Who better to forecast where technology is headed than the man who created the first Apple computers?
"We're going to be living in a world where our voices can operate all technology," Steve Wozniak, one of the founders of Apple and the man often credited with founding the personal computer expansion in the 1980s, told a standing-room-only audience at the ASI Show in Orlando in early January. "This will make technology more accessible to more demographics, and it will make it all much easier to use. That's the point of technology – to improve our lives and make simple tasks more efficient. We'll be seeing a lot of that through mobile devices and the interconnected home – everything will be WiFi enabled and consumers will operate nearly everything in their homes via the Internet. It's not far away now."
In the keynote speech of the show, Wozniak shared his vision for the future of technology and provided some advice for budding entrepreneurs. He also took a bit of a wistful walk down memory lane, as he recounted his early days of creating Apple's first personal computers, which changed computing forever.
"Computers were in my soul; there were no books about them, so I was self-taught," said Wozniak, during his Q&A format keynote session, which was moderated by Tim Andrews, ASI's president and CEO. "I was such a geek, I had no chance for a girlfriend or a wife or parties, so I came home at night and designed stuff."
In the session, which took place on the last morning of ASI Orlando, Wozniak also provided some technology predictions for the future. He told the audience that he expects tech items and accessories to begin to operate solely at the direction of people's voices. And, he can foresee a time when cars drive themselves and people's homes are so connected that homeowners can talk to turn lights on and lock doors.
"Now, you see people speaking into their phone like it's their friend," said Wozniak. "I like that we can speak to computers in a human way. Maybe we won't make machines conscious. If we do, I really hope they take good care of us."
Create a Sales Game Plan
While Wozniak set the tone of the ASI Show in Orlando with some predictions for the future in his keynote speech, the education sessions at the show provided attendees with some concrete strategies for succeeding in business today.
According to ASI Orlando Education Day speaker Lisa Peskin, the best thing you can do right now to prepare your business for growth and success is to develop a well-defined selling game plan. "You don't want to wing it every day," she said during her session. "Successful people make a plan and stay committed to it."
Peskin, CEO of consultancy Business Development University, believes every plan should start with a close look at how you spend each day now. If you're simply answering emails every morning, you're likely losing valuable time that's better spent on marketing, prospecting or meeting with clients. "You need to prioritize properly and eliminate the non-productive parts of your day," she said. "Then, you should try hard to cluster your activities. Maybe that's sitting down and not getting up until you've made 30 phone calls or set up two appointments."
Also in her session, titled "Develop a Highly Effective Sales Game Plan," Peskin emphasized the importance of goal-setting in business strategy. She thinks using the S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timed) system gives salespeople a strong benchmark for continued improvement. "You can have a 30-day, 60-day and 90-day plan with clear goals," said Peskin.
Additionally, one of the many benefits of game-planning, according to Peskin, is the boost of confidence you gain from having targets and a method to win them over. "You'll find you're going after better, higher margin and higher profit deals," she said. "A rich pipeline makes you a lion, but a poor pipeline makes you a coward."
She Knows What You're Thinking
In addition to having a good plan for your company's selling approach, it's also vital for salespeople to be able to accurately read the body language of their clients.
During her Education Day session, "The Power of Body Language: Discover What Your Clients Aren't Telling You," Dr. Lillian Glass dispelled various myths about what you and your client's body language conveys. While the command of "look directly into your client's eyes" has been drummed into many a salesperson's head, that is flat-out wrong. "Unless you are madly in love with each other," the body language expert said, "don't do it."
Rather, make total face contact: two seconds on the eyes, two seconds on the nose and two on the mouth. This establishes a nonthreatening connection.
Another myth dispelled: Do not mirror your client or prospect. "It's a turn-off," Glass said. "People are hip to it."
Glass engaged the audience in several interactive demonstrations to illustrate good body language vs. off-putting body language. Good: a palm-to-palm handshake; bad: leaning away from you. "He's not into you," she said.
Build a Stellar Sales Team
With a good plan and the understanding of nonverbal clues that clients give to salespeople, companies are well on their way to finding sales success. One more step: having managers who assist in the effort to building winning sales teams.
In fact, according to Peskin, sales managers should have a one-line job description: "Help their direct reports to be as successful as possible," she said during her session, "Sales Superstars: Get the Most Out of Your Team." "The challenge is to learn to manage people differently, along with teaching them tactics to help them increase their close rates."
Here are of Peskin's tips for helping your salespeople to perform at their highest potential:
- Encourage them to network. "If your salespeople make networking part of their sales game plan, it'll help them create strategic alliances," said Peskin, who explained that if a salesperson aligns herself with five to 10 key contacts who can refer business to her on a consistent basis, her close rate will be much higher. "You need to be constantly networking to increase your sales and make more money."
- Know what motivates your team. "What gets your salespeople out of bed in the morning?" Peskin asked. "It could be any number of things, from being number one, to making money, achieving a better quality of life, to getting a promotion or any combination of these." The point is that a good sales manager can't treat all salespeople the same, and learning what motivates each is the key to helping each team member perform better. Another tactic for managers to use is the stop-start-continue process, where you ask salespeople to tell you "what you should stop doing, what you should start doing and what you should continue doing" to help them be more successful, Peskin said.
- Help your salespeople build a rich pipeline. "Repeat business, additional business and new business are the three parts of a full pipeline," said Peskin. "Show your salespeople how to mine existing clients to increase their spending with your company."
- Teach your team to stop cold calling. "One way to never have to cold call again is to have a reason for calling," said Peskin, who cited a referral as the easiest way to call a prospect. "Another way is to call a restaurant, for example, and say that you can help them with their marketing needs since you have helped other local restaurants increase their business. The key is to talk to a client about how your products and services can help grow their business."
Findability Formula: Master Search-Engine Marketing
Education Day sessions at ASI Orlando also focused on growing business through specific marketing tactics. When building a website, one cannot have a Field-of-Dreams approach. Just because you build it does not mean "they will come." Rather, to increase your ability to draw visitors to your site, Heather Lutze of Findability University says you need to have a strategy that requires knowing how search engines work and understanding how your customers search.
Consider the search engine to be a huge online library where all things on the Internet are indexed taking into consideration the site's title, headline, body, links and images. "Google's job is to parse everything on your page and put it in the library," Lutze said.
So, tagging your home page as "home" is a waste of time if you're looking to climb Google rankings. You should name it specifically how you want clients to find you. "Speak like you want your website to be findable," she said. "Until you get clear as to what that phrase is, you're unfindable."
In order to find what people are actually searching, you can use tools like spyfu.com or adwords.google.com. There, you want to look which words are often searched and what the competition for those words is. You want words with 500 searches and low competition. And, when you add images to your site, change the file name from what the camera assigned it to something specific. For example, a picture of a custom calendar should be "customcalendar.jpg" instead of "DN2344.jpg." By finding the right keywords and adding more links and images, you have a better chance of getting people to your site. Because, as Lutze asked, what does it really cost your business to be invisible?