What $2 Billion in Political Ads Taught Us

November 5th, 2012 by Ecolutionary Selling No comments »

Money can buy airtime, but can’t change deeply held opinions.

After $2 billion in advertising what have we learned about selling to those with entrenched ideas? The effective GOP game plan was to cluster bomb the field with fliers and mistruths close to the election time giving the opposing side little time to correct the wrong information. As Mark Twain wrote, “Lies will get half way around the world before the truth can get it’s shoes on.”

Make it stopppppp

The more often you heard a message, the more likely you are to believe it and then buy what they are selling. That is why the GOP kept pouring more and more last minute cash into media with the DEMs matching them until they both made a four-year old cry.

Message overkill won’t work on a business prospect, however, instead it makes them cry out for you to just go away – FAST and FOREVER.

What will work?

How do you get someone who is in love with their ideas, products, and services to try something different?  How do we get the traditionally entrenched to go from NO to MAYBE to YES when it comes to sustainable products and services that they’ve never seen before?

According to a great article in Pacific Standard to move people off the their position first they have to experience their own ignorance. How researchers did that around hot political issues was by asking people to explain the mechanics of an issue — What exactly is single payer insurance or GMOs, or our energy policy? When people had to explain an issue and couldn’t, they moderated their own views and opened the door to new information. Read the full article here.

Ask for an explanation always instead of feelings.

When I was a new sales rep, one of the suggested strategies was to find out how your customer feels and then align yourself with them.  If your opinions agree, that’s good, but it’s still not a sale. If their opinion is not yours and you counter it, you negate their feelings, lose the sale and probably the rights a second sales call. But if you ask for an explanation to soften the sale first…

After subjects tried (and usually failed) to explain a policy they judged as laudable or odious, they not only revised downward their level of true understanding, but also moderated their position on the issue. And those who reported the greatest decreases in understanding also showed the greatest degree of moderation. taken from Pacific Standard

Quiz thyself

Pew Research soften the political camps by putting out an 11 point quiz on really, REALLY basic questions surrounding this election. Go ahead and take the quiz, I’ll wait…..

How did you do? Regardless of how many you got right or wrong, the quiz and its results establishes how truely ignorant we all are even after $2 billion in “education.”  Think about it, if $2 billion in repetitive ads can’t educate us, then how will one-time collateral material get a prospect over the hump?

Would a quiz/survey about the big picture of sustainability work for you? Now is the time to do it. We are all at the beginning of this green learning curve when it’s ok to admit we don’t know what we don’t know. Surely they provide more value calling your prospect over and over and over with the same soundbite.

Give it a shot and may the lines at your voting place be short.

Selling Sustainable Practices on Campuses

October 22nd, 2012 by Ecolutionary Selling No comments »

Universities and colleges may have a top down pecking order, but that’s where the resemblance to business stops — while selling  ideas to “a team” of individuals is tough, selling ideas to a “team of teams” takes a cultural revolution.

The business sale to a team of individuals means including in your proposal what each team member needs and secondly making sure your presentation is formatted to fit their receptors:

  • Executives want a summary of the offer along with the bottom line,
  • Implementers need to know how much time it will add to their already packed to-do list,
  • Users (with their sound bite attention span) need to be entertained to keep them engaged.

In business, the team  is pretty clear cut — one person from each area bringing their one personality from which they view the process.

Team selling to another teamwhen the team members keep changing on both sides.

That’s the situation in the academic world when it comes to sustainable practices — those who want to sell their colleagues on mainstreaming sustainability are bumping into the team-selling-to-teams brick wall. To further complicate things, the team champions change from school to school. The initial activism might be coming from students or the faculty or the administration or operations. There was no conclusion as to which group was most effective to get the ball rolling, success was offered from all sides. Regardless of where the momentum started, however, it got stuck when the dots between silos of effort couldn’t connect.

The sustainable campus sale is moving, but not working…

In the corporate world of top-down management, if you sell the top person(s) they will command and control the rest of the sale throughout the institution. That works well in an established business with established employees and users, but a school has constant turnover of admin, faculty, staff, and students. Momentum gets lost as ‘start over’ efforts sap the energy out of the system. Add to this mix, the online culture of free-spirited contribution is coming in conflict with the fixed world of academic accomplishment. It’s a race to the future with our shoes stuck in the muddled past of that’s-the-way-we’ve-always-done-it.

How do we get this team to team sale unstuck? Understand the new rules.

This week, the American Association for Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE.org) held its national conference in LA. It was a refreshing dip into how our future universities may look, teach, and operate. About 1700 administrators, faculty, operation staff, and students representing hundreds of colleges and universities debated on how to break the bricks and rebuild schools that are leaner, smarter, more agile, and more sustainable for a moving target economy.

Hunter Lovins

Yet, as nimble and forward thinking as this group is, how to embed sustainable thinking throughout the campus culture continued to allude them. There were many one-off ideas that were working within each sector, but few ideas that brought the whole package together. Oh yeah, and then Hunter Lovins spoke…

Sustainable thinking activist, Hunter Lovins cut to the chase in her kickoff keynote titled, Saving our Economic Ass. Go ahead read the summary and watch Epic2020 as she suggests.

Still with me? Are You Excited or Exiting?

If you’re still reading, by now you can see the layer upon layer of issues that are holding up real, embedded sustainability at our institutions. The desire for change is often met with the dire predictions that climate change is a done deal and by the way, so are we… It’s hard to be positive when the drive to bunker down seems more reasonable. The first step is to throw Albert and Margaret out and put Yoda in.

Albert Einstein 1947

At AASHE, Einstein’s Definition of Insanity was quoted often: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

It’s been overused as much as another go-to quote by Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

We firmly agree that we can’t keep doing the same thing, and small groups can’t create a tipping point, only big group actions — maybe we should follow the other wise person with bad hair…

Professor Yoda

Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.

–YODA, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

We’ve been thinking too small – GO BIG. Look at everything from a campus-wide perspective and how a sustainable campus would function AFTER the world turns green. Clearly the top-down management framework isn’t working, so what kind of business model would replace it?

The “DO” game rules which will change the game.

Up until now, the teams selling to other teams were using small examples of one-off events, or they were arguably the R&D squad; but with the help of AASHE STARS and SEED Green Genome the ooey/gooey nature of change is being locked down fostering more meaningful team conversations.

STARS is the scorecard program for Universities, and SEED‘s Green Genome is the self-assessment tool  for community colleges.  Both offer checklists of doables when it comes to defining how sustainability will happen on a campus and to what level. No matter which campus team you’re on, it’s best to look at both programs — there are some crossovers with STARS leaning towards operations and SEED leaning towards learn/work curriculum.

With STARS and SEED providing a common language and matrix for measuring success – essentially it’s replacing the top down command and control with a framework for understanding. The “teams selling to teams” sales game just became a whole lot easier to manage.

Let the revolution begin!

AASHE – Embedding Sustainability in Campuses and Curriculum

October 11th, 2012 by Ecolutionary Selling No comments »

Next week AASHE.org will be in LA with about 1200 educators, administrators, students, and concerned businesses.  It brings with it a heavy agenda for how to embed sustainable solutions into the campus, teachers, and students.

I’m attended as both a listener as to what ecolutionary ideas universities and colleges across the nation are advancing plus contribute some ideas of my own for bringing education and business together. Look for daily takeaways here on Ecolutionary Selling and a final summary over on In Women We Trust, the speaker’s bureau comprised of leaders in the green social media field, women’s issues, education, and culture.

Professor Marcela Oliva, LATTC

What brings me, a business person, to AASHE? A couple years ago while consulting for the LACCD Build program, I met Professor Marcela Oliva who teaches architecture to urban LA students at LA Trade Tech.  Some people think outside the box, and then there’s Marcela who stacks the boxes together, stands on top, and reaches for more boxes… Her teaching techniques have had tremendous success training students in two years how to be critical, synergistic thinkers and skilled spatial data visualizers – earning her the Teacher of the Year award at LA Trade Tech.

You can feel the creative energy the moment you walk into Marcela’s studio. Can it be duplicated? What if we can package her template for success to help other schools do the same thing? Her unique system for employing traditional class work with open source education and internship that keeps her students engaged, excited and wanting to learn more. More importantly, the students have almost 100% job placement or transfer to a four year program. Recently, I asked one student what being in her program meant to him. Without hesitation he replied, “I’ve never been turned down for a job.”

That’s why I’m at AASHE. To help connect more dots between business and education. We need to foster programs that create a sustainable world - FAST. You can meet Marcela and myself, Monday at 11 during her Advanced Track presentation: Visualizing and Modeling the Drivers in a Holistic Built Environment: Social Justice through Spatial Tools.  Attendees will learn how to use a simple model to convey balanced ideas, synergistic business models, and open collaboration for the human-built environment.



Don’t Buy it, Try it!

July 13th, 2012 by Ecolutionary Selling No comments »

In a breakthrough in thinking piece, by Josh Allan Dystra (Fast Company), Josh looks at the drivers behind why Millennials (the kids with wallets) aren’t buying what we’re selling – they’d rather try it when they need it.

Cars? Rent them or live local and go without.

Phones? We already “rent” them, no one pays for what it really costs to run, we pay for the connections phones provide.

Travel? Use couchsurfing or AirBnB.com to find homes with space vs. hotels.

Music? Download it. Only furniture museums need to show the now moot CD holder tower.

It’s taking a page from the Natives Americans who found the idea of owning parts of the earth ludicrous.

The full article is a fascinating look at how this mentality is changing how we approach selling into this non-ownership world – what are we really selling besides the product if pride of ownership is no longer the reason?

1. People buy things because of what they can do with them.

2. People buy things because of what they can tell others about it.

3. People buy things because of what having it says about them.

Are you prepared to sell “thin air” and make your customers fall in love with it?  Read the full article and find out.


In Women We Trust – Speaker’s Bureau

September 1st, 2011 by Ecolutionary Selling No comments »


We relaunched IN WOMEN WE TRUST this week, it’s part speaker’s bureau and part educational resource for women’s organizations and business trying to understand how sustainability works in retail.

In Women We Trust/Inspiring Circles of Influence will be talking to women and business providing context on this changing market to both buyers and sellers. If your sales staff needs to be brought up to speed quickly, give us a call 714-926-1223 and we’ll set up a workshop with one of our professionals.

It’s been a big project that has been in the works for over five years. Why now? What’s changed? Teeth. They come in the form of Good Guide that can peer pressure business into place and therefore IWWT is a supporter of Good Guide.

GoodGuide has taken the lead in benchmarking rating sites by amassing 120,000 products and ranking them according to their publicly available information. It’s not perfect, but NO ONE would be perfect at this stage.

Because Good Guide is a private company, it can ask all the eco and socially responsible questions it wants, and publish all the information it can. It is not beholding to the companies who make the products who would edit out the bad stuff. It’s as transparent as you can be in this day of transformational change.

Coming along to add to the transparency is Earthster.org which is an open-source software for Life Cycle Assessment reporting. At some point, Good Guide will begin pulling infomation directly from LCA reports either from Earthster or other LCA sources.

Good Guide  is a tech company first with a heart and soul for the planet second. Because of that it’s providing all the fun tools that can make this fly across social media starting with a transparency tool bar and an app for your mobile phone. Shoppers will have no excuse for locating the greenest of the green products.

If you have a consumer level product, go to Good Guide and see if it’s been rated yet, and check out the competition at the same time. And contact us for a workshop on how to be responsive in this new sales world where the shoppers can bite back using their new teeth.


It’s Transition Time, Sell Green not Brown

May 24th, 2011 by Ecolutionary Selling No comments »

Which product would you want to sell?

To create a can of Coke, at one time the company used 70 liters of water for every one liter of Coke. It’s down from that 70 liter high, but still far more than Soda Stream which uses one liter of water for one liter of soda with no can to recycle or plastic bottle leaching BPA into your child — all at 1/4 the cost.

If you were a Mother pinching pennies with little time for waste or recycling, which would you pick? Maybe that’s why Soda Stream’s stock is on the rise…

Under full disclosure, I bought a Soda Stream for the above reasons and haven’t looked back, not because I’m a Mom, but because I wanted less waste, recycling and sugar in my body.  It’s one of those products that you wonder how you managed without one before.

If you have to choose between working at a company with good PR or one with a solid, green product, follow the product.

Come Sit at Their Table

May 13th, 2011 by Ecolutionary Selling No comments »

Wouldn’t you like to have a business with the level of sales that this group represents?  They are working to insure that the dream can still happen for start ups and legacy companies. They are the white hats to the black hats of business, working in tandem to solve their own legacy issues while creating a sustainable business model.

Their business plan-of-action leads off with this dire alarm:

“…the energy challenge is much worse than most people realize. The problem is already imposing a heavy burden on our nation—a burden that will become even more costly. The economic, national security, environmental and climate costs of our current energy system will condemn our children to a seriously constrained future unless America makes significant changes to current policies and trends.”

Download the business plan here:  American Energy Innovation

What is becoming abundantly clear is that the only role Congress will be playing in this economic transition, will be of blessing the solution that business comes up with. With this group leading instead of BP and their cronies, I have hope for a greener future with sustainable practices.

They represent a cross section of industries that deeply affect the business to business economy at large. Download the plan now, and learn what you need to do to join them at their table.

Trust me, I’d never do anything bad with your data…

April 29th, 2011 by Ecolutionary Selling No comments »

I like this blog post on “Who do you trust with your data, Google or Apple”?  I took the poll and found that I was in the majority, Do-No-Evil-Google, wins.

Is that because Google’s been in the info-biz and Apple is in the product biz? We expect and have given over our info to Google because we know that it is the trade off if we want information on the other side. Apple, however sold us an info distribution product. They have no right to collect information to use only to their advantage. They can and are, but that doesn’t make it right.

It made me think about how this applies to our open source world; when is data-gathering ok and when will it bite you in the market share?

With Search a good sales rep can learn everything about a prospect before meeting with them. You could probably even put together an entire proposal before you sit down, but is that smart?  Doing so is an invasion of their intellectual privacy.  No one likes to know that you know more about them than they know themselves.

Lesson learned: let your prospect put the polish on the proposal. Don’t be an Apple.

Don’t Forget, Earth Day is April 22

April 12th, 2011 by Ecolutionary Selling No comments »

What have you done since the last Earth Day to green up your business and your client base? Added a certification? Switched to FSC paper on collateral material or done away with paper altogether?

Creating a list of what you’ve accomplished in a year becomes a talking point when meeting with new customers. Show them how you’re walking an ever-more-sustainable path.

(this just in)  Microsoft is going with 100% PCR (post-consumer recycled paper) via Grey’s Harbor Paper. That’s bragging rights for both companies and a benchmark for competitors to follow.

from Triple Pundit — Microsoft announced yesterday that it will purchase only 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) paper for its offices in the greater Seattle metropolitan area, including its vast Redmond headquarters. The company’s previous printing stock was 30%. Microsoft’s vendor of choice? Greys Harbor Paper, a company that operates out of nearby Hoquiam and has made printing, food industrial, and packaging paper for almost 20 years. Greys Harbor has won much recognition for its low-impact approach,environmentally-friendly operations, and for using renewable energy to fuel much of its factory capacity.

Throw a Pitch Like a Girl

February 16th, 2011 by Ecolutionary Selling 1 comment »

At Best Buy, they know that the more women they have on the sales floor, the higher the sales per store. What generic characteristics do women have that men don’t which can make them naturally more effective?

Neuromarketing ran a post a while back on how something as simple as a smile can increase sales. Which gender smiles more, males or females?  You don’t need to do any reaserach other than a lifetime of experience to know that answer.

Today they posted on How to Soften Up Your Prospects. The general wisdom is that if you place customers in a hard chair, they’ll negotiate less and you’ll get a better and higher level sale.

Research has found the opposite to be true. The more compfortatble the client, the more likely the sale will go in your direction. The coorelation goes as far to say that if the tactile cues before a sale are soft vs. edgy… the sale will go more smoothly in your direction. Which gender has softer items on and around them — males or females? Which gender tends to be more welcoming and warm?

The article takeaways:

  • Seat them in a soft chair.
  • If you hand them anything, avoid hard objects.
  • ….described in Heat Up Sales – With Coffee! (not coincidentally, based on research by John Bargh), offer them a warm beverage.

The takeaway for Sales Directors — embrace soft skills, social settings and your feminine side.