Sales tips for the aspiring rock star!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Raise Your Army BEFORE You Need It!

I must confess to being rather introspective this time each year. Perhaps more this year as I chose to go completely outside my comfort zone and utilize a new set of weapons that is social media.

There were three major lessons that I learned this year that shaped my online strategy

Lesson 1: If the old adage of “It’s not who you know . . .it’s who knows you” is true; I was screwed big time. I found that out the evening I decided to take my head out of the sand and run a Google search on Paul Castain. It wasn’t pretty! 3 results to be precise and nothing to make you say “Nice brand dude!” It sure wouldn’t sell the book I’ve wanted to write my whole life either. Quite frankly, the thought of that provided me with a roller coaster of emotions ranging from fear, anger that almost 44 years on this earth gave me 3 results, jealous of those who had the exposure etc.
I needed to change something, quick.

Among the many books I read in 2009, two helped shape not only my online strategy, but the philosophy which served as the foundation to build!

The First book was Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazi and the second book was Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.

Aside from numerous gems of information in both books, they both said something that I really took to heart.

Keith Ferrazi talks of a strategy the Clintons used brilliantly which he calls “Building your network before you need it”

At the core of that strategy is a simple philosophy that we set things in place BEFORE we need to leverage them. For the bulk of my career, I was quite guilty of building things as I needed them and even after I needed. As you can probably imagine, my results were less than favorable. Actually, lets be honest. My results sucked!

Chris Brogan and Julien Smith talk about a concept they call “Building Armies”

This calls for us building the trust necessary for people to want to not only follow us, but almost become our brand evangelists to their followers.

So, being the creative genius I am, I kind of morphed the two concepts from three rock stars to form

2) Build Your Army BEFORE You Need It: This represented a big shift in the way I’ve always done things. Because as much as I wanted that army NOW, and as much as I wanted to yell “CHARGE” I didn’t feel I had earned that right.

And how does one earn that right?

3) Patience! As in the patience to

Give people value upfront, unconditionally and without keeping score.
Taking the time to help people, introduce people, facilitate learning opportunities through:

My blog, my Linkedin Group, my “tweets”, my articles, my speaking engagements, my one on one chats with people who need some guidance (I never charge by the way)

For me, this is counterintuitive to say the least! Why? Because as a sales professional I want to “close” take the kill shot, reap the immediate rewards.

But that’s not how you raise an army now is it?

I believe in the online battlefield you raise an army by offering enough value and building enough trust that people become your evangelist. When that happens, a multiplier kicks in and you become more effective.

Think I’m wrong?

Let me ask you a question. Which packs more punch:

Me going into a group and basically “pimping” myself out by bragging about me, my company and how we help our clients. Or . . .

Reading about me, my company and how we help others from someone who has nothing but great things to say. And it doesn’t end there.

They have nothing but great things to say in front of their following and the online community where they are sharing the love. And it still doesn’t end there.

Their followers spreading the love to their community. Etc

I believe at that point you have earned the right, and have established the Trust to unleash that army to help you achieve your objective.
And as long as that trust is never compromised, that army will continue to help you .
Yell “Charge” prematurely as in the absence of trust and you will be fighting your war with about as much gusto as a guy with 3 results on Google!

So, in the spirit of complete disclosure, let me share with you, where we are today in building the army I need to accomplish a goal I set many years ago:

Linkedin: I have over 1200 followers. I interact with many of these followers and have focused on how I can make them look like rock stars

My Linkedin Sales Playbook Group: 6800 + members and we only started in March. Note: Part of raising an army is having enough trust in those who follow you to ask them for feedback and advice. My group has given me that and more!

Twitter: 2000 followers. I could have grown this more rapidly but truth be told, I have struggled with Twitter and had quite a bit of learning to do. I’ve seen others smoke me on those numbers in the same amount of time, some have artificially grown their numbers as I’m convinced the majority of their followers are so far removed from what they offer, its more of a “follow me, and I’ll follow you” deal. I have no interest in that.

My articles have been viewed by 10’s of thousands

My blog has several thousand subscribers.

And that Google bitch slap I received a year ago has changed somewhat. Today there are over 16 pages that come up if you care to Google me.

And this my friends is where 2009 became the year of patience for me, because I will tell you without hesitation, that I have a heck of a lot more work to do before I would ever become comfortable enough to call upon that army.

So soldier, let me ask you:

Are you building your army BEFORE you need it or as you need it?

What are some ways you can build that army more effectively in 2010?

Have you realized that new theaters of war have emerged with social networking? Have you at least given a try to Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook?

How ya doin in the patience department?

May you raise the army you need to conquer your portion of the world by harnessing weapons of mass kindness, inspiration and giving unconditionally!

That's how you become unstoppable!

To your inevitable success!

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  1. Hi Paul

    Great commentary on what seems to be a very misunderstood topic: online presence. Describing your own experience for us, along with providing the stats to bear it out, is a great way to illustrate the concept. The trust you have developed between us through countless insightful articles and comments lends credence to your arguments. Contrast this with the gazillion or so "experts" that spam me every day who are eager to share with me "the secrets" of social media. Evidently, these experts have not yet understood the basic principle of trust that is the gatekeeper to further engagement.

    The way I see it, it's the least I can do to tell others about the great info and discussions going on at Sales Play Book, in return for the learning and insight I have recieved. Thought capital is a direct result of the value you provide. Keep up the good work!


    Don F Perkins

  2. Thanks Don. Nice of you to say that. It certainly means a lot, especially from someone I admire and follow in my online activities.

    I think you touched on the most powerful point. A very high percentage of us, feel a need to reciprocate when others provide value to us. Whether it be to keep the "good" alive, or just our manners kicking in.

    While we can never have that concept drive us so much that it has us keeping a mental scorecard of who owes us, the concept of people sort of opting in to a reciprocal relationship is quite powerful.

    Much more powerful than the same message delivered from the sales rep.

    Thanks again Don!

    Paul Castain

  3. Hi Paul,
    As asual, well said!

    I'm sure you will double the pages on Google in no time at all :)
    I am working on my online network, but, I find it hard to blog as I have writer's block and can't get passed it.

    Any suggestions?


  4. Paul; saw my Google search results 8 years ago and put a finger down my throat. I'll never get where I want it to be in rankings, however the brand is very well built now.

    Patience is not a virtue real sales TYPE A's possess huge quantities of, yet recalling a saying... "Success is a journey, not a destination".

    Much Success wished for you & all your followers in 2010.


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Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics (CGX) one of North America’s leading general commercial printing companies. Paul has over 25 years of sales and sales leadership experience. He has trained, mentored and coached over 3,000 sales and sales leadership professionals. An accomplished public speaker, Paul has delivered numerous key note addresses. He has authored numerous training manuals, articles, blog posts and is currently working on his first book for release in 2011. Feel free to email Paul This has been a paid announcement by the friends of Paul Castain!

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Paul Castain's Sales Play Book is blog dedicated to strengthening our sales game, supporting rock star development and developing jedi like skills. All that is required is a willingness to learn and a sick sense of humor!

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