By Charles Martin | February 6, 2013
Like most of us I love Adele. Talent times a million.
I recently got her Royal Albert Hall DVD and in the intro before the first song she says “I’m Adele and I’m gonna entertain you tonight”.
Obviously people in the audience knew who she was, but it struck me that Adele will go on as a superstar for eons because she has the center to reintroduce herself and almost say “I’m just one of you and I hope you like my songs…” I felt, after seeing her banter along with the audience, that she understands staying grounded and “just like us” will propel her along to even greater heights.
If you’re a rock star. Stay grounded. And be brilliant.
By Charles Martin | February 6, 2013
Listening to: The Kuge Soft Rocker by the astute audiophile and friend Mike Kuge.
In sales we are always in search of The Tipper. No, not the lady who gives 15% to her favorite waiter.
The Tipper is the guy who is that last piece to the grand puzzle. The guy who makes all your important deals become a reality. Without him, it just doesn’t fit. The movement in your sales universe by knowing him or her is oh-so-small, but once they put their stamp of approval on what you do, it’s a different world. He “tips” the universe in your direction every so slightly. Remember folks, there’s a big difference between 95 and 100.
In the recent months, I finally made a connection to the tipper in my market for restaurants. Restaurants happen to be the mother lode for what I do in the daily deal dance. This guy and his family have owned restaurants around here for more than 40 years. Most aren’t the $50 white table cloth kind of restaurants. They’re the stay-in-business-for-forty-years kinds of places.
Luckily he had a need (Rule number 1 to any introduction) and he finally acquiesced to my incessant calling and emails. Rule number 2 to any strong tipper relationship is that any mega-client worth having will only waltz around the dance floor for one easy dance with none of the arms over shoulders snuggling that we ultimately yearn for. He will try you out. After all, someone that builds a restaurant empire doesn’t do it in a day.
Deal one was a blaring success. I put my all into the mechanics and made sure the team was ready for every turn.
Dance number two came a few months later when we tried one of his older establishments that is actually a white table cloth place with a higher price point. It’s one of those British houses with lots of prime rib and good beer that LA was famous for a long time ago. It was another grand success.
I had been yearning to work on deal number three and we just recently completed it to another roaring success.
And then the whole world tipped.
Friend of said Tipper opened my 32nd email and with the stroke of a big YES put a deal together with me. Tipper’s friend is as big and has a heart of gold. His deal was as successful - if not more - than the Tipper’s.
Now the engine roars and calls continue to be answered and doors continue to open. Just today I mentioned said gang of happy that I have on my side to someone on the fence and he got into action and invited me over next week.
The key is to really figure out the combination of how you approach the people that can change your universe. It’s not simple — that’s why we get the big bucks. But, it’s a nice puzzle that I relish and it makes the day different when you’ve got to decide how to approach possibly the biggest deal of your life (or a combination that equals the biggest deals of your life).
Good luck out there.
By Charles Martin | December 10, 2012
We’re going this weekend for some fun and holiday frolic, but also to help the folks in Staten Island. If we’re rained out or can’t get on a team, we will still give them a check with all your wishes rolled into one.
We’re meeting with Steve Martino. Check out his website.
Thank you -
By Charles Martin | July 9, 2012
I was thinking that probably the most effective part of how I sell is that I do windows.
I do the extra. I say something and it happens. I will stay late. I will make a call on your behalf or fight for your cause if it’s truly worth it. After all, we’re in this together.
Someone I know uses the addage “how much are you going to make an hour if you do that something extra?”
I think that’s a nice mantra for an old-line copier salesman, but not now. Not today when 1% of whatever MORE is, is… MORE.
I’m not saying be reckless with your time. But if you’re a pro, you know how to focus on the things that matter to your bottom line and you also understand what keeps your pipeline full.
The chords you strike. The words and actions that are real. – Those things matter most long term.
I’m on a different track. I can’t show immediate “today” results to my bottom line for the little extras I do, but I can surely show them in a month, a quarter, or even next week. I can also show solid referrals because of the windows I’ve cleaned.
Start doing windows.
By Charles Martin | June 19, 2012
Now Playing: “Jump” by Van Halen on Spotify very loud with a glass of Trader Joe’s Sweet Tea
Thankfully, we’re focused on more and more revenue generating opportunities than ever before.
But change is often difficult to deal with. My bosses can tell you about the stressful phone calls and emails they’ve received from colleagues as we change course.
We’re moving from an active unit-based sales approach to a more effective revenue based one this year and beyond. My company has invested millions in infrastructure and the benefits to merchants are already apparent in everything we do. It’s time to balance things so everyone - especially the subscribers we serve - get the very best deals in the universe. That’s ok with me.
And as I work through and refresh relationships that began in 2011, I am given the opportunity (and privilege) to assess the outcomes and optimize the future with some of the best small and medium-sized businesses in the world. My little corner of Southern California is special in that we have a little bit of everything to offer - great restaurants, exciting entertainment venues — indoors and out — and all sorts of personal development opportunities.
Along the way, and like any salesperson, I have to work with my client to price things appropriately and fairly while maximizing the revenue for the company I represent. It’s part of the job. I try to embrace it. Some people avoid it.
I also have been deciding to not work on deals that were flat and pointless before. I now work on deals that are powerful from top to bottom. That keeps me interested and reinvigorated. I do better work in that confine. Everyone wins.
But in that transition part — especially the soft middle of transitions like these - it’s often difficult. Within this new focus there are challenges I enjoy. When you work like I do in a multi-transactional month, keeping it interesting is how you succeed long term. While I’ve hit my stride, I look for new ways to stand behind the value of a price increase and make sure my time is well spent along the way. All of us sellers look back on deals and assess time spent vs results. Many times, it’s disappointing news.
If you happen to have an aversion to discussing price, you aren’t alone. After all, most of us don’t like to discuss finances with our spouse, let alone people that control our ultimate professional destiny. It would be easier to simply sell things that have fixed and commodity pricing like gasoline. Some of us do. But, most of us don’t. Calling someone and letting them know that something they paid $1 for last time costs $2 today can be a wall for many.
Scale that wall.
After all, price increases are actually something most of us sustain every day. When has your new car cost less than the one before it? Your grocer is always asking for more. In life, this is a constant.
So working with a new price book that is chock full of opportunity and value for my customers is a nice challenge I welcome and it’s fun at the end of the day. It’s not easy but when you have new and often increased pricing that you cannot control, it can help to follow these tips:
- Sell with integrity. Keep it honest. Always.
- Don’t defend yourself - great rule in life, but powerful here. It’s better to research the competition, know the choices your clients have long and short term outside of what you offer, and present your product or service in a manner that focuses on you and value. But defending yourself means once you go into the “whys” and “what fors” and how great your intentions are you’ve lost. Go home. If you back off, they will too — that means they won’t buy. Anything that sounds like something your boss told you to say, is probably going to sound like… well… what your boss told you to say.
- Be ready to go home. I am a big fan of firing, but this isn’t even that. Standing by your value is simply a PAUSE, not a STOP.
- Be fair across your spectrum. This means be as even-keeled on price as you can across all clients. It’s a small world. If their friend or neighbor is paying your price, they will too.
- Celebrate your bright stars. If you have a deal or client that is performing well within your new pricing scheme, celebrate them at all costs.
- Make peace with your new lot in life and storm forward. Yesterday was yesterday.
By Charles Martin | June 18, 2012
Been very busy with all things work/family/life.
Coming back with more frequent posts that are centered on discussions about the world of sales.
By Charles Martin | March 2, 2012
There are some of my favorite people at work dropping off. They are in the throws of being “written up” and I get frantic messages in the middle of the night like “they got me today!”…
Today’s sales job only works if you keep moving, keep changing. Recently, we’ve changed a bit of our goals to focus on other important factors of income and revenue. The focus is now quality driven over quantity. I knew this was coming and welcome it. I can’t count the times I wished someone cared about how much money I brought in versus the amount of new deals I brought in. So, recently I re-geared my approach and am trying to focus on the new objective.
But this is a gift. Why? Because it’s not same-o same-o. The biggest challenge I have in the field is boredom and complacency. I use these corporate mandated changes to “psyche” myself into believing it’s all new. And much of it is. A new approach is really all the ignition a good salesperson needs. What better way to refresh the deck than to be given new objectives and rewards that acknowledge where you’ve always wanted to go anyway. If they’re not where you want to go, you’ll get your time. Be patient. Act on boards or involve yourself in groups where you have input and try to make a difference. The big lesson is — don’t be a problem seeker. Be a problem solver.
If your mandate is to bring new and innovative customers/merchants/consumers/buyers to your company’s door every day, try to look for and embrace change. And the most important thing is to not get attached to any said approach or mandate. As soon as you do, it will change. Once it does, you can start to believe you’re a victim and that the organization is not organized and your demise is “their fault”. It actually may be disorganized, but if you’re not running the show it won’t matter. If it’s that unbearable and your good works are going unnoticed — and you’ve appealed to everyone you can possibly imagine — then look for another gig.
But, make it your choice. Not theirs.
By Charles Martin | January 6, 2012
All the news about daily deal merchants pulling back in 2012 is wishful thinking on the part of the merchant. Of course, when I wake up on January 1, I always put together that dream list chock full of long and distant runs, a few marathons (I have and will complete a few this year), breaking habits, and other such resolution fare. But I know come August, I’m still thinking about how to make a lot of it happen. Life is life. Merchants can’t predict how sales will be this year, but a lot would like to imagine that the daily deal marketing they did in 2011 that probably DID bring in repeat customers, will be something they can forgo this year.
That’s not reality. And we’re still one of the best solutions to hyper-local marketing around.
The many merchants that email or call me daily to re-run and even offer their services as free testimonial stars never hits the headlines.
The truth is the daily deal space is just getting started. Last year was possibly our first real year. My company, LivingSocial, doubled or possibly tripled it’s work force. We tried a lot of great ideas. Some are still in play. Others not. More are on the way. We know what to keep. We know what we should stick with.
The good news is that while the press wants to put the last word on our eulogy, we are just like any 2 year old company. We’re just gettin’ started.
The other good news that often gets lost in the static is that, unlike a lot of our competitors, we are aware of the need for more and more of what I call “merchant love”. In fact, we just hired a specific person to run merchant love and he comes from the top of a few great companies. I, like the other hundreds of LivingSocial sales folks on the streets of America, Canada, and many foreign environs, work hard to make sure we find what works and what doesn’t. We get involved at the micro level. We worry about the future of what I’ve recognized as the backbone of our economy. We worry about you Mr. and Mrs. Merchant and it isn’t fair to say that we haven’t worked hard to bring you the customers that mean long-term dollars to your business.
After all, it would be foolish for us to run amok on Main Street and load a bunch of one-offs that will ultimately spell ruin for our mutual businesses. The very reason you have trusted us with your future customers is that we have a mutual win-win. If you do well, we do well. You’ll tell your friends. More deals get run. Merchants welcome new and engaged customers. And so the story goes.
Every single day I work through many deals that are vetted, looked at, vetted, and then looked at again by a crack team of traffic specialists that are very strict about quality. If your company isn’t really showing a good face on the web or if your customer happy factor is low or non-existent, we will ask to work together at another time. We want to know people like what you do. As per usual, the deals we DON’T do never get into the news stream. I’m selling 30+ deals a month. Probably 25% of that number doesn’t even see the light of day.
Sure, there are deals that might have been disastrous. If you read the new bio on Steve Jobs, you’ll find (or maybe even remember) that many of Apple’s first computers were real expensive disasters. No bulk refunds were given. We stuck with Jobs for three decades and now Apple’s product is the supreme choice. We try to avoid disastrous. What part of “we’re just gettin’ started” is not clear?
I work for a company like Apple. I wake every day knowing that the captain up in the tower is probably not sleeping as much and is worrying much more than I about how to make it all work. I can guarantee you that the solution for tracking and making it easier for people to repeat their visits to your business is on the horizon. We understand that it’s the mother lode. They don’t share these ideas with me, but I know we’re on this track because of the type of company I work for.
By Charles Martin | December 24, 2011
Merry Christmas everyone.
No matter how you think 2011 is ending, it’s not any different than the last ten or twenty Decembers you’ve had.
We forget. We forget it’s all a cycle.
When you take that long flight across country, remember there’s more empty and distant cloud layers out the window than buildings and mountains. Have you ever watched a very tiny car below travel along a long and desolate road? That’s life. Lots of flat. A little bump.
Take it all in. Measure. Measure again. And then cut.
Cut it and go. Let go.
2011 was one of the best years of my life. There were rocky days but all in all, I’m grateful for the people that I’ve met along the way this year. I’m grateful for a wonderful family, a few good friends, and an awesome job.
We’re getting on a new flight next week.
Pack your bags.
By Charles Martin | December 7, 2011
I saw it on the freeway today. A big rig was getting back on the freeway after a sidelined repair. Every other big rig in the active lanes stopped so she could get on.
It was moving.
Funny but true.
I saw it last week when we had a power outage that has run 6+ days for some.
Standing ovations at Starbucks for electric company workers. Those guys and gals who are part of a giant bureaucracy, but at the same time feeding a family in a nascent and forgotten part of southern California. I realized that as I went and kabbitzed every hour or so in the wee hours of last Sunday night. Yes, I was on the street at 1AM. Meeting and greeting. Every time I flip a switch now I think of those guys. As a kid, I spent so many hours just sitting on over-turned buckets asking some dad why and how and what his brake job or lawn mower repair was all about while everyone else rode bikes or played football. This is what I did the other night. It’s really the basis for my early education. And my appreciation for what goes on out there.
Now that the economy is showing upticks. Now that the air is beginning to be let out of the unemployment numbers (or now that the Ellen watchers decided to quit cashing checks, that is), we’re ready for a Pivot.
Add Pivot to your vocabulary too.
The new world and 2012 is about Us.
I feel it. Not in so many years have I had so much fun doing what I do. I’m pivoting. I have witnessed the Tipping Point.
My company, LivingSocial, is counting another $176MM into their coffers this week as part of a tranche of a possible $400MM. It was from a meeting of Us. People with the vision. People with the same ideals. Not worried about a supposedly dying segment in hyper local marketing. Just like those big rigs. They let LivingSocial remain in the left lane. That great “Smokey and the Bandit” song rings true. ”… east bound and down, loaded up and truckin… we’re gonna do what they say can’t be done…”
In fact, many people I know are so geared up for a successful run in the next year. Prospect Mortgage’s Scott Groves is now 4x the team he was 12 months ago. And we thought mortgages were dead. Eugene and Kirk are selling more homes than we can count. Aren’t home sales down?
This coming year, you must be on a team that counts. Pivot if you aren’t. Now’s the time. Before the middle bunch wakes up and takes more of the bandwidth. If your team is one, two, or one-hundred, those that are moving towards a unified mission, will succeed. What I’m getting at is that after the New Year’s resolutions, after the first blast of hot air in January, we will have the party to ourselves. The scrappers, the hard workers, the truckers and 24 hour working electrical lineman will have all the open lane they need to go to the next level.
What’s your flight plan? File it and get moving.