Thursday, October 1, 2009

Make a Cheat Sheet and I'll Tell You a Story

For you newbies to this blog, and non-note taking returnees, here in one place are the Five Core Values that any of us can adopt to guide our relationships and achieve uncommon, remarkable results. These are the values that have kept me on track and laid the foundation for a personally rewarding career. I've seen them do the same for others, and they will for you. I'm numbering and listing them below to make it easy for you to cut, paste, print and laminate them in two sizes (4x6 for your desk top, framed and business card size for your wallet:).

1. Selling is about service to others; everyone in your business life.
2. Love Your Work and Work Tirelessly
3. Communicate Honestly and Fearlessly
4. Collapse Time
5. Be a Great Team mate

(Each of these "values" is treated in an earlier blog).

Okay, here's the story: For a very long time my business cards have listed these core values under my contact information. They follow my signature in all emails that I send. It is one way I tell people who I am, or at least who I try to be. At AOL Advertising Sales, these values became the cornerstone for the organization's culture. I never dictated that, it happened organically. I inherited a sales organization that had become dispirited as a result of the Internet implosion after years of historic sales growth when AOL led the charge in the Internet space. But now it seemed overnight the Internet was out of favor and the resulting advertising decline was dramatic. Moreover the ad agency community had a real bone to pick with the AOL ad sales department.

During the period of intense Internet excitement, marketers were speculating, with enthusiastic encouragement from Internet entrepreneurs, that all of commerce was going to move from "bricks and mortars" to the Internet. From a pair of shoes to home mortgages, the world was going to take its business online. Suffice to say, AOL "played" this speculation spectacularly well. But in so doing invested in a lot of face-to-face client time, every once in a great while to the discomfort of the ad agencies. When the Internet (temporarily as it turned out) went out of favor, the downturn in ad sales was precipitous and profound. AOL and its Net competitors went kicking and scratching for advertising dollars. They visited the agencies with hat in hand. But "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." If that woman is a "media queen" the fury is taken to a whole new level.

So I found a bunch of "beaten" folk at AOL. They had been to the mountain top but the winds up there turned unkind. They were now so low they could no longer imagine, much less see the top. They needed to learn how to again believe in AOL, and more importantly in themselves. The core values that I proselytized played a real part in quickly turning around the sales slide. Having something new to believe in, and a guide for behavior what would earn them trust from all with whom they dealt, gave these very bright, talented men and women a new road map to uncommon performance and many of them took the trip. Our first quarter at AOL was the first in many to show growth.

When a sales executive loves his work, there is a transfer of that affection to those for whom he works, to those that work for him and to those for whom he would like to work; The customer.

I am a pretty direct communicator and so if I respect and "love" my co-workers, I tell them. If they know I care about them because they are so important a part of what makes my work pleasurable, they feel safe when I point out opportunities for improvement in their performance.
And I remind them, and now point out to you, that if they (you) really believe the mission is to serve the client, first, last and always, they (you) will earn the liberty to teach, advise, provoke and brainstorm with the client because everything about the interactions say to the client, "I'm safe here. This person can and wants to help me invest wisely in advertising." When that moment arrives you are very special indeed. Your services are a most important asset to the client. You have no competitor. Your product or service is not a commodity. Nature will take its course and you will be incidentally but inevitably rewarded. Get it?

Great Selling!

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