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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the Webinar hosted by Fred Diamond, Host of the Sales Game Changers Podcast, on March 27, 2020.]
EPISODE 217: Creativity in Sales Webcast: Six Things Sales Pros Need to Do for Success During the Coronavirus with Sales Expert Tom Snyder
MAJOR TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “We’re not here to just survive. If we can adapt to these changes, we can actually thrive during this time and we can help our customers do that.“
Fred Diamond: For today’s webinar I’m very excited to have Tom Snyder. Tom is an internationally recognized speaker and sales expert, he is the managing partner of Funnel Clarity, he’s a world-renowned speaker on sales training and sales consulting practices. His company, Funnel Clarity, has customers around the globe that they do sales training and sales consulting for. He’s spoken a number of times at the Institute for Excellence in Sales, he’s also been a key note speaker at our award event and he’s also the author of two best-selling McGraw-Hill business books. Tom, it’s great to have you on today’s webinar, I’m really interested to hear what you’re talking about, you’re going to give us 6 things sales professionals should do to be successful and productive. Let’s take it over.
Tom Snyder: Thanks, Fred, and welcome everybody. I’m sure that this is an interesting time, the old curse, “May you live in interesting times.” Before we start, I wanted to just pull up this picture of the cherry blossoms. For those of you who don’t live in Washington, you may have heard about this but it’s a beautiful part of Washington this time of year and it, I’m hoping, reminds you that life is going to go on and we’re going to get over this and everything is going to get back to normal at some point in the future. I wanted to marry it with a quote from Marilynne Robinson out of Gilead and she said, “When things are taking their ordinary course, it’s hard to remember what matters.” The inverse of that is true also, when things don’t take their normal course it reminds us of the things that matter perhaps too strongly.
What I wanted to do today is provide you these 6 things, I want to emphasize something that’s very important to me and everyone at Funnel Clarity. Far too many people are self-proclaimed experts and if you’re looking on LinkedIn these days or in Facebook, you can see tons of “advice” people are giving folks like yourself, salespeople. Most of it, if you understand the research, is either not particularly of use or some of it’s actually wrong. Every single thing I’m going to talk about today has been the subject of real honest to goodness research meaning real field research collecting data, doing the statistics.
These are not 6 things Tom made up, these are not 6 things that somebody told me were a good idea, these are literally things that came out of the studies and as I go through them, I’m going to describe the pedigree of them and where they came from. I want us to be clear that what we’re trying to do today is give you some ideas around how to recreate yourself so that you can succeed and thrive during this trying time. Yes, I mean succeed and thrive, I don’t like the idea of survive. We’re not here to just survive. If we can adapt to these changes, we can actually thrive during this time and we can help our customers do that. Let’s focus on that objective as we go through a couple of things.
First of all, these 6 things can be summed up with these headlines. #1, you now have a new job. #2, mindset matters. #3, there are stages of adjusting to change. If you can recognize them in yourself and then recognize them in the folks that you’re talking to as prospects and customers, you’ll find it’s much easier to get those conversation that remain of substance and of interest to both parties. Change equals opportunity and at no time is this change more recognizable than now. The larger the degree of change and the more sudden that change is introduced, the larger the opportunity. I will explain more of that. Environment, where we work and our calendar and how it can be most useful to us. What I’m going to try to do is wrap all these things together so that when we end with contract and strategy, we’ve got some ideas you can employ. If any of this is interesting to you I’m sure we can help you explore it further but I want to assure you that all of this came out of an exhaustive body of studies.
Let’s talk about a new job. The world changed, we all know that, whatever date you want to pick, it could be the beginning of mid-January where we heard all the news from Wuhan, it could be the middle of March when the United States began to shut down in many cases, it could have been yesterday. Whatever it is, though, the degree of this change and the degree to which a very unusual experience none of us have ever gone through before was introduced meant it changed everything and whatever job you have in sales has just changed to a new job. I want you to be thinking about that mentality. I don’t mean your employer may be any different, I don’t mean that the individuals that you call on may be any different but the job you have has taken on a tremendous amount of change.
When we think about a new job, what do we do? What would you do if you had, literally, a new job? This pandemic hadn’t occurred, somehow it just arrived that either you sought them out, they sought you out and now you have a new job. What would you do? Think about it in exactly that way. The first thing you do is you meet new people, you’d meet the people in the new company, you’d meet people you hadn’t met before in the marketplace, it would have a much higher volume of new introductions, not something to be ignored when we’re in the midst of this isolation. We can now reach out in LinkedIn, we can reach out in social media, we can reach out through Facebook, Instagram and all the social distanced ways of reaching out but most people are not going to do it. They’re going to accept the isolation as preventing them from doing it. You wouldn’t do it if you had a new job, who would take a new job and then suddenly hide in their cubicle and not go meet anybody?
Another thing you’d do is you’d take the effort to understand both the market you’re selling into and the customers and prospects you have to deal with. Their world has changed, they too have a new job so the level of understanding you had four months ago or five months ago needs to be updated. How do we do that? We talk to people, not about what we want to sell them, not about what they may want to buy at the moment, we talk to our customers, people in the marketplace, our prospects first about how their job has changed, how has the strategy of your company changed, how have the ideas and business goals been altered. We first want to get an understanding just like we would if we had a new job. What problems do we solve? Maybe they’re no different than they were five months ago but I suspect there are certain characteristics of our solutions, certain characteristics of the problems we solve that we can adapt to a new world.
At the end of the day, we’re looking for those new protocols. What are the new ways that we are either characterizing or adapting the solutions we sell? What are the ways that we routinely communicate with our customers and prospects? All these things, I think one part of it can be on the step towards the positive. Adjusting as though you had a new job, maybe the faces haven’t changed but the job will have changed somewhat. Fred, do you have any questions at this point?
Fred Diamond: Just curiously, are you finding that the sales managers that you’re working with – and you work with tons of sales managers around the globe – are they dictating this message to people or do salespeople need to take it upon themselves to realize this?
Tom Snyder: That’s a great question and we actually had teams looking into that. The easiest summary is because of the isolated nature of the way most people are working, and many of them are working that way for the first time, a lot of this has to be taken on as an individual. However, the really successful managers have begun organizing virtual meetings around subjects like this. They may not title it, “You have a new job” but these items I’ve listed here again, they come from the research of how do people best adapt to a new job, how do people best adapt to a dramatic change in their marketplace and these are literally the things that come out of that research’s best practice. The very best managers are doing that in a remote way.
Fred Diamond: Very good.
Tom Snyder: I want you to be thinking about – I look at this as and maybe I just want to call it an adaptation to a new world – how am I from my own personal success going to describe and measure the next run on that ladder? How will I know that I have embraced these ideas or that I’m remaining positive, I’m really adapting faster than my competitors, I’m going to be part of the solution, not part of the problem? In other words, what am I going to evaluate? What am I shooting for? Is it a particular metric around the number of people I add to my professional network? Is it a particular metric around the number of opportunities I qualify at the top of my funnel? Is it really about getting a new level of understanding of the current strategies and goals of my existing clients? What is it that I’m going to find as my next run that I’m going to work for? Do these things and the research says you will adapt at the fastest possible rate to a new job. It’s no different now because many of the aspects of your job from five months ago will have changed.
Mindset, let’s talk a little bit about what we mean by mindset. You can choose to be either a positive force or you can choose to work or live in fear. The point of all this is that you need to recognize a lot of research has been done around what I’m going to refer to as the curve of adaptation. The work really began, if you remember from psychology class by the work of Kubler Ross, it has been greatly expanded upon since that time but there are some very significant identifiable phases that individuals go through when a change is thrust on them. The more dramatic the change, the more sudden the change, the more poignant or pointed these stages are. As I go through them, I want you to think about yourself. The first stage, of course, is denial. “No, no, the change really isn’t happening.” Where did we see all over the world the idea that, “No, this is a hoax, this is made up, this is exaggerated, this isn’t really it”? It’s not because those people were trying to lie, it’s because the natural reaction to a change of dramatic proportions is denial but as experience begins to accumulate very quickly, that translates then into frustration and concern.
Frustration, “Why did this happen? Who’s to blame? Why can’t we get this over with? What’s the problem?” And we begin to see that this change is not going to go away quickly, it’s not going to disappear and return us to where we were before and we can often find ourselves sinking into a big of a depression, but for most people that doesn’t last very long because out of that depression they recognize we’re not going backwards. We’re not going back to where we were 7 or 8 months ago. We then enter a phase of experimentation and creativity. “Let me try this, let me think about that, let me adjust this way” and we begin adapting, we begin looking as only the human species can do in a very short time, adapt to a dramatic change. Ultimately, we reach a point of not only acceptance but of success, we reach a point where we have now achieved perhaps even a better world or a better situation than before. I want you to think about this for just a moment and think about where are you in this. Are you still telling yourself this can’t be real? Are you focused on the frustrations it’s causing you? Maybe your school year has been cancelled and your young children are at home and at the same time you’re trying to work and you’re just so focused on the frustrations and energy of taking that out, or has it gotten to the point where you’re a little blue about this?
Maybe you’ve already begun trying different approaches and different things of managing through and adapting to this, or you add acceptance where now you are primed for success. All of us, 100% of us will go through these identifiable stages. Some faster than others, some stages may take longer than others but think about it first about yourself and then I want to challenge you to be thinking your own, “When I reach out to prospects and customers, how am I going to figure out where they are?” Because where they are has a profound effect on whether we can help them, whether we can conduct business with them, whether we can add them successfully to our network. Fred, any questions there?
Fred Diamond: I do, and again if anybody has any questions on the webinar, use your question panel to pass them on. Tom, you and I have had many conversations about mindset and we’ve spoken, you’re actually one of the leading thinkers on the sales mindset and growth mindset. A question for you is give us one bit of advice or tip that you do or that you’ve communicated to top performing sales professionals to shift your mindset. Let’s say you’re in that moment where you have young kids in the house as well and it’s not a very nice day, people aren’t interacting the way you want to and you’re getting a little bit frustrated. Maybe give us a tool that you’ve used to mindset shift especially in a time like this where there’s such challenges.
Tom Snyder: It’s a great question, Fred, we could talk hours about it. I’ll give you one or two tips. I want to remind you that these stages happen any time we have a change thrust on us. It could be something like, god forbid, you broke your leg playing softball or you had a car accident, it could be any kind of thing so how do we get out of that? We get out of that by focusing on that fourth bullet: experimentation and creativity. The tactic of doing that is this simple. When you are feeling that level of frustration or perhaps being a bit blue and maybe your young children are very restless or it’s just your stir-crazy going inside or there’s five things you need to get done at once, or you’re having a hard time focusing on work, you keep getting distracted. You simply, even if there is cacophony around you, I want you to take out a piece of paper and let your mind go of judgement. I want you to write down every word that comes to mind, phrase, whatever, free form without judgement, I want it written on paper or typed down on your laptop, everything that will be representative of an immediate success.
What would that look like? No word is too silly, no phrase is too ridiculous, no idea is too grandiose. I want you to do that for at least three minutes, that’s a long time, set a timer. Once you’ve done that, I want you to then go back and strike all the ones that are silly or grandiose and boil it down to a list of the possible. The brain does not operate well in a situation where you’re trying to be creative and judgmental, it stifles everything so you need to let the creative part of your thinking mechanism work without judgement first. Stop doing that and then go back to thinking about making the judgement. I’m going to talk about that in another context in just a moment. Is that helpful, Fred?
Fred Diamond: Perfect, sounds great.
Tom Snyder: Third, I want you to always think about this from now on forever and not one day in sales do I ever want you to forget this, pandemic or no pandemic. Change is the engine of opportunity. If the existing solutions, materials, whatever that people were using continue to be optimal and never wore out and there were no new innovations and nothing ever changed, there would be nothing to buy. If you think of the opposite of that, any decision maker who is expressing frustration or expressing an aspiration unfulfilled is doing so because the world has changed and those changes have made what used to be optimal no longer optimal. As those frustrations or those unfulfilled aspirations continue to build, they will reach critical mass at a point when that person then begins to advocate considering a purchase.
If you think about it, when we take something so dramatic and so sudden as how fast this pandemic came on us, it has created a tremendous amount of change. Therefore, it has created for us opportunities for both failure and success. We have an opportunity to address our marketplace in ways we haven’t had to or thought of before. We also have the opportunity to simply suck our thumb and go in the corner. Everybody deserves a little time to go through denial, frustration, maybe even a little depression but this sudden and dramatic change gives us an opportunity to not only survive but to thrive and come out of this thing in a dominant successful position. That’s not because I told you that, that’s not because I’m trying to give some motivational speech, that’s what the research says. If we’re going to do that, then what I just described as brainstorming is going to be very important.
Most people think a brainstorm means let’s all get in a room and shout out ideas. I guess you could call that brainstorming, the problem is that the loudest voice usually wins. Brainstorming done by individuals and brainstorming done by groups of individuals has the exact same pattern. The first thing you do is you work individually, you quietly do what I told you to do, you focus on whatever it is you’re trying to consider, achieve, solve and you simply let the mind go, no judgement and you write down terms or words that will remind you of every kind of thing that came to mind in this creative phase. This doesn’t have to be three minutes, it can be 30 minutes, it could be 30 seconds but it needs to be sustained without judgement and then you go back and you look at the ones that you consider perhaps ridiculous, perhaps counter-intuitive but you’ll boil out the list that’s really good. Judgement follows the ideation piece. Therefore, if you begin thinking about how this change, this sudden introduction of we now have to shelter in place, we now have to change everything about the way we’re working, it’s harder to get ahold of some people, they’re distracted, you begin to think about those things. Think about the ideas that you can control, that you can deal with and if you can do so brainstorming remotely with several colleagues, so much the better.
If you can do it with current customers with whom you have a great relationship, so much the better. If you can do it with folks that are maybe strangers to you but have the same orientation in the marketplace, so much the better. Change is the engine of opportunity, we can engage with that opportunity, provide our different services, be a better provider of value to our customers if we can follow this process. We also ought to be expanding our network. The typical LinkedIn outreach, for example, “Hi Bob, my name is Tom Snyder, I was looking at your profile, seems like we have common interests, let’s add each other to our professional network” I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I think that’s reasonable but I’m really talking about doing this in a much more consorted way. I think it’s a time in which you can block out time in the calendar every day, call it 30 minutes, do key word searches or Boolean searches into your network on LinkedIn, into your network on Facebook and be thinking about how do I suss out the kind of professionals who I would like to add to my network. These could be complimentary services or products sold by other companies, this could be decision makers inside the marketplace you care about most that aren’t in your network now.
I think you should look at this as the perfect time to do that outreach and that outreach can be acknowledging the fact that we’re in a tough time, since we’re all isolated and now working in isolation I’m making an effort to really reach out and expand my network with the kind of people with whom I can develop a valuable relationship. I want you to think about that. You also might want to do some brainstorming reframing your solutions. Our solutions aren’t going to change, if we’re selling a software SaaS solution it’s not going to change, if we’re selling some sort of capital good it’s not going to change. It’s not like our employers are just suddenly going to wake us up on Monday morning and have a whole new product this week but the framing of the solution meaning, “How does this provide value, the solution to a problem? What can we now fix, accomplish or avoid through our products and services that the new customer and the new world I’m selling into can utilize?”
I say this and I just pray to god it does not sound self-serving, I’m in the sales training business. This is a superb time to work on those skills, it is a superb time to take one or more online training courses even if you have to pay for them. It is the perfect time to be sharpening the saw because so many of your competitors are going to be viewing this as snow days and so many of your customers and prospects need you to be better, need you to be a better coach of their decisions. Think about doing that. Again, reach out to buyers, reach out to customers, reach out to people with no message about, “I’m trying to see if you’re a prospect, I’m trying to add you to my portfolio.” I just need a conversation with a series of people in your role, I need to know what your peers are thinking, I need to know what your competitors are doing, what the marketplace is telling you.”
Remember, that’s exactly what you’d do if you had a new job in sales for a different company. Fred, do you want to ask any questions about this before I move to environment?
Fred Diamond: Yes, and once again if anybody on the webinar has any questions, enter them through the panel. Tom, we did get a question here and you’ve began to touch on it with your last bullet point, understand your buyer. Once again, this is Tom Snyder, he’s the managing partner for Funnel Clarity. Tom, you’re one of the experts around the world on sales conversations in general. Everyone is going through what we’re going through right now, everyone’s having challenges with their customers and their family and uncertainty, if you will. Could you talk for a second or two about maybe having more personal conversations or maybe being a little more vulnerable? I’m just curious what your thoughts are as compared to purely business type conversations right now with your prospects.
Tom Snyder: That is a subject which literally we have several different training courses on but let me give you a couple of things you can do right now that will adapt to that world. First of all, the research has revealed that the two most powerful ways of establishing trust, rapport and transparency with somebody who doesn’t know you or doesn’t know you well are the techniques that are labelled testing understanding and summarizing. Testing understanding is labelled because that’s exactly what it is. “Mary, we’ve had a great talk here, let me make sure I’m getting the important points” and we restate the central themes of what Mary’s been trying to say.
The key to doing it is we have a tendency to only do that when we are struggling to understand. If we can do that occasionally in these conversations when we clearly understand, the power it has on the other person and the way that conversation will unfold is hard to describe in just a few minutes, but it’s extraordinary. It is the primary way of showing empathy. Everybody these days tells you, “Be empathetic” and you might as well say, “Grow taller” because a lot of people aren’t telling you how. I’m telling you, if you can use that technique, it’d be great. The other one is that people are stressed, they’re focused just like anyone else, they’re somewhere along that curve. I said earlier, if you can plan in your mind, “What am I going to be listening for and what am I going to ask that will tell me is this a person in denial, is this a person who is in frustration phase, is this a person who’s depressed, is this a person who’s experimenting and thinking about creative things, is this somebody who’s at acceptance and looking for different success? Then how does my conversation help them move to the next step, help them move forward?
If you can do that, you can set up a lot of benefits for both yourself and for the person you’re talking to. It’s a big topic, if anyone is interested please don’t hesitate to go to the website and call us if you’re interested in that.
Let’s talk a little bit about environment, I promised you all this was one way or another from research. One of the things about an environment, if you’re familiar with the term ‘contract furniture’, the marketplace is dominated by four very large manufacturers but there’s actually hundreds of manufacturers. Contract furniture comes in four categories: government – what am I going to sell to government agencies – businesses, education and hospitals. The big four in that industry are Herman Miller, Steelcase, KI and Haworth all do ongoing research and it’s extraordinary how much they’ve done about the effective environment on both productivity and morale. I’m telling you, they’ve done hundreds of these studies.
When you look at those data and you look at that research you realize that when you take someone who has been traditionally spending part of all of their time in an office with colleagues who now is told to be isolated alone in their home and communicate by some means of electronic media, you are introducing something that’s both insidious and destructive to productivity unless we know how to deal with it. #1, that research reveals that there is a natural blending between home life and work life and both will suffer. If we are spending part of all of our work days in a different environment, whatever that environment may be like and then we’re coming home at ‘the end of the day’, the sanctuary where we eat, we sleep, we nurture ourselves, we have fellowship with our family is physically separate from where we conduct our business. That means the boundary doesn’t have to be consciously enforced. Yes, there are people who bring too much work home or bring home the problems of work but the boundary physically makes a very big difference. We have to try as best we can to create a dedicated work space and that dedicated work space needs to be as closely mimicking the workspace we use if we’re traditionally working in an office even part of the time. It is destructive to morale, it is destructive to productivity and these studies prove it, if you’re going to sit on your bed in your pajamas with your laptop open and conduct business as you would have conducted it in an office. A dedicated space ideally is an isolated space but it may not be, you may live in a small apartment with roommates, you may live in a place with a lot of children but if you’re going to use the kitchen table while you’re using it as a workspace, that’s all it is.
It doesn’t have anything else on it except things appropriate for your work. Once it’s a kitchen table, you take all that and put it somewhere and now it returns to be a home space. If you’re going to make spaces play duplicate duties, they have to be very distinctively different when they’re a workspace than when they’re a home space. The data proved this up one side and down another. The other thing we want to be sure we do is interact with colleagues and it doesn’t have to always be about the ABC account or about some other issue, it’s important because that’s what we do at work. It’s the primary way many people get fellowship beyond their family. If we’re used to talking about the frustrations of no NCAA tournament, let’s get two other colleagues on the phone and spend 15 minutes talking about it. If we’re interested in some sort of pursuit, what would be those conversations we’d have with those colleagues? Maybe it’s as simple as, “Hey, let’s all get lunch, dial each other up and eat together even though we’re miles apart?” We can have one of those apps I talked about where we can at least see each other and interact. I think this one’s a big one.
We need to celebrate and share our successes. If we’re used to ringing the gong at the office, maybe we can get a little one or maybe we can create some alternative but let’s actually ring the gong at the office and let’s do that also in a way where when we are having our group meetings in remote locations isolated from each other but we’re doing it over our laptop, whatever, just be sure we’re talking about success. There’s way too much talk, way too much marination in the bad news of the pandemic, we’ve got to isolate ourselves from that in some way. Breaks are more important than they were when you’re in the office, they have a natural flow in the office, they have an unnatural flow in your workspace from home. If you don’t set the times when you’re going to do it, what’s going to happen is every interruption will be a break and the interruptions won’t isolate you enough to get your work done well. Control what you can, ignore what you can’t.
Don’t beat yourself up if, for example, you have young children or elderly parents who are demanding of your time, you do what you can do but I want you to get from this part of it that your environment matters. Your environment matters physically, put yourself in the best possible space you can by doing what you can to create a specific workspace, recognize that when you’re in that workspace you’re at work even though you’re doing it in the sanctuary of your home. The sanctuary of your home is everywhere else in that environment, not your workspace. Your workspace and your home life are now colliding but you have to put a boundary in as best you can. Fred.
Fred Diamond: Those are great points and actually one of the members of the Institute for Excellence in Sales posted something on Facebook today and she just wrote, “Give us a compliment that someone has given you over the last couple of days.” One of the challenges with working at home or if you haven’t before, it’s not really the refrigerator, it’s the solitude. No matter how much we’re looking at the screen and Zooming and go to webinar and webcasting and conference calling, you’re away from human beings. This goes back to your mindset point but definitely make sure that you’re getting out, you’re getting up, it’s a beautiful day outside in the DC region. Half the people who are listening to today’s webinar are from outside of the DC region, I see some people from other countries as well, which is great but do that. We just got a note coming in also, I just want to say a little bit about the webinar before we get to Tom’s fifth and sixth points. We will be converting this into a Sales Game Changers podcast with a complete transcription as well. Tom, I’m sure you’re okay if we make these slides available also.
Tom Snyder: That’s not a problem. The last point I wanted to make on this point is what you wear. Again, I can talk to you about research done by everybody from the US military to school systems to many institutions. What we wear is a projection of the role we are playing. If you think about your life before this pandemic, whatever you wore was a broadcast of something about you and when we go inside our sanctuary we no longer feel compelled to broadcast anything about the role we’re playing or what we are.
The problem is if we’re not dressing for work, we’re not really going to work so as much as it may sound ridiculous, if you work in an environment where business formal is what you’re supposed to wear, then wear it during the business day. If it’s a business casual with a collared shirt or whatever, make sure you’re doing that. You sit around in your pajamas even in a dedicated work space, it’s not like you’re working and you’re allowing the home environment and the work environment to clash and intersect and when you do that, the work always suffers. Important stuff, lots of research supporting those things.
Let me talk about the last two things here. #1, the calendar. Most people think of their calendar as a place to track obligations and in fact, if you look at the vast majority of salespeople, they don’t even do that very well. Interestingly, if you look at the studies of the top 5% of sales performers regardless of company, country or industry, there are several things that come out of that research. One of them is people in that level of performance tend to use their calendar as a strategic and performance tool, not just a place to track their obligations. What do I mean by a strategic tool? They dedicate blocks of time in a proactive way to certain activities. For example, I have suggested that it’s a good idea to brainstorm. It isn’t going to happen by intention alone, it’s only going to happen if it’s actually blocked in your calendar and you tell yourself, “I’m not going to allow anything but an emergency to interrupt that commitment.”
That means being rigorous about figuring out what are the key activities that you can do proactively to thrive and succeed during these times, being evaluative of your calendar, how much time and what cadence can I actually fulfill and then what are the rules that I’m going to determine a priori about what’s an interruption and what don’t I allow as an interruption? One thing’s pretty simple. If I’m checking my text messages and my email every time the bell rings, every time the buzzer goes off, every five minutes I’m ruining the mental discipline it takes to do a good job and thrive. I want you to set up these rules of interruption before you get interrupted and then live to them. What are the emergencies that will take priority of whatever I’m doing? What other rule is there? The answer should be, “Other than those things, there aren’t any.” Routines really matter more than ever and those routines need to be captured in the calendar, they need to be captured in the calendar and you give yourself a checkmark, a star wherever you’re able to fulfill the obligation you gave yourself for that block of time. Do not just schedule appointments, use the calendar as the tool to help you grow and thrive. What does that mean? Brainstorming, new contacts, reaching out to existing customers, time to understand the marketplace, time to understand the buyers and how they’ve changed, time for breaks.
I want you to be rigorous about setting up the routines in your calendar and quite frankly, this goes well beyond just the troubles we’re having with this pandemic. If you can make this a habit, you’ll be astonished how quickly you migrate to the top 5%. Be realistic about the length of your work day. You now do have the direct intersection of your home sanctuary family life with your work space so let’s be realistic. If we’re tending to elderly parents, if we’re tending to young children, if we’ve got a lot of roommates that are now quarantined with us, whatever environment we’re in we’re going to have to be realistic and if we’re going to tell ourselves that now that I don’t have to commute or I don’t have to take a shower and get down to the office on the train we’re really kidding ourselves, we’re not adding any time. Let’s be realistic, know how much time we can actually dedicate to the work and then make that work routine engaging and fun by having the calendar allow us to do a variety of activities with a variety of timings blocked out so I’m not getting the monotony of one activity done for far too long. I really want you to be sure you’re setting times to summarize for yourself the things you’ve learned, the things you’ve heard, the things that you have discovered and then also set aside some time for brainstorming. Fred, anything before we go to the last one?
Fred Diamond: Tom, you’re giving us some great ideas here. We’ve just got some great questions, let me gave you a question here that just came in from the attendees. Tom, I just want to say thank you so much for all this great insight that you’re giving us. One of the things that has always distinguished Funnel Clarity from a lot of the other sales training organizations out there is that your work is based on science, it’s based on research, over the years you and your organization don’t just throw out ideas that a lot of “sales pundits and experts” do, your work is based on deep, rigorous analysis and I can see how it applies here today. Let me just ask you a question here from the audience and then we’ll move to your last point. How much leeway do you allow in your calendar for emergencies and fire-fighting? For example, do you block out 60% of your day and leave the rest for unforeseen demands on your time? Why don’t you give us a second or two on your approach to calendarizing in any situation?
Tom Snyder: That’s a fantastic question, compliments to whoever posted it. First of all, rather than tell you what I do let me tell you what the research says and let’s be clear about something, a couple of rules in answer to that. #1, you cannot fill up your day with back-to-back time blocks even if you’re interspersing a few breaks because life doesn’t isolate you that way. I would strongly suggest that you take a look at what a reasonable work day length you have and the best practice would be to say, “I’m going to allocate 60% of my time” – you hit it right on the nose – “to my intentional activities and leave 40% for the unexpected.” I want to point out that most unexpected things don’t have to be done in an emergency way. I want there to be a distinction between emergencies which are the rules of interruption, meaning the calendar goes out the window if something really dramatic happens, versus the unexpected interruptions where I can say, “Okay, from 3 to 5 this afternoon I’m going to return those emails, I’m going to return those calls or the things that came in that I didn’t have the ability to calendar.”
Fred Diamond: Tom, let me ask you one last question because this has come up from a couple people and then we’ll get to your last point if you actually want to even move to the next slide. Again, your company is called Funnel Clarity, you’re a well-renowned expert on prospecting. Someone asked here, “Is anyone changing behaviors? Is this the right time to prospect into new accounts? Is this the right time to call on people that we’ve never spoken to before?”
Tom Snyder: Whoever’s asking these questions, you’re doing great, thank you so much, folks. The direct answer from the research is as follows. When people are in denial, frustration or depression, they will react either not at all or very negatively to a prospecting outreach. When they’re in experiment or acceptance they will be more enthusiastic than they’ve ever been before, #1. #2, in general, as time goes on there’ll be fewer and dramatic drops in the number of people in denial, frustration and depression. At the moment in the United States – and I don’t know about other countries because I haven’t been able to get ahold of the folks that we were relying on for data in those countries – it appears to us from the trends that outreach of any kind meaning email, social media, telephone, whatever should not really start until next Wednesday. What you should be doing between now and then is building the list of individuals and building that network up. That Wednesday date is picked relatively as an extrapolation, I don’t want to make it a hard and fast rule, it may actually be a week from today to be on the safe side but the numbers are showing a great trend away from this point, denial and frustration. There has been an uptick in those that report being what we are labeling depressed, we don’t really mean that clinically but there’s also a surge in the folks who are doing the experimentation. I hope that’s helpful.
Fred Diamond: Let’s get to your last of the 6 points.
Tom Snyder: I’m going to go through these quickly. Please block out time to expand your network. When you have these conversations, I think if you can do so with genuineness in your word choice, this idea of your trying to find information and get a feel for how the world is changing, “Is there any way you can help provide similar information to those that you’re contacting?” is really a good context for that. Expand your network outreach whether that’s done with in-mail, on LinkedIn, email, voicemail, phone call, whatever. Keep your conversations focused on being upbeat. I don’t mean to be supercilious about it, I don’t mean a big “Ra-ra-ra, don’t worry, it’s all going to be okay!” It’s sort of a lunatic if somebody doesn’t know you [Laughs] but a few things about checking understanding, testing understanding, a bit of conversation of honest exchange I think is really interesting to the extent you can. I think you should brainstorm with others, others could be colleagues, they could be even competitors, in some cases they could be customers, they could be prospects, whatever. I want you to remember something, you’re the answer, you can thrive and succeed here and beyond, you can help your organization thrive and succeed here and beyond, you can actually be a fundamental part of helping your country and your fellow citizens get out of this. Did you have any last question there, Fred?
Fred Diamond: We’re good, why don’t you get to the wrap and then we’ll say a couple last words?
Tom Snyder: I just wanted to say one thing that I want you to remember. At the end of the day, differentiators, decision criteria and value are not always just about how much you charge people or what you’re selling them. Every bit of research will say that you, the salesperson, can be the most important differentiator and one of the most fundamental decision criteria by which people choose to do business. If you will adapt these techniques that I’ve talked about not because I say so but because the research says so, you’ll be surprised how much you can exercise the reality on this screen. I hope these 6 things were of value, I hope we have given you some things to think about. Fred, I’ll hand it over to you to wrap it up.
Fred Diamond: Tom, I want to thank you. One of our listeners just typed in, “This has been definitely helpful as there is no playbook for what we’re going through right now.” I want to thank Tom Snyder, Link into him if you aren’t Linked into him already, he’s one of the true sales thinkers out there. We’ve had him speak at the Institute at least a half a dozen times and we’re grateful, Tom, for your insights. Again, we’re going to be transcribing today’s webinar, it’ll be available also as a Sales Game Changers podcast. Next Friday, same time, 11 o’clock Eastern Time. Key note speaker will be Brynne Tillman, Brynne as known as the LinkedIn whisperer, she’s spoken at the Institute twice and she is fabulous. She’s going to be talking about building empathy through LinkedIn during the pandemic and it’s going to be great. Once again, I want to thank you all for being here, it’s a challenging time for sales professionals around the globe. Feel free to reach out to me, Fred Diamond, feel free to reach out to Tom Snyder. Take care and have a great day. Thanks Tom, and thanks everybody for being on the webcast.