Archive for December, 2012

Okay, So Where Are You Going?

In less than 24 hours, a New Year will begin. The opportunity once again exists to start fresh, to begin anew. Of course before you can take that action, you probably need to know where are you going.

where-are-you-going

Alice in Wonderland faced that same question posed by the Cheshire Cat when she asked him what path should she take?  His reply was “Where are you going?” She shrugged her shoulders and responded, “I don’t know.” Then the Cheshire Cat smiled only as he could and said “Then any path will take you there.”

So many small business owners to salespeople truly do not know where they are going. Sure, they have a general day to day idea, but long range or even mid range, not so much. The future path is just as unknown as Alice’s. And we all remember where Alice ended?  Hint: “Off with their heads!”

What I learned a long time ago when delivering a keynote presentation is the super majority (95%) of all people regardless of industry, regardless of role, regardless of age, place more value on the common, written every day grocery list than they place on their own futures or the futures of their small businesses.

The written common grocery list by their own affirmations demonstrate these individuals know not having the written list will cost them time, dollars, energy and emotions not to mention making them feel rather stupid for forgetting it in the first place.

So if a simple written grocery list has such incredible value, one would tend to believe these experienced and smart individuals would have a written action plan for where they are going for their small business, their professional roles, their lives. Right?

Wrong! There is no “where are you going” written action plan.

What is present is the Captain Wing It personification of spray your actions all over the place and then pray something will stick.  This is the answer to “where are you going?”

To know where you are going does require some time for reflection. For small business owners and sales professionals, they are all too much like the White Rabbit running around screaming “I’m late, I’m late for a very important date!.”

By investing the time to answer this question “Where are you going?” will yield an incredible return.  And just may keep you from a maniac queen not to mention a game only lunatics would play.

P.S. If you are unsure where you are going, maybe it is time for an Annual Goals Review for your small business and even yourself.  Call 219.759.5601 and learn how you can begin to answer the  “Where are you going?” question with exceptional clarity.

 

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Are You Ready for 2013?

are-you-ready

The New Year is almost here and the question to be asked is not what are your resolutions or goals as small business owner, but this simple one:

Are you ready for 2013?

To get from where you are now and where you want to be requires you to know where you are with 100% crystal clarity. Only then can you get to where you want to be.

Many Sundays and Mondays, we here this question Are you ready for  some football?  So does it not make sense for your small business to be ready for:

  • The next 52 weeks of the good, the bad and the ugly?
  • New customers from all those new sales leads?
  • Innovation to propel you ahead of the flow?
  • Marketing campaigns that will attract attention and build relationships?
  • Technology changes to allow your small business to maximize your limited resources?

So again, are you  and your small business ready for 2013?

P.S. One strategy for you as a small business owner to get ready is possibly this FREE Webinar  Be True to You.

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How To Increase Sales – Write a Testimonial

write-a-testimonial

The end of the year is almost year and it any strategy of how to increase sales is really for next year. So this weekend and during the next couple of days, consider this increase sales tip:

Write a testimonial

This letter of recommendation could be for a:

  • Vendor who deliver exceptional services
  • Client who you discovered provided excellent solutions
  • Strategic partner who helped you with an critical issue
  • Professional colleague who provided you with a new sales lead or a referral
  • Community member who devoted incredible volunteering time

By having an authentic attitude of gratitude, your behaviors when you write a testimonial demonstrate that the “How to Increase Sales” Street is not about you and is not a one way street.

What is even more powerful is the phone call, the thank you note or the email you may receive from the other party.  Business people especially those with higher ethics truly appreciate your effort of kindness.

As the old proverb states “it is better to give than to receive.” This is so true when you write a testimonial for someone else without expecting one in return.

Now this may be an unusual tactic for how to increase sales and that is the beauty of it.

P.S. If you know of any parents, junior high, high school or college freshmen students, they may find this FREE Webinar of interest – Kick Off To College and Career Success.

 

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Annual Goals Review Anyone?

Everyday people to small business owners and sales professionals make goals, resolutions, call them what you may. The important behavior, usually missing from those same individuals, is to invest the time to engage in a review of those annual goals.

annual-goals-review

If a business is on a annual reporting schedule, using the end of December and the beginning of January to review the achievements of the past year just makes sense.  One of the workbooks I use for my own small business coaching and executive consulting practice as well as with my clients is called The Annual Goals Review. (Published by Resource Associates Corporation) Sales Training Coaching Tip:  This workbook is available in a hard copy along with a PDF of guidelines or instructions. Call 219.759.5601 if you are interested.

After using this tool for over 10 years, I can say it works especially well with solo entrepreneurs,  small business owners and smaller department in larger organizations. The advantage this tool has over other similar workbooks is that it unites the organizational goals with the personal achievements.

For if people cannot consistently achieve their own personal goals, how can they achieve organizational ones?  Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Realistic personal goal setting is a talent that can be measured through the Attribute Index and is one of the 7 Power Up Talents.

Regardless of what workbook or tool you employ, the critical issue here is to take action, to conduct an annual goals review.  By taking this action, you will be better able to discover the gaps in your organization and may just be surprised by the results.

P.S. If you want to learn more about the 7 Power Up Talent, consider this FREE webinar, Be True to You, on Thursday January 3, 2013 from 12-12:30pm CST.

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My Belief Is I Believe In…

How often do we hear someone say “My belief is” or “I believe in?” Beliefs are indeed powerful.

my-belief-I-believe

These beliefs can catapult you across a mountain peak or may  have you sucking sand at the base of that mountain you just attempted to climb.

For one of my clients, today is a notable day because several years ago he began to change his “my belief is.”  These thought actually turned into attitudes (habits of thought)  and were from years of experiences where there was quite a bit of negative reinforcement that created lots of self doubt, low self esteem, lack of self confidence and even more stress.

During the past several years because he changed his “my belief is” he lost over 100 pounds and even better has kept that weight off.  He faced some of his past poor decisions and put a plan in place to change the direction of his life. And even when some of those plans did not yield the desired results, instead of returning to his old “my belief is” of negative self talk, doubt and despair, he made those necessary course corrections.

The greatest obstacle to change resides in this statement “My belief is I believe in…”

If you want to make tomorrow better than today to make 2013 better than 2012, look to your beliefs for they do drive your actions generating your results.

The words of Henry Ford are so true.

“If you think (believe) you can or cannot, either way you are correct.”

P.S. This FREE webinar, Be True to You, may help you change “my belief is I believe in…”

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Baldrige A Small Business Bridge to Increase Sales

Mention Baldrige to some small business leaders and receive one of these responses:

  • What’s that?
  • Yes, I know and?
  • Far too hard!

Yet this relatively inexpensive  business process improvement resource is a bridge to not only increase sales, but to create that coveted culture of high performance.  The reason it is relatively inexpensive  is the website has affordable tools for small businesses ($25 and under).

Yes, there is also an investment to be made by business leadership through the allocation of various resources if this initiative is embraced. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Even if your small businesses does not achieve the reward, going through this proven process will improve your overall results including business leadership as well as  goal to increase sales.

A visit to the The National Standards and Institute Technology website clearly articulates the goal of this award is to “improve competitiveness and performance for US organizations.” If that goal does not sound like how to increase sales, I truly do not know what does.

The Baldrige Award has always been known as a manufacturing award. Now this has expanded into these other business leadership sectors:

  • Education
  • Health Care
  • Not for Profit and Government
  • Service
  • Small Business

When examining the criteria for small business there are the seven key critical aspects:

  1. Leadership
  2. Strategic planning
  3. Customer focus
  4. Measurement, analysis, and knowledge management
  5. Workforce focus
  6. Operations focus
  7. Results

Before engaging in any business process improvement initiative begins with assessing where your small business is right now. There are many tools out there to accomplish that goal. My favorite one is D.I.AL.O.G. as it is already aligned to Baldrige and has a 20 year proven track record.

For those forward thinking small business owners who are currently engaged in strategic planning,  this is a perfect time to consider and embrace working toward a Baldrige Award. So if you want your small business to remain competitive, to have that culture of high performance including how to  increase sales, then stretch your business  leadership and take the Baldrige plunge. Your small business, your employees, your customers and your other stakeholders will thank you.

P.S. Just a Baldrige is a business improvement process, what actions are you considering to improve yourself as a business leader or top sales performer? Any action begins by better understanding and assessing yourself. Consider this FREE webinar, Be True to You, on Thursday, January 3 from 12-12:30pm.

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Merry Christmas

Merry-Christmas

The blessings of the season to you and yours.

Merry Christmas

Or if you prefer in Swedish – God Jul.

 

 

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Where Have All the Manners Gone?

where-have-all-the-manners-gone

Maybe it is just me, but common manners, etiquette, call it what you will appears to be quickly disappearing.

Phone calls are never returned.

Emails are ignored.

Some small business people think the world revolves around them.

So where have all the manners gone for small businesses?

Is this lost a reflection of our culture?

Have we become a me, me, small business culture?

Are so many so needy to increase sales they ignore common sense or rules of engagement and continue a stream of self promotion.

This morning when checking my LinkedIn feeds from the various groups over 50% of the “discussions” were 100% promotions. There was nothing to discuss, to think about. The message was buy this or check this out.

During this time of the season with the focus on giving and gratitude, one would like to believe these rude small business and sales professionals would get the message.

People buy from people they know and trust. To gain trust, there is a significant element of manners present even if it is subconscious. Manners are embedded in your overall business ethics.

So consider a review of your own business behaviors and therefore business ethics.

Do you demonstrate consistent and positive business etiquette?

Remember to increase sales requires meeting the expectation of your customers as well as potential ideal customers.  Being polite, sincerely demonstrating  positive manners will support you in those efforts.

P.S. NBiz magazine is published six (6) times each year. Since its second issue I have had the opportunity to be a contributing author. Check it out as it is a little different with a wide range of topics some regional and many national.

 

 

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What Is Your LinkedIn Follow-up Process?

LinkedIn is a great marketing and hence relationship building tool. With the recent addition of LinkedIn endorsements, members have the opportunity to endorse others specific to unique skill sets or talents.  This feature provides another LinkedIn follow-up opportunity.

LinkedIn follow-up

To be successful at LinkedIn follow-up, marketing follow-up or new sales leads follow-up requires a process that is consistently employed. These processes also include an organizational component within the follow-up process.

For me, developing the LinkedIn follow-up process for endorsements required some time to think it through and then organize the incoming LinkedIn endorsements. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  With regards to LinkedIn, I believe there also should be a invitation process, an acceptance process as well as a process for those who stop by and viewed your profile.

What I did was to first establish a folder within my email system entitled “LinkedIn Endorsements.”  This folder allowed me to quickly place all incoming notices.

Then I created a simple response in a Word document that will change depending upon the time of year.  By using a Word document I can quickly copy and paste the message into the LinkedIn internal email system.

Finally, I established a time frame as to when to respond to these LinkedIn endorsements.The time frame is daily compared to my time frame of weekly for LinkedIn invitation acceptances.By taking these actions, I now invest less than 5 minutes each day thanking those who have given me LinkedIn endorsements.

One thing I have noticed in giving others endorsements very few actually take the time to indicate their gratitude.  This statement is not an indication that I expect, quid pro quo.  Rather, it is an observation of gaps between people’s behaviors and consequently performance.  The consistent application of processes close those gaps.

If you are a small business owner or a sales professional or someone seeking a career change, consider establishing a LinkedIn follow-up process for those LinkedIn endorsements you are receiving. Who knows, you actually may strengthen some of those relationships and become the Red Jacket in the Sea of Gray Suits.

P.S. If you have children or grandchildren of high school or college age, you may wish to attend or share this FREE webinar about College and Career Success because that too is a process.

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Is It Sustainable as to What Drives You?

To keep going and going when times are tough is a testimony to what drives you. I wonder how many people in business especially sales people ask themselves about their own ability to maintain such sustainability?

what-drives-you

Can you with clarity answer this question as to “What drives you?”

For many the answer is probably no because of this one word – clarity.

Several years ago I started reflecting upon what gets me going, what keeps me going (sustainability). I realized I lack clarity. Sure I had some idea, however there was some vagueness, some fog within those reflective thoughts.

To find some answers I completed an assessment entitled the “Values Index.” This performance appraisal tool is based upon the work of  Dr. Eduard Spranger and Dr. Gordon Allport. These two gentlemen looked to what drives and motivates individuals.

Within this tool are these key areas:

  • Aesthetic
  • Altruistic
  • Economic
  • Individualistic
  • Political
  • Regulatory
  • Theoretical

What I learned was Theoretical is my primary driver off the chart (over two deviations about the norm) with Individualistic and Political (more than one deviation above the norm) holding a strong second place. Economic was fourth (just within the norm) and this allowed me to recognize I must not lose site of the economic motivator if I wanted my own executive consulting and small business coaching company to thrive.

The high Theoretical driver also helped for me to internally reconcile why I love knowledge so much as well as thinking. My first major in college was philosophy, but I soon learned there was not a significant demand for female philosophers.

Additionally, this assessment works in conjunction with three other assessments I use within my practice:

  1. Attribute Index
  2. DISC Index
  3. Emotional Intelligence Quotient

In working with clients, this performance appraisal and talent management tool, the Values Index, has become quite invaluable especially for small business owners who have sales teams.  If a salesperson has a high Altruistic driver and the Economic driver is number four, this could explain why the salesperson fails to increase sales. This person is a great relationship builder, gives back to his or her community which are all great behaviors and to be commended. However if the salesperson cannot increase sales (close the deal) this is a huge problem. Sales Training Coaching Tip: Understanding why someone cannot increase sales cannot be presumed. Effective talent management assessments separate symptoms from problems as in this example separate motivation from specific sales skills or talents.

So to answer the question “Is it sustainable as to what drives you?” may begin with knowing with absolute crystal clarity was to what drives you, what motivates you to keep going and going and going just like the “Energizer Bunny.”

On Thursday January 3, from 12-12:30pm, begin to secure some clarity for yourself as you start the new year through this FREE webinar Be True to You.

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