I started version 1.0 of XM Performance with a partner in 2007. I had a ton of operational, consulting, and training experience from the Army and GE. He was a sales and marketing guy, a perfect match. Four months into our first year, he bailed out on the partnership. A crushing blow, but we would learn later, a blessing in disguise.
What were my options? I could quit and lose my initial investment and go look for a job. Or, learn how to market and sell. Here is the beauty of what I discovered, just like any skill, marketing and sales can be learned, even by an Infantry guy like me. But, why is it so hard? After working with entrepreneurs for the past decade, we have discovered two major road blocks.
Head Trash: Somewhere in our growing up and life experiences, many of us picked up bad paradigms about sales/marketing. No one wants to be the hapless, manipulating used car sales guy. When I made the transition from the military to corporate America, I didn’t understand sales, or the sales team. The things we don’t understand become our adversaries.
While working for GE Appliances, leading a quality team in a refrigerator factory, I got asked to go spend a week with the field sales team. They tricked me, because it was in Miami in February. I thought they would pair me up with a sales person, and we would go make calls together. But they sent each of us out individually to cold call apartment complexes, making connections and looking for properties that were ready for full kitchen rehabs. I was petrified when I walked into the first office; miserable and uncomfortable the whole first day.
That night, a masterful regional sales manager bought us dinner at a fancy Miami seafood restaurant. He explained the whole strategy, made us feel like we were working on the most important operation in GE that week, and put $200 cash on the table for the first person who finds a property ready for a rehab. A master communicator and motivator, I went out the next four days with a new mindset. I had the solution to their occupancy challenges, by helping them upgrade the most noticeable part of an apartment, they were going to be more successful. My mindset changed, my Head Trash was removed, and the results showed.]
No Process: Once we get the Head Trash about marketing and sales removed, we still need a good process to follow. We have seen the more technical entrepreneurs really struggle with the marketing process. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, and construction professionals spend a lot of time in school getting certified in their trade. But when it comes to marketing, sales, and leading small business teams, they have had zero training.
“We get all of our business word of mouth.” Jane Entrepreneur
A common explanation we hear. But, the XM Truth that lies underneath this statement is Jane doesn’t know anything about marketing. Entrepreneurs, if you want your business to get to the next level, you have to learn the basic processes of marketing and sales. Even if you outsource the marketing work, the more you listen to the market and learn how to communicate value to your ideal prospects, the better you will lead and manage your marketing contractors.
The only reason XM Performance lived through the recession in 2009-10 is that we made a significant investment in sales training and coaching as soon as the partnership broke apart. This year we are doubling down on that truth. We get to be the unique, custom consulting, training, and coaching company because first we are a marketing and sales company. If you have Head Trash and No Process, you are being left behind in today’s economic boom. Let us help you close that gap.