Sales Process Nostalgia

“Fanny packs were huge in the 80s and they’re making a comeback now.”

As someone who prefers listening to podcasts and audiobooks when I’m behind the wheel, it was rare for me to be listening to the views and opinions of radio DJs. However, this particular DJ made me crack a smile and then got me thinking.

Comebacks. Trends. Nostalgia.

It’s everywhere.


From the countless dramas, soap operas, and sitcoms returning from their rerun slumbers to teenagers sporting high-waisted and tapered jeans that were reserved for the “mom and dad crowd” during my own adolescence, blasts from the past are hitting us hard and fast.  We’re seeing our favorite 90s music groups reuniting for reunion tours and hearing the cries of Friends fans demanding that their favourite groups of once 20-somethings return to that familiar New York coffee shop.

And now, as this morning’s DJ informed me, we’re in for another fanny pack attack.

So what does this have to do with sales?

It’s my belief that in a world where Amazon is swallowing up brick-and-mortar retailers like an Amazonian Anaconda and service with a smile is, well, isn’t, we’re reaching a point where there’s a longing for service in the sales process.

And before any diehard Amazon fans pipe up with the fact that they love that they can order 2 bags of dog food, a pair of slippers, the latest Donald Trump satirical novel, and their favourite English chocolate bars for next-day delivery and all without having to speak to or see another human being, let me stop you right there.

I get it.

Online shopping is great. I personally cherish my beloved Prime Membership and have delighted in having some miracle cream from Australia that my sister-in-law recommended arrive on my doorstep in just a couple short days.  

The ease, the convenience, the ever-expanding global marketplace - all great things.

But in my world, the world of business-to-business sales, there’s an increasing nostalgia for a good ol’ fashioned sales process.

What do I mean by this?

Respecting Time

We have more information at our fingertips than ever before, but what I personally witness and experience is that it’s seldom being used in the sales process. What does this look like? Sales representatives are making calls, sending emails or LinkedIn messages, and hosting meetings without conducting research on their prospect beforehand.  

I can’t tell you how frustrating it is when I offer to dedicate time out of my busy schedule, only to have the sales representative ask me the most basic questions about my business, which they could have easily briefed themselves on if they had taken 10 minutes to review my website and LinkedIn profile.  

On the flip side, on the rare occasion a prepared sales representative asks me well researched questions and/or for clarification around something they read about my business,  I’m not only grateful, but impressed by the value they put on our time together.


Sandwiched between social media posts about how thrilled we are that Will and Grace are up to their old shenanigan are messages about gratitude - reminders, mantras, and articles, all about the spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional benefits of practicing that attitude of gratitude.

So how should gratitude show up in the sales process? My belief is that it should show up every step of the way. From a thank you note card sent after an initial meeting to appreciation acknowledgements being sent on holidays, milestones and anniversaries, acts of gratitude towards those who choose to give you their time, and hopefully, to do business with you should be practiced regularly. This should go, too, for anyone who refers you additional business.

Appropriate Communication Mediums


Text messaging.
Telephone calls.
Social media messaging.
Zoom meetings.
Live chat.
Face-to-face meetings.  
Carrier pigeon.

Okay, so perhaps we can strike carrier pigeon off the list - but there’s clearly no shortage of ways we can communicate with our prospects and clients.

So how do you choose which to use?

Most sales representatives I come into contact with choose their preferred way.  

However, as Marcus Buckingham teaches us in his book “First, Break All The Rules”, sometimes it’s best to forget the golden rule of treating others as you’d like to be treated. Instead, treat your prospects and clients how they’d like to be treated and communicate with them how they’d like to be communicated with. Not sure what their preferences are? Simply ask. I love it when sales representatives say to me, “Shannon, what’s the best way to get in touch with you after our call today. Phone? Email? Text?”  Sadly, this rarely gets asked. And I speak with a lot of sales representatives.

Instead, treat your prospects and clients how they’d like to be treated and communicate with them how they’d like to be communicated with.

Even worse, when I was recently scoping out CRM options for a client, I was running into issues setting up some automated workflows with one particular CRM system. After going back and forth with a support agent via live chat, I requested a telephone or zoom call to walk through my issues. The response?

“Unfortunately there is no phone support available. At “Company X” support, we like to make things simple and efficient. That’s why we use in-app messaging and emails to answer our customer's questions. We’ve found our users are much happier and get solutions a lot quicker this way... “

The irony of the fact that I waited, watching the little typing icon dance across our chat box for more than 1 minutes to answer a question that would have taken 10 - 20 seconds over the telephone, wasn’t lost on me.

The point here is that whenever possible, you should be offering your clients and prospects the opportunity to communicate with you when and how is most convenient for them - not the other way around.

I know I’m not alone in my desire, my nostalgia, for good, wholesome service to be brought back into the sales process. I coach sales teams how to do this; how to work these elements into their sales process  and then how to hold them accountable to it. We’re bringing back service with a smile, one sales team at a time.


Now excuse me while I ask Alexa whether Hootie and the Blowfish will be hitting up Vancouver on their 44 city reunion tour.

SBMO Consulting is a Sales and Marketing Consulting Firm that helps organizations achieve sales results by focusing on the customer experience. Contact us today for a complimentary consult.

Benefiting the Community: Facet Advisors Insurance Strategies

When I started my own consulting business, I did it with the intention of working with really good people; people who love what they do and do it well, while continuing to give back to their communities.

When I met Priya Tailor, co-owner of Facet Advisors Insurance Strategies, I knew she met this criteria. As an insurance and group benefits consultant, Priya shared her philosophy with me early on in our relationship: she is truly focused on the best interests of her clients.  She works diligently at understanding her clients’ needs and develops solutions that make sense for them. She has helped countless individuals and families take care of themselves by offering valuable insurance programs, and she has helped organizations become more appealing to their current and future employees by developing group benefits program that check all of the boxes: flexible, useful, cost-effective.

And while it’s always fun to partner with someone so awesome at what she does, the awesomeness is simply compounded by Priya’s desire to give back. I recently learned that Priya and her family, including her 5 year old daughter, spend time on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, handing out homemade food to those less fortunate. She explains that her heart goes out to these people and that she feels called to do something, while also wanting to provide her daughter with lessons of compassion, generosity, and gratitude.

Priya Tailor will be joining members of EO Vancouver to raise money and awareness about BC’s growing homeless problems.

Priya Tailor will be joining members of EO Vancouver to raise money and awareness about BC’s growing homeless problems.

Feeling the desire to do even more, Priya is now joining members of EO Vancouver, the professional organization that she currently sponsors, for the Covenant House’s Sleep Out Movement. On Thursday, April 4th, Vancouver entrepreneurs will be sleeping on the streets in an effort to raise money and awareness about Vancouver’s growing homelessness problem. Rain or shine, Priya and EO Vancouver members will experience just a taste what many live through every day.

“We’re extremely fortunate to live the lives we do. In our day-to-day lives, it’s easy to take our blessings for granted. This is an opportunity to connect with the greater world - to get outside of our comfort zones and understand others’ realities. And to hopefully come together to make a difference in the lives of others.” Priya Tailor, Facet Advisors Insurance Strategies

To donate toward Priya’s goal of raising $5,000, click here.

To learn more about Facet Advisors Insurance Strategies Inc., click here.  

Working on Your Business - Even When Your Business Is Working

It’s me again.

It’s been a while.

As soon as September arrived my plate became quite full, working with the most awesome clients and supported by some truly wonderful contractors.

My days quickly filled with sales and marketing planning;  performance scorecard creation; customer experience training and coaching programs; research and content writing; and web and social media management.

My evenings quickly filled with networking events, conferences, business dinners, and a soul-satisfying weekly meditation group.

This satisfying busy-ness, along with the everyday demands of raising a young family (including gradual entry into Kindergarten for my eldest; searching for and finding a new daycare for my youngest; and battling several cold and flu bugs as a result) has meant that my own business maintenance has been neglected.

So, like many, I’ve been reflecting on the past year and what I want or need to change in 2019. I’ve learned (or re-recognized) new skills and talents that I’m passionate about; come to the harsh realization of things I’m not so great at; and come to realise the need to work on your business - even when your business is working.

The very essence of what I do is helping businesses to achieve their revenue objectives by creating sales, marketing, and customer experience plans; working with clients on their businesses. And like a hairstylist who never books in for a styling; an accountant whose books aren’t up to date; and a master chef who lives off of fast food, I have not been gifting myself with the area of my expertise and I have not been working on my business.

Therefore, I’ve started by creating these actionable steps to get me working on my business again:

  1. Schedule and dedicate a minimum of  4 consecutive hours a week of solo time working on my business. This will include weekly goal-setting and execution, content creation, and vision work.

  2. Seek out a formal business mentor for accountability, brainstorming, and problem-solving.

  3. Put ideas into action by seeking or creating a Consultants Forum Group; for peer learning, sharing, and further accountability. (If you’re interested in learning more about this, please email me at

Looking forward to another year of learning, reflection, connection and growth. You’ll be hearing from me again soon.

Trade Shows: From Hoopla to Hooray!

Anyone who has walked or exhibited a trade show knows how crazy they can be. From the financial investment, to the whirlwind of meeting, greeting, walking and talking, to the pure and utter exhaustion at the end; it’s no wonder some question the benefit of attending trade shows.

I’m here to argue that trade shows can be an extremely worthwhile investment if they are planned for, executed, and followed up on well.

Through the years, I have participated in trade shows both as an attendee and as an exhibitor including: SupplySide West, Natural Health Expo West and Expo East, BuildEx, Canadian Health Food Association, New York Suppliers of Cosmetic Chemists, and BC Food Processors Association Food Pro West.  And when executed well, these shows have always resulted in new business.

Tradeshow 2.png

Here are my tips for making sure you get the most bang for your buck out of your trade show investment:

1. Plan Ahead

This seems like an obvious tip, but it’s one that a lot of organizations fail to do well. While team members often know what trade shows they are participating in and the logistics around those shows, they fail to identify exactly who it is they’re hoping to meet.

Ask Yourself: Who are the top prospects (companies or individuals) you want to meet at the show? If you’re walking the show, that exhibitor list should be your new best friend. Study it. Quickly identify those prospects you’re already aware of, and research some of the other companies to see if there might be some other great prospects attending.

Once you know who you’d like to meet, reach out in advance. If your budget allows, I recommend reaching out with a fun and memorable pre-show campaign. (And no, you don’t have to blow the bank doing this. We have created the most “WOW” factor campaigns on tight budgets.)

When you’re reaching out, try to lock down a specific time so you can be ready and on-point when you’re finally face-to-face with your prospect.

2.  Know What Your Next Step Will Be Before You Get There

Once you’ve identified all of the amazing people you’re going to meet at the show, know your long-term plan. What do you want to share at the trade show? What do you want to learn at the trade show? And what is your ask coming out of the trade show? Are you looking for a post-show call or meeting? An intro to the decision maker? Whatever it is, lock it down at the show. Even if your prospects don’t have their calendars with them, set a tentative date and time and confirm after the show.   


3.  Don’t Trust Your Memory

“That show was great!”

“I talked to so many great people!”

“I’m definitely getting business out of that show!”

These are examples of things I have heard when sales team members walk out of trade shows. Buzzing from all of the great conversations and proud of themselves for representing their company well, they often feel really positive about what has transpired during the show.

And then they sleep.

The next day, sifting through their loot bags of business cards, product samples, and marketing materials, the details around the people and the conversations they’ve had start to become a big, jumbled blur. Sure, they might remember a couple of key people or companies - but the details that lead to an impactful follow-up have often fallen to the wayside.

That is why I can’t stress the importance of taking notes during the show - immediately following the awesome conversation you’ve just had. Capture exactly what made that conversation so awesome. Take note of anything personal that your prospect shared; anything funny that occurred; a problem they might have confided in you. Great stuff - but also easily forgettable for you both due to the sheer numbers of awesome conversations you’re both having. So even if you’re feeling good and thinking that you have it all committed to memory, do yourself a favour and make sure you capture it. (Hint: the dictation or voice recording functions on your smartphone can really help with this!)

4. A Beautiful Finish

So, if you’ve following the tips above, you have:

  1. Clearly identified and had meaningful conversations with everyone you wanted to see at the trade show.

  2. Agreed to a “next step” with your prospect and set a day and time for when that next step will take place.

  3. Taken note of all of the details that made your conversation so wonderful.

Now it’s time for the beautiful finish. If you haven’t already done so, send the calendar meeting for whatever next step date and time you had agreed to, along with a note referencing the details you gained during your interaction. Make it personal; send links to articles or products that tied into what you had been speaking about. Share how much you enjoyed your conversation and that you’re looking forward to the agreed upon next step.

By following these tips, your trade show experience is bound to go from Hoopla to Hooray.   

Sales & Culture: Music To My Ears


I’m a sales and marketing consultant and I spend a lot of time speaking and learning about culture.  Why? Because in order for sustainable revenue growth to occur, there has to be the right culture to support the growth.

First, let’s have a look at culture: Culture is the beliefs, behaviours, attitudes, language, tone, and personality of your organization. It takes time and energy to evolve and it is the most precious aspect of your company. And without a strong corporate culture, your sales team will only go so far.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast, operational excellence for lunch, and everything else for dinner.
— Peter Drucker

To demonstrate this further, let’s use the analogy of an Opera performance. On the stage are the Opera singers, below the stage is the orchestra and maestro, in the audience are the spectators. If the opera singers are singing one note, and the orchestra is playing another, while the maestro is instructing another, what do you think the reaction of the audience is going to be?

Compare that to your organization, whereby the Opera singers are the customer-facing positions within the organization; the orchestra represents the company operations; and the maestro is the leadership. If the beliefs, behaviours, attitudes, language, tone and personality is not shared, your customers and prospects (your audience) are going to be lost and confused at best, and deeply dissatisfied and angered at worst. This is why I always recommend to clients that we first spend time looking at their current culture before diving into sales and marketing strategies and plans. 

Signs that your company culture might me out of tune?

  •  A resistance to growth
  •  An increase in customer complaints / high customer turnover
  •  An increase in errors or a decrease in on time delivery
  •  Dissatisfied employees (often resulting in high turnover)
  •  Broken brand promises
  •  Finger-pointing and blame games
  •  Lack of honest, candid feedback from all levels
  •  Stagnant innovation

Signs that your company culture is an award-winning performance?

  •  The vision, mission and values are believed in by all
  •  Plans are sound are motivational
  •  Cross-functional teams exist, comprised of both customer-facing and non-customer facing team members
  •  Collaborative solution-creation is common place
  •  Authentic caring and celebrations for team success across the entire organization
  •  Leaders at all levels welcome and reward feedback and ideas
  •  Laughter and friendships are abundant
  •  Employees feel cared for as individuals   

The Do’s and Don’ts of Preparing for a Sales Call


In my various sales and marketing leadership roles, I would often receive (and occasionally accept) sales calls from various service providers.  When I did take the time to accept a sales call, I could easily tell whether the sales person had taken the time to prepare for our meeting.

Below are the Do’s and Don’ts  for preparing for a sales meeting.

Know your audience

I was always astounded by the number of sales representatives who clearly did zero research prior to the meeting. I would be asked to answer the most basic questions about my organization or our industry, which could have easily been researched prior to and confirmed during our call.  When I was working as the head of sales for a customs brokerage firm, I was even asked by one underprepared sales representative, “What does a custom broker do?” [Insert eye roll here.]


  • Take the time to research the organization. Spend time on the company’s website and LinkedIn pages. Read through online reviews of the company and its products/services. If there are references to the company’s mission and/or values, take note.

  • Take the time to research the industry. Understand what some of the major issues, challenges or opportunities are happening in the industry. Familiarize yourself with some of the prospects competitors.  

  • Take time to research the individual(s) you will be meeting with. Familiarize yourself with his/her background(s). Start to get a feel of what his/her priorities and concerns might be.


  • Ask questions about the company or its services/products that you could easily find on your prospect’s website or by conducting a simple Google search.

2. Set the agenda

You’ve got the meeting - awesome! Now do yourself and your prospect a favour and detail what you’re going to cover during the meeting. It will help keep you on the same page, on time, and on point.


  • Draft an agenda and put time estimates around each agenda item. Include an overarching objective of the call.  

  • Send an outline of the agenda to the prospect prior to the schedule sales meeting and invite him/her to add items to the agenda. Ask the prospect if there is anything else they would like you to come prepared with into the meeting.  

  • Have the list of questions you would like answered drafted prior to the call. Cross-reference the list against the research you’ve conducted to make sure you will not be asking questions you could easily get the answers to via research.


  • Simply “wing it”. Your prospect will likely appreciate the time you put into the meeting prep.  


As with anything in life, practice makes perfect (or at least better!). Just as professional athletes don’t practice their skills during a game, you shouldn’t be practicing your sales skills during a live meeting.   


  • Find someone to role-play with. If not a colleague or mentor, try a family member or friend. If all else fails, role play by yourself.

  • Practice your tone, pitch, and pace. Master the art of asking questions without interrogating. Add humour when/where appropriate. Smile.


  • Feel embarrassed about role-playing. It’s better to make mistakes during practice than make mistakes when you’re live.  

Visualize Success


  • Imagine what a successful sales call will look like.  Imagine yourself when you’re at your personal best and in the zone.

  • Have a personal mantra that builds you up. Recite this mantra. Allow yourself to feel successful.


  • Confuse confidence with arrogance.

  • Talk yourself down or out of success.

Apply these Do’s and Don’ts to your sales meeting prep work and you’re bound to see a positive difference in the quality of your sales meetings.

"I could never be in sales."

“I could never be in sales.”

I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard this statement and I’m always curious about the root of why people feel this way.  My belief is that when people feel this way, it’s sometimes because they have been exposed to organizations that have failed in two key areas:

1. The organization does not have a product or service that its team truly believes in.

If you look at nearly every high-growth organization out there, it is likely full of team members who are raving fans of the organization’s products and services.  

In high-growth restaurants, team members can easily share which dishes and drinks they enjoy the most, using phrases such as “my favourite” or “the best” to describe them. They will happily “up-sell” an order with a side-dish, dessert, or specialty drink, not simply because it’s their job, but because they believe the customer will genuinely enjoy their recommendation, thereby creating additional value.

I use this restaurant example because restaurant servers aren’t traditional “salespeople”. In fact, many would likely utter the phrase “I could never be in sales”, despite the fact that in those high-growth restaurant environments, they very much are “selling”. However, it doesn’t feel like it because they are simply having a conversation and making recommendations that they believe their customer will value.  This, my friend, is called good sales.

When organizations fail to offer a product or service that its own team believes in - when its team members aren’t using phrases such as “my favourite” or “the best” - it becomes a very tough selling environment and the organization likely won’t meet its revenue goals.   The good news is that there are things organizations can do to its product or service to start creating those in-house raving fans.

2. The organization has not kept its target market(s) defined and in mind.

Going hand-in-hand with creating a product or service teams believe in is creating a product or service with its target market defined and in mind.

A restaurateur could have the most gourmet chef, access to the freshest ingredients,  and a menu filled with the most decadent meals. Its team has likely sampled all of the menu items and can speak poetically about the flavours, textures, and emotions they experience while enjoying each recipe.

However, if the restaurateur has not priced, placed, and promoted the restaurant with its target market defined and in mind, the restaurant will likely be in big trouble.

The same is true for any organization. Too often, businesses plow forward without constantly referring back to its target market. They create a product or service that doesn’t speak to its audience, that doesn’t create value, that doesn’t have a competitive advantage for a defined market - and are baffled when they can’t achieve their revenue objectives.

However, when an organization commits and aligns to moving forward with their target market(s) defined and in mind, growth objectives become much more achievable - and sales becomes (dare I say it!) fun!

Top 8 Reasons to Work With a Sales Consultant


There’s no doubt about it - hiring a consultant is an investment. That being said, hiring a good sales consultant should pay for itself in no time. Whether it’s helping you pave new revenue-generating paths; building systems and processes that help improve sales efficiencies; or eliminating sales waste from the business, hiring a sales consultant will be one of your greatest business moves yet.

Not sure if it’s the right move for you and your business? Here are 8 reasons to hire a sales consultant:

1. A fresh perspective

Do you ever feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle when it comes to sales growth? You know you have a great product or service, but you can’t seem to gain traction? A fresh perspective from someone who has a proven track record in various industries might be just what you need to get you (back) on track.

2. Uncovering new tools

There might be sales tools or resources that you’re not even aware exist! A sales consultant should be able to recommend tools that will help improve sales performance. And while technology might be something to consider, there could also be some less costly, easy-to-adopt tools that could take you a long way.

3. Sharing the tried and tested

When you hire a consultant, he/she will bring with them knowledge and best practices from a variety of industries. I call this innovating through cross-pollination; taking practices that have resulted in huge successes in one industry and applying them to another.  Chances are, you’ll end up doing something on the sales and marketing front that none of your competitors have even thought of.

4. Learning from others

Along with best practices, a sales consultant often has plenty of knowledge and experiences with what hasn’t worked. And while I’m all for learning through failure, it’s also awesome when you can learn from somebody else’s mistakes.

5. An unbiased opinion

Sometimes we need that unbiased opinion to help make the hard decisions. Perhaps you might need to eliminate a product or service that is not, and likely never will be, profitable. Or maybe you need a third-party to evaluate an underperforming team. Either way, it’s helpful to have someone who isn’t emotionally tied to the decision.

6. A teacher at heart

Most sales consultants love to teach (if you’re working with a sales consultant who doesn’t like to teach, I’d be alarmed.) Instead of paying for costly sales training courses or seminars that may or may not apply to your situation, your sales consultant should offer sales leadership coaching and sales team/individual training as a service that is tailored to your unique needs.

7. A lasting relationship

Whether you’re bringing on a consultant for a complete overhaul of your sales strategy and systems or for a very specific sales project, your sales consultant should provide you with a long-lasting business relationship. He/she should have a maintenance program in place, from quarterly reviews to accountability check-ins.  

8. A vast network

Your sales consultant, by nature, is a salesperson! As such, he/she should have a deep network. If there are other areas of your business that you need help with, he/she should be able to point you in the right direction, simply by reaching out to those he/she has established relationships with.

If you’re interested in discussing your business and how we might be a fit, please feel free to drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you!

4 Ways to Squeeze More Out of Your Day

As business owners and leaders, we often find that we have more things to do than hours to complete them. Here are 4 practical ways to help you become more productive and on top of your game:


Set Your Top 3 - 5

Years ago, I met with a colleague each morning to set our top 3 priorities for the day. We worked in a fast-paced environment where interruptions were frequent, so we'd ask ourselves, "If I accomplished nothing else today, what 3 things would make today feel like a success?" We would have this brief 5 minute check-in before we opened emails, checked voicemails, or participated in any other meetings. This allowed us to get clear on what ourpriorities were, before allowing others' priorities in.

The 3 priorities for the day were aligned with the top 3-5 priorities we set for the week, which trickled down from the priorities we set for the month, quarter and year. Getting clear on your objectives and the tasks that support those objectives will help keep you on track.

Time Blocking

Time Blocking is a technique used by a lot of organized sales professionals - it allows them to optimize the time spent on sales activities. For example, parts of their day will be blocked out for prospecting, cold-calling, sales meetings, social media activities, networking, and administrative tasks (although hopefully comparatively little time spent on administrative tasks).

The beauty of time blocking is that it is a proactive exercise. It forces you to review the time in the day and dedicate time to what is most important.

Track What Actually Happens

Time Blocking is great in theory, but if you're falling behind on deadlines or failing to accomplish your Top 3 - 5, take the time to track what is absorbing your time. And I mean down to the minute.

I recommend using a spreadsheet to begin with and track your time for an entire week. I even go as far as color-coding for a quick visual of what has transpired (green for what I had intended to do, yellow for unscheduled but important events, red for unscheduled/unimportant (ie. time wasters!).

What do you notice? Do meetings consistently run over? Are you not booking in enough time for travel between meetings? Are you constantly interrupted? Are you spending more time than you realized on time-wasters?

time tracker.jpg

As you can see in the example, the hour I had dedicated for writing was interrupted by a 9 minute client telephone call (unscheduled but important), followed by a 7 minute social media scroll (unscheduled and a time-waster!) By completing this exercise, I was able to see that the 60 minutes I had scheduled to write was quickly dwindled down by 16 precious minutes!

Once you notice the trends, you can make some choices. For example:

  1. Add more time if the task is value-add. If a certain meeting consistently runs late because 10 minutes is spent talking about the latest Game of Thrones episode, set an objective to keep the meetings on-time and on-point. (But make sure your organization schedules time for "play" and social chitchat - that helps foster a healthy culture!) However, if a meeting runs late because of value-add debate or discussion, perhaps schedule a little more time moving forward.
  2. Unplug to focus. Turn off email and social media notifications. If you can, silence your telephone. Record a voicemail greeting to inform potential callers when you'll be available to call them back or provide them with an alternate number if the call is urgent.
  3. Look for new ways to do things. If something is essential and adds values, but takes too long to do, get creative and find another way to do it.

Take a Walk

Sometimes we reach a point where we're just not going to be productive. Perhaps we have too many thoughts jumbled in our heads, a tough decision that we're stuck on, or have been distracted from our mission due to an unforeseen event or incident. At this point, it's time to go for a walk. Step away from your environment and allow yourself to clear your head. (And track it to find if this is a regular occurrence and needs to be built into your schedule to optimize productivity.)

Too many times, we force ourselves to plow through - all too aware of approaching deadlines or stubbornly determined to complete our task. However, the quality of the work we produce in that space is often not optimal, and the benefits derived from a 30 minute walk can be huge. You can often revive your productivity by simply putting one foot in front of the other.

Try these 4 tips and see your productivity and performance reach new levels.

Shannon Johnston is the Chief Consultant for SBMO Consulting. As sales and marketing growth experts, we help small and medium organizations become mighty. 

Small to Mighty - O2E Brands

In this series, I will highlight those local businesses that I just can’t get enough of.


I’m kicking this series off with a company that truly speaks to my heart, O2E Brands, the Vancouver-based brand-owner of 1-800-Got-Junk?, WOW 1 DAY PAINTING, You Move Me, and Shack Shine.

O2E (Ordinary to Extraordinary) Brands is a remarkable example of small to mighty. Founded in 1989 by the self-proclaimed “university drop out” Brian Scudamore under the flagship brand 1-800-Got-Junk?, Scudamore identified a gap in the market: there was nobody out there excelling at service in the junk removal industry. Investing his last $700 in a used pick-up truck, Scudamore went to work building his vision.

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Fast forward nearly 30 years and Scudamore and his team have built an extraordinary empire of 4 awesome brands. I have personally toured their headquarters, the Junktion, twice and both times walked away feeling excited and inspired by O2E’s journey. The tour guides openly share that it hasn’t been easy and there have been many lessons along the way (one of their many acronym motto’s is WTF - Willing to Fail), but that their commitment to extraordinary has been the lifeblood of their company. Their energy is contagious and it makes you just want to do business with them. (For more information about Junktion Tours, click here. If you’re looking to grow from small to mighty, I highly recommend you organize a team field trip for inspiration.)

One of my favourite parts of the tour is seeing their “Can You Imagine?” wall. As a team they brainstorm goals they want to achieve, even when they have no idea how they’re going to achieve them. Items such as “have 1-800-Got-Junk printed on a Starbucks coffee cup” and “spot an A-list celebrity wearing a 1-800-Got-Junk vest” demonstrate the organization’s belief that anything is possible. Similarly, individual team members openly publish their own Life Goals and they are posted throughout the Junktion.


Every 5 years, Scudamore writes and publishes a “5 Year Painted Picture” for the organization’s future. What I love is that this exercise forces Scudamore and his team to become extremely clear and excited about where they are heading next. (If you’re a business leader and you don’t currently have a written and published Painted Picture, let’s talk.)  They also make sure they have a ton of fun and celebrate along the way.  

I’m personally looking forward to seeing O2E Brands continue to crush their future goals and am cheering them as they go.




What are you NOT the best at?

Deciding what you’re NOT is just as important as determining what you ARE.

I had the great fortune of attending YPO Vancouver’s executive learning event, featuring Harvard Professor Ranjay Gulati. After an entire day of insightful and relevant content, Professor Gulati gave the participants the simple task of taking away one piece of actionable information from the sessions on disruptive innovation, silo-bridging, and level 5 leadership.  My personal challenge is pulling just one nugget of wisdom, but I have finally settled on what resonated the most…

Taking the time to identify what your competitive disadvantage is. That is, taking the time to become very clear on what your product, service or company isn’t (or isn’t great at.)

Business owners and leaders are often high-achievers. We love to be great. We love to excel. We are competitive and we want to be awesome!  Sometimes, this need for greatness can be our downfall; wanting and needing to be everything to everyone. But in doing so, we often lose ourselves and inevitably become mediocre at best.

To determine what you’re going to be not great at, Professor Gulati suggested an exercise where you list the main attributes that your organization could have. From there, rank in the order of  how your business does or should measure against each attribute.

To demonstrate this exercise, Professor Gulati used Southwest Airlines as an example. On the list were a series of attributes that an airline could have, ranging from food service offering to cheap prices to friendly service. Then, he showed how Southwest Airlines ranks these attributes, whereby cheap pricing and friendly service ranked at the top two, and items such as on-flight entertainment and food service offerings ranked at the bottom two. Southwest Airlines became very clear not only about who they are and what they offer, but also about who they are not and what they won’t offer.

Think about your own business. Think about the list of attributes a company within your industry could offer: friendly service, prestigious service, convenience, quality, locations, responsiveness, low price, etc. Then, see if it’s crystal clear about both what your business both is and is not.


What's In a Name?


I’ve learned that naming your business is much like naming your child. When my husband and I were expecting our children (first a girl, then a boy) we spent hours searching for those perfect names; names that would do our children justice from infancy to adulthood.   

When naming my Sales and Marketing Consulting firm, I went through a similar process. I needed a name that symbolized both me and what I stand for in both business and life. I “test drove” many names, mulling them over in my head, writing them down, saying them outloud. But none of them fit.

And then, it hit me...

SBMO. Small But Mighty One.

It was perfect. It had meaning. It represented my own journey and it portrayed exactly what gets me excited about my business, the businesses that inspire me, and the businesses I help. Plus, it was a nickname given to me years ago by one of the most important influencers in my life.

I believe that small (and medium) businesses can be mighty! Not only do I believe it, but I’ve experienced it firsthand. And I’m excited to help other small but mighty businesses grow to their full potential.

PS:  The small business category is already pretty mighty in British Columbia! Check out these stats from the Ministry of Jobs, Trades and Technology:  

  •  98 percent of all businesses in BC are small businesses
  •  Small businesses account for 54% of private sector employment in BC
  •  Small business exporters accounted for 42% of the total value of goods exported from BC
  •  BC is well above the national average in many categories, including
    •  Small businesses per capita
    •  Percentage of employees working for small businesses in the private sector
    •  Percentage of women who are self-employed