I’ve choked many times. But compared to others, I’m really not that much of a choker. Honestly, we make a big deal out of choking, and the reality is that almost everyone cracks under-pressure. Clutch is what’s rare, that’s what makes 4th quarter Tim Tebow so exciting.
I want to be clutch. So I read this book.
Basically, the book outlines five traits of clutch.
These 5 traits are what makes people clutch -and they make sense, but there has to be something more, what about Tim Tebow?
Part me wants to believe that God is doing this out of amusement, to use Tebow to promote himself. But I think I can make a better guess.
Its been two years now since the start of my fantasy football league. When I first started, I knew nothing about football. My first draft was a mess - I used a cheat sheet I found in the July issue of ESPN magazine. I drafted a defense with my 10th round pick (everybody knows you only draft defenses and kickers with the last two picks). Worst of all, I was in a league full of sports junkies, guys who watch every game every Sunday.
This season I’m 2nd place, with the best season record. I’ve made around 7 trades. I know the names of most teams starting players, and a few of their backups.
I guess it takes something as trivial as fantasy football to show me that improvement is a long and slow process, but improvement happens. Too often I look at things and get disappointed because of the results. I’m so focused on improvement that frustration quickly swells up. Why am I not getting better? I expect so much from myself that I can’t see small progress for what it is: a tiny bit improvement.
But everything takes time.
Even if it takes years, I know that I’ll reach my goals eventually. And if i can get good at fantasy football, something I don’t care and didn’t even try to get good at, then of course I’ll be good at something I poured sweat and tears into.
Since Part 1, I’ve been trying to ramp up my sales skills and actually close a sale. So I bought 3 sales books. The problem with these sales books is that they are mindset oriented rather than action oriented. I’m looking for a technique or a script I can use today, whereas instead these books give general advice on trying to understand the customer. I agree that this is something that I should know, but is not directly applicable.
One of the key things I learned is that selling to VITOs (Very Important Top Officers) is a lot different than selling to common small business owners. VITOs are hyper-busy and want you to be direct about your offer. Small business owners on the other hand, appreciate small talk and compliments. They like formalities and building friendships before buying.
I also learned some copywriting. It’s surprising how difficult writing a simple email copy is. It’s also surprising how little material there is on teaching writing small business email copy. I’ve asked Sebastian Marshall and Daniel Odio and they’ve offered suggestions. Sebastian told me that I needed to shorten my copy, and to have a stronger call to action.
A few weeks ago I’ve been dealing with the struggles of almost every newly graduate or close to graduating: finding a job. To get a job means I have to provide value to the person who hires me and I’m insecure about that. I’m an accounting major, and I barely know anything technical about accounting that could apply in a firm. I’ve learned a little about business but I’m not nearly skilled enough compared to anyone in the industry. I have no technical skills compared to the engineers and computer science majors. What value can I provide?
I brought this issue to my friend Ken and he gave me one of the biggest insights of the year.
I was struggling with the same thing when I was searching for jobs, but I realized that employers know that we’re new graduates and that we don’t know anything. Adding value is for someone who’s already five years into the industry…we’re new graduates, college only proves that we’re capable of learning. And that’s what employers are looking for when they hire you: someone who they can teach to add value to their company. Coming from Haas (School of business at Berkeley), I saw this way too often that kids would bullshit to employers as if they’re already five years into the industry. “I can make decks and models of this or I can streamline that”, they end up sounding like tools. They don’t know anything just like the rest of us.
“Then why should employers pay us 40k—50k a year when we know nothing and can’t do anything?” I asked.
I haven’t been too optimistic after getting no replies from my first networking event.
And yesterday’s networking event left me even more cynical. It was a free event hosted by the Young Professionals Association here in town. It began well, I met a very friendly lady who was interested in hearing about our business while waiting in line to get into the event. Then from there, my nerves just continued to get rattled. It wasn’t similar to the first networking meeting, where the people talked to you with courteous interest. The young professionals seemed distant as if they didn’t even want to network. Half of them were only there for the free booze. Halfway trying to make conversation with girls, this cynical fury took over. I decided to get things done rather than being intentional (or seeming intentional) to meet people. I decided to ask about their business, tell them about my business, ask if they knew anyone who needed my video production services, then get their card and move on.
At the end of the day I could still call it a success. We handed out all of our cards and had a few interested people.
The morning after, I attended another networking event, but this time the crowd was much different. The people were much older, and warmer. I felt compelled listen to them more and even if they didn’t benefit me, I felt compelled to befriend them.
It’s interesting to compare the two: the older group that I’ve enjoyed more networking with, and had more quality conversations with, and the younger group that I’ve made more connections with in quantity.
“Square your feet and chest to the basket”, they say. “Keep the ball to the right of your eye, keep your elbow in, and your arm straight”, they say. If you ask, every coach and every basketball player will tell you that those things lead to proper shooting form.
But those things don’t lead to accurate shots.
None of the top shooters in the NBA shoot like that. Not Kobe
It was the career fair two days ago. If this was last year, I’d be nervous and determined to ask the right questions to show that I’m capable so the recruiter could be impressed. This year I walked away from the career fair smugly thinking, I don’t need a job, so glad I don’t have to go to that packed room of students being all needy.
As I was walking away I thought, wait there are big corporations there, this could be a good opportunity for me to find out about the inner workings of these companies, and get some insights on their needs.
So I forced myself to walk back to the career fair, and just as I imagined it was packed with people and an air of self-consciousness. I was wearing my daily clothes, no suit.
And all of my conversations started out normally, I asked what their company did, and where they were headed. They told me about their job openings and asked what I was looking for, and I aggressively parried their questions and fired back with a flurry of questions.
The conversations went something like this
The other day I was talking to my boss. I was asking him what parts of my work I should put more focus on – what type of work will generate revenue. He said I needed to help him push out more content. Content marketing seems to be the main focus of most online marketing nowadays. Almost everyone is giving away advice and tips.
So I asked him that, I said “You sure about content marketing? Everyone is doing content marketing these days”.
He replied “That’s why we have to create better content”.
Naturally, I replied to that with “Don’t you think the bar is being raised too high? If everyone is giving way free content, then pretty soon paid content will be free content. Don’t you think that because content marketing is so saturated that one day it will stop working?”
“Yes. One day, content marketing will stop working" He said, "But right now, it works. So we gotta go with what works. When I was young, I was caught up in the future, and I ended up wasting a lot of time chasing things that never happened, and getting nothing done.”
The other day I was at a local small business trade show, and halfway through the day I was pissed. I was pissed because throughout the whole day while I’m trying to network, all I hear from these small business owners is constant promotional spiel. I would walk up to their booth ask them about their business and they would just blabber for 15 to 20 minutes. Of course when they finally finished, they try to sell me their product. Then, it would be super awkward for me to say, “No, I don’t want to buy your product, but I’m curious about your online marketing. Do you put a lot of focus into your online marketing?”
So halfway through the day I was furious. I just couldn’t network.
I remembered Alan Mayer said that in sales you let the person talk, and if you listen, then they’ll return the courtesy by listening to you.
So I switched modes and went back to the booths. I asked them about their business, let them talk and then after the gruesome 20 minutes I said “That’s very interesting Mr. Person, I do video production. Would you mind if I asked you a few questions to see if I can help you?” Then I was able to go through my list of questions, and qualify the lead.
"I don't think of sales as packaging a product for someone, I think of sales as building a relationship and having conversations with them about their video ideas" -Tom Kranzle, Creative Director at Venture Visuals
There's so much pressure I put on myself to make short term sales and close deals. I keep getting frustrated that clients don't respond or that I'm reaching the wrong person. But getting video sales takes a long time, and getting access to marketing directors take a long time.
Looking back at the last couple of months, our sales rarely came from cold outreach. Instead, where we really saw progress was meeting people in higher positions. Essentially, getting someone to introduce us to someone who introduces us to someone who needs video.
Because the sales cycle is so slow, I know we have to make the most of our upsells and referrals. And by referrals I mean if they could refer us to someone who could introduce us to who might be able to introduce us to someone else.
Other than that, I've learned a lot about client management. The most key insights I got were to always suggest ways to help the client. Give options to the client and recommend one of them. And always communicate what you have and will have delivered to the client.