How Marketing Etiquette Increases Two-Way Engagement

Marketing is the ability to attract attention and build relationships. Now with the various social media channels there is a return to marketing etiquette that even has influenced traditional marketing.

marketing-etiquetteFor example, social media is not just broadcasting one’s message (one way engagement), but becoming engaged (two-way engagement).  This engagement in many times can be as simple as:

  • Thank you for a new Twitter follower
  • Short LinkedIn message when accepting a LinkedIn invitation
  • Liking a social media post
  • Sharing a social media post
  • Creating or having discussions through the various channels
  • Commenting on articles posted websites (micro-blogging)

What potential ideal customers or centers of influence do not want is a constant stream of self-promotion or one way engagement. This one-way behavior is considered subconsciously (indirectly) to consciously (directly) at the best poor business etiquette or at the worse self-absorbed , all about me, individualistic behavior.

marketing-etiquetteMarketing etiquette is not new.  In cold calling, one behavior is to ask if the person has time to talk such as “Is this a good time?” What is new is the expectation by more people for respect through return engagement. By being responsive (engaged) to the social media marketing actions of others demonstrates you are not just about you, but about other people.

Handwritten thank you cards are another simple demonstration of marketing etiquette. Sure you can send an email thank you.Yet, what do you believe is remembered more, one email among hundreds or a personal or a handwritten note among a few pieces of mail?

Probably more today than ever before the words of President Theodore Roosevelt resonate loudly throughout the social media and traditional market place:

No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.

Social media allows you to demonstrate you care simply through positive marketing etiquette. And remember a simple thank you, a smile in your voice is sometimes all that is needed to differentiate you from everyone else.

 

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Forward Thinking Leadership Is Inspiring

The recent reports from Workforce 2020 as well as SAP and Oxford Economics come as no surprise to anyone watching leadership development. What this research tells anyone engaged in talent management, which is for the most part most people, is forward thinking leadership is inspiring and simultaneously lacking.

forward-thnking-leadershipKnowing technology will continuously change the labor force is not new. This change was reported 20 years ago by some forward thinking leaders.

Also what has not changed is reactive  human nature. We know this because  leadership in the super majority of companies still has not addressed critical issues regarding talent management including skill development, compensation and general working conditions such as “remote” working.  For some anti-forward thinking leadership, they believe training is still a cost and not an investment.

Where there appears to be some forward thinking leadership is in the smaller companies. Technology along with excessive government compliance has created more of a merchant economy as experienced before the industrial revolution. This is evidenced by over 70% of all US businesses being sole-proprietors and add those with under 20 employees, this percentage jumps to over 97%.  Having employees is very expensive and outsourcing to smaller firms improves profitability and allows those larger and even smaller companies to focus on what they do well.

These proactive leaders are inspiring to their stakeholders from their employees, their clients, their vendors and their community. Having an entrepreneurial mindset coupled with experience and a “yes I can” attitude, they are developing, creating and executing solutions that in years gone by would have only been done by the “big guys” in business.

Here in Northwest Indiana, I have personally witnessed some of these inspiring forward thinking leaders such as:

forward-thinking-leadership

Credit: Gratisography.com

Each of these individuals looked at what was happening within their industry and decided to change the status quo and still work to keep those changes coming. Standing still is not within their DNA make-up. Their commitment to improving their businesses while still improving the quality of life for their communities is as Ford has said “Job #1.”

Forward thinking leadership is inspiring and it takes courage, commitment and adherence to clarity of purpose to continue walking that path to sitting in the front instead of the back of the room. The question is are you ready to walk a similar path and inspire those around you?

This quick read, Fail-Safe Leadership, will have you take the first few steps to becoming more forward thinking and inspiring  in your leadership.

 

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Work Life Integration vs Balance, There Is a Difference

With so many businesses being directed by sole proprietors (78.2% by US Census Bureau) , there is a lot of work life tension happening 24/7.  Week nights to weekends are jammed with those daily business activities that do not require immediate attention within the 9 to 5 weekday routine.

work-life-integrationWhat I am noticing is there is becoming a distinct difference between work life integration and work life balance.  Balance suggests that everything is weighted equally. Yet for me my mental development, learning more, reading more, in many instances is much more about my professional life than personal life and is part of my marketing, sales and innovation aspects of my business.

Years ago I constructed two sets of wheels, one for my personal life and another for my professional life. Then in developing some tools for clients, I developed separate wheels for executive leadership, management, team leadership or supervision, leadership, sales, customer loyalty, innovation,  marketing and small business.

work-life-integration

For me, I no longer have just two wheels, but rather I have numerous wheels working together, integrated. These wheels remind me of the gears (wheels) found in the old fashioned, hand wound clocks. When one is working harder than another, the clock moves faster and the opposite happens when one wheel is moving slower than the other.

5-Star-ModelThis work life integration goes beyond balance because sometimes due to the demands of work life being out of balance intentionally happens. Yes imbalance impacts productivity. Yet, if the work life integration is still in alignment with strategy, structure, processes,rewards and people, the negative impact is considerably lessened. (5 Star Model)

And there is the other element present of alignment.  All wheels require alignment along with the balance and integration. Alignment returns me to my personal growth action plan as well as my small business action plans.

For today’s small business owner and sales professional understanding work life integration along with balance and alignment can make the difference between happiness and sadness.

These one page business action plans may help you gain greater clarity.

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Active Listening Goes Beyond Silence

“You could hear a pin drop.” Ah, silence, the time in between two or more people speaking.  Yet, that absence of sound does not mean active listening is taking place.

active-listening

Credit: Gratisography

Usually what that silence means is someone is thinking about how to respond while the other person is still talking.  To actively listen requires the ability to hear what the other person is saying and then process those comments within the decision making process such as “Should I respond?”; “What should I say?”; “Could I wait to hear more?”.

Silence is for some is an uncomfortable state. People have an internal bias that their silence may have them condoning another’s remarks or if they do not speak up, people may view them as not listening to worse yet not understanding.

Mark Twain among others is quoted as “If the good Lord wanted us to speak more than to listen, he would have given us two mouths instead of two ears.”

Listening is natural. Active listening is a learned and developed skill for everyone especially small business leaders and those particularly engaged in sales. (Small Business Coaching Tip:  Everyone is engaged in sales. It’s just some get paid to actually do it.)

Years ago I developed this acronym, CLEAR,  to help me improve my own communication skills so I would be more proactive in my listening instead of reactive.

C = CLARITY – Listen for clarity to separate the tangible from the intangibles and the knowns from the unknowns.

L = LEGITIMIZE – Listen to legitimize the real issues; not the perceived symptoms posing as problems.

E = EMOTION – Listen for emotions. Here is where the verbal words and the non-verbal gestures along with the syntax (speed, pitch, volume and emphasis) are important.

A = AGREEMENT – Listen for agreement to find common ground from which to build ongoing trust.

R = RETENTION – Listen for retention because what you may be hearing has not been heard by others.

Active listening goes beyond silence and is all about truly hearing and remembering what the other person has just said. Possibly consider rethinking the “Silence is golden” proverb to “Silence is green” because for many in small business your silence may give you considerable more dollars.

If you like the CLEAR small business coaching tip, you may find some other ideas for your small business in my book, Be the Red Jacket in a Sea of Gray Suits, the Keys to Unlocking Sales Success.

 

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Marshmallow Leadership Anyone?

Being a former educator I was well versed in learning motivation through a variety of research studies. One of my favorites was the marshmallow study by Walter Mischel. My understanding of psychology and observations of human behavior always had me questioning this study as a solid way to understand internal delayed gratification and its connection to cognitive retention.

leadershipThis week I came across an article that actually dispelled this particular marshmallow myth of self gratification. The author made logical sense about the fallacy of this study and why I never totally bought into Mischel’s results.

So what does marshmallows have to do with leadership?  If we understand the myth, we can better understand how some leaders engage in behaviors that are motivated by other influences and not necessarily internally driven.   Additionally their own personal experiences are another factor that the original marshmallow study did not include.

The author, Alfie Kohn, also makes a salient point about education in his first paragraph and this applies to business as well. We can fix the system to better meet the needs of the participants or fix the participants. Much of today’s leadership is about fixing people through quick fixes based upon this or that research or latest and greatest book.

When we look at the system or the desired results, then we have the opportunity to grow people to meet those results instead of attempting to fix people through some competency based leadership approach.  Isolating people by treating them as the problem outside of the system is rather ridiculous.

The other point about Marshmallow leadership is, as the authors point out, delayed gratification or action is not always the best behavior. Sometimes immediate action is required.

In the book Brain Rules, one of the key point is people, children to adults, process and retain information differently because their brains are different. Maybe we when begin to focus on more on how we develop better leaders and less looking to fix average leaders we may actually discover some exceptional leaders.

Fail-Safe Leadership is not about marshmallows, but how to successfully develop a sustainable process that integrate the business system into leadership development. This may be your first step to avoid being a marshmallow leader.

 

 

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Moving Beyond the Sales Goals Worksheet

One of the regular key words within my website analytics is “sales goals worksheet.” There must be a lot of salespeople seeking this tool with the goal, I presume, to increase sales. The question to be asked is “Will finding this tool improve your sales success, or it is something else?”

sales-goals-worksheet

Credit: Gratisography.com

From my experience, there is a whole lot more of “something else.”  What that something else is, well, that all depends. However, what I have found to be true is there are two other factors consistently needed, but ignored by many in sales.

The first factor is a proven goal setting process.  Unfortunately,  the reality is most people plan their vacation or even the weekly trip to the grocery store with far more diligent, attention to detail than their personal or professional goals and that includes sales goals.

Any sales goals worksheet does not work in isolation but works with a goal setting process.  This process for many is not successful for a variety of reasons and three of those key reasons are:

  • Not a WAY SMART goal
  • No emotionalizing of the desire for achievement or for failure
  • Little to no applied critical thinking skills

Now the second factor is the integration of the sales goals worksheet into thorough planning process that not only includes sales goals, but other areas that may successfully impact the ability to increase sales. Salespeople are truly their own business regardless if they are employed by someone else.

Acknowledgement and then acceptance of his reality will propel them forward ahead of all those in sales who are still engaged in the role of Captain Wing It. 

Each salesperson does require his or her own goal driven strategic action plan especially those who work for firms with less than 20 employees. Sales Coaching Fact: 97.7% of all US firms have under 20 employees

When salespeople move beyond the sales goals worksheet and begin to act more like a business instead of a role, they will not only increase sales, but more than likely reduce their stress not to mention having a lot more time for family, friends and their own personal endeavors.

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Sales Leadership Temperament of Reluctant Part 27

In the hundreds of Innermetrix Attribute Index talent assessments I have delivered this internal temperament has surfaced only two times.  What is interesting to note, both individuals did not want to be in sales less alone any sales leadership role. Their current positions were choices of necessity.

sales-leadership

Credit: Gratisography.com

Individuals with this internal temperament of reluctant have these biases:

What this suggests these individuals are potentially in a state of confusion or uncertainty due to their negative self esteem. They are attempting to determine “who they are, how they are.” This confusion currently has them holding a less than positive viewpoint of themselves. (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)

The neutral bias in role awareness suggests they do not identify themselves too much with their primary social or work roles in life. This reluctance keeps these individuals from fully engaging in their chosen role or career; hence why any sales leadership role is probably not a good fit for such persons. (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)

Finally, the negative self-direction is because of the neutral role awareness. There is a lack of “personal achievement” from the individual’s career. In sales leadership, success is centered around personal career achievement. (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)

By understanding these internal biases before the job is offered helps any firm to avoid miss hires and all the costs associates with a bad hire. For small businesses, hiring the wrong person in sales can be a profit disaster and one that can be avoid through this talent assessment.

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Why Do Salespeople Fear the M Word?

Mention the M word (marketing) to salespeople and immediately see negative body language to verbal denial to even actual fear. Last week when I questioned a vendor about his product being more about marketing than actually selling, he said “No, it provides the opportunity to gather sales leads.”

salespeopleDuh, gathering sales leads is marketing!

Unfortunately, way too many salespeople confuse marketing with selling even though they are probably engaged in marketing more than they realize.  The selling phase of the sales process does not really happen until you have a qualified sales lead in front of you. Those in sales should be running toward good marketing practices instead of running away from them.

The “M” word is necessary. Without a process to attract attention and begin to build relationships, the ability to increase sales would be dramatically reduced.

For a quick review, the “M” word within the sales process has two steps:

  1. Attract attention
  2. Build the relationship

The goal of this first phase within the sales process is two-fold:

  1. Make a friend
  2. Asked back for a one on one visit or have that person walk through your business (brick & mortar)

Within this first phase, there are certain behaviors and skills that are consistently demonstrated:

  1. Smile & handshake
  2. Message focused on results
  3. Active Listening
  4. Asking a few open ended questions
  5. Positive body language
  6. Ask to proceed
  7. Secure agreement

Until a solid relationship is established the salesperson will not be successful. Sales Coaching Tip:  Social media helps to build a relationship.

Beyond the confusion, there is another reason why some salespeople fear this dreaded “M” word.  That reason simply is their own beliefs.

Marketing has been viewed by many as advertising because advertising firms made money off this limited viewpoint. Then there is all the bad, pushy marketing from the infomercials to the email spam to the call centers dialing for dollars to those business to business networking events where it seems most are “showing up and throwing up.” (Jeb Blount)

These beliefs have equated marketing to something less important than the actual selling or earning the sale.  I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard “I am not a marketing. I’m in sales.”

Noted business expert Peter Drucker recognized the true importance of marketing and why it should be embraced and not feared when he said:

“The aim of marketing is to make selling effortless.”

With 97.7% of all US businesses having under 20 employees, marketing is even more crucial to the success of salespeople than ever before. Now is the time for all salespeople to hone their marketing skills and by taking that action there will be more qualified sales leads that will lead to increase sales.

Download this 7-Step-Sales-Process-ADVSYS. And no you do not have to signup to some marketing list.

 

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Want a Wheel of Life Worksheet?

Sunday’s are a day of quiet inspiration, reflection and the probably one of the best times to pull out your wheel of life worksheet. Now maybe you are thinking what is a wheel of life worksheet or better yet why even have one.

wheel-of-life-worksheetFrom my research, I discovered that Buddha was the first individual to talk about the wheel of life or bhavacakra. He segmented life into 6 areas (Buddha called these areas worlds) using a circle or a wheel to engulf these six areas.

This wheel has experienced many variations over the centuries. Today for some it has become a way to assess internal happiness and balance between all the different aspects of one’s personal life.

Several years ago I developed an 8 spoke wheel of life tool to be used with my clients. What differs mine from others is the addition a of purpose and a built in counterbalance.

wheel-of-lie-worksheetFor individuals to have crystal clarity, I believe as do others such as Kevin McCarthy author of The On Purpose Person,  begins with thinking about and then writing a clearly articulated purpose statement. I have mine hanging on my office wall.

In this wheel of life worksheet, you will see Ethics & Beliefs (spirituality) is directly across from Purpose.  What I have observed in working with executive coaching clients, when there is a lack of clarity regarding purpose, there is many times a lack of clarity regarding ethics & beliefs.

Counterbalance is much easier observed between mental and physical.  When people are not in good physical health, in many instances their mental well being and acuity suffers. Think about when you have a cold and how difficult it is to think?

Upon completion of this Wheel of Life Worksheet, you can date it and then start setting WAY SMART goals to create balance. Of course sometimes we intentionally become off balance such as securing a new job. Then our job is to communicate to others and let them (family or social) know this increase activity in this area such as career is only temporary.

Yes the Wheel of Life worksheet is a great self-assessment tool that can bring monthly if not daily inspiration to you. Please feel free to download this Personal-Professional-Wheel for your use. This particular worksheet works with the one page Personal Growth Action Plan.

 

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2 Ways in How To Assess Your Talents

So you want to begin a self improvement plan or you have been asked by your employer to develop your own personal development plan. Regardless what you call your plan, the first place to start is with how to assess your talents. Until you have clarity around what you do well, you may end up, like many others, focusing on the wrong end of the horse, your weaknesses.

how-to-assess-your-talentsThee are only two ways to assess your talents:

  1. Quantitative
  2. Qualitative

Quantitative is all about using measurement that can be expressed in numbers such as achievement tests, hours of work, weight, etc. Qualitative cannot be expressed as a mathematical number but gender, social economic status, personal observations, etc. Sometimes qualitative assessments have numbers using a rubric where people assign a number based on their interpretation.  For example, essays to performance appraisals are quantitative even if numbers are assigned.

Within both of these ways in how to assess your talents, there are formal and informal assessment tools available.

Formal tools such as the Attribute Index talent assessment have been statistically normed within larger populations. There are statistical co-efficients that measure the reliability (Does the assessment consistently measure the same thing?) and validity (Does the assessment measure what it is says it measures?).

Informal tools lack any statistics respective to reliability and validity. These can be self-assessments to surveys.

Both ways in how to assess your talents can be employed as you develop your self improvement plan or personal development plan.  Once you complete your assessment or assessments, then the next step is to gain clarity specific to what areas require your attention. You truly do not want to be hitting the wrong target.

Your biggest challenge is just to sit down, decide to begin walking this new path and just do it.  If you require assistance, now is not the time to think you can do it all alone.  Seek out a co-worker, your boss, a friend, a mentor or even hire an executive coach to get you going.

 

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith
cited by Get Base CRM as one of the top 50 Sales Pros to follow on Twitter.

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