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How Your Positive Attitude Can Win You Sales

How Your Positive Attitude Can Win You Sales

Have you ever been in a situation where everything about your product and sales process seemed so right; product quality, pricing, sales presentation, buying audience, and suitability of the product to soothe buyer’s pain points and yet deals are not closed? If you have been selling for a while, either as B2B or B2C, this will be very familiar. In business, your attitude determines whether customers buy from you or not. With positive attitude you are able to exude the bright side of life that makes your personality likable and acceptable.

There is no way an optimistic salesman will expect a failure not to talk of accepting it. Even though there may be failed attempt(s), it will be seen in the light of generating useful feedback for improving business sales process or product itself. Interestingly, sales reps with the positive attitude always expect the best to happen and they are constantly winning sales. I keep reminding my sales team, selling is fun and tough. It is tough when you are confronted with an opportunity embedded in rejection, and you fail to notice it. When you have mastered the art of handling sales challenges that may arise in the present and future, you will experience the fun side of selling.

Let me share with you this story of how a great attitude can uncover an opportunity. In ancient times, a king had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the big stone out of the way. Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. On approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. As the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.

The peasant learned what many others never understand. Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve one’s condition.

No wonder Keith Harrel said “attitude is everything”. I will give three suggestions on how you can develop positive attitude towards sales;

Believe in your selling ability

Confidence in your selling ability goes a long way in sales success. While it is not the only ingredient to closing deals, it is a vital factor. Regardless of your line of business, you need to successfully sell yourself first. Customers will not believe what you don’t believe. If you don’t have trust in your ability to sell, customers will not even give you the opportunity to waste their valuable time in pitching. So you need to set your thinking right. James Allen in, As a Man Thinketh said, “All a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his thoughts.”

Every customer is important

There is a strong likelihood you treat your customers differently. Consciously or unconsciously, some customers are treated special while others are grouped as not-too-special customers. If you are culpable, have a rethink. Customers are quick to know how important they are in your buyers classifications. While grouping our buyers is great for sales and marketing, sales organization need to see every customer as a VIP, treat them with due attention and respect. If not, your sales reps will be the first to sell you out and start a show off bad attitude to a customer that may turn to great customer in the future.

Considered deals closed before they really are

Over the years, research has shown that what we believe and consistently think about all day can create itself. Be it sales or something else. If you believe a deal is closed before you even get to discuss it with customers, the forces of nature often bring it to past. I have experienced this in my sales business and it worked pretty well. When you visualize a deal as closed you are more likely to act in a frame of mind the will make the sale happen.

Thoughts are very powerful. Whether we believe it or not, they influence our attitude towards prospects and customers. Great product with right attitude will edge you a mile ahead of your competitors. In reality, sales start with you, not your customers.

Four Effective Ways to Gaining Customer Loyalty

Four Effective Ways to Gaining Customer Loyalty

Every business owner knows from a financial perspective that it is much less expensive in retaining your current customers than acquiring new ones. The process of acquiring new customers, demands lots of marketing, selling and an increase in other costs in production and etcetera.

If a business has a strong relationship with its customers then they will continuously come back for more of its service. And business owners know that every happy customer will tell a friend and spread the word about their service. So it’s crucial to give them a reason to.

Here below are four effective ways to gaining customer loyalty:

#1: Find out what your customers’ value most

It’ll be easier to categorize your customers into demographics so you can tailor make or modify your offerings and services to satisfy the unique needs of each customer. For example; in terms of customer service – the older generation would prefer to communicate with a customer agent on the other line, while the younger generation would prefer engaging through email.

While communicating with your customers, ask them about what they value most. Would it be that they value quality or are they just interested in good deals? These are the sort of questions to help you find out what your customers’ value most. Once you have discovered that, place your focus there. You could also create complimentary gifts and give them out alongside the products and services you offer to your customers.

#2: Earn and keep your customers trust

A successful business is well founded on a trust relationship with its customers. The communication you have with your customer has to be clear, concise and importantly, you keeping your promise. This is the easiest way to earning your customers trust.

Introduce customer survey into your business and maintain a feedback database. You can use this to improve your products and services offered to your customers – this is a great way of showing your customers that their concerns are heard.

#3: Exceed your customers’ expectations

When you make a promise to your customers it’s important that you do whatever it takes to keep it. Customers have a lot of expectations when it comes to any business product and service. If the business has made the smallest mistake, the important thing is to quickly resolve it. An apology won’t be enough – offer your customer a refund and also giving them a discount for their next purchase will show them that you value and care for them.

#4: Incentive Offerings

Customers love free gifts and bonuses. If you want to build a strong relationship with your customers then offer them something that will forever remind them of your service – give free body massage if you’re running a Spa Treatment & Massage business or a certain percentage discount for all mother’s day and father’s day season. Be creative and come up with incentives that give your customers a rare experience that they will never forget.

Conclusion

Building a strong and long lasting relationship is essential for customer loyalty. Begin your customers’ journey by discovering what they value most. Provide them with a clear and concise understanding of what you are willing to offer them. Show your customers what they mean to your business and how much you value them. Remember a happy customer always comes back for more of your services and along with them come new ones.

Building Relationships with Seminar Selling

Building Relationships with Seminar Selling

Your clients today need INSIGHTS. They need help navigating all the new platforms and marketing tools, and as their consultant it’s your job to help them. If you think your role is just to “sell” them something but not to consult – you’re missing a great opportunity to grow trust, credibility and rapport by HELPING them and CONSULTING them.

Seminar Selling” is a modern sales technique that brings your clients into your offices with the intent to train them and teach them about marketing issues they didn’t know they had.

Here are some tips on how to utilize seminar selling:

    1. This is not about you. This is about them.
      • You can’t sell them your product or service in a seminar.
      • It’s designed as a marketing tool for you to be of service and to show your expertise.
    2. This is an opportunity to show your clients you care.
      • They need help understanding topics like social content, content marketing, marketing tools, email marketing – and you can help.
    3. Bring them into your office space.
      • Presentations should be on specific topics that are narrow.
      • No more than 30 minutes.
      • Create a short, image-based deck with a leave behind.
    4. Again, no selling!
      • Resist any temptation (at this stage) to sell them on your product or offering.
      • If you conduct the seminar well, they’ll come back to you asking for more information and how your offering can help.

Seminar Selling is a very modern approach to creating customer relationships based on the quality of your work and your true desire to help your clients’ businesses grow. Taking them to lunch just isn’t going to be enough anymore. They want more from the relationship and you’ll have to work harder to earn their time and their business.

In Sales and In Life, Faith and Trust Triumph over Fear and Anxiety

In Sales and In Life, Faith and Trust Triumph over Fear and Anxiety

As a seasoned entrepreneur of over 30 years, I’ve had my ups and downs – especially when it comes to sales and income. I’ve been successful at closing, but as the talent of my sole proprietorship, resented and avoided prospecting. As a result, my sales graph would look very much like the cardiogram of a heart with palpitations en route to cardiac arrest: spikes, dips and the eventual flat,……….Beep………….beep…………….beep……………………….…… bee……..……….p.

I don’t know how to best explain this to you so you “get” this message deeply into your soul, so you can integrate what I have to say at the core of your being, (you know what I mean–when all your cells align with a message and it becomes your true operating system–natural, without thought). But I’ll give it a try. And so it goes:

How you feel, think and believe will change the course of your goals. Now, if you’re anything like me, with early remnants of cynicism and an “I know it all” attitude, you may be guffawing at the simplicity of this message. I know that one – I played in that sandbox for a long time.

But a few months ago, my Yes-But loop that whined from fear and anxiety, complaining about no activity for the first quarter, that business would tank, that I’d be unable to pay my taxes and mortgage and everything else….Stopped! That worried inner voice simply just stopped! Instead, in my head, I heard the voice of a dear friend saying: You’ve been here before, Eileen. For 30 years, you’ve been up and down. You’ve always come through this – something always shows up. Just trust.

Now I’ve heard this friend’s voice in my head many times before and the message never stuck. So, why did I embrace these words this time around? Did I become tired of hearing myself, hearing my fearful pattern of thinking: frustration > fear > failure? Somehow, I just let go, let go of my very fossilized, anxiety-based story.

Let me assure you that I did not change any business strategy, purchase new software or engage any consultants. I continued to avoid direct sales, knowing historically, that my business thrived because of introductions made by trusted clients and colleagues. Yes, the business was quiet, but instead of freaking out, I continued to do what I do best, creating visions and servicing professionals with excellence. I even took what I perceived as a huge risk, offering services for barter to a keynote speaker for his presentation before an audience of 1000.

Surprisingly, it was accepted, embraced and valued. I networked the gala, met some people, handed them business cards, followed up with an email, and received one RFP. Voila – I’m back in the game!

This “shift,” this attitudinal-belief shift towards trust versus fear, has become the silent driver of new business and living. Though we’re only in the middle of 2016’s first quarter, I have acquired three new individual clients, one new non-profit organization, and three public speaking opportunities!

Yes, I’m seeing my business cardiogram changing…. showing more steady and increasing spikes and much fewer dips. It’s been a long, learning journey, but I know from the core of who I am, that faith and trust (even of the unknown) triumph over fear and worry – big time! So, keep the faith, persevere and reap your rewards!

Ten Steps to Better Concentration

Ten Steps to Better Concentration

Everybody’s Talking at Me, I Don’t Hear a Word They’re Saying – Ten Steps to Better Concentration

Harry Nilsson’s classic, “Everybody’s Talkin” was released in 1968. That same year I started work at Valley View Farms Country Store and Produce Market in Cockeysville, MD (you can’t make this stuff up).

On Saturdays, I worked at Valley View from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM (at $1.10 per hour). The boss’ expectation was that “you treat each and every customer as though they were your best and the only customer of the day.” That was tiring after twelve hours…

So, when I had time for a break I wanted to get away from everyone and relax.

To take advantage of short rest periods I learned self-hypnosis. A fifteen-minute session of self-hypnosis was like an hour or more of sleep. Following my short breaks, I came back to the job rested and refreshed. Self-hypnosis can be as simple as looking at a point not too far from you, taking deep breathes and allowing your eyes to close while clearing your mind of any thoughts. It is not “weird” and you don’t lose control in any way. It’s simple and it works.

The first verse of “Everybody’s Talkin’” ended with “only the echoes of my mind.” I can relate, then and now. There is so much going on each and every day that it is literally hard to hear yourself think. And concentrate.

Most work days concentrating is hard. When I went looking for content about the importance of teaching your sales force how to concentrate I found surprisingly little of it. I did find a great blog on the Psychology Today site written in 2013 by Neel Burton M.D. entitled “How to Improve Your Concentration and Memory”. His objective was to provide strategies that anyone could use to improve the amount of information that they take in and remember. I have taken the liberty to convert his simple strategies for a generic audience to an audience of sales executives specifically. Here we go:

#1: Pay attention

Dr. Burton states, “You cannot take in information unless you are paying attention, and you cannot memorize information unless you are taking it in.” My own recommendation on this point comes from Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “Seek first to understand, then be understood.” In his book Covey talks about five types of listening (or pretending to listen):

  • Ignoring: Not really listening at all.
  • Pretending: Humming along while not really following.
  • Selective listening: Hearing what you want to hear.
  • Attentive listening: Paying attention to the words.
  • Empathic listening: Intending to understand what the other is trying to communicate.

Many, if not most, sales executives are so anxious to get to their presentation that they do not listen empathetically.

I must point out that Dr. Coveys fifth habit actually came from the “Prayer of St. Francis” which includes:

O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek to be understood as to understand…

#2: Involve as many senses as possible

Dr. Burton states that “if you are sitting in a lecture, you will remember more of what is being said if you listen and scribble down a few notes. Or if you are reading a letter or an article, you will remember more of what is written if you read it aloud to yourself.” I would add that in a situation such as a lunch meeting or a meeting in a crowded office you must learn to control the part of your brain that helps you block out extraneous stimuli.

“The term ‘reticular activator’ comes from the name given to the part of the brain primarily responsible for arousal and motivation in animals (including humans). It’s called the ‘reticular formation’ and it’s located at the core of the brain stem between the medulla oblongata and midbrain.

You can’t be aware of everything all the time. The reticular activator is your first line of defense against overwhelming stimuli. The reticular activator decides what will get into your awareness (what you will become conscious of), and its decisions are based on survival instincts plus anything else you deem as really important.”

Try practicing this. Next time you are in a crowded restaurant with family and friends, consciously tune in and tune out the “din” coming from the crowd around you. You will be amazed that it is harder to turn the reticular activator off than it is to turn it on. Staying focused on your audience helps keep the reticular activator on so that you can concentrate and listen in meetings.

#3: Relate new information to what you already know

As an example, we once supported a sales force that was responsible for selling a $1,000,000 piece of equipment that did genotyping. Our COO was worried that we could not get this project done without hiring Ph.D. scientists. I spent a couple of hours researching the space as it is my belief that if you spend a couple of hours researching any topic you will know more than 99% of the population does about that topic. In two hours I felt I had “broken the back” of the problem and was able to communicate to our team that the most important business issues this solution solved were testing speed, lowering cost, and more positive outcomes. If you picture a scientist with a test tube (information you know) and then picture how a machine could work like a million scientists with a million test tubes the challenge does not seem so great.

#4: Understand information

Per Dr. Burton: “Try to understand more complex material before you try to remember it. If possible, summarize the material in your own words and write or type out your summary.” We have all been in meetings where we expected our memory to get us through when it was clear to our audience that we really did not understand their solution and/or market. Go back through your data (on the web, in books…) and make sure that the light bulb comes on in your head (you understand the concepts) prior to trying to plan for and then engage the prospect.

#5: Structure your assessment of information

I recommend that sales executives structure how they look at prospects around the following: Pain, Priority, Process, and Environment. Is there a pain or need? Is there a priority to fix the pain or need? What is the process to make a decision about how to fix the pain or need? What is the current environment (technical or business process as examples) and how does that current environment match-up with the need, priority, and process to fix the problem. A caveat: prospects don’t put up with a lot of discovery anymore so a lot of the discovery needs to take place before you ask your prospect to spend time with you.

#6: Rehearse information

Most calls (or presentations) become unstructured, but the opening statement in calls (or the introduction to a presentation) is critically important to the success of that call. For our team, I recommend that they walk around in the building or parking lot until they have memorized and internalized the opening statement for their project. It needs to be second nature AND sound informal though it is the only part of a call that is tightly scripted.

#7: Exercise your mind

Per Dr. Burton: “Mental challenge can help to create new wire connections in the brain, which makes it more effective and more resistant to memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.” One way to accomplish this is to study the LinkedIn pages of your prospect(s); if they have written any content, study it; if they have a hobby or passion, understand it.

#8: Develop a healthy lifestyle

Per Dr. Burton: “A healthy lifestyle increases the amount of blood and oxygen that is delivered to the brain, and reduces the risk of medical conditions that can lead to memory loss such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and diabetes. Exercise also increases your ‘feel-good’ endorphins, which improves your mood and prevents depression.” Rejection is a way of life for salespeople. Even a small amount of exercise will help you put rejection into perspective and allow you to focus on the next positive outcome rather than the last negative one.

#9: Get sufficient sleep

Per Dr. Burton: “Sleep is necessary for memory consolidation, and feeling alert and refreshed improves your attention and concentration.”

#10: See a doctor

Per Dr. Burton: “Certain prescribed and over-the-counter drugs can impair your attention and concentration, and hence your memory. If you suspect that this is the case for you, see your family doctor.”

Sales training usually assumes you know how to concentrate. Many of us don’t. I hope that these ten tips will help you in preparation for, and execution of, the many jobs sales executives are required to do.

Seventeen Things to Do Before Engaging a Prospect

Seventeen Things to Do Before Engaging a Prospect

They say that people buy from people they like and people like people who know them. More and more B2B salespeople must become trusted advisors rather than transactional order takers.

A lot is written about the customer journey and influencing them over the course of that journey with content designed to inform and influence their decision making. Whether you are about to engage a prospect at the beginning or towards the end of their journey, it is critical to know as much about them as possible to differentiate yourself from competitors. Preparedness can impress and give you an edge.

The following seventeen things can help you prepare in engaging a prospect.

#1: Google Them

While it may seem like stating the obvious, people often overlook the power of Google and the information it can illuminate for them. There is a joke that says the best place to bury a body is on page two of Google search results. Take the trouble to go to page two and beyond if there are still pertinent results worth pursuing.

#2: Review their LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn has gone from an online job board or the electronic equivalent of the Chamber of Commerce to one of the most critical professional networking platforms. Many LinkedIn profiles are rich with data that is free and readily available to you. Why not take advantage of it?

#3: Look for mutual connections

I used to work in film and television and the only way you found work was by who you knew. Without LinkedIn and the Internet, networking your way to a new job was challenging and took much more time. LinkedIn makes networks transparent so you can leverage mutual connections to map your way into an account. You can also identify the best referral source based on the number and/or strength of your shared connections.

#4: Where they went to school

You cannot underestimate the value of alumni. What if during your review of their LinkedIn profile or research, you learned that you went to the same university, took the same program, or both have an MBA. Any of those things in common could help you make a connection and build rapport with your prospect.

#5: Past roles

Look at their previous roles to see where they worked, who might’ve worked with them that you already know, and what kind of intel you can gather as a result.

#6: Recent Activity

Check their recent activity to see what they’ve shared, liked, or commented on to get a gauge of their interests and the kind of content and news that gets their attention. Look at the Pulse channels and influencers they follow too. They will also give you some insight about their interests and what gets their attention.

#7: New connections

See who they connected with recently, especially if it was with a shared connection or competitor.

#8: Groups

Take a look at the groups they are members of to see if you share any mutual groups or to flag groups you should consider joining as an indirect way of targeting them.

#9: Contact Information

You would be surprised how many people don’t bother checking the contact info section of someone on LinkedIn to see what they include. Sometimes they provide their email and/or phone number. That’s a gift for salespeople! They might also share the social account information or links to their blog or some other sites containing valuable information. You just have to look.

#10: Chrome Extensions

There are some Chrome Extensions that can help make you more productive with your prospect profiling. Here are just a few. Discoverly will show you if someone on LinkedIn shares any friends on Facebook, bringing another connection path to your attention. LinkedIn Connection Revealer will give you an idea of how many connections someone has. Rapportive for Gmail will reveal their social profiles within your inbox. eLink will automate some of your interaction to introduce you to prospects and build engagement. JustClipIt will enable you to capture profile data for a variety of social networks including LinkedIn.

#11: Twitter

Sometimes people are more easily engaged or connected with via Twitter than LinkedIn, so it is worth considering as another avenue for making connections and building rapport. Furthermore, you will be able to get a better sense of them by who they follow, what they share, and with whom they interact.

#12: Instagram

Since Instagram has grown to be the number two social network in the world, there is a good chance that your prospects have an account there so check it out. See what they are sharing and learn more about their interests.

#13: Snapchat

Just like Instagram, Snapchat is growing, and you should, at least, be paying attention to it. Its membership may skew to high school and college-aged people right now but increasingly brands and organizations are establishing a presence. Ignore it at your peril.

#14: Industry or Trade Associations

Just because a lot of new and emerging platforms are mentioned here, it doesn’t mean the tried and true approaches like leveraging industry or trade associations should be ignored. They say to fish where the fish are so if they happen to be members of industry or trade associations then give some thought to how you can navigate your way to your prospects via those same associations. See how much you can learn about the members of an association from the association’s website. Sometimes there’s a searchable directory.

#15: Slideshare

Presentations hosted on Slideshare garner engagement and can be embedded within LinkedIn profiles as well as websites. Look at Slideshare to see if your prospects or their companies have shared any presentations from which you can derive valuable information.

#16: YouTube

While many people have spent time on YouTube watching cat videos or videos of dogs on skateboards, it is worth remembering that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world filled with valuable information. Take a few moments to see if there are any videos about or containing footage of your prospect.

#17: Vimeo

YouTube might be the larger video platform, but many organizations choose Vimeo because of it has a more professional look and feel. It is not overrun with ads, and the videos tend to be of a more professional quality. There could be a good chance that your prospect and/or their organization chose to use Vimeo instead to host their video(s).

Now I recognize that giving seventeen things to do before engaging a prospect would seem like a daunting list, at first, glance. Many would dismiss one or more of them as a waste of time. I am not suggesting that you spend hours using all of them to learn more about a single prospect. However, I am suggesting that you try as many of them that spark your interest at least once and keep what works for you. Not every one of your prospects will be active in social media so you may not want to devote too much or anytime to seeing what their digital footprint might be if is going to be nonexistent.

It is not about spending an inordinate amount of time on researching your prospects. It is about being more productive and efficient using tools and methods that your competition may have ignored. It is about finding insights about your prospects that will enable you to build trust and rapport better and more deeply than your competitors.

Are you up to it? Do you have other tools and methods that you would like to add to the list? I am all ears.

Help Yourself to Appear More Trustworthy

Help Yourself to Appear More Trustworthy

Your physical mannerisms have a lot to do with how people “see” you and what kind of perception they have about your trustworthiness. Even without speaking – your gestures make a difference in how you are perceived by others.

Here’s a list of 4 gestures that can help you to appear trustworthy… without you saying a word:

  1. Keep Your Hands Neutral
    • Touching your hands makes you appear nervous
    • Clasping your hands sends a signal of being closed off
  2. Keep Your Hands Away from Your Face
    • Touching your face sends a signal that you are formulating an opinion
  3. Arms Should Stay Open and Relaxed
    • Never cross your arms over your heart
    • Doing so sends a message that you are not willing to communicate your true feelings
    • It also sends a message that you won’t collaborate
  4. Lean In
    • Leaning back sends a message that you are overly relaxed and not listening
    • Leaning in sends a message that you are giving the speaker your full attention and that you care about what they have to say

People respond better to those who are viewed as trustworthy. People buy from who they “know, like and trust.” Be aware of your body language and don’t let a simple mistake such as crossing your arms or leaning back in a meeting send the wrong message about yourself, and your ability to care about your customers.

5 Distractions in Sales and How to Avoid Them

5 Distractions in Sales and How to Avoid Them

As the saying goes, we all have the same 24 hours to work with each day. How each of us uses their 24 hours and how much is accomplished can be vastly different, however. It’s amazing how much time can be wasted or mismanaged in a work environment, especially by toxic employees. The following are 5 distractions salespeople easily fall prey to and how to avoid them.

#1: Answering Emails

Many people fall into the habit of checking emails literally dozens of times each day. While we want to be responsive and timely when answering, most emails don’t need to be answered within minutes of receiving them. It’s much more efficient to set up 2 or 3 times each day when you check and respond to emails. Checking and responding to emails each time one arrives in the inbox is a major waste of time. When it’s not time to check your email, keep the program closed so you’re not tempted each time a new email comes in.

#2: Handling Follow Up Work

After almost every sales call or meeting there is follow up work to get done. There are proposals to go over, records to update, and the next steps in the process to get prepared. These tasks are necessary and must get done in a timely manner. It is easy to get distracted and waste time in the same way as when emails are answered as they come. Again, time should be set aside each day for follow up duties. Updating several records at once takes less time than doing it individually several times each day.

#3: Social Media

Most people already know that social media can be a bottomless pit if we let ourselves get distracted. It’s okay to occasionally take a break and check twitter or the latest headlines on the web. It’s important to keep screens to social media closed during work periods. Reward yourself with 5 minute breaks throughout the day to relax and enjoy what’s on social media. It’s also a good idea to keep your phone silent and only check it periodically. With texts, calendar reminders, and app notifications your phone is likely to be buzzing almost constantly throughout the day.

#4: Office Gossip

As much as most of us would like to believe we don’t get caught up in this sort of thing, it can be a major distraction if you’re not careful. Sometimes there’s a fine line between networking and sharing information, and complaining about how awful a particular client or coworker can be. While you don’t want to be totally unavailable to coworkers, there are simple steps to take when you really need to stay focused and get work done. If you’re in an office, closing the door for specific times throughout the day can send the message that unless it’s an emergency you shouldn’t be interrupted at that time. If you’re in a cubicle or other open area wearing headphones is a great way to keep from being distracted. People are less likely to interrupt someone wearing headphones.

#5: An Unorganized Work Area

Working in a messy, unorganized environment can be very distracting psychologically. A computer can be just as unorganized as a desk. If you have more than two programs or windows open at one time it’s probably too many. Jumping back and forth while attempting to juggle several tasks at once is not only distracting but provides greater opportunities for making mistakes. Here are 10 hacks to make your work area look cleaner.

Cutting back on just these 5 distractions can add up to a lot of useful time spent on relevant work activities. Trying to make all the changes at once can be overwhelming. Start working on one area a week, such as organizing your work area. The next week start sticking to a structured schedule for checking and responding to emails. Within a month or two you should be able to cut back on most distractions and discover your overall productivity has increased.

Three Things I Do Before Breakfast That Grew My Company 80%

Three Things I Do Before Breakfast That Grew My Company 80%

It’s no secret that if you want to build something that can grow and last, you need a solid foundation. What you do before breakfast is the foundation for your entire day. And your day is the foundation for your week. And the week is the foundation for your month. You get the point. Each day matters when you are growing a business.

A few years ago, I was working my butt off to try to grow my company. I was exhausted and broke most of the time, though. Then I implemented three simple tasks before breakfast and increased my income 80%. Best of all, I got back 20 hours of my life each week.

Here is how it went…

Prior to implementing my LJS (as I call it) I was up early every day and I hit the ground running. The first thing I did was grab my phone and “clean” my email inbox. I scrolled through my messages, bulk deleting anything that didn’t seem important. I made mental notes about the “fires” that showed up in my email and started thinking about to handle them. After grabbing a quick breakfast, I dashed to the office and started the daily grind of answering calls and emails, trying to handle sales and customer service and keep all the other balls in the air, too.

No matter how early I started, though, I just could never get ahead. Then I decided to get off the treadmill and get focused. Of course, I did a one-page business blueprint (it is the cornerstone of our company after all). And I decided to change the way I approached my morning. I decided to build a better foundation under my day. That foundation consists of three deceptively simple tasks.

Learning – I know with certainty that, if I want to grow my company this year, I’m going to have to make changes to the way we do things. That means I have to go about my work in a new and better way. And that means learning about new and better ways of running a business.
The methods vary – books, videos, online courses, podcasts – but the process is always the same. I sit down with new information and a notebook (I’m old school but you can use Evernote or other note-taking software if you prefer) and I invest at least 30 minutes in learning something new.

I’m a marketing junkie so much of what I learn is about marketing but in the last year I’ve also read books on accounting, sales, biography, social media, creative thinking, emotional freedom technique, political campaigning and brain chemistry to name a few. It doesn’t matter what you invest in learning as long as it relates to your business. A Tom Clancy novel isn’t likely to be critical to your long-term success. By starting my day with learning, I’m activating the creativity centers of my brain and opening my mind to new approaches. I’m also creating an environment of focus before I dive into the black hole of email and phone calls.

Journaling – after my learning time, I take about five minutes to write in my journal. I most often use Day One on my computer for my writing but I also have a spiral notebook for days when I prefer pen in hand. What tool you use doesn’t matter – choose the one that works best for you. How much I write each day varies quite a bit. It depends on what I’ve read and how much it impacted me as well as what happened the day before. But each journal entry contains the same basic information.

First, I write a quick summary of the day before. Wins, losses, lessons learned and anything else that I want to analyze and let go of. I’ve found that once I write something down in my journal, I can get it out of my head and stop mentally chewing on it. Prior to journaling daily, I used to have a mind full of “head trash” that weighed down my thinking. With writing, I find that I can talk my way through a problem on paper and solve it quickly and easily. Next, I write down my key action items from my morning learning. My detailed notes are in my notebook but I like to have a few bullet points of actions I’m going to take. Finally, I write down my goals for the day. Typically, I write three things that I absolutely commit to accomplishing before noon. That helps me get hyper-focused on the most important tasks just in case all hell breaks loose later in the day. Don’t laugh – you know it happens.

Stats – the last thing I do before heading off to grab some grub is to look at yesterday’s sales and marketing stats. It takes me about 3 minutes to pull them together from a few pieces of software and summarize them in a spreadsheet. Yes, I look at sales and marketing stats every day. Every. Day. Sales and marketing are the lifeblood business. If you don’t watch them like a hawk, it is easy to get behind your goals. And once you are behind, it is hell to get back on track.

I look at both activity and results each day because they change in my company each day. Even if you have the kind of company that doesn’t close sales each and every day you must look at your sales activities each day. In our company I look at number of ad impressions, number of downloads of free products, sales dollars and conversion rates for each step of our sales funnel, cost per click, and ROI per month for six months.

This daily dashboard tells me if we are on or off track for our goals so I can make immediate adjustments if necessary. It takes about 40 minutes for me to complete these three steps each morning. In the two years since I’ve been using this process, my income has increased 80% and I’ve cut 20 hours per week out of my work schedule. I’ve used this process with many of my clients and they find it works wonders for them, too.

Give it a shot in your business and let me know how it works for you.

[Note: Many of you will add that exercise in the morning is a great habit, too. I fully agree. I get really sleepy after working out so I have shifted my daily exercise to the evenings. However, I do recommend putting exercise in your calendar wherever it works best for you.]

10 Ways to Transform Your Customer into a Raving Maniacal Fan

10 Ways to Transform Your Customer into a Raving Maniacal Fan

Not by the hard sell that’s for sure.

When you flog a product or service at them with heavy pressure tactics, they run for cover; they don’t lean in to you with a willingness to listen, buy and refer you to others.

It doesn’t have to be like that.

Even the toughest customer can be turned to be your strongest and most passionate advocate but it requires you consistently perform THESE acts:

  1. Be “on their team”. You can’t be perceived to have only the best interests of your company in mind; place your customer in the number one position. They must believe your organization exists to serve them.
  2. Balance short and long term demands. Your bonus plan is most likely based on how well you perform over the next 12 months and how many products you sell. Regardless, take a longer term perspective and provide solutions that will stand the test of time. If they feel you are trying to bulk up your short term performance they will never advocate you.
  3. Fight for them “on the inside”. You probably don’t like getting involved in chasing down a client problem inside your organization. Order errors, billing irregularities etc. can consume an inordinate amount of time and is “painful”. You would rather pass it to the service guys, so you can get back to selling and earning your bonus. But understand that your customer expects you to deal with your internal team to sort things out. They don’t appreciate being passed around.
  4. Take time to get to know them. The transformation from customer to fan is driven by intimacy which builds trust. There is no short cut here; put in the time.
  5. Be available when they want you. YOU serve THEM; if you can’t be reached, in their time of need they will likely reach out to someone else.
  6. Focus on what they “care” about. It’s more than what they need. Satisfying needs deals with only the first layer of relationship building. You must dig deeper and discover what drives their emotions. Find THAT; deliver on THAT and you will create a “sneezer”.
  7. Surprise them. This is probably the #1 thing that fuels customer delight. A tired relationship can cultivate entitlement. Spice it up by surprising your customer from time to time with something they care about. They will return the favor with their undying support.
  8. Do the “little things”. Do more than the heavy lifting as often, it’s the little things that annoy or please customers. Determine their pet peeves land special likes and take care of them. They expect you to deliver the “big” solutions; they will be WOW’D! when you get involved in the messy details.
  9. Give them what they DON’T expect. Counterintuitively, maniacal fans are born when you DON’T meet their expectations. Delivering what they expect will only earn you a ‘C’ on your report card; blowing them away with what they aren’t expecting will get you an ‘A+’.
  10. Lose a sale. If you can’t deliver exactly what they need, find another provider who can. This act will keep you in control of the customer relationship, show them that you have their best interests at heart and earn you the right to sell to them again.

You won’t transform your customer to a crazy advocate overnight, but if you have these 10 plays in your playbook it will happen.

If you are looking for a “hail Mary” forget it.

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