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The Art of Sales Toronto is a one day conference geared at entrepreneurs and marketing professionals featuring five best selling authors and visionaries who share their creative thoughts, ideas, tactics and lessons based on todays most pressing marketing and sales issues. In the past I have attended The Art of Marketing in Montreal and in Toronto, two amazing events with exceptional speakers that left me wanting more. This instalment of the Art of Sales boasts another expert lineup of speakers including entrepreneur and personal branding expert Barbara Corcoran, marketing pioneer Seth Godin, relationship building guru Keith Ferrazzi, persuasion and influence specialist Sally Hogshead and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream co-founder Jerry Greenfield.

Thinking about this impressive and diverse lineup on my train ride into Toronto excites me, and I begin reading Seth Godin’s The Purple Cow for the second time in anticipation.

I arrive at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre shortly after 8am on this cold Tuesday morning to find hundreds of other marketers and salespeople eager to begin the day’s events. First up, Barbara Corcoran to talk about Sales Success and Personal Branding.

Barbara Corcoran

Real estate mogul and super sales woman Barbarara Corcoran takes the stage in a full yellow outfit, dancing Ellen style. Her energy gets the early morning crowd excited. Her topic of the day: Personal Branding. As she tells us her life story of New Jersey rags to New York City riches, Corcoran offers advice and lessons along the way. First, she stresses that perception creates reality. If you create the perception of success, and are confident with it, it will become a reality. Lesson 2 from Corcoran was that everybody wants what everybody else wants. Create demand, limit supply, and increase the price. Speaking like a true saleswoman. Next she tells us that you should always expand before you’re ready. It will act as a motivator for you to grow and succeed. She follows this by ruthlessly advising us to “Shoot the dogs early”. Give you employees clear objectives, provide support and then review after 3 months – and then cut the bottom 25%. “Complainers are toxic” she warns “They can bring down a whole team of positive leaders. Find them, and get rid of them.” Her next tip: know your strengths and your weaknesses – and then find someone who is amazing at all the things you’re bad at. She continues by discussing how competition and personal recognition are better motivators than money. Don’t grind your employees down too much. Hard work and competition is important, but fun is vital. Ensure that you foster a fun environment for your employees because fun leads to relaxation and relaxation leads to creativity.

Seth Godin

Next up is one of my favourite authors, speakers, bloggers and marketers: Seth Godin. To be honest, I consider the man a genius. Godin begins by talking about the great salesmen of our generation – Zig Zigglar, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and even Don Draper. He says that guys like this changed how we sell. Sales used to be about 3 things: The transfer of information, transfer of brand and transfer of emotion. Today, we have the Internet. 80% of people that walk into a car dealership already know everything they want to know about a car. Transfer of information is no longer the duty of the salesperson. Neither is the transfer of brand. In a world where more is better, consumers are flooded with products. Have you developed an emotional attachment with your customers? If one day your product disappeared, would they notice? The record industry used to be perfect. Today there are more people listening to more music than ever before, but the industry is dying. We are seeing a revolution as big as we have ever seen before. Interruption marketing is done, today it is all about permission marketing. Are people expecting you message? Or are you springing it upon them?

Godin continues by delving into his well-known theory of Tribes. People like doing things with others. They don’t like to be average, but they also don’t like to be alone. Nike invented this theory of “tribes”. Before Nike, the long distance runner didn’t exist, really. But today there are literally millions of them. “The Beatles didn’t invent teenagers, they just showed up to lead them.” Godin says.”They did so by creating something new, something different. By creating art.” There are people out there waiting for you to lead them. Are you being boring? Are you following a script, or are you making your own map? Are you being an artist? “What is your Sgt Pepper?” Godin asks, referring to The Beatles.

In an online world, competence is no longer a scarce commodity. We all have access to the same information. For decades our education system has trained students to memorize. We have lost the ability to solve interesting problems. Go figure out something that no one has figured out before. People say that “failure is not an option” becuase they are afraid of it. By failing, you learn and get better at what you do. Don’t be afraid to take a chance on something.

“In times of radical change, the only people that win are the ones that are willing to do revolutionary acts” Godin says “What we need is for you to lead us. I hope you’ll do that.”

As always, Godin was thought provoking, motivating and inspirational. I highly recommend you go see him speak if given the opportunity, or read any one of his amazing best-sellers.

Keith Ferrazzi

Keith Ferrazzi is an expert in the field of building, and foster relationships and using them effectively. His outgoing nature and positivity captivates the crowd. He begins by talking about our reptilian brain, the part fo the human brains where fear comes from. The part that tells us we are not good enough or that we are going to fail. In today’s world, you are no longer selling a product – you are selling solutions to problems. Build your relationships early, and often. Ferrazzi praises tools such as LinkedIn to do so. Ferrazzi asks the crowd “Who has a to-do list?” Virtually everyone. “Okay, now who has a Personal Relationship list?” No one. Ferrzzi explains that you should keep a list of 5-10 people that you want to meet or get to know at all times.

Keith goes on to share with us his list of 7 missions to master relationships.

  • Mission 1: Always ask who, no matter what the goal
  • Mission 2: Prioritize your relationships. Are they very close to you, acquaintances, tarnished relationships? How can you leverage them?
  • Mission 3: Expand your currency and do your homework. Make a connection right off the bat, and move forward from there.
  • Mission 4: Skip over your prejudgement of people and find a way to care
  • Mission 5: Build, develop, foster and grow your lifelong relationshi[ps
  • Mission 6: Build your brand using Social tools such as LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Mission 7: Lead with generosity – sometimes the pinnacle of generosity is letting someone else help you.
Ferrazzi finishes with some simple advice “Never be afraid to ask, the worst thing anyone can ever say is no.”

Sally Hogshead

Sally is another positive upbeat presenter who captivated, and most importantly fascinated the crowd. And that’s what Sally spoke about – being fascinating. She explains that it is something that you are born with, not something you learn. You simply have to unlearn being boring. Your brain is hardwired to fascinate, and is hardwired to be fascinated. Fascination requires an intense emotional focus. It doesn’t matter that you are the best at something, if nobody notices you, if you are not fascinating them, then no one will care. The Internet has diminished our attention span as humans from about 2 minutes to 9 seconds. “Yes, we are all goldfish” she jokes. So that means that you have 9 seconds to make an impact, to be fascinating. “In marketing, stand out or don’t bother” she exclaims. “Boring messages just don’t waste money, but they hurt your brand. You can either innovate, or you can be comfortable. You can’t do both.”

Hogshead then delves into the seven ways that you can captivate and fascinate someone.

  1. Power is all about authority and control
  2. Passion is about connecting through emotion
  3. Mystique is about arousing curiosity
  4. Prestige is about increasing respect
  5. Alarm is about highlighting the negatives by creating urgency
  6. Rebellion is about taking the status quo, and turning it to find a different way to interpret the facts
  7. Trust operates differently than the other six becuase they can be performed instantly, but trust takes time and effort and care.
Hogshead closes with some wise words “In a competitive environment, the fascinating option always wins.”

Jerry Greenfield
The final speaker fo the day was Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream co-founder Jerry Greenfield. Mr. Greenfield, a very pleasant and soft spoken man, told the story of how he and his old friend Ben stumbled into the Ice Cream business, and the challenges they faced along the way. The two rebellious non-students loved food and found a niche in the college town of Burlington Vermont. An admitted “hippy”, Greenfield discussed their strategy and emotions as they became businessmen, something that they despised growing up. They didn’t want to become just another cog in the economic machine. That’s where Ben and Jerry’s corporate responsibility came in. “We’re not about making money for ourselves” Greenfield says “Yes we have been successful, but we made the most effort to share that success with our community.

Greenfield tells a charming story that ended up defining the Ice Cream company in today’s society. When they will still relatively small in the mid-1970s, Ben and Jerry’s had just been picked up by a few larger distributers in New England. One day their largest distributer came to them with some grim news. Pillsbury, who owned Haagen Dazs (the world’s largest ice cream brand) told them that if they did not stop carrying Ben and Jerry’s that they would drop them. Fiscally, the distributer had to listen to Pillsbury, despite the fact that they loved Ben and Jerry’s. The team laughed at this, and wondered why this food giant was scared of two hippies out of Vermont, and in true hippy form they protested. They started a campaign called “What is the Dough Boy Afraid of?. They printed this on tshirts which they sold for $10 a piece, on their ice cream containers, flew it behind banner planes, etc. It became somewhat of a viral campaign, similar to Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?” It proved wildly successful and eventually Haagen Dazs backed down. Greenfield says that was the moment they knew that they were doing something special. Make an amazing product, put your face on it, support your community and be transparent. That is how you become successful.

All in all it was a great day full of inspiration and takeaways. I left The Art of Sales with many questions and thoughts as I walked into the cold Toronto streets. I’m looking forward to applying many of these skills and tactics as well as reading all of the amazing books published by these accomplished authors.