Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook?

I have long believed that the way to succeed when selling products and solutions is to become someone that is counted on and trusted to do the right thing. In other words, your prospects believe that you, as the seller, actually care that what you sell does no harm to their business or their career. Perhaps I am old fashioned that way.

That’s why I am bothered - as I often am - when I read about someone with influence who espouses tactics that are self-serving and designed to ultimately “get something”. Maybe on the surface that’s ok if you are quite aware of what the person is doing, but what if you aren’t?

I have followed Gary Vaynerchuk for years, and I have always admired him, but today that admiration dimmed after reading an article about him called Riding the Hashtag in Social Media Marketing. Certainly nice press for Gary in the New York Times piece, but I fear that the approach Gary is peddling doesn’t bode well for those of us in sales.

Throughout my selling career, my “giving first” attitude has served me well. It is the way to creating trusting relationships that lead to sales opportunities (and other things in life). And I don’t disagree that at a certain point, when you’ve created enough equity, something Stephen Covey called making deposits to the emotional bank account of someone else, it is perfectly OK to ask for something. As a matter of fact, I just talked about the value there is in giving to receive in Monday’s keynote at the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 launch party held at the Guggenheim in New York.

What I don’t like is the formula that Gary is promoting - to legions of followers who hang on his every word - which in his own words goes like this…. “Jab, jab, jab, right hook means give, give, give, ask.” On surface that seems pretty harmless until you come to know that what he really means and is quoted as saying often is… “A funny thing happens when you give value up front, you guilt people into buying stuff.”

Guilt people into buying stuff? Dear lord, sales people already have an image problem and there’s Gary out there telling people who sell – and the marketers that hire his company to promote their products and services - to follow a process of pretend giving so they can feel perfectly justified in making people feel guilty enough to buy something from them. This is as ridiculous to me as the promotion of the concept of Social Debt being pandered by Sales Benchmark Index.

Ok, sure it sounds cool to be able to ask Gary for something random that he will deliver; i.e. shipping a hamburger to the guy who asked for one, but in my humble opinion this entire philosophy is just one more selfishly motivated stunt.

On the other hand, Gary is rich and famous; I’m not. His business employs 290 employees, his revenues are pretty envious and he is being paid millions to write the ten books he’s under contract to produce. Hard to argue that his way hasn’t led to a great deal of business success for him.

But is there a price?

Perhaps not to Gary, but what about the companies that buy from him? Executives often hang on his every word of advice, and I wonder at what point his advice will actually be damaging to the brands that hire his team. If consumers don’t trust advertising now, what will happen when they realize that once again big business is simply out to manipulate them? That’s what Gary is selling and the only difference is the channels used.

Look, I’m no Pollyanna. I’m in business to make money too; otherwise, I wouldn’t be in business. But I’m not motivated by money, and I’ll sacrifice revenue in order to conduct business in a way that I think is honorable, credible and trustworthy. The day will never come when I resort to trying to manipulate people for personal gain, and I hope that day doesn’t come for you either!

Quit Trying to Control - It’s a Handshake

As I consult with business owners to help them them integrate social media strategies into their approach to building their business, one question continues to emerge. Aren’t I bothering people online that I don’t even know when I use tools like Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook? And OMG, what if people start to stalk me. Good grief! Please get over that now!

Hey, let me ask you a few questions.

  • If I met you at a networking event and then subsequently followed up with you over email or the phone - do you consider that stalking or intrusive?
  • Are you afraid to call more than once or twice for fear that you’ll be perceived as too aggressive?
  • Is this the same reason you think you should only send your newsletter out once a quarter?

If you said yes to any of these questions then I’d like to suggest you give up as an entrepreneur right now. There. I said it. How can you possibly build relationships that lead to people buying your products or services if this is your mindset? The answer is…you can’t.

And why in the world are so many of you worried about the proverbial stalker coming after you? If you think that someone can’t find you in the local white pages, you are just fooling yourself. What I love about the online world is that if someone does start bugging you - guess what? You can block them. Easy as pie.

Here’s the deal…when you go online - similar to when you go to a networking function (if you do it right that is) - you are looking for commonality.

Take Twitter as an example. If you have signed up to use Twitter and don’t know how to get started, you can simply search for people who have similar interests to yours. For example, I love great wine, so I might search out other wine lovers to follow and in turn might want them to follow me. Gary Vaynerchuk is just such a person. You can check him out on tv.winelibrary.com

As you start following people with similar interests, join in the conversations taking place, you begin to build a relationship with them. In other words, the first step is to say “hello” - to shake hands. This is no different than meeting someone at a networking event and realizing that both of you have an affinity for fine dining and great wine.

People seem “scared” about who might follow them. I say the more the merrier. There is also fear about sharing “too much personal” information, but the idea online just like off line is that you want to let people get to know you - that’s why it’s called social networking. If somebody goes overboard or gets on your nerves, cut them off!

As I said, I think Gary is a pretty hip guy in addition to knowing his wines, so I want to share a video of his from YouTube that speaks to this very topic. Pretty much says it all. Thanks Gary!