What led you to become and succeed as a keynote speaker?
After starting out as a broadcaster both in radio and television (and coming to the conclusion that I had neither the talent nor the desire to make it in that field) I graduated into sales. Not having had any formal sales training I floundered for a few months until I came across a couple of books on sales that would provide me with a system and methodology to help me become successful in that field. At that point, I also began to immerse myself in personal development.
After some significant success as a sales professional and stint as a sales manager, I was asked to teach others what was working for me. I soon began to realize that I could make a living doing this, which seemed like a lot of fun. (Turned out…it was!)
What are the three main changes in sales methodology that you have observed, over the last decade?
The basic principles of sales haven’t changed (after all, they’re called “principles” for a reason). it’s still all about discovering what your prospective customer/client needs, wants, and desires, and helping them to get it. On the other hand, certain aspects regarding the sales process certainly have. Changed.
The online world provides we the salesperson with much more accessible to those with whom we wish to connect. And we can learn more about them and their companies, and much easier than ever before. This puts those who are willing to do their homework with an immense opportunity to be more prepared than their competitors.
Of course, the online world also provides our potential customers and clients with much more information about our products and services than ever before. Thus, instead of coming to us for information, that is no longer an issue. This is actually the best thing that ever happened for solution-oriented, value-based sales professionals who can now focus on how to solve problems and add insights that will serve their customers and clients to a much greater degree.
More moving parts…
While this doesn’t hold true for every business, for most there are now many more people in the process who are in on the buying decision, and each one is often its own individual sale. Because of this today’s sales professional must be prepared to understand the needs, wants, desires, problems, solutions, etc., for numerous individuals in numerous positions, and be able to bring everyone together.
Why are client testimonials a necessity to validate product value? Why do you stress so much on Relationship and Influencer Marketing?
Regarding the first question, I believe it always comes back to a most brilliant statement by my friend and colleague, the great direct response marketer, Joe Polish who said, “What others say about you (and your product/service) is infinitely more believable than what you say about you (and your product/service). So let others say it.”
The reason I put so much emphasis on the relationship aspect of sales is that “it” (meaning, pretty much everything in life, including sales) is all about relationships. People sell to people. People buy from people. The product or service is vitally important, of course. But, when it comes right down to it (and as my sales mantra has been since I’ve been in business), “All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like, and trust.”
Regarding the term “Influencer Marketing” I’m not sure how you mean it in this context. Certainly, our influence is what allows us to effectively communicate an idea that another person will act upon but I believe the term, “Influencer Marketing” relates to the specific concept of a company utilizing a person “of influence” to market a product or service. Of course, traditional media has always done this utilizing the celebrities but it seems as though in the online world it’s become a phenomenon of its own.
And, the difference is that the “celebrity” online isn’t necessarily known to the general public but simply has a huge online following and/or perhaps is known to a specific niche market.
What has been your biggest challenge as a keynote speaker?
At the beginning of my career, just like with any business, it was developing a clientele and creating a sustainably profitable business. Then it was keeping myself relevant and, several times over the course of my 30-year career, actually reinventing myself.
I find my biggest challenge now is to make sure I can really go deep into a company in order to deliver the most meaningful speech for them. Fortunately, I seem to work with companies that will go out of their way to provide me with the resources to make sure this can happen. I think that one of the nicest compliments I can ever receive from a client is that those in attendance were sure that I was “in that industry.”
Tell us about your ‘Go-Giver Movement’?
This is a movement based on sharing a very basic but rather counter-intuitive message: that shifting one’s focus from getting to “giving” (giving, in this context, meaning constantly and consistently providing value to others) is not only a pleasant way of conducting business; it’s the most financially profitable way, as well. It also allows you to feel great about what you do and how you are impacting lives through it.
The movement is manifested through the well over 1,000,000 people who have read our books in the series and tell others about it. We’ve heard of the book being used in everything from major corporations to book clubs, high schools, business schools, religious organizations, even athletic teams.
Read Also: How to Build a World-Class B2B Sales Team
We also have a team of Certified Go-Giver Speakers who spread the word through their work, and a Facebook group called, “Go-Giver Influencers” who members are some of the message’s biggest advocates and ambassadors.
As a speaker and an author, how do you introduce Artificial Intelligence as a subject of discussion to your audiences?
I’ve always said – and will continue to say – that any technology that can be utilized to begin and deepen a relationship, and then provide more value to the end user, should be embraced. AI will continue to provide this type of capability and should be embraced for that very purpose.
Do you think AI is the future of Sales Technology?
As mentioned above, I’m a big believer that advances in technology should always be utilized where it can provide additional value to everyone involved in any process. It will even more and more continue to do tasks that could be called, “left brain.” That seems rather obvious.
Like any other medium, AI should (and I believe, will) be utilized as a way of furthering; adding to the personal human relationships. It won’t replace them. It doesn’t have to. Nor should it. But it will further them, and that’s fantastic.
So long as we all remember that AI is the means to the end (better relationships and the adding of exceptional value to our clients) as opposed to the end itself (i.e., best as the servant, not the master) it will greatly enhance business and life in general.
How do you manage to stay energetic every day? What are your favorite productivity hacks?
I truly believe that what keeps me energetic is loving what I do. At 60, I still go to sleep at night and can’t wait to wake up the next morning and get back to it. I’m committed to sharing The Go-Giver message with as many people as possible. That’s what keeps me energetic.
I don’t have any productivity hacks other than doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done. I always enjoyed the very successful entrepreneur, Dan Kennedy’s terrific self-question which is, “Is what I’m about to do now the highest and best use of my time?” When asking that question of oneself before digging into something new, it provides great clarification (and sometimes a wakeup call!).
What apps do you use to stay on top of your game?
LinkedIn, Tweetdeck, becoming more involved with Instagram.
What are you reading right now? How do you consume information?
I’m reading several different books right now, which is what I’m usually doing. My favorite way of consuming information is by reading, which I do voraciously.
If not a speaker or an author, what would have been your alternate career choice?
Entrepreneurship is in my blood so I’d be operating a business selling a product or service that I believe in.
Whose answers to these questions would like to read (from the industry)?
Geoffrey Colvin, Editor at Large for Fortune Magazine wrote a remarkable book titled, Humans Are Underrated where he links the power of technology with the importance of uniquely human communication skills.
Thank You, Bob, for answering all our questions. We hope to see you again, soon.
“The essence of the Go-Giver philosophy is this: the more you give, the more you have.”
Our Mission is:
- to inspire the entrepreneurial spirit in each and every individual,
- to help create a Go-Giver culture in every company, and
- to create prosperity for all by sharing The Go-Giver Way of doing business and living life.
Rapidly going from national bestseller to global phenomenon, The Go-Giver soon gained a devoted following in more than 20 languages and with over 800,000 copies sold.
From businesses large and small, schools, churches, and hospitals to law firms and information technology companies, individuals and groups around the world have applied the book’s Five Laws of Stratospheric Success within their organizations and businesses, relationships and personal lives.
Bob Burg is a coauthor of the international bestseller, The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea. The book has sold over 850,000 copies, is translated into 22 languages, and has created a worldwide movement. He speaks on referral-based sales and creating genuine influence. Visit www.thegogiver.com or www.burg.com.