Building Community Through Better Relationships

Do You Play or Do You Do?

Sushil of India celebrates his victory over Gogaev of Russia in their 66 kg men's free style gold medal match at the World Wrestling Championships in Moscow

A major highlight being in the sports media business is watching various athletes perform. A question came up recently, why do basketball athletes play and wrestling athletes wrestle? They don’t play wrestling; they wrestle! Wrestlers are a proud, fanatical group. Their sport is not merely an activity, it is a verb!

In managing Mo Patton Sports, the same question echoes: are we playing or are we doing? Like any business, it is important to know the product. Ours is sports reporting on local high schools. We know our audience. It is local high school athletes, fans, and the communities they represent. We require absolute clarity to our customers’ needs. We tell stories that ignite the passions and foster relationships with our audience so that we can connect our sponsors to them.

While better athletes bring determination, discipline, and passion to their activity, it is still identified as play. A school of thought exists that high achievement can occur when your work is your play. Another school of thought says, nothing substitutes for hard work! Entrepreneurs and other professionals can enjoy their work immensely. They can be unreasonably passionate about their companies. But until they are grinding at it relentlessly, they cap their success. Study your craft, analyze your competition, practice your presentations, get expert coaching to prepare for victory, then prepare some more. Players get this. But, does this approach maximize performance?

Another way to contribute to an organization or endeavor is by discovering great ideas. Deploying talented people to come up with smart ideas is a long-established exercise for businesses to chart a path to success. However, the ideas are not the secret to profits. Execution is. The road starts with ideas. Then, intelligent planning needs to happen. But value only results from doing! The most brilliant thinkers cannot predict every contingency. But, the person who acts and delivers results is the one that makes the difference by actually creating value. Do something to get something!

Like the aforementioned wrestler, the performer and the performance are inextricably linked. Wrestling literally involves one performer competing against another performer where skill and competence is singularly exposed. Likewise, doers’ contributions are individually exposed. A seller either closed the deal, or did not. They may achieve another round of negotiations, but business is not consummated until a seller sells and a buyer buys. The performance keeps you employed. Likewise, the individual or group that produces the good or service has to be a doer. Imagine going to a law office and the lawyer tells you I think we should win this case, sends you a bill and heads to the golf course. Clearly, work must be performed!

Doers contributing to an individual mission or organization, own their individual results at some point. While someone may receive the work product and then add additional value to it, for doers, their contribution can be tracked to the source. Once success singularly defines your contribution, you fully understand the commitment and responsibility that you have in personally performing. Athletes that get this, embrace the responsibility to perform as part of their identity. The same is true for professionals. Do not play with the idea that your contribution does not matter, or that it is only a small part of the overall performance. Own your singular excellence and carry that with you in every competitive encounter and the results will reflect your success. Don’t play, do!

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Mo Patton Sports, LLC

March 8, 2016 Posted by | Better Business, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Be An Impact Player

In leading Mo Patton Sports, a progressive sports media company, I need to be visible and engaged at athletic and business events. Recently, at a state championship game, I saw a local sports superstar in the stadium stands. Or better yet, he saw me. While walking the sidelines, I routinely glance into the stands to observe the fans. I want to know how they are engaging the game. While glancing in the stands again, our eyes connected. More importantly, he waved and pointed at me to make sure that I saw him. I pointed back and we shared a smile. This young, talented and engaging athlete made an impact because he was aware and recognized the influence that I represented in his environment.

People have several opportunities to make an impact. In organizations, assistants can save the day by performing an administrative miracle for an overburdened manager. Teammates can come off the bench to make a game saving play. Clearly, impacts result from an individual using skills that they already have in an extraordinary and valuable way.

Communities, organizations and teams benefit from people who go beyond typical expectations to achieve goals. Significant contributions result from seizing opportunities to be exceptional. Executives who remember the names of underlings, then additionally recall the names of their spouses and children, are extraordinary. All of sudden, employee number 2241 firmly believes that she is an important contributor and is willing to go the extra mile to demonstrate and justify her importance. Her performance trends toward Exceeding Expecations and the reason is that the executive prioritized remembering details about her from an earlier conversation. That leader is an impact player as a result of facilitating superior efforts leading toward executing meaningful results. Susan in accounting has transformed from employee 2241 to become an internal advocate for leadership’s caring for the hard working staff that contributes to the business. Susan is exponentially influencing the company’s success because the executive made an extraordinary and valuable gesture.

Facilitating success in an organization ultimately needs to be reflected in tangible contributions. Feel good anecdotes are great for morale. But organizations thrive on measurable progress. An impact player must affect the final score, the bottom line. The enthusiasm that is created by positive recognition has to transform into quantifiable results. Successful leaders give their contributors the resources to produce the desired metrics. Consequently, impact players possess, develop and deploy a combination of effort, tools and performance. Value is typically focused on financial gains, but it can equally apply to cultural improvements. Reduced absenteeism, increased skill development, or demonstrated teamwork are also ways organization experience value. And, they directly result from people behaving constructively. Impact players who contribute their skills and esprit de corps eventually maximize productivity.

Be intentional. Be an impact player. Scrutinize your skill set. Develop your attributes to the point that your contribution is extraordinary and valuable. People will notice. You will notice. Seek the opportunity to repeat the process. Then, encourage others to follow your example. And, always be prepared to request and accept the additional rewards!

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director, Mo Patton Sports LLC

January 7, 2016 Posted by | Better Business, Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

At the End of the Day, Is Night

A mentor earlier in my career was very fond of making fun of business sayings by slightly changing them to make them more absurd. Because she was bright, successful and funny, I started doing it too. One of her favorites was “At the end of the day… is night”. Some clichés are used by people who like to hear themselves talk. For professionals who focus on productivity, they do not have time to waste on someone like that. Don’t misinterpret her witticism for silliness. Her revised saying was a clear indicator that we were not going to waste time repeating obvious conclusions. Consequently, she emphasized “Add value now, or be the butt of the next joke!” Effective business communication was where adding value started.

• Don’t Hide Behind Clichés
Too often, professionals hide behind clichés because they are incapable of original thought. By definition, effective leaders refuse to live in a world of clichés because clear communication is a characteristic of an effective leader. A popular cliché’, “It is what it is”, is simply a declaration of futility. For a business team, this phrase translates to “I’m too lazy to do any better”. An equally ridiculous, yet popular cliché is “Let’s not reinvent the wheel”. The sheer lunacy screams risk aversion and ineptitude. Taken literally it says, “we should all travel rolling on sawed logs.” The simple response is “No, let’s innovate!”

• Beware of the Deep
At another point in my career, I worked in an organization with a manager who was in awe of his own alleged brilliance. Additionally, the mental midgets that he hired as supervisors were carefully selected to pose no threat to his reign of ignorance. As a lowly associate, I deliberately let my silence be misunderstood for reverence. On one particular rant, he was inspiring us to overtake our completion by exhorting “There is only one number one!” After silently feeling relieved to learn he could actually count, I watched his direct reports begin their chorus of worship at his superior intellect. Clearly this dysfunctional organization’s failure started with leadership. The leader’s influence was based entirely on his position indicating that the organization was broken. When a leader needs subordinates to be dumb, in order to appear smart, beware. Furthermore when the leader starts piling it deep, the smart contributor starts heading for higher ground.

• You Know What I’m Saying?
No, I don’t. Either say it clearly or don’t say it at all! If a leader is genuinely checking for understanding, then by all means respond respectfully. If a colleague, manager, or ineffective executive is seeking confirmation for their ineptness, or worse yet, trying to sound much younger than they really are, then tactfully have them re-explain their meaning. But who among us have heard this phrase to honestly check for understanding from the listener? Typically, the speaker is not deep, nor are they cool. Too often, they lack an adequate vocabulary. Sincerely challenge them to be clearer, so that everyone will know what was said.

Metaphors are a great way to communicate ideas with vivid and recognizable images. Mindless clichés should be left out of intelligent conversation. Speakers who use wasted words or clever sayings for their own benefit and not for the listener abuse whatever authority they have. To be effective, wisely use words and time with predetermined purpose. At the end of the day, it is in fact, night. So communicate better and get to work, or prepare to wander in the dark!

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter and Beyond


September 10, 2014 Posted by | Better Business, Better Communication | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You’re Gonna Do It Anyway!

A very large child barked at an adult, “I ain’t gonna do it and you can’t make me!” The child promptly folded his arms and pouted, clearly indicating that the discussion was over. Except that the adult was not finished. To truly settle the matter, the adult firmly responded, “You’re gonna do it! Because if you don’t you’ll be sorry. You will lose your company!” Your company???

The very large child was a 40-something founder/ entrepreneur and the adult was his business coach. And, the entrepreneur had a choice to either change or risk losing his company. The company’s shares were not in jeopardy, merely its control. The entrepreneur had to change how he controlled his company.

Many companies launch, grow, and experience success only to have the business smothered to death by an overbearing founder. This tantrum stems from the owner’s inability to allow the managers that he hired, do the job he pays them to do. A common problem with successful businesses is that they grow beyond the reach of their founders. More people begin to contribute. Now what was once a reflection of the grown child, who stood at the center of this universe, had become a community in search of a culture. Maturing into a functioning community requires more input from a growing number of stakeholders!

Mercifully, only three steps are required to make this transition to entrepreneurial adulthood a success. But like any child, change and maturation are difficult. But, the reward is a well-adjusted adult, or in this case, a functional and thriving enterprise.

1. Cooperation
Cooperation begins with understanding that the organization is no longer dictated by one individual. Additional size begets additional employees, who begets additional managers. Managers are hired to bring certain expertise like, sales, accounting, or operations. The owner must let them contribute. When the additional voices work together, they form a cooperative environment with a common goal. For success, the leader must empower them to contribute individually while working together. The desired outcome is to develop their individual areas of responsibility and in turn the business.

2. Process
Processes are established to replace the explicit voice of the founder. The coordination that results from a cooperative effort has to be systematized. The system replicates the operational consistency required by the founder when she personally dictated the business’ course. The process now reflects the communal knowledge of the evolving leadership team. For example, to assist the human resource manager, the policy manual systematizes processes surrounding discipline, extenuating personal problems, and compensation. These and other business necessities are difficult in the minutiae, but critical in the aggregate. Finance and reporting processes, like petty cash requisitions or budget exceptions, also fall under this category. The process does the heavy lifting when personal relationships inside the business makes certain decisions awkward or hard.

3. Delegate
Delegation is the largest obstacle because the founder must trust someone else to execute his wishes. Like any parent, just because the founder loves the child the most does not mean that the founder is always best equipped to help the child. The world’s greatest soccer mom, may not be the best calculus tutor. The owner will always love the business most. The owner will also have to trust a loyal and competent team to perform certain functions for the business to reach full maturity. For delegation to work best, the owner must articulate a clear vision and expected outcomes. If sales need to increase 15% for the quarter, then that goal must be explicitly communicated. Next, the consequences for not achieving the goal must be explicitly communicated. Once the resources are in place to accomplish the goal the owner must focus on other higher-valued priorities and trust that he delegated wisely. If it turns out that consequences are required, then consequences must be delivered!

As with children, heartbreak will occur. Also, unfathomable pride emerges when offspring exceeds expectations. But, to experience the enormous personal joy and resultant profits, the founder must agree to foster a culture of cooperation. The employees must come together like performers in a grade school play. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it simply has to make everyone proud. Processes must be in place because once the business is out the crib, the owner has to trust that the kitchen is sufficiently childproof so that the apple of her eye does not burn his hand on the stove. And finally, delegate. The team was built to do a job. Give them the tools, the direction and the consequences so they can do it. Even if the owner can do a job better, does she really have to prove that she makes the best pot of coffee in the company? The organizational alternative is to stomp your feet and cry out loud while the business suffers from malnutrition and stunted growth. Growing up is hard, but it beats the alternative.

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter and Beyond

November 11, 2013 Posted by | Better Business, Better Communication, Better Person | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I KNOW A GUY – 3 Easy Steps to Creating Value

The planning for a major association conference is approaching a critical deadline!  During the organization’s executive committee meeting, ideas bounce around for speakers for the upcoming event. The objective is to be innovative, educational, and value-adding!  While brainstorming among potential speakers and topics, the vice-president shouts out, “I KNOW A GUY!”

As a group of professionals, everyone on the committee knows people.  But something special happens when you know a GUY.  Not just any guy, but a game-changing expert regardless of gender who generates value.  Value is created through relationships, credibility and actionable ideas.  Networking alone does not complete the assignment, win the proposal, or motivate an audience.  Value emerges from the credibility of the referrer and the execution by the target. The objective is to achieve results because of the relationship, not just drop names.  Consequently, knowing a GUY only achieves the objective when three criteria are met.

1. Referrals
Referrals are the foundation of networking. Successful professionals foster relationships that demonstrate their influence.  The number of people in a network may be large or small depending on who is measuring.  However, it is the influence that the network can demonstrate that matters.  When you know a GUY, who is part of your network and their presence at an event instantly adds value, then you have the right individual. Beyond position, wealth or celebrity, does the contact raise the experience level of those around him or her?  A yes answer means you have the right GUY.

2. Credibility
An essential element of elevating an event’s profile is that the GUY has a following who believes that she will deliver.  In a best case scenario, the GUY will contribute their proven expertise and challenge the participants with innovative insight and additional knowledge.  Maximizing credibility requires more than passing on pre-packaged information, but rather facilitating new ideas for the group’s benefit.  The participants must believe that individual or organizational improvements will result from the GUY’s contribution.

3. Execution
In order to facilitate change, the GUY must perform to a high level of expectation. A celebrity who appears at an event, makes a few canned remarks, poses for photos and exits has not created value. No improvement occurred. He did not execute.  A speaker, presenter, panelist or dinner guest that delivers actionable knowledge, facilitates additional introductions, moves forward the sales process, or solves a problem has accomplished a measurable goal.  That GUY has executed and value has been created. That is the GUY everyone wants to know!

Knowing a GUY is a form of social capital.  Recognizing a relationship’s value affirms that the capital can be exchanged.  Transferring trust through a personal introduction, demonstrated credibility, and recognized execution is essential currency to transact the social capital that yields tangible results.  So, when someone says that “I know a guy” measure the guy’s ability according to the likelihood for referrals, credibility and execution. The guy who passes that test, provides an opportunity for many to benefit greatly from a new relationship. The person who passes this test is undoubtedly the GUY you want to include!

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal at Hunter & Beyond

September 18, 2013 Posted by | Better Business | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Great Networkers are Better Listeners

The mark of a good conversationalist is not that you can talk a lot. The mark is that you can get others to talk a lot. Thus, good schmoozer’s are good listeners, not good talkers. ~Guy Kawasaki

Networking is a critical skill to business success; except that it isn’t! It is critical. It influences business success. But, it is not a skill. Networking is an embedded character trait. If an individual performs in the business arena, then that trait reveals itself there. It is no more a skill than drinking when you are thirsty. Professionally, you must do it to survive.

Fortunately, networking is simpler than most ultra-polished salespeople lead you to believe. It is not a low golf handicap, late night cocktail parties or schmoozability. It is simply contributing to a community of people where you have an interest in helping. Best of all, this trait can be demonstrated in a few easy steps.

1. Listen
Because networking involves finding ways to connect someone to a resource, the first step is listening for the need. That means listening to understand that someone’s need in order to meet it with resources or a solution that you can access. Keys to listening include paying attention to verbal and non-verbal cues. Also, asking open-ended questions that allows your contact to share their pain is a sure-fire way to find opportunities to help. Now the connecting begins.

2. Really Listen
And, the connecting gets ramped when you really listen. You have asked questions and interpreted responses, but the real power starts when you listen to the point that you share the problem. Being undistracted and not interrupting are often overlooked listening skills. Pausing, then paraphrasing what you have heard, also allows you to show off superior listening skills. These practices give you more credibility when you are prepared to direct the target to resources that can solve the problem that you now share.

3. Give
The next step in great networking is giving. Not selling, but giving. Networking’s objective is establishing credibility, not selling a product. Sharing a resource, an idea, or a referral is a great way to build credibility. As credibility grows, you become the solution. Your product or service is merely a representation of your ability to deliver. But proven delivery comes before selling, therefore you must seize opportunities to give. And, as your networking turns into successful demonstrations of giving, the more indispensable you become.

4. Receive
While effective networking encompasses communicating and making resources available, the bottom line is, in fact, the bottom line. Business benefits are OK. Networking is contributing to a community. But, others need to contribute, as well. Permit yourself to accept their contributions. To be an effective networker you must make your desires known; a bold ask is important. And, be grateful. Networking is not trading business favors: I give one, now I get one. It is more like a family potluck. As long as everyone genuinely brings something, there will be more than enough for everyone.

Elevator speeches, clever techniques to remember names, memorable business cards are the icing. It is not the cake. Caring enough to contribute is networking. It is the sincere, “let me get back to you”. As you practice helping others more, you will find real professionals are eager to return your kindness. That is when your value grows because your relationships are now invested in your success. Now accept that investment and go network!

By Glenn Hunter

August 9, 2013 Posted by | Better Business, Better Person | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You Can Lead a Horse to Water, But You Can’t Make Him Thirsty

Everyone knows that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. But, people can be stubborn to the point that you can lead them to what they desperately need and they will refuse to even want it! For anyone whose position or passion is guiding people to their individual goals, this refusal has to be engaged and overcome. The implications go beyond the ability to coach an individual toward personal development, but extend to having people fulfill their unique purpose.

Reminding them, “It’s good for you” is not enough. What happens when the person you are charged with shepherding to a higher level stonewalls you? What are the strategies required to successfully develop staunchly reluctant individuals?

1. Be Present
A mentoring or training relationship requires accountability as well as instruction. When the stallion that you are developing shows decreasing desire, maintaining contact is critical. While working toward personal improvement, beware of encroaching discouragement. While soldiers may respond to intense boot camp techniques, the typical person first needs to know that accountability and support is present. Regular reminders of the commitment through encouraging words and leading by example are valid tactics. Emotional and physical presence reinforce the thirst for success that launched the development efforts initially.

2. Be Patient
Remember that change is not instantaneous. Taking your trainee to the gym is not the same as getting them on the treadmill. Similarly, professionals who seek to extend beyond their comfort zone and network may not realize immediate success. They may physically attend the event, but nudging them to interact with new people still presents a challenge. Although our stallion realizes that this step is key to future career or social success, fear of the unknown or rejection can quickly overwhelm their thirst for progress. Adhering to a process that gradually introduces new behaviors and recognizes regular victories promotes personal improvements that sustain. Rome was not built in a day, and neither are better habits!

3. Be Persistent
The advantage of planning personal development is that the long haul is acknowledged upfront. Encouraging, pleading, threatening, attacking are all available tools for progress. To move your stallion, realize that you may need to use one or all of these tools multiple times. Ultimately, the goal is as important as the desire. When the desire wanes, the goal has to be re-introduced. Ironically, when the goal seems beyond reasonable reach, the desire has to be enflamed. As an accountability partner, coach, mentor or trainer, results are a byproduct of repeated behaviors toward a specific outcome. Persistence pays in creating the thirst to achieve results.

4. Be Practical
In building winners, know that your pearls of wisdom and tools for high performance are valuable! Your willingness to share these gifts makes them even more valuable. Giving has power and once applied, it multiplies to the giver, the recipient and the next beneficiary. Realize when it is time to take your talents and apply them to the next beneficiary. You can educate, enlighten and encourage a horse, but you can’t really make him thirsty. Many stallions only need a drink to win great races and accomplish incredible deeds. You cannot save each and every one, but the rewards of saving one are great. Guide the champion steed who will drink from your watering hole!

By Glenn Hunter

August 1, 2013 Posted by | Better Person | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is your Jakarta? Or How Do You Singularly Connect with Your Audience?

How do you connect with your audience? I mean really, singularly connect with your audience. Your audience can be a prospect to whom you sell, or perhaps a whole market place. It can be an established client that you upsell. Connecting to an audience can involve pitching investors. Or, it can be a musician performing. Truly connecting with your audience goes beyond providing your good or service. It means delivering a piece of you so that your target relishes your presence and cannot wait to tell others. But how do you achieve showing such love for your audience or client that they delight in you being part of their emotional experience?

George Duke, a Grammy Award-winning American jazz musician, identified a unique way to connect closely with a specific segment of his audience. In business development language, he connected narrow and deep. This is what happened.

While performing in Jakarta, Indonesia George Duke learned that one of his songs had become a huge hit in Jakarta! The song literally had no special relevance in the rest of the world. Despite over 30 years’ experience with several hits and awards to his credit, he was pleasantly surprised to learn of the song’s popularity. As a result of this special connection, he added the song to his playlist for that one stop in his tours. But, the savvy performer did more. He used the song as his finale in Jakarta. On top of that, he hired a local musician to sing the song. And, in case anyone failed to realize that he was honoring his local fans, he explicitly told this story while introducing the local singer. Furthermore, he respected these unique fans by repeating this process every time he returned to Jakarta.

Thousands of fans come to see this favorite artist. They have come to expect a special experience where this star allows one of their local artist to perform this major hit. Imagine the buzz that this simple action creates in Jakarta’s music industry. Jakarta’s music community ecstatically promotes this concert because the local singer selected by this beloved internationally known singer may play in their local venue next.

From a business perspective, George Duke has not created more clients (fans). He is engaging evangelists! These fans cannot wait to tell the rest of the Jakarta jazz market about their experience and their icon’s musical generosity. The artist has showered love on his fans and they proudly repay him with ongoing loyalty.

Ironically, the song is titled “Born to Love You” which is the exact sentiment demonstrated to the fans in the local market. It is exactly what you want your best clients to believe about you, especially when you serve them personally and singularly. Please click to experience the concert that inspired this revelation and at 1:06:52 hear exactly how George Duke introduces his local hit and performer to his adoring Jakarta audience.

By Glenn Hunter

July 19, 2013 Posted by | Better Business, Better Community | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Batman Leadership: Why the Caped Crusader is a Superior Leader

Batman Leadership shines an entirely new spotlight on the Caped Crusader. It is a new paradigm to illuminate the Dark Knight.  Batman has been a successful crime fighter for decades.  His success as an individual contributor and as a leader with the Justice League has been unparalleled.  What is most remarkable is that he possesses limited innate abilities.  Even more surprising, Batman’s prowess is not even dependent on one set of characteristics.  It is the following combination of attributes that makes Batman a legendary superhero and leader.

  • ŸHumility – In the superhero community, Batman is human in a universe of immortal and invulnerable peers.  His humility is a huge attribute because he does not have the luxury of being reckless. But, intelligent risk assessment is a trait of great leaders.  Batman knows his survival depends on his accurate assessment of risk for every single heroic activity.
  • ŸCourage – Batman’s trademark mode of operation features leaping quickly into a situation and correcting it.  His courage, in conjunction with supreme confidence, is critical to his success.  In thwarting his enemies Batman relies on fearlessly moving quickly, resulting in seizing first mover advantages on his enemies.  With stealthy maneuvers, Batman defeats his competitors often before they can establish a defense. Batman’s courage leads to action and action leads to victory.
  • ŸToolbox – Batman possesses an exceptional set of tools that mega-sizes his effectiveness.  Like any great executive, he constantly adds new items to his toolbox.  Batman calls it a Utility Belt.  Since he stays close to research and development activities, he quickly incorporates cutting-edge technology and strategies to resolve new crises and unprecedented threats.
  • ŸCapitalization – Before strategy, before execution, before evaluation, Batman benefits from a well-funded enterprise.  Although his alter-ego, Bruce Wayne, bankrolls all of Batman’s activities, Batman remains an extremely responsible steward. He shows extraordinary integrity and discipline by using all of his allocated capital specific to performing his mission.

Regardless of how passionate, maniacal and mission-driven that Batman’s adversaries may be, the Caped Crusader prepares for victory by continuously improving his performance.  His strategy, his preparation, his mindset is singularly focused on his crime fighting goals.  He trains physically and intellectually with an unmatched zeal.  Also, he maintains a clear perspective on his values.  He never violates his rules of engagement regardless of how diabolical his competitors behave.  His ethics are unwavering.  Any leader can enjoy long-term success by incorporating humility, courage, a reliable toolbox, and a well-capitalized operation toward an impassioned goal.  Understandably, Batman continues to be a legendary crime fighting leader because he exercises these attributes in every engagement.  The model works.  The cape is optional.

By Glenn W. Hunter

December 10, 2012 Posted by | Better Business, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Big Ask

“Nothing happens until someone sells something.” is a familiar business rule of unknown origin.  A corollary can be “No sale is made without ‘The Big Ask’”.  Successful sales professionals consistently approach their craft with discipline and skill.  Likewise, professionals who intend to escalate their fortunes realize that applying their craft in transforming prospects into clients is critical.

Sales professionals purposefully incorporate sales strategies, steps and processes to achieve their goals.  Curiously, professional services professionals routinely use the term, business development, to seem less intrusive when referring to sales efforts.  However, engaging someone in a business transaction requires some level of intrusion.  Essentially, business development and sales fundamentals remain the same.  And, concluding the process under either name requires the professional to execute.  Successful execution features The Big Ask!

No matter how many steps are involved, what methodology is applied, or which closing technique is perfected, business sales are achieved when one person asks another person to do business together.  Inferior business development practitioners often obey the process to the letter – step by precise step – then neglect to ask for the business.  This practitioner literally believes that the process will close the deal.  Failure is the process’ fault; the insecure, but allegedly competent, professional remains beyond reproach.  Even when the seller benefits from superior brand recognition, the actual relationship revolves around connecting individuals. The process is the tool. Success belongs to the professional who skillfully uses the tool, then owns the result.

This perspective by no means minimizes the importance of the strategy, steps, nor processes.  No successful business development professional would routinely approach a prospect and ask for the order immediately.  The Big Ask is an essential component, but not a silver bullet.  Logic and order does exist for to experience business development success.

This approach can be summarized in four activity groupings:

1. Engage the prospect – Market, call, email.  Make a way to get the prospects attention. This grouping involves the prospect learning that the seller exists and has something valuable to offer.

2. Connect at a personal level – This grouping is often referred to as building like and trust.  Inferior sales efforts stall here because ineffective professionals may assume that if the prospect likes them, they will clearly buy from them.  The real value from this grouping is establishing credibility so that the professional’s claim of solving a problem or meeting a need is believed.

3. Communicate how to help them solve the problem – Demonstrating excellence leads to success in this grouping.  People buy good feelings and solutions to problems.  The prospect needs to understand how the professional intends to achieve either of these two.  The skilled professional makes sure to clearly tell how.

4. Ask for the business – Reason, persuade, appeal.  These actions are potential paths for a prospect to agree with the sales professional.  However, intentionally and clearly asking for the business is the direct path to achieving the desired answer, “Yes!”

Too often, professionals receive business development training and apply their new education by mindlessly performing the process.  Effective sales processes are elegant. Effective sales processes are logical. Effective sales processes are strategic.  But, the sales process fails without full and complete execution.  Full execution means boldly using The Big Ask.

The process does not win the business by itself.  People do business with people.  Often prospects feel good about a sales professional in a certain business because of the brand that the person represents.  But, people still must connect.  And the connection is not complete until The Big Ask is made.  Right now, a prospect has a problem to solve using the attributes your business possesses.  Deploy The Big Ask and explicitly ask them for a business relationship.  Do it with the next prospect and enjoy sales growth!


By Glenn W. Hunter

November 5, 2012 Posted by | Better Person | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment