Jon Levy really gets how the social sales funnel works, and why it’s so important.
Jordan recently had the leading behavior expert, consultant and writer on The Art of Charm Podcast, and I was amazed at how much overlap there is between what he’s doing and what we’re doing. Among others, Levy has had Nobel laureates, royalty — literal royalty, not the metaphorical “Hollywood royalty” kind — and Olympic medal winners operating at the pinnacle of influence and prestige in the world.
The concept of a social sales funnel is one of my favorite developments at The Art of Charm. As a quick refresher, here’s how a simple sales funnel works. You start off with what are called “leads” — basically just people you meet. “Prospects” are the next level. These are people who are potentially thinking about buying. After that, you can divide this group into “hot” and “cold” prospects to gauge the level of interest in a given prospect. Finally, you’ve got your sales, who are the people you actually close.
We’re not saying you should reduce the fun and spontaneity of your social life down to a conceptual tool, but the sales funnel model can help you harness and maximize your social network. It’s something I’ve been honing with the rest of the team here at The Art of Charm over the last two years or so, and it’s reaped excellent dividends. So while you definitely don’t want to view your contacts in terms of commerce — since you’re not selling products, you’re “selling” the value of a connection with you — you do want to be smart and deliberate about your social life.
Because the bigger and more attractive your social sales funnel is, the more satisfying and fulfilling your life is going to be. Need a new job? Tap that social sales funnel. Traveling the world? See who’s in your sales funnel and whom they know abroad. Looking for a trustworthy, affordable mechanic? Again, check out your sales funnel. And then, of course, there are the ordinary pleasures of friendship.
Best of all, the more people you get into the funnel, the more people are going to want to get into the funnel. You still want to be selective about whom you have in your life, filtering in the good and filtering out the bad. It will take some time to get up and running. But once you get your social sales funnel going, it’s going to have a huge impact on your social, romantic and professional life.
Levy also talked about how your five closest friends are your social and professional ceiling — you’ll never rise any higher than the people around you. So here’s how to make sure that you’ve got a high ceiling.
John Levy and the Social Sales Funnel
When Levy started having his dinner parties, he wasn’t the type of guy who could get people at that level to even answer his phone calls, let alone get them to come over for dinner. So how did he become a man whose dinners are such important events that they’ve received coverage in Forbes? More importantly, how can you start your social sales funnel to dramatically increase the overall quality of your life?
- Define Your Core Values
When Levy was trying to formulate how he was going to bring people together, he had to get in touch with his own self-image — his own conception of himself and what he stood for.
Plain and simple, he sees himself as the type of guy who creates connections among people. To develop your self-image, he recommends that you “come up with something really consistent with who you see yourself as.” In other words, be real and authentic — there’s no social role you need to invent.
How do you come up with your core values? That can take a bit of effort, but it’s mostly about listening to your instincts about what feels and seems right in social situations. A great start is to carry a notebook with you and log your reflections on the subject. Eventually, you’ll want to sit down and sort through what you’ve got. If you find that you have more than six or so, you’ve got too many. Drill down some more. Ultimately, you’ll test these values in action — by meeting and bringing people together, and discovering which values you treasure most.
- Consider Your Passions
On top of your core values is the layer of your passions — what you simply enjoy doing. For Levy, that means hosting dinner parties, which create the kinds of egalitarian networking and connecting he enjoys. A close friend of his, who loves playing around with new friends, opted for a game night instead.
No matter what type of social function you plan to throw — whether it’s a night of Cards Against Humanity, a small dinner party or a book club — make sure it’s something that you and the people in your sales funnel are going to be passionate about. That creates a “centerpiece” grounded in your personal passions that people can use to come together and connect. It also turns a social function into an experience, as opposed to just an event, which as we know has the power to create emotional bonds, memories and lasting happiness.
Not only does this increase the chances that people will actually show up, but it also increases the chances that your funnel will begin growing exponentially: Your friends and acquaintances won’t be able to help themselves from spreading the word.
- Consider What Type of Group You Want to Put Together
Levy has a rule when it comes to putting his dinner parties together: He never invites more than one person from a single industry.
While this can limit things a bit (once he chooses someone from an industry, he can’t invite anyone else from that field until the next one), it helps him cultivate the right mix of people. Variety is key.
On the other hand, you might find that you want to invite no one but people from a certain industry. What’s important here is not doing it exactly like Levy, but figuring out who you want to have at your social functions.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Promote Your Events
“Whenever you’re creating something new, you have to hustle,” says Levy.
It took him a long time to build up his first dinner party. He didn’t do it by sitting around and wishing for people to ask to come over. Rather, he did it through a lot of trial and error about how to ask the people he liked to join him for dinner.
How you promote varies dramatically from person to person. “The way you invite someone who comes from multi-generational wealth is different from how you invite an executive is different from how you invite a celebrity,” explains Levy.
He knows. He’s had all of the above and more at his dinner parties. This is about knowing your audience, but also about learning how to talk to your audience. For example, old money generally wants you to tap dance around a topic before actually tackling it. They’re less comfortable talking about jobs and work. Compare with an up-and-coming celeb who is always hustling.
- Provide Value
One thing Levy never does is ask his guests for anything in particular, though he does concede that he’s getting better at asking people for favors. Still, the point remains: You’re not throwing a party or organizing a social event to get something from the people in your social network. Instead, you’re aiming to give them something.
The Art of Charm shares this philosophy. Levy says that your events should be so valuable that your guests can’t wait to tell their friends and bring them in. Indeed, leading with generosity is the most powerful form of promoting your social sales funnel that you can do.
- Create Traditions
There are three very secret, very sacred traditions that are a part of Levy’s dinner parties. So secret and sacred, in fact, that no one knows them but the people who attend his parties. Such traditions, whether secret or public, can help to create a sense of camaraderie between you and the guests at your events.
A tradition might be revealing an embarrassing story about yourself. It might be that men do the dishes while women sit around after dinner. Or it might be (as Levy often does in one his less-secret traditions) a big reveal of your profession at the end of the night.
Find traditions that fit with your values, the theme of the night and your overall goals. They’ll add another layer to the evening, helping you to make it uniquely your own.
- Be Cognizant of Gender Divides
Maybe you just want to have a guy’s night where you come together as men. Maybe you want to have a mixed group where guys and gals can meet each other. Either way, you need to be aware of the gender divides at your parties.
For his part, Levy likes to keep things about 50/50, so even if someone wants to bring a date, they have to ask in advance. His dinner parties are emphatically not about hooking up, however. He just wants his guests to feel comfortable and in a gender-balanced group.
Again, do what works for you. Whatever your goals, make sure that you keep this key dynamic in mind.
- Distribute the Network
Your social events aren’t about you meeting people. They’re about people coming together.
To that end, you want to introduce as many people to one another as you can. This allows your guests to make connections that will last longer than the event itself — one of the most powerful ways possible to provide value.
What’s more, it’s also a great way to give yourself a bit of value while you’re at it. “When you bring two people together who both adore you, they end up discussing how much they adore you and adoring you even more,” he says. This is the abundance mentality applied to your network: Don’t hold your contacts close to the vest. Instead, share them and see your returns start to grow.
- Don’t Be Afraid of Failure
“I have embarrassed myself 100 times more than you can ever imagine,” says Levy, “and it has been a wonderful experience.” All too often we make the perfect the enemy of the good. So rather than getting out there, getting our hands dirty and bringing people together, we find reasons not to act.
Maybe you’re afraid your first party won’t be an amazing success. Maybe you’re afraid of making a faux pas in front of someone you’re trying to meet. Maybe, more abstractly, you’re afraid of not having clear core values or being unable to achieve your goals quickly enough.
Failure is, more often than not, one of the biggest parts of making those strides. As Jason Surfrapp discussed on a recent podcast, you can only research and plan so much before it becomes a form of procrastination.
“I encourage everyone to fail gloriously,” says Levy.
We couldn’t agree more. So if you’re stagnant in life, start paying attention to your social sales funnel. It’s one of the most fun and powerful ways to constantly kickstart your life. Your five closest friends are the ceiling of your accomplishment, so get out there and raise that ceiling!