Why the ability to communicate is critical to get A BILLION in sales.
There were many actions I took as a leader to take an early stage internet company in the telecom space to A BILLION in annual sales, but I haven’t talked much about the importance of communication as a critical element of my journey.
The ability to communicate was incredibly important to my audacious leadership role because we were faced with making breakaway moves away from the traditional ways we conducted telephone company business in the past and adopting new ways necessary in a highly competitive internet world where customer power was a dominant force.
We had to:
- Add a stronger marketing and customer service focus to the engineering strength that had served us well in the past as a regulated monopoly telco.
- Replace order-taking with serving customers.
- Learn how to be proactive with customers in the sales game and place more emphasis on selling solutions as opposed to ‘flogging products’.
- Build a data and internet culture from the largely voice oriented culture that had existed in the past.
- Create the ability to achieve extraordinary growth rather than more linear growth that was normal in days gone by.
Communications was the key element in building a new organization and achieving lofty growth goals.
How did I use my communications skills?
As the leader, there were many ways I used my communications skills to build an amazing team and achieve miraculous performance:
Calendar management — My week was replete with communications ‘sessions’ with employees, discussing what we were trying to achieve—our Strategic Game Plan—and what action needed to be taken to make us successful.
Bear Pit Sessions — I held informal workshops (with no accompanying entourage) with multifunctional groups to understand what was working and also what was preventing us from executing our Game Plan more effectively.
Frontline focus — Given my focus on Game Plan EXECUTION, I spent huge amounts of time with the frontline teams across my organization asking “How can I help?”.
I needed to know what they needed to enable them to do their jobs more effectively and also it gave me the opportunity to thank them for the fantastic job they were doing under arduous circumstances.
Line of Sight translation — I personally led workshops with the various functional teams—marketing, sales, service, accounting, credit etc.—to define what, specifically, the Game Plan to A BILLION meant to each and every one of them.
They needed to understand the new behaviours they had to adopt (with new expedited outcomes) and the old ones that were no longer appropriate.
Do I have a personal strategy that guides how I communicate with others?
My BE DiFFERENT or be dead brand provides the context—and the anchor—for how I choose to communicate.
My overall approach is to BE DiFFERENT from how everyone else—the ‘speaker crowd’—does it.
My logic is that if my message is to be listened to and followed by my audience, it must be incomparable, it must stand out from others , it must be inspiring to the listener and it must evoke action.
I observed how others did it and chose another way that was consistent with my personal audacious leader brand.
Quite frankly, I Ignored ‘textbook thinking’ or commonly espoused practices, approaches because if I copied someone else’s methods I would surely NOT be different and would merely increase the speaker herd by 1.
What are some of the things I do to make my presentations DiFFERENT?
First and foremost, my prime objective when speaking to any audience is to create a memorable experience for everyone attending, and to do so I think about it as a PERFORMANCE.
It’s not just about the information you’re delivering, it’s about how you make people feel when they receive your information. People will remember some of your content but they never forget how you make them FEEL.
I am emotionally connected with my content—I’ve been described as a passionate speaker—and I try to convey it with as much energy as I can muster.
“Energy up!” is what I say to myself before every performance; it has always served me well as the push to keep me up and pumped.
I think about myself as a content expert and storyteller NOT an orator. My ‘job’ is to lead and deliver unmatched performance; it isn’t to be a great speaker.
But I’ve discovered that audience reaction is a function of content+emotion not following the ‘practices of oration’ and this is best served by bringing your content to life through storytelling.
To be an audacious speaker, your content must ‘flow from your veins’.
How does a person start to be audacious at communicating?
There are 3 things to think about if you intend to walk the audacious path of lighting fires in people when you speak.
#1. Be the ONLY one — You need to own your own unique place in communicating.
Study how others practice their art and determine how you can be different from the rest.
Figure out your ONLY brand to separate yourself from the speaker crowd.
#2. Be a performer — Treat every presentation as a performance where your objective is to DAZZLE every person in your audience.
#3. Know your content better than you know your own name. — You can’t stream your content if you’re fighting with it, if you can’t recall what words you want to use to express your ideas.
Remember, your content is the least important ingredient in a mind-blowing performance.
An audience expects the speaker to be competent in their subject matter, but they are rarely treated to a performance that leaves them breathless. Fill THAT void.
You don’t want them satisfied, you want them blown away, crushed, ‘goosebumpy’ and awestruck with how you made them FEEL.
If a leader can’t communicate effectively, strategy execution fails and magical performance doesn’t happen.
Let my practical experience in ‘lighting fires’ in people to achieve A BILLION IN SALES be your guide.