Archive for Tip of the week

It’s all about your perspective

What can a college basketball coach learn from a high school football coach? Better yet, what can an MBA learn from a high school dropout? Perspective.

Everyone has experiences and knowledge unique to their life. Whether as a consumer or producer, as an owner or employee, living in different areas, reading different books and the list goes on. Two people doing the same thing may have completely different perspectives of the experience.

If you find yourself in a room in which you think there is no opportunity to learn, don’t look for a new room; try to see the room from a different perspective. Maybe you don’t see the opportunities in front of you. Maybe you are not looking for new ideas and knowledge. Maybe you are looking for affirmations. The greatest treasures are often found in the least likely places. If your eyes are closed you might miss them. 

So what can a college basketball coach learn from a high school football coach? If that college basketball coach is struggling with how to inspire their college players maybe the high school football coach can share a better perspective on what high school players are seeking at the college level. Maybe the college coach is so accustomed to dealing with other college coaches and players that they have lost perspective on issues.  How about the MBA and the high school dropout? The MBA had the opportunity to develop their skills in a classroom while the high school dropout developed their skills on the street. Who holds the greater knowledge in building vendor relationships? Who holds the greater knowledge on employee expectations? Who most likely understands more about the average consumer?

Are you trying to please the right people?

It was many years into my career in the landscaping industry when I realized that the majority of landscapers were spending way too much time and energy trying to please other landscapers instead of their clients. I had memberships in multiple industry organizations and there was a attention focused on sharing new certifications, sharing accolades of landscaping accomplishments and very little on business accomplishments. They should have been focused instead on what their clients thought of them.

Dealing now with people in multiple different industries I have come to realize that this, and varying forms of it, are happening in them too. I see business owners so focused on what their competition is doing that they lose focus of who they are or their goals. I see people avoid new ideas, even their own, because others in their industry are not doing it that way. I have seen businesses price work base on what their competition is doing instead of their costs; even when they are losing money.

Thinking more on this, how about all of the people trying to copy what others in their industry are doing because they assume the other person is having success doing it and without any knowledge of how long it took them, how much it cost them or whether it is something they can even duplicate.

So my tip of the week is to take a look at what you are doing and make sure it is what is best for you, your clients and that it is the right thing in order to accomplish your goals. Don’t be afraid to be different, take it instead as a challenge. The most successful people I know were considered crazy in the beginning and often laughed at by others in their industries.

Are you ready for success?

Are you really listening?

Whether you are trying to make a sale, help a colleague or gather information, it can be difficult to truly listen.

For me, I find that if I am not completely focused I will take one part of what someone has said and start processing it and running a complete analysis fo that one item only to not hear anything else they are saying. Another problem I have is to concentrate so hard on not forgetting a question or thought all ready to respond with that I will miss what the person speaking says beyond this.

I shared previously what I learned about multi-tasking and how I have worked to stop it. Well, I have been trying to apply the same thing to this situation. The technique I have developed is to take notes. When I hear something that I want to respond to or put more thought into, I very quickly jot down or type out a note that I can go back to and then re-engage my attention to listening. This has been very helpful.

This process has also helped me discover that by curbing my anxiousness to speak I am not only becoming a better listener and taking in a lot more information, my responses are much more intuitive. No surprise to those who are already good listeners, but I have also found that as I sit back and listen more, many of questions are answered without me ever having to ask them.

In sales, this can be golden. We have heard it before but maybe it hasn’t registered, but the more you listen, the more the prospect will tell you exactly what they want and need and exactly what you need to do in order to make them your client.

If you found this helpful, I would appreciate you sharing with me how.

Increase your value and riches will follow

I work with a lot of different people in a lot of different industries but with all of them I see many commonalities.

One I was thinking about this morning is their interpretation of success. What are the parameters that define your success?

More often than not the people who have an answer to this have one formulated from a financial goal. Most of these are nice but still very reasonable goals. I rarely meet someone who tells me they plan to make a million dollars or more per year. This prompted me to start thinking about those people that do make millions per year and wondering if that was ever their goal. It made me really think about my goals.

Any of you have worked with me before will tell you that I have always struggled with the answer to that question. I think I have found my answer. Once again, I am faced with the traditional habits that society wants to place on me and we know that I apparently have been placed on this earth to challenge the norm! While I do strongly believe that measurable goals are important I want to really explore goals that instead focus on increasing personal value.

For me and WAM! this directs me to focus on making each member more successful in their businesses. The norm would be to focus on how many members I can achieve or how much money I can make. However, if I can instead keep working on more ways to help make each member more successful, help them increase their value, eventually we will be a part of something so awesome that I will no longer have to worry about things like acquiring new members.

In your efforts to increase your sales and make more money are you increasing your value or are you goals just making you work harder? Take a moment and think about increasing your value and what that could do for you?

If you would like to explore this more one on one, I would personally enjoy helping you explore this.

Insanity!

Have you heard the definition of insanity explained as “repeating the same thing and expecting different results”?

I have heard it many times. As much as I have heard it and heard others repeat it, I am surprised to see so many examples of it.

Business owners complaining about the lack of or poor quality of employees who continue to repeat the same methods of hiring. Why don’t they try something different?

I witnessed a sales manager explain to his team the solution to them only closing 10% of their appointments was to simply make more appointments. He told them “it’s a numbers game”. I was thinking to myself, “I got a new number for you, how about increasing your closing ratio”! Why wasn’t he exploring that?

Just one more. I sat down with a business owner who is working ninety hours a week and borrowing money to stay afloat. When I ask her what she thought her biggest struggle was, she told that she just needed more clients! When I ask her how she felt about working a 120 hours and borrowing even more money she looked like a deer in the headlights. Why wasn’t she focused on being more efficient, making more profits and running a better business?

My simple answer to these questions is that they have all developed habits! Bad habits in these cases. One of the best habits I think many could develop is to take some time to stop for a moment and learn how to ask for help. Don’t ask for the help that you think you need, ask your peers to help you identify the help you need.

If you are continuously hiring, ask your peers for ideas on how to find more people, how to identify better people and how to retain the good ones. If you are struggling in sales, ask your peers to help you find new ways to get in front of the right people and if you aren’t making enough profits solicit your peers for ideas on how to increase your bottom line. It’s amazing how much knowledge is normally sitting at one of our masterminds and how much they are willing to help when you ask them the right questions.

The next time someone asks you how they can help you and you are not sure how to answer, ask them how they think they may be able to help you?

More Business or Better Business?

I think it was 1991 when I was taking a Jackie B Cooper sales training course. I admit that I was not interested in most of what Mr. Cooper was selling but there is one part that stuck with me and has until this day.

He began to talk about the negative effects of missing appointments and events that you have RSVP’d for because of having to deal with client issues. At the same time, he talked about how to gain more control in your client relationships. He shared that when a client calls you and tells you when they want to meet and you automatically agree to it, you have given them all of the power and they will often not respect your time. He suggested that instead, even if I had nothing on my calendar, to tell the client that I can not meet at the time they are requesting because I already have an appointment and then give them two alternate times.

I challenged this at first in several different ways. I feared that if I didn’t take care of my clients immediately that they would turn to someone else but I kept to the plan and later discovered that this helped me to differentiate myself from my competitors and make myself and my time more valuable to my clients. Of course at the same time it helped me build my relationship with those in my meetings and at events because they got to know me as reliable and dependable. I think this helped me as well in getting my peers and strategic partners to refer me business.

Before you miss another meeting for a client emergency, grab a phone call during the middle of a business meeting or miss an event that you have RSVP’d for take a minute and think about how this might affect your reputation, how it might affect your relationship with your client, how this might affect how or if people refer you and how this might affect your future.

Do you think creating some of these habits will increase your value to others?

What Is A Strategic Partner In Business?

If we are talking about new business development I define a strategic partner as one of who can, on regular basis and ongoing, provide you with pre-qualified referrals.

Not everyone is a good strategic partner for you. As much as you may develop a deep and caring relationship with someone, as much as you may teach them about what you do and how they can refer someone to you, if they don’t have the regular opportunity to engage with your potential clients about what you do the number of times they will be able to help you is limited.

Identify your target clients and seek out people that are already having conversations with your target clients about something close enough to what you are doing or offering that they will be able to easily bring you into that conversation.

Just as so many are asking for referrals from people who rarely have the opportunity, they are also not completing the steps completely build the strategic partnerships. Being introduced to a good strategic partner is the first step in what can be many. In essence, each of you needs to train the other to be salespeople for each other. The more and better your strategic understands what you are offering the better they can qualify and prepare the client before they pass them along.

Can you imagine having people coming to pre-qualified and ready to buy? Can you imagine this happening regularly without having to constantly seek out new clients?

This will be our training focus for the month of March. I hope you will be able to participate in some our meetings and contribute to some great conversations and they we may help you too.  

Creating Successful Habits

How long does it take to create a habit? There are a few different writings out there with numbers but I think it just depends on the individual and the particular habit. I have been able to create some almost instantly by simply scheduling them and some have taken months to accomplish. Of course those that I enjoy are easier, those that I don’t require more work. I suggest not focusing on the time it takes but more on the steps to take it until its officially a habit. Breaking things down to the simplest of tasks, tasks that you can control and putting in place a way to track it are the most effective.

Along with this, focus on the positive outcomes and not the negatives. This is really important if you are trying to rid yourself of bad habits. Don’t focus on getting rid of the old habit, focus on the new habit.

If your goal is to use your cellphone less than start by creating new habits that will occupy more of this time. Maybe you could simply make it habit to keep your cell phone in your pocket and off the table during meetings, share this with your friends and family and ask them to remind you when you are not doing it and then schedule a simple 15 minute follow up with yourself each week to think back and report to yourself how you did. Another idea would be to schedule a time each week to look at your phone usage report each week and to write the results in a spread sheet so you can see and track those results. I have one client who has changed their voicemail to a nice message that discloses the time each day that they will be returning calls. With this new habit, this person doesn’t have to answer calls anymore.

If you need help creating some new habits to help you achieve your goals or just need an accountability partner to help you, share this during one of our general mastermind meetings and let our members help you.  

The Benefits Of Building Relationships

Have you heard the quote from Theodore Roosevelt, “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care”? Guess what, no one is going to do business with you, or at least not the kind of business that you want just to make you successful, until they know, like and trust you.

Slow down, stop selling and turn off your radar. By radar I mean that bad habit of only listening for the buying signals. How can you do this? I remember a sales training course I took almost 30 years ago in which they taught us to work every time we meet someone to ask questions until we can find things we like about them. Talk less about work and more about what they do when they are not working, who is important in their lives and what their goals and dreams are. How do you feel when someone takes the time to get to know you like this?

This plays into two other conversations I have often with coaching clients. First the belief that price is the most important buying decision for their clients. Getting to know people on a deeper level like this is one way to overcome this. If you stop and reflect in all of your own purchases you will probably find several examples in which you yourself will pay more or accept less because of your relationship with the provider. The second area is the whole teaching around “closing the deal”. Oh man, when I was in automotive sales I heard every horrible sneaky twisted way you could imagine of how to close the deal. Many salespeople have earned their bad reputation. I have learned that when you really get to know the person you are talking with the sales process becomes more of a conversation. This can move you into a position of simply being a form of a partner with them and things like price become less important and the need to push them is drastically reduced.

Make it a habit. How can you do that? One way might be to write out your sales process and creates steps like first just connecting with them, second getting to know them, third meet at their place and then on the fourth of fifth contact finally allowing yourself to talk to them about what you do.  Even easier, make yourself a cheat sheet of 5 questions that have nothing to do with business that you are going to ask each new person you meet.

If you have other ways that work for you, please share them with me.

First Priority Is To Prioritize

Do you ever complete your things to do list? I know I don’t. If anything it just continues to grow.

Do you know how to decide what to do first? Well last week I wrote about breaking your goals down into tasks that you could actually control. So part of deciding on how to prioritize your tasks at hand is to look at your goals and the tasks necessary to achieve your goals.

For most people that I am working with their priority is normally to make money now. While I am sympathetic to this and understand the choices we normally make in order to help us make money now, these most often, not choices that help us long term. Of course, not paying our bills is not going to help us long term either! There is definitely some balance required.

When you are planning out your day take a moment and for each task, appointment, etc. ask yourself how this action is going to help you now or in the future and to what degree and then schedule accordingly. Don’t procrastinate or put off the things that are most important and don’t fret over the things that ended up at the bottom of the priority list, they aren’t as important. They are not priorities.

If you are stressed about time, keep trying to implement one more item a time, developing just one more habit at a time and I assure that you will eventually hit a point in which you will have more control over your calendar and your time and even though you will probably never have enough time to accomplish everything you want to, you will stress much less by understanding why.