Episode 52: Neil Andersen – Aligning Your Mission and Vision With Your Organization and Your Clients
In this episode, the Social Sales Link team are joined by Neil Andersen, the founder, and CEO of A5 Advisory, where Neil talks about the importance of having your own mission and vision as an individual and why you should align them with that of your organization and your clients. So tune in and start writing your personal mission and vision!
Neil Andersen 00:00
Making sales social to me is about reaching beyond that current circle of relationships or maintaining that circle of relationships that we have, and driving them deeper and understanding each other a little bit better. Whatever that means in a professional setting in a personal setting and being known, I think in an honest way, because a lot of the things we put out there are honest, they’re genuine and occasionally they’re smart.
Bob Woods 00:25
Welcome to the Making Sales Social Podcast! Featuring the top voices in sales and marketing. Join hosts, Brynne Tillman and Bill McCormick as they discuss the best tips and strategies they are teaching their clients so you can leverage them for your own virtual and social selling. You can also listen to us on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play. Here are your hosts, BrynneTillman, and Bill McCormick.
Bill McCormick 01:02
Hey, Welcome to Making Sales Social! I’m Bill McCormick.
Brynne Tillman 01:05
I’m Brynne Tillman.
Bill McCormick 01:06
So Brynne, who’s joining us today?
Brynne Tillman 01:08
I’m really excited! So we have Neil Andersen here with an “E-N”, by the way and I met him on Clubhouse, which is an audio only platform where you go into rooms on topics and I was blown away at some of the insights that Neil was sharing and he was kind enough to engage with me on LinkedIn, and we set up a call and I thought, Man! There is so much in what Neil has to offer that our audience can gain from and so I’m really excited. I’m gonna have him introduce himself in a second, but we’re going to talk about a subject that is so important. It is aligning mission and vision with your sales teams. And So Neil, I can’t wait! Tell everyone a little bit about you.
Neil Andersen 01:58
Well,let me start with A5 Advisory and a little bit about what we do there. So we work primarily with executive leaders, to help them refine their strategy, messaging and execute through sales and marketing those strategies. No more complicated than that. I come from a background of sales in both B2C and B2B. Built some sales teams, did a lot of branding work, and spent the last six or seven years of my career in sales enablement, sales training and leadership development.
Bill McCormick 02:32
Fantastic. So we ask every guest the same question leading right off is, Neil, what is making sales social mean to you?
Neil Andersen 02:40
Good question. So social to me… I think about social media and, you know, one of the things– We teach a story, so let me let me start with a little story that ties back to social media. And so, I graduated high school a few years ago, we’ll say more than 25, maybe closer to 30. And, obviously, I’m on Facebook, stay connected with a lot of people and there’s people that I haven’t seen since I was in high school since before I left high school. And I was back in Louisville, which I mentioned my hometown, Louisville, Kentucky. I was back there for some events going on with Derby, seeing some friends and walking down the street there, there was a face that I completely recognized. Hadn’t seen this face in probably 35 years, but knew this face, and this face had changed significantly in the past 35 years and she recognized me. And this was someone that was actually a couple years older than me and was friends with my sister, but I was friends with her younger siblings, but we recognized each other. And I think about that, and the power that social media has to keep us connected even across the years and you know, with distance between us. I knew she had three kids, I knew their names, I knew some of them were into dance, even knew a couple of her political views and recognized her face after all of these years and she recognized me just like that, when we passed each other. So I think about social media and the power of that, and what that means for selling is, it is a way to stay connected or get connected to our circle of friends, our relationships, and it does come down to relationships. It allows us to reach beyond that and once we do reach beyond that to stay connected or get connected in a way that we just can’t with any other set of tools. And so, you know, making sales social to me is about reaching beyond that current circle of relationships or maintaining that circle of relationships that we have, and driving them deeper and understanding each other a little bit better whatever that means in a professional setting in a personal setting. And being known, I think in an honest way because a lot of the things we put out there are honest, they’re genuine and occasionally they’re smart.
Brynne Tillman 04:59
So I love that! Brian fanzo, I don’t know if you know Brian fanzo, has a quote that’s probably one of my favorites of all time and I haven’t thought about it in a really long time, but you just inspired it. Which is, “social media does not take the place of a handshake, but it does make a handshake a hug.” To me, that’s like one of the greatest things, right? So by the time you actually meet them in person, you already have love for them. You’re already connected, right? And I always thought that always resonated so much with me.
Bill McCormick 05:28
Yeah! You’ve already started to develop a relationship and you know, I think the first time I met Brynne was in New York City at Lincoln offices in New York City and we had already known each other for a while but had never met and so it wasn’t a handshake, we gave each other a hug and it was great to see each other. And another thing I would point out is with social, is that, it is our persona. You know, Mark Hunter says, nowadays, our reputation arrives before we do because people can look at us. We’re not just a number on a phone, we’re not just a name in an email inbox. We’re a picture. You know, before we got on, I looked at you, Neil, I looked you up on LinkedIn, I was checking you out. And that’s what people do. So let’s switch gears here. I’m really interested to hear about vision, mission and sales. And I think to start with what’s your definition, and the difference between a vision and a mission?
Neil Andersen 06:29
I think a vision is a picture for me. I’m a visual thinker. A vision is an idea of what could be. A mission is the decision to go about. So I can have a vision of all kinds of fairy tales. I’m on a mission when I’ve decided to take action against that mission.
Bill McCormick 06:48
So how does that relate to sales?
Neil Andersen 06:51
I think first of all, we’re all selling something. I love … You’ve probably read Daniel Pink, “To sell as Human” We all sell something and I think for a long time and this is part of the change at A5 that we’re after, that’s part of our mission. Changing the way companies do business. Nothing nefarious there. Nothing mysterious about that but I think and maybe you’ll agree with this, especially when it comes to things like LinkedIn. I look at what LinkedIn has become, what it was, and what it’s become. LinkedIn used to be… It was a resume source, it was a, you know, “Here’s my resume” And here’s a backwards looking view at the things I’ve done from that you can judge who I might be and then you can craft your own vision of what that looks like going forward as a relationship. I think this big shift that I’m seeing is much more towards the future. Here’s ideas that I have, here’s why I believe in something, here’s the mission that I’m on or purpose, things that I care about. Putting that out there and here’s a forward looking view of what could be so that vision and some of that mission perspective about me and my persona, my company and finding some alignment there. So, you know, I think that’s part of the change, where after. Remind me of your question again, so I can make sure that I hit it.
Bill McCormick 08:16
So how vision and mission aligned with sales?
Neil Andersen 08:21
Yeah, so here’s what we see a lot. I think we’ve all seen some of these, is companies come up with great missions and I think the intent is there. The missing piece for salespeople or anyone in an organization is when I asked salespeople, what is your personal mission? What do you want out of your life? And what role does this organization you’re working with play and helping you achieve that mission? They don’t have to be 100% in alignment, but they missed that. And so for all of us, especially in sales, is we miss that piece of what is my mission, we’re all on one, whether we’ve written it down and whether we can clearly articulate it or not. And so when we look for that alignment between us and our organization, and then there’s a third party that we often forget about, what’s the mission of our clients? How do those three sync up and can we find alignment there? And it’s so important that as a salesperson, I think the good salespeople whether they understand the mechanics or know this or not. The good salespeople do that. They can articulate, here’s what my company does well, why they do it. Here’s why that’s important to me and here’s what I understand about you and where you want to go with your organization, what you’re trying to accomplish, and how we can work together to do that. And sales is no more complicated if we want to dab it down to aligning those purposes and missions, but we have to understand what each is and so many individuals and especially salespeople don’t really know what their personal mission is.
Brynne Tillman 09:42
I love that. And you know, we don’t talk about personal mission, right? We tend to talk about what is the company’s goals? What’s the company’s mission? Where do you play in that? but rarely do we ever hear, “what does that mean to the individual?” and so I love that you’re starting there, because the company is made up of individuals, and they’re showing up every day. Do you know why?
Bill McCormick 10:07
I think back to you know, we had Fred Diamond on a few episodes back and he talked about, you know, “We’re all each, individually the president of our own self, of our own brand.” And as you were talking, I was thinking how important it is for salespeople, for us to have a personal vision and a personal mission. Yes, around our lives and what we’re doing not just professionally, but also personally, but how about that we have a vision and a mission for our client, that takes our client in mind to say this is, you know, Brynne, when we talk about headline, “Who you help, how you help them, the results, you bring” putting that into a value statement or a vision statement that says, “This is what I want to do for my client.” And then the mission is, “How do I go about doing it.” So curious, Neil, about your thoughts about that?
Brynne Tillman 11:03
I love that!
Neil Andersen 11:04
Yeah, it’s good question. Good point, Bill is, here’s what I see with salespeople that I work with, where I think they struggle is the mission of their employer, their company comes first. Gotta hit the number, got to hit the quota, got to sell the product or service. Second is my mission of making money and doing so. And third is the mission of my client or prospect. However, this is where I believe we just get off brand as salespeople as marketers, as companies and organizations, is it really needs to be when I show up the things I will say to you, as a salesperson, or in my marketing or in my branding, is “I want to be your partner.” Brynne, If I said “I want to be your life partner” You would have expectations of getting partnership and who comes first and those things. And it means something totally different than it does in the business world but I don’t think it should mean – Those definitions shouldn’t be so far apart. When I show up with a client, I say, “I want to be your partner.” Here’s what a partner means. I’m gonna put you first in these situations, I do have to make money as a company, I do have to be successful as a salesperson, or as a service deliver, I have to do that but you’re not going to come last in this relationship and understanding your mission, being able to say that and understanding who you should be engaged with, that changes that dynamic of that relationship. If I can put you first and say we’re at par or at least we’re on equal ground. And that just doesn’t happen and having clarity of mission, having confidence in what it is you’re trying to accomplish, where your strengths are. It just allows you to show up in a very different way and people see it, they see it right off the bat. People aren’t stupid.
Brynne Tillman 12:43
So one of the things we say often is we’ve got to detach from what that client is worth to us and attach to what we’re worth to the client. And so when you can do that you can really truly bring value. And Bill off in quotes, Larry Levine, and I’ll quote it this time where “People can smell commission breath.”
Bill McCormick 13:09
And, you know, to Scott Schilling says, you know, “We need to come in with high intention, but low attachment.” And as a salesperson, that’s a great sentiment. And I’m fortunate enough that I’m in an organization where I’m allowed that latitude, you know, Brynne’s not looking over my head with my quota number. So that’s what I’m thinking about but so many salespeople today, and you said it, you know there’s leadership, and there’s a number to hit. And that number is new every month. And even if I hit that great, and I get that great deal. I’m happy for about five minutes, maybe but then I think, “Oh, I gotta do this again.” And so it’s good to say okay, yeah, I’m gonna come in with high intention and low attachment but really, for many salespeople, they’re coming in with really high attachment because man, do I need this. So how can sales leaders align that mission and vision to the sales team in such a way that enables them to come in to serve the client to make that really the mission and the vision rather than you gotta hit this number?
Neil Andersen 14:19
Well, I think we have to change the cadence and the priority of conversations. And so I have yet to work for an organization that doesn’t either start or in the week with “What did we get from our clients?” So it comes down to forecasting, it comes into close deals, and those are important things. I don’t want to say, you know, if we’re not here as a business. If negative cash flow occurs for too long, there is no business. It’s not a complicated concept. So we do have to have that there. It is a health check and it’s an important component of us existing as an organization as individuals, we have to have that. But too often, well, I would say exclusively that conversation starts and ends with that. And so the measurement for me is when, as a sales leader, as a business owner, when I walk into conversations, and they start with, “What have we done for our clients? And where are we on our measurement of delivering value to them?” When conversations start that way, more often than not that’s the difference there. And so, you know, it’s easy to get bogged down into, we have to deliver results, we have to make forecasts,”we have to predict the future. And my analogy is this. As sales leaders, and as business owners, we are asked to predict the score of the game three seasons out, you know, in the seventh at the, you know, seventh inning, bottom of the half, who’s going to be up to bat and what’s going to be the score? I have no way of predicting that but they asked us to do things like that. So that’s the change that has to happen is the ask of that information and the prioritization of that and changing the conversation more to what have we done, than What did we get?
Brynne Tillman 16:08
So do you think focusing more on productive activity versus outcomes? Or a balance of the two? So, you know, if I’m working with salespeople, I’m not saying I’m a sales leader, and I’m working with a bunch of people. What should we focus on that, you know, that creates a productive team?
Neil Andersen 16:30
Long term, I think is the added piece of that question we have to put there, because I can squeeze a sales team on behaviors and activity hard enough to get the results I need. I can do that but it won’t last. I will turn people over, I will burn people out including clients and eventually what happens is I have enough turnover that we forget why we brought this client in, when we work with new clients, and most of them have been around. We tend to work with this 10 to $100 million category of client where they have the most need for what we do. And where we bring the most value. I’ll ask them, Okay, how many clients do you have? If I asked you why they originally brought in your product or your service, can you tell me why they did that? They have no idea. You know, the original purpose for the relationship and the business engagement has long since fizzled and there is no purpose behind them that anyone can put their finger on why they’re still engaged.
Brynne Tillman 17:35
Make sense. Yeah, absolutely.
Bill McCormick 17:38
And I think really,that’s what you said is over the long term, you know, and we have to be focused on that, because, but we also have to look at numbers. I mean, you said it so eloquently, but you know, we can’t evaluate something that’s not measured. So we have to measure it and I think it comes down to what we are measuring. And for the sales leaders out there, I’d say as Brynne said, you know, we have to also start looking at activities, because you said it’s all about conversations. We can have more quality conversations, as we say, what we want to do is we want to slow down our outreach to speed up our outcome, because on LinkedIn, it’s all about numbers now, you know, people are I’m sure you’re getting it. Sales pitches every single day. It’s crazy, because people are just, they can’t get in front of people like they used to so they’re just throwing so much mud against the wall and hoping some sticks. Of course, they don’t realize that the mud that’s sticking isn’t good anyway. But if we can do that, if we can focus on conversations, also, I think that will really help us. So any parting thoughts Brynne?
Brynne Tillman 18:50
It’s interesting, because I mean, I have some great takeaways from today. And it gets to thinking a little bit differently about what creates a successful sales team, what creates an effective sales culture. And so a couple things that stand out for me is, let’s really find out we need to do this internally too,right? What’s there? Why are they here? What’s their mission? What’s their passion? We haven’t done that even internally. So that’s like a major like takeaway for me. Although I could guess we shouldn’t make assumptions, right, like, so having each person really express their vision and mission personally and inside of the company. Like I think like that’s just something I’ve never even considered. And the other thing is, we want to make sure that that’s aligning with our mission and our vision of where we want our company to be, right. So Bill and I talk about it all the time. We’re constantly talking about mission and vision. Are we aligning it with, I mean, I think we’re doing a pretty good job, but I’m seeing some gaps so I had some personal takeaways in this.
Bill McCormick 20:01
I’m curious to know how important is it for that kind of thing to be written down? Because we do, we talk about it a lot. But how important is it to get that written down?
Neil Andersen 20:10
The personal mission? (Bill: Yeah) It’s usually important. And we, through one of our workshops that we do that helps you build your personal mission doesn’t do any good. If you don’t turn it into a set of goals, which are then prioritized which are put into a daily action plan. I think it’s very important because whether we’re salespeople, especially as business owners, and leaders, you know, at the end of the day, and I can think of times when I worked 14-15 hour days, 6 days a week, preparing weekend forecasts for Monday morning, all these things. And yet, I still felt like I wasn’t getting things done, I wasn’t satisfied with the outcomes. They were great outcomes by business measurements. The time I put in, and by those activities that we just talked about, that we can measure, and that we have to check the box on and put numbers to but that sense of fulfillment is not there. And the reason for that was, I didn’t know until I was 49 years old, I didn’t really take the time to write down my personal mission. What I wanted to accomplish, why I wanted to accomplish it. Now I can do, it’s not that I do less, but I do less business stuff, more personal things, more giving back to people and I can look at my daily plan and say, Okay, I got 80% of that done, or I accomplished it all plus some extra things. And I filled the buckets that I need to fill not just the work bucket, the family bucket, the spiritual bucket. These are just passion project buckets that I never thought were ever going to become anything. And I’m starting to see over time, by putting some numbers to those. Ten minutes a day, 30 minutes a day writing some things, sharing some things, networking with some people to start some things in motion. I’m seeing more things happen and I’m more satisfied with that. So I guess I would say however important it is to be satisfied with your life is as important as it is to have a personal mission statement.
Bill McCormick 22:08
That’s so good. That’s so good. So if I’m listening to this, I’m a sales leader or maybe I’m just a salesperson. How can they go about staying in touch with you and getting help from you about that vision and mission state?
Neil Andersen 22:22
So a couple things that come to mind. One, you can come find us on Clubhouse, one of my new favorite places to hang out and get to know people. I like this platform, not a lot of direct marketing that I can push out there. But I can be myself and share information and I think the beauty of Clubhouse for me is you really get to know people in a very genuine way. We’re open social, so you can join us on Clubhouse in one of our clubs, that is “B2B sales magic” and we also have a website b2bsalesmagic.club Excuse me that’s club, you can find us there. Some resources some times for all of that you can also find us at A5advisory.com where you can find out more about some of the the mission work that we do, reality maps, and some of the leadership programs that we’ve put together around brand strategy and other things
Bill McCormick 23:15
Fantastic! So we’ll make sure to put all of those links in the resource page here so everyone can download it. So Neil Andersen, thank you so much for being with us. Thank you to all of our listeners for tuning in for Making Sales Social! So as you’re out and about this week, don’t forget to make your sales social. See you next week, everyone. Bye bye.
Bob Woods 23:35
Thanks for watching, and join us again for more special guest instructors bringing you marketing, sales, training and social selling strategies that will set you apart. Hit the subscribe button below to get the latest episodes from the Making Sales Social Podcast! Give this video a thumbs up and comment down below on what you want to hear from us next. You can also listen to us on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play. Visit our website socialsaleslink.com for more information