seven ways to sales success in 2023
Do you know where clients come from?
Every time a client appears from the blue I ask how we got the job. Every time someone from Kissing With Confidence took an action that built the relationship. Every time someone made the rain.
After walking Holborn to Battersea then back over the Thames to Pimlico I found the Regency Café, as the precise moment I decided my seven mile early morning walk deserved eggs and bacon. Finding the perfect greasy spoon had nothing to do with luck and it’s the same with clients.
Your seven ways to sales in 2023 have a perfect metaphor in my half hour of breakfasting bliss.
- Twelve Weeks To Fitness
- Culture Club
- Pack Trainers
- Out At 7am
- The Next Bridge
- Walk This Way
Sales solve everything and these stories show you how to achieve more.
TWELVE WEEKS TO FITNESS
Be systematic. Be conscientious. Be pro-active.
Sales is not passing business cards or firing emails between Zoom calls, though both can be useful. Getting fit takes time, as does making the rain. Walking six miles to Battersea Power Station at 7am was achievable because I was fit as a butcher’s dog.
Rainmakers are on one hand intuitive and creative, on the other well organised. The latter means being conscientious:
If you don’t measure, you won’t know how you’re doing.
If you don’t capture, leads slip through your fingers.
If you don’t take action, someone else will.
Develop a Rainmaker mindset. Be systematic and never let sales fall off your agenda. Face the wall, steel yourself, do something every day: that’s what gets results.
It’s the business development equivalent of a daily workout for three months.
It’s neither difficult nor creative. You simply need to get off the sofa and start; done is better than perfect, so beware analysis paralysis. My getting toned up and a trouser size down was through walking, imperfect sit ups and comical yoga.
The best time to start your 2023 sales plan was three months ago, the second best time is today.
Meet on Zoom often, cameras on; Get into the office; Listen, but call out the terrorists.
Culture eats strategy for breakfast is the biggest lesson from lockdown. Kissing With Confidence was gone for three months and on life support over the summer of 2020. All we had then was huge creative energy… and a team.
What a team!
I had avoided the annual Get Your Shoes On challenge for years, but was finally caught. Cardio replaced my daily aerobic efforts for a fortnight. I even pumped up my bike tyres as there were MAMILs cycling further than I go on holiday.
Rainmakers can be lone wolves, to be sure, but even they are better in a pack. Sales is a team game and the value in our weekly sales meeting, face-to-face again, is huge. I may frame the spreadsheets, such is their beauty and utility.
Leads become calls then proposals, pitches and clients. There are 19 steps to get right from enquiry to training room.
You need to know every stage from inception to completion and work hard to get them right. Ensure everyone knows the value they bring to clients and everyone in your business will make the rain. No facilitator is an island.
Zoom is terrific in enabling KWCHQ keep in touch when we are out on the road.
Teamwork gives you synergy, a shoulder to cry on for the inevitable knock-backs and pals to pop the Prosecco when you win big.
When you don’t feel like going out for 12 miles on Saturday morning, the first six uphill and the second into the wind and rain, knowing others are putting numbers on the STRAVA is the perfect persuader.
Neither sales nor bike rides happen by accident. Minding your team builds resilience and brings opportunity, it’s that simple.
Be ready. Form good habits. Be relentless.
Imagine Andy Murray didn’t pack trainers because the others were too good. Data shows he was fourth best out of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. Yet he got to world number one in 2016.
Staying in the Big Smoke in September I had exercised every day, but a mid-October overnight had me thinking of not bothering. Monday’s keynote needed only two pens in my pocket.
Going without trainers would have been an act of self-sabotage, nobody walks ten miles before breakfast in work shoes, so they squeezed in (shorts and daft wee socks stuffed inside).
Get lazy with rainmaking and someone else gets the sale, another man in white the Wimbledon title. Pack your trainers and you have no more than a chance, but a chance is all you need.
It’s a numbers game. Murray had little chance of getting to number one in 2016, Djokovic was too far ahead, but when the Serb flamed out the Scot was ready.
Murray got to the top despite the odds, because he set up for success. There is an awesome two-minute video of him on court, sprinting left and right, taking a medicine ball on first bounce and throwing it back to his coach. That’s how you learn to return Nadal’s 180km serves.
Choose the task, find your why, prepare the ground… but then set yourself right. Cut yourself a little slack, to be sure, but not too much.
Get into a rainmaking habit that suits your style, works with the rhythm of your life and gets results. My most productive three hours are 5am to 8am and my co-founder’s 7pm to 10pm; Sharon likes order and I tend towards chaos; one of us loves a spreadsheet, the other a black Sharpie.
Imagine Murray stopped packing trainers after many failures when world number four because a Scot could never win three majors, two Olympic golds or be World Number One.
OUT AT 7AM
Start early. Stay late. Be better tomorrow than you are today.
Joy is usually fleeting and unexpected and you won’t find it if you’re not out there. Choose your mood for the upcoming networking-fest. Let others quit quietly while you go out and get busy.
My window faced an internal courtyard and the weather app said cloudy with a 70% chance of rain. It was colder than summer. I was here for one day. I was on the fifth floor. There was hotel coffee and free chocolate cake, a gift from Chez Antoinette, Covent Garden. Let him eat more cake, the manager said.
That’s eight good reasons to stay in bed, but I had set a goal. Daybreak was at 6.52am.
Networking is back, in real rooms but with fewer air kisses. Meetings are on, with real handshakes. Awaydays are happening, with new colleagues you are unsure about.
This is not as bad as you imagine. Nor are the other rainmaking tasks you get in a two and eight about. I love the Zoom room but I’m not twelve so it’s time to polish those shoes, find a suit (or whatever) that fits, buy new lippy.
I would make St. Paul’s by 7am then cross the Thames and do Downward Facing Doug at the Tate Modern, before heading west to Battersea.
By the time I made Millennium Bridge London was bathed in brilliant sunshine. The weather app was having a Michael Fish day.
You never know what’s ahead, imagine staying in on a day like that. But even if the weather had been poor, there are worse things than clouds and drizzle. There are worse things than having to make a dozen coldish calls. Worse things than crafting a bunch of emails and then getting lots of knockbacks, or more likely silence (at least it means you are out there, asking… Go ask again).
Next event, go speak to the most unlikely person in the room with open body language, a smile and plenty eye contact. Wink at them (okay, don’t wink at them).
Start early, because sometimes it’s a beautiful day.
Just. Fucking. Do. It.
Just do it. Start walking in the right direction.
“Go west, wee man!” a Dench like voice asserted (I was facing the Globe Theatre) so I headed for the next bridge, stopping occasionally for downward facing Dougs.
Battersea Power Station was worth it. Beauty, scale and robust elegance was waiting down the Thames. As a nice bonus it had just opened to the public. Poor research has its benefits, as analysis paralysis is less likely. Had I known Battersea was six miles from Holborn I might not have set off. Blackfriars, Waterloo and Westminster Bridges were familiar, Lambeth and Vauxhall less so and Battersea not at all. Sometimes, though, you simply must JFDI.
Find your focus and then speak and write about it. It’s easy to think you’re not ready to start, but you are. Call your alma mater and offer a talk, ping you professional body with a seminar outline or ask the marketing team what’s hot.
My first presentation for Kissing With Confidence was over two decades ago, to the bufties at the Rotary Club in Hamilton, on Passionate Oral Communication. I got my dinner free but had to buy a raffle ticket. Now we deliver The Art Of Storytelling globally.
Before lockdown our biggest event was in The Lighthouse, Glasgow. The investment of time and money was quite something and it took months to organise. There were Tunnock’s Caramel Logs and rolls on square sliced for 70 souls.
Then the world changed. There were sceptics before our first online REMO Conference, but we went for it. There was no downside. Delegates would make their own breakfast and we had a fortnight either side of Christmas to get bums on seats.
Start small, dream big a great Steve Jobs quote. Over 200 attended from all over the world, with no room booking required.
How do you eat an elephant? One bridge at a time.
THE NEXT BRIDGE
Be curious. Be different. Be creative.
Rainmakers must be conscientious, to be sure, but creativity wins the biggest prizes at every stage of the sales process.
Few are conscientious and creative. Intuition and flexibility are the antithesis of being organised and systematic. This is why sales is a team pursuit. Walking to the next bridge needs your right brain to override the left. The logic that got you to Battersea won’t get you a surprise breakfast in Pimlico. Rainmaking is a creative enterprise.
Are you intensely curious, outrageously visible or preternaturally charming when networking… will you sometimes sing karaoke?
Are you unique when relationship building, with a quirky writing style or maybe brilliant at sourcing articles to ping… perhaps you’re laugh out loud funny?
Are you an effective closer, effortlessly strategically disagreeing or empathically questioning… can you visualise many novel ways of getting to yes?
Are you able to pitch the shocker, tell a story when the stakes are high, sketch a plan rather than share the screen?
After comparing Battersea’s cathedral-like shopping mall with the turbine hall at Tate Modern (Battersea is wow and the Tate… WOW) I was ready for Holborn. Getting hangry as my legs stiffened, I thought of the free chocolate cake in my room.
I thought taxi and would’ve if I was facilitating later… but no.
Vauxhall Bridge is ten minutes nearer Holborn, with an easy option of continuing on South Bank and crossing the Thames wherever I pleased. Battersea Bridge is five minutes further into the unknown. Going back to Vauxhall was the no brainer, Battersea was my goal, but it had to be the unknown. I gave my hamstrings a stretch and carried on to Battersea Bridge.
Rainmakers will take the road less travelled, eschew the obvious, dare to be different. Go with logic and the beautiful retro cafe would have remained a mystery. An hour less to sit at a computer was a small price to pay for my best London breakfast in 17 years.
WALK THIS WAY
Be bold. Take risks. Embrace rejection.
I do an exercise where young professionals brainstorm the key traits of rainmakers. Confidence is usually top with empathy, charisma, presence and body language regular picks.
Often I’m asked what I would put in the top ten and my answer is always risk taker. Rainmakers are risk takers. This is counter-intuitive for professionals as your job often involves minimizing client risk.
Rainmakers risk rejection every day and experience it so often they are immune to its effect. Ask, don’t get stuck in the friend zone.
In the black of night, dogs and prison guards on his trail, Steve McQueen puffs on a cigar offered by a pustuled old fella, sinking his teeth into the well-chewed wet stub. Smoke billowing, the old boy asks how Papillon knew his leprosy was not infectious.
He didn’t, but needed the boat.
Nobody shares smokes today and there is too much hand sanitizer to worry about leprosy, but calibrating risk is real enough. Hesitate too long and the moment passes, or your bottle crashes. That’s when someone takes your spot.
Plantar Fasciitis in my left foot, acquired playing tennis last summer, meant I hadn’t run or walked any distance in a year. The only reason I was going to Battersea was a daft team challenge. I considered baling as my foot was pinging-hot after some practice walks. Risk taking doesn’t mean being an idiot. For example, however tempting, it would have been naive to restart village tennis on balmy summer evenings late last summer, as I did with football injuries when younger (two Ibuprofen and a can of Irn Bru).
Calculation done, I stayed in the Downward Facing Doug team. Of course the fasciitis came back because doing 10 miles on day one was daft, but:
It’s a competition… ffs.
I get foot massages…ffs.
I roll a frozen bottle under my foot while watching telly… ffs.
We might win… we are not going to win, some teams have circumnavigated the globe.
Tennis in 2023… what are the chances? I’d say high. Very, very high, but I’ll warm up next year.
Be bold, like you need the boat.
See you in 2023, with enough leads to choke that elephant.