The Association of Professional Sales asked Sonja to give a virtual masterclass to their international members
Could you write a bestselling book in a week? Global keynote speaker Sonja Piontek just has - and she’s recommending we should use the current crisis to try something challenging and new to boost business.
Now is the time to ban the negative, be agile and determined, and try different ways of selling and connecting with customers, Piontek told sales professionals. She was speaking during this morning’s webinar hosted by the Association of Professional Sales as part of our Covid-19 series, to keep sellers safe and selling.
Piontek described how she followed her own advice and set her sights on achieving a seemingly impossible, book-writing goal. “UltraCreativity - The Experiment” was not only written in a week but became an Amazon, e-book bestseller in four categories, across three continents.
Piontek stressed that it was perfectly normal to feel daunted by a huge challenge, but when you had doubt, the key question was: ‘What is the worst thing that can possibly go wrong?’
"Don’t let negative people around you fill you with doubt,” she told sales professionals. “There’s nothing more powerful than a made-up mind.”
So how can this approach help hard-pressed sellers during a pandemic crisis?
“UltraCreativity is about unlocking your full potential and making impossible things possible,” said Piontek. First, she said, ban the word “cannot”.
Challenging times demand new ways, so focus on your strengths; it’s much easier. “I like writing. I’m good at it. Whatever you do, focus on your strengths.”
Piontek said, when it comes to business relationships, “it’s not all about signing a deal; it’s about supporting one another.
“To reinvent the wheel would be extremely difficult in these times, but don’t be shy to ask. Be agile and adopt a Silicon Valley mindset.”
And be playful: “I sent a pineapple to a client the other day.” Ask yourself how you would like to be approached by someone trying to sell you something today.”
And this customer-centric approach is central to the messages she delivers in her keynote presentations: “The one thing you need to focus on first are the customers. You lose them; you lose your business. Simple as that.
“Do things that they haven’t done before, or that haven’t been done before, because it provenly turns customers into fans and creates impressive, measurable return on investment.”
Piontek’s keynote, key tips:
- “Ban ‘cannot’. Ban the negative.”
- “Be determined.”
- “There’s nothing more powerful than a made-up mind.”
- “If you do something that you are passionate about and that fits your skills, you can’t but excel.”
- “Trust yourself. Listen to your heart. You, yourself, know best what’s good for you.”
- “Leave the comfort zone”
- “Use your resources”
- And during the current crisis: “Now we’ve got to be quick, quick, quick. Try things.”
Sonja Piontek looks back on an impressive corporate career and has worked for international brands like BMW, Leica Camera and Land Rover. The dynamic German is based in Singapore, has lived in six countries and speaks five languages.
She walked away from the corporate world to set up her own business.
Piontek said: “I was director of marketing, BMW Asia. I had it all; but I wanted to pursue my passion.” With some “internal hesitation and struggle” she left BMW and for the last two years has had her own agency, Sonnenkind, which focuses on strategic brand development through “unforgettable experiences”.
“I’m not suggesting you all leave your jobs,” she said, “but try new ideas.”
So how do you produce a bestseller in a week? Well first, said Piontek, you have to learn a “whole new path through the publishing game”. Listening to her explain the process, you realise that writing, which she loves, might just have been the easy bit.
The writing, editing, uploading and promoting were all part of the journey to the bestseller list. And what about proof reading? Well, if the clock is ticking as fast as it was for Piontek, you have to be resourceful. For this part of the challenge, she asked a friend in a different time zone to read it for her. While Piontek slept, her friend read. Job done.
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