Sunday, August 28, 2016

The ABC's of Sales - A is for Aspirations

A is for Aspirations

Every successful sales professional has an eager desire to achieve more in their life.  They are seeking something greater or aim to produce high value in their career and life.  To get up everyday and achieve results they have to aspire to success, as selling is a difficult and often disappointing way to earn a living.   

These goals to reach personal heights are not just limited to those in careers with "sales" in their job description.  The most successful people realize they are on a sales team no matter what their role in their company.  The truth is everyone is in "sales", even if their only product is themselves.  We all must sell ourselves everyday to our bosses, clients, co-workers, friends, family, etc....  Those who are not consciously looking for ways to improve are missing out on countless future opportunities.

"Sales" often is misunderstood and gets a bad rap in our society.  The image of the "used car salesperson" has negative connotations, and many shy away from wanting to be seen as "selling".  They use terms like "business development" or "account manager" to describe themselves, as if sales professionals are lepers.  

However, without sales there is no business.  Every organization (except apparently for governments) must have income that exceeds expenses if they intend to continue operations.  In highly competitive industries, the sales people are celebrated and well compensated because it is understood that they are driving the business. 

Companies that do not understand the importance of sales will often not hire the most aggressive and talented sales people, and when they do get a superstar they fail to keep them engaged in the company and the person moves on to greener pastures.  Having mediocre sales people means nobody in the company can ever reach their potential.  All companies should aspire to have top level sales teams, and treat them well.

Small business owners and solopreneurs often forget they themselves are in sales. Often they see themselves in the role of delivering their product or service, but without sales they have no business.  Getting clear about the importance of sales and doing what it takes to drive new business is the first step toward a sustainable company.

For an individual contributor, selling more means earning more money.  Sales professionals income should never be capped, as those who are the best at selling will continue to chase their personal goals and try to break personal and company records.  While money is not everything, it is an important benchmark for sales professionals.  

If you are reading this and you are in a sales career, what are your goals?  What do you aspire to earn this year? Be clear and think big.  Create a picture of what you want to achieve and then reverse engineer the steps you need to take to reach your goals. Let your aspirations be a guiding beacon that keeps working hard everyday.  Those who know what they want and how to get there are rarely disappointed when they lose a sale.  They know there is another one coming and that their focused actions will move them ahead. 


Thom Singer is a professional master of ceremonies and keynote speaker.  He talks regularly to corporate audiences that are sales focused and in competitive industries.

Monday, August 01, 2016

10 Steps To Sales Success

Spending a lot of time working on my business.  To be successful as a solopreneur you have to be a sales person first (this is true for any entrepreneur - if you can't sell you go hungry). 

I cannot be a professional speaker and master of ceremonies if I do not have clients.  Same is true if you are a lawyer, accountant, consultant, coach, etc...  No matter what we do for a living we must develop new business.

Sales drives all business.

I have identified the ten things I must do go acquire new customers. They are not easy, but they must be done.

For me, if I can get past number one and number two I almost always win the business.  The hardest part is getting the attention of someone who can hire me and making them take notice of my services.

My list of steps to sales success:

1. Get prospective client to know you exist

2. Get prospect to go to website and watch video

3. Establish connection and relationship

4. Understand outcomes they desire from their event

5. Demonstrate unique value I bring when I speak

6. Proposal of my services

7. Overcome concerns / objections

8. Negotiate the final deal

9. Close / Get contract signed

10. Follow up and customize program

What are the steps you have to take to win business?  Take the time to identify what you must do, and then decide what areas you are good at, and what steps you need others to help you with in order to grow you company.  

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Friday, July 29, 2016

Get More Market Share

Are you looking to grow sales in your company?  Everyone in sales and every entrepreneur comes to a day when they are just fed up with being stuck on a plateau.  They feel it in their heart and soul that they are capable of doing more, and yet they are unsure of how to increase their market share.

You cannot sell more by being alone in a field.  You need to grow your network and your reputation if you want to grow your business.  In the last few years a lot of attention has been put on "Social Selling" and focusing efforts on building the online brand.  But almost everyone I talk to who reaches the highest levels of success does it through getting face-to-face with clients, prospects, and referral sources.

Your network the key to getting more business. Small business growth expert Mark LeBlanc recently gave me a copy of his book "Growing Your Business".  On page 65 he talks about the greatest marketing strategy in the world, which is to create an advocate system.  Create a list of people who are already in your life, and then make sure you are constantly in touch with them.  You have to ensure that these people understand your business and are able to help spread the word about why you are so good at what you do.

The problem we all face is that out of sight is out of mind. If you want to get more business you have to be working your relationships.  It is too easy to get lost in "busy" and never follow up.  Posting on LinkedIn or Facebook does not mean that anyone who matters actually viewed what you said.  Social media is a "best effort" communication tool, which means you made your best effort, but there is no guarantee the message was received and had any impact.

My own efforts to grow my business this year have been sluggish, but I have a new commitment to figuring out how to raise my visibility with the people who can hire me.  This is a key conversation in the "Cool Things Project" group coaching program that I administer.  All who I know who are seeking more and who feel stuck are often caught in a loop.  

I am hiring a coach to help me do this and my plan is to do everything he says for the next 6 months.  I am putting "excuses" on hold and I am just going to take the steps I need to take to boost my bottom line. 

If you want more market share, what are you doing to change up your routine so that you are not just doing the same things that got you onto the plateau where you currently stand?  

People are the key. If you need more people who can guide you, hire a coach or start a mastermind group.  If you need more clients, get yourself out into your "community" and make fresh connections.  Last night I went to a business happy hour sponsored by my local Business Journal and walked out with two real leads that could become clients in the next year.  I usually make the comment that "my business is not local" as an excuse to skip these wine and cheese events, but the first person I talked to was in charge of a large association conference with the need of "The Conference Catalyst".  Ummm, maybe I need to do more networking! 

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Getting To Know You (and Me)

We all live behind masks we put on for the outside world.  In our social media crazy world we are all projecting images, and people are making decisions about us as humans in seconds.

But people are very complex and cannot be "known" from reading their Tweets or Facebook posts.  Even reading a blog that has existed for more than 12 years will only allow you to see the parts I choose to expose.  Getting to know the heart and soul of another person is almost impossible.  Most exchanges of words between people are heavily superficial, and in the end this creates a culture where many feel misunderstood and alone.

Even in close relationships people do not know each other.  We think we do, but often we are making assumptions and generalizations.  We project who we want them to be.  Many people go through their whole lives without realizing we are missing the most interesting stories that are happening in the lives of others because we do not seek to know what makes them tick.

In business people will not often be comfortable sharing their back-story, but in life we should ask more questions of the people we invest our time with to find out more about their hopes, dreams, desires, and motivations. Most of us are not that empathetic and we miss the cues that others leave us about their soul.

I have recently begun to try to feel more about everything I do.  This involves how I talk with the people I meet.  I want to now just go through the motions when I have a conversation, but I want to be engaged and engaging in my exchanges with other humans.

To be willing to get to know others means I have to be willing to share my own "stuff" as well.  This is hard because I do not know how people will react to being more personal and not just skimming the surface in formal conversations.  But I am finding people are open to sharing if you give them the chance.

The end result of this is that I am discovering myself along the way.  Turns out the masks we wear also hide things form ourselves.  It is so easy to put parts of your mind, personality and soul into a box and close the lid. And as time goes by you forget those parts of self that you set aside.

Being a human is more complex than they tell you as you are growing up.  It often takes a lifetime to get comfortable in your own skin, and not that I am over 50 I am finding I care much less about the parts I worry might be flaws.  It is all just who I am, and that comes with lots of moving parts.

Anyone understand what I am saying here?

Have A Great Day

thom singer


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Take Action

My word for this summer is "Action".  A lot of time seems to be spent thinking, but not enough attention is put on doing. I need for the rest of 2016 to be about accomplishing things in my business and thus I have decided to be a person of action.

In talking with others about achieving success, many respond to ideas with "let me give that some thought", and then nothing happens.  I am sure my ideas are not always good ones, but some of them should have merit. It is common for people to over-think and get paralyzed.  Thus there becomes a loop of contemplation without moving ahead on anything that they should be doing.

"Ready, Aim, Fire" becomes a lot of aiming.  Too many people aim all day long and then start over the next day.  When I study those who are making the most progress, some have a "Ready, Fire, Aim" philosophy.  They go early and then fix their work along the way.  Mistakes are okay with them and they simply try again.  

The hard part is deciding what to do.  There are too many options and I do not want to put a lot of time into the wrong efforts.  Doing useless tasks will not produce the results that will lead me toward more success.  But alas, doing nothing will not show results either.  We have to pull the trigger and put ourselves out in the game.

The online group coaching mastermind I host, "The Cool Things Project", is filled with people seeking to find more success in their lives.  One of the things we talked about recently was writing more, and using a blog or LinkedIn Pulse to put ideas into the world.  Thus I am trying to write one article each week that has the ability to inspire others.  

(I used to write 3-5 blog posts each week before I launched my podcast.  Now I only write on occasion).

Since content marketing has taken over the world, there are too many articles published each day, so I cannot expect my words to have a mass impact, but if one person reads my words and gets a small shot of motivation, then that is a good thing. My actions are worthwhile if they have some result.  I do not need to hit a home run with every action, I just need to hit a bunch of singles.  Too often we are caught up in only wanting to do things that guarantee massive returns.  But life had not guarantees.

As I sit and write this post, I am taking an action.  If I make sure I am doing things consistently, then over the long run I will have a track record of doing.  That is all any of us can ask for, as if taking action becomes our habit (over sitting back and thinking over options), we will not miss out on as many opportunities.  Wishing, hoping and dreaming is not going to lead any of us closer to our goals.

What about you?  What actions are you talking today?  

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

"50 Things I Learned by 50" - by Thom Singer

As I turn fifty years old this week I am revisiting a blog post that written in in 2006 as "40 Things I Learned by 40" and then again in 2011 as "45 Things I Learned by 45". I am modifying the post here, but stand by all the advice added in years past.  Life keeps going. I am happier today than I was in the past, and am not bothered in the least by the number 50.  My perspective is different from others, as my own father was 52 when I was born, so I view age as only a number (he lived a very active and full life until his late 90s).

50 Things I Learned by 50
by Thom Singer

50. There is nothing wrong with getting older.  It happens no matter what, so just enjoy the stacking of experiences.  We live in a youth oriented culture, but don't believe that the best years are in the past.  

49. You are responsible for the choices you made in the past.  Don't be embarrassed by failure, it is part of the road to success.

48.  Sadness and depression happen, but we rarely talk about it.  Be honest with yourself and don't hide from your own feelings.

47.  Treat yourself to something special on a semi-regular basis.

46. Don't hide behind "busy".  Everyone is busy and it need not be your badge of honor.

45.  Everyone wants to feel significant, but you can never achieve significance alone in a field.  You need other people.  Help them find significance and they will return the favor.  Don't and you will be alone.

44. Social media is not a fad.  You must have a LinkedIn profile if you are a grown up with a job.  But do not mistake the number of contacts with the number of people how know, like, trust, respect, and understand who you are in your soul.

43.  Read the Wall Street Journal.  The economy (good or bad) does impact your career... no matter your company, industry, job title, etc...  Do not stick your head in the sand.  

42.  Embrace Change.

41. Don't worry too much about what others think about you.

40. Everyone has an ego. Tread lightly as to not bruise them.

39. Nothing produces results as much as taking action.  Be a person of action.

38. Don't gossip. What you say will always find its way back to the person.

37. People do business with people they know, like, and trust.  In our social media crazy world this is more true than ever.

36. Jealous and petty people are just part of life.

35. Say "please" and "thank you". It will make you stand out from the crowd.

34. When you need help, ask someone.

33. Having written goals is an important step you achieving your dreams and remain focused.  

32. Over using credit cards will stall your financial future.

31. A supportive spouse is so important.  Be one and honor the one you have.

30. A true friend is excited for you about any event that makes you happy.  Show that high level of excitement when those around you have positive events.

29. True friends are rare and should be cherished.  Those people who are "Forever Friends" (the ones that never judge you too harshly or fire you over minor things) are worth their weight in gold.

28. No job is secure. Have a "plan B" and don't be surprised if you have to pivot. 

27. Always find the best in other people. Do not focus on their flaws.  Everyone has flaws, so what.

26. You are not what you drive or what you wear. Do not judge others by their cars, clothes or zip code.

25. You are a "brand". No matter what you do it impacts your reputation.

24. Luck does not happen by accident.

23. Start saving money when you are young. 10% of your income should always go to your 401K.  I didn't do this, but envy my friends who were disciplined in this area. 

22. Dedicate time to think about your future. Know what success looks like so that you will recognize it when it happens.

21. You cannot love your kids too much!  And they grow up too fast.

20. Treat everyone with respect. You never know when they might circle back into your life.

19. If you are not knowledgeable about wine...Don't fake it.  

18. Be-friend your competitors.  Many of them are great people who will help you be more successful.

17. Regardless of your political beliefs - attend a presidential inauguration once in your lifetime. The whole thing is very cool.

16. Find a mentor.  The right guide makes the journey easier.

15. Be a mentor.  Few things are as wonderful as helping others avoid the same pitfalls that held you back.

14. Staying physically fit gets harder as you get older. But do it anyway.

13. You do not have to be smart to be successful. Tenacity trumps intelligence.

12. Having a strong network of professional contacts is the best career safety net. But you have to work on it always, as out of sight is out of mind.

11. Read a lot of books, magazines, websites, blogs and newspapers. Knowledge is power.

10. Writing a book is hard work. Promoting a book is harder work.

9. Develop your public speaking skills. Join a Toastmasters group and participate actively for two years.

8. There is no substitute for integrity.

7. Have friends who challenge you to be a better person.

6. If you know someone who wrote a book, read it. The biggest compliment you can give an author is to read what they wrote.

5. Helping others always comes back to benefit you.  Make others a priority and people will notice (and vice versa).

4. Find a good lawyer, accountant and banker before you need them. 

3. Learn to cook. Life is better when you have good food.

2. Opportunities exist. You just have to look for them. Don't whine, go make success happen.


#1 - Those who have achieved REAL success in life (financially, emotionally and spiritually) will never criticize your dreams and aspirations. Instead they will look for ways to share their own experiences to help lift you up to higher levels. Successful people are rarely jealous and welcome the achievements of others.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

People Are Difficult (This should not be a surprise to anyone)

Interacting with people is not always easy.  When you are around other humans, it is hard sometimes as we all have our own opinions, experiences, desired outcomes, and emotions.  Everyone has ideas of how they want things to turn out and some people become difficult if your outlook differs from their own.

Being wrong is part of the human experience, and I have come to understand that when socially engaged I do not have to be the smartest in the room, nor do I have to connect my self-worth to my bring right.  This is a lesson that was hard learned.  But my own path has become simple since I know I might be wrong (and that it is okay).

I spent a long time being sad and was full of self doubt in my career.  My own internal dialogue caused me to worry about what others thought of me.  To mask these feelings from the outside I over compensated.  Overall this did not serve me well, but the more I have realized this is normal for many people, the less I needed to behave in this manner.  Everyone is dealing with their own "stuff", and that makes my own issues seem manageable. 

It is common to see someone caught up with issues of self and then they project their feelings onto the social tapestry.  They work to recruit people to their "side" escalate minor things into major ones. You cannot stop this from happening, and everyone knows someone who has done this.  

You have to choose.... accept them (with their flaws) or move on.  Either is a fine choice and there is no way for anyone but you to know what is best for your exact situations. 

You cannot change another person and this is what messes up so many relationships.  We think we can "fix" them and in the end we just increase the tension.  Realizing you cannot change others takes away the power they want to have.  I just shrug and say "oh well" and try to love my friends and family unconditionally.

An outlook that "every interaction is a NOT a competition" is the best medicine.  It has made me happier and allowed me to let go when a friend seems to be undermining something that matters to me.  Reminded yourself that the actions of those around you are most likely more about their own "stuff", and not yours.  

Have a great day

thom singer

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

I Want To Love My Job

A friend told his daughter that he hoped she would find a career where she was fully engaged and thrilled to be part of her industry.  He added that of all their friends, nobody loved their job as much as I did.  He told her to watch the passion I have for being a speaker and master of ceremonies, and how I want to impact those I encounter, and seek out a similar way to work when she grew up.

When I heard this I was a little embarrassed, as I was not sure the my career path is the best example of a road to happiness.  Along the way I made some bad choices and had a few bosses who were awful. I work many days and screamed out loud in my car as I commuted to the office.  I always worked hard, but too often I had my ladder against the wrong wall, or was in a situation where the money took president over my total satisfaction.

Seven years ago I began my career as a professional master of ceremonies and keynote speaker.  Working for myself has been both amazing and frustrating, but my friend is right about how much I enjoy what I do for a living.  I really love my job.

My business is still growing and I believe that I should be doing a lot of things more efficiently.  I am struggling to keep up the momentum that I have created, as competition is everywhere. Meeting planners, committees, and everyone in an association or company has an opinion about who is the right speaker and what is the appropriate topics for their events.  Too often speakers miss the mark, and thus everyone is suspect of who they hire and seek reasons to justify why or why not make a speaker selection.

But if this business was easy, there would be more people working as speakers, because it is truly and awesome way to make a living.  Last week I spoke to a group in the building and construction trade and the planner was such a nice person with a giving soul.  In our conversation after my speech she told me that when anyone she knows is having a tough time she gathers up her nieces and they bake cookies.  She tells the kids that the person getting the treats is in need of "extra love" in the cookies and makes sure her assistants knows the purpose of their baking.  The cookies are a nice gesture, but I was blown away by the message this sends to these young girls in her kitchen.  It is stories like this that reminds me of all the good in the world.

I am not sure everyone gets to encounter as many people as I do in such positive ways.  Those who plan events work hard and have a lot of stress, but in the end they are creating experiences for others, and most planners love their jobs and the meetings the curate.  Being with them, and adding to their attendees experience, means I am surrounded by good vibes.  In over seven years I only encountered one meeting organizer who had a dark soul.  She was like a robot.  We did not see the world the same way, and she did not like me at all.  That is a pretty good ratio: 300+ were wonderful and one was not.  I will take those odds all day long.  Most people I encounter are amazing.

For the past six months I have been writing a one-man-show that can be used in place of a keynote.  The message is about finding creativity and more satisfaction in career and life. It is a keynote in the fact that it is both content rich and motivational, but is presented in a way that will not be what audiences expect.  This "play" is a unique way to tell a story and share ideas for success with business and association convention audiences.

Most planners will never take the risk of putting a professional speaker on stage as an actor who is playing a role.  However, some will (I am already talking to a few adventurous meeting organizers who like the thought of an out of the box show).  When it all works together we will have more fun than anyone could imagine at a conference.  Imagination does not have to lay dormant in you work either.  I am living proof of this.  One does not have to leave a corporate job to work as a solopreneur to find this level of excitement and joy at work.  It is just about being open to the idea of loving your job.

The friend who told his daughter that he wants her to enjoy her career as much as I do is right.  I want that for my kids.  I want that for everyone.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Monday, April 18, 2016

My Experience at the NSA CSP/CPAE Summit

Last weekend was the National Speakers Association "CSP/CPAE SUMMIT" at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

The small (77 people) conference was a series of mastermind discussions in large and small groups with other Certified Speaking Professionals (CSPs). I had the honor to be the co-chair (and the master of ceremonies) for this event.

(Do not think for a minute that being up in front of a crowd of speakers is not scary. Speakers are a tough crowd. I will admit to being a little nervous about this one).

Even with responsibility in the running of the event, I still was able to participate in the conversations about trends in the meetings industry and ways to impact our individual businesses. The list of things I need to be doing differently is very robust.

We had several video interviews with experienced meeting professionals who talked about how the business of meetings is currently undergoing major changes, and what this means for the speakers they put on stage. Association and corporate events are facing lots of pressure to reinvent the experience they are delivering for attendees, and the speakers are intimately integrated into that experience.  We all need to be having this discussion no matter what industry we work in, as change is always going to happen.

We also heard from a university researcher about what motivates people to participate in group situations.  His area of study began with decline in participation in some churches, while others thrived.  However the data matches closely with the Meetings Industry.  Talk about having to look at the world differently, this guy was a highlight of the whole weekend.

There was candid discussions about how speakers need to modify our delivery, marketing, audience engagement, and interaction with the planning committees as the new rules for events looms on the horizon. Nobody wants to be Blockbuster in a Netflix World.

I was reminded by being part of this event that is is a good thing to be involved in your industry association (no matter what you do for a living). Engagement can have deep value when you get past your own "self" and "ego" and become part of a community.  Volunteering showed me a whole new side to the organization and many of its members.

An association, like any group, will have a variety of people and a wide-range of personalities. I found that when I remember that I am not the smartest person in the room the best ideas come my way.  Being open to a variety of points of view is key if you do not want to feel like you are always fighting an uphill battle.

A higher understanding and respect for those who plan events also became evident.  Spending a year working on The Summit with my co-chair and the NSA Staff person (who is amazing) was an eye opening experience. There is so much to do to ensure a positive culture at a multi-day event, and there is no way any event professional will please everyone.  You have to find your vision for the whole experience and move ahead the best you can.  

The CSP / CPAE Summit allowed me to grow as a professional speaker and as a person. I was inspired and challenged both in my role as co-chair, but also as part of the tribe of CSPs. There is a lot of gratitude inside me for the people who were present at this conference.   While I am sure that different people had any number of personal experiences, I hope they all feel inspired from this gathering.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer