Snapping – he’s dominant and forceful and feared by all.  Be prepared.  Be bold.  State your business and skip the niceties.  Show him how you can make him more dangerous.  But stay in front of him – and keep your distance.

Sea – she’s powerful and beautiful and loves to ride the waves.  Research this buyer’s business associations and community connections.  Attend her groups’ activities, and see if you can have fun together.  That’s all she wants.

Painted – he’s smooth and polished but very cautious and rarely visible.  This buyer is motivated by what the facts tell him.  He does all the research and won’t talk to you until he’s ready to buy – then, he’ll reveal himself.  Be ready to jump.

Understand the sales turtle types, and what motivates them, and you’re on your way to becoming a sales turtlogist.

What turtles am I missing?

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Turtle king

Friday, January 15th, 2010

It’s a dark afternoon.  It’s freezing outside, and I can’t seem to sell anything.  Times like this, my mind goes back to sunnier days, when I was the turtle-catching king of the world.

At age 12, Robroy was incredibly lucky.  We had our own private pond in the back yard, and it was stocked with turtles.  My younger brother Jim and I used to chase them on hot summer days in our canoe.  As we came close, they slipped off the log and vanished into the murky gold, but that never stopped us.  The trick was to scoop about 3 feet ahead of where you thought they were going.  By the time you got your net under water, they would swim right into it.  If your timing was right.  If your aim was true.

One summer day after church, rather than go inside with the rest of the family, my dad and I walked around back to take a look at the pond, as we often did.  Now, my dad was a salesman — still is — and he could talk.  So I’m standing on the bank, listening to him explain an idea he was wrestling with, gazing at the water, when all of a sudden I see a shadow rise from below.  It was about 4 feet off shore.  A turtle pierced the surface with his snout.

Without a moment’s hesitation, I leaped.  He turned and angled for the bottom.  But my timing was perfect.  My aim was true.  I crashed onto the water with my hands clutching down onto him.

Too easy!  Skimming along the muck with him swimming in my hands, I was laughing inside.  I decided to stay down as long as I could, just to make a bigger impression on my dad.  When I could hold my breath no longer, I burst to the surface, raising the turtle in both hands.  Dad’s eyes were round as two robin’s eggs.

“You nut!” he shouted.  “I don’t believe it!”

“He put up a — hulluva — fight!” I gasped.

Dad grabbed my elbow and helped me out of the water and up the bank, laughing and clapping me on the back.  “Wait till your mother and brother see this!” he said.  “Cynthia!  Jim!  Get out here!”

As he dragged me squishing in my church clothes toward the house with the turtle swimming in my hands, I felt wet and muddy and very, very satisfied.

♥  ♥  ♥

Back then, I knew the value of training.  Anticipating.  Recognizing the opportunity.  Of diving in, giving it your all and landing the deal.  And most importantly, I knew the value of communicating, sharing success and being joyful.

And that means I can do it.  Of course I can do it!  It’s really just a matter of doing it again.

I reach out and grab the phone.

Wait til Dad hears about this one.

(read the sequel)

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