I was standing in line today at Chicago’s Midway Airport before boarding a flight. I asked the woman standing in front of me if she was traveling for business or for fun. She told me she was going to her second home in San Diego to have some fun, as she resides in Chicago. We got into a conversation about what we do for a living and I came to find out that she hires people like me, professional speakers. I said to her, “put me in your shoes for a minute. Do you get a lot of calls and emails from speakers like me who are pitching themselves to you?” Her response was, “All the time.” I could tell by the tone of her voice that she was not happy with this. She proceeded to tell me that she is inundated by speakers. She then said, “The fact that they are calling me and selling themselves tells me I probably shouldn’t hire them. Shouldn’t I be calling them?”
This makes total sense. You probably have heard the expression “people love to buy but hate to be sold to.” This woman is a classic example of this. She loves to hire great speakers but does not want them to sell her. Those of you reading this probably love to buy but hate to be sold to. Last year was the best year I’ve ever had in the speaking business, as I delivered more than 100 programs in 38 states and 4 countries. Now that I think back on it, I can’t remember any one of those events being one that I “pitched to someone who didn’t know me.” True professionals in any industry who not only become successful, but stay successful, are those who build momentum in their business, develop a reputation and continue to deliver value to their customers, putting their needs well behind those of others. What happens very quickly is their reputation works harder and smarter than their own direct efforts. Think about this. Is your reputation and the word of others working harder and smarter than your own direct efforts? Is the activity of others producing more business than you are on your own? If the answer is not a resounding yes to both these questions, something is out of alignment. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be proactive. On the contrary, if you’re not proactive in your business, it will die quickly. Rather, the issue is how are you being proactive? What are you proactively telling people, sending people and what are you delivering to people proactively? It is is all about you and you’re littering the earth with blind emails and brochures that nobody wants, your reputation will not work for you, but rather against you.
As 2015 rolls forward, make a dedicated commitment to reestablishing yourself as a true professional by proactively meeting new people and creating business activity that truly puts the need of others first. Deliver value to people FIRST, build trust and then they will open doors for you. Probably lots of them.
As we go into the 2015, many companies I do business with are ramping up hiring. Whether it’s to replace people who are not performing, or to add new people to the team, the search for people who are really top caliber is not easy. Too many hiring managers blame the economy, lack of people in the pool or other circumstances instead of looking in the mirror and asking themselves, “What can I do differently to hire the very best people?” I’ve learned many things since getting into the hiring business nearly 20 years ago, and the more things change, the more certain things stay the same. Here are a couple of tips I’d offer that are reflective of things that don’t change:
1. Create A More Compelling Opportunity: When you look at how your company showcases itself and the opportunity that candidates see, what is the impression you’re creating in the eyes of top performing people that you’d really like to hire? Put yourself in their shoes for a minute. Good chance that they are now working for someone else and doing a great job. The question is this: is what you put in front of them compelling enough to move the needle of interest to the point where they can’t wait to speak with you? What value are you offering to these people? What compelling reason are you giving them to pick up the phone and call you? In my opinion, one of the very best ways to showcase your opportunity in a way that is unique, compelling and one that sings with value, is to tell your story. Get your team members, customers, vendors, partners and others associated with your company to put forth the collection of stories that tell why they work for you, buy from you and partner with you. Stories are the most powerful communication vehicle on earth because they connect emotionally with people. Capture these stories on video and put them in places where people will see them and bring them to specific people that you want to reach.
2. Don’t Sell Your Opportunity; Make Them Want It: There is an old saying that will be true forever more: People want what they can’t have. In sales language, you may have heard it this way: people don’t want to be sold to, but they love to buy. Set your standards of performance high and don’t compromise. Get the candidates to earn the right to compete for your opportunity. Let them know where the bar sits and ask them questions that gets them talking about how they can clear that bar. Pit candidates against each other. Make sure that you keep the discussion focused on what the candidates have done and how this will translate into what they will do for you. Also, you need to litmus test their level of interest and figure out WHY they are interested. Digging to these levels requires great questions, and better listening on the part of the hiring team. Don’t settle for people who have lower standards. It’s OK to walk people, just don’t burn the bridge.
If I can be of further help, please contact me and I’d be glad to get into discussion. Thank you and hope 2015 is your best year yet!