Two Ears One Mouth

We all think we have so much to say.  We think that no one is listening to us.  I invite you to take a step back.  I’ve invited myself too – I’ve been accused of talking the paint off a wall.  Many “sales people” (if you’re selling your business/yourself you fit in this category) prepare their pitch.  It could be the 15 second elevator pitch or it could be the full blown pitch deck.  When you are so focused on your own agenda you miss critical cues from whomever you are selling to.  You are on slide # 5 and the prospect is still thinking about slide #2 or they are thinking about how you really don’t understand their business or in old school sales talk- you haven’t uncovered their pain.   Don’t be so focused on your own goals that you don’t help your client get to his or hers.

Introductions to any meeting should be simply that an introduction.  This is not the time to go through the War and Peace document about your company history.  If they are a savvy consumer they already have this information from your website.  Make your presentation thought provoking.  Ask questions where the answers are not yes or no.  Try to help guide the prospect to the solution you can assist them with.  Not selling is the new selling.  I understand that may sound crazy but if you can get those you are engaging with to talk more and you can listen more it will make the end of your appointment or closing of the call that much easier.  This isn’t just about being sneaky its about having real empathy for who you are speaking with.  Being genuine will create a level of trust and you will start a relationship instead of simply a customer.

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How to delegate when you are a party of one!

Every great time management book or article you read has a primary rule-delegate, delegate and delegate!  However, these articles as well written as they are, are aimed at large corporations or departments with what seems to be an overabundance of staff.  They make it seem so simple to just grab the nearest person and delegate an assignment or project over to them to handle.  But… what do you do when you are a single operation department or a small business owner or any department with a very limited staff to choose from.

First rule of thumb- stick to being who you are and do what you do best, after all this is what allowed you to be in this position and to make money which allows you to be your own boss.

Now-let’s get to the point and delegate some duties to free up your time so you can get back to the first rule of thumb above.  OUTSOURCING or in this instance called delegating.  Struggling (spending too much time) with book keeping – hire a third party CPA.  Need marketing assistance – look for a summer college intern.  Thinking that these resources resources may cost you too much? Look for a retired book keeper who simply wants to get out of the house a couple days a week.  The opportunities are endless if you get creative, use what resources are actually out there which in turn allow you to get back to rule number one – doing what makes your business successful.

Making a Good Networking Impression

I’m at the point in my career where I have attended too many networking events to count.  I always leave the event good or bad with something I’ve learned or observed.  First of all I no longer approach a networking event as a singles mixer – I’m looking for “Mr Right.”  I now look at these events as people I can meet who would be great connectors – sales people who are on top of their game.  Those elite few who value relationships and not simply counting the number of calls they make.  Those are the people I want to have coffee or lunch with.  In turn, if I have someone I can connect them with I know it will come back to me.  It may not be a quick process but it will eventually come back to me in a new contact, or a referral.   If the evening has gone well I have made a few worthwhile contacts and certainly follow up accordingly.

Although my batting average is pretty good having learned how to navigate an event.  I’ve seen a lot of newer attendees make some pivotal mistakes.  First of all  I have to ask – when did it become appropriate for ladies to wear leggings to work let alone out to a professional event?   You don’t always have to wear a suit but wear clothes that are ironed and make sure what you are wearing is put together and your shoes are in good condition.   If you look good you feel good.  One of my pet peeves is the attendees who take full advantage of an open bar.  This isn’t happy hour on the weekend with your friends.  If you are slurring and sloppy you aren’t making a good impression, decision makers will not want to do business with you.  I’ve found a new and annoying tactic from millennials I have  encountered at events – they don’t bring business cards.  I wonder – is it because your company thinks your tenure is short lived or because you truly believe its better to send me an email and show your interest first?  I could go on forever but I will close with the “awful handshake”  either way too aggressive or the limp fish shake.  Either is memorable and not in a good way.

Remember you get one time to make a first impression.  Make it a good one.

 

Making a Good Networking Impression

I’m at the point in my career where I have attended too many networking events to count.  I always leave the event good or bad with something I’ve learned or observed.  First of all I no longer approach a networking event as a singles mixer – I’m looking for “Mr Right.”  I now look at these events as people I can meet who would be great connectors – sales people who are on top of their game.  Those elite few who value relationships and not simply counting the number of calls they make.  Those are the people I want to have coffee or lunch with.  In turn, if I have someone I can connect them with I know it will come back to me.  It may not be a quick process but it will eventually come back to me in a new contact, or a referral.   If the evening has gone well I have made a few worthwhile contacts and certainly follow up accordingly.

Although my batting average is pretty good having learned how to navigate an event.  I’ve seen a lot of newer attendees make some pivotal mistakes.  First of all  I have to ask – when did it become appropriate for ladies to wear leggings to work let alone out to a professional event?   You don’t always have to wear a suit but wear clothes that are ironed and make sure what you are wearing is put together and your shoes are in good condition.   If you look good you feel good.  One of my pet peeves is the attendees who take full advantage of an open bar.  This isn’t happy hour on the weekend with your friends.  If you are slurring and sloppy you aren’t making a good impression, decision makers will not want to do business with you.  I’ve found a new and annoying tactic from millennials I have  encountered at events – they don’t bring business cards.  I wonder – is it because your company thinks your tenure is short lived or because you truly believe its better to send me an email and show your interest first?  I could go on forever but I will close with the “awful handshake”  either way too aggressive or the limp fish shake.  Either is memorable and not in a good way.

Remember you get one time to make a first impression.  Make it a good one.

 

2018 Check In

 

February is quickly appearing in the rear view mirror, The goals that you set forth for the first quarter- how are they coming along?  Have you hit any of your targets?  Could you have focused better to reach more of them? I evaluate the metrics I set forth for the first quarter of the year.  How many new clients have I brought in?  How many new projects have clients singed on for?  If you are missing the mark the good news is, its only February there’s time to catch back up.  If you haven’t hit any of your goals or metrics then why?  Are your goals too substantial to be attainable?  Can you scale back your goals or can you reorganize your time to be able to devote to focusing on reaching those goals?  Many people believe that if you have your goals written in front of you where you look at them every day it provides accountability to work on those goals.  You can apply this to life and business.  Perhaps one of your New Year’s resolutions was to eat healthier.  If it’s written somewhere you can see it – on your calendar or on a list on your phone it may make you feel bad picking up that donut in the lunchroom.  You should have the same reaction to the busy activities that take you away from reaching your goals. Get back on track with laser focus and you will crush your 2018 goals.

You are your own C.S.O.

 

Welcome to the C suite.  Maybe your title doesn’t have “chief” in it.  If you are involved in any part of the sales process in your business, change your mentality.  If you think of yourself as a C.S.O. (Chief Sales Officer) you carry yourself with more confidence, more enthusiasm.  Study or read to advance yourself in your field or profession.  Speaking with authority on your business requires practice to come across with the right finesse. If you’ve had some sales background or training, you generally start with a script.  Something along the lines of Mr. Prospect, if I can assist you with X problem can we meet so I can show you how Y will solve it.  There is nothing wrong with a script unless it sounds like one.  If you receive a call from a telemarketer how long will they hold your attention?  Develop your own script with some bullet points that are targeted to who you are calling.  Think about how your prospect feels when they are buried in emails and reports and answers your call.  Do you sound friendly, confident, helpful?  I will let you in on a little secret.  I generally start my quest to the person I really want to speak with at a new prospect by calling the wrong person.  This is done intentionally.  I start the conversation with “I’m not sure you’re the right person I should speak with, I’m looking for the person who does X and I ask if they will help me.”  Most people want to be helpful.  Once you get connected to the correct person you can tell them how you received their name.  An internal referral is usually very helpful.  It helps you get a foot in the door.  Once you are in you can determine if you and your prospect are a good fit for each other.  Maintain your C level confidence and you will find more doors opening and referrals come piling in.

Inbox Zero…

I’m going to level with you. Emails are the new voicemail. Delete, delete, delete. Remember the day when you would get multiple voicemail messages and simply power through them by deleting all the unimportant ones?   Present day business is done through emails- love it or hate it. Between my work and personal emails, I must get close to 300 messages a day. Do I read them all? – No. I wouldn’t have time to get anything else done.

I used to fantasize about having a great email “system”. A system that would magically put my emails into folders ranked by category and importance. Then I woke up from that dream.   What are some good strategies for managing your emails – flagging by importance. It’s easy to select the flagged items to look back at. Delete the spam and put it into the spam folder so it doesn’t reappear in another form. Unsubscribe from those lists that you have no idea how they have your email address.

If these help your inbox appear less cluttered and clear your mind, then by all means put it into practice. Evaluate how email does the following for your workday:  is it a big waste of time and has more solicitations to attend an event or a conference or does it contain news that you may or may not have time to read.

How can you make your email work for you? Schedule time on your calendar during your day. This doesn’t have to be written in stone, however, time management experts indicate if you review emails once in the morning and once in the afternoon it will free up your time for other activities. I need to put this into my email practice. It’s difficult when you are waiting for a client to respond and you hear the ping of your inbox.   If you turn the sound off it’s certainly less distracting. If folders work for you then use them. It’s a great way to archive information you may need to reference later.

My goal is no longer inbox zero. It’s simply not to have messages returned as Inbox full.

Giving Thanks

The season of giving is upon us.  There are many worthwhile causes to donate your time or your hard earned money to in this season of giving .  What about you?  I don’t mean that when you are doing your holiday shopping you subscribe to the one for you two for me theory.  What I mean is to take stock in your accomplishments in the last year. How have you grown your business?  What are some new tactics you have used that are successful?  What were those big win moments of 2017?  When I evaluate a big win I look at more than the amount of the sale.  I look at markets I’ve penetrated, new clients, partnerships I’ve developed, certifications I’ve completed.

The greatest accomplishment I have is helping a client solve a problem that is too big or too time consuming for them.  I am so fortunate to have a great team that I work with that provides support with incredible knowledge and resources.  If you don’t have a team then find a network you can use or draw information from.  Over the past year I have aligned myself with some genuine people in a network who share a similar passion for business.  This is what you need to help you and your business grow.  I also subscribe to helping others grow their business or sharing a resource or contact for them when I can.  It always comes back ten-fold.

Take stock of what’s important, put those activities on repeat in the upcoming year.  Keep growing, keep learning and make it your best year yet!

Networking -the Necessity

Too many times I have heard the phrase “I have to go to a networking event.”  Why do we have so much anxiety over it?  I had a boss who used to send me to events in his place and text me asking who was there, who I met and how many business cards I collected.  The stress of networking under pressure is not a positive experience.  I have personally participated in and run various networking groups.  I have developed a system for success in attending an event or being a part of a networking group.  Here are some of my best tips:

  • You will get out of it what you put into it – if you go with a bad attitude you are likely to have a negative experience.   Networking is a way to grow your business so treat the event as such.
  • Regular attendance will boost your “brand recognition” whether you are a sole proprietor or work for a major corporation.
  • Practice your elevator speech and change it up so you don’t sound like a robot.
  • If possible look at the attendance list, this will allow you to maximize your time meeting prospects or partners you are looking to connect with.
  • Be authentic- nothing is a greater turn off than when someone is speaking with me but obviously working the room to see who they want to speak with next.
  • Go old school – use the Dale Carnegie method where you repeat the person’s name after you are introduced.  Nothing is sweeter to someone as the sound of their name.  This will also assist you in committing their name to memory.
  • Be a connector – when you meet with someone think about who you could connect them with that will benefit them.  Ask for nothing in return.  The person you connected will be grateful and return the favor.
  • If you have a tight schedule and can stop for a little while don’t announce that you are leaving or give an excuse, it makes it look like you have something better to do than being there.  Do the “Irish goodbye”  where you sneak out quietly.
  • Make sure you follow up with those you have met.  Even if you simply send a quick email saying it was nice to meet you.  You never know who they may have in their Rolodex that will further your career.