Award-winning business owner and serial entrepreneur, Boyd Parker, argues that employment is no longer the stable career choice it once was. Here, the award-winning entrepreneur claims that entrepreneurship is now a more stable prospect.Continue reading “Entrepreneurship is a more stable career choice argues Boyd Parker”
‘Goals are dreams with deadlines. To turn your dream into a reality, you must set goals,’declared the business owner as he opened a company-wide virtual workshop this past week in Kent.Continue reading “Boyd Parker talks ‘goal setting’ during virtual workshop”
When chaos and uncertainty strike on a global level, it is more important than ever to practice positive thinking. It’s something I practice not only in my personal life but also in my business.Continue reading “Learning in Times of Crisis”
“One of my friends asked “Why do you pay so much money for your children to do all their sports”?
Well I have a confession to make; I don’t pay for my kids to to do sports. Personally, I couldn’t care less about what sport they do.
So, if I am not paying for sports what am I paying for?
– I pay for those moments when my kids become so tired they want to quit but don’t.
– I pay for those days when my kids come home from school and are “too tired” to go to their training but they go anyway.
– I pay for my kids to learn to be disciplined, focused and dedicated.
– I pay for my kids to learn to take care of their body and equipment.
– I pay for my kids to learn to work with others and to be good team mates, gracious in defeat and humble in success.
– I pay for my kids to learn to deal with disappointment, when they don’t get that placing or title they’d hoped for, but still they go back week after week giving it their best shot.
– I pay for my kids to learn to make and accomplish goals.
– I pay for my kids to respect, not only themselves, but other riders, officials and coaches.
– I pay for my kids to learn that it takes hours and hours, years and years of hard work and practice to create a champion and that success does not happen overnight.
– I pay for my kids to be proud of small achievements, and to work towards long term goals.
– I pay for the opportunity my kids have and will have to make life-long friendships, create lifelong memories, to be as proud of their achievements as I am.
– I pay so that my kids can be out on their feet instead of in front of a screen…
…I could go on but, to be short, I don’t pay for sports; I pay for the opportunities that sports provides my kids with to develop attributes that will serve them well throughout their lives and give them the opportunity to bless the lives of others. From what I have seen so far I think it is a great investment!”
“Self investments have the longest and largest rewards” I pay so my children learn to always invest in themselves and never settle for what they can have now over what they truly want.
I recently read a Forbes article by Gillian Zoe Segal, the author of “Getting There: A book of mentors” Which resonated with me. The message was powerful and straight forward. In her personal opinion (which I wholeheartedly agree with), Stop and think before you or let’s be honest, your parents invest a vast amount of money in a university business education. She states that another practical option would be to consider investing your time acquiring door to door sales skills, as the numerous successful businessmen and woman did before you.
When Gillian Zoe Segal researched her book, she discovered after speaking to 30 leaders in a broad range of fields. Each of them credited early sales jobs for equipping them with the skills which they needed for their ultimate success. In her research, she spoke with John Paul Dejoria, the co-founder of the Patrón Spirits Company and John Paul Mitchell Systems. Whilst he reflected that those three years selling Collier’s Encyclopaedia was one of the most formative experiences of his life.
“If that job existed today,” he said, “I would make every one of my kids do it.” DeJoria, as a residential direct sales representative, would travel persuading strangers to buy a set of encyclopedias. This compelled him to both hones his powers of persuasion and overcame rejection. “After you’ve had 15 doors slammed in your face,” he explained, “you need to be as enthusiastic at door number 16 as you were at the first door if you want to make a sale.” When DeJoria launched John Paul Mitchell Systems, he was able to utilise the same set of skills, going from beauty salon to beauty salon getting people to purchase his hair care products. In the article, Zoe Segal explained how Dejoria was turned down by four out of the five salons, but due to his direct sales residential experience, he had acquired a determination to succeed and not let previous rejection stop him from pursuing that yes he needed.
Zoe Segal found a comparison when speaking with the billionaire founder of the shapewear company Spanx, Sara Blakely. Whom also attributed her business success due to the sales skills she learned in the eight years working for a company that sold fax machines door-to-door. Sara Blakely recalled, “I would wake up in the morning and drive around cold-calling from eight until five. Most doors were slammed in my face. I saw my business card ripped up at least once a week, and I even had a few
police escorts out of buildings. It wasn’t long before I grew immune to the word ‘no.'” When she started Spanx, she needed to find someone to make a prototype of her product, and she began by telephoning local hosiery mills. Without exception, they turned her down. So she drew on a lesson she had learned from cold-calling: Face-to-face makes a huge difference. She took a week off of work and drove around North Carolina, popping by many of the same mills that had already rejected her on the phone. She sat in the lobby and waited to speak to the founder or owner.
It eventually worked, and the Spanx prototype was born. Reading the article, it’s clear that residential direct sales don’t just teach you a set of skills to persuade someone that your product is worth buying, its a life-changing lesson. It transforms who you are. You become resilient. Through perseverance, you grow in strength; no isn’t rejection; it’s a challenge to overcome.
From cold-calling, Sara Blakely also learned that you have about 15 seconds to capture someone’s attention. However, if you can make them smile or laugh, you may have an extra 15 to 30 seconds. Through her residential sales experience, Sara Blakely’s personality developed. She had no choice but to be charismatic and confident to the point that she was funny. This allowed her to win in later life. With no money to grab people’s attention the conventional way, through advertising, she decided to infuse her product with humor wherever she could, from naming it Spanx to writing “We’ve got your butt covered!” on the package. She ended up turning Spanx into something people love to joke about, creating free advertising through humour, its mention even on the Oprah Winfrey show!
Before reading Zoe Segal’s book and indeed her article I hadn’t even considered that Models also work in direct sales, in fact after reading Zoe Segal’s book I realise that models more so than any of us a subject to rejection, and it’s actually personal. Companies are not rejecting a product they are in fact scrutinising you and then in turn rejecting how you look. Zoe Segal discusses how during her early modelling years, Kathy Ireland sold herself door-to-door. She explained, “Back then, agencies would send models on ‘go-sees’ to get jobs. The people in charge of hiring would look us up and down and dissect us right in front of our faces. I was rejected a lot. It hurt at first, but I soon learned that it was just part of the process.” She eventually became a successful Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, but as she got older, she wanted to pursue a career that was not dependent on her looks. After years of failing with various start-ups (a microbrewery, a skin-care line, and several art projects), she finally launched her own brand, Kathy Ireland Worldwide, with a line of socks. It is now a $2 billion enterprise with its name on more than 15,000 products. Ireland frequently advises others, “If you never fail, it means you are not trying hard enough.”
In Writing her book, Zoe Segal explains that what she learned was that in any field, success depends on persistence, being open to failure, and inspiring others to follow your ideas. The success stories of John Paul Dejoria, Sarah Blakley, and Kathy Ireland are just a few of the many examples that are a testament to this. She suggests that there is no better way to acquire these essential traits than through the process of residential direct sales.
Who knows where that could lead you.
I would also recommend you take the time to read Gillian Zoe Segal, book “Getting There: A book of mentors”
People often view sales skills negatively, but they are actually about good communication, which is a vital tool to use in whatever career you choose.
When business owner Boyd Parker was asked what skill most contributed to his success as a CEO, he replied without hesitation that it was sales ability.
He believes that success is limited without sales skills, explaining that too many people view sales negatively as manipulation and pressuring the vulnerable; they imagine the stereotypical image of the window salesman, who convinces people that they should spend thousands on windows whilst refusing to leave their property.
But Parker sees sales ability as actually being about communication, explaining the logic and benefits of a decision. Surely everyone needs these life skills generally? In business, they are critical. Whether you call it sales skills or communication skills, Parker believes working in sales will teach you more communication skills than any other discipline.
A direct sales role will stand you in good stead for any future career. Parker stressed the importance of negotiation and how salespeople learn to listen, evaluate variables, identify key drivers, overcome objections, and find solutions. Rejection is hard, but you have to learn to accept it as sometimes it is inevitable. Salespeople hear the word “no” continuously, but learn to see it as a challenge to overcome.
In Parker’s experience, the greatest reward for learning and teaching sales skills was gaining confidence, not just for yourself but seeing timid, reserved people, transform into self-assured, confident men and women.
If you want to forward your career, then get a job in sales and learn a great transferable skill that will set you up for life, whether you plan to run your own business or work for others.
Being a business owner is tough. There are often times when I, Boyd Parker, needed to admit to myself that I needed help in getting to the next stage of my business. But there’s one thing that, no matter the stage of business you’re at, you need to understand inside and out: sales!
On the surface hiring a sales consultant seems like the easy solution to all your problems. You’ve heard the sales consultant’s pitch, you’re sold, and they appear like they can sort out every challenge that you’re currently facing. T
he first day everything seems great but as the weeks drag on and on you’re not seeing any changes, and still paying (what seems like an exorbitant amount) for seemingly nothing.
So what went wrong?
Today, we’re going to look at how you can save time and money hiring the right sales consultant by revealing what most “sales consultants” will never admit.
1. Sales Consultants are Only Guessing about What Will Work
As a sales consultant, I, Boyd Parker, needed to make a judgement about my business based on the knowledge I had in front of me. It’s important to think of a business as a machine, full of moving parts that all need to work together in order to create the results you’re looking for.
The best results are found through experimentation, figuring out what works best for you and your team, your market, and your company culture. It’s worth noting that the sales consultant that you choose to hire should have experience:
- In your market
- With your business model (e.g. subscription, service, product)
- With companies of a similar size
However, at the end of the day any strategy that they suggest is just a guess based on the information that you’ve given them. The best sales consultants will constantly test different techniques, strategies, and tactics and then double-down on the one that gets the best results.
For example, the way you stand out in your market may be a unique approach to how your business sells itself. Take Apple as an example, their sales strategy primarily comes down to them selling their products as luxury fashion accessories rather than a handheld computer. Now other brands are trying to copy that strategy.
That wouldn’t have happened if Apple hadn’t experimented with their sales strategy and asked better questions about their market and what would make them stand out.
Beware of hiring a sales consultant that appears to know exactly what your business needs instantly. Consultancy isn’t about a one-size-fits-all approach. It needs to provide an effective solution that is simple to implement within your specific organisation.
2. Sales Consultancy ISN’T about Sales (sometimes)
Sales is the driving force of a business. Without an effective sales strategy, I, Boyd Parker, didn’t have a business. However, sales is just one aspect of a business that all the others feed into. Great sales consultants need to understand how all aspects of a business works in order to do their job effectively.
For example, if hiring a sales consultant increased sales by 24% could the business fulfil the increase in orders? Similarly, what would happen if the margins on the “Cost of Goods Sold” (COGS) increased due to the changes you would need to make based on that increase in orders?
In reality, you’re probably reading this to increase profit and there is a multitude of ways of doing that.
A great sales consultant will be able to spot a number of strategies that will increase the profit of your business. One of my mentees was struggling with their business and not getting the revenue that they were looking for. They told me, “We need to get more leads so that we can sell more products”.
However, when I looked at their business I found that they had all the leads that they needed; their biggest problem was converting those leads into paying customers. What it boiled down to was my mentee not spending enough time training his team on converting the leads into paying customers. So instead of working with him on his sales strategy, we worked together on improving the quality of the training he provided to his team.
Whilst I market myself as a “Sales Consultant,” in that business I was more of a “Training Consultant”. My mentee got the results he was looking for, just not in the way he was expecting.
Even if your objective is “sell more” there are a load of strategies you can use that may seem unrelated to sales. When hiring a sales consultant we need to figure out what else they can bring to the table, other than being a great sales person.
3. Sales is just one piece of the puzzle
So we come to the hardest confession that I need to make as a Sales Consultant…sales is just one part of the business. Having a load of sales does not mean that your business is going to be successful.
When I, Boyd Parker, talk about “sales” what I am actually talking about is the whole sales process:
- Finding people that want to buy what we sell
- Selling that thing to them
- Delivering on what we’ve sold them
- Up-selling or re-selling to them
Typically sales consultants will focus primarily on step 2 of the process but that might not be what your business needs. Whilst it feels glitzy and glamourous to focus on on-boarding new clients, you’re going to see far more profit from people that have already bought from you. This is why some many of my business mentors talk about focussing on “value”.
Not “growth,” not “scalability,” and not “profit,” but value.
Giving your clients or customers value again and again and again will lead to growth, scalability (through necessity) and profit. This is why you need to hire someone that focuses on how to provide your clients and customers more value.
A great sales consultant will be able to analyse which of the 4 steps your business needs to focus on and give you a clear, simple, and actionable strategy that will take your business in the direction you need it to go.
The Truth about Sales Consultants
Whilst we’ve looked and some truths about sales consultancy that you need to know before hiring a sales consultant, most sales consultants are trying to make a difference with your company and business. The problem is that most of them are so focussed on sales that they don’t look at the bigger picture of your business and your goals.
When hiring a sales consultant, I, Boyd Parker, had to make sure that I:
- Set clear expectations about what your business goals are and be prepared to try different approaches to reach those goals
- Understand that how you get to reach those goals may not be what you originally expected. A huge part of the value a sales consultant provides is being able to see things that you haven’t
- Ask them questions about what other skillsets they have and what they’d do in certain situations. For example, if you’re already great at getting new customers but don’t have good client retention rates
Thanks for reading, I hope that my confessions were beneficial.
Being a great leader is one of the hardest things we as entrepreneurs need to do. It takes guts, grit, and a huge amount of work to build your business to where you want it to be.
The failure rate of new businesses is astounding and whilst there are a large amount of factors that go into a successful business, there’s one that stands above all:
It’s your job as a leader to be like the captain of a ship, steering your crew toward the end-goal. This is why so many businesses fail. Not because of a lack of money, not because a lack of talent, but because we as leaders fail.
In my [insert number here] years of building businesses, I’ve made a lot of mistakes and had more than my fair share of failures. Here are the five truths of business that these mistakes and failures have taught me, Boyd Parker.
1. We Don’t Give Enough Responsibility to Our Team
When I was a younger man, I saw my role as a leader as a way to control everything. I needed things to be done MY way, and if they weren’t…well I suggested that they find someone other than Boyd Parker to work with.
This approach cost me a lot in terms of time, money, and emotional energy.
The whole reason we create teams is because we can’t do everything ourselves, and we need to delegate responsibilities to others in order to grow and scale our businesses. In order to do that we need to build our businesses processes and systems, and adapt those as the situation changes.
This means giving your team the responsibilities. In “On the Meaning of Work,” Brent D. Rosso, PhD and his team found that people are more likely to stay in, and work harder, on projects that gave them meaning. In this case it increased motivation, empowerment, and engagement.
By making your team responsible for the tasks they have and giving them freedom to work how they want within your processes (as long as they’re getting results) you and your business are going to see more success.
2. We’re Not Consistent with Our Communication Style
There are a lot of traits that make a great leader but the most important one that I, Boyd Parker, have found is communication.
If we can’t communicate properly with our team we’re not going to see the results from all the graft that we put into our businesses. A key aspect of communication is making sure that whoever is on the receiving end trusts us.
Trust is built from consistency and doing what you’ll say you’ll do.
When it comes to consistency in our communication a lot of “leaders” seem to have two sides; the nurturing mother and the authoritarian father. If your team don’t know which one to expect, it leads to a lack of trust and a decrease in motivation. This means your team is less likely to back you up when you most need them.
Imagine you’re in a relationship where every day you come home and have no idea if your partner is going to be the kindest, sweetest, most loving person or a hate-filled, rage-addled maniac. Does that give you faith in the relationship? Are you going to trust them to make good decisions? Are you going to pull out all the stops to make sure that their needs are met?
The difference between a great leader and a bad one is the same.
We need to cultivate and build great relationships with our team so that they have faith in us and the business, that they trust our decision-making process, and that they ensure all the business’s needs are met.
It doesn’t matter which communication style that you choose or comes most naturally to you. What matters is that once the expectations of your team have been set, you keep up with those expectations.
3. We’re Don’t Spend Enough Time on Really Getting to Know People
Great leaders want to get to know who they’re working with so that they can help them get to the goal that they’re working towards. You need to have focussed conversations with your team to understand exactly what they want, and (more importantly) how you’re going to get them there.
Poor leaders are lazy in how they incentivise their teams and make assumptions that everyone’s looking for the same thing. This is why you see so many bosses trying – and failing – to get their teams motivated by offering larger and larger bonuses. However, not everyone is money-motivated, myself included.
In my experience, there are loads of different ways to incentivise people, for me, Boyd Parker, I need more than just money:
- Some want more recognition
- Some want to learn more skills
- Some want to operate more independently
By figuring out exactly what your team wants and is driven by, providing incentives that are in-line with those desires, and coaching them on their journey, you’re going to see a huge jump in motivation, productivity, and loyalty.
4. We Don’t Communicate Effectively
If your team don’t consistently do things in the way that they need to be done…it’s time to look in the mirror. Question yourself: “Boyd Parker, as a leader, you need to accept responsibility for our team not doing the tasks correctly and figure out why they haven’t done the task properly.”
In the majority of cases it’s down to us not having communicated properly with our team. As a leader we have a huge number of responsibilities and need to communicate what needs to be done with our team quickly. However, this often leads to sloppy, vague, and confusing communication.
We need to be able to succinctly tell our team what needs to be done to avoid wasting time with back-and-forth emails, calls, and chats. Most of the leaders that I’ve mentored are worried about coming across as patronising by laying out everything they need from their team. When I talk to their teams, they enjoy how straight-forward and easy it is to understand what their boss wants.
Next time you send an email, text, or communicate in any way, take a moment and ask yourself “have I said this in the clearest way possible?”
5. We Make it About Us
No one is going to care as much about your business as you do? I understood that no one is going to work harder than Boyd Parker, and no one is going to put the same amount of emotional energy into your business as you.
And that’s the trap.
When we work hard on building something amazing we run the risk of making our business about US. We forget that what we’ve worked so hard to build can come crashing down around us if we fail our team.
Without a great team we don’t have a great business and in order to have a great team we need to be a great leader.
Being a great leader is a selfless (often thankless) task. We as leaders need to realise that being “the boss” is about finding a solution that gives our team what they want and directing them toward a common goal.
Once we stop making being a “leader” about us and focussing more on having a great team everything else will fall into place.
By honing in on your team’s wants and communicating better, you’ll get more out of your team. By building others dreams, we build our own. In order to do that, start doing these things:
- Give your team more responsibilities, set your expectations for what results they should be getting and a framework to operate from
- Think objectively about how you communicate with others and be consistent with that style. Understand what works for both you and your team by looking at different communication styles and talking to your team
- Figure out what motivates your team and help them get to where they want to be
- Be concise and make every communication you have as effective as possible. Nine times out of ten this means asking yourself “Is this the best way to communicate this?” before clicking that “send” button
- Make the success of your business about the success of your team
Thanks for reading,
One of the challenges of being your own boss and building something incredible (be it an 8-figure global business, a solid family, or just the best local 5-a-side team) is that you need to step up and be a leader.
The only problem with that is there’s no real measurement for what a “great leader” is.
You see tonnes of books, courses, and speakers that focus on the enigmatic quality of “leadership” and yet it’s one of the hardest things to judge. Similarly, in my life I’ve worked with hundreds of great leaders and the only similar thing about all of them was a “feeling” they gave me.
But that’s not good enough.
In my journey to becoming a great leader myself, I’ve dissected what made these leaders so effective and the differences to those that claimed to be “leaders”. I came to a shocking realisation:
I had to say to myself, Boyd Parker; “Great leaders don’t focus on leadership”.
Today, we’re going to look at what they focus on instead.
What it means to be a “great leader”?
There are a lot of qualities that feed into leadership; this is what feeds into your unique leadership style. That’s one of the reasons it was so difficult to figure out why the greats are so, well… great.
When thinking about leadership it’s easy to get bogged down by how focussed we are on the business-side of things. Most concepts of leadership read like the job spec of a rookie business owner looking for a CEO. But being a leader isn’t about being able to run a business, being a leader is far simpler than that:
It’s about people.
My mentor, instilled this in me. He sat me down and said: “Boyd Parker, being a leader is about allowing those that work with you to be the best versions of them and helping them reach whatever that looks like for them. Being a leader is about marshalling a load of unique skillsets, personalities, and styles to working together to achieve a common goal.”
So how do we do this? It boils down to three things:
- Be a great communicators
- Have empathy
- Motivate others
How to Be a Great Communicator
Communication is making sure that we understand what is being said to us and that what we say is being understood. Sounds basic, but you’d be surprised (or maybe not) at how many people are awful at both!
Typically, poor communication is down to assumptions made by either party about what has been said. It’s our job as a leader to ensure that we don’t make these assumptions and that we focus on ensuring we’ve properly understood what we’ve been told.
This means that we need to listen more than we talk.
We can’t rely on everyone else to be a good communicator, that’s a responsibility that we need to take on for ourselves. When someone’s telling me something, I’ll do the following:
- Repeat back to them what I think they’re trying to communicate
- Ask myself, Boyd Parker: “what’s their intention/goal here?”
- Once they’ve finished ask them “is there anything else?”
What we’re doing here is showing that we’ve understood what they’ve told us by repeating back to them what we’ve heard and given them a chance to correct us. We’ve also understood why they’ve told us this thing in the first place, and made them think if there’s anything missing.
As important as understanding is being understood. The way you communicate may be different but I try to:
- Be as concise and precise as possible
- Think before I email, speak, call someone
- Match my communication style to who I’m communicating with
Now, we could talk about communication for hours but the main point to being understood is being conscious of what you’re saying and why you’re saying it. Matching your communication style to the other person is a difficult skill to develop, and we’re going to talk about it in the next section.
How to Develop Empathy
Empathy is your ability to see something from a different perspective. We’ve all heard of the “bulldozer” style of leadership, the kind of boss that has the mentality of “my way or the highway”. Whilst that can be effective at getting things done, it creates mistrust in the people working with that “leader” and as soon as they can jump ship they will.
Being a great leader means that your team trusts you completely and will strive to be the best team player that they can be, I need every team member to feel enough trust in Boyd Parker that they come directly to me before anyone else with any given problem or negative. Being a great leader means that you’ll have less problems to deal with because your team tells you about them, instead of hiding them from you because they fear you. Being a great leader means that you have a team that backs your decisions 100% because they believe in you.
And all that comes from empathy.
But it’s not an easy skill to develop.
When it comes to building empathy the best way is to start questioning yourself and look at your own biases. If you’re serious about becoming a great leader answer the following questions for yourself:
- What are the positive sides of the political party that your beliefs are in opposition of?
- Think back to a recent argument with a loved one, why we’re they annoyed at you and what would you have done differently?
- Think of any challenge that you’ve faced and solved in your life, what are some other solutions?
The first step to empathy is to practice being humble. By seeing something from another person’s perspective we gain a better understanding of who they are, how they like to be communicated with, and – most importantly – how best to motivate them!
How to Motivate Your Team to Action
When it comes to effective motivation empathy plays a huge role, we need to understand what our team/clients/market wants and why they want it. A carrot is only a good incentive for a donkey. Different things motivate different people, and the majority of people are motivated by one or more of the following:
Now that you know that, motivating your team is as simple as figuring out which of those things they are working toward.
For example, in one of your team is constantly talking about their family and how they love spending time with them, a monetary bonus may not be the best way to motivate them. Instead, we could motivate them by giving them more time-off, paying for a cool experience that they can do with their family, or another family-orientated activity.
The easiest way to figure out what motivates people is to simply ask them. That is what my mentor did for me. He discovered what motivated Boyd Parker.
However, we need to make sure that we’re asking them to compare to the options in their head, so instead of “Would you like A?” We need to ask, “Would you like A or B?”
This is just step one, what we’re looking for is to understand what they really want. If we can help them get closer to their goal then we’ve earned their loyalty, trust, and they’re going to work harder for us because that means they get closer to their goal.
Want to Be a Great Leader?
This is just an overview of what it means to be a great leader. Naturally, we could discuss what goes into these techniques and develop them further. Being a great leader is a continual learning experience, because ultimately you lead by example. If your team sees you constantly striving to be a better a leader and understand that you’re doing to make their lives better, they’re going to strive to be a better team for you.
And it all comes down to working on three things:
- Communication: Both being understood and seeking to understand what is being said and why it’s being said
- Empathy: Seeing situations from other perspectives that you haven’t thought of. This is crucial in understanding what motivates your team and how best to communicate with them
- Motivation: We are all motivated by different things. It seems obvious, but the majority of leaders use a “one-size fits all” when it comes to incentives. Once we figure out what our team really wants we can help reach it and they’ll motivate themselves
The trap of “leadership” is looking too much at what we need and our objectives. Your job as a leader is to build a team and work with that team to achieve and end goal. It was never just about Boyd Parker. I realised that being a great leader meant putting other people’s goals before mine.
Nate Chai interviews CEO Boyd Parker on what makes a Salesperson Great.