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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Women in Business….are we judged more than Men?

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This weekend I took the time to watch a documentary called Miss Representation.  I found the film to be very enlightening and it gave me a different perspective than I expected.    I do not believe to be a feminist and I have had great opportunities being a woman, so I wasn’t sure what this movie would offer me.  As a strong business woman that works hard to carry a professional image I actually found the movie leaving me to ask myself the question, why do I judge other professional women?  I honestly didn’t even know I was doing it until the movie put it out there in front of me.  I was holding women in business to a different standard to men in business.

Women are constantly on stage whether they are in sales, on TV, or amongst friends, and society has strongly influenced the way we judge women.  We judge the way they look, speak, dress, and act.  It’s not just men that judge and it’s not even men that are the harshest critics.   We find ourselves talking about women’s appearances and personal lives in a professional arena, but do we do that to men?  Do you ever hear people talking about what men were wearing or doing in a professional social setting?  If you do the guy must have been over the top, but with women it could be a low cut top, too high of heels, short skirt, being too gregarious etc.  The worst part is the rumor and talk follows that woman around like a nasty disease.

In sales it can be very hard to be a woman no matter what you are selling or who you are selling to.  I have spent most of my sales career selling in the construction industry so of course it’s easy to assume that I must have to deal with the pressures of men, but really it is men and women.   I have worked really hard to create an image of professionalism.  So the movie made me think about when I first started in sales.  What women did I turn to as a role model?  Did I embrace other women and help them to find success?  Did I judge their outfits and the way they presented themselves?  Did I judge them differently than the men?

Well fortunately for me I was blessed with an awesome mother who was classy and professional.  My mom was a career woman and I watched her carry her professionalism at work and home. So when I started my career, did I judge other woman in professional positions???  I secretly did and I do.  I expected and expect woman to be as classy as my mom, but here’s the thing as a woman I need to stop judging.  I need to take that energy used to judge other woman and instead embrace them for who they are and help them to find success.  Let go of any stereotypes and be the influence that my mom was to me.   Perhaps these women that I am judging think that they must act, dress, or look a certain way, but in actuality women will be successful because they are smart, classy, and nonjudgmental.  So after this movie I will not only continue to carry myself professionally but now I will work harder not to worry about what other women seem like and to take the time to help them overcome judgements.

Opinions are great…when they are delivered properly

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You are having a conversation with someone and they blurt something out that is offensive and rude… you don’t know what to say or feel.  The crazy part is you didn’t even ask for their opinion.  At first you are a little embarrassed because they caught you off guard, then you get defensive and protective, and then you get completely turned off.  Whether they are a long time friend or a first time contact a rude opinion can be detrimental to the relationship.  Many times you will not get another chance to redeem yourself.  In business and sales it is even more crucial to be conscious of the delivery of your opinions.  Learn how to be a strong business person that delivers your message without being rude or harsh.

Never offend your customer by bad mouthing their current services or processes. You will not earn respect by telling them the way they have done business or are currently doing business is wrong.  You may have a great product or service that is going to make their life easier, but criticizing their current method you will quickly offend the client.  When offering a product or service tell them some key features, and help the client see why your service will benefit them.  If you have to constantly insult their current vendor or practices you may never get an opportunity back in the door.  Let the customer tell you the faults of their system and products.  Sometimes sales people come in so aggressive that the client refuses to make upgrades just to avoid the offensive sales person.

Don’t offer unwelcomed opinions.   Let your prospect open up the door about the current way they do business.  Listen carefully to what is working for them and what isn’t work.  Repeat to the them what you heard.  Acknowledge that you understand their needs and wants before you pitch your solution.  You can do this by saying “I know you are currently getting this, and would you be interested in something that could help you with that and more?”  If you give them your reason for why they should use you before you know anything about their current situation you will come off pushy and ignorant.  How can you help them when you don’t even know about their business or problems?

Do not use slang or negativity.  Using words that are slang or negative come off as impolite and abrasive in business.  I did business with an acquaintance once and he used the word “dumb” to describe something I did that he did not agree with.  He found this to be a perfectly acceptable way to converse with me to get his opinion across.  I’m not sure if that is the way he always spoke to his business acquaintances or if he just felt comfortable with me.  Instead of me taking him serious, I ended the business relationship.  Why would I want to work with someone that would use a word as simple and negative as dumb when discussing business matters?   When you are doing business with friends or casual acquaintances speak to them just as you would any business partner.  Using slang or negativity will only leave you looking unprofessional and potentially insult the other person.

Do not assume everyone has your same sense of humor.  It is great to have a playful side when doing business, but be careful when you are in business meetings.  You can keep conversations upbeat and enjoyable but never talk about sensitive issues that could potentially offend someone.  The person may even seem to laugh at your humor but secretly could be very offended and not give you a second chance.  If they choose to take the subject to an inappropriate place try to change the topic quickly so that you are not put in an uncomfortable position.  Maintaining a level of professionalism is important even when you go off path into lighthearted conversations.

Great sales people tend to become very passionate about what they are selling.  It is a wonderful place to be in when you truly believe in what you are pitching, but it is so important to make sure you walk a fine line of giving your prospects solutions for their business as opposed to insulting their business.

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Labor Day…dedicated to the workaholics!

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As we approach this holiday weekend it’s always good to remind ourselves why we are celebrating.  What is Labor Day?  You hear people around labor day make the comment “don’t labor on Labor Day”….but really that’s the point. Take a break from your hard work!

Many us work way over 40 hours to reach our goals.  We all work for different reasons…some work because they feel that they must do this daunting task to pay their bills, some work because they really love their work, some work to fill their time, some work because they were told they had to, and some work because they fell into something that became habit.  At the end of the day working comes back to most people as something they have to do, but there is a good percentage of people out there that really have love and for some even an addiction to their work.

For anyone that knows me it is no secret as to why I work.  I work because I like to.  Of course I have bills to pay and I like to buy things….but I went to college because I knew that one day I wanted to find work that I was really going to enjoy.  That doesn’t mean that you have to go to college to find a job or career you like but for me that was the path that made most sense.  It’s a blessing that early on I decided to make work something good and positive in my life.  I don’t look at Monday’s as the worst day of the week and I don’t look at Friday’s as a huge relief.  This does not mean that I don’t get excited for Saturday and Sunday, and it doesn’t even mean that I don’t sometimes work on the weekends.

Work is good and good work ethic is even better but remember this labor day that even if you love your job it’s healthy to enjoy life outside of work.

Celebrate your labor day by enjoying a healthy work life balance!

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Jealousy Doesn’t Look Good in a Suit

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I remember it like yesterday although it was almost 30 years ago.  I was a little girl and my older sister was in the town parade.  She looked beautiful and was getting lots of attention.   She got to ride in a fancy car, holding roses, waving and smiling to the crowd.  I don’t remember why she was in the parade but I remember watching her and wishing it was me.  My sister was always the prettiest girl in the group and it was “easy” for people to like her and want to shower her with attention.

We came home from the parade that day and I felt left out and I was sad really sad.  I went to my room and cried.  I felt like it was no fair that she was getting this attention.  That was the day I learned one of my most valuable lessons.  My mom came in to my room and she had no pity for me.  She told me to stop crying and that I was being jealous.  Jealous…what is that?  I asked her to explain.   She told me that I was feeling sorry for myself, because someone else was getting attention for an achievement.   My mom explained what jealousy was, told me to get over it, and never feel that way again.  I was shocked that my mom was not going to comfort me in my moment of need.  I wanted to feel like my sister, but instead I felt shafted and hurt.  After my mom left it hit me that my sister being in the parade had nothing to do with me.  My sister didn’t hurt me and certainly she didn’t want to make me sad.  She had earned that opportunity to be in the parade.  It was her moment and I would have moments in my life where I would want my sister to be happy for me.

So what does my childhood moment of jealousy have to do with business?   It has a lot to do with business.  I see jealousy daily in the business world.  Sometimes I even start to feel “jealous”.  So as soon as I start to hear myself say “I am jealous”, I immediately switch to the thought of I am really happy for that person.   The people you are happy for will be there to cheer you on.

Jealousy can run rampant in a sales team.  Being part of a sales group always it’s imperative to strive to be number one, and especially important to always be happy for others when they win.  If you can sincerely be happy for others and recognized the fruit of their labor you will learn from them.  Luck runs out and hard work pays off.

Successful people sometimes get looked down upon because jealous people wonder why they can’t have what the successful people have.  If you spend all your time worrying about what others have you will never make time to get what you want out of your career and business.  Celebrate the success of your peers, partners, bosses, and companies.  If you think they are undeserving then you need to make a choice to not be a part of their group.  If you work for a boss that takes credit for your work look for a new job.  If you find yourself secretly wanting others to fail then you will fail.  If you think successful people got lucky or had things handed to them then you are spending too much time worrying about those “lucky” people.

Don’t let career envy scare you from overcoming challenges.  Most of the people you are envious of have great stories of working hard and making their way to where they are.  Work harder and set high expectations for yourself.  Take the energy that you would spend worrying about others and worry about you and your goals.  Jealousy usually shows and I haven’t met anyone it looks good on especially in a suit.

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Plan for Success

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To be successful you need a plan, right?  So to make the most of each day, week, month, and year  you should have a plan.   You are so busy keeping up with the day to day task, meetings, phone calls, proposals etc when do you make time to write your next plan?  Do you plan out your future or wait for it to happen?  I’m not sure about you but every time I wait for something to happen it’s generally not in my favor.  If I was waiting to close a deal I never marketed it’s probably not going to happen.

I suggest using your Sunday evenings and weeknights or early mornings.  By setting a plan for the week on Sunday evenings you are gearing yourself up for the week.  Making your plan during off hours helps to reduce other distractions, and you know what is on your plate at that moment.   Of course you should always strive for a balanced life that is not completely focused on work, so don’t use your whole Sunday to make a plan or cut into dinner time.  Take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour to write down an agenda for your upcoming week or day and review your calendar.   If it’s too hard to make a plan for the next day at the end of your day, try to wake up an extra hour early.  Drink a cup of coffee or tea and do your planning.   You will be shocked that by using this time on “off” hours you will actually have more time.  Your days will flow better and you when you stick to your plans you will have a great sense of accomplishment.

Success doesn’t punch a clock, and success doesn’t have to work around the clock, but success does have to beat the clock.  Some of my favorite old sayings are time is money and money is time.  Work smarter not harder.

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Firing Customers

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I am a huge advocate of customer service and going above and beyond.  Sometimes you find yourself in a situation with a client that you continually have to extend yourself, employees, products, and even lose profit.  When this happens to you time and time again with the same client, you need to ask yourself the question if the business is worth it?  This does not mean that you fly off the handle and tell the client to take a hike.  Take necessary steps to carefully evaluate the situation, and if that doesn’t work end the business relationship.

Set a meeting to discuss the challenges and see if there is a way to resolve the issues.  Sometimes the client will not see your point and tell you that they will find someone else.  Many times the client will recognize the effort you have put into their business and work out an agreement.  It does not always mean there is a price increase but perhaps just an understanding of your needs to fulfill the agreement.  Customers do not need to know all that goes into your business however they do need to know how to do business with partners.

Outline a game plan.  If the client is willing to work with you put a plan in writing.  This may be a new proposal or a SOP (standard operation procedure).  When you are writing the game plan include everyone in the plan that contributes to issues at hand.  You may realize during the plan that there is something you need to do or stop doing.  Sometimes we think we are doing things for a client to help them but instead we have done something they do not need or recreated something they already had.

If there is no resolution, thank the client for their business and if you are in a contract fulfill the needs as promised.  If a client cannot come to terms that you need to efficiently run their account it will end up hurting your other business.  You never want to create a bad relationship but you also do not want to create a relationship that is one sided.  Business is business and it needs to mutually beneficial whether you are a buyer or seller.  Sometimes you will have to lose in order to satisfy an order but this should not be a reoccurring case.

It’s sometimes okay to say no to customers on occasions and sometimes even better to end the relationship.  Carefully evaluate the account and exhaust all options but if you are continually spinning your wheels with a client that is costing you more in time and money there is a problem.

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Focus without Ignoring

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In this world of constant distractions it can be hard to focus.  We have become accustomed to reacting.  Email, text messages, phone calls, and social media have made it almost impossible to turn off distractions.  Communication is essential in business and you must respond quickly or you may miss an opportunity.   So how do you focus on the task in front of you without ignoring the request coming at you?

Set clear expectations.  Whether you are working to obtain new business, manage existing business, manage teammates, or working with peers you need to explain the best way to reach you when it’s urgent.  

If you receive an email does the person on the other end expect an immediate response?  Do you check your email throughout the day or do you check email 3 times a day?  I learned once from a wise man that email could become the biggest distraction in the day.  He told he put an out of office assistance on his email each day to inform those emailing him that he only checked email twice a day, and if they needed an immediate response to call him directly.  He makes a point to focus on the task in front of him.  He specific schedules times to read emails and respond, as opposed to stopping what he is doing each time an email hits his inbox.  His days have turned out to be much more productive and anyone that emails him knows they will get a response.  9 out of 10 of your emails really can wait 12 to 24 hours for a response and if it’s an emergency the person probably called you as well.

Prioritize.  Start your day with a list.  Before you look at your phone or email take 5 minutes to make a list.  Write down everything that you need to get done.  Write down small and big tasks.  Keep the list with you throughout your day.  As you complete tasks cross them off.  You will feel accomplished as you get things done.

Acknowledge. If you are focused on a task at hand and someone needs your attention acknowledge them and their request.  You do not necessarily need to stop doing what you are engaged in, but give them a response of when you can get back to them.  Add the person to your list so that you do not forget about them or their need.  Even if you think you can handle their request quickly you are taking away from your focus and the 10 minutes you take to help them may put you behind 30 minutes to an hour.

Don’t Over Commit.  Know your limitations.  If your day is already full don’t over extend yourself.  Make realistic schedules and keep to them.  Set times to meet or speak with people and focus on that meeting or call for that time.  If you constantly seemed rushed, miss calls, late to meetings, find yourself checking your phone during meetings, and racing to next engagement you may want to plan more time in between meetings and calls.  Give yourself time for the meeting and then time after meeting.

Let’s face it we live in a world where we expect immediate responses.  Learn how to be proactive, set expectations, manage time and acknowledge request without stopping your current task.  You will be surprised how much more you accomplish when you actually take time to slow down to focus, but remember that being focused doesn’t mean unresponsive.  People don’t expect you to stop your day for them but they do want to be acknowledged.

 

 

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Don’t Hide Behind Your Social Media Image

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The world is continually changing around us.  New technology, trends, architecture, and styles evolve constantly.  No matter what your business is it’s important to keep up with the latest and greatest.  As things change it’s even more important to understand the things that stay consistent…..people and the need for human relationships.

This is especially true in business development.  Social media and web development are important today, but the most important part of your business is going to be you and your deliverables.  Does your client trust you? Is your product superior?  Does the value mirror the cost?  Does your client know your company?

Sales have always been impacted by relationships and reputation.  We can design a trendy web page or have 20,000 likes on Facebook, but if your client can’t trust you as a person chances are they may only visit your social sites but never actually give you an order.  Human relationships are vital to business.  Ways of getting information out to people has changed drastically over the years.  Social media is a great channel to open up doors but don’t forget to introduce a human element.  Don’t get lost in the all of the social media and miss out on the opportunity to build authentic relationships.  Taking the time to meet with clients and find out what they need is vital to business.  Social media can make you look good but poor service and products can put you out of business.

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