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!

SocialTech Tuesday: Be a Go-Giver

In a recent sales interview, I was asked to share my number one sales tip. Without hesitation, I said that it was to be a “go-giver”.  That has been a philosophy that has guided me throughout a successful corporate sales career, and as I run my own business today. The moniker itself comes from Bob Burg’s book, The Go-Giver, and at about 100 pages in length, it is a must read for anyone striving to be a superstar seller and knows that giving is the way to get there!

If you stop and think about it, common training and tips shared regarding social selling often focus on helping sales people use the technology to “get something”. Get more people to your profile, get in front of more prospects, get more people connect, get more prospects to notice you, get more leads in the pipeline, get more meetings, get recommendations, get referrals…get, get, get.

Of course, these things are important. After all, we all have something to sell. We teach these things in our trainings also, and we put a big emphasis on the giving. When the sole focus is on the getting and not the giving too, the pendulum swings widely out of balance. Many sellers are neglecting this important aspect of the selling process. Don’t you be one of them!

The funny thing about giving is that when your attitude is more about giving than it is about the getting, you better prepare yourself for the floodgate of opportunities that will come rushing your way.

Here goes, a 23 ways that you can give to others - prospects, influencers, customers. I steered clear of things that might seem too personal and my suggestions are in no particular order.

  1. Referrals
  2. Introductions
  3. A ride to the airport
  4. A book – I’ve given several copies of The Go-Giver to people
  5. Presentations or white papers that aren’t yours
  6. Birthday cards
  7. Share news of their new book launch, wesite, product or service
  8. Complimentary tickets to a ball game, movie or play
  9. Thank you’s
  10. Mention in your blog post and a link back to their website
  11. An invite to a webinar you think they will enjoy
  12. Connect them to speaking opportunities
  13. Recommendation
  14. A compliment
  15. Connection to a press opportunity
  16. Ticket to an industry conference
  17. 15-minutes of your time to help them with something
  18. Invite to be interviewed about their area of expertise
  19. Shout out on Twitter
  20. Ticket to a networking lunch as your guest
  21. Gift card to their favorite anything…restaurant, bookstore, music store
  22. A donation of time or money to a charity they support
  23. Subscription to an inspirational magazine like Success.

These are 23 things that I came up with in the giving category. My point in making this weeks topic about giving is that selling always has been and, I believe, always will be a relationship business. After all, for the foreseeable future at least, people buy from people!

Bring it on. What about you? What is on your giving list?