Archive for April, 2014

Believe It or Not Picking Up the Damn Phone in Sales Works

Emails have become for many big to small businesses the SOP for internal and external communications.  Send an email, wait for the response is far easier than calling someone. Who wants to go through all those “our menu has recently changed” messages.  Those damn phone messages waste time and time is money.

damn-phoneYesterday I had a customer email me about not receiving an item from a PayPal purchase and demanding a full refund.  I quickly checked the PayPal account and the person’s name was not to be found.  As it was early in the am, before 8:00am, I sent a return email explaining the situation.  Later in the morning,  I received another email with a screen capture shot of the PayPal account. Then I received two other emails with more explanations including the account was in her husband’s name.

As this had the potential of turning into a PayPal dispute, I sent an email explaining the confusion while forwarding the actual purchase email with the electronic files. Then I gave the individual a phone call to ensure she understood what had happened and she had received the second email with the PDF files.

Initially, the customer was rather tense on the call. I expected this behavior by the wording of the email along with the exclamation points she was not a happy camper as they say. In a short time, under 3 minutes, she became a satisfied customer and apologized for the confusion.  Yes, the confusion was on her part.  I accepted the apology and stated that “technology can be unreliable.” Sales Coaching Tip:  Emotional intelligence is a must have for all salespeople especially inside sales folks.

Then she made this very satisfying remark “you don’t know how your phone call just made my day.”  This customer was having a very bad day and I suspect a couple of bad days. By taking the time to personally speak with her, she felt like another human being really cared about her and her issues.

Finally, after the call, I sent her a handwritten note to “bring a smile” to her face and a “spring to her step.” My goal was to go beyond just thanking her.  Who doesn’t like to receive a friendly card via snail mail especially when having a bad work week?

Let us remember emails serve a purpose for quick communication. 

If the email is more than 6 sentences, then it makes sense to pick up the damn phone.

If the email is regarding a problem, a personal phone call probably makes a lot more sense than a half dozen emails back and forth that have the potential of turning a minor problem into a major one.

Believe it or not, picking up the damn phone works and saves time in the long run.

And who knows, you just may make someone’s day?

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Sales Leadership Talent of Respecting Property

Most of the time when we think of respecting property, we probably do not associate this talent as being within the realm of sales leadership.  Probably we think of “Keep off the Grass” or have similar thoughts.  Yet when we look at the definition by the Innermetrix Attribute Index, we just may shift our beliefs and thoughts.

sales-leadershipRespecting property is really two fold according to Innermetrix Attribute Index:

  • Seeing and appreciating the value of protecting company property
  • Using the company’s property correctly

Consider for a moment how much time is wasted on the company’s computers surfing the Internet, playing games and even watching videos that are not work related?

Or how about people who waste time on the job? Time when being compensated by another is the company’s property. Given most people have admitted to me wasting 12 minutes each work day while time management research suggests that wasted time is closer to 60 minutes per 8 hour work day, there is a lot of disrespect being demonstrated in the workplace specific to property.

Innermetrix Attribute Index suggests those who consistently demonstrate this leadership talent “will generally have a clear perception of the correct value and use of company property.  They will not likely be wasteful, yet they will use the property and resources in the effective execution of their responsibilities.”  The key word in this description is “wasteful.”

Those who do not demonstrate this sales leadership talent may have “a tendency to not be overly concerned with company property or resources.  They may feel that company property and resources are there only as an aid to help them in the execution of their duties.  However, if they do not value these resources for anything more than their assistance to their own job, they may be likely to lack any obligation to ensure resources and equipment are properly used.  The lack of proper perspective in this area could cause a person to be wasteful.”  The keyword here is “resources.”

Believe it or not, respecting property is a sales leadership talent and one that is usually ignored because it lacks glamor of results orientation or self starting ability. However what this talent does demonstrate is the internal values (ethics and beliefs) of the salesperson and how well this salesperson keeps the waste of time and resources to a minimum.

If you wish to learn how this attribute is ranked with your own sales leadership talents, then this quick talent assessment may bring the clarity you may be seeking.

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Is Social Media Pie in the Sky Marketing or Just Good Marketing?

good-marketingMany small business owners retreat their corner of the world each day or a couple of times a week to put their thoughts down with the goal to share with others. This marketing channel is usually called a blog or a syndicated column. Then they broadcast their pearl words of wisdom through other social media marketing channels such as Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

Over time people start following their advice to agreeing or even disagreeing with their observations regarding small business, sales, leadership to even business ethics or corporate ethics.  Suddenly or rather not so suddenly they are noticed by others and eventually they become recognized as experts in their particular industries.

Now some same social media is pie in the sky marketing.  I contend social media is good marketing provided the following has taken place and continues to take place:

  • Ideal customer has been clearly identified
  • Keywords both short and long tail are integrated into the marketing copy
  • Niche area has been carved out such as sales, thought leadership or business ethics or corporate ethics
  • Content is relevant and emotionally engaging
  • Writing is without spelling errors, grammatical errors, etc.
  • Consistency of writing is established
  • An attitude of giving is prevalent instead of just taking
  • All social media marketing is interconnected to allow for maximum reach and influence including the use of automation tools
  • Time is scheduled to promote the social media marketing as well as to promote others

This past weekend I received two honors. The first honor was to be recognized by Sales Gravy as one of the top 10 women in sales to follow on Twitter. Additionally, the NYDLA asked me to be a member of their talent team. In both instances, these results are directly because of my good marketing actions.

Over the years I have had other recognitions.  Each of these acknowledgements is a direct result of having a strategic plan from which research was conducted to determine the:

  • Ideal customer
  • Market trends
  • Internal strengths
  • Competition both in terms of strengths and weaknesses
  • Key differentiators for my small business coaching and talent management consulting firm

From this research I established good marketing goals (both inbound and outbound), sales goals to even innovation goals. These goals are reviewed on a regular basis.

Good marketing is the result of a solid strategic plan that is reviewed on a monthly if not weekly basis. For some all this may seem like pie in the sky marketing when in actually it is all about having predetermined goals, stabilized by balance, purified by belief and aligned to one’s passion, purpose and plans.

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Is Inspiration Enough?

There are a lot of ways to be inspired from books to speeches to random thoughts within our own brains.

inspirationHow many times have we heard an inspirational speaker, read an inspiring book or had a thought that emotionally moved us?

Suddenly, we feel a very strong call to action. And in some cases, we may actually start behaving a little differently.

Yet several months down the well trodden time traveled path, we return to where we began. We may wondered what happened?

The simple answer is until we take consistent and sustainable action from what we saw, heard or thought, that very inspirational moment is gone, lost with all those other should of, would of, could of inspiring moments.

Inspiration without perspiration means very little other than a feel good moment.

One of my business colleagues become self inspired when he realized he no longer wanted to be fat.  He bought a book that inspired him to take a new much more healthier path. Now after losing 100 pounds and keeping it off for over 2 years, he runs and encourages others with his positive message.

Another small business coaching client also became inspired to be more healthy. He, too, lost over 100 pounds and has kept if over for now almost 5 years.

Both of these individuals had been inspired numerous times before. yet until they made a commitment to take action, to perspire, the inspiration was words, feel good platitudes and nothing else.

With spring now in full bloom, maybe it is time to perspire a little more and truly take some sustainable actions from all those inspiring books you read or speeches you have heard.  One thing we do know is until action is taken, you will be at the very same place you are right now.

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Are Your Business Ethics the Real Issue?

Have you ever noticed that when people in small business start asking about their own business ethics what they really are doing is asking about the business ethics of others?

business-ethics

On a fairly regular basis, clients and colleagues come to me with questions regarding business  ethics.  They start the conversation with a general discussion about business ethics and then ask me my thoughts.

What is so strange usually is these professional colleagues,  executive coaching and small business coaching clients already know the answer.  They are seeking validation that  their behaviors are ethical and the issue is the business ethics of the other party.

Then the discussion turns to the obvious question:

Should I do business with this or that small business?

Traveling down this conversational path is even more interesting because one this one word – FEAR.

By not doing business with these other small businesses may not be good for their small businesses. Others might talk and ask why I am not doing business with this person or that person? I may lose some:

  • Revenue (increase sales)
  • Sales referrals
  • Professional credibility

Yes, FEAR, False Evidence Appearing Real stops a lot of small business owners and sales professionals dead in their tracks.

And my two (2) question always are:

  1. So what happens if you lose some sales, referrals or professional credibility?
  2. Is the fear of that loss greater than compromising your own business ethics?

 

 

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Is Your Sales Management Relevant?

Imagine for a moment you, as a member of a sales team, receives a message from sales management asking if you are “relevant to the company?” Then the message lists the  3 top sales performers and their accomplishments to date with a closing sentence of “So and So is relevant.”

How would this make you feel if you were not one of  those mentioned?

Then knowing sales management has:

  • Only gone on one joint sales call with you yet you have invited her or him on several key calls yet routinely she or he goes out with the top performers
  • Berated you publicly for non-performance even though your task was to open a new vertical without any sales leads, contacts and without any support from other sales people as well as sales management
  • Expected a sale in 6 months even though with established businesses the sales cycle is 18 months
  • A daily schedule of in between 9-10 am out by 2pm

Possibly you may begin to ask yourself is sales management relevant?

To receive such a demotivating and obviously biased email message from sales management is insulting to all sales team members. There was so much wrong with this message I truly did not know where to start. Unfortunately I could not share more because it just might reveal the person who wrote it.

This communication is a prime example of not only poor sales management, but unbelievably bad leadership.  The executive leadership should take this sales manager to the woodshed and then have him or her rewrite the message from an supportive sales management  position that would include something like:

sales-managementHow can I support you to be more relevant to the company?

Would you like me to make joint sales calls with you?

Possibly we can engage in some role playing?

Everyone here is relevant to our company and I want to make sure the company knows how hard you are working to achieve our current sales goals.

As the old expression goes, people do not leave companies, they leave managers. This particular firm probably has more than one sales team member looking for a new job.

 

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Are You a Sales Giver, Taker or Matcher?

Cultural wisdom from a Judea-Christian perspective has always suggested that it is better to give than to receive or take. In business and in sales this may be counter intuitive because to give away solutions (products or services) does not move the business forward. Small business owners to sales managers do not want their sales teams giving away the store.

sales-giverYet according to Adam Grant author of Give and Take, the givers in sales started with 6% lower revenue than takers and matchers, but achieved 68% greater revenue by year’s end.  (Note:  Givers are those who give without selfish motivation. Takers are those take without giving in return. Matchers are those who seek equal trade.)

If this business research holds true, what does it mean for your small business and especially those who sell your solutions?

Or in other words, how does one approach sales or business growth without selfish motivation?

Is such an approach actually possible?

I believe those in sales can be givers provided they know themselves and have control of this one word – EGO.

We all need a good ego to survive. However a strong ego where it is all about me (selfish), does not set well with many folks.

Social media is a good example of givers, takers and matchers.  I am connected with some great people many of whom would be viewed as competitors and they retweet my postings as I do theirs.  Their giving is done freely and without any compensation. Our goal is to help each other and be supportive.

Then there are those in social media, the takers, who want their Tweets or postings shared and yet will not reciprocate. And occasionally there are some who are the matchers where for example they follow you only if you follow them.

Another part of this answer is to understand that to give does not mean to give away for free.  When some small business owners and sales professionals hear or read the word “give” they immediately associate that word with free. And free means a loss of profits directly through the sale of something or indirectly through time.

Personally for me, I adopted this belief of “just be valuable” several years ago. What this means for me is to share information, resources, ideas with others freely and without any thought of compensation. By having this internal belief, I still maintain a good ego.  From a small business perspective, my profitability is up, I enjoy my business with greater enthusiasm and I have far less stress.

As in all aspects of life, we can choose how we want to behave and ultimately this choice begins with our beliefs, our thoughts our internal motivational drivers. So two questions remain:

  • Are you a sales giver, taker or matcher?

  • And how is that role working for you?

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Sales Leadership Talent of Respecting Policies

Organizations from the very small to the largest of the large run by rules. These rules are both internally and externally imposed. Failure to adhere to the rules can bring disastrous results to all involved and this is why respecting policies is a sales leadership talent.

sales-leadership-talentWe have all seen the results of failure to adhere to policies and standards from Bernie Madoff to the the recent tragedy with the South Korean ferry boat. There are very good reasons that business affairs must be conducted within certain policies and standards.

Everyday examples are the No Cell Phones to No Talking to all the traffic signs that are really the signage of policies, rules or regulations for our culture.

Many of us have also experienced what happens with sales people fail to adhere to the policies of the business.  Profits suffer. Customers become angry and go elsewhere.  Other employees scramble to take care of the problems created by not appreciating the policies.

Innermetrix Attribute Index defines this sales leadership talent of respecting policies as the general understanding of  “the philosophies of the corporate structure.” Additionally the employee “will strive to conduct business according to those standards.” He or she “will honor the concept of doing things according to the rules and regulations of the company.”

Individuals who lack this talent or score low in the Attribute Index talent assessment do “not have a clear picture, or concept, of the function of rules and regulations.  They may feel that a company policy is only to be utilized when they are practical and functional, but whenever a policy hinders the effective and practical execution of their job, the policy can be ignored or broken.  This does not mean that they actively seek to violate company policy for the sake of breaking rules, but rather that they may honestly feel that the policies are only guidelines to be used in the execution of their responsibilities, not laws always to be obeyed.” (Source Innermetrix Attribute Index)

Of the 78 key sales leadership talents, this one is probably not given much emphasis until the salesperson violates the policy or is given conflicting instructions regarding internal policies. Sometimes others within the much larger organizations such as the finance department may inadvertently change the policy without any notice to the sales department or may push back the sales team even though the sale or pending contract was negotiated within current policy parameters.

Respecting policies is not a usually one of those sought after or glamorous sales skills, but it probably can negatively impact the bottom line just as much as:

If you have not taken the Innermetrix Attribute Index talent assessment, you may be missing your key sales leadership talents and not leveraging all of your potential.

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Monday’s Marketing Mayhem or Magic?

Monday morning and once again your small business marketing resumes.  You glance at your calendar and see all the networking events, meetings and all the other activities required to keep your small business name in front of your target audience. Mayhem or organized chaos call it what you will seems to be your middle name.

marketingYou are tired before you even begin the week. Then you discover someone bought something off your website.

Now your tiredness is quickly reversed because you think to yourself, the marketing is working. It’s like magic. You pulled a rabbit (think sale) out of the hat.

Of course you know it isn’t magical because of all the hard work you have invested between your inbound and outbound activities. Yet seeing that purchase gives you the boost you need to keep moving forward, through the daily, weekly and monthly mayhem.

Marketing is for small business owners and even sales professionals the single biggest daily to weekly challenge because unless people know about you and your firm, you will never have the opportunity to share your solution.

The second biggest challenge is what works for one small business may not work for another.  You have discovered this have spending countless hours and hundred to thousands of dollars on past marketing actions.

However what does work to overcome both challenges is consistency.  By taking daily actions you can determine what works and what does not work.  Of course this does mean to give it a try for more than a couple of days or weeks.

To further reduce the daily mayhem is to have a calendar not only of your outbound activities such as business to business networking, chamber luncheons or just get to know you meetings, but your inbound actions as well such as:

  • Social media posts such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest
  • LinkedIn discussion groups and updates
  • Blog – yours
  • Micro blogging – commenting on other blogs
  • Emails such as newsletter

Also monitoring the results of your marketing on a daily basis also reduces the mayhem.  Some of these metrics may originate from the key performance indicators that you determined within your strategic action plan.  Additionally there are FREE websites that may also help measure your social media influence such as Klout or a new one called SumAll.

By investing the time to schedule and monitor the results of your outbound and inbound marketing, you will have less mayhem and more magic.  And possibly no longer dread Monday mornings?

This social media one page action plan may help you organize your inbound marketing goals.

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Our Behaviors Mirror Our Beliefs

Even after all of our evolution, human beings are still creatures of behaviors.  We cannot read the minds of others or look into their thoughts to see their beliefs.

behaviorsOur thought processes determine what we do, how we behave. In the behavior model, this concept is captured in the term “Knowledge.” Knowledge is the sum total what we know to be true, as we perceive it (perceptions).

When we observe the behaviors of another person in any given situation, our perceptions of what happened is added to our knowledge base of that person. From this knowledge base we make assumptions or presumptions regarding how we expect that person will behave in similar situations in the future. These assumptions or presumptions lead us to develop certain beliefs (attitudes) toward that person. These attitudes translate into our own behaviors when we interact with that person.

Now, our behaviors as the other person perceives it, then become part of the other person’s knowledge base of us.  That person them makes assumptions or presumptions; develops beliefs (attitudes) and behaves n certain manners when interacting with us. Thus the behavior cycle continues.

At what point can we change this cycle of behaviors if I want to do so? My behavior. Why? Because only behavior is observable. Other people cannot see what I think. They cannot see my beliefs (attitudes). They can only see what I do – what I say – my behavior.

If I would like another person to change their behavior can I make them change? No, not directly, But I can change my own behavior, which as the behavior model shows, may influence the behavior of another person.

No one makes me do anything, behave in any certain way. I always have choices. I behave the way I choose to behave. I can change my behavior if I so choose. Therefore, from a behavioral perspective, I really am the person I choose to be.

 

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