A celebration of consistency. A legacy of insight.
This is the 20th anniversary of my first column. Sales Moves first appeared in the Charlotte Business Journal on March 23, 1992. The column was an instant success. It soon found its way to Dallas, Atlanta, Denver, Philadelphia, and a bunch of other cities. My column has appeared in more than 250 publications.
Mark Ethridge, then-publisher of the Charlotte Business Journal, novelist, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, and my good friend and supporter, said that publishing Sales Moves was his most impactful marketing decision of 1992.
It was the turning point in my career.
As a result of the column’s publication, people began to call from all over the country, and still do every day. Newspapers called wanting to publish the column. Readers called to thank me for helping them make sales. I found out that salespeople were hanging my weekly article on the wall in their offices. They were copying the column and passing it around. They were mailing it to friends and coworkers in other cities. They were using the column to lead sales meetings.
All of that occurred before the Internet. Times, and publishing strategies, have changed. Drastically. So have lots of sales strategies. This writing is strategic for you to understand what is NOW, and what you have to do to be prepared for NEXT.
Think about the early days of URL registration. What kind of fortune could you have made if you had jumped on it. Did you? Many people waited. Too long. How long did you wait? I was astute enough to get my family name, “Gitomer.com” You?
I have been writing for 20 years. For that same amount of time, I have asked you to write with me. I know what writing does because I live the essence of it. In 1992 you had to rely on print media. Now, you’re your own publishing house. There’s no reason for your voice to be muted, and (through search engines and social media) every opportunity to be found.
If you’re old enough to have been in the working world 20 years ago, you have seen many evolutions: cell phone, computer, laptop, software, internet, email, wireless connection, the rise and fall of CompuServe and AOL, car phones (remember them?) and the rise of China to name a few.
The list below is not a “to do” list. It’s a “to understand” first and to make a (flexible) plan of action second list. To take consistent, deliberate actions to create your own success. These are imperatives for “the now” and the near future. Imperatives are not optional.
Here are the 32.5 imperatives of success for 2012 — and the next 20 years:
1. THINK. Set aside time to understand and see the big picture, and how you fit into it. Alongside of your “to do” list, create a longer list of “to become.” That’s where thinking comes from. KEY POINT OF UNDERSTANDING: Document as you think. Don’t let thoughts and ideas escape. Ever.
2. ALLOCATE TIME. Time management is pass. Allocate productive use for each hour of the day. Time management is a waste of time, has no finite measurement, and is confusing. Time allocation says: there are 24 hours in the day. And asks: how will you invest each one of them? Once you realize you need an hour to make follow-ups, an hour to answer emails, an hour to do business social media, and so on — you now understand where your day goes. There is flexibility to go on appointments, attend meetings, and be with your family — but “allocation” is a word that resonates and a concept you can control.
3. ATTRACT. Getting customers to call you is the real key to convert selling to buying. Writing with valuable messages creates attraction (not sitting on a couch manifesting). NOTE WELL: Please don’t confuse this with “prospecting” or “cold calling” — those elements of selling are over. You repel with cold call sales messages that interrupt others. You attract with consistent value messages.
4. ENGAGE. The step after attract is engage. I got you here. Can I keep you here? Why would I want to read, or get involved, or buy? Those answers will lead you to sales. Maybe you need to ask the last ten people that bought.
5. CONNECT. I may buy, but it may be transactional. Is there any reason to stay connected with you? I don’t know your reasons, but I know mine. My customers (like you) want more now and next knowledge. My customers want stuff about them and their success. Yours?
6. VALUE-BASED MESSAGES. Any message you’re sending better have value to the customer or it will be deleted. Any tweet. Any blog post. Any business Facebook post. Any YouTube video. Show me the value.
7. VALUE FIRST. “Value-added” and “value-add” are dead. Those words assume you have to buy something in order to get any value. I am all about providing value in advance of a purchase. (It’s been working for 20 years.) There are “experts” that warn against giving “unpaid consulting.” Those people are idiots. Value first allows your customers to like and respect you as a person. Here’s what I have found to be an unwavering, ultimate truth: The more you give, the more you get. The more information you give away, the more business you receive.
8. BUYING MOTIVES. My trademarked, first rule of selling is, “People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy.” If you’re looking to be a top 5% salesperson, uncovering buying motives is the only way.
9. BUSINESS SOCIAL MEDIA. It’s the single, biggest business imperative of this decade. Here are the minimums that make you a “player.” A thousand people who “like” your Facebook business page. (Have two pages: one personal, one business.) Five hundred twitter followers who receive at least one value tweet a day. Five hundred connections on LinkedIn. This makes your profile page look like mine. Twenty five videos on your YouTube channel that include vital information, ideas, thoughts, and testimonials. Now is the time to get serious about this new business strategy. I have, and it’s working far beyond my expectation in both exposure and remuneration.
10. FACE-TO-FACE. Live networking is still the most viable non-Internet prospecting strategy. Ten hours a week is the minimum.
11. COMMUNITY SOCIAL. Attend the ball, the charity event, the fundraiser, the theater, and the ball game. Be seen and known as a community supporter.
12. FIND THE LINK. When you meet someone face-to-face, it is important to find something in common. When you do, the relationship deepens and becomes more relaxed at the same time.
13. YOUTUBE. YouTube gives me visibility, credibility, and global exposure. For minimal investment. At this writing I have exceeded 2.3 million views on the BuyGitomer channel. Got yours?
14. INTERNET PROMOTION. What are you waiting for? Your marketing department? Your lawyers? The Internet is looking for human beings, not employees. Change your hat. Master your online presence.
15. PERSONAL WEBSITE. No longer an option. Register yourname.com tonight. Start your personal website today. Start with a one-page site that presents your philosophy of how you treat customers.
16. BLOG. This is a personal way to convey thoughts, ideas, and stories. Better than Facebook, blogging is more professional and more personal. If done correctly, you can level the playing field with The New York Times. Many people have.
17. E-ZINE. My weekly email magazine, Sales Caffeine, now ten years old, plays an integral roll in conveying my value messages. In a decade, it has transformed from a message into a business. Start sending a weekly, value-based email to your customers this week. Share your ideas. Share your wisdom. Your customers will like you, love you, respect you, refer you, and continue to buy from you. Mine have.
18. REPUTATION. Reputation of the salesperson is MORE IMPORTANT than reputation of the company or the product. What are you known as? What are you known for? What’s your image? What’s your Google image? What’s your social image? All of these elements turn into ranking and reputation. And it is visible to all — good or bad.
19. UNDERSTAND CREATIVITY. Most people say they’re creative, but they have never read a book on the science of it. That might be a good intention for the remainder of 2012. Start with anything by Michael Michalko.
20. CONVERT LEADS TO SALES. This is as challenging as any sales activity in the cycle. Sales have been dangling in the wind for years. Decisions are finally picking up speed. Now is the time to stay in consistent, “value-based” follow-up mode. Stay on track and sales will follow.
21. YOUR ATTITUDE. You have COMPLETE control and choice as to the way you dedicate yourself to the way you think. As you emerge from the economic depression of the past four years, it is IMPERATIVE that your attitude (both at home and at work) is set on YES! This one element will enhance everyone’s communication, morale, service, and sales.
22. EARN TRUST. You don’t ask for trust. You can’t force trust. You EARN trust. How are you earning it?
23. EARN SALES. You don’t ask for sales. You can’t force sales. You EARN sales. Still asking? Still trying to “close?”
24. EARN LOYALTY. You don’t ask for loyalty. You can’t force loyalty. You EARN loyalty. Loyalty comes from service and value received. Where’s your value?
25. EARN REFERRALS. You don’t ask for referrals. You can’t force referrals. You EARN referrals. Referrals are not just leads, they’re report cards.
26. EARN TESTIMONIALS. You don’t ask for testimonials. You don’t force testimonials. You EARN testimonials. Testimonials are your ONLY valid proof.
27. DIFFERENTIATE IN THE MIND OF THE CUSTOMER. Differentiating is the key to winning on value over price. Your branded emails can differentiate you from the others. Go to www.aceofsales.com, subscribe, and you will immediately begin to genuinely differentiate.
28. TAKE ACTION. Put away the remote. I know you take action during the workday — it’s before and after the workday that I’m talking about. Allocate 30 minutes in the morning and one hour in the evening to improving one of these imperatives each day.
29. CONSISTENCY OF ACTIONS. Get up earlier every day, and do something for YOU. Exercise. Read. Think. Write. Every day. That’s been one of my “obvious” 20-year secrets.
30. NEXT-LEVEL ACHIEVEMENT. Study your business, your market, your competition, your customers, and yourself. When you do, what’s next for you will become obvious.
31. FAMILY SUPPORT. Nothing and no one is more important. You need their support. They need yours. Best advice: Give genuine support, and yours will follow.
32. WRITE EVERY DAY. Writing leads to wealth. Not money, wealth. Every penny I have earned since March 23, 1992, I can trace back to something I wrote. But MUCH MORE than money, I have gained reputation, recognition, and rewards that have enhanced my success all the way to fulfillment. And I promise that writing every day will do the same for you.
32.5 CELEBRATE. OFTEN. Please do not wait to celebrate. Life’s short. Celebrate every thing, every sale, every victory, every day. And don’t be cheap about it. TAKE ACTION NOW, NOT TOMORROW: Go back over the entire list of 32.5 imperatives and rate yourself 1-10 on how well you stack up against each element that I have presented. That will give you the most realistic picture of where you are vs. where you need to be. And it will give you a clearer vision or where you’re going. All you need to do is make a plan of “how.”
Dedicate an hour a day to you. In 20 years, you’ll be an instant success. I’m proof.