In Sales, Is Seduction Necessary?

If we are professional salespeople, do we need to seduce our ideal customers or potential buyers?  I recently read a marketing blurb sent to me where the word “seduce” appeared respective to sales.  For me, this word suggests that our potential customers or clients will not accept us on face value and so we must undertake some other questionable behaviors to lure them to buy from us.

sales-zig-ziglarZig Ziglar said “sales is the transference of feelings.”  I firmly believe in his simple definition because people are emotional creatures first and foremost.  When we recognize the power of feelings, we can not only increase sales, but build powerful and enduring relationships that will last for years to come.

Words are important and how we employ those words in our marketing to sales scripts are also very critical. Additionally, many in business are seeking the quick fix.  Words like “seduce” conjure an easier way, a quick fix to bolster lack luster revenue.

As William Holden noted in the 1954 movie, The Executive Suite, the quick fix starves everyone. There is no quick fix in sales, in business or in life.

Sustainable business is built upon authentic relationships where people walk the walk, talk the talk or as some say walk the talk.  When we believe we must “seduce” customers, this sounds to me like we must trick them.  No wonder so many believe that those in sales are like the carnival “hucksters” or used car salespeople where trickery is very prevalent.

If you or your small business wishes to increase sales, then just build and develop authentic relationships with your ideal customers.  Remember not all sales leads are good ones.  Be discriminating in what sales leads you wish to pursue. You may find you will not need to “seduce” less than good fit customers.

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Sales Leadership Temperament of Dependent Part 37

So far after conducting hundreds of Innermetrix Attribute Index profile assessments, I have yet to encounter this internal temperament for those in any sales leadership roles. An individual with this particular temperament displays:

sales-leadership

What this means those with this temperament have attitudes about their selves which can “be easily influenced by the opinions of others.” In sales this capacity to be easily influenced is not a good trait.  (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)

With the neutral self-esteem, these individuals neither “overvalue or undervalue their own self worth.” However with the negative role awareness they may “allow the opinions to others to sway them one way or the other.” (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)

This negative role awareness suggest at this time, these individuals are “hesitant about exerting a lot of energy in one of their primary roles.”  Additionally, if they were in sales leadership roles or any other roles, they may be “seeking outside approval from others before making such an investment.”  This confusion may have this individual becoming “more easily distracted” and may “avoid commitment due to this fact.”  (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)

Not all internal temperaments are good fits for sales.  This is why knowing the person’s external and internal temperaments is essential to finding the right person for your sales leadership role. The Attribute Index is an incredible powerful talent assessment.

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Adopt the Make My Day Marketing Attitude

Many of us remember Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry telling the law breaker to “make my day.” What would happen if we as small business owners to sales professionals took that “make my day” to heart and made it part of our overall marketing attitude in a positive way?

marketing-attitudeFor me, I abandoned traditional product based marketing or what I now call “pitch promos” back in 2005 and embraced education based marketing through article distribution.  Of course I had to change my marketing attitude to fully appreciate this new perspective.

Now I truly appreciate sharing what I have learned and more importantly sharing the efforts of others. For the goal is to two fold:

  1. Educate potential ideal customers
  2. Connect to the value drivers of those same customers and centers of influence

By making the day of those around me, I am no longer “pitching the promos” but rather emotionally connecting to those individuals on a positive level. This change is now integrated into all marketing activities and works far better with my positive core values or business ethics.

So what does “make my day” marketing attitude look like?  Here are some examples:

  • Tweet newly found business articles, statistics or even info-graphics
  • Update LinkedIn by sharing the LinkedIn Pulse articles of others or even your own
  • Read a non-fiction book related to business and post your review at Amazon
  • Connect with other writers and work together to contribute to an online publication such as Worldwide Coaching Magazine or eMile People Development
  • Establish yourself as a business columnist like I did for the now Chicago Tribune/Post Tribune or NBiz Magazine
  • Offer online courses or webinars
  • Open a Slideshare account and uphold educational, informative, no pitch promos PowerPoint presentations
  • Send a daily gratitude card to someone such as a client, vendor, center of influence, or even a complete stranger who received an award or some other achievement
  • Engage in meaningful conversation when meeting someone new for the first time, stop with the “promo-pitches”

Zig Ziglar is quoted as “an attitude is a habit of thought.”  When we adopt a marketing attitude, we begin thinking of others first instead of our own pocketbooks. And in that process, we may actually learn a little more about our ideal customers as well as our industry.  This is the extra benefit of education based marketing.

 

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Moving Beyond SMART Goal Setting

Years ago I read that Peter Drucker was the author of SMART goal setting criteria.  I had also read that Zig Ziglar was also the author. Regardless of whom established these criteria, they have been around for well over 30 years.

smart-goal-settingYet, we continue to read about everything from the decrease in the obesity rate, ongoing failed business strategy execution and even missed sales targets. So what gives?

Maybe it is time to move beyond and re-frame SMART goal setting to WAY SMART goal setting:

  • W = Written as something almost magical happens when we write down our goals.  If you disagree, just think what happens when you leave your written grocery list at home.
  • A = Actionable for without action the goal is still a wish or a dream
  • Y= Yours because if the goals is not yours, there is no intrinsic motivation to achieve it.
  • S = Specific, extremely specific
  • M = Measurable, if you cannot measure it,you cannot manage it
  • A = Aligned to one’s purpose, passion and plans
  • R = Realistic in its attainment. It would be hard to build s skyscraper with just a shovel
  • T = Target date for without an end date, the goal remains a dream

Why Re-Framing Is Necessary

Written

Possibly SMART goals worked in a culture where people had to write down everything because there were no SMART devices. Today, we can employ SMART devices just like we used to do with pen and paper. The only thing we must do is to take action by writing the goal down.

Actionable

Thinking and doing are horses of entirely two different colors.  This is why Actionable is now essential. Today knowledge is no longer power, but applied knowledge is where true power resides.

Yours

When goals are set by someone else, unless we as individuals want to achieve that goal, the likelihood of successful achievement has been reduced. Goal ownership is also essential and this may be also due to cultural shift where people do not listen and fear their elders like they did in previous generations.

Aligned

Far too often when goals are not aligned to one’s purpose, one’s passion and one’s plans, the individual becomes off balanced and disillusioned.  Just like the fine gears of a hand crafted watch,  goals must work together in alignment to ensure SMART goal setting success.

If you are unhappy with today’s results and want to achieve tomorrow’s goals, then maybe you should move beyond SMART goal setting into WAY SMART goal setting. The Results Tool (a goal setting worksheet) is part of this goal setting workbook that includes a proven goal setting process based upon WAY SMART goal criteria.

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Do You Really Have Bad Business Strategy?

Are you one of those business executives desperately seeking a new business strategy because this year’s results were pardon the expression “all wet?

business-strategyIs seeking a new business strategy a fairly common end of the year or quarter business behavior?

Are you reaching for some quick fix instead of truly assessing the real problems and not the usual symptoms?

Have you ever considered your business strategy might be OK to even good?  Maybe the problem is something else?

Do you feel right now that I am pointing my finger at you?  Are you feeling a little uncomfortable?

Well, you should because before you hire that next business strategist, small business coach, executive coach or high price consulting firm possibly you may wish consider the following reasons why today’s results will not get you to tomorrow’s goals.

 

Assessment

Some business executives believe they know how to assess their business operations and immediately jump into their profit and loss statements. This is one way, but not the only way and such an organizational assessment will miss many other limitations and opportunities.

Imagine for a moment going to the doctor with a headache and your doctor immediately schedules you for brain surgery without ordering any diagnostics or assessments.  Would you have confidence in his or her recommendation?

business-strategySo if your current business strategy is giving you a headache, why are you considering brain surgery before you assess what is really going on?

Additionally, if your current business strategies are not working and new ones are sought year after year because today’s results are not realizing tomorrow’s goals, then investing the time to assess the organization is the first step.  This organizational assessment can be informal to formal. However, employing  a more formal organizational assessment every 3 to 5 years based upon specific criteria such as Baldrige can uncover critical gaps.

One such assessment I recommend is D.I.AL.O.G which looks at an organization from 5 to 10 employees to hundreds of employees through these seven criteria:

  1. Leadership
  2. Strategic Planning
  3. Customer and Market Focus
  4. Measurement, Analysis and Knowledge Management
  5. Human Resource Focus
  6. Process Management
  7. Business Results

As an instructional designer what is so great about this particular assessment is its affordability and speed of delivery. Much larger consulting firms will construct a tailored organizational assessment that will cost your business an arm and a leg.  This Internet driven assessment is affordable; provides relatively quick insight and has the capacity to deliver additional insight through the 20 minute one on one conversations with a selected sample of the employee population.

business-strategy-5-star-model

Business Misalignment

Jay Galbraith developed a simple graphic to illustrate why gaps exist in organizations.  Gaps prevent results from happening. His 5 Star Model for organizational development or what I prefer to call organizational excellence is where I begin with all clients.  I listen for gaps between:

  • Strategy
  • Structure (Organizational and physical)
  • Process/Systems (Operations)
  • Rewards
  • People

Of course many do not know if business misalignment actually exists until a formal assessment is undertaken.

business-strategy

Communication

Usually because business misalignment exists, this creates another barrier to effective execution of business strategy. Many organizations fail to consistently communicate their strategies in ways for their people to understand.

Much of this failure is because of the lack of trust in employees or the “We can’t tell them that!” attitude. Unless employees have crystal clear clarity regarding the business strategy from their perspective results will continue to limp along.

In today’s world where so much can be discovered via the Internet, keeping secrets from employees or believing them to be mindless robots is illogical and simply ridiculous. No, you do not need to give them the proprietary, financial information, but you can communicate to them with purpose and illustrate why this or that business strategy is critical to the organization’s success.

Leadership

business-strategyUltimately the buck stops here or at the door of leadership. The authors of Fail-Safe Leadership were ahead of their times when they published this short read on organizational excellence.

  • Organizations are comprised of people.
  • People lead and manage other people.
  • People are responsible for misdirected results or poor business results.

Unfortunately, the people at the top because of their failure to assess; misalignment and poor communication tend to blame everyone else.  Leadership more often than not is the real enemy for a business strategy not working. And yet leadership continues to blame the customesr, the employees, the competition or the economy.

Captain Wing It and the 4 Letter Dirty Word

Years ago a colleague shared a story about Captain Wing It. To condense that story is there are a lot of business executives who spray their actions (think strategies and tactics) all over the place and then pray something will stick. These folks are the Captain Wing Its.

Also the Captain Wing Its believe the word plan has all the connotation of a four letter dirty word.  I can say with 100% complete confidence that at least 80% of all businesses from 100 employees or less do not have a well thought out written, goal driven strategic plan that is actively revisited on a weekly basis.  Leadership leads with the ever present excuse of “I or we don’t have time.”

President Dwight Eisenhower said “Plans are worthless,planning is everything.”  This is even more true today.  Time must be invested to plan for tomorrow’s goals and to ensure today’s results are being achieved.

business-strategy

 

Your Next Step

If your business strategy is not working, then before you throw the baby out with the bathwater, consider re-reading this blog. Personally I do not like pointing fingers at people especially my readers, but enough is enough!

Now is the time to take intentional and purposeful action that will stop this yearly insanity of seeking that next quick fix business strategy to cure what ails today’s business results.

My final questions to you are these:

How many opportunities have you lost?

How much have you already invested in solutions that are not sustainable?

Can you afford another year of bad business results?

 

 

 

 

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Leaders Simply Take the Time to Listen

One observable leadership trait is forward thinking leaders take the time to listen. Listening is both an art and a skill that can be developed over time. Yet some in leadership roles fail to recognize how powerful this simple skill truly is.

leadersMaybe because I am what is called a low key salesperson listening for me is quite easy.  As I shared in my book, Be the Red Jacket in a sea of Gray Suits clear active listening has these 5 elements:

  • Clarity
  • Legitimize
  • Emotions
  • Agreement
  • Retention

Clarity is the process of separation.  By listening to separate the wants from the needs, the intangibles from the tangible, the knowns from the unknowns provides leaders with a key competitive advantage.

Legitimize is all about listening for the real problems. Many go for the obvious problems that are really symptoms in disguise and the real problem is never identified or worse yet corrected.

Emotions are internal to human beings.  We are emotional creatures.  This is where the non-verbal, the para-verbal (syntax, speed, etc) and the actual verbal words become extremely important.

Agreement is when the listener identifies and evaluates those areas where both the sender and the receiver agree.  Additionally the word agreement implies a subconscious contract.  Agreement provides a springboard for further development of the relationship especially in its earlier stages.

Retention is hearing what was actually said. This suggests the leaders have placed their agendas to the side. In many instances what has been said may have been ignored by others because they were too busy thinking of their next response or already thought they “knew the score.”

Yes listening, clear active listening takes an investment of time. Possibly more than one meeting may be required. Using the excuse “I don’t have time” or “I’m too busy” are just that excuses.

To truly hear what is being said is indeed crucial especially in today’s technology driven marketplace where some believe words on a computer screen reveal the entire meaning of the conversation. So if you wish to improve your leadership skills as well as your business results, then stop and take the time to listen.

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Take a Few Minutes to Dramatically Increase Sales Opportunities

“You won’t believe this, I couldn’t wait to tell you,” excitedly exclaimed my executive coaching client in a recent phone call.  She did not even allow me the opportunity to ask how she was before she started sharing how a few minutes provided a dramatic opportunity to increase sales.

increase-salesShe continued “We just had a meeting with an ideal customer who has the potential to become our largest client. He met with my boss and myself.  In that meeting he told my boss, the only reason I am meeting with you is because your salesperson sent me a handwritten note.  When I received that note, I immediately showed it to my sales manager and told him this is how business is done, with personalized gratitude.”

Even though my executive coaching client knew about writing thank you notes as part of the process to increase sales, she had stopped that behavior.  During our executive coaching sessions when she shared she had met with a new and qualified sales lead, I always asked “Did you send a thank you note?”  After several months, she then began many of our conversations with “I had six meetings last week and sent every one a personalized, handwritten,  thank you note.”

Now I know there are some services that offer cards with handwriting that looks like the senders’. These are nice. Yet my sense is a personalized, handwritten note with just a few lines can be far more effective to increase sales and costs a whole lot less.

What salespeople sometimes forget is people buy from people they know and trust. Personalized, handwritten notes achieve both of those objectives and provide a much needed springboard to increase sales.

I remember writing thank you notes back in grade school usually after my birthday or Christmas.  My mother sat me down at the kitchen table and I had to print, then later in cursive write a thank you to everyone who sent me a gift. Writing thank you notes is an ingrained habit.  Not to write one for me is just rude.

What I encourage my executive coaching clients to do is to go to the local dollar store and purchase packages containing anywhere from 6 to 10 cards. These are overruns from the much larger stores and where they sell for $3 to $7. Over the weekend when I was out running errands, I purchased several packages totaling $3.21 tax included as I had to write 3 thank yous for meetings I had the previous week.

increase-salesMy advice is if you want to increase sales opportunities, remember the personal touch is always best. If you have a few minutes to write an email to say thank you, you have the same amount of time to write a personal, handwritten thank you note.

Learn some other tips in how to Be the Red Jacket in the sea of gray suits if you truly want to stand out and differentiate yourself from all those other small businesses.

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Sales Leadership Temperament of Expressive Part 36

Being your own person is a good sales leadership trait. These words best probably best describe an individual with this internal temperament of expressive. These individuals have:

sales-leadership

Credit: Gratisography

The neutral self esteem provides a “solid and fairly accurate” sense of self worth. This neutrality allows those with this temperament to “neither under nor over value” their own abilities. Additionally, they  “set appropriate limitations” for themselves.  (Source:  Innermetrix Attribute Index)

Having the negative role awareness and positive self direction, those with this sales leadership temperament of expressive “are also very driven to follow” their “own sense of direction.” They believe “things are to be done a certain way.”   Additionally, they will “endeavor to ensure that they are done so” because this, to them, is a “key to success.”   (Source:  Innermetrix Attribute Index)

Finally, these individuals can be “tenacious when it comes to adhering to their own rules.” They are for the most part “punctual, conscientious and well organized.” (Source:  Innermetrix Attribute Index)

Having personally delivered hundreds of Attribute Index talent assessments, I have yet to have assessed someone in a sales leadership role with this internal temperament. The one temperament held by all top sales performers is compulsive.

If you wish to know if you have the top internal temperament held by top sales performers and to learn more about the Attribute Index, click here.

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Old School Marketing Beliefs Are a Barrier to Business Growth

The professional business person stated unequivocally “I believe in old school marketing.”  He then shared how in his corporate world, people met face to face and he firmly believed in flying in airplanes to make those connections happen. His opinion of social media platforms was not high and he did not even have a LinkedIn profile.

old-school-marketing

Credit: Gratisography

As I listened to his old school marketing beliefs I realized he truly did not understand marketing and wondered how much more successful his former business could have been. Here was a business professional who was not only reducing his own possibilities for professional growth, but more importantly business growth for the new organization in which he was working.

This gentleman is not the first individual I have come across who believed in traditional face to face old school marketing. There are many in today’s marketplace that hold similar beliefs.  What these individuals fail to realize is that social media even though a different channel is old school marketing with just a different twist.

What Is Marketing?

Marketing is all about attracting attention and building relationships. This is the first phrase of the 3 Phase Sales Process. The goal is to make a friend and to be asked back for that first meeting.  Isn’t that what social media does?

For example on LinkedIn, you can integrate traditional marketing such as direct mail by sending LinkedIn emails.  Through the LinkedIn Pulse platform, you can upload articles that are very much like newspaper stories embedded with your own advertising (think links or calls to action).

old-school-marketing

Credit Gratisography

The Key to Unlock the Relationship Door

Social media is first a key to unlock the relationship doors.  One key can unlock many doors and that is the power of social media. Let me explain through this short sharing.

Last week I was awarded Small Business Journalist of the Year by the Northwest Indiana Small Business Development Center. I can say with 100% certainty that award happened because of social media.  What I learned from several people was the judging committee was very surprised to see the extent of my journalistic efforts.  Beyond the weekly online business column for the Chicago Tribune/Post Tribune, I have contributed and continue to contribute to these publications:

Then there are many others local businesses to national associations that have picked up my articles from directory article sites such as EzineArticles, EvanCarmichael and Sales Gravy. By employing social media as a marketing platform, I then was able to connect with specific individuals and had those essential one on one conversations.

Word of Mouth Is Now Word of Touch

old-school-marketing

Through Twitter, LinkedIn and the other social media platforms, the proven word of mouth has evolved to word of touch. Fingers are touching keypads and making the outreach.

In a global marketplace, social media crosses regional borders and countries to reach ideal customers across the seas. And when an organization has a unified social media policy in place, there is not just one person typing the keyboards, but tens to hundreds of people.  Here is where social media and old school marketing unite and exponentially expand attraction.

The Proof Is In the Results

For me, social media has expanded my business growth as well as professional credibility.  Just this past weekend, this blog was honored as one of the best sales blogs in an international competition. What was interesting was that I did not know it until I was notified my blog had made the second cut. I have connected with and made many new business relationships that would not have been possible had I stayed with the old school marketing.

From social media I have earned new sales leads who have read my postings and then made outreach to me.  All of this happened without me having to take an airplane read.  And yes quite a few of those sales leads turned into executive coaching or talent management clients.

old-school-marketing

Our Beliefs Are Our Barriers

So many small businesses to much larger organizations worry believe the competition or the economy is the greatest barrier to business growth. Unfortunately, the hard reality is our own beliefs are our biggest barriers.  Henry Ford probably said it best:

Whether you think you can, or you think you cannot, either way you are right.

 

 

 

 

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Courage Required to Buck the Status Quo

Funny thing about business and life, so many want to buck the status quo and yet far fewer appear to have the courage. One of my colleagues in a community discussion about the proliferation of self promotion within LinkedIn discussion groups asked this two-fold question:

buck-the-status-quo

  1.  Why don’t they (those who are bemoaning all the self promotion)  make their opinions known by commenting their displeasure?
  2. Why aren’t they (those who are bemoaning all the self promotion) commenting on those posts they like?

For question #1, my answer is it takes courage to buck the status quo. By putting oneself out there in social media especially on well traveled sites such as LinkedIn, potentially sets people up as targets.

For question #2, it takes a commitment to the consequences to turn the tide of the status quo. This commitment is a direct reflection of one’s consistency to his or her business ethics.

In business, people remain silent because they do not want to offend any potential customers or clients. Talking about politics, religion or calling people out professionally (and with emotional intelligence) “on the carpet” is “bad for business.” We are told not to judge and not to be judgmental because that is “bad.” And then we as business people scratch our heads when “things go south.”

In another discussion group I was called insane (and not in a nice, humorous way) because I wrote the use profanity suggested a lack of professionalism and a limited vocabulary. The limited vocabulary might also suggest limited critical thinking skills. The English language is deep with words that can be easily substituted for “foul” language especially in a public forum.

What was interesting to observe was all the “likes” I received for my comment.  My response to the person who called me insane was “Interesting, you may be right.”

One of my favorite stories is the Emperor’s New Clothes. The Emperor is the status quo and until we as citizens, business professionals and small business owners  have the courage to shout out “The emperor is naked!” we will continue to be mired in the same status quo.

buck-the-status-quo

The question we must ask ourselves is also two-fold:

  1. Do I have the initial courage to buck the status quo?

  2. Am I willing to suffer the consequences from bucking the status quo?

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