Persuasion and Sales: Sure You Can

You've heard it:

"I could never be in sales."

Monitor your conversations for a day. How often are your really trying to convince someone to see things your way?

For some reason it's OK to persuade but icky to sell. (You might change your mind about the sales thing if you looked into the financial compensation of successful sales people).

Persuasion ZipKeynote.001

 Let's Talk Persuasion: 3 Different Ways

We frequently use proprietary assessments to help people clarify their talents. One of the things we've discovered is that there are three unique ways people can be gifted at persuasion:

1. Negotiating. This is an above-average ability to discern the needs and desires of two people--or groups--and orchestrate agreement between them.

If this is a talent of yours, people will see you actively seeking to assist people in conflict. Those with this talent can quickly garner the credibility needed to help resolve issues.

Do you inherently "jump in" when you see the need for resolution? Are you successful more often than not?

2. Selling. This is just what it implies. People with this specific talent excel at introducing a product or concept and then going for "the close," whether it's money or a commitment.

Are you always thinking about better ways to get a commitment. . .now?!

3. Promoting. Think about someone whose enthusiasm and excitement is infectious. As a result, with multiple exposures and relationship, other people are willing to try out a new idea and look at new ways of seeing things.

The "close" is a fait accompli. There's no reason to say  "will that be cash or charge?" The organic nature of the process leads to implementation or closure.

Do people accept your ideas because of your genuine enthusiasm and willingness to spread your enthusiasm over a period of time? Do you view yourself as an educator who brings about change?

One of these is your persuasive talent

Acknowledge it, learn more about it, use it often, and don't let anyone talk you into doing it differently.

The world and the workplace need to be influenced by people with sound ideas, positive motives, and ways of communicating that don't force some sort of "acting."

How will you exercise your persuasive talent today?

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Too Busy Doing Business to Do Business

I just met with a corporate Executive VP in Philadelphia. I'll call him Les. Les said his division was struggling. But instead of leading the charge to turn things around, he was constantly being called into meetings to deliver lengthy, detailed, Powerpoint presentations explaining what was wrong. He was too busy doing business to be doing the business.

Interestingly, one of his recommendations was for the company to get out of some of its operations because they were draining money and other resources. He explained that his people were spending too much time on things that no longer yielded the kind of margins the company desired.

Does any of this sound remotely familiar to you? I realized while he was talking to me that I had gotten up at 5 a.m. to deal with emails from a European client; spent time on the cell phone in transit with a non-profit, pro bono client who needed to talk; and allowed myself to be sidetracked by hallway conversations with managers from the client group who I hadn't seen in a while. A similar schedule unraveled today.

The Fallacy of "More Is More"

Multitasking_delays In a well-known graph about productivity and multi-tasking (from a 1990′s Harvard Study by Steven C.Wheelwright and Kim B.Clark), two researchers showed the benefits of multitasking – but only in situations where the subject worked on two things at once. Any more than two, and productivity declined. A lot.  This graph shows the results of productivity as related to number of tasks. 

The Lesson: People who multitask actually do far worse on performance than people who eliminate distractions and focus their attention on one or two things.

What to do?

1. If you do business globally in the electronic age, the expectation is that you are available on "their" time...or you should be. So choose carefully--you can't afford to be awake 24 hours a day.

2. Time management isn't really about time. It's about clear priorities. Which means...

3. It's important to say "no." In fact, I think "no" is the solution to a lot of this craziness. It's almost impossible to say "no" with confidence unless you are clear about what's really important.

4. If you are in Les's position, at some point you need to tell those above you that the very act of "over-reporting" is exacerbating the problem. Do it respectfully. Share the impact and consequences on your business and let them take responsibility for whether or not it makes sense to continue the external demands on your time.

What priorities will you clarify today so that you do the right business?

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How To Avoid the Business Proposal Question Trap

Whether you're in front of a group or across the desk, you want the best possible chance for your proposal to succeed. 

Cornered-20kitten1   Don't let other people design your  multiple-choice exam. More often than not,  you'll get a question designed to force you into two options--and either/or doesn't  offer good odds for success.


What to do

Take control and expand your options. Here's an example:

Question: "Do you think we can get the contract if we come in under $100,000?"

Answer: "I don't believe the decision will be based solely on price. I believe the client's impression of our credentials, experience, and client list will be equally important."

Other responses to get out of a binary question:

"The situation is complex and requires more than a yes or no answer."

"Since you are asking me, I think we have more options than either Greenville or Compton. We might even consider putting the next office in the midwest. Let's review the criteria."

On-the-job application: Stay in control. Don't allow others to force you into a limited response if it won't do justice to the situation. Either/or locks you into two choices. When was the last time a major issue only had two possible solutions? 

 

 

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3 Persuasive Ideas

If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, 
I'd spend six sharpening my axe.
--Abraham Lincoln

We never outgrow our need to be persuasive. Managers have to persuade employees to "get on board" with a new idea or change; salespeople get paid to persuade customers to buy; and potential customers persuade salespeople that a change in the "deal" just might make them a paying customer.

We're all faced with the challenge of persuasion and influencing. Here are three ideas to help meet your next challenge:

Cheating_golfer

Create the Right Atmosphere

Did you know that participants rate educational seminars higher when they are held at a resort location? That factoid comes from the meeting planners who have to schedule them. Diners linger a bit longer in comfortable restaurants, and are prone to ultimately have a more expensive after-dinner refreshment and a dessert. Shoppers spend more time shopping if there is background music. Job applicants sign on the dotted line more often if they are interviewed in plush surroundings vs. the loading dock.

The next time you have a meeting, with one or one hundred, what's the best atmosphere to put your listeners in the most receptive mood?

Get At The End of a Parade

If you find that you are one of a number of presenters at a meeting, ask to go last. We've all had different experiences with this but here's what I've realized happens more often than not:

1. By the time the others trot out their list of pie charts, statistics, and million-dollar ideas, the listeners are growing tired as well as forgetful. Your presentation will at least be the last one on their minds. 

2. If you are last, you stand a chance of being bumped completely and then end up getting a courtesy re-schedule. This now puts you in the position of being the only thing on people's minds at your new presentation. (There's also something of a sympathy factor for being bumped. Bask in it).

Stand Up

When I work with a small group--6-8 people--I start off seated at the table with them. When it comes time to make a serious point or convey urgency, I stand up and draw on a flipchart or whiteboard. It changes the dynamic, adds to the point trying to be made, and lets people know I believe the issue or idea merits special consideration.

How will you be a bit more persuasive today?

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How To Get Your Good Ideas Heard

After spending the last week or more in meetings, I heard a lot of ideas. Most of them were pretty good. But they didn't all get the same amount of air time.

Why not?

 Adapt Your Thoughts and Ideas

The senior people in each meeting wanted to hear "new stuff." They also have "bigger picture" responsibilities, more demands on their time, and a long-term view of their respective companies. That makes their mental filters subject to some very specific criteria.

As I watched the thumbs up/(silent) thumbs down process, I thought: "What am I learning from this that could be universally transferable?"

Here are four questions to ask yourself before offering the next big idea:Ideas

1. Will this idea make other people successful?

Really. If it's not going to do that, you've got what might be a good idea for you or you and your immediate work group.

2. Is my presentation as brief as possible because I have thoroughly edited my thoughts?

Figure out what is important to those in the room and what isn't. Everything isn't important to them. And if they do start asking questions it means they care enough to engage you. That's an indicator of interest, even if the questions sound critical They are evaluating. And they aren't worried about the time because you've given them something worthwhile to ponder.

3. Do I have objective criteria for success?

Even if your idea is a creative one, take time to link it to something that can be measured. If not, it will appear fuzzy to many. The more concrete you can be, the clearer the picture you are able to paint.

4. How do I feel about the idea?

Yeah, I know it's yours. But make sure that you feel confident about it as well as committing to the work that would ensue. Ideas are sold on confidence and emotion supported up by reasonable facts. Pay attention to your gut.

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Do You Know Your Conversation Catalysts?

Do you want to spread your message for a product, service, or maybe an important organizational change?

Here's a question to answer: "Who are your Conversation Catalysts?"

In the midst of working with a client on a new marketing approach, I was reminded of an article that conversation and connection maven Valeria Maltoni  wrote a while back about a Keller Fay Group research study showing that 15% of the population to be  Conversation Catalysts.

Conversations "These influencers tend to recommend brands and products more often at the tune of 149 times a week vs. 79 for the average population. They also tend to have more conversations -- 184 vs. 114 -- and talk more about brands than others."

Valeria then did a nice job of highlighting the level of various media influences and, ultimately, what this means for the importance of a company website.

But the take away for us is this: Conversation catalysts talk to a whole lot more people and will be happy to share their experiences with them -- good, bad, or indifferent.

Let's connect the dots to make this work for you now

1. Who are the 15% in your customer base or organization? Find out and reach out.

2. What do you want them to say, think, and feel about you and your product or message?

3. How can you make that happen? For real. Genuinely. Authentically.

Hint: The answer involves first reaching that critical 15% in the most effective way (you may want to go back and look at the media research).

Note: If you try to fool the 15% with your puff-piece equivalent of Flash technology, remember that they have the power to reveal you as a fraud.

The takeaway for today

Your customers are going to talk about you. If you are a manager, your employees are going to talk about you.

Regardless of the audience, are you influencing the conversation with the right people at the right time in the right way in order to create the right conversations for success?

Think about this: They now have the ability to create a repuTweetion for you in 140 characters or less.

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Real Freedom in the Free Agent Workplace

 Coaches, Consultants, Writers, Speakers, Trainers. . .each of you has, as part of your dream, the desire to be “free” from certain constraints.

But you may be boxing yourself in more than you realize.

When you set out on your own, adding value is linked directly to your personal talent, skills, and  knowledge. It’s easy--and somewhat satisfying-- to revel in the fact that you are the brand

Think long and hard about these three questions:

    * Do you want to be the only on-site resource for customers?
    * Do you ever want to generate passive income?
    * Do you want to grow your business?

SelfEmployed Some people like being “Da Man" (or “Da Woman”). They get a buzz from being  in demand. That’s OK if the related  limitations of such self-branding are acceptable.

But what if you see a different future? Maybe you’re interested in a way out of the every day stand-up grind that produces revenue and doesn’t involve “closing” the biz.

Most consultants/coaches, for example  would say that their only asset is their brain and the ideas generated. Well, what can you do to turn that into a self-sustaining business?

Start Thinking Product Instead of Services

Many creative professionals sell their services. Let’s be totally hones here  Solopreneurs usually put all the focus on themselves and sell only the services they create and can handle. Big mistake. It stunts your business growth because it looks as if no one else can do what you do the way that you do it.

The solution: move the focus away from you and start treating your service (results) as a product. When you contract, contract for a specific result. That way, your clients are focused on something tangible and so are you. You build a reputation for delivering value in a specific way.

It’s easy to get caught up in the importance of our creativity and uniqueness. Once you get over that and start treating the result as your product, you start building a business that very well may lead to a tangible information prodcut. Why? Because you are focusing on outcomes and how to get there--the “how to” that people long for.

Freedom comes from building replicable systems and products that allow people to have the benefit of you--and your thinking-- without you actually being there.

Do it now. Begin to shift the focus from “you” to your “product”. I guarantee you it will be a freeing experience.

Thought for Today: You may love being "out there" all the time and providing face-to-face service. That's great. Keep in mind that on the spectrum of life, you are more "self-employed" than "in business."

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Recognize the Seven Universal Emotions

This is useful to everyone, especially in a career world that is so overwhelmingly global.

You'll find "experts" on body language and rants about the meaning of this gesture or that one. Much of this is true, with one huge caveat: you have to be patient and carefully synthesize the totality of the gestures and mannerisms in order to develop some degree of accuracy.

If you are making a presentation, running a meeting, or in a management discussion, it may be more helpful to know what emotions are universal. This gives you a better chance at narrowing the possibilities of what kinds of responses you are really seeing. So, here goes.

The Seven "Universal" Emotions

These are common throughout all people and cultures:

  • anger     
  • contempt
  • disgust
  • fear
  • happiness
  • sadness
  • surprise

Gestures Here's where it gets tricky:

There are 10,000 different facial expressions. About 3000 of these facial expressions are relevant to emotion and most people use only 50-60 in normal conversation. Those 50-60 do relate to the seven universal emotions.

These expressions can be "macro" expressions which last 1-3 seconds or even longer. An example would be a smile. The question: "Is the smile real or fake?" If fake, what does that mean? (Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar; people simply want to be polite).

We also make micro expressions that give up our more hidden feelings. These are like reflexes, because it's very difficult to stop them from happening since they are part of our brain's hard-wiring. That's why we get a "feeling" when we watch small discrepancies between someone's words and their expression.

These expressions last only 1/25th of a second. (That is faster than an eye-blink). Most people can't pick up micro expressions consciously. When viewed on film and played as slower speeds, these expressions look just like macro expressions. Many homicide detectives do this. If you don't happen to be looking for a serial killer, it's still a great way to watch what signals you give off when you are speaking or running a meeting.

How to Use This

The seven universal emotions are the ones that are most important to you. You want to know whether someone is angry, happy, etc., with your interaction. Memorize the list (or carry a cheat sheet) and increase your awareness of these.

Do: When you think you have enough visual information to believe that the person--or people--are, say, "surprised", don't make the assumption that you are correct. Instead, matter-of-factly state your observation: "You know, I'm watching the response to this slide and am getting the sense that maybe you are a bit surprised. Is that so?" This will lead to affirmation or will yield other responses that will help you--and them--stay or get on track. 

Don't: Try to be magically clever and tell them  you know how they feel. The last time you did that with your spouse or significant other, how'd that work for you?

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Leadership: The Art of Being Brief

I've never heard anyone complain about a meeting or presentation that was too short, have you?

My friend, Marty, and I were just discussing a surgical procedure. He may have to have the same one that I experienced a few years ago. Marty is a very intelligent, thoughtful guy who asks the right kinds of questions. But his most animated question was: "How long does it take?!"

I laughed, given that the Doc could probably make it last for about a week and a half depending upon the anesthesiologist's mood and sense of humor. 

But the real answer was '45 minutes'.

Trimming He looked relieved. And it occurred to me: I had actually asked my doctor the same question. Even though we know we'll be sound asleep we seem to have a sense of, and concern for, time.

 So…have you filtered your meeting-thinking or presentation prep the same way? Could you say and accomplish more with less?

The Leader's Guide to Slide Surgery

1. Do I need so many slides? (You don't).

2. Do I need every slide in this section? (Probably not).

3. Do I need this slide? ( I don't know, but you should be sure).

4. What can I say with fewer words? (You'll feel the love).

Your group will appreciate the brevity. This reflects preparation on your part that translates into respect for them. You'll also create the kind of "meeting white space" that generates the real discussion needed to make something happen.

What will you eliminate?

Bonus Leadership Reading: Check out how you view leaders and the notion of "institutionalizing them" at Managing Leadership. Jim Stroup will give you something to ponder.

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Four Tips Four Presenting at the Meeting Table

When we think of presentations, more often than not the image is one of a person standing up and speaking to a group.

My experience: The most common type of  speaking and presenting occurs across a meeting room table. In fact, this offers a chance at more intimacy, give-and-take, and takes a lot of pressure off of the "presenter" being on "center stage." (I personally like it because it immediately creates the "we're-in-this-together" dynamic instead of "So, convince us that..."

There are some unspoken and unwritten rules that will serve you well in these situations. Here are a few that I've gleaned from speaking over the years. Many were learned because they were initially violated--by me. 

 How To Manage The Room

1. Seating arrangements.  This can be a big deal. Different organizations have different protocols but trust me: there is always a power protocol.

Wait for your host to give you direction or (preferably) ask ahead of time. Some organizations have a very clearly defined hierarchy. I work with one Executive Board whose secretary--the legal counsel--always sits in the samConfroome place, as does the Chairman. In the first case, the arrangement helps him see and hear everyone. In the Chairman's case, it's about being at the head of the table.  Even if the issue isn't about power you may do the equivalent of sitting in The Church Lady's pew on Sunday. (Often more painful than violating corporate protocol).

2. Set-up. Let's say you are using visuals: Power Point, Keynote...

I don't know your experience but I'm still baffled by the fact that meeting rooms continue to be designed as long, skinny areas with a table surrounded by chairs surrounded by little other space--even after we've been using A/V support for 40+ years, spanning Opaque Projectors to laptop-driven slides. 

Arrive a half-hour early to get a feel for the room and:

a. Position the screen and projector (if possible) in a way that everyone can see the slides and aren't blocked by the projector if it's a table top.

b. If you can't move a darned thing, then sit in a seat and get a feel for how best to conduct your talk. Spend time getting used to the reality and how to use it vs. lamenting the fact that the place wasn't designed like a Vegas showroom. You probably don't look great in a feather boa anyway.


3. Know your audience. Yeah, you've heard that a million times before. Can I tell you something?

Thank you for the permission. . .

I will not walk into a speaking situation without having spoken directly to a cross-section of participants before I get there. I mean that. If there are 12 people attending, I'll call at least four first. I introduce myself, the fact that I've been invited, and then ask them what they want to know and how the topic impacts them. The result?

  • I have a good sense of interest, disinterest, hot-buttons, how to tweak the discussion,  and who really has ownership.
  • Four people have heard my voice, I've heard their voices, and I walk into the room having a relationship with a third of the group. In the case of "über-important" meetings I would call all twelve. Even if we only connect by voicemail, they know I tried and they've heard me.

# 3 is my million-dollar suggestion. You will be amazed at what you learn, how much more comfortable and prepared you feel, and how much it will be appreciated. How many people have ever called you before a presentation to ask your insights on the topic?

4. Have a brief discussion after each main point.

Look, if you are there you are selling something--even if it's agreement on how to proceed with an initiative. After each key point, stop and ask, "Before I move on, what questions do you have about the _____?" Then shut up and count silently to ten. If nothing is uttered, ask for verbal agreement from everyone. Silence does not mean agreement. It means you don't know what's going on but they do. Not good.

Why do this after each point? Because if you chug along until the very end--and half the group is still silently mulling over Point #1--you have been talking to yourself.

Help yourself by having them help you.

Now, go make a few phone calls before you set up the room.

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Don't Sell Ideas--Let People Try Them Out

"People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found out by others."
--Blaise Pascal


Perfume Walk through the cosmetics section of any big department store. You'll come out the other end with free samples and the need to explain to your spouse exactly why you smell like a fragrance not found anywhere at home. 

Do the fragrance folks make you plop down $60 for their new perfume or cologne before you can experience it? 

Heck, no. And you want to do the same with the ideas you present in business meetings. Create ways for people to give your idea a low-risk trial before making a commitment of time, money, and corporate reputation. The lower the risk, the more likely people are to take a baby step in your direction.

When people ask,  "What have I got to lose if I give it a go?", you know you've got it right.

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Improve Your Business: Read Copyblogger

Managers tend to read management books. Psychologists pour over research. Sales folks read the latest techniques for presenting their products and services so people will buy them.

What's the problem?

It's this: we can end up hearing re-hashed information whose single-discipline context makes our worldview smaller instead of larger. 

Copyblogger



One of my favorite and most useful online educational sources is Copyblogger. Brian Clark has built his blog into a source of terrific information as well as a platform for teaching others solid methods for making money  with Teaching Sells

Articles like The Three Essentials of Content Marketing by associate Sonia Simone offers a good example of principles that can help business people of all types who want a different way to look at the principles of content (product), marketing, sales, and persuasion. A click on any of the sidebar links will give you an education and leave you thinking differently about the topic. 

Kudos to one of the premiere online examples of how to use the internet to educate, build community, and create a profitable business. Go back into the archives, track Brian's journey, and you'll discover a model--and sound principles--for building your own business, online or off.

Finally: A note of thanks to Mary Jo Erasmus for her helpful and informative guest post, When Silence Can Be Golden At Work. And, after I reach my destination (am traveling out west), I promise to catch up with the comments on Wednesday.


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Are You Focused On The Right Thing?

More knowledge, more certifications, more degrees, more credentials.

Technical wizards, scientists, and other professionals seem to believe that more skill leads to successful careers. The goal: become an expert in your chosen field. 

While education and expertise are important, research studies show that people respond positively to Cute those they like. The highest levels of achievement and recognition come to those who mix expertise with like-ability. People prefer to do business with and buy products from people they like.  Mitch Anthony, author of Selling with Emotional Intelligence, says straight out: “Like-ability is as important as ability.” 

While you may not be in sales, your like-ability impacts your credibility and your credibility impacts how influential you become.  

Think on these:

  • Accept the fact that developing like-ability is an important success strategy.

  • Take time to discover and mention--without expecting anything in return--the connections and similarities you may have with others.

  • Initiate small courtesies and expressions of appreciation regardless of the other person’s organizational status.     

  • Keep gossip and unkind remarks unsaid.

A Quick and Simple Like-ability Inventory

Let's leave the Deltas and statistical probabilities out of this. Your answers to these can give you a darned good idea of where you may be in your like-ability journey:

  • Do you like people?
  • Do people like you?
  • Are you a good listener?
  • Do people confide in you?
  • Do you compliment others easily?
  • Do you smile often?
  • Do others seem genuinely happy to see you?
  • Do you look on the bright side of things?
  • Are you happy with yourself?

Whether you are getting ready for a presentation, a job interview, or a sales call, these diagnostic questions will provide personal insight and remind you where to increase your focus.

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Competing On Price? Watch Out!

If you want that attractive job or piece of freelance business, be careful: lowering your price may get you unexpected results.

I was talking with Chuck McKibben, one of the long-time greats in the broadcasting and voiceover business. We were sitting in my home studio swapping lies war stories about our shared experiences. Given the demands of the current economy, I asked Chuck about "pricing" in the industry he knows so well. This single example is worth pondering deeply, whether you're negotiating a salary or a project.

ChuckMcKibben Chuck: I was producing TV and radio spots for a major ad agency in Manhattan. The VP wanted a certain "style" and I knew just the guy. We endearingly called him "Mr. 200." Need a 30-second radio commercial? His fee: $200.00. A one-hour session to do tracks for Station ID/Imaging? $200.00. Read the opening to an audio book? Right, you know the price.

This guy had figured out his cost of doing business, his value, and how to make things as simple as possible for everyone. And he was good. Really, really good, and everyone knew it.

The VP bounced back at me and insisted: "Call him and negotiate price. That's just too high." I knew it wouldn't make a difference but I called, went through the motions, and came back with: "$200.00."

So, we brought in some other folks to audition who were good and wanted work.  The VP managed to get every one of them to drop their price on the first go around. Who did we hire?

Mr. $200.00.

Why?

VP: Anyone who thinks that little of themselves and is willing to fold at the first salvo isn't the kind of person I want to do business with. I'm a business man. I understand value and negotiation. But I don't understand giving up just because someone asks you to. Get me the real guy. (Mr. $200.00).

Chuck: He would have understood it if any of those people said, "Well, I'll do A and C, but not B and the fee will be $100.00" In other words, change the scope and related value but don't change your value.

What are you worth? Are you holding fast and negotiating scope, not your value?

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Language Loses a Six-Figure Sale

I spent time with a client this week screening two software vendors.

The demos were all done online with different platforms. I only saw the software screen shots and heard the voices of those involved, never a face to go with the information. The result?

We cut one vendor immediately. The software seemed to work just fine and, as far as we could tell, would probably do the job. My client needs the ability to enter data and configure reports as needs change. So one of the criteria is WYSIWYG functionality. When we asked each vendor to explain their capability in that area, here were the responses:

Buzzwords716540_2 Vendor We Recommended: "Tell me more about what you want to do with it so I can give you an accurate answer." We did. Then we heard (and saw), "Here's how you would do that. (Demo). What are some other potential reports you might generate?" We described them, he demonstrated how to do it, we watched, and the conversation continued.

Vendor We Nuked: (In a very deep, officious, voice): "Our platform offers configurable functionality. The back-end capability is state-of-the-art and clients have access to data entry. Of course, it is also designed for maximum security so you never have to be concerned that those without the proper passwords can ever access the information."

By the time he was finished I expected to hear, "For English, press 2."

I'm sure that Nuke-boy thought he was impressing us. Actually, he depressed us to the point of boredom. His software could probably do the job. The client didn't want to have a long-term relationship trying to communicate with someone who responded in buzzwords and platitudes. He wanted someone who would work with him to build a system that could be operated and tweaked by anyone.

Thought for Today: Language can communicate or obfuscate. Speak WYSIWYG.

 

Photo attribution: www.keeneview.com/2008/06/buzzwords-20-what-i...

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Communicating on the Right Wavelength

"The two words 'information' and 'communication' are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through."--Sydney J. Harris

Communication: Don't Mix and Match Your Verbal Wardrobe

I want to offer an easy, uncluttered model to use when you want to bump up your communication game.

Kids_talking Think about your levels of interaction on a scale of Nicety all the way to Intimacy. One of the keys to keeping your interactions on target is making sure that you "meet people where they are" and not try to take them where you want to go before they are ready. (They may never be ready).

Here's a way to look at it on five levels of increasing depth:

1. Niceties. "Hey, how are you?"

"Fine,how are you?"

"Ok."

Polite acknowledgment of another person is part of social graciousness. If you or the other person doesn't want to take it any further, that's fine. Just don't mistake it for anything other than what it is.  But don't discount the social importance of niceties, either. It' s amazing how many people get miffed when they offer a "Hey, waddup?" and don't get a response.

2. Facts. If the other person is into facts, stay with the facts until (s)he moves on. If that's where they stay, just ask if there is anything that you should do with those facts.

3. Thoughts and Ideas. These are different from facts. They reflect what's going on inside someone's head. This is also where we get into difficulty by passing judgment on someone in the middle of their personal brainstorm. Stay in non-evaluative brainstorm mode with them.

4. Feelings. When people start expressing how they feel, you've hit a pretty high level on their personal trust scale. The best way to keep it is to acknowledge the legitimacy of how they feel. The best way to lose it is to tell them they shouldn't feel that way.

5. Intimacy. Familiarity that reaches a deeply personal level.

In the workplace you may not reach this level inside the confines of the office building. In fact, it may be totally inappropriate. But highly relational people can have a tendency to unconsciously go here because it's so innately comfortable and meaningful (for them).

I can't tell you the number of coaching/advising engagements I've had with people who have gotten themselves into difficulty at this level. They've said things that were taken as "way too intimate" by others. Fortunately, most well-meaning people "get it" when they are coached regarding the distinctions in levels and how other people may interpret personal warmth or familiarity.

If you want to keep your emloyer--and yourself--out of litigation, save your intimacy-level conversations for home and friends.

Meetthem_blog_070108001

How to Use This?

The next time you're engaged in a discussion, pay attention to where the other person is operating on the "depth" chart.

1. Listen and stay with them.

2. If you want to move from one level to another, say something like: "We've been talking about the factual data related to the Romanian project. Would you be willing to hear some thoughts and ideas I have about this?"

They'll tell you if they need to play with the facts some more. And your question will be appreciated because it acknowledges that you've really heard them and aren't going to automatically step on their "stuff."

3. Building trust takes place at levels 3 and 4. The more time you can spend there, the closer the working relationship can become.

Share this with the people around you. It may get you out of "mix" and into "match."

What do you think?

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Communicate Better With Verbal Whitespace

Graphic designers know how to focus your attention.

They frequently communicate through the use of whitespace. Whitespace

Less is more. The message is clear. There's no clutter.

Use Verbal Whitespace

You can increase your verbal impact  the same way. How many times have you wished that someone would just "say what they mean?"

Boss says: "We finished the senior level meeting and it looks as if we have to increase our numbers. We've been working hard on that project for a long time. I told the management team about the obstacles, how much overtime people have been putting in, and what the client has been saying. You know how much I appreciate your...."

Boss means: "We have to increase our sales by 10% and decrease our expenses by 5%. It's not really negotiable. I want to decide before the end of the meeting  how we can do that."

Father: "You know, son, there are a lot of people out there who could get you into trouble. I know that you are really a good kid and don't want to get into trouble. Man, when I was your age, there were a lot of kids in my class who were doing things that their parents never knew about. One of them even ended up going to jail for awhile. We live in a tough world. When..."

Father means: "Son, I love you. I found out for sure that John on your soccer team is taking drugs. I don't want you to do that or even try it. You can die. And I love you."

The Power of Noun-Verb-Object

We think that piling on extra words somehow makes our communication more palatable and therefore, better. More than likely it will make it confusing and incomprehensible. Which can lead to "Uh, just what am I supposed to do?"

Start thinking the way your fourth grade teacher taught you: Noun-verb-object.

"Please (you) give me the first draft of your report by 5 o'clock on Thursday."

"We will meet on Tuesday at 10 am."

"Let's (us) start a new marketing campaign. I want to announce the kick-off in March."

Your brevity will be appreciated. Really.

Your message will be clear and understandable.

Your trust level with others will go up because your verbal packaging will go down.

Roesler communication principle #1: Truth comes in sentences. Bull**** comes in paragraphs.


Photo Source:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/smartfat/38625613/







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Three Ways To Persuade

I switched accounting firms a few years ago.

At income tax time, the CPA asked me for Occupation. I waxed poetic about consulting and the kinds of clients that I have.

He filled in the blank with "Salesman."

He was right. So much for my "boutique CEO" self-delusion.

I've always enjoyed the sales and marketing part of the profession and even did a stint as a regional sales manager for another global training firm. Many people cringe at the thought of "selling," especially consultants. I would imagine that they are the financially-challenged ones.

Plaidsuit Everyone Has a Talent for Persuasion: What's Yours?

I'm convinced that the whole sales image thing can be traced to vacuum cleaners. They used to show up at the front door in the grip of a guy wearing a plaid suit, waxed moustache, and an easy payment plan that ran slightly longer than the one on your Toyota. (Actually, the Toyota guy was wearing the same suit). He wouldn't leave until you bought something. So, the average person's introduction to sales was all about being pushed until the white flag of surrender went up.

No moustache? No problem.

Whatever business you are in, your success depends on your ideas getting heard and acted upon. Period. And there is more than one approach to make that happen.

As a public service to humanity in general, here are the three distinct ways--talents--that offer the ability to persuade. (Note: these come directly from our proprietary assessment/autobiographical interview and are psychometrically valid and reliable in testing).

You may use more than one on occasion, but there is usually one at which you are most gifted.

1. Promoting. Do you find that you are really effective advocating an idea, cause, or another person (but not necessarily yourself)?

Promoters gain acceptance through their enthusiasm for a concept. At the end of a presentation they don't usually ask, "Will that be cash or charge?" Instead, they talk about how the listener(s) can get involved. They still "make the sale", but in a different way.

Related talent: excel at overcoming anger, negativity, and criticism. They know why they believe what they believe and can articulate it with discernible authenticity.

Is this you? Then become a first-rate salesperson by giving workshops, seminars, and briefings. Have a way for your audience to easily "get involved" before leaving.

2. Unifying/Negotiating.  Do you find that you are the go-between in sticky situations? Chances are you have the innate ability to understand the needs and desires of people or groups who need someone to pinpoint a common denominator within their issues. You're it.

This is a valuable talent but often isn't viewed in the "persuasion" category. Sales teams would be especially well-served to have someone with this attribute along when negotiating. They don't close. They allow for the close.

3. Selling/Recruiting. Do you find that you measure your persuasive success by the numbers? Then you probably are the closer and don't mind saying, "Will that be cash or charge?"

This talent bridges every aspect of organizational life, not just sales. HR recruiters, managers wanting capital or simply extra effort, and non-profit fundraisers all have to ask for the sale.

Take away:

Sales managers: Deliberately put together a team with all three talents represented. I don't have to tell you why.

Individuals: Identify where you are most talented and do your persuading in those situations; or, when possible, create the right situation. You just might learn to like it when you realize the benefits.

I'm curious. Have you ever thought about persuasion/selling in these distinct ways?

Dawud Miracle had a recent experience that illustrates the best of each.

For a look at what the Sales folks are saying, visit Brad Trnavski's Sales Management 2.0 network.

photo credit: www.arniesvintagecostumers.com/

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3 Unique Talents for Persuasion: Which Is Yours?

You've heard it:

"I could never be in sales."

Monitor your conversations for a day. How often are your really trying to convince someone to see things your way?

For some reason it's OK to persuade but icky to sell. (You might change your mind about the sales thing if you looked into the financial compensation of successful sales people).

Let's Talk Persuasion: 3 Different WaysPersuasion

I use proprietary assessments to help people clarify their talents. One of the things we've discovered is that there  are three distinct ways that people can be gifted at persuasion:

1. Negotiating. This is an above-average ability to discern the needs and desires of two people--or groups--and orchestrate agreement between them.

If this is a talent of yours, people will see you actively seeking to assist people in conflict. Those with this talent can quickly garner the credibility needed to help resolve issues.

Do you inherently "jump in" when you see the need for resolution? Are you successful more often than not?

2. Selling. This is just what it implies. People with this specific talent excel at introducing a product or concept and then going for "the close," whether it's money or a commitment.

Are you always thinking about better ways to get a commitment. . .now?!

3. Promoting. Think about someone whose enthusiasm and excitement is infectious. As a result, with multiple exposures and relationship, other people are willing to try out a new idea and look at new ways of seeing things.

The "close" is a fait accompli. There's no reason to say  "will that be cash or charge?" The organic nature of the process leads to implementation or closure.

Do people accept your ideas because of your genuine enthusiasm and willingness to spread your enthusiasm over a period of time? Do you view yourself as an educator who brings about change?

One of these is your gift. Acknowledge it, learn more about it, use it often, and don't let anyone talk you into doing it differently.

The world and the workplace need to be influenced by people with sound ideas and positive motives.

How will you exercise your persuasive talent today?

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Job Hunters, Consultants, and Coaches: Give Them Something To Talk About

Clarinetclinton

This is a George Clinton.

Prefunk

This is George Clinton in the pre-funk Parliaments era.

Clinton2


George Clinton wid da Funk!



Happy belated birthday to George who was 66 on July 9th. Here's George's funkadelic look at life:

   "The pursuit of happiness is what it's all about. I don't wanna catch it.
                        As long as I'm chasing it, I'm gonna be fine."

You want to stand out with a future employer or client, right?

Then do something different. Don't follow the entire "Here's how you should..." template that everyone else is following.

Sameness doesn't create buzz. It doesn't excite. It doesn't make someone want to see you again.

Are you a first-time job seeker? Bring along a few photos. One of you skydiving, one of you working on a volunteer project with a team, one of you in a cafe in Malta. They offer evidence that you thought about the interview, your experiences are broad, and that you are a do-er.

Are you a coach or consultant? On your web presence, materials, and emails show what made you useful to others in a different way. That's how I got the tagline "Teaching smart people practical ways to become extraordinary." I asked a client why he kept bringing me back. He told me that every time we were together, he had more than one practical thing to do (that worked) after I left.

Mid-Career Change? You can set yourself apart by stating clearly and firmly what you don't want because of what you've learned about your real strengths. You have examples and real-life stories to tell. Your clarity will boost your image and make the interviewers life a lot easier.

Did I mention that I once made 59 speeches in 63 days in 22 cities and towns across South Africa?

Click on your preferred subscription area at the top of the sidebar on the left. You'll always get the newest post!

 

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Trust, Relationships, and Kids Are Not Our Hope

Present I hope you'll hang in for just a minute with this one. It touches on more than one aspect of business and life.

The past couple of weeks, as you may know, have been involved with supporting an executive transition. The blog posts haven't been as regular or even lengthy, as is often the case. Why?

Execution takes time. Thinking and writing about it takes time,too. But once you are in the middle of it, it requires a focus that keeps one in the "execution" zone and out of the "deep thought" zone. Hopefully, the preliminary deep thoughts are adding to a successful implementation.

It's 9 am EST on Saturday and I'm headed back to NYC. As one who writes about clarity, integrating your life around purpose, and living peacefully, why would I be headed back to the client office building on Saturday?

Trust, Relationships, and Kids Are Not Our Hope.

About 20 years ago, a group of executives at a client company asked if I would work with their college-aged kids on some career counseling and clarification. I did. It was very satisfying.

A few years later, another exec group at another client asked if I could coach their soon-to-graduate collegians on how to present themselves  effectively in interviews  and stand-up presentations. I did. It was very satisfying.

And that sort of thing has continued to happen over the years.

Retailers can give you a free product to show goodwill. Auto mechanics offer a free lube or oil change. What can consultants offer? Themselves, their time, and their expertise.

It is time-consuming and, depending upon the engagement, can be a bit emotionally consuming. So why do it?

Relationships and Trust go hand-in-hand. Consultants of all types operate at the will of their clients. It hadn't occurred to me until long after the first engagement of this sort that those execs saw me as someone who was willing to help for a deeper reason than money. (They kindly offered it--I turned it down).  If they could trust me with their kids they could trust me with their businesses. In each case, the client relationships lasted a very long time.

Why young people?

Because I don't believe that children are our future. I believe that our future lies with children who become healthy adults because they've been guided by healthy adults.

So I'm off to do some career counseling with a young person who is genuinely seeking it. I can't give away discount coupons or an oil change. Hopefully our time together will yield something meaningful for this young man.

Thought for Today: What have you been given that you could be giving away?

Somewhat related post: Check out George Reavis' offering at FrontLine Leadership Trends . It's a nice insight into how Proctor & Gamble are looking at relationships.


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Explain Less, Engage More, Communicate Better

About 30% of my practice involves coaching executives who are doing stand-up communications, either live or on Video/TV.Tv

The biggest learning challenge is not to get people to speak. It's getting them to be silent. And to do it at the right moment.

Organizations--especially businesses--can breed a  "you must know everything or else you know nothing" mentality and culture. The result? People showing up with reams of data and the business story equivalent of War and Peace.

Yet engagement, by definition, is a joint activity. Trying to dazzle your audience with everything you know disengages them, makes you the center of attention, and makes you responsible for everything that happens (or doesn't). Think about that.

Where Can You Use the Zeigarnik Effect?

Kevin Eikenberry  has a post on that phenomenon that will get you thinking about "leaving them wanting more."

The principle really is important to all of us who need to communicate and influence. The next time you plan your presentation or speech, lay out the facts and then ask (sometimes rhetorically),

"What would you do next?

Or do this:

"We're going to take a 5 minute break and I'll show you how we plan to deal with _______."

TV shows do it all the time. They know about the Zeigarnik Effect. And they know it keeps us engaged.

Would you like a couple of online examples to get the juices flowing?

John Moore at Brand Autopsy will have you returning to his blog. Once you read the post, consider yourself "Zeigarnikked." (My apologies to Bluma Zeigarnik. Now I have to figure out the conjugations of his surname).

And I am looking forward to seeing the answer to Liz Strauss' compelling question.

Thought for today: Don't hog the stage--engage.

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Thanks, David Maister

Armstrong_1 David quoted me in his useful podcast on the struggles that professionals sometimes have with Self Promotion.

Give David a listen if you've ever wrestled with "tooting your own horn."

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Macy's Customer Service: "No!"


"NO!" The Gift that keeps on givingCustomerservice

I went shopping at Macy's in Moorestown, NJ, for a Christmas gift for my dad.

I left with the gift that I wanted and a desire never to patronize Macy's again.

Steve: I want to buy these two sweaters. I received your flyer with the discount coupons but my wife has the coupons and is upstairs shopping. Could you swipe one from your copy?

Macy's cashier: "No!"

Steve: Gee, I shop here frequently and have had other cashiers actually offer to do that. Are you sure...?

Macy's cashier: "No! Will that be cash or charge?"

Steve: "Charge. And could I get two gift boxes, please?"

Macy's cashier: "No.We don't have gift boxes. There aren't any in the store."

I wished her a Merry Christmas, took my bag of sweaters, and left the store.

Here's the thing. During this exchange there was no smile, no attempt at apologizing for any inconvenience, and not even a "thank you" at the end. The cashier was simply behaving in the most miserable manner while Happy Christmas-spend-your-money-here music played on the store's sound system.

So I won't go back and give them any more of our money. But I will revel in seeing the smile on my dad's face when he receives the gifts. (He can only wear sweaters that zip up from the bottom because of physical limitations).

Let's Go Do Some Good. Now.

There are people waiting for--and needing--a smile and much more.

So I'm suggesting a click on Guy Kawasaki's post where he lists and describes charities that can help change the world. If you want to do something concrete to make a difference, his is a terrific resource.

One more thing:

If you are so inclined, pause and pray for a peaceful heart for the nameless cashier at Macy's. She is carrying some burden that has overwhelmed her to the point of misery.

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Who Are Your Conversation Catalysts?

Do you want to spread your message for a product, service, or maybe an important organizational change?Conversations_productie

Here's a question to answer: "Who are your Conversation Catalysts?"

Valeria Maltoni , conversation and connection gurette, writes about a Keller Fay Group research finding that shows 15% of the population to be  Conversation Catalysts.

"These influencers tend to recommend brands and products more often at the tune of 149 times a week vs. 79 for the average population. They also tend to have more conversations -- 184 vs. 114 -- and talk more about brands than others."

Valeria then does a nice job of highlighting the level of various media influences and, ultimately, what this means for the importance of a company website.

But the take away for us is this: Conversation catalysts talk to a whole lot more people and will be happy to share their experiences with them -- good, bad, or indifferent.

Let's connect the dots to make this work for you now

1. Who are the 15% in your customer base or organization? Find out and reach out.

2. What do you want them to say, think, and feel about you and your product or message?

3. How can you make that happen? For real. Genuinely. Authentically.

Hint: The answer involves first reaching that critical 15% in the most effective way (you may want to go back and look at the media research).

Note: If you try to fool the 15% with your puff-piece equivalent of Flash technology, remember that they have the power to reveal you as a fraud.

The takeaway for today

Your customers are going to talk about you. If you are a manager, your employees are going to talk about you.

Regardless of the audience, are you influencing the conversation with the right people at the right time in the right way in order to create the right conversations for success?


Image source:  www.leidsuitburo.nl

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Online "Thank You." A Gift That Keeps on Giving

David Maister just posted a "thank you" --using names and links--to all of those who took time to comment at his always-engaging blog, Passion, People, Principles.Thank_you

Is this a variation of something that we should all be doing, regardless of the kind of organization we're in?

What a powerful way to acknowledge customers--by name--and give them exposure as well. Blog comments require an investment of time and thought. Other customers invest their time and money.

I think this is a thought-stimulator for ways to acknowledge those who have contributed to our own success. Maybe organizations who aren't into writing prose could start a "Thank you" blog to recognize customer relationships and contributions.

I like it.

What kinds of ideas does this spark for you?

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Use The Right Words At Work

"Remember the meeting time."

"Don't forget the meeting time."

Do both of those say the same thing? Not as far as your brain is concerned.

Why?

The brain doesn't register the negative. So if you use the negative sentence “Don’t forget the meeting time,” your brain is ignoring the “don’t” and hearing the statement “forget the meeting time.”

If you use the positive sentence, “Remember the meeting time,” you’ll have a much better chance of seeing your participants show up on schedule.

The mind wants direction, not a sense of "lack." That's why it's important to pay attention to how you say things. If I tell you that something is "not very expensive" you'll focus on "expensive."

Try these:

  • "New" vs. "Untried"
  • "By 5 O'clock" vs. "By the end of the day"
  • "Economical" vs. "Inexpensive"

Note: This is how improvement efforts often get bogged down at the outset: "I want us to make fewer mistakes" translates differently than "I want to increase the accuracy of our customer service solutions by 30% before November 30."






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Bullet Points That Work

You can argue for and against Powerpoint. But the fact is, a lot of you work for companies that require theBulletpoints use of Powerpoint or Keynote software with presentations. I know because I've tried to get my clients to lay off the formal, templated (could be a word!), predictable click-and-read format. Many simply say "No. We're going to do it regardless of your research and 30 years in the business."

OK, fine. Then you might as well do it as well as you can. To that end, here's a resource that I value and want to recommend: Brian Clark over at Copyblogger just did a post that titled Little Known Ways to Write Fascinating Bullet Points . If you use just one of the tips, you'll stand out as a speaker who "gets it."

Thanks, Brian.

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Sell It Before You Make It

You see the articles about best ways to finance your business or product. You believe you've got aNew_product_1 good product or service idea. You want some cash flow before dealing with any debt.

What do you do?

Sell it first. Get a customer. Be sure you can deliver what you promise. The sale and the deadline will do two things: increase your confidence and turbo charge your action. If the idea isn't a workable one, you'll know pretty quickly. Nothing lost. If it is a good one, your customer/client will help you make it better as a result of your discussions.

A reasonable upfront deposit will help the bank account as well.


Photo Source: prblog.typepad.com

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Death by Bullet Points

I'm not here to bash Powerpoint.  I do want to encourage business presenters to think about what you're trying to accomplish before you think at all about visual support. Simply Google the phrase "Death by Powerpoint"  Death_by_powerpoint and you'll find that countless others are already ranting about its use and mis-use.

Here's what prompted today's post.

About 20% of our  practice involves delivering our proprietary Presenting With Impact program; another 20% is dedicated to coaching leaders on the content, design, and delivery of presentations. So I was surprised when I got a referral from a client that went like this: "Oh, yes, I need to communicate better but I don't need presentations help--I already know how to use Powerpoint."

Wow. She heard "presentation" and immediately thought "Powerpoint." I recently referenced The Leader's Voice to emphasize how to genuinely  communicate and connect. And our presentations workshops and coaching emphasize "bringing out who you are" vs.some formulaic, stilted approach to dispensing information.

A dilemma

If you work in a large organization you may be required to use presentation software. But that doesn't mean you have to use it poorly--or even in the way in which the boilerplate templates would have you use it. Nor do you have to use it throughout your entire communication activity.

A first-class resource

Hammer
If you've never visited Garr Reynolds or his Presentation Zen blog, then you are in for a treat. His sense of graphic design and use is second to none. And I'm partial to his Preparation, Delivery, and Slide tips because they mirror the approach that we use with our clients. Visit Garr's sites, click around, and enjoy your time there. You'll learn a lot.

As for the comment above regarding "Presentation means Powerpoint": I'll be doing a series in the near future on what really helps you connect as a speaker.

Finally. . .

Do you have any favorite "death by bullet point" stories? I invite you to add your own by clicking on the Comments button or sending an email. Your email address remains anonymous.

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Continue reading "Death by Bullet Points" »

Are You Too Busy Doing Business to Do Business?

Busy Yesterday I met with a corporate Executive VP in New York City. I'll call him Phil. Phil said his division was struggling. But instead of leading the charge to turn things around, he was being called into meetings regularly to make lengthy, detailed, Powerpoint presentations explaining what was wrong. He was too busy doing business to be doing the business. Interestingly, one of his recommendations was for the company to get out of some of its operations because they were draining money and other resources. He explained that his people were spending too much time on things that no longer yielded the kind of margins the company desired.

Does any of this sound remotely familiar to you? I realized while he was talking to me that I had gotten up at 5 a.m. to deal with emails from a European client; spent time on the cell phone in transit with a non-profit, pro bono client who needed to talk; and allowed myself to be sidetracked by hallway conversations with managers from the client group who I hadn't seen in a while. A similar schedule unraveled today.

What is there to learn?

1. If you do business globally in the electronic age, the expectation is that you are available on "their" time...or you should be. So choose carefully--you can't afford to be awake 24 hours a day.

2. Time management isn't really just about time. It's about clear priorities. Which means...

3. It's important to say "no." In fact, I think "no" is the solution to a lot of this craziness.

4. If you are in Phil's position, at some point you need to tell those above you that the very act of "over-reporting" is exacerbating the problem. Do it respectfully. Share the impact and consequences on your business and let them take responsibility for whether or not it makes sense to continue the external demands on your time.

Sales people are feeling this, too

Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies, talks about how tough it is to get a potential customer's attention simply because they are too busy to listen. If you aren't too busy, you can listen to her 10-minute interview on Sales Rep Radio. (Scroll down the page and click on the audio file).

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New Program? How About a Free Sample?

Businessgroup You can't walk through a department store without getting squirted with the latest perfume or cologne. Check your pockets when you get home: there's a little sample of it there, too. Sooner of later you'll get around to opening the packet and applying a dab or splash. You'll ask someone else what they think. Then you--and your evaluator--may even buy some or ask for it as a gift for your next birthday.

Why not do the same thing with your corporate program? If you have a new training design, do a demo for  some portion of the target audience. Thinking about new software? Run some users through it hands-on (don't show them a presentation; they need to touch it).

A little splash of Eau de Programme is just plain good marketing. And you'll find out where the improvements need to be made while creating a buzz--and some ownership--at the same time.

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Today's Customer Service: Good Guys 2, Bad Guys 1

What messages are you sending to your customers that show you really care about their lives not just your business?

That's a question asked by the folks at Future Now . If you haven't seen their blog about the fine art of Persuasion, check it out. They talk about how creating good customer service experiences is part of an overall approach to successful sales.

I had three customer service experiences today that are all worth mentioning.

Thrilling Experience #1.

Chuck Hartfield, VP Sales & Support at SalesGene . If you have a sales force and are looking for software that can really help in a number of ways, then contact Chuck. Here's why I say that:

After signing up online for some info, Chuck called. We arranged a web demo. I offhandedly said "We're using Apple stuff and haven't upgraded to the Intel machines. Chuck didn't miss a beat. He said "Let me check compatibility and call you right back. He called back, let me know that we couldn't work it out right now, and hoped that we could do something in the future.

"Well, that's just being honest," you say. Yes, it is. But he could have suggested buying emulation software for the shortrun or cracking out our older Pentium PC's. But he didn't. Yet he did explain some of the things, in simple terms, that their Landslide  product could do.

He wasn't in a position to save my life through customer service--but he did use it to save me money and time. I had the feeling all along that he is all about best-fit solutions, not quick money that won't lead to satisfied users.

Thrilling Experience #2. 
Got a blog? Use FeedBurner ? They're my new favorite blog "accessory." And the reason is Eric Lunt in FeedBurner Support. Forget the details: I had a problem, emailed customer support, Eric resonded in what seemed liked seconds, we went back-and-forth one more time and the issue was resolved. (It was my fault, had nothing to do with FeedBurner, and he didn't make me out to be an idiot. Quite the contrary). Thanks, Eric.

Otherworldly Experience of the Day

It's been raining very hard here--5" or 6" in a short time period. Last night I sat down to watch TV and thought it was an IMAX show because it was so realistic, I was getting soaked. That would, of course, be the rain dripping through the roof.

So I phone the roofer that I have used in the past--and who has done good work on other projects. I get his secretary who asks if she can call me back because she's busy with the payroll company. She doesn't call me back. I finally call RoofGuy directly and leave a message on his cell. RoofGuy promptly calls back to let me know how busy he is but he'll get right back to me. That was 14 hours and two more inches of rain ago.

If Chuck and Eric know anything about roofing, please call...

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Steve Roesler, Principal & Founder
The Steve Roesler Group
Office: 609.654.7376
Mobile: 856.275.4002

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