How to prepare for your first strategic consulting call with IMPACT
I remember the first time I heard Marcus Sheridan — author of They Ask, You Answer — deliver one of his energetic keynote presentations on digital sales and marketing.
My wife and I (and our dog Tucker) were driving down to Florida from DC for the holidays.
I had just ordered Marcus’ book before our road trip, but it was packed up somewhere in the back of our Jeep Cherokee rental.
I knew I needed a crash course on this new revolutionary approach to inbound sales, so I asked my beautiful co-pilot (my wife, not my dog) to look for one of Marcus’ keynotes on YouTube. She found this great clip from the 2017 PM Grow Summit.
It was only a minute or two before we were both drawn in by Marcus’ energy and passion. Trust me, that energy comes through just as clear on a car speaker as it does sitting in a live audience.
In fact, it was at the 1:30 mark that I made my first audible “ah-ha.”
After gauging how many marketing versus sales professionals were in the crowd, Marcus mentioned that after speaking at events all over the world, he sees two types of people in the audience.
The first audience member hears new concepts and responds with “that might be possible for me.”
They are open to new ideas, willing to find room for improvement in their business, and receptive to the fact that building trust with their buyers is the ultimate goal for any organization.
The second audience group, however, puts up a wall of disbelief and says “we’re different — that might have worked for you, but it won’t work for us.”
Before your first call with one of our strategic consultants here at IMPACT, get your team together internally and collectively ask this question, “which audience group do we want to be in?”
If your team agrees that you belong in the first group, that you can set biases aside and be open and willing to learn, then we’ll set ourselves up for success from the moment you say “let’s get started!”
What is strategic consulting?
Take a minute to think back on one of your favorite teachers or coaches you had when you were younger.
Why was that relationship so important to you? What did they do that made a lasting impression on your life? Did they simply tell you what to do and expect results? Or did they listen to your unique challenges, identify key weaknesses, and push you to find ways to succeed?
We approach strategic consulting with this teacher and coach mindset. In the words of author Stephen Covey, we “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
Watch this short video “So, What Is Strategic Consulting?” from IMPACT’s Chief Learning Officer, Chris Duprey, as he describes our approach to coaching clients.
As your personal sales and marketing coach, we will ask a lot of purposeful questions to help you self-discover the blindspots within your organization, your teams, and your own individual role.
Our goal will be the same as that impactful teacher or coach you had growing up — to identify the areas where we can dramatically improve your performance and develop a strategy for implementation.
Who should attend our consulting calls?
A better question might be “who is responsible for growth within our organization?”
We’ll need the folks who lead the growth strategies (leadership), along with the individuals responsible for implementing and communicating directly with your buyers (sales and marketing).
If you have silos within your organization, let’s work on breaking down those barriers and begin creating an inclusive conversation. Invite members from your sales, customer service, marketing, and leadership teams to join these calls.
Any customer-facing team leads who are responsible for overseeing and executing growth at your company should be involved. Ultimately, your team will set goals, objectives, and key priorities together — holding each other accountable along the way.
Bringing your internal teams together will help us establish the initial buy-in needed to move the needle forward.
Imagine your entire team is in one of those long rowing shells — the kind you might see gliding down the Charles River in Boston, or crossing a finish line in the Olympics.
When everyone rows together in the same direction, those boats can reach a top speed of almost 20 miles per hour.
But how fast would that change if a few people in the boat started rowing in the opposite direction — how quickly would the boat slow down? You might eventually cross the finish line, but it will take so much more time and effort to reach your goal.
With sales, marketing, and leadership engaging in our conversations together, we’ll ensure all your oars are pulling in the right direction and working towards the same priorities, objectives, and goals.
Great teachers are students first
They Ask, You Answer teaches us that one of our guiding principles for building trust with our buyers is to simply “think like a teacher.” That mindset allows us to be honest, transparent, and focused on solving people’s problems through education.
Think back to that teacher or coach from your childhood. Did they claim to have all the answers or were they constantly learning and evolving?
As a teacher in your industry and a trusted leader, it will be vital to remember we are all students first. The best teachers are great students because they are willing to accept new concepts and new ideas.
Let’s begin our consulting conversations with this mindset: Have an open mind for learning and an eagerness for guidance and improvement.
Don’t let the past define the future
“We’ve always done it this way” is not an effective marketing and sales strategy.
The past can certainly teach us a lot about how we can grow and get better, but it is not our roadmap to success.
Our first call together, though, will undoubtedly include questions about your past challenges and successes. We’ll spend time identifying what is working and not working, and lean into those processes to uncover the gaps.
As your coach, we’ll seek to find your blindspots — things that you might not be able to see yourselves and therefore did not know existed within your organization.
We might learn that your sales and marketing teams are not aligned, or that your website content is biased and promotional, rather than educational. Understanding and pinpointing these blindspots will help us uncover your areas for growth and improvement.
We’ll eliminate these blindspots and begin to look towards the future. What goals can be set and what actions can be taken to fill in these gaps, reduce your blindspots, and plan your future marketing and sales strategy?
Be prepared to talk about goals and objectives
What does success look like for you in three months, six months, or 12 months?
After we talk through your challenges, identify where you need to improve, and uncover what success should ultimately look like in the short-term and long-term, you’ll begin to create a plan.
You’ll start by joining our new online educational community, IMPACT+, and accessing your company’s scorecard.
This collaborative exercise will help us grade your current progress on 10 sales and marketing categories — beginning with your overall strategy of answering buyers’ questions and consistently publishing content, and progressing to having the right people on staff and effectively using articles and videos in your marketing and sales process.
After you self-evaluate for each category on your scorecard (like the one pictured above), we’ll identify where your business needs the most help.
Using these scores as our baseline, your team will collaborate to develop long-term goals (12 to 18 months) and short-term objectives (3 months).
We’ll then break down these objectives into key priorities, providing you with specific action items for your team to accomplish. Completing these priorities will help you achieve your objectives and incrementally improve your scores for each category.
We’ll utilize the scorecard and goals as a constant resource guide, while also allowing for flexibility to shift priorities and update information in real-time.
Before our first call together, take some time to think about what success looks like for you, your role, within your team, and at your organization as a whole.
Have you read They Ask, You Answer?
Self study is a necessary component of learning and growing, but let’s be honest, no one really looks forward to doing homework. It takes away from time we could be spending curled up on the couch, binge-watching Tiger King on Netflix or catching up on a delightful afternoon nap.
But if we are determined to grow as an individual and an organization, we must prioritize our consumption of educational content.
Every great teacher centers their curriculum around a great book — just like every great coach creates a detailed game plan with “Xs and Os.”
We’ll focus our lesson plan and strategy around Marcus Sheridan’s They Ask, You Answer — a revolutionary approach to inbound sales, content marketing, and today’s digital consumer.
Grab a copy for yourself and everyone who will be participating in our conversations. Make it an internal priority to read parts one, two, and three before our first meeting together. This will set everyone up for a strong, engaging, and valuable conversation.
Get your copy of: They Ask, You Answer
Doing your homework will empower you to come to our meetings prepared to share what you have learned — and more importantly — hear the perspectives of your colleagues.
Talk about the book outside of our meetings as well. We learn more when we learn together — so try hosting a book club at your office to create an open dialogue.
Read the article: "How to run a transformational They Ask, You Answer book club"
Have you signed up for IMPACT+?
Don’t forget to sign up for IMPACT+, our online educational community. We’ll not only work on your company’s scorecard here, but when you sign up for the pro access, you’ll unlock a collection of comprehensive training courses, along with over 75 keynotes from some of the brightest minds in digital sales and marketing.
We’re excited to get started!
Our ultimate goal is to be helpful — to identify those blindspots you might not see — and create a tailored, measurable plan for success. We’re excited to meet you and your team and can’t wait to learn together.
Follow these simple steps before our first meeting, and most importantly, come prepared for an open and honest conversation. Set aside those close-minded thoughts like “We’ve always done it this way” and “This won’t work for us, we’re different.”
Take it from the hall of fame football coach and inspirational leader, Lou Holtz, who said, “In this world you’re either growing or dying, so get in motion and grow.”
Bring your teams together, come with an open mind for learning, be ready to talk about your goals and objectives, and we will ultimately develop a plan to set your organization in motion to grow.
Let’s get started!