Archive for September, 2014
Until recently junk mail and auto robot dial phone calls seemed to hold the top places for sales pitches, but now social media is leading the pack and is way ahead of all other types of marketing for small businesses. Those who actively swim in this new sea of sales pitches in many instances fall into one of three categories:
- Uneducated small business owners or sales professionals
- Poorly educated or trained small business owners or sales professionals
- Marketing consultants or sales coaches
I can forgive those who are uneducated or poorly educated, but I cannot forgive those who should know better.
LinkedIn a Prime Example
LinkedIn has become the go to place for B2B prospecting. The discussion groups, the member’s LinkedIn update and the article postings allow salespeople three different marketing channels.
Yet what do we find? A sea filled with sales pitches from just posting the most recent blog in a group discussion to blatant self promotion. What is really bad is these so called professionals believe it is okay to continually cast their sales pitches. If they are called out on such boorish marketing behaviors, they justify their feeble attempts at marketing by rationalizing LinkedIn is the place to network with others. Marketing Tip: Networking is not not broadcasting.
The Barren Engagement Beach
For social media to be successful requires engagement. Unfortunately, far too many believe they can continually liter the beach with their one-way sales pitches and eventually someone will trip over them.
Engagement is all about not just broadcasting your thinly disguised sales pitches, but sharing the social media postings of others. By having several communities, your ability to reach more ideal customers has been greatly expanded. You appear to be someone who is concerned about educating others through sharing of hopefully valuable insights.
Embrace the 3 Buying Rules
When salespeople including small business owners embrace the 3 buying rules, they can begin to calm the social media seas.
#1 – People buy from people they know and trust.
If your marketing is all about sales pitches to strangers who do not know you and hence probably do not trust you, why continue with this insanity? Reach out to them. Schedule a phone call. The ability to increase sales is time consuming. There appears to be a false belief that social media will dramatically increase sales quickly. No, what it truly does is dramatically “piss off” sales prospects.
#2 – People buy first on emotion; justified by logic.
Buying is an emotional experience. If you are continually pitching, you are potentially creating negative emotions. You are turning off your ideal customers. Does this make sense?
#3 – People buy on value unique to them.
To believe your sales pitches are creating value is like having a punctured life saver. Just because one client saw value in your marketing offer does not mean the next customer will.
3 Tips to Calm the Seas
- Identify 3 people you enjoy reading and share their updates
- Make 1 to 2 comments each day on another person’s blog or LinkedIn update
- Reread your own postings and ask yourself honestly is this a sales pitch?
By taking these actions, you can begin to calm the social media seas; actually make the social media experience enjoyable for others and believe it or not build your own credibility and small business growth.Share on Facebook
Questions, human begins are full of them. From young to old, there are questions being asked of others to being asked of ones self. What is critical especially for adults is are we asking the right questions of ourselves.
For the last 10 years I have shared this particular African Proverb in some of my keynotes.
Every day in African a gazelle wakes up knowing it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every day in Africa a lion awakens and knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. So come morning, it does not matter whether you are a gazelle or lion. What does matter you best be running when the sun comes up.
The purpose of this proverb is really two-fold:
- To focus on what really matters each day
- To ask ourselves where are we running?
Some people when they first hear the first two sentences, you can almost hear them asking themselves “Am I a gazelle or am I a lion?” The last two sentences bring a different clarity into their perspectives because the right question is not am I a gazelle or a lion, but will I be running?
In the book From Values to Actions, the author discussed self reflection as part of leadership or rather self-leadership and individual growth. Every night he reviews the events of the day through a series of self reflection questions. For him, these are the right questions allowing him to make the next day even better as morning breaks through the clouds and he starts running.
So what would be the right questions to make tomorrow better for you?
Hint: Maybe by returning to your core values, you may find the answer.Share on Facebook
In speaking with a fellow Chicago train rider, she shared she had never been beyond the University of Chicago Campus or Hyde Park area. She had heard about a marina, golf course, single residence homes all south of where she lived. Also she shared she did not know where city limits for the the City of Chicago ended. Her personal boundaries were quite limited.
Having a much longer ride, I thought about how many people limit their opportunities for self improvement by staying within their comfortable and personal boundaries, their own fences. These self imposed limitations may be:
- Geographical as with the case of my fellow train rider
- Physical as to one’s own physical abilities
- Mental as to improving one’s knowledge
- Social as to meeting other people
- Financial as to how one earns, infests or spends money
- Ethics and Beliefs (Spiritual) as to not challenging one’s core values
- Political as to participating in political discussions
In many instances as noted French author Marcel Proust stated “The true voyage of discovery is not seeking new landscapes, but seeing with new eyes.” When we change our eyes, our perspective does change. We can expand our boundaries beyond where we currently are.
Then in working with several clients this week, all three had less emphasis on self improvement even though all were relatively successful in their roles. I wondered again if they would be more intentional about expanding their personal boundaries respective to self improvement would they even have more success?
Your personal challenge, if you decide to accept, is to determine if your personal boundaries are limiting your opportunities for additional success. Then maybe consider constructing a personal action plan that pushes you out of your comfort zone so that you can begin to see with new eyes.
Are you motivated by self improvement? Is self improvement one of your top talents? This quick 10-12 minutes talent assessment will provide you with those answers plus a whole lot more.Share on Facebook
The end of the year is quickly coming to an end. Now once again small business owners including many sales professionals are scrambling because their results from their past choices are not where they want them to be. And there is a plethora of sales experts and business consultants writing articles to giving radio interviews to capture all of those individuals who are now seeking the “quick fix.”
Einstein had identified these behaviors as insanity “doing the same things over and over again hoping for different results.”
We, as small business owners, are the sum total of all of our choices. There is very little in life that happens outside of our decision making process.
So does this leave your head scratching why you are in the same place, a year later?
Part of the reason for a lot of motion and little progress is because small business owners lack crystal clarity. They are so enmeshed in their day to day operations they have failed to make the choice to see the big picture.
Clarity only happens after taking stock of everything that is happening. This assessment is critical from both an organizational and individual perspective. Additionally, the assessment should be directed to these five areas (5 Star Model):
Another reason for being in the same place a year later is because there is no consistent goal setting/goal achievement process. Just writing the goal down and then identifying the action steps short changes the goal setting process and ultimately the results.
What would happen if the goal was:
- WAY SMART?
- Resource driven?
- Talent focused?
- Forward thinking regarding potential obstacles?
A tremendous disservice has been heaped upon small business owners through past educational experiences. They were expected to learn consistent goal setting through some osmosis process instead of being “trained” in how to successfully set and then achieve their goals.
Finally, so many of the choices small business owners make focus on what is beyond their control. This type of behavior only increases stress while reducing results. When time is invested to ask these 3 questions, choices do change:
- Is this event beyond my control?
- Is this event something I can influence?
- Is this event something I can control?
What I know to be true after working with hundreds of individuals as well as myself, we as human beings tend to expend a super majority of our time on things beyond our control. Things outside of our control reduce our ability to secure our desired results. When we become focused with crystal clarity and have a written WAY SMART goal driven action plan, we devote our time to what we can control and that makes all the difference.
If right now you are not where you want to be and this is pretty much where you were last year, then you must decide to make a new choice, one that may make you very uncomfortable. By taking this action, next year will indeed be quite different as long as you remember to focus on what you can control, yourself and no one else.Share on Facebook
Sales is not a one dimensional role. Top sales performers understand how their roles must change to adapt to the sales conversations.
- Customer or Client Advocate
Years ago during a sales training workshop, I listened to Dr. David Mutchler (co-author of Fail-Safe Leadership) described the sales process as one of facilitation. This description helped me because I was more at ease with this term. Since facilitation is the exchange of information, in my mind’s eye I was already a facilitator and then just connected that role to the sales conversations and sales process.
Consultative sales is a relatively new term to sales. New in that it has been around for the last three decades and is associated with Consultative Selling by Mack Hanan as well as SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham. In this role, top sales performers look to the needs of their ideal customers and then construct questions around those needs. Additionally in this role, there may be some telling as well as negotiation behaviors.
With the ongoing emphasis on building customer loyalty, this role is stepping into the ideal customers’ roles and becoming an advocate for them. In many instances, small businesses to big businesses want to increase sales and yet establish barriers that keep new business growth from happening. Tops ales performers learn how to work around these barriers.
How the Hat Spins
Now imagine that 3 pointed Colonial Hat is on your head. During the sales conversations, the hat automatically spins as you move in between these 3 roles. This movement brings in some of the key talents of top sales performers such as:
One of the key advantages of wearing this sales hat is that you are never perceived as one of those pushy salespeople. Additionally, all three roles work with higher levels of emotional intelligence.
Being in sales is fun and challenging. Consider asking yourself what corner of the hat is pointing at your ideal customer or sales lead during your sales conversations?
Possibly you will discover by spinning this invisible 3 Pointed Colonial Hat on your head, you may suddenly find yourself not only enjoying selling even more, but recognized as one of the top sales performers for your organization.
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Our internal temperaments are the degrees of optimism or pessimism from which we tend to view ourselves and our lives. A sales leadership temperament of introspective is for the most part neutral and with the negative self-esteem does impact how we see ourselves.
Having a neutral bias is considered preferred. This neutrality creates an objective attitude specific to how an individual sees himself or herself. This objective attitude guides these individuals about how they “should do things” and how they should live their lives. (Source: Attribute Index Innermetrix)
The neutral bias specific to role awareness as well as to self direction has these individuals seeing their jobs as a way to express themselves more completely. However the job does not become the most important thing in their lives. (Source: Attribute Index Innermetrix)
Those with this sales leadership of being introspective see themselves as more than the sum of their jobs. However with the negative bias of self-esteem they may not give themselves as much credit as they should and can be a little too harsh on themselves. (Source: Attribute Index Innermetrix)
Effective sales leadership is understanding not only the internal temperaments but external ones as well as the 78 key attributes or talents. This talent assessment can in under 12 minutes can reveal a depth of information that may surprise you. The question is if you do not know your top talents are you losing potential opportunities or working harder on shoring up non-talents or even weaknesses?
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Do you feel sometimes that you are being hounded by all the networking happening within social media? The constant stream of postings, blogs and emails where the emphasis is all about the other person and you know they could care less about you. It seems social media has become the bully pulpit. Teddy Roosevelt where are you?
- I encourage you to subscribe to my monthly Newsletter and weekly Marketing – Why should I?
- Please vote for (removed to protect the guilty) –What is this and why should I?
- Did you visit this website with a lot of sales quotes,useful for all Sales People and I hope for you – No and why should I?
What these LinkedIn emails shared was they all came out of the blue. Two were from first degree connections and we had not spoken or been in contact for almost a year and one came from a second degree connection. The other reaction they shared was a negative, emotional reaction from me. (Sales Coaching Tip: People buy first on emotions, then justify that buy with logic.)
Lillian Bjorseth in her book, Breakthrough Networking: Building Relationships that Last, defined this business growth strategy as building “mutually beneficial relationships.” From my viewpoint, all of these and most of the other ones I receive have no desire to build a relationship. Their prime directive is all about me. They believe networking is their own private bully pulpit from which to broadcast to the world their solutions and everyone wants to receive their marketing messages.
I realize marketing for small businesses is essential. Networking without question is one of the key strategies and tactics to increase sales especially for many small businesses to even larger firms.
Unfortunately as evidenced by my LinkedIn email box not to mention my standard email boxes, social media has taken this proven strategy to an entirely new level. Unfortunately many have now have confused networking with “net-broadcasting.”
This confusion has also permeated face to face business to business networking events where some business people run around like the Mad Hatter handing out business cards like Halloween candy. Finding other B2B professionals who truly want to build a mutually beneficial relationship is almost like searching the Sahara for a water hole.
- Sharing the social media posts of others
- Liking the updates
- Making comments
- Posting thought provoking discussions without a link to our most recent blog
- Demonstrating patience and emotional intelligence through all of our social media interactions
Then we can also reach out; call the other person and then have an authentic conversation. Learn about the other person. If you are truly authentic, that person will know you care.
When people use social media as a bully pulpit for net-broadcasting, what they are really demonstrating is ignorance at best and desperation at worse. Others can see their clumsy behaviors or the sweat on their brows.
Yes social media can be a valuable marketing channel. Just make sure you are not mistaking it for your own private bully pulpit and annoying your ideal customer in the process.Share on Facebook
Inspiration comes from many sources. Over time I have come to realize how my own personal business ethics have become a source of quiet inspiration.
One of my core values within my guiding principle of “Just Be Valuable” is thoughtfulness. To be thoughtful means I must think of others first and then demonstrate what that means. This value inspires me to continually learn, to capture information that my clients, would be clients or even colleagues might appreciate.
This value of thoughtfulness works with others such as creativity, faith, gratitude, intelligence, innovation, learning, patience, quality work, reflection, respect and risk taking. All continually work together so I am indeed valuable to those around me and not just during the work week.
As a small business owners, my personal business ethics are with me 24/7.
Today is Sunday and for me a day to demonstrate my faith. In that process, I have already printed out my weekly business column for a church member who likes to read it, but lacks a computer as the column is100% online. his church member who is older and retired. He truly enjoys reading the column and taking a few moments to share with me his thoughts.
I belong to several communities where we re-post the blogs to social media postings of others. When I see the efforts of this individuals, I am truly grateful and in turn I demonstrate gratitude by sharing their updates. Since this exchanging happens without any compensation, I am continually inspired by the gratitude of others.
This past week I had an opportunity to talk with a potential client. The client wanted one 8 hour work shop and I knew from both past experiences and from what the client had shared, the one 8 hour leadership training workshop would not deliver the short term results he was seeking. I took a risk and suggested 2 – 4 hour leade4rship training work shop. I told the potential client I would do what he wanted, however from a retention and engagement experience I have found the “brain will only absorb what the butt will endure.”
Yes inspiration does come from many sources. And my sense is personal business ethics probably inspires more individuals than they realize.
Leanne is available to inspire your people during an annual meeting or for an onsite training session. She can be reached as 219.759.5601 (CDT) main.Share on Facebook
In reviewing keywords within my website analytics, one of those terms was selfish business owners. This had me recounting my time in corporate when many employees where I worked believed the owner was being selfish, that he cared only about himself. Of course these same employees failed to recognize they still had a job during the economic recession under then President Carter. Many of their friends and family had been laid off during this time.
What I realized right then and there perception is everything and people are shortsighted. Let me explain.
Owning the company, my boss used the various legal tax laws to improve the his economic position and that of the company as any good small business owner would do. These actions included buying new cars approximately every 3 years. During this time of employee discontent which was actually employee disengagement, the boss purchased a new Cadillac. When he drove it to the office, one would have thought by the behaviors of the employees he had committed a capital offense.
After a few days, the boss sensed something was wrong and called me, as Sales Manager and Purchasing Manager, into his office and closed the door. As we know, closing the door is not usually a good sign.
He shared he felt a lot of negativity and was wondering what was happening. I replied the employees given the current economic situation (where they had not received a raise for over 2 years) the sight of a brand new Cadillac was perceived as insulting and he was perceived as another one of those selfish business owners.
Having a strong leadership talent of diplomacy, my boss contained his immediate negative, emotional response. Then he thought for a few minutes and asked me what did I think?
I told him it was none of my business what type of car he bought. His name was on the building. Also, I knew he worked long hours, longer than the employees to keep the place running. From my perspective, the car did not make any difference, but I probably was the exception.
He then asked me what would I do? Given I knew his wife drove a Chevy Caprice, I suggested switching cars with his wife. Even though the employees knew he had a Cadillac, they would not see it every day in the parking lot.
I remember him looking at me quite quizzically. I continued with “perception is reality. Seeing the less expensive Chevy Caprice suggested you are not above your employees and not perceived as one of those selfish business owners.”
My boss took my advice, somewhat hesitantly, and within several days of driving the Chevy to work, the employees became re-engaged. There were more smiles and joking going on with even cheerful “good mornings” to everyone.
I realize there does exist selfish small business owners. Yet from my experience, I believe much of that is because employees fail to see beyond the curtain and their reality is only what they can see. This reality perception is also true for small business owners who are also blinded by their own reality.
The other lesson learned is having a forthright, emotionally intelligent dialogue is probably the best solution to find the root cause of any issue such as unhappy and disengaged workers. To this day I still admire the executive leadership qualities including emotional intelligence that my boss displayed. He truly was a good role model and I learned many other lessons from him.Share on Facebook
Every morning businesses open and their leaders look to execute specific strategies based either upon their predetermined and strategic business growth goals or their Captain Wing It flight plan. They have their breakfast meetings with their other executive leaders and managers to plan this new day of business growth. Unfortunately, they fail to recognize the ever present guest of culture.
This silent, unseen guest as Peter Drucker quoted “eats strategy over breakfast.” And organizational culture continues to eat strategy during lunch, dinner and all the snacks in between. (Leadership Coaching Tip: Strategy is thought, thinking and planning. Execution is the tactics, actions to implement the strategy.)
Probably the main reason business growth strategy fails is the organizational culture is ignored. The best example of this is within any merger and acquisition(M&A) where it is estimated 50% of all mergers fail. One of the key reasons for this failure is the culture is not adequately assessed specific to the compatibility of the acquiring culture. (Leadership Coaching Tip: Culture is the sum total of all conscious and unconscious beliefs and behaviors.)
People (culture) are what make or break a company.
Those same people make or break strategy.
Just as cooks check to see if the temperature of the food is safe to eat, so should executive leaders check to see if their organizational culture is safe to execute strategy. One fairly simple exercise is to see if any of these culture issues are present through this Culture-Strategy-Audit-ADVSYS. If so, then leadership will face culture barriers that will derail to sidetrack any strategic execution.