You May Be An Expert, But Stop Wasting My Time

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Your Bio Was Intriguing, but Your Content was Incongruent

As a busy professional, I’d imagine you would agree with me that if your general opinion of meetings was published as a book, the title might be something like “Stop Wasting My Time”.  Each week, hundreds  thousands millions of meetings likely occur around the globe.  How in the world can you be sure the ones you choose to attend will be worth the time invested?

iStock_000004637317SmallHow to Choose Meetings You Should Attend

  1. Is it a “required” meeting?  If this is a standing appointment, you may still choose to “pass” from time to time.
    Weekly sales meetings are a good example. A well-run organization should appreciate that if you are not in the sales meeting because you are on an actual sales call with a customer or prospect, that is a good thing.
    However, if the meeting is your quarterly or annual review with your boss to discuss your performance, expectations, or special project you are being asked to head up, then this one probably is a meeting you should attend.
  2. Did you call the meeting?   Few examples in the world are more disrespectful than the one person who does not show up prepared (or, at all) for a meeting is the very person who called it. If you called it, you had most certainly show up (prepared) or respectfully cancel the meeting with plenty of lead time.  [Trust me, the attendees will appreciate getting some unexpected time back.]
  3. Is the topic relevant to you?  Take a look at the information regarding the presenter or the topic and decide if that message is relevant enough to your current projects, responsibilities or interests to take the time to attend.  If it is relevant, and you believe you will learn something from it, I’d say your attendance would be worthwhile.
  4. Who else do you expect to attend the meeting?  One of the best ways to get in front of a client, prospect, or influential person is to “happen to bump into them at a meeting” and learn you have a “shared interest in a topic.”  One of my most fun meetings occurred on a Saturday morning, 28-mile bicycle ride when nobody else showed up except for me and the director of an economic development team.  We showed up to ride bikes, but learned a lot about each other’s business, too!
  5. Geography If you live in a large, metropolitan area, the idea of “just across town” can literally mean an eighty-mile round trip, or worse- getting caught in a crushing traffic jam at least one-way of your traverse to attend the meeting.  If there is a 60-minute meeting that requires me to spend an hour or more in transit when I have no other business in the area or the above questions are void of compelling answers, I will likely skip it, no matter how much I “support the organization”.  It’s simply not the best use of my time.

not on timeRecently, a monthly group I have been recently attending (I even spoke to this particular group a couple of months prior) announced their program speaker. I went down the list above and determined that given the reputation of the speaker (he was quite credentialed) and the opportunity to network with a few people I expected to see there, that I’d make the 40 mile drive (one-way) “across town” to the meeting.  The lunch was tasty (maybe I should add a “culinary options” question to the list above as sushi is a definite plus for this particular meeting).  The conversation fed my creative brain with some ideas for my new program under development – another plus. But…. to say the featured speaker was running a little late would be an understatement.  He arrived about 10 minutes before the scheduled end of the meeting.

As If That Wasn’t Enough…

The moderator for the event acknowledged the promised “running time” for the meeting and informed the late-arriving speaker he could still have 10-minutes to present. [Again, as a speaker who has traveled extensively, I understand that things happen.  I was annoyed, but kept an open mind.  “Let’s see what he can do with 10 minutes”, I thought.

Here Is Where He Lost Me

With great anticipation, and a hurried introduction, the presenter jumped right into his presentation.  I suppose the elephant in the room was his tardiness.  Without any explanation, he just started into his presentation….that he did not appear to tweak one iota. How do I know that, you ask?  His opening statement…I mean he built it up as a cardinal rule for meeting speakers…was “Rule #1″…. He spent three minutes (30% of his time) touting (are you ready for it?) the importance of arriving early at every speaking engagement to build connection with his audience! If that wasn’t enough, he then paused (remember, he’s only been given ten minutes to present) to shout out an order to the restaurant employee quietly clearing the table for an order of coffee…”black.”  I quietly packed up my notes, stood up, nodded to the meeting facilitator, and hit the door.  What a hack! [I later learned he went straight into a sales pitch from there.]

Damage Done

I have been on the fence about this particular group for a while.  I had made a specific point to attend, as this speaker had worked with some of the biggest names in the business.  His materials touted him to be “America’s #1 Expert on Sales“….too bad I didn’t stick around to hear his pitch! [Note:  He was there to promote an upcoming event to which he was selling tickets…I will NOT be attending.]

If you call a meeting – show up ready for it.  If you attend a meeting – know why you are there.  If someone wastes your time – question whether it is important enough for you to attend the next one.  And, if you are ever the featured speaker for a meeting, make sure you show up early to build some rapport with the audience or stop wasting my time!

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Why You Should Never Set Goals

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Stop Setting Goals

If you have been in business for very long, then you most certainly have experienced the typical “next year, our goal is to do more!” Or, “this year, our goal will be $X million dollars in sales!” [A number seemingly pulled out of thin air, or worse…a number simply a percentage greater than last year’s total.]  This is precisely the reason you should never set goals.  Let me explain.

“More” is not a strategy!

There is no creativity in goal setting today.  Too often, what often gets construed as strategic planning, is not much more than wishful thinking.  In short, people are lazy.

insanity- Taking the same action over-and-over again, each time expecting a different result.

Unhappy with the fact that the company’s sales results were essentially flat for a number of years, a company president shared with me once that “he wanted more”.  Isn’t that exactly what conventional wisdom says a company president should say? In fact, it is exactly what that same company president had said in each of the previous five or six years…each time with the same result- roughly the same amount of sales as the year(s) before.  Are you surprised?

Activity Alleviates Anxiety

Filled with desire to achieve a new result, do you ever feel paralyzed & uncertain what to do?  Research indicates that learning occurs in four stages (Read:  Unconscious Competence- A Lesson From Sesame Street). To first learn a new skill, or achieve a new result, one must first take a new action to discover that you likely don’t know what you don’t know- and you need awareness to turn that newly discovered knowledge into action from which you can learn.  Once you took that first step, did the outcome bring you closer to or farther from your desired result?  Adjust. Try again.  It certainly beats the analysis paralysis which prevents so many people from experiencing a change in the outcome of their efforts.  Do something, even if it is wrong!

Where SHOULD You Focus?

target-2To achieve big results, you must have a vision.  To have a vision, you must allow yourself to detach from your past failures and engage with an image of what your new success looks or feels like.  Go ahead.  Get a vivid picture of success.  What would be different if you achieved success? How would it look? Feel? Smell?  What would people notice most about you?

Now, before you get overwhelmed with the natural feelings of “but I don’t know how to get there”, simply bask in that vision for a few minutes. Hey, take an hour!

Welcome back! Feels good, doesn’t it? Now, write down a list of new actions (short term) that would lead you closer to that vision becoming your reality.  Want a new job? Apply for a new one every day for a month. Want to lose those extra pounds you gained over the holidays…four years ago?  Decide to go for  a walk for 30 minutes every day.

Recent, widely-quoted research seems to suggest that mastery of a skill occurs once you have exercised that skill for 10,000 hours.  Becoming an “expert” is a  lofty goal. [For those counting at home that is spending 12 hours a day, every day, for 27 months; or by spending 30 minutes a day for nearly 55 years-if you have that kind of time.]  No matter your level of commitment each day, proficiency in any skill only comes from experience.  There are no shortcuts!

Focus on building new behaviors.  Experiment with new behaviors and identify the correlation with your vision. As you take more and more deliberate action in the correct direction, that vision will begin to come into focus.  Celebrate the small victories.  Track your progress toward the greater desired result.  Just don’t gauge how well you are doing with a pass/fail mentality.  Focus on moving yourself in the right direction.  The big, satisfying goal will just seem to “happen”.

ACTION:  Share a big goal publicly with others as a motivator to keep yourself accountable.  Take a minute and describe your big vision below.  Even if nobody reaches out to you to check your progress, YOU will remember it was posted here and the discomfort of complacency will encourage you to take action each day.

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The Truth About Networking Connections

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The value of your network is only as good as the relationships you have with the people in it.

Earlier this week, I saw YET ANOTHER friend of mine on national television. This time it was Shon Fuller, who is in a national ad for Wal-Mart.  Last season, another colleague of mine, Michael Dorsey, shared his very personal battle with weight loss as a member of the Blue Team on Season 14 of The Biggest Loser.

iStock_pen&nametagXSmallJust yesterday, I reconnected with an old friend I hadn’t seen since either of us had moved to Houston from Tulsa, Oklahoma…he moved here SIX YEARS AGO.  Finally, this morning, I ran across an article in CRM (Customer Relationship Management magazine) featuring Word of Mouse: 101+ Trends in How We Buy, Sell, Live, Learn, Work, and Play, the latest book by New York Times best-selling author, Mark Ostrofsky…who just happens to also be a member of my local chapter of the National Speakers Association for which I serve on the Board.  And it hit me….

I know a lot of people.  In fact, I am probably one of the people Malcom Gladwell was talking about when he discussed connectors in his popular book,  The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.  Well, not specifically me, but people like me.  I’ve heard more than once that if “(I) am not the guy, then (I) am definitely the guy who KNOWS the guy”.  You can be “that guy/gal”, too, if you simply apply a little bit of effort and apply the truth about networking nobody wants you to know (but you should).

Here’s the Issue:

By the time you realize you might need to USE your network to help yourself, it is already too late to start building a relationship with them.  See if these sound familiar:

  • Remember that one person who hit you up on LinkedIn, has only 14 connections, you haven’t seen since junior high, and they just messaged you asking to help circulate their resume because they got fired…yesterday?  Loser! 
  • Being introduced to someone at a cocktail party who suddenly thinks you have just been on your first date, believes you are “the one” and suddenly you find yourself being introduced to their parents that same night? Run, Forest, Run! 
  • Or, my personal favorite, the friend you like to hang out with that is simply unable to just be your friend without trying to get you to sign up for “an amazing, ground-floor opportunity” with the latest MLM flavor of the month EVERY TIME THEY TALK TO YOU.  Sorry, man.  I love you, but dude, let’s just go get a beer, okay?

What to do:

Networking IS important.  And, yes, sometimes it would be prudent (even professionally respectful) to ask for some assistance with an issue your NBF (new best friend) happens to know something about.  Here is the truth about networking, on how to do it right and how to add VALUE to your connections:

  1. When sending a connection request on LinkedIn please STOP using the boring “I’d like to add you to my network on…blah blah blah”, canned message and give them a personalized request that references something you talked about when you met them.  Something like, “I like to stay connected with people who love fajitas and bicycles as much as I do. Let’s go for a ride sometime!”  They’ll “get it” when the auto-formatted message has a button at the bottom to “accept” your request…and they will REMEMBER how they felt about you when you met, realizing you had something in common.
  2. Get to know them first – See if you can set up a coffee, breakfast, or simply a quick call to meet with them and learn more about what THEY do.  Ask how you can help THEM expand their circles of influence, make a connection with someone in your network that would be interested in what they do, or just talk about coffee.  Seriously.  If you can resist the temptation to talk about business during your “get better acquainted meeting” eventually they will ask how they could help you—most likely increasing the chances they actually will!
  3. Keep in touch with them – Just because you met at a networking event seven years ago and haven’t spoken sense does not mean they will remember anything about you or why you even exchanged cards.  Once in a while, forward something to them that relates to their area of expertise and ask a question or simply say “I thought you might find this of interest.”  When you NEED that connection, it will already be deeper, even if they never respond to your messages.
  4. Remember that people inherently do want to help you – Just resist the urge to always be asking.  The fastest way to get a referral is to give one. Try it!

When your phone starts to ring IN with offers to help or a need for expertise, you will know all of that pre-work was worth the effort…especially when people begin to send personal referrals.

Who knows, someone will EVENTUALLY remember that I have a strong desire to host a game show and I will get the call. Until then, let’s chat about how I work with professionals like you who want to build lasting, profitable relationships with clients so they can live the life they deserve on their own terms!

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Humility and Leadership

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Two Traits Every Manager Should Possess

No matter your degree of experience in dealing with them, when I say Manager, a very specific image pops into your mind.

Some managers are good.  Those are the ones you would run through a brick wall for, just because they hinted you might be able to do it.

Other mangers are bad.  You know the type.  Do you remember that manager who was “supposed to spend time with you” each month?  They would show up on the scheduled day, sit in front of you and ask “So, what do you want to talk about today?”…and the first thought in your head was “…How fast can I get you out of my office!”  I had one of those once.

Currently, I’m spending time with a sales team in a coaching & leadership role. In an effort to better understand what activities our respective team members are  regularly doing, I have committed to meet with them, one-on-one, each month to listen, coach, and offer direction, where I can add value. One of the team members, though, had one of the best pieces of advice when he suggested, early in each quarter, I should be asking each team member “How is your NEXT quarter shaping up?”  What a simple phrase to illustrate the intention of any sales manager– how to keep your troops focused on moving forward by planning ahead for success instead of simply reacting to the crisis of the day!

I thanked him.  This week, I just may have learned more than I shared.

Now, are you one of the leaders people are fighting to work FOR or are people running as fast as they can to get AWAY from you?  If  you are the latter, it just might be time to talk less and listen more.

Go get ’em!

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Why Your Top Choice for A Mentor Will Tell You No

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The Top Five Rookie Mistakes When Asking For Help

Scott Cooksey and Randy Gage
Cooksey connects with Randy Gage at recent event.

Most successful people achieved their status shedding blood, sweat & tears.  The rest found success by accident.  Which path are you on?

Successful people also have another trait in common: failure.  Each person at the top, even the lucky ones, made many mistakes along the way.  Your journey is no different.   The problem occurs when you never learn from the mistakes.

In the corporate world, managers routinely send employees to training classes, in hopes the trainers will magically “fix” their broken employees.  (Read: Why Training Doesn’t Work).

What’s worse is when I routinely see “aspiring” individuals (often spending their own money) who continue to get in their own way when approaching a mentor, without even realizing it.

Here’s a list of the Top Five Rookie Mistakes:

1)   Never admit you have no idea what you are doing.
I can sum this up in two words: freshman year.   If you have blocked that traumatic experience from your memory banks, try to remember the second one…college freshman year.  Look, in the adult world, you will gain much more respect from the professionals even a few years ahead of you by just showing a little humility.  I have never seen someone in a business suit give anyone a swirly in the restroom—except once…and that guy deserved it.

2)   You can simply hire people to do what you do not do well.
Despite what you may have heard, there are no short-cuts!  You may have heard the phrase “Do what you do best, outsource the rest!”  Let me be clear: there are plenty of incompetent people who will take your money and make you feel good about it.  Outsourcing any task or aspect of your business should not occur until you fully understand what successful execution of said task(s) looks like. Before you divulge your plan to avoid doing any “heavy-lifting” to your prospective mentor, I suggest you think twice. (Required reading: The Four-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss and Take The Stairs by Rory Vaden).

3)  Someone must agree to be your mentor before you can learn from them.  Recently, I was watching a video post by prosperity expert, Randy Gage.  He was talking about his “mastermind group” which included some of the greatest success-minded individuals of the past 100 years.  Suddenly, it clicked. He does not actually sit down face-to-face with his mentors (some of them are actually dead!).  Rather, he studies everything he can find where each mentor explains their philosophy: recorded speeches, books, articles, videos… And, in his mind, these guys speak to him and offer perspectives on success.

(More reading: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill – I recommend the original 1937 version for full effect of it’s power; Risky Is The New Safe by Randy Gage; and watch Dead Poet’s Society starring Robin Williams.)

4)  Make sure your mentor thinks just like you do. Listen up, kids, ‘cause I’m only going to say this once: Keep an open mind and turn off your filter once in a while – you just might learn something from your mentor.  Time and again, I have witnessed people who ask for help, then offer a host of excuses why they couldn’t possibly do what had just been suggested they consider. Note: I am not saying you should “check your morals at the door”. I am merely suggesting that you can learn from people who think and act very differently than you.  Especially an “unofficial” mentor. Even Einstein knew the definition of insanity as “doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.”

(Challenge: Research someone who has been wildly successful despite possessing very different values from yours. Look for motivators, techniques, and systems you could replicate – seek to understand the “how” and get out of your comfort zone.  It’s been holding you back, anyway!)

5)  Your plan is the only way it will work.  As I look back at my career, with all of its amazing twists and turns, it is almost impossible to believe I am a professional speaker.  What made it work was my perspective.  Every setback.  Every failure.  Every slower than desired success. Each micro-decision along the way led me to where I stand today…on the platform.  Your pathway to success probably will not look the way you think it should, but remember – it is your story to tell.

Turn each setback into a lesson and call it experience.  Remember to celebrate the victories, no matter how small, with loved ones and confidantes. The road to success is full of twists and turns but, when you find yourself enjoying the journey, you will know you have arrived.  You will be even more shocked when you realize who helped you get there. Now, pick up the phone and call that prospective mentor!

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How to Fix The Most Critical Mistake In Sales

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Runner in Hamster WheelThe older I become, the more convinced I am that everything runs in “cycles”.  Music you once loved, eventually comes back around.  Sports teams you follow, no matter how good they are today, inevitably wind up in a disappointing “rebuilding year”.  Sales, once coming in as fast as you can take the orders, eventually slow to a crawl…along with the commission checks.  And that is when it happens. The critical mistake most sales people eventually make…  They dust off the same old presentation they’ve always given, complete with what they think their customer, prospect, or suspect already knows about their product or solution.

Take a close look at your sales team.  If you are a sales team of one, it is time to be completely honest with yourself.  Here’s how to do it:

  1. Get back to basics.  Instead of dusting off the same old script or [worse] old power point slide deck, start with a blank sheet of paper and a pencil. Jot down what it is you really want your customer to know. How long has it been since you reminded your customer how your company found success in the first place? Remember that this is your story to tell…so tell it your way!
  2. Set aside some time to practice.  Yes.  Practice.  Your favorite band still has rehearsals. Can you imagine a top performing sports team relying on their raw talent to get them to the championship game?  I know a LOT of successful people who use their commuter time practicing speeches; rehearsing upcoming, difficult conversations; and simply talking through issues they are attempting to work out – even if they are talking to themselves. [You will be surprised how helpful it is to hear yourself OUT LOUD…but more on that in a minute.]
  3. Creativity needs space.  Once you have sketched out the outline for your presentation, planned that critical conversation, and even practiced it a few times, put your notes away for a couple of days.  Let the ideas steep.  During your commute, I challenge you to turn OFF the radio and just drive. Let your mind wander into and out of that presentation.  Think about the message you are wanting to get across, at a higher level, and consider the phases of the presentation.  I like to call this the 20,000 ft view.  The details are not important, just focus on the “bigger picture”.
  4. Record yourself delivering your presentation. Audio is good.  Video is better. Video of you in front of a “live audience” is perhaps the best.
  5. Critique the presentation. This is the hardest part for most people. It is time to set aside your ego, and remember that the ultimate goal is to make such a favorable impression in the room, the buyer will not have  a decision to make, because they will be too busy placing the order.  You will want to review your video three times:
    1. Listen only.  Turn your back to the screen and simply listen to the presentation.  Keep a timer handy, and make notes of your impressions while you write down where you were in the presentation as you had those thoughts. Examples:  “1:42 – sounded uncertain” or “3:02 – confusing explanation”.
    2. Watch only.  For the second pass, watch the video of your presentation without any audio.  Make notes of what your gestures, expressions and body language are saying.  Do you look like you are enjoying the presentation?  Do you appear trustworthy?  How much are you moving around?  Do you display confidence, or discomfort?  How about 90 seconds later?

    3. Watch with audio.  On the third pass, you’ll finally watch and listen at the same time, to your presentation.  Make a third set of notes.  It should be fairly easy at this point to know what areas of the presentation need the most work.

Feedback accompanied by a willingness to re-tell your story in a new way helps to keep your message fresh, and your topic / product relevant.  Stop relying on “tenure” and your “years in the business” to get you by.  Ego may have gotten you here, but the most successful salespeople know it won’t keep you here. Avoid that critical mistake, and you will have more business than you can handle.

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How to Stop Kidding Yourself About Your Sales

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There are all kinds of numbers.  Look around you, numbers are sales projections, sports scores, speed limits, lottery numbers – heck, singles are always trying to “get someone’s digits”.  Numbers can tell a story.  Scratch that…numbers tell THE story.

Selling old timers proclaim, with great fanfare, “It’s a numbers game.”  They are only half right. Numbers are just numbers, until you understand the story.

The Facts About Sales Numbers:

1)   If you have good sales numbers, as a salesman, you can pretty much do whatever you want. Sales (be you a solo practitioner or part of a sales team in any industry) is the lifeblood of your industry.  Sales pays salaries, drives profits, and keeps your boss happy. If you want to be left alone, in most situations, simply sell.

2)   Why do I have to fill out activity reports? Don’t they trust me?  Owners, investors and management often focus on this item- but only in the absence of sales.  If the sales are not rolling in, management is forced to seek answers the question “why”. It is only natural to ask, “what is our sales force doing”.  It’s the prudent question to ask, but often rubs salespeople the wrong way.

3)   What’s in the pipeline?  While activity reports are a diagnostic tool helpful when mentoring or coaching a salesperson, it is the sales pipeline that begins to tell the real story.  It is tempting to jump to the belief that the only way to track this is by implementing a strict Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system like Salesforce, Act!, or SugarCRM.  In reality, the fastest way to get a handle on how effective your efforts are, can be as simple as writing down known opportunities with pencil and paper.  (Download this Free Sales Project Template  and use it to document opportunities).

4)   Who needs a calendar, it is all in my head! You may be able to remember the facts, but how certain are you to recall exactly the right information at the right time to ensure you never miss an opportunity to close the deal?  Successful salespeople know follow up is the key to the kingdom.  There is no place for ego vs. calendar.  Calendar wins.  If nothing else, having your next steps outlined on a calendar for easy recall just might supplant your bosses seeming micromanagement in #2 or #3.   (I once turned a $400,000 lost opportunity into a $3,500,000 account—just by putting a follow-up reminder on the ONE DAY that customer had to re-evaluate their decision.)

5)   If you do not like activity reports, sales funnels, and organizational management tools, or the like, see #1!  And learn how to pray.  Seeing as I checked my sales ego long ago and opted instead for a lifelong commitment to continuous improvement, I’m going to continue reading blogs like this one, and attending meetings to learn to sell even better. (If you read this before Sept 15th, 2012, you should make plans to JOIN ME!) 

There is one more way to make certain you give it your best this week.

YOUR CHALLENGE: Publicly state below what you are going to do different this week to improve your sales, and we will check back with you in a week to see what effect it had on your success. If you really believed what you already do was working, you probably wouldn’t still be reading this article…so start typing!

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How to Fire Customers and Make More Money

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Do the Math and You Will Quickly See Why It Is Time to Fire Customers and Make More Money

THE LOGIC

Face it.  Your time is incredibly valuable.  Let’s cut to the chase and do a couple of quick calculations:

  1. Tally up  your total overhead costs (salary, utilities, rent, supplies, equipment, licences, etc…) for one week.
  2. Next, add up the total revenues earned last week (include sales or commission, pro-rated fees, other revenue).
  3. Subtract OVERHEAD out of REVENUE.
  4. Divide that number by the total number of truly productive meetings you held last week.

What you are left with is the true average result of each meeting last week.   As a formula, the calculation looks like this:

(REVENUE – OVERHEAD)
# of SALES MEETINGS 

THE REALITY

In my experience of working with thousands of business people seeking the mythical “silver bullet” to success, I have found that most people are less than honest with themselves about how good of a job they are doing.  Many of the financial professionals I have known over the years are some of the worst offenders.  It is very easy to make oneself appear “busy“.  The truly successful, however, focus on being “productive“.

It Isn’t Always About The Money

Who deserves your time and attention?  Certainly, your family and friends are in that category.  Your best clients should be as well.  That’s why you need to fire some of them.

Several years ago, there was a gentleman who chose to invest a significant amount of his retirement money with me.  We discussed a strategy that was appropriate for someone of his risk-tolerance, considered his expected number of years until retirement, other investments he held, and he agreed to open an account where he would pay me on a fee-basis rather than paying a commission on purchases or sales in his account.  He was particularly fond of the fact that his interests (growing the value of his account) were aligned with mine (the greater the value of the account, the greater the dollars I would earn as his investment advisor).  There was only one problem.  As soon as we opened his account and transferred in the cash, he forgot what we had discussed.  He froze up.  He wouldn’t agree on any of my recommendations and wouldn’t allow me to put the money to work in the markets.  That said, he was paying me fees (see “REVENUE” above) in return for my time.  The problem was, I was spending hours trying to track him down on the phone, attempting to catch him at his office, and discussing with him what we needed to do for his account.  In the end, despite the fact he was paying me to not take my advice, I had to fire him as a client. It was the best move I could have made.

What’s In It For You?

Donald Trump ApprenticeFreeing yourself from the binds of a customer or client who only wants your advice and attention, but remains unwilling or unable to act upon it, is an amazing experience.  Sometimes you have to fire customers. Once you do, you’ll wonder why you did not fire them earlier.  Suddenly, you have more time to tend to the the accounts with whom you have great relationships–The clients who take your advice.  The ones most likely to give you leads and referrals (the ultimate endorsement from a client) to help you be more successful.  You’ll have less stress, more enjoyment for the job you do, and maybe…just maybe…make more money.

Now, it’s time to call that customer and tell them, “It’s not you…It’s me!”

Leave a “Client, You’re Fired” story or other great practice growth tip in the Comment section below!

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How to Increase Your Sales with Any Client in Under 15 Minutes Per Day

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Building highly successful (and more profitable) customer relationships can be accomplished in less than 15 minutes per day.

The hint: Follow your customer’s company and industry better than they do.

Let’s cut to the chase:  There is tremendous value in understanding each of your customer’s corporate objectives and projects on the horizon as if your life depended on it.  Waiting for someone to ASK for help with a project often puts you behind the 8-ball and more importantly, behind your competition.

Setting your home page of your web browser to default to a page centered on your target industry or the largest city in your territory.  One great example is to visit bizjournals.com and choose your city.  Why not set up Google alerts for accounts in your territory?  If you are a Twitter user, customize a digest of relevant information like this one (it’s FREE to set one up) by IdeaCharger.  By keeping an eye on a particular industry or market, both ideas work to help you leverage public information that will increase your overall market intelligence of your target industry, customers & territory. Scanning headlines relevant to your sales efforts can easily be done in under 15 minutes per day.

When you locate a relevant article, give some thought to how what you are reading is useful from a strategic standpoint. Ask yourself:

  • Do I know decision makers at all companies involved?
  • What opportunities does this provide right away?
  • What opportunities could this provide in the future?
  • How could I make sure I am PROACTIVE in keeping relevant information in front of my contacts at these companies?

Information like this can and should be automated, making it easy to quickly scan or mark to read more, later.  Keeping an eye on information about customers and prospects can lead you to open doors….often with big piles of money on the other side.

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Connected Organizations

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Guest Post by:
Mike Henry, Chief Instigator
Lead Change Group

One thing I’ve noticed in leadership discussions lately surrounds the idea that everyone is a leader.   Some established, experienced leaders withdraw from the idea quickly.  “Too many cooks spoil the soup.” Or, “Someone has to be in charge.” How does anyone expect to get anything done when everyone thinks they’re the leader?

Room at the top

In a hierarchical organization, there is only one box at the top.  Everyone can’t be in-charge.  Someone must be ultimately responsible for what happens on a team.  But must everyone else be impotent?  Must everyone else wait until a box on the diagram above them opens?

 

When we were kids, we didn’t have org charts.  Whoever showed up played.  Sure there were some kids who didn’t get chosen early, but generally, at least in my circles, leadership was a function first of showing up and then either having the ball or having the best idea of which game to play.

Character-based Leadership

New, organic, character-based leaders lead from who they are.  It causes some concern in fear-based position-focused organizations, but generally organizations and leaders appreciate individuals who accept responsibility, act like owners , and avoid blaming others  or acting like victims.  We appreciate  people who demonstrate initiative.

 

But the old top-down org chart just doesn’t create a naturally conducive environment for that type of leadership.  We can talk about empowerment and initiative and creativity but there is always this looming idea that someone further up the ladder will stop anything they believe is unnecessary.

New Leaders Avoid Hierarchies

New leaders form something more similar to a tribe or a community.  It’s based on connections.  In fact, I’d go so far as to suggest that the new org structure is more of a project matrix.  Seth Godin and others have suggested that everything is now a project.   Your vacation is a project, and so is your current job.  In a few weeks or months or years, you’ll get involved in another project (or job).  Everything is more temporary that we like to think, unless we’re miserable and then everything is less temporary than we’d like.

 

Connections are the new keys to getting things done.  Project management is less about the project or the activities and more about who you can enlist, for how long, and what is their level of commitment.  Your connections and your ability to mobilize those connections will determine your success.  If the world is one big matrix, how you can connect and with whom are the key questions.

Triad Relationships


In Tribal Leadership, by Dave Logan, Jack King and Halee Fischer-Wright, the authors noticed something about the stage 4 and stage 5 tribes.  The highest most productive tribes built what they called Triad Relationships.  A triad relationship is a relationship where one person introduces persons two and three.  Two and three go on to build a relationship that no longer requires person one to be involved.  That’s a triad relationship.

 

Can you create connections that outlive your engagement?  If we’re going to be leaders who connect and succeed in the new community-based non-hierarchical world, we need to have the confidence and the genuine concern for others that would allow us to enable these triad relationships.  A series of triad relationships that exist over time and engage for various projects begins quickly to look like one huge matrix.

 

So how are you at creating triad relationships?  Does your organization support triad relationships or does it still reinforce old-style co-dependent relationships>  Can you point to some connections inside or outside your organization that have gone on to produce outcomes not involving you?  I can.  It’s rich and rewarding to see results from a partnership that you helped to create, even when you’re no longer involved.

 

Mike Henry Sr. is the founder and Chief Instigator of the Lead Change Group.  He has a passion to mobilize character-based leaders to make a positive difference.  Connect with Mike at http://leadchangegroup.com/members/mike.

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