Positive Thinking Feed

The Power of Achievement: Rowing across the Atlantic

Have you ever planned a high-octane, high-risk adventure?

Recently I had the chance to talk with Peter Van Kets, who planned and executed a daring escapade to row in an unsupported boat across the Atlantic with a friend. Here are just a few stunning facts from our conversation. 

  • They rowed nonstop (in shifts of 1.5 hours each) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for a total of 50 days and 12 hours. (The only day they took a break was Christmas Day.)
  • They consumed anywhere from 8,000 - 10,000 calories a day and supplemented their diet by drinking olive oil (100 mL of olive oil is roughly 900 calories).
  • The three major hazards they faced were potential for 1) capsizing, 2) collision with other boats, and 3) mental breakdowns. 

In the end, they pushed themselves to the limit and set a world record! As Peter put it, "If we have the right process in place in our lives, we can acheive anything." Hear him tell his story in the video below. 


Peter is also featured as a motivation lesson in Selling Power University -- sign up at this link and click on "Success Motivation" to test your knowledge. http://www.sellingpoweruniversity.com


How to Win in 2014

Seth Godin on how to win in 2014 

"You have everything you need to build something bigger than yourself," is one of my favorite Seth Godin quotes. A short conversation with him will leave you thinking for days afterwards. Seth thinks deeper and his ideas grow in an unusual soil. His mind operates on Olympic levels of curiosity.  It’s no wonder that over 1 million people read his blog. He has authored 17 books and many of them have made it to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. If you don't know Seth, it's not to late to join him online, join his (Sethsblog.com) and enjoy his kaleidoscopic perspective. Here is just one fragment from a blog post Oct. 29, 2012 “Who you hang out with determines what you dream about and what you collide with. And the collisions and the dreams lead to your changes.”  

Seth and I agreed to meet for lunch in New York City. As I approached the restaurant, I noticed him standing outside, wearing a stylish suit and tie, a blue bike helmet dangling from his left hand while he looked at his cell phone. Seth is always in pursuit of quality, efficiency while enjoying life. "I am searching for a better place to eat," he explained. He took the train from his office in Hastings on the Hudson to New York City and pedaled over on a city bike. We decided to walk in the direction of our studio and after a few steps we found an oyster bar. We ordered a plate of 8 delicious oysters to share, which inspired Seth to share this thought: "Four is just enough. It's interesting that in our culture we tend to think that more is better. It isn't. Four oysters are delicious and six are OK, but the more you eat the more the initial pleasure wears off. Research shows that more health care for seniors doesn’t make them healthier, and a greater reduction of teacher-to-student ratios in schools doesn’t lead to better grades. If the class size gets too small, grades go down again." Seth’s point, that more is not better, runs against the “supersize-it” neurotic, greed-is-good culture that characterizes the superficial mindset of America’s underbelly.

Seth’s antenna is always tuned into to the emerging Zeitgeist of our times. In this six-minute video interview he explains the major shifts in business and how we should approach 2014. His well articulated insight – if applied –is enough to optimize your success in 2014. 

This is republished from Selling Power Magazine in the Cloud, January 2014 edition. To see the entire issue visit www.sellingpower.com and click on "Get One Time Access" 

Mindset


The Persuasive Power of the Zeitgeist

No, I’m not an economist, but I do have a theory about what influences financial decisions, and it has nothing to do with anything Wall Street ever discusses. It’s called the zeitgeist.

This is a wonderful German word for which there is no English equivalent. It denotes the collective thoughts and feelings that dominate the era we live in. While the word zeit means “time,” geist has two meanings: “spirit” and “ghost.” Loosely translated, it means “the spirit of our time” or “the ghost of our time.”

For example, the zeitgeist in the Y2K era was paranoia about computers crashing on January 1, 2000.

The zeitgeist of the dot-com boom was marked by euphoria caused by the illusion of growth without limits. It was a Pied Piper that invited people to join in a happy parade celebrating greed.

The zeitgeist of post-9/11 was like a fire-breathing dragon that attacked at dawn, killed thousands and vanished into an invisible cave, which left us in a cloud of fear and anger. It was marked by severe disappointment. We paid a heavy price for harboring the illusion that our financial, economic, and military power would make us invulnerable.

Today’s zeitgeist is dominated by the bomb blasts at the Boston Marathon, the nuclear saber rattling of North Korean leaders, the political debates about gun control and government spending.

Today’s zeitgeist is also influenced by mobile technology, social media, cloud computing, big data, a shift to an interconnected world that sets the expectation that delays are a thing of the past, since we want to do everything in real time. While technology mixes excitement and hope into the zeitgeist brew, the failings of humanity -- such as killings in schools and at marathons and other threats to our safety -- add a taste of futility and despair to the mix. HG Wells once described the character of civilization as a race between education and catastrophe.

The pendulum of time keeps swinging, and so does the zeitgeist. Psychologists tell us that people who suffer disappointment tend to retreat and rediscover their true strength. What feeds the zeitgeist in the month of April is fear -- fear of acts driven by human insanity or natural disasters. What will change the zeitgeist of our time is courage. It takes a lot of courage to objectively appraise who we really are and what we truly want to get out of life. Upon closer reflection, we begin to realize that the zeitgeist does not really control our lives, we do.

History tells us that periods of disappointment are always followed by periods of going back to basics. For CEOs, that means trustworthy and responsible leadership. For managers, it means that their actions must inspire trust. For salespeople, it means more genuine face-to-face contact and more handwritten thank-you notes instead of hastily punched out texts, tweets, or emails.

Visionary leaders know that the zeitgeist is really a composite of the past that often ignores future possibilities. While today’s zeitgeist urges us to examine the past, we may elude its grip by envisioning and consciously planning a brighter future. Progress demands that we accept the basic insight that’s been taught time and again: our inner strength comes from hope, progress springs from our imagination, and greater meaning comes from building a better future for the generation that follows.

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Selling with 360-degree Visibility: Dream or Reality?

Clip_image002Today's blog post is by Louis Tetu, CEO of Coveo, a company that digs insight out of the many corporate data repositories to help salespeople look smart when they deal with customers.


 A sales professional’s greatest asset is knowledge. The more you know about a prospect, the more relevant you are to your prospect and the easier it is to close a deal – and then a bigger deal. But faced with information fragmentation and a proliferation of information clutter, sales teams often fail to effectively and efficiently mine the knowledge they need to make better selling decisions; instead, they constantly reinvent the wheel. The long-promised, 360-degree view of the customer was never quite delivered, mainly because there is no such a thing as “the” 360-degree view that can be captured in a single system.

The “cloud” fuels this problem of fragmented information. When salesforce.com brought cloud computing to the forefront of selling professionals’ minds, it was – and still is – a revolutionary tool due to its scalability, flexibility, and freedom to collect and track sales activities and house many parts of an account. But the proliferation of cloud-based applications and their ease of adoption also add systems of knowledge to an already crowded picture of applications, databases, and online resources – other systems where knowledge can be lost. Cloud platforms such as Salesforce are themselves scattered a bit, requiring users to look in many different areas – and click and scroll a lot – to see the information they need. Then they have to remember it while they look for more information.

In sales, power equals relevance to prospects’ or customers’ exact needs and situations and an ability to challenge their views, if necessary. For sales executives to be highly relevant and credible challengers and perceived as bringing added value, it takes real-time and comprehensive intelligence. It starts with understanding the prospect’s context – and that context is multifaceted, with information about it stored anywhere and everywhere – certainly far beyond the scope of CRM systems. Add to the equation all of the tools your company has created to ensure that your sales executives can be effective. Where does all of this information reside, and how does sales discern which content is most appropriate and relevant for each prospect?

Information about your prospects and customers plus all sales tools and customer/prospect interaction reside in a multitude of systems and formats: social media, CRM, financial systems, engineering, service, communities, email, call transcripts, Websites, and more. Add to that examples of similar customers and their products and history, the right presentations, product literature, blogs, and all customer/prospect communications and interaction. Then add knowledge from colleagues and even former colleagues – people who have expertise about that prospect or customer or about the applicability of your products to that prospect. Next add other sales execs who may be selling into the same company at the same time across the world.  Don’t forget products from your company the customer may already own and his or her experiences with them.

How can a single sales executive know all of that for each customer during each encounter? Until recently, one of the biggest pain points that sales agents faced was having to leave a CRM such as salesforce.com to access information from multiple other systems, in addition to running around the company to reach people who possess the right information.

Advanced indexing technology is the way forward. In this model, fragments of information are assembled on demand and served up to users. Take a look at how Google and Yahoo! have transformed the consumer world in aggregating, consolidating, and unifying into one index information from the world’s Websites. Now think about the same paradigm but across the enterprise IT clutter.

Advanced indexing technology can perform securely in the same manner within the vast variety of systems – email, databases, CRM, ERP, social media, documents. The technology is available to securely index those sources, unify that information in a central index, normalize the information, then perform mash-ups on demand. Think of a world in which every document a sales executive needs on any platform is instantly organized, indexed, and recommended at the right time and for the right prospect or customer. Think of a world where every sales executive gets the complete and best contextually relevant information for the prospect’s needs and situation. 

Sales and CRM teams around the world have used this technology to their advantage:

  • CA Technologies is a global software company with 400 products and 13 million documents relevant to its sales and CRM teams. CA is able to index, correlate, and utilize relevant information from these systems instantaneously, allowing its marketing teams to solve cases 15 percent faster.
  • Tokyo Electron is a global manufacturer of high-tech semiconductor products. When its field service teams need to solve a complex case, they’re able to index information across multiple systems instantaneously. They increased their post-sales revenue without any additional travel or personnel costs.
  • L’Oreal equips its sales and customer service agents in the field with the ability to index customer information across millions of documents. As a result, they’re able to see all relevant information about a customer or prospect, allowing them to close deals faster and keep customers happy.

While many technologists still chase the impossible dream of integration, we are leading the way with a federation of information through advanced indexing technology so that we can help salespeople benefit from 360-degree, instantaneous visibility of all relevant data. 

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Will You Set Smart Goals for 2013?

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We cannot expect to become the directors of our lives if we fail to choose a meaningful direction.

As we approach 2013, we can choose to sit on the sidelines and watch other people score or take charge of our lives by pursuing our goals. Goals are difficult concepts to grasp; many people don’t see themselves as capable of changing, growing, and achieving. They see goals like statues: cast in bronze and placed out of reach.

I suggest viewing goals more like a river that flows from the present moment to a rich land filled with amazing opportunities. Instead of focusing our attention on the two obvious points, the present and future, we need to look at the emerging road between these two points.

Goal setting doesn’t amount to simply creating a narrative about what we want to get out of life or what we want to give back. We need to decide on the quality of our journey. We need to choose a road that challenges our capabilities and our will.

Sometimes people attach so much meaning to their distant goals that they obsess about them while ignoring their need to feel good in the here and now. They overrate the value of the trophy and ignore the meaning of the trip. They tend to forget that success is not a vague destination that resides only in our imagination but a journey into a forever-expanding and precious present. If we can’t expand our awareness to match the richness of the here and now, we’ll never get a chance to claim the fortune we imagine in the distant future.

To become the director of our own life, we need to…

know who we are and take inventory of our talents,

know where we are and scope out our future,

and decide on our goal and the quality of our journey.

One more important thing to remember is not to be influenced by the noise on the sidelines, such as talk about the “fiscal cliff,” the “European debt crisis,” or the “growing economic uncertainty.” Pessimism is misuse of the imagination. Think of the two words “smart goal” as acronyms with two meanings. The logical meaning is SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-based. The emotional meaning is GOAL : Guts, Optimism, Attitude, and Loyalty.

With a little effort, we can shape our future in the image of our goals. But without a set direction for 2013, we won’t be able to direct our lives, and we’ll continue to repeat what we know hasn’t worked for us in the past. Take a moment now to write down your number one goal for 2013. Carpe diem leads to Veni, vidi, vici

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Remembering Zig Ziglar – America’s # 1 Motivator

This morning we learned that Zig Ziglar passed away at the age of 86.

Zig ziglar psp

Zig Ziglar has been a positive thinker and professional motivator for many decades. His electrifying speeches had a reputation for drawing standing ovations and leaving audiences spellbound. And he relished every single word of his famous punch line, “You can get everything in life you want if you help other people get what they want.”

During our first interview I realized that Zig Ziglar was more than a motivator. He was a person with a strong, well-established guiding philosophy, one that had enduring value for everyone. Ziglar was his own best success story. It began in Yazoo City, Mississippi. He was born one of twelve children. His father died when he was five, leaving his mother with five kids too young to work.

He became one of the most successful cookware salesmen of all time but quit knocking on doors when he recognized his ability to motivate others. Here is a transcript of my first interview with Zig that was originally published in Sept 1982.

Q: In one of your speeches you mentioned that negative thinking is as common as the cold. Did you find a cure for negative thinking?

Ziglar: If you feed your mind with positive thoughts, if you are selective about the things that you choose to read, look at, or listen to, then you are taking effective action against negative thinking.

Q: So you are saying that there is a direct link between negative thinking and negative input and that people can become more selective about the input?

Ziglar: Absolutely.

Q: What is your definition of success?

Ziglar: I believe that you're successful when you've dealt with the physical, the mental and the spiritual man successfully. If I made millions and destroyed my health in the process, or if I become the best at what I do but neglect my family, I wouldn't call that success.

Q: One of your claims is that your attitudes in life determine ultimately how successful you become.

Ziglar: Yes. Dr. William James said the most important discovery of our time is the realization that by altering our attitudes we can alter our lives. There is also a Harvard University study that points out that 85 percent of the reason people are hired or get ahead in their jobs is directly related to their attitudes.

Q: I once read a magazine article about motivational speakers that stated, "Speakers are superficial on the subject of motivation - like cheerleaders at a high school rally. Thin on content, heavy on performance." How do you respond to that?

Ziglar: I think they are right on the button. A lot of people do leave without any real meat. Excitement, yes, but nothing they can chew on the next day.

As you know, the Bible is my great source, because God's plan deals with this dilemma: He never makes a promise unless he gives you a plan. This translates into the principle that motivation without direction is very frustrating. You need to have a plan in addition to the motivation. Motivation without a goal doesn't get you anywhere. Personally, I never make a promise in a book, a speech or a recording unless I give a plan so my reader or listener can achieve the promise.

Q: What is your theory of self-motivation? How do you develop it?

Ziglar: When I build a fire in my fireplace, it will burn for a while. Then I notice that there are no flames. It has died down. I get up and take my poker and shake up those logs. All of a sudden, we've got bright flames. Now, all I did was just poke them, which created some motion. The motion creates a partial vacuum and new air is pulled into the fireplace. With an additional supply of oxygen, the fire ignites, and now we've got a flame. If I hadn't done some poking, there would have been no flame.

Now, this business about all motivation being self-motivation is only partially true. You can choose among many different sources to rekindle your motivation. In other words, the environment you select and the people you associate with become large contributing factors.

Q: Do positive input and the positive attitude need to be supplemented with a sound business plan and professional skills?

Ziglar: Absolutely. Positive thinking is an optimistic hope, not necessarily based on any facts. Positive believing is the same optimistic hope, but this time based on a sound reason. Here is an example. It would be positive thinking if I said I could whip George Foreman. It would be an idiotic action if I tried to do it.

Q: I've heard many sales managers express doubts about the lasting value of a motivational seminar.

Ziglar: They're absolutely right! Motivation is not permanent. Neither is bathing. But if you bathe every day, you're going to smell good. Fifteen minutes a day of motivation from a good audiocassette or a book can make a tremendous difference in your life and give you a motivational lift every day.

Q: You said once that life is simple but not easy, and that too many people are looking for quick and easy solutions.

Ziglar: Right. I firmly believe that the best work is often done by people who don't feel like doing it.

Q: Why do you recommend that salespeople listen to your books on tape 16 times to completely absorb the full message?

Ziglar: There are several university studies revealing that two weeks after you've learned anything new, unless it's reinforced, you only remember about 4 percent of it. That's the first reason. The second reason is that while we are listening we may experience a certain mood, and our minds will seek out messages that relate to that particular mood. On another day, let's say you just made a sale; you'll be in a different mood, and a whole new range of messages of the same recording will become clear in your mind. So by listening 16 times, the odds are that you will have absorbed the entire content.

Q: Let's say I've listened 16 times to your tapes on motivation. Do I know then how to motivate myself?

Ziglar: Yes.

Q: Do I master the skills sufficiently so that I become independent of your recordings?

Ziglar: Only if you've been practicing the things we've been advocating. It's like driving a car. You don't learn to drive a car by watching.

Q: Can I graduate in self-motivation, ever?

Ziglar: I don't think so, and I don't think I've graduated, because I constantly read and constantly study. I think you could draw an analogy with eating. You can't graduate in eating. You need to continue to make choices about your input. The same is true with self-motivation. You need to continue to make choices about what level of self-motivation you want to maintain.

Q: Many salespeople have a tough time in this economy. What thoughts can you offer to approach these tough challenges more positively?

Ziglar: A good friend of mine, Calvin Hunt in Victoria, Texas, said, "You know, Zig, it's an absolute fact that when we are in an economic slump, 50 percent of all salespeople literally slow down rather than speed up their efforts. They are not motivated to do something. They lose that enthusiasm.

"Now," he continued, "when that happens, it simply means that if business is down 20 percent, but 50 percent of the salespeople are not nearly as active, your own personal prospect list is considerably higher than if there was no recession."

Q: And the winners still keep winning.

Ziglar: Absolutely. It's their discipline, their commitment to maintain a high level of motivation and their sense of direction that gets them to the top.

Tomorrow: Zig’s Keys to Sales Success and his most memorable quotes


Sales and Golf

Clip_image002Today's blog post is by Steven Comfort, VP of business development at Radius Intelligence Inc. His golf handicap is 2.

Most of us have heard the adage, “The big deals get done on the golf course” (or sometimes, “on the 19th hole”). A lot of selling happens on golf courses, but the sport teaches its players many of the qualities that are shared by the best salespeople. Here are a few of them.

It’s Just You

Because the golf ball doesn’t move before it’s struck, whatever happens to it is your doing. Your opponents are on the same course playing in the same weather conditions.  

In sales, your opponents want the same deal as you do, and the economic conditions (weather) apply to all. It’s up to the salesperson to decide on a strategy (club choice, shot direction, mechanics) and execute it.

If you chose the wrong clubs (company or product) or executed poorly, there’s only you to blame. Conversely, when you do well, success is overwhelmingly because of your individual effort.

There’s Always a Better Player

Soon after establishing a playing index in golf, you’ll want to lower it.  Despite your initial improvement, you’re forced to face the fact that you have a lot of skills to work on if you want to keep making progress and lowering your index. There’s always another shot to learn or improve on – and golf is a lifetime sport.

Salespeople typically have some natural strengths (presenting to large groups or prospecting, for instance) and other areas that they’d be well served to try to improve (perhaps writing, active listening, or entertaining). There’s always another trick to learn from your fellow salespeople, but you’ll never know it all, just like no golfer can master all the shots.

You Have to Be Able to Scramble

Good golfers can hit good shots in good conditions. Great golfers can hit passable shots in horrible conditions. Golf games are honed on the practice range, where the ball’s lie is always favorable and conditions are consistent. Scoring in match play depends largely on the golfer’s ability to scramble – to come up with a decent shot when the conditions are conspiring against him or her (for instance when a tree branch is blocking your path to the pin, or when your ball is stuck deep in a sand trap, aka “a fried-egg”). These are the scramble shots that are rarely, if ever, practiced.

In sales, the call rarely goes just the way we anticipate, and of course, sometimes things really go awry. Keeping your head about you when things get wacky is the key to escaping a disastrous call with a chance to win the sale. The best salespeople can scramble on a call and almost take a perverse pleasure in dealing with unforeseen obstacles (e.g., facing strong objections).

The Truth Comes Out in Time

There’s a saying that states if you really want to know about people, play a round of golf with them. Within the course of a round, you’ll be able to watch how a player competes, interprets the rules of the game, socializes, and performs. By the end of 18 holes and about four hours of play, you’re going to have a general sense of the person’s character: Does this person cheat? Is he or she loosey-goosey with the rules, gracious, calm under pressure, fun to be around?

In sales, the truth about you also comes out in time: Do you make good on your promises? Are you strategic, consultative, relevant, fun to be around?

There’s no faking in golf or in sales; the truth always comes out. But because these are both lifetime sports, you can always hit the range and the putting green to work on your game.

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Using Emotional Intelligence to Close

GregFerrettOctober2012Today's blog post is by Greg Ferrett, CEO of Exceptional Sales Performance, based in Melbourne, Australia, and author of Selling to the Seven Emotional Buying Styles: Make Every Sales Call Pay by Selling to Emotional Need.

 

LinkedIN3DimageClosing techniques were drilled into me since my first day in sales, and I loved trying out new ones. I have a unique collection of closing techniques that were taught as far back as the Vikings’ 13th century, as well as “snake oil” techniques from the 1800s’ mid-West and today.

When I ask salespeople about their favorite or most successful closing technique, the most common response I get is, “It depends.” I would have thought with hundreds of years of development the better techniques would become favorites.

When a person is about to make a decision, according to modern scientific research, the part of the brain where emotions come from is awash with chemicals – and the more complex the decision or higher impact it has, the more chemicals the brain produces. These chemicals are the drivers of emotion, and what science is telling us is, as a decision point approaches, the emotional chemicals in the client’s brain are making the decision. Wouldn’t it be nice to know which closing techniques trigger the release of these chemicals?

It turns out there are seven emotional genes, and for each there is one dominant emotional driver as well as “green” and “red” emotional buttons.

Emotional Buying Style

Dominant Emotional Driver

The Normal

For social acceptance

The Hustler

 For material success

The Mover

To communicate

The Double Checker

For security

The Artist

To be creative

The Politician

To win

The Engineer

To complete projects

* Download the full table of emotional buying styles at www.exceptionalsales.com.au

Paul, division head of Australia’s largest telecommunications organization, was a difficult client. We had the perfect solution for him, yet no matter what technique I tried, Paul was just not going to budge. Each time I tried to move the sale forward with a question or trial close, he would just sit there quietly with a strange smile on his face and say as few words as possible as I slowly agreed to his every point.

I shared my experience with Ken, Paul’s counterpart in the user community who had some influence on the decision. He let me in on a secret: Paul was regarded as one of the sharpest negotiators in the organization and had a reputation for getting deals through when no one else could. Ken suggested I restructure my offering in a way that reinforced Paul’s reputation of getting things others could not.

In our next meeting, I asked a simple question: “Paul, if your division could be the first organization outside the United States to implement this new technology without increasing the price above the initial estimate, would that allow you to achieve your goal of staff time to productivity?”

I watched his face, and for the first time I saw a flicker of life.  He quickly composed himself and in his normal dry tone of voice asked, “Could you do that?”

Paul has “The Politician” emotional gene. His primary emotional driver is to win, and this win was typically a sharper deal or better terms. In this case, I provided him with an opportunity to win by doing something no one else had done. This enhanced his reputation of getting things no one else could. By pressing his “green” button (showing how the idea would help him look good), his brain started to flood with emotional chemicals, creating a compelling urge to like my idea. Of course, if I had tried the same technique with “The Double Checker” or “The Normal,” this would have pushed his or her “red” emotional button with exactly the opposite effect. If Paul’s emotional gene was “The Hustler,” I would need to add something like “…increasing your value on the employment market.”

When a salesperson responds with “it depends” regarding his or her favorite closing technique, that tells me this salesperson needs to determine the best way to work with a client. Using a simple tool to help unlock the client’s emotional buying style will reveal how the client will respond as the decision point approaches. Pushing “green” buttons early makes closing so much simpler.

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What's Ahead for Sales Organizations in 2013?

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How clearly do you see the road ahead? When we are driving down the highway, we notice that, the faster we go, the more the view begins to blur – yet the dashboard is clear and bright. This also applies to sales leaders. While the speed of change accelerates, many sales leaders become confused by the rapid shifts in buying behaviors. While some customers act as if they’re in a boom cycle, other customers react and prepare for tougher times in the road ahead.

As we plan for 2013, salespeople demand more clarity of vision from their sales leaders. An overarching vision has three elements:

1. A guiding vision. It begins with an accurate appraisal of the present. Salespeople want to know the answer to these questions: Where are we now? What are our strengths? What makes us vulnerable? What threats are we facing?

2. A guiding fiction. Nobody can predict the future, but effective leaders have an uncanny ability to direct followers to imagine and find the best opportunities in the market. Uncertain times demand leaders who can stimulate the imagination so that their followers can clearly focus on winning more business month after month. The best leaders are merchants of hope.

3. A guiding process. Salespeople need a continuously improved and accelerated process for everything from generating leads to closing the sale. Successful sales leaders need to constantly realign people, process, and technology. 

In many companies, there are as many sales processes as there are salespeople. World-class sales organizations follow a process that’s based on A) the know-how of their best salespeople and B) how customers want to buy. Many sales leaders believe that their well-thought-out sales process reflects the customer’s journey.

While the economy continues to challenge, confuse, and surprise decision makers, effective sales leaders ignore the noise on the sidelines and get busy improving sales productivity across the organization. According to a survey performed by the SalesOpShop, sales leaders’ top two priorities for 2013 are 1) topline growth and 2) improved sales process. To achieve these goals, sales leaders need to become more innovative when aligning people, process, and technology. The challenge in most organizations is that people are often too slow, processes are often too old, and technology is often too complex. To meet that challenge, we need to invest 60 percent of our effort in helping people change, 30 percent in improving our processes, and 10 percent on implementing simpler and better technology. The key to winning in 2013 depends on expanding the innovative capabilities of the organization.

Albert Einstein once said that imagination is more important than knowledge, because knowledge tells us what was, whereas imagination tells what will be. What will be in 2013 depends on adaptive and creative sales leaders, who drive people’s capacity to change and lead them to execute on a customer-focused process that’s accelerated by the best technology available. Your success will also hinge on what you believe you can achieve. 

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A Fresh Look at the Elevator Speech Concept: You Don't Have to Score on Every Play, Just Advance the Ball (a Sneak Peek inside Small Message, Big Impact)

Fb-profile-tsjo-1Today's blog post is by Terri Sjodin, principal and founder of Sjodin CommunicationsIn her newly updated book, Small Message, Big Impact, Terri Sjodin offers her time-tested strategies for crafting clear, concise, compelling presentations. She includes outlines, worksheets, a sample elevator speech, evaluation forms, and more.

 

Detail-SMBI_2dYou're in the airport waiting for a flight, burning time by checking your BlackBerry or iPhone and reading the paper. You just want to get home. Then you catch a glimpse of the CEO you've been wanting to meet with for weeks. He's standing against the wall, also waiting for his flight – your flight! Hmmm, wouldn't it be great if you were seated next to him? Should you walk over? What would you say? You don't want to be intrusive, but gosh, it's a great opportunity to talk with him and introduce yourself. There's no secretary to screen you out. All you have to do is walk over and hand him your card.

Your pulse quickens and your mind races. "What will I say?" you ask yourself. You decide he doesn't want to be bugged. "I'll leave him alone." Then, over the loudspeaker, you hear that first-class passengers are invited to board the plane. He is gone, and so is your shot.

Bummer.

We've all been there. A new opportunity presents itself. You might have only one chance to share your message. You feel the pressure. The clock is ticking...

Will you be ready, or will you just wing it? When you make the most of that unique opportunity or meeting, your path could change forever. In this age of information overload, no business skill is more essential than being able to communicate well, get to the point, and connect with others quickly.

Enter the elevator speech effect...

Do you have an effective elevator speech? Do you need one or even want one? In today's competitive market, the answer is yes. Note: Don't think of an elevator speech as just a generic tool that you use in chance moments. Consider it a strategy to manage multiple talking points, as well.

How do you get started?  

To reach any goal or complete any task, you must first define your intention. What do we mean by "intention"? The American Heritage Dictionary defines intention as "a course of action that one intends to follow; an aim that guides action; an objective."

So what is the desired result of your elevator speech or brief message? It's not to close the deal; it's to start a conversation.

I recently shared this idea with one of my dearest friends, Brad McMillen, who is a former state championship quarterback turned Internet sales executive. He offered this analogy:

"When you mentioned your concept of the three-minute elevator speech and intention, the word 'intention' reminded me of when I was playing football. Our intention was to score eventually. As quarterback, I would go to the line, ready to throw a pass. I had a system of reads, depending on the defense. The first option was to throw long. If that was covered, as I dropped back to throw, I looked at my secondary option. If he was covered, I threw to my third option. If he was covered, I just threw the ball away or ran for my life.

"In the end, I kept the same overall intention – to score points with my team. This progression is called 'checking down,' and it's what quarterbacks do. They check down but always with the ultimate goal of getting to the end zone. The point is, you don't have to score on every play, just advance the ball."

Similarly, the point of the three-minute elevator speech is not to close the deal. Its goal is to advance you to the next point in your sales process.

It's beneficial to keep your intention in mind at all times, not solely when you have a presentation on the horizon. When you strike up a conversation with someone you don't know, that person doesn't have to be a designated target. Simply keep your message out there, sharing it with people who know other people. Your message is important, and you have to let it be heard. Believe in it, share it, and practice communicating it with clear, concise talking points that help you move toward your intention, and it becomes a natural part of your communication.

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