Review: The Art of Sales - Toronto 2015

 
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For sales professionals looking to kick off the year with a powerful dose of inspiration and sales savvy, the decision to attend The Art of Sales was a nobrainer. A fast-paced and engaging day, the hundreds in attendance learned about the advantages of UnMarketing, the power of choosing to “do less, but better,” and how not to sink the sale with jarring body language. Guided by the wit and spot-on observations from Master of Ceremonies, Ron Tite, The Art of Sales offered a fantastic day of inspiration and thought leadership everyone, which I captured with my trusty sketchbook and markers. The kickoff speaker was Scott Stratten, UnMarketing guru and author of great books including his latest UnSelling and the intriguingly-titled, QR Codes Kill Kittens . He stressed how your customer’s experience of you IS your brand, and it is only as good as their most recent or worst experience with your company. His story about a young boy’s heartbreak about losing his beloved stuffed animal “Joshie” at the Ritz-Carlton made his point clear. The hotel rose to the occasion and went beyond any employee training manuals. Ritz-Carlton created a photo essay of Joshie’s antics at his extended hotel stay, complete with photos of Joshie poolside, at the spa and in the bar. People readily share the emotional impact of their experience with you – so best be sure it’s a positive and engaging one! 

The second keynote speaker was Greg McKeown, consultant, author and Essentialism advocate. He cautioned the audience that our culture’s perpetual pursuit of “more” can easily become a barrier to continued success. In a world where we feel pressure to multi-task and do more, McKeown’s advice to pare back to what’s important and that success comes when we “do less, but better” felt like a refreshing change in perspective. 

Jackie Huba then led an engaging talk about the lessons marketers and sales people can learn from Lady Gaga. A huge Gaga fan (or “little monster” as they call themselves), Huba studied what the musical artistic superstar has done to create such a loyal and devoted fanbase. Huba shared that Gaga’s choice to focus her time, energy and resources on the “one-percenters” of her fans who are the most engaged and leading with her values has been critical to her success. It also has assured Gaga a ready-to-go, built-in sales force prepared to get the word out when she starts something new. Case in point: Gaga’s recent hugely successful perfume, Fame, sold over 6 million units in the first week of release alone! You don’t need to be a rockstar to see the value of these principles in building strong and lasting relationships with your clients. 

Customer experience design maestro, Joey Coleman, really drove home how the first 100 days of your customer’s experience after their purchase are critical. Often we think of sales as being about getting that next new client, but Coleman showed how even a small improvement in retaining existing clients can make a big difference to your bottom line. In every stage of the customer life cycle, there are opportunities to create a powerful experience that will not just keep your clients coming back, but help drive more sales down the road. 

Duct Tape Marketing expert and author, John Jantsch, took the stage next and shared about how the customer journey has changed. No longer strictly a linear process, there is huge value in sales being involved earlier in the client cultivation process, and staying involved post-sales as an advocate. With customers better able to research and find alternatives on their own, most purchase decisions are made before a conversation with the salesperson even happens. The more you can connect, teach and provide insight to your customers, the more you’ll be able to build your authority with them. 

The final speaker of the day was body language and communication expert, Mark Bowden. Sharing the latest findings from brain science, he explained how body language can either help or hinder your ability to build trust. My jaw dropped when he demonstrated from the stage how simply holding his hands in a slightly different position radically impacted whether we was trustworthy or not. You might have the right words, but if your body is sending a different message you’re sunk. It was a fascinating and important angle on the sales conversation, and Bowden got the audience practicing with one another to get a feel for how his principles impact our voice, tone, and credibility

Master of Ceremonies, Ron Tite, kept the flow going and rounded out the day by sharing his key “pearls of wisdom” that he got from each speaker. Offered with both humour and great insight, Ron’s event wrap-up was a great way to underscore some of the key lessons of the day, and reaffirm the huge value and learning there was in this year’s The Art of Sales event. A big theme of all the speakers was that successful sales isn’t just about hitting the numbers. It’s about building meaningful experiences and relationships with your clients. In my opinion, this event demonstrates that the folks at The Art Of don’t just talk the talk. They walk the walk by creating top-notch events like The Art of Sales that deliver cutting edge information and tools to their clients.

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