Why Do You Notice More When You Read More?

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Several years ago, I made my first trip to watch the Daytona 500 NASCAR race in Daytona,Florida, with a group of friends. It was a great trip. The best advice I received on that trip was to always “Walk with a purpose”. Of course, that meant, if you acted like you were supposed to be in a particular area, you would draw less attention to yourself and just might get to see some parts of the race experience most fans won’t get to see. [Note: We had garage/pit passes, but they were only good before and after the race…unless you didn’t draw attention to yourself during the race…..]. By the end of the weekend it had served us well, and we ended up with more of a VIP experience than our passes would typically allow. (Shhh – don’t tell anyone!)

In the time since that trip, “Walk with a purpose” has turned into “carry yourself with confidence”. You would probably agree that the times you have held your head a little higher, addressed an audience with prepared remarks, and been more decisive you have likely enjoyed more of the success that you anticipated. Along this same vein, I have long since committed myself to seeking out the wisdom of other successful people to constantly hone my own skills. I love to read.  Each week I choose to spend time reading of books and blogs, engaging in online discussions, and listening to interviews and audio learning programs during my (otherwise unproductive) travel time.

Chocolate Chip CookiesThis week, I was reading a blog article by sales expert Jeffrey Gitomer which I shared with my sales team. The theme of the lesson was one of being prepared, setting expectations for what you wanted to happen on a customer call and, in a sense, “walking with purpose”- all wrapped up in a story suggesting that cookies can be a great door opener on a sales call.

Later that same day, one of my own sales team members walked into my office carrying a box of cookies. When I asked where they came from, he told me they were delivered personally by the sales manager of a nearby hotel where we often refer our customers to stay when they come to town. I read the attached note inviting the salesman and I to join the hotel’s sales manager for lunch in the near future. Random salespeople “drop off material” at our office all the time, but this time was different.

Another member of the team laughed a little to himself, upon seeing this exchange, and said, “Hmmm. I guess the cookie thing really does work!”

The cookies lasted about 5 minutes. But, how long to you think that impression will last? My guess is that my sales team will read the next article I forward their way with a little less skepticism.

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Why Training Does Not Work

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For years, I have seen it happen time and time again.  Frustrated managers send their people to a seminar, so the instructor can “fix them” and send them back.  Time and time again…training does not work.

Re-read the bold statement above and give yourself a minute to digest it.  Go ahead.  Think seriously about what it says. Is it sinking in?

Imagine for a minute you and I are having a conversation immediately following your acceptance (enlightenment) of the above statement.

YOU:  “Wait a minute, Cooksey, you work with financial executives to improve their measurable performance, right?”

ME:  “Absolutely!”

YOU: “So, you’re telling me that if I hire you to train my people, it won’t work?”

ME: “Absolutely!”

YOU: “And you are talking me out of my desire to have you work with my people?”

ME: “No.”

YOU:  **Puzzled look**

ME: “If you want to call it “training”, and send them in to passively listen, somehow hoping it will magically ‘fix them’ while you keep doing what you have always done, I will suggest you are better off throwing your cash off of the top of your building as you shout about how you are spreading the wealth. ”

YOU: “So, how will you fix the problem I have with my team?”

ME:  “I won’t.”

YOU: “Well, if I have to do all the work, why should I hire you?”

ME: “Bingo!”

To be fair, training DOES have a place; albeit, a small one.  If a person desires a new skill, often times a workshop or classroom experience is effective in demonstrating the basics.  To truly master that skill, however, one must invest time and effort to gain the desired result.  There is simply no substitute for practice.

For the manager who sends an employee (in frustration) to a seminar without a willingness or desire to help truly develop said skills back in the office, I’m afraid both parties are being set up for disappointment. In this all-to-common situation, training does not work.

Perhaps most effective, however, is when someone self-selects which training they wish to receive, and challenges themself to use those newly acquired skills to increase their success at work.  During my years as a bank-based investment adviser, I often selected to attend my broker-dealer’s annual meeting in a different geographic region than the one I worked.  I found that my colleagues focused on building practices in places far from my own hometown were MUCH more open to sharing ideas, techniques and tools they used to build their practices.

Also, each year, I would work in a trip to Chicago for the Morningstar Advisers Conference in July.  While the trip itself was expensive, what I gained in ideas to share with my clients (and grow their wealth) was well worth it.  In addition, I found my ideas were truly unique and set me apart from nearly every other bank-based broker in my area – something which contributed greatly to my successful turn-around of the practice I inherited.

Seek out ways to be different, and remember:  If you do what you have always done, you’ll get what you’ve always had.  Find a mentor (someone with several years of proven success in your same line of work), constantly read to increase your industry knowledge, and consider investing some of your own money to work with professional who understands your business and will challenge you to try new things to grow your practice.   It will pay off much more than just another basic “training seminar” you received a flyer about in the mail.

Leave your questions or comment below, and qualify for a FREE 20 minute coaching session by phone or Skype!

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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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Who Says Leadership is the Result of Planning?

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When THEY Look Good, YOU Look Better!

This week, something simply amazing happened when I came down with bronchitis, lost my voice, and was unable to attend (under a doctor’s orders) a trade show my company had paid a LOT of money for us to attend. My team stepped up.

For years, I have been teaching fundamental leadership tools to business people around the world as a corporate trainer.  Even before that, I had already read and adopted a number of fundamentals written up in David Allen’s best-selling phenomenon Getting Things Done. (Seriously, Google “GTD” and you’ll think you have found a “secret productivity cult”.)  I guess I have always been a bit of the “everything has a place” kind of person.

Here’s the breakdown:

I have a folder for everything (Thank you, GTD!).  When I walked out of the office on noon Monday to go to a maternity appointment with my wife, I fully expected to be back Tuesday morning at 7:15AM to load up and head down to the George R Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston to set up our booth.  Just to be safe, I pulled that folder from the stack, left it conspicuously on my desk, and checked in with our Sales Manager to let him know where all of the collateral had been stockpiled for the event.

My wife and I went to her appointment, learned the baby is coming along nicely, and on the way home…completely lost my voice.  Uh, oh.  I had my wife call our Sales Manager to give him a heads up, and confirm some last minute items.  He understood.  The next morning, I was a no-go.

Just about the time the exhibition floor was slated to open…I received a text message with a picture of our booth all set up and ready to go.  By the end of the day, I’d received another message that one of our team members stepped up to help out, and the day went great.  In fact, if I was feeling good enough to come in the next day, I was told to head on to the office…as they had the event “handled”.  Where I have seen so many people panic over a message like that, I just sighed in relief.  All was right.

If you believe whole-heartedly that YOU absolutely MUST be there to make things happen positively for your team, you don’t have a team that communicates very well.  If your team functions just fine without you, your leadership is working.  By making sure everything was done ahead of time, my presence was less necessary!  Plan your work. Work your plan.  Fundamentals matter.  Now, go get to work!  The better you make THEM look, the better off YOU look.

p.s.  I wrote this during the second day of that trade show while working from home.  Yep, I had even had enough forethought to pack the power cord for my laptop.  It’s been one of my most PRODUCTIVE days in WEEKS! Tomorrow, it’s back into the plant….

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Cooksey Selected as President-Elect of NSA Houston Chapter

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

CONTACT:
Scott Cooksey, Director of Communications
National Speakers Association Houston Chapter
Office: 281-849-8255
Cell: 918-633-4490
scott@cookseyconnects.com
www.nsahouston.org

Cooksey Selected as President Elect of NSA Houston Chapter

HOUSTON, TX ― The National Speakers Association (NSA) Houston Chapter has selected Scott Cooksey to serve as President for the 2012-2013 program year. Cooksey is currently serving as Director of Communications for the organization.
“NSA Houston is one of the leading chapters in the country. I’m looking forward to working with the best speaking professionals in the Houston area,” said Cooksey.
Cooksey is currently the Director of Marketing, North American Sales Coordinator for the Houston-based company Clock Spring, a manufacturer of permanent and temporary pipeline repair solutions.
Cooksey has also worked as a contracted speaker for Monster.com, corporate trainer for Skillpath Seminars, and freelance speaker through his own company, CookseyConnects.
NSA is the leading source for community, education, and entrepreneurial business knowledge needed to be successful in the speaking profession.
###

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Lens of Perspective (Getting Your Shift Together)

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Let’s take a ride in the “way-back” machine. Let’s look through the lens of perspective of your first day at any job you have ever held.

What can you remember about that day? What was the weather like? Do you remember the smell of the office? Were you seemingly over- or under- dressed? How organized were the people around you? Was it clear where you were supposed to be and what you were supposed to be doing?

Consider the excitement and enthusiasm you held for the opportunities which lay ahead on that first day.

What about today? Does your excitement still abound, or are you now “settled into the way things are around here”? Can you remember this morning’s commute to the office? Do you look forward to the day?

If your lens of perspective has shifted from one of optimism to one of pessimism (or as the pundits call it, “realism”), I think it may be time to refocus your energy.

Develop your CONNECTion Perspective. Focus on what you can do, rather than what “they” say you can, or “what always happens”. As the old saying goes, “If you don’t arrive for work fired with enthusiasm, do not be surprised when you are fired…with enthusiasm!”

Today is the day you will get your shift together! Stop waiting for your environment to change. Influence it for the better. When others around you find the proper lens of perspective, there is no stopping what you can accomplish.

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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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Stop Giving (and Getting) Referrals that SUCK!

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Guest Post by:
Mac Cassity
Mac The Knife Marketing

[Mac is a personal friend of mine from…let’s just say WAY back!  When we re-CONNECTed and I learned what he was up to these days, it was clear to me: He understands the Power of Connection! Be sure to leave your thoughts and comments below after you read Mac’s post!
-Cooksey]

I know, we’ve all heard it before…referrals are the BEST way to get high quality, easily converting business, right? That is, unless the referrals you are getting absolutely suck! The fact is, many (if not most) business people don’t even understand exactly what a true referral is. This results in quite a bit of wasted time and effort and not NEARLY as much actual business being transacted. A high quality referral IS like gold, but, do you even know what a high quality referral is?

My definition is simple: A high quality referral is when you introduce someone whose product or service you have faith in to someone you think could use that product or service. BAM, that’s it. Notice the word introduce is highlighted. That introduction is the secret to making referrals work. Unfortunately, all too often, we encounter a scenario like the one below:

“Hey Mac, I have a great referral for you!”

“Cool, lay it on me!”

“Well, I was driving in to work today, I saw a billboard for a new business opening up on main street, they could probably use your marketing services…you should call them!”

“Uh…yeah…sure…thanks.” (SUCK!)

The scenario above represents MANY encounters I have had in so called “referral” groups that I belonged to. Listen folks, you might mean well, but this info does NOT equal a referral. Referrals must be handed off. Another one that kills me is the “Just call him and tell him I told you to call.” Again, I say…SUCK! Most of us have higher opinions of ourselves than others and just because you think someone loves you doesn’t mean they want you telling others to call them and ask for business! Not cool. These phone calls are often little better than cold calls and in my opinion are not worth my time. You might think this sounds a bit harsh, but that’s because I expect what I give, and here’s how I give referrals:

  1. 1.      I personally introduce two individuals at a networking event and tell them why I think they should do business together.
  2. 2.      I arrange a 3-way phone call and do the same as the above (when a face to face meeting is not possible)

And lastly (but usually the most common due to obvious limitations)

  1. 3.      I email the two parties and do a “virtual introduction” thereby connecting all 3 of us as part of the referral. This one works great, is easy and quick to do, and VERY effective.

So there you have it. THAT is how you give a referral that doesn’t suck. Oh, and as for those people who give you referrals that do? Simply say to them,

“Hey, let me ask you a quick question…if I know someone that I think would be a good client for you, do you mind if I introduce them to you personally?” (they will always answer with a resounding “ABSOLUTELY!”) Once they do, just smile and ask,

“Well…do you mind doing the same for me?”

They will get the point and you will have helped train one more business professional to start giving referrals that don’t SU…you get the idea.

 

Mac Cassity aka MAC THE KNIFE runs a successful content creation business,  Mac the Knife Articles  and an online/offline marketing business, Mac the Knife Marketing. He has developed an extensive client base that includes major automobile manufacturers, universities, Well known speakers/authors, and more than a few “mom and pop” shops. Mac’s blog, www.MacCassity.com, helps burgeoning offline marketers land and profit from brick and mortar businesses. Mac is offering his successful eBook TURNING CONVERSATIONS TO CLIENTS right now for just $1. CLICK HERE to grab a copy for yourself!

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The Ultimate Client Connection!

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Cooksey (along with his wife Krissy) with members of the Clock Spring LP North American sales team at the 2011 PPIM Conference in Houston, TX

What is the best statement you could hear from a client?  Maybe it is a sincere “thank you”, or “you made a real impact with us”, or maybe just it’s the melodic sound of a referral.  What about “we would like to have you join us as part of our team…full time”?

I’m proud to announce that beginning tomorrow, I am joining the team of one of my prior clients as the Director of Marketing at Clock Spring L.P. To that I say, “What a compliment!”

For nearly the past three years, I have been gathering research about what works, what doesn’t, and how to fix organizational leadership.  It is a project that has taken me, literally, around the world and provided me with unprescedented access to all levels of leaders within organizations large, small, public, private, for-profit, not-for-profit, successful and struggling.  During those hundreds of encounters, I have often reminded workshop participants that significant change in their organizations begins with intentional, consisitent energy pushing in a new direction.  I am extremely excited to be distilling this research into action as part of a team already achieving incredible results!

While several of this blogs followers have already heard about the move and inquired about the future of Cooksey Connects, let me assure you- the mission will continue.  Over the coming months, you may notice a small tweak in the direction of this site and its message, yet the core message of CONNECTion will remain strong.  The guest post series has proven extremely popular and I hope you will continue to enjoy the Monday articles for the next several weeks.  I have reached out to a number of people across North America, and there are some GREAT articles in the queue.  (In case you missed the first two, be sure to check out the posts from Jerry Sevier and Kathy Piersall and leave your comments for the authors!)

For the next month, I will be continuing to wrap up a few previous committments to another client, so if you see me coming to your town, I’d love to meet up with you while I’m there!  Let me hear from you!

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