Archive for January, 2012

Business Myth of Time Management Prevails

Credit www.sxc.hu

The business myth of time management still prevails because it is much easier to provide some “time management tips,” some surface solutions than to really address the real problem of self management.

No one can manage a constant. 

Time management is an oxymoron.

Time is a constant as there will always be 60 seconds in a minute; 60 minutes in an hour; 24 hours in the day; 7 days in the week; and 365 days in a year.

Yet workshop after workshop in order to secure the quick fix, maintain this business myth and not too mention make oodles of money, the short term thinking solution focuses on the symptom of the problem and not the problem.  For if the focus was truly on the problem of better self management, these business training, self improvement training to sales training workshops would not be able to fly in and fly out in just one day.

With my practice, I provide a diagnostic tool (performance evaluation) to determine 78 key attributes that have been sorted into specific roles or categories including time management.  There are 5 key attributes or talents within this category of time management and include:

  • Attention to Detail – ability to see and to pay attention to details
  • Concrete Organization – understanding the immediate, concrete needs of a situation, establish an effective plan of action
  • Consistency and Reliability – being conscientious in personal and professional efforts as well as consistent and reliable in life roles
  • Project Scheduling – understanding the proper allocation of resources for the purpose of getting tasks (goals) completed within a defined time frame
  • Realistic Personal Goal Setting- setting goals that can be achieved using available resources and operating within a projected time frame.

Effective time management is a direct result of goal setting and achievement. For without goals, who cares if you are here or there?

Notice there is nothing about a “better time management” skill because one does not exist. Time management has and will always be a self management skill based upon specific attributes, talents or capacities.

If you want to get a handle on how to better operate within a given and constant time frame, then look to solutions that address self management or self leadership.  Invest a little more dollars and time to secure sustainable results otherwise next year at this time if not sooner, you will once again be seeking another time management solution and continuing this very expensive  business myth.

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Content Marketing Begins with Relevant Value

Content marketing begins with relevant value which emanates from strategic planning as demonstrated through market research.  Potential customers, prospects, centers of influence or strategic partners are seeking new information.  Your goal is to become one of the top resources in this quest for this endless flow of information. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  To engage in content marketing without having a strategic plan has you in the role of Captain Wing It where you spray your efforts all over the place and then pray something will stick.

Of course there is a problem with all you can eat information, there is just too much of it. This is why relevant value is so critical.

Value as Marc Miller writes in his book A Seat at the Table truly comes from the client or prospect’s viewpoint.  In other words, people buy on value unique to them. This is my sales buying rule #3.

Yes, there may be some generic value in specific industries or specific roles, however each organization has a culture of decision making based upon certain usually unknown values. The challenge for those in sales is not to have their perception of value supersede the potential customer’s reality of value.  Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Miller’s book is probably one of the best books on how to increase sales in today’s market place as well as to how to understand value.

Relevancy specific to value is what is most critical at this point in time and works with the two sales buying criteria of commitment and urgency. For example, if the organization  is looking at compliance costs even though they also believe in building customer loyalty, what is more important to them right now?  For whatever is more relevant will also be where there is greater urgency and a greater commitment to take action.

Writing numerous postings on this sales blog as well as a weekly column for the Post-Tribune of Northwest Indiana, regular contributor for NBiz Magazine based out of Houston, Texas, not to mention thousands of other articles, I am continually reviewing what the readers are seeking based upon metrics such as reads, retweets, etc. Even though I sincerely believe in strategic planning, leadership, business ethics and consistent goal setting, those articles do not receive as much attention as ones on:

7 Top Tips to Car Salesmen’s or Car Saleswomen’s Success – 52,583 reads published April 25, 2007

7 Tips to Real Estate Agent’s Success – 41,978 reads published May 16, 2006

What is Passion? – 17,630 reads published May 29, 2005

Content Marketing a Competitive B2B Advantage – 307 tweets since January 8, 2012

Uniting See Level with Sea Level to Reinforce an Engaged Workforce of Thinkers and Doers – 31% click through rate since August 1, 2011

Can Your Business Ethics Stand the Newest Wave of Bombardment, Social Media? – 7 reposts through EzineArticles since August 17, 2010

The challenge even though relevant value may work in tandem with two of the 5 sales buying criteria, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee a sale.  Returning to the example of the first two articles about car sales people and real estate, many of these  sales people do not have the allocated dollars to hire a sales coach. However the article still gives provides the opportunity to attract more attention and build more relationships.  Yes I have earned dollars through these articles. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Determine your niche in content marketing.

To determine relevant value begins by listening to what your customers are saying; by listening to what others are saying; by listening to what is happening within your market place, your community and even the world. Also engaging in keyword research supports relevant value in content marketing.  Keyword research can be your secret weapon to Be the Red Jacket, to stand out in the crowd with your blog postings to articles to even keynote speeches.

In today’s very crowded market place, does demand that you do stand out if you wish to increase sales. Content marketing based upon relevant value just may help you stand out a little quicker, may increase sales and may expand your market influence.

 

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How to Increase Sales Tips & Snippets #21 – Leave the Sharky Sales Behavior

Even in today’s knowledge rich society, the ongoing goal of how to increase sales still results in “sharky sales behavior.” We all know about this type of sales behavior.  The salesperson circles around you, comes up, attempt to take a bite under the disguise “May I help you?” and then resumes circling. Just waiting for that moment. Can you hear the music of Jaws in the background?

Credit www.sxc.hu

Sharky sales behavior appears to be ingrained in the sales training at least for one national wireless company.  Every time I enter one local wireless retail store, I am immediately approached by a salesperson who utters the four word baited question “May I help you?” I politely tell him or her no and all I am doing is paying my bill.

Then the person circles checking in every couple of moments “Are you having any problems?” or “Did you know you can pay your bill quicker over here?”

When I am paying a bill, I like my privacy.  I do not want to pay a bill in the center of the salesroom with a plethora of people coming and going. Of course the center of the room is nearer all those new products so that maybe you as the customer may be interested in the latest new mobile smart device. And this is more important to the store than your financial privacy.

Years ago when retail clothing stores had sales people as compared to checkout clerks, there was a lot of sharky sales behavior especially for those salespersons on commission.  Today that behavior can still be found at many retail outlets from electronics to new car sales.  Even those engaged in business to business (B2B) sales sometimes also demonstrate this type of sales behavior.

Unless you want your customers to be reminded of Jaws or heavens forbid pushy sales people as in Glenngarry GlenRoss movie where the ABC of always be closing  of sales training is immortalized, then maybe it is time to reconsider how to increase sales.

Sales Cartoon

Credit www.funnysalescartoons.com

Sales Quotation

“You need to point out what additional value you offer. It’s not just price point. If that was the case, we’d all be driving Yugos and eating at McDonald’s.” Leanne Hoagland-Smith as quoted in the New York Times, Shortcuts column.

 

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It Isn’t Pretty Economic Philosophy – Friday’s Editorial

Part of the reason the economy is in the doldrums is this economic philosophy belief that businesses must be pretty. This is in my humble opinion.  From what I have observed is if it isn’t pretty, then we (local communities) have this economic philosophy and therefore belief of “we don’t want that type of business.”  This economic philosophy is behind the curtain of many of the more popular economic theories.

Credit www.sxc.hu

One reason for this technology expansion focus on small businesses is because technology is perceived as pretty.  And perception creates reality.

Disagree?

Look to the drive for green energy.  All those wind turbines look far prettier than some oil producing refinery, some steel mill or some coal mine or pit.

What about those solar panels?  They too look prettier than those electric towers to utility plants generating billowing clouds of smoke into the atmosphere.

With technology:

  • Everything is in a building.
  • There are no ugly trucks or garbage sitting out for all to see.
  • People dress clean and professional including some with those very white lab coats.
  • There is no grease or dirt being tracked in from those soil laden trucks, muddy boots, etc.

Yet for all that technology to run requires professions usually identified as blue collar.  From plumbers to electricians to carpenters to even vehicle mechanics all work behind the scenes.

Then there is the manufacturers such as steel or oil. And let us not forget the logistics that bring the raw goods to these pretty and clean companies.

These people who work in what some considered to be ugly industries truly understand the essence of dirty jobs. For without their efforts, there would no shiny components for all those technology devices.  Additionally how could you run the trucks or vehicles to ship all those technology related products?

Technology is changing the way small businesses conduct their day to day activities.  Those companies that provide technology related services still must have people who utilize those not so pretty goods and services.

Until a balance is struck between pretty and not so pretty businesses, the economy will still suffer.  This balance also extends to the workers. Not everyone wants or needs a college degree. Yes advance training is necessary, but that can be achieved through many of the trade associations or even some of the 2 year or junior colleges.

So the next time some not so pretty small businesses petition your local government, consider they are a necessary element for your local economy. Ignore how the pretty economic philosophy and appreciate they may not be pretty, but they are green.

 

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Got a Business Coach?


Yesterday, Sherpa Coaching released its 7th Annual Executive Coaching Survey to address this part if not all of this question of “Got a Coach?”  As always this survey brings to light some good data and now is able to start looking through  predictive analysis future trends.

Over the years, executive coaching and business coaching have grown in numbers and acceptance.  A business coach or an executive coach is usually hired for the following:

  • To develop specific skills such as sales skills, leadership skills, team building skills, time management, communication, etc.
  • To change behaviors of executives, sales people to other individuals
  • To secure specific results such as increase sales, reduce employee turnover, etc.

Within my practice, I have witnessed more of a integration of these reasons along with an increasing need for consulting especially for small business owners, organizations seeking a culture of high performance or those who lack some business acumen especially around the area of marketing. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Marketing is all about attracting attention and building a relationship. Do not confuse marketing with advertising, glossy brochures or social media.

Coaching has many definitions and will continue to evolve. For me, I define coaching as a process where:

  1. Assess self-awareness (belief)
  2. Leads to crystallization of clarity (actions)
  3. Generates exceptional execution (results)
  4. Allows for the maximum leveraging of resources those being  time, energy, money, critical thinking and emotional intelligence
  5. Creates sustainable new behaviors

This coaching process is employed for people or organizations who are in one place – here – and wish to go to another place – there. Their challenge is they can’t get to where they want to be. Possibly, they have tried in the past and have experienced re-dos to total failure. All of these efforts drain the individual’s resources and place a damper on the organization as an entity.

Within my practice as I cannot speak for others, I have discovered those who “got a coach” are more forward thinking, but just as crazy busy as those who are not as forward thinking. These individuals may fear change as that is the human nature. Yet they have enough personal stamina, resolve, call it what you may not to be frozen, immobilized by that fear. These are the folks who are of the few and not of the many.

Is a coach right for you or your business? 

For the majority, the answer is probably yes because most of us have failed to tap into our potential, how much we can really do.  Yet due to negative conditioning that have created self imposed limitations leading to self fulfilling prophecies, that potential lies dormant until it is awakened much like a sleeping giant.

 

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The Least Effective Way to Open a Sales Call by Kelley Robertson

After weeks of trying you have finally landed that all-important first meeting with a new prospect; a prospect with lots of potential. A prospect that could help you reach your annual sales quota in one fell swoop!

How will you open that first meeting?

There’s a lot on the line and if you open the sales call incorrectly you run the risk of losing the sale…fast.

The natural tendency for many sales people is to start by talking about their company, their product, or their services. In many cases, the sales person will reach into his briefcase and withdraw a glossy, expensive brochure and begin walking the prospect through it.

Unfortunately, the only thing this accomplishes is that it will lull your prospect to sleep or cause them to look for an excuse to bring the meeting to a quick finish.

It doesn’t matter how many cases studies or how much valuable information your brochure contains. This approach is the least effective way to open a sales call because it focuses on the wrong thing.

Contrary to popular—and misguided—belief, your prospect doesn’t care about you, your company or your brochure. All she wants to know is,

“Can this person solve a problem I’m facing?”

When you open your sales call by talking about your company, how long you have been in business, the awards you have won, the organizations on your client roster, you sound like every other sales person that your prospect has met with.

The key to making your sales call a success is to focus ALL of your attention showing your prospect exactly how you can help them make a problem go away. You need to demonstrate that you understand what challenges they are encountering and how to help them get past those problems. You don’t achieve that objective by presenting all the products in your fancy brochure.

You have exactly one opportunity to make a first impression with your new prospect and that impression will either be positive or negative. It all depends on how effectively you open that sales call.

© MMXII Kelley Robertson, All rights reserved.

Do you know what sales blunders are costing you money? Increase your sales with a FREE audio program, Sales Blunders That Cost You Money and two other sales-boosting resources by subscribing to Kelley’s newsletter at www.Fearless-Selling.ca.

Kelley helps people master their sales conversations so they can win more business and increase their sales. He does this by conducting sales training workshops and delivering keynote speeches at conferences, sales meetings and other events. Book Kelley to speak at your next sales event: 905-633-7750 or Kelley@RobertsonTrainingGroup.com.

Thanks to Kelley for a great post and please connect with him through the following sites:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/FearlessSelling

LinkedIn: http://ca.linkedin.com/in/kelleyrobertson

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FearlessSelling

 

 

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How Business Model Innovation May Increase Sales

With the economy in the doldrums, there are many small business owners to C Suite executive engaged in business model innovation by re-purposing or restructuring their current business models by adding value to justify their costs or fees so that they can increase sales.  And these folks should be applauded because staying in the status quo when it is not working truly is not a good business strategy or best business practice.

Credit www.sxc.hu

These past two years I have engaged in business model  innovation within my small business coaching practice specific to re-purposing and restructuring the solutions (services) I provide for clients. Through this reflective strategic thinking process I created a 30 day coaching engagement that was 50% to 40% less than many other sales training organizations including those with far more national presence. Over the course of two years, I have refined it and now have a fairly solid process that delivers ongoing value and truly sets me apart from others.  Sales Coaching Tip:  Strive to Be the Red Jacket in a sea of gray suits.

One well known and established national USA sales training organization requests a 12 month commitment and a $1,000 monthly investment. Now for many small business owners even those with profits near $120,000, this represent a 10% hit to the overall income.  Yes even if it is a tax write off, redirecting $1,000 a month for 12 months can cripple monthly cash flow. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  An investment in your business or even yourself should not be detrimental to your cash flow.

Innovation is looking at the same landscape but seeing something new. 

Innovation is not necessarily inventing something different, but by re-purposing one way of doing something to another way can provide new opportunities and more importantly create value. Marcel Proust said it best even though he was not directly referring to innovation:

“The true voyage of discovery is not seeking new landscapes, but seeing with new eyes.”

Re-purposing and restructuring began by listening to what my clients shared with me as well as ongoing research within the professional service industry of consulting and coaching.  This did require continual reference to my business strategic plan along with ongoing updates.  Two of the key obstacles for my clients as well as potential clients who wanted small business to sales coaching was time and uncertainty.

Even though time is a constant, people are overwhelmed with to do lists to more plates than a waiter or waitress can juggle. Then there is this looming clouds associated with all of the economic uncertainty.

  • Will this law pass?
  • Will home sales pick up?
  • Will business overcome the latest government compliance mandate?
  • Will I be able to afford to keep the current benefits and salaries for my employees?
  • Will this country or that one go to war?
  • Will I have enough money to cover this commitment?

By seeing the same landscape with new eyes, lenses or filters call it what you may, I was able to increase sales the last two years by 50% while also improving profits because I reduced direct and indirect costs.

Re-purposing or restructuring does require small business owners,  professional salespersons or even C Suite executives to schedule time to:

  1. Revisit the strategic business plan
  2. Research current market place and past customers’ buying patterns
  3. Reflect upon this information until clarity is achieved and value solidified

A business may restructure its fees or costs up or down depending upon the information gathered from incorporation of these 3 Rs.  For me, the engagements have been shorter, yet the clients are far more satisfied with the results.  And in business it is the results that matter.

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Selfish Small Business Owners or Just Too Busy to Be of a Giving Mindset?

During a brief  podcast with Dave Woodson, the conversation of selfish small business owners, sales referrals and giving mindset surfaced.  There appears to be an influx of a selfish mindset, a one way street where the goal to increase sales is all about me as the small business owner (salesperson)  and the heck with everyone else. And worse yet the rationale is “I’m just too busy.”

Credit www.sxc.hu

This past week I conducted my own personal experiment.  I made seven recommendations (think sales referrals) on LinkedIn with people I interact with at least two times per month. All have accepted the recommendations and yet only one person has personally thanked me.

What does this say? 

For me, my take-a-way is there exists a very real lack of a  giving mindset.  I was not looking for quid pro quo sales referral or recommendation, but rather confirmation these individuals who tell me they have strong business ethics truly not only talked the talk, but walked  the walk. One one person has confirmed he “walks his talk.”

In writing this blog posting this morning, I was interrupted by a telephone call from Dan Waldschmidt. He was calling me about a Facebook posting that he liked. Dan wanted to personally thank me for my acknowledgement and ongoing support specific to a posting about his EDGY acronym.

  • Extreme
  • Disciplined
  • Giving Mindset
  • Y – Human with a Y

Dan shared with me that each day he attempts to acknowledge others as well as to write one personal note. Dave Woodson also shared a similar daily action of  a giving mindset  I also have a daily goal to send out one hand written note.

What is interesting is that very few people acknowledge those notes, those actions.  Yet when someone does say, “Hey thanks for the note, it made my day” or something else to that effect, you as the sender know it is a worthwhile endeavor.

To grow the local  economy, to increase sales for your business begins with your giving mindset.  Ivan Misner, founder of BNI, talks and writes about giver’s gain.

Your actions beyond the handwritten note also keep you “Human with a Y.”  They can extend to other interactions from Likes on Facebook, to RT on Twitter to comments on other blogs.  Additionally all these social media interactions include going beyond the keyboard to actually meeting some of your social media fans, friends or colleagues be it face to face, the telephone or through Skype.

Each Monday morning through my weekly business column at the Post-Tribune of Northwest Indiana, I provide two shout outs to local small businesses.  Also when possible I interview local business leaders to get their perspectives on leadership.  The rationale behind this is to:

  • Stay connected to people
  • Maintain that human touch
  • Provide some PR to local small businesses
  • Be part of the solution to make my community, my world a better place
  • Be a better person

Now some of my crazy busy small business owners tell me they are just too busy to take those actions. They don’t have time.

My response is “Get up earlier” and make time!

However, these same just too busy small business owners have complained about not receiving sales referrals or sales leads and continue to expect to receive sales referrals or sales leads.

How can you expect referrals when you fail to give referrals or personally acknowledge others?

How can you be of a giving mindset when you have a one way attitude about sales leads?

How can you say you want to see local business grow when your actions are just the opposite?

This posting is not about showcasing the business ethics of  Dan, Dave or I nor that we are better than others, but rather calling attention to this “selfish mindset” that is creating  incredible gap in business today from the professional salespersons to the small business owners to even the big businesses or corporations. If we want to grow the economy, we must take actions to show we mean business.  Those actions require a higher degree of business ethics meaning actually taking action.

The question is truly very simple.

Are you of a giving mindset with the behaviors (think business ethics) to demonstrate that attitude of gratitude?

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How to Increase Sales Tips & Snippets #20 – No We or I as the Seller

Once again in the quest of how to increase sales, I received another marketing effort that was not about me as the potential customer or client, but was rather all about “we” or “I” as the seller.  Maybe it is me, but such a message is a strong emotional turn-off. Sales Coaching Tip:  Sales Buying Rule #2 – People buy first on emotion; justified by logic.

Here is the message as part of a LinkedIn request to connect:

Hello Leanne,

We (insert company), specialize (insert products or services) etc. If people are looking for your products over the Internet, we can help increase your sales.

Please let me know if we can help you with our Services.

Best regards,
(LI member’s name)

Beyond indicating we were friends as I did not know this person as they say from Adam, the message starts out all about their company.  Sales Coaching Tip:  LinkedIn allows members to research each company and telling me what “we” do is a waste of time and somewhat insulting as to my intelligence.

This message reminds me of what I wrote in Be the Red jacket about the 3Ps of price, product or proposal being spewed in the first few moments of any introduction.  Total turn off.

Additionally, I begin to think am I going to get more of these type of messages by connecting with this person who I truly do not know? Sales Coaching Tip:  Sales Buying #1 Rule – People buy from people they know and trust.

When marketing, selling or sales messages (call them what you will), begin with “we” or “I,” this indicates these individuals are not interested in their potential customers.  Another valid reason for not beginning any marketing message this way is the seller immediately is constructing sales objections.  Not smart in any language.

To be successful in sales requires leaving your ego at the door and truly being authentic and caring about your potential customer, center of influence or strategic partner. Using the words “We” or “I” during the first contact is not how to increase sales and will leave you pocket poor.

Sales Cartoon

Credit www.funnysalescartoons.com

 

Sales Quotation

“Without passion in business, you are one step away from being legally dead.”

Gus Olympidis President & CEO of Family Express

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17 Seconds, Brain Research and Increase Sales – Friday’s Editorial

Credit www.sxc.hu

During a mastermind discussion this past week, one of the members shared the first step for cognitive retention is a window of 17 seconds according to ongoing brain research.  This is one reason why so many people fail to increase sales because they do not remember learning events such as a person’s name at a business to business networking opportunities.  With so much happening so fast, 17 seconds has not been allotted to paying close attention to single learning event.

The Swiss born scientist, Jean Piaget, was one of the first individuals to study how we learn.  His work discussed schema and how the brain will match a new learning experience to an existing one.  If no match is found, the new information is discarded and may require being presented in a new way.

After the initial 17 seconds where you have paid close attention, then the next step is to invest 15-30 minutes to review the earlier learning events.  In business what this means is to go over those collected business cards, to think about who you met and what was discussed. This is a great time to use a mobile relationship management system (MRM) or customer relationship management (CRM) system to make notes.

Finally, to ensure retention within the long term cognitive memory, another review at 8-10 hours is required.  What this may look like is rethinking about the person’s met, a new fact that was learned before going to sleep.  Scheduling 15 minutes of reflection time before going to bed each night may help with improving one’s memory.

The world of brain research is fascinating when it comes to marketing, selling, the sales process and overall productivity.  In the book Buyology by Martin Lindstrom he shared a wealth of brain research specific to how the brain works within the buying decision process.  Businesses and professional sales people who better understand the buying decision process have increased their ability to increase sales.

So as you attend that next business to business networking opportunity, remember 17 seconds is required for your brain to remember something new.  Maybe now is the time to slow down and focus on remembering someone and not not collecting business cards or meeting new people.

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