As a Google Premier Partner, Aira gets invited to events at the Google offices every once in a while. Recently, myself and the account management team were invited to a training day called Sales Masters. The agenda didn’t give too much away, other than saying we’d be learning sales philosophy and principles.
Always keen to learn, our little team travelled into London to the swish Google offices at Kings Cross, and with our brains ready and bellies full (Google put on a great breakfast), we were introduced to our speaker for the day – Robert Craven.
Robert began by saying the day would involve us actually speaking and interacting with each other, and by that, he meant the room full of strangers, not just the immediate teams we came in with – cue awkward smiles and shuffles around the room. But as I’ll get on to, the day was super rewarding – throwing yourself into the activities enabled you to get the most out of it. We learnt techniques that will be a massive help in improving the way we can best service our clients, which is something we are always striving to do the best we possibly can.
We began by running through Robert’s top sales principles. They were all really good points, but there were a couple that really stood out to me:
A practice that was developed by Kim Scott – this is the ability to challenge directly and show you care personally at the same time.
The theory is that if you are honest and say what you think while caring about the person you’re saying it to – it will help you to do the best work and build the best relationships, something that is super relevant being an account manager.
The below diagram shows where this sits on a scale, compared to ‘Obnoxious Aggression’ or ‘Ruinous Empathy’ and it’s a valuable process to learn – you can read more about it here.
Practice hunting mammoths or elephants
Not literally of course! This refers to not going after the easier or smaller goals, but setting yourself challenges to push your limits for a larger reward, as this essentially is where your future lies.
The next section was all about elevator pitches. Robert first asked us to call ourselves on our own mobile and leave a voicemail running through our pitch of what value we could offer to a potential client.
We weren’t allowed any time to prep anything, we just had to call and run through our pitches and leave it at that. After, Robert asked us how we felt doing that. Many of us said we felt a bit discombobulated, or that our pitch was quite rambling, because we didn’t have time to think about it beforehand.
He then gave us some pointers on how to do an exemplary elevator pitch:
- Keep it short
- Make sure it’s non-technical
- Include numbers
- Make it relevant to your audience
We then had another go at doing our pitches – this time we got into pairs and filmed each other on our phones delivering the pitch. Although I felt a teeny bit awkward at first, it was really useful to watch. Using Robert’s advice, my pitch was a LOT shorter, more concise and relevant, compared to the voicemail I’d left myself earlier (I listened to it later that evening and that was cringeworthy!)
Post lunch, we got into groups and Robert asked us to think of a question which is a common problem or blocker we encounter in our jobs. E.g. ‘How do I tackle…?’
We then had to nominate one person to pose the question to the rest of our group and ask questions to really dig down into the issue and how it was affecting performance. Following this, we worked out solutions as a group, starting our replies with ‘If I were you I would…’.
The whole exercise was really beneficial as we were teamed up with people from other agencies. Learning their approaches to overcoming problems, which were different to our own, enabled us to share ideas together. We then went around the room and listened to each group’s problem and solutions and got to ask further questions to the various groups too.
There were lots of other useful points we covered along the way, and we left with heads full of ideas of how we could apply the practices learnt into our current strategies, and what we could change to improve. In our team, we each took ownership of a takeaway we got from the day and set a date we’d have it completed by. All in all, a good day’s work!
What I learnt…
Practice, practice, practice. Nothing will ever be amazing the first time you do it, but after having some guidance and then going again (and again) the difference from the first pitch compared to the third was incredible!
Share more and learn from people like you – we were in a room that was (mainly) full of other agencies, so essentially, our competitors. People could have been guarded about what techniques they use in their companies, but everyone I spoke to was open and ready to share, so likewise, we were too.
Don’t worry so much! When we were told at the beginning of the day that some of the tasks we’d take on would involve active participation, I felt a little out of my comfort zone. However, each challenge wasn’t as awkward as I’d built it up in my head to be – we were all doing the same thing, so everyone was in the same boat. Sure, some things come more naturally to other people, but we were not going to be asked to do a can-can dance in front of the room – it’s funny where your mind can take you in a moment of panic!
Overall, the course was really useful for us as a team. As we’re all different people we all work in slightly different ways and therefore have strengths in different areas. The various techniques and activities we ran through on the day enabled each of us to show our methods and learn from each other. Through this process of learning from one another, (and the other people on the course) we have developed new strategies which will enable us to give the best possible service to our clients.