Best Keynote Ever? It Was for Me

Keynoter Marcus Sheridan delivering the goods.

By Rich Lindblom, YSN

Over the past 15 years I’ve seen more than my share of keynote speakers at our Conventions and Summits, but for my money, this week’s keynoter Marcus Sheridan was one of the best.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a knock on previous speakers. It’s actually an endorsement of Marcus and his message.  While some of our keynoters have been “rah-rah” cheerleader types, Marcus was more of a nuts-and-bolts, here’s-how-I-became-a-success type. And that’s something I can really appreciate because personally, I don’t need to be motivated. I need the know-how, and in his presentation on how today’s consumer has changed, Marcus delivered that.   

Sure, he owned a pool company, but think about it: What do pool companies do every single day? They sell, install and service consumer goods of a sort. Does that sound familiar to any of you?  Of course it does, because that’s what all of you do every day.

I must admit I was blown away by his statement that nowadays customers are 80 percent of the way through the entire sales process before they ever walk through your door. That’s a complete reversal from where those numbers stood 10 to 20 years ago. And based on that, his assertion that your marketing department is actually more important than your sales department probably is spot on, which is a pretty interesting concept.

And I absolutely loved his message about being a rule breaker, an innovator, because it’s a message I’ve been preaching for a while — that you can’t be afraid to try something new, to step outside of your comfort zone. He does a deep dive into the topic by specifically explaining how his company did it: By offering free advice and answers to questions that were previously considered taboo in his industry. 

He actually wrote a book about it, titled They Ask — You Answer.  I haven’t read it yet, but just might pick up a copy because I think he’s onto something here. The premise: You earn people’s trust through your willingness to give them honest answers to their difficult questions, such as all-in price, potential problems, comparisons vs. competitors or other brands, honest reviews, and recommendations.  

The key to it all is being honest and transparent with your customers.  Don’t lie, and don’t be afraid to admit something that might not sound all that flattering about your company or a particular product that you sell. People will appreciate it and think more highly of you because of it. The underlying goal is to earn a potential customer’s trust and then get them to your website, which will ultimately lead to more sales. 

Customers can sense B.S. a mile away, so be upfront and honest with them and you will gain their trust.  And part of being honest is showing pricing on your website. He totally nails it when he says that no one will ever “call for price.” I couldn’t agree more. If your website says “Call for price” on some, or heaven forbid, all of your products, you are driving customers away. 

Also, the search result numbers that he shared for his pool company were downright staggering.  I know Iwould have killed to have the kind of website traffic that his company had.

Okay, is a light bulb going off over your head yet?  Because it should be.

Many of you have very talented people on your staff who would love to help you create engaging content, including videos. But if not, don’t worry. I believe that with AVB Marketing’s help, we can all turn our websites into information hubs like Marcus did for his company, and drive traffic to our sites and dollars into our pockets.

Personally, I couldn’t wait to see Marcus’ live follow-up Summit sessions.

Rich Lindblom is a former principal of Advanced Maytag Home Appliance Center in Schaumburg, Ill., and member of the Maytag Leadership Council. He recently sold the 65-year-old family business and retired after four decades in independent retail. Got something on your mind? You can reach Rich at egvrich@gmail.com.