Monthly Archives: September 2013

Goals vs Plans

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Do you set plans or goals?  Are plans the same as goals?  For me they are very different.  I set goals and make plans.  Plans help me reach my goals.  My goals are commitments that I will do everything in my control to achieve.  Plans are something I make along the way.  I am typically okay if I have to reroute my plans to achieve my goals but I am not happy if I have to sacrifice my goals for a plan.

Each week I set one or two goals that I plan to accomplish throughout the week.  I generally have a plan on how I am going to achieve the goals but most of the time I have to divert from the plan.  It’s important that even when things arise and I have to make a change I still work hard to achieve the goals.  If you have to say no to certain plans because you need to reach a goal you should not feel guilty.  Goals are things that are important to you.  They are the big picture.  So that doesn’t mean you set 20 goals for the week.  Find big picture goals to accomplish.  For example, I want to run a 1/2 marathon this year.  So that does not mean that I need to run 13.1 miles this week.  I do however need to pick a race, plan times when I can run, and make sure I have proper gear to reach my goal.  If I miss running a few times a week I still stay on target and reach my goal.

So are you setting goals or just plans?

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Question: What Sets You Apart?

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So I have been blogging for a month or so now, and I want to hear from others.  What sets you apart from people in your professional life?  Lots of people do the same careers and jobs and it’s interesting to see what makes someone better or worse in their job.

If you work for someone do you expect your employer to make you better or do you do things to help grow professionally?  If you are a business owner do you reach out your peers and try to learn from them?  Do you read books?   Do you answer your phone after 5pm?  Do you get frustrated if someone needs you to work after hours?

So I am asking, what sets you apart?

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Set Your Boundaries

ImageMany times in sales you will find yourself going above and beyond for a client.  You want to make sure the client gets the service they expect and deserve.  You asked them for a chance and you want to on deliver that promise.  At the same time you might come across clients that tend to have higher expectations than you can deliver or continually take advantage of your generosity.

It’s important to make sure you set boundaries in your business relationships.  This can be done in several ways.

Clear Proposals – Make sure everyone is on the same page before you start your work or deliver your product.  The customer should be completely clear on the deliverables and your expectations.   Be careful that you outline all the details or your proposals, and be cautious not to put into too much filler.  Proposals are generally best received when they are delivered in person and reviewed.  Have both parties sign the proposal prior to commencement of work.  It’s great to have trust in business partners but both parties should have a signed agreement regardless of the level of trust.

Communicate Effectively – Ask you client what the best way to reach them is.  There are so many different ways to communicate with people these days and really there is no standard.  Some people prefer text to email and vice versa.  Some people never check voice mails and some people have an assistant you must go thru.  Find out the best way to communicate with your client and make sure they know how to reach you as well. 

Don’t over extend yourself over and over again– Let your client know when you are doing something out of the norm.  From time to time clients will get in a situation where they will need you to work a miracle.  Miracles aren’t easy and sometimes impossible.  Do what you can to help your client but make sure they know when you have done more than the scope of services, and in many cases you may even need to charge them for the extra service.  If you continually are helping the same client with a crisis and it can be prevented you need to explain to them what you need from them to provide the service.  Your added efforts have a value and it’s important not let those services go under value.

Setting clear boundaries in business will help you in establishing healthy and successful practices.  Your clients will value your services and they will also appreciate when you have had to go above and beyond to create miracles.  Always strive to provide the best possible products and services and establish reasonable expectations.

 

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TGIF….is your work week that bad????

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It’s interesting to see how some people approach their work days and announce it on Social Media.  I have a few people on a social media site where it’s like clockwork on Thursday they are announcing to the world that it’s almost the end of the week, on Friday they are ready to run out of their office, and on Monday they are so depressed because it’s back to the grind.  Have you ever thought that if you put it out into the universe how much you hate something that you will hate it more?  Work is work and for most people its unavoidable.  We have bills to pay and responsibilities that require money.  My question is why does work have to be so dreadful?  Do they beat you at this establishment?  Are you there against your will?  Are the people in your office that bad?  Yes, I agree some jobs can be very draining and hard and yes the weekend is more enjoyable but really is there something else going around you that’s positive and you could post that?  Please share the positive it will make you more positive and impact the people in your circle in a better way.

I bet if I reached out to the people that are so vocal about hating their job and said are you looking for a new job, they would come back and say no I’m just looking forward to the weekend.  So why don’t these people focus on something else to broadcast on their social media?  How about a productive and motivating quote?  Even if the blurb about hating Monday took them only a second it has now reach a couple hundred people that you really dislike your job which is probably a good portion of your life.  It’s a simple negative comment that really just helped you hate your work week and makes people think wow this person’s life sounds a bit dreadful.  Try spinning Monday thru Friday into something a little more desirable.

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Pointless Stress

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I grew up in Seattle and moved to Florida when I graduated high school.  It would be fair to say that most of my driving experience has come from the Sunny Land of Florida.  I still think of myself as a Seattle Girl at heart until I get on the road.  Recently, I got off the plane in Seattle and meet my ride at the loading area.  I become immediately irritated by the person that is blocking us with their car.  It’s like the person does not see us and I tell my driver aka my mom to use her horn.  My mom looks horrified that I want to use the horn so I reach over and blow the horn.  All of sudden I get nasty looks like I am the rudest person and the other car still does not move.  Okay I decide to give in and we will wait….so we wait 30 seconds and they move.  Interesting how my blood pressure raised over waiting 1/2 a minute.  My stress seemed a little pointless.

The next day I find myself driving across town to visit a friend and let’s face it there is a lot of traffic in Seattle.  You can’t fight the traffic it’s just there.  I see a long line of drivers lined up on the exit ramp.  The two lanes next to the merge lane is wide open.  People are not driving up to the front of the merge lane and snaking in.  The drivers jump into the last place in line and patiently wait their turn.  Every time I come to Seattle and see this I am blown away.  It’s refreshing drivers actually respecting that someone has been waiting longer and if someone decides to cut there are no horns or hand signals flying around.  Don’t get me wrong I am sure there is a good share of road rage in the Seattle area, but the drivers seem to realize that getting angry and frustrated is really not going to help the situation.  Traffic exist and sometimes you just have to be patient.

This the same with many other things in life and work.  Things that tend to make you annoyed or irritable on a daily basis are sometimes things that you should probably just roll with.  There will be plenty of things in life to stress over.  So if you find yourself working and stressed over things you can’t control….pause.  Ask yourself what can I do to make this situation better?  Is my increased stress level helping or hurting?  Do I need to the let the situation pass or do I need to respectively address the situation.  Getting angry as one might do in road rage is generally pointless and ineffective. 

So while in Seattle I take a moment to pause and watch.  The traffic exist and yes it’s not fun but I can make it completely painful and tension filled or I can accept it for what it is.  If someone decides to cut me off on the road that’s okay because there may be a time when I really need to cut in and someone will graciously enough let me in….I mean haven’t we all been there?  Haven’t you ever had to wave to someone and ask them to let you cut in?  It feels good when they smile at you and give you a friendly gesture of approval.

Don’t let you days become filled with pointless stress because one thing will turn into multiple things. 

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Sometimes You Need to Increase Your Altitude

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I think I am a fairly decent runner.  I can run a 5k with little to no pain, and at this point in my running career I don’t ever worry about running a 5k.  Living in Florida, I definitely am not faced with much altitude and for the most part I run on flat roads.  When I go for a 3.5 mile run it’s a good cardio run but definitely nothing I feel overly challenged on.  So it’s interesting how much of a difference it can make when I decide to go for a hike that is half the distance of my normal run.  I have a harder time breathing my muscles are stretched differently and it takes me much longer.  Of course it’s different going uphill as opposed to running on flat services but I’m thinking to myself I am used to running twice this and in 30 degrees warmer temperature I should be able to do it.  It’s not the case at all though.  Even though you may be a strong runner your body is accustomed to certain conditions.

So this is a blog about business and sales what does my altitude running challenge have to do with business?  In business like running you become accustomed to certain styles and ways of doing things.  Even if you think you have mastered your skill and you have a working system be open to take a road that might be an uphill battle at first.  Maybe extending yourself will help you to learn something new or experience something that will enlighten you as a business person.  It’s good to hear how others achieve their goals and incorporate some of their methods into your business.  The business world is a busy place and it’s good to have systems and paths to follow but it’s also good to sometimes look outside of the way you do things and accept some challenges to help you develop even better methods.  At first you may be uncomfortable and feel unsuccessful but if you try you may also find you get different results that helped your business.

My 3.5 miles used to be my challenge but then it became much easier, and now that I have pushed myself to another challenge I found new muscles and I was able to get more out of my workout.  The same is in business I know I can do a certain amount of cold calls a day and get results but maybe tomorrow I can try a new way of marketing and see what kind of results I will get.

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Professionally Persistent

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In business development you will come across many prospects that are not in the market for your product or services at the time you introduce yourself to them.  What do you about these situations when a client is not ready to buy?  What if the prospects is doing business with a competitor?  How do you handle getting a no from a prospect?

I have always taken to the theory that when I get a “no” it really means “not right now”.  It’s important to be respectful of your prospect’s space.  If they are busy you want to acknowledge that their time is important and let them know enough about what you do and how it could be beneficial to them.  Even if they are not in the market there is a good chance they may be in the market one day and you want them to know who you are.  Customers that are loyal to other vendors are great and you shouldn’t consider that door to be closed.  These are the best clients because if and when you earn their business they will give you the same loyalty.

When you are calling on someone and they tell you right now is not a good time be up front with them and ask them “would it be okay if I keep in touch with you in the event something changes?”  If you ask this question in a non-threatening way you will be shocked by how receptive people are to this idea.

It’s important to stay in front of all opportunities.  That does not mean you call them on a daily basis but DO reach out to them on a regular basis.  If your company is rolling out a new service or product let them know.  Acknowledge prospects at networking events, send thank you cards if they made time to meet with you, make courtesy calls to see if they are still happy with services, and from time to time pop by their office.

If you can manage to find that happy balance of polite and persistent clients will enjoy talking to you and they will begin to build a trust.  They will see that you are committed to earning their business and that will also show them that you will value your business when the opportunity arises.  Consumers like to have choices it keeps business fair and honest.  So even when a prospect tells you they are not in the market to change sometimes things happen and choices are a relief.  Make sure your prospects know you are an option by being professionally persistent.

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Jack of All Trades Master of One

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So one the biggest questions when hiring a new sales person is do I hire someone with industry knowledge or do I hire someone that knows how to sell.  Well it really depends on the make up of your organization.  Ask yourself these questions, does my company have a strong sales management team?  Does my company have a strong technical staff that can support a strong sales person?  Is the sales person going to have other teammates to learn from?  Why am I hiring a salesperson?  Do you need a hunter or an account manager?

If you find a candidate with strong sales skills chances are they will be a driven person with a desire to learn as much as they can about your products and services to be successful.  Sales is a skill in its self and takes years to develop.  With the advancement in technology it could be said that more and more people lack people skills, and in sales you will almost always be required to effectively communicate.  A salesperson needs to have social skills that allows them to uncover needs and deliver necessary messages.  I would argue that it would be easier to teach a new hire about your industry as opposed to teach a new hire how to effectively prospect and sell.

If you find a candidate with industry knowledgable and no experience in sales you are taking a gamble.  You need to make sure your company can support the efforts to give this employee attention.  That does not mean that you shouldn’t hire someone that has never sold.  It just means that you need to make sure the candidate is willing to learn that skill and that your company is in a position to invest in their learning efforts.  Is selling an art or a science?  I believe it’s both and that will take time to learn and develop.

A GREAT sales person can be a jack of all trades but should strive to be the master of one….Selling!

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Authentic vs Synthetic

Authentic vs Synthetic

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Both in personal life and and business I choose to surround myself with authentic versus synthetic people.  So what does that mean?  Authentic people do not hide their agendas.  They put themselves in your life or business for a reason and the reasons are clear.  Synthetic people surface only when they want something or need something.  Their objectives are never clear and usually the outcome leaves you questioning that interaction.  This does not mean that an authentic person needs to check up on you daily.  Many of the authentic people I surround myself with in personal life and business life I don’t see on a regular basis or talk to that often, but I do know that I when conduct business with them I am going to get answers and I always know where I stand.

Sales and new business should never depend on dropping off donuts to an office or buying things for a client.  Those are always nice perks but give your client good service and value.  Thank yous are appreciated and well received, but make your services and products meet expectations with or without perks.  Pick up the phone when your business associates call or if you miss the call, call them back.  People like gifts and lunches but really they want a good solid business relationship that will be good for their business.  Make your relationship something of value beyond something that anyone can do for them.  It’s kind of like getting flowers from your spouse after a fight.  You would much rather get flowers because they just wanted to tell you they care not because they did something wrong or they want something.

Authentic people have clear intentions and no hidden agendas.  Synthetic people are afraid to ask for what they want.   Authentic business people are less likely to be fearful of asking for an order in business because they have nothing to hide.

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How Do Sales Add Up?

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Sales is basic math.  Some people think it’s about having a charming personality or being in the right place at the right time, or being pushy but it’s none of those things.  From time to time a mediocre or bad sales person will get lucky because of those traits but really being charming, pushy, or having good timing don’t make you a successful person in sales.

So what is the key to being a successful salesperson?  It’s simple math!

High Activity + Positive Attitude = High Results

Give yourself activity goals to reach daily.  If your boss says you need to make 50 phone calls today make 70, and do it with a smile.  People are more willing to engage with someone that is in a good positive mood than a person that is just going through the motions.  Once you hit your goals you will see that you have created opportunities for proposals, and proposals turn into wins.  Don’t ever count on that one call or that one opportunity….always be filling your basket with more goals and opportunities.

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