When you are more informed, educated and confident you will be more clear on where you’re going and how to get there.
Halfway through the CEO’s presentation to her investors, she stood up at the head of the packed conference room and screamed, “Cliff Jones, you make me feel stupid!”
This was in the summer of 2007, and I was attending the investor meeting of a new client. I had only been on the job as their contract chief marketing officer for a few months. This was a tense meeting, because the investors were not happy with the owners, two partners. The investors demanded better sales and marketing results. And they wanted their money back.
The investors needed the CEO to do her job better. They needed to her to focus on the sales and marketing action plan we had been crafting since I started.
I always start with the plan. If there’s no plan, I drive the creation of it. No plan, no way to help the people and business grow.
Imagine the shock I felt taking the unexpected blow of this CEO’s anger. What would you do? I felt like crawling under the boardroom table. But I sat there, in silence, deciding what to say or do next.
The head investor jumped in to save me, and said, “Jane, hold on for a minute. We just brought Cliff in a few months ago. This isn’t his fault. We’ve got serious issues here. We need better sales results, but we need you to run this company better. Can we get back to work?”
I’ll never forget that day. The way I look at everything like this is it’s an immediate opportunity to grow. I needed to know why people get so mad about marketing and sales. What did I do to trigger this client’s outrage that day? I didn’t want it to happen again.
As a business owner, I know the feeling of not getting what I want. Heck, welcome to sales and marketing. But if you don’t find a way to get the sales and marketing results you want, and you fear losing everything you built and own, you might find yourself screaming at someone. I know I have, and it’s a completely destructive habit to break.
What I learned through this was I needed to develop a better system for managing the sales and marketing expectations, people and plan. I needed to make the planning component easier for my clients. I needed to simplify everything and make it so that my CEOs could do what they do best. I needed to align the people with the marketing and sales processes.
I am learning how to manage my own emotions better. I know fear and anger. I get too emotional at times. I write, say and do things as a parent, husband, friend, customer and business owner that are inappropriate at times. It’s essential for me to keep getting better this way. It helps my business and my life. This is why I write about my experiences like this.
To know anger can be to die by it. This is why it is essential for business owners and leaders to become more peaceful as warriors when executing on the battlefields of sales, marketing and business.
Let’s stop for a quick reality check: When it comes to your sales, marketing, customer acquisition and retention, cashflow, and profits, how do you rate you and your people right now? What’s missing and what’s next?
It is knowing and practicing the disciplines of sales and marketing that enables you to build healthy, sustainable business. It is building your knowledge. You must have clear goals, a plan, and a process that works for your company. Over time, with learning and more practice, you will become a better leader, your people will be happier performing well and you will see better results.
The source of anger
Anger comes from fear. Fear is the false expectation of a reality you only imagine. One of my clients — now a friend and a mentor — taught me, “Cliff, give fear no counsel.” What he meant was fear and anger can show up at any time. We’re human. But to observe these emotions for what they are — energy in motion, nothing more, nothing less — is to learn to let it go. Letting go is the saving grace. We become the observer, immune to the pain.
When my brain attacks me, it’s normally fear, impatience and anger. I can be my own worst enemy with negative self talk. I train constantly to catch these emotions earlier. I breath to stay calm, especially when a client wants to rip my face off on any given day. Or someone cuts me off in traffic. “Breathe.”
You can’t make anyone feel stupid. You get to choose your emotions and how you react. This requires training and practice. People choose their feelings consciously or unconsciously, mostly the latter. If the energy in motion is fear, anger may follow. When anger follows it can erupt into rage. Catch it early and let it go. You start by committing to control your emotions.
Ever see a business owner or CEO screaming at his team, demanding to know why this result did not happen or this terrible thing did? Hello, fear. Welcome to the rage dump. Just as bad, the person stomps out of the room or leaves the team.
Why? If you’ve ever lived this, you know that the fear is maybe you will lose your business. Because of this, you will have no income and your loved ones will leave you. You will lose your home and end up living in a van down by the river.
This is scary. Emotions take control and we lose our minds.
Don’t kick the dog
Here’s the secret to not getting mad about marketing. Learn to understand why you get mad in the first place. Get to the source and become the master of your emotions. I am still learning this, and it is a lifelong process requiring vigilant, daily practice.
The more you practice and train your mental defenses, the sooner you can release the toxic emotions and be open to achieving better results. Practice these simple steps and never stop practicing.
- Get educated and make informed decisions. When you don’t know something and you make a decision that costs you money, it hurts. The way to make informed decisions is to build your confidence by constant learning and improvement. The more you know and practice anything, the better you become. Ask better questions. Listen well.
- Hire the best. Ditch the rest. How much do you get in your own way? You can’t scale without the right people helping you. You must find, hire and gladly pay the most-trusted sales, marketing and business advisers to compliment what you do best. Then you must win their trust and loyalty if you are to retain your best people.
- Focus on your plan, people and process. Where is your plan to get where you are going? With no written plan or process, your people can’t perform their best. Product sales will suffer until you and your team craft a solid plan of action. Then stick to your plan of action and make incremental improvements.
How will practicing these three habits help you? If you take a willing, honest and agile approach to planning, learning and adapting, you will build confidence, people, and process faster. Get your plan, people and process in place and you have a much better opportunity to market and sell your products or services. (You might even sleep well at night.)
Give your fear no counsel and you will seldom find anger seeping through. You must be a better leader by learning to master your emotions. It’s the only way your best people will follow you. If you don’t have the right people following you, look in the mirror. What’s missing?
When you are more informed, educated and confident you will be more clear on where you’re going and how to get there. You will focus on your plan and you will empower your people to do what they do best. Everyone will follow your plan, and you adapt as you go.
Please commit to doing your part of the plan. Then get out of the way.