The Long Road Back
A head-on collision has changed my life—for the better. -By Ken Krogue
I’ll bet a lot of you have been asking, “Hey, Ken, where’ve you been lately?”
At times, I’ve wondered that myself.
Perhaps many of you know that I suffered a terrifying head-on collision not long ago. That’s why you’ve seen a lot less of me around the office lately. As a result of the car crash, I suffered a concussion and whiplash that I’m still dealing with. The entire experience has changed my life in profound ways.
I’d like to share with you what’s happened to me over the last few months—the accident and the slow recovery process. I don’t think anything in my life has had such a powerful effect on me.
Why talk about it?
I can’t help but share important lessons. For years, as a founder and president of InsideSales.com, I’ve taught companies how to create high-velocity inside sales organizations. As a volunteer, I’ve showed Boy Scouts how to build a campfire, put older kids through football drills, explained to executives the principles of strategy applied to sales and marketing.
Now, I’d like to offer what I’ve learned about my life.
This all began about noon on Sept. 2, 2015. (In fact, I just noticed that my last blog article was that very day about the infographic my friends did about my mom’s passing.)
I’d just begun spending a lot of time at home in Mapleton with urging from Dave Elkington, trying to finish a couple of books I’ve planned for years, and went out to get a few things. Coming back on Highway 89, I slowed down to 20 mph to get into the turn lane. A large truck traveling at 55 mph was coming down the hill around the corner. Just then, a young woman in a Honda Civic pulled out and the truck, unable to stop in time, hit her car, picking it up and hurling it across to the side of the road. The impact forced him to plow into my lane at a net speed of about 70mph and we had a head-on collision.
The force of the impact crumpled the front-end, hood, and engine of my ¾ ton Chevy Silverado, shattered the windows, and spun my truck across the freeway and into a steel barrier. I hit the side door, my arm slammed into and bent the steering wheel, and my seatbelt, pulling me back, felt like it tore me in two. The airbag deployed, saving my life, but causing a concussion as it deployed with force on the front of my head at the same time whiplash whacked me from the back as I hit the barrier.
Time seemed to stop.
I remember watching the particles of the airbag explode in front of me. Four batteries I’d bought for my motor home flew from the bed of my truck, landing as far as 30 yards away, and I watched the acid that exploded out of them sizzle in the cab. My spleen hurt; I thought I’d broken some ribs. Otherwise, I didn’t feel a thing. A guy showed up and told me not to move. He called my wife and told her what had happened. As she arrived the ambulance came for me. At the hospital, they picked glass fragments out of my hand and set my arm where I’d fractured my ulna, one of the two long bones in the forearm. By the end of the day, they released me.
And the young woman in the Civic? She had to be life-flighted. Everyone assumed, given the impact of the crash, that she’d died. Amazingly, she survived, with a broken nose and arm. I’ll need to bring her into my story again soon.
The next few days were really cloudy. It’s hard to explain, but I could only see and think in one narrow direction. I was very emotional and irritable; the littlest stresses tipped me over. I was trying not to let people notice. My natural filters that kept me from saying stupid things were partially gone. My biggest struggle was just to keep my mouth shut.
Obviously, I couldn’t process the insurance claims myself, but I couldn’t resist tracking down the truck driver. After I found his name on an insurance form, I called him up and said, “I’m the guy you hit.”
He said, “I remember your face. You didn’t have time to even flinch. And I remember seeing the back of the young woman’s head. She didn’t see me, but I saw two beautiful children in the back seat. I did everything I could to swerve so I wouldn’t crush them.” The landscaping trailer he was towing behind him jackknifed when he hit me.
I asked, “So, what happened?”
He said, “The cops came, and I asked, ‘How’re those kids?’ The cop said, ‘there were no kids in that car.’”
I guess that young woman had a little help. I know I did.
So did the truck driver. I’ve talked with him since. He’s a different person today.
And so am I.
A few days later I was up in my cabin up in Timber Lakes just east of Heber City, recuperating over the Labor Day Weekend. I told my wife, I’ve got to go to church today. Well, it was pretty crowded—a chapel-full and three overflow rooms of people. I was in the back of the last one in, feeling pain and powerful drugs. And I suddenly had this urge that seemed to lift me out of my seat, “I need to get up there and tell my story.” I walked to the front of the congregation and said, “You don’t know me, but I’ve got to tell you what just happened to me.” I was fuzzyheaded but walked them through the story, and then I sat down.
Later, people reached out to me and put their hands on me in a consoling way. A young guy came up to me and said, “I know you,” and pulled out his phone and showed me a picture of my wreck. He said, “I was one of the first people on the scene, and I work for the guy who hit you.” And he validated the story of the two beautiful children. The truck driver still swears up and down those children were in the back seat.
Well, not all of my recovery is shot through with otherworldly mystery and human warmth.
I forget stuff.
And I’m having the hardest time writing again.
For those of you who know me, this is frustrating and painful. I’m getting help for this piece from Tom Post, a former managing editor at Forbes Media who was my editor for several years and who now works for my dear friend, Cheryl Snapp Conner. Both of them are coaching me back to help me rediscover my writing.
But I’ve started on the long and pocked road back. I did some treatment with several chiropractors, massage therapists, and tried physical therapy. But I couldn’t get an appointment with a neurologist until the middle of January. Some friends told me about a new concussion clinic in Provo, Cognitive FX, headed up by Dr. Alina Fong, a graduate of BYU and a neuropsychologist. Using a functional MRI, which monitors changes associated with blood flow in the brain, the machine makes a movie of the inside of your head, mapping out what happens when you have a concussion (or develop Alzheimer’s).
While in the fMRI, I went through six batteries of cognitive exercises, which lit up different parts of the brain and mapped out where the trauma occurred.
At first, I could only tackle the easy stuff, looking at a screen and trying to match the dots and shapes. It was hard, like physical workout. I’d never before thought of the brain as a muscle that atrophies without use. It doesn’t heal by itself. We have to activate areas around the brain, creating new pathways.
That’s what I’m doing on many levels: creating new pathways in my life.
Dr. Fong found a very clear signature for mild brain trauma that first day. I tested 2.58 on a scale of 0 to 5, with anything over 2 a concussion. For the next few days, for 7 or 8 hours a day, I engaged in 47 different exercises with cognitive therapists, like hitting buttons on a board while looking in my peripheral vision, doing bio-sensitive feedback to control my brainwaves, and, of course, engaging in physical therapy.
I was told I’d feel worse the first couple of days, and that was true. I felt noticeably better by day four. But by the end of day five, when I tested 0.23, I felt quite good. I could think, see, and feel again. While I could think and speak again, I could not write. It’s something about the linguistic side of the brain where I’m still struggling. I’m going back for a couple more days soon.
And I’m learning I have to reset before I hit a wall, I call it “vapor lock.”
It’s still really hard to hold my head and body up after about two in the afternoon. If I lie down and rest, I can usually pick up where I left off. But if I try to push through, I’m exhausted.
I’ve learned to type a little while lying on my side. Mostly, I speak my thoughts into a voice recorder. I’ve trained Siri to recognize almost all that I say, though she sometimes makes bad mistakes—as in four-letter words I don’t mean to say.
All of this—the accident and the recovery—has been life altering. I’ve learned to care less about the obvious things like money, status, winning.
Don’t get me wrong. InsideSales.com is the top company in our space—and, of course, I care deeply about this great company and the people who helped carry it to the summit.
But I find that if I take less and give more, better things come back to me. I am trying to focus on the essentials.
So many of us are on an endless treadmill of meetings and busy-ness, going faster and faster, while our work gets worse, our results disappoint, and our relationships suffer. We are in the thick of thin things. But if I focus on the mission—helping other people do better, get through tough times—the business will take care of itself.
Before the accident, I wasn’t taking care of myself. I didn’t exercise, didn’t eat or sleep well, and was on the verge of diabetes. Pedal to the metal, I hadn’t realized what a toll this life was taking on myself—and my wife and family—over the last 12 years. I’d let some important family responsibilities slip.
Now, I’m eating better and just starting exercising. I have more time for what’s really important to me: my family, and especially for my youngest son who needs me. Friends I rarely see have suddenly come into my life again. Life has become much more beautiful. I wish that other people could discover that they, too, can get off that crazy treadmill before they can’t get off.
I think while I’ve been gone others have been experiencing change in their own lives. We all take what life gives us and try to improve and become better. I’ve felt very bad that I haven’t been able to contribute on the day-to-day like I would like to. I’ve heard that there has been lots of important change happening at InsideSales.com and in the Inside Sales industry that I love so much.
I don’t want to exaggerate or romanticize what’s happened to me.
Sometimes I look at earlier articles I’ve written on my blog or out on Forbes and think, who was that person? I read them again and I’m amazed I once wrote them. These days, the only time I can form ideas and remember them is if I visualize them, go to bed reviewing them, and then wake up at 4 a.m. with a clear perspective that I can retain. If I can get to that stage, I can own it. If I don’t, it’s gone and I can’t seem to get it back.
I’ve given a couple of public speeches since the accident. I’m told they went well. Friends like Koka Sexton, Jamie Shanks, and Jill Rowley covered for me a bit on stage at Sales Hacker. Most people don’t know I’m even struggling. But it seems to take five times the effort it once did. I’m afraid I pushed so hard when I spoke at RootsTech that I made myself ill preparing for what used to be second nature to me.
It’s all part of creating those new pathways.
The good news is, the doctors say that with time I should bounce back. In fact, Dr. Fong says in some areas, with the work I’m putting in, I’ll actually be better.
The books I had been working on clear back in August and September are actually in draft stage, though months later and with a lot of help.
Dave and the executive team have been very patient. My wife and family have been amazing. I’ve tried a few times to come back and found myself immediately overwhelmed. I used to easily swim in the deep end of the pool. Stress was nothing. Now it is something significant to be reckoned with.
I’ll be back. I may not be quite the same person. And it may take a while…
But I’ll be back. -Ken
My Friends at Hirevue Gave Me a Gift
My friends Gabe Villamizar and Pete Avilla at Hirevue did they coolest thing as a gift to honor my dear mom, who passed away last week. They took the article I wrote in tribute and made it an infographic!
25 Things I Learned From My Mom
My dear mother, Sheila Krogue, passed away two days ago. I’ve been reflecting on her and celebrating the incredible impact she has had on my life.
Here is a list of these she taught me through her example and her lessons:
- Say hi to everyone.
- Take an interest in those you meet.
- Smile, your face after 40 is your own fault.
- Don’t sleep in.
- Work hard, do a little extra.
- Never lie.
- Pay attention to other people’s kids.
- Have Popsicles in the fridge.
- Always have M&Ms in a jar.
- Help your kids amount to something by applying for every opportunity.
- Family matters, so don’t miss Sunday dinner.
- Celebrate your favorite people’s birthday by making them a favorite dinner and dessert.
- Remember people’s name and use it correctly.
- Wear clean underwear in case you get in an accident.
- Traditions keep a family culture alive, never miss.
- Cold hands mean a warm heart.
- A Diet Coke can get you through the day.
- Always have a joke to tell.
- Laugh as you tell it.
- Remember the stories about your family and share them.
- Brag about people in front of them where it will do some good.
- Keep in touch with friends and family, if you think of them call them.
- Observe etiquette and table manners, they reveal your upbringing.
- Spell things the right way, it’s a dying art.
- Learn to read well, you can visit anywhere you want to go in a good book.
Thanks Ma Sheila!
What Is Value #1 On Forbes…
My latest article on Forbes is called What is Value? The Costco Value Proposition.
Surprisingly I had a few negative opinions of Costco from some bargain shoppers, but most people agreed with me. Fun article about Price, Quality and Speed. I also mention Southwest Airlines, Zappos, and my friend Matt Dixon’s new book The Effortless Experience.
Cold Calling Tips Revealed From Super Bowl Data
Like football, sales prospecting is a contact sport. Identifying qualified leads, crafting the perfect pitch, and reaching out in the right way at the right time all take strategy, tenacity, guts… and the right data.
About three years ago our sales reps started telling us that when they called into Atlanta as it was raining, everybody answered the phone, and they made more sales. Industry research shows the single biggest obstacle that sales reps face is reaching busy decision makers.
Could the weather actually affect sales by affecting the ability to reach people? We put our data scientists on the question and they came back with a resounding “Yes!”
Then our reps noticed that before big sporting events like the World Cup or when Jimmer was sinking his wicked 40-foot 3’s, the whole game of sales seemed to be affected. Could sporting events also affect sales prospecting? The Moneyball model Oakland A’s have already been a model for predictive analytics in sales.
This week, InsideSales.com’s data scientists looked at national and regional datasets collected over the past three years in our Neuralytics predictive analytics engine to see how the Super Bowl affects contact rates between sales reps and their leads.
Big Game Hangover
National contact rates drop just after playoff season, and descend even further after the Super Bowl. Hordes of fans around the country are mourning losses and need some time to recover. Over the past three years, the Patriots displayed the biggest decline (-46 percent) in contact rates of all participating teams. Let’s hope (for the sake of sales reps calling into the Boston region) that the Patriots take home a win this year.
This is especially true for the losing team’s region: For the three weeks after the Super Bowl, losing regions decrease their likelihood to accept sales calls (25 percent) and experience an even greater decrease in their contact rates (about 29 percent) (see Chart 2).
The Joy of Winning
There is an exception to every rule, and the exception here is with the winning team. Winning regions experience a significant spike in their likelihood to accept sales calls (32 percent), with contact rates increasing by nearly 10 percent for a month following the game (see Chart 2.)
The fans of teams that eventually become Super Bowl champions are unlikely to answer as their eyes are probably glued to ESPN. Contact rates for these fans maintain below-average rates during the playoffs and in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, but skyrocket following their eventual win (see Chart 2).
Here are a few “key plays” every sales team should consider:
Start Early to Tap Into Nationwide Euphoria
Four weeks before the Super Bowl, the NFL playoffs are in full swing and fans around the country are electrified and hungry for a chance at Super Bowl glory. This is an optimal time to contact Americans nationwide for a sales pitch (contact rates increase by 15 percent). However, you need to know when to back off as contact rates drop off significantly as teams are eliminated.
Don’t Bother Me, I’m on ESPN
During the week prior to the big game and for two weeks following, people across the nation are less likely to accept sales calls.
East Coast vs. Central vs. West Coast: Understand the National Fandom Heat Map
All fans are not created equal as passions play out regionally in the week following the Super Bowl. The Upper Midwest wins the true “fanatic” title in the variance of swing of willing to engage in phone contacts, with Central not far behind. Eastern and West Coast fans have a more laid back reaction to the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat (refer to Chart 3). Use this little nugget to sharpen your sales prospecting strategies in real-time.
Just Happy to Be Here
From a historical perspective, regions that eventually return home without a victory have contact rates above average during the playoffs and in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, but drop off significantly following their big loss (see Chart 2).
Are these fans just happy to make it to the big game? Who knows, but sales teams can take advantage of their excitement before their team loses with some targeted prospecting.
The Super Bowl is only one of many factors that influence whether a sales rep will be able to reach a prospect (and, in turn, close a sale). The outcome of sporting events doesn’t have the same impact on contact rates as immediate response to leads, time of day or day of week, for example.
To win in sales or football, you have to take risks, and based purely on the historical data on contact rates of winning and losing teams in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, and admittedly correlative and probably not causative, and if contact rate profiles were the primary deciding factor; then New England fans are matching contact rate profiles of a winning Super Bowl team this year.
So, here goes… New England for the win.
How fanatic are you?
What’s your prediction?
NOTE: Here is a more in-depth analysis of the InsideSales.com Super Bowl Sales Playbook.
2015 Trends Report Says Sales Process and CRM Use is Decaying!
Barry Trailer, Jim Dickie, and their company CSO Insights have been the leading sales research firm for 20 years; it’s all they do. CSO is the Chief Sales Officer, and that is who tunes in to anything they say. Every year they do four annual research studies that have so much rich data behind them that Barry and Jim have become the sages of the sales industry. Their four research studies, each with key trends analysis are:
- 21st Annual Sales Performance Optimization Study (SPO)
- Sales Management Optimization Study
- Lead Management & Social Engagement Study
- Sales Compensation and Performance Management Study
The Sales Performance Optimization Study is going on as we speak. If you hurry you can still take it and get your own copy of what was a 214-page study last year when they wrap it up in the middle of February. I got to spend an hour with Barry on a sneak peek webinar last week and picked his brain about some of the things the data is showing. Barry is speaking about highlights of last year and forecasting trends again this week in the 1st Annual Inside Sales Kickoff event that also includes some insightful research from the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP.)
Bob Perkins and Larry Reeves are the founders of AA-ISP and also contribute annually to the research foundation of the inside sales or remote selling industry. I reached out to them as well as they prepare for their Kickoff and their first full day event on February 12 in San Francisco. I will mention a few things their research has found.
There is also some great research being done in the Inside Sales space by Dr. James Oldroyd, Vorsight, The Bridge Group, and the Reality Works Group.
This year Barry warns that both alarming and exciting things are happening.
Looking back at last year’s study we see some very worrisome trends developing in:
- Quota Attainment
- Revenue Plan
- CRM Usage
- Process Decay
- Forecasting Accuracy
I have a 3 minute video summary here:
Quota Attainment: Percentage of Reps Making Quota in 2009 – 2013 is going down.
- 2009 = 51.8%
- 2010 = 59.4%
- 2011 = 63.0%
- 2012 = 63.0%
- 2013 = 58.2%
The 2009 number was an all time low on the heels of the economic tailspin at the end of 2008. 2013 was the first decline in four years.
Company Sales Plan Attainment: Percentage of Revenue Plan Attainment 2009 – 2013 is also going down.
- 2009 = 77.9%
- 2010 = 85.9%
- 2011 = 89.0%
- 2012 = 89.2%
- 2013 = 83.9%
The downturn in 2013 was also the first such shift in four years across the 1200+ firms surveyed.
CRM Usage: CRM usage is going down for the first time in 15 years. CRM engagement is a leading indicator of the assembly line upon which almost every other sales process and sales application run in the sales industry. Barry thinks we may be taking our eye of the ball. We are missing the blocking and tackling that makes up successful sales. His trend lines and key indicators show that the Great Recession of 2008 was a big wakeup call for companies everywhere and for four straight years sales leaders and teams improved their numbers every year in a row.
Until 2012… Then things leveled off and the last two years they are heading back down. He warns we are all becoming complacent, and like the herd mentality, it looks like we are all doing it together. That leaves great opportunity for those who buck the trend and tighten up their CRM usage and sales process.
Sales Forecasting Accuracy: Barry warns that sales forecasting is as bad, maybe worse, as it has ever been. I joked with him that in years past we could flip a coin and get as good of odds as the accuracy of the average VP Sales guessing what their team would bring in.
“This year it’s worse!” Barry laughed. “Try just over 45% accuracy. Flipping a coin provides better odds than our best sales guess.”
Sales Process: One of the most impactful aspects I look forward to in Barry’s research study is the CSO Insights Sales Relationship / Process MatrixTM. This is probably the meatiest and most proprietary aspect of the study that compares five levels of relationship a provider has with their customers:
- Approved Vendor: Legitimate provider but no significant competitive edge.
- Preferred Supplier: Your marketplace reputation makes you preferred among competitors.
- Solutions Consultant: Your product, insights, or services place you as a consulting resource.
- Strategic Contributor: Above and beyond consulting, you are a source of strategic planning resource for broader challenges.
- Trusted Partner: Your long term contributions—products, insights, and processes are viewed as key to your client’s long-term success.
And the four levels of sales process they employ to leverage their performance:
- Random process: Your Company may be perceived as anti-process.
- Informal process: Process is neither monitored nor measured but exists loosely.
- Formal process: You enforce use of defined sales process with periodic reviews.
- Dynamic process: You dynamically monitor and receive continuous feedback on your formal process and improve it based on key changes in market conditions.
It highlights 3 levels of performance and looks like this:
Those familiar with the work of Barry and Jim will be familiar with their contention that how you sell can be a sustainable competitive edge. The finding originally arose from the trends they observed year-over-year and was based on research they initially published in Harvard Business Review (HBR) in 2006 and then expanded to a paper published in HBR in Europe in 2011. The outcome of those analyses was that the level of sales process rigor applied to the marketplace in sales, combined with the level of customer relationship developed with your client base, directly affect sales performance.
The gray section of the SRP MatrixTM illustrates that if companies are totally random with process, individual sales contributors may reach the status of trusted partner with their own clients, the company as a whole does not get to that level. Here is a backwards glance at the comparison of what happened last year in 2014 between the three levels:
They ask CEOs, which sales organization would you rather have? As investors, which company would you rather own stock in? And as for the Chief Sales Officer, which level of sales organization do you want to lead in 2015?
They point out that the distinctions that separate these organizations have been consistent over the last seven years and are becoming wider each year. In 2008 the SPO report showed the outcome of forecast deals at Level 2 were 5 points higher than Level 1; today that spread is 9 points. And the range between level 2 and Level 3 firms has increased to 7 full points. Barry warns that the only thing Level 1 companies see are the tail lights of Level 2 and Level 3 companies.
And sales process is wholly in your own hands.
Instead we are taking our eye off the ball and letting our sales processes decay. Again a backwards glance at the three levels show a peak in companies operating at Level 3 and Level 2 in 2012:
You will have to quickly take the study by the middle of February to see what happened last year.
So what areas of 2014 are exciting?
Inside Sales or Telesales This next generation of sales is widening the gap between the tradition model that hasn’t adjusted to the virtual sales model defined as professionals sales done remotely model that has been called inside sales. This approach is often now being referred to by enterprise companies like Cisco, whose own Luca Felli and many others coin the phrase Virtual Sales or the Next Generation Sales Model.
The AA-ISP report their most recent research shows that 52% of companies are increasing headcount this year in their Inside Sales department, while 85% are increasing their training programs.
The Top Challenges in the Inside Sales arena was looked by the AA-ISP from two perspectives, the individual sales reps, and sales leadership.
The Top 3 Challenges of frontline sales reps in 2014 were:
- Quality and Quantity of Leads
- Career Development
The Top 3 Challenges of sales leadership in 2014 were:
- Recruiting & Hiring
- Lead Quality & Quantity
Traditional field or face-to-face models have already embraced a hybrid design that combines outside and inside or remote sales together as outside reps are spending more and more of their day on the phone and web conferencing resources as buyers have less time and need to meet face-to-face. Barry moves from this SPO study to a special research project around the Telesales initiative in March.
Social Media Social Media is finally coming of age. Even last year Barry warned it wasn’t producing the actual Sales Performance results all the hype and buzz were indicating. No longer. Social selling with social media is finally getting the traction that the trend was indicating. Barry says that there will be more specific data in the third study this year called the Lead Management & Social Engagement Study.
There is a great article by my Forbes colleague Jayson DeMers called The Top 7 Social Media Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2015
Sales Tools & Technology There are more sales tools for sales acceleration than ever before. This may be the most exciting trend for organizations who need leverage to improve the velocity of their next generation sales models (as long as they keep their sales process from delay and decay.) Be warned that there are specific sales acceleration technologies and specific sales acceleration principles and best practices that are needed to wring the most value out of the trends that arising.
The AA-ISP contribute some interesting tidbits around technology use: 65% of sales organizations still do not use video in their sales efforts, while only 6% use it regularly. 20% of sales reps now actively use text messaging to reach out to customers.
Top Sales Objectives for 2014
It will be a very interesting update to see what this years top objectives are. Which, with Barry’s permission we will update when the research comes out. A slide right out of the webinar Barry and I did shows the Top Sales Effectiveness Initiatives for 2015:
The research I have highlighted that Barry provides is only a small fraction of the overall Sales Force Demographics Analysis in the study. Barry and Jim do a deep dive into real critical answers to questions like:
- Your Team’s ability to hire sales reps that will succeed.
- How will your sales force change in size this year?
- What is the annual turnover rate in your sales force?
- How do your salespeople spend their time?
- What is the average quota of your salespeople?
- How long does a sales rep take to ramp to productivity?
- What is the average size of a sales deal?
- How long is the average sales cycle?
- What rep behaviors does your comp plan actually motivate?
- What percentage of your sales force is “actively engaged” in their selling?
The survey is just finishing up and you can still participate if you are in management of a sales team and you want access to this incredible data about sales performance trends in 2015. Barry summarizes his advice based on this entire study in one line:
Find More, Win More, Keep & Grow More.
You can watch Barry’s most recent sneak peak webinar or tune in to his overview with the AA-ISP and nearly 50 other thought leaders all summarizing in about 5 minutes what they learned in 2014 and the trends of 2015. I am hoping to do a follow up article that summarizes each of their predictions.
Top 30 YouTubers Came Together To Break A Record And Bring This Moving Christmas Hymn To Life
How do 30 YouTuber entrepreneurs and musicians collaborate to send the ultimate Christmas card to the world and their combined 20 million subscribers?
They decide to form the world’s largest live nativity, complete with shepherds, wise men, angels, and a live camel all shot in the air and on the ground.
They start with an ornament on a tree in a nativity silhouette of Joseph, Mary, and the Christ child and end with the same ornament, now a living silhouette of over 1000 angels surrounding the wisemen, the shepherds, the couple, and the baby Jesus.
Jon and Steven start playing, Peter and David begin to sing, and then the YouTubers and their families combine to put on a play of the manger scene that soon becomes a vignette of the original event.
The final location was Rock Canyon Park, in Provo, Utah, where an official Adjudicator of Guinness World Records showed up to certify that 1,039 participants actually broke the previous record set a year ago in Britain with 898 volunteers.
The Harmon Brothers decide that to pull it all together in less than a month they better make a call to Ricky Ray Butler, of Plaid Social Labs, perhaps the one boutique media agency that has connected big brands to YouTubers better than anyone and whose call the YouTubers will always take, to make the ask: come to Provo during the busiest season of the year to do something that has never been done before.
Their fear is that there isn’t enough time and that these YouTubers, some of the busiest people on the planet, will all be booked solid.
Then the first of the miracles begin… every one they call answers their phone or gets back to them immediately. And each of them in turn remarks how amazing it is that their schedule has suddenly freed up. And every YouTuber says “We’re in!”
Only then does Jeffrey and Daniel Harmon set to work with more than 1300 people to pull it off. Over 10,000 hours are invested, a thousand angel costumes to be made from fabric they haven’t even secured yet, logistics mastered of inventing a weather balloon camera rig for safety instead of the chopper drones they are far more familiar with, securing a live camel, and even crowd control with that many people.
Devin Graham, of the extreme video devinsupertramp YouTube channel agrees to bring in his video shooting experience and equipment to shoot at 5K pixels on a Red Dragon camera, pretty much the same camera that was used to film Lord of the Rings.
Shay Carl Butler, of SHAYTARDS, the YouTube Channel that produces a family episode nearly every single day for seven years and has more views daily than the Tonight Show is asked why he is involved in a project like this, “It’s all about my kids, it’s cliché to say it’s all about Jesus and not the commercialism, but I wanted to do something to show them that.”
Ellie and Jared, DychesFam, Mommytard, Stuart Edge, Jeremy Warner of Studio C, Chris Newman of CineChopper, Derrel Eves is Associate Producer and one of the leading YouTube consultants, the Gardiner Sisters, amazing hair styles done by CuteGirlHairstyles, identical twins Brooklyn and Bailey, funding from Radiant.org, and many more each contribute a piece of their specialty to the project.
It was Jeff Taylor who had the original idea to actually try and break the world record for the largest nativity scene with live people that sparked the creative fire of the YouTubers.
Daniel Harmon drove the creative design that started with the idea from Jeff Taylor who came up with the single golden ornament, created by Valerie Atkisson, that becomes a live ornament of 1000+ angels surrounding the wise men and shepherds bowing before the family of the Christ child.
Jeffrey Harmon tells the story of people, from different faiths, who just drove far to just be a part of this event.
Steve and Jon of ThePianoGuys host the video on their site and Steve shares his thoughts at the end.
Alex Boyé borrows the camel for his own individual creative contribution to the celebration of the birth of Christ from the perspective of the wise man who dreams of the star and ends with experiencing the hustle and bustle and shopping for gifts that has come to mark the season that started in a poor manger, filled with animals and straw.
They all unite to say one thing in a way not unique to YouTubers…
“Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!”
4 YouTube Tips: The Harmon Brothers Share Their Viral Video Secrets
Half a million dollars … that’s what it would cost you to hire business renegades The Harmon Brothers to craft a viral video for your company on YouTube.
They may be the best in the business, and they are willing to share the 4 multimillion-dollar principles that got them where they are:
Just how good are they?
They have made more than 100 YouTube videos for companies that average over 1 million views each.
That’s almost impossible to do … especially for business. Viral videos are the holy grail of marketing online and data-driven business.
I just got to sit at their feet for two hours and ask them any question I wanted.
I had been busy interviewing YouTube greats Lindsey Stirling (800+ million views) and Devin Graham (Extreme YouTuber Devin SuperTramp) to learn their formula for success on YouTube. After mentioning the Christmas mistletoe kissing prankster Stuart Edge, both of them said I better be starting my series on video social media by talking to Jeffrey and Daniel Harmon if I really want to know how to film successful YouTube videos for entrepreneurs.
Jeffrey Harmon is the mad scientist behind the Orabrush videos that have become the poster child for selling a product on YouTube and driving purchases through every Walmart in the United States. He turned what was rejected as a measly 8% segment of a market that would probably buy a brush for your tongue to cure bad breath into millions of dollars and a whole new industry.
Neal Harmon is the technician behind the curtain that codes Jeffrey’s vision into reality. Daniel Harmon makes you love their work with his designer’s eye.
Benton Crane is the only non-Harmon on the team. Benton makes sure they hit budgets, proposals, timelines, and deadlines. The Orabrush campaign is taught as a case study in business schools all over the world and recognized in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Mashable, Huffington Post, and hundreds more.
PooPourri came to the Harmon Brothers after being rejected by multiple large ad agencies when they tried to turn a poo product into a dinner-table conversation across America. The campaign ran from August 2013 to January of this year and increased web traffic by 13,000%, selling out inventory and creating back orders for weeks. It more than doubled annual revenue in what seemed like overnight.
Their college-level potty humor struck a nerve worldwide:
They are courted by politicians and scheduled for speaking engagements for the likes of Startup Grind, VidCon, Google, and Video Fest YouTube conferences internationally.
When asked for the simple principles of success, Jeffrey said it only happens when you can yoke content with distribution, which agencies and big brands are only now getting a small clue about. He said if he were going to recommend one key thing to do, it would be to watch other really great YouTubers do what they do for at least 2 straight weeks. Don’t watch the big brands or companies, you won’t find many who even know what they are doing.
Jeff coaches specifically to watch Kickstarter and Indiegogo and look at every video that actually gains real crowd funding success and then practice crafting even better calls-to-action for each one as if you were in charge.
Then learn to test. He says if you only pick one thing to do well … it’s all about Call-to-Action. That’s it. OK, there’s a bit more.
Jeffrey turned to Daniel to share what they call the 4 C’s: the principles of YouTube viral secret success. (I’m blown away by how closely my 6 C’s of Social Media coincide.)
C #1 – Content: Find your passion; pick a niche, something that people think is genuine to you. Tap your genius and deliver great content.
You can’t deliver crap and hope people will watch it … well maybe hot girls with a British accent can.
The Internet rewards the two extremes: Stack it deep and sell it cheap like Amazon, eBay, and Vitacost … or a unique boutique niche like a dancing violinist, a brush for your tongue, your pet’s tongue, a blender grinding an iPad, wheatgrass kits, or potpourri bottled scent for the loo.
Then you test everything: the message, the thumbnail, the first seven seconds, the headline, the call-to-action …
Tested content is king.
C #2 – Consistency: You have to be consistent in your style and your release times.
TV learned this a long time ago. It’s one show, like “Friends,” on the same night every week at 7 p.m. You don’t vary from that. We all miss the consistency of “Happy Days,” “Gilligan’s Island,” “Starsky and Hutch,” or “Seinfeld.”
Viewers want to tune in and watch; same bat time, same bat channel.
The difference with TV is that they say a YouTube Channel is not like a TV Channel with lots of shows.
A successful YouTube Channel is a show … one show.
The other portion of that consistency isn’t just the release dates and times but the kinds of content, your brand. It always must feel consistent, the same.
They mention “Studio C,” consistently gaining viewers as perhaps the funniest family friendly comedy show on all of YouTube. But it’s bundled on a channel modeled after traditional TV channels with other shows.
Many warned BYUtv, probably the pioneer of online video by a major university, not to bundle “Studio C” into the BYUtv Channel with other great but vastly different shows like “American Ride” and “Granite Flats.” Those in the know say to break it out on its own or you would have to undo things later anyway with lots of expense, time, and confused viewers.
Hilarious “Studio C” content like the Top Soccer Shootout Ever with Scott Sterling, with nearly 16 million views in the last month,
or their incredibly creative episode The Hunger Games Musical: Mockingjay Parody – Peeta’s Song,
or my favorite (and funniest of all) episode, Drivers Ed,
it continues to beg the question if “Studio C” should stand alone.
The brothers claim that Google algorithms reward YouTubers for consistent content; day in and day out. And whether you can crank out content daily, or take time for more epic projects, you need to deliver on cadence daily, weekly or monthly.
Shaytards YouTuber Shay Carl Butler struggled four years into his seven-year run with flat search rankings in a two-year lull when his heyday seemed to peak. His ambitious goal of an episode of family life filmed every single day at the Butler home was getting penalized until Google woke up and started rewarding this principle of consistency with higher rankings than ever.
Now Sontard, Princesstard, Babytard, Rocktard, and Mommytard have settled into a 5-day-a-week schedule for the sake of sanity, but their near daily schedule viewership hasn’t dipped below 600,000 to 800,000 views per episode more than once or twice in a month.
The top YouTubers dwarf the The Tonight Show.
Where’s Johnny Carson?
So I ask them how I stay consistent writing for Forbes when I have no time as a crazed founder of a hyper-growth company.
They both grin … good luck.
C #3 – Collaboration: No YouTuber is an island.
You pair up with people, especially people above you who have distribution. Usually a new content developer doesn’t have the money to buy distribution, and paid doesn’t do very well anyway for subscribers.
You are building an asset, which requires a following. Paid distribution doesn’t tend to build a following.
A respectable Cable TV station has 400,000 subscribers. These YouTubers basically own their own Cable TV stations, the new Cable TV networks. But in the mind of the viewer, it is a show, not a station.
YouTubers have learned the value of a cameo appearance or a little luv from another YouTuber, hopefully with more, but similar, subscribers. I promote your channel; you promote mine. We cross-pollinate and both do better … the ultimate online win-win.
Perhaps that is why YouTubers become a community that cares for its own. The top three YouTube communities globally reside in London, Los Angeles, and Provo, Utah; and they tend to stick together. With my corporate offices right here in Provo, I’m only 10 minutes from some of the best in the world.
Both Lindsey and Devin mentioned the same thing; it’s all about “Collabs,” as they call it.
And right next to collaboration among YouTubers, is what they call “Covers.” This is where YouTubers in the know tap into a river of existing traffic given off by a big brand and draft off the wave already created by the much bigger brand or community. This is another form of collaboration, though usually covert; there isn’t a single big brand that minds the added lift from derivative work that gives a little luv and backlink collaboration along the way.
Lindsey confesses it was when she played her violin in a Zelda medley, dressed up in a fairly authentic Link costume from the record-breaking Nintendo video game, and danced her way to 20 million views, that her independent music-recording career was assured. Even after “America’s Got Talent” voted her off in the finals. Nobody thought there was a market for a dancing violinist.
Her own top music video “Crystallize” at 110 million views done onsite in another form of collaboration with my friend Brent Christensen and his now world-famous ice castles, as well as her recent world tour, suggest otherwise.
Years ago I predicted huge success for my scrappy friend Brent Christensen in an article called Buzz Marketing: Beanie Babies, Flying Wrenches, and Ice Castles.
That same ice castle became the setting not just for Lindsey, but also for my friend young diva Lexi Walker who collaborated with Alex Boye and drafted a cover of “Frozen” by Disney to 57 million views:
C #4 – Call-to-Action: This is the one principle above all that makes the difference between success and failure in a business that actually makes money.
Jeffrey and Daniel have tested this more times than they can count, and the answer is the same.
People only know what you tell them; they only do what you ask them.
And keep asking.
In fact, keep posting your single most important call-to-action for the entire last 30 seconds of your video if you really want results.
Orabrush was putting calls-to-action in every single video.
Old Spice, who didn’t follow suit with consistent calls-to-action, though their content and viewership crushed the small plastic implement, got schooled by Orabrush with 3x better subscribers per view … because of calls-to-action.
“Studio C” took advice from the brothers Harmon and took off with subscribers when they pioneered putting the actors themselves at the end of every episode asking, pleading, or begging (if necessary) for subscribers.
They specifically coach aspiring YouTubers to have a character from the content, both verbally and visually, make a plea to subscribe, follow, buy, or try.
They have tested and discovered that you want one verbal and visual call-to-action if you are selling a product. If you are driving subscribers, you can have a few visual cues, but still have one verbal call-to-action for best results.
You don’t want a call-to-action to be an afterthought.
Jeffrey and Daniel pause here and remind me that my “Forbes” readers will gain a lot of value from these 4 C’s. They get paid a lot of money to share what they just shared, and a heck of a lot more to actually do it.
Because it works … and it works for business.
And when it works, it works better than anything else on the web.
Stay tuned for more on how entrepreneurs use YouTube for business.
Team, we’re getting a YouTube channel!
Survey: Top 10 Reasons People Love Salesforce.com and Marc Benioff
On the eve of the week of Dreamforce ’14, the annual tradeshow of salesforce.com in San Francisco, we reached out to tens of thousands of customers of the cloud-based sales, service, marketing, and analytics platform and asked what they loved most about the company and the man behind the company, CEO Marc Benioff.
Here is what 280 respondents said were their Top 10 favorite things about the company offering:
1- Ease of use – 16.1%
2- Customizable – 12.0%
3- Cloud based – 11.9%
4- Reporting – 8.0 %
5- Organizational capability – 6.9%
6- Dashboards – 6.3%
7- Integration options – 5.9%
8- AppExchange ecosystem – 5.2%
9- Pipeline management and forecasting – 2.7%
10- Continuous improvement – 1.9%
Other notable mentions were availability, innovation, mobile integration, lead management capabilities, and the fact that it was built by people who care about customers and know about sales.
The company itself was noted for culture, social responsibility, market leadership, unique community, and emphasis on client success.
Specific products mentioned often were Chatter, Data.com, the API, Pardot, and Work.com.
Only 6 people said they don’t like the Salesforce products.
Of those respondents who knew about Marc Benioff his Top 10 endearing qualities were:
1- Visionary – 18.6%
2- Philanthropist – 14.1%
3- Leadership – 10.2%
4- Innovation –7.3%
5- Guts – 6.8%
6- Focus on Client Success – 4.1%
7- Public Speaking capability – 4.0%
8- Cloud pioneer – 2.8%
9- Smart – 2.8%
10- Energetic – 2.3%
Most notable after his visionary status were his philanthropic ventures which have set an example of a corporate giving-back model that Marc calls the Salesforce Foundation.
His innovative 1/1/1 Model where the company donates 1% of time, equity, and product to integrate philanthropy into their business has influenced countless individuals and companies including our own InsideSales.com to ‘Take the 1/1/1 Pledge’ over the last 15 years.
He has plowed the deep snow in so many areas that matter.
The foundation website shares that they have given $68+ million in grants, 680,000 hours of community service, and donations to over 23,000 nonprofits. Stated causes include reduced poverty, more jobs, less hunger, better education, fewer homeless, cleaner planet, productive workplace, and more successful graduates.
His annual Concert for Kids is featuring Bruno Mars, 2013 Billboard’s Artist of the Year, on October 14th, at the City Hall and Civic Center Plaza to benefit the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals.
Marc was particularly hailed as a leader and innovative and courageous in taking on Larry Ellison of Oracle and for his emphasis on sharing what he had learned and gained to improve client success.
Noted just outside the Top 10 were his inspiration, relentless improvement, attitude, charisma, ability to execute, and the fact that he comes across as a real person.
Only 3 people had anything negative to say about Mr. Benioff.
His hair, shoes, and book Behind the Cloud were also recognized, as well as a call-out for getting his start as an inside sales representative years ago while still at Oracle and the fact that he used a telesales or inside sales model for the first 6 years to launch the Salesforce CRM to market leadership.
Several hashtags were highlighted like #DF14 and #RoadToDF14, and others were started including #WeLoveSalesforce, and #ThanksMarc.
With so much craziness leading up to Dreamforce 2014 it’s important to recognize that hundreds of people were willing to take time and share why they love Salesforce.com…
And to say…
The 6 Basic Core Skills of Social Media
These are the very basics of social media I call the Core. They all start with C.
They are a more detailed analysis of the 6 Core Skills mentioned in What
These are the basic skills of social media and apply to any social media platform:
- Call to Action
Skill 1: Complete. The obvious rookie to social media is the one who never even puts their picture on their profile and wonders why nothing is happening. The next sign of a rookie is a picture that is so small or of so many other people that nobody can see who you are. Follow the 7 P’s:
First define your Purpose: Why use social media? Many want to follow someone famous, or catch the latest news on Twitter in 140 characters, or just connect with their friends and family. Others want to listen to their customers, promote a good cause, grow their business by generating interest or leads, gain a following, or become a thought leader. If you know the why, you can figure out the what and the how.
Second choose your Platform(s): LinkedIn is for business, my platform of choice. Facebook is for personal use and consumers, though many consumer companies use it well for business. Blogs are the true platform for serious authors and thought-leaders. Google+ is the key to your message showing up in the search engine owned by the same company. Twitter amplifies and broadcasts your message. Pinterest and Instagram promote the images of your thought and expression. Each platform plays specifically to your purpose, or lack of purpose. Choose wisely.
Third form your Plan: There is a lot of learning that comes first. I recommend spending time searching Google for How-To’s, Best Practices, Tips, Tricks, Top Mistakes, etc. The one article that really opened my eyes to the light of perfecting my original blog www.KenKrogue.com was 31 Days to Build a Better Blog by Darren Rowse of ProBlogger. This got me serious about my social media adventures. It gave me a plan; 1 thing to do per day for a month.
This was my inspiration as I wrote my own Forbes article called 31 Twitter Tips: How To Use Twitter Tools And Twitter Best Practices For Business that has become a top article globally on the keywords like Twitter Tips, How To Use Twitter, Twitter Tools, and Twitter Best Practices. I did a similar one on LinkedIn Tips and one on Social Nurturing that might be helpful as you plan. Set down your plan and goals in writing to accomplish your purpose.
Fourth Prepare your resources: Once you have your purpose, platform, and plan. Now start preparing your resources for the other social media skills and stages. Most important is continuing to prepare your knowledge and experience by daily and weekly study of thought leaders and what is working. I will mention resources at later skill levels and stages.
Fifth Prioritize your resources: Many social media platforms allow you to Tag, Circle, Group, or List people by categories. These categories should reflect your purpose and plan. LinkedIn connections should be targeted to your market and community. Facebook Groups allow you to follow, like, and share with likeminded people by hobby, interest, locale, etc.
Sixth complete your Profile: Now you are ready to begin using social media. Take the time to incorporate all you have done into the structure of your profile. As already mentioned, use a nice closeup picture so people will recognize you. If your purpose on LinkedIn is to promote your business, then don’t make it look like an online resume that is trying to get you a job. My good friend Koka Sexton, the #1 Social Salesperson in the World has curated his Epic list of LinkedIn Profile Tips… start there.
Seventh Persist: Consistently work your plan.
Weekly is a minimum, daily is ideal. The reason so many people feel that too much time is wasted on social media is because they aren’t accomplishing their purpose, or they have no purpose. That is the definition of wasted time.
There are many tools like BufferApp and Hootsuite and TweetDeck that provide incredible leverage so that very little time is wasted.
Persist until you complete your Profile. Discipline yourself to define your Purpose, choose your Platform, make a Plan, and Prepare and Prioritize your resources.
Skill 2: Content. There are several levels of content you need to deliver.
First is the content for your own profile. If you are a good writer, speaker, or videographer, you can generate your own content. If not, you can do just fine by curating, or shaping and promoting other peoples content.
As you get more advanced you learn to pull all of the skills and content together in specific campaigns to promote your purpose. Even more advanced skills and influence allow you to collaborate with other strong content generators to dramatically enhance your overall effect. Follow the 6 B’s:
Your Bio. Tell the world who you are. This is your elevator pitch. When someone asks, “So tell me about you.” You have 30 seconds… go! If it is on Twitter you have 3 seconds and 140 characters to do the same thing.
Your Background. Why should somebody believe you? Do you have credibility? Do you inspire confidence? Are you real? Share pictures and videos. Show (don’t just tell) where you came from: your family, your friends, your education, your work experience, your hobbies, your passions, your mistakes, your successes. What have you done?
Your Backstory. This is the deeper part of your background, your struggles, your growth, your setbacks, your success. This is your heart and soul. Don’t be afraid to share some of this to your audience so you become real.
Your Beliefs. Share your own unique slant on things, your opinions, what makes you unique. Don’t be afraid to open up. I’m not a fan of political correctness, because it of itself is too politically charged and skewed, it doesn’t allow people to be themselves. Don’t be afraid to stir the pot a bit by speaking out. A little controversy is ok. The best conversations are when you take a stand with a strong opinion. My Death of SEO article was number one on all of Forbes for a week because I believe the whole profession of grey or black hat search engine optimizers who game the Google system are a blight and I knowingly or unknowingly called them out. Google rewards real great content, not fake content. I stated it and stirred a hornets nest with over 500 comments. Be yourself. Be you. Most of all… be real.
Social media is about real content.
Provide a Bridge. The word rapport comes from a similar root to the word rappel. Rappel is to throw down a line and climb down a mountain or cliff. Rapport is to throw a line across to another person. It is a common connection. Some of my specialties are inside sales and social selling. I also like to get sales leaders and marketers talking. I call this a bridge. The best conversations I have on social media is when I constructively connect to people that I don’t normally connect to within my everyday communities.
I also recommend bridging or moving from passive media to more assertive media. Tweets or Instagram pictures are passive, personal messages are more assertive. Moving to a LinkedIn connection request from an email is a bridge. Scheduling a phone call is more assertive, meeting face-to-face is even more assertive.
State the Benefits for following you.
Why should someone join your conversation?
What’s in it for them?
What memories, knowledge, gossip, ideas, prestige, or career advancement do you offer?
My personal blog took off to number one in the world on the topic of inside sales when I decided I would give away every tip, trick, best practice, and idea freely. In fairness most of my fellow thought leaders in the space make a living doing this, so they need to hold back their core value and only provide teasers for free. For the core they charge a lot of money. My purpose has been to help grow industries: first inside sales and sales acceleration, then to provide a framework to assist anyone accomplish their core purpose in using social media.
I quickly learned that all that really matters is value.
Value is key.
What value do you offer?
What stories can you tell?
What content can you share to help others?
Don’t preach… coach. Don’t teach… mentor. Help people do… not just know. Respond when others ask questions. Don’t just tell why and what, show them how. Think of everything you do as a blog. Whether it is WordPress, or LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, Pinterest or Instragram, YouTube or Vimeo. It is all a blog. Be consistent, be relevant, be real.
There are more advanced content strategies like the ACQUIRETM model of Social Selling, Social Nurturing, and the 7 Levels of Content.
Skill 3: Community. Now that you have completed your profile and filled it with your content, it’s time to target your communities. What is a community? A community is a group of people with common experience or interest:
- Hobby Groups
- Networking Groups
- Common Passions (aka Mac owners)
A good strategy as you join or rejoin communities is to start with your past, move to the present, and plan for the future. The best communities are those that already exist with common interest or common experience; they may just need boundaries put around them.
I focus on business communities, but these Core Skills apply just as readily for individuals, families, non-profits, churches, gamers, or hobbyists.
My friend Trish Bertuzzi formed a LinkedIn Group years ago called Inside Sales Experts. As of this writing there are 38,752 members who are active in the inside sales profession. It’s the strongest single networking group in the inside sales space, the fastest growing segment of sales and marketing. As one of the top consultants in the space, she tapped a river of need and put a name and rules of engagement to it. Rising trends tend to create communities.
We at InsideSales.com recently coined a name for a new industry we call Sales Acceleration. Companies or applications that offer products, services, or solutions that increase the velocity of the sales process. It is now an exciting new community.
Community Resources. Just the past week I decided to reconnect with my former classmates at the United States Naval Academy. Where did I go?
My yearbook… A yearbook not only gives you a list, but pictures, events, memories, and written words of advice from people long since grown up. There is nothing more fun than sharing the comment some goofy teenager made in your yearbook decades ago.
Community content builds immediate rapport, common purpose, common experience.
I scanned in sections from an old poster from Woods Cross High School from my junior year when our marching band celebrated it’s prowess nationally. Those pictures on Facebook sparked dozens and dozens of comments from my old classmates.
Find content that naturally appeals to your community.
The internet rewards extreme strategies; business that are the ultimate in stack it deep and sell it cheap like Amazon, or tightly focused boutique stores around one specific kind of product like Organic Wheatgrass Growing Kits.
I learned this when I decided to write my blog, www.KenKrogue.com, about inside sales. In 2007 inside sales was a niche, now it’s a canyon; the fastest growing segment of sales. I went to Google in 2005 and typed in the keyword phrase ‘inside sales’ and there wasn’t a single competitor, not a single Google Adword, but there were 40,000 searches a month and tens of thousands of companies hiring inside sales reps.
An inside sales community was forming.
Choose your target community to accomplish your purpose.
Skill 4: Connect.
Connecting to other people is a skill all it’s own. When I first started as a newbie on my own LinkedIn account years ago I tried to connect to people everywhere, whether they knew me or not. I just about got banned because people didn’t know me and wouldn’t connect. I soon learned that to connect I need an existing connection or relationship. They needed to be aware of who I was or they wouldn’t approve my connection.
I learned to bridge from other media, messaging, or meetings to an immediate follow up in LinkedIn. When I received or sent an email to a person not on my LinkedIn I mentioned, “Oh, by the way, let’s connect on LinkedIn, shall we?” I did the same thing with voice messages, or at events when I received somebodies business card.
Now when I speak or write something new I get dozens of LinkedIn Invitations within minutes. With help from my team we try to respond to every one.
Our research at InsideSales.com continues to reinforce that it takes about 5 interactions before somebody will think of you on their own. Here is a typical interaction:
1- I had a conversation at a trade show, and received a business card.
2- I went back that night to my hotel and reached out by email and asked if I could connect on LinkedIn.
3- I would reach out by LinkedIn with a personalized message in my Connection request.
4- I tagged their account and made notes so I would remember them.
5- Shortly thereafter I would follow up with a personalized message that would start with a question based on the interaction we already had.
I just had a family reunion from my mother’s side of the family and I took my laptop with me and we built a Facebook Group with all of the pictures we took at the reunion as well as Photo Albums with pictures and stories of our grandfather William E. Baker. This got many of the aunts, uncles, and cousins to immediately connect, some I hadn’t interacted with for years. Some even joined Facebook just to be part of the conversation… more conversions to the gospel of social media!
One of the key ways to get people to connect is to offer content around a mutual common interest or experience. Even more powerful is where all who participate shares content.
Start connecting with people in your target community.
Skill 5: Comment.
Comments are the basic element of interaction on social media. Comments start engagement.
Politicians have a rule from years ago when people still really wrote letters and mailed them through the US Postal Service. They learned that somebody who was willing to write a letter was worth about 2500 people who felt the same way but didn’t have the commitment to actually write and send a letter. Social media is much easier, and therefore probably isn’t worth 2500 people, but it is still very valuable to make and receive comments. A comment is an extremely valuable way to measure opinion and engagement.
I compared the value of comments on Forbes to views and social sharing in an article called The Currency Of Digital Media: Views, Shares, and Comments where I found a comment is worth 472 views.
How should you comment?
Be thoughtful. Show that you have read or viewed their content. Don’t just make what I call a “drive-by comment.” Ask a compelling question or make a strong statement that begs a response and starts a conversation.
A conversation is the key to engagement. A Conversation is two-way comments going back and forth.
How do you get others to comment?
- Ask a question.
- Request feedback.
- Stir the pot.
- State a strong opinion.
- Prime the pump with a first comment.
Practice by making comments on Facebook posts, blogs, books reviews on Amazon, and articles on Forbes. As you do so invite the author or other commenters to respond to your comment, if they do you now have a conversation, which is the measure of good comments.
Skill 6: Call to Action.
A Call to Action is key to using social media to accomplish your purpose. The simplest call to action is to ask a question or to elicit a comment.
Next would be to get someone to follow you, friend you, share your, pin you or to fill out a form to capture an email address, or to bridge to another media like email, or the phone.
If your purpose is generating leads, a call to action would include offering a valuable piece of content in exchange for a name, phone number, and email address. The offers you make should align with your purpose.
If your purpose is supporting a cause, a call to action would be to join a group, or perhaps to make a donation, or provide a referral.
Practice by asking people to do something.
Once you have the 6 Core Skills of Social Media under your belt you are officially ready to join and shape the world conversation.
Now you can begin progressing through the rest of the 7 Levels of Social Media and convert others to the cause you espouse.