Archive for August, 2012

Relationship Selling and Cannonball Social Media Marketing

Some experts in sales training coaching and marketing for small businesses are suggesting relationship selling is dead and for struggling as well as successful companies to take their traditional marketing funds and redirect then 100% into social media marketing.  What happens is potentially small businesses take the cannonball approach to social media marketing, make a very large big splash and then shoot all the fish (sales leads) onto the shore just waiting to be picked up by the very anxious sales team.

If people still buy from people and people buy from people they know and trust, then relationship selling is very much alive and will always be alive.  Possibly what it looks like may change and how the relationships are developed will also change.  In other words, the paths to building those critical and necessary relationships are different.

The reason for this alleged death of relationship marketing is because so many firms do not engaged in any strategic thinking and planning.  They are desperate for the quick hits (think sales leads) to their marketing funnel.  They are either unwilling to develop the relationships or do not know how to develop those critical business to business relationships. Sales Training Coaching Tip: These individuals are definitely engaged in the role of Captain Wing It, spraying their actions all over the place much like the cannonball dive and then praying something sticks.

Relationship selling is all about slow and steady wins the race. This is an attitude much like the Tortoise who consistently plodded toward the finish line while the fast footed Hare jumped ahead and then took a nap. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Naps are not part of relationship selling or social media marketing.

Social media marketing provides a plethora of ways to stay connected with potential customers, sales leads from demonstrating expertise in your area of business to supporting others who may need some assistance.  The key to social media is to splash often and let the water drops not be filled with self promotion, but rather with education and a selfless, caring attitude.

All small businesses want to make a big splash in their respective markets.  They want to be noticed. The question is do you just want to be noticed once or do you need to be noticed numerous times?

 

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Too Busy To Be Grateful?

Credit www.wikipedia.com

Small business owners to sales professional are indeed very busy people. Between rushing to this meeting and that, making those ongoing and necessary business to business connections, completing all the paperwork, staying connected through their mobile devices or smart phones and not to mention balancing family and social commitments, their lives more often than not appears to resemble Tasmanian Devil from Looney Tunes. Yet how busy is too busy to be grateful?

What random acts of kindness and gratitude are being left in the dust under this excuse of “I’m too busy.”

What does being too busy suggest to others?

  • Uncaring?
  • Arrogant?
  • Unaware?
  • Poor business ethics?
  • Clueless?

In a free PR opportunity through my daily digest of HARO, I became aware of a column written by Maureen Dowd specific to gratitude and the behavior of sending thank you cards or notes. She wrote about Paul Newman who in spite of his very busy schedule and his natural cynicism sent personal thank you cards. Now one might think that someone of Mr. Newman’s statue and schedule would just be too busy to be grateful. However given his business ethics as reflected through his behaviors toward others such as his charitable works, I was not surprised by her comment.

To stand out in the busy now global marketplace is difficult. However by being authentic in one’s business ethics and demonstrating a consistent attitude of gratitude, you can Be that Red Jacket among all the other gray suits.

President Theodore Roosevelt said it the best “no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Handwritten thank you notes show you care and are not too busy to be grateful. In small business to big business people buy on emotions first. Caring is the first step to developing those emotions as well as building trust.
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Small Minds Inhibit The Influence and Power of Social Media Marketing

Here in Northwest Indiana, there are now two local social media marketing campaigns. Given how important buy local is upon the community ($68 out of every $100 spent at a local business stays in the community – Source: 3/50 Project), I am somewhat surprised by the negative reactions from what appears to be some small minds.

Credit www.sxc.hu

Marketing is all about attracting attention.

Sure those local small businesses directly associated with any marketing effort receive the biggest attention or have the largest river, but with social media that attention is diverted into a plethora of different streams (think tributaries) that touch many otherwise untouched, unnoticed small businesses. One never knows who is searching the Internet to reading the RSS feed or connected to whom through the various social media channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, etc.

Yesterday for example, I had business lunch with someone that I connected through via local social media. He had been reading my business column as well as this blog. We had a delightful time at a local restaurant and became far better acquainted.  I learned he had shared my book, Be the Red Jacket, through the Amazon link with the owner of this small local business.

Then upon returning back to the office, I noticed a LinkedIn invitation from someone across the northern border in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  He specifically mentioned he has been reading my blog for some time and I noticed we shared one common LinkedIn discussion group.  This is not the first time this has happened and my goal is it will not be the last time.

Last week I met a small business owner with a communications business and she flat out told me social media marketing does not work for her business and industry. When I looked up her website, her LinkedIn profile, it was quite obvious why it was not working. Her attitude is reflective of many other small minds I have encountered during the last five years.

The point here is sometimes small business owners need to expand their minds, to stop thinking small or about how this or that only benefits someone else and does not benefit them. Additionally, social media marketing for small businesses  is not about controlling this hash tag or conforming to my definition of what social media should be. Those thoughts are more small minded than truly being forward thinking.

Social media marketing when constructed from an education based marketing approach can dramatically influence potential customers to centers of influence to strategic partners. From this influence comes the power of being credibility, an expert in your particular field or industry, someone who can be trusted to even better yet the capacity to increase sales for small businesses who indeed have limited resources of time, energy, money and emotions.

P.S. If you have 60 minutes and want to increase sales, consider this webinar – I Hate to Sell, but I Need to Pay the Bills – today at 3PM Central time. Your investment is just $47 and you will receive at least double that in tools and some great tips. Scroll down to today’s date 8/29 and look for the title.

Food for Thought: If you are not willing to invest in you, your business, why should your clients make an investment in you or your business?

 

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Sales Leadership – Idealists or Ideologues?

In business we have all crossed the paths of the idealist as well as the ideologue.  One sometimes appears to bend and sway with every new idea and reminds us of Don Quixote chasing the windmills while the other is a firm and unmoving as the Rock of Gibraltar.

Credit www,.sxc.hu

Human beings are usually a blend of these two roles and this goes for those in sales leadership roles. Managers want to encourage fresh ideas while still maintaining order. A delicate balancing act is appears to be present more often than not.

Idealists sometimes are very much concerned about people.  They have high empathy and their decisions are based upon emotions or feelings. Ideologues may also be concerned about people, but they may also be more involved in thinking as they work through their decision making styles.

To understand how people make decisions helps those in sales leadership roles. Additionally, understanding their own talent capacity as well as their team members may just provide enough of a competitive edge necessary to increase sales and meet other business goals. By assessing the decision making styles of your sales leadership team is probably the first place to start so your business has a good balance between idealists and ideologues.

P.S. To learn more about how people make decisions as well as to other capacities within any organizational or sales team, today’s webinar at 3pm cst may be of interest to you. Scroll down to “Sales Leadership – Got Talent” and register.

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Seeking the Best Customers, Settling for the Worst Customers

How often do we seek the best customers and find ourselves settling for the worst customers?

We scratch our heads and wonder how in the world did we get in this place?

Maybe in our desperation to increase sales for our small business we engage in the role of Captain Wing It where we spray our actions all over the place and then pray something will stick?

Or maybe we fail to listen to our gut brain that quietly whispers

  • “This has disaster written all over it.”
  • “You do not want to do business with this person”
  • “Are you sure you want to do this because you know this is going to be a pain in the arse?

Saying no to a small business sale is difficult in the best of economic times less alone the worst of economic times. Bills have to be paid to keep:

  • The lights on
  • Food on the table
  • Employees
  • Loyal customers
  • Vendors

Maybe now is the time to clearly articulate your ideal customer, reassess your marketing messages and start making those course corrections in your small business strategic plan to land the best customers. Settling for the worst or second best customers is probably not the most effective action to build a sustainable small business.

P.S. There are still seats available for tomorrow’s (8/28/2012) webinar – Sales Leadership – Got Talent? and Wednesday’s (8/29/2012) webinar – I hate to sell, but I need to pay the bills.  Learn more and register at Eventbrite.

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How to Increase Sales – Be Emotionally Intelligent

Sometimes if we are fortunate and have our minds open, we can potentially see how not to increase sales through our interactions with others especially at business to business networking events.  One behavior that is continually reflected is emotional intelligence or in some cases lack thereof.

This past week I had an opportunity to connect with a new person.  After introductions, I repeated her name and was immediately corrected because I failed to use her middle name. The correction was done brusquely and at 40 miles per hour.

Then discussion turned to some local events and all I heard was “that was mine” or “I.”  This women’s business was specific to communications which gave me some pause for concern. Her conversations stepped on others because of her desire to correct any misinformation and return the focus of the conversation to her and her business.

As I listened to this person, I must admit I could see myself years ago before I became aware of the power of emotional intelligence.  This individual was clueless about the emotions of others around here. She made little attempt to recognize the emotions of others, but her behavior squashed those potential emotions because the conversation was all about her. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Big egos or my way or the highway usually suggest a lack of emotional intelligence.

Being emotionally intelligent or having emotional intelligence is not difficult as it already exists in all of us.  This particular leadership characteristic does require an investment of time to understand what constitutes emotional intelligence and a commitment to consistently apply this knowledge. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Read any of Daniel Goleman’s books on emotional intelligence.

As to the success of this women’s business, since she has been in business for 20 years, obviously she has been successful. However, I just wonder how much more successful could she be if she became more emotionally intelligent? From my perspective, I would never recommend her.

How to increase sales is not just one sales skill, one leadership talent, but rather a combination of sales skills and talents along with life experiences and one’s personality. Emotional intelligence is more like the glue, the binding agent that holds what makes a person who she or he is. And what is so great about emotional intelligence is that you can by intentional beliefs and behaviors make that glue stronger and stronger.

Sales Cartoon

Credit www.funnysalescartoons.com

Sales Quotation

“Emotional intelligence is more often than not the language of silence, of observation, of listening rather than speaking.” 

Leanne Hoagland-Smith

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Facing the Fear of Firing New Hires

Why do small business owners, sales managers to C Suite executives have such a fear of firing new hires? In many cases, it comes down to this one word – Ego.

Credit www.sxc.hu

To admit to one’s ego he or she made a mistake is tantamount to laying down in front of a fast moving train or standing on the corner holding a sign “Look at me, I am stupid!”

I was reminded of this yesterday in speaking with a colleague about why there is such poor performance still happening within organizations.  We both agreed many of these challenges are because what appears to be the right people are truly the wrong people.

Sure these new hire folks aced the performance appraisal assessments and knocked the personal interview out of the ball park, yet within several days after being hired actually performing on the job, a whole new picture takes place.

Years ago the corporate firm I worked with decided to hire an in house accountant to reduce the accounting bills and to expedite internal communication. This person would also remove some of my responsibilities as Inside Sales and Purchasing Manger of checking purchase orders with invoices.

Unfortunately even though she was interviewed by the Office Manager who was also the bookkeeper, the owner along with the accountant, this was one of the worst hiring disasters this firm ever undertook and most costly.  My boss did not want to fire the new hire because of the fear of insulting the accountant as well as his own ego. Who wants to admit to making a mistake especially after all costly safeguards were in place? Leadership Coaching Tip:  Performance appraisal assessments are good tools, but are not infallible.

When this fear of firing new hires takes over, it affects the entire culture of the organization.  All the other employees know the new hire is as dumb as a box of rocks and is clueless about the business especially when the attitude of “It’s not my job” or “That’s now why I was hired” surfaces.  However any comments to management are met with looks of disbelief and “just shut up because you don’t know what you are talking about.”  Additionally, in many instances, the work the new hire was to perform returns to the original person. How’s that for efficiency and effectiveness?

Maybe it is better to remember the adage of one rotten apple spoils the barrel. For new hires who are truly not the right people for the right positions using the right talents for the right decisions to secure the right results in the right time frames and within the right environments are the quickest way to turn a high performing organizations to a culture of distrust and eventual disaster.

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Courage Means Standing Alone

After reading another attempt to revive the educational system here in Northwest Indiana, I realized that courage truly means standing alone especially when everyone else is tip toeing around an issue be it education or business. The reason current education solutions are not sustainable is all are built around agrarian school systems (think farming and summers off).

No one looks good in a bad system despite pouring billions of dollars into the system. Yet no local leader from the newspapers, government officials to the educators want to tackle this problem. They continue to support bad systems and now are part of the problem.

We have a 21st century global economy driven by technology and yet we educate like we are still a farming economy. This is like having a one horse pony cart covered by a fiberglass corvette body.  The end result is one horsepower not eight.

Now some believe courage is sticking your big toe in the puddle with all the other big toes and the puddle holds a limited number of big toes.  That is not courage. That is usually consensus or compromise. Look at Congress to see the all the big toes squirming and splashing in the puddle shouting how courageous they are.

Courage is putting your big toe in the puddle that everyone else is walking a mile to avoid while pointing their fingers at you and  even laughing at you. Possibly they invited you to their shared puddle, but your convictions (think business ethics or personal ethics) would not accept that invitation.

Courage is consistently making the same reasonable statements without fan fare or accolades because you aren’t afraid to call the emperor naked.

Courage is being the respectful contrarian.

Courage is asking those hard questions first of yourself and then of others.

Courage is continuing to work your plan; plan your work even when your results are not where you want them to be and life continues to throw you obstacles after obstacles.

Courage is understanding and working through life is not fair.

Courage is being 100% accountable for your own results and not expecting others to share their wealth from productivity to rewards with you.

Courage is speaking forthrightly even though it may cost you business and relationships.

Courage is being a forward thinking leader without any acknowledgement or support.

Courage is being one of the few and not one of the many.

Courage is thinking of others first without any thoughts to what this or that person can do for you.

Courage is being comfortable with yourself even when others avoid you.

Courage is standing alone; against all odds; because you know it is the right thing.

So the question is do you really have courage because you are willing to stand alone, against all odds or the other big toes?

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The Stonehenge Myth of Value Creation

Value creation or selling value continues to be hot within the sales training coaching industry especially as a solution to increase sales. Yet what does the word value really mean?

Credit www.sxc.hu

According to Webster’s Seventh Collegiate Dictionary the word value is defined as “a fair return or equivalent in goods, services or money for something exchanged; 2:the monetary worth of something: marketable price; 3: relative worth, utility, or importance.”  In examining the origins of this word, it comes from the Latin word “valere” meaning to be worth, be strong.

The question then is who determines what is fair or the worth?

The seller or the buyer?

Even though many sales people would like to believe they determine what is fair or the worth (this is the myth), in actually that determination is 100% in the buyer’s brain. If this was not true, then everyone would be driving a Yugo, eating at McDonald’s and shopping at Walmart.  The market place would lack diversity of solutions (products and services).

The additional problem with this myth is that it restricts the seller to stay within the walls of his or her own self imposed Stonehenge. This internal self imposition limits additional sales opportunities and becomes a self limiting belief.

What top sales performers do is to make the connection between the buyer’s value perception and their solutions. These connections are made because truly good sales people actively listen and then even listen more. Sure they ask good open ended questions to even closed ended ones, but their secret is actively listening and this is how they increase sales.

Additionally, they have done their homework and may have some ideas about what their potential clients value. Yet these top sales performers recognize each buyer is unique and do not presume value is the same as the customer they sold yesterday.

So before you sign up for that next sales training coaching event be it a workshop, seminar, webinar or even in house training and development on value creation, selling value or value proposition statement as a solution to increase sales, maybe consider taking some professional development around active listening supported by NLP to emotional intelligence.

P.S. Need some quick, robust sales training coaching? Consider these webinars during the month of August 2012.

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Have Any Good Conversations with Your Brain Lately?

Each day we have good conversations with others and yet the most important good conversation we should be having is the one we fail to have. Maybe that is because talking to yourself is considered somewhat suspect to even being a personality disorder. Of course, no one said that good conversation with yourself, with your brain,  had to be out loud.

Your brain, that 3 pounds of of tissue and muscle with neurons firing thousands of time each second not to mention being the repository for all your past experiences and emotions, is the single most important factor in your life.

Henry Ford probably said it the best “Whether you think you can or you think you cannot it, either way you are correct.”

The brain, your thoughts, is your springboard for success. However it must be used and not just through reactionary or conditioned thoughts such as when driving down the highway, not even speeding and you see a police car. What usually happens? Your foot hits the brake even though you were not doing anything wrong. Conditioned, reactive reflex behavior is part of each of us and wired into our primitive grains from the still existing flight or fight response.

Brains take an incredible amount of energy to do what they need to do. Therefore by design, brains look to conserve any bit of energy and conditioning is one of the most common ways to conserve brain energy. In other words, our brains probably would rather not have those conversations because that energy could be saved and used elsewhere.

Reflective thinking can be a conditioned behavior, but requires time and a commitment by you. By asking yourself what went well today, what did not go as well as it could have, what you may need to do differently, what you are proud of, are all questions good conversations with your brain should include. Yes you can develop your brain to be more reflective through good conversations.

Invest the time to have a good conversation with your brain. Who knows, you just may be surprised by the results?

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