Ever meet a salesperson who didn't deal with rejection, insults, isolation, self-doubt, and loathing due to the demands of the job? My story is about Lise, a fantastic, freelance contractor, and a current client we're helping with the art of content marketing, sales, and business development.
People like Lise, a freelancer and small business owner, me, and Nick, his wife Karen, and his entire team of people are a tiny part of the massive heartbeat of America; small business ownership, leadership, and management. With small business success in America, we would lose 60% of the jobs that remain, or worse.
As a freelancer, Lise is hiring by, managed by, and working with me and a client as a home-based telesales executive extraordinaire. Lise found me on LinkedIn, and when we finally connected the dots, she reminded me that I had hired and become friends with her son, Patrik, a brilliant young man I first hired when he was only 19. Like his mother, Patrik is an old soul and a great worker.
Let me set the stage for you with a quick overview of the scenario or case study here. By the way, if you don't know my work, my elite team of creatives practice, "the art of content marketing." In other words, we create powerful marketing campaigns that are data and ad-driven, and we get sales results. Think, "New customers and buckets of cash flow" when the team aligns, and we all do our job following the process I share with all my clients. The process never fails; only the people to follow the process.
In this scenario, Nick and his team are 100% following the process I share with all clients. It's a strategic action planning model I use to coach and advise teams of business development people, along with the owners and key stakeholders
Nick makes my job easier than usual because he's so coachable and responsive. His approvals of new content, upgrades of systems, and empowering mindset he brings to work each day are refreshing. Heck, Nick's the kind of guy who wins the hearts and minds of his employees, customers, and locals in the community.
Nick is for the "little guy" in America; farmers, construction workers, builders, and people who build America. He's a family and community guy who exhibits the character and values of a leader we all would seek to follow. Watching and working with Nick in action reminds me of how my father showed up as a small town, small business owner, and community - the heart of America.
The campaign we're working on is for a big-brand farm equipment dealership owner with three locations in the mid-west. His name is Nick, and he's one of the sharpest CEOs in a hands-on way. He empowers his people to be friendly, customer-focused, and all about getting better business results. Nick reminds me of my father and how he handled his business and family. My dad was the first hero I knew in the business world.
We're starting week six of our digital and content marketing transformation. We're getting great results; eBay sales up 50% or more in the first 30 days, website traffic up 100% or more, a higher volume of calls to stores for sales and service, off-the-charts engagement on the Facebook ads, 300% potential upside for the Adwords campaign ROI, and other positive signs in the early stages of our work together.
Digital and content marketing, including daily social media posting, advertising, and engagement, is a team sport. It's also a contact sport meaning our goal is to make more meaningful "contact" with existing and new potential customers. That's Small Business Management 100 stuff. The same is true for sales and customer service.
Lise is amazing. She's working from the comfort of her home office many miles from both Nick and me. Lise works with a short customer service script and a list of thousands of past customers. She is calling this list, talking with and thanking previous customers, and asking them how they're doing through the COVID-19 pandemic that's taken the planet by storm.
Lise is doing a fantastic job! Typically, I would have hired at least three people for the same project knowing I'd have to fire one or two of them in the first two weeks for non-performance. Yes, hiring freelance sales and customer service talent is just as hard as hiring any talent. You have to learn how to hire with your head, heart, and soul. Hiring is an art and one that is costly to fail at doing well.
We agreed to assign Lise 30 hours a week because, as a talented freelancer, Lise takes on a variety of business projects like this, and is paid well like more than 60 million other skilled freelancers in America.
Here's the exciting news that compelled me to share the story about Lise, Nick, and our early success aligning well as a virtual team with Nick and his people.
Hey!!! just finishing up now. 80 calls 4 contacts and 1 HOT HOT . I am sending now. The retail price on the net is $14,600 so I am hoping Nick will have someone take it to him. That is a better end of day.
Bruce H. shops the XYZ storeKeep reading Lise's email to me ...
Been talking to K. Looking at the ABC machine. He is really interested but his wife doesn’t really want to go anywhere due to the virus, so he hasn’t taken it any further. He asked for my direct number and I told him that I worked in the office but would call over to Mason. He said he would talk to his wife and I said we could probably bring the ABC machine to him.- Lise
Why does my story matter? It matters because the campaign success I'm describing is extraordinary due to the alignment of the new team. Lise found "gold" amid hundreds of calls and conversations with past customers. The "gold" is the new sales and service orders, phones ringing, and keeping America's farming and other families as productive as can be even though most of us are stuck at home waiting out the pandemic.
I am new to Nick's team, and I have introduced other new freelancers to the team as well. Jeff runs all our digital advertising and analytics with me. Lise focuses on customer service and new sales calls.
We have other salespeople and customer service talent that does phenomenal work. It's incredibly gratifying considering I've witnessed a lot of marketing train wrecks over the last 30 years.
Here's the deal with being in sales. The sales job Lise is doing is NOT fun. It pays hourly as an independent contractor, plus activity and sales bonuses.
Think about the actual work someone like Lise does well for 30 hours a week. Sit, dial, smile, talk, smile more, thank the person, and update the contact file.
Much of the time, people don't answer their phone. What we do know is when people are home and stuck with their loved ones, they answer the phone more than usual. The alignment we experience now is good for Nick, us, his family, and business.
Owning and working in a small business can be brutal, just like it can be brutal to perform well in any sales job. The ups and downs of being in sales torment even the best of us. Heck, one of my worst jobs was making snow during the winter while dragging wet, frozen fire hoses across a small, New England glacier. But then I learned the art of investing in people like Lise, and in marketing, advertising, copywriting, and sales for a lifetime.
If you own a business and you don't embrace investing in people, marketing, sales, and customer service, you will not be in business for very long. The same odds of failure are against us all, and most will not make it in business for ourselves. This is why sharing success stories counts.
Imagine for a moment feeling rejected 82% of the time while doing your job. Over time, rejection takes its toll on anyone. And the art of failing forward in sales and marketing, being data-driven, and aligning as a team are essential aspects of success. If being in business were easy, most of us would faceplant, crash, and burn into oblivion doing it.
Small business owners have to learn to love the journey. Otherwise, we are likely to bail out when the going gets tough like it is now, and millions of small business owners can't pay their employees or themselves.
There are always great leaders and success stories amid tough times, including pandemics and other natural disasters that humble humanity. Lise is one of the heroes in this story, as is Nick, because they go to work every day despite the odds of failure, and in the hope of success and glory. Guess what? Providing jobs during a massive layoff surge is darned essential, don't you agree?
For every up, there are at least 10,000 downs. (I exaggerate for effect.) The point is most of the time in sales; we get rejected, ignored, or worse, insulted, and cussed out. I know because I was born into being a sales and marketing guy learning from my father and mother as I watched them build more than one small business, through both success and failure.
Thanks for reading my article. I always appreciate your constructive, non-spammy, comments, and questions. If you'd like to contact me, please click here.