From Broke to Breakthrough: Peter Voogd and 6 Months to 6 Figures

I recently listened to the audiobook of 6 Months to 6 Figures by Peter Voogd, and his perspective really resonated with me. And not just because we have a shared past of door-to-door sales (I sold vacuum cleaners, he sold Cutco knives). Voogd went from broke to a game changer who practically defines the word “hustle.” In his book, and in this interview, he shares keys to success for fellow entrepreneurs.

“You only know how strong you really are until being strong is the only option you have. ”

-Peter Voogd, Author of the Best Seller 6 Months to 6 Figure

Watch the full interview with Peter Voogd:

On the go? Listen to the whole interview here:

Inspiration vs. Habits.

A lot of us entrepreneurs are inspired, which helps us drive action, but Voogd emphasized the importance of productive habits: “Inspiration is short-term and feels good in the moment, but it’s hard to sustain because you don’t have the habits.” One recipe for success he described was the habit of asking himself “What did I do well? What can I do better?” after every single meeting or presentation.

Circle of Influence.

Voogd further explained how taking it upon yourself to figure out these effective habits is unnecessary: “It takes people so much longer to get to an end result than they would’ve got if they actually reached out to people that are already playing the game at a higher level. They will tell you what the best habits are.” Identify the top five people in your industry and reach out to them. Stop making excuses and, as Nike advises, just do it. You’ll probably be surprised by how easy it is to get a hold of even famous people, who can then help you drastically shorten your learning curve. Watch Voogd explain his circle of influence epiphany →

“You have to realize that everyone who has a network now once didn’t. The first step is increasing your level of certainty that you can connect with people like that, whether you have anything to offer or not.”

-Peter Voogd, Author of the Best Seller 6 Months to 6 Figures

“The Unrequired Things.”

6monthsto6figuresAlong with establishing effective habits, Voogd spoke about how going above and beyond is the key. One way to go the extra mile is having utter confidence in selling yourself: “You have to believe wholeheartedly that the product is better for [your customer], and they are better off having it than if they don’t.”

The second unrequired thing is writing down the internal reasons that drive you to do what you do. You might come up with 20 to 30 reasons, then boil them down to four or five core ones. Voogd underscored that reasons come first, results come second: “Too many people just go after results, without having strong enough reasons, and if they go through challenges, they don’t have any reasons to pull them through the challenge.”

The Million Dollar Question.

A great story Voogd shared was from when he was a sales manager in his early 20s, striving to hit a $1 million sales goal that was thought to be unattainable. You can probably guess the outcome, but don’t miss how he did it →

“Anything is possible to those who value their goals, their dreams, and their visions over their current excuses or reality.”

-Peter Voogd, Author of the Best Seller 6 Months to 6 Figure

The One-Page Productivity Planner

Voogd shared the details of his one-page productivity planner. The exercise here is to simplify and focus on what really matters. Get the gist below, download his template here, or watch him explain it 

  1. Brief vision-statement. What’s your ideal outcome in six months?
  2. Your BIG 5 Goals for the next 12 months.
  3. Your Top Five Reasons, the most powerful ones that drive you the most.
  4. Your Key Values, to connect to what’s most important to you. For example, a few of Voogd’s are are flexibility, autonomy, and impact.

Download the 1-Page Productivity Sheet >>

Talk about impact! The Game Changers Academy Voogd founded has trained and inspired over 4,500 entrepreneurs, and his podcasts, videos, websites and social media reach over 200,000 people monthly.

Want to learn even more from outstanding young entrepreneurs?

On July 30th, I’ll take the stage with Santiago Jaramillo, one of Inc Magazine’s “30 Under 30″ for a special launch event in the brand new offices of his growing mobile tech company, Bluebridge. Get your tickets now!

Peter Voogd Interview Transcript show

3 Pitching Mistakes That Make You Sound “Salesy”

ben-franklin-close“Draw a line down the center of the paper,” said Mr. Brown.

We were on the third hour of back and forth and Brown wasn’t ready to let go without pulling out all the stops.

“Now on the left side of the paper, write ‘Reasons For,’ and on the right side, write the word ‘Reasons Against,’” Brown said. This was the first time I had ever been sold anything in a one-on-one situation. But even I knew the “Ben Franklin” close.

I’ve seen a lot of pitches since then. It’s surprising how many make the same mistakes—especially because they’re so easily avoided.

We’ve all had bad days, or even found ourselves in a rut. So, do a quick self check on these common “salesy” pitch habits:

You’re way too eager.

Slow down, Sparky. We appreciate your enthusiasm, but we can’t understand what you’re talking about, no matter how wide you open your eyes or how broad make your gestures.

verge-lafayette-pitch

When you give your pitch, you’re going to get a shot of adrenaline. And that jolt can be your friend or your worst enemy.

Stay calm. You need to be enthusiastic about your business, but you also need to make good decisions (and stay coherent) during your pitch. A few deep breaths before your next pitch may do the trick. But if you’re really amped up, you may want to try a quick meditation.

Yes, meditation.

Even if you have only 2 minutes. Research has shown that you communicate better and make better decisions when you’re calm.  And meditation has been proven to decrease stress and maintain a calm, confident mindset.

eleven-fifty-pitchYou sound like a robot.

Have you ever had someone impress you with their industry vocabulary or clever sales phrases?

Yeah, me neither.

When you really know your industry and product, it’s easy to get carried away. But using big words or jargon makes it difficult to make a genuine connection.

At the same time, clichés and overused phrases are an easy (and did I mention, ineffective?) fallback strategy. Unless you’re making a joke, don’t ever use any of the following:

  • “We’re world class…” << It’s great that your product is world-class. Instead of claiming this, tell your audience who said you’re “world class” or why they should believe this.
  • “This is cutting-edge.” << Oh snap! Cutting edge, you say? This idiom couldn’t be more ironic. If you actually utter the words “cutting edge,” you’re not cutting edge. Think of something original to say in a way that makes sense for your product.
  • “Can I be honest for a second?” << If you want to build rapport with your audience (hint: you do), you should just go ahead and be honest all the time.
  • “I will offer this only to you on a discount.” << Don’t resort to these kinds of “sales tactics.” They make you seem cheap and disingenuous, and they rarely work.
  • “It’s a paradigm shift.” << No. Just no. Please don’t say this.
  • “Value-added” or “Added-value” << How do you add value? Why does this matter? Talk about the benefit or the pain point you’re solving and you’ll hook the audience’s attention.

I could go on, but you get the point. Bottom line: People do business with people. Pitch accordingly.

developer-town-pitch

You forget the “ask.”

You’ve hooked the audience’s attention. You built intrigue and demonstrated the value of your business. Now bring us home.

I’m sure you’ve done research on your audience (right?), so craft a concise, actionable ask for the end of your pitch. When you deliver your specific request—this could be a sale, funding, a referral, etc.—remind your audience why they will benefit.

pact-safe-pitchThen, shut up.

If you keep talking, you’ll lose your audience. So, give your audience the opportunity to help you.

If you’re using slides, leave your contact information presented for all to see. If you’re presenting to a large audience, keep yourself extremely visible to the room and open to starting new conversations. Book a specific next step and make sure you have a way to contact your new friend (grab their business card).

Hopefully, I gave you some “Reasons Against” being too eager or robotic during your pitches. And when you nail your “Reasons For” during the ask of your next pitch, there is one thing of which I’m certain…

Ben Franklin would be proud.

Did you find these suggestions helpful? Learn what investors have to say about pitching mistakes entrepreneurs make when pitching for Seed Funding.

 

How to Scale Sales Without Adding Headcount

how your startup can scale your sales departmentStart-up companies often face a classic catch-22: they need to invest in a sales team to generate revenue but lack the funds for hiring more reps. What most companies fail to realize is that they already have the right staff; it’s their processes that are dragging them down.

Let me give you an example. While shadowing a rep earlier this year, I observed six total call attempts in a little over an hour. The rep never talked with a prospect live. He jumped from webinar follow-ups from a variety of different sources to following up with prospects at different stages of a campaign. In addition, he was calling prospects with different titles paths and company profile. Of course he felt it necessary to research before every call so he could be prepared.

Unfortunately, this chaotic pattern represents how most inside sales teams operate. They have nearly complete autonomy and are only responsible for achieving activity metrics. Since they don’t follow a lead generation process, there’s no way for managers to understand what’s working and what isn’t.

Scalability isn’t always about adding headcount. Every time I’ve consulted with companies on improving their lead generation and B2B appointment setting results, I have implemented process changes that can significantly impact production of the team without having to add headcount. Here’s how:

1. Invest in a quality data source.

Most data sources need to be cleansed to ensure titles are relevant and accurate, and contact information is correct and complete. Asking sales reps to do this detracts from their productivity, so I always recommend investing in custom cleansing so reps are handed great data. Spending time to cleanse the data also can significantly boost results. Cleansed data can increase response rates by 300 percent with the same team using the same messaging.

2. Structure data into groups of similar leads.

Leads can be grouped by lead source, title path, industry, company size and/or message tactic. This allows sales reps to prep once for calls to an entire group, instead of prepping for each call. This also gives managers the ability to customize messaging strategies to entire groups to improve results.

3. Implement a call cadence.

A cadence is a structured campaign approach that includes a pattern of emails, calls and voicemail messages. This allows managers to pinpoint when diminishing returns takes place, and to identify which aspects of the cadence work best. The process becomes very predictable and efficient. It’s important to note that there is no single or universal cadence that will work for ALL your leads. Different personas might require different cadences.

Another option for start-ups is to outsource lead generation, which may be an attractive way to forgo all the technology and human capital costs needed, and start generating revenue immediately.

For more sales tips and tricks, make sure to check out Hunckler’s sales secrets from the Philippines!

Learn this Sales Secret from the Philippines to Earn More (and be happier!)

Philippines street vendor sales

Me haggling for my first taste of balut (don’t google that if you have a weak stomach)

“Salamat, po!”

That’s what the street vendors say here in the Philippines after they close a sale. I’m in heaven over here in Manila, where I get to practice my negotiating skills. Something fresh stimulates my brain each time I buy something in this haggling environment.

Whether you sell services, software or other products in your business, there’s in a hidden secret in Filipino culture.

You see, “Salamat” means “thank you.” But more importantly, “po” is a term of respect that does something interesting to the sales process.

It’s like saying “sir” or “ma’am” back in The States. Now, obviously that would feel kind of weird to go around to business meetings back home saying “Yes, sir” and “Hello, ma’am” (annoying and disingenuous). But, honestly…

There’s power in politeness.

Here in the Philippines, I’ve found myself smiling more. Sure, I’m flat-out happy to be here in the tropics. But, I’m confident that a lot of my smiles are reciprocating the happy Filipino faces who smile at me—in the market, on the street, in the elevator—everywhere.

What I was doing was involuntary.

It’s called mirroring and it’s works like magic (when used appropriately).

filipino smile

Smile first.

Mirroring isn’t just reflecting the physical mannerisms of the person with whom you’re communicating. It’s matching people’s phrases and inflections, their tempo, and tone.

Usually when entrepreneurs and sales leaders discuss the phenomena of mirroring, they focus on how to become the mirror. But, I’m telling you…

Sometimes it’s best to set the tone.

When people smile at you, what do you do?

Nine times out of ten you smile back, right? Well, it’s the same thing with your tone and respect. It can be the key to a new relationship or opportunity.

You can build mutual respect by being the first to show respect. You can build trust by showing you trust the other person. Be bold by bringing enthusiastic respect into your business.

But you won’t unlock any benefit if you don’t make it a priority.

So, see if you can try it out today.

Just try it with a close friend or colleague. Be the first to smile. Be extra respectful, energetic, or optimistic. It’s based on the same principles we discussed in “How to Get Seed Funding.”

If you get called out on it—good. Just tell the other person you’re trying something new that you hope will help you build deeper relationships (business and personal).

Register for Verge at DeveloperTown

Register now for Verge at DeveloperTown >>

Then, up the experience level and dive in. These tests will only do good things for you and your business.

More than 50 people registered yesterday for next Thursday’s Verge event. So, today there will still be space for you to RSVP and test your tone-setting and mirroring skills in the deep end.

Unfortunately, I won’t make it back for the festivities. But you’d better bet I’ll be watching the livestream of 2 excellent startup pitches and a fireside chat with Thaddeus Rex, who will show you another dimension of sales.

Register HERE if you can be in Indy next Thursday. Or stay tuned to the livestream and conversation at #VergeHQ on twitter.

So, where else could you try out setting the tone this week? Let me know what you’re thinking down in the comments…

Salamat, po!

 

How to Build Confidence and Close More Deals (Like… a rockstar?)

Have you ever met a rock star? And no, I’m not talking about someone who snazzies up their resume and social profiles by self proclaiming their “rock-star” status within their industry.

how-to-build-confidence-like-drummer

I mean someone really famous.

Even if you haven’t met them, I bet you’ve seen them on stage. And I bet you’ve felt that magical element that makes them so damn magnetic.

But how do they build all that confidence? How do they get reserves of self esteem that fly from their body like beads of sweat into the crowd?

This confidence is the same kind of confidence that closes deals for the best entrepreneurs and sales people. It’s the confidence that can distort reality and bend it to the vision of the business.

So, let’s look at where to begin…

Bang on the drum all day.

If you need to know where to start, study the drummer. The drummer was born to rock. While the guitarists and vocalists are tuning and warming up, the drummer sits down ready to hit things.

bang your drum

And we don’t get any better until we begin to bang around. Get rid of the “get-ready-to-get-ready” cycle that holds you back. Because the most exciting part is the start.

The first 100 attempts are the ones where you’ll see the biggest gains. But be prepared to stick with it for the full tour. The Beatles played more than 1,200 shows (not just practices, but shows) before they had their “breakthrough” onto the international scene.  This is part of Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule.

So, don’t wait. But remember…

Dooon’t stop belieeevin’

Hold on to that feelin’. And even if you didn’t catch that last reference, bear with me.

When you’re jamming—on your music or with your business—you’ve got to have a vision. You have to be able to sell it, too. But you won’t be able to sell a thing if you don’t believe.

Have you ever seen someone fake confidence? Saw right through it, didn’t you?

There’s a way around that. Know where you’re going and envision how you’ll get there. Most times in music and entrepreneurship, this is built on something that’s entirely in your head. And It can be really rough.

You’re going to get people who slam the door in your face. People will boo you. Yes, you.

But when you keep banging away, you’ll get something that will make you unstoppable.

Get rhythm.

It can feel like flailing at first. You’re making it up as you go along, so that’s okay.

But when you strike a chord on your guitar—or strike a chord with a sales pitch—you’ll test it again to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. And when you realize you can amplify and build on that positive reaction, you’ve begun to find your beat. Like this guy… (go to 1:25, where he really starts heating up)

Welcome others to your movement with enthusiasm. Arm them with the tools to tell their friends. People wear the shirts that represent their rock stars and they wear shirt that represent the entrepreneurs they respect.  Look for it the next time you’re at a Verge event or rock concert.

Show people what’s happening backstage. Show them how it works. Show them your drums.

Your confidence will grow as you assemble more to your group. Sales come with confidence in your product and yourself.

You’ve got rhythm. It’s inside you. So keep going for it, rock star.

Now, I’m curious… What gives you confidence? How did you get there?

See? I told you I’d have it to you by this Friday.

The Most Valuable Sales Lesson I Ever Learned, I Learned from Selling Vacuum Cleaners

I piled into the van with 6 middle-aged men. Most of them smoked half a pack of cigarettes by the time we arrived at our first sales call.

But these guys were professionals. I mean, they were good at what they did, which was to sell vacuum cleaners door to door.

Most Valuable Sales Lesson

And I was right there with them. A less-than-graceful transfer of universities and majors had put me in a cash crunch during the summer after my freshman year. This door-to-door sales was the first (and only) job I ever took by responding to an ad in the newspaper. But it was during that long summer that I learned my most valuable lesson in sales.

We were equipped with 50-pound machines that could clean, suck, blow, dust, and shampoo better than any other competing product on the market. But there were a few hurdles to selling this product.

For starters, most people aren’t in the market for a new vacuum cleaner. Most people with carpets already own a product that they’re happy with and believe their vacuum adequately does the job for which they purchased it. And this particular product that I sold didn’t advertise or market their brand online, in print, or even on TV. Oh, and one other major hurdle in each and every cold-call sale…

The vacuums were $2,000 each.

vacuum door to doorSo, how do you sell a product for which there is very little brand awareness and no perceived need?

How do you help someone understand that their existing solution, which is less than one tenth of the cost of your product, is inferior and not worth using for even one more day?

And how do you build enough of a relationship and urgency to educate and relate to a stranger enough to turn them into a life-long customer?

There are many complex ways I could answer those questions. And I could go into great detail about dozens of sales tactics or marketing strategies. But the best answer, in my opinion, simple: Build value.

Let me tell you what I mean.

The only way to ever guarantee that someone will happily buy your product is to demonstrate and sell the full value of that product or service. Only then can you sell your product at a price that is less than its perceived value, leaving your clients feeling great about the transaction.

This means that you have to show why your product or service is necessary and more valuable than their current solution. Demonstrate the value. Educate your prospects on the product, the technology, the industry and yes, even the competitors.

There are so many effective strategies and tactics that I’ve seen over the past decade as I’ve sold everything from software, enterprise cloud hosting infrastructures, digital media services, and even social media advertising. But, in the end, it all comes down to building value.

I want to share all of these sales and marketing lessons I’ve learned from screwing things up, learning what works, and scaling efficient systems. But, it’s hard to know where to start (that’s why I started this at the beginning).

What sales issues keep you up at night? What marketing ideas get you excited but leave you feeling overwhelmed?

This is the first in a series of weekly blog posts where I’ll dive into startup lessons learned around ramping revenue and building sales and marketing systems. And I’d love to include your idea in next Thursday’s post.

So, please drop a comment below or shoot me an e-mail!

The Secret to Turning Leads into Customers

Office workers giving high-fiveMany have searched for a formula or foolproof method to convert leads, only to find one doesn’t exist. With every prospect comes a different set of circumstances, meaning a “one-size-fits-all” sales conversation is impossible. In our experiences at Bluebridge, the people we encounter are as diverse as the industries we serve with mobile apps. But despite our diverse pipeline, we have found three, cross-channel strategies that are proven to turn even cold, hard leads into hot, happy customers.  Sales is less like striking a match and more like rubbing two sticks together to light a fire. It takes patience, and these three tricks:

1. Reply quickly

When it comes to converting leads, the old adage “time is money” applies in the most literal sense. According to Forbes, a study found that the odds for turning an inbound lead into a customer skyrockets if contact is made within five minutes of submission, declining dramatically from there. When a prospect fills out a form on your website, sends you an email, or downloads your whitepaper, they’re in buy mode. They don’t stay that way for very long. After waiting five hours, it is 3,000 times less likely that you will make contact with the lead. People are impatient and busy. Being expedient with a reply demonstrates that you care enough to not waste time (theirs and yours). You will save yourself the trouble of having to make four phone calls over a series of several days by being quick instead of one call five minutes after the lead comes in.

2. Ask good questions

Without pain, people won’t buy. Prospects do not buy products, they buy “pain relievers.” At the core, they don’t care about what your product does; only what pain it will eliminate. It is the salesperson’s job to find the problem and provide the solution. In this way, salespeople are less sellers and more like doctors or counselors. Too often, salespeople poke at the prospect, asking “does this hurt? How about this? What about now?” Historically, both in medicine and in sales, this method is ineffective.

Businessmen laughing and bumping fists in office

Asking good questions is essential to turning leads into customers. A doctor cannot make a diagnosis and provide recommendations without knowing a situation in its entirety. Asking open ended questions, encouraging elaboration and letting the potential customer do the majority of the talking will allow you to make an accurate assessment of their situation.

3. Persistence is paramount

If a lead doesn’t buy immediately, follow-up is crucial. They may not be ready to sign today, but who knows what could happen in the next month or two? According to Online Marketing Institute, it takes an upwards of 7-13 touches to generate a qualified sales lead. Building relationships with potential customers is just like building friendships outside the business setting: it takes time and patience. Be intentional with your communication. While emails are convenient, hitting the “send” button is the most impersonal method of contact. Therefore, emails are best used for information transfer. To have an actual conversation, pick up the phone, or when possible, schedule an in-person meeting. Avoid leaving voicemails. If someone does check their voicemail (many do not), the odds you will get a call in return is slim. Voicemails are reserved for out-of-town family members and salespeople: therefore, hang up and try again later. Continue maintaining contact until the lead blatantly says “no” to buying. Until then, they’re yours to convert.

While there is no perfect script to follow when interacting with leads, replying quickly, asking good questions and being persistent in follow-up are three sure-fire ways to heat up conversion rates.

Startup Sales and Social Media: Building a Social Media Persona

social media startupsAll of you old school salespeople: this series is for you. You folks are some of the hardest working in the business. You can hit the phones all day, cold call after cold call, and never miss a beat. You don’t get downtrodden if you get turned down all day, and you know you can turn it right around with one successful call.

But in this new age, there are a lot of new ways to make sales, other than just pounding the digits. Social media has changed the way we interact with one another, and there are plenty of ways to use it to your advantage for making sales. There’s a good chance you passed on getting to know social media when it was in its infancy, but there’s no better time to learn new tricks than now.

This series will help you individual sales folks learn tips and tricks for getting integrated into social media and how to leverage that into making sales. But first things first, and that’s creating a social media persona.

The Persona

Building your social media persona is the first step in getting you where you need to be in order to make sales using it. It’s a variety of steps that will help you figure out your priorities, and will help get you moving in the right direction.

Remember, before we start, that you can’t just pick to be on Facebook or Twitter or Google+. You have to go where your customers are. This will help you find out where.

The Research

1. Why are you doing this? Are you looking to social media for leads, or in order to become an expert and share your knowledge? Pick a number of reasons—maybe one, maybe five—and list them out.

2. Who is your audience? Who are you going after? It will depend a lot on your industry. My friend Larry, for example, is looking to automotive sales reps, influential people in the automotive industry, automotive event teams, and salespeople in general. He can design his entire social media strategy around his audience.

3. Who are your top connections? Here, you need to list two types of connections: the important industry people you already know, and the top voices in the industry you want to know. You’ll leverage the people you know to grow your social media following from there.

The Social Media

After you’ve got your list of why and who, it’s time to research the what and then get down to being social.

1. What are your top news sources? List as many industry news sources and blogs as you can. These will be articles you’ll want to share with people in the industry, because the news is important. You’re marketing yourself as a news channel. You’ll add these news sources as an RSS feed or to Hootesuite, which I’ll address in a future post.

2. Where can you contribute? Part of being in social media is becoming an expert in your industry. Experts share their knowledge via news sources—potentially the same news sources as you draw a lot of your content from—and you’ll want to see if you can contribute to them. Go in and look: how do you submit your own articles? Who do you have to work through? Make friends and use them.

3. Where can you hang your persona? OK, this one’s a lot simpler. Find a place in your cube or office to hang your persona that you’ll see it every day. This persona is essentially a list of goals, a list of things to consistently keep in mind. Check it every day, just like you would your other goals.

After you have your persona in place, you’ll be ready to start tackling the various forms of social media, and learning the ways that you can interact with them, making sales along the way.

One Startup’s Journey to Revolutionize Professional Development & Recruitment

It’s no secret that the video game industry is now twice as large as Hollywood, thanks largely to the Millennial Generation. It’s also no secret that the rising Millennial generation in the United States is facing employment challenges that few have faced before. And the problem isn’t because they’re playing too many video games. As The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson writes in his piece, “The Unluckiest Generation”:

Finding a good job as a young adult has always been a game of chance. But more and more, the rules have changed: Heads, you lose; tails, you’re disqualified. The unemployment rate for young people scraped 18 percent in 2010, and in the past five years, real wages have fallen for millennials–and only for millennials.

Cue entrepreneurial efforts to solve this problem for America’s unluckiest–and largest–generation.

Like Chris Gray and his startup, Track Ahead.

Chris Gray, Track Ahead

Track Ahead aims to revolutionize the way that students develop their professional interests and relationships by leveraging gamification and incentives to drive action.

“Too often,” said, Gray, “People spend more time shopping for a car than looking for their first job. We’re changing that.”

Learning more about a company, for instance, earns points for a student. And offering learning opportunities earns points for companies.

“After a student accumulates enough points, companies will want to talk to them.”

Track Ahead is diving into solving some of the challenges that come with higher education–and as Gray has continued to pursue his mission with Track Ahead, he continues to learn how to better resolve his own challenges. He’ll be sharing some of that learning at the Verge Education Celebration on December 11th. But in the mean time, I’ve shared a little of what I’ve learned from Chris Gray and Track Ahead below.

Learning in Action, and Action in Learning

Track Ahead

Track Ahead aims to drive proactive learning–and Chris Gray has certainly learned a lot about how people learn about Track Ahead.

In October 2013, Gray pitched Track Ahead at The Economist’s Human Potential Forum. Watch it, then compare it to his first ever pitch at Verge in 2011.

Gray’s pitch from The Economist’s stage is brief, concise, and crystal clear. Compare his recent pitch in New York to the first time he ever pitched Track Ahead at Verge.

Pitch Practice Makes Perfect Pitch

Gray’s Track Ahead pitch at Verge is certainly a good one–and you can see how much he learned from it. For instance…

Show Me the Money

Notice how Gray’s recent pitch focused much more on the company side of the Track Ahead platform, not the consumer side. Where do you see Track Ahead’s growth coming from?

Watch the Game Tape, Seek Feedback.

Gray wanted to pitch Track Ahead years ago, and it wasn’t just to get the name of his startup out into the market–in addition to the round of financing Track Ahead was raising, Gray wanted feedback on his pitch from the other entrepreneurs in the Verge community. Just like football teams deconstruct their competitor’s game tape to find weaknesses in their defense, Gray was able to learn from his pitches over time to really deliver at the Human Potential Forum.

Note: He’ll be sharing some of that learning in less than 24 hours at the Verge Education Celebration.

What Did You Learn from Comparing how Gray Pitched Track Ahead?

Let us know in the comments!

Celebrate Learning with Chris Gray and Track Ahead

See Chris Gray discuss what he’s learned with Track Ahead at the Verge Education Celebration Event, Wednesday, December 11th 2013. 

7 Lasting Sales Skills from 7 Leaders

I dragged my butt out of bed at 5 AM. For six years.

But I learned more from my childhood paper route than rubber-band-wrapping technique or how to avoid hitting the snooze button.

I don’t care if you were mowing lawns or washing potatoes, your first gig took you from zero to moving. And I bet if you take a second to reflect, you’ll notice that you learned some sales skills in your experience that you still apply today. That’s what got me thinking…

If those sales strategies stuck with us all these years, they must be pretty important. That means there’s a lot of knowledge that we take for granted that could make an impact for others. So yesterday, I asked the question on twitter:

What sales skills did you learn in your first job?

Sales Skills from the Experts

The answers I received proves that life’s best lessons are never forgotten. These are seven of the best sales skills learned (and shared) by this community’s high-impact leaders. There are some awesome insights…

1.) Get sales skills even if you don’t have a quota to hit.

Because, guess what? There are no spare parts in an efficient sales engine. Do yourself a favor and heed Chuck’s advice.

2.) Show up like you give a damn.

No one said these sales strategies were going to be complex. It’s the small things that add up to make the greater impression. And if there’s anyone who knows about “every little bit counts,” it’s my friend, Pete the Planner:

3.) Work the system.

How many prospects do you have? How many leads in the pipeline? Do you know your average closing rate? Go ahead, you can use Excel (I won’t tell anyone). Just make sure you do the math, because you can count on this tip from business coach CJ McClanahan to pay dividends.

4.) You have two ears and one mouth. Use proportionately.

Telling isn’t selling. From software salesman to pizza delivery guy, this sales skill will always reign supreme (yeah, I just did that).

5.) Don’t let the line go slack.

I know you feel great about that initial sales call. But when you’re done patting yourself on the back, take a minute to send a recap with topics discussed and next steps. Lauren knows what’s up.

6.) Are you still listening?

Good. Because this is NOT a repeat of sales skill #4. Patience is an important a part of listening. So, next time you’re in a sales meeting and feel the urge to open your mouth, remember these words of sales wisdom from Wayne:

7.) Don’t bang your head against a wall.

It’s not a winning strategy. So, don’t waste your time talking to friendly people who will never buy from you. They are NOT your friend. Conner Burt, however, is a friend. And one worth listening to when it comes to sales skills:

 

But wait, there’s more…

BONUS: Sales Skills Feedback from the Facebook Feed

The conversation didn’t stop there. After sharing some of our twitter responses on Facebook, I found a few more golden sales strategies from more friends. Too good not to share (and more comments below that!):

sales strategies

The sales skills I learned with my paper route were simple: Be on time. Finish what you start. Say please and thank you. It’s the stuff your mom probably taught you. But that doesn’t make it easy to implement.

I’m just glad I had six years with that first gig to ingrain those skills in my brain.

Let’s keep the sales strategies rolling in the comments.

It’s almost as interesting hearing about your first job as it is to hear the sales skill you learned. So, please drop a note below…