It’s the Little Things That Matter

A few weeks ago, I posted a note on LinkedIn about Goldman Sans, a new font from Goldman Sachs. A financial services organization thinking through digital readability. Interesting.

The other day, I was strolling through a newly reopened, neighborhood Starbucks. Looking down toward the floor and around the area, I noted green and white striped directional tape, green traffic cones and directional green dots. Interesting.

The commonality between these two ideas?

Little things matter.

Even in the loud world of reopening, Starbucks, a master of experiential branding, thought through how their brand experience would shine through – even without the coffee shop vibe in their stores. Of course, they would create green and white directional floor tape!

Little things matter.

These days, I’m mailing more thank you notes and treats than in previous seasons. In my mind, it’s an opportunity to provide a bit of joy and a warm-hearted hug, via USPS. It’s a small gesture to create a connection and stand out from all the digital disco in our inboxes. To make even more of an impact, I ordered branded packing tape; Amazon has it, why can’t I? (BTW: Be careful of that Sticker Mule link, you’ll be there for hours! It’s stickers and beyond.)

Little things matter.

In March, your lights, camera and audio equipment seemed like small things. Poor audio was easy to ignore – even if it did make us all sound as if we were all shouting. But now? The world has changed. The way you engage and connect has changed. And your virtual brand is heavily influenced by our design-driven nation and is comprised of a growing list of little things.

Doing business in the Zoom-obsessed economy has made it even harder to stand out.

Schedule a 15-minute discovery call and let’s talk about your virtual presence, your sales, and the little things that will keep you memorable and your pipeline healthy.

Last thing: Happy National Social Media Day.

Be unforgettable,

503.319.0543

sherifitts.com | shoefitts.com | womenrockingwallstreet.com

Check out my speaking videos here and here.

Check out my book! Deconstructing Digital here.

Are you using digital media as a building block for sales❓

When I am not traveling for work, mornings find me walking up to Mount Tabor Park in Portland, OR, an amazing urban landscape of huge trees and quiet trails. Near one of the park entrances, a rock wall is being installed. The landscape crew, now about halfway through the project, is working at moving huge boulders, fitting them into their proper places. I am fascinated by this process.

My fascination stems from an awe of their precision in placing these stones. They use levels to guide their efforts. But, because nature is unpredictable, there is no exact plan on which rock to place first, second, third and so on. In order to make their beautiful walls they simply need to lay the first rock, review the space and then select the next one. But a wall will not exist until they get started.

Some people (still) feel the same way about using social media.

It all seems complicated and overwhelming, so they opt to simply stand on the sidelines. Sadly, these folks miss out on important conversations, critical connections and an inexpensive way to build their market.

No more excuses! What’s the first rock that you plan to lay to start your social media effort?

Make this the week that you sit down to connect, write, record or film. Whatever it is, begin by beginning.

Set an intention to get involved and dedicate time each day to integrate digital media into your face-to-face networking and sales efforts.

Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

  • Follow your key partners or leaders in the financial services industry. Principal, Fidelity, American Century and others use a myriad of digital platforms to get the word out. You can learn quite a bit from their posts and discussions. (Ditto for industry associations!)
  • Follow and connect with other advisors outside your region. If you’ve decided Twitter is the place for you, search for the hashtag #fintwit to find them.
  • Before your next meeting, head to LinkedIn and review the profiles of the key decision makers. THEN! Review their recent activity. Perhaps they’ve contributed an article, posted an article, or commented on someone else’s activity.
  • One of the easiest ways to participate is to simply comment on other people’s activities. Even better? Include your thoughts and share their post with your network.
  • Set a timer for just 10 minutes a day to explore the digital arena. That way you won’t worry about the distraction, and you’ll have a definitive deadline for your efforts.

💖 Make kindness part of your customer experience

My father made kindness his life.

For much of my adult life, he volunteered in food kitchens, manned the master gardener booth, painted signs, led scout groups, cleared park blocks, and gave out free rides to those in need.

His heartfelt acts of kindness were commonplace. (Though, it’s unlikely he would have named them as such.)

As he grew older, his movements became more constrained and isolation began to take a toll.

“O.k. Dad, go through the drive through at McDonald’s,” I prescribed one afternoon. “Order yourself some coffee and then simply pay for the car behind you.” That small act of kindness would ripple love through my dad’s day, the recipient’s day – and even the day of the person behind the window.

Witnessing kindness inspires kindness.

I hereby prescribe the same for you. Take a break from marketing and selling this week and celebrate National Random Acts of Kindness Week. Instead commit a daily act of kindness for your clients, prospects and community.

Here are 10 ideas to make someone smile:

  1. Get your own custom stickers printed and send them with hand-written notes.
  2. Send a meaningful referral out of the blue.
  3. Tip the housekeeping team at the next hotel you visit.
  4. Give someone a hug.
  5. Leave a sticky note of encouragement in a random place.
  6. Tell someone they inspire you.
  7. Help your client deal with a difficult situation. (Business or personal.)
  8. Donate to a charity.
  9. Write a note of appreciation on a dollar bill – and put it in the next tip jar. (I paint random rocks of kindness and leave them in tip jars!*)
  10. Call someone special and tell them you love them.


💡 Are You Ready to Out Care the Competition?
Discover how to make your firm stand out by offering a strong client experience and developing a powerful and appealing brand. I can help. I offer a workshop, Out Care the Competition, how to use the power of brand and client experience to differentiate your firm. Book me here!

 

* My random rocks of kindness.

Will robots rule the financial services industry?

Daniel H. Pink wrote one of my favorite books, A Whole New Mind, way back in 2006. And he absolutely knew the answer.

No. And yes.

There are many interesting tidbits of research in the book. Perhaps the most relevant to our world of financial services is his admonition that the talents associated with the Information Age will be quickly outsourced. In his idea of the Conceptual Age, leaders must master a multitude of right-brain aptitudes.

  • DESIGN. Beauty, whimsy and emotional engagement.
  • STORY. Compel and connect narratives.
  • EMPATHY. Understanding and care.
  • PLAY. Lightheartedness and fun. (See whimsy above.)
  • MEANING. Purpose, wholeness and spiritual fulfillment.

Fast forward to the DCIIA Innovation Forum several weeks ago where I sat in on several presentations discussing artificial intelligence. Their answer to the question – will robots rule the financial services industry?

Yes. And no.

Shannon Nutter, Vanguard’s Head of Participant Strategy & Development in her presentation, A Challenge to the Industry: Personalizing AI to Drive Better Financial Health, shared her thoughts around the value of artificial intelligence (AI) in financial services. The places it will work and the areas where it won’t.

She shared that AI was good for basic and repetitive tasks – think growing, harvesting, moving objects, inspecting, monitoring, and gathering/processing information. Where AI doesn’t work? Advanced tasks such as maintaining relationships, developing teams, caring for others, and thinking creatively. I added my own words to her list: humanity, vulnerability, joy, .

Yes. The robots will win. There will always be a place for technology in our industry. In fact, we must welcome it. And then, working with people and their money? We must bring our humanity, not our spreadsheets. We need to celebrate their path, not point to their past. We must bring our hearts, not our heads.

Don’t Be a Robot!

Be human: Include more design, story, empathy, play and meaning into your brand and client experience. Be a leader: Eliminate the basic and repetitive tasks from your team and have them focus on high-value, advanced skills.

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The power of impressions.

Imagine you have only five minutes to make a positive impression, in front of 200 people! How would you do that? What would you say? How would you prepare?

Recently, I had the good fortune to attend the Women in Retirement Conference, held in New Orleans several weeks ago. (Queue the beignets!)

This was my first WiRC event. It was phenomenal! The attendees were leading female advisors and TPA business owners from across the U.S. They were focused, passionate, warm and welcoming to a new-comer like myself.

As part of the agenda, the sponsors were asked to craft a five-minute session to offer up their “Big Idea.” These presentations were timed with five sponsors on deck at a time.

When the speaker from Capital Group | American Funds stepped onto the stage, she was an ultimate professional. And as a speaker, this occurred to me: I have never seen anything less from any member of the American Funds team. From five to fifty minutes, five to five hundred audience members, they are consistently prepared, articulate and ready to rock. In a nutshell, they understand the power of impression. And, they honor that opportunity.

When I mentioned this to the presenter, she shared she had practiced the evening and morning before. For a FIVE-MINUTE presentation. She practiced. There was no winging it.

Makes me wonder what their multiple is? A five-minute presentation requires how many hours of practice? The impression left no doubt that she was a professional who respected the stage – and the audience – enough to practice, and then practice again.

Every opportunity for a first impression is powerful. From your presence, to your handshake, to your business card and beyond; all are an opportunity to be on stage. Are you going to wing it or prepare?

Happy 2020! Time to quit marketing

Confession. You don’t have to quit marketing completely, but it’s highly likely sales are crucial to your organization. So instead of thinking marketing, think sales enablement.

Sales enablement is the process of equipping your sales team with the strategic resources they need to excel, from tools to technology to content and beyond.

Sales is about making the deal, marketing’s job is to help make that effort happen. Marketing sweeps the path for sales.

How might a sales enablement plan shift your thinking about your 2020 outreach?

As an example, everyone knows follow-up is the name of the game with 80% of sales requiring five calls after the meeting, yet 44% of sales reps give up after one additional follow-up. What materials and information are you creating to assist in the sales follow-up? (No one wants a call that continues to say buy, buy, buy.)

Since your outreach is thin on the budget, why are you wasting your cherished resources on something you know does nothing to close the sale – a pretty brochure? Yes, your sales folks may say they need a brochure, perhaps they really need a one-page sell sheet and a simple and informative white paper instead (to help with follow up). Even better, this information can be repurposed into an educational presentation, website lead magnet, contributed content to an industry newsletter and more.

If cold calling is mostly dead, warm calling is where it’s at. In fact, 89% of top performing sales people say online networking platforms are growing in importance as a way to warm up calls and enable sales. This means your social selling efforts must be intentional and focused. Map out ways to stay top of mind.

Finally, this article is packed with statistics and ideas on selling smarter in 2020 – such as on average, sales people made far more calls in the last month of the quarter than the first two. Idea: Front load your outreach efforts to land in the first two months of the quarter, and possibly find space above the noise.

Cheers to the New Year and your sales enablement success.