Six tips on personal branding from the movies


Chris J. Reed is a No. 1 international best-selling author and offers his six tips from 6 movies (and TV shows) that demonstrate why you need a personal branding strategy for business.

The Joker: Be Yourself

Like all people who accentuate their personal brands, they are ultimately true to themselves and enhance their qualities and presence to amplify their personal brand on all relevant stages and platforms.

The Joker is very much himself. He walks into a room, down a street, through a ceiling/doorand you know exactly who he is every single time. The Joker’s sense of the theatrics is unmistakable. The “business card” of the The Joker caps the performance. Who else’s business card makes such an impression?

The Joker walks into a room and people stop what they’re doing and engage. He captures your imagination and attention. Your personal brand should rise above others to communicate your brand values just like The Joker’s does.

If he had a LinkedIn profile it would be worthwhile looking at and reading his thought leadership. He commands interest, intrigue and curiosity then delivers. Excellent personal branding characteristics.

Breaking Bad: Know the power of your personal brand

One of my favorite lines of any character in any TV series is when Walter White (who by this stage is very much drug warlord Heisenberg) declares to his rivals in the middle of the desert (having just blown away the Mafia, and his rival, and is now the undisputed king of drugs), “Say My Name. Say it. Say My Name”. Heisenberg is the trembling answer. King of all he surveys!

Brilliant moment which encapsulates the journey that Walter has taken from nerd and part-time drug creator to mega drug dealer and full on feared gangster. The power of the personal brand of Heisenberg has overwhelmed anything else he was before and he wants everyone to know who he is.

Darth Vader: How you dress is how you’re perceived

Darth Vader isn’t just wearing a normal black suit he is wearing a black helmet mask which immediately grabs your attention and an enormous black cloak combined with an impressive black body armor suit. The clock swooshing along behind him enhances his personal brand by growing his body mass to look and feel even more impressive. When Darth Vader walks, or rather strides purposefully into a room you know about it.

If Darth Vader is using the “force” to wipe everything in his way aside while reflecting all lasers aimed at him and waving a vicious lightsaber, you certainly know that he has arrived. Never has there been a more powerful and charismatic entrance truly reflecting his personal brand than when Darth Vader walks through those doors.

American Psycho: Business Cards

Of course it had to be! American Psycho is centered around the status of your personal brand manifested through the quality of the business cards the competitors at Pierce and Pierce and their rivals invest in and show off.

The card is a symbol. It’s all about what the card says about that person’s personal brand. It’s amazing, but even in this digital age people are still using business cards despite everything being online or on LinkedIn. There is still a kudos/personal brand statement that people communicate via their business card.

The quality of your business card still says lots about you and your personal brand. I personally now just use my No.1 International Bestselling Book “LinkedIn Mastery for Entrepreneurs” as it’s about the same price as one of these embossed, watermarked cards in American Psycho and doesn’t get lost while continuing to add value and be personal brand enhancing! More memorable in my view, but everyone has a different take on what they give out.

Gladiator: Your personal brand name is your reputation

The crux of Gladiator is a simple battle between good and evil. The hero, a betrayed General, now slave/gladiator is Maximus Decimus. New emperor, the evil Commodus. Maximus is famous for leading armies and conquering nations. His fearsome personal brand reputation goes before him.

So when it comes to Commodus trying to silence him he can’t merely kill him as his legend will continue. He has to try and humiliate and shatter his personal brand. As Gladiator’s savior, “manager” Proximo says memorably:

“You have a great name. He must kill your name before he kills you.” The essence of personal branding strength.

The Godfather: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know

The Godfather epitomizes this more than anything else. It’s all about your personal brand and how that engages, influences and communicates to people who can help you do business, and how you can help them. The quote from the film that best sums this up is “Friendship is everything. Friendship is more important than talent”.

In this one quote it’s stating what everyone knows if they think about it. You can be the most talented person in the world at what you do, but without a personal brand that people respect and want to work with, and if you have no network, no friends, no associates who can help you get to where you want to go you are nothing. Your talent is meaningless.

Friends, and in this context I’m using friends as context for business associates too, can enable your dreams to come true and you theirs. It’s quid pro quo. It’s all about your personal network and your personal brand standing within it as to how much you can get done and how much people help and enable you to get things done. Or not of course as the case maybe….

My new No.1 International Bestselling book “Personal Branding Mastery for Entrepreneurs” is out now on Amazon across the world in all formats.

If your marketing function is not driving growth, you’re not doing it right


One of the big issues facing marketing is the perception, commonly held in businesses, that it is nothing more than the ‘coloring in department’. It is a demeaning phrase and one I heard most recently earlier this year when I was invited to participate in a CEO Forum in the City by one of the accounting firms.

It was a breakfast meeting with a speaker presenting on how to drive business growth in low growth economies. There were about forty CEOs all enjoying pastries, fresh fruit and yogurt. Most were from medium to large private businesses predominantly with a business-to-business focus.

The presentation soon gave way to an open discussion between those present on the drivers of growth, with a heavy emphasis on the sales function as the real driver of revenue growth. Marketing did not get a mention until the speaker asked about the role of marketing and one of the CEOs delivered his knock-out put-down of marketing, which was met by the general consensus of the others in the room.

Reflecting on this, I considered how the marketing and sales function works seamlessly in our own B2B professional services business. It is a seamless and integrated approach that starts with defining the business requirements and the revenue and growth objectives and identifying the segments and services we believe will deliver this growth based on past data and informed by market changes and customer trends.

Six years ago, we implemented a major change in marketing direction, moving from a traditional out-bound marketing approach to an in-bound marketing strategy.This meant we went from a sales support model for marketing to one under which content marketing, SEO (search engine optimization) and social media drove customers to our website and content, at which point automated marketing would help identify those customers and score their sales potential with encouragement to make an enquiry and become a lead. This lead would then be handled by sales to discuss the needs of the client, propose a solution and convert the lead to a sale.

The change in strategy had a significant impact in the first year leading to a 300% increase in traffic to our website and a 30% increase in revenue in that first year. You can read about this in more detail on our site here including specifics on how it was developed and implemented. Under our outbound marketing strategy, we were averaging a conversion rate of 26% – considered quite healthy. But with the in-bound marketing strategy our conversion rate is now 64% as in many ways the prospect is self-validated at the time they decide to become a lead.

For those interested, follow ups on those that do not convert indicate that it is usually because the prospect does not have the budget required or have decided to take a lower cost option or even undertake the process themselves.

At the end of last year, we had over 200,000 unique visitors to the site from around the world and the site visitors continue to grow, which is terrific for a relatively niche consulting business in marketing management consulting. You can read more about how we achieved this visitor growth here,

The quality of those visitors is also high, based on the number of pages visited and time on-page, which all goes to calculate their Lead Score. We are continually testing the process of turning visitors into leads, looking for ways to optimize lead generation and conversion rates.

While some marketers will wonder where the role of brand building fits into this strategy, the fact is the content and the brand presentation is integrated into all aspects of the process to ensure every interaction builds on the brand positioning. All parts of the marketing and sales process are measured, optimized and reviewed to ensure we are achieving our short, medium and long-term growth objectives, creating interest, driving leads, converting customers and building and reinforcing reputation.

So, it made we wonder how these other CEOs manage their marketing teams? What is the role of marketing in an organization where the leader is comfortable describing it as the ‘coloring in department’? Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating in-bound marketing for any other business and not suggesting that we are in anyway the perfect example of business building. But the starting point for us was a recognition that our traditional out-bound marketing process of database cold and warm calling along with advertising and public relations and sales support materials was not delivering the leads and sales conversions we needed.

It meant we needed clearly to articulate our business objectives and then develop a marketing and sales strategy that would attract the customers we needed. It was not a sales-led strategy or a marketing-led strategy, but a customer-led strategy. The sales people and the consultants who are closest to our existing customers inform the content and content marketing strategy and marketing focuses on maximizing traffic and optimizing leads, leaving sales to convert those leads into sales and revenue. All parts of the business share results and review performance on a weekly and monthly basis. There is no point marketing increasing leads if conversions drop, so both must work together to drive revenue and profitability.

Hopefully the next time you hear a fellow CEO refer to their marketing team as the ‘coloring in department’ you’ll share with them the fact that if they have set up their marketing function simply to color in their sales support materials then they are really not doing it right and then direct them to this article or our website. Having the right marketing and sales strategy working together has clearly driven growth for our business and will absolutely deliver the same results for yours.

Darren Woolley is the CEO of TrinityP3 Marketing Management Consultants a micro multinational with offices in Sydney, Singapore, New York and London.

Executive Coaching: Being the CEO of Yourself


The burgeoning trend of Executive Coaching is tapping in to previously unrecognized levels of personal development for business people. No longer must career-focused business people wait patiently for their opportunities to become executives.

The trend taps into the new business need for mental toughness, an area of strength identified by psychologists who believes that it is no longer enough for business leaders to be merely resilient.

Mental toughness helps individuals focus on making things happen, without being distracted by their own or other peoples’ emotions.These individuals are generally more engaged, more positive and exhibit a “can do” attitude.

Mental toughness can be measured using the MTQ48, a reliable psychometric tool which is quick and easy to complete and provides a profile of overall mental toughness, as well as providing scores for a number of other characteristics.

This is where Executive Coaching comes in, a process which helps executives focus on their own individual traits. Coaching is most successful when undertaken as a personal project and not necessarily as a business requirement.

The best candidates are those looking for the next stage in career development, those willing to take charge of their own careers going forward. These kinds of people will benefit tremendously from a coaching setup in terms of personal development.

It is now fairly common for CEOs to have a coach as part of their own personal development, but the growing trend is seeing people earlier in their career paths with aspirations to get to executive level engaging in some form of coaching.

Many people at this stage in their development would once have been expected to wait until they reached a certain level before being offered coaching in a professional capacity by their company, but are now taking matters into their own hands.

A coach can be equally useful for these people as they are for a Chief Executive. They will often act as a sounding board for ideas, to offer support in dealing with roadblocks and challenges and to help navigate the next career step.

First and foremost, Executive Coaching is not comparable to therapy, or a relationship where the coach tells the client how to go about doing things. It is more commonly an equally supportive and challenging relationship.

In an Executive Coaching relationship, the client is the expert, not the coach. A coach will not know all the details of what a client needs to reach their particular goals, and is present only to offer support and expertise in helping those goals be achieved.

Unlike a relationship with a therapist, the results from coaching can often happen very quickly. Most importantly, coaching is about looking forward to the future rather than assessing past failures.

An Executive Coach provides a confidential thinking space which can prove hugely beneficial to a client. It is usually the case that the more senior the client, the more benefit they gain from the process.

This is often a response to the amount of time available for a coach to just listen, something which is often a rare luxury for executives. In addition, the asking of questions helps clients mobilize their inner resources and solve their own problems.

The key is finding the perfect balance between support and challenge, nurturing clients to solve problems and meet goals whilst at the same time pushing them to better themselves in as many ways as possible.

There are certain requirements one should be looking for in a coach that will help executives reach their maximum potential. Probably the most important is for someone with a strong track record in business.

In addition, somebody who has an approach which is designed to support and guide rather than lecture and tell is essential. The best kind of coach will be there as a nurturing presence, encouraging others to find their own answers to problems.

Equally, a good coach will be interested in collaborating with their clients, forming a partnership that will ultimately help executives build successful foundations to set them up for further career development.

The job of a coach is to work with people to establish a personal vision for themselves, developing goals and actions which will ultimately help flesh and out and finally to deliver that vision.

In the same way corporations spend time developing visions and working towards achieving them, prospective executives should look at themselves as being their own CEO, and work towards delivering the same success as a company would.

There is no doubt that Executive Coaching represents a huge investment of time. Results show that the investment put in is resoundingly worthwhile, with typically 5-7 times of the initial investment returned.

It is little wonder then that many more people are choosing Executive Coaching as a way of forwarding their careers and fulfilling their business goals. The hope is that it will improvebusiness and the economy for future generations.

Are you cut out to be a board director? Ask yourself these 7 questions


There are millions of board directors in the world. Every company and organization has them. Let’s be honest, many of them deserve their seat at the table. They bring huge value. Unfortunately, many do not.

“Just because you think you can be a director, doesn’t mean you should.”

Before getting started on a boardroom career, there is one question that every potential director needs to ask themselves: “Am I director material?”

There is no simple way of telling whether you will cut it, but there are certain attributes and skills that those who make a successful go at it tend to have in common. To help you answer this simple, yet direct, question, I’ve broken the it down into seven questions.

Please don’t think you must tick every box to make it as a board director. In fact, you don’t even have to tick any boxes. There is not one way to measure your readiness but, if you are leaning towards the “correct” answers on most of the questions below, you’re going to be at an advantage when it comes to being an effective director. Good luck!

Question 1: Do you prefer to work alone or with others?

If you answered the latter, then congratulations, the boardroom could be for you. There is a bit of solo work in being a director (for example, your meeting preparation) but most of it is working as a team. Oh, and don’t expect the team environment to be plain sailing all the time. Hopefully, they’ll bring a diverse set of views and skills and this could lead to some healthy debates. To quote management expert and author Ken Blanchard: “None of us is as smart as all of us.”

Question 2: Do you have time to spare?

I haven’t met many who say they are not “busy”. I’ll admit to using the word. What impresses me are those that aren’t busy, or are trying not to be. This might sound harsh, but busy isn’t a badge of honor.

As a director your time commitment is not just board meetings. Your time includes sub-committees, planning days, networking events, stakeholder representation, training and building relationships.

Every board is different but assume, for a non-executive role, between 5-50 hours per month, with most boards needing an average commitment of 10-20 hours per month. If this is something you can spare, you are ready.

Question 3: Do you like to learn?

True, we are starting to see more and more young board directors but the majority are still senior. They could be forgiven for thinking that they know everything they need to know. Not anymore! We live in non-linear and dynamic times with increasing pressures from many more quarters. As a board director you cannot remain static. Yes, you’ll have skills that you bring to the table and you might even be top of your game. But, you also need to learn new skills to round out your role.

This isn’t just financial skills. Increasingly you need to be across customer-centric design and be up to date on the latest technology impacting your company (and soon your job). What are the latest marketing or HR trends? This makes it easier for you to ask good questions, provide the right level of support and remain relevant.

Question 4: Are you used to getting your own way?

Yes? Then get out of here. The boardroom is not the place for dictators. It is the place for influencers but as part of a team, you’ll often need to put your ego to one side and be open to having your mind changed, or to go with a majority view. There are too many egos in boardrooms, we don’t need anymore.

Question 5: Do difficult decisions impact you?

As a director, the buck stops with you. You must be willing to make tough choices and make decisions.

However, it is a bit of a trick question. If you think no is the best answer, then you perhaps do not care enough to be a director. If it’s yes, then perhaps you don’t have the steel to make the tough choices you’ll have to make. Boards often have to weigh up competing priorities and stakeholders. You cannot please everyone all the time when “acting in the best interests of the company”.

The ideal answer is “Yes, they impact me, but not for long”. This means you have a nice balance of mental toughness and empathy to handle the burdens of being a director and contributing to decisions that will affect many people. Balance is key. Try not to dwell on decisions, you’ll probably not have the time.

Question 6: Do you prefer to listen or talk?

This is a bit of a trick question. Listening is important as a director. Listening to management and their needs, listening to the views of your fellow directors, listening to the needs of your stakeholders (which extend beyond owners to your staff, customers and community). Yes, listening and analyzing what you hear is vital. But, so is talking. Having a view, when it’s qualified, is your job. Asking the right questions at the right time. Being considered, helpful, challenging yet supportive is the role of a director. Can you “communicate with two ears and one mouth”?

Question 7: Do you take pleasure from helping others?

Simple answer please. Yes! Being a board director is all about being in service to others. You’ll give your time and skills, often for no financial reward. The reward is the service.

Remember though, it’s not just others that gain from you being a director. You do too. You’ll learn new skills that will make you a better person, better employee, better director. You’ll meet new and interesting people and who knows where that will lead. You might get paid but if you don’t you’ll probably earn more elsewhere because of these new skills and relationships.

How did you do? As stated at the start there is no right and wrong way to be a director. There are rules that govern the job. There are also expectations that will vary from board to board.

Paul Smith is the Co-founder & CEO of Future Directors Institute.

What is Search Engine Optimization?


Despite the profound benefits Search Engine Optimization provides businesses when applied correctly, this marketing method remains something of a mystery to many business owners the world over.

By first understanding its definition, we can begin to appreciate what Search Engine Optimization has to offer.

At its simplest, Search Engine Optimization, or SEO can be defined as a process that maximizes the number of web users visiting a website, by ensuring it is displayed as highly as possible on page one of keyword searches that the search engine will select for you.

However, this definition barely scratches the surface of what SEO has to offer, nor the processes involved in implementing a successful SEO campaign, and why it’s such an effective marketing strategy.

A brief history of search engines provides an illuminating insight into not only how they have changed the way we conduct many of our daily activities, but also into how SEO came to be.

Search engines have revolutionised the ways in which we obtain information, conduct research, search for and purchase products and services, entertain ourselves and connect with our peers.

At the back end of nearly every online destination – be it a website, social network, blog or app – lies a search engine. In fact, search engines are now so prevalent in daily life that the word ‘Google’ has itself become a noun.

With the amount of information on the web continually increasing, search engines were born out of necessity. They gathered and displayed the vast swathes of information available in a concise, easily accessible and presentable manner. Now artificial intelligence is being used to help organize much of this data.

Around 1997, when Flash was being used to create sites, search engines were still listing websites alphabetically – a far cry from the algorithms used today for determining which order to display sites.

Only a handful of inquisitive and knowledgeable web providers discovered that by reading the code of sites being displayed on the first page of search results, a unique code could be applied to other sites they worked on ensuringthey would also appear on the first page.

Applying this method resulted in increased customers for businesses hiring those that could successfully implement this strategy. However, despite the clear results, a degree of skepticism remained in some regarding the relativity of the code and its direct influence on increased visitors to the sites, and therefore, increased business. Those that changed their websites completely and lost the unique code invariably found their leads rapidly drying up and left wondering why.

The Google Revolution began in 2000

In 2000, Yahoo partnered with Google, allowing them to power their organic search results instead of Inktomi, which resulted in every Yahoo search result displaying ‘Powered by Google’.

This move, which is considered to be the worst strategic move in the history of search, inadvertently contributed to Google – who, although little-known back then, were Yahoo’s biggest competitor – becoming the household name they are today.

Prior to this point, search engines mainly ranked sites based on their on-page content, domain names, and ability to get listed in relevant directories, and their basic structure and code formation.

Google’s introduction of their algorithms and web crawler in 2014 was revolutionary for online information retrieval, while also setting the bar high for it’s competitors.

Whether or not we’re aware of it, SEO is a necessarily pertinent component of web usage. It ensures users are directed to the information most relevant to their search terms and is a powerful tool for businesses seeking more qualified leads.

If knowledge is indeed power, then understanding how results are delivered serves as an essential element to any business owners’ marketing toolbox.

First and foremost, search engines aim to provide the most accurate results to web users’ queries. They use over 250 plus ranking factors to determine the most unique, high-quality content relevant to a particular search term and display each result in a corresponding order. These factors can be loosely defined as on-page, which considers the quality of a site determined by a highly technical algorithm – and off-page, whereby sites are graded by their overall popularity.

A site’s popularity is determined by many factors, with the most applicable influencers being the number of high-quality backlinks from other websites, and the level of engagement on various social media channels.

The former is achieved through publishing highly informative and useful content on quality websites with the aim of earning backlinks, whereas the latter is accomplished by encouraging engagement on the myriad social media platforms that are linked to the website.

Skepticism about the effectiveness of SEO remains rife, with many still questioning the time, effort and financial investment in improving a website’s organic SEO. However, the acquisition and monitoring of relevant data is an integral part of SEO, and the results gleaned from this data lends credence to the benefits search engine optimization has to offer.

1. The Results Cost Relatively Little Compared to PPC and AdWords

When implemented correctly and successfully, organic listings are a worthy investment for business owners as it is long lasting.When organic SEO starts to dominate, the need for paid listings such as Google AdWords can be reduced and in time paused so the business owners do not remain dependant on this service. The services of a results proven SEO professional is a worthy investment, as consistent levels of increased traffic can be directed to a website regularly. By contrast, traffic levels typically drop back down to zero once a paid campaign is paused.

2. Increased Trust in a Brand is Invaluable

Web users trust organic listings as much as they trust Google to provide them with reputable brands in searches. In other words, the higher a site is listed in the top ten organic search results on page one, the higher the levels of trust in a brand – and that trust cannot be bought. In fact, most web users tend to ignore paid listings in favour of highly ranked organic listings. Furthermore, the lower a site ranks, the less likely web users are to trust the brand.

3. Significantly Higher ROI (Return on Investment) Than Standard Ads

While a paid ad might convert a small percentage of visitors into making a sale, the same visitors from SEO will typically yield a much higher conversion rate, thus deeming SEO as the superior marketing method – both in terms of ROI and effectiveness. Furthermore, many web users often accidentally click on Pay Per Click ads that the business owners still need to pay for regardless, whereas those same accidental clicks on organically placed listings from SEO cost nothing. Essentially, a click on an organic listing is considerably more valuable than on a paid ad, resulting in a much higher ROI.

4. SEO Provides Permanent Results

Although an SEO campaign may take some time to secure the coveted first page status with various keywords being targeted, the results gleaned from these efforts can be everlasting. Through the continued publication of high quality content, it would be highly unlikely a website would lose its high-ranking positions. On the contrary, sites that are paying for their positioning will disappear into the ether of the internet once they pause their campaigns or run out of budget.

The Importance of Content with Artificial Intelligence

Creating great content is the key to online success – and this holds especially true with the continued development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and SEO. Publishing engaging and interesting content across a variety of websites, blogs, videos, social media channels and guest blogs means that should one piece of your online presence be affected by an AI-related shift within your site, it won’t affect your overall online presence to the same degree.

When creating content for SEO purposes, your focus should be on the relevancy and value to your visitors. Keyword phrases should be replaced by the content that is centred on a key concept related to your particular keyword. Therefore, rather than repeating the same keyword in your content, it is much more prudent to write a blog post, or a series of blog posts all relating to one another that focus on a single topic while taking a broad approach to the subject.

To achieve success in an artificial intelligence powered organic search world of today, it is imperative to focus on creating a positive user experience. This is accomplished by continually creating and publishing high quality, interesting, valuable and relevant content that is easily accessible across all devices.

About Senka Pupacic

Senka is the founding Partner and Principal Consultant at Top 10 SEO. As an author, speaker, and consultant, she has advised and worked with companies and organizations across two continents in web analytics, regular testing of algorithm updates, web design, content management and online search engine marketing. Her aim is to assist businesses with their visibility on the world wide web bringing them in front of the people that matter, their future clients.

Three steps to take now to maximize Q2 and the rest of the year


Not to elevate the importance of one quarter over another in gaining success over the course the fiscal year, but given the role of momentum in B2B sales, there are reasons sales managers need to emphasize Q1, and how you approach the rest of the year based on your Q1 results. As Skip Miller said in his book “ProActive Sales Management”:

“If you, as a sales manager, do not know if you are going to make the year after the first quarter, the battle is over. Now you better be lucky.”

Given the hint of spring in the air, clocks turned forward, and the numbers for Q1 are trickling in, it is time to take inventory and adjust your plans for delivering your quota for the year.

The role of the sales manager has changed as much as any element of sales, especially advances in tech, automation, and skills training. Some managers have been reduced to minding systems as much as they are expected to LEAD their teams to success. As with everything, there are pros and cons, and one of the big advantages is the amount of actionable data the tools above make available to sales organizations and reps. The greater visibility into each sale, the pipeline, and activity allows managers to get ahead of trends sooner, and make the adjustments needed coming out of Q1, and drive results throughout the year.

While no template fits across all B2B organizations, here are three things managers can help their reps implement heading into Q2. I’ve spoken to managers, reps, and senior leaders, and here are a few that get broad support.

The balance I was going for is how to implement best and take full advantage of the tools and techniques available today, but not at the cost of abandoning proven fundamentals. While markets and many elements of selling have changed, the fundamentals of good selling have not. As one VP with a proven record of delivering, put it: “The process of good selling is no different today than it was six months or 10 years ago. On the other hand, the issues that will surface today will be quite different.”

What was surprising in speaking to some sales veterans, was their tendency to lean “market changes” as their reason for struggling to exceed quota. Surprising because change is what salespeople live on; without change, there is no opportunity. Even if you are the incumbent, your customer needs to see you as evolving and changing in in line with their objectives. Failing to do that, and relying on “relationship”, sells books but does not deliver ongoing revenue.

Not surprising, top of the list for most, and a positive for fundamentals was the recognition that being “proactive” is key, the challenge for some was auctioning the concept. With that in mind, let’s take a look at specific things you can do to crush the rest of the year and future quotas. In no particular order, here three areas of focus shared with and by the sales professionals I spoke to have worked with.

1. Activity Management – The never-ending need to manage more activity. One can’t blame reps for being confused, they are told that technology is being added to help them spend more time selling, but their experience is entirely different. As has been documented, adding technology does not have the returns expected if implemented in wrong way. With the additional steps, and controls, the activity has shifted from just doing things, to activity required to capture that activity. In some instances, technology has a measurable and ongoing negative impact results.

The opportunity for sales organizations is to look at the data and decide which applications do measurably help the volume and quality of activity, that maximize time and revenue. Examine if their process is supporting current conditions, and see how technology helps drive the process, not just replace one activity for another. The forgotten step by many is to plan beyond the change, how will they deploy regained time and resources. Without that in place, reps will be left on their own to use freed resources as they like, rather than in a planned way to improve sales activities and results.

2. Level of Engagement – The concept applies equally to your existing client base, prospect base and lead funnel. “Assume Nothing” was how one respondent put it, talk to your customers, talk to your prospect and communicate with your leads. As things change so do priorities and expectation, and by extension opportunities. A disinterested party today, can be your best prospect a week later due to changing realities; nut the opposite is also true, a big client can be a former client overnight if your engagement is not as strong as you believe.

This where proactive needs to be elevated, to be prescriptive. One of the victims of “relationship” is sellers willingness to lead the decision process, something every Subject Matter Expert is paid to do. You understand the market better than most, any individual prospect will know more about their company than you, but concerning market overall, you have seen and experienced more than most, share it with conviction. Prospects want, and need help, and are willing to follow if they know their interests are at the centre of things, they are open to different ideas, and if they get the same old from you, don’t be surprised by the results.

You have seen what works elsewhere, the steps they took, considerations that went into decisions, and most importantly, you know what hasn’t worked. Share, and recommend, left to their think, the Status Quo, where they are now will prevail, no sale.

3. Client First – Again, tried and true, but with the reality of quotas, and other pressures on sales organizations, easy to lose sight of. This goes to engagement as presented above, as well, most sellers focus on their natural buyers, IT people for tech reps, finance folks for financial sellers, etc. But the ultimate client is the company, changes made in one area of a company, impact workflows of other departments or divisions. More than ever, you need to expand your expertise status to a broad range of people within customer organizations. Everyone talks about “Org Chart”, few work them.

The reason you want to bring more the “usual suspects” into a purchase decision, is not just to better understand how your offering will impact them. You will usually discover an equal amount of support from unexpected parts of the company; or at times, some potential unknown opposition. By expanding beyond the obvious, you will discover more reasons for them to buy from you, rather than the folks “they always dealt with.” The very same people they gave your order to.

When you align the three factors above, you can create an action plan that leads to results, not just activity for the sake of activity. Most agreed that engagement is more crucial than ever, but they were struggling to achieve that while still offering something different than the pack. The three things above are a start, and by getting them in order, you will set yourself or team up for future changes and future success. It is about helping your buyers make a decision, (one favourable to you we hope). There are those who believe that you need to have a relationship before any of the above can happen. But real relationships take a long time to establish, longer than a given quarter or commercial quota, and even then, the only certainty is a relationship, not revenue. Whereas I can engage and share the benefit of my expertise to get a buyer to act, long before ‘We’re buds”.

Sorry, there was no magic dust, but if you are willing to plan for and commit to improving your sales, these are three solid starting steps. One last suggestion, you don’t need to change everything overnight. Step back and see which of the three will be the most natural step to introduce given your team and sales culture. Implement that, measure, adjust, and celebrate your success no matter how small, then build on!

Tibor Shanto works with leading B2B companies including Bell Mobility, Imperial Oil, Pitney Bowes, and others, helping them improve their sales execution and results. Called a brilliant sales tactician, Tibor works with clients to translate sales strategy to reality. Tibor develops sales people who understand that success in sales is about execution – everything else is just talk!

Things are looking up in Alberta: an exclusive from Premier Rachel Notley


Things are looking up in Alberta. It’s a long road back from the worst recession to hit our province in decades, and there remains much work to do, but all signs point towards a real recovery.

This is no accident. We have worked hard to make sure this recovery is felt throughout the province, from the boardrooms of our businesses to the family rooms of our friends and neighbours.

Alberta had the fastest growing economy in the country last year, and we’re expected to lead the way in growth for the next two years. Manufacturing is up, housing starts are up, retail sales are up, drilling activity is up and exports are up. In fact, almost everything that should be up, is up. Per capita private sector investment rose to more than twice the national average, and average weekly earnings continue to increase despite already being the highest in Canada by far.

Alberta’s economy is recovering – and we’re working to make sure the recovery is built to last. That means we are going to keep creating jobs, keep diversifying our economy and keep the pressure on Ottawa and B.C. to make sure the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion gets built.

After all, all the trend-lines, statistics and forecasts are great for the Alberta economy, and we’re proud of these accomplishments. But our priority is on the impact they’re having on the lives of everyday Albertans – and jobs are a big part of that.

Today, Alberta has more jobs than at any time in our history – 2.3 million of them. That means this morning, more Albertans got up and went to work than ever before—providing for their families and building their communities. And of that 2.3 million, the number that means the most to me is 70,000. That’s how many new full-time jobs have been created in Alberta since the darkest days of the recession in 2016. These are mostly private sector jobs in large and small businesses across the province that are supporting our growing economy.

This is why so many world-class employers in new and exciting industries are setting up shop in Alberta. Google brought its first international artificial-intelligence research centre to Edmonton, pharmaceutical giant Merck is investing in new jobs at TEC Edmonton, Pinnacle Renewable Energy is building a new biomass plant in Parkland County, Aurora Cannabis is constructing a major production facility, Amazon is setting up a new fulfillment centre just outside of Calgary, and the list goes on and on. They’re choosing Alberta because of the immense advantages we offer. We have the lowest taxes in Canada, and we’re not shy about supporting job creators. Our Petroleum Diversification Program has already attracted $3.5 billion of investment, and initiatives such as the Capital Investment Tax Credit help companies take on new construction projects. This has already saved many investors millions, and new rounds continue to attract even more investment to Alberta.

Those efforts to create a more durable and diversified economy are important, and so too is the need to diversify our export markets, especially for our energy resources. I recently toured Canada to drum up support for much-needed pipeline infrastructure that will help Alberta businesses access new markets and get a better value for our resources. This is a priority for Alberta, for Alberta workers and for workers across our country.

Some governments in Canada feel differently. As you know, the Government of British Columbia has recently taken a run at workers across Canada by trying to block progress on the Trans Mountain pipeline. In so doing, they’re taking a run at the authority of our federal government. It’s wrong and it is unconstitutional—no province has the right to stand in the way of the national interest and the livelihoods of working Canadians. This isn’t a dispute between B.C. and Alberta—it’s a dispute between BC and all of Canada, including many folks in their own province. There is too much at stake for working Canadians, and our shared national economy, to let this stand. The Canadian, Alberta and BC Chambers of Commerce have already stated their support for our position, and I encourage all Canadians to add their voices to the call for swift action.

Alberta’s recovery speaks for itself, but that won’t stop me from sharing this message and fighting for Alberta. Our province represents an incredible business and investment opportunity, and it’s only getting better and better. By creating good jobs, diversifying our economy and keeping our taxes the lowest in the nation, we are making sure the recovery keeps going and that it’s built to last for regular people. The hard work, resilience, and entrepreneurial spirit of Albertans can accomplish anything.

Rachel Notley
Premier of Alberta

Barry Goldwater Jr. on government, renewables and President Trump’s first year


Barry Goldwater Jr. is a former United States House of Representatives member serving from 1969 until 1983. He now employs a lifetime of experience in government and business as CEO & Chairman of Nelson Taplin Goldwater consultancy, assisting businesses to navigate local and federal legislative issues.

Mr. Goldwater gave his thoughts on the relationship between business and government, renewable energy for conservatives, and his evaluation of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and first year of presidency.

Government and Business

Mr. Goldwater assists businesses by providing insights drawn from his roles in both government and business. Mr. Goldwater said many of the businesses he works with are unaware of the impact government can make on their operation. “Whether they like it or not, in their business they have a partner in the name of government, and if they’re not watching government, government is watching them.” Mr. Goldwater said.

“It’s important that in their dealings and activities as businesses they need to focus some of their attention on government and get to know and develop relationships. Especially with those areas of government which impact their business.” Mr. Goldwater said.

A lifetime of relationship building has given Mr. Goldwater an edge when dealing with local and federal government. “I belong to a number of different associations which allow me access to various subject matter or agencies.” Mr. Goldwater said, “For instance, I belong to the association of governors, I attend their quarterly meetings around the United States, and have the opportunity to get one on one with many different governors, so over the years I’ve gotten to know quite a few of them, and as a consequence it’s easier to do business in those states.”

“I do a lot of business in almost all fifty states, and make it a point to know the legislators, to know who the speaker of the house is, who the president of the senate is, the governor, the attorney general, I make it a point to develop those relationships.”

Mr. Goldwater’s relationships serve to speed up dealings with government, which he says, “has no real incentive to be efficient.” He notes that government doesn’t have a sensitivity or business bottom line which requires it to operate quickly.

“Too often when you’re dealing with government you have to go through various levels of government beaurocracies and channels before you’re getting answers. government moves slow. Just to get an appointment with the secretary of energy, you first have to meet with some of the underlings, and then eventually if you really push it hard you can get your meeting with the secretary.” Mr. Goldwater said, “That can be modified if you already have a relationship with that government appointed Secretary, and in the case of the Department of Energy I happen to know and be very friendly with the former Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, who was appointed by Trump to be the secretary of energy, so I have an easy time getting to the secretary of energy because of my relationship.”

Mr. Goldwater includes political donation as an avenue for many businesses to get their foot in the door, “I recall when I was a congressman nobody was going to buy me, but if somebody took enough interest to contribute to my campaign, the least I could do for them was give them the time to come in and talk.”

Renewable Energy and Conservatives

“I think conservatives have got to get up to speed with what’s going on with technology, and realize that we need to support renewable energy. Not only because it is economic, but also because it’s clean.” Mr. Goldwater said.

“I’m a conservative, but I like clean. I think mankind has dirtied up this globe too much. It’s time that the business community, the conservatives and those who are skeptical about renewables need to understand that this is good, not bad. The future is here, and we better get on board or we’re going to miss the train.”

Mr. Goldwater’s support for renewable energy originated during his time in congress. “Back in 1974 the United States experienced an oil embargo from Saudi Arabia, president Jimmy Carter at the time stood up and declared war on energy independence.” Mr. Goldwater said, “The congress where I served at the time created renewable energy programs and subsidized it heavily with price guarantees, guaranteed purchases, tax treatment, depreciation treatment. We did everything that we could to accelerate past what would be normal market growth.”

“Today, because of those subsidies, renewable energy is competitive with gas, coal, and nuclear.” Mr. Goldwater said. He points out that the subsidies which he oversaw have also gone away as the technology brought the cost of the devices down.

“Today, for instance, you can build a 100mw solar electric generator out in the deserts, and sell that electricity for 3 cents a kilowatt, which is very competitive to gas, which would sell for 3-4 cents a kilowatt. We invested heavily in renewables, that investment is now paying off.”

Mr. Goldwater sees government subsidization is a positive means to grow technologies and national interests beyond regular market growth. Saying, “If our government determined that it is in the national interest to invest in a certain kind of technology, whether it is to cure cancer, diabetes, or provide energy or even weapons of defence, those are investments that I think are reasonable and acceptable.”

“If we find that it’s an important need, I don’t have a problem with government subsidizing that technology. Then, when it comes to applied research, get the government out of it. Let the private market take over that technology and put it to work.”

“I don’t want to see government in the applied area. The conservative policy is that we don’t want government doing for people what they can do for themselves.” Mr. Goldwater said.

President Trump

Drawing on his years of political and business experience, Mr. Goldwater gave insight into Donald Trump’s candidacy and the first year of his presidency.

“Candidate Trump came along and recognized that Americans were mad.” Mr. Goldwater said, “They were mad and angry over the loss of jobs, stagnant wages, loss of productivity, student loans going through the roof, graduates living at home, government regulations that prevented risk-takers to start small businesses, banks whose loans you can’t qualify for, the affordable care act which was unaffordable. Candidate Trump recognized this feeling within the country, and as a result said he would do something about it, and he was elected.”

“He was a populist, and it was a populist reaction to the phenomena which existed in the United States. Here we are a year later, and what’s the scorecard? If you scrape away all of the dialogue and commentary and look at what he’s been able to do, he gets a pretty high mark, the economy is booming, we’re starting to see higher wages, the stock market is going through the roof, he’s been able to get rid of a lot of regulations which stagnate businesses, he has surrounded himself with pretty smart people.”

“You might look at his popularity and think maybe he is suffering. But once you get away from the Liberals and out in the country, those folks like what Trump is saying and doing. He talks their language.”

Detailing the conflicts between American conservatives and liberals, Mr. Goldwater said the dynamic is not only historically consistent but integral to the freedom of the United States, “In every free nation you are going to be challenged by those who want more government and those who want less. It takes you back to the beginning where we had our founding fathers Hamilton and Jefferson. Hamilton advocated more and Jefferson wanted less, that dynamic continues up to today”.

Mr. Goldwater said he is also unperturbed by much of the negative media attention the Trump Presidency has received, saying, “If you go back to other administrations, to President Obama, the Republicans beat the hell out of Obama, President Clinton too, the Republicans beat him up, that’s politics, and that’s to be expected, the opposition is going to try and make whoever is in power look bad, that’s what Democrats are doing here in the United States along with the liberal media, and I’ve got to say they’re doing a pretty good job of defining who and what Donald Trump is. It’s sad, but it’s nothing more than politics.”

In closing, Mr. Goldwater lent his predictions on the future of the Trump presidency and on Donald Trump’s intentions to run for a second term, “The Democrats’ message so far is all anti-Trump, they don’t have a platform or a message of what they bring to the table, what they’re trying to sell and what they can do for this country. That’s going to hurt their chances.”

“Trump at least has some accomplishments that he can point to, and Republicans can run on those accomplishments. This is his second year, and normally the party in power loses some of their power. The predictions now are that the Democrats are going to make a lot of gains, but it’s still early and my prediction is that the Republicans will hold their positions of the senate and the House of Representatives.”